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The Solicitors Regulation Authority is set to remove the mandatory requirement that firms must submit an annual accountant’s report.Instead, the regulator wants compliance officers to sign a declaration they are satisfied that the firm is managing client accounts in line with existing rules.The proposal is part of a wider programme of reforms aimed at removing unnecessary burdens in regulation and injecting flexibility into financial management.Every firm holding client money – around 9,000 in 2013 – has to have its client account audited annually, but there is a feeling that current requirements are unnecessarily costly to low-risk firms.‘It is our view that the cost to firms of engaging a reporting accountant, followed by the cost to the SRA in processing all annual accounts, can no longer be justified by the risks identified through this exercise,’ said the SRA’s consultation paper on the plans.‘The changes will enable the SRA to release resources and focus them on targeted regulation where we have concerns over a firm’s management of client money.’The SRA plans to keep the right to require an accountant’s report where necessary as part of enforcement activity.But the removal of a mandatory accountant’s report is expected to save each small firm around £800 a year and larger firms several thousand pounds.The SRA estimates that processing, storing and ultimately destroying accountants’ report costs the organisation up to £200,000 a year.But the regulator said it will continue to require firms to maintain ‘proper standards’ or compliance and management of client money.Its consultation added: ‘With the removal of the requirement to submit annual accountant reports, we consider that it is appropriate for the firm’s COFA to declare that the firm’s accounts are compliant with the SRA accounts rules with effect from the date of implementation of these proposals.’Peter Noyce, head of professional services at Menzies accountants, said the only potential negative of the plan is that, if the SRA has to resolve more client account problems, it may in time have to pass its costs on to lawyers through higher practising certificate charges.He said: ‘There is no doubt that self-regulation is the cheapest way to oversee protection of client funds, and the SRA’s consultation paper is simply a natural extension of its outcomes-focused regulation.‘However, there will be those who question the effectiveness of self-regulation over external regulation. The existing accountant’s report only provides an effective deterrent if you believe that (a) there are a lot of crooked lawyers stealing client funds and (b) that external auditors pick up on all irregularities.‘I would hazard a guess that this point of view is more commonly held in the accounting profession than the legal profession.’Responses must be submitted to the consultation by 18 June.
The Bar Council is the latest representative body to announce its opposition to proposals to increase the limit for fixed recoverable costs in civil claims – warning of the impact on solicitors as well as its own members.In a submission today to the review of fixed recoverable costs, the council said it was ‘deeply concerned’ that fixed costs at ‘unreasonable levels of remuneration’ would see solicitors and barristers not able to undertake work and would hinder access to justice.The council added that, even though it does not speak for solicitors, they ‘are the life and blood of a thriving bar’.‘An extension of the fixed costs regime both horizontally and vertically is likely to place solicitors under increasing commercial/financial pressure, with the result that many will exit the market in low value claims,’ it said.The council joins the Law Society and the Commercial Litigation Association in opposing the plans. Those organisations submitted their responses earlier this week.Lord Justice Jackson is in the process of gathering evidence for his review into a potential extension of costs for all civil claims worth up to £250,000.Current fixed costs apply only to personal injury claims valued up to £25,000.While the Bar Council said it ‘accepts that the time has come to extend the fixed costs in the Fast Track beyond the current cohort of personal injury cases,’ any extension must be evidence based. ‘It is crucial that the fixed costs arrived at are sufficiently remunerative to avoid an adverse impact on access to justice,’ it said.‘The fundamental premise that fixed costs will reduce what lawyers charge to their clients is far from proven or established evidentially or at all,’ the council added.In an interview with the Gazette earlier this month, Andrew Langdon (pictured), chairman of the bar, spoke of his concerns about the proposals.
UK: Alstom’s Technology Centre at Widnes has rolled out the first of 27 Class 175 long-distance 160 km/h regional diesel multiple-units to be refurbished in a £6·7m programme which is being undertaken for Transport for Wales. The Alstom-built Class 175 has received TfW’s exterior branding, with interior changes including fitting USB and plug sockets, reupholstering the seats, replacing the tables and fitting new carpets and toilets. ‘The Class 175s have been in successful service over the last 20 years, and thanks to our fantastic team at Widnes, will be back in service in top condition within 12 months’, said Piers Wood, Managing Director Rolling Stock & Services at Alstom UK, on July 16. ‘Widnes has enormous potential to grow and be a focal point for the rail industry’. Other TfW vehicles are also to be refurbished under a programme with a total value of £40m. ‘We know being able to travel in comfort and charge devices on the go are incredibly important to our customers, whether they are travelling for 20 min or 4 h, for business or pleasure’, said TfW Rail Services Customer Experience Director Colin Lea. ‘While we are investing more than £800m in brand new trains, they take time to build and we want our customers to have a comfortable experience right now.’
