Legal News Round-Up: February 2012

4 comments, posted on March 6, 2012


Smoke-free Private Vehicles Bill 2012 (HL Bill No.123) introduced – a Bill to amend the Health Act 2006 to make provision for a ban on smoking in private vehicles where there are children present.

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Corporate recovery specialists Begbies Traynor recorded 163 professional services businesses facing “critical distress” in the last quarter of 20122, the bulk of these being law firms. The figure represents a 61 per cent increase on the same period in 2010; Begbies claims the advent of alternative business structures (ABS) is set to worsen the trend.

Read more: [Accessed January 20, 2012]


The Law Society president has predicted that the distinction between barristers and solicitors will soon be cultural rather than functional. Speaking at Said Business School, he discussed the likelihood and benefits of a common training model for barristers and solicitors, and noted that a merger between the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board to create a single regulator would be an option.

Read more: [Accessed January 25, 2012]


A Ministry of Justice consultation proposes measures to create a faster, more supportive service for victims of crime, including: ending payments for minor injuries; stopping criminal injuries compensation payments to people with unspent convictions; banning criminal injuries compensation payments to people who have been resident in the UK for less than 6 months; a new statutory Victims’ Code; a simpler route of complaint and redress for victims; giving Police and Crime Commissioners a key role in deciding the priorities for local victims’ services; and ensuring more voluntary victims’ organisations have access to long-term funding.

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Lord Justice Lewison has called for Parliament to clarify the law on “guided hand” signatures under the Wills Act 1837 following a long running legal row over whether Anne Liston offered her brother, Martin Lavin, a “steadying hand” when he changed his will in her favour a few hours before his death. The Court of Appeal ruled on January 31, 2012 that Ms Liston had stepped in and signed the document.

Source: Daily Telegraph, February 1, 2012


Since inviting applications, from January 3, 2012, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has received 96 requests from firms looking to be licensed as Alternative Business Structures (ABS).

Read more: [Accessed February 8, 2012]


Law firms “ignoring leads” that come through comparison websites, major report finds.

Law firms are overwhelmingly failing to follow up referrals for basic legal work from comparison websites, in what is described today as a “massive own goal by the profession”.

According to a mystery shopping exercise carried out by the Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP) as part of a report into comparison websites, eight out of ten online referral requests for a simple will were ignored by law firms.

In a parallel exercise, higher-value conveyancing enquiries generated responses from lawyers in five out of ten cases.

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