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Nephew successfully challenges ‘delusional’ uncle’s will

The paranoid delusions which affected an elderly man’s mental capacity to make a new Will were not properly investigated at the time, the High Court has ruled. The solicitor who prepared the Will was aware of 94-year-old Edward Smith’s delusions and suggested that his client should be further assessed by a doctor – but failed […]

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Free Legal Advice: Personal Injury

  • Thu 28th July 2022
  • News

FREE DROP-IN PERSONAL INJURY ADVICE Nailsea Library, Crown Glass Shopping Centre, 23-24 Somerset Sq, Nailsea, Bristol BS48 1RQ 11am to 12pm ON THE FIRST THURSDAY OF EACH MONTH. Come and see one of our experienced legal team for advice. We’re happy to answer any questions that you may have. We’ll either point you in the […]

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Holiday pay for part-year workers

Changes to part-year holiday pay calculations – could they affect you? Part-year workers on permanent contracts are effectively entitled to the same holiday allowance as those who work all year round, the Supreme Court has ruled. This means that some employers could be at risk of receiving an employment tribunal claim for unlawful deduction of […]

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How to make sure you avoid a post-divorce financial claim

An incredible 40% of divorcing couples are failing to sort out the financial side of separation, according to the latest government statistics. Out of 30,600 divorces, just 12,500 couples got as far as a financial order leaving 18,000 potentially at risk of their ex making a claim on their assets in the future. That’s why […]

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Contested Will row

Contested Will row: Why a widow had to lose her home to pay her stepchildren’s legal fees The importance of taking legal advice at the earliest possible stage has been highlighted by an inheritance battle which went badly wrong for one 71-year-old widow. Diana Dale-Gough took her stepchildren to court in a bid to get […]

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Hands up – who has set up a company with model articles and one director?

If this was a real show of hands, it’s likely a fair few of the half a million new companies registered each year would admit to this.  You may, therefore, believe that choosing the Model Articles (Companies Act 2006) is the safe option, however a recent decision (Hashmi v Lorimer-Wing [2022] EWHC 191 (Ch)) has made […]

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One in five employers planning redundancies this year, ACAS warns

A survey carried out by ACAS, an independent public body whose aim is to improve workplace relationships, has found that one in five employers are likely to carry out redundancies this year. For many businesses, this will mean making difficult decisions. A redundancy exercise can be a daunting and stressful process for everyone involved. There […]

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Pregnancy and work – what you need to know as an employer

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination All employees who are pregnant, including casual workers or agency workers,  have protection from pregnancy discrimination from the first day of their employment.  This protection also extends to recruitment decisions before any employment has commenced. There has been an increase of maternity & pregnancy discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal and […]

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Is your Will out of date?

Do I need to update my Will? Nearly half of all Wills in the UK are likely to be out of date, according to new research by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE). Lawyers advise that Wills should be updated at least every five years or when a major change in your life happens – like […]

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Inheritance dispute – Court of Appeal overturns High Court decision

Farmer did have the capacity to change his Will after all – Court of Appeal overturns High Court decision A long running inheritance dispute has taken another turn after the Court of Appeal ruled that a farmer, who’d had his Will drawn up by a solicitor and passed a mental capacity assessment by a GP, […]

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Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud

Good news for victims of financial fraud – why your bank may now have to refund you by law An important court case, and a government promise to amend legislation so more victims are reimbursed by banks and payment service providers, offers some welcome good news for those who have been hit by fraud. Being […]

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Lasting Power of Attorney delays – What to do next

Lasting Power of Attorney delays – what to do if yours is caught in the backlog Lengthy hold-ups in the time it takes for powers of attorney to be registered with the government agency responsible have been reported in the news recently. Waiting times are said to have risen from 40 days to 140 days […]

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Inheritance battle: A 16-acre field, a ‘lost’ Will and another farming family at loggerheads in the High Court

The bitter divide between three sisters and their mother and brother has been laid bare in the High Court amid allegations of child labour on the family dairy farm, harsh living conditions and being hit across the legs with a cow stick. Judge Deputy Master Rhys condemned the sisters’ claims as ‘grossly exaggerated’ and in […]

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Does my business need a hybrid working policy?

The pandemic has changed attitudes towards different ways of working.  These days, employees are demanding more flexibility and hybrid working is seen by many as a key benefit when deciding to accept or leave a role.  Hybrid working can help make your business stand out from competitors, retain staff and have control over your workforce. […]

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Gas safety certificates and Section 21 evictions – good news for residential landlords

In a welcome move for landlords, the Supreme Court has provided some long-awaited clarity on how late compliance with providing a gas safety certificate affects, or rather doesn’t, Section 21 eviction procedures. It finally ends fears that innocent mistakes by responsible landlords in providing tenants with a gas safety certificate could result in them losing […]

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Online divorce – making sure you get the financial side right

Since ‘no-fault’ divorce was introduced last month (April 2022), there has been a 50% rise in the number of applications – many from couples who were waiting until they could end their relationship without having to apportion blame. A new online service has also been launched which means it’s now possible to handle your divorce […]

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Employment: Are non-compete, post termination restrictions enforceable?

It’s a common view that non-compete clauses, commonly used by employers to protect them if an employee leaves, are not worth the paper they are written on. However, if properly drafted and reasonable in terms of protecting an employer’s business interests, a court can and does enforce such agreements. The High Court recently held that […]

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Putting off that Lasting Power of Attorney? Why now is the time for action

The number of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) registered last year plummeted sharply due, in all probability, to the effects of lockdowns, social distancing and shielding enforced throughout the pandemic. This has led to warnings from health professionals and those working with the elderly and vulnerable that a growing number of people have not put […]

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Break clauses and vacant possession – important Court of Appeal judgement

The tenant may have stripped out the property taking everything from ceiling tiles to smoke alarms but, says the Court of Appeal, it had validly exercised a break clause terminating the lease and the landlord didn’t have a leg to stand on. The high profile case of Capitol Park Leeds v Global Radio Services (2021) […]

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Have you been left out of a Will? What to do next

The number of people disputing a loved one’s Will is rising fast with three in four people likely to experience an inheritance battle in their lifetime, according to a new survey. The current cost of living crisis is set to exacerbate the problem still further with hard-pressed families, who feel they haven’t been left what […]

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Further changes to right to work guidance – important information for employers

From tomorrow, 6 April 2022, a new system of online right to work checks will replace the temporary measures set up during the pandemic What does this mean for employers? From this date on, employers will, in most cases, be left with two choices – either check a worker’s right to work documents manually, for […]

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Thinking of divorce? The top ten tips to help you get the most from a free half hour session with our specialist lawyers

Here at Wards Solicitors, we know how overwhelming it can feel to contemplate separation and divorce, particularly when there are children involved. That’s one of the reasons we offer, where appropriate, a free initial half hour consultation to explain the divorce process clearly, outline all your options and help you make a plan for going […]

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Understanding force majeure: Video

Richard Darbinian, Solicitor Associate in Wards’ Disputes team, looks at the meaning of force majeure provisions in contracts and examples in recent case law in this short, explanatory video.

