Legislation / Legal
MoJ: Plans for a new code regulating the activities of bailiffs have been announced by Justice Minister Bridget Prentice. To provide clarity for debtors and certainty for creditors, the following measures will be implemented in advance of full independent regulation:
* an on-line certificated bailiff register allowing debtors to check bailiffs' certification status
* an extension to the certification process to ensure that all bailiffs provide a CRB check with their application
* minimum training requirements & competences for inclusion in the certification process
These measures, which will commence later in the year, will contribute to the development of the more permanent solution of independent regulation in 2012.
However, following a comprehensive re-assessment of the provisions in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 ordered by the Secretary of State for Justice, the Government will not be extending bailiffs' powers of entry and the use of force by enforcement agents, and will not be commencing Charging Order reforms.
Press release ~ Response to consultation on enforcement agents ~ The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 ~ Ministerial Statement
MoJ: Strengthened proposals for non-jury inquests that allow for more judicial involvement & discretion have been announced by the Government. The Coroners and Justice Bill (Clauses 11 to 13), currently before Parliament, contains proposals for non-jury inquests in exceptional circumstances where highly sensitive material which may be relevant to a coroner's investigation cannot be made public.
Inquests are only conducted with juries in 2% of cases and the Government expects these new provisions to be used very rarely, but without these plans the occasional inquest might be stalled - as happens now.
The government claims that the proposed revisions to the Bill are a considerable strengthening of the current plans as they narrow the range of circumstances where an inquest could be certified; increase judicial involvement and discretion, and offer more checks and balances.
MoJ: Families of Scottish service personnel killed abroad will no longer have to travel to England to attend their loved one's inquests under proposed amendments to the coroners system. The Coroners and Justice Bill is currently before Parliament and is expected to receive Royal Assent towards the end of 2009. These changes will come into effect as soon as possible after that.
Currently, the bodies of Scotland based service personnel killed abroad are returned to England so that a coroner can investigate the circumstances surrounding the death. This is because there is currently no legislative basis under Scottish law for the Lord Advocate to investigate deaths outside of Scotland and requires the bereaved families to travel to England for inquests.