Industry News Round-Up by Mike Willis* (F.Mike Willis Solicitors)
Statistics: The Civil Justice Statistics for the first quarter of 2015 record 366,000 court claims, down 1% on the same period last year; defended claims increased by 4% and judgments fell by 5%. Annually, both claims and judgments have increased in the last 2 years.
Meanwhile, research by marketing collective, First 4 Lawyers has shown average spend by law firms and claims management companies has increased by almost 150% from £128,000 in 2010 to £315,800 in 2014.
Hatches and matches: Parabis Group has released news that it is in talks to off-load its volume personal injury law practice, Plexus Law.
Courts and Tribunals: A two 2-year pilot schemes for speeding up construction litigation is being introduced into some London courts from 1 October 2015: the Shorter Trial Scheme (STS) which will offer a streamlined procedure time-framed within 10 months; and the Flexible Trials Scheme (FTS) under which parties will be able to agree flexibilities in trial procedures.
The 60% fall in the number of Employment Tribunal cases since charges were introduced in 2013 has prompted the Law Society to suggest proposals for a new single tribunal structure to handle cases more cheaply, on four levels, from simplest paper-only matters to complex discrimination disputes.
And, The Legal Aid Agency has endorsed the initiative to improve efficiencies in the Criminal Justice System through a Common Platform Programme, to include a regularised case management system for law practitioners.
- The Office of Legal Complaints, which oversees the Legal Ombudsman, is still challenged by the EU alternative dispute resolution Directive that prohibits time limits for ADR. It is still consulting whether LeO will have to change its time-deadlines, scheduled for next March 2016, or drop its application to become an “ADR entity”.
- The Competition and Markets Authorityhas initiated a drive to encourage accountants to improve their clients’ awareness of ‘competition law’ prohibitions of unfair competitive practices, such as cartels, price fixing and bids-rigging.
- KPMG International has released results of its survey into bribery and corruption, showing that both offences and detections are increasing. Meanwhile, the US Attorney General has memo-ed practitioners that individuals guilty of corporate fraud or malpractice should not be allowed to escape accountability through deals which the Department may make with their corporate employers.
- Finally, The SRA’s proposed Apprenticeship routeto solicitor qualification has received Government approval.
**F Mike Willis Ltd is an incorporated solicitors practice established by Mike Willis. Mike has been providing to clients and colleagues in his former firm for three decades: helping professionals in England and Wales with their identified civil liability and regulatory risks and exposures and opportunities.