The round-up of the stories that a budding Student Lawyer should be aware of this week:
The Future Bar Training reforms program is evolving
Reported by Emma Ducroix
As an entire article already taught you all you need to know about this program, let this short article be a simple update.
The Inns of Court College of Advocacy is delighted to announce that the Bar Standards Board has conditionally authorised the ICCA to deliver its new two-part Bar Course.
The aim is to ensure that training to become a barrister will be more accessible, affordable and flexible. Obviously the high standards of entry will be maintained.
Various aspects of the new qualification rules will be implemented between now and September 2021: the ICCA will take applications from December 2019 from students wishing to embark on the two-part course from September 2020.
The main reason for taking this long is to ensure that prospective barristers are not disadvantaged as a result of the introduction of the new rules.
The three components of education and training for the Bar will remain: academic learning, vocational learning, and pupillage or work-based learning.
Within the new system, however, the three components may be attained by means of four approved training pathways.
There will be a number of changes in relation to the rules governing pupillage. It will continue to be an essential element of training for the Bar, so all prospective barristers will continue to have to complete this component of training successfully in order to be authorised to practise.
The new rules permit supervisors at the self-employed Bar to supervise up to two pupils (one practising and one non-practising). Greater flexibility will be permitted in the structure of pupillage supervision for the employed Bar, subject to approval through the authorisation process.
The normal duration of pupillage will continue to be twelve months although the new rules do permit it to be longer exceptionally – up to no more than 24 months – as long as this is authorised by the BSB.
The BSB will no longer prescribe the eligibility criteria for pupil supervisors and pupil supervisors no longer have to apply to their Inn for approval. It will be for the AETO to determine the suitability and competence of an individual to act as a pupil supervisor and to ensure that they have received appropriate training.
You can read more about the current requirements for pupillage and the Work-based Learning Component online.
For students who intend to start vocational training on one of the new approved pathways which will replace the BPTC from September 2020, more information will be published on the BSB website in due course.
The ICCA Bar Course has been developed by education experts and legal practitioners to deliver new, high-quality vocational content that will give students the best possible preparation for a career at the Bar.
Proposed changes to the leaseholds in England
Reported by Ellena Mottram
In June the Government announced plans that all new-build houses will be sold on a freehold basis and ground rents on new flats would be cut to zero. Labour has however announced plans to go further and have stated they plan to ban the sale of new leasehold houses and flats which could slash the costs for homeowners buying their freeholds.
A leaseholder will own the rights to the use of a property for a mixed period of time (usually between 99 and 125 years). It is however, the freeholder who owns the property outright and, crucially, owns the land on which the property is built. They can also decide what service charges are payable and can ask for work to be carried out to ensure the property remains in good condition.
Currently, there are around 4.2 million residential leasehold properties in England with approximately 2.9 million of them being flats. It is argued these plans will end exploitative practices by freeholders such as charging high ground rents, punitive fees and enforcing onerous contracts.
It is reported there are tens of thousands of homebuyers who face spiralling ground rents which leave their homes almost unsellable. In one case, an owner of a flat realized her ground rent doubled each year meaning her annual ground rent amount to £8,000 and not the £250 she believed.
The current system in the UK, as outlined above, has been accused of being a ‘symbol of the broken housing system’ and shows ‘England is one of the only places in the world which has failed to move away from the feudal system’.
This announcement by Labour comes early in the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into potential breaches of consumer protection law in the leasehold housing market which was announced in June.
The investigation will focus on two key areas, potential mis-selling and potential unfair terms. The former will focus on whether individuals purchasing a leasehold property are provided with all the information they need to understand the obligations they are becoming bound by. The second area will look at whether individuals are being forced to pay excessive fees due to unfair contract terms.
Planning Courts’ approach on hypothetical legal arguments
Reported by Jutha Cheewat
Following the recent decisions in Tewkesbury BC v SoS for CHLG and others and Oxford City Council v SoS for CHLG and others, the Planning Court reaffirmed its stricter approach when considering a legal argument that is purely academic.
According to Shoosmiths’ update, it was apparent that the Planning Court does not intend to extend their consideration to a hypothetical legal argument unless a claim meets the “exceptional circumstances” threshold set.
In Tewkesbury BC v SoS for CHLG and others and Oxford City Council v SoS for CHLG and others, the involved councils had already been successful in their applications to resist the appeals. Thus, their claims became purely academic.
Although two cases were being dealt with at different times, the common issue and outcome were identical. Mr Justice Dove concluded the Court’s approach in his judgment;
“…A claim was brought in very similar circumstances in the recent case of Tewkesbury Borough Council… Whilst such a jurisdiction may exist in respect of hypothetical cases I do not consider, for the reasons given in the Tewkesbury case, that this case is one of the exceptional cases in which jurisdiction should be deployed”.
Planning is one of the areas where the court’s preferred approach is to not interfere, especially where disputes are expected to be resolved by specific departments or authorities, in this case planning inspectors. It is worth noting that the appeals’ decisions are, nevertheless, not binding.
Find out more here.