I am writing to you to highlight last week’s crucial Court of Appeal decision which is of vital importance to all our members who advise upon and conduct civil litigation, as well as litigants and users of the civil courts.
As a result of the Society’s voicing its concerns about the interpretation of the ‘Mitchell case”, the Master of the Rolls asked the Society to intervene in three consolidated appeals arising out of the Court's previous decision in Mitchellv News Group Newspapers Ltd about costs and case management.
The Society made both written and oral submissions in the case and provided an extensive commentary on the situation. We also made a number of suggestions of ways in which the Court could provide greater clarity on the proper effect of its earlier decision in Mitchell.
As a result of the intervention the Court of Appeal handed down the judgement on 4 July issuing revised 'Mitchell' guidance on the interpretation of applications for relief from sanctions, pursuant to CPR Rule 3.9(1).
The Court agreed with the Society’s strongly expressed view that the Rule had caused a breakdown in co-operation between solicitors and that subsequent judicial decisions had been inconsistent, leading to costly and unnecessary satellite litigation.
The Court of Appeal’s decision should now lead to a less adversarial and a more co- operative approach to agreeing extensions of time to comply with court orders. This will remove a great deal of uncertainty in the profession about the operation of the case management rules in the post-Jackson environment.
As this is such a vital issue for all our members, if you have not already done so, can I please ask you circulate details to your local membership. You can access further information and a copy of the full transcript of the Court’s decision by using the links below.
Desmond Hudson Chief Executive
Hampshire Law Society
Success in removing misleading advertising from pack distributed by Registrar of Death
Towards the end of last year the Hampshire Law Society Committee became concerned about advertising contained within the pack handed out by Registrars of Death in Hampshire. It appeared that this had been going on for several years. The advertisement stated “If you would like practical advice of what to do when someone dies, you can contact Bereavement Advice Centre on freephone 0800 258 5525 or visit www.bereavementadvice.org ……………………… provided by ITC”.
During the past few years a number of our members who deal with probate work had become concerned about the activities of ITC (Independent Trust Company), as clients had found that on contacting the Bereavement Advice Centre, their details were passed to ITC, who then contact the bereaved person to sell probate work.
A letter was accordingly written to the Hampshire County Council, Legal Department, on 6th November 2013 stating that the Hampshire Law Society believed that the duty of impartiality on the part of Hants County Council might be breached by the fact that anyone reading it might think it is endorsed by the Hants County Council, and whilst the advertisement might not be factually accurate in its particulars, it might be regarded as such by virtue of its being misleading in relation to other providers in omitting realistic price comparators with Solicitors. The Society went on to say that it appeared that Hants County Council could appear to be endorsing the services of Bereavement Advice Centre and by implication providing ITC with a marketing opportunity.
We are pleased to report that as a result, the advertisement has been removed from wallets since January this year.
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