COURT OF APPEAL REJECTS CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT'S PLAN FOR CRIMINAL LEGAL AID
25th March 2015 - Law Society Press Release
The Court of Appeal has today handed down a judgment which could result in vulnerable members of the public being denied access to legal representation when they are accused of wrongdoing.
In a deeply disappointing judgment the Court of Appeal rejected legal challenges brought by the Law Society and the Criminal Law Solicitors' Association (CLSA) and London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association (LCCSA) over government plans to reduce the number of criminal legal aid contracts.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said:
'The Court of Appeal decision is a devastating blow. We remain concerned that vulnerable people may not be able to obtain legal representation if they are accused of wrongdoing. This is why we challenged government plans to reduce criminal legal aid contracts as they could affect anyone accused of a crime and the solicitors who provide high-quality legal help, including 24-hour coverage for police stations.
'Without proper legal representation there may be miscarriages of justice. Criminal legal aid solicitors are critical for ensuring that anyone accused of a crime has a fair trial.'
The Law Society of England and Wales believes that government proposed cuts in the number of contracts for solicitor firms covering criminal legal aid is unsustainable and could leave some parts of the country without solicitors to provide essential services.
After twenty years without any increases in legal aid fees the government introduced cuts of 8.75 per cent in March last year.
A further 8.75 per cent cut in the fees paid is planned for solicitors working in police stations and magistrates' courts. The Law Society awaits the outcome of the government's promised review of the impact of last March's cuts and will robustly oppose a further 8.75 per cent cut.
Andrew Caplen added:
'We are now considering our position and we will be looking to have early discussions with the new government on how to ensure access to justice for the most vulnerable in society.
'We will do all we can to support solicitors as they decide on their responses to the government's criminal legal aid contract tender process and we will continue to fight for access to justice using every means available.'
Commenting on today's ruling Jonathan Black, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association said:
'We're gutted. It's another terrible blow for our criminal justice system and access to justice.
'Whilst the appeal court has found the devastating carve-up of solicitor representation is technically legal, we and many others believe it's immoral. We'll do everything we can to continue the fight.
'It's vital that legal aid becomes an election issue. We can't stress enough that additional cuts in an already stretched system aren't necessary and we urge the public to demand a re-think. As for our own legal position, we're taking stock and considering our next steps. We have incredible support from the profession and justice campaigners and we have contingency plans. Watch this space.'
- See more at: CLICK HERE
CRIMINAL LEGAL AID DUTY CONTRACTS JUDICIAL REVIEW : LAW SOCIETY STATEMENT
Law Society: We will continue to fight for access to proper legal representation for anyone accused of a crime
The Law Society today announced that it would appeal a High Court decision over government changes to the way duty solicitors are provided to those accused of a crime. For the full Press Release, CLICK HERE
EMPLOYMENT LAW SEMINAR
5th May 2015 - 9.00 to 15.45
Sessions House, County Hall Maidstone
KLS members are invited by Kent Legal Services to attend this seminar, which will cover issues such as Whistleblowing, Disability Discrimination, Managing Sickness Absence, plus break-out sessions on conducting disciplinary hearings, changing contracts of employment and data protection issues. There will also be a round-up covering dismissals, holiday pay claims, business reorganisation and redundancies.
Price £50 per head, including lunch.
Kent Law Society is delighted to announce a sponsorship agreement for 2015/16 with JLT Specialty, one of the UK's leading insurance brokers.
Their Solicitors PI team is one of the most experienced in the insurance market, arranging PI insurance for hundreds of law firms across the country.
President Deborah Hatton and the Committee are grateful for this generous support from JLT Specialty, which enables KLS to continue to offer ever increasing levels of support and service to all our members across Kent.
WORK EXPERIENCE SOUGHT
Year 12 student (will be 17 at time sought) at Maidstone Grammar School seeks work experience in a law firm in the week commencing Monday 29th June 2015. Studying English, German, Psychology and Biology at A Level. Whole week preferred, but part week would still be very valuable. Email email@example.com if you can help.
"IN THE SHADOWS: RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH BOGUS FIRMS"
9th January 2015
The Solicitors Regulation Authority have produced a detailed paper on the subject of bogus firms. This paper highlights the risks posed by individuals that operate through bogus law firms or by illegally presenting themselves as solicitors.
This term describes any situation where a firm or individual, that is not regulated by us, pretends to be entitled to provide reserved legal activities or call themselves a solicitor. There are criminal offences associated with this behaviour.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
- Phone: +33 (0)1 77 70 65 15
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
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
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