Last update12:26:56 PM GMT
Everything stops for the Queen’s Speech. The State opening of Parliament has now fixed itself in May or early June, following the passing into law of the Fixed Term Parliament Act in 2011. That earlier timing – the event used to be later in the year unless there had been a General Election – still catches this writer on the hop.
One of the measures outlined by Her Majesty was the reform of the tax system for small donations to charity.
This will make it easier for smaller charities to claim back the tax on donations. The change comes as a welcome relief for the charity sector, which endured a bumpy ride last year – one commentator remarked after the Budget that the sector could be relieved if only because it wasn’t mentioned!
Nevertheless, legacy giving continues to form a major backbone of charities’ funding, with more organisations than ever mentioned in wills. That is according to research by Smee and Ford, the authoritative voice on the sector. Many of the extra names mentioned last year figured for the first time in a legatee’s wishes.
Business leaders dealing with the Brexit fallout have been told not to panic over the possible impact on intellectual property, trade marks and copyright laws.
Leading national law firm Freeths is advising clients that nothing will change immediately.
Freeths partner Simon Barker, head of intellectual property based at the firm’s Birmingham office (pictured), said: “While the formal process of leaving the EU will take at least two years, we appreciate that there will be an appetite for early information about how businesses are going to be affected.
“We are providing clients with the best information that we can offer at this stage about how the UK’s departure from the EU may impact the intellectual property rights of businesses.
Court of Appeal rules entitlement to proportional compensation from as low as 2.3%
In a landmark asbestosis case, The Court of Appeal ruled today that asbestosis sufferers could be entitled to proportional compensation from as low as 2.3% from negligent employers, based upon the number of years worked. The historic ruling confirms that proportional compensation is applicable even if the employer’s overall contribution to the condition was minimal and the entitlement was as low as 2.3%.
The ruling relates to retired electrician, Mr Albert Carder, who was exposed to asbestos whilst working at Exeter University. Although most of his asbestos exposure occurred earlier in his career, Mr Carder’s lawyers, Moore Blatch, calculated that his employment at the university contributed 2.3% toward his asbestosis.
The Court of Appeal today upheld the calculation and judgement made by The High Court in July 2015 that Mr Carder was entitled to compensation. But at the time Exeter University’s insurers appealed,arguing the proportion of the exposure was minimal and had made "no discernible difference to his condition".
The Law Society has issued a revised Flood Risk Practice Note to solicitors, reflecting increased concerns over homes and businesses in flood-prone areas. The practice note covers the issues and resources that solicitors need to be aware of when acting for buyers: from Environment Agency flood maps and specialist surveys to insurance.
The Environment Agency estimates that one in six homes in England – 5.2 million – are at risk from flooding. In Wales, more than 200,000 properties are at risk from sea or river flooding and 230,000 properties are at risk from surface water flooding.
Property industry professionals have been urged to be extra vigilant in the wake of recent research that highlighted a 50% increase in mortgage and property transaction fraud in the past year.
Aziz Rahman (pictured), Senior Partner at corporate fraud defence specialists Rahman Ravelli, stressed that “the stakes are too high for those in property to simply plod on, oblivious to the risks” as an Experian study revealed that fraud is becoming more commonplace across the sector.
The research estimated that an average of £76,166 is lost in each example of mortgage or property transaction fraud.
With criminals coming up with increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud, Mr Rahman has warned those who are involved in property deals - from estate agents and surveyors to mortgage brokers and developers - to look out for red flags.
Compensation claims for multi million pound sums against GPs and consultants in private practice have risen three-fold over the last decade, according to figures released in March by the Medical Defence Union (MDU).
In 2015, the MDU settled 12 compensation claims for more than £1m on behalf of its GP and consultant members. By contrast, in 2005 just four settled claims exceeded the £1m mark and in 1995 only one patient received over £1m in compensation from the MDU.
Over the past three years alone more than £100m has been paid out by the MDU to compensate patients and pay legal costs in 36 medical negligence claims that exceeded £1m. The highest amount paid out by the MDU was £9.2m to compensate a patient rendered tetraplegic after spinal surgery and to pay legal costs. In another case, involving a GP, £8.5m in compensation and legal costs was paid for a missed diagnosis of a subarachnoid haemorrhage.
An online petition calling for CCTV to be installed in all care homes across the UK has notched up 10,000 signatures, the point at which the government is required to provide an official response.
Lisa Smith (pictured) created the petition in January, having taken her 86 year old father Joshua out of care after four years, claiming his life had been a ‘living nightmare’ during that time due to poor care.
“I’m delighted and really made up that so many people have signed the petition, and that the whole issue of care home abuse and neglect is being placed into the spotlight and being discussed,” said Lisa.
“CCTV is now a must. There have been some horrendous cases gone to the courts and reported in the media. Let’s get CCTV in care homes and stop this poor treatment.”
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has welcomed the decision to dismiss a claim for Judicial Review of the council’s decision to grant planning permission for the Enderby Wharf development in 2015. The Claimant was granted permission to bring the claim earlier this year on the grounds that the Council had (allegedly) failed to require an assessment of the cumulative effects of the proposed development on air quality in the immediate area.
Today (3 August) the High Court dismissed the claim, finding that the 2015 decision made by the Royal Borough of Greenwich was not unlawful and the Royal Borough had properly taken into account the cumulative effects on air quality.
Cllr Danny Thorpe, Deputy Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability said “The Council has followed due process relating to this planning application at all times, including seeking independent reports on specific technical areas such as air quality. Our decision was endorsed by the Mayor of London.
Last year, amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act were introduced under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Recently, sentencing under those amendments came into force. The new laws extend both the scope of the Act and where offences can be committed.
According to pet information exchange Pets4Homes: "The original law effectively bans ownership of four breeds of dog within the UK - the Fila Brasileiro, the Dogo Argentino, the Japanese Tosa and the Pit Bull Terrier. However, it also covers the process in law to govern what happens to any dog of any breed that is considered to pose a risk to people, and this is something that not all dog owners are aware of."
Last November a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Dispute Resolution was formally launched. The group is an initiative of various members of the ADR community, including the secretary of the Civil Mediation Council Iain Christie, Bar Council ADR panel member John Pugh-Smith and parliamentarians Bob Neill MP and John Howell MP.
The objective of the group is to ‘change the climate and culture of dispute resolution in the UK’. The group has set out an ambitious programme of meetings designed to promote awareness of effective dispute resolution processes and how they might be integrated more comprehensively into the system of dispute resolution in the UK to ensure it is meeting current and future needs.
The Law Society has been granted special consultative status by the United Nations. It provides the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales with unprecedented access to member states and the United Nations' system.
The society will have scope to collaborate with member states on issues including human rights and the rule of law, as well as to have input into discussions on the UN's agenda on an international and domestic level.
Consultative status for an organisation allows it to engage actively with the Economic and Social Council of the UN and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies in a number of ways.