** Please forward to any colleagues who might be interested **
1. Breaking News & Time Critical Matters
1.1. Chancellor cheers conveyancers
Chancellor George Osborne today cheered conveyancers by announcing in his budget dramatic new measures to boost the housing market. Read more >>
1.2. Strike disrupts courts service as another walkout is planned
Thousands of court workers across England and Wales walked out on strike as the union began a three-month programme of action. Read more >>
1.3. Osborne imposes further £142m of cuts on MoJBudget imposes a further £142m of cuts on the Ministry of Justice, which will have to be implemented before the 2015 general election. Read more >>
1.4. Legal Aid Changes: key information
On Monday 1 April 2013, the Legal Services Commission will be replaced by the Legal Aid Agency, and the cuts imposed by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 will take effect. The Law Society have published a high-level summary of the most important things you need to know about the new regime. Read more >>
1.5. Plans to speed up introduction of crime tendering
The justice secretary Chris Grayling has announced that the first contracts for the new system of price competition in criminal defence firms is to be rolled out a year earlier than previously announced in autumn 2014. The minister told MPs that the urgency was due to the need to 'achieve savings as quickly as possible'. Grayling also confirmed that new powers, for example, to seize and sell convicted criminals' vehicles to help meet the cost of legal aid in their cases would come into force in July this year. Read more >>
1.6. Higher level legal apprenticeships launched
The new legal apprenticeship, developed by Skills for Justice, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), CILEx, Damar Training and Pearson, is equivalent to the first year of a degree and offers school leavers a professional pathway to becoming a qualified fee-earner or paralegal. Read more >>
1.7. Consumer group urges "NHS Direct for law"There is "a compelling moral and economic case" for the Legal Services Board (LSB) to pursue initiatives such as an NHS Direct-style telephone service to help people find the legal advice they need, its consumer adviser has urged. Read more >>
1.8. 250 jobs go as Lawyers2you becomes latest PI casualty
The SRA has intervened in Midlands firm Blakemores, owner of the consumer brand Lawyers2you, with the loss of 250 jobs. One analyst blamed cashflow problems against the 'toxic combination' of legal aid cuts and the shrinking of the PI market. Read more >>
1.9. Number of private practice solicitors falls for first time as Law Society warns of ABS threat
The number of qualified solicitors in private practice fell last year for the first time since records began.
A new legal service market assessment by the Law Society also warned that that a small number of successful alternative business structures (ABSs) could radically reshape the market for high street legal services, leading many law firms to close. Read more >>
1.10. MOJ to fund RCJ CAB
The Ministry of Justice announced that it will fund the Citizens Advice Bureau at the Royal Courts of Justice. The MoJ will be providing the full £90,000 requested to support family justice work performed by the CAB. This funding will be provided from 1 April 2013 in recognition of the importance of the work they do.
1.11. BT Law goes live after global telecoms giant wins ABS licence
It will provide legal services to corporate customers, initially in the motor claims market, but with an eye to expanding into other areas of law. Read more >>
2. Business Development & Professional News
2.1. SRA to relax rules on reporting breaches
The Solicitors Regulation Authority plans to drop the much-criticised requirement for compliance officers to report all non-material breaches. The authority's current rules will be changed so that firms' records of non-material breaches will not need to be reported annually to the SRA. Read more >>
2.2. 'Unbundling' may be the key to legal aid survival
Offering pay-as-you-go legal advice could enable solicitors to help clients denied legal aid after 1 April and may help firms generate more work, the Law Society president suggested. Read more >>
2.3. Virtual firm takes ABS total past 100
A virtual law firm founded by the president of the Law Society has today been granted a licence to become an alternative business structure. Read more >>
2.4. Lenders 'reviewing or reducing' law firm borrowing
Banks and other lenders are reviewing their exposure in the legal market, and reducing or withdrawing borrowing facilities, the SRA board has been told. Read more >>
2.5. Lord Neuberger warns of legal aid cuts
The country's most senior judge has warned that cuts to legal aid could end up costing the Government more and denying people access to justice. Read more >>
2.6. Private investor backs two solicitors' ABS start-up
Two Manchester solicitors have set up an alternative business structure (ABS) with the backing of a private investor to provide commercial services on fixed fees and retainers. Read more >>
2.7. ABSs offer opportunity to thriving in-house lawyers, says Law Society
The number of in-house lawyers has not been affected by the economic crisis and alternative business structures (ABSs) offer general counsel an opportunity to expand their services, according to the Law Society. Read more >>
2.8. Reform agenda to create "two-tier Bar", with bulk of chambers to suffer
Legal aid cuts, the Jackson reforms and the introduction of competitive tendering for criminal law work will split the Bar into a two-tier profession, with mid-sized generalist chambers set to suffer, a specialist Bar consultant has predicted.Read more>>