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Do you want a ‘friendly’ divorce? How a collaborative lawyer can help

The singer Adele may be recently divorced but she remains on good terms with her former husband and father of their eight-year-old son. “Nothing bad happened,” she confessed recently in a magazine interview about their marriage. “It just wasn’t right for me anymore.” She and her ex, charity boss Simon Konecki, still live on the […]

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Historic divorce law changes – what you need to know

At long last, the ‘no fault’ divorce bill will come into on 6 April – a move welcomed by everyone here in Wards Solicitors’ Family Law and Divorce team. It is the biggest shake-up of divorce law in 50 years, has taken decades of campaigning and brings in a long overdue, root and branch reform […]

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How to stop a boundary dispute with a neighbour from spiralling out of control

Neighbours who were once good friends have fallen out over just 17 inches of garden in a boundary dispute which has left them both at least £90,000 poorer after legal costs. Even the County Court judge who heard the case (Davis & Anor v Winner [2021] EW Misc 25 (CC) (24 November 2021) confessed it […]

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Can I keep my Will private after I die?

Can I keep my Will private after I die like Prince Philip? The High Court has decided that Prince Philip’s Will is to remain secret for the next 90 years to protect ‘the dignity and standing’ of the Queen. In theory, ‘sealing’ a Will, is an option open to all of us, royal or not. […]

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Why tenants must check their commercial lease is watertight – the drip, drip effect of leaky paperwork

It started with a blocked downpipe and ended with damage so extensive a commercial tenant’s ground floor tile shop was left unusable – yet the landlord was not liable for the downpipe’s repair and maintenance, the High Court has decided. This recent case illustrates the vital importance of making sure tenants have the terms of […]

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Inheritance disputes – why the High Court ruled that Jean Lech was free to leave her estate to exactly who she wanted

A woman furious that her stepmother had cut her out of her £1.2 million Will in favour of her cleaner and a ‘fake’ nephew has lost her inheritance battle at the High Court. Not only did Judge Mark Cawson QC dismiss Anna St Clair’s allegations of fraud as ‘pure fantasy’ he also refused to accept […]

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We’re getting divorced – how will we pay the school fees?

We’re getting divorced – how will we pay the school fees? Amidst the emotional turmoil of separation and divorce, worrying about how any school fees for your children will be met going forward can be a major stress at a time when you just don’t need it. Above all, as parents you will want to […]

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What are the warning signs of suspected financial elder abuse?

The financial abuse of elderly people is a growing problem with a close family member increasingly the perpetrator. A survey commissioned by Hourglass, formerly Action on Elder Abuse, suggests the problem has been exacerbated by the isolation and lockdowns that have accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic. Shockingly, it also revealed that 32% of people did not […]

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Reforming Companies House – what will it mean?

Proposed changes to the way businesses are registered at Companies House aim to tackle, at long last, numerous loopholes that make the current system vulnerable to abuse. The government’s long awaited white paper on corporate transparency has been published after 18 months of consultation as part of its “crackdown on the laundering of overseas dirty […]

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Are mirror Wills a good idea? A High Court probate battle with huge implications for the law suggests caution

When Angela and John Dunbabin decided to make mirror Wills leaving everything to their four sons in equal shares, the way forward in terms of inheritance appeared straightforward. However, when John died in 2019 three years after Angela it turned out he had made a new Will. This changed everything, leaving 75% of his estate […]

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Pregnancy and maternity discrimination – have you been treated unfairly at work?

  • Wed 2nd March 2022
  • News

As an increasing number of women begin returning to the post-pandemic workplace, it’s clear the issue of pregnancy and maternity discrimination has far from gone away. Research carried out before Covid-19 by the Equal Opportunities Commission found that almost half the 440,000 pregnant women in Britain at the time had experienced some form of disadvantage […]

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Parental alienation: what to do if you think your ex is turning your child against you.

A growing number of parents caught in the crossfire of a relationship breakdown are citing parental alienation – where they feel their child is being turned against them by the other parent – as a significant issue. Examples can include everything from negative comments and convincing the child concerned that the other parent doesn’t love […]

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End of self-isolation rules – how will these changes impact employers?

The Government has confirmed that from tomorrow, 24 February 2022, the requirement to self-isolate following a positive Covid test will end. Whilst this is the approach the Government has taken, employers can choose to implement different rules in the workplace. Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and it is important that consideration […]

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Why you need a Lasting Power of Attorney

It is an unfortunate reality that dementia is on the rise with cases set to triple worldwide by 2050, according to a new study by The Lancet public health journal. In the UK alone, 209,600 people will develop dementia this year, which equates to one person every three minutes. That’s why it’s now more important […]

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Landlords: how will the new ‘levelling-up’ rules affect you?

A new set of standards and obligations for private sector landlords in England has been unveiled by the government as part of its ‘levelling-up’ strategy. Housing secretary, Michael Gove, says the measures are to protect private renters but many landlords, already undertaking £10,000 eco-upgrades to meet the government’s Energy Performance Certificate targets, have greeted the […]

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Owed money by an insolvent company? Here’s what to do next.

As the number of companies entering into an insolvency process soars, the chances of your business being caught in the crossfire is now higher than ever before. The latest figures from the Insolvency Service show there were 4,175 creditor voluntary liquidations – where directors decided the business was no longer viable and chose to place […]

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Free Wills and Probate advice sessions

  • Wed 16th February 2022
  • News

Free Drop-in Wills and Probate Advice Service Yate Library, 44 West Walk, Yate, BS37 4AX 10am-12 noon on the first Thursday of each month. Come and see one of our experienced team to discuss your requirements. We’re happy to answer any questions that you may have. We’ll either point you in the right direction or recommend further […]

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How do I make sure my digital assets don’t die with me?

