National Law Society
Law Society Monthly Report April 2017 – Download PDF here April 2017 (Final draft v3).docx3 or see below
Hello and welcome to the April edition of the Relationship Management newsletter for the North area
This month we have the latest on Brexit, let you know how you can nominate an inspiring law firm or someone you admire for an Excellence Award and how you can get involved in deciding legal policy through the latest Committee member vacancies. We also have profiles on the Public Affairs Team and the Risk and Compliance teams..
We hope you find the newsletter useful and ask that you share it with your members and colleagues, put it on your websites and social media platforms.
If you have any comments or suggestions on how we could improve the newsletter please let us know by contacting one of the North team.
Head of Relationship Management North
Relationship Manager North
Relationship Management Executive North
You can also follow us on Twitter
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News pages 2 – 4
- Events in the North
- Presidents and Secretaries Conference 2017
- Excellence Awards 2017 – nominate now
- Brexit – the latest news and updates
- Probate fees – MOJ guidance
- Committee member vacancies – get involved
- Take a look at the CMA transparency toolkit
- Note the way you access Practice Notes is changing…
Features pages 4 – 5
- Profile on the Public Affairs team
- Profile on the Risk and Compliance Service
Out and about in the North page 6
Practice notes pages 6
- Access and disclosure of an incapacitated person’s will
- Who owns the file?
- Making gifts of assets
Consultation responses 7 – 8
- Reforms to the Advocates Graduated Fees Scheme consultation
- Scope of VAT grouping
- SRA consultation on rule waivers
- Employment tribunal fees consultation
- Litigators’ Graduated Fees Scheme consultation
Open Consultations 8
- Consultations for Government that you may be interested in responding to…
Compliance support forum for in-house lawyers
The Law Society, London 13 April, 13:30 – 17:00
Traditionally in-house lawyers have had a long-distance relationship with the SRA but this is no longer possible. The Legal Services Act 2007, and the SRA Handbook 2011, mean that in-house practice is of greater interest to the regulator than ever before and ignorance of compliance requirements is a risky position to sustain.
Family Law and the five pillars of stress
The Law Society, London 8 June, 17:30 – 20:00
Life is not getting any less stressful and never has this been truer than in Family Law. Julian Hall, founder of Calm People, has written about this subject for the Law Society’s Family Section website and will now bring it to life in this engaging seminar. .
Complaints management for smaller firms – how to not make things worse
JMW Solicitors Manchester 27 April
Anti-money laundering workshops
Novotel in Manchester 18 April
Private Client Section seminars – IHT and death: A tax update –
The University of Law Manchester 19 April
For a full list of events, further detail and to book, please visit our events page.
Don’t forget to book your place at this year’s Presidents and Secretaries Conference 5 and 6 May at Chancery Lane. Over 35 societies have booked so far!
New for this year, we are offering surgery sessions on Friday 5 May between 12:45 – 14.00. The surgeries are a fantastic opportunity to have a 10 minute 1-2-1 with a Law Society representative about a particular issue or concern you may have in relation to the operation of your local law society. Experts from the following Law Society departments will be available:
- Legal Policy
- Communications (inc press office, digital communications and social media)
- Public Affairs
- Practice Advice
- Relationship Management
Surgery slots have to be booked in advance. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org by 21 April to secure your session.
This year, we have also commissioned a photographer who will be there for the two days capturing the conference. Photographs from the conference will be made available to you for use after the event. Further details on how to do that will be sent to you.
If you, as a President or Secretary, are unable to attend the conference, please feel free to nominate someone else to take your place. Also, remember you can bring along a guest to the black tie dinner which promises to be a wonderful informal setting to meet other Presidents and Secretaries.
We look forward to seeing you in May. Please click here to view the full programme and book your place.
Excellence Awards 2017 – nominations are now open
The Excellence Awards bring together the best and brightest in the legal profession to celebrate and acknowledge exceptional solicitors, teams and organisations across England and Wales.
We need your help to recognise the most exceptional individuals across seven categories, including Solicitor of the Year for both in-house and private practice.
This year we are proud to announce two new awards: Law Management and Conveyancing Practice.
We want to hear about the most talented teams and individuals. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to celebrate the very best in the legal profession.
The deadline for nominations is Friday 26 May.
Brexit – the latest news and updates
As Brexit continues and article 50 is triggered, we thought it would be useful to keep you up-to-date on the latest articles on the issues.
Law Society event on the impact of Brexit on consumers and small businesses, read the article in full here.
The UK’s £25.7bn legal sector needs a deal from Brexit negotiations – read the article in full here.
MPs back Law Society priorities for EU negotiations – read the article in full here.
Triggering article 50 – update.
Probate fees – MOJ guidance
In February, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced it would be taking forward the new probate fees scheme. The Law Society responded to the consultation in April 2016.
Read more here.
Committee member vacancies
Do you want to get involved and help oversee important decisions on particular areas of law that affect you and the public.
We are now accepting applications for membership on to a number of our specialist policy advisory Committees.
