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Solicitor sues colleague over sexual harassment claim

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A married solicitor who is employed by Anglian Water and who was cleared of sexually harassing a female colleague is now suing her for libel claiming that the false allegations have damaged his personal and professional reputation.

Paul Loughran, 50, has been employed by Anglian Water for eight years as a litigation solicitor and is responsible for minimising legal risk to the company. He appointed Kerrie Edge, 29, as a paralegal in March 2009. Miss Edge had previously worked in the customer services department of the company.

In April last year she took time off work and provided a doctor’s note stating that she was suffering from stress. She remained off work until September when she resigned. Mr Loughran claims that Miss Edge took the time off to avoid a performance improvement plan and a misconduct investigation.

Mr Loughran discovered in August that she had made an allegation to the company that she had been sexually harassed by him. The claim was investigated by Anglian Water who went on to clear Mr Loughran.

He is now alleging slander and libel and claiming damages of £1,000.

Mr Loughran told the Daily Telegraph: “I’m not very happy about it, to say the least,”
“You can’t go around saying things like this. Miss Edge is attractive to some people, but not to me, and what she said simply was not true.

“I asked her to stop repeating the allegations and I even wrote to her asking for an apology, but none was forthcoming.”

When asked about the case Miss Edge said: “I have nothing to say about it at the moment. I do not work there anymore.”

Written by Andrew Hodges

April 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

Smartphone divorces becoming more common

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Couples currently going through a divorce have been warned over the use of the smartphone, after research in the US found that texts are increasingly being used as evidence in divorce proceedings.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), over 90% of America’s top divorce attorneys said they have seen a spike in the number of cases using evidence from iPhones and other smartphones in the past three years.

The rise in texting evidence follows a similar trend two years ago when the AAML noticed a surge in evidence from Facebook pages.

“With emails you can think about and rewrite them. There is a window of opportunity to rethink what you are saying but text messaging is immediate,” said Ken Altshuler, President of the AAML. “We get a lot of text messages that people send out without thinking.”

Texts can often be a form of “spontaneous venting”, added Mr Altshuler, but they can come back to haunt people because they are written records of someone’s thoughts, actions and intentions.

“I have used text messaging for cross examination,” said Altshuler, who has also submitted texts as evidence. “I would say in the last six months there have been a lot of text messages involved in litigation. For whatever reason, people are texting more and not thinking about what they are texting.”

Text messaging was the most common form of divorce evidence taken from smartphones, according to the AAML poll, followed by emails, phone numbers, call histories, GPS and Internet search histories.

In turn, Mr Altshuler has advised his clients not to use Facebook, but added that only about half follow his advice.

“Anything that is in writing, you have to assume that someday a judge is going to see it,” he added. “So, if it is not something that you don’t want a judge to see, don’t write it down.”

Written by Andrew Hodges

April 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Mortgage Panels

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Thin end of the wedge and an end to some High Street practices if this is the start of a new trend. People may want to use their local solicitor but will he be able to act for them?

HSBC take the opportunity to make more money and restrict the publics choice. Gazette article refers to the Law Society published letter but I would ask do we need a more concerted approach from government to make sure client choice is not restricted to the very few. Of the large number of law firms in England and Wales the majority are small High Street firms who will rely on conveyancing as a major source of their income. If they are excluded from these panels then they will be barred from this work type and income. Their firms will fail and choice will be severely restricted for members of the public.

Written by Andrew Hodges

January 21, 2012 at 10:48 am