Law Society Legal News Summary 28 March 2024

Civil legal aid 

Gazette, Solicitors Journal, Legal Futures, Today’s Family Lawyer and New Law Journal report that the Ministry of Justice has reviewed how civil legal aid is delivered in six other countries, as part of its Civil Legal Aid Review. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “We welcome this research looking at innovative ways to deliver civil legal aid by considering best practice from similar jurisdictions around the world. 

“We are glad to see the report has recognised the importance of ‘holistic, society-wide services’ in helping people to resolve their civil legal issues. There is no replacement for publicly-funded information, guidance and advice to ensure people get the independent, trusted and expert support they need.”

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SRA fining powers 

New Law Journal reports the Law Society’s concerns about the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s new fining powers, as we issue guidance to help members avoid being caught by the fines. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “It is almost two years since the Ministry of Justice raised the SRA’s internal fining powers for solicitors and traditional law firms from £2,000 to £25,000, despite our strong opposition to the change. The fines we have been seeing issued range from around £12,000 to £23,000. 

“We acknowledge that firms or individuals which have failed to follow their professional obligations, should face appropriate sanctions, but we remain seriously concerned about the SRA acting as investigator, prosecutor and judge. 

“We also published new guidance on investigation and enforcement and what to expect from the SRA and the SDT and support available to solicitors or firms facing disciplinary action.”

New TA6 form 

New Law Journal, The Negotiator and Inside Conveyancing cover our new TA6 Property Information Form that supports National Trading Standards material information guidance. 

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.” 

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Financial Benchmarking Survey 

Gazette continues coverage of the findings from 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.” 

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Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill 

Solicitors Journal, Landlord Today and Inside Conveyancing cover the Law Society’s view that an announcement for ground rent reform is urgently needed, as the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords yesterday. 

President Nick Emmerson said: “We are still awaiting the outcome of the Ground Rent Consultation. Recent speculation over scrapping the reforms only creates additional uncertainty for all those in the sector. We urge the government to bring forward its proposals as soon as possible to allow for proper scrutiny.” 

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Mixed injury cases 

Gazette and Today’s Family Lawyer report the Supreme Court has published its judgment on how damages should be awarded in low-value Road Traffic Accident cases where the claimant suffers both whiplash and non-whiplash injuries. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “We are pleased to see the Supreme Court’s judgment. 

“We had welcomed the previous findings of the Court of Appeal that damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for claimants who have suffered a non-whiplash injury should be considered independently of the tariff for the whiplash injury. 

“It is now important for these cases to be considered as quickly as possible so that parties suffering from mixed injuries are able to access justice promptly.”

60 Carey Street 

The Times (£) covers the Law Society’s decision to retain and redevelop its property at 60 Carey Street to maximise the potential of this heritage asset.

Also worth a read: 

  • Tory minister accuses “lefty lawyers” of “grooming” migrants to gain asylum, in the wake of the Clapham acid attack – Independent, Sky News and LBC
  • How can the SQE be improved – Legal Cheek
  • Migrant crossings reach record high for first three months of the calendar year – BBC
  • Demand for legal ombudsman service surges – Gazette
  • Ministers prepare to end secret magistrates’ cases – Telegraph (£)

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