The legal awards company which garlanded Alan Blacker with prizes has revoked his honours.

RollOnFriday pointed out last week that SME News had bestowed the titles ‘Best Pro Bono Legal Services Practice 2024’ and ‘UK Legal Client Service Excellence Award 2024’ on a struck off solicitor who was recently banned from being a charity trustee for 15 years and had been referred to the police.

Kathryn Hall, the founder of SME News parent company AI Global Media, told ROF this week that “we have officially revoked the award”.

She said that one of the company’s research team had made a note on its system questioning the legitimacy of Blacker’s practices, but “another individual had missed the note and had neglected to take action accordingly”.

“We have spoken with the individual to ensure that this does not happen again, and re-training is being provided”, she said.

Hall said that “It is with great regret that we find ourselves in this position as we value the research team and their input and diligence greatly”. So although Blacker’s awards were a mistake, don’t write off the other winners, winners like Barratt Legal, a one-solicitor practice in Tonbridge which won ‘Commercial Law Firm of the Year 2024’.

Hall was also at pains to differentiate the prizes pumped out by AI Global Media from two of the other, duff awards mentioned in the original story, one of which was given to a fake law firm invented by ROF. She said those prizes did not “have anything to do with our business or practices, in fact they are [from] other practices which are seemingly lacking in legitimacy and something we would like to distance ourselves from”.

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Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 14 June 24 07:58

Nooooo credibility.  If you proudly talk about or display awards  which you’ve effectively bought by being a “sponsor”, then you are an utter bell end.  
This incident shows just how ridiculous the awards circuit is.  

Anonymous 14 June 24 09:29

Forget this malarky RoF, get your intrepid reporters out on the mean streets of Salford and find out if the Greater Manchester Police have called in ol' Harl's for questioning yet.

I, for one, can't wait for the The Harley Redemption* story to get started.


*Or possibly The Harley Mile, or even Escape From Harleytraz, I dunno... it's a working title

Best Solicitor in the Blueberry Yogurt Category 14 June 24 09:37

This just shows how utterly meaningless all of these awards are, including Chambers and Legal 500. 

Roll on Friday's Award Winning AbsurdinessBrown™️ 14 June 24 10:21

The cheek of that fellow. 

Has he ever won a free legal dictionary???

Stolen valour, that's what it is.

Awardless subscriber 14 June 24 10:49

I've worked in a few industries now and been to my fair share of industry award shows at £250+ per head, min 10 seats per company and laughed loudly at the ridiculously niche awards on offer.  Prizes for "Innovative Technology Services From CEO's Called Geoff For Clients Called Pete" awarded to Geoff who coincidentally is from tonight's sponsor company "Geoff Award Whores"!  The award is presented by our other sponsor, Pete from "Pete's Up Next For An Award LLP!

Old marketing fart 14 June 24 11:48

I am a jaded person. When I was younger I thought that at least Chambers and Legal 500 were totally unbiased. 

For example, Chambers sell a tool as part of their sponsorship package which allows you to track whether your client references responded. And as a high quota on responses helps to be ranked, tracking responses and chasing up slackers is essential. So you buy. But of course it’s not pay to play. 

Kudos to Chambers though for making it more elegant than the openly “transactional” awards. 


Anon 14 June 24 13:13

Hard agree with the comment made at 9.37. Add to that Lexcel (a firm I used to work at which would boast about it's lexcel accreditation  and make the lives of staff hell to ensure it was renewed went bust owning th taxpayert hundreds of thousands - so much forthe  sound financial management aspect eh Nick, Bill, Sarah), CQS, WIQS. All meaningless nonsense 

Metal Merchant 14 June 24 13:19

Ben Foat, Post Office legal director, was named In-house Solicitor of the Year at the 2018 Law Society Excellence Awards.

Anonymous 14 June 24 13:47

Love the attempt at distancing themselves from the other awards factories. ‘Yes we gave a crim an award but please don’t associate us with the people who gave a fake firm an award. That’s just too much!’

Sumoking 14 June 24 15:34

is this not turning into a bit of a personal crusade of rof's against Blacker? 

it's starting to feel a bit SRA 

cornsy 14 June 24 16:04

I messaged the woman calling her firm out ,who replied saying that she had contacted Jamie at ROF and wanted me to have a conversation with her as well. I didnt of course....

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