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Parliament

Parliamentarians form ADR group

Last November a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Dispute Resolution was formally launched. The group is an initiative of various members of the ADR community, including the secretary of the Civil Mediation Council Iain Christie, Bar Council ADR panel member John Pugh-Smith and parliamentarians Bob Neill MP and John Howell MP.

The objective of the group is to ‘change the climate and culture of dispute resolution in the UK’. The group has set out an ambitious programme of meetings designed to promote awareness of effective dispute resolution processes and how they might be integrated more comprehensively into the system of dispute resolution in the UK to ensure it is meeting current and future needs.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 June 2016 09:37

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Appeal court overturns animal legacy ruling

Two animal charities have expressed their 'delight and relief' after a historic decision by the Court of Appeal on 9 June in a landmark legacy case, overturning the High Court judgment in the case of King vs Dubrey & Others [2014].

June Fairbrother made a will in 1998, leaving around £20,000 of pecuniary legacies to family and friends and the rest of her estate to seven animal welfare charities.

When Mrs Fairbrother died in 2011 her estate mainly consisted of a property worth £350,000. Sometime after her death, her nephew Kenneth King claimed that Mrs Fairbrother had spoken to him about her house four to six months before she died, effectively gifting her property to him.

In 2014 the High Court ruled that, by operation of the little known legal doctrine of donatio mortis causa (gifts made in contemplation of death), Mrs Fairbrother did gift the property to Mr King - a result which meant that the charities and other beneficiaries would receive nothing from her estate.

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Chancellor's standstill on inheritance tax good news for charities

Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement did not, as many expected, include a rise in the threshold for Inheritance Tax (IHT) from £325,000
to £1m.

Although many will be disappointed, the charitable sector can breathe a sigh of relief, according to specialist wills and tax law firm Moore Blatch.

Experts at the firm had warned that if the Government raised the IHT nil-rate band to £1m, many people would be put off from leaving money to charity in their will.

If an estate is worth over £325,000 when the person dies, Inheritance Tax may be due. However, any gifts made to a qualifying charity either during an individual's lifetime or in their will are exempt from the tax.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 February 2015 10:14

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New Code of Ethics goes before Parliament

Picture of a police officer for Your Expert Witness storyMembers of the public have said they would not want to be in the position of police when faced with some of the decisions they have to make, a survey by the College of Policing has revealed. The results of the survey were published as a Code of Ethics – a first for policing in England and Wales – was laid before Parliament as a code of practice on 15 July, as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

To mark the official launch of the code, the college asked 2,043 members of the public how they might deal with some of the ethical dilemmas faced each day by those in policing. More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said they wouldn’t want to be in the position of a police officer or staff member when making those decisions and 40% of those surveyed felt the challenges facing the police when making decisions were harder than they previously thought.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 17:04

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Committee reports on Scottish reform Bill

Picture of Scottish Parliament for Your Expert Witness storyKey aspects of the wide-ranging Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill – which is aimed at reforming the Scottish civil court processes – have been questioned by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee in a report published on 9 May.

The Bill contains a range of measures, including the creation of a new judicial office of Summary Sheriff to cover a more restricted range of civil and criminal matters, and the establishment of a specialist Scotland-wide court, initially intended to deal with personal injury cases.

However, in welcoming the general principles of the Bill, the committee raised concerns about the proposals to increase the monetary threshold for an action in the sheriff court from £5,000 to £150,000.

Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP said: “There can be no doubt from the evidence we heard that reform of the Scottish civil court system is long overdue. However, our committee is not convinced that some of the measures in the Bill will necessarily achieve what is hoped.

“Improving access to justice is a key part of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill. Freeing up the Court of Session to deal with the most complex and serious cases is a step in the right direction. However, raising the monetary threshold from £5,000 to the proposed £150,000 raised questions about whether this is too great a leap.

“Not only would these reforms perhaps restrict access to counsel, but there are concerns about the capacity of sheriff courts to deal with the increase in cases. Our committee recommends that the Scottish Government give serious consideration to lowering the monetary limit.”

Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 17:57

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