Newsletter of the Berks, Bucks &

Oxon Inc. Law Society

March / April 1999 – Volume 9 : No. 34

From the President

Michael King

Indemnity Insurance

When in my last column I said "watch this space" I little thought that I would be commenting on an extraordinary decision by Council on 2nd March. The Gazette has reported fully the proceedings on that day and I am sure that you are familiar with what happened. To quote from my colleague on Council, Kevin Martin, "it is as if I have visited two planets; The council meeting this morning and the Special General Meeting this afternoon". To remind you Council voted 32 to 29 to retain the compulsory mutual professional indemnity fund and declined to give the profession the option of seeking insurance on the open market. This was against the advice of the Council’s Interim Executive Committee, which includes the President, Vice President and Deputy-Vice President. It has to be pointed out that this was not a majority decision by the Council since there were fourteen absences and no abstentions.

The Special General meeting in the afternoon voted by more than two to one to urge the Council to give the profession the choice of obtaining insurance cover from the market. Your President should declare an interest here since he seconded the motion at the SGM. This Society as you know consulted its members after the level of insurance indemnity premiums was known in September 1998 and as far as I am aware this is the only consultation of this sort carried out. Derek Child, a previous President, described the result as "the best response on any subject circulated in recent years". There was a clear majority in favour of the right to seek insurance elsewhere with the implication that this should be in addition to, and not entirely in substitution for, the mutual fund. The Committee agreed that I should use the result of the consultation in the debate when I would "be able to represent the views of the members of this Society with clear facts and opinions from the grass roots". I did just that in the debate in Council and felt entirely justified, therefore, in agreeing to second the motion at the SGM.

The President of the Law Society, immediately following the carrying of the motion at the SGM, called for a postal ballot on the question of freedom of choice - and that is where we are as I write this column in mid March.

No doubt SIF will continue its campaign - quite understandable perhaps – to persuade the profession to maintain the status quo and therefore its existence.

I would urge all members of this Society to exercise their right to vote in this ballot. The official line is that the result of the ballot is not binding on the Council – I do not necessarily accept this - surely the Council would ignore the result at its peril. But, whichever way the result goes it is surely democracy at work.

I believe passionately in choice. There has been a lot of scaremongering in this debate. Please do not be influenced by the arguments of the vested interests. Some firms have been threatened with extinction by the severity of the increase in their premiums and others will be. If, with the necessary safeguards, they can obtain cover in the open market, surely, they should have the right to do so.

The motion you will be asked to vote upon is - that the Council of the Law Society takes whatever steps maybe necessary to allow those firms of solicitors which seek to do so the freedom of choice forthwith to obtain their professional indemnity insurance on the open market.

CHOICE is what matters. I voted for it and I was in good company. John Appleby who chaired the Law Society’s Indemnity Insurance Review Group and produced the authoritative report voted for it – all three Officers of the Law Society voted for it. Now it is Your turn to decide whether You are in favour of CHOICE.

Contents:

Annual Dinner - Annual General Meeting/Seminar - Applications & Vacancies

BB&O Committee - Calendar - Comment - Committee Report - Court/Registries Closure Day

Education & Training - Helplines & Information - Professional News - Professional Services

Reports - SIF - Woolf

Comment

Whatever the rights and wrongs involved in the SIF debate, we find ourselves, once again, amazed at the handling of the issue by the Council of the Law Society. Timing of the Council Debate immediately before the EGM smacks of, at the very least, an insensitivity towards the views of the profession and recalls the controversy over the consultation process last Summer. Many will feel the Council must do better or face a radical re-examination of its own constitution, practices and procedures.


Reports

Committee Briefing – 8 March 1999

The main BB&O Committee met on 8 March. Amongst the topics discussed were further consideration of the BB&O’s membership structure and whether we should embark upon a corporate or block membership scheme. A decision has not yet been taken, but if there are to be changes, members will be notified in good time for the AGM in June.

The lecture programme for 1999/2000 was reviewed. The tried and tested formula of wide ranging up-dating lectures will feature once again.

There was much discussion in the wake of the SIF decision by the Council of the Law Society. Concerns were expressed over the handling of the issue, the timing of the Council meeting and what many perceived to be a surprise result in view of the extensive support for the alternative schemes.

Reports were received from the Local Associations.

The arrangements for the AGM were discussed. The AGM will be preceded by a Seminar on Woolf reforms and their implementation in the local Courts (news of this elsewhere).

The arrangements for the Society’s Annual Dinner in May were discussed and ticket prices set in time for publication of the event in this newsletter. It was noted that it is some years since the Dinner was last held in an Oxford College and that this should prove a popular venue, so early booking is to be advised.


