Law Society Calls For 28 Day Limit On Police Bail

As the new figures showed that there is a possibility that some suspects would have to wait much longer for a decision on their case the Law Society stated that there had to be limitation of about 28 days on police bail. Usually while the police are investigating a crime there are arrested people who are later bailed. The number of people on bail in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 57,000, according to the legal documents reviewed.

As a preventive measure such people have many restrictions on their movement and finances.

A recent research showed that the decision on the cases of 3,172 of them have not been announced for over six months.

There is even a case in which a man, who was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of fraud, was on bail for three and a half years.

Most people on bail admit that they are not able to live a normal life with all the limitations they have to bear in mind.

Nowadays, police have the power to keep suspects on bail for as long as they wish.

Richard Atkinson, who chairs the organisation’s criminal law committee, commented: “I would call for a 28-day statutory maximum period for police bail. But it could be extended by applying to a magistrate. There, police would have to explain what stage they were at in their investigation and why a further 28-day extension of bail was necessary.”

He received a respond from the Home Office claiming that in their opinion police bails were mixture of protecting the rights of individuals and at the same time allowing police to carry out their criminal investigations.


More Legal Aid Cuts – New Changes Planned

As the government aims at slashing a further £220m from the cost of criminal legal aid today they launched a new consultation.

It turned out that the legal aid changes introduced by the LASPO Act were not enough so now the government is about to put forward plans according to which the access of prisoners to legal aid will be more limited and people with income of over £37,500 will not receive legal aid automatically. The good news is that The Legal Stop will continue to supply you with high quality employment documents.

The new plans will make convicted criminals repay the costs for their defense with deductions from the money they are going to earn in future, in case they work in accordance with the employment legislation and have an employment contract.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said of the notion: “Those who live outside the law should pay the consequences both through being punished and bearing more of the costs they impose on society. That is why we are exploring ways to make criminals pay towards the cost of their prosecution to the court.”

Another proposal that was announced is that legal aid contracts should be introduced, as the government presumes that this will reduce the number of firms which provide these services.

The intention of the government is to limit the number of law firms which offer such assistance as now it is about 1,600.

However the Law Society of England and Wales opposed to this suggestion. According to Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff  ”It will take much longer to do properly,…and if it’s not done properly then we are going to end up with miscarriages of justice, with people being stuck in prison far longer than they should be on remand, with witnesses not turning up, with cases not being properly prepared. It’s a huge, huge risk.”

This was not the only proposal she was worried about. In her words immigrants should not be denied legal aid as this should not be a thing which depended on the status of a certain person in the country but on their needs.




Joint Ownership Causes Problems

Law Society and Land Registry have warned that each solicitor has to encourage people who purchase joint property to say who owns what because otherwise later there may be lots of disputes when let’s say a relationship breaks down.

These will make best if they make a declaration of trust using the Land Registry form JO.

Such problems appear not only between unmarried couples but also between business partners, friends and even family members who own something together.

This practice started because of recent court decisions, Stack v Dowden [2007] UKHL 17 and Jones v Kernott[2011] UKSC 53 according to which joint home buyers have to define what exactly their property is and record their interests in this property.

The Land Registry JO form appears as an alternative way for joint owners to give information about their interests and details of an existing separate declaration of trust, at the time when they acquire the property.

Jonathan Smithers said: ‘I am pleased that the Law Society and Land Registry have worked together to provide detailed and up to date advice to solicitors practicing in what is a complicated area of the law. ‘The note will direct solicitors to the practical implications of statements made in recent cases so that their clients can continue to receive the best advice possible.’

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Criminal Reaccreditation Plan Deferred

It was recently announced that the Law society place criminal reaccreditation plan on hold for now. The scheme regards reaccreditation of criminal solicitors every five years after a consultation with the profession has been conducted.

After a consultation in April, the Society has made a plan proposing that all members of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS) will be expected to undergo a check every five years. This is said to confirm that all them have taken and completed the required six hours of the CDP and have paid the £240 fee as stated. However, Chancery Lane has announced that the deadline for the implementation of the plan is postponed. It also stated that those CLAS members, who have a membership for over a five-year period and who are due to reaccredit, will get their membership with an extended deadline until 30 June 2013. It further announced that members do not have to do anything in order to get their membership extension, because this will be done automatically and all membership records will be updated respectively.

