Law Society Legal News Summary 13 May 2024


Sanctions 

Gazette, Law (£) and Lexis Nexis (£) reveal that the Law Society has called for clearer guidance on sanctions against Moscow amid growing concerns that the current regime is failing to harm the Russian economy. 

Law Society president Nick Emmerson: “The Committee’s inquiry presents an important opportunity for the UK government to consider concerns from the legal sector regarding its implementation of the sanctions regime.

“The timing for licensing needs clearer guidance. The process should include dialogue between the applicant and preferably, an assigned Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) officer, to ensure they’re aware of the progress and status of their application.

“The licensing grounds are also too narrow and the Russia regulations do not seem to cover the release of security. Sometimes this is covered by a general licence, but not always and where it isn’t, there does not appear to be any discretion for OFSI to grant a licence. Further guidance on this issue would be helpful.”

Read our press release
 

Family court crisis 

Evening Standard, Yahoo!, and Aol cover the impending crisis in the family justice system, as court backlogs increase and lack of funding in legal aid force many to represent themselves in court. This comes as nearly 1,000 parents are said to have abducted their own children in the last five years. 

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.” 

Read our press release
 

Criminal legal aid contract 

Canadian Lawyer and Australasian Lawyer report the Legal Aid Agency’s announcement that it will introduce 10-year flexible criminal legal aid contracts. 

President Nick Emmerson said: "That stress will be reduced because a mistake in their application will simply mean they have to redo the application, rather than meaning they are locked out of the system for several years as is presently the case."
 

Early legal advice pilot 

Gazette covers an evaluation report on the Ministry of Justice’s early legal advice pilot that has revealed problems and failures with residents with housing, debt and welfare problems. 

President Nick Emmerson said: “Building on the findings of this report, we hope the MoJ will continue its engagement with the legal and advice sectors to find effective ways to offer early advice under the civil legal aid scheme.”
 

Pensions and divorce 

Karen Dovaston, chair of the Law Society’s Family Law Committee, spoke to Sun about pensions and divorce. 

Karen said: “If your ex has been employed in a civil service type job then they may have a government backed or minimum guaranteed pension plan, such as a final salary scheme.

“These are worth a lot more.

“Also consider where you live or lived, for example Southend in the 1970s and 1980s was a big banking town so their ex may have amassed a large pension during those years."
 

Diversity Access Scheme 

Gazette features the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme that has enabled 300 people to become solicitors who would have been excluded because of their background.
 

Leasehold information pack 

BBC Radio 4’s Money Box mentions our calls to standardise the leasehold information pack process. 
 

Also worth a read:

  • Keir Starmer pledges to scrap Rwanda policy if Labour wins election - BBC
  • Government wants deeper understanding of the specific risks of AI before proposing new laws to regulate the sector – Independent
  • SRA finds that unregulated legal services have had a ‘modest impact’ on consumer choice – Legal Futures
  • Tories brace for more defections – i news (£)
  • Record number of children living in temporary accommodation – City A.M.
  • Home buying and selling inquiry continues today - Gazette
  • PM to give pre-election pitch today – FT (£)

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