In the news this month: notable reports published and long-awaited Law Commission review
Sophie Cameron provides a look at the main news items in the May forward
Despite the bank holidays, April has seen many notable developments across the UK’s legal industry, including the publication of several notable reports, a policy paper and the launch of a new much-anticipated review by the Law Commission.
A noteworthy development was the publication by the government of a policy paper and impact assessment on the new failure to prevent fraud offence, designed to hold large organisations to account if they profit from fraud committed by their employees, which will be introduced as part of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill. Alongside the policy paper, a separate impact assessment has also been published on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s proposed new proactive information request power in relation to economic crime.
Meanwhile, earlier in the month, the Law Commission announced the launch of its review into the 50-year-old laws on finances after divorce and the ending of a civil partnership. The review, which will assess the financial remedy orders governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004, follows criticism in the House of Lords and comments on an upcoming Law Commission review by Justice Minister, Lord Christopher Bellamy, during a debate at the beginning of March concerning the outdated nature of the law governing financial remedies after divorce.
In addition to this, April saw the publication by the Law Society of England and Wales of new guidance for solicitors on climate change, which aims to help firms, including solicitors’ practices, law firms and in-house employees, pre-empt climate change risks and carry out business competently and compliantly. The new guidance is split into two parts: Part A sets out guidance for organisations on how to manage their business in a manner which is consistent with the transition to net zero and Part B provides guidance for solicitors on: (1) how climate change physical risks and climate legal risks may be relevant to client advice, (2) issues which may be relevant when considering the interplay of legal advice, climate change and solicitors’ professional duties, and (3) issues which may be relevant when considering the solicitor–client relationship in the context of climate change.
Another notable development, came in the form of an announcement by the Home Office on new rules intended to free up police time in order to prioritise the victims of crime and pursue criminals by cutting unnecessary red tape when recording crime. The new rules to address duplicate and unnecessary record keeping within the police force, follow the NPCC’s Policing Productivity Review which found, among other things, that over 443,000 officer hours could have been better used by reducing duplication, removing unnecessary administrative tasks and simplifying the process for cancelling unsubstantiated crime reports.
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