Just how to pass on your digital assets when you die has long been fraught with problems – particularly because many third-party providers don’t make it easy. That’s why it’s welcome news that Apple, the multinational technology company, has announced a new ‘digital legacy’ feature. This allows someone to choose up to five identified friends […]

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National accredited award for Wills and Probate Solicitor Samantha Hosken

Solicitor Associate Samantha Hoskins has been recognised with a national accredited award for expertise in supporting older and vulnerable people. Wills and Probate specialist Samantha has received the Older Client Care in Practice (OCCP) Award, which distinguishes lawyers who provide specialist legal care and support to older and vulnerable clients, their families and carers. It […]

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How will the new Highway Code rules affect you? We look at some of the key points.

Major changes to the Highway Code aimed at better protecting the most vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists are now in force. The new rules follow a major government consultation of more than 20,000 individuals, businesses and other organisations and have been praised by cycling and road safety charities. However, a recent poll by […]

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‘Sexually predatory’ manager who won case for unfair dismissal not entitled to compensation

A senior manager fired for sexually harassing up to ten junior female colleagues has won his case for unfair dismissal because his employer did not follow the correct disciplinary procedures, a tribunal has ruled. John Woods was the deputy chief conciliator for Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) – the UK’s independent and impartial […]

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Violently abusing a partner then inheriting their estate – why the law may soon stop this unfairness

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to look at a loophole in the law which allows convicted domestic abusers to inherit from their victims. It follows a meeting with Tom Guha whose mother Roma, a former GP, took her own life after suffering domestic violence. Shockingly, Roma’s second husband is now set to inherit her […]

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Can employers reduce sick pay for their unvaccinated staff?

As two major companies in the South West announce a cut in sick pay for unvaccinated workers, employers considering a similar move are being urged to tread carefully. Wessex Water, which employs more than 2,500 people, and Bristol-based retailer Ikea have both changed their policies for unvaccinated staff forced to self-isolate after being in close […]

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Commercial property and asbestos – what you need to know

If you are thinking of buying or renting a commercial property built before 2000, it’s still vital to check for the presence of asbestos and determine who is responsible for managing it. This is because there is a legal duty to manage asbestos to protect people from asbestos-related disease which can be fatal. There are […]

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Sacking of employee who raised safety concerns during lockdown was unlawful, Tribunal finds

A great result for Wards’ Employment Team, on behalf of a client who was sacked after raising safety concerns about working during lockdown.  The Tribunal concluded that our client’s dismissal was unlawful. What happened? Wards represented Mr Preen, who was dismissed after raising concerns about the safety of attending work following the Prime Minister’s announcement […]

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Pension providers gain new powers to halt suspicious transfers

New rules aimed at stopping the rising number of pension transfer scams – in which people can lose their entire life savings – are now in force. Between 2017 and 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Pension Regulator logged more than £30 million lost to pension scammers. And between January and May this […]

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Ten tips for a smooth and amicable divorce

It’s never going to be easy but divorce doesn’t have to be a battlefield.  As part of Resolution’s Good Divorce Week 2021, we explain what you can do to ensure your break-up is as pain free as possible: Be 100% sure that divorce is what you both want – there’s less likely to be resentment […]

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Had an accident at work? What to do and how to claim compensation

The number of accidents in the workplace looks set to rise as employees previously furloughed or working from home return to offices, factories, retail and hospitality outlets and construction sites across the country. Unsurprisingly, due to the effects of the pandemic, the number of accidents at work recorded by the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) plummeted […]

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Are you a silver splitter? Make sure you get the later life divorce settlement you want.

Bill and Melinda Gates decided to divorce after 27 years of marriage, actor Colin Firth and Livia Giuggilo lasted 22 years while entrepreneur Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott called it a day at 25 years. Dubbed ‘silver splitters’, they are part of a new demographic – couples in their 50s and 60s deciding to leave […]

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Female same-sex parents and parental responsibility

The number of same-sex couples who jointly raise and parent a child together is rising. In 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics, there were 212,000 same-sex families in the UK, up by 40% from 2015. However, when it comes to the law, it’s not always straightforward for same-sex couples because being a legal […]

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What happens to our family business if we divorce?

Getting divorced is hard enough but when there is a business involved, it can make the split even more complicated and painful. In England and Wales, businesses are considered as matrimonial assets and are a key consideration when couples break up along with other assets like property, savings and pensions. It is the family courts, […]

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Wards Solicitors praised and recommended in Legal 500 Guide 2022

  • Tue 5th October 2021
  • News

It’s celebration time at Wards Solicitors as we have once again been recommended as a leading firm in the South West in the 2022 edition of the Legal 500, an independent guide to the UK’s best lawyers and law firms. This year, we have achieved rankings in four practice areas, up from three last year, […]

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Menopause and the workplace – the hidden discrimination

  • Fri 1st October 2021
  • News

The number of older women in the workforce is higher than it has ever been. In many sectors of the UK labour market, women outnumber men in employment and women between the ages of 55-64 are the fast growing demographic in the workplace. To what extent is the workforce affected? On average, women experience natural […]

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Winding-Up Petitions & Statutory Demands effective from 1 October 2021

Is your bad debtor list shielded by these updated restrictions? The Government has recently announced that restrictions on Statutory Demands and Winding-up Petitions under the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act 2020 (CIGA 2020), which are scheduled to expire on 30 September 2021, will not be extended. Instead they will be replaced by fresh restrictions for […]

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Families could be caught out by inheritance tax as HMRC collections rise, SFE warns

Jenny Pierce, Managing Partner at Wards Solicitors and Regional Director of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) has warned that inheritance tax (IHT) could be a ticking time bomb for many families, following HMRC’s announcement last week that IHT collections for April to July 2021 were £500million higher than the same period a year earlier. Jenny […]

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The Furlough Scheme is ending. What happens next?

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has provided financial support to employers in the form of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as the Furlough Scheme. The Scheme was updated, changed and extended on numerous occasions but it seems that it will end for good on 30 September 2021, having undergone a ‘winding down’ […]

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Why inheritance claims by adult children aren’t always successful

Two adult daughters who allegedly nick-named their millionaire dad ‘the chequebook’ have failed in their attempt to bring a claim against his £2.2 million estate. The High Court decided that Tony Shearer was perfectly entitled to make a Will leaving everything to his second wife of ten years – even if it upset his daughters, […]

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Should cryptocurrency be included in a divorce settlement?

When it comes to the financial side of divorce, couples are under a legal obligation to fully and frankly disclose their income and assets – and increasingly, that includes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. As the popularity of cryptocurrency soars – the Financial Conduct Authority estimates that nearly two million people now own some – it’s becoming […]

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Trust registration service – do you need to register your trust?

Changes to the way trusts must be registered came into force in October 2020 – and it’s important you know what you need to do and when. This is where Wards Solicitors’ specialist Trust Solicitors can help, by talking you through what information you are legally required to supply, registering your trust for you if […]

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Farmer’s final Will declared invalid – despite doctor confirming he had mental capacity

A bitter inheritance dispute which has torn yet another farming family apart has finally ended with the High Court setting aside the third and final Will of 84-year-old Evan Hughes. In what the judge described as a ‘difficult and sad case’, it was ruled that although Mr Evans had his Will drawn up by a […]

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Had an accident involving a rental e-scooter? Here’s what to do next

As anyone who lives in Bristol and Bath will know, renting an e-scooter and zipping round the city is an increasingly popular way to get around. Trials approved by the Department of Transport began last year as part of a drive to promote a mode of transport that reduces congestion and doesn’t contribute to air […]

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Commercial eviction ban extended to March 2022

The ban on commercial evictions due to end this month has been extended again until 25 March 2022, to the dismay of many commercial landlords. Whilst an extension of the current moratorium has been widely predicted, few thought it would be prolonged for a further nine months or be accompanied by new primary legislation forcing […]

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New survey shows client satisfaction levels hit all time high, despite lockdown

An increase in online services, zoom consultations and socially distanced meetings held in gardens to get crucial documents signed safely – just some of the ways everyone at Wards Solicitors has been working harder than ever to bring our services to those who need them during the pandemic. That’s why we were so pleased to […]

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Is a cohabitation agreement legally binding?

The number of people living together, or cohabiting, has soared during recent lockdowns with many deciding to move in together sooner than planned. In these circumstances, a cohabitation agreement is a prudent step. It sets out arrangements for property and assets while you live together as well as what should happen if you split up. […]

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Buying a home in a conservation area – what do I need to know?

Fancy a home full of age and character? Chances are you could be buying in a conservation area. A study by the London School of Economics found that while houses in conservation areas often sell for a premium of nine per cent, home improvements tend to cost more too. There may also be restrictions on […]

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The rise of the ‘predatory marriage’ – why calls for law reform are growing

  • Fri 18th June 2021
  • News

The number of vulnerable people, often elderly, falling prey to so-called ‘predatory marriages’ is rising – which is why an MP is calling for an urgent change in the law. Fabian Hamilton MP says that hundreds of families have contacted him since he first raised the issue in parliament in 2018 and now the Prime […]

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‘No fault’ divorce coming next year

A definite date has finally been set for the long-awaited introduction of the ‘no fault’ divorce bill. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will come into force on 6 April 2022, at last allowing married couples to divorce without blaming each other. It is a change much welcomed by our highly experienced family lawyers at […]

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Should employers allow pets in the office?

Many employees are working from home at the moment, alongside their pets.  Being around animals has long been declared as a way to lower people’s anxiety and stress and there have been muted calls for businesses to allow pets to be brought into the workplace in the past.  However, in the pre-pandemic world, this idea […]

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New era for Wards Solicitors as it announces a new Managing Partner

  • Mon 14th June 2021
  • News

Wards Solicitors has appointed a new Managing Partner, effective from 1 June. Jenny Pierce, who is Head of the Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity practice at Wards and is one of the firm’s long established senior team, has taken on the new position. Commenting, Jenny said:  “I am hugely proud to be appointed Wards’ new managing […]

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Living together or planning to? Here’s why you need a cohabitation agreement

You’re in love, you’re buying a property, you’re not married – do you really need a cohabitation agreement? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – and here are the reasons why. What legal rights do I have as a cohabitee? Unlike married couples, you have no automatic legal rights around finances and property – even […]

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Did you have a cycling accident in lockdown? You’re not alone

The popularity of cycling soared during the pandemic – with, sadly, an increase in accidents and injuries on the road as a result. In fact, reports show that by the end of April 2020, just over a month after the first UK lockdown began, 15 cyclists were killed on the roads – more than double […]

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Careless whisper or careless Will? George Michael’s ex wins pay-out

George Michael’s former lover has won a share of the pop star’s fortune after successfully claiming he was wrongly left out of the singer’s Will. After a long legal battle, Kenny Goss has reportedly reached a confidential settlement with the trustees of George Michael’s £97 million estate including his sister, Panayiota Panayiotue. Can you still […]

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Is there a time limit on bringing a sexual abuse claim?

In cases involving personal injury, including sexual abuse and sexual assault cases, court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years from the ‘date of knowledge’, or 3 years from the claimant’s 18th birthday if they were under 18 at the time of the abuse or assault. The ‘date of knowledge’ is the date on which […]

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Why married couples need to make sure their wills are up to date – and cover all eventualities

The importance of making a will which covers ‘what if’ scenarios, like dying at the same time as your spouse or shortly after, has been highlighted by a recent court case. Alan Bailey died unexpectedly of a heart attack three months after his wife Margaret’s death from cancer. He had intended to make a new […]

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Paws for thought…. avoiding road accidents and injury with dogs and other pets

There’s no doubt that the UK is nation of animal lovers.  More than half of the adult population own a pet, according to the PDSA’s most recent Paw Report 2020, and it seems that dogs are the most popular choice, with around 10.1 million pet dogs living in the UK. As we ease out of […]

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What is Contributory Negligence and what does it mean for personal injury claims?

Even when a claim is successful, a claimant can be found partially to blame for his or her own injuries and this is known by lawyers as ‘contributory negligence’.  If the Court makes a finding of contributory negligence, it will make a percentage deduction in the amount the Defendant is ordered to pay according to […]

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Mediation voucher scheme for separating parents

A new mediation scheme to help separating parents resolve their difficulties amicably and away from the courtroom has been welcomed by Wards Solicitors’ Family Law and Divorce team. The government initiative, designed to alleviate pressure on the family courts already struggling due to the pandemic, will enable 2,000 families to apply for a £500 voucher […]

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New ‘Whiplash Reforms’ – what are they and how will they affect personal injury claims?

  • Fri 16th April 2021
  • News

There are important new rules that will apply to personal injury claims arising from road accidents that occur on or after 31 May 2021. These are the so-called “Whiplash Reforms”. For an injured party, where the new rules apply, it will have a number of consequences upon their claim:- A rise in the Small Claims […]

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SIPP Mis-selling – Holding the SIPP provider accountable for failed investments

A landmark decision by the Court of Appeal could be a lifeline for the many investors who have lost money as a result of bad advice from unregulated firms. Lorry driver Russell Adams was left out of pocket after transferring his pension into a Self-Invested Personal Pension Plan (SIPP) in 2012. He did so in […]

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Commercial Property: Should you get draft Heads of Terms checked by a specialist lawyer?

When a commercial property deal is agreed, the parties concerned generally draw up a document called Heads of Terms, a summary of its main commercial points. Taking specialist legal advice when this document is still at a draft stage can be beneficial for several reasons, particularly because it is so difficult to go back and […]

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Common mistakes with increasing share capital and changing share rights

Have you sought to either increase your share capital (same class of share or additional class of share) or change the share rights of existing shares since your company has been incorporated? If so (or you are thinking of doing so), please read on. We are increasingly uncovering issues (either upon a more general review, […]

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Residential landlords – ban on tenant evictions extended again

The ban on residential evictions due to come to an end this month has been extended again until 31 May 2021. This means that no bailiff enforcement action will be allowed before that date except in extremely limited circumstances. Why has the eviction ban been extended? The government says the move will enable tenants in […]

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Managing a personal injury settlement – what to consider

At Wards, we put the needs of our client’s first and that includes safeguarding our clients’ best interests before and after settlement of a claim.  In most cases, once a claimant recovers damages, no further legal help is needed.  However, there are instances where additional advice and legal help may be required if the settlement […]

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Sports injuries claims – and the issue of consent

  • Wed 10th March 2021
  • News

The risk of injury is a normal part of playing sport, particularly in contact sports.  Injuries happen but most of the time, these are relatively minor.   By taking part, players implicitly consent to a certain level of risk.  However, that does not mean that participants consent to any injury, however caused, and there are occasions […]

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Commercial property – the complicated world of vacant possession break clauses

How to comply with the strict conditions required to serve a valid break clause notice for vacant possession has long been a deceptively complex area of commercial property law. The term ‘vacant possession’ has a specific legal meaning which has been disputed in court countless times. In short, it is more complicated than simply moving […]

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Made a DIY will during lockdown? Why now is a good time to get it checked

The pandemic has prompted many people, young and old, to get their affairs in order by writing a will. In a rush to get the ball rolling, growing numbers have opted for a DIY version, either going online or using a proforma will pack bought from a shop or newsagent. Did you know? Recent statistics […]

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The rise of turnover rents – what commercial property landlords need to know

Although turnover rents have been around for some time, the effect of Covid-19 on the retail commercial property market means they are becoming increasingly common. With more people than ever before now working from home, the demand for office space has plummeted. At the same time, with online shopping sales soaring, the need for warehouse […]

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Can employers insist on C-19 vaccinations for staff returning to work?

Can employees be prevented from attending work, or restricted in their duties, until they provide proof of vaccination and, if so, what are they entitled to be paid? This article first appeared in Practical Law’s Employment and Discrimination Blog.  You can read the full version here There are few who have been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. […]

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How do I register an Enduring Power of Attorney during Covid-19?

Although it is no longer possible to create a new Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), EPAs are still perfectly legal and if properly drawn up, can be registered and used. Now the government has issued specific guidance on how to do this as safely as possible during the current pandemic. However, the process of registering […]

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No more Court of Protection fees on most Child Trust Fund applications

The vast majority of parents and guardians seeking to support a young person’s future by accessing savings held in a Child Trust Fund (CTF) will no longer have to pay court fees to do so. The move could benefit the families of up to 200,000 children lacking the mental capacity to manage their own finances […]

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Supreme Court rules insurers must pay small businesses for Covid claims

  • Mon 25th January 2021
  • News

Hundreds of thousands of businesses are expected to be able to recover losses caused by the pandemic from their insurers, following the Supreme Court ruling. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says it will now work with insurers to make sure they ‘move quickly’ to pay claims to businesses, many of which are struggling to stay […]

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Property law reform bringing new lease extension rights for millions of leaseholders is in sight

The government is to reform ancient leasehold laws in a bid to introduce a fairer system of home ownership in England and Wales. Legislation is planned which will allow both flat and house leaseholders to extend their lease to a new standard of 990 years with zero ground rent paid to the freeholder. These changes, […]

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Covid vaccinations, capacity and consent in a care setting.

As the Covid-19 vaccination programme gets underway for care home residents, it is important to ensure that those residents who want the vaccine can receive it. It is also important to understand the position for care home residents who lack capacity to consent to the vaccine. Public Health England has published consent forms and letters […]

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Sort out your Will this new year or risk ‘pot luck’ with your estate

In a recent press interview,  Jenny Pierce, Director at Solicitors for the Elderly, and Head of Wills, Probate and Trusts at Wards Solicitors spoke to journalist Rebekah Evans at Express.co.uk about the importance of having a Will in place: Jenny said: “If you don’t have a Will, the state will decide who gets what under the […]

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How the parents of Caroline Flack, who died without a Will, are making sure her money goes to her favourite charities

Although TV presenter Caroline Flack did not make a Will, her grieving parents are doing their upmost to ensure the charities they know she cared about still benefit in the most tax efficient way from her £827,000 estate. Caroline’s mother, Christine, said recently: “We will wisely use the money to help good causes that Caroline […]

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Understanding Directors’ Duties

The Companies Act 2006 imposes certain general duties on a director of a UK limited company. Here is an overview of these fundamental duties. Directors are appointed to be in charge of managing or running a company on a day to day basis.  They hold ultimate responsibility for how a company operates and can be […]

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Diagnosed with an illness caused by asbestos but I don’t remember being exposed to it – what do I do?

