KLS member and domestic abuse specialist Donna Payne is organising a group project for women entitled 'Libertas - Liberty and Justice: a Project for Women and Children: Life after Abuse." This will be a twelve week programme based in Walmer, Deal, starting in January, on Tuesday evenings 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm.
If any KLS members have clients who could benefit from this, please contact Donna as soon as possible.
There will be no charge for participants, but there will be no creche facilities. It is planned that Donna's organisation CorDomus will continue to run a FREEDOM programme in the mornings from January to April, and that the two programmes can run in parallel in future if the format is successful.
CLICK HERE for the Libertas Introduction Sheet for Referrers
CLICK HERE for the Libertas Group Referral Form
Contact Donna Payne at email@example.com
SRA REGULATION OF CONSUMER CREDIT ACTIVITIES CONSULTATION
The SRA has published a consultation on the regulation of consumer credit activities, which proposes that the SRA should stop regulating consumer credit activity from April 2015.
The consultation asks the profession the following questions.
Do you agree with the proposal that firms carrying on any regulated consumer credit activities should be required to seek authorisation directly from the FCA and not to be able to rely on the Part 20 exemption set out in FSMA?
If you do not agree with the proposal, please offer any alternative suggestions for ensuring that the SRA's regulatory arrangements in relation to consumer credit activities are gargeted, proportionate and do not result in the incorporation of the FCA's CONC and do not impose unnessary costs and regulatory burdens on firms.
Do you have any views about our assessment of the impact of these changes and, are there any impacts, available data or evidence that we should consider in finalising our impact assessment?
To what extent are firms providing consumer credit services to clients which would mean that they would need to seek authorisation from the FCA? Are consumer credit arrangements more likely to be offered for particular types of work?
To what extent are firms providing other FSMA regulated activies which would mean that they would need to seek authorisation from the FCA?
If the proposal is implemented, will firms continue to provide consumer credit servides, regulated by the FCA?
The consultation closes on 15th December 2014. All members should consider how this may affect their firms and respond accordingly.
CONSUMER CREDIT CHANGES 2014
Is your firm aware of the changes to the Regulation of Consumer Credit Activities which came into force on the 13th June 2014? If not you may wish to investigate this further as these make fundamental changes as to your firms obligations. You will certainly have needed to update your engagement letters to reflect the requirements of the new regulations. The Law Society have issued a practice note on the subject of consumer credit regulation which is can be found by clicking HERE.
KENT LAW SOCIETY TRAINING
The Spring courses programme is now up on the Training Page of the website and ready for bookings.
This term we have a high profile Family Law Update conference chaired by KLS President, Deborah Hatton and with a keynote speech by HHJ Scarratt, the Designated Family Judge for Kent. For public children law practitioners, we also have a timely update course from Garden Court Chambers on the impact of the Children and Families Act 2014.
Employment Lawyers can attend the latest law practice and procedure on Employment Tribunal Remedies, which will also have useful tactical and practical hints for your cases.
Important legislative changes are covered in two of our courses: The Finance Bill will be discussed by tax expert Andy Richens; and Keith Lewington will be talking about the implications of the Small Business Enterprise Act. Andy Richens will also be presenting a course on Capital Allowances for Property Practitioners.
There is a Wills, Probate and Trusts Conference chaired by Professor Lesley King and Richard Snape returns to offer a Conveyancing Update and also Conveyancing Tips to East the Work and Please the Client.
KENT LAW SOCIETY AWARDS 2015 - ADVANCE NOTICE
Following the success of the inaugural Kent Law Society ('KLS') awards ceremony in May 2014, we have decided to continue to celebrate brilliance within our county with a further awards ceremony in 2015. KLS wishes to continue to recognise people and/or firms who have offered amazing services throughout Kent. KLS are delighted to be planning the 2015 awards ceremony which will take place at the KLS Annual Dinner on 22nd May 2015. The award categories will once again be:-
- Kent Junior Lawyer of the Year
- Outstanding Achievement Award
The nominations will open on 5th January 2015 and will close on 6th March 2015. A local Judging Panel will consider the nominations and applications and the winners will be announced at the KLS Annual Dinner. More information will be sent to members via e-mail but in the meantime this gives you plenty of time to think about colleagues/firms you know who may deserve recognition for their recent hard work and achievements.