A spokesperson from the Law Society explained that the Society has decided to postpone the compulsory reaccreditation scheme for the CLAS with regard to comments from members. The plan will be put on hold in order for the Society to insure that proper account is taken on initiatives such as the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA). It is highly unlikely that the QASA will replace CLAS. QASA is said to cover only advocacy while CLAS deals with wider aspects on criminal litigation. Nevertheless, it is important to understand how both interact and to know which one to use in a certain case.

In order to obtain a criminal litigation accreditation, members will have to prove to the Law Society that they maintain a high degree of knowledge as well as skills. They also have to show through external examination that they have the experience and practice necessary in criminal law work. The Criminal reaccreditation scheme is set to enable both solicitors and followers of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to have the qualification to apply for inclusion on local duty solicitor rotas. This will be executed under the the Legal Services Commission’s criminal defence service duty solicitor arrangements 2001.

President John Wotton said that that ‘a scheme that is meant to be an indicator of quality cannot be credible in the modern world if those who are accredited are not reassessed regularly to ensure that they remain competent and up to date’.  Even though that at present there is no reaccreditation, it is important to ensure that the new plan will enforce a balanced scheme so that unnecessary burdens on practitioners will be avoided. After all, the point of the plan is not to ‘create obstacle’, but to help criminal solicitors boost their credentials. The criminal reaccreditation scheme is said to help criminal solicitors stay up to date with the knowledge and qualification s necessary to practice criminal law work.

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EAW Opt-Out Plan

A proposal from the government has revealed that it intends to opt out around 130 EU measures for criminal justice, one of which includes the European arrest warrant (EAW). As a result, legal professions from across the entire UK have united and have asked for public consultation regarding the government’s proposal.

It was reported that during his trade visit in Brazil last week, Prime Minister David Cameron had mentioned that the government intentions regarding the criminal justice measures and said that the opt-out powers will be exercised by the end of this year.

Law societies across the UK have expressed concerns that the new proposal will make impossible the fight against cross-border crime. According to the Law societies in England and Wales, Scotland, North Ireland and the Bar council, the new reform will also threaten the law and order in the United Kingdom. The deadline for the government to make a decision about the proposal is end of May 2014. By this date, the government must inform the European Commission whether or not it will opt out the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht EU criminal justice measures.

Scott-Moncrieff, president of Law Society of England and Wales, commented on the government decision to remove EU criminal measures from the UK and expressed a concern that this may have even greater implications. The EU measures for criminal justice are mostly procedural and are enforced so that there is an established co-operation between different members of state, which all aim to fight cross-border crime. According to Law society president, the government must seek views from experienced practitioners and engage in a consultation process that is transparent to the public as well.

According to Bar chief Michael Todd QC, the government expects to save money by outing out from the EU criminal measures. However, he also stated that the government opt-out only relates to those measures which were established before the Treaty of Lisbon (2009). He stated that this may lead to even greater confusion and higher costs. Bar chief Todd supports the statement that of the government decides to put this plan into action, the law and order in the UK will be directly threatened. According to Todd, there is enough time for the government to consult with the public on this issue. It is through transparent consultation that the government could properly assess what impact the changes will have.  Todd also mentioned that if the government decides to go for the opt out plan, it might soon seek to opt back into the EU criminal justice measures in order to fight against cross-border crime. The president of the Law Society of Scotland, Austin Lafferty supported the words by Todd and also claimed that the government’s plan will cause confusion and lead to greater costs should it opt back in to some of the criminal measures. Law Society of Northern Ireland president Imelda McMillan also added that if the government does not consult with the public on this important issue, this will raise further concern in the legal profession not only in the UK, but across Europe as well.

At The Legal Stop, we do not specialise in criminal law, however, we can provide you with highest quality legal documents- employment contracts, shareholders agreements, legal agreements and much more.