Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Phillip Shears QC

Phillip Shears QC and the recent successful prosecution of Asil Nadir is very good news for the  SFO. Phillip is from the business crime team at top set  7 Bedford Row  and he led the prosecution in the Nadir case. Managing some of the press interest around the  news of the conviction, I was privileged to have the opportunity to talk to him about his role. 

I was curious to know what he thought of the prevailing view of the media that new SFO Chief  David Green is more determined to see successful prosecution and fraudsters being brought fully to account for their wrongdoing, whereas predecessor Richard Alderman was arguably more inclined to negotiate deals. And of course there has also been some unhelpful media rhetoric about high profile prosecution failures on Alderman's watch. 

"The negotiations that brought Nadir back to the UK to face trial, were carried out under Richard Alderman. To revive such a complex case after it had lain dormant for some 17 years presented huge logistical problems.  The new prosecution team had just a few months to prepare a fresh Indictment and Case Statement, a task which, in a case of this type would ordinarily take about a year to prepare. And of course we were working from a standing start, whereas counsel on the original team had lived and breathed the case from the beginning of the investigation. In total, there were 64 counts of theft over a three year period, totalling 146 million pounds, as a result of which there were literally  tens of thousands of documents to review – and the preparation was  interrupted by the need to respond to a number of abuse of process applications which the defence made prior to trial; whilst all failed they took time and resources.”

"This was, of course, to be a trial by jury. The methods by which Nadir had taken the monies were complicated and various. Considerable judgement has to be applied in complicated fraud cases  to achieve a balance between demonstrating the full extent of the dishonesty alleged and producing a prosecution which is intelligible to the jury. As it was the jury had to listen to, and then decide upon, some 6 months of evidence. Fortunately the result indicated that we got it right, and vindicated the SFO decision to revive the prosecution,” 

This puts me in mind of one of my favourite sayings: "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference!"

More than anything, Phillip believes the successful conclusion to the Nadir story shows the value of persevering with these complex cases, the benefit to the public interest achieved and, critically, the importance of setting aside sufficient government funds to do so. 

Proceedings in cartoon form? Yes, you heard me right. Thanks to @gavward who tweeted a link to this priceless story in the ABA Journal and bought it to my attention. Lawyer Bob Kohn, limited to a 5-page brief by a US district judge in an e-publishing case found an imaginative solution: he submitted his pleadings in a form of a cartoon strip. "A picture paints a thousand words" he said, which of course is very handy when your word count is limited. It complied with court rules because he was careful to use the required 12-point or larger type and 1-inch margin. You couldn't make it up! You can read the full story here. Enjoy!

Welcome back to some much loved old friends. This September we welcome two former clients back into the fold.  

Since the days we last worked with the Family team at South East regional leader Mundays, the firm has gone from strength to strength. We're excited to be working with the whole firm now and taking its light from under the bushel and holding it up for all to see. Mundays has as strong a reputation for its commercial law work as its advice to private clients, offering services across a broad range of practice areas. So a real variety of yummy legal topics for us to work on.

CDG is an extremely successful firm operating in a very niche area: shipbuilding and offshore procurement law. Founder and Managing Partner Simon Curtis is the author of the leading text book in the field and is unbeatable in the marketplace. The firm is embarking on some exciting projects which we will be announcing soon.

Our development theme for the year (for the purposes of our IIP Standard) is "Long Term Relationships". Working with old friends again in this way gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. :-)

We also have a new barristers client we are very excited about, but can't name them yet. They specialise in an area very complementary to some of our solicitor clients. Watch this space...

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