2.9. Is your client communication taking off?
From Legal Futures Blog. Read more >>
2.10. How do your clients find you? Where do your enquiries come from?
Checkaprofessional have set up the UK's only public reputation directory for professionals to promote companies who provide a service e.g. solicitors, insurance companies, accountants and paralegals. Their site is unique because it provides unbiased, honest feedback and referrals from clients and it provides word of mouth on a national scale. Read more >>
2.11. Join the network
Join the circa 900 paralegals who already regularly help each other out, network and refer work on the Institute of Paralegals online "UK Paralegal Forum" (free registration with LinkedIn required).
3. Company, Commercial & Contracts
3.1. Businesses cite human rights act in disputes
Businesses are increasingly using human rights arguments in commercial disputes, with the number of such cases increasing from 10 to 45 in four years, new research has revealed. Read more >>
3.2. Combating late payment in commercial transactions
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has released the results of its consultation on how best to implement the European Commission Directive on late payment in commercial transactions. Read more >>
3.3. An implied duty of good faith in commercial contracts?
Historically, English law has not recognised a general duty to perform contracts in good faith. However, the recent High Court decision in the case of Yam Seng PTE Ltd v International Trade Corp Ltd  EWHC 111 (QB) suggests that the courts might be more willing to recognise such an implied duty on contracting parties in the future. Wragges report. Read more >>
3.4. Consumer Credit - getting ready for the new regulator
The government has taken the decision that, in principle, responsibility for the regulation of consumer credit and second charge mortgages should be transferred from the Office of Fair Trading into the same regulatory regime as other retail financial services under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
This will bring about substantial changes for consumer credit firms. Read more >>
4. Current Legal Profession Consultations
4.1. Law Commission
Rights to Light
The consultation paper considers the law relating to the entire life-cycle of a right to light, from creation to extinguishment. It considers private law easements of light only.
Read more >>
4.2. Ministry of Justice
Damages Act 1996: the discount rate - review of the legal framework
This consultation paper seeks views on two subjects relating to the setting of the discount rate under section 1 of the Damages Act 1996
Read more >>
Transforming Youth Custody: Putting education at the heart of detention
...describes the Government's plans for placing high quality education at the centre of youth custody. The paper invites views and outline proposals from a wide range of stakeholders and providers describing how they would implement our vision for Secure Colleges.
Read more >>
Implementing the coroner reforms in Part 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009This consultation seeks views on proposed coroner investigation regulations, inquest rules, fee and allowance regulations, coroner areas, and statutory guidance for bereaved people.It is aimed at coroners, coroners' officers and other staff, bereaved people, voluntary organisations who help bereaved people, local authorities, and all those who have an interest in coroner services.
Read more >>
4.3. Solicitors Regulation Authority
Indicative guidance on financial penalties
The Fining Guidance consultation asks for views on the proposed approach to guiding decision makers on the levels of fines to be imposed in disciplinary matters.
