Law Society Legal News Summary 02 April 2024

Criminal court backlogs 

Gazette, City A.M. and Gazette Ireland report on the latest criminal court backlog figures. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “The backlog figures show the depth of the crisis our criminal justice system is in. 

“Decades of underfunding and cuts have left us with a justice system which is failing victims and defendants, who are having to wait far too long to access justice, with thousands of cases outstanding for more than two years.”

Read our press release

Backlogs in the family courts 

Today’s Family Lawyer reports on the backlogs in the family courts. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “Tens of thousands of children continue to wait almost a year for decisions about their future which is affecting children and exacerbating uncertainty within families. 

“The delays prevent parents from being able to see their children and could mean children are left without the stability they need to thrive. This must be addressed urgently.”

New TA6 form 

The Gazette mentions the Law Society’s new TA6 property form and reports that MPs are to investigate the role of conveyancers, upfront information and referral fees as part of a major inquiry into the home buying and selling process. Today’s Conveyancer also covers the launch of the new form. 

In addition, the Law Society is mentioned in Today’s Conveyancer and Property Reporter pieces looking at residential property transactions. 

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

Non-disclosure agreements 

Gazette and Legal Futures report on the government crackdown on the misuse of non-disclosure agreements. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “There should be no provision in non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevents disclosures to the police, regulated health and care professionals and legal professionals and we welcome this action being taken to protect victims. 

“Government should also legislate to ensure limitations in confidentiality clauses are clearly set out in employment contracts and settlement agreements and to enhance the independent legal advice received by individuals signing confidentiality clauses and NDAs.”

Police station and Youth Court fees 

Our response to the government’s consultation on police station and Youth Court fees is covered by the Gazette

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “The injection of £16 million into police station and Youth Court work will be a small, though welcome, boost for those who will benefit from the fee increase,” said Law Society president Nick Emmerson. 

“However, it is a drop in the ocean with respect to what is needed to create a sustainable future for criminal legal aid.”

Read our press release

Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill 

Home and Today’s Conveyancer 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 last week. 

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.” 

Read our press release

County Court delays 

Lancashire Telegraph 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.”

Renters Reform Bill 

Home and Mortgage Professional look at the Renters Reform Bill including our warning that “without investment for housing legal aid and the courts, the bill will not achieve its aims and may lead to an increase in backlogs and landlords and tenants alike will be unable to enforce their legal rights.” 

Also worth a read: 

  • New fears have arisen about the suitability of Rwanda as a destination to send UK asylum seekers – Guardian
  • UN Human Rights Committee calls on UK to withdraw Rwanda Bill – Jurist
  • Bar Council joins the debate around men-only clubs – Gazette
  • Government trims the number of court fees that will increase – Legal Futures
  • Starmer pledges to end secretive justice by ensuring that journalists and the public get access to courts –Telegraph (£)
  • Repeat knife offenders spared jail – Independent

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