Law: Briefs

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"MAY YOU live in interesting times," Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, once said to justify epic social change. "Interesting times", to mix Eastern with Western proverbs, are in the eye of the beholder.

But the law firm Kennedys' definition may not be quite what Confucius had in mind. The firm's senior partner, Nick Thomas, uses this Confucian saying to introduce a number of lateral hires and steady growth for the business in the Kennedy newsletter. Other areas of interest for the firm include insurance cover for people who have been bitten by a neighbour's dog, and reform of the consumer protection laws. May Kennedys' lawyers live in more interesting times.

SCOTTISH LAWYERS have wasted no time in embracing the new and interesting times. Last week a Manifesto for Change was unveiled by the Law Society of Scotland, which wants the new Holyrood administration to use its legislative powers in a variety of areas. The Society's president Philip Dry, speaking at the site of the new Parliament in Edinburgh, said: "The new system allows legislation to be discussed and considered in full." Mr Dry stood down as president to make way for Michael Scanlan.

"The Parliament should take that opportunity to benefit Scottish people, Scottish businesses, Scottish charities and Scottish organisations." He described some Scots law as outmoded but said many areas remain "world class".

"We have drawn up `Law Reform in the 21st Century - A Manifesto for Change' and hope that the Parliament will use the proposals in the document as the building blocks for Scottish Law Reform. "I hope that the Scottish Parliament will now get on with the necessary work of the first legislature in Scotland in almost 300 years." The document proposes reform in the areas of mental health and disability, planning law, public health, the law of trusts, moveable property, family law and criminal law.

IN ENGLAND and Wales the Government attempted to make the new Community Legal Service the week's talking-point. In a consultation paper unveiling the alternative to the legal-aid-driven system the Lord Chancellor's Department unveiled what the new legal landscape might look like. Crucial to the integrated network of legal advisers would be an Internet service. This drew an immediate response from the Law Society, which described the plans as more "waffle". The Government, said the Law Society's president, Michael Mathews, had "overestimated" the level of access disadvantaged people had to the Internet.

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THE LORD Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, has appointed a woman to head his department's policy unit. Joan MacNaughton, 48, is the chief executive of the Police Information Technology Organisation, where she is responsible for developing and procuring national information systems for the police. During her time in the civil service she worked on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and in setting up the Crown Prosecution Service. She replaces Ian Burns CB, who retires this week.

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