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Legal Web Watch June 2016

Legal Web Watch complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, edited by Nick Holmes and Delia Venables. The last issue of the Newsletter published in May. The next issue will publish mid-July.

In the next issue

The next issue will feature articles on AdWords by Susan Hallam, eLearning by Allan Carton, employers’ rights re social media profiles by Michael Salter and Chris Bryden, the new ODR regulations by Graham Ross, the "dispersed" law firm by Delia Venables, how Twitter works by Nick Holmes and Google Apps by Alex Heshmaty.

Recent articles in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers

Mobile apps for lawyers – how to work on the move
10 questions to ask your outsourced cashiering provider
Is the Privacy Shield adequate?
BAILII recent projects
10 steps to becoming cyber resilient
Outsourcing your marketing activities
Blogs of use to lawyers
My Social Media: Sir Henry Brooke
Bring Your Own Device: an introduction
Working with data

Brexit for lawyers

It’s been a rum week, hasn’t it? There is huge uncertainty post the Brexit vote, not least because there is no political plan and no PM yet in a position to formulate one.

Lawyers will have their own specific concerns, so I’m here to help!

It’s never a bad idea to ask Google first. What does the referendum result mean legally speaking? What are lawyers saying about Brexit now (in the last week)? What will Brexit mean for lawyers?

But, in view of the amount of uncertainty even amongst experts, these results raise more questions than answers, so here are some of the resources and commentators I have found most useful in answering these questions.

A hat tip first to Paul Magrath (@Maggotlaw), who blogs at the ICLR Blog, for his post covering the legal consequences which was produced in the immediate aftermath of the referendum result Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR – 24 June 2016. This links to a number of the articles by commentators mentioned below.

It’s all about Article 50

The principal legal and constitutional questions are whether notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty need be given, who is competent to make the decision to give notice and how any subsequent settlement would need to be ratified.

As opinions on this change by the hour*, your best bet is to follow the latest comments on Twitter from those lawyers who are focussing on the constitutional implications of the Brexit vote and thence read their more considered writings on their blogs. I’ve created a Twitter list where you can follow the leading commentators as a group. They are:

Mark Elliott (@ProfMarkElliott), Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, who blogs at Public Law for Everyone, has recently focussed on the constitutional implications of Brexit.

David Allen Green (@davidallengreen), who blogs about law and policy as Jack of Kent and is also a legal commentator at FT.com, is probably the most prolific tweeter and writer about Brexit.

Carl Gardner (@carlgardner), a former government lawyer who blogs about public law as Head of Legal, is also a prolific Tweeter about Brexit.

Jolyon Maugham (@JolyonMaugham) QC, a tax lawyer who blogs at Waiting for Godot, is currently commenting extensively on Brexit on his blog and on the broadcast media. His latest post on The Big Green Button Bill argues that invoking Article 50 would require an Act of Parliament.

He acknowledges Nick Barber, Tom Hickman and Jeff King who earlier explained this position on the UK Constitutional Law Blog:

“our democracy is a parliamentary democracy, and it is Parliament, not the Government, that has the final say about the implications of the referendum, the timing of an Article 50 our membership of the Union, and the rights of British citizens that flow from that membership.”

Jolyon has successfully crowd-funded on CrowdJustice in order to “take advice from the leading public lawyers in the country … and then to write to the Government to discover its position.”

Another arguing that Parliament must be consulted is Geoffrey Robertson QC in How to stop Brexit: get your MP to vote it down:“It is being said that the government can trigger Brexit under article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, merely by sending a note to Brussels. This is wrong. Article 50 says: ‘Any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.’ The UK’s most fundamental constitutional requirement is that there must first be the approval of its parliament.”

Even after the UK negotiates a withdrawal agreement pursuant to Article 50, Eoin O’Dell speculates There may be an Article 50 route to a second Brexit referendum and the UK remaining in the EU.

* I give up. Mark Elliott has just written On why, as a matter of law, triggering Article 50 does not require Parliament to legislate.

What about the effects for lawyers?

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that there will be plenty of work for lawyers! You may, like the Financial Times, view this as a “Brexit bonanza” or agree with the Economist that “The happiest people in Britain today may well be the lawyers”; at the same time you may be aghast at the huge civil service time and expense required to draft many thousands of pieces of new legislation and renegotiate all those agreements. That will reduce that supposed £350 million p.w. saving even further for the next several years. Law Society president Jonathan Smithers’ view is rather understated: “It's clear that there is an enormous amount of work to do in the coming months and years to establish the terms of withdrawal from the EU and scope necessary changes to domestic law.”

The show must go on

Follow the usual star bloggers for Brexit developments in their respective areas of law:

On immigration: Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) at Free Movement.

On human rights: Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) at UK Human Rights Blog.

And here are a couple of specific short articles on issues close to our Newsletter interests:

Brexit Tech: It’s Complicated by Shelly Palmer offers some thoughts about the near-term impact Brexit will have on the tech sector and makes a few educated guesses at the outcome.

