National Law Society
Your weekly Law Society update
As the professional body for solicitors, every week the Law Society is working hard to influence the legal and regulatory environment on behalf of our profession and to promote solicitors at home and abroad. We support practice excellence, are an informed source of legal sector news and support members at every stage of their career.
Here are some highlights from our work last week.
Influencing on behalf of the profession and promoting the profession
The Law Society’s media profile this week:
A Briton who spent four years on death row in Ethiopia after being abducted at an airport in Yemen has been pardoned, the Guardian reports. Last year I co-wrote a letter with chair of the Bar Council, Andrew Langdon, urging foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to intervene more forcefully in the case.
A newly released document outlining proposals for a new deal with the EU in the wake of Brexit has been given a partial welcome by the Law Society of England and Wales. Details in Ekklesia.
DJ Goldie was this week sentenced for assaulting a security guard at Glastonbury. The 52-year-old made history by phoning in his guilty plea over FaceTime in March after failing to attend Bristol Magistrates' Court. Joy Merriam, past chair of the Law Society's access to justice committee, is quoted saying: "I think what they've done here is bent the rules because he's a famous person.” Full story in the Daily Mirror.
Conveyancers should consider charging VAT on fees for electronic property searches pending a definitive court ruling, the Law Society advised in guidance released to firms on the first-tier tax tribunal ruling in Brabners. The interim guidance follows a meeting with HM Revenue & Customs to seek clarity on how HMRC intends to approach the VAT treatment of searches. Full article in the Law Society Gazette plus more details on Today’s Conveyancer.
Criminal barristers have suspended their ‘no returns’ policy until 12 June, as they consider an offer by the Ministry of Justice, reports New Law Journal. Meanwhile, the Law Society is bringing a judicial review against cuts to the Litigators' Graduated Fee Scheme (LGFS), which would reduce payments for prosecution evidence in Crown Court cases from 10,000 to 6,000 pages. I’m quoted saying: “We’re pleased the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has recognised the argument that there needs to be proper funding in the criminal justice system, as evidenced by the proposed release of additional funds for legally aided work. We hope the MoJ will now withdraw their opposition to the Law Society’s judicial review for the LGFS cuts.”
The Legal Services Board (LSB) has issued its first public censure after finding that the Law Society broke its internal governance rules between 2014 and 2017. The LSB found no evidence the SRA’s independence had been impaired, nor that any solicitor or client was adversely affected.
I’m quoted in the Law Society Gazette saying: ‘The LSB report published today is a commentary on the situation before our governance changes were implemented in 2017. We are pleased that the report did not find that our historic governance arrangements had infringed regulatory independence, but we are disappointed that they felt the need to censure us when we have collaboratively tackled the issues they raised. We have undertaken voluntarily to report to the LSB on how our new arrangements are working. The changes to our governance are part of the ongoing reforms of the Law Society as we work every day to become even more relevant to members, working in the public interest.”
Consultation responses and parliamentary activity, influencing on behalf of the profession:
We attended meetings in Newcastle to brief the profession on the SRA’s PII consultation and seek views on the ethical scenarios on our website. We have continued to meet with key stakeholders including with the SRA to discuss transparency, with the Consumer Panel to discuss Professional Indemnity Insurance and waivers, and with the University of Law to discuss the Solicitors Qualifying Exam and apprenticeships.
Public Policy Commission
On 14th June we will be launching our Public Policy Commission. As a mechanism through which we will explore the broader human rights implications of technology and data use, the Commission will over the course of the coming year, call for both written and oral evidence from academics, the legal profession, technology developers, ethics experts, domestic and international government and regulatory agencies, and representatives of citizenry. The Commission will be chaired by vice president Christina Blacklaws, Sofia Olhede (UCL), and Sylvie Delacroix (University of Birmingham). The launch will take place on 14th June 2018, from 5pm – 7pm, at 113 Chancery Lane. Personal invitations are being issued to external stakeholders.
If you’d like to attend, please email email@example.com.
Technology & Human Rights
The Law Society and Essex University’s joint technology and human rights programme of work comprises a series of breakfasts, research seminars, and other set-piece events, designed to bring together technology practitioners, human rights solicitors, human rights organisations, and academics. On 11 April, we held the second of these events, a seminar on the topic “Businesses as Gatekeepers of Online Content”, conducted under Chatham House rules. The seminar was chaired by vice president Christina Blacklaws. Professor Sheldon Leader and Professor Lorna Woods were the main speakers. The seminar’s purpose was both to stimulate thinking and discussion on the responsibility that social media firms have to regulate the content on their platform, and to increase our visibility and credibility on technology and law issues. The next event will be a research seminar, to be held on 10 July, on “The Meaning of Informed Consent”, and will follow a similar format. If you’d like to attend, please email Olivier.Roth@lawsociety.org.uk.
On Tuesday I hosted a dinner discussion at Carey Street with solicitor judges and QCs to discuss how more solicitors can be encouraged and supported to pursue these routes.
Women in leadership in the Law
On Thursday, Christina hosted a women in the law roundtable with representatives including Lisa Mahew, co-chair of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Sara Chandler, Chair of the CCBE.
Our influencing work internationally:
• 28 May, Rita Giannini, EU policy adviser met Augusta Maciuleviciute from BEUC (European Consumer Organisation) to discuss Commission’s Proposal for Collective Redress and to get a general exchange of ideas about the EU Consumer Agenda.
• 29 and 30 May Helena Raulus, head of office, Eoin Lavelle, EU policy adviser and Ben Davies, head of media relations, were in Strasbourg. They met with MEPs Martina Anderson, Richard Corbett, Philip Lamberts and Mairead McGuinness plus BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming and Guardian Brussels correspondent Jennifer Rankin.
• 31 May we sent a letter for the nomination of the Turkish lawyer Taner Kilic to the CCBE human rights award 2018.
• 1 June we sent a letter for the nomination of the Colombian lawyer Luis Guillermo Perez Casas to the IBA human rights award 2018.
• 30 May-1 June, we attended the ILAC Annual General Meeting in Stockholm.
Supporting members at every stage of their career
Some of our upcoming events are:
This event is to celebrate the achievements of Dame Fiona Woolf and other inspirational women who have reached senior positions within the profession.
This two hour session will explore the concept of personal branding and will provide you with the tools to become a more effective leader, team player and professional.
This training has been developed by the Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC) in partnership with the Law Society and is an essential course for all solicitors who will be appearing in the youth court. The course provides an overview of youth-specific criminal law from the police station to the youth court. The training will cover key topics such as out of court disposals, bail and remand, jurisdiction, adaptations to the trial process and youth sentencing. The course will introduce participants to the underlying principles of youth justice and international children’s rights law. This knowledge will be embedded through interactive exercises and case studies.
Supporting practice excellence
Registration is open to book your place at our new anti-money laundering summer conference 2018
This two-hour seminar will cover essential CPD requirements for Irish PC holders, with a particular focus on the regulatory element of Irish professional development.
Our flagship strategic summit for the 27,000-strong in-house legal community in England and Wales. Day one of the conference is targeted towards General Counsel and Senior Legal Officers.
Keeping members up to date
Serving our members better online
We want to improve members’ experience of our online services. We are soon to begin our website redesign. We would like your help to do it. Please encourage your members to take part in our short survey – tell us about your experience of our website and what is important to you.
Closing date: 22 June
The new look hard copy of the Gazette features a double page spread of Law Society promotion every week. Please take a look at your copy this week.
As always, please feel free to share this update with your members unless otherwise specified.
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
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