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Irish Legal News



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Irish Legal News: 27th August 2019

Events, CPD & Courses
Legal Jobs
Latest News

Events, CPD & Courses

NI: Queen's University Belfast – Legal MINI-MBA

The William J Clinton Leadership Institute is delighted to partner with the Institute of Professional Legal Studies on this specialist CPD programme; a programme exclusively designed for solicitors and barristers in Northern Ireland.

Solicitors today are working in a world with an unprecedented rate of change – where knowledge doubles every year and skills have a shelf life of 2.5 years. You therefore need constant development or will be left behind.

This intensive 5-day programme will give you an insight into the modern business world, how firms can work as one, and how to maximise your individual impact.

Join Us On Our Next Course

  • Next Commencement: 16th September 2019 (Mon-Fri)
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Cost: £2,500 (VAT is non-applicable)
  • Venue: IPLS, 10 Lennoxvale, Belfast, BT9 5BS
  • Billing: Payment required by 1st Sept 2019

Who is the programme for?

Exclusively designed for solicitors and barristers in Northern Ireland.

Solicitors today are working in a world with an unprecedented rate of change – where knowledge doubles every year and skills have a shelf life of 2.5 years. You therefore need constant development or will be left behind.

This course is open to solicitors and barristers with 5 years post qualification experience.

What are the outcomes?

  • Understand the key factors that impact on business performance
  • Have a thorough understanding of business fundamentals
  • Become fluent in the language of business
  • Increased confidence in your ability to influence your firm

Why do this programme?

This intensive 5-day programme will give you an insight into the modern business world, how firms can work as one, and how to maximise your individual impact.

This programme is delivered by global experts who will translate key business concepts and theories into practical application demonstrated through cutting-edge learning experiences.

How to get more information

Visit our website for the latest availability, dates and fees: www.leadershipinstitute.co.uk

Or contact us on 028 9097 4394 or e-mail: leadershipinstitute@qub.ac.uk

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New UCD Diploma – Data Protection and Governance

Applications are now open for the Professional Diploma in Data Protection and Governance commencing 11 September 2019. This Diploma is a new addition to the Professional Development programmes offered by UCD Sutherland School of Law (other diplomas include Arbitration and Professional Regulation see details here).

This new diploma has been specifically designed to supply training for Data Protection Officers and others involved in the compliance role in organisations and is also of specific relevance to legal practitioners involved in the area.

Start date: 11 September, 2019
Duration: Twenty four weeks over 2 semesters (Wednesday evening lecture, 5 to 7pm)
Location: UCD Sutherland School of Law, Belfield
Lecturers:

The programme is co-ordinated by Dr TJ McIntyre, Chair of Digital Rights Ireland and Lecturer at Sutherland School of Law. Lectures will be delivered by a number of industry experts which include:

  • Ronan Lupton BL
  • Daragh O Brien
  • Dr Katherine O'Keefe
More information/Apply: Sutherland School of Law website
Email lawdiplomas@ucd.ie
or telephone: 01 716 4114
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Brexit and Data Protection

On 17 October 2019, the Brexit Institute will host an event on “Brexit & Data Protection” at DCU — which will also be the opportunity to launch the new DCU MA programme in “Data Protection and Privacy Law”.

The event will be opened by a keynote speech of Helen Dixon (Irish Data Protection Commissioner), and followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Susan Daly (the Journal), featuring John Quinn (DCU), Mike Harris (Grant Thornton), Colin Rooney (Arthur Cox) and Prof. Tuomas Ojanen (University of Helsinki).

The event will be concluded by a keynote speech of Peter Hustinx (first European Data Protection Supervisor), followed by a final reception.

The programme is available here

Registration for the event is available here

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Send your events to Irish Legal News

Get your events listed on Irish Legal News by contacting our advertising manager, Jeff Anderson, on jeff@irishlegal.com.

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Latest Jobs

Commercial Litigation Lawyer (2-5 Years PQE) – Philip Lee

Philip Lee is a leading commercial law firm recognised as “Top Tier” across a range of sectors. We value talented professionals who would like to develop their talents in a rapidly growing firm.

We are seeking an ambitious lawyer for our commercial litigation department with 2-5 years PQE. Experience or interest in employment law is particularly welcome.

