Law: Briefs

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The Independent Culture
BARRISTERS WHO believe that their bills are best totted up by simply multiplying the number of hours spent on a case by the rate at which they charge themselves out are in for a shock should their cases reach the House of Lords. A new practice direction issued by the Law Lords makes it clear that in criminal cases the taxing officer "will not generally be assisted by an indication of the hours spent by counsel in preparation." Instead the court will be guided by the fees paid to the barrister in the lower courts in hearing the case.

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EVERSHEDS SOLICITORS have taken it upon themselves to survey the City in the aftermath of what they describe as June's "anti-capitalist carnival". Although the riot cost many financial institutions and law firms thousands of pounds in criminal damage, Eversheds City office in Queen Victoria Street, a focal point of the disturbance, miraculously escaped any attack. The firm's researchers spoke to 25 institutions in an attempt to find out how the City wanted the authorities to deal with any repeat performances. Some of the answers were surprising. While a third of those businesses interviewed said they were unconcerned about the carnival, one finance house director put the blame for the severity of the disturbance on the "LIFFE boys". He said: "I think the behaviour of financial institutions' staff was inappropriate and likely to incite further actions." He elucidated: "That reputedly happened with the LIFFE boys, spraying the demonstrators with champagne, throwing copies of pounds 50 notes out of the window and shouting `I have a Rolex'."

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ONE DAY, the need to go to court to receive justice will be fondly remembered as a rather quaint, old fashioned tradition. With this prospect in mind, over 100 judges and lawyers came together last week at Chichester Rents in Chancery Lane - although some were only there in image or voice. Senior Master Turner held a telephonic conference on the use of the telephone in presenting cases in court with two City lawyers based in their respective firms. At the same time, Lord Justice Brooke was involved in a live video conference on the subject of document imaging. Organised by the Court Service, the debates were intended to showcase a range of innovative technologies designed to reduce the length and costs of court proceedings.

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THE ATTORNEY General, John Morris QC, was one of the clear losers in the Prime Minister's reshuffle last week. Mr Morris, a democratically elected member of parliament and widely tipped to become the next Lord Chancellor, found himself relegated to the back benches where he will continue to serve the south Wales constituents of Aberavon. His successor, Lord Williams of Mostyn (below), is also a QC and a Welshman, but, like the current Lord Chancellor, has been plucked from the Lords and not the Commons.

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