Read more >>
5.1. New rules for employment tribunals
Employment tribunals are to become the 'last resort, not the first port of call' after the government's announcement that it has accepted proposals in a fundamental review of procedure for tribunals. The new procedure is expected to come into force this summer. Read more >>
5.2. Ban on NHS gagging orders
Gagging clauses that stop departing NHS staff from speaking out about patient safety or care have been banned by the government. Read more >>
5.3. The Right to Resist: Privilege for Employment Lawyers
A guide from 11 KBW. Read more >>
5.4. Disclosures made after employment ends
Employees who 'blow the whistle' on bad behaviour by bosses can still take advantage of legal protections even after the employment relationship has ended, a tribunal has ruled. Read more >>
5.5. Telling tales out of school: balancing public authority employees' duties of confidentiality with their right to freedom of expression
Employment law blog from 11KBW. Read more >>
5.6. House of Lords votes against Government's employee shareholder proposal
The Government's proposal to allow employees to give up some employment rights in exchange for shares in their employer has been defeated in the House of Lords. Read more >>
5.7. Employment law reform jigsaw update: more pieces emerge
Wragges report. Read more >>
6.1. Family Law Week's Budget Briefing 2013
Jan Ellis, chartered accountant, of Ellis Foster LLP, a firm which specialises in advising family lawyers on tax-related family law issues, explains the budget changes of most relevance to practitioners.
Read more >>
6.2. False allegations of domestic violence are rare, according to the CPS
111,891 prosecutions for domestic violence in 17-month period (and six for making false allegations). Read more >>
6.3. Impact of child neglect underestimated, warns NSPCC
Child neglect is not being taken seriously enough and should be treated with the same urgency as physical or sexual abuse, says NSPCC. Read more >>
6.4. Care applications continued their upward trendApplications are 11.5% up on last February. Read more >>
6.5 'Litigant in person' not "SRLs" to be used in family courts
Master of the Rolls issues new Practice Guidance. Read more >>
6.6. House of Lords Adoption Legislation Committee criticises over-emphasis on adoption
The Committee in its latest report has warned that the Government's focus on driving up the number of adoptions should not be delivered at the expense of other routes to permanence, such as special guardianship or kinship care. Read more >>
6.8. Client dissatisfaction highest in divorce cases, says Legal Ombudsman
6.7. Children's Commissioner raises concerns about Children and Families Bill
OCC publishes child rights impact assessment of Parts 1 - 3 of the Bill. Read more >>
New report focuses on family law complaints. The report can be read here.
7. Hong Kong Update
7.1. University of Law to train first Hong Kong solicitor-advocates
The Lawyer reports. Read more >>
7.2. The Hong Kong Solicitors' Guide to Professional Conduct
The Guide Working Party led by Mr Amirali Nasir has taken up the onerous task of reviewing and updating it. Prior to general publication, the Working Party will be sending a final draft of the revised Guide as well as a summary and two new indices (one on Circulars and the other on Principles and Commentaries) to managing partners of law firms by email for comment. If you have any comments, please send them to Assistant Director, Regulation and Guidance at email@example.com before 31 March 2013.
