Bell Yard Blogs

Counselling for Jurors for Traumatic Trials

Violence on the streets of London is something we have sadly become inured to. Reading Catherine Baksi’s article in Times Law this week about the proposal to offer jurors counselling if they are involved in traumatic trials however made us spare a thought for the members of the jury who will have to relive the […]

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From bribes to sex scandals, lawyer investigations scrutinised over ‘whitewash’ claims – Bell Yard

How robust is our probe? That’s the question organisations may now have to ask themselves when they commission an “𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭” 𝐢𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐠𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 in the wake of uncomfortable allegations being levelled against them. Can employees, partners, clients, funders, regulators – let alone the general public through the lens of the media – really rely on the integrity […]

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Do paywalls make for better journalism?  

There’s no denying that there’s been a marked decline in newspaper sales over the past decade or more, which corresponds with the growth in news’ digital presence, as our appetite for content on-the-go increases. However there appears to be a continuing battle between those who expect their news to be delivered for free, and publishers […]

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Interview with Past President of the Law Society – David Greene | Bell Yard Communications

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Interview with Gareth Brahams, Senior Partner at BDBF LLP

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PR Perspectives: Taking Stock Of 2023, Preparing For 2024 (Bell Yard writes for Law360)

Bell Yard Director Louise Beeson reviews the past year in the world of legal PR and looks ahead to 2024 in the below article for Law360. — As we approach the year end, many law firms and public relations teams will be reviewing their external communications output for 2023: Which campaigns broke through, which legal […]

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The Lawyer Behind the Infected Blood Scandal, and more: Bell Yard interview with Des Collins

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The Story of the ‘NatWest Three’: Bell Yard Interview with David Bermingham

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Q&A with The Legal Diary’s Founder & Editor Edward Fennell

Edward Fennell, ‘The Legal Diary’ founder & editor and former editor of The Times’ ‘Law Diary’, delves into how law firms have changed their approach to PR and gives advice for lawyers in dealing with journalists in a Q&A with legal and litigation agency, Bell Yard Communications. Edward Fennell began his legal beat when working […]

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Magazine editor Richard Burton: “Don’t offer me listicles or I’ll give you 10 reasons why they’re outdated and a little desperate.”

Richard Burton, magazine editor/media consultant, shares his thoughts on what makes a good PR pitch and reflects on his own impressive career within the journalism profession in the below Q&A with Bell Yard Communications that will be of interest to anyone working in/with the media. From being inspired by comic book characters to editing the […]

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Climate Change: A Growing Election and Legal Battleground

Climate change is gearing up to become a key election – and legal – battleground.  ‘Just Stop Sunak’ screamed Tuesday’s Daily Mirror in response to the government’s confirmation on Monday that it would grant more than 100 new North Sea oil and gas drilling licences, while The Sun led with the launch of its ‘Give Us A Brake’ campaign, […]

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Gen Z’s Relationship With Media: Q&A With Bell Yard Intern

Hopefully our young intern Sadie has gained some useful experience from her week spent in the world of litigation PR chez Bell Yard. Whilst she was with us, we asked her to share some of her insights into how she and her generation (Z in case you were wondering) consume and interact with traditional and social media platforms. Here is what […]

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Threads: Zuckerberg Challenges Musk’s Twitter

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are poised for a significant showdown in the app store with Meta’s Threads, a Twitter replica, scheduled to launch today (July 6th). Following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last year, internal turmoil at the company has increased the likelihood of a successful challenge to its dominance in the text-based social media […]

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Lessons for #MeToo trials by media

The flurry of #MeToo-related allegations that recently have rocked high-profile individuals and business organisations shows the fuse of non-financial misconduct still burns fiercely post-Weinstein. Reputational impact reaches far and wide in the face of an investigative journalist’s pursuit of targets to name, and publicly shame, after an allegation has been made. For the individual involved, if arrested […]

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ITV: A Crisis Comms Disasterclass

ITV’s reputation has suffered greatly following revelations concerning Phillip Schofield’s behaviour with a junior work colleague almost forty years younger. Key errors escalated this exposé into a crisis, though arguably one that could simply have been characterised as an inappropriate workplace relationship had the truth been outed much earlier. Instead, ITV’s reputation and internal processes […]

