King’s Speech: Justice reforms fall short

The Law Society of England and Wales has today (7 November) responded to the legislation outlined in the King’s Speech.

“We are disappointed the government chose not to invest in the justice system in its legislative agenda,” Law Society president Nick Emmerson said.

“The long delays faced by victims and defendants in our courts are simply unacceptable and there was nothing in this speech to seriously address the crisis. The entire criminal justice system is fracturing.

“We urge the government to focus on fixing the issues in the justice system as a whole by investing in staff, judges and its buildings.”

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill will introduce new measures including making it cheaper and easier for more leaseholders to extend their lease, buy their freehold and take over the management of their building.

It will also ban the creation of new leasehold houses and increase the standard lease extension of 90 years to 990 years.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “Many homeowners are being failed by the current system and reforms that help them avoid expensive ground rents and make it easier for them to buy the freehold of their home are welcome.

“We have been calling for long leaseholders to have more powers in choosing property management companies and we are pleased to see this is being adopted.

“Prohibiting building owners from passing on legal costs to leaseholders is also a step in the right direction.”

On the Mental Health Bill, Nick Emmerson said: “We are disappointed that the government did not commit in the King’s Speech to publish a new mental health bill.

“There is an urgent need to reform the Mental Health Act, as the current legislation is outdated. It does not provide patients with enough agency or choice in their care and treatment, or ensure they are always given the dignity and respect they deserve.

“While the government introduced a draft Bill earlier this year to reform the Act, and has promised new mental health legislation since 2017, it continues to be delayed.

“We urge the government to prioritise Mental Health Act reform. The government must respond to recommendations on how to improve the draft Bill and then introduce new legislation. There is a need to act now.”

Notes to editors

Read the King’s Speech background briefing notes

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