Commons Library Research Briefing – “Common law marriage” and cohabitation

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The number of couples choosing to live together (cohabit) without getting married or entering a civil partnership, in what is often called “a common law marriage”, increased by 137% between 1996 and 2020.

Although cohabitating couples do have legal protection in several areas, such as under the law relating to domestic abuse, cohabitation gives no general legal status to a couple, unlike marriage and civil partnership from which many legal rights and responsibilities flow. Many people are unaware this is the case.

This briefing provides information about the number of cohabiting couples, how the law applies to them, the Law Commission’s proposals for reform, and other calls for reform.

You can find the briefing here: “Common law marriage” and cohabitation

Commons Library Research Briefing – Coronavirus: International Travel FAQs for England

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The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper which provides answers to frequently asked questions about international travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus: International Travel FAQs for England

This paper is a compilation of frequently asked questions about international travel from and to England, and how it is affected by current restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper addresses the following questions:

  • What is the international travel ban?
  • What are the reasonable excuses for travel?
  • Who is exempt from the international travel ban and travel requirements?
  • What are the penalties for international travel offences?
  • I’m travelling to the UK, what do I need to do?
  • What COVID-19 testing is required after arrival in England?
  • What is the “test to release” scheme?
  • What is hotel quarantine for travel from “red list” countries?
  • Are there any exemptions from Hotel quarantine?
  • What if I cannot afford to pay for Hotel Quarantine?
  • When can I go on holiday?
  • I can’t fly because of lockdown, but my flight wasn’t cancelled, what are my options?

What is the Privy Council?

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What is the Privy Council?

The Privy Council is an advisory body to the Monarch; its members are known as Privy Counsellors. It is one of the oldest parts of the UK’s constitutional arrangements, with its origins dating back to at least the thirteenth century.

Find out more in this Commons Library Research Briefing which looks at the role and powers of the Privy Council: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7460/

The Privy Council

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What is the Privy Council?

The Privy Council is an advisory body to the Monarch; its members are known as Privy Counsellors. It is one of the oldest parts of the UK’s constitutional arrangements, with its origins dating back to at least the thirteenth century.

Find out more in this Commons Library Research Briefing which looks at the role and powers of the Privy Council: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7460/

Parliamentary Constituencies Act receives Royal Assent and becomes law

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The Parliamentary Constituencies Act received Royal Assent on Tuesday 14 December.  This law will ensure that Parliamentary constituencies in the UK are more equal in size and will make elections fairer.

You can read the Government press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-law-passed-will-make-voting-in-uk-general-election-fairer

The House of Commons Library has some new research documents on the topic.

The Parliamentary Constituencies Bill 2019-21 – https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8921/

Parliamentary boundary reviews: public consultations – https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7696/

Constituency boundary reviews and the number of MPs – https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn05929/

Leasehold high-rise flats: who pays for fire safety work?

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This House of Commons Library Research Briefing considers the debate about who is responsible for paying for fire safety works on blocks of flats in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.  It covers progress in implementing the Government decision to fund remediation work for affected blocks with ACM cladding in the social and private sectors. In March 2020, a £1 billion Building Safety Fund was announced to fund the removal of unsafe non-ACM cladding on high-rise blocks in the social and private sectors.  Ongoing issues include the adequacy of the funding available and how historic defects, such as a lack of fire stopping measures, will be paid for.

Leasehold high-rise flats: who pays for fire safety work?

 

Finding legal advice for your constituents

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MPs’ offices should not give out legal advice to constituents.  You should ask your constituents to seek independent legal advice given by a suitably qualified person with professional liability insurance.

Law Centres defend the legal rights of people who cannot afford a lawyer. They are specialists working in their local communities to uphold justice and advance equality.

There are various Law Centres throughout the country who https://www.lawcentres.org.uk/about-law-centres/law-centres-on-google-maps/alphabetically

Immigration

In the case of immigration matters, it is against the law to dispense immigration advice unless you are registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) or a member of an approved professional body such as the Law Society.

Find an immigration adviser: https://www.gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser

The Public Law Project employs specialist lawyers who assist individuals experiencing personal disadvantage, or charities or organisations representing the interests of marginalised or disadvantaged groups.  PLP also employs expert academics and researchers.

They may be able to take on individual cases that are referred to them by other lawyers, advisors, MPs or voluntary groups.  If they are unable to help, they may be able to signpost you to other lawyers or agencies that can.

Have a look at their page on helping individuals here; https://publiclawproject.org.uk/can-we-help/individuals/

The Unity Project supports migrants who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

Karma Nirvana is a project which supports victims of honour-based violence and forced marriage.  https://karmanirvana.org.uk/

Further information

See the House of Commons Library Constituency Casework Guide to Legal Help: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/legal-help/

House of Commons Guide to Complaints against solicitors and other lawyers: 
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn03762/

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid: https://www.apg-legalaid.org/

From the APPG’s website:

“The APPG on Legal Aid provides bespoke training to MPs and their caseworkers on a range of subjects through the House of Commons Library. Studies and research have shown that as a consequence of the LASPO cuts there has been a huge increase in the number and complexity of legal problems that MPs are encountering in their surgeries. Our training is designed specifically with caseworkers in mind and provided by industry experts. To date, we have provided training in the following areas:

  • Legal Aid,
  • Immigration,
  • Housing Law,
  • Disability and Discrimination Law,
  • Employment Law,
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and
  • Special Education Needs.

Feedback for the courses has been excellent. We have also developed courses in soft skills and interviewing techniques for new casework staff as part of the House of Commons induction process.

For further information about these courses, please check the ACT website.

We also provide briefings for individual MPs and select committees on various areas within legal aid. For further information, please contact Rohini.Teather@lapg.co.uk.”