Description

  • Working with senior department members on a variety of matters.
  • Acting for clients in the courts/tribunals.

Profile

Ideally 2-5 years' PQE gained in a firm of any size.

Suitable candidates will be able to demonstrate:

  • Commercial awareness.
  • Excellent drafting skills.
  • An ability to analyse legislation and provide practical advice.
  • An ability to communicate effectively at all levels with our clients.
  • Strong organisational and time management skills.
  • An ability to work effectively as part of a team.

If you are interested in finding out more about us we would like to receive your application. Please send CV with a short cover note in confidence to HR manager: NMcKenna@philiplee.ie

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Employment Lawyer (2-5 Years PQE) – Philip Lee

Philip Lee is a leading commercial law firm recognised as “Top Tier” across a range of sectors. We value talented professionals who would like to develop their talents in a rapidly growing firm.

We are seeking an ambitious employment lawyer for our commercial litigation department with 2-5 years PQE.

Description

  • Working with senior department members on a variety of employment law matters.
  • Acting for employer clients in the courts/Workplace Relations Commission.
  • Interpreting, analysing and advising clients on non-contentious employment law matters.

Profile

Ideally 2-5 years’ PQE gained in a firm of any size with exposure to employment matters in Ireland. Suitable candidates will be able to demonstrate:

  • Commercial awareness.
  • Excellent drafting skills.
  • An ability to analyse legislation and provide practical advice.
  • An ability to communicate effectively at all levels with our clients.
  • Strong organisational and time management skills.
  • An ability to work effectively as part of a team.

If you are interested in finding out more about us we would like to receive your application. Please send CV with a short cover note in confidence to HR manager: NMcKenna@philiplee.ie

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Trainee Solicitor – Comyn Kelleher Tobin

Comyn Kelleher Tobin is committed to nurturing the next generation of high-achieving talent.

With a team of more than 60 professionals across offices in Cork and Dublin, CKT is ranked in the top 25 in Ireland. Our growing firm is renowned for providing high quality training in a great atmosphere with exceptional opportunity for career development.

CKT offer expert legal advice to commercial, public sector and private clients across a range of practice areas including Litigation, Healthcare, Conveyancing, Child and Family Law, Employment, Commercial, Probate and Private Client.

OPPORTUNITY

As a trainee solicitor at CKT you will have the opportunity to:

  • Work side-by-side with Partners, Solicitors and other trainees
  • Gain practical experience across a number of different practise areas
  • Get involved in regular health and wellbeing initiatives
  • Become an active member of our CSR committee
  • Take part in the CKT buddy system

CRITERIA

Applications for our Graduate Programme are open to those commencing PPC1 in September 2020 and September 2021. We welcome applications from those studying for their FE1s, final year students and graduates.

HOW TO APPLY

If you are interested in becoming a Trainee Solicitor at our Cork or Dublin office, send a CV and cover letter to careers@ckt.ie with “Trainee Application” in the subject line, outlining the following information:

  • Academic and personal achievements
  • Reasons why you would like to work at CKT
  • Your preferred office location – Cork or Dublin
  • Evidence of self-motivation, teamwork and ambition

Closing date for applications is 31st October 2019.

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NI: Law Centre NI Justice First Fellowship Opportunity

Law Centre NI is once again lined up to host a placement through the Justice First Fellowship (JFF). This is the second such fellowship hosted by Law Centre NI. The opportunity reinforces Law Centre NI’s determination to support the next generation of social justice lawyers who will continue the work of using law as a tool for social change. The fellowship will give the successful applicant the exciting opportunity to train, whilst developing a project around social justice and gaining new skills as part of the wider movement around access to justice.

To find out more information, or details of how to apply, please visit the Legal Education Foundation’s JFF website. Applications close on Monday 16th September 2019.

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Send your vacancies to Irish Legal News

Get your legal job vacancies listed on Irish Legal News by contacting our advertising manager, Jeff Anderson, on jeff@irishlegal.com.

You can download the Irish Legal News media pack for £GBP or €EUR from our website.