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Legal PR: Building a Positive Reputation

Since the Law Society of England and Wales first allowed lawyers to advertise in 1986, the UK legal sector has grown to become the largest legal services market in Europe, valued at £41bn in 2021, second only to the US globally. As competition intensifies, law firms need to catch the eye of clients and stand […]

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Too Hot to Handle: Law Society’s Climate Change Guidance

Judging by the reaction to the Law Society’s latest guidance note, Impact of climate change on solicitors, released yesterday, the “milestone climate change guidance” has got lawyers hot under their white collars. Said to be the first guidance of its kind in the world, the 28-page note seeks to “enable the profession to be at […]

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Salutary Tales at the BBC

The BBC/Gary Lineker crisis was avoidable in more ways than one.  The saga hardly needs recapping such is the attention it has attracted in recent days. But in short, when the   Match of the Day presenter compared the rhetoric used by the Government in its rollout of an anti-immigration bill to that of 1930s Germany, he […]

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NFT Handbags at Dawn

The latest battle of the handbag, aka the high-stakes lawsuit brought by French luxury design house Hermès in the US against the artist Mason Rothschild over his ‘MetaBirkin’ NFT collection was hardly going to go unnoticed. Not only did the subject matter offer great headline and photo opportunities for business, tech, crypto, art, fashion and […]

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Tax Matters – PR Advice to Navigate the Storm

Tax is back as a theme and a story to groans and cheers, depending on your perspective. Mrs Sunak’s non-dom saga laid the ground. Liz Truss’ low-taxes-for-growth campaign and Kwasi’s kamikaze budget got everyone talking about it last summer. Dan Neidle, formerly of Clifford Chance and now an unencumbered independent expert, has since pushed the […]

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Courting Publicity – The Public’s Right to Hear 

Last week saw the release of a Justice Committee report on a subject close to our hearts – Court Reporting in the Digital Age.  The report examines the barriers to open and transparent justice and the public’s right to learn of, or personally experience, cases heard across the justice system. Its findings will come as no […]

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BrewDog PR Hypocrisy Puts Brand in the Doghouse

When the multinational brewery and pub chain BrewDog launched an attack on the Qatar World Cup, referencing the Emirate’s alleged human rights abuses in a rather humorous advert, “First Russia, then Qatar, we can’t wait for North Korea”, it articulated the mood of the public perfectly. The mention of being a sponsor of the “World […]

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Shein Doesn’t Shine Anymore

Channel 4’s recent documentary into the working practices of garment workers for ultra-fast fashion firm Shein was shocking, but hardly surprising. The company, privately owned by Chinese marketing guru Chris Xu and loved by millions of millennials and Gen Z shoppers in the UK, said in response that it was extremely concerned by the allegations […]

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Pre-charge anonymity – the case for upholding its importance

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”   So said the ‘Oracle of Omaha’, Warren Buffet.  It’s a sentiment that would be shared by many who find themselves, unfairly, on the wrong end of a high-profile police investigation. So who […]

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The Sound of Radio Silence: Liz Truss Hits the Local Airwaves

If Liz Truss and her PR advisers thought that local radio would give her a much easier ride than national news programmes, then they were sorely mistaken.  Breaking her silence after four days of turmoil in the financial markets prompted by Friday’s mini-Budget (which saw the IMF call on the government to reverse its tax-cutting […]

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5 Tips to Grow Your Business on Social Media

In the fast-moving digital age, organisations need to engage with social media on a professional level or risk falling behind the pack. Whilst social media marketing might be an intimidating venture to some, effectively using it alongside more traditional PR techniques will bring you a range of advantages that will help your business flourish. Here […]

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What Lawyers Can Learn From the Royals on PR

The Royal PR machine is an impressive operation. They don’t always get it right, of course, and have had their own share of slings and arrows to cope with, especially in the last few years, but overall, without doubt, the family’s contract with the nation has been nurtured by and has grown to rely on […]

