Legal Updates

Wills and Probate - Disputed Estates Back in the Limelight

The law in England and Wales dealing with wills dates back to Victorian times. The current rules are based on the Wills Act 1837, while the tests to see if someone has the capacity to make a will were set out in a case from 1870.

The Law Commission has been consulting on several proposals to reform the law on wills. It is expected to report soon on proposals to modernise the law, which include:

 

No-Fault Divorce Update

We last reported on the topic of no-fault divorce in October of last year following the sad case of Tini Owens. The case highlighted a longstanding problem with divorce law which forces parties to find blame if they want to guarantee that the court can give permission for a divorce.

Cohabitation Agreements

Last autumn we considered the impact of a 2018 ruling by the Supreme Court about the state of relationships in Britain. Specifically we reviewed how the law on civil partnerships was to be changed to allow couples of the opposite sex who did not wish to get married to have some legal recognition. In the case, the Supreme Court made a declaration that the current law was not compatible with Human Rights legislation.

Changes to Rules for Solicitors

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) was established in 2007 as an independent body responsible for regulating the 180,000 Solicitors in England and Wales. The SRA’s purpose is to protect the public by ensuring that Solicitors and those working for them meet very high standards. The key way that the SRA does this is by publishing and enforcing Principles for the profession and a Code of Conduct contained in the SRA Handbook.

Civil Litigation – Proportionality

Ever since the concept of proportionality was introduced to legal costs as part of the Woolf reforms in 1999, the courts and legal practitioners have wrestled with what this actually means. As part of Lord Justice Jackson’s package of reforms in 2007 the test was set out in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) Part 44. This part of the CPR provided that only costs which were considered proportionate to a case would be allowed.

Conveyancing – The Process is Going to be Easier

Conveyancing Update.jpgThis month we are considering a further push by the government to make the conveyancing process quicker and cheaper. Currently the home buying process takes, on average, between three and four months from the date an offer is accepted until the transaction is completed. Part of the reason it takes this amount of time is because buyers and sellers can struggle to communicate basic initial information.