Being drunk is not a defence against a murder charge, the Court of Appeal has ruled in a test case involving a college lecturer who stabbed his girlfriend to death. Stephen Dowds argued he was so drunk when he killed Mandy Finn that it amounted to a defence of diminished responsibility. The judges said voluntary acute intoxication “is not capable of founding diminished responsibility”.
Source: R. v Dowds (Stephen Andrew)~  EWCA Crim 281 (CA (Crim Div))
Mother jailed after claiming for whiplash in fake “crash for cash”. Samina Bashir and her husband Faisal Rauf have been jailed for six weeks after the former claimed she suffered whiplash injuries in a fictitious car accident. Her insurer LV= launched a private prosecution in the first case of its kind. She admitted fraudulently seeking GBP 5,000 compensation following a three-car accident that never took place.
Source: Daily Telegraph, March 1, 2012, 11. By Andrew Hough; James Orr.
Are big companies falling out of love with the “magic circle”, the most profitable elite of London’s commercial law firms? More than three years after the earthquake of the financial crisis rattled through global markets, aftershocks are hitting London’s top five — and the signs are that big clients are gradually deserting them for better-value options.
Research from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reveals that the vast majority of law firms are not complying with the Solicitors Code of Conduct. The main area of non-compliance with the new code was around a failure to provide clients with sufficient costs information, followed by not putting clients in a position to make informed decisions about the services they need.
Google wins libel case over Blogger comments: man took action after comments were written about him on the London Muslim section of Google’s Blogger.com website. Payam Tamiz has failed in his libel action against Google over comments posted about him on it’s Blogger.com website. Mr Justice Eady said Google should not be regarded as a publisher under the established principles of the common law. Even if Google was to be so regarded it would be exempted from liability under EU law, he added. He concluded the Court should decline jurisdiction.
Source: Guardian, March 2, 2012 (Online edition). By John Plunket.
BT and TalkTalk have lost their appeal against a High Court ruling backing Government measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010 to curb filesharing. The internet service providers (ISPs) had argued that the measures were incompatible with EU legislation, would result in an invasion of privacy and would run up disproportionate costs for ISPs and consumers. The Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court judgment was “soundly based” and there was no need to refer the case to the European Court of Justice for a final ruling.
Source: R. (on the application of British Telecommunications Plc) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills~  EWHC 1021 (Admin);  3 C.M.L.R. 5 (QBD (Admin))
Slaughter and May has teamed up with an inner-city school in a bid to help give students a better chance of winning places at top universities. The magic circle firm has launched a social mobility project for Central Foundation Boys’ School in Islington, with the firm funding weekly one-to-one tutorials, after-school workshops and career insight events.
Two new offences of stalking and stalking where there is fear of violence will be created to sit alongside existing offences of harassment in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The Government is tabling amendments to the Protection of Freedoms Bill 2011 for Lords Report stage, on March 12, 2012, to allow the new offences to be enacted as soon as possible.
Gay “homemaker” and banker fight over GBP 5m divorce. A landmark case testing the law on civil partnerships is being heard at the Court of Appeal. Mrs Justice Parker ruled in June 2011 that Donald Gallagher was entitled to GBP 1.7 million of assets accrued with his partner Peter Lawrence, after their civil partnership ended in 2008. Mr Lawrence’s lawyers argue a flat which was purchased before the couple started their relationship should not be included as a joint asset.
Source: Times, March 9, 2012, 5 also reported in Daily Telegraph, March 9, 2012, 5
First legal advice video-link service goes live in Westminster library. The first facility giving library users access to a free consultation with a lawyer via video-link launched in the heart of London yesterday, with both solicitors and barristers now supporting the concept. Instant Law UK’s service at Westminster Reference Library will be the first of a series placed in Westminster City Council libraries – which between them receive nearly three million visitors a year. Marylebone’s will open next week.
The Inner Temple has launched a social mobility initiative in partnership with 42 chambers with the aim of giving work experience to underrepresented students. The Pegasus Access Scheme (PAS), which is aimed at university students or recent graduates, will provide a range of three- to five-day mini-pupillages at the partner chambers, which include UK top 10 sets Fountain Court, Blackstone Chambers, Wilberforce Chambers and 3 Verulam Buildings.
“Locked-in syndrome” patient wins death case ruling. Tony Nicklinson, a man with “locked-in syndrome”, can embark on legal action that would allow doctors to lawfully help him end his life. He asked the High Court to declare that a doctor would be allowed to help him without the risk of being prosecuted, but the Ministry of Justice sought to have the action struck out. On March 12, 2012 Mr Justice Charles ruled that the case can go ahead.
Source: Times, March 12, 2012, Law (Online edition). By Frances Gibb
Anthony Collins Solicitors is set to defend the Baptist Church against a £10m claim launched by a retired footballer who claims his faith stopped him playing for Manchester United. Partner Helen Tucker has been instructed by the Baptist Union of Great Britain secretary Jonathan Edwards after papers were filed at the High Court by former semi-professional Portugese national Arquimedes De Jesus Nganga.
Read more: http://www.thelawyer.com/1011784.article
College of Law introduces scholarship scheme. The College of Law is offering scholarships for the first time in a bid to widen access to the profession. From 2012 the College will offer scholarships for the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Practice Course to cover the full cost of fees for one student on each course http://juniorlawyers.lawsociety.org.uk/node/11919
Linklaters is the most recognisable law firm in the UK according to research published today looking at the profile of business brands.
Read more: http://www.thelawyer.com/1011865.article
White-collar criminals will be able to “put up their hand”. Under proposed legislation for the next parliamentary session beginning in May 2012, companies would be able to admit to corporate fraud, bribery, market-fixing and other white-collar offences, and pay a fine and compensation rather than going through the courts. The proposed legislation could save the cost of up to 12 large prosecutions a year, costing up to GBP 8 million, by the Serious Fraud Office or Crown Prosecution Service.
Source: Times, March 22, 2012, 45. By Frances Gibb also reported in Financial Times, March 22, 2012, 28
Groundbreaking barristers’ chambers launches as SRA-regulated partnership. Six barristers, who were previously at Charter Chambers, have joined forces with criminal defence solicitor James Nicholls to set up the first chambers structured as a partnership and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Artesian Law, which opened for business in January 2012, will seek to become an alternative business structure to allow practice manager Tom Street to become managing partner.
Stark warning to law firms – cut more jobs and accept the good times are over. A report from the Royal Bank of Scotland predicts that as many as 3,000 lawyers could lose their jobs in 2012 as law firms continue to struggle with weak demand and overcapacity. The report states that demand for commercial legal services remains unpredictable and that, based on current activity, at least a further 5 per cent of fee-earner capacity needs to be removed for firms to achieve a reasonable profit margin.
Source: Times, March 19, 2012, 37. By Alex Spence. Also Reported in Financial Times, March 19, 2012, 24