Civil law

All Standard Notes
38 Documents
10.02.2015Mesothelioma: civil court claims
This note provides an overview of civil court claims for mesothelioma.
29.01.2015Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill: Progress of the Bill
This is a note on the progress through both Houses of Parliament of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (the Bill). It complements Library Research Paper 14/38 prepared for the Commons Second Reading.
30.10.2014Trespass to land
This note provides some background information about issues relating to trespass to land. This is not generally a criminal offence; however, there are particular statutes which make particular forms of trespass offences. In 2012, the Government introduced a new offence of squatting in residential buildings, but also said it had no plans to criminalise any other forms of trespass.
01.08.2014The Law Officers
Information about the role of the Law Officers in England and Wales (the Attorney General and Solicitor General).
03.06.2014Regulation of will writers
Although certain legal activities, known as 'reserved legal activities', may be carried out only by regulated legal professionals, such as solicitors and barristers, other legal advice, including will writing, may be delivered by people who are not subject to regulation. Arguments have been advanced both for and against regulating will writing, based, for example, on the need for consumer protection and the cost, burden and effectiveness of regulation. The previous Government decided against including will writing as a reserved legal activity in the Legal Services Act 2007 because it considered that evidence had not shown statutory regulation in this area to be necessary, and favoured voluntary regulation instead.
07.04.2014TV licence fee non-payment: decriminalising the offence
It is against the law to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV without a valid licence. At present, using a television receiver without a valid licence is a criminal offence. This can lead to prosecution, a court appearance and a fine of up to 1,000 (not including legal costs).
11.03.2014Legal aid for representation at an inquest.
Legal aid for representation at an inquest is generally only available through the 'exceptional funding' criteria of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which came into force on 1 April 2013.
17.02.2014Judicial Review: Government reforms
Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
23.01.2014Defamation Act 2013
This note describes the background to the Defamation Act 2013 and summarises the main provisions. It also describes the procedural and cost reforms which accompanied the Act.
22.08.2013Legal aid: Paying the statutory charge
Where legally-aided clients in civil cases have kept or retained money or property (for example in claims for financial provision on divorce) they may, at the end of their case, have to repay some or all of the costs via what is known as the statutory charge. This note describes how the Legal Aid Agency may levy the statutory charge.
06.06.2013Mediation and other alternatives to court
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is the collective term for settling civil disputes with the help of an independent third party and without the need for a formal court hearing. Alternatives to litigation include: mediation, ombudsmen schemes and arbitration. In relevant circumstances, ADR schemes may offer certain advantages over going to court in that they can be more flexible, quicker, less stressful and less expensive.
23.05.2013Civil legal aid: changes since 1 April 2013
This note examines the changes made by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and some of the further changes proposed in the Ministry of Justice's most recent consultation paper.
09.05.2013Enforcement of a County Court judgment debt
This note provides a summary of the different types of methods that can be used to force a judgment debtor to pay a County Court judgment debt.
22.04.2013Enforcing a Charging Order
This note provides a brief overview of the different types of debt enforcement methods available to a creditor who is in possession of a court judgment. The rest of the note deals only with Charging Orders; how charging orders are now granted by the court and enforced by way of an Order for Sale.
10.04.2013Limitation period in sexual abuse case
The limitation period is the time within which one person may bring a civil action against another. The current rules on limitation periods in civil proceedings are complex. Different periods apply to different causes of action.
02.04.2013Draft Inheritence and Trustees' Powers Bill
In October 2008, the Law Commission began work on a project dealing with intestacy and family provision claims on death. In December 2011, the Law Commission published a final report and two draft bills. The Law Commission found 'many instances where the current law is outdated, confusing or places unnecessary obstacles in the way of those with a valid claim to share in a deceased person's assets'. It recommended a package of reforms 'that would modify the current legal rules to reflect modern social expectations and to remove arbitrary or unduly technical aspects, while leaving intact the fundamental structure of the English law of 'succession' to property on death'.