You may be surprised to know that many people diagnosed with an illness caused by asbestos such as mesothelioma do not know where their asbestos exposure may have come from. Most people now recognise that asbestos is harmful. However, that was not always the case. Back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, employers usually did […]

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Residential landlords – tenant evictions banned until at least next January

Residential evictions have been banned by the government, with no bailiff enforcement action allowed, until after Christmas. The legislation, designed to protect renters struggling with the financial effects of the second national lockdown, came in to force on 17 November. Why has this happened? Although eviction hearings resumed in September following the six-month moratorium on […]

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The hidden problem of abuse against the elderly

Older people today are at an increased risk of financial abuse – it’s a largely hidden crime that takes place behind closed doors but with an ever-ageing population, evidence suggests it’s a growing problem. Uncovering it involves being able to pick up on a number of key signs and this is where using a qualified […]

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Employer’s guide – how do I get my essential workers tested for Covid-19?

If a member of your staff, who is deemed an essential worker, is required to self-isolate in line with Covid-19 guidance, you should refer them for testing as soon as possible. Being able to ascertain who has the virus is not only crucial for slowing the spread but making sure those who test positive get […]

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How new legislation could give your business breathing space from insolvency

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) brings in a number of new procedures and measures to help companies facing insolvency as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. Some of the key changes, which came into force on 26 June 2020, introduce amendments to the insolvency regime and are […]

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Why a Lasting Power of Attorney isn’t just for old people.

There’s no doubt about it, TV presenter Kate Garraway – like so many other people affected by the ongoing pandemic – has had the most awful year. Her husband, Derek Draper, remains seriously ill in hospital eight months after being admitted with Covid-19 and is still unable to communicate with his wife. As he battles […]

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Advising older clients – why it pays to take specialist advice

They are among the most important decisions you will ever have to make – how to finance your later years and provide for your family when you are no longer here.  Some of us may also be responsible for making future plans for an elderly parent. That’s why, when it comes to seeking out legal […]

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Working from home: what are my rights as an employee?

As the UK continues its efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus, widespread working from home has become the new normal for many. So, what are your legal rights as a homeworker, even if it’s only a temporary arrangement? And what obligations does your employer have towards you? Wards Solicitors’ highly experienced team of Employment […]

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Making a Will – why the value of a solicitor always beats an online bargain

In the middle of a pandemic, with many of us working from home or with more time on our hands than normal, it’s hard not to notice that TV and radio advertisements for online Wills seem to be at an all-time high. In fact, internet searches on this subject have rocketed by 400% since March. […]

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Webinar: Business Update for SME’s

Tuesday 10 November 10-11am Book Now About this event: Avoiding common pitfalls for SMEs, and maximising Covid support and reliefs Speaker Marina Maclennan Head of Corporate Commercial at Wards Solicitors, says: “In the current difficult business climate, it is easy to overlook those corporate governance issues which have a nasty habit of causing issues down […]

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Should I include my pet in my Will?

As a nation of animal lovers, most pet owners understand that when you take on responsibility for another creature’s life that responsibility continues until their life ends. But what happens when you are no longer able to take care of your beloved pets, either because you are mentally or physically incapacitated or you die before […]

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Wards Solicitors’ quality reputation in resolving property disputes acknowledged

Four members of our specialist property disputes team have been awarded membership of the Property Litigation Association. Membership is given to lawyers who can demonstrate their success in resolving residential, commercial and agricultural property law disputes, including professional negligence claims relating to property transactions and advice. This covers not only litigation but experience of using […]

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Positive news for seriously injured Claimants requiring special accommodation

Some fantastic news at long last for seriously injured Claimants following a Court of Appeal judgment on 9th October 2020 in the case of Swift v Carpenter[i]. In cases involving serious injuries resulting in a Claimant needing special accommodation, a Claimant will correctly claim the difference in cost between the home the Claimant would have […]

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Wards Solicitors recognised as leading South West law firm

  • Mon 5th October 2020
  • News

Regional law firm Wards Solicitors has once again been recommended as a leading practice in the 2021 edition of the Legal 500, an independent guide to the UK’s best lawyers and law firms. Wards achieved rankings in three practice areas this year by the prestigious guide, which uses anonymous feedback from satisfied clients as one […]

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Working from home: what are my obligations as an employer?

As the UK continues its efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19, the number of people working exclusively from home is inevitably rising. With different areas of the country going in and out of various levels of lockdown, and as we all try to adhere to the government’s guidance on social distancing, this is a […]

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Share Sale vs Asset Sale – what’s best for your business?

A share sale, as the name suggests, will result in the sale of a company (limited by shares) as a whole. All assets and liabilities following with the company to the new shareholders (owners). An asset sale on the other hand, involves the sale of specific assets only leaving the remaining aspects of the company […]

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What is the new Job Support Scheme, and how does it work?

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as the Furlough Scheme, will be replaced from 1 November 2020 by the Job Support Scheme. The new Scheme is designed to protect jobs that businesses feel are viable, but how does it operate? Can employers who did not use the previous scheme make use of it?   […]

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Thinking about a post-lockdown divorce? You’re not alone

The number of couples considering divorce has increased since the Covid-19 lockdown, according to statistics from several different sources. Spending an increased amount of time together is great when you get on well – when you don’t, those extra hours can just exacerbate existing tensions. Throw into the pot the pressures of home working, looking […]

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What residential landlords need to know about the resumption of possession hearings

Important update The evictions ban is now officially over and the courts are dealing with housing possession cases once again. The move is welcome news for beleaguered landlords. Many have been under increasing financial pressure since pre-Covid 19 possession hearings and court orders were first frozen in March, enabling tenants to stay on in rented […]

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Webinar: Video Wills – how do they work?

BOOK YOUR PLACE  Join BRACE & Wards Solicitors to find out about the new option of video Wills. Thurs 15 October 2020 14:00 – 15:00  Free to attend About this event Due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Justice has issued guidance on new rules for witnessing Wills remotely. The new rules introduce video conferencing technology […]

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Why your business interruption insurance could now pay out – good news from the High Court

Some businesses, previously told their insurance did not cover them for a pandemic, should have been paid for losses caused by lockdown, the High Court has ruled. It is welcome news for thousands of struggling firms which say they were wrongly denied cover for the virus and could go bust as a result. The test […]

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A guide to the PSC Register for new and established companies

What is the PSC Register? Maintaining company records and ensuring these records are kept consistently up to date can be an arduous task and made more difficult when additional requirements are imposed. On 6 April 2016, the People with Significant Control (PSC) Register was introduced to aid transparency for UK registered corporations. Its aim is […]

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We are unmarried but our relationship has broken down…..what are my next steps?