7.3. Access to Justice
The Law Society has reviewed recent Court of Final Appeal judgments quashing the criminal convictions of professional advisers. Read more >>
7.4. The New Companies Ordinance: Major Changes Part III
The Commercial Unit of the Department of Justice, conclude their review of the major changes which take effect when the new Companies Ordinance comes into operation in early 2014. Read more >>
Read more >>
7.5. HKSAR Government committed to protecting human rights
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government was fully committed to the protection of human rights, the United Nations Human Rights Committee heard today (March 12, Geneva time) at the hearing of Hong Kong's third report in light of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Read more >>
7.6. Case Updates
7.6. Stamping Duty Ordinance ("Ordinance")
Stamping of Agreements for Sale and Purchase/Assignments - New Measures with effect from 23 February 2013
The Financial Secretary has made an urgent announcement on 22 February 2013 in respect of
proposed amendments to the Ordinance to adjust the rates of ad valorem stamp duty ("AVSD") and to advance the charging of AVSD on non-residential property transactions from the conveyance on sale to the agreement for sale. Read more >> (note: this link downloads a pdf from the Law Society of Hong Kong)
Read more >>
7.7. Legislation Updates
8.1. Changes to the Immigration Rules - April 2013
A written ministerial statement has been laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules. These will come into effect on 6 April 2013. Read more >>
8.2. Important changes to the restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) application process from 6 March 2013Changes to the codes of practice for skilled employers including updating the list of skilled occupations to reflect the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2010 system, means adjusting the arrangements for restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) in March, April and May 2013. Read more >>
8.3. Revisions to the codes of practice for skilled migrant workers
Read more >>
8.4. New immigration fees proposed
A written ministerial statement setting out the proposed fee increases for visa applications made overseas, and applications made in the UK has been laid in Parliament. Read more >>
9. Institute of Paralegals News
9.1. Institute activities
The Institute attended the launch event for higher level apprenticeships in legal services at Herbert Smith Freehills. The Government is backing Level 4 apprenticeships as a new route into law in a bid to improve access and diversity in the law. The Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services is designed to help firms recruit a new breed of talented paralegals via a vocational pathway as opposed to the more traditional graduate entries. The qualification is aimed at the personal injury, insolvency, debt recovery, and commercial litigation areas of the law and has been developed by Skills for Justice, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and Damar Training. The Institute is a member of the steering group and working party developing legal apprenticeships. Steve Wilcock, Head of Policy at the Institute said, "The Institute welcomes legal service apprenticeships as a new pathway to a legal career. It is important, however, to recognise that apprenticeships will not be the right pathway for everyone and to provide full access to the profession and diversity within it we must continue to work to recognise all pathways, learning and experience that enables entrants to acquire the necessary skills and competencies."
9.2. A new contemporary look for the Institute
The Institute of Paralegals is pleased to reveal its new modern identity. The new look marks a new direction for the Institute and its members, recognising the need to keep up-to-date with the changing needs of the sector and the ever-changing environment. The new brand symbolises a new dawn for the Institute and affirms its values in 'Setting Standards. Promoting Professionalism'. These better represent the Institute's offer to members and to the wider paralegal profession. The new look is reflected in the updated appearance of the Institute emails, website and LinkedIn group. All stationery and communications will look different too as the new look is taken forward. Members will shortly be issued with new membership and practising certificates.
9.3. institute to issue members survey
The Institute will shortly be issuing a survey of members to update its membership data and to canvass members' views. Annie Hall, Membership Secretary said, "The survey will enable us to collect important data about our membership which will inform our discussions with government, regulators and others. It will also be an opportunity for members to tell us what they think of the services we provide. We want to ensure the membership benefits we offer meet our members needs and help them to carry out their role as a professional paralegal." Watch out for the survey which will be emailed after Easter and ensure you have your say.
9.4. Query for members who are independent Will Writers
Do you have any views about the likely regulatory framework of Will Writing within the next couple of years? If we assume that the Lord Chancellor will accept the LSB's recommendations for regulation, the regulatory framework looks as if it will be a "soft touch" framework assessed on the basis of certain outcomes mainly designed to standardise consumer protection, including such requirements as a uniform Code of Practice, professional indemnity insurance and some form of centralised indemnity fund. Reputable will writers from the IPW and SWW already conform to the expected standards, but would the IoP IQS and Code of Conduct largely satisfy a new regulator or possibly have the capability of being tailored to a new regulator's requirements?
Any views would be gratefully received - please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org
9.5. Checkaprofessional - build your professional reputation
The Institute has teamed up with Checkaprofessional, the UK's public reputation directory for all professionals, to bring members a special offer for 2013. The first 100 paralegal corporate members to join Checkaprofessional will pay £199 for 12months membership (normal price £599!)
for more information
9.6. Join the U.K.'s first open online Paralegal Forum
Join the circa 900 paralegals who are already members of the UK's first online Paralegal Forum where anyone, whether Institute members or not, can discuss paralegal issues, hear essential news, post vacancies and seek work, ask for advice and assistance, hook up with other paralegals locally and refer work. Anyone interested can view/join the Forum for free. Free registration on the LinkedIn business networking site is required. Once in, just type "UK Paralegal Forum" into the groups search facility: speak, hear, share!
