A round up of news from the region’s legal sector in the past week
Birmingham Law Society has launched a new personal injury group, to focus on the Ministry of Justice’s proposed radical shake up to the funding of civil litigation (Jackson Reforms) and the impact this will have on personal injury litigation within the West Midlands.
Personal injury litigation includes injuries that arise from road traffic accidents, medical negligence and accidents at work.
Lawyers usually represent the injured party on a “no win no fee” basis (known as a conditional fee agreement). This means that if the lawyer does not win the case then the client does not pay any legal fees to his lawyer.
In the most serious medical negligence cases, especially involving children, legal aid is presently available instead of no-win-no-fee.
As part of the proposed reforms the Ministry of Justice is looking to completely revamp the way such cases are dealt with in future within England and Wales.
Birmingham Law Society’s dispute resolution committee has been considering these proposed reforms.
However, given the serious impact they could have on the public, the committee has set up a specialist group of leading personal injury lawyers to examine the reforms in more detail.
Dean Parnell, chair of the dispute resolution committee and partner of regional firm Sydney Mitchell solicitors, said: “There is much concern among lawyers that these reforms will both reduce access to justice for many people and also reduce quality standards within the personal injury market.
“As a result of these concerns, we have appointed leading defendant insurance lawyer, Caroline Coates to set up and chair this new specialist group and it is great to see so many talented lawyers wishing to become involved in this initiative.”
Ms Coates, partner at Buller Jeffries and chair of the new personal injury group said: “It is a good opportunity to debate these issues, provide information and look in detail at some of the most controversial issues such as referral fees.”
The personal injury group held its inaugural meeting on July 26 and it is now in the process of setting out its plans for the next 12 months.
Cobbetts advises takeover deal
The Birmingham office of Cobbetts has advised entrepreneur, Andrew Redfern, on his acquisition of Coventry-based engineering firm, Lightning Aerospace.
Lightning Aerospace, which was established in 1992, provides engineering services to the defence, commercial and aerospace sectors across three specialist areas; laser and water jet material cutting, fabrication of steel and aluminium components and bespoke wire harnessing.
The firm employs 30 people from its base in Coventry and supplies a global client base with high quality and high specification hardware products.
Mr Redfern is an aeronautical engineer and entrepreneur who, in 2001, co-founded a manufacturing improvement consultancy.
The firm has grown to over 70 consultants and works with blue chip manufacturers in Europe and the USA, delivering improvements in operational performance.
The deal team from Cobbetts was led by partner Mark Gibson and was supported by associate Emma Ray and associate solicitor Zo Hoida.
Mr Gibson said: “We are committed to supporting innovation and enterprise in the engineering sector, which remains a fundamental part of the Midlands economy.
Driven by the entrepreneurial Andrew Redfern, Lightning Aerospace is well placed to enter a new era of its development and capitalise on the continued revival in UK engineering.”
Accounting and tax advice was provided to Mr Redfern by partner Ken Jones of Burgess Hodgson.
Solicitor rewarded for pro bono work
Ruth Creed, a senior solicitor at the Birmingham office of national law firm Mills & Reeve, has bagged a second award for her pro bono work.
Named Birmingham Law Society’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in March this year, Ms Creed has now added a national award for launching the Birmingham Free Legal Advice Group (FLAG), in conjunction with Birmingham Law School, to her trophy cabinet.
The specialist healthcare lawyer won the “best contribution by an individual” at the LawWorks Pro Bono Awards, in conjunction with the Law Society.
The awards were judged by an independent panel and Ms Creed accepted the award at a ceremony at the Law Society headquarters in Chancery Lane, London.
Birmingham FLAG is a free legal advice clinic run by law students from the University of Birmingham, supervised by more than 30 lawyers from Mills & Reeve. The initiative has now been running for more than a year.
More than 20 people have consulted the advisors on a wide range of legal issues, ranging from matrimonial and family disputes, wills and employment, to neighbour disputes.
Guy Hinchley, managing partner of Mills & Reeve, said: “Ruth’s energy and enthusiasm as co-ordinator of the initiative has won support from her colleagues at Mills & Reeve, where there are four students for each place vying to get involved in the scheme. We are delighted that she has been recognised for her hard work.”
Ms Creed said: “With the help of my colleagues at Mills & Reeve and the students at Birmingham Law School I believe we are making a real difference to people in the local community who cannot access legal advice.”
Expansion for DWF
Business law firm DWF is expanding its regional presence by announcing the opening of a new office and appointment of a new partner in Birmingham.
The new office extends the firm’s asset finance practice and creates a new lender services team offering a comprehensive range of services to the banking and finance markets.
New partner, Joanne Davis will lead and develop the asset finance and regulatory practice in Birmingham applying her extensive industry knowledge to add strength and depth to the current team. She will also join the lender services team which also has locations in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and London.
Managing partner Andrew Leaitherland said: “Birmingham has long since been a strategic target for the firm to ensure we are based exactly where our clients need us.
“The city also has a great talent pool of lawyers, many with the expertise and knowledge of the market sectors in which we specialise and aim to develop in the future.”
Speaking about Ms Davis’ appointment, he added: “Joanne is a great fit with our new national lender services team and client portfolio. Her outstanding asset finance and consumer credit regulatory experience will help us build on our impressive commercial offering.”
Lawyer makes return
A budding legal professional enjoyed her work experience with a Midlands law firm so much she returned on a permanent basis five years later.
Charlotte Fisher, 22, is the latest addition to the legal team at Band Hatton in Coventry after joining the Station Square firm as a trainee solicitor.
The Oxford Brookes University graduate and former King Henry VIII pupil joins the 115-year-old organisation having recently completed the legal practice course at the College of Law in Birmingham.
“I came to Band Hatton for work experience five years ago when I was just 17-years-old and really enjoyed it – so my interest in law all stemmed from there,” Fisher said.
Mark Moseley, practice director at Band Hatton, said: “We are delighted that Charlotte has joined our team and we are confident she will grow to be a valuable asset to the practice over the coming years.”
Legal sector news: birminghampost.net/legal