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Latest News

Judge plays down reports of second Special Criminal Court being wound down

A senior judge has said that the second Special Criminal Court will be made "full use of" until it is removed by legislation, following weekend reports of its suspension amid falling case numbers.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt made the remarks yesterday in the course of a bail hearing. He said that newspaper reports at the weekend, which suggested the second Special Criminal Court would be suspended, was “news” to all of the judges in the non-jury court.

“As far as we are concerned, unless and until Court 2 is removed by legislation, we intend to make full use of it and we intend to give people the earliest possible trial date," he remarked.

The Irish Times reported on Saturday that the second court is to be wound down from the start of 2020 due to falling case numbers.

It was further reported that the Department of Justice had said that the backlog of cases, which resulted in a two-year wait time for a trial in 2016, had now been cleared.

The second Special Criminal Court came into existence in October 2015 when seven judges were appointed to the new court. It sat for the first time at the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin in May 2016.

The court, which is known as Special Criminal Court Number 2, deals with cases which are transferred to it by Special Criminal Court Number 1.

Alison O'Riordan, Ireland International News Agency Ltd.

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ByrneWallace and McCann FitzGerald among firms assisting Government with protected disclosures

Law firms ByrneWallace and McCann FitzGerald are among firms which have been paid €270,000 by Government departments since 2014 for assistance handling protected disclosures.

According to parliamentary written answers provided to Catherine Murphy TD, the Departments of Defence, Justice, Communications and Health have all used external firms and consultants to investigate protected disclosures, The Irish Times reports.

The departments paid a total of €270,000 to the mix of law firms, business advisory firms and individual consultants for the services.

One department said it may be necessary "on occasion" to disclose the name of a whistleblower, but the individual in question would always receive advance warning.

The Department of Defence has paid €33,000 for assistance from three individuals since 2014.

The Department of Communications engaged ByrneWallace from February 2017 to July 2019 in relation to three protected disclosures at a total cost of €23,437.

The Department of Health has spent €25,000 on external consultants to investigate three protected disclosures since 2018.

Finally, the Department of Justice has referred eight disclosures for investigation to five external service providers – McCann FitzGerald, Athru Solutions, RSM Ireland, Mazars and Raise a Concern – since 2018 at a cost of €187,000. Prior to this, it referred disclosures to an internal audit unit.

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Government departments at risk of fines over data-sharing agreement

The Department of Social Protection and the Department of Public Expenditure could be liable for fines under the GDPR over confusion about who controls the database underpinning the Public Services Card (PSC).

Privacy experts have cast doubt in the data-sharing agreement struck by the two departments in December 2017, under which the Department of Social Protection is named as the data controller for the Public Service Identity (PSI) database, the Irish Examiner reports.

The agreement describes the Department of Public Expenditure, which was responsible for the controversial and ultimately unlawful expansion of the PSC scheme, as the data processor.

However, privacy experts have suggested that the Department of Social Protection can not be considered the controller of data once it has been handed over to another department.

Privacy solicitor Simon McGarr, director of Data Compliance Europe, told the Irish Examiner: "The core of this is, who is liable for doing this?

"If a department doesn’t know the answer, or doesn’t have sufficient knowledge to understand but has contracted with another to transfer data anyway, then any processing under the existing agreement would be invalid. If that’s the case then the [Data Protection Commission] could issue fines."

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) recently ruled that there is no legal basis for requiring the PSC to access many public services which now require it.

The Department of Social Protection was ordered to stop all processing of personal data carried out in connection with the issuing of PSCs where they are being issued solely for the purpose of a transaction between a member of the public and a body other than the Department.

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Road authorities appeal to 40,000 long-term learner drivers to sit driving test

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has appealed to tens of thousands of long-term learner permit holders to sit their driving test to make Ireland's roads safer.

According to RSA figures, there are over 41,000 drivers on their fourth or subsequent learner permit, and over 8,600 who are on their tenth or successive learner permit.

Moyagh Murdock, RSA CEO, said: "The practice of people continuing to drive on learner permits without ever taking a test is unacceptable and unnecessary in today’s circumstances, where the national average waiting time to take a test is just over six weeks.

"The Road Safety Authority, in consultation with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, is considering options to address this issue.