9.7. Charles Cameron - Mortgage Advice and Assistance
The Government's Funding For Lending Scheme launched last summer has helped see mortgage rates fall to an all-time low. For expert advice and assistance, Charles Cameron & Associates will be delighted to help you find the most suitable solution to finance any new purchase whether in the UK or Overseas. They are completely independent and will work to find the best mortgage for you as well as the best terms they can provide.They can also explore whether you may be able to save money by remortgaging onto a more competitive rate.*
YOUR HOME MAY BE RE-POSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE
*Terms and conditions apply. See website for further details. As a concession to members, they are willing to waive their normal fee and accept commission only from the lender, although a fee option is also available (typically this could be 0.5% of the amount borrowed). IoP Plus is managed on behalf of IoP by Parliament Hill Ltd of 3rd Floor, 127 Cheapside, London, EC2V 6BT. Neither are part of the same group as a provider.
10. Intellectual Property
10.1. The Patent Box
The 'Patent Box' regime comes into force in April 2013. It entitles a company to apply a lower rate of UK corporation tax on worldwide profits earned from its patents in the Patent Box. Wragges reports. Read more >>
10.2. Privacy and data protection developments in 2013
Google, Facebook, Leveson and more, from Panopticon, the information law blog from 11KBW.
Read more >>
10.3. Cyber security - articulating the details
Businesses and governments are continuing to wrestle with the question of what can and cannot be considered 'adequate' IT security in compliance with regulations including data protection laws. Pinsent Masons report. Read more >>
No licensing news this month
12.1. The future of personal injury - land of opportunity or time to get out?
From the Legal Futures blog. Read more >>
12.2. Survey: personal injury law firms face financial meltdown
Nearly a fifth of the north-west's specialist personal injury law firms are considering shutting up shop. Read more >>
12.3. MPs set to shed light on whiplash
MPs will answer whether the government is right to describe the UK as the 'whiplash capital of the world' in a definitive report on motor claims. Read more >>
12.4. UK is best for litigation, says justice secretary
Justice secretary Chris Grayling has sent a message to the world that the UK is cheaper, quicker and more reliable for litigation disputes. Read more >>
12.5. ATE rush prompts another 'emergency' cover product
An after-the-event insurer has introduced a new emergency insurance product to cope with the surge in demand from solicitors in the run-up to 1 April. Keystone Legal said the product would enable it to issue policies ahead of the April deadline, when the Jackson reforms are implemented, but revisit the level of premium within 120 days. Read more >>
12.6. Bar Council and Law Society call unexpected truce over standard terms dispute
The Law Society and Bar Council have called a truce over the Bar's new standard terms of business and agreed to talk through their differences - some five years after leaving the negotiating table.