26.03.2013The current regulation of bailiffs
The law relating to bailiffs is fairly complex, since regulation currently depends upon the type of bailiff that has been employed. This note outlines the different types of bailiffs and enforcement officers, their powers and any relevant limitations to these.
05.03.2013Crime and Courts Bill [HL] - reform of bailiffs
This note provides a summary of the problems identified with the current regulatory system for bailiffs and the background to bailiff reform. It also provides an outline of the Government's proposed reforms as set out in its consultation paper, 'Transforming bailiff action'. Importantly, it considers the new bailiff provisions embodied in 'enforcement by taking control of goods' in the Crime and Courts Bill, which seek to amend Part 3 and Schedule 12 of the TCEA 2007.
12.02.2013Divorce: Repeal of Family Law Act 1996 Part II
Part 2 of the Family Law Act 1996, most of which has never been brought into force, would have introduced 'no fault divorces' and required the parties to a divorce to attend 'information meetings' with a view to encouraging reconciliation where possible. A series of information meeting pilot schemes was launched in June 1997 following which Lord Irvine of Lairg, who was then Lord Chancellor, announced, in January 2001, that the Government would invite Parliament to repeal Part 2 once a suitable legislative opportunity occurred. He confirmed that this decision would not affect section 22, in Part 2, relating to the funding of marriage support services, which had been brought into force and would remain so.
27.11.2012Presumption of Death Bill: Committee stage report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Presumption of Death Bill (the Bill). It complements Library standard note, Missing persons and the presumption of death (SN/HA/4890).
20.11.2012Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill [HL] Committee stage report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill [HL] (the Bill). It complements Research Paper 12/65 prepared for the Commons Second Reading.
31.07.2012Third party action on behalf of victims of domestic violence
Section 60 of the Family Law Act 1996, which could allow third parties to apply for certain court orders on behalf of domestic violence victims, has never been brought into force. This note looks at some of the arguments surrounding this issue.
25.06.2012Special Advocates and Closed Material Procedures
This short note sets out the Government's proposals, contained in the Justice and Security Green Paper (Cm 8194, 2011) to extend the use of closed material procedures (CMPs) in civil court cases. It also provides some background material on the use of Special Advocates.
11.04.2012The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill: Lords amendments
The Commons is due to consider Lords Amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill on Tuesday 17 April 2012. This note draws attention to the principal changes, additions and deletions that were made in the Lords.
27.03.2012Debt management businesses
The purpose of this note is to provide an overview of the background too, and the main features of, the revised OFT guidance.
13.03.2012Payday loans
The purpose of this note is to provide an overview of how payday loans work in practice, how providers of payday loans are regulated, and the difference between payday loans, pawnbrokers and 'cash for gold' shops. This note also provides a brief outline of the scope of the OFT's investigation of payday lenders announced on 24 February 2012.
29.03.2011The Draft Defamation Bill
On the 15th of March 2011, the Government published the Draft Defamation Bill and a consultation paper (which included questions on a number of issues which were not included in the Bill itself). The consultation will remain open until 10 June 2011 and a Government response is promised by autumn 2011. The draft Bill was the Government's response to a number of complaints that had been raised around the defamation laws in England and Wales. The consultation paper noted that "there has been mounting concern over the past few years that our defamation laws are not striking the right balance, but rather having a chilling effect on freedom of speech". It also acknowledged worries that the threat of libel proceedings might be used to frustrate robust scientific and academic debate or to impede responsible investigative journalism.