"These options may include an increase in the cost of a permit; a decrease in the duration of a permit; a requirement to take mandatory lessons with an approved driving instructor or a requirement to take a driving test before another permit can be issued for a fifth and subsequent learner permit holder."

Legislation introduced in December 2018 means that unaccompanied learner drivers and the owners of the car they drive face stiffer penalties. A vehicle being driven by an unaccompanied learner driver can now be detained by gardaí and charges will apply to recover the vehicle.

Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau said: "Since the introduction of the new legislation last December, more than 1,600 vehicles have been impounded by An Garda Síochána from unaccompanied learner permit holders.

"Learner permit holders need to get the message that the learner permit is not a full licence and that they must be accompanied while driving by a fully qualified driver. They also must have ‘L’ plates on display at all times. Otherwise they risk penalty points, a fine and the car being impounded."

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NI: Number of humanist weddings rises dramatically following court ruling

The number of humanist wedding ceremonies in Northern Ireland has risen dramatically, with three times as many humanist ceremonies expected to take place this year as were held last year.

Humanist weddings have been legally valid and binding in Northern Ireland since last summer, when the Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled that they were valid under the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

The number of ceremonies has risen from an average of 10-15 per year to 60 in 2018 and 180 in 2019, BBC News reports.

The rise has been linked to the court ruling in summer 2018, before which couples having a humanist wedding would have to have a separate ceremony at a register office to make the marriage binding.

Binding humanist weddings are also legal in Scotland, but not in England and Wales.

An increasing number of English couples are travelling to tie the knot in humanist weddings in Scotland, where there were around 6,400 humanist weddings in 2018, our sister publication Scottish Legal News reports.

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Dr Ian Marder and AnnMarie Maher: How would you cope as a child with a parent in prison?

Dr Ian Marder
Dr Ian Marder

Criminology lecturer Dr Ian Marder and postgraduate student AnnMarie Maher of Maynooth University Department of Law consider the needs of children of imprisoned parents.

The children of imprisoned parents suffer some of the worst unintended harms caused by criminal justice systems. It is estimated that over two million children in Europe have an incarcerated parent at any one time, putting them at an elevated risk of trauma, physical and mental health issues, financial and residential instability, and social exclusion.

These children are the victims of a situation entirely beyond their control and not of their own making. Worse still, they exist largely under the radar, with few services able to meet their needs.

The tide, however, may be turning. From Canada and the United States, to the Netherlands and Denmark, researchers and activists increasingly study the adverse impact of parental imprisonment and advocate for children's rights. Last year, the Council of Europe adopted a Recommendation concerning children of imprisoned parents, deliberately oriented around children’s rights. It states that children’s 'best interests should be of primary consideration’ and promotes a whole-system approach, with contact between children and their parents, and multi-agency support for children on the outside, of comparable importance.

While the Recommendation has provided a much-needed boost to this work, many barriers remain to vindicating the rights of children of imprisoned parents.

The first barrier is often the hidden nature of the problem. The Recommendation states that European prison administrations should collect information about dependent children (Rule 5), but most do not do so systematically. In Ireland, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has estimated that parental imprisonment affects around 6,000 children at any one time, noting that there is much more we need to learn about their characteristics and needs. The Irish Prison Service now record some of these data upon each person's arrival into custody, although these are not yet published.

Another barrier is social stigma. The children of imprisoned parents are commonly excluded from their community because of the fear, shame and suspicion accompanying parental imprisonment. Their isolation and degradation mirrors that experienced by their imprisoned parents, a form of what Megan Comfort calls 'secondary prisonisation'. Every time the fallacy of the evil, pathological and undeserving prisoner is reinforced, it becomes harder for the families of people in custody to participate fully in society.

Finally, there is the problem of resources. As well as timely access to traditional services, these children may need dedicated assistance to support their relationship with their parent on the inside and help cope with the disruption to their life on the outside. The BBC recently reported that, of the 17,000 children in England and Wales whose mothers were imprisoned in 2017, 95% had to move from their home as a result, illustrating their potentially urgent and acute needs. Yet, in most countries, dedicated services remain chronically underfunded or non-existent, and successful projects are not always rolled out. The resulting postcode lottery of services means that children are discriminated against based on where they live.

This brings us to Ireland. Article 42A of our Constitution pronounces that all children possess ‘natural and imprescriptible rights’ and outlines the State’s responsibility to guarantee their protection. But Ireland, too, lacks a comprehensive approach to supporting this particularly vulnerable group.

Recent years have seen a welcome emphasis on improving prison visiting conditions for children. The Irish Prison Service is rolling out its Family Links programme, following a successful pilot which focused on improving visits, parenting education, and staff training and awareness. In 2014, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs also committed to promoting child-friendly visiting arrangements.

Still, the availability of enhanced visiting areas is contingent on prisons having the resources to operate them and is far from the only way to support parent-child relationships. The IPRT, while lauding recent developments, reminds us that we are yet to reach the standards set by the Council of Europe.

The focus on in-prison actions alone cannot fully address the disruption children face on the outside. For this, Ireland could establish a national organisation, like For Fangers Pårørende (Norway) or Families Outside (Scotland), providing dedicated support to the families of people in custody.

Ireland might also benefit from an inter-agency strategy to promote data collection and information sharing, create new mechanisms for children’s voices to be heard, and ensure that children do not fall through cracks in the system. A holistic approach requires the involvement of health, education, housing and social welfare services, among others.

These possibilities should be considered by the Families and Imprisonment Group which, as the Minister for Justice and Equality recently announced, is now exploring ‘best practice in community support and resettlement for families with an imprisoned parent’.

Finally, as we better understand the role of family relationships in desistance, and the behavioural, psychological and neurological impact of trauma, these considerations must be communicated to judges and factored into penal policy. The harms imprisonment causes to family life are among the many reasons why prison should be a sentence of last resort, with community-based alternatives prioritised as much as possible.

Given the importance placed on the family in Ireland, the unwarranted suffering of these children should give pause for thought to those who support ever harsher sentencing.

  • Dr Ian Marder is a lecturer in criminology at the Department of Law at Maynooth University. AnnMarie Maher holds an LLB in Law and is beginning an MA in Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice in September 2019 at Maynooth University. This article first appeared on RTÉ Brainstorm.
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NI: Man whose license conditions prevent him crossing the border freely launches judicial review

Lawyers for a man whose license conditions prevent him from crossing the border without written permission have launched judicial review proceedings in Belfast.

Vincent Kelly, 34, was released from prison in May 2019 under strict license conditions which say he "shall not leave Northern Ireland save where you have permission to do so in compassionate or other exceptional circumstances".

Mr Kelly was released from Maghaberry after serving five years of a nine-year sentence for possession of a firearm.

He was previously convicted twice by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, firstly in 1999 for firearms offences and secondly in 2006 for IRA membership.

Mr Kelly is challenging the license conditions on the basis that they interfere with his right to a relationship with his family in Dublin – particularly his father, who is in ill health, and his mother, who is his sole carer – while maintaining a relationship with his 14-year-old son in Belfast.

Belfast firm Bretnall Legal is representing Mr Kelly in a judicial review against the Department of Justice.

Ciarán Cunningham, Mr Kelly's legal representative, said: "The overt restrictions placed on our client represent an evident and serious challenge to his most basic human rights – rights that are enshrined in both the European Convention on Human Rights and under EU law that have protected Irish citizens for decades and which cannot be discarded in the way that has been attempted in this instance.

"This also represented a direct challenge to Vincent's right, as an Irish and European citizen, to reside in Belfast yet travel freely to another Irish city where he can have regular contact with the rest of his family.

"With a view to re-instating Vincent’s human rights and assisting him in rebuilding his life with his family, both north and south, we are initiating judicial review proceedings on his behalf to challenge the legality of the Department’s actions."

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William Fry staff emerge as winners of annual Irish Times/SCSI tennis competition

Staff at William Fry emerged as the overall winners at an annual tennis competition hosted by The Irish Times and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).

A team made up of employment trainee Tom Lawless, recruitment manager Avril Clare, Alexandra Drummy and guest Hugh Moulton were overall winners on the day.

The firm bested competition from 13 other firms – Hooke & MC Donald, Hunters, Sherry Fitzgerald, IPAV, The Irish Times, Schofields, Cushman & Wakefield, KRA, Wyse, MFO, QRE, Knight Frank and Myhome.ie.

