The Scottish Executive announced on 21 December 2004 that the Skye Bridge had been purchased from its private owners for £27 million, and that tolls would cease to be charged for journeys across the bridge with immediate effect (see previously Nos 228, 354, 360).  While this brings to a successful conclusion the long-standing Skye and Kyle Against Tolls (SKAT) campaign (see its website http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/ray_shields/bridge.htm), it means not such a happy festive season for the 21 staff who worked on toll collection at the bridge and are now redundant.  More than 100 people have been convicted for refusing to pay the bridge tolls, with some ending up in prison.  Robbie the Pict, who has been prominent in the non-payment campaign (see Nos 10, 116, 140, 209, 212, and 392) and whose latest litigation on the matter can be viewed at http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/MISC117.html, vowed to fight on through the courts to clear protesters of any criminal convictions.



Law firms DLA and Piper Rudnick LLP announced on 6 December 2004 that they will merge.  DLA already incorporates the former Scottish firm, Bird Semple.  Combined, DLA, which has extensive coverage across Europe and Asia and is ranked seventh in the UK, and Piper Rudnick, one of the leading national law firms in the US, will have wide global reach across a broad range of practice areas. This international merger of equals is evenly balanced on both sides with 1,350 plus lawyers in the US and more than 1,350 lawyers in Europe and Asia.  The announcement comes just two months after Piper Rudnick announced that it would merge with Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich LLP. With the latest merger the combined organisation will be known as DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary and will be the only legal provider in the world with more than 1,000 lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic. Both mergers become effective on 1 January 2005.   Piper Rudnick’s co-chairs, Francis B Burch, Jr and Lee I Miller, and DLA’s Managing Partner, Nigel Knowles, jointly announced the merger following a simultaneous partner vote by both sides on Saturday, 4 December. Burch, Miller and Knowles, who will serve as joint CEOs, will lead the combined firm.  With more than 2,700 lawyers located in 18 countries and projected 2005 revenues of $1.5 billion, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary will become the third largest legal services provider in the world, based on the number of lawyers, and the second largest based on revenue, according to the latest AmLaw Global 100 rankings.  Further details on the DLA website, http://www.dla.com/.