Law: Briefs

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The Independent Culture
THE PROTRACTED legal battle over the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet may turn out to be a trifling side-show compared to what Spain has in store for Argentina.

The Spanish judge who originally requested Pinochet's extradition has now demanded that Argentina sends General Leopoldo Galtieri and 100 senior police and military officers on charges of genocide, torture and terrorism.

It is estimated that 10,000 people disappeared in Argentina in the Seventies and Eighties. General Pinochet was a valued British ally during the Falklands War but that didn't stop Jack Straw signing the extradition papers. General Galtieri, the man blamed for starting the South Atlantic conflict, will need no legal advice warning him to steer clear of Britain for his holidays.

IN THE topsy-turvy world of law firm mergers nothing is what it seems. Last week Stephens Innocent, the media law firm, whose clients include Paula Yates, Anthea Turner and Des Lynam, announced that it was joining forces with commercial solicitors, Finers, to create Finers Stephens Innocent. This, however, came as something of a "surprise" to another potential suitor, Rakisons.

Finers had acted for Stephens Innocent in the merger discussions intended to deliver Rakisons Stephens Innocent. That deal fell through, leaving Rakisons' senior partner Tony Wollenberg to comment this week: "Initially we had seen potential in our firms merging. However, during due diligence, we concluded that a full merger would not be in Rakisons' best interests."

E-COMMERCE, BUSINESS which is conducted over the Internet, is leaving law firms behind, according to a new survey carried out by Insider's Guide to Legal Services: Digital Media & E-Commerce.

Despite intensive marketing by law firms, too many clients are still paying for lawyers' "learning curves", says editor Mark Brandon. "The gap is clearly widening between those firms which genuinely understand these issues and which have adapted their practice to meet clients' needs - and those which merely pay lip service to the concepts."