KENT LAW SOCIETY TRAINING
The Autumn courses programme is now up on the Training Page of the website and ready for bookings.† As usual, most specialisms have been catered for, and there are topics of general interest and particular reference to practice managers, COLPs and COFAs.
This Autumn's full day event is the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Conference on Wednesday 8th October.† This event is being run in association with Six Pump Court and seven barristers from the set will address the conference.† This promises to be a 'must attend' event, and as an additional bonus there will be a free drinks reception for attenders at the end of the conference.
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
3 PEAKS CHALLENGE - A DONATION REQUEST WITH A TWIST - A message from Nick Paterno of McBrides Accountants
"On 13th September an intrepid team from McBrides, including yours truly, will be climbing & descending each of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowden - all in 24 hours.†† Aside from doing this for the personal challenge and to build team spirit, (mmmmmm!) we are hoping the oldest charity in Kent - the Royal School for Deaf Children - will benefit to the tune of £12,000. The school is a fantastically worthy cause helping children from all over the country with not just the problems associated with deafness but also severe learning difficulties and other educational issues. Their website is at† www.rsdcm.org.uk/
McBrides Accountants are generous sponsors of Kent Law Society Awards
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.
LATEST LAWCARE NEWSLETTER
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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.
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL FOR BUSINESS
Liverpool Law Society has written drawing our attention to the above festival, which takes place over seven weeks in June and July this year.† Liverpool is the host city, although events are taking place throughout the North West. They project 150,000 business delegates and trade intermediaries from around the world looking to do business in the UK.
You can find out more about the Festival at www.ifb2014.com.
The legal sector will feature in the Professional and Financial Services week which commences on Monday 30th June, though legal services are applicable to all themes throughout the Festival.† See attached programme for this week.
The Law Society will be present at the Festival and you may view or book some of their events BY CLICKING 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.
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
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
LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP TAXATION ALERT
20th December 2013
On 10th December 2013 HMRC published details of proposed legislation which may cost a large number of LLPs an additional 13.8% of the profits allocated to salaried members from 6 April 2014.† This is part of a number of measures targeted at Partnerships and LLP's generally and which the Government expects to raise over £1.3 billion between 2014/15 and 2018/19.
CLICK HERE to read the bulletin on this very important issue which we have† received today from McBrides Chartered Accountants.† McBrides specialise in help to legal professionals and have sponsored two recent networking events for the Kent Law Society.
RICS CONSUMER GUIDES
14th November 2013
RICS have announced the release of the 2013 editions of their consumer guide series. These guides are designed to give basic information and detail to the public on a wide variety of land, property and construction matters. The Land sectors are well catered for within the Neighbour Dispute consumer guide series, and the Boundaries and Party Walls Working Group have produced fresh guides on Boundaries, Party Walls and Rights to Light. A new guide on Compulsory Purchase orders (CPO) ? is due later this month.† Further guides such as Subsidence, Home Extensions and Buying or Selling Property should also be of interest.
All RICS consumer guides can be downloaded from http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/more-services/consumer-guides/