Tax partner Martin Phelan, litigation solicitor Joanne Ryan, funds partner Patricia Taylor and guest Aidan Gordon made up one of William Fry's teams, while banking solicitor and head of listings Eoghan O'Tuama, employment associate Lisa Shannon, real estate solicitor Holly Fleming and guest Gilbert Carey made up another.

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Nominations open for Law Society Council elections

Blackhall PlaceNominations have opened for elections to the Law Society of Ireland Council ahead of the Society's AGM in November.

The Council is the governing body of the Law Society and elects the president and vice-president every year.

Solicitors can stand for election to the Council following a nomination by two fellow members of the Law Society.

Members of the Law Society may only nominate two candidates, whether for the annual election or a provincial election.

Nomination forms have been distributed to solicitors by post and must be returned by the closing date of Monday 16 September 2019.

More information about the elections is available from the Law Society website.

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Former William Fry partner spearheading new Co Kerry distillery

June O'Connell
June O'Connell

Former William Fry partner June O'Connell is spearheading plans to open a new craft gin and pot still whiskey distillery in Co Kerry.

Ms O'Connell joined William Fry in 1997 and was appointed as a partner in the corporate department in 2002, specialising in M&A and investment work.

She is now founder and director of the Skellig Six18 distillery in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, which will soon begin selling a gin made using local botanicals, The Irish Times reports.

A gin school, an interim visitor centre and a bottling plant are set to open by the end of the year, and the distillery hopes to put a whiskey on the market by Christmas 2024.

Ms O'Connell told The Irish Times: "The whiskey distillery will have capacity for six casks per day on a single shift and the new facility has planning permission to run a three-cycle shift although it will be some time before we move up to that level.

"The initial plan is to produce about 33,000 cases a year and we’ll be maturing it here as well, although we won’t be bottling and selling everything that matures after three years."

She added: "There are eight five-star hotels on the Ring of Kerry and over 1 million people will be passing our door. We expect to have 100,000 visitors in five years' time."

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US: Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $572m in opioid addiction case

Multinational company Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $572 million (around €515 million) in connection with an opioid addiction crisis in the US state of Oklahoma.

A case was brought against the pharmaceutical company by Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma, under the state's public nuisance laws, the BBC reports.

Lawyers for the state argued that the company's marketing campaign had minimised the risks and promoted the benefits of opioids, contributing to over-prescription and addiction.

Around 6,000 people in Oklahoma have died from opioid overdoses since 2000. Nearly 400,000 people died from opioid overdoses across the entire US between 1999 and 2017.

Johnson & Johnson's share price rose following the ruling because industry experts expected a much greater fine in the region of $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

Lawyer Sabrina Strong, representing Johnson & Johnson, said: "We have sympathy for all who suffer from substance abuse, but Johnson & Johnson did not cause the opioid abuse crisis here in Oklahoma, or anywhere in this country.

"We do not believe that the facts or the law supports the decision today. We have many strong grounds for appeal, and we intend to pursue those vigorously."

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Advertorial: Irish Legal Sector Websites too Slow, AGENT Digital Report Finds

Pictured: Managing Director, AGENT Digital, Kevin Meaney - leading Legal Sector digital agency
Pictured: Managing Director, AGENT Digital, Kevin Meaney - leading Legal Sector digital agency

Irish Law Firm & Solicitor websites are among the slowest in Ireland, taking an average of 6.65 seconds to load on mobile devices, according to a new cross-sectoral study of Irish business websites.

‘Ireland’s Website Speed Report’— created by leading Legal Sector Digital Agency, AGENT Digital — is the most comprehensive study of business website speeds in Ireland, surveying the page loading times of more than 1,000 individual websites throughout a wide range of a Ireland’s business sectors.

Of almost 30 sectors surveyed in “Ireland’s Website Speed Report”, the only sectors with slower average page-load times were Retail eCommerce (General) on 10.35 seconds; and the Non-Profit sector, where websites took an average of 9.22 seconds to load on mobile devices.

AGENT Digital managing director Kevin Meaney declared the research a wake-up call for the Irish Legal sector, and for all Irish businesses online.

“The average load time for Irish Law Firm & Solicitor websites is more than twice the recommended industry standard of less than 3 seconds. Research shows us 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load [Google],” Mr Meaney said.

He added: “More than 64% of Irish people are searching and in excess of 16% are purchasing goods and services online through mobile devices every week [Statista]. Our data shows that Irish websites are not fast enough to adequately serve this traffic.”

The AGENT Digital report reveals that the slow average page loading time in the Irish Legal sector is part of a national trend, with the speed across all sectors averaging 7.76 seconds on mobile devices.

As a leading digital agency for the Legal Sector AGENT Digital specialises in a full range of digital services including website design, search engine optimisation and website speed optimisation for Law Firms & Solicitors.

To help the Irish Legal Sector, AGENT Digital have created an infographic with 10 pragmatic tips that Law Firms & Solicitors can use to improve their website speed immediately.

Contact AGENT Digital today to receive a FREE Website & Digital Audit for your Law Firm – https://agentdigital.com

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Advertorial: Managing Internal and External Procedures to Drive Legal Practice Success

Deborah Edwards
Deborah Edwards

By Deborah Edwards, Professional Services Director Insight Legal

The role of legal practitioners is becoming ever more complex. In the last 18 months alone, we have seen new protocols such as the European Parliament’s GDPR regulation and HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative shake up processes within the UK’s legal practices. With the upcoming revisions to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Account Rules in November, further change is on the horizon and practice managers must ensure that their firms make provisions in order to adapt and remain successful.

Managing a large volume of cases simultaneously with industry regulation can often prove challenging. Amidst an ever-growing number of industry regulations, law firm decision makers are being tasked with finding ways to help their practitioners apply both internal and external policies with ease in order to remain both efficient and compliant.

However, the industry is now responding to these requirements as it continues its shift towards a more digital approach to case management. In a profession bound heavily by procedure, technology can play a fundamental role in helping law firms to achieve best practice, both internally and in the eyes of those governing the sector.

Remain compliant with integrated information

As with any sector, having information readily available and accessible is important for completing tasks correctly. For law firms, this requirement is only amplified by the additional need to remain compliant with regulations at every stage of a case.

Firms must now be proactive in providing staff with the tools to achieve this. For example, using a single system that stores and uses information efficiently, practitioners can not only improve their task workflow but enhance compliance monitoring to ensure all tasks are completed in line with both internal and external policy guidelines.

Taking this one step further, it is not only crucial that tasks are completed to the correct standard, but that they are also completed in a timely manner. Firms should therefore look to utilise tools that enable automated prompts and reminders. This will prove extremely valuable for helping practitioners remain up to date with tasks as a case progresses, improving overall case management and ensuring important regulatory deadlines are not missed throughout.

Supporting a firm’s individual needs

Every firm will inevitably have its own unique internal procedures for its staff to undertake throughout the duration of a case. Therefore, any modern supporting legal IT system should provide flexibility and enable customisable workflow to align with each firm’s individual needs. Doing so will not only allow firms to streamline their chosen internal working practices but also ensure that all procedures are met and that staff can deliver a high quality, tailored, efficient service for their clients.

With the needs of legal practitioners constantly changing with the tides of industry policy, having the freedom to build unique workflows to meet the specific needs of a firm is now the key to delivering effective case management for both its staff and clients. This technology, in conjunction with comprehensive training, can make the difference needed to operate more efficiently and with greater control of internal and external processes at every phase of a case. Firms which embrace these necessary steps will ultimately be well placed to continue their success in an ever changing legal sector.

To discuss this topic further or the services we can offer, please give us a call on 01252 518939, email us at info@insightlegal.co.uk or visit our website; www.insightlegal.co.uk

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Advertorial: McGrath Company Seals

Ireland’s only Express Company Seal Service, with pliers seals available for dispatch or collection within 2 business hours

McGrath Company Seals are proud to be Ireland’s leading manufacturer of bespoke Company Seals and Rubber Stamps. Our core values have remained constant since we first opened our doors in 1981. Unrivalled in calibre, our handmade products are quality tested at our Dublin office to ensure the highest standards which our clients have come to expect.