During these difficult times, relationships are under even more pressure than usual.  We often see a rise in enquiries following the Christmas period when families have spent a great deal of time together and finances are stretched but a further casualty of the coronavirus pandemic is an increase in relationship breakdowns. If you have decided […]

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No dramas – putting the record straight on Lasting Powers of Attorney

There are now more than four million Lasting Powers of Attorneys registered in England and Wales – evidence that a growing number of people are recognising the importance of putting this valuable legal safeguard in place. However, Coronation Street viewers could be forgiven for thinking that appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)  – a […]

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Top tips: What you need to know before you sign a settlement agreement

Losing your job often goes hand in hand with being asked to sign a settlement agreement – a legally binding document recording your confirmation you won’t pursue a claim against your employer in return for an agreed sum of compensation. The aim is to try to avoid ending up at an Employment Tribunal – a […]

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How a collaborative divorce lawyer can make all the difference

Divorce is tough. But choosing a collaborative lawyer to help you through the process can make a significant difference to what is an understandably emotional experience. As one divorcee, who had first used a traditional family solicitor – and found tensions between him and his wife rapidly rising – before switching to a collaborative lawyer, […]

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Leaving your job – getting the right settlement agreement

A settlement agreement is a legally binding way to bring an employment relationship to an end.  It’s a no-risk method of achieving a clean break on agreed terms. Entirely voluntary, the aim is to avoid ending up at an Employment Tribunal.  You may be offered one whether you are leaving on amicable terms, or have […]

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What do the complex new possession rules for residential landlords mean?

Landlords seeking to repossess a property are now required to provide information about how their tenant’s position has been affected by Covid-19 in their claim. If they don’t, judges have the option to suspend the proceedings. This new, and recently introduced practice direction, will be in place until the end of March 2021 prompting fears […]

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Witnessing Will signatures via video temporarily legalised

New rules making it legal for Wills to be witnessed remotely, via video link, will come into force in September in England and Wales. The change to the law, which will be backdated to 31 January 2020, is designed to make it easier for people to record their final wishes whilst rules on social distancing […]

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Covid-19 related commercial disputes – look at mediation first, say judges

When settling a commercial dispute, the importance of at least trying mediation has been highlighted by three recent cases in which the judge took a dim view of the defendants’ failure to do so. It follows a call from the government for companies to avoid ‘destructive litigation’ as concerns grow that the escalating number of […]

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The family farm – making sure you keep your wealth where you want it

Succession planning for farming families is often complicated but it’s crucial when it comes to peace of mind and avoiding conflict among your loved ones later. Often most pressing is answering the question: How do I make sure that not only are my wishes carried out but that all my children, those involved in the […]

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Wills and LPA – Covid-19 Guidance

As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues, we have understandably seen an increase in enquiries from people worried about making their wills and powers of attorney.  Making a will is one way to take control and give yourself peace of mind that your wishes are properly recorded. We would like to reassure you that […]

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Turned down for a business interruption insurance pay-out? Your claim could still be successful

Businesses forced to close under lockdown rules, only to be told their business interruption insurance doesn’t cover them for a pandemic, should keep a close eye on an important test case. Next month (September), a High Court judge will decide to what extent insurers need to cover Covid-19 related claims against their policies. Seeking clarity […]

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Webinar: Back to Business After Covid-19

Avoiding Redundancies and Managing Cash Flow Thursday 6 August 10-11am Book Now About this event: Joe Nicholls, Head of the Employment team at Wards Solicitors, says: “Making people redundant can prove expensive for a business, especially at a time where cash is key, so using cash to pay redundancy packages can be counter-productive. Redundancies can […]

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Breaches of Repair Covenants in Commercial Leases and Forfeiture

Update: Coronavirus Act 2020 Please be aware that the Coronavirus Act 2020 might affect a landlord’s right to proceed with forfeiture during the pandemic. At time of writing there is a moratorium on forfeiture until  30 September 2020. This is an evolving situation so please contact us for up to date information. Breaches of repair […]

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Age discrimination and the entertainment industry – inherently linked but can it ever be justified?

‘Ageism alive and well in UK broadcasting’. This was Sky Sports presenter Jeff Sterling’s tweet in response to ITV’s decision to remove Clive Tyldesley from his lead role with ITV. His replacement, Sam Matterface, is 23 years his junior. Jeff’s observation may not be too wide of the mark when considering the recent past. Eamon […]

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Furlough Scheme and termination

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is winding down. Many employees are facing the increased likelihood that their employment may be terminated in the near future. For those employees who have been furloughed and receiving less than their normal pay, they need to know what their entitlements are for holiday, notice and redundancy payments if their […]

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Good news for residential landlords – possession hearings to re-start in August

To the relief of many landlords, the government has announced it will not extend the ongoing evictions ban after 23 August with court possession hearings to re-start the day after. This means that landlords, many increasingly anxious about their financial position, can now take some pro-active steps to recover debts owed on rented properties. The […]

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Furlough Scheme update – what employers need to know

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as the Furlough Scheme, has been updated several times since it was first announced on 20 March 2020. The latest changes came into effect on 1 July. The latest guidance introduces ‘flexible furlough’ and how this changes the eligibility and entitlements under the scheme for the next […]

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Can I be sacked for something I did in my own time?

Evidence that extreme views expressed outside work can cost you your job has been illustrated in high profile cases over the last few weeks. Labour MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey, was told to stand down from the shadow cabinet by party leader Sir Keir Starmer after she shared an article on twitter containing an alleged anti-Semitic conspiracy […]

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Has your wedding been postponed due to Covid-19?

2020 will be a year to remember for a number of reasons. For many, it will be the disappointment of delaying the date, postponing the party and waylaying the wedding until 2021. Why not use this time to decide whether  a prenuptial agreement is something that you both want to include as part of your […]

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New Code of Practice for commercial landlords and tenants

The government has published their long awaited Code of Practice governing relationships between commercial landlords and tenants during the current pandemic. The ability of tenants to pay rent has been widely impacted.  The lockdown has prevented many businesses from trading at all with the hospitality, leisure and retails sectors the obvious casualties.  Although the lockdown […]

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Whose right of way? Not your gate to brick up, court tells residents’ association.

For one property owner and their tenant, it must have been quite a shock to discover that the gateway giving access from the end of their walled garden into a private lane had been bricked up Yet this is exactly what happened in the recent case of The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough […]

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New Covid-19 protection for business under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act

New rules to protect struggling companies during the coronavirus crisis have officially become law under the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act, which received royal assent on June 25. The new Act, which was fast-tracked through Parliament, is welcome news for many businesses hit hard by unprecedented commercial difficulties caused by the pandemic. One of […]

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Is the family court still operating during Covid-19?

