Law: Briefs

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The Independent Culture
In addition to publishing his consultation paper on the reform of rights of audience yesterday, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, also published a paper earlier this week entitles Justice at the Right Price. In the paper, he unveiled details of the Lord Chancellor's Department's plans to delay the introduction of fixed pretrial legal costs in fast track cases so that the department can carry out a fundamental review into why the cost of litigation is so high. The consultation paper also includes proposals to introduce proportionality into the civil justice system - that is, to introduce a link between the value claims and the costs of pursuing a claim in the civil courts.

Under the proposals, recoverable legal costs by lawyers would be capped at a maximum of 50 per cent of the award or claim, with a possible exemption in personal injury cases.

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City law firm Ashurst Morris Crisp's managing partner Ian Nisse has received a poison pen letter, which is purportedly written by a member of his staff. The letter - which was leaked to the legal press - accuses him of allowing partners greater profits while giving many staff no pay rise this year. Ashursts' senior partner Andrew Soundy said the firm had not taken the matter seriously because the letter was anonymous and was "not representative of an organisation of more than 1,000 people."

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And at the end of a busy week for the Lord Chancellor, he ended the week as the recipient last night of The Lawyer Personality of the Year award at a dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel, attended by over 1000 legal luminaries. The firm which has acted for Chris Evans in his bid for Virgin Radio and also for The Guardian in the libel case brought by former MP Jonathan Aitken won the overall award for Law Firm of the Year - Olswang. The legal profession's equivalent of the Oscars also had Cherie Booth QC as the chair of its judging panel, and a flurry of rumours that at one firm from the Big Five law firms, staff had been handed fortune cookies to try and improve the chances of the firm winning one of the awards.

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