Law Society London & SE Relationship Management Team Weekly Update – 19th February, 2021

20th February 2021

The London & South East Relationship Management team are keen to ensure that key updates and information of relevance are communicated to local law societies, periodically.

The Law Society: guidance/best practice on court attendance and member safety
In January we wrote to the acting CEO of HMCTS and the Senior Presiding Judge calling for a two week pause in non-custodial cases following the significant feedback we’ve been receiving from members regarding court safety in light of the new more transmissible variant of Covid-19. This was to allow time for discussions among all stakeholders about what is required to assure court users that the courts are safe and to bring them into effect.

Throughout the pandemic the Law Society has maintained that it is essential both for justice to continue to be delivered and that safety of both court users and those who work within the justice is of the utmost importance.

We want to assure you that safety remains a key priority for the Law Society. We strongly endorse the Lord Chief Justice’s statement that ‘no participant in legal proceedings should be required by a judge or a magistrate to attend court unless it is necessary in the interests of justice’. In exercising that balance the judge must give safety priority.

We have published updated guidance and best practice for court attendance and member safety in court and tribunal buildings. This document covers:

  • Critical workers (England and Wales)
  • Your health and safety
  • Testing advice for key workers
  • When not to attend court
  • If you are required to attend court
  • Legal aid providers
  • Risk assessments
  • Reporting concerns
  • Professional users’ access scheme
  • Face coverings
  • Social distancing
  • Cleanliness and hygiene measures
  • Time spent in the building
  • Cell areas
  • Further resources

This document will be kept updated as and when new government guidance is published. Please do share this with your members, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Justice Week 2021

Hosted for its third year by CILEx, the Bar Council and the Law Society, Justice Week 2021 will take place from 1-5 March 2021, exclusively online.

Justice Week exists in order to improve the ability of the public access to justice, and has the following specific objectives:

  • Build public support and understanding for the rule of law and justice
  • Increase public understanding of the role of government in the justice system
  • Identify and secure support for actions which could improve justice

Our theme for 2021 is Rights and Justice: the cost of Covid-19.

No single event in recent history has had as pervasive, immediate and indelible an effect on all our lives, our communities, our institutions, laws and justice system as the Coronavirus pandemic. Now is the time for a vital health check on our rights, our justice system and the rule of law.

Law Society Webinars – available on demand

AML Guidance

The Legal Sector Affinity Group has updated its anti-money laundering (AML) guidance for the legal sector. The guidance supports legal professionals in complying with the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.

The Law Society’s Money Laundering Task Force have been holding webinars covering the key changes which you can now access on demand:

Law Society Brexit transition webinars

All our Brexit transition webinars are now available on demand for all to watch. Watch at your leisure to find out more about:

  • Private Law Brexit transition – Divorce
  • Data flows in a Brexit transition landscape
  • Children Public Law: 1996 Hague Convention
  • Immigration Law and Employment of EEA nationals
  • Civil litigation Brexit transition – Enforcements of judgments and choice of court

You can watch all our transition webinars here.

Open Consultations

Taxation of asset holding companies in alternative fund structures (second stage consultation) – closing date 23 February 2021
HM Treasury
Link to consultation

This consultation seeks views on detailed design features of a new regime for asset holding companies in the UK, as well as targeted changes to the REIT regime.

The Tax Law Committee will lead on our response.

Non-Compete Clauses – closing date 26 February 2021
BEIS
Link to consultation

BEIS is interested in views on an option to make post-termination non-compete clauses in contracts of employment enforceable only when the employer provides compensation during the term of the clause. This would discourage widespread use of non-compete clauses. The Employment Law Committee will lead on our response.

Exclusivity Clauses – closing date 26 February 2021
BEIS
Link to consultation

BEIS are seeking views on a proposal to extend the ban on exclusivity clauses to contracts where the workers’ guaranteed weekly income is less than the Lower Earnings Limit, currently £120 a week. This is to ensure that low-income workers can take on additional work to boost their income should they wish to do so. The Employment Law Committee will lead on our response.

Draft changes to the Family Procedure Rules arising from planned implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 – closing date 2 March 2021
Link to consultation

The FPRC is seeking views on proposed amendments to Part 6 (Service) and new rules in Part 7 (Procedure for Applications in Matrimonial and Civil Partnership Proceedings) of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 as part of the implementation of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. The Family Law Committee will lead on our response.

Independent Human Rights Act Review: Call for evidence – closing date 3 March 2021
Independent Human Rights Act Review
Link to call for evidence

The Independent Human Rights Act Review was established as part of the Government’s manifesto commitments to looking at a broad range of constitutional issues. The review is primarily concerned with the role of the courts in enforcing the HRA, requesting evidence on section 2 (the duty to “take account” of ECtHR jurisprudence), section 3 (the obligation to interpret domestic legislation compatibly with Convention rights, as far as possible) and section 4 (the ability to issue declarations of incompatibility).

The Human Rights Committee will lead on the response. We will also be consulting further members of ILC, MHDC and AJC, and members from human rights focused firms and city firms.

The Independent Review of Real Estate Investment Valuations – closing date 31 March 2021
RICS
Link to consultation

This independent review will examine the way valuations of property assets for investment purposes are conducted. The Chair of the RICS Standards & Regulation Board has also appointed an expert advisory group to support the review. The review will gather evidence on the below four key areas before delivering recommendations to RICS by September 2021:

  • Valuation methodology
  • Property risk analysis (also known as the ‘forward look’)
  • Independence and objectivity
  • Measuring market confidence in RICS valuer performance

We are unlikely to respond to this consultation as it does not primarily concern solicitors and the key stakeholders being consulted are valuers. Any response will be led by CLLC.

If you have any questions in relation to any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us at London&SouthEastTeam@lawsociety.org.uk