“England is the birthplace of law, but also the birthplace of bureaucracy,” explains Adv. Daniel Toubkin. “This means that every problem has a solution, but in the U.K. the way to reach that solution is subject to a very different system of laws and regulations than those familiar to Israelis. One needs patience and perseverance, and only those who are patient will probably reach their goal.” Toubkin is a senior attorney at the Clear Law Solicitors firm, which provides counsel and legal services mainly in the field of civil and commercial law. Adv. Toubkin specializes in medical malpractice suits and complex cases of tort law.
Point of entry for Israelis in the U.K.
Adv. Daniel Toubkin was first exposed to the extensive interest that Israeli entrepreneurs, investors and clients in general show towards the British Isles when he launched the Facebook page “Legal Assistance for Israelis in England” – a private initiative that he established two years ago and which led to a growing wave of questions and queries on various legal matters. “I was amazed by the thirst and the need amongst Israelis for legal assistance on different issues. I knew I could provide ‘first aid’ in most cases and that there may even be a basis for developing a client pool. But I could not answer all the questions, and so I started charting the queries and began building a network of solicitors throughout the U.K. who could deal with all the relevant issues.”
The Facebook page turned into a type of legal forum and a starting point for those Israelis in need of advice and service. It is a platform which connects Israelis and solicitors who speak Hebrew and English and are all certified and experts in their respective fields, providing legal counsel on a variety of issues. The Israelis, says Toubkin, mainly require services for issues related to property and land law, immigration, family law and commercial contracts, in particular business development and establishing businesses, as well as commercial disputes. The forum’s short history also includes queries about guardianship, employment law, international taxation, motor offences and, unfortunately, also criminal cases. Contacts were also created with other Israelis who provide services to Israelis, such as accountants, relocation experts, etc.
Understanding both sides of the coin
Throughout the U.K. there are currently 15-20 former Israeli solicitors, in addition to a considerable number of solicitors from the Jewish community. Adv. Toubkin’s unique advantage for Israelis seeking professional legal counsel lies in the fact that he does not only speak their language, but also understands the local culture and mentality. “On the one hand I am an Israeli who served in the IDF and read law in Israel; on the other hand, when I approach local authorities on their behalf, the British are convinced that I am one of them.”
In addition to his Israeli law degree from the University of Haifa, Adv. Toubkin also holds the required British certification and completed an MBA degree from Manchester Metropolitan University. Today he is the only solicitor in the U.K. who speaks Hebrew and specializes in torts and Medical Negligence.
Adv. Toubkin confers that the utmost importance to him is the sense of trust and personal connection with his clients, and he frequently stays in contact with his clients even after their cases have been closed. He claims that “if there is no trust, even if you won the case, the client will not be satisfied, but if there is trust, even if you lost, the client will know that you did everything you could.”
Why shouldn’t an Israeli turn to an Israeli solicitor who is located only a short ride from his house?
“Only a local can have an in-depth understanding of the impact of each decision and actions that are taken. For example, for commercial contracts, an Israeli solicitor can offer legal counsel, but will not be able to identify potential problems that can appear during the process because he is not familiar with the local ecosystem. Not only is boisterous behavior not welcomed here, it can actually provoke antagonism, for instance when dealing with a government agency or banks. It often makes the situation worse and makes them toughen their stances even more.”
Toubkin explains that the court usually has the last word. “Approximately 80% of legal disputes are resolved between solicitors. In 15% of the cases the process begins in the court but never reaches a trial; only for the rest there is a trial. Solicitors conduct serious, ongoing correspondence. Each letter that is received is examined and is subject to discussions and deep reflection, followed by a comprehensive response. Picking up the phone to check the other side’s state of mind is not customary, and the speed of process is much more restrained.”
The costs associated with legal proceedings are also disconcerting to the average Israeli, including the fact that losing a trial entails financial loss. “Israelis are used to challenging all rulings that are not to their liking, but here it is much more complicated and also much more expensive.”
From Haifa to Manchester
Adv. Daniel Toubkin was born in Manchester and at age 4 moved to Haifa with his family. Following his military service, he studied law at Haifa University and interned at the law firm of Adv. Jonathan D. Friedland, who also served as the American Consular agent in Haifa and North of Israel. “This was a unique period, which combined law, diplomacy, and where I learned the highest levels of moral principles and work ethics” he recalls.
When planning his future, Toubkin decided to examine options in his city of birth, and within three weeks he packed his bags and took his first steps as a junior solicitor at the Keoghs, Nichols, Lindsell & Harris firm. He was welcomed to the firm by his uncle, Michael Sandler, who was the senior partner and manager. The firm was founded in 1733 and is ranked the 25th oldest law firm in England.
In 2006, following the transformative reform in British tort law and the recognition of a new retainer based on the principle “no win – no fee,” there was an huge surge in law firms in this field. Toubkin was recruited as a solicitor by the small firm Farley Dwek and worked there for eight years, establishing their Medical Negligence department.
In recent years, he has been serving as senior solicitor at Clear Law Solicitors. In addition to his legal occupations, he is developing the business field and the unique Israeli connection to the British Isles. He is a member of the local Jewish community and of the British-Israel Chamber of Commerce.