June 22nd, 2016
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) wants to know what people think about changes it’s planning to the way solicitors offer their services. The SRA believes the changes will help make solicitors easier to afford and access.
One in ten people think about paying for legal advice but then don’t go ahead, mainly because they decide they can’t afford it, reports YouGov.
The SRA wants to let solicitors offer legal services even if they don’t work in a regulated law firm, and thinks this change could help lower prices.
The type of business a solicitor works in may affect the level of protection their clients have when things go wrong. That’s one reason the SRA’s plans also aim to help solicitors understand their duty to offer services that meet very high standards.
Paul Phillip, SRA Chief Executive, said:
“Our focus has to be on high professional standards set independently in the public interest. That can only be good for the profession and for the public.
“Some of the current rules are out of step with a legal market that is rapidly changing. We plan to give solicitors more freedom to work outside regulated firms. That will give the public more choice, increasing access to high quality legal services at a price they can afford.
“Our proposals for a shorter, sharper and clearer Handbook will free up law firms and individual solicitors to get on with the business of delivering quality legal services, while making sure there is absolute clarity about public protection.”
A public consultation on the SRA’s proposals runs until 21 September 2016.
Have your say
The SRA would like to hear from members of the public, consumer groups and others.
Do you believe the SRA’s changes would help you access a solicitor? Do you have any concerns about the changes?
To learn more, or to respond to the consultation, visit the SRA’s website. You can also add your comments below.
April 29th, 2016
Moving house is one of the most stressful things we ever do in life.
When moving house there are legal tasks to take care of.
Nearly two out of three people put moving house at the top of their stress list, recent research by energy company E.On shows.
And it’s not just the prospect of broken crockery or re-directing your post. The legal side of moving (known as conveyancing) can be just as stressful.
With any house move, there are important legal tasks to complete:
• planning permission checks
• securing land deeds
• agreeing and exchanging contracts
Lots of us opt to get help from a lawyer to take care of these things.
Sometimes things can go wrong with your lawyer
Even when you use a lawyer, things can go wrong. Conveyancing is the most complained-about area of legal practice in England and Wales, accounting for nearly one quarter of all complaints received last year by the Legal Ombudsman.
Common complaints about lawyers
• Failing to advise people properly
• Delaying the conveyancing process
• Providing poor information about the cost of the legal work
You have the right to complain to your lawyer. If this doesn’t help, you have the right to talk to the Legal Ombudsman about your situation. The Ombudsman has powers to put things right.
How to avoid problems with your lawyer
There are practical things you can do to try to avoid problems with lawyers:
• take some time to check the plans of the new house yourself
• explain clearly any particular concerns you’ve got right from the start
Houses and common legal issues
If you’re thinking about taking your first step on to the property ladder, the Legal Ombudsman has created a handy guide called ‘On the move – a guide for first-time buyers‘. It can help you get your head around the legal side of things, and offers tips on what to look out for when a lawyer starts your conveyancing work.
Learn more about common legal issues with houses:
• Buying or selling a house
• Landlord with a legal issue
April 19th, 2016
From trips to the vet to micro-chipping, being a good pet owner means knowing the law.
They say dogs are man’s best friend, and losing a much-loved pet can be devastating. Micro-chipping offers the best chance of a missing animal’s safe return.
More than 86% of UK dog owners have already micro-chipped their pets. But, on 6 April this year, micro-chipping dogs became compulsory. Any dog over the age of eight weeks must be micro-chipped and registered on a national database.
If a local authority finds a dog without a microchip, it can order the owner to microchip their dog within 21 days, or face a fine of £500.
Buying a pet
Pet ownership often starts with buying your pet, and by law you must be at least 16 years old to buy an animal. Adults are legally responsible for the welfare of their children’s pets.
When you buy a pet from a shop, the law protects you as a consumer. That means that if your pet gets sick or dies shortly after you buy it, the pet shop may give you a refund or replace your pet.
If you buy an animal from a private seller, you have fewer rights. For more about your rights, visit Citizens Advice’s website.
Caring for animals
The Animal Welfare Act is now 10 years old. It states that owners must take all reasonable steps to:
- meet their pets’ needs
- give them enough food and water
- house them properly, and
- protect them from pain, suffering, injury and disease
People who don’t look after their animals can be banned from owning them, fined up to £20,000, or even be sent to prison.
Going to the vet
Trips to the vets are part and parcel of owning a pet, and the law protects you and your animals while you’re there.
If the treatment a vet gives doesn’t meet a reasonable standard of care and injures your pet, you can complain or take legal action.
You should get legal advice early on. Citizens Advice can help. In some cases, it makes sense to talk to a lawyer.
Article categories: Animal
March 30th, 2016
The bright ideas that keep the world evolving
The birth of a Finn-Dorset lamb in 1996, marked a big step forward in scientific developments globally.
This animal was no ordinary sheep but became known as Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.
Scientists Sir Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell were the ones who developed the cloning process and published patents on it in January 2000. This intellectual property allowed them to have the right to prevent anyone else from using their process for a period of time.
To be patented, an invention must be something that can be made or used and also must be new and inventive. The cloning process is one of Britain’s great ideas and inventions. Here are some others.
In 1823, Charles Macintosh patented a waterproof fabric now used in coats and other products. The chemist dissolved rubber in coal-tar naphtha and stuck two pieces of fabric together with it to create the invention.
18 year-old William Henry Perkin accidentally discovered how to make a purple dye in the laboratory at the Royal College of Chemistry. While clearing up chemicals using alcohol after failed experiments to make quinine, he noticed that a purple colour had developed. As natural dyes were expensive, this was a key breakthrough. He filed a patent in 1856 and set up a dye factory.
Electric vacuum cleaner
Engineer Hubert Cecil Booth was determined to invent an electric sucking vacuum cleaner after witnessing a machine that didn’t work. He achieved his goal using a suction pump, a tube and dust collector. He patented the invention in 1901.
John Logie Baird from Scotland beat competitors to televise moving images. He did this in 1926 during a demonstration at the Royal Institution. He patented his work.
Coventry’s Sir Frank Whittle, a trained pilot and engineer saw the value of an aircraft that could fly at great height and speed. He researched ways to achieve this with a gas turbine. Whittle patented the first turbo-jet engine in 1930 and ran the first test in 1937.
The Worldwide Web
Brit Tim Berners Lee devised the Worldwide web in 1989 to help people share information, which gave birth to the internet. However, he didn’t patent his invention as he wanted everyone to use it.
Have you got a bright idea? The Intellectual Property Regulation Board can point you in the right direction – just take a look at the Got an idea? area on their website.
You can also visit Legal Choices page I want to protect my idea.
February 11th, 2016
Thousands conned in online dating fraud
Online dating sites do bring lonely hearts together. But, for some, online dating has led to heartbreak—and a sudden drop in their bank balance.
One in four Britons now use online dating websites, reports consumer body Which?
But thousands of users each year are tricked into fake relationships and conned out of their hard-earned cash. According to Action Fraud, the average victim of online dating fraud loses £9,500.
How online dating scams work
Scammers groom their victims before asking for money or other favours. Their eye-catching profiles look real. They often pose as members of a profession. Conman Amir Tofangsazan stole thousands from victims, passing himself off as a doctor and a barrister.
To find out more about online dating scams, and for tips on protecting yourself, visit the Action Fraud website.
Legal advice and help
It can be hard to know for sure if someone is telling the truth about who they are and their profession. But there are some things you can check. See our FAQs to learn how to find out if someone is really a lawyer.
If you’ve been targeted by an online dating scam, report it to Action Fraud.
If you’re looking for legal advice, learn about types of lawyers or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.