Law Society Legal News Summary 15 June 2022

Flight to Rwanda for asylum-seekers cancelled

 Late last night the flight from the UK due to remove asylum-seekers to Rwanda was cancelled after a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights supported claims brought by some of those due to be on the flight, and allowed others to make appeals in UK courts based on that ruling. 

Earlier in the day the prime minister suggested lawyers are “abetting the work of criminal gangs”. We put out a joint statement with the Bar Council which was picked up by the BBC, Evening Standard, The Sun, The Express, the Independent, Politics Home, more than 100 local and international outlets such as Yorkshire Post, UAE News, Times News Network and BBC local radio stations including Cumbria, Suffolk, Manchester and others. 

We said: “Legal challenges ensure government is acting lawfully, following laws agreed by parliament. 

“It is misleading and dangerous for the prime minister to suggest lawyers who bring such legal challenges are doing anything other than their job and upholding the law. Anyone at risk of a life-changing order has a right to challenge its legality with the assistance of a lawyer, who has a duty to advise their client on their rights. 

“The Bar Council and Law Society of England and Wales together call on the Prime Minister to stop attacks on legal professionals who are simply doing their jobs.”

Immigration committee member Christopher Cole explained the situation to BBC Radio Kent  and LBC listeners, stressing that lawyers working on such cases are simply doing their jobs. 

The Gazette reports the Supreme Court defending the role of lawyers. 

Read our press release outlining concerns about the Rwanda scheme.

NI Protocol Bill threatens rule of law 

The Gazette, Law360 (£) and Gazette Ireland all cover our reaction to the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. Speaking about the bill, Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: 

“Britain’s standing in the world depends in part on it being known as a nation that keeps its word. The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill represents a direct challenge to the rule of law as it gives the UK government the power to break international law.  

“This new legislation would give the government the right to suspend elements of the Internal Market Act concerning Northern Ireland, which underpins the UK’s trade deal with the EU. The bill therefore threatens the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which in effect risks a no-deal scenario and a potential trade war with the EU.” 

Law Society head of public law Ellie Cumbo told Politics Home the government was treating legal advice as “inconvenient and obstructive” instead of as a “vitally important constitutional check and balance on executive power”. 

“Not only are they proposing a more, let's say, flexible approach to whether they obey their legal obligations than previous governments have done, but they also seem entirely set against acknowledging the legitimacy of challenge when they do that. 

“We would say that that is as concerning as the proposals themselves. It's one thing for governments to float an idea. It's another thing to seem entirely resistant to the idea that they can be held to account for those proposals.”

Spike in divorce applications 

The Daily Mail and Legal Brief are among multiple publications covering the spike in divorce applications following the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce. 

Vice president Lubna Shuja said: “By not having to prove a fault-based fact against their ex-partner, separating couples and their children will not have to suffer unnecessary conflict and anxiety.”

Work-life balance for lawyers 

City AM looks at work/life balance for lawyers after one firm’s managing partner said associates should not be disturbed on their holidays. 

A Law Society spokesperson said: “It’s good practice for firms and workplaces to set in place working patterns which work for their employees, especially for junior or trainee solicitors.”

Black interns begin work at the Law Society 

Today’s Conveyancer reports on five interns starting their paid internship at the Law Society, as part of their participation in the #10000BlackInterns initiative, with quotes from Stephanie.

Also worth a read: 

  • PM threatens to leave international human rights regime after flight cancelled – Guardian
  • EU may challenge UK Brexit deal changes - BBC
  • Housing work threatened by fixed costs regime - Gazette

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