first_imgConsumers are ‘sceptical’ about banks and supermarkets providing legal services because they have concerns about the quality of work, according to a major opinion poll. A survey of public attitudes towards solicitors, commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and released this week, found that 69% of respondents ‘agree they would be concerned about the quality of service offered by these organisations’. The report added that ‘there is an overall view that banks and supermarkets cannot provide the same level of service as a firm of solicitors’. The study found such ‘widespread concern’ reflected among all social classes. However, consumers from ethnic minorities were ‘much more positive’ and would prefer using banks or supermarkets rather than a solicitor they did not know. Pollster ComRes interviewed 1,014 people, with booster samples of adults from ethnic minorities and with disabilities, asking 19 questions. This is the second piece of consumer research the SRA has conducted in 18 months. Key findings of the 66-page report include: See also Opinion In 2007, a survey of nearly 1,000 people found that 65% of those who used a solicitor were satisfied with the service they received and that 22% of people had heard of the SRA. The report concluded that there is ‘a clear indication that the public do not feel they have a body to which they can turn in relation to legal services’. This created an opportunity for ‘an organisation to assume the role of thought-leader in the public’s mind as regards solicitors’. At an SRA board meeting last week, board member John Stoker said: ‘The level of public awareness of the SRA is a concern. We ought to ask ourselves whether we ought to be getting the message across more.’center_img 83% of people who have used a solicitor in the past five years are satisfied with performance. However, nearly a third of people with disabilities were dissatisfied. For those who complain about a solicitor, the organisation most frequently turned to is a citizens advice bureau. 51% of the general public ‘don’t know’ who is responsible for regulating solicitors, while 19% believe it is the government and 9% identify the SRA.last_img read more

first_imgDo not think that the amendments to the Children Act (CA) relating to contact orders made by the Children and Adoption Act 2006 (the 2006 act), with effect from 8 December 2008, are about punishing parents for failing to comply with contact orders. Rather, the reforms are to ensure that contact orders are performed by all concerned for the benefit of children. The 2006 act has amended section 11 of the CA by adding sections 11A to 11P, enabling the courts particularly to make contact activity directions (CADs) and/or conditions (CACs). Section 11A CADs are ordered when the court is considering making a contact order. But, section 11B: the court may not make a CAD when it is also considering an adoption order or, where post-adoption, the court is considering making, varying or discharging a contact order relating to someone who, but for the adoption, would have been the child’s relative, unless the adoption is or was by a partner of one of the child’s parents alone, or as one of a couple – an ‘excepted order’. Section 11A(5) CADs include programmes, classes and counselling or guidance sessions to assist in establishing, maintaining or improving contact, for example programmes addressing violent behaviour. They do not include referrals to mediation, but could include referral to an information meeting about mediation. Before making a CAD or CAC, the court must be satisfied that:The court cannot make a CAD:unless it is considering making a contact order;directing a child, unless that child is the parent of the subject child; unless the person directed is a habitual resident of England and Wales.Section 11C CACs are ordered at the same time as a contact order. it is satisfied that the party in breach had a reasonable excuse for the breach (section 11J(3)). The burden of proof is on the person claiming the reasonable excuse and to the civil standard; the person to be subject to it is under 18 years of age; the contact order is an excepted order; the person who is to be the subject of the order is not habitually resident in England and Wales. The 2006 act amends the Criminal Justice Act 2003 so that that act applies to enforcement orders. Thus, the maximum hours of unpaid work which can be ordered under the 2006 act is 200, and the Cafcass officer can instruct the probation officer (‘the reporting officer’) to inform him if there are breaches of the enforcement order, or any other relevant information. Section 11M: on making an enforcement order, the court must ask Cafcass to monitor compliance and to report to the court on such matters that the court may request. Section 11N: on making an enforcement order, the court must attach a warning notice warning of the consequences of failing to comply with the order, that is: contempt of court; an amended, more onerous enforcement order; or a second enforcement order. The reporting officer must warn a party in breach of an enforcement order without reasonable excuse. He may also report first-time breaches to Cafcass. If the breach is not the first within the previous 12 months, he must report it to Cafcass. If the enforcement order is breached, the case may only come back to court on the application of one of the other parties. If in the substantive proceedings the child was represented by a rule 9.5 guardian, the guardian is not automatically served with such an application. However, an application for a fresh 9.5 appointment may be made to the court. Section 110 enables a party who has suffered financial loss as a result of a breach of contact order to apply for an order that the party in breach pays financial compensation. Enforcement of financial compensation orders is through usual county court procedures. However, section 11P states that there can be no compensation order: The new powers are welcome and laudable. However, they involve substantial participation from Cafcass. In many parts of the country, Cafcass is not yet able to participate in the way parliament envisaged. Will it ever be? the activity is appropriate in the circumstances; the activity provider is suitable; the activity is at a place to which the person ordered can reasonably travel. Section 11I requires the court to attach to a contact order a notice warning of the consequences of breaching the order. Both the person making the children available and the person having contact should be served with the contact order with a warning notice. It is essential that a contact order is drawn in clear terms, so that the parties are in no doubt how to comply with it and will be aware if they are in breach of it. Moreover, the order should be in injunctive terms to all parties. From 8 December 2008, a party can apply to the court for a warning notice to be attached to an order made before (see sections 11(5)(a)-(d)). Of course, if appropriate, the court can discharge an old contact order and reproduce it with a new one, with a warning attached. Section 11J enforcement orders: an order made in response to a breach of a contact order requiring the party in breach to perform unpaid work. Section 11K: the court must be satisfied: of the alleged breach to the criminal standard; that the enforcement order will secure the parties’ compliance with the contact order; and the likely effect of the enforcement order on him/her is proportionate to the seriousness of the breach. that the activity is local to the party and does not have an adverse effect on the attendee (such as exposing a party to domestic violence); the activity does not cause any conflict with religious beliefs or interfere with work or education commitments. The court must not make an enforcement order if: Section 11E: the court must ensure:The court may ask Cafcass: to provide information it needs to satisfy statutory requirements (section 11E(7));to monitor compliance with a CAD or CAC and to report to the court on any failure to comply (section 11G);to monitor compliance by an individual with a contact order, unless it is an excepted order (section 11H), for a specified period not exceeding 12 months. The court may order the individual to help Cafcass to comply with the monitoring order unless the individual is a child who is the parent of a subject child.Sections 11K(1) and 11P(1): contact orders are not enforceable unless the person in breach received or was otherwise informed of the terms of a warning notice when the contact order was made. where the relevant contact order has not been properly served; if it relates to failure by anyone under 18; if it relates to an accepted order. District Judge Duncan Adam sits at Swindon County Courtlast_img read more

