The Court of Appeal ruled that a judge was right to strike out a bill of costs because it was not possible to identify which lawyers worked on the case. Lord Justice Newey, ruling in AKC v Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said he could ‘piece together’ some information from the details belatedly provided by the claimant, but it was still not possible to say which of the 33 fee-earners named carried out particular work.
The SRA has opened a consultation on whether it should publish details of solicitors under investigation – and how long it should keep online details of those guilty of misconduct.
The extension of fixed recoverable costs is likely to come into effect from next April, it emerged. Officials at the Ministry of Justice have confirmed to various sources that April 2023 is now the intended start date for the change,subject to Civil Procedure Rule Committee agreement. The government intends to impose fixed recoverable costs across the fast-track and in most money cases worth up to £100,000. The reforms largely mirror the recommendations of Sir Rupert Jackson from 2017, and include new rules on penalising delays in the resolution of cases, with an uplift where a Part 36 offer has been beaten or one party has engaged in ‘unreasonable behaviour’.
International firm Ropes & Gray has launched a social mobility scholarship programme for first-year university students from ‘diverse and under-served low socioeconomic backgrounds’. The programme aims to provide students with the chance to learn about legal and compliance careers and will offer a dozen students a two-week paid work experience scheme at Ropes & Gray and financial news service Bloomberg.
The head of the Criminal Bar Association hailed the ‘extraordinary’ commitment of barristers participating in a nationwide protest over legal aid funding – with trials being listed deep into 2023. Since 11 April, hundreds of barristers have adopted ‘no returns’ – declining to cover for colleagues on cases that have been ‘returned’ – over the government’s refusal to increase criminal legal aid advocacy fees by 25%. CBA chair Jo Sidhu QC said that the action was already causing widespread disruption.
Swansea has become the first of 22 Welsh local authorities to move its local land charges data to a digital, centralised database designed to speed up the conveyancing process. HM Land Registry announced the addition of City and County of Swansea Council, as well as Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Isle of Wight Council, Portsmouth City Council and Harborough District Council, taking the total number of local authorities to join its local land charges register to 39.
The government will introduce a Bill of Rights to ‘restore the balance of power between the legislature and the courts’ and a Brexit Freedoms Bill to allow retained EU law to be ‘more easily amended’. An expected overhaul of the Human Rights Act, which the government says will curb ‘the incremental expansion of a rights culture without proper democratic oversight’, was one of 38 pieces of legislation announced in the Queen’s speech.
The Law Society and charity LawCare marked the start of Mental Health Awareness Week by calling on the profession to review its working culture. Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ‘The onus is often on the individual to “fix” their mental ill-health. In truth, we have a collective responsibility to make a positive work environment for everyone. Tackling excessive working hours and workloads, as well as ensuring better supervision and support, especially for younger lawyers, are essential.’
Solicitor payments to cover the costs of the SRA will fall slightly next year, as the regulator reduces contributions to the compensation fund. A business plan published by the regulator proposes that the practising certificate fee will rise from £145 to £151 in 2022/23. But that will be accompanied by individual contributions to the compensation fund – the pot for compensating clients who suffer at the hands of dishonest solicitors – falling from £40 to £30. Each firm’s contribution will come down from £760 to £690.