Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A rant against government stupidity

It has now been officially confirmed that the introduction of the tenancy deposit scheme has been put back to April 2007. One of the reasons apparently is that during consultation the landlords organizations complained that the way the scheme was set up, if the tenant did a runner leaving rent arrears, the scheme would not release the deposit to the landlord who would have to go to court to get a CCJ first!

I sometimes wonder what the people in charge of things nowadays use for brains. Surely it must have been obvious that this is unfair? Why was it necessary for the landlords organisations to have to point this out?

Another backtrack that has taken place recently is the decision to remove the home condition reports from HIPS (or at least not make them mandatory). Conveyancing is not my subject but colleagues who specialize in this work have been saying for months that the system is misconceived, was designed to solve a problem that did not really exist, and that it would probably prove to be unworkable. Now the government are looking silly. Why don’t they listen to advice?

Another own goal is their attempt to destroy the legal profession by threatening their independence, which as reported in The Times today is the subject of severe criticism by a parliamentary committee. Indeed the new President of the Law Society has said that the new wide and "unnecessary" powers taken by the Lord Chancellor will allow him to intervene in law firms - or even dictate that "every solicitor should have a blue-screen saver", if he wanted. Already foreign bars, for example Germany, have warned that if other proposed ‘reforms’ to allow firms to be owned by businesses go ahead they will not be willing to deal with them. The legal profession, particularly in the city, brings in huge sums to this country and is widely respected – why should the government wish to threaten this? What good will it do? Apart from removing the possibility that a vigorous legal profession might undermine half baked government initiatives, that is.

One reason for all of the above may be the desire to appease the consumers organisations (who support all these initiatives) at all costs, and accepting what they say without question. I have no quarrel with ensuring a fair deal for consumers, but the consumer organisations do appear to be unnecessarily skewed against landlords and the legal profession. But it will be dangerous to undermine either as this country needs landlords (to house those who cannot afford to buy) and an independent legal profession.

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