To many people (especially in London), it’s a no-brainer – you are flying off to somewhere nice and sunny from Heathrow or Gatwick Airport, loaded to the gunnels with everything you, your partner and the kids are going to need for the holiday you’ve been dreaming of for the past year. And so, you’re going to start as you intend to carry on – going by taxi! Now what would you rather pay for the luxury (or is it a necessity for the sake of your sanity?) – as much as a discounted package holiday to Spain all by itself or, say, £50?
It is well known that the number of disputed wills and estates has been steadily on the rise. One aspect of dispute that you might not have expected is the question of what happens to a loved one’s body when they die. The Law Commission, as the body that reviews the law on behalf of the government, has announced in its 13th report on future projects that they may try to set out a modern framework for disposing of the dead.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that many people in society are not going to be able to afford the cost of legal instruction when something serious crops up in their life. Be this an accusation of a criminal offence or the threat of homelessness due to a recent illness and not being able to keep up with mortgage payments, it really is imperative that a developed nation such as ours helps people out when they potentially face the worst moments of their lives.
If your studies with The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs are taking you in the direction of family law, you will appreciate the types of rights that are available to couples who are divorcing and looking to divide their assets.
In May last year the Journal reported in an article called “Family Practice: Time for a Change? – No Fault Divorce”, on the Law Commission’s scoping paper “Getting Married”. The Commission’s paper reviewed marriage law in the UK and made several proposals.
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. This is why the flexible court hours pilot was conceived in an attempt to streamline the court system.
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.
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.
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?
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: