40% cut to solicitors' crown court fees, judicial review hears
The challenge to the legal aid payment scheme, brought by the Law Society, has accused the government of making "procedural mistakes" and taking an "irrational decision" in reforming the payment scheme for criminal defence solicitors in 2012 - claiming that solicitors have since suffered an almost 40% cut to their fees for the most serious crown court trials. The Law Society says successive lord chancellors have misunderstood the position relating to digital evidence and, at the heart of the challenge, is the Ministry of Justice’s reliance on determining fees by the number of pages of prosecution evidence in a criminal case. Dinah Rose QC of Blackstone Chambers, for the society, claimed that prior to the updated scheme a typical fee for a category A crown court trial had dropped from about £89,000 to just over £55,000.
Gauke approves CILEx as a licensing authority
Lord Chancellor David Gauke has followed the recommendation of the Legal Services Board and will designate the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives as a licensing authority for reserved legal activities, granting the exercise of a right of audience, the conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities, probate activities, and the administration of oaths. The order will now be laid in parliament and CILEx members will be able to set up their own businesses with non-lawyer ownership and investment, adding greater regulatory competition for the Solicitors Regulation Authority and others.
Human rights unaffordable after legal aid cuts
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has warned that cuts to legal aid have made the enforcement of human rights "simply unaffordable" for many people in the UK, with practitioners abandoning legal aid services because they can no longer afford to do this work. Committee chair Harriet Harman MP said: "For rights to be effective they have to be capable of being enforced. At the moment we are seeing the erosion of all of those enforcement mechanisms because of a lack of access to justice and lack of understanding of the fundamental importance of human rights and the rule of law."
The Independent, Page: 24
Invest and innovate to lead on cybercrime, lawyer argues
Stephen Ross, a partner at Withers' London office, argues that the £300m pledged by the lord chancellor for a “world class” court in London to deal with cyber offences, fraud and economic crime would benefit from the investment of at least half on a comprehensive national education programme to teach the threats and risks of cybercrime. The English legal system thrives on innovation, he says, and taking an international lead on cybercrime will cement us as a truly global force in tackling cybercrime and economic fraud.
Government must ban abusers cross-examining partners, advocates urge
Family lawyers association Resolution has echoed calls from the Law Society and the Women’s Aid charity in calling for ministers to ban the practice of women being cross-examined in courts by their abusers. Penny Scott, chairwoman of the Law Society’s family law committee, said: "We told the government that removing legal aid would result in survivors of abuse having to face their perpetrators unassisted in the family court, but this warning went unheeded.”
Cliff wins BBC privacy case
Sir Cliff Richard has won his privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a police raid on his home, with High Court judge Mr Justice Mann awarding an initial £210,000 in damages. Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing Sir Cliff, told the High Court that the coverage had had a “devastating impact” on Sir Cliff, while Fran Unsworth, the BBC's director of news and current affairs, apologised to Sir Cliff but said the case marked a significant shift against press freedom and that an "important principle around the public's right to know" was at stake. Nicola Cain, a partner at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, said the “media is going to have to walk on eggshells when reporting on police investigations from now on.” Media lawyer Charlotte Harris, at Kingsley Napley, who represented a number of phone hacking victims, said: "This is the first time a court h as held that the subject of a criminal investigation has a reasonable expectation of privacy." But Jon Oakley, of Simkins, which represented Sir Cliff, said fears over press freedom were unfounded stating that the judge had simply found that genuine public interest in people being named” does not exist on the facts of this particular case.” Finally, Theresa May has commented on the case, declaring that publishing the name of a suspect "enables other potential victims to come forward" in some cases and therefore "strengthens the case against an individual".
BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 The Independent, Page: 13 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4 The Times, Page; 7 Daily Mail, Page: 5, 16 The Sun, Page: 1-2, 6, 7 Daily Express, Page: 5 The Guardian, Page: 1, 13 Daily Mirror, Page: 6
Divorce ruling deters ‘second bite of cherry’
The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman who spent all her divorce settlement money cannot claim more from her former husband. Graham and Maria Mills divorced 15 years ago and Maria lost all her original capital on unwise property purchases. She was seeking an extra £4,000 a year in maintenance. Jamie Kennaugh, a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, said the judgement deals a blow to the “second bite of the cherry”. Stacey Nevin, a family and divorce specialist at Kingsley Napley, said: "Today's conclusion will be disappointing to those who wanted to see the end of lifetime maintenance obligations.” But it does at least “shut the door on spouses coming back for housing claims in the future when they have already been factored into a capital award." Mr Mills is still arguing against paying his ex-wife £1,100 a month indefinitely.
