Law Society Legal News Summary 1 May 2024

Probate delays 

Solicitors Journal, Today’s Wills & Probate,  reveals that the Law Society is concerned about the harmful impact that severe delays in probate applications have on grieving families. 

President Nick Emmerson said: “Delays to the probate service can adversely impact families during a difficult time, as they deal with the loss of their loved one. 

“We are aware of significant delays to the probate service. In 2016, before changes were made to the probate service, applications took on average seven to 10 working days to process. Most recent data shows delays of more than 13 weeks.** 

“It is unacceptable that some families are forced to wait in limbo for over three months, as they manage the complex administration that follows the death of a family member. 

“Delays have also forced grieving clients to incur additional costs, such as unnecessary interest payments on outstanding inheritance tax. Many property transactions also fall through.” 

Legal Futures and Today’s Wills and Probate also cover our appearance at the Justice Select Committee’s probate inquiry, where a member of the Law Society’s Wills & Equity Committee, Ian Bond, presented evidence to the Committee.

Family Procedure Rules 

Solicitors Journal reports on changes to the Family Procedure Rules (FPR). 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson: “We agree that supporting parties to settle their cases outside of court and informing them of their options relating to non-court dispute resolution (NCDR) is important.

“Court should be a last resort because it is expensive, takes longer and can have a significant emotional impact on parties. However, it is vital that there are no barriers to accessing the courts when this is necessary or appropriate.

“Mediation, therefore, should not be mandatory and access to the courts should be protected. We are pleased that the changes to the rules retain access to courts, while encouraging and supporting parties to consider their options beyond the court process.”

Read our press release

Unregulated legal services 

Gazette reports that the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced the first part of its response to the investigation of unregulated legal services which provide will-writing, online divorce, and pre-paid probate services in the UK. 

President Nick Emmerson said: “We share the concerns raised by the CMA about possible breaches of consumer protection law such as misleading advertising, pressure selling and coercion of vulnerable customers. 

“Although will-writing itself is not a regulated service, consumers face potential risks when using unregulated will writers or services. This may result in writing a will that is not legally valid. In this case, your estate will not be inherited exactly as you wish. Regulated will-writing offers peace of mind to both you and your loved ones.”

Criminal legal aid meeting reports that the Law Society met with Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk to discuss criminal legal aid, following our High Court victory over the government’s decision not to raise rates by the minimum 15% recommended by the Bellamy review. 

Read our press release

Recommended minimum salary 

Legal Cheek readers share their motivations for pursuing careers as lawyers. The piece mentions the Law Society’s recommended minimum salary for trainees. Also in Paradise.

AI in the legal profession 

A Gazette piece on the government’s ‘pro-innovation’ approach to artificial intelligence regulation mentions the Law Society’s work on the role of AI in the profession. Also in Business Fast.

Also worth a read: 

  • More than half of asylum seekers assigned for removal to Rwanda cannot be easily located - FT (£)
  • First asylum seeker flown to Rwanda – Independent
  • Migrants flee to Ireland in fear of being deported to Rwanda – Times (£)
  • Annual value of the family law market hit £2bn for the first time last year - Legal Futures
  • Remote hearings will be the default position for bail applications in a bid to hear cases quicker - Gazette 
  • Record levels of immigration fall due to visa curbs – Times (£)
  • Latest from Post Office Inquiry - BBC

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