In the meantime, please look at our awards page which has more details about the criteria for the awards, and the ceremony itself.
CHILDRENS' RIGHTS LAW EVENT IN DEAL
18th December 2014
Castle Community College in Deal is running an Immersion Event for its students on Thursday 18th December and are looking for workshops that they can participate in around Government, Law and Citizenship.
We have been asked to find volunteers with an interest in Children's Rights law to lead workshops during the day.
If you think you might be able to help, please contact Kay Keyte, Careers Progression Mentor at the school, on 01304 373363 Ext. 252, or email KKeyte@Castle.Kent.sch.uk
LEGAL CAREERS EVENT IN RAMSGATE
10th February 2014
We have been contacted by EBP Kent who organise a number of careers fairs/events around the County in schools, colleges etc. Many of you will already have helped man the stand at one of these events. They have received a request from Dane Court Grammar School near Ramsgate for attendance at the school for a law career based event.
Volunteers will be willing to help coordinate a day-long 'student challenge' at a Ramsgate secondary school on 10th February, to explore what lawyers do through programmed research leading to a moot.
Volunteers will be asked to set the task, identify the sources, help the students prepare their cases, and judge the moot.
Is any member able to assist? If so can they please contact John Tranter at Education Business Partnership Kent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
THE GLOBAL LAW SUMMIT
23rd to 25th February 2015 - London
Law Society President Andrew Caplen has asked KLS to let members know that tickets are now on sale for this major event.
The Global Law Summit is an international summit bringing business and law together to champion legal and business innovation in the 21st century. It has attracted world class speakers - lawyers from the UK and around the world, international business leaders and government officials - to discuss, debate and develop relationships across markets and jurisdictions. The Global Law Summit also celebrates the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta and is a unique opportunity to showcase the UK as a jurisdiction of choice and highlight the role of the rule of the law in global business, government and society.
The Global Law Summit programme is available here; further updates to the programme will be announced soon. You can book a place at the Summit here. For further information about the Summit, visit the official website.
The four central themes of the conference have been developed to appeal to a broad cross section of lawyers:
The Global Law Summit will offer an extensive programme of social and networking opportunities at some of London's iconic legal landmarks.
The Law Society is a partner of the Global Law Summit. Other partners and supporters of the Global Law Summit include the Bar Council, British Council, City of London Corporation, City of London Law Society, TheCityUK, IBA, GC100, CBI, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Ministry of Justice and UK Trade and Investment. The Law Society is supporting the Global Law Summit through staff secondments and has helped to develop session themes and plenary events.
KENT LAW SOCIETY RESPONDS TO CRIME DUTY CONTRACTS CONSULTATION
15th October 2014
ARMED FORCES LEGAL ACTION
19th September 2014
The President of the Law Society Andrew Caplen has written to the profession encouraging members to participate in the above initiative. It aims to bring together lawyers from all parts of the United Kingdam to provide discounted legal services to members of the armed forces community.
Law Society Vice President and Council Member for Kent Jonathan Smithers represented the Law Society in the launch of the campaign.
To read the text of the letter, CLICK HERE
To see the Campaign website CLICK HERE
LAW SOCIETY PRESIDENT LAUNCHES NEW ACCESS TO JUSTICE CAMPAIGN
12th September 2014
Andrew Caplen, President of the Law Society has written to the profession today summarising the Law Society's campaign to protect and promote access to justice. He and the Lord Chief Justice launched the campaign earlier this week. He aims to
CLICK HERE to read the full text of Andrew Caplen's letter
NEW LAW SOCIETY CONSUMER CAMPAIGN
From 1 September 2014 the Law Society is running a consumer-facing campaign to support your business.
GUIDELINE HOURLY RATES - THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS REJECTS PROPOSALS
1st August 2014
Law Society President Andrew Caplen has written to the profession following the announcement this week by the Master of the Rolls that he will not accept the recommendations of the Civil Justice Council's Costs Committee (CJCCC).
The recommendations would have led to significant reductions in Guideline Hourly Rates. Please read the attached letter from Andrew Caplen and share your views with the Law Society as to the way forward.
