Law Society Legal News Summary 21 March 2024

Safety of Rwanda Bill

Law Society president Nick Emmerson writes an op-ed for Conservative Home about the Safety of Rwanda Bill. 

“The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is one of the most damaging pieces of legislation to the rule of law brought forward in recent history,” he said.

“It corrodes the independence of the judiciary, removes basic human rights, and could potentially do great harm to the UK’s international standing.

“While amendments made in the House of Lords remove some of the Bill’s worst excesses, the government looks set to ignore these concerns, despite their cross-party support.

“It is therefore left to the MPs who care about British principles of the rule of law, judicial independence, and the rules-based international order to push the government to consider the concerns of the Lords and look to improve the Bill.”

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Financial Benchmarking Survey

The Gazette, Solicitors Journal and Legal Futures all cover our Financial Benchmarking Survey. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “Although law firms are proving to be financially strong and resilient, we live in tough economic times and this survey is an opportunity for law firm leaders to plan for the future. Despite costs rising and billable hours decreasing, profits have only marginally declined.

“The legal sector remains healthy, continues to be an important driver of the UK’s economy and a significant employer. In fact, the overall number of people employed by law firms has risen even if the lack of government investment in legal aid is hitting some firms hard.”

Paul Bennett, chair of the Law Society’s leadership and management section said: “The resilience of law firms shines through this year’s survey. Economically, it is a tough period, but firms are doing well.”

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Inheritance wars 

The Express reports on the increase in families fighting over inheritance. 

Stephen Lawson, chair of the Law Society's wills and equity committee, explained the main reason for the rise in the number of disputes is that there is now more wealth to fight over, due to the rising value of assets such as family homes.

Means test delays 

The New Journal covers news that legal aid means test changes are to be delayed. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “The government is displaying a pattern of behaviour of refusing to commit resources to the justice system resulting in unmet legal need. 

“They have already acknowledged there are issues with the current means test, leaving ordinary people without access to justice.

“Frequently blamed for the continued delays is the Legal Aid Agency’s antiquated IT systems – which are causing implementation problems. This is itself evidence of the long-term neglect of our justice system.”

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The Business Telegraph explains the different types of will and signposts to the Law Society’s website to find a solicitor.

SRA in-house guidance 

Our reaction to new SRA guidance for in-house solicitors is covered by the Gazette and Lexpert

A Law Society spokesperson said: “The competing pressures that often arise from the unique position occupied by in-house solicitors and their duties to the wider public interest and employer clients must not be underestimated. This is a good start, but further guidance and detail is needed to ensure the in-house community is adequately supported to navigate these challenges.”

Three ideas 

Jonathan Goldsmith, chair of the Law Society’s policy and regulatory affairs committee, mentions the Law Society in a Gazette piece setting out three ideas for the legal profession.

CILEX regulation 

Legal Futures reports the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has outlined its plans to regulate the thousands of Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) members who are paralegals and students. The Law Society is mentioned.

Criminal legal aid 

Legal Futures reports that Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, said the government “would not resile from” and “would comply with” January’s High Court ruling on our judicial review over criminal legal aid.

Also worth a read: 

  • Mother breached security to smuggle knife into court building – Gazette
  • Senior lawyer says current rules at the men-only Garrick Club do not in fact bar women from being members – Guardian
  • Court staff were kept in dark over Raac concrete safety risk for three years - Evening Standard
  • Rwanda Bill: Further defeats in the LordsBBC
  • Survey of opinions on magistrates – Times (£)
  • Calls for the criminal justice system to be opened up to greater scrutiny, research and testing – Gazette
  • Richard Moorhead on the Post Office Scandal – Times (£)
  • Lawyers “split” on Post Office exoneration bill – Legal Futures

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