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Reporting restrictions should be available online, says Law Commission

Picture of Blind Justice on Old Bailey for Your Expert witness storyThe Law Commission is recommending that a new online service should be established to help journalists and publishers reporting criminal trials discover whether reporting restrictions are in force and, if so, why. The service would be open to all publishers, from large media organisations to individual bloggers.

To protect the defendant’s right to a fair trial, the judge has the power to order that specific information is not disclosed to the jury. In exceptional circumstances, to prevent the jury from discovering that information in the media, the judge can impose reporting restrictions, postponing publication until the end of the trial and sometimes longer.

At the moment, there is no formal system for notifying potential publishers that a restriction is in force or why, but publishers who breach a restriction risk being prosecuted for contempt of court.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 20:18

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Scottish Justice Committee expresses doubts on removal of need for corroboration

Picture of Scottish Parliament Justice Committee for Your Expert Witness storyThe Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has said it is not convinced that the case has been made to abolish the requirement for corroboration in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill. On balance it has recommended that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice considers removing the provisions, according to its Stage 1 report, published on 6 February. The Justice Committee has noted that the Cabinet Secretary has undertaken to instigate a review to consider additional safeguards, but has stated that it requires more detailed information.

In a statement issued on 6 February, the Committee says: “The Justice Committee agreed that, if the general requirement for the removal of corroboration continues to be considered, this should only happen after an independent review of what other reforms may be needed to ensure that the criminal justice system as a whole contains appropriate checks and balances.”

Last Updated on Monday, 17 March 2014 09:06

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Legal Executives given extended powers by LSB

Picture of Diane Burleigh for Your Expert Witness storyThe Legal Services Board (LSB) has approved applications from ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) to regulate Chartered Legal Executives exercising litigation and related rights of audience independently, as well as new rules for regulating immigration advisers. It follows approval for IPS to regulate independent probate and conveyancing practice rights.

The suite of applications was submitted by IPS in March 2013 on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). Their approval recognises the parity between CILEx members and other legal professionals, as well as IPS’s capability to regulate new areas.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 December 2013 13:06

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Landlords unenthusiastic about Welsh housing proposals

Pictre of Carl Sergeant for Your Expert Witness storyThe Housing (Wales) Bill was introduced to the Welsh Government on 19 November by its Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Carl Sargent AM. The Bill confirmed the Welsh Government’s plans to require all landlords and letting agents to register and become licensed by their respective local authorities.

Speaking the following day at the conference of the National Landlords’ Association in Swansea, the minister said: “We recognise the importance of the private rented sector and the enhanced role it could play in meeting the increasing demand for housing.

“Good landlords, particularly those who already participate in an accreditation scheme, have nothing to fear. They are already adhering to best practice and are fully aware of their obligations. It is time to tackle those unscrupulous landlords and agents who give others and the whole sector a bad image.

“Our proposals will improve the management standards within the sector by ensuring landlords and letting agents are aware of their responsibilities and act accordingly. These measures can only help improve the private rented sector and make it a more attractive housing option.”

However, NLA chief executive officer Richard Lambert was less convinced.

“While it comes as no surprise that the Welsh Government wishes to register all private landlords, it is deeply disappointing that the plans appear mired in burdensome bureaucracy,” he said. “The requirements outlined in the Housing (Wales) Bill require landlords to not only register, but to subsequently obtain a licence from what could be numerous local authorities – each of which may stipulate its own conditions and fees. Duplication is inevitable.”

That concern was echoed at the conference by the NLA chairman Carolyn Uphill.

“The Bill means that many landlords in Wales will need to obtain multiple licences from multiple local authorities,” she said. “They need a promise that there will be clarity and simplicity over what will be required of them in both registering and licensing their properties.

“Similarly, the Welsh local authorities will need guidance on how the proposals should be administered locally and how it will be regulated so that any unnecessary duplication is removed.

“The clear message from this conference is that, if mandatory accreditation and licensing is confirmed as the Welsh Government’s policy, then we need one accreditation scheme for Wales, not a multiplicity of local variations.”

Richard Lambert also criticised the bureaucracy involved.

He declared: “It is unnecessary and unhelpful to require private landlords to submit details of their investments to a public register in the name of driving improvements and rooting out criminals. Far from combatting criminality within the private-rented sector and offering solutions to the undersupply of residential property, these measures look certain to increase the cost of providing homes by forcing landlords to comply with yet more red-tape.

“The NLA shares the Welsh Government’s desire to raise standards in the private-rented sector, but we remain unconvinced that a national register of landlords is the right approach. It will only serve to increase the cost of living for many hard working families as the fee for registering and subsequently obtaining a license  will inevitably be passed on to tenants.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2013 19:06

Small claims limit to stay as MoJ announces medical panels

Chris Grayling OfficialThe Ministry of Justice has announced that it will not be proceeding with plans to raise the limit of claims for personal injury in the small claims court, although Justice Minister Chris Grayling has not ruled out the possibility of a rise in future.

Announcing the decision on 23 October, he said: “We have listened to the views of the transport committee and others that now may not be the right time to raise the small claims limit because of the risks that it may deter access to justice for the genuinely injured and encourage the growth of those disreputable claims firms which so damage the industry.

“At this stage, we have decided to defer any increase in the small claims track until we can determine the impact of our wider reforms on motor insurance premiums and better safeguard against the risks.”

The MoJ also announced the introduction of independent medical panels to ensure only evidence from accredited experts is considered.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 October 2013 10:12

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