Read more >>
12.7. New EU online and alternative dispute resolution rules to be introduced
Online traders will be able to resolve contractual disputes with consumers based in other EU countries through a new online dispute resolution (ODR) framework after MEPs voted to back the new regime. Read more >>
12.8. High Court throws out RTA fees cut challenge
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Motor Accident Solicitors Society were challenging a decision by the Ministry of Justice to cut fixed fees for cases managed through the RTA Portal. Claimant solicitors argued that the government had taken the decision without proper consultation. Read more >>
12.9. Days of 100% damages payouts are over, says Hudson
Personal injury solicitors will have to ditch '100% compensation' offers if they want to run a profitable business in future, says the Law Society's chief executive Desmond Hudson. Read more >>
12.11. Finance litigation briefing
12.10 'Litigant in person' back as judges U-turn on terminology
Master of the Rolls issues new Practice Guidance. Read more >>
Report and review on the latest cases and issues from Wragges. Read more >>
...from the Inner Temple Library. Read more >>
12.12. Recent Court Decisions
13. Probate, Will Writing & Court of Protection
13.1. Changes to LPA registration and bonds for deputiesFrom 1 April, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) intends to make changes to the lasting power of attorney (LPA) registration process. The changes will affect the time it takes OPG to register an LPA and the forms that are used. It is also introducing new rules to make it easier for court-appointed deputies to change their security bond provider. Read more >>
14.1. Landlord who failed to consult properly with its tenants before incurring service charge costs has been reprieved
A landlord can still recover the cost of carrying out work on a property from its tenants through a service charge even if the landlord does not comply with statutory consultation requirements, provided that the tenants are not "prejudiced" by the landlord's actions, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Read more >>
14.2. Overriding interests: The deadline for registration approaches
From midnight on 12 October 2013, certain third party rights over land will no longer have automatic protection under the Land Registration Act 2002. Wragges investigate. Read more >>
14.3. Commercial property update
Current trends in lease renewals, nuisance covenants. Read more >>
15. Public committee vacancies (paid & unpaid)
15.1 National Council of Independent Monitoring Boards (MoJ)
Safeguarding the standards of care and decency for prisoners and immigration detainees
Salary: No remuneration but reasonable travel expenses will be paid.
Closing Date: 27/03/2013
Read more >>
15.2 Non Magistrate Members of the Central and South London Advisory Committee and Sub-Committee for Justices of the Peace in England and Wales
Location: Central and South London to cover the London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth, Croydon, Sutton and the City of London and City of Westminster.
Salary: Unpaid - although travel and subsistence can be claimed
Closing Date: 05/04/2013Read more >>
15.3 Court of Protection Visitor (Special)
Location: North West, East Midlands, South West, Wales
Salary: Payment will be based on the type of visit commissioned; fees is £600 per visit and report.
Closing Date: 05/04/2013Read more >>
15.4 Court of Protection Visitor (General)
Location: North West, North East, South East/London, South West, North West, Wales
Salary: Payment will be based on the type of visit commissioned; fees range from £100 to £180 per visit and report. 50 days and 150 visits per year.
Closing Date: 05/04/2013Read more >>
All vacanciesThe above is a selection of vacancies relevant to paralegals, The full list of current vacancies can be found here.
16. Training and Education
16.1. EU online training
The European Commission has begun work on an online service to help train EU lawyers in cross-border European law or the law of another member state. Read more >>
16.2. Higher level apprenticeships launched
The Government is backing Level 4 apprenticeships as a new route into law in a bid to improve access and diversity in the law. The Level Four Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services is designed to help firms recruit a new breed of talented paralegals via a vocational pathway as opposed to the more traditional graduate entries. The qualification is aimed at the personal injury, insolvency, debt recovery, and commercial litigation areas of the law and has been developed by Skills for Justice, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and Damar Training
16.3. BPP defers launch of qualifying apprenticeship pending final LETR report
BPP has deferred the launch of its qualifying apprenticeship for solicitors to September 2014 following the delay in the publication of the Legal Education and Training Review's (LETR) report which will include regulatory provisions for legal apprenticeships. Read more >>
16.4. Free legal update service: tsglegal.tv
Free updating video clips from the Solicitors Group. Read more >>
17. Quick links
LexisNexis special discounts for Institute members: click here
18. Contact information
Articles, news items and comment welcomed. Please contact the Editor at email@example.com
Within the United Kingdom phone: 020 7587 3917
Outside the United Kingdom phone: +44 020 7587 3917
Within the United Kingdom fax: 020 7091 2619
Outside the United Kingdom fax: +44 20 7091 2619
c/o Institute of Paralegals
6 Graphite Square
London SE11 5EE
We hope you enjoyed this month's edition. Thank you for your interest in what we have to say!