Barbados celebrates 50th anniversary of IndependenceBarbados is celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence from Britain on November 30.Britain’s Prince Harry, who arrived in the country on Tuesday, is the highest profile guest for the celebrations.In his Independence Day message, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said that the island had made significant socio-economic and political strides during the past 50 years and that the pursuit and achievement of nationhood was never intended to be an end in itself.“It was not just a search for psychic satisfaction. We pursued nationhood in order that we might take our destiny into our own hands and mould that destiny in such a way as would develop to the fullest extent possible the hidden potential of our people.”In his wide-ranging message, Stuart told Barbadians that celebrating 50 years of political independence must be an occasion to drive home the importance of being independent.Meanwhile, five nationals are being honoured with National Awards.Prominent businessman Sir Ronald Geoffrey Cave, and attorney Sir John Andrew Connell have received the top honour of Knight of St. Andrew, while the newest Dame of St Andrew is Selma Udine Jackman for extraordinary and outstanding achievement and merit in service to Barbados or to humanity at large.The Companion of Honour has been awarded to the former publisher of the Barbados Advocate newspaper, Anthony Theophilus Bryan, and Dr. Henrick O.C. Ellis, who has been a leading light in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
By: Celina DeCastroThis day in history: March 1, 1739, Colonel Guthrie and Cudjo, the leaders of the Maroons of Cockpit Country signed a peace treaty allowing Maroons the right to self-govern and 1500 acres of Jamaican land.In return of this land and self-government, the Maroons agreed to become slave catchers for runaway plantation slaves and assist the English with rebellions.Originally, the Maroons of Blue Mountains Jamaica were runaway slaves who escaped to the mountains of Jamaica from Spanish plantations before the British gained control of the island in 1655.The word Maroon derived from the Spanish word cimarrones, which translates to mountaineers.This peace treaty came after the 1655 First Maroon War the English launched to rid of the largely grown Maroon population.The large population of the Maroons were split into two groups the Windward Maroons of the East side of the island and the Leeward Maroons of the West side of the island.The Windward Maroons occupied areas known today as Moore and Charles Town in Portland, Nanny Town in St. Thomas and Scotts Hall in St. Mary. The Leeward Maroons occupied Trelawny Town in St. James and Accompong in St. Elizabeth.Both Leeward and Windward Maroons displayed their skillful tactics, which made fighting more challenging to the English.On January 6 every year the Accompong Maroon Festival takes places to celebrate the signing on the peace treaty between the English and the Maroons.
Former Reggae Boyz captain, Rodolph Austin, has inked a football contract with Danish first division club Esbjerg FC.The 32-year-old who was out of contract with Brøndby IF has come to a two-year agreement worth in the region of £340,000. Esbjerg is keen to add experience to a youthful squad following the team’s relegation from the Danish top league last season. The club had previously attempted to seal a move for the midfielder in the January transfer window.Austin, who has 84 caps for the Jamaica national team, moved to Brøndby from the English Championship club Leeds after failing to secure a work permit. The midfielder made 40 appearances for the club, netting only two goals, but was not offered a new contract by the team at the end of the summer. The player made his first appearance for Esbjerg in a practice match last Friday and was given the number 8 jersey.Austin last appeared for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz at the 2016 Copa America Centenario and was also the skipper of a Gold Cup team that lost 3-1 to Mexico in the 2015 final.
