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Family mediation scheme extended

Membership of the Law Society’s family mediation scheme will be extended to all qualified family mediators from April, according to a report in the society’s journal, The Gazette. Currently, membership is restricted to solicitors and fellows of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

The society said in a statement issued on 3 December: “In preparation for a single-standard across family mediation, the Law Society has decided to extend access to its scheme to all suitably qualified family mediators, not just solicitors. From April 2013, those mediators who are currently competence-assessed by the Family Mediation Council will be able to passport across to the Law Society Scheme; mediators seeking first time competence assessment or accreditation will be able to apply directly for scheme membership.”

The Law Society had already decided to adopt the Family Mediation Council's Code of Practice in full. The Law Society had its own Code of Practice, but said that having more than one code was “potentially confusing for practitioners”.

The decision is in response to Government initiatives in the area of mediation.

The Law Society said: “Government policy is to encourage mediation across civil and family disputes, and family mediation is the one area of legal aid which will attract additional funding. The government has recently prepared draft legislation to introduce a mandatory requirement (with some exceptions) to go to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before any application is made to the courts.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 December 2012 18:38

Cameron sets his sights on Judicial Reviews

Picture of David Cameron speaking at the CBIPrime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to reform the Judicial Review process – claiming that cases can be costly and can clog up the courts and delay justice. The risk of a Judicial Review can also hold up major infrastructure projects.

Mr Cameron said Judicial Reviews are "...a massive growth industry in Britain today."

"Back in 1998," he added, "there were four and a half thousand applications for review and that number almost tripled in a decade. Of course some are well-founded, as we saw with the West Coast mainline decision. But let's face it: so many are completely pointless. Last year, an application was around 5 times more likely to be refused than granted.

"We urgently needed to get a grip on this. So here's what we're going to do: reduce the time limit when people can bring cases, charge more for reviews so people think twice about time-wasting and instead of giving hopeless cases up to four bites of the cherry to appeal a decision, we will halve that to two."

Last Updated on Monday, 19 November 2012 18:34

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Woes continue for MoJ over interpreting contract

Image of people speaking languages for Your Expert Witness storyData released by the Ministry of Justice show that the controversial and much-criticised contract for the provision of translating and interpretation services to courts and tribunals is still not operating to its required target.

The Statistical Bulletin, issued by the MoJ on 18 October, covers the period from 30 January, when the contract with Applied Language Services – now Capita Translation and Interpreting – began, to 31 August. During that period the company was to have taken over all translation and interpreting services, but the MoJ later allowed courts to appoint expert interpreters independently following the initial problems with the contract.

The Bulletin gives the rate of ‘success’ for requests from different sources for a number of languages, broken down by month.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 October 2012 14:32

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Legal action could follow Rochdale abuse report

Picture of Rochdale Town Hall for Expert Witness storyRochdale social services department could face legal action over its failure to stop the sexual abuse of young girls in Heywood, a township within the borough. Richard Scorer of Pannone said the report into the affair, published on 27 September, gives "a pretty firm basis" for legal action.
The report, by Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board catalogued "many missed opportunities" to take action by numerous agencies to prevent the sexual exploitation.

In May, nine men were jailed for the systematic grooming and abuse of several young girls in the town.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2012 15:04

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LASPO changes to family justice come under attack

Elfyn Llwyd outside Parliament for Expert Witness family law storyThe Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), has come in for more savage criticism: this time for the effect it will have on family justice. Plaid Cymru MP and barrister Elfyn Llwyd (pictured) is quoted as saying it will "...change the whole landscape of family law".

He was speaking from the chair of a seminar on The Future of Family Justice – a Westminster Policy Forum debate attended by MPs, judges and expert practitioners.

Mr Llwyd said: "The changes are likely to be detrimental to families, detrimental to access to justice and probably contrary to article 6 rights and others which come into play when a fair trial of issues is not afforded."

Last Updated on Monday, 10 September 2012 15:57

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