Solicitors Indemnity Fund

We note, with interest that the much troubled SIF has won an award for "Corporate Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution" from the Centre for Dispute resolution…

County Court Rates - Oxford and Banbury

The District Judges for Oxford and Banbury have announced the following hourly rates (inclusive of mark-up) as from 1 March and in accordance with the Costs Practice direction coming into effect that day.

Grade 1: (Partners and Solicitors over 4 years pqe) 115 to 135

Grade 2: (Solicitors up to 4 years pqe and Senior Legal Executives) 105

Grade 3: (Legal Executives and Senior Para Legals) 85

Grade 4: (Trainee Solicitors and Junior Para Legals) 65


Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme

The Law Society is consulting the profession over the establishment of an Accreditation Scheme for Criminal Practitioners.

The purpose of the Scheme is said to be to enable the public to identify experienced criminal defence practitioners, and so the professions’ views are being sought over the scheme in principle and the criteria for membership.

BB&O’s Courts and Legal Services Sub-Committee is considering the proposals with a view to responding on behalf of the BB&O. We would urge local criminal practitioners to send in their individual responses. The deadline is 30 April.

One view (quite apart from any criticism of the selection criteria) might be that the existence of Duty Solicitor Schemes along with a well developed grapevine amongst the criminal fraternity means that clients already have ready access to experienced practitioners. There are, however, counterviews particularly over the quality of some advice given under Duty Solicitor Schemes.


Problems?

Please write to the Hon Secretary of the BB&O, DX 40168 Bicester, with any matter you would like brought to the attention of the BB&O Committee, or would like the BB&O Committee to raise with Chancery Lane on your behalf. Please remember if you do not let us know what is bothering you, we cannot tell Chancery Lane. Please make sure that your voice is heard.

If you are in personal or professional difficulties, there are a number of avenues open to you if you are seeking advice and/or assistance. The telephone numbers and contact details for this are in the information panel on the back page of this newsletter.

Professional News


New Publications

The Law Society has launched a new bimonthly journal "Litigation Funding" which aims to bring litigators expert guidance on aspects of ‘no win, no fee’ funding. Annual Subscriptions are offered at an introductory rate of 100. Sample copies and more information are available from Law Society Publishing : 0171-320-5786.

The "Conveyancing Handbook" has just been published in hardback. It includes new rules on property selling by solicitors, changes to Rule 6 and new Land Registry forms. It costs 14.95 and is available from Marstons, Tel: 01235-465656.


Family Mediation and Immigration Panels

The Law Society Mediation Panel will open for applications in July 1999 in preparation for an official launch in October 1999. Solicitors and suitably qualified fellows of the Institute of legal Executives are welcome to register their interest.

The Immigration law Panel will open for applications in Spring 1999, ready for an official launch in July 1999. Any solicitors, Fellows or members of the Institute of Legal Executives or solicitors’ clerks whose work is supervised by a solicitor, are welcome to apply.

Further details of both panels from Christine Caswell, Professional Accreditation, Ipsley Court, Redditch B98 0TD. DX 19114 Redditch. Tel: 01527-504416 or e.mail: christine.caswell@lawsociety.org.uk


Civil Justice Reforms – Court Closure Day

Friday, 23 April 1999

All County Courts and District Registries will be closed on Friday, 23 April to enable the new Civil Justice Reforms software to be installed. However, the usual arrangements will be in place to deal with urgent business.

Probate Registries which share county court accommodation will also be closed to the public, but the Royal Courts of Justice and the Crown Courts will remain open.


Oyez 1999 National Pairs Golf Championship

in support of the SBA

Closing date for entries is 16th April 1999

Entry forms and information on 01675-465566

The BB&O Annual Dinner

Friday, 21 May 1999

Trinity College, Oxford

This year, our President and Council Member, Michael King, has chosen to take the BB&O Annual Dinner back to an Oxford College which has witnessed most of second millennium. Trinity College was founded in 1555 during the reign of Mary Tudor on the site of Durham College, which was itself founded in 1286 when the Plantagenet King, Edward the First, was on the Throne.

The Dining Hall in which the Dinner is to be held was rebuilt on its medieval foundations in 1618. With its 18th Century ceiling and panelling, its oriel window with 16th Century Swiss glass and polished refectory tables and benches with College Silver, it will make an elegant and fitting venue to entertain your clients, partners, colleagues and staff.

The Menu will be:

College Terrine with Peach Chutney

Baked Scallop with Crab,

Ginger and Lemon Grass

Pan-fried Duck

with Butternut Squash, Lime, Honey and

Pine Kernels

followed by

Apple and Raisin Brulee

with Praline,

Clotted Cream, Berries and Currants

Coffee and Mints

Half a bottle of College Wine per person is included in the ticket price

The Reception before Dinner will be held in the Cellars under the Hall which have been converted into a Bar – with drinks at College Prices. Additional College Wine will be available over the Bar if you wish to replenish stocks during Dinner.