NEW LAW SOCIETY PRESIDENT SETS OUT HIS AGENDA
Access to Justice, Diversity and Inclusion, and Membership Engagement will be the themes of Andrew Caplen's presidency of the Law Society, which commenced yesterday on 10th July. In a letter to the profession, Mr Caplen introduces himself as someone who joined the profession to speak up for the most vulnerable.
He wants to see an honest debate about the levels of legal provision in the country and will promote research to inform this debate. He highlights domestic violence as a key area for change.
He wants to support pilot diversity and inclusion schemes, promote work to address the gender pay gap and develop further the Society's Diversity Access Scheme.
He pledges that he and his fellow officers will travel the country more than ever before.
For the full text of Andrew Caplen's letter to the profession, CLICK HERE
IT'S NOT JUST PEANUTS!
Access to Justice Foundation campaign
We have received an article from the Access to Justice Foundation promoting its campaign. The campaign raises money by receiving donations of unclaimed client account balances. To date the Foundation has raised over £213,000. With the help and support of local law societies like Kent Law Society and its members they aim to make 2014 an even better year for fundraising!
The Access to Justice Foundation works with the network of Legal Support Trusts across England and Wales in order to raise funds and distribute them to organisations which support those in the community who are in need of legal assistance.
COURT SANCTIONS AND THE INTERPRETATION OF THE MITCHELL CASE - LAW SOCIETY INTERVENTION
Law Society Chief Executive Desmond Hudson has written to the profession to highlight last week's Court of Appeal decision.
Following intervention by the Law Society at the invitation of the Master of the Rolls, the Court of Appeal handed down the judgement on 4 July issuing revised 'Mitchell' guidance on the interpretation of applications for relief from sanctions, pursuant to CPR Rule 3.9(1).
The Court agreed with the Society's strongly expressed view that the Rule had caused a breakdown in co-operation between solicitors and that subsequent judicial decisions had been inconsistent, leading to costly and unnecessary satellite litigation.
The Court of Appeal's decision should now lead to a less adversarial and a more co-operative approach to agreeing extensions of time to comply with court orders. This will remove a great deal of uncertainty in the profession about the operation of the case management rules in the post-Jackson environment.
CLICK HERE for the full text of Des Hudson's letter
CLICK HERE for the full transcript of the Court's decision
CLICK HERE for further information on the Law Society's website
SRA PRESS RELEASE : SRA BOARD MAKES CHANGES TO EASE THE BURDEN
Issue Date: 02 July 2014
The Board of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has approved a series of changes to its regulatory requirements to make them more proportionate and targeted and so reduce the cost and burden of regulation today (Wednesday 2 July).
These changes form part of a reform programme, launched on 7 May with the publication of a policy statement, which set out the Board's approach to regulation and its reform (www.sra.org.uk/reform). The reform programme will:
The SRA published four consultation papers at the same time containing proposals forming the first stage of the reforms. At its meeting the Board considered the outcome of three of those consultations, and one earlier consultation, including consultation responses, the outcome of further engagement with stakeholders during the consultation period and analyses of the impacts of the proposed changes.
Charles Plant, SRA Chair of the Board, said: "All legal services regulators face a challenge to remove unnecessary and or disproportionate regulatory burdens on firms in the legal sector and promote innovation, competition and growth in the market. Our reform programme aims to make the SRA's regulation more proportionate and better targeted, while maintaining critical protections for consumers.
"The majority of responses to our consultations agreed with our aim of reducing the burden of regulation. However, some stakeholders disagreed with the proposals we made.
"We have taken this feedback on board and, where we feel respondents have a valid point, we have either decided to take a fresh look at the proposals, or look for more information."
The changes made by the Board are still subject to Legal Services Board approval. If agreed to, the changes will be made in time for the 11th version of the Handbook, which is due to go live in October.
The changes made by the Board are:
Decisions on the licensing of multi-disciplinary practices and stopping the Keeping of the Roll enquiry as an annual event, which were also consulted on in the spring, will be considered by the Board in the autumn.
