The Practical Lawyer


Privilege – ‘legal professional’

A reminder of some of the basic rules on when legal professional privilege applies:
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Cyber fraud – Ms Mackie

The heart-rending case of solicitor Karen Mackie has received considerable publicity. But, for those who believe cyber fraud could not happen to them, it is worth repeating the facts.

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Cyber-fraud – precautions

Some 50 law firms have been subjected to cyber fraud in 2015 (apparently involving £50m, with one attack being for £1.9m).

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Accounts – residual balances

’Client money must be returned to the client… as soon as there is no longer any proper reason to retain those funds’ (Accounts Rule 14.3).

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Lobbying – register

Anyone – including law firms – who lobbies ministers must register under the Transparency of Lobbying etc Act 2014.

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Retainer – identifying

It is always important to (i) identify the correct client, and (ii) identify the proper scope of the retainer.

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Client account – not a bank facility

The Law Society issued guidance on 18 December 2014 on improper use of client accounts as banking facilities for clients. Needless to say, that is not what client accounts are for and the use of them for such purposes risks law firms being involved in financial crime and the evasion of insolvency processes. 

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Professional – update

Legal Marketing Services is a conveyancing outsourcer which claims to promote a ‘more responsible’ approach to panel selections for lenders. Several of the larger lenders have joined up with LMS and the result has been new restrictions on conveyancing panels (in particular, firms must have had at least 120 purchases in the last 12 months). 

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Indemnity insurance – aggregation

The Commercial Court has favoured a wide interpretation of the aggregation clause in the SRA Minimum Terms and Conditions.

Litigation involved 214 claimants in relation to overseas holiday home developments in two different locations. In essence, the complaints were that a firm of solicitors had prematurely released funds held in escrow. The collective value of all these claims was c£10m but the solicitor’s level of indemnity was £3m for any one claim. Not surprisingly, the insurers argued that the claims should be aggregated on the basis that they arose from a ‘series of related matters or transactions’.

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Statutory declaration – the basics

Who is authorised to take a statutory declaration? The answer is:

Solicitors (holding a current practising certificate); barristers; notaries at public (but not ecclesiastical notaries); licensed conveyancers; FILEX (if they pay a full sub, but not retired Fellows); patent agents; trademark agents; JPs (but only under Stamp Duties Management Act 1891).

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