The Speakers include The Honorable Michael Beloff, QC MA FRSA, Head of the College, Michael Mathews, The Law Society National President and Dan Brennan, The Chairman of the Bar Council.

Tickets cost 45 plus vat

Please use the enclosed cream booking form

Education & Training

Continuing Professional Development

This is a reminder to those who have not yet started to do anything about CPD. Please note that everyone is now caught by the requirement of continuing professional development as from 1 November 1998. Those who were not subject to CPD in the past will have to clock up 48 hrs of CPD in a three year period which commenced on 1 November 1998. If you require information on how to set up your training record or confirmation of requirements, telephone The Law Society on 0870-606-2555. Remember too that the BB&O’s excellent lecture programme provides what is probably the most cost effective way of achieving your CPD requirements.

BB&O Lectures

This season’s BB&O lectures are being held at the Forte Post House, Handycross, High Wycombe (Junction 4 of the M40) and the remaining lecture topics are, like the rest, given by lecturers well known to the BB&O and Professions, so ensuring good value and quality.

Each of the lectures attracts 2 hours CPD and lasts between one and a half hours with a period for questions and answers. The competitive price combined with the convenient venue means that firms should be able to send several partners, qualified staff, trainees or unadmitted executives. The cost is just 30 + vat for members and 35 + vat for non-members,

1998/9 Lecture Programme

Apl 12 Employment Update Ray Snow

May 10 Improving Time Recording and Billing Robert Mowbray

Please use the green booking form enclosed with this newsletter

"Life After Woolf"

BB&O AGM Seminar

The BB&O AGM on 14 June will again take place in lovely surroundings, in the Elizabethan Room of Bisham Abbey, the National Sports Centre, on the banks of the Thames near Marlow. And, in order to take full advantage of the timing – six weeks after the introduction of Woolf,- the BB&O Committee decided to organise a seminar : Life After Woolf

This will start at 2.30 pm and be chaired by District Judge John Davidson. The speakers will include a number of other District Judges, including Brian Bowman and Paul Mostyn, who between them will be able to cover just how the new Civil Procedure Rules are operating thoughout the area.

There will be a break for a buffet tea at approximately 4 pm to give members a chance to talk to the speakers individually before returning for a session with His Honour Judge Michael Cook – "Cook on Costs" and for a final period of questions and answers.

This will be followed by the BB&O Annual General Meeting at approximately 6 pm.

The ticket price for the seminar which gives members 3 hours CPD and includes an excellent hot and cold buffet plus tea and coffee is only 45 + vat for members and 55 + vat for non-members.

Please book early on the enclosed yellow booking form as numbers are restricted

Applications and Vacancies

Paralegal, outdoor clerical or general legal assistance work required by graduate with excellent degree and commendation in LPC. Computer literate, adaptable and prepared to work on temporary basis if necessary. Contact S Kumeri, 5 Byron Road, Earley, Reading, Berks RG6 1EP.

Training Contract or paralegal work required by graduate with LPC and Post Graduate Diploma in Law. Excellent academic record. Good work experience. CV available. Contact: J Dowling, 124 St Edith’s Marsh, Bromham, Chippenham, Wilts SN15 2DE. Tel: 01380-8500156.

Training Contract required by graduate with CPE and LPC presently teaching Law at A and As level. Varied work experience. Contact K M James, 3 Curzon Avenue, Hazlemere, Bucks HP15 7PG. Tel: 01494-816235.

Probate / Conveyancing Clerk qualified to FILEX level with eight years experience in private practice seeks fee earning position within |BB&O area. Computer literate with a good eye for detail. Contact V Jennings, 44 Nelson Close, High Wycombe, Bucks HP13 7NS. Tel: 01494-471650.

Professional Services

The Law Society Careers and Recruitment Service

has been very successful in finding suitably qualified Solicitor, Locums Paralegals and legal Executives on a nationwide, confidential and professional basis. The Service can also help you cope with fluctuations in workload and by putting you in touch with local temporary staff who are legal Practice Course holders and have significant relevant work experience. Paralegals are available on a totally flexible basis, short or long term at reasonable cost.

When you next require a member of staff bear in mind that they charge a very competitive rate and can also provide you with information on salaries and general recruitment issues.

Tel: Solicitors: 0171-320-5620; Locums: 0171-320-5866; Paralegals: 0171-320-5940.


The Law Society Library and Information Service

The Law Society Library is one of the most important services provided in Law Society’s Hall offering an extensive up-to-date collection, both print and electronic. It provides legal and practice source material by telephone as well as in person (but cannot interpret points of law). It also runs the highly regarded photocopying service.

Tel. - General: 0870-606-2511, Fax: 0171-831-1687; Photocopying: 0171-320-5929, Fax: 0171-320-5699.