The closing date for applications is 12:00 noon on 10 April and should be sent to email@example.com. Interviews will be held between 4 and 12 May 2017.
Take a look at the CMA transparency toolkit
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the final report on its legal services market study in December 2016. A key area of focus was price and service information for consumers.
The CMA recommended that the frontline regulators develop proposals to improve information transparency so that consumers can make more informed decisions. The Law Society has commented on the interim report and on the final report.
The regulators have set up a group to oversee implementation, and recently published minutes of their first meeting held in January 2017. The regulators are working to publish details of their work by July, and release consultation documents by October 2017. We will continue to ensure the voice of solicitors is heard throughout this consultation process.
The Law Society has already been working on this issue and we recently published our Transparency Toolkit to help solicitors provide the best possible cost and service information to clients. Take a look at the toolkit here.
If you have any questions on the CMA report, or feedback on the Transparency Toolkit, we want to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The way you access Practice Notes is changing…
From 1 June, you will need to register for My Law Society to access practice notes.
My Law Society is free to register, takes just a few minutes and is open to members and non members. Over 10,000 people have already registered. Sign up at My Law Society.
To coincide with our surgery sessions at this year’s Presidents and Secretaries Conference, we are profiling some of the teams who will be available to offer help and support
This month, we are delighted to include profiles on our Public Affairs team and Risk and Compliance Service. If you would like to meet either of these teams please book email@example.com by 21 April to secure your session.
Profile on the Public Affairs team
The Public Affairs team manages the organisation’s relationship with external stakeholders in England and Wales, in Brussels and internationally.
They oversee the Society’s influencing work and engage with senior policy-makers on behalf of the solicitors profession. Building relationships and partnerships with stakeholders is key when engaging with policy-makers, and they provide strategic advice on how to engage with external stakeholders who impact the political environment on issues such as access to justice, Brexit, human rights and legal professional privilege and regulation.
The Director of Public Affairs is Robert Khan and he is supported by a management team made up of the heads and managers of the different teams and an executive adviser.
Westminster Public Affairs team
The Westminster Public Affairs team is based in Chancery Lane and carries out the following functions:
- Lobbying and influencing Whitehall and Westminster on the priority issues of the Society including Brexit, access to justice, human rights, regulation, and others.
- Campaign management and development on justice and legal issues affecting the profession or the justice system.
- External stakeholder engagement and overall coordination of the Society’s high influence/high interest stakeholders.
- Thought leadership programme management and delivery – including the delivery of flagship conferences and events and the Opening of the Legal Year.
- Presidential Year Plan, its management and delivery – The team support the President with the implementation of their Presidential Year Plan 2016/17, including project managing presidential led events, thought articles and speeches.
- Thought leadership on the Future of legal services/technology and the law.
- Coordinating the Campaign on pride in the profession
If you would like to know more about the Public Affairs team you can contact your Relationship Manager or visit them at the Presidents and Secretaries marketplace.
Profile on the Risk and Compliance Service
The Risk and Compliance Service was established in 2008 to help legal practitioners stay up-to-date with all the regulatory obligations affecting them. Since then we have enhanced our membership service to keep you and your staff up-to-date with relevant news and features, including:
- new website content
- monthly e-newsletters
- four topical and inclusive webinars
- discounts on seminars, conferences and books.
Our aim is to provide our members with relevant information and valuable tailored advice across a range of regulatory challenges including:
- anti-money laundering,
- business continuity,
- client care and complaints handling,
- continuing competence,
- cyber security,
- data protection,
- outcomes-focused regulation,
- PI insurance, and
- compliance with the SRA Handbook.
Keeping up with your compliance obligations and safeguarding your business is crucial in the face of ongoing changes to the legal regulatory landscape.
The Risk and Compliance Advisory Service can provide you with more tailored advice, bespoke support and training, relevant to your firm and delivered face-to-face by one of our expert risk and compliance advisors.
We offer a highly trusted source of information and expertise and work with you to understand your current risk profile and to ensure you have what you need to implement any required mitigating measures.
March has been a busy month for the team. We have visited seven top 200 firms in Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds during the month and attended five Local Law Society committee meetings and the Yorkshire Union AGM in Leeds.
We also organised a very successful Apprenticeships in law firms seminar in Manchester on 16 March to which over 40 people attended and gave very positive feedback.
Our office holders have also been out in the north region. Joe Egan attended Trafford Law Society’s spring ball and Doncaster Law Society’s Annual Dinner and Robert Bourns attended Leeds Annual Dinner after visiting a firm in Bradford and attending the Yorkshire Union AGM
Looking forward, in April we will be part of the panel judging the Northern Law Awards and preparing for the Presidents and Secretaries Conference early in May.
Access and disclosure of an incapacitated person’s will
This practice note is for solicitors and law firms who store wills.
What is the issue?
- Property and financial affairs attorneys and deputies owe a duty when making financial decisions, so far as is reasonably possible, to consider succession plans made by the person for whom they act. Having knowledge of the contents of the will and/or codicils(s) means that the attorney or deputy is in a position to act in the best interests of the person for whom they act.
