A round-up of the week’s news

18 April

A south-east firm says its betting disputes team has recouped £6m since it was formed seven years ago, reflecting the growth of this niche sector and the problem of gambling addiction. Ellis Jones Solicitors now has 14 people working in its specialist betting and gaming disputes team, with the largest single compensation payment coming to £1m.

Stockmarket-listed ‘challenger’ law firm Keystone hailed an ‘extremely successful’ trading year as it posted bullish annual results. The sector’s ‘war for talent’ has subsided, said the remote working firm, which helped boost underlying pre-tax profit to £11.3m in the year to 31 January, a 23% rise on 2023 (£9.2m). Revenue climbed 15% to £87.9m.

The Supreme Court has found that section 146 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 is incompatible with Article 11 – the freedom of assembly and association – of the European Convention on Human Rights. Unison general secretary Christina McAnea described the case as the ‘most important industrial action case for decades’, as it makes clear employers must not discipline staff for striking.

17 April

Actor Hugh Grant claimed he was forced to abandon his hopes of a phone-hacking trial by the risks created by a Part 36 offer. The star of Paddington 2 and Love Actually said he had no choice but to settle his case against the Sun publisher News Group Newspapers, even though he wanted the allegations to be tested in court. ‘If I proceed to trial and the court awards me damages that are even a penny less than the settlement offer, I would have to pay the legal costs,’ he said. ‘My lawyers tell me that that is exactly what would most likely happen.’

16 April

Personal injury lawyers warned the Ministry of Justice to avoid approaching the discount rate for PI damages as though it were a ‘hypothetical maths problem’, ahead of a planned review. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said unrealistic assumptions about how severely injured people invest their compensation could mean that the actual cost to claimants of investing their money is not being taken into account.

Proposals to widen the rights of non-parties to obtain court documents are impractical and could have the perverse effect of diminishing the openness of proceedings, the London Solicitors Litigation Association said. The warning came in its response to a consultation by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee on reforming CPR 5.4C to give non-parties immediate access to skeleton arguments and witness statements.  

Judges sitting at the Central Family Court have resumed wearing robes during proceedings, to test whether more formality is needed in family courts. The change in dress, first revealed by the Gazette, reflects ‘concern about incidents of violent and threatening behaviour experienced by judges and court users’, HM Judiciary said. The pilot, approved by president of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane (pictured, below), will run for three months.

The Litigation Funding Agreements (Enforceability) Bill received a relatively smooth ride as it was debated in parliament for the first time. Issues debated during the bill’s second reading in the House of Lords included the retrospective nature of the bill, the Civil Justice Council’s forthcoming review of litigation funding, and the need to improve regulations on damages-based agreements.

15 April

A high-profile divorce firm pledged its full support to the lawyer who mistakenly applied for a final order for the wrong client. London firm Vardags said its main priority was to make sure the staff member responsible was reassured and comforted and to rebuild their confidence.


A spate of law firm mergers has come in recent weeks as firms bulk up and extend their geographical reach. Deals have been announced in Merseyside, the east Midlands, the south-east and East Anglia. They include Gotelee Solicitors, a firm dating back 150 years with five offices across Suffolk, becoming part of the Mezzle Group.


The Solicitors Regulation Authority and SQE assessment provider Kaplan apologised to 175 students who were wrongly told last month that they had failed their exam. 

12 April

The Legal Services Board (LSB) announced an independent review of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s regulatory actions in the lead-up to last year’s collapse of Sheffield firm SSB Group. The LSB will add this review to the scope of its current probe of regulatory events before the SRA’s intervention into Axiom Ince.