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Center Parcs: Royal Muck Up

Communications during a crisis need to be clear, empathetic and sense-checked for rebound risk as any specialist PR expert will tell you. Sadly Center Parcs was one of a number of organisations who didn’t quite get these ingredients right in their clunky handling of a self-inflicted furore this week.  The Center Parcs team caused anger […]

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‘Sportswashing’: You Pays Your Money and You Takes Your Choice

The greatest and most popular football league in the world (arguably) turns 30 this week. In the space of a few decades, the English Premier League has blossomed into a global marketing powerhouse with all the theatrics and drama any sports spectator could dream of – from transfer deadline day to emotional local derby duels. […]

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Irresponsible investment? HSBC’s ESG communications crisis

For HSBC, a bank committed to “playing a leading role in mobilising the transition to a global net zero economy … by helping to shape and influence the global policy agenda”, sponsoring and addressing the FT Moral Money Summit, with its theme of “Turning Talk into Action to Hit ESG Targets”, must have seemed like […]

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Depp vs Heard: Court Drama

Johnny Depp has described his US defamation trial as an attempt to clear his name for his children and a quest for the truth. Others see it as a desperate last throw of the dice to save his career and a further sign of his delusion which will confirm his spectacular fall from grace. It […]

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Zelenskyy: Crisis Management Masterclass

Introduction  In Ukraine’s time of crisis, president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stepped up to the plate. From refusing to evacuate his homeland to embarking on a digital campaign trail to garner global support for Ukraine’s war efforts against Putin’s Russia, it has been a masterclass in crisis management and leadership from the former TV actor. Whilst […]

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NFTs: Ukraine, Beeple & The Law

Whether you own or trade in them or think they’re little more than a speculative bubble, you can’t deny that NFTs – or Non-Fungible Tokens – have entered the public consciousness in recent times. What are NFTs? Firstly, what even are these strange digital tokens that have been causing such a wave of interest across […]

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PR Gone Wrong: International Women’s Day

Of all the PR and marketing initiatives launched on International Women’s Day on Tuesday this week, one in particular stood out – for all the wrong reasons.  The London Dungeon decided to change the gender of Jack The Ripper to mark the day, unveiling a “Jack becomes Jackie” exhibit played by a female actor and […]

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International Women’s Day: CLCA Professionals

From founders to pioneers, the following profiles showcase a collection of exceptional international female talent who are involved with the Crisis & Litigation Communicators Alliance (CLCA). Tracey Cain Tracey is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Australian Public Affairs – one of Australia’s largest independently owned agencies. In her 26 years at the helm, […]

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BBC: Chasing Polar Bears

The news that Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel are leaving the BBC is the latest in a line of senior journalist departures for the Beeb. It comes hot on the heels of business reporter losses precipitated by moving the R4 Today business team from London to Manchester and rumours that Amol Rajan was given the […]

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Send in the Clowns

Another day, another PR gaffe from Number 10 and its communications machine. It might only be his first day in the job but the Prime Minister’s new director of communications, Guto Harri, has already made the UK national headlines for saying that Boris Johnson is “not a complete clown”. Describing a meeting he had with […]

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Dominic Cummings: The Source of Boris’s Problems

Dominic Cummings has been hell-bent on staying in the public’s eye through his continuing campaign to pick apart Boris Johnson’s political career, slice by slice. However, should the mainstream media be giving such primetime limelight to accusations from a man who holds such a personal vendetta against the PM that any statement he makes is […]

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The Power of An Apologetic Truth

Few among us could genuinely deny having made errors of judgment, whether inadvertently or otherwise. To err is human, as we are told. But so often these days otherwise forgivable missteps by public individuals captured in the omnipresent lens of social media are made infinitely worse by their first reaction to exposure of the initial wrongdoing. […]

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The Q2 2021 Litigation Horizon

So we are on the cusp of a litigation boom if a recent survey by Gallagher, the risk manager and insurance broker, (specifically Its Business Litigation Index) is to be believed. Employment litigation will surge later this year after the furlough scheme ends, with organisations likely to face a high volume of redundancy-related claims, Gallagher […]

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Climate change litigation – the heat is on

The battle against climate change is increasingly being fought in the courtroom, with the number of climate litigation cases globally almost doubling over the past three years, in an attempt to drive – or, in some cases, delay – effective action on climate change. According to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) […]

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Right to be offended?