The SRA Board also agreed on the 2014/15 practising fees and Compensation Fund contributions subject to the decision of the Law Society Council on 9 July on the total amount of funding required by the Law Society Group.
The changes made by the Board as part of the Regulatory Reform programme were the minimum terms in PII, residual balances, accountants' reports and Compensation Fund eligibility. A brief description of the changes made, the full proposals we consulted on, feedback from stakeholders and what effect this had on our proposals is below. Further information can be found by accessing the Board papers through the links provided.
The Board is introducing for the first time a requirement for firms to assess and purchase an appropriate level of indemnity insurance cover and reducing the minimum level of compulsory cover to £500,000. Together the SRA Board believes these changes will enhance consumer protection and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens and costs on small firms undertaking low value transactions. The former change will ensure that firms have a positive duty to purchase cover at a level appropriate to the nature of their business, clients and transaction value rather than simply relying on the minimum level specified, even where that level might have been too low. At the same time, the many small firms undertaking low value transactions for consumers will have the freedom to not purchase cover at an unnecessarily high level. Other proposals from the consultation have been deferred until 2015 to allow further consideration. The SRA remains concerned that the level of insurance premiums drives costs for firms in ways that make it more difficult for them to compete and increases the cost of services to consumers. These proposals aim to bring these costs down. The SRA remains confident that there is still merit in the further proposals and there was support for them in the consultation, but believes that they will benefit from further consideration alongside other possible reforms that have been suggested by stakeholders. During this time the SRA will also consider these further proposals put forward through the consultation exercise. There may be a wider review of all client protection matters, including compensation arrangements and the Accounts Rules. A call for evidence will be launched this month and a further consultation paper will be produced by the end of the year. Any changes will then be announced in April to ensure they are considered in the renewal period starting in October 2015.
Further information is available here: http://governance.lawsociety.org.uk/secure/meeting/207156/SRA_Board_Public_Item_7_-_Changes_to_PII_COMPLETE.pdf
Solicitors can donate residual balances in the client account to charity if all attempts have been made to contact the owners. For amounts of more than £50, solicitors must seek permission from the SRA. The Law Society suggested that, as part of the SRA's Red Tape Initiative to remove unnecessary administrative tasks, this limit be increased. Solicitors could then redistribute residual balances more quickly and without creating work for themselves and the SRA. The majority of respondents agreed with the proposal, with a small number objecting to the size of the new limit. Two new rule suggestions from the Law Society will be dealt with later.
Further information is available here: http://governance.lawsociety.org.uk/secure/meeting/207159/SRA_Board_Public_Item_10_-_20140622_Residual_Balances_SRA_Board_-_final.pdf
The Board has deferred a decision on this proposal until its next meeting to allow for further analysis of the consultation and consideration of the options.
Compensation Fund eligibility
The SRA will change the eligibility criteria to focus the fund on consumers and small businesses and exclude larger corporate consumers. The Compensation Fund protects clients from dishonesty or a failure to account for their money by a solicitor. However, a large number of claims come from companies such as lenders and mortgage providers. Few of these claims are successful, as the applicant will often have other avenues of redress and is unable to satisfy the SRA that it has suffered loss and hardship.
By changing the eligibility criteria, the SRA will be able to manage claims more effectively and reduce the cost of administering the Fund. The eligibility criteria for the Compensation Fund is therefore limited to individuals, small enterprises with an annual turnover of no more than £2 million, charities with an annual income of no more than £2 million and trustees of trusts with a net asset value of less than £2 million.
Further information is available here: http://governance.lawsociety.org.uk/secure/meeting/207157/SRA_Board_Public_Item_8_-_Compensation_Fund_-_eligibilty_criteria_Board_paper_FINAL_complete.pdf
SRA ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF NEW CHAIR
24th June 2014
SRA Board Chair, Charles Plant, has today announced that Enid Rowlands has been appointed to succeed him as Chair of the SRA Board from 1 January 2015.
Charles Plant said: "I am delighted to announce that Enid Rowlands has been appointed as the new Chair of the SRA Board. Enid brings a wealth of experience from her roles in the public and voluntary sectors, and has an excellent understanding of regulation in the legal services market through her membership of the SRA Board.
"I look forward to working closely with her over the coming months to ensure a smooth and successful transition."
