Law Society Legal News Summary 25 July 2022

Probate delays 

The Times (£) examines the delays to the probate service and the impact this has on those using the service as they try to settle a family members’ estate. 

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We have been aware of the probate service delays for some time. The service must allow executors to settle a loved one’s estate in a reasonable time frame. Delays can adversely affect families in what is already a difficult time. 

“Our members are continuing to see cases being ‘stopped’. We suggest that users should be offered reimbursement for delays. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Register of Overseas Entities 

Ahead of the launch of the Register of Overseas Entities (ROA) on 1 August, we alerted our members about the new responsibilities and risks in some property transactions. 

The Law Society Gazette Ireland and Inside Conveyancing spoke to I. Stephanie Boyce, who said: “We have produced an interim note to alert those acting in property transactions involving overseas entities about the changes that are being introduced at pace. 

“Failure to comply with registration in the ROE is potentially a criminal offence so it is important that members are aware of the new register and their responsibilities.” 

Read our press release and the interim note

Parking disputes 

Auto Moto Buzz discusses a parking spaces dispute between two neighbours which was covered on Rip off Britain

Gary Rycroft, a member of our council membership committee, gives tips on how the public can avoid financial penalties in such situations.

Domestic abuse advocacy scheme 

As part of the measures brought in with the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, the UK government recently implemented a measure which means domestic abuse complainants won’t be cross-examined by the alleged perpetrator in family and civil proceedings. 

Instead, cross-examination will be carried out by a court-appointed lawyer via the Domestic Abuse Advocacy Scheme.

I. Stephanie Boyce told the Gazette: “We welcome the introduction of this scheme, which has been brought in following the successful call by the Law Society and others for domestic abuse complainants not to be cross-examined by those alleged to have abused them. 

“We are, however, concerned that the way the scheme has been implemented and the remuneration on offer means there will be insufficient advocates to undertake the work. 

“There is therefore a significant risk that the scheme will not deliver the benefits intended from it. We urge the MoJ to ensure there are regular reviews and assessments of how effectively the scheme is fulfilling its intention of protecting victims.” 

Read about the Domestic Abuse Act and about the Domestic Abuse Advocacy Scheme

Improving diversity in the judiciary

I. Stephanie Boyce writes in the Gazette Weekly Magazine (page 14) about how judicial diversity can be improved. 

“We are worried about the continuing disparity in outcomes between ethnic minority and white candidates, and for solicitor candidates compared with barristers, across judicial exercises. 

“The data confirms that non-barristers and ethnic minorities are significantly less likely to be successful in their judicial applications (despite making up a considerable proportion of the applicants for these roles).” 

Read our press release

Wedding laws 

Practice Source covers the recommendations outlined by the Law Commission in its report on updating wedding laws in England and Wales. 

“This area of law has long been due an overhaul and the Law Commission’s review of marriage report offers a much-needed opportunity to bring our marriage laws into the 21st century,” said I. Stephanie Boyce. 

Read our press release

Criminal justice funding crisis 

Listen to Stuart Nolan, chair of our criminal law committee, discussing the funding crisis in the criminal justice system on Times Radio (01:48:26).

Also worth a read:

  • Truss v Sunak: Tory leadership candidates prepare for first head-to-head debate – BBC
  • £5k costs cap for SLAPPs defendants touted by MoJ – Legal Futures
  • Top-100 law firms’ websites lacking, says report: Legal Futures
  • More misery for SQE candidates as exam cancelled – Gazette
  • Lady Hale on the Human Rights Act – Guardian
  • Sir Andrew Macfarlane says one fifth of divorces wrongly end up in court – BBC

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