Law Society Legal News Summary 26 March 2024

Civil and criminal legal aid in dire straits 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson writes in the Gazette about the issues plaguing civil and criminal legal aid, as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held evidence this week into the Value for Money for legal aid.

He said: “The Law Society is fighting hard on both fronts to prevent criminal and civil legal aid from collapsing.

“The government’s failure to listen to the evidence we presented to Lord Bellamy’s review forced us to take it to court to seek a judicial review of the government’s decision not to give criminal legal aid the recommended 15% increase in fees.

“The judgment found that the Law Society had presented an 'impressive, compelling body of evidence' which demonstrated a 'system slowly coming apart at the seams.’” 

Our response to the PAC inquiry is also covered in Solicitors Journal and Today’s Family Lawyer.

Justice Committee sets out recommendations on regulation of the legal professions 

The Gazette and Legal Futures report that the Justice Select Committee has outlined eight key recommendations on the regulation of the legal professions. 

Law Society chief executive officer Ian Jeffery said we will “carefully consider” the recommendations, but warned against “regulatory tinkering” as the Society “believes the regulatory framework overall is stable and functions effectively. 

“The focus of regulators and professional bodies alike should be on ensuring the framework created by the LSA works effectively.”

New TA6 form 

Today’s Conveyancer, Inside Conveyancing, Solicitors Journal and Property Industry Eye report that we have published a new TA6 Property Information Form that supports National Trading Standards material information guidance.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “Earlier contact between sellers and their solicitors may provide an opportunity to address any issues that could cause delays in the sale process at a later date. We hope that the TA6 will help facilitate the flow of information from marketing a property by estate agents through to the legal process.

“The aim is that having better informed buyers could help reduce both the time the process takes and the number of sales that fall through.” 

Read our press release

County Court delays 

Wirral Globe continues coverage of the small claims cases delays in the County Courts.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “The Law Society has repeatedly expressed its concern about rising delays in the county courts, meaning many are not accessing justice.

“These delays can result in litigants suffering hardship because they cannot get the remedy they are entitled to, or in some cases dropping their claims, because they cannot afford to put more time and money into them. 

“Clearly, proper investment in our justice system rather than decades of cuts would have meant the court service didn’t find itself in this difficult situation.”

Reframing Justice 

Tamsyn Hyatt and Kate Stanley from FrameWorks UK write in Legal Action Group about our Reframing Justice project. 

They said: “At FrameWorks UK, we’re working with the Law Society to make sure the second story is framed as well as it can be – based on rigorous evidence of what works. FrameWorks UK is a not-for-profit research organisation that specialises in how to frame important issues from vaccination to homelessness, health inequality to care experience. 

“Together with the Law Society, its members and others in the field of law and justice, we’re working to understand how people across England and Wales think about the rule of law and access to justice, and to identify the narratives and frames that can build public support for a well-resourced, well-respected and truly independent justice system. 

“We’re doing this work because how we talk about law and justice in England and Wales matters. The ideas we share – and how we share them – shape how our actions, our clients and our profession is seen and understood.”

Also worth a read: 

  • At least four senior judges resign from Garrick Club – Guardian
  • Judges’ membership of the Garrick club: analysis – Guardian
  • New Hong Kong law threatens lawyers’ independence – Gazette
  • Baltimore Bridge collapse: live – BBC News
  • China: MPs will declare country a threat to UK’s national security – Times (£)
  • Magistrates call for reform of ‘quickie justice’ – Times (£)
  • MPs and regulator must change tack over where retirement schemes can invest – FT (£)
  • Duchess of York issues statement over Princess of Wales cancer diagnosis – Sky News
  • Port of Dover issues delay warning ahead of Easter weekend – Evening Standard

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