The appointment has been made by an independent appointments panel, chaired by Elizabeth Filkin CBE, following an open competition. The appointment is for an initial period of three years.
Enid Rowlands said: "I look forward to leading a highly able and committed Board and an organisation comprised of talented individuals with a strong commitment to providing high-quality regulation in the public interest.
"There is much for the organisation to do to continue the programme of modernisation and liberalisation on which it has embarked. I have every confidence that it will be successful in delivering this programme and the benefits that it is designed to achieve.
"I am particularly looking forward to developing strong and effective working relationships with those regulated by the SRA and with their representative bodies, and to developing a stronger dialogue with the users of legal services on whose behalf we regulate."
Charles Plant has led the SRA Board since January 2010, and his term of office will end on 31 December 2014.
Enid Rowlands is currently a member of the SRA Board, having been appointed on January 2013. She is the UK Chair of Victim Support, having also held roles with Consumer Focus, North Wales Police Authority, North Wales Health Authority, the Training Standards Council and S4C Broadcasting Authority.
Following a training in psychology, Enid Rowlands' professional life included numerous training and skills positions, having begun her career working with unemployed and disadvantaged young people, progressing to being Chair of Education and Skills Wales. She is currently a Member of the General Medical Council, Board member at the Information Commissioner's Office and a Trustee of Nest Corporation.
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COURT FEES ON ACCOUNT
23rd April 2014
HMCTS has advised that from July 2014, court fees payable to Salford Business Centre, Cambridge County Court or the Rolls Building can be paid by an account system instead of by cheque. From September, fees to all courts can be paid that way.
To see the changes, print the FAQs or download the HMCTS flyer CLICK HERE
NORMAN COOPER ADVOCACY PRIZE WINNER 2014
Charles Wood, a final year LLB student at the University of Kent, Medway Campus, is the 2014 winner of the Norman Cooper Prize. The £150 prize is provided by the family of the late Norman Cooper and the Kent Law Society.
The graduation and prize-giving will be on Tuesday 8th July. Our President Deborah Hatton will join Jeremy Cooper in presenting the prize.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN LAW FIRMS - THE BUSINESS CASE
For this useful guide on Diversity and Inclusion issues published by the Law Society, CLICK HERE
CLSA SEEK SUPPORT FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW
7th April 2014
The Criminal Law Solicitors Association and LCCSA have received a favourable opinion supporting an application for Judicial Review in respect of the MOJ's implementation of criminal legal aid cuts.
They report raising £50,000 towards the cost of the litigation in just five days, but need a lot more for the fighting fund.
Robin Murray, Vice Chair of CLSA and a Kent Law Society member, has written to the Society requesting our members' support.
CLICK HERE to read his letter.
Financial contributions of any size would be welcomed:
CLICK HERE to go to the fighting fund contribution site.
FRAUDULENT EMAILS - MESSAGE FROM CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE LAW SOCIETY
Friday 21st March 2014
As you may know, yesterday we were alerted to the dispatch of emails purporting to come from the Law Society.
Following an urgent consultation with our colleagues in the IT department we have issued a press release, a briefing via the Gazette and updated our practice advice service so that we can assist members facing these potential threats.
From speaking with our colleagues in IT we believe that this incident is the third attempt to obtain confidential data for what we believe is an attempted fraudulent deception. The two previous occasions involved letters purporting to originate from SRA.
As before I can confirm that none of the Law Society's systems have been compromised or penetrated and that rather these emails are using publicly available information to target particular solicitors firms.
We have reported the matter to the National Crime Agency and we will be cooperating fully with them.
I have taken the liberty of copying this note to all members of the Law Society?s council since they may be faced with enquires from constituents or other local law societies and they may find it useful to respond.
I have also provided the link to the information we have placed on our website. You will find a series of useful links and further guidance on the site.
In the meantime I will of course keep you advised of any further developments.
Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive
DESMOND HUDSON TO RETIRE FROM THE LAW SOCIETY
14th March 2014 - Law Society Press Release
Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, has today announced that he will retire from his role. He will leave the Society after this year's AGM.
