Keep it in the family

first_imgA father and son team of solicitor advocates is poised to take on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) this week. John (the father) and William (the son) Mackenzie represent Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher, who was awarded over £170,000 damages by Leeds Employment Tribunal last autumn for sex and sexual-orientation discrimination while she was serving with the Royal Artillery. The tribunal found that Fletcher, who is gay, had been subjected to a campaign of victimisation. The MoD is appealing the awards for exemplary and aggravated damages, but not for loss of earnings or injury to feelings. Mackenzie senior was called to the bar in 1971, but requalified as a solicitor in 1979 and gained higher rights in 1995. His son qualified in 2006 after completing his training contract with his dad’s Henley-on-Thames firm, Mackenzie. He is now with St Albans firm McKeowns and got his higher rights last September. Of working with dad, he says: ‘We have different takes on things, but a good working relationship – and he always gets good work.’last_img read more

PII – problems and solutions

first_img 1. The deadline 30.9.09 gives such power to the insurance companies. Claims made which never progress and become dormant have a potential figure put against the claim which can hang around for years and which insurers use to jack up premiums. Some points: The solution is for each transaction to be covered individually on a case-by-case basis. The big boys would pay more and the small boys would pay less. We could live with a fee of £40 for each transaction. Teresa Waters, managing partner, Waters & Co, Coleshill, Birmingham The Law Society needs to act fast to avoid a repeat of headlines such as ‘500 firms fall into assigned risk pool’ (see [2009] Gazette, 1 October, 1) in twelve months’ time. I do not blame the insurance companies for the increased level of premiums experienced this year. As a profession we do not need to be lobbying the ABI to get their members to reduce their premiums. Instead we should working with them with a view to reducing our exposure to litigation, a mutually beneficial goal. From speaking to brokers and underwriters over the last six to eight weeks it is clear that conveyancing is the new ‘high risk’ service our profession provides. It was not so long ago that personal injury was ‘high risk’. I understand from those brokers I have spoken to that personal injury firms have changed the way they work and, in consequence, are having fewer claims and one would assume lower premiums. I was pleased to read in the Gazette a letter from Alan Tunkel (1 October) who, as a practising barrister specialising in mortgage fraud, recognises that our profession needs to ‘limit or exclude our liability to mortgage lenders’. As Mr Tunkel acknowledges individual solicitors are not in a position to do this without the fear of removal from lenders’ panels. Is not the alternative for the Law Society to seek a review of Rule 3. Surely, there is now a conflict of interest for us in acting for both lender and borrower. We are already prohibited for acting for both parties for non-standard mortgages. The conflict, in part, is the financial pressure this joint role is putting on firms when PII renewal comes around. More importantly, the conflict is present in every transaction. In addition to checking title documents and providing security for the lender, we are required to make checks of our borrower clients, in accordance with the CML handbook and under rule 3.19 of the Solicitors Practice Rules, on behalf of the mortgage company. We are leaving ourselves open to high-risk, high-value litigation for very little financial reward. How to rectify? If the exception at Rule 3.17 is removed, the mortgage companies would have to have separate representation. Surely this is best for all concerned. The lenders will be able to implement their own procedures for checks, either in house or with their own firm of solicitors/conveyancers, thereby reducing mortgage fraud and other potential claims. High street practices will not lose clients as the borrowers/purchasers will still need separate representation. Larger practices will be able to compete for work on behalf of the mortgage companies. And, in theory, there will be fewer claims and therefore lower PII premiums. The downside is that it may lengthen transactions. But I’m sure both lender and borrower clients would rather their transaction completed properly as opposed to quickly. The only alternative is for us to start charging considerably more when acting for both lender and borrower. Unfortunately, a cost borne by our borrower client not the lender. It is time to address this issue before more firms fall by the wayside. Fewer high street practices affects the image of our entire profession. I suggest the Law Society addresses this jointly with the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, whose members’ PII renewals are due next June. The Law Society has got us all into this mess and we are losing faith in it looking after our interests. 2. There is no real competition among insurers. 4. Conveyancing by large firms at a distance with unqualified staff never meeting the client has also led to the problems we face. As a high-street practitioner for 37 years I have never known such a ridiculous situation as the one that faces the profession over PII renewal.center_img 3. Referral fees (bribes) have facilitated mortgage fraud and loss of independence. Estate agents, mortgage brokers, developers and others have such a grasp over the conveyancing business that solicitors have taken risks to please their ‘masters’. If a solicitor does not please his ‘master’ he loses the business. 6. Which firms have made the mistakes that are costing us dearly? Firms I know in Leicester run a mile from any transaction smelling of fraud. On a sale of a house there is little chance of a mistake being made and similarly on a registered purchase little should go wrong. Lack of documents is covered by conveyancing indemnity policies. Partner, small multi-disciplinary west country firm (full details provided) Having read the ‘Solution to the insurance crisis’ letter (1 October) it occurs to me that, if those solicitors who actually meet their conveyancing clients (and there are still many of us), forwarded the copy passport and driving licence or other ID documentation to the lender – either at the outset or with the certificate of title – they could be checked against the ID taken by the lender or its broker. This would pass the responsibility for identity back to the lender. If the lender accepts the ID presented by the solicitor and releases funds, they would be accepting the risk and would be forced to tighten up their own procedures. 5. How can firms in a recession face such gigantic increases in premium? Turnover goes down, premiums increase. Andrew Bingham, Bingham & Co, Leicesterlast_img read more

SRA consults on client financial protection

first_imgThe Solicitors Regulation Authority is to consult on implementing planned reforms of client financial protection. The changes, announced in April 2011, include: closing the assigned risks pool from October 2013; a 90-day extended policy period from October 2012, for firms which have not taken new cover; provisions for the funding of the pool in 2012/13 to be provided by both the regulated community and qualifying insurers; and provisions to move responsibility for making payments in respect of uninsured firms from the ARP to the Compensation Fund in 2012/13. Details of the consultation exercise appear on the SRA’s website. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and closes on 17 January 2012. Richard Collins, director of standards at the SRA, said: ‘These proposals implement the next phase of the policy decisions announced by the SRA in April this year. As a public interest regulator, our objective is to ensure a comprehensive set of arrangements to ensure that clients are protected through compulsory professional indemnity insurance and the Compensation Fund. ‘The changes proposed for implementation in October 2012 are particularly designed to ensure that the open-market system of PII is sustainable and competitive for the foreseeable future.’last_img read more

This Life goes on

first_imgIt all seems a world away now, but the mores of lawyers depicted in the 1990s TV drama This Life are still current. At least according to a survey commissioned to plug the series’ return to UK TV. The survey of 2,000 white-collar professionals found that the ‘This Life’ generation (aged 35-44) continues to outdo younger colleagues by being over five times more likely to have been fired for having a romantic liaison at work than those aged 18-24. The 35-44 year-olds were also more likely to have experienced a superior making a pass at them and to have been to a meeting hungover or still drunk from the night before, or to have embarrassed themselves while drunk at a work event. Obiter doesn’t believe a word of it, but will be watching anyway.last_img read more

McNally’s end of peer show

first_imgObiter has been impressed by the dedication shown by peers sitting late into the evening to speak out on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. And spare a thought for justice minister Lord McNally of Blackpool, cutting a lonely figure as often the only voice in the chamber supporting the government’s planned reforms. Despite his disagreement with most speakers, and admitted fatigue at the number of reports cited to inform their submissions, in the chamber McNally has graciously acknowledged the expertise and experience of noble lords and ladies. But it appears that when the Hansard stenographer is not clicking away, he is being less diplomatic. As McNally made his way to the chamber before the third committee session, an insouciant Lady Williams remarked on the number of large ringbinders weighing him down. ‘Tom, those files seem to be getting bigger every day,’ his former colleague in the Labour and Social Democratic Party said. He replied: ‘It seems the papers get thicker as the arguments get weaker.’ McNally also showed a nice turn of phrase at the Lords constitution committee, when the questions turned to magic circle firms and their slowness in encouraging solicitors to apply for the judiciary. ‘The magic circle is like a sleeping pig on the road. Give it a kick to move it and it gives a contented grunt and goes back to sleep.’ He explained that magic circle firms ‘profess great enthusiasm’ in meetings, but are short on action. ‘Scribbling in the margin that “the prime minister is taking a personal interest in this matter” often helps to get things moving,’ McNally added. And to judge by his evidence, the Lib Dem peer clearly enjoyed the Opening of the Legal Year. ‘The judges in procession were like something from (Walt Disney’s) Fantasia, all looking alike,’ he said.last_img read more

Foul-weather friends

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGINlast_img read more

Can Clegg be trusted with BSF?

first_imgSubscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe now for unlimited accesslast_img read more

What the coalition means for health and safety

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGINlast_img read more

Family contractors: Adapt or die

first_imgSubscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe now for unlimited access To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGINlast_img read more

Reducing embodied carbon is our next challenge

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGINlast_img read more