In this seemingly endless time of lockdown, I have found myself hunkering down, fighting a daily battle to block out the constant stream of negativity across social, print and broadcast media in which I’m immersed. Am I alone? It certainly feels a little isolating. Perhaps it’s that fear is as contagious as the pandemic itself, […]

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Communications – The Key to Valuing Public Inquiries

It’s been 15 years since the introduction of the Inquiries Act 2005 in the UK, designed to improve the administration of public inquiries and advance a focus on cost and transparency in the process. Some 28 UK statutory inquiries have since been commissioned – 11 of which are ongoing – at a cost to the […]

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Comms in the age of Covid-19

Covid-19 hasn’t been good to Sir Richard Branson. A once much-loved public figure, Branson was voted Britain’s favourite businessman in the noughties. His image no doubt played a part in securing this accolade. A self-made billionaire, Branson challenged society’s stereotype of what it meant to be a businessman – he is eccentric, fun-loving, tie-loathing, and […]

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CLCA International Summit: reflections from Amsterdam

Despite all the shenanigans of Brexit, Bell Yard was grateful to receive a warm welcome from European colleagues last week at the annual meeting of the CLCA network (Crisis & Litigation Communicators Alliance), held in Amsterdam. Brexit was, of course, a key topic with other member firms asking how it is affecting our business, our […]

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Language, Timothy!

In an effort to attract hearts and minds, words matter.  I’m confident I’m not alone in feeling deep dismay at the debasement of dialogue among politicians, blithely following the crude degradation of our language by ever-increasing sections of the fourth estate. My great fear is this trend finds its way into the nation’s court rooms […]

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Opposing a pose

Amid the explosive political developments this week surrounding the House of Commons’ vote to rule out a no-deal Brexit, one image above all lingers in the mind: that of Jacob Rees-Mogg lounging languidly on the Conservative front bench during a crucial debate. Lambasted and mocked by Opposition MPs, in the media, and online, for embodying […]

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The Singapore Convention on Mediation

The Singapore Convention on Mediation, which opened for signature on 7th August, marked a defining moment in the Alternative Dispute Resolution world on a scale not seen since the introduction of the New York Arbitration Convention in 1959. Backed by 46 countries to date, including the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China, […]

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Diversity takes centre stage: Top 6 legal social mobility initiatives

The Sutton Trust recently published a report which found that 65% of the most senior barristers in the UK are drawn from fee-paying schools. Though the findings of the report were blasted by the legal profession, it got us wondering – does the legal industry do enough to ensure that students of non-traditional backgrounds can access the […]

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Better kept under wraps?

The recent news that Linklaters obtained an injunction preventing its former CMO from sharing information to expose the firm’s alleged struggle with women in the workplace gave us food for thought. Is it always better to keep your dirty laundry out of the public eye?  From a reputational perspective the answer is, usually, yes. Faced […]

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A lesson in sincerity

Gillette’s newest advert, launched last week, created a media storm – but for all the wrong reasons. The advert, riding off the wave of the #MeToo movement proudly calls for an end to ‘toxic masculinity’ depicting men catcalling, groping and coercively controlling women. The backlash is understandable. Making insulting generalisations about the conduct of your […]

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PR blunders of 2018 – what happened next?

As far as PR crises go, 2018 was a shaky year – retailers were brought to a standstill, CEOs were toppled and one of Britain’s best-loved fast-food chain was forced to shut its doors. At the close of 2018, we take a look at the biggest PR crises of the year and ask, what happened […]

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#MeToo – a year on: Lessons for law firms

It’s a year since the start of the #MeToo movement and perhaps more than any other profession, various big name law firms have found themselves tested by the challenges of this new era. No longer are complaints of sexual harassment or misconduct an HR issue. A firm’s response now has to be considered through a […]

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It’s silly season – but for whom?