E.mail - General: lib-enq@lawsociety.org.uk Photocopying: lib-photo@lawsociety.org.uk

Hours of opening : 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

The Law Society Practice Advice Service

If you have problems arising from your work as a solicitor this Service may be able to help. It deals with problems of legal practice, solicitors costs, policy and practice, general advice on practice management and multi party actions including questions relating to rights of audience, franchising, block contracting, merging and selling practices, Tax etc etc. They have numerous publications on conditional fees, non contentious work, contentious costs, police station advisers accreditation scheme and specialist associations and networks. Also they can provide other literature on powers of attorney, money laundering, mortgage fraud, setting up practice, financial management, franchising and legal aid and civil justice as well as Lexcel and quality assurance/

Tel: 0870-606-2522, Fax: 0171-320-5699. E.mail: lib-pas@lawsociety.org.uk.


The Law Society Internet site and

‘micro-domain’ sites

The Law Society’s Internet Site is becoming a good source of information for solicitors and law students.

To help enquirers find the information they need quickly a series of ‘micro-domain’ names have been set up which are subject specific and in addition to the main internet address: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk

For further information about micro-domain addresses, contact Angela Rossiter on 0171-320-5857 or e.mail: angela.rossiter@lawsociety.org.uk

Helplines Names and Numbers

The Law Society

Chancery Lane – Central Switchboard 0870-606-2500

Practice Advice: 0870-606-2522

Practising Certificate Applications and Advice: 0870-606-2555

Professional Ethics & Guidance Division: 0870-606-2577

Legal Education Advice & Information: 0870-606-2555

Library Enquiries: 0870-606-2511

Office for the Supervision of Solicitors

Lawyerline Advice: 0870-606-2588


The Solicitors Assistance Scheme

has members in the BB&O area available to help anyone with professional or personal difficulties. The present members of the panel are David Archer of Pitmans Reading (insolvency, litigation, partnership); John Cole of Cole & Cole, Oxford (partnership, employment); Tony Hatton of Reynolds Parry-Jones & Crawford, High Wycombe (advocacy, tribunals); Miss G Humphreys of Reynolds Parry-Jones & Crawford, High Wycombe (general); Rodney Stubblefield of Penningtons, Newbury (SCB/SDT, financial); C M Winter-Taylor of Sherwood Farm, Bryants Bottom Road, Great Missenden HP16 0JR (partnership, financial); David Wright of Marshall & Galpin, Oxford (general).


Solicitors Benevolent Association

Any applicant the SBA considers necessitous may be considered for financial help which takes the form of a cash grant, regular payment or loan etc – each case reviewed individually. Informal contact by phone may help to clarify eligibility. Contact the Secretary, Cdr Nick Lorimer, or one of the beneficiary Secretaries at 1 Jaggard Way, Wandsworth Common, London SW12 8SG. DX 41608 Balham. Tel: 0181-675-6440.


BB&O Office:

Southfields, Ludgershall, Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 9PB. DX 40168 Bicester. E.mail: bbolawsoc@dial.pipex.com Tel: 01844-238802 Fax: 01844-237602.

Hours attended: approx 20 hours per week, answerphone in operation when unattended.

The closing date for the next newsletter is : Friday, 23 April 1999

Calendar

Make a Will Week 22/28 Mar

Family Law Seminar 23 Mar

BB&O Lect 7 7 April

Co Courts/ District Registries closed 23 April

BB&O Lect 8 10 May

BB&O Cttee mtg 10 May

BB&O Annual Dinner 21 May

BB&O AGM 14 June

BB&O Wool Seminar 14 June

National Conference 29/31 Oct

Details from: BB&O Office, Secs of the Assocs or YSG


BB&O COMMITTEE 1998/1999

President - Michael King Oxford (&Council)

Vice President - Andrew Bond Reading

Immediate Past-President - James Couzens Aylesbury

Hon Secretary - Roger Rose Banbury

Berks Reps: Adrian Watney Maidenhead - Marie de Viell Reading - Derek Child Newbury

Bucks Reps: Patrick Haworth Aylesbury - Martin Silverman Chesham - Laurence Singer Amersham

Oxon Reps: Jeremy Irwin-Singer Oxford - Suzanne Kingston Banbury - Tracy Norris Evans Oxford

Special Members: Janet Holland, Oxford ODSA - Richard Leatham, Reading RBSA - Kate Jones, Reading YSG - Christopher Impey, Oxford Local Govt - Michael King, Oxford Council Member - David Savage, Farnborough Council Member


Subscriptions

If you have not yet paid your subscriptions for 1998/9 on the recently sent out Red Reminder please do pay now. If you think you have already paid please return the reminder giving details of date and amount so we can update our records. Please make your cheque payable to the BB&O Inc Law Society. Thankyou