Eduardo Ustaran, Partner at Hogan Lovells, proposes A way forward for UK data protection:

“But yet, data protection law is a vital element of the regulatory framework of any progressive jurisdiction … The government must find a responsible and effective form of regulation, bearing in mind that information is global and precious. Businesses will be best advised to carry on with their plans to comply with the GDPR.”

Nick Holmes is Editor of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers and Legal Web Watch. Follow him on Twitter @nickholmes.

Image: By Jose Manuel Mota on Flickr.

Delia’s legal web picks

The following items have been selected from Delia Venables’ “New” page.

DPS Software enables the mobile office

DPS Software now allows practice managers and fee earners to take their office with them wherever they go - securely. DPS Web Office (web based practice management) now has DPS iTime (for entering time on the move) and SafeChat (for secure communications) which are apps for iPhone or Android devices. Together, these solutions form a complete remote working ecosystem. See the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers for the full story. It's joined up software!

Tikit signs global partnership agreement with NetDocuments

Tikit, part of the BT Group and one of the leading providers of technology solutions for law firms in the UK and elsewhere, and with more than 1,450 firms using their software globally, is to partner with NetDocuments a global cloud-based document and email management service provider for professional service firms. NetDocuments has 2,000 customers worldwide and hundreds of thousands of individual users. More details from online news service realwire here. The UK legal software/services market is now going global with several big deals or expansions announced recently.

Changing the register of a property at the Land Registry just got easier

Eclipse’s integration with the Land Registry Electronic Document Service will enable users of the Proclaim Conveyancing Case Management Software to make an electronic application to change the register of a property, directly through the Proclaim desktop. Conveyancing fee earners can complete an eDRS application entirely through Proclaim, as well as send electronic copies of accompanying documents, such as Transfers, Charges or SDLT returns. Proclaim will automatically check the Land Registry for responses to the uploaded documents, requisitions relating to the application and the updated register upon a successful application, and using the Task Server robot tool, will generate tasks to notify the user and update the case history. More details here.

New Guide produced on The Judicial System of England and Wales:

A new guide called "The Judicial System of England and Wales" has been published by The International Team of the Judicial Office. The guide is introduced by Lady Justice Arden, Head of International Relations for the Judiciary of England and Wales with the following words: "What you see today has evolved over 1,000 years; the judiciary is continuing to change and develop to meet the needs of our society and is widely regarded as one of the best and most independent in the world. To meet the needs of society, our legal system is also complex. The International Team of the Judicial Office has produced a Visitors’ Guide to bring together a wealth of information about our judiciary and legal system. It also provides an introduction to the work of organisations, such as the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution Service which support the justice system."

You can find the new guide here. It is quite substantial - a downloadable pdf of 52 pages. Although billed as a Visitors Guide for International Judiciary it would be just as useful to law students or anyone else prepared to do a bit of serious reading on the subject.

The ICLR blog is a key resources for current legal developments

ICLR Blog chooses the most important legal developments to describe and comes out mostly as "Weekly Notes from ICLR". For example, last week's post included the latest developments relating to human rights legislation (or lack of), the employment law of footwear, protection of intellectual property and a plea for students to slough off their intellectual bubblewrap. The posts are fully categorised by legal topic so that the "thread" can be followed through to the present position. Prepared mainly by Paul Magrath, Head of Product Development and Online Content at ICLR, this blog deserves to be at the top of any lawyers "must look at" sites.

Information on mesothelioma as a support for families where someone has this disease

Mesothelioma.org.uk is a dedicated online support and resource for families affected by mesothelioma. The website is impartial and independent with concise information on topics from welfare benefit information to finding the best legal advice. They campaign for asbestos awareness and for support for mesothelioma research to help future generations.

The site is dedicated to a relative of the author who sadly died from this disease.

Law Society gains award from "Investors in People"

The Law Society has been awarded the international people management accreditation "Investors in People". Launched in 1991 and now held by 14,000 organisations in 75 countries, the IIP standard defines what it takes to ‘lead’, ‘support’ and ‘manage’ people well for sustainable results. It is backed by an assessment methodology and framework that reflects the latest workplace trends.

Paul Devoy, head of Investors in People, said: ‘Investors in People accreditation is the sign of a great employer, an outperforming place to work and a clear commitment to success.'

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon, said: ‘We are extremely proud to have been awarded this accreditation. Everything we do at the Law Society is driven by our values – to always act with respect and to work collaboratively.' See the Law Society Gazette for more.

A new service from a Direct Access Barrister - Private Prosecutions

Private Prosecutions is a new service from Barrister Quentin Hunt. As it says on the site "The Common Law provides any individual with the right to bring a private prosecution. This principle was established more than one hundred years ago. In fact, before the creation of the police in the 19th century, virtually all prosecutions were brought privately. The Prosecution of Offenders Act 1980 formalises this right in statute and the mechanism for bringing this about is outlined in part 7 of the criminal procedure rules 2005. A private prosecution brings the perpetrator of a crime before the court to face justice in the same way that a prosecution by the police and CPS would. If convicted, the criminal would face the same punishment by the courts that they would if the case had been brought by the State." Quentin guides the client through all the processes involved!

Delia Venables is joint editor of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. Follow her on Twitter @deliavenables.

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