UK law – What changes can we expect in 2021?
Law - 03/01/2021
UK law is very often in a state of flux, and 2020 was a year of big changes for the legal industry. 2021 is set to be no different. The way solicitors work, and changes to some core legal principles, mean that law firms need to be prepared for the future. Add to this the onslaught of the digital revolution and any law firm not doing their homework could be in for a shock.
So what changes can we expect to UK law in the year ahead? Let’s take a look.
The no fault divorce
One of the biggest changes to affect UK law in over half a century, the no fault divorce is set to be introduced in autumn 2021. Currently, there are five reasons a petitioner can rely on to file for divorce. However, beyond the reason of two years of separation with consent, each of these requires a level of blame to be laid at the feet of the Respondent. The no-fault divorce will allow divorcing couples to take a different path. A path built less on acrimony and more on civility and collaboration.
It’s a move that’s been widely welcomed. Many commentators believe that the no fault divorce will be particularly beneficial if there are tricky financial issues or children involved. In any event, it will be interesting to see how such a change will impact family law practice.
Originally, changes to the off-payroll tax legislation were scheduled for April this year. However, the events of 2020 meant the legislation was pushed back to April 2021.
What is the IR35?
The IR35 has always been in place to ensure that the correct amount of tax is paid by contractors who offer their services through a limited company (personal service company). Previously within the private sector, the responsibility for paying the correct amount of tax laid with the contractor. Now, it’s down to the businesses using contractors to ascertain if there will be an obligation on the company to deduct income tax and national insurance contributions at source.
For now, the IR35 is set to affect medium to large businesses only. Therefore, if you’re a small business, this is unlikely to affect you. However, if your firm uses contractors, it’s worth keeping up to speed. Particularly if you’re aiming to expand your firm in the future.
Covid certainly overshadowed Brexit, but it didn’t make it disappear. Quite the opposite in fact. Like a bad penny, Brexit pops up just when you need it the least.
You’ll need to make sure your employees are legally allowed to continue working in the UK. If they’re EU nationals, have your staff applied for pre-settled or settled status? If not, you’ll be held responsible if your EU staff members aren’t eligible to work in the UK. It’s all about communication. You can’t apply for settled status on their behalf, but be prepared to offer a helping hand if needed.
There’ll also be changes to business travel. If your firm relies on staff travelling internationally, you’ll need to know what these changes are. You should check the country requirements ahead of time (you can find these requirements on the government website).
When it comes to the laws of the road, there’s a chance that mobile phone laws could become a lot stricter. At the moment, it’s illegal to make and receive calls and texts while driving. That means that technically, it’s legal to take photos, scroll through music playlists, or play games.
As a result, consultations have now started around making mobile phones illegal in all circumstances when driving a vehicle. If this legislation is taken forward, firms might see an increase in the number of criminal cases they’re asked to take on.
The upcoming changes to UK law in 2021 are numerous. As with any industry, you’ve got to be in the know. If you don’t, how can you offer expert legal advice that works for your clients? At Numero, it’s down to us to manage the day to day accounts, leaving you free to do just that.
If you’d like to find out more about our outsourcing services, please get in touch with us today.
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