Law Society Legal News Summary 28 July 2022

Compulsory mediation 

The Gazette, Today’s Family Lawyer and  Legal Futures look at government proposals to make mediation compulsory for small claims of up to £10,000. 

Law Society vice president Lubna Shuja said: “It is encouraging to see the government looking for ways to reduce the court backlogs and ensure disputes are resolved quickly and at minimal cost. 

“We welcome greater access to low-cost mediation, which will be a suitable method of resolution in many cases. 

“However, if parties are not interested in entering into mediation in good faith it could waste time as well as money, and there is a further risk that mediation may entrench imbalances of power between parties.” 

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Court backlog 

The Whitehaven News, the Times & Star and the Westmoreland Gazette look at court delays in Cumbria, were victims and defendants are waiting more than a year for their day in court. 

A Law Society spokesperson said the courts are “crumbling” and that “innocent defendants face years in limbo before their name is cleared, while victims’ suffering is compounded by the long wait for justice.”

LSB standards of competence 

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has published a new statutory statement of policy requiring legal services regulators to set standards of competence, investigate lawyers’ competence and set measures to ensure standards are maintained. Today’s Conveyancer, Today’s Wills and Probate, and Today’s Family Lawyer pick up the story. 

“Collecting data to assess the competence of the profession will allow regulators to address the public perception of competence issues which was identified by the LSB,” said Lubna Shuja. “It will also allow regulators to identify and address, in a targeted way, any issues that may arise. 

“We will continue to liaise with the LSB and the Solicitors Regulation Authority on the implementation of this policy and will support our members in adapting to any changes made.”

Domestic abuse victims to avoid cross examination by abusers 

Alleged victims of domestic abuse will no longer be cross-examined by their alleged abusers in the family and civil courts, Today’s Family Lawyer reports. 

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said “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.”

Broadcasters to air sentencing remarks 

News channels will air judges’ sentencing remarks for Crown Court trials for the first time, reports

Lubna Shuja said “We welcome this transparency, which will help the public to understand how the law works and decisions are made. 

“Providing it is done in a sensitive manner, the broadcasting of sentencing remarks can be a valuable tool for educating the public. It can also raise awareness of what the rule of law means and why it is important.”

Also worth a read: 

  • Inaugural Reshaping Legal Services conference set for October – Today’s Wills and Probate
  • Rescheduled SQE dates confirmed following IT fiasco – Gazette
  • Working women need greater menopause rights - MPs – BBC
  • Truss vows to outlaw street harassment as Sunak pledges ban on ‘downblousing’ – Guardian
  • Shell and British Gas owner hand billions to shareholders as energy bills surge – Telegraph (£)
  • Law chamber discriminated against gender-critical barrister, tribunal rules – Guardian

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