Mr Hudson joined the Society as chief executive in September 2006. Under his leadership, the Society has developed to become an internationally renowned organisation that supports and represents its members around the world.
Mr Hudson has strengthened the Society by streamlining its management structure, introducing new technology and communication platforms, reforming pay and pension arrangements and boosting revenues generated from commercial activity to invest in member services.
He has led numerous high profile campaigns including the introduction of a range of new initiatives to help to increase the quality of legal services provision in England and Wales and raise public awareness of solicitors' expertise. These include the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme, Risk and Compliance Service and the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme.
He has also promoted UK legal expertise overseas and helped Law Society members to access new markets.
Mr Hudson said: "A year ago I took the decision to retire in 2014. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the Law Society during this time of change for the legal profession and I look forward to continuing to do so until I depart. I would particularly like to thank my colleagues and our volunteer community within the Society for the support and guidance they have given me over the years. I am indebted to them and proud of what we have achieved together."
Nicholas Fluck, president of the Law Society, said: "Des has delivered an outstanding service to the Law Society and has been a powerful advocate for the solicitors profession for eight years. He will be a tough act to follow. He has transformed the organisation during his tenure and provided a powerful and influential voice for our members. His contribution will benefit the Society and our profession for many years to come."
ALERT TO MEMBERS - BIG CHANGES TO CONSUMER CREDIT POSITION
12th March 2014
Members should be aware that the Law Society's blanket consumer credit licence expires in April and will not be renewed. Individual firms will have to apply for their own Consumer Credit Licence by then, if they consider it appropriate.
Members may be aware of discussion of this issue in the trade press, and will have to make up their minds as to whether this is necessary for them, but the Society's officers understand
Kent Law Society therefore advises its members' firms to apply for a Consumer Credit Licence before the end of March.
LENDER EXCHANGE UPDATE
3rd March 2014
Briefing to Members from the Chief Executive of the Law Society
I wanted to update you again regarding the developments with Santander and Lender Exchange.
Following correspondence with Santander and internal discussions we have identified a number of issues that we remain concerned about; in particular the requirement to agree that information can be passed to affiliates/group companies of Decision First. We will continue to raise these concerns with Santander and also have an urgent meeting with Decision First, taking place this week.
Understandably some members may remain cautious about agreeing that the data they have supplied to the data collection company previously used by Santander can be transferred elsewhere. Equally members do not want to put at risk their panel membership. The decision regarding the system is for individual firms and the Law Society will do its best to investigate, monitor and provide as much information as possible for firms to make an informed decision.
I know that there are those who may try to use these developments to undermine the success of CQS. I think it is important to remember that CQS was about both probity and quality; improving standards for clients. This remains the case and our commitment to continuing to support our firms and improve the conveyancing process for all involved is underlined by our plans to develop a Conveyancing Portal - an on-line interactive forum wherein conveyancing professionals can communicate with each other, conduct due diligence on clients and other parties and which facilitates the conveyance of residential property via established protocols. The development of the Conveyancing Portal, which was announced at the Property Section Conference in October 2013, and has now been approved by the Society's governing body, will evolve the concept behind CQS from a scheme based around a firm based quality mark, to a facilitative system, that embeds the CQS process and protocols within an online environment. The Portal will increase efficiency and reduce cost within the conveyancing process for each individual transaction. Our plan is that members will be invited to participate in a pilot of the Portal later this year.
It is also worth noting that Santander still retain the requirement for CQS as a pre-requisite for panel membership, as do some other lenders including HSBC.
10 KENT FIRMS AMONG 136 CLOSED DUE TO PII
17th January 2014
10 Kent firms out of 136 nationally have closed because they could not secure professional indemnity insurance, according to the Law Society Gazette website today. The firms had entered the Extended Policy Period after 1st October 2013 and would have had to secure cover before 29th December.
The Kent firms reported to have closed are:
A J Bond & Co, Bromley
Cray Valley Solicitors Ltd, Orpington
Dale R Walker, Sevenoaks
Castle Legal LLP, Maidstone
D Fisher & Co, Borough Green
Hermeling Solicitors, Bromley
John Morley & Company, Gillingham
The Compensation Clinic, Ashford
Robin F Clarke & Co, Gravesend