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Weeks after the conclusion of the Brexit trade talks, the UK is awaiting another EU decision on a matter with big consequences for cross-border disputes.

Since January the UK has been in limbo in relation to a European legal co-operation pact, the Lugano convention, that determines which courts have jurisdiction over cross-border civil and commercial disputes and would ensure the recognition of English court rulings.

The UK asked to accede in April last year and is currently waiting for the EU to decide whether to grant it access. Other contracting parties, including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, have already agreed that it should.

What would life be like without Lugano? Liveable, certainly, but in some cases clunkier and more difficult. The UK would fall back on bilateral agreements with individual countries as well as other conventions such as the 2005 Hague Convention on the Choice of Court Agreements.

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There is little doubt however that the UK would be better off with access to the convention — and the clock is ticking on an answer.

This week Full Disclosure wants to hear about Covid support measures being put in place by law firms. Are you being offered additional paid leave to look after loved ones? Is your firm boosting flexibility so you can care for your family? Get in touch at [email protected]

The stories outlined below are taken from our Full Disclosure email briefing, sent to FT subscribers in the industry each week, sharing what has been most popular with legal readers on FT.com.

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Sullivan & Cromwell unveils co-vice chairs to succeed Joseph Shenker 

© Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell unveiled a succession plan naming two co-vice chairs to take over from Joseph Shenker in a rare leadership reshuffle at the elite Wall Street firm.

Mr Shenker, who became the firm’s youngest ever partner at 29, told the Financial Times that it had been ‘a year of 10 plagues . . . If anyone had said a year ago today we would be navigating a pandemic, and that we’d have survived as well as we have, I would have said they were crazy’.”

We’re getting divorced — should we share a lawyer?

After successive lockdowns and a claustrophobic Christmas some of us might be re-evaluating our relationship status. But is it ever wise to hire one lawyer for the both of you? The FT’s Lucy Warwick-Ching seeks answers from family solicitors. 

Traditionally, it was not felt possible to have one family lawyer engaged to act for both parties and that is still the most common position. This is because there must be no conflict of interest between a lawyer and their client and this can be almost impossible to avoid if there are two clients with competing or opposite interests, as would often be the case when a couple divorces.

Sub-postmasters set to file UK lawsuits for malicious prosecution

© Peter Lane/Alamy

Dozens of sub-postmasters are preparing to file lawsuits for malicious prosecution against the Post Office, opening a new front in a long-running spat against the state-owned body over a faulty computer system.

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“Vipinchandra Patel, 67, a former sub-postmaster from Oxfordshire was one of the six sub-postmasters whose criminal conviction was overturned by Southwark Crown Court last month. He was not part of the criminal court of appeal process because he had originally been convicted at a magistrates’ court. He was given an 18-week prison sentence after pleading guilty to fraud in June 2011 when he was accused of stealing £75,000.”

Lawyer accused of embezzling funds meant for 737 Max crash victims

© Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A high-profile US lawyer married to a reality TV star has been accused of funding his glitzy lifestyle by wrongfully withholding money from clients in cases dating back more than a decade, most recently from victims of the Boeing 737 Max crash.

Mr Girardi, whose Los Angeles-based law firm’s website advertised ‘We treat our clients like family’, withheld money from sickened Lockheed Martin workers, elderly cancer patients, earthquake victims and homeowners who successfully sued Shell for oil pollution, according to the document filed by law firm Edelson in federal court in Chicago.” 

UK in limbo over European legal co-operation agreement 

© Anthony Brown/Dreamstime

The EU has just three months to decide whether to give the UK access to a legal co-operation convention that would smooth the path for cross-border litigating with members of the pact. 

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The agreement is in many ways more important to aspects of litigation than the EU and UK’s new trade deal, which includes provisions for legal services but does not cover the mutual recognition of English court judgments or broader judicial co-operation.

Closing argument 

Of all the new years that Full Disclosure has experienced, 2021 has to be the most depressing, and naive optimism is in danger of giving way to ennui and inertia. Fortunately, the FT’s Jo Ellison is on hand for some much needed guidance on finding your mojo in the new year from hell or, failing that, just dragging yourself through it. The main takeaways? Self compassion, keeping expectations low and, of course . . . Netflix. 

Seeking motivation to finesse the post-Christmas physique, I turn to another source of professional effervescence, fitness coach Peter Cobby. He too counsels the prevailing wisdom that in order to stay motivated you must create some sort of schedule. And then stick to it like glue. ‘Plan your day the night before,’ he tells me. ‘Write down your three ‘must-do’s’, but make it interesting and challenging. No point setting a task you don’t want to get up for. This is the first step in having the motivation to get up and move.’”

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