A former Manchester solicitor who acted as a drugs mule for her fugitive lover was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) last week. Angela Brookwell, 29, who worked at Wigan firm Stephensons, was jailed for 33 months last year, after she admitted possession of a class A drug with intent to supply and harbouring an offender. Last week, the SDT ruled she was unfit to practise law and ordered her to be struck off the roll, and to pay £1,500 in costs. The tribunal heard Brookwell began a passionate affair with criminal Wayne Horrocks, whom she met when he was a client of her firm, after her marriage broke down. The SDT was told that when she was arrested, in 2009, police found heroin worth £1,000 in her handbag, and text messages on her phone that indicated she had delivered drugs for Horrocks and others. The tribunal also heard that, although Brookwell told police she did not know where Horrocks was, she had set him up in a flat. Brookwell is understood to be on parole, but did not attend the SDT hearing. A spokeswoman for Stephensons said: ‘Angela Brookwell was an employee of the firm for almost six years, and her employment ended in June 2009. Angela was a solicitor practising in family law, with a bright future. To see such a promising career cut short by her actions is disappointing and saddening for all concerned.’
The boat, which was acquired by Cruise Loch Lomond, started its journey on Loch Ness and travelled through Scotland’s waterways before being transported by road to Loch Lomond.Measuring 16.5 m x 5.3 m x 6 m and weighing 50 tonnes, Lomond Monarch was lifted out of the River Leven onto a Nooteboom Manoovr four-axle, double extending steer trailer, and was transported in combination with Galt’s STGO CAT 3 Mercedes tractor unit.The combination travelled through Bonhill, Jamestown and onwards to Balloch, where the boat was lifted and lowered onto Loch Lomond by a mobile crane.Galt Transport specialises in large abnormal loads as well as in lorry mounted cranes, industrial storage and driver training, with a fleet of over 60 trucks and 100 trailers. www.galttransport.co.uk
The ice-class vessel, named Caspian Flora, was built at Damen Shipyards Changde in China. It will be used for the transportation of marine-related project equipment as well as personnel transportation, deployment and retrieval of navigational aids, performance of channel inspections and removal of obstacles.www.damen.com www.coc.kz
The majority of ‘legal service providers’ feel they have leadership and culture in their firm to support innovation – but just a quarter have taken the plunge in the past three years.Joint research from the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Legal Services Board was published today showing that 25% of providers have introduced a new or improved service since 2012.The survey of 1,500 organisations, including around 900 law firms, found 80% feel they have the management structure to make innovation possible, with 40% having put in place practical steps to promote new ideas.Solicitors’ firms were found to be more innovative than barristers’ chambers, particularly through extra use of electronic communication with clients and the use of electronic forms and case management systems.Other key areas where providers have changed have been in working on fixed fees, new practice areas and greater use of technology.Almost three-quarters of providers on social media use the platforms to advertise services and provide legal updates or free information, although the direct provision of legal services through social media was uncommon.Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the report’s publication yesterday, LSB chief executive Richard Moriarty said the report reflected a mixed view of firms’ willingness to innovate.‘Very encouragingly innovation is happening out there but there is room for improvement,’ he said. ‘I certainly believe there should be more innovation in the sector to reflect the change in consumer expectation.‘There is unmet legal need and if we are going to tap into that there has to be new ways of structuring and delivering legal services.’The report reflected some interesting attitudes to innovation and how it can be achieved.Solicitor firms appear to be convinced the driver for innovation can be found in-house, with 60% respondents rating the recruitment of non-legal staff as not important.Almost one-quarter (23.6%) of firms regarded regulation as a barrier to innovation, with 17.4% citing a lack of necessary finance. Fewer than one in 10 solicitor firms reported that attitudes among staff or clients were holding back innovation.The report concluded that alternative business structures have had a ‘positive’ effect on innovation and are 13-15% more likely to introduce new legal services.SRA chief executive Paul Philip said alternative business structures had proved more ‘nimble’ in their leadership and ability to make decisions than traditional partnerships.The regulator has granted around 500 licences of which 19 have been linked to firms on the stock market, and Philip admitted the SRA can improve its handling of those entities.‘We spend a lot of due diligence asking who owns law firms,’ he said. ‘We have sorted that out.‘The real issue is can we regulate law firms? We have lots of people who understand the issue. There are other issues we need to develop our skill set in, such as listed [firms]. We are learning as the market learns.’
Campaigners seeking to reform the personal injury sector are urging regulators to name and shame solicitors getting work through cold calls. The Ethical Marketing Charter, a body of 70 law firms and claims management companies, today called for the government to implement a blanket ban on unsolicited calls in the autumn statement next week.With the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers also advocating a ban, the sector is keen to show it is as enthusiastic as insurers and government ministers about stamping out unethical practices.The efforts come at a sensitive time politically, as the Ministry of Justice considers how it can reduce fraud and drive down the cost of car insurance. Proposals are expected to be released for consultation before the end of the year and PI lawyers will try to steer legislators away from banning damages for soft-tissue injury and raising the small claims limit.Simon Trott, managing director of National Accident Helpline, founders of the charter, said recent government action on cold calls, including granting the information commissioner new powers to levy fines up to £500,000, were welcome but not strong enough. Simon Trott‘Only through [a ban] can we cut cold calls at source, prevent rogue firms from dodging the ban, reduce the demand for leads made by nuisance calls, and ensure any breaches of the rules are enforce by law,’ said Trott.The group wants any ban to be accompanied by a requirement for the Solicitors Regulation Authority to ‘name and shame’ rogue law firms and take tough enforcement action.Campaigners also want action on so-called ‘phoenixing’, where claims management companies that have been forced to cease trading simply relaunch under a different name.Matt Currie, head of motor at national firm Irwin Mitchell, added: ‘This type of marketing is a nuisance to consumers as well as misleading them and damaging the reputation of the legal profession – the government has an opportunity to address this issue in the autumn statement.’