02.03.2011Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill : Committee Stage Report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill (the Bill). It complements Research Paper 11/07 prepared for the Commons Second Reading. The Bill is a Private Member's Bill. It was presented to Parliament by Greg Knight, through the ballot procedure, on 30 June 2010 as Bill 8 of 2010-11 and had its second reading on 21 January 2011. The Bill had a single sitting in a Public Bill Committee on 16 February 2011. No amendments had been tabled and there was no disagreement to any of the clauses. The Bill was reported without amendment. The Bill would, in certain circumstances, protect the inheritance rights of the descendants of people who have forfeited their inheritance by killing the deceased; or who have decided not to accept their own inheritance. Broadly, it would implement, with modifications, a number of the recommendations of the Law Commission in its 2005 report, The Forfeiture Rule and the Law of Succession. The Bill would extend to England and Wales.
28.01.2011Legal aid: the quashing of the 2010 contracts for family and social welfare work
In 2010, the Legal Services Commission held a tendering exercise for new contracts for crime and civil legal aid work. This resulted in a significant drop in the number of firms awarded contracts for family and social welfare work. A judicial review brought by the Law Society led to those contracts being quashed.
04.08.2010Pleural plaques - the Government's response
21.04.2010Weddings: Residence Requirements
Weddings: Residence Requirements. By Edward Wood. SN/HA/644.
17.03.2010Reform of defamation laws
29.01.2010Bailiffs and distress for rent
This note considers the remedy of Distress for Rent and what goods can be seized by the bailiff. It also considers a tenant's possible redress if the remedy has been used inappropriately.
29.01.2010The Draft Civil Law Reform Bill
07.12.2009Collective or class actions
This note provides a brief description of the recent developments in the field of collective or 'class actions'. These types of actions are legal actions in which one or more members of a large group, or class, of individuals or other entities sue on behalf of the entire group or class of people.
08.06.2009The Law Commission Bill
The Bill is a Private Members Bill. It was introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, a former Law Lord. The Bill had all party support and completed all its stages in the House of Lords. It is expected to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 12 June 2009. This note briefly looks at the Bill so far.
18.02.2009Legal aid reform:the unified civil contract
This standard note reviews the introduction of the Unified Contract for civil legal aid, which came about following the Carter review of legal aid procurement.
All Research Papers
16 Documents
08.07.2014Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill
The Coalition Agreement included a commitment to encourage volunteering and involvement in social action. The Government intends that the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill will help to fulfil this commitment by reassuring volunteers (and others) that the courts will consider the context of their actions in the event that they are sued for negligence or breach of statutory duty.
26.02.2014Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL]
The Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL] is based substantially on a draft bill prepared by the Law Commission. It is following the special procedure which applies to Law Commission bills. The Bill is a technical Bill which would amend aspects of the law of intestacy and family provision claims; and the statutory powers of trustees in all trusts.
20.02.2014Criminal Justice and Courts Bill
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill would make a number of changes to the criminal justice system including sentencing; cautions; prisoners' release and recall; and the detention of young offenders. It would also reform court proceedings and costs; establish a new system of strict liability in contempt proceedings; create new offences for juror misconduct; make changes to the conduct and funding of judicial review claims; and amend the law on extreme pornography.
19.03.2013Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill Committee Stage Report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. It complements Research Paper 13/08 prepared for the Commons Second Reading.
26.02.2013Justice and Security Bill [HL] Committee Stage Report
This paper has been produced following the Committee Stage of the Justice and Security Bill in the House of Commons, which took place between 29 January and 7 February 2013. The Bill, which has proved contentious, was originally introduced in the House of Lords on 28 May 2012. It is aimed at modernising and strengthening the oversight of the intelligence and security services and would allow the civil courts to use 'closed material procedures' to hear sensitive evidence in cases that raised national security concerns. It would also preclude the courts from ordering the disclosure of sensitive information in certain circumstances. The Bill was revised significantly in the Lords and was introduced in the House of Commons on 28 November 2012. Second Reading took place on 18 December 2012. A number of noteworthy and controversial amendments were made to the Bill in Committee.