A chuckle resonated through western media in June when a Japanese water company issued a public apology to its customers when it was revealed that one of their employees, a 64 year old man, had periodically started his lunch break 3 minutes early for a “change of pace”, totalling 69 minutes over a period of […]

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Youth, I do adore thee

The race to capture the millennial vote reached the height of farcicality this week when the Conservatives launched an online competition for ‘Love Island’ water-bottles, branded with the phrase “Don’t let Corbyn mug you off”. The water-bottles could be won in exchange for personal information, seemingly as part of the Conservative party’s ongoing efforts to […]

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GDPR: the reputational risks

You’re probably sick of hearing about GDPR – to be honest, so are we! But what does interest us is the reputational risks to a company, firm, or organisation if any should fall foul of the new, rather strident, regulations. The only way for the media to justify yet another GDPR-related story in the aftermath […]

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An unconventional audience: targeting the student community

Disgruntled students received more than £650,000 in refunds and compensation from universities over the last year, with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator stating it received 1,635 complaints in 2017 – an 8% increase on 2016. More recently, news reports confirm that law firm, Asserson, is representing 1000 students in a group legal action seeking […]

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The future cost of litigation

Behind many a closed door lies a scandal. The Financial Times’ recent exposé of the Presidents Club’s dirty dinner evinced the venom and volatility all too often associated with a reputational crisis. No reputation safe, no blushes spared.  It comes as little surprise that research by Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law reveals £26.2bn was set aside […]

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Paradise Papers: reputations unscathed?

With the media sensation surrounding Paradise Papers tempering, talk has turned to the legal and financial consequences of the leak – but what about the longer-term reputational fallout for those embroiled? One of the first to be publicly named and shamed was Lewis Hamilton – four-time Formula One World Champion, who allegedly avoided paying £3.1 […]

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Lawyers’ clients outline bugbears, and words matter

Reading this research commissioned by the Legal Ombudsman, Bell Yard firmly concurs that an early, simple, but genuine “sorry” can do wonders for limiting the damage to one’s reputation following a dispute – but be sure to be clear what you’re saying sorry for, and why. We’ve heard lawyers (but not exclusively this profession) who are reluctant […]

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Data breaches: a crib sheet for the Channel Islands

Reports that Appleby’s office in the Isle of Man may have been hacked in the Paradise Papers scandal, in addition to the firm’s office in Bermuda, will no doubt have sent shivers down the spines of various law firms, family offices and wealth managers based in the Channel Islands. Offshore centres like Bermuda, the Cayman […]

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The Wife of Weinstein – the unsuspecting victim

A tainted reputation is like a bad cold. It’s contagious and spreads rapidly by association – as the Harvey Weinstein case has so poignantly demonstrated. Weinstein was married for ten years to London-born fashion designer, Georgina Chapman, in a relationship which outstripped the length of your typical Hollywood marriage. The recent allegations of sexual harassment […]

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Raising the Stakes – Employment Tribunal Judgments Are Coming Online

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) recently announced that new employment tribunal decisions will be available online from Autumn 2016. Employment Appeal Tribunal decisions and Court of Appeal decisions on employment law are already available via online services, so this new database will simply be extending the ability to search online for first instance judgments. Discussions with employment […]

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Broken Record? Where does Guy Hands’ Reputation go from here?

Having originally lost a lawsuit against Citigroup in New York 6 years ago for fraudulent misrepresentation in relation to his disaster purchase of EMI, Guy Hands was  putting that reputational blot behind him when up popped news of the London-based retrial, where he hoped for a markedly different outcome. It soon became clear all Mr […]

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Litigating in the Glare of Publicity

It takes a brave, or perhaps admirably thick-skinned, person to bring legal action against a former employer, particularly one that attracts incredible publicity and in an industry known for its heightened egos, celebrity and eye-boggling wealth.   Yet Dr Eva Carneiro’s determination to achieve a fulsome public apology from Chelsea Football Club, and high-profile recognition for […]

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Privacy, Public Interest and PR

An individual’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to information is a tussle that recently came to the fore once more. The UK media got over-excited about two “private life” stories and indulged in some rather disproportionate reporting.  First we learnt a celebrity won a ban to stop press revelations of his extramarital threesome […]

