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News review: family litigation costs, SRA’s new lay chair and exclusive postgraduate loan for law students

Judge hits out at 'eye-watering' fees in cross-border divorce

24 March 2014

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Expensive divorce: A senior judge has criticised the "phenomenal costs" of Malaysian retail and property tycoon Khoo Kay Peng's divorce from Pauline Chai, The Times reports. Mr Justice Holman described the £1.6 million legal fees as "completely out of control" and questioned why the couple had been allowed to "squeeze out" more important cases while paying a fraction of the taxpayer-funded court hearings.


Lay chair: The Solicitors Regulation Authority is seeking non-solicitors who are "politically astute" with "demonstrable experience of working and influencing boards" to succeed chair Charles Plant, according to national newspaper ads that appeared over the weekend. The successful candidate will earn £90,000 for 100 day's work a year. Recently, the Legal Services Board amended governance rules requiring lay chairs for all legal regulatory bodies. The SRA had opposed the change. See the Law Society Gazette.


Exclusive loan: A professional studies loan scheme launched by Metro Bank exclusively with the University of Law could see students borrow between £1,000 and £25,000 to cover all or part of their course fees, while an additional 20 per cent can be used towards living expenses. The maximum total loan amount is £25,000 with no early repayment charges. Students can defer repayments until up to six months after they have finished their studies and have up to five years to repay from the repayment start date.


FGM prosecution: Two men are to be charged under the Female Genital Mutiliation Act in Britain's first prosecutions for alleged FGM, The Times reports. Dhanuson Dharmasena is accused of carrying out the procedure on an adult, and Hasan Mohamed is alleged to have aided and abetted the mutilation, which was made illegal in 1985. The practice carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.


Job loss: The Legal Aid Agency's (LAA) refusal to allow the transfer of a legal aid contract led to the loss of 55 jobs at a collapsed Hertfordshire firm, the Law Society Gazette reports. Meldrum Solicitors, primarily a criminal legal aid practice, went into liquidation this month with liabilities of over £780,000. Practice manager Sylvia Sheikh said that the firm was exacerbated in 2011 by late payments from the LAA, which left it with an outstanding £360,000 for more than three months and work in progress of £700,000.


Misinterpreted guidelines: Nicholas Fluck, president of the Law Society, said it was "inaccurate and ill informed" to see the society's recently published practice note on writing Muslim wills as "promoting" Sharia law. Fluck was responding to critics who object to the rules that deny women an equal inheritance share and exclude non-believers altogether. The new practice note, the first of its kind, advises solicitors how to draft wills under Islamic rules while being valid under British law. See The Telegraph.


Barrister crowdfunding: Direct access work is the latest legal business to seek crowdfunding from investors, according to a website that aimed to raise £150,000 in expansion capital, Legal Futures reports. Since myBarrister's launch in June 2013, more than 100 barristers have paid the £1,200 flat fee to join the client-facing platform, which hopes to sign up 1,000 barristers by the end of the year.


High demand: More than 17,000 homes have been bought under the Help to Buy scheme, according to latest figures. Some 80 per cent have been bought by first-time buyers while 77 per cent were purchased outside of London and the south-east. Halifax warned earlier this month that the scheme was pushing house prices up by creating demand in a market where there is not sufficient supply. See the Guardian.

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Regulators Education & Training Legal Aid Divorce