The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Families take to representing themselves in child-related cases

New statistics suggest that more than 50% of cases brought before family courts involve parties with no formal legal representation, reports the Law Society Gazette.

The news comes one year after the Coalition Government implemented sweeping cuts to legal aid, which included axing legal support in the vast majority of family law cases, save those involving domestic violence.

The cuts were the first tranche of austerity measures to hit the legal aid budget, and were designed to trim £350m from the then £2bn+ legal aid budget described by the Government as 'the most generous in the world'.

Conservationists demand tougher laws for puffins

Conservationists have demanded greater legal protection for puffins on the Channel Island of Alderney, saying that local dog walkers are threatening the species, reports the BBC.

The Alderney Wildlife Trust would like tougher laws to be introduced to protect the 340 puffins that roost on the island each year.

The colourful birds, famous for their triangular eyes and brightly coloured beaks, have suffered from huge losses in their numbers after a tough winter that saw some 16,500 birds die.

'Out of court' settlement draws union criticism

An out-of-court settlement made between a rail company and a wealthy fare-dodger has drawn criticism from a union which claims it is one rule for the rich and another for everyone else, reports the BBC.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) has reacted angrily to the news that a hedge fund manager was able to settle a case of fare-dodging out of court, avoiding a prosecution.

The passenger in question was caught by Southeastern Rail avoiding a fare from Stonegate in East Sussex into Central London.

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has criticised the use of legal-aid budgets by foreigners, saying the taxpayers' money should not be used to fund cases that are aimed purely to block government decisions, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Chris Grayling has launched an attack on pressure groups and legal representatives who he says plunder legal-aid budgets to fight cases on behalf of foreigners whose agenda is to block legitimate government decisions.

Mr Grayling wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph, in which he described how he feels that the UK justice system is being 'brought into disrepute'.

Gangs are using old-fashioned firearms legislation to bring guns onto the streets of London, exposes the London Evening Standard.

The newspaper has revealed how criminals are using a legal loophole in order to import guns into Great Britain, and claims that those weapons are then being used in robberies and firearms offences.

Gangs are purchasing firearms at weapons fairs in Europe. The firearms are antiques, often dating back to the World Wars, but are high-powered, and perfectly lethal.

The Home Office has released figures for 2013 that suggest that of all the arrests made for immigration purposes, around one third led directly to the deportation of the arrested person.

The Home Office statistics show that of the 4,535 arrests made in 2013 for immigration offences, 1,585 led directly to the deportation of the arrested person. The statistics reveal that only 15 cases led to a criminal prosecution.

The figures have been seized upon by the Labour Party as a sign that the Government has not got a grip on immigration, as they believe the arrests should lead to a greater proportion of deportations and criminal prosecutions.

Woman tells of 'ruin' after discovering valuable vase in garage

A woman has told the Daily Mail about her two-year legal hell, after she discovered a valuable vase in her garage. The lady sold the vase but became embroiled in a legal battle with her former mother-in-law which has left her distraught, reports the Daily Mail.

Andrea Calland, who is 47, told the Daily Mail how she had found a Chinese vase in her garage back in 2009. Although she had expected it to sell for around £500, it was in fact bought by an Oriental art dealer for a staggering £228,000.

However, rather than being a life-changing event in a positive way, the sale of the vase kicked in motion a nightmare chain of events.

Nigel Farage to take legal advice over EU expenses

The leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is taking legal advice after being accused of misappropriating EU expenses, after a former party aide claimed that £50,000 of EU funding was paid directly into a personal bank account of the UKIP leader, reports The Independent.

Mr Farage has responded to the accusations that he may have misappropriated EU funds by claiming they are 'outrageous' and has announced that he is taking legal advice over the matter.

It is understood that Mr Farage received £15,500 each year from the EU Parliament at Brussels, where he sits as a Member of the European Parliament. It is understood the money is given to pay for his constituency office at Lyminster in West Sussex.

'War Horse' musicians lose legal fight after sacking

Five musicians sacked from the hit West-End musical 'War Horse' have lost a legal fight to have their sacking suspended whilst a breach of contract case is heard, reports the BBC.

The five musicians were released by the producers of War Horse after they decided to replace live music with recorded music for certain parts of the show.

The musicians have decided to challenge the decision as they believe it was a breach of contract, and had asked the High Court to grant an injunction that would have allowed them to continue working until their case is heard.

A London private school is facing uncomfortable questions in the media after the Daily Mail reported an incident in which a teacher told a Jewish student she would be 'sent to the gas chambers' for jumping the lunch queue.

The Daily Mail reported the incident, which took place at North London Collegiate School, a £6,000 per term independent school catering for children from four through to 18. Frances Mary Buss founded the school in 1850.

The incident is alleged to have taken place earlier this year, and involved a teacher reprimanding a 17-year-old Jewish student who had cut in at the queue for meals, by telling her that she could be 'sent to one of her gas chambers' for her actions.

Korea state insurance firm sues tobacco companies

The South Korean state insurance company has initiated legal proceedings in Asia against cigarette manufacturers in a bid to have them pay for smoking-related treatment costs, reports the BBC.

The unprecedented legal action pit the South Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) against the heavyweights of the cigarette industry, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and South Korean maker KT&G Corporation.

The insurance company is seeking a payment of $52m against annual costs of treating smoking-related illnesses of more than $1.6bn.

The former deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans MP has demanded that the Crown Prosecution Service pay his £130,000 legal bill after being acquitted in a trial over a string of sexual offences, reports the BBC.

Mr Evans faced a criminal trial over allegations of repeated sexual assaults and one count of rape against various men who either worked at Westminster or were social acquaintances of Mr Evans.

The trial heard that Mr Evans was a 'high-functioning alcoholic' who enjoyed drinking and socialising, and who was prone to crossing boundaries that on more than one occasion led to sexual advances on men that were rebuffed.

Gay marriage: Chaplain defies rules to marry partner in England

A hospital chaplain has defied Church of England rules to marry his long-term partner this weekend, despite the move being censured by his church, reports the BBC.

Same-sex marriage became law in the UK last year, and the first ceremonies were conducted amid scenes of jubilation around the UK back at the end of last month.

However, despite widespread support from the public, politicians and campaigners, there remains staunch opposition to the right of same-sex couples to marry, particularly among religious groups.

'Top Gear' venue loses fight over unrestricted flying rights

The owners of Dunsfold Park Aerodrome have lost their legal fight to secure the right to conduct unrestricted flying at the venue, in a blow to the producers of the Top Gear programme that is filmed there, reports the BBC.

The owners of Dunsfold Park had claimed that permanent and unrestricted planning permission had been granted allowing unrestricted flying on the site as long ago as 1951.

Dunsfold Park Aerodrome was built during World War Two by the Canadian Army for use as an emergency landing strip. After the war the site was used by Hawker Siddeley for bomber testing, and became owned by British Aerospace in 1977. The site was sold to the Rutland Group and Royal Bank of Scotland in 2002, and is now owned under the vehicle Dunsfold Park Limited.

Legal challenge to GP exam fails in High Court

The High Court has ruled that the examinations set by the Royal College of General Practitioners is lawful, but rules that it is time for the profession to address the differences in pass rates between white and non-white candidates, reports The Independent.

The legal challenge was brought by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), who claimed that examinations set by the Royal College of General Practitioners discriminate against non-white candidates.

The challenge concerned a practical element of the examinations which doctors must pass before becoming fully qualified as a GP. The section is known as the Clinical Skills Assessment, and pits candidates against an actor in a pre-determined scenario.