Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- Criminal Justice System
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
Criminal Solicitors Challenge MOJ fees cut
The new change implemented by the Ministry of Justice has an extensive effect for criminal solicitors as the scheme reduce the already lowered maximum fees.
The Litigators graduated fee scheme had allowed solicitors to charge up to 10,000 pages when reading for court evidence, but it has now been dropped to 6,000 pages since October.
This could mean less access to justice according to the Law Society who is challenging the said policy. They are challenging the MOJ through the judicial review on the ground that the cut is an illegal interference with the right of access to justice and fair trial.
This is of concerns as the number of criminal solicitors registered in England and Wales has already dropped significantly after the legal aid cuts.
Richard Miller, leading the case for the Law society told the Guardian;
“There are areas where there are no young lawyers coming through and where the profession of defence solicitor is becoming extinct.”
It is known that often times criminal cases can be complicated and require other works apart from reading court evidence. A potential cut of up to 37% could mean that those relevant services may not be paid for.
For more information, see the Guardian here.
- US Judiciary
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court
US President Donald Trump has named “brilliant jurist” Brett Kavanaugh as nominee for the next US Supreme Court justice. The appeals court judge from the District of Columbia would be set to replace retiring justice Anthony Kennedy, who has served as a justice over the last three decades and has often provided the swing vote in key court rulings. Should the nomination be confirmed by the Senate, concern has been raised that the appointment could set the court on a more conservative course for the future.
Mr Kavanaugh, a former adviser to ex-president George W Bush, has demonstrated controversial stances on topics ranging from abortion to executive power to gun rights. As he is fairly young, and each Supreme Court justice holds a lifetime appointment, his views are likely to tilt and solidify the rulings of the court conservatively for many years to come, as he could potentially serve for decades. Some of Kavanaugh’s outspoken opinions include his thoughts in a 2009 article that acting Presidents ought to be protected from indictment while serving in office, indicating that any action brought to the court regarding Trump’s campaign ties to Russia would not be supported. He has also previously objected against the right of an undocumented immigrant to seek an abortion, and has defended a US citizen’s second amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Trump’s decision is likely to be met with concern by environmental activists, as Kavanaugh has regularly issued rulings against environmental regulations, such as those to curb air pollution. Despite this, and the other concerns raised, President Trump has praised Judge Kavanaugh as having “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.”
It is now for the Senate Judiciary Committee to question the judge nominee during what is often long, drawn-out hearings, before a vote can be held securing his future.
- Legal Executives
Reported by Dan James
CILEx approved as ABS licensing authority
The Lord Chancellor approved today the application by CILEx Regulation made on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives’ (CILEx) to licence alternative business structures (ABS).
This will enable members to set up their own businesses with non-lawyer ownership and investment, regulated by CILEx Regulation, the Institute’s independent regulatory arm.
The Lord Chancellor backed its decision after the Legal Services Board approved the first application.
CILEx Regulation chair Sam Younger says: This “will both increase opportunities for CILEx practitioners and deliver a wider choice of regulator for all providers of legal services.
“It recognises too that CILEx Regulation delivers an outcomes-focused, risk-based, proportionate and flexible regulatory regime fit for the future of legal services.”
President of CILEx Millicent Grant adds: “Our members are skilled professionals who often have experience beyond the law. They know what it takes to run a successful business. It is right that their firms can bring external investment, advice and knowledge into their ownership.
“This move will also help to encourage competition within the legal services market.”
Those looking at the ABS option were particularly interested in bringing non-lawyer specialists – such as a finance or marketing expert – into the ownership of the business, and unregulated businesses doing unreserved work into regulation, so that they could conduct reserved legal work.
The greater diversity of the CILEx membership means that ABSs are more likely to have a diverse composition.
For more information, see the Law Gazette.
Reported by Nathan Gore
Government wins a key Brexit vote, as Theresa May hangs on
Last night, the Government managed to see off an attempt by pro-EU Conservative MPs to change the Government’s post-Brexit trade strategy. MPs had proposed an amendment to Brexit legislation that would have altered the Government’s position on the Customs Union in 2019.
The amendment stated that if no deal had been reached by January 2019, then the Government would have to pursue an approach to leaving the EU that would involve the UK remaining in a Customs Union, something which Brexiteer Conservative MPs say that a customs union would stop it striking new trade deals.
They were successful in defeating both the opposition and their own rebel MPs, in a close vote by 307 to 301. This was after the Tory MPs were apparently told, before the vote, that a defeat in this vote would lead to a no confidence vote in the Government.
It wasn’t a completely successful day for Theresa May’s government however, as they were defeated in a separate vote by by 305 votes to 301, concerning an amendment that would keep the UK in the European medicines regulatory network.
In addition to this, Theresa May will spend her Wednesday facing a range of questions from backbench MPs, and also the Prime Minister’s Questions.
For more information, see the BBC.