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We understand from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that disciplinary proceedings have been concluded (subject to appeal) in 12 cases relating to 41 individuals. The details of the results are as follows
|Outcome of Concluded Disciplinary Proceedings|
Proceedings are pending against 18 firms involving 67 individuals. Investigations are ongoing in relation to 19 firms. A further 15 firm investigations have been concluded with no disciplinary proceedings being taken. Investigations by the SRA have been conducted as a result of information received from a number of sources including, but not limited to, complaints received.
Asked by Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decisions by the Industrial Disease Committee of the Legal Complaints Service on 24 June (a) to maintain its recommendation to suspend the investigation of all complaints against Raleys solicitors in the British Coal litigation; (b) to write to all complainants giving them the right to ask for their cases to be dealt with but recommending that each case investigation should remain suspended; (c) to advise each complainant that the Legal Complaints Service remains optimistic that at some future time the complaint would be conciliated by Raleys, having regard to the report of Zahida Manzoor, Legal Services Ombudsman, dated 18 June in respect of Marko Sesum (case reference 44331). [HL4893]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): We understand from the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) that from 1 April 2009 all complaints against Raleys solicitors, either already in the office or received after that date, would be suspended to await confirmation of the intention of Raleys with regards to any appeal against previous Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal adjudications. Such confirmation cannot be given until publication of the written findings. As at 13 July 2009 the number of complaint investigations suspended involving this firm was believed to be about 396.
We understand that the Legal Services Ombudsman continues to press the LCS to investigate individual complaints without waiting for the written judgment and that progress has been made in this matter. The ombudsman welcomes the LCS decision to write to those who have had their complaints suspended to give them the choice of either waiting until it is known whether Raleys are going to appeal against the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal findings, or for the LCS to begin to investigate their complaint. We understand that the LCS is currently in the process of writing to all former miners or members of their families who have a complaint against Raleys to provide them with an update to the situation.
Both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Energy and Climate Change continue to support and monitor the LCS in their programme to highlight the issue with coal health compensation claimants.
Asked by Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will introduce legislation to protect litigants from any misconduct by solicitors in class actions, having regard to the practices adopted by claimants' solicitors in the British Coal respiratory disease litigation and British Coal vibration white finger litigation. [HL4894]
Lord Bach: The Government have introduced legislation which allows for proactive measures to be taken to deal more quickly and effectively with cases of widespread wrongdoing in the future. The Legal Services Act 2007, which reforms the regulation of legal services in England and Wales, makes it absolutely
20 July 2009 : Column WA274
Asked by Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the Law Society's not following its commitment to indemnify retired miners and widows in circumstances where solicitors had not complied with adjudication decisions awarding former clients compensation for inadequate professional service in the British Coal litigation. [HL4895]
Lord Bach: Awards made by the LCS are not legally enforceable unless and until the matter has been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) and the SDT orders payment. Where there have been delays in bringing these matters before the SDT, we understand that the Law Society has made ex gratia advances of compensation to those who had been waiting for an extended period of time. The Law Society chose to do so because of its concern that the delays might in some cases cause hardship to those concerned.
The Government continue to press the Law Society to achieve payment in full of all inappropriately levied charges. The Ministry of Justice and the Department for Energy and Climate Change support the LCS in their work to recover deductions not yet repaid and provide data to them to enable the programme to be rolled out.
Asked by Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made an assessment of lessons to be learned from the conduct of solicitors in the British Coal litigation. [HL4896]
Lord Bach: The legal profession is independent from the Government and, as such, regulatory issues for solicitors are a matter for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). That said, the SRA and the Government have been working together to determine how to best to assess lessons learned from the current health schemes. We understand that the SRA is considering writing to solicitors involved in miners knee litigation to provide them with the best practice directions in light of lessons learned from the ongoing conduct issues. Ministers are also seeking assurances that the SRA will monitor such activities closely to ensure that early action is taken if it appears necessary, and to keep both the Ministry of Justice and Department for Energy and Climate Change informed of any further developments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will submit their observations on the admissibility and merits of Application no. 35622/04 Chagos Islanders v the United Kingdom at the European Court of Human Rights before the deadline of 17 July; and whether they are considering a friendly settlement, as suggested by the President of the Grand Chamber. [HL4854]
The Minister for Europe (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Luce, on 30 June 2009 (Official Report, col. WA31). As the noble Lord will be aware, we do not discuss the details of legal pleadings in cases to which we are a party while they are in the process of formulation. It would be inappropriate, therefore, to discuss the Government's response in advance.
