Law: Briefs

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THE FORMER Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern is not a lawyer whom one would expect to find sunning himself on one of the tropical beaches of the Caribbean.

But duty calls, and the former cabinet minister is off to Trinidad and Tobago to head up a three-man commission to examine the administration of justice on the Caribbean islands. Lord Mackay will have little time to don swimming trunks, as the inquiry is to consider some fairly weighty matters. Not least of which is: what influence do Caribbean drug cartels have on the justice system there?

SIR SYDNEY Kentridge is proof that the "cab rank rule" - the convention that a barrister must take the first case that comes along - is alive and well.

After being appointed legal adviser to the Lord Chancellor in an appeal against a sex discrimination ruling, Sir Sydney has been named as the lawyer who will defend Jeffrey Archer at his appearance before the Conservative Party's ethics and integrity committee. Sir Sydney, a member of the "pounds 1m club" for super-silks, must lament the days when he took a run of cases that included such human rights notables as Nelson Mandela and the family of Steve Biko.

IT IS a long-standing tradition that scriptwriters working on the Law Society's Christmas review should make repeated and scurrilous reference to the society's elected leaders.

But one name in Friday's review was conspicuous by its absence. A last- minute edict from on high banned any mention of the Law Society's vice- president, Kamlesh Bahl, the former head of the Equal Opportunities Commission, now at the centre of bullying allegations.

ONE IN four law firms has adopted an "ostrich approach" to the Y2K problem. According to the accountants Grant Thornton, 23 per cent of firms have no contingency plans for any disasters arising from the millennium bug.

The report claims that the law firms, 15 per cent of which are from the top tier of practices, have failed to focus on "critical IT operations and date-sensitive micro-processor equipment". The accountants says that this could leave some law firms without electricity, telephones and even transport.