Throughout the years, our goal has been to exceed client expectations providing the finest products at a price point that represents real value for both your clients and your business. It is this dedication to our craft and attention to our client’s needs that have made McGrath Company Seals the No. 1 choice for the Legal Profession as well as Company Formation Agents, Company Directors, Banks, Accountants and Tax Advisors on the island of Ireland.

Whether it is a company seal that you require turned around in the quickest possible timeframe or a bespoke rubber stamp to make office life easier, we pride ourselves on delivering quality products at competitive prices to companies in Ireland and around the world.

Our central Dublin location at 40 Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7, just a short spin for our courier to the GPO means that no-one can match us in terms of price, reliability, speed and service.

Our online ordering facility offers a streamlined process saving you time when ordering everything from a Pliers or Desk Seal to an “All-in” Company Register Book for your clients.

To order a seal today, please don’t hesitate to visit www.mcgrathseals.ie or give us a call on +353 (0)1 8307296.

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Advertorial: Is Your Legal IT System at Risk of Cybersecurity Breaches?

According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019, published in April 2019, 32% of businesses identified cyber security breaches or attacks within the last 12 months. In the modern digital world, cybersecurity breaches can occur for a variety of reasons, spanning anything from insecure passwords or not having the correct firewall or system configurations in place. The legal sector is not exempt from these risks and it is important to acknowledge why this is occurring, how it can be prevented and the reasons why firms can be susceptible to potentially company-ending breaches.

Legacy IT systems can date back as far as decades and can pose significant business risks when they don’t receive investment and development needed to accommodate more sophisticated security measures. With legacy systems still deeply ingrained in many practising law firms today, this use of outdated software could leave firms highly susceptible to malicious online activity, which can in turn cause potential damage much faster than teams would have the ability to update systems.

Today, further changes which could threaten the security of a firm’s legal IT systems are very much on the horizon. As of January next year, Windows will be discontinuing its Windows 7 support, meaning that the technical assistance and software updates from Windows which helps firms to protect their computers will no longer be available for anyone running their programmes on the system.

For law firms, changes like this can have a huge impact on their vulnerability to a data breach caused by an event of hacking, malware and viruses. In terms of compliance, this can leave law firms in breach of regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and at high risk of facing a large, crippling fine. Alongside this, cybersecurity flaws can also tarnish the firm's reputation, due to the impact that a data breach could have on customer information. This could lead to customers losing trust in the firm, due to their data potentially being compromised should a breach occur. In turn, this could result in a loss of both existing and potential customers and revenue in the future.

If modern firms are choosing to operate in the cloud, their data will be held within a cloud-based host platform, such as Microsoft Azure or an alternative. Making this transition poses cybersecurity considerations of its own. Therefore, when selecting a cloud service, it is important that firms check whether the provider will offer continuous security-health monitoring.

Despite the ever-growing cybersecurity risks modern businesses face, law firms can now take action to protect their data from being susceptible to hackers or malware issues. It is vital not to forget the importance of keeping software up to date and having a firewall to back up and protect both personal and private data on behalf of the firm and its clients. It is also essential to acknowledge that working with Legal IT suppliers which have the necessary provisions, expertise and support network in place can be a huge asset when keeping a firm’s data secure within their systems.

Implementing these safeguards proactively within a firm could ultimately be the difference to being fully prepared if a security breach takes place, or suffering financial and operational consequences which could potentially harm a firm’s ability to succeed both now and in the future.

To discuss this topic further or the services we can offer, please give us a call on 01252 518939, email us at info@insightlegal.co.uk or visit our website; www.insightlegal.co.uk

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And finally... law of the jungle

Poachers who broke into a popular game reserve to hunt rhinos are believed to have been killed and eaten by lions.

The owner of Sibya Game Reserve in Kenton-on-Sea, a coastal town in South Africa, said very little of the men could be recovered, Newsweek reports.

Authorities recovered body parts, three pairs of shoes, wire cutters, high-powered hunting rifles with silencers, and a type of axe used for removing rhino horns.

Park owner Nick Fox said: "The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone.

"There is so little left that they don't know exactly how many people were killed, we suspect three because we found three sets of shoes and three sets of gloves."

Mr Fox said the incident was sad but should send a "message" to other poachers.

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