According to the Ministry of Justice, some of the highest volume work that the police, prosecution and courts currently deal with is low level traffic offences.  These cases take up large amounts of court time despite in many cases the offender pleading guilty by post, or their case being proven in absence when they fail to attend or contact the court.  As part of the government’s on-going initiative to modernise the courts and other public services, the ‘Make a Plea’ service has been developed and is being rolled out nationally in England and Wales following a successful pilot in Greater Manchester. 

UK owners of property owned in Europe can sleep a little easier tonight after two key decisions in relation to properties owned in France and Spain. The EU has ruled that taxes recently introduced by France in relation to British owners of second properties violate European law and the authorities in Spain have ruled that British people who were duped into buying illegal homes in Spain during their property boom can be entitled to compensation.

Volunteers, community groups and ‘good deed doers’ have been given legal reassurance that courts will take account of the fact they have been acting to help society if something goes wrong and they end up having to defend themselves against being sued.

New rules were approved last month by the European Commission which will for the first time allow EU member states to pursue drivers for speeding offices committed abroad. This is a significant issue.  It has been estimated that 500,000 motoring offences are committed each year by British drivers in France alone. 

From September 2015 all family court judges in England will be able to order DNA tests to determine a child’s parentage. This follows two pilot schemes in Taunton and Bristol which were set up following anecdotal evidence that courtroom arguments led to delays in divorce cases, particularly where parentage was in question. The aim behind this initiative is that all cases involving children should be resolved quickly and wherever possible outside court. 

The Government has announced new measures to support sufferers of the industrial disease mesothelioma and their families.  The changes have been designed to speed up compensation claims for victims of the terminal condition, which can take hold decades after exposure to asbestos but usually causes death within 9 months of diagnosis.

The government’s archive of 41 million wills dating back to 1858 have now been made accessible to the public through a searchable online database which will enable people to find out more about their family histories, as well as researching the last wishes of some of the most influential people of the 19th and 20th century. 

The courts recently found that a bank had failed in its duty to investigate an assertion by a debtor that a restricted-use credit agreement had been rescinded before reporting to credit reference agencies that the debtor was in default.

In a recent ruling, the Courts gave a woman permission to look at the court files on her late father’s adoption so that she could identify her grandmother. This ruling from the Family Division is ground breaking and sets a precedent for future cases to reveal family secrets.