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Regulation and Reputation

It can’t have come as a big surprise that an overwhelming majority of the public supports an independent regulator of solicitors. A ComRes poll published last week showed 82% backing for solicitors being independently regulated. This will bolster the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA’s) ongoing bid for independence which, its Chief Executive says, will make regulation […]

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Not just at Xmas

Black Friday may be a bonanza for retailers in revenue terms but it also represents a key risk day for them and their customers, in the guise of the heightened threat of a cyber-attack, according to the consultancy ThreatMetrix. It has warned that online criminals will be super-active over the festive period, starting from today […]

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Just a little bit exploitative?

There’s something truly sad, and rather depressing, about the media appearances by the disconsolate father and stepmother of Becky Watts, the Bristol teenager brutally killed by her step-brother, aided by his girlfriend, in the wake of their convictions.  As consultants to individuals facing the most tumultuous of times, there are moments when compassionate advice is […]

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The Pri(n)ce of Silence

Given London’s credentials as a highly cosmopolitan city, it is well known that our court system attracts family disputes involving international parties, providing they can prove some nexus to the UK.  Pauline Chai continues to fight her husband, Laura Ashley chairman Mr Peng, to have her divorce heard here, on the basis of her residency […]

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Beware the perils of a tempting lawyers ratings site

The new ‘TripAdvisor’ style website for lawyers – ReviewSolicitors – should come with a series of warnings both for disgruntled customers looking to take pot shots at their lawyers and for solicitors wanting to protect their reputation by stamping out any criticism considered harsh or unfair. ReviewSolicitors allows people to rate their solicitor whether or […]

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Consumer Rights Act – No Big Deal for Consumers

The Consumer Rights Act, which came into effect today, 1 October, is unlikely to herald a deluge of class actions despite the implementation of an ‘opt-out’ system for collective litigation that will enable as-yet unidentified individuals to be included in competition law cases. The Act reverses the current system which requires all claimants in a […]

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UK Press Regulator Marks First Year Anniversary with Controversy

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has laid into the UK’s press regulator for rejecting his complaint against the Daily Mail over an article suggesting he tried to wriggle out of giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry. Blair’s attack against the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) comes as the regulator celebrates its first year of operation […]

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Women Warriers – not Worriers

I can’t help but feel that gender difference has indeed played a role in the Chelsea FC doctor saga propelling the story to newspaper front pages – but perhaps not just simply down to the display of apparent sexism by an emotional male manager.  It strikes me that the mild, but meaningful, Facebook posting by […]

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London is still an attractive tourist destination for libel shoppers – but for how long?

London has recently been reaffirmed as the libel capital of the world following the case of Russian businessman and former senator, Vladimir Sloutsker, who has been awarded £110,000 in defamation damages by the High Court for allegations published in the Russian media.  However for cases arising post the introduction of the Defamation Act 2013, establishing […]

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Crowdfunding – the future for justice?

Crowdfunding gives retail investors a chance to back projects close to their heart and it’s no surprise that early successes have been in consumer-facing sectors such as clean technology, the arts and wine and beer ventures. Now the emotional pull is being used to attract funds to social justice litigation and fill an increasingly large […]

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word

So the boss of Thomas Cook has finally said sorry to the parents of Christi and Bobby Sheppard, the children killed by a leaky boiler during their holiday in Corfu. Whether this is a case of ‘too little, too late’ only time will tell.  The company claims their sales have not been impacted by the […]

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Do we need a British Bill of Rights?

“If the UK really wants to be its own boss it would have to formally withdraw from the ECHR” Marietta Cauchi, Senior Consultant The Bill of Rights proposed by the new Conservative government is intended to replace the Human Rights Act introduced by the then Labour government in 1998. It is due to incorporate into […]

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Did Ronan have it right?

Communicators lose credibility when the audience thinks of the messenger and not the message… All people want is natural honesty, alongside some realism Ours is the art of communication so I am always intrigued why people say so much, so often, how they choose to say it and why to so little effect.  Perhaps it’s […]

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