- This guidance clarifies when a solicitor can disclose a copy of a client’s will and/or codicil(s) to a property and financial affairs attorney or deputy in circumstances where the client has lost mental capacity.
Who owns the file?
The issue of which parts of a file are owned by the client and which by the solicitor is a live one for many firms.
This practice note is aimed at all solicitors and brings together information which has previously been distributed among several practice notes.
Making gifts of assets
This practice note is for solicitors who advise clients about transferring their assets to family or friends.
What is the issue?
- Clients might ask for advice about transferring property or investments to their next of kin, family members, or friends, before their death, as a means of planning for their future care. A solicitor could be implicated if they are found to have aided a client’s deliberate deprivation of assets. Whether the client wishes to gift assets or to offer them at significant undervalue, you must advise them about the benefits and risks of doing so and clarify your role and responsibilities in the process.
- Some clients may receive advice from non-solicitor advice services that includes unjustified claims about gifting of assets to avoid the assets being considered for inheritance tax or care fees liability. You should consider seeking specialist advice if you feel it necessary to do so.
Reforms to the Advocates Graduated Fees Scheme consultation
The Law Society has responded to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation on reforming the Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS).
The response expresses our concerns that the proposals risk damaging the sustainability of the supplier base and do not promote compliance with ongoing initiatives such as Better Case Management.
Scope of VAT grouping
The Law Society has responded to HM Revenue & Custom’s (HMRC) consultation on the scope of VAT grouping.
The consultation looked at whether to make changes to UK VAT grouping following decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The main focus of the consultation looked at options around eligibility requirements for VAT group registration and the impact of policy changes following the CJEU decision in Skandia. It also looks at the interaction between VAT grouping and cost sharing provisions.
SRA consultation on rule waivers
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) sets the rules solicitors in England and Wales are required to comply with. The SRA recently consulted on proposed changes to the process by which solicitors can apply for these rules to be waived, along with plans to introduce criteria and guidance to develop its Innovation Space.
The SRA is proposing to replace two existing waiver policies – a general policy and a policy specific to the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013 – with a single policy. It has also proposed the introduction of a ‘no enforcement rule’ in specific circumstances where waivers are not possible.
The Law Society supports simplification of the waivers process in principle, as long as some key principles are met.
Employment tribunal fees consultation
At the end of January the Ministry of Justice published its long-awaited review of the impact of employment tribunal fees. It concluded that:
- users are contributing between £8.5 million and £9 million a year in fee income, in line with what we expected, transferring a proportion of the cost from the taxpayer to those who use the tribunal
- more people are now using Acas’ free conciliation service than were previously using voluntary conciliation and bringing claims to the employment tribunal combined.
- Acas’ conciliation service is effective in helping just under half the people who refer disputes to them avoid the need to go to the tribunal – where conciliation has not worked, most people go on to issue proceedings in the employment tribunal.
Litigators’ Graduated Fees Scheme consultation
The Law Society has responded to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation on Litigators’ Graduated Fees Scheme and Court Appointees, which proposes the following reforms to crown court work:
- Reducing the cap for claimable pages of prosecution evidence (PPE) from 10,000 pages to 6,000 pages.
- Reducing the fees paid for s38 court appointed advocates to legal aid rates.
Our response makes it clear that the case for introducing further cuts to criminal legal aid fees has not been made and that the proposals are a short-sighted ‘quick fix’ solution which will not address any other longer term issues relating to the way litigators are remunerated, nor the problems within the LGFS.
Consultations for Government that you may be interested in responding to…
Amending the Valuation Tribunal for Wales Regulations 2010
The Welsh Government are consulting on proposals to reform the structure and organisational procedures provided for in the Valuation Tribunal Regulations 2010 to:
- remove unnecessary bureaucracy and simplify administrative procedures to allow the Valuation Tribunal for Wales to work more efficiently
- strengthen governance arrangements to ensure the independence and accountability of the organisation
- provide for future reforms to the business rates appeals process.
Submission deadline 16 April 2017
Guidance on handling individual cases to protect children and adults at risk
The Welsh Government are consulting on guidance which provides advice on what should happen if an individual has concerns about the well-being or welfare of a child or an adult at risk.
Submission deadline 25 April 2017
Guidance relating to supported accommodation
The Welsh Government are consulting on:
- statutory guidance landlords must follow when temporarily excluding a contract-holder under a supported standard contract
- non-statutory guidance to assist landlords and local authorities in carrying out their functions relating to extending the relevant period before a tenancy or licence for supported accommodation becomes an occupation contract.
Submission deadline 28 April 2017
Find out more
Fixed Recoverable Costs – Clinical Negligence
The Department of Health (DoH) are seeking views on the introduction of a system of fixed recoverable costs for lower value clinical negligence claims. Under new plans, the DoH has limited its plans for fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence claims to cases under £25,000, instead of for claims under £250,000. However, we remain concerned that fixing recoverable costs for victims of clinical negligence could deny them access to justice, unless the proposed scheme excludes complex cases and includes exemptions for unusual circumstances.
Submission deadline 1 May 2017