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News in brief - 28 April 2017

Female senior partner at Farrers, new LSB interim chair, poor language skills

28 April 2017

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Senior partners

Farrer & Co has elected Anne-Marie Piper as its first ever female senior partner, with effect from 1 May 2017. Piper joined the charities team at Farrers as a partner in 2001 and has been a member of the firm’s management board for the last three years. She is the founder of the Charity Law Association. She will succeed Richard Parry, who has been senior partner since 2011 and is about to retire after 42 years with the firm. The charity lawyer is responsible for the introduction of a flexible working policy which is available to all within the firm. ‘Every senior partner brings with them their own experience and skills to the role and there is no doubt that my experience as a working mother has shaped my views on the profession,’ Piper said. Elsewhere, Howes Percival has announced the retirement of senior partner Andrew Barnes, after 28 years with the firm. Barnes was one of the founding partners responsible for setting up Howes Percival’s Norwich office in 1989, following his move across the city from Overbury Steward & Eaton.

Managing partner

Bolt Burdon Kemp has announced Jonathan Wheeler as its new managing partner. The former APIL president and founding member of the Law Society’s LGBT Committee takes over the reins from firm founder Lynne Burdon. ‘As a partner, I have always seen my role as less about “ownership” and more about “custodianship” – responsible for looking after the BBK business and brand for future generations. Now as managing partner, I feel this all the more,’ he said. ‘I am lucky to have such an inspired team around me and look forward to working with senior colleagues to shape the firm for continuing success in the future.’

New LSB interim chair

Dr Helen Phillips has been appointed interim chair of the Legal Services Board from 1 May, filling the role when current chair Sir Michael Pitt’s term finishes next week and until a new chair is appointed. Phillips was appointed to the LSB on 9 March 2015 for three years. She previously chaired the LSB’s remuneration and nomination committee. The former Natural England chief executive held a variety of roles in the Environment Agency. Her earlier career was primarily as a regulator, most recently as a board director of Yorkshire Water. Board members David Eveleigh and Marina Gibbs have also been reappointed from 1 April 2017 until 31 March 2020.

Bar suspension

Barrister Sellappah Job Joseph has been suspended for 12 months by an independent disciplinary tribunal for conducting litigation when not authorised to do so. The tribunal’s decision comes after Joseph acted on behalf of his client during divorce proceedings between 1 March 2015 and 31 May 2016. A BSB spokesperson said the tribunal’s decision to suspend Joseph served as a reminder to barristers about the need to obtain authorisation before conducting litigation. ‘The authorisation process is designed to assure the general public that barristers offering litigation services have the necessary skills, knowledge, systems, and insurance to do so. The tribunal’s decision to suspend Mr Joseph from all practice as a barrister for 12 months shows the importance placed on this process,’ they said. The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal.

Help refugees

The Home Office has announced that it is increasing the number of unaccompanied refugee children to be admitted to the UK from Europe under the Dubs Amendment from 350 to 480. In a written statement made on 26 April 2016 the minister of state for immigration, Robert Goodwill, said the initial figure given by the government was incorrect because a pledge from one region to take 130 children had been missed. The error is understood to have been uncovered in litigation brought by Help Refugees. The announcement comes ahead of a legal challenge brought by the NGO to the consultation process by which the government decided on the number of children to be admitted. Josephine Naughton, one of the group’s founders, said: ‘Without the scrutiny and disclosure that our litigation forced upon the Home Office, [this] extraordinary error would not have come to light. We think that this is far from the only flaw in the consultation process. We continue to push for the reopening of the consultation process and further revision of the number of these extremely vulnerable children to be admitted.’

Fraud investigation

The offices of two professional football clubs were raided last week, and several arrests made, as HMRC launches an investigation into suspected income tax and national insurance fraud. Newcastle United and West Ham’s grounds were raided over tax fraud believed to amount to £5m. It is suspected the fraud was committed during the transfer of players between French and Premier League clubs. The Revenue is working alongside the French authorities, with several premises also raided in France. Some 180 officers were involved across the two countries. Research from Pinsent Masons has found that HMRC carried out 761 raids in 2015/16 – a 28 per cent increase on the previous year when it conducted 593.

Language skills

Less than one-sixth of partners at the UK’s Top 100 law firms speak a foreign language, potentially limiting their ability to access fast growth markets across Latin America and Africa. New research from management consultancy Edward Drummond & Co found French to be the most popular with 62 per cent of partners citing it as a second language. German is the second most widely spoken language among partners – but only 20 per cent speak it – with Spanish third at 16 per cent. Mandarin and Cantonese is only spoken by 0.8 per cent, with Russian and Arabic also each spoken by less than 1 per cent of partners. SJ

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