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Legal Updates

Why the Flexible Court Hours Pilot Has Been Postponed

In this age of austerity, the court system of England and Wales probably knew that at some point it would be closely scrutinised to ascertain whether efficiency savings could be made. Because every single government body is being examined so carefully nowadays, it was only a matter of time until court opening times were evaluated in order to determine whether there was a more efficient way of doing things.

Should Mediation be Compulsory for all Cases?

In England and Wales mediation has become a common feature of many types of litigation. Sir Rupert Jackson’s 2009 report on civil litigation recommended that the courts can and should in appropriate cases encourage mediation. This may be limited to simply pointing out its benefits or requiring an explanation from parties when they are not willing to meet and/or discuss mediation. However, where a party is found to have unreasonably refused to mediate, they can be penalised in costs by the court.

Pre-action Protocol for Debt Claims

On 1 October 2017 we saw the long-awaited pre-action protocol for debt claims come into force. A pre-action protocol is a set of steps contained in the Civil Procedural Rules that parties must follow before a claim is made. The idea behind having a protocol is to promote early settlement of claims and reduce legal costs. If a party ignores a protocol, then he or she may be subject to a penalty in legal costs allowed by the Court.

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 

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