People & Business: Barristers taken to task over fees

IF YOU thought "fat cattery" was restricted to the privatised utilities, have a look at the legal profession. The Bar Council has admitted secretly that some barristers are claiming "ludicrously high" legal aid fees after the Government handed it a list of 20 barristers whose fees have been heavily reduced on taxation.

This week's Lawyer magazine says that it has obtained a confidential memo which reports "anecdotal accounts of barristers claiming fees where they do not appear entitled to do so, or of silks discovering that their juniors are claiming ludicrously high amounts."

The memo adds: "One barrister sent in a response to the Inland Revenue ... indicating that he always inflated his fees knowing that they would be taxed down" [by the courts].

The memo stems from a crackdown by the Lord Chancellor's Department on over-charging. It was written by Mark Stobbs, head of professional standards and legal services at the Bar Council, and circulated to its professional standards committee.

Coincidentally the Lawyer also reports that public opinion of lawyers in the US is at an all-time low. "A recent survey showed that 70 per cent of the public viewed lawyers as greedy compared with 52 per cent last year."

STILL ON the subject of the legal profession, I've just received a press notice from the National Investigation Service (NIS) of HM Customs & Excise that a practising barrister from Manchester was sentenced yesterday to six months imprisonment for fraudulently evading VAT.

The Customs notice says: "Richard Alan Quenby altered figures on his returns which had been supplied to him by his chambers accountants.

"Officers from the NIS proved that the amount of VAT evaded over a nine month period was pounds 8,500. Quenby pleaded not guilty to three charges at his trial at Leeds Crown Court, but after a four-day trial was found guilty on all charges."

The Customs notice concluded: "He claimed part of the reason for the error was that he must have completed the figures during the chambers Christmas party."

AN INTRIGUING chap called Robert A Brawer, who has been a chief executive officer of the American Maidenform bra-making company and a professor of English literature, has now penned his own book, which sifts great literature for insights into management.

Fictions of Business claims to demonstrate how great novelists and playwrights "can provide unique guidance to business readers." It is certainly a refreshing change from the usual semi-literate, jargon-ridden business books which seem to proliferate these days.

Now you can put your feet up with a drink and read Anthony Trollope on railway speculation in the 19th century, or Geoffrey Chaucer on the idea of the "self-made man".

Mr Brawer quotes authors as diverse as James Thurber (on office politics), George Bernard Shaw and Joseph Heller (on believing the "corporate gospel").

The most striking chapter is on David Mamet and his terrifying play about stressed-out salesmen, Glengarry Glen Ross, a work which would put anyone off trying to sell anything.

I've no idea whether this tome will improve anyone's management skills, but its a good read. Fictions of Business will be published on 24 September by John Wiley & Sons, price pounds 17.99.

JUAN SOTOLONGO, a Cuban-born businessman, has just bought a "customer care" call centre in the City from AT&T, and his sights are set on more acquisitions in this expanding sector on the continent.

Mr Sotolongo was working for UPS last year when he started researching the call centre sector. He then set up a company called 7C with Simon Philips of Bridgwater Management Consultancy and sold 40 per cent of the company to an investors' group. 7C announced yesterday that it had bought AT&T Solutions Customer Care.

"Our main customers are AT&T, Boots and Vodafone," says Mr Sotolongo, who claims London is a good place to recruit people with language skills - 7C deals with customer in over 15 countries.

So is the name 7C some pun on seven seas? "No, it was suggested by one of our staff . It stands for communication, consultancy, camaraderie, commitment, customer-centred and call centres."

VALERIE GORDON-WALKER has left her job as human resources director at Barclays Capital to do the same job at German investment banking rival Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (WestLB).

WestLB is growing and now includes the Panmure Gordon stockbroking house, and Quorum, a fund manager which specialises in quantative techniques.

Ms Gordon-Walker previously worked at The Merrett Group, Lloyd's underwriters, and Marks & Spencer. She is described by one former colleague as "extremely professional and thoroughly charming with it."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment