Concerns are mounting over no-win, no-fee agreements after a Legal Ombudsman’s report in late January 2014 highlighted abusive practices by some solicitors.
In 2013 lawyers were ordered to pay nearly £1 million in compensation to clients after agreements went wrong.
For the first time ever barristers across England and Wales have staged a refusal to work in the criminal courts, to raise the issue of the Government’s plans to cut legal aid fees by up to 30%.
They are being joined by solicitors, in what is also an unprecedented move, as they seek to highlight the two major issues at stake – the cutting of fees for legal aid work, and the belief that this will lead to poorer quality legal representation for those people not able to pay privately.
Solicitors and barristers up and down the country are coming together and threatening strike action over the Government’s proposed reforms to the legal aid system in England and Wales.
Approximately 80 lawyers in Devon and Cornwall have become the latest legal professionals to make a stand against the proposals that would see criminal lawyers having to compete for a contract in order to be allowed to take on legal aid cases.
A recent development
The Information Tribunal has rejected an attempt by the Department for Education (DfE) to withhold information, concerning the identity of groups who have proposed to open so-called ‘free schools’ in England, as reported by BBC News.
The Information, including the names, location and religious affiliation of such groups, was requested in an attempt to highlight an alleged lack of transparency inherent in the system of proposing and setting up a free school.
Yesterday, Teresa May, the Home Secretary, confirmed the Government would not seek to overturn an amendment supported by peers in the House of Lords in December 2012, regarding the removal of the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.
Section 5 states that: “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” could be deemed a criminal offence. The amendment to the Act was proposed last year by the former chief Constable of the West Midlands, Lord Dear, as part of the Crime and Courts Bill.#
Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, spoke on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Show this week-end. He vowed the Government will introduce legislation, in the next session of Parliament, to stop local councils fining residents for a range of infractions in putting out their rubbish for collection.
For example, according to the Telegraph, Pickles says that it is ‘ludicrous’ fines can be issued for trivial matters such as over-filling wheelie-bins, putting yoghurt pots into the wrong recycling container, and leaving bins out too long after collections.
It appears an outmoded British law is to be dealt with, under the direction of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. However, the Daily Mail reports Prince Charles has some misgivings about the changes, which concern the inheritance of the throne.
The basis for succession law rests on constitutional developments surrounding the abdication of the last Roman Catholic monarch of the British Isles, James II, encouraged by the Protestant Parliament. These events culminated in the Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701, so it may be high time for some movement on the issue.
Norman Lamb, the Coalition Health Minister, has called for the issue of how to fund care for the elderly to be addressed urgently by the Government. In an interview with the Daily Mail this week, Lamb said that legislation must be brought in to address the principal of capping care costs.
The cap was a key recommendation of the Government-appointed Dilnot Commission, charged with making recommendations on how long-term care for the elderly should be funded in the future. The report, published in July this year, advised that the cap, after which the state would fund care, should be set at between £25,000 and £50,000, with £35,000 as the most reasonable figure.
2013 may prove to be a bumper year for legal cases involving Christian belief. Controversy is already brewing over the issue of gay marriage, and the wearing of religious symbols at work.
Additionally, according to the Telegraph, the Government has suggested the temporary relaxation of Sunday opening regulations, effective around the time of the London Olympics last summer, might be made permanent. Currently, stores larger than 280 square meters in size are allowed to open for a maximum of six hours only, under the Sunday Trading Act 1994.
According to a report by the BBC, the Law Commission has begun a consultation into the effectiveness of England and Wales’ contempt of court rules.
The current law was introduced in 1981, long before the ‘information superhighway’ became a part of our day-to-day lives.