Morning Briefing: Members pass vote of no confidence in Law Society chief

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Hong Kong lawyers have no confidence in society president
A vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Hong Kong Law Society saw a large number of members attend to cast their vote in a motion of no confidence in president Ambrose Lam. After just a year in the role, Lam caused controversy by publishing a white paper calling for lawyers to be more patriotic and support the Beijing government. Lawyers are concerned that his stance would affect the independence of the Hong Kong legal system and the motion of no confidence was tabled. At the EGM last week a majority 2,392 voted against Lam with 1,478 backing him. Further motions were passed calling for an official statement from the society backing the independent judiciary in the province and demanding that Lam withdraw his comments.
Too many lawyers in Singapore
Supply is in danger of outstripping demand for lawyers in Singapore according to its law minister. K. Shanmugam says that there are more than 4,400 lawyers in the country; up by a quarter over the last four years. In addition, there has been a sharp rise in the number of Singapore students studying law. Shanmugam says the number that are overseas studying law in Britain has doubled to more than 1000 in the last few years. Although Singapore has seen some major law firms increasing their presence in the country the minister is warning students not to have high expectations and maybe to consider another career!
Accountants pushing further into legal services
Following the news last week that PwC has hired former King & Wood Mallesons partners Tony O’Malley and Tim Blue to head their Australian legal team, there are further movements into the law business by accountancy firms. Britain’s Institute of Chartered Accountants is now authorised to grant Alternative Business Structure licences; a role previously only carried out by the legal profession. Accountancy firms are increasingly seeking to offer legal services to clients.
Law Society granted UN access
The Law Society of England & Wales has been granted unprecedented access to the United Nations. The special consultative status provides the Society with the scope to collaborate with member states on issues including human rights and the rule of law, as well as have input into discussions on the Council's agenda on an international and domestic level.
Are class actions of any real benefit?
While the punitive result of a class action is clear to see, those taking the action may see little benefit. This is according to newspaper columnist Robert Brems of the Coshocton Tribune who was recently involved in a class action himself. The lawsuit involved car rental giant Hertz who had fitted their cars with a pass that meant renters didn’t have to pay at toll booths as the charge was automatically added to their final invoice. Many renters did however pay at toll booths and claimed that Hertz failed to inform them about the pass, meaning they paid tolls twice plus a service charge. Although they won the class action and Hertz was forced to pay out US$11 million, due to large number of members involved the payout was only around $5; less than they had paid for the tolls.