Asked by Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to bring into force the whole of Section 152 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. [HL4685]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Regulations are currently being drafted that will contain the detailed requirements for the service charge accounting information that landlords will be required to supply to tenants under Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
Section 152 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 made amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 by replacing the provisions contained in Section 21 of that Act. Schedule 12 to the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 has made further amendments to the 1985 Act and in particular contains provisions that will replace the Section 21 provisions that were introduced by Section 152 of the 2002 Act.
Implementation of these provisions will follow after the regulations have been approved by both Houses of Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they propose to publish figures on the cost of crime on public transport. [HL5070]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Further to my response on 8 May (Official Report, col. WA 150), we anticipate publishing in the autumn a summary of the research findings on the cost of crime on public transport.
Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the President of the European Court of Justice in the Oram case was, in 2006, awarded the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III of the Republic of Cyprus for his "sincere and strong feelings for Cyprus and its people"; and what assessment they have made of how that award may affect his having presided over the case. [HL4740]
The Minister for Europe (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We are aware of reports that the President of the European Court of Justice in the Orams case received this medal in 2006 from the former President of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos. The European Court of Justice is an independent judicial institution and any questions relating to the conduct of its personnel are a matter for the court.
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures the Department of Health intends to take to address the recommendation of the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee in its 21st Report (HL Paper 118) to keep the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Special Exemption) Regulations 2009 under review to ensure they maintain the policy intention in the light of technological developments. [HL4983]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department monitors legislation through a variety of means, including by way of feedback from stakeholders. One of these stakeholders is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which has specific functions to monitor developments in its field of interest and to advise Ministers as required. We will be in regular contact with the HFEA about the implementation and impact of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and the related regulations.
Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provisions there are in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) for keeping and examining human admixed embryos in connection with the investigation of, or proceedings for, an offence under that Act. [HL4984]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Human admixed embryos must be held at a licensed centre if they are being kept, examined or stored in connection with the investigation of, or proceedings for, an offence
20 July 2009 : Column WA277
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Special Exemption) Regulations 2009 do not permit human admixed embryos to be held at unlicensed premises in connection with such an investigation or procedure-as this was, unintentionally, not provided for in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. If it were necessary for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to keep a human admixed embryo in connection with a crime, it would need to be stored at licensed premises.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Triesman on 20 February 2007 (WA 239-40), whether they have conducted their detailed analysis of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; whether they have made or will make any reservations to the Convention; and when they envisage they will ratify the Convention. [HL4710]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The work being undertaken within the Government to examine the potential impact of the Convention against Enforced Disappearance on the law of the UK is ongoing.
This includes analysing the extent to which common law provisions may need to be replicated in statute law, the creation of one or more new criminal offences, and whether the UK required any reservations or declarations upon ratification. It is now clear that primary legislation would be necessary to permit ratification if the Government decide to pursue this course of action. This would be introduced when parliamentary time allowed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received representations from PEN, Reporters without Borders and others concerning arrests and possible disappearances or deaths in custody of journalists in Eritrea, in particular in the case of Mr Dawit Habtemichael, who was arrested in 2001 in Asmara and reported to be held in prison in 2006. [HL4823]
The Minister for Europe (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We have no record of any representations from PEN or Reporters without Borders concerning arrests and possible disappearances or deaths in custody of journalists in Eritrea in recent years. However we have received letters on the persecution of Christians and on human rights abuses generally.
We recently received a letter from a member of the public raising the case of Mr Dawit Habtemichael.
Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answer by Lord Myners on 2 July (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 329) saying that firms are not leaving the City of London, whether they discussed with the Swiss authorities the number of firms leaving the City of London for Switzerland. [HL4999]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are monitoring the areas covered by the North Sea cod recovery programme and the management plan for Western Channel sole to ensure there is no overfishing. [HL4882]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): UK enforcement authorities are implementing in full the control provisions of the cod recovery programmes and the management plan for western channel sole. These include reduced margins of tolerance for recording catches in the logbook, prior notification requirements for vessels landing cod and sole, separate stowage requirements and, for cod only, designated landing port arrangements.
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