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Digital badge – mandatory

In addition to requiring firms to include costs and complaints information on their website, the SRA requires firms to include a clickable logo known as a digital badge on their website from 25 November 2019.
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Oath fee – amount

The Law Society has reminded practitioners that Article 2 of the Commissioners for Oaths (Fees) Order 1993 states that the following fees ‘shall’ be charged:
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Complaints procedure – website wording

In addition to the much advertised information about legal fees, Rule 2 of the Transparency Rules requires firms to put information about complaints on its website as follows (or make it available to clients on request if there is no website):
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Electronic communications – practitioners beware

 A useful article by Hardwicke Chambers reminds practitioners of the risks of a hasty or ill thought out email or social media post. The writer cites a situation where an email from a solicitor to the judge’s clerk contained information about one of the barristers involved in the case which resulted in a £100,000 wasted costs order against the solicitor’s firm. The article provides a helpful summary of the key issues including:
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LeO complaints – guidance

We reported in our October 2019 edition (p3) on the introduction by the SRA of the status of freelance solicitors, following the introduction of the new Standards and Regulations on 25 November 2019. In part response to this, the Law Society has issued a useful practice note: ‘What to do when a complaint goes to the Legal Ombudsman’ (22.11.19). The scope of the note goes beyond the issue of freelance solicitors and is thus important reading.
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Paying disbursements – without delay

The senior partner of a law firm which withheld paying professional disbursements and costs has been suspended. The firm failed to pay costs and disbursements to organisations such as chambers, counsel and medical experts. The Accounts Rules require costs to be sent on within two days of receipt. In some cases, these payments were not made for months and even years. The partner in question was the compliance officer. She said that she had relied on others in her firm to manage client and office accounts effectively. She had not been told about the failed payments, but presumably, she had also not looked at or inspected the accounts. 
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Brexit – Law Society guidance

The uncertainty regarding Brexit continues. Practitioners are reminded that the Law Society has produced and regularly updates guidance for lawyers in relation to this issue, including no deal guidance on:
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SRA – assessing capacity

Whether a client or prospective client has mental capacity can be a difficult judgement and the SRA has issued some guidance. Section 1 MCA 2005 provides that a person is assumed to have mental capacity until the contrary is proved. A practitioner should carry out an assessment of capacity before agreeing to start or continue work if they have reason to believe that the client may lack capacity. They should consider: 
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Lacking capacity – SRA guidance

In the run up to the introduction of the standards and regulations on 25 November 2019, the SRA is issuing guidance on its website on various issues affecting regulated practitioners. It is fair to say that the guidance is somewhat overdue as the SRA has removed much of the existing guidance from the codes. A recent addition is guidance on representing people who lack mental capacity.
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Probate fee increase – scrapped

The government has decided to shelve reforms which would have seen some estates liable for probate fees of up to £6,000 to apply for a grant.
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Most-read articles

Civil partnerships – heterosexual couples
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
The Civil Partnership (Opposite-sex Couples) Regulations 2019 are in force as of 2 December 2019 and permit heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships. Read more...
VAT reverse charge – postponed
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
 A useful article analyses the potential implications of the reverse charge on VAT, which was due to be introduced for specified construction services in October 2019 but which has now been... Read more...
Electronic communications – practitioners beware
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
 A useful article by Hardwicke Chambers reminds practitioners of the risks of a hasty or ill thought out email or social media post. The writer cites a situation where an email from a solicitor to... Read more...
Jurisdictional challenges – the basics
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
An article considers a recent SC case in which litigants have been criticised for the way in which jurisdictional challenges are being conducted. The case concerned a group of some 1,800 Zambian... Read more...
LiPs – tips for dealing
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Litigants in person (LiPs) are on the increase due in part to legal aid cuts and an increase in the small claims limit. Maintaining the balance of treating LiPs fairly, while also acting in the best... Read more...
‘Elevation’ – front and rear of building
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
 A 99-year lease contained a covenant prohibiting T from making any alterations to the elevation or external decoration of the property. Read more...
L changing locks – an act of surrender?
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
There are various ways in which a leasehold estate in land may come to an end. One of these is surrender by operation of law. Sometimes the surrender of a lease does not take place by deed but is... Read more...
Beneficial ownership – reminder of key points
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Practitioners who advise co-owners on the acquisition of property will find a recent article reviewing the case law on beneficial ownership very useful. The key points are: Read more...
Sanctions – vexatious litigant
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
In long-running divorce and financial remedy proceedings, R was found to be an ‘exceptionally vexatious litigant’ throughout. Mostyn J made a general civil restraint order and a protection from... Read more...
Disciplinary process – external bodies
Tuesday, 10 December 2019
 A useful article considers two recent cases on the issues that can arise for employers carrying out a disciplinary procedure when an external body becomes involved eg a regulatory body, police, a... Read more...

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