News in brief: BPP launches legal innovation course, ASA dismisses QualitySolicitors complaint, and much more

Egan: Loss should lie with solicitor acting for fraudster

Law Society bids to intervene in Dreamvar case

The Law Society is seeking to permission to intervene in the upcoming appeal in Dreamvar v Mishcon de Reya, in which the London law firm – though acting for the buyer of a property – was found liable for breach of trust after the seller turned out to be an imposter, even though the firm was found to have acted honestly and reasonably.

President Joe Egan said: “Fraud may occur, regrettably, even where solicitors on both sides have been scrupulous in complying with all due diligence requirements and best practice.

“Where a solicitor has carried out his or her duties in full compliance with those requirements, we do not believe they should bear the loss on behalf of a defrauded purchaser.”

The Law Society will argue it would be preferable for the loss to lie with the solicitor acting for the fraudster because that solicitor is in a better position to detect or prevent the fraud.

The appeal is due to be heard at the end of this month.

BPP offers law students legal innovation and design module

BPP University Law School is set to launch a new legal innovation and design module for its students as part of a raft of initiatives to help them prepare for the future of legal practice.

It will also launch an innovation conference for students, a student hackathon, and a series of legal technology explainer videos. The new module will be offered from September, subject to validation.

“The new module is designed to equip students not only with the digital skills the legal practice of the future will need, but also the ability to use and design technology to respond to problems,” said Adam Curphey, the school’s head of innovation technology.

“The aim is to focus on responding creatively to the needs of clients. The key question is, how does technology help me better solve problems for my firm and clients?”

Jo-Anne Pugh, strategic director of programme design and development, added: “The introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination allows us to embed technology into our teaching in a way we have never previously been able to.

“We intend to radically redesign our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in response to a clear desire from the profession to equip new entrants with digital skills.”

ASA dismisses QualitySolicitors complaint

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint that QualitySolicitors (QS) misled consumers by saying it had over 100 branches countrywide.

QS provided a list of 103 firms that were part of the network in the UK as of 19 September 2017 and said that since then, the number had increased.

The ruling said: “The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “over 100 branches countrywide” to mean that QualitySolicitors would have a presence at more than 100 locations in the UK, with a conventional, public-facing address at that location.

“We understood that, while the firms that were part of the QualitySolicitors network retained their original name and that QualitySolicitors did not own any of those properties or firms, they were nonetheless part of the QualitySolicitors network and brand.

“Because Quality Solicitors were able to provide evidence that there were more than 100 physical branches within their network, we concluded that claim had been substantiated and was not misleading.”

Ban for woman who stole while working at SDT

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has imposed a ban on working in the profession on Therese Ann Castleman. In 2015 she was convicted of stealing three Apple iPhones worth £1,950 belonging to her former employer, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Ms Castleman received a community order requiring her to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay costs of £325.

How the Patient Claim Line sponsorship will look in stadiums

Medical negligence law firm becomes video referee sponsor

Patient Claim Line, the consumer brand of Southport-based medical negligence firm Fletchers Solicitors, has signed a two-year deal to sponsor all video referee decisions at all Betfred Super League games. It is the first time that video referee decisions have been sponsored in the UK.

Chief executive Ed Fletcher said: “People need a real expert to review their case quickly and give them a straight forward, simple, honest answer as to whether or not they have a case. The way the match officials in Super League use the video referee to achieve a similar goal is a wonderful metaphor for our service.”

Cold-calling company director disqualified as director

The director of a company that made cold calls and had its claims management company authorisation cancelled by the Ministry of Justice has accepted a 12-year director disqualification.

Tony Ray Abbott was a director of Reactiv Media Ltd, a Halifax-based marketing company. The company went into liquidation in 2016 with estimated creditor claims totalling over £2m.

He admitted failing to ensure that Reactiv Media provided accurate information in a Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership grant application, leading to an unmerited payment of over £33,000.

He also failed to ensure it complied with its responsibilities under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and The Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules 2014, leading to an unpaid penalty of £75,000 and cancellation of authorisation to provide claims management services.

Thirdly, the company traded to the unreasonable risk and ultimate detriment of HM Revenue & Customs and to his benefit, while it was insolvent.

David Brooks, group leader at the Insolvency Service, said: “As a whole, [the allegations] show a director who flagrantly breached his duties to regulators and company creditors over an extended period. The privilege of limited liability status should be removed from such individuals.

“Facts of this case, which were particularly disquieting, were the £252,071 of personal spending on deposits for two houses in the very month that the unjustified grant funds were given to the company, and the nature of some of the £177,664 of identified personal benefits taken from 1 September 2015: This included at least £55,000 spent on jewellery and Mr Abbott’s wedding.”

SRA AML deadline looms

Law firms have until close of play today to notify the SRA about people working in certain roles in their practices, as a result of new anti-money-laundering regulations introduced by the government that have already been notified by the regulator.

The new regulations place new duties and tasks on both solicitors and the SRA as a “supervisor”. Firms offering services that fall within scope of the regulations – broadly those participating in certain financial or real property transactions – are required to provide more information.

Those offering such services must apply to the SRA for approval of all officers, managers and beneficial owners as defined in the regulations. And if they offer trust or company services, they must be included in the register which will be held by HM Revenue and Customs.

Firms that do not carry out activities that fall under the regulations also have to make a declaration through the online form.

Click here for more details.

SFE creates chief legal officer role

Lawyers’ group Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) – which has 1,500 members, including barristers and chartered legal executives – has appointed its first chief legal officer.

Karon Walton, who has joined from Northampton-based Tollers, where she was a partner and head of the elderly and vulnerable client unit, will be responsible for developing the training strategy of the organisation.

Working with chief executive Lakshmi Turner, she will also look to develop commercial relationships for SFE, as well as look after stakeholder engagement.

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