Law: Briefs

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The Independent Culture

LORD IRVINE (above) is unsurprisingly less willing these days to make comparisons with past Lord Chancellors. A previous effort to liken himself to Cardinal Wolsey ended in public ridicule.

Nevertheless, last week, during a speech at the annual judges' dinner at the Mansion House, Lord Irvine felt enough time had passed to mention the name of another former Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More. More was executed for refusing to give vocal support to Henry VIII's decision to divorce his wife.

"That fact alone," Lord Irvine told the judges, "discourages me from making any further historic reference." Then he added: "And for the avoidance of doubt, as we lawyers say, I am certainly not seeking to make any comparisons between myself and any person now alive or dead." Once bitten, twice shy.

THE LAW Society and the Bar Council have fallen out over the touchy subject of money. In the last six months, the Bar says solicitors have chalked up unpaid fees owing to barristers of more than pounds 750,000. The Bar is so concerned it compiled a blacklist of 80 law firms in "flagrant abuse" of the rules.

It is still an offence under solicitors' rules not to pay barristers' fees. But what has infuriated barristers is the decision by the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors not to follow up the first complaint that was made by a barrister regarding non-payment of fees.

A spokesman for the Law Society said: "We are not a debt collection agency for the Bar." The Bar has made the OSS agree to bring before the Solicitors' Disciplinary tribunal any solicitor who has two complaints of non-payment against them in one year.

FOLLOWING A BBC Rough Justice programme and an article in The Independent, the Criminal Cases Review Commission has decided to prioritise the case of Martin O'Halloran. He was convicted of murdering Thomas Walker 23 years ago.

The programme found the co-accused, who was said to have played only a minor role in the crime, had written letters confessing the murder and exonerating Martin O'Halloran.

WINNER OF the most unsporting quote of the week must go to Steve Hull, Nabarro Nathanson's cricket team captain.

After Nabaro had bowled out fellow lawyers Richards Butler for just 49 runs in the final of the annual legal six-a-side cricket tournament, Mr Hull said: "I'd like to say to the other teams that it is not the winning that counts but the taking part. But I can't."

It just goes to show what too many years working as a ruthless commercial lawyer in a City law firm does for a person's charitable disposition.