Remcom has released a newer version of XGtd, its high frequency antenna analysis software for electrically large platforms. The update introduces a GPU-accelerated radar cross section (RCS) model that greatly speeds calculations while delivering exceptional accuracy for very complex geometries.The new model leverages Remcom’s X3D ray tracing technology, which runs on graphics processing units (GPUs) and uses multi-threading to achieve shorter run times. Computation times are reduced to minutes as opposed to hours or days. In addition, the tool boosts accuracy for RCS calculations of tremendously detailed targets, supporting high resolution CAD models with hundreds of thousands of facets. Targeted ray shooting ensures comprehensive coverage of finely-faceted models.The X3D model’s GPU acceleration and targeted ray shooting is expected to benefit users in several important ways. In particular, the ability to predict RCS for far more intricate geometries makes it possible to achieve accurate results for projects that would previously have been too time intensive to compute.
Ford Motor Company is using Wind River’s over-the-air (OTA) update technology.To deliver advanced connected car capabilities, Wind River Edge Sync technology can provide differential updates that allow the ability to minimize data update size, transmission time, and memory usage for updating vehicle software over the air. By creating the most minimal differential update possible during OTA updates, this approach offers the potential for cost reductions as well as a better experience for consumers.With OTA updates, carmakers can rapidly deploy secure, cost-efficient updates and new features to connected vehicles, eliminating software recalls and the associated costs.Edge Sync is a software framework for remote OTA updates and software lifecycle management that allows for rapid, safe, and secure updates to software and firmware throughout the vehicle lifecycle, from initial product development through to the end of life of the vehicle. Edge Sync enables rapid, cost-effective solutions for software-related updates, corrections to security vulnerabilities, and feature-related recalls, as well as helps automakers introduce new and exciting value-add features to vehicles that are already in the hands of customers.Beyond OTA updates, Wind River’s diverse automotive portfolio also includes the high-performance, market-leading VxWorks RTOS, tuned for determinism and responsiveness, with a proven track record in safety- and security-certified environments. For less critical functions, such as infotainment, Wind River delivers Wind River Linux and other commercial-grade open source technologies, world-class technical support, and maintenance to help customers stay up to date on the latest innovations. With decades of experience in mission-critical industries such as avionics, aerospace, automotive, and industrial, Wind River has built its business in successfully handling intricate matters such as regulations and software integration for systems where failure is not an option. For more information about Wind River automotive solutions and technologies, click here.
by Don DiFrancesco @MayorNEOPrepNorth Ridgeville boys’ basketball is on a roll. After outlasting Berea-Midpark 70-63 on Friday night, the Rangers have now posted a 4-1 record to start the season. They utilized three double-digit scorers and a gritty pressing defense to drop the Titans to a 1-2 mark.Berea-Midpark led 14-8 after one quarter and held the lead until North Ridgeville tied it at 23 on a 3-point basket by M. J. Smith with just under three minutes remaining in the first half. Jeremy Sanchez followed with an immediate steal and layup and the Rangers were in business. When the halftime buzzer sounded, North Ridgeville had established an 11-point lead at 38-27.Check out the Rangers’ second quarter statistics: 30-13 on the scoreboard, 14-7 advantage on the boards, and zero turnovers!North Ridgeville scored the first five points of the second half to establish their largest lead of the night at 43-27. But Berea-Midpark got back in the game with a 10-0 run to close it to 43-37. The Rangers’ Smith dropped in another 3-pointer to end that streak, and North Ridgeville responded with an 8-2 run of their own to close out the third quarter with 51-39 lead.The fourth quarter was a wild one as Berea-Midpark stepped up their defensive pressure. When the Titans’ Luis Vega scored a layup, stole the inbounds pass, and scored a second layup with 1:08 to play, the North Ridgeville lead was down to 65-61. But M. J. Smith was there again to curtail the Titans’ hopes by converting five out of six free throws in the final minute and ice the game for the Rangers.Smith, a senior guard, finished with 25 points on four 3-pointers plus 13-for-14 at the free throw line. Sanchez, his junior running mate at guard, had 15 first-half points and finished the game with 19. Senior forward Scoti Millgard added 10 points for the Rangers.Berea-Midpark was led by senior guard Jalen Dixon with 14 points. Vega, a senior forward, was right behind with 13, and junior guard Lian Levesque finished with 10 points for the Titans.The Rangers and Titans, members of the competitive Southwestern Conference, will hook up again on January 30th in Berea. Should be quite a rematch!Berea-Midpark 14 13 12 24 = 63North Ridgeville (home) 8 30 13 19 = 70 Related TopicsBerea MidparkNorth Ridgeville NEO HS Staff