02.11.2012Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill [HL]
The Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill [HL] is based substantially on a draft bill prepared by the Law Commission. It is following the special procedure which applies to Law Commission bills. The Bill deals with technical and complex matters relating to trust law where trustees have to distinguish between capital and income in their management of the trust property. It is supported by the Opposition and by professional groups.
25.10.2012Family Justice (Transparency, Accountability and Cost of Living) Bill
The Bill has three parts. Part 1 deals with transparency and accountability in connection with cases concerning children and proceedings in the Court of Protection. Part 2 contains other provisions relating to the administration of justice; and Part 3 deals with the cost of living and measures to achieve lower fuel bills.
03.09.2012Defamation Bill Committee Stage Report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Defamation Bill. It complements Research Paper 12/30 prepared for Commons Second Reading. The date for Report Stage and Third Reading has yet to be announced.
28.05.2012Defamation Bill [Bill no 5 of 2012-13]
The Government indicates that the Defamation Bill is designed to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. Proposals to reform the defamation laws have a long history and bids to change the law have been somewhat contentious. Currently, defamation is governed substantially by the common law. Statutory intervention has been infrequent and the last Act exclusively concerned with defamation was passed in 1996. The Government committed to reform the defamation law in its Coalition Agreement. A draft Bill was published in March 2011 and subject to extensive pre-legislative scrutiny. The Government also conducted a separate consultation on the draft Bill. The Defamation Bill extends to England and Wales only. Second Reading is expected to take place on 12 June 2012.
28.10.2009Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill [HL]: Committee stage report
Report on the House of Commons second reading and Bill committee stages of the Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill (HL) 2008-09. It complements Research Paper 09/78 prepared for Commons second reading. The Bill received cross-party support in Second Reading Committee and there was no debate in Public Bill Committee.
14.09.2009Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill [HL]. Bill 145 2008-09.
The Bill is the first to be considered under a new House of Lords procedure for Law Commission bills and would implement, with minor modifications, the recommendations of a 1998 Law Commission report on the rule against perpetuities and the rule against excessive accumulations. The rule against perpetuities sets a time limit, known as the perpetuity period, within which dealings with property which are to take effect in the future (such as a gift to a child who is not yet born) must occur. The Law Commission report considered that the application of the rule is now too wide: it applies, for example, to many commercial dealings which have nothing to do with the family settlements that the rule was designed to control. Moreover, it found that the existence of multiple methods for calculating the perpetuity period is complex and confusing. The Bill defines the circumstances in which the rule would apply. In general terms, it would only apply to rights under trusts. Other property rights would no longer be subject to the rule. Where the rule does apply, the perpetuity period would be 125 years. This period would generally apply prospectively only. The rule against excessive accumulations applies where a disposition carries a duty or a power to accumulate income. The rule places restrictions on the period of time during which income may be accumulated. The Law Commission found that there was no longer a sound policy basis for restricting settlors' ability to direct or allow for the accumulation of income, except in the case of charitable trusts. The Bill would therefore abolish the current rule for all non-charitable trusts. Charitable trusts would, however, be subject to a limit of either a 21 year period or the life of the settlor.
29.05.2007Legal Services Bill [HL] Bill 108 of 2006-07
19.05.2006The Compensation Bill
08.09.2004Civil Partnership Bill (HL) (Bill 132 of 2003/04)
The Civil Partnership Bill (HL) (Bill 132 of 2003/04): the detail and legal implications. House of Commons Library Research Paper 04/65.
07.09.2004Civil Partnership Bill (HL) (Bill 132 of 2003/04)
The Civil Partnership Bill (HL) (Bill 132 of 2003/04): background and debate. House of Commons Library Research Paper 04/64.
19.03.2002Relationships (Civil Registration) Bill and Civil Partnerships Bill (HL) (Bill 36 and HL Bill 41 of 2001-02)
Relationships (Civil Registration) Bill and Civil Partnerships Bill (HL) (Bill 36 and HL Bill 41 of 2001/02). House of Commons Library Research Paper 02/17