After years of over-charging, City lawyers could face tough justice
Opportunistic city lawyers who over-charge their clients face tough new rules aimed at tackling the excesses and mismanagement of corporate law firms, under proposals to be published this week. The crackdown on the City's legal profession comes after growing concerns that regulators have failed to deal with abuses at multi-million pound law firms.
Clients have told a review led by former Tory cabinet member Lord Hunt of Wirral that lawyers are guilty of over-charging, failing to provide objective advice and breaching commercial confidentialities. New figures show City law firms are emerging from the recession with big rises in profits since the start of the year. Research by PriceWaterhousecoopers found that profits per partner at the UK's largest law firms was up by as much as 41 per cent. The average partner's earnings in the top 10 biggest law firms rose by almost £30,000 to £181,000.
Lord Hunt's report, on the regulation of the legal profession, will outline a tough new approach to governance of City firms. It is expected to endorse recommendations made by a former Ministry of Justice civil servant, Nick Smedley, whom Lord Hunt asked to investigate regulation in the City. He concluded that the current regulatory framework for City law firms undertaken by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority does not "address the true risks".
The City has been hit by a number of scandals involving corporate law firms in recent years. In 2005, a top City lawyer was jailed for eight years for stealing £5.8m from clients' accounts to fund a "life of opulence".
The sums plundered by Michael Fielding, 63, a partner in the London firm Lawrence Graham, had been almost beyond comprehension, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said at Southwark Crown Court. "Put simply, of its type this case could hardly be more serious... it is off the financial scale," he said at the time. The court heard that Fielding had used his "immense intellectual capacity" to hoodwink clients.
In 2007, Barry O'Brien, a former head of corporate finance at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, was fined £9,000 and agreed to pay £50,000 in costs over his conflicted role in Philip Green's aborted takeover of Marks & Spencer.
Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
- 2 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 3 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 4 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence referendum live: Latest news as Scotland decides Yes or No
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...
£45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...
£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experie...
£100 - £222 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting f...