Law: Briefs

AN ABSENT-MINDED juror cleared a defendant of possession of drugs - then walked off with exhibit No.1: 1.29g of herbal cannabis. "It was a genuine mistake," insisted Chris Harper, court manager of London's Southwark Crown Court. The mishap began when the 12 jurors returned to the jury room to collect papers and belongings. In the rush to return to their assembly area for further instructions, the middle-aged juror accidentally picked up the exhibit, which had been with the jurors during their deliberations. "When the usher realised the drugs were missing, the clerk immediately rang the jury bailiff," said Mr Harper. "The embarrassed man came forward and the drugs were returned to the court."

HARBOTTLE & LEWIS, the lawyers advising The Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, and Lawrence Graham, representing her estate, have been asked for their legal opinion of female underwear. The Fund is trying to prevent a German company from marketing a range of `Lady Di' lingerie. Although entrepreneur Andre Engelhardt claims it will be done in the best possible taste, the Fund says it has instructed its lawyers to "vigorously oppose" the patent application.

SENIOR BOARD members at Clifford Chance and its US merger suitor, Rogers & Wells, will be holding their breaths next month when the firms' partners vote on a merger deal. If they give their approval, it will lead to the first truly global firm with combined revenues of $US1bn, claim both firms. The deal is being viewed as the first of more UK/US tie-ups to come. Clifford Chance's senior partner, Keith Clark said: "Our vision is to create the world's premier law firm, with leading practices in the world's primary financial centres, as well as unsurpassed legal presence in the US, Europe and Asia." If the partners reject the deal, we can expect some fast back- tracking.