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Legal Updates

21st-Century Wills – Part 2

In August, we considered the Law Commissions’ consultation on how Wills are made in England and Wales. That article reviewed four of eight key proposals, including: 

•    The courts being given greater flexibility
•    Online Wills being allowed
•    The age of testamentary capacity being reduced 
•    How the tests of capacity could be improved 

This month we are looking at four further proposals, namely: 

Who Regulates our Legal Services?

We tend to place a lot of trust in the legal system. These services are enlisted when our own abilities to negotiate have been dried up, when a significant wrongdoing has been brought against us or even leading up to achieving a milestone (homeownership, launching a new business, etc.). It’s also during times of distress that legal services are required, which makes it even more important to have representatives who can be trusted. But who regulates these professions?

The Role of the Law Commission

The Law Commission is an independent body, but one which has statutory powers in terms of the law in this country. It was founded following the Law Commissions Act of 1965, with the overarching aim of providing continuous review and reform of the laws of England and Wales.

The Law Commission itself states that it has four primary objectives in terms of how it carries out its role. It aims to make sure that the law is:

•    Fair
•    Simple
•    Modern
•    Cost effective

Positive Changes to Our Rights to Online Privacy

In this age of technological advances and reliance on social media, the topics that we see frequently grabbing the headlines are the problems that unwanted photographs or information online can cause unsuspecting individuals. Take, for example, unflattering or embarrassing photos or references to personal situations that happened long ago finding their way into the hands of someone’s prospective employer.

21st-Century Wills

This month, we will consider the Law Commissions’ consultation on how Wills are made in England and Wales. Some of the key issues that are under review include:

• Giving greater flexibility to the Courts to uphold Wills that do not meet legal requirements 

• The possibility of online or electronic Will writing in the future

• Reducing the age at which someone can make a Will from 18 to 16

• Improving tests of a person’s capacity to make a Will 

Should the Legal Age to Write a Will be Lowered?

When you consider that the vast majority of the law connected with Wills comes from an Act of Parliament that received Royal Assent at the very start of the Victorian era (the Wills Act 1837) and the capacity issue for writing a Will comes from a case precedent in 1870, it will not come as a surprise to any of us that the Law Commission has been evaluating the possibility of reform in this area. The Commission feels that the current legal age of 18 should be lowered to 16.

How Will Brexit Affect Our Legal System?

One year on from the referendum which resulted in a vote to leave the European Union, many people in the United Kingdom are interested to know what the outcome will be on our legal system.

Ground Rent – A New Leasehold Scandal Brewing?

This month we are considering a form of land ownership, leasehold, that has been described as a “murky corner of residential property”, and perhaps more worryingly if you own one, “a national scandal which dwarfs PPI”. With recent stories about homeowners having ground rents that double every 10 years and an all-party Parliamentary Group reporting on reforms in April 2017, even stronger language has been used by MPs describing leasehold houses as a “national con”. 

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