The Home Office has announced that a new definition of domestic violence to be implemented by March 2013 will be expanded to include victims aged 16 and 17 in an attempt to increase awareness that teenage relationships can be abusive and violent too. A British Crime Survey from 2009/10 found that 16-19 year olds were the age group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner. The new definition will also encompass “coercive control”, recognising the damage controlling behaviour and psychological abuse can do.

In addition to legal teams pursuing a fresh inquiry into the deaths at Hillsborough stadium (and possible criminal charges) following last week’s publication of a report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has launched an investigation into the conduct of solicitors involved in the aftermath of the tragedy. Amongst other findings the report claimed that a solicitor advising the South Yorkshire Police recommended that a police chief amended officer’s witness statements to remove “comments unfavourable to the SYP”.

Supreme Court president Lord Phillips (retiring to take on international roles and to be succeeded by Lord Neuberger) has called for law firms to make it easier for senior partners to sit as part-time judges in order to increase the number of solicitors at the bench, and raised the possibility of making it a pre-requisite. Several large firms signed up to the Law Society’s initiative earlier this year, pledging to encourage their solicitors to apply for judicial appointments.

The Government has been ordered to disclose copies of confidential letters that Prince Charles wrote to ministers. The Information Tribunal decided the public is entitled to know how the prince seeks to alter policy, and that lobbying of this kind cannot have constitutional status. The Court held that the prince had been using his ministerial access to promote his charities and views that did not fall under the convention allowing the heir to the throne to be educated in the workings of government.

Peter Thornton QC, the first holder of the new post of chief coroner, has announced that from now on only lawyers are eligible to be appointed as coroners. This does not apply to existing coroners, although doctors currently serving as assistant coroners would now need to acquire the necessary legal qualification before being promoted. Other changes to the scheme include fresh appointments being handed over to local authorities, and that spouses and partners are no longer permitted to be appointed in the same area, potentially following on from the controversy over Amy Winehouse’s coroner who resigned over revelations that she was appointed by her husband. These changes are based on the new scheme contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, which will come into force from June 2013.