Business Diary: November 6

MP Stuart Andrew (left) pictured with Mark Richmond Asda's Innovations Development Chef.
MP Stuart Andrew (left) pictured with Mark Richmond Asda's Innovations Development Chef.
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The rapid growth of social networking has brought an unexpected dimension to the work of Leeds-based law firm Clarion.

Clarion has gained permission from the courts to use a social networking site to serve an opponent in family legal proceedings. Clarion’s associate solicitors Amy Scollan and Cheryl Grace were recently faced with a client who, despite divorcing a number of years ago, needed to bring a new legal action against his former wife.

As his former wife had been out of contact for about 20 years and was rumoured to have moved abroad, he engaged an agent to find her address, but without success.

Clarion advised the client to search online networking sites and his former wife was found on Facebook. However, her profile did not include an email address and, service by email, which is regularly permitted by the courts, was not possible.

As the Facebook profile was the only link the client had with his former wife, Clarion asked the family courts to permit service of the new action by a private Facebook message, which is not something that is provided for in the civil or family procedure rules.

As a result, Ms Scollan made the application to the court, and the court listed a hearing, during which Ms Grace was able to persuade the court to grant permission to serve the application via this alternative method.

“As far as we have been able to discover, there’s been no previous family case where an application for service via Facebook had successfully been made,” said Justine Osmotherley, a partner and head of Clarion’s family team.

“With the majority of the UK population now having an account on a social networking site, the possibility of using these sites to formally serve the other party in legal proceedings is an important development.”

Dine in with an MP

THE culinary skills of the country’s MPs are being put to the test by supermarket chain Asda. Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, was the first to take part in Asda’s Come Dine with MP challenge at its head office in Leeds.

The idea behind the initiative is to give MPs a taste of the challenges of shopping for healthy, enjoyable meals on an under-pressure budget. Mr Andrew’s guests rated his meal out of ten – for quality and value. His menu was stuffed aubergine and cassoulet with cheese and biscuits to finish.

His scored nine for his dinner which will appear on Asda’s Come Dine with MP leader board where he will be joined by other MPs who take part in the experience.

Allan Edwards, Asda’s director of public affairs, said; “Come Dine with MP is a light-hearted way to demonstrate to MPs the challenges faced by families when preparing affordable, healthy and tasty meals.”

Mr Andrew said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my Come Dine With MP experience with Asda last week and would recommend it to my Parliamentary colleagues. I really enjoy cooking, so I was delighted when I was asked by Asda to host a dinner party for six people.

“Healthy eating and feeding a family on a budget are two very pressing issues for families at the moment and it was great to see just how many portions I could make from one simple, low cost shopping list.

“My thanks to all the staff for their hospitality, especially chef Mark Richmond who was there at hand and for my guests who gave me a fantastic 9/10 score.”

PA number one

Christina Ploutarchou was the first PA to join the new Leeds office of healthcare law firm Capsticks when it opened in June last year.

Now, she has scooped the award for Legal PA of the Year, announced by jobs site SecsintheCity at The Ivy restaurant in London.

Neil Middleton, director of HR at Capsticks, said: “This is a tremendous achievement, particularly as Christina was up against a very strong field from across the UK and had to demonstrate to the judging panel her integrity, professionalism, communication skills and ability to go the extra mile when required.

“Christina has made a very significant contribution to both the Leeds office and firm generally since joining in June last year and, whilst we do of course already know what a star she is, we’re all delighted for her that this has been recognised externally too.”

Capsticks was initially located at a temporary office in Princes Exchange, Leeds, before moving to its premises in Toronto Square.

Ms Ploutarchou said: “Together with my fantastic colleagues we have certainly put Capsticks Leeds ‘on the map’.”