first_imgThe number of training contracts offered by law firms fell by 18% last year, Law Society figures have shown. The Society’s annual statistical report reveals that only 4,784 training contract places were offered in 2010, compared to 5,809 in 2009. The drop reflects the impact of the economic downturn on firms. Of the new trainees registered, 63% were women, and 20% of those with known ethnicity came from ethnic minority groups. The report shows that 9,337 students enrolled on the Legal Practice Course in 2009, with an overall pass rate of 62%, though not all students took the examination. For those who actually took the LPC exam, the pass rate was 75%, which was 12% lower than the 2008 pass rate, but a similar figure to 2007. There will be 12,142 full-time and 3,024 part-time LPC places available in 2010/11, though not all of these will be taken up. At degree level, in 2009 there were 29,211 applicants to study first degree courses in law in England and Wales, of whom 19,882 (68%) were accepted.last_img read more

first_imgThe new head of City of London Law Society (CLLS) has vowed to uphold the English ‘brand’, already so prominent throughout the world. Alasdair Douglas has been confirmed as the new CLLS chair, representing law firms that employ 14,000 solicitors and have an annual turnover of £12bn. The City firms face a number of challenges in the coming months, not least the fallout from changes to the legal market as practices are invited to become alternative business structures. Douglas, a former senior partner at Travers Smith, said few City firms will float or take in new capital to begin with, but this will change over time. ‘We’ll see unexpected new entrants backed by outside capital,’ he predicted. ‘How long before significant change happens is anyone’s guess. ‘The challenge will be to ensure that the brand – English solicitors – continues to be valued here and abroad and is not devalued as ownership is spread more widely.’ The job of defending London’s international success is both timely and essential. Three-quarters of claims brought in the English Commercial Court involve overseas parties, while one recent survey found that in international arbitration, respondents used English law more than New York, Swiss and French law combined. Douglas warned that there is a real threat to that pre-eminence if the EU Commission pushes ahead with plans for a competing EU legal system for contract law. ‘Imposing a new system would drive legal and related business away from London to New York, or perhaps Switzerland. ‘Major international transactions and dispute resolution need legal certainty most of all, and a decade of uncertainty as new law settles down is not something that anyone would choose.’ He added: ‘More than 50% of cross-border deals around Europe are now done using English law and my sense is that the same is true in Asia. ‘Common law gives flexibility and certainty and we compete with New York to be the market standard for international business deals. ‘I am keen that we are the number one choice of law in the international market.’ Douglas’ arrival comes at a period of significant change at the City of London Law Society. David McIntosh has stood down after seven years as chair, with David Hobart recruited in a new role of chief executive from the Bar Council to work alongside the new chair.last_img read more

first_imgAnother national law firm franchise formally launches today, designed to help firms compete against cut-price and ‘faceless’ providers which operate online and through call centres. Face2face solicitors, set up by solicitor Ray Gordon (pictured), is targeting smaller firms and startups, offering reduced overheads and a comprehensive support structure. Shrewsbury solicitor John Burrowes is the first franchisee. He will operate as a sole principal. All franchisee firms will use the name and branding of face2face solicitors and establish themselves as limited companies. They will be connected by a cloud computing system and use software from Solicitors Own Software, which provides case management and legal cashiering software and a complete compliance manual and handbook for outcomes-focused regulation. Firms will pay a £25,000 joining fee plus an annual fee of 8% of their income. They will sign up to a five-year franchise agreement, renewable for a further five years. Gordon said the model does not require firms to offer fixed fees; fees will vary across the country. Firms will receive referrals from other members in cases where they have particular expertise. Those seeking to join must attend a two-day assessment and strategic planning course, costing £2,000. Gordon said the franchise and firm will then decide mutually whether membership is appropriate. Gordon is targeting 600 member firms, a figure that he said equates to 2.5% of the number of sole practitioner firms and practices with up to five partners. He expects growth to be ‘steady’, with around 10-20 members by mid-2012. ‘We are building something for the long term, so we are not going to rush. We need to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the firms properly,’ said Gordon. As the franchise develops, Gordon said it will undertake marketing and advertising on behalf of firms, but this will be done locally. Funding to establish the franchise has come from Gordon in partnership with SOS, and Gordon said the venture will be self-financing. Introducing external investment is not part of the business model. However, if member firms eventually set up as alternative business structures, he said there may be a requirement to seek additional capital. Gordon said: ‘We are looking to put in place exceptional professional service for clients to help the legal profession fight back against cut-price providers of online and call centre-based “faceless” legal services. ‘We’d like to retain the principle of providing clients with a face-to-face service, giving advice over the table. I think this has been overlooked by many firms looking to take advantage of the internet and new opportunities to deliver legal services.’last_img read more

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first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

first_imgStay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited access Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

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