China CNR Corp raised US$1·2bn selling 1·8 billion shares in a Hong Kong IPO in May. The company had listed in Shanghai in 2009. CBR has also signed a strategic co-operation agreement with Export-Import Bank of China with the aim of increasing its export activities. On June 6 Wabtec announced the completion of its $220m acquisition of Fandstan Electric Group, including the Brecknell Willis, Stemmann Technik and TransTech brands (RG 3.14 p20). ‘Fandstan Electric fits all of our strategic growth initiatives’, said Wabtec President & CEO Raymond T Betler. ‘Global and market expansion, aftermarket expansion, and new products and technologies.’
GERMANY: Alstom announced on December 15 that it had been awarded a €160m contract to supply 30 Coradia Continental electric multiple-units to Hessische Landesbahn. Alstom said these would be the first Coradia Continental units to meet the Locomotives & Passenger Rolling Stock Technical Specification for Interoperability.The order covers 13 three-car units with a capacity of 350 passengers and 17 four-car units with a capacity of 460 passengers. They will have four or five multi-purpose areas to provide space for wheelchairs, bicycles and prams, with roof-mounted traction equipment to provide a ‘spacious’ interior with wide gangways. The 160 km/h EMUs will be equipped with wi-fi, power sockets and a real-time passenger information system.They are scheduled to enter service in December 2018, when HLB will take over from DB Regio as the operator of Netz Südhessen-Untermain services RB75 Wiesbaden – Mainz – Darmstadt – Aschaffenburg and RB55 Frankfurt – Maintal – Hanau – Aschaffenburg – Laufach under a contract with the Rhein-Main, Rheinland-Pfalz Süd and Bayern transport authorities.
INTERNATIONAL: Three strategic decisions were taken at the 13th General Assembly of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail which was held at the end of September. These covered: the creation of a new appendix on the safe operation of trains, intended to open the way to the expansion of interoperability beyond Europe; modification of the Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of Use of Infrastructure (CUI UR), to make it possible to develop simple, shared rules concerning the allocation of international train paths; modification of Article 34 of COTIF to harmonise the deadlines for the entry into force of modifications to the Convention, reflecting the constant need to adapt. In order to deal with the increased activity the decisions will entail, the General Assembly has set up an ad hoc committee on co-operation that will help involve member states in operational contact groups. The first of these groups is to look at the carriage of packages by rail between China and Europe, and is expected involve a number of partners in addition to OTIF and the Universal Postal Union. In order to optimise the running of the OTIF, the General Assembly supported setting up a working group of legal experts to deal with the challenges of adapting regulations to digitalisation of logistics chains. Head of OTIF’s Technical Interoperability Department Bas Leermakers is to act as Interim Secretary General from January 1, when current Secretary General François Davenne is due to leave to join UIC as Deputy Director General ahead of taking over the role of Director General on July 1. OTIF is to hold an extraordinary session on February 27 to elect a new Secretary General.
Mothers in Rwanda will finally start getting their full salary while on a 12 weeks maternity following a new scheme by Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) according to a report by the New Times.Mothers in Rwanda have for long had to choose between loosing 80 percent of their salary by staying with their new born babies or return to work so as to earn the full amount.“I had to return to work after six weeks. Even though the baby and I were still weak, I had to endure because that was the law. If I exceeded that period I would be penalised or even risk losing my job,” Anatolie Uzayisenga, a teacher, told The New Times last week.The new scheme which kicked off in November in the East African nation is part of the Government’s commitment towards empowering Rwandan women to physically recover and give newborns the best start in life. The scheme prevents maternity leave from obstructing women’s contribution to the national development.The women who stand to benefit from this scheme are employed women who have contributed to the scheme for at least one month before going for the maternity leave. The employee (both male and female) will pay 0.3 percent of their gross salary and the employer an exact amount as well, as contribution to the scheme.RSSB as the custodian of the maternity leave benefits insurance will cover six weeks of the paid leave starting from the seventh week while compensations for the first six weeks will be met by the employer.
GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 SAPPORO – Hiroyasu Shimizu coasted to the men’s 500 meters at the Makomanai invitational competition in a meet record Saturday as the two-time Olympic medalist made his debut in the new speedskating season.Shimizu, who added silver in Salt Lake City to the gold he won in Nagano in 1998, clocked 36.35 seconds in the day’s second race for a two-race total of 1 minute, 13.20 seconds, claiming his first win at the Makomanai meet since his last appearance four years ago. Tomonori Kawata finished second in 1:14.10.