The Times, Page: 5 Daily Express, Page: 18 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 11
Google hit with record EU fine
Google has been fined a record €4.34bn (£3.9bn) by the European Commission, which has ruled that the firm had used its Android operating system to illegally "cement its dominant position in general internet search". Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has already fined Google €2.4bn (£2.1bn) over a separate probe into its shopping comparison service, and also has a third investigation underway into its advert-placing business AdSense, said of the Android ruling: "This will change the marketplace".
City AM BBC News The Times, Page: 33
Women rejected over baby fears
A survey by Slater and Gordon has found that a third of company bosses had, or would, reject a job application from a woman in case she became pregnant. Almost one in seven anonymously admitted they had broken the law as a result. "I come across many cases of women encountering sex and maternity discrimination but to see the full extent of the problem is really worrying,” said Remziye Ozcan, a lawyer at the firm. "Women may suspect they've been discriminated against but in many cases, will never know for sure."
Daily Mirror, Page: 13
No-fault divorce would remove the pain from splitting up
Baroness Butler-Sloss tabled a private member’s bill yesterday proposing the UK adopt a system of no-fault divorce. Lady Butler-Sloss argued the current law is damaging to couples and their children and was not fit for purpose.
The Times, Page: 5
Martyn Day discredited other lawyers, SRA asserts
An appeal against a decision to clear Leigh Day human rights lawyer Martyn Day of misconduct by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal last year, has heard that he harmed the reputation of "every other lawyer" when he made sensationalist comments about the British Army's treatment of Iraqi prisoners. Timothy Dutton QC, for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), said: "A lawyer who crosses the line and uses language and imagery which endorses allegations of the utmost seriousness, which turn out to be dishonest, puts the public’s trust in the legal profession in jeopardy." Day, along with the firm’s partner Sapna Malik, associate Anna Crowther and the firm itself, were cleared of 20 allegations of misconduct by a previous tribunal last summer.
Law Gazette The Times
Lawyer of the week: Yair Cohen
The Times’ lawyer of the week is Yair Cohen, a partner at Cohen Davis, who acted for Lindsey Goldrick, who was "civilly harassed" through at least 10 websites for 12 years by a man she met through a dating website.
The Times, Page: 53
Hastings confirms trainee appointments
Piers Baylis and Timothy Taylor have been taken on by Borders firm Hastings Legal. Director Ron Hastings said: "We are delighted to welcome both Piers and Tim into the firm at a time where business is expanding offering exciting opportunities for further development”.
Mental health first aiders should be compulsory
Jodie Hill, who has set up mental health specialist law firm Thrive, is calling for mental health first aiders to be mandatory in the same way as physical first aiders.
The Times, Page: 53
Digital addiction programme launched
Eversheds Sutherland has launched a new tech-life balance programme designed to tackle people’s addiction to technology.
The Times, Page: 53
Law Commission moots freehold rethink
The Law Commission has outlined plans that would make it easier and cheaper for owners of leasehold flats to buy the freehold. It has offered two options for reform, with one a formula that "could be based on ten times the ground rent" or "10% of the value of the property", with another standardising the existing regime for leasehold valuations. Nick Hopkins, the law commissioner, said: “We've heard of untold stress caused to homeowners who have had to put their lives on hold because of issues with their leases.” He continued: “Clearly that's not right,” adding that the proposals “will provide a better deal for leaseholders and make sure that the law works in the best interests of house owners."
The Times, Page: 10 The Guardian, Page: 35
Police to target good drivers, with thank you letters
Dorset Police are to start posting letters to good drivers congratulating them on their high standards of road use. One Dorset resident said: "I thought the primary purpose of the police was to enforce the law. Maybe this is yet another example of the police 'reinventing' their role in society?"
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 13 Daily Mail, Page: 15