  • Tue 7th July 2020
  • News

The answer is yes, albeit from behind closed doors for now.  The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly been a challenge for the Courts and Court users, particularly as lock down came into effect so suddenly.  However, the Courts rose to the challenge and very quickly implemented a system to enable remote hearings to take place.  Traditionally, […]

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New: Tenant Fees Act 2019 extended

1 June 2020 – The Tenant Fees Act now applies to all existing Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) and most residential licences, regardless of when the tenancy began. When the legislation was first introduced last June, designed to stop landlords and agents charging tenants unreasonable fees, it applied only to new tenancies and some renewals. With […]

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No-fault divorce gets the go ahead

The long-awaited ‘no-fault’ bill divorce bill has finally been given the green light by parliament – a change welcomed by our highly experienced team of family lawyers at Wards Solicitors. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill has now finished its long journey through the House of Commons and should become law by autumn 2021. It […]

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Resolving co-parenting issues during Covid-19

Co-parenting is often a complex and emotional process, and coronavirus has only added to the pressures that many families face. Wards Solicitors’ specialist team of family lawyers understand the different challenges faced by separated parents, particularly in these unprecedented times, and are experienced in resolving disputes and ensuring child focused decisions are made. Disagreements Recently, […]

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Holiday refunds – making sure you get yours

When it comes to claiming a refund for a flight or holiday cancelled because of Covid-19, the law is on your side. However, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, enforcing your rights is not always straightforward. The competitions watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has received almost 30,000 complaints since the beginning of […]

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Landlords – extension of the eviction ban and recovering rent arrears

With the ban on residential evictions now extended from 25 June for another two months, many landlords will be increasingly concerned about their financial security. The move, introduced as part of emergency Covid-19 legislation, means they will be unable to start new proceedings to evict tenants in either social or privately rented accommodation until 23 […]

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Is consultation on health and safety required before a return to work?

This article first appeared in Practical Law’s Employment and Discrimination Blog and is available here   The Treasury has reported that more than eight million UK workers have been furloughed since the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced in mid-March 2020. The self-employed equivalent scheme has seen more than two million applications for grants […]

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Returning to work post lockdown – the new normal for employers?

The spotlight is very much on businesses to ensure public safety more than ever before. In the short term; Whether it is to allow employees to work for other employers, either to supplement an income or contribute to the care sector, or encourage more volunteering, employers will need to evolve to be attractive for candidates […]

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Returning to work from furlough: legal issues for employers to consider

There will be a willingness, a necessity perhaps, to rush all of your staff back to work as soon as the Government permits. Careful planning can mean that you make this work, but sometimes a more cautious, phased return is likely to be more effective and safer. There are inherent risks with treating everyone the […]

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Returning to work from furlough – what practicalities should employers consider?

The UK unemployment figure exceeded two million in April; the highest level on record. Almost daily, major businesses are filing for administration in what seems like unparalleled numbers. The UK Government has implemented unprecedented, financial interventions since March in order to try to avoid a lasting, economic depression. What is clear is that there is […]

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Inheritance Disputes: what is proprietary estoppel and when might it affect you?

A recent case has illustrated the potential to bring a successful claim again an estate where a person is promised a share of an estate during the testator’s lifetime but no provision has been made in their will. This area of law is known as proprietary estoppel and often involves farms, where a person has […]

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Bringing a claim against an estate under the 1975 Inheritance Act

If you are concerned that someone close to you has died without making adequate provision for you in their will, or if they have died without making a will and no provision is made for you under the rules of intestacy, you may be able to bring a claim against their estate under the Inheritance […]

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Virtual mediation – the ‘new normal’?

For a long time now, parties to a dispute have been actively encouraged to resolve their differences out of court. Indeed, the ancient practice of talking to your opponent and settling a dispute over the phone has now morphed into an ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) industry with many formalised methods of dispute resolution: mediation, early […]

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Shareholder and Partnership Agreements – what are they and when are they a good idea?

Shareholder and Partnership Agreements – what are they and when are they a good idea? (SPOILER: they’re always a good idea!) Shareholders Agreements A limited company is a separate legal entity and, therefore, exists in its own right. A shareholders’ agreement is simply a contract between fellow shareholders.  It can regulate the rights and duties […]

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Are you selling or restructuring your business?

It has become clear that the worldwide economy is closely interlinked with our own and, therefore, events taking place around the globe can cause ripples which cause our own economy significant shock.  Now, having been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, there is continuing and further instability yet to come. As a result, there is likely […]

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Has your business suffered financial loss as a result of Covid-19?

As the impact of Covid-19 continues to spread, we are seeing some businesses incur significant financial losses. Furthermore, as the spread of the virus continues we observe that insurers do not always provide the relevant compensation on the basis of business interruption (BI) cover  that includes viral infections. Of the 6,171 businesses that responded to […]

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FOS award limits increased to £355,000 from 1 April 2020

The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed an annual increase to the award limits of the Financial Ombudsman Service. The Financial Ombudsman Service (“FOS”) is a free service which investigates complaints from the clients of regulated financial advice businesses. It might be said to be on the front line of dispute resolution between financial businesses and […]

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Wards Solicitors welcomes reopening of the property market

The property market in England is set to reopen following the Government’s announcement that lockdown rules for estate agents, home buyers and sellers are being lifted. From today (Wednesday 13 May), new regulations will allow estate agents to reopen their branches to the public, and renters and buyers will be able to view properties and […]

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Wards named as top firm for client service by Legal 500

  • Tue 5th May 2020
  • News

Wards Solicitors has been named one of the top rated firms in the South West for its excellent client service. The Legal 500 Client Service Survey is the largest and most comprehensive survey of client satisfaction across the legal market in the UK. Each year, more than 150,000 law firm clients are contacted by Legal […]

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Administering an estate during the COVID-19 crisis

Suffering a bereavement is incredibly difficult at the best of times, but having to also deal with the administration of that person’s estate can be extremely daunting, especially during the coronavirus outbreak. If you have been appointed to act as an executor for your loved one or have the responsibility of dealing with their estate, […]

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Coronavirus: the Government has no immediate plans to reform strict Will signing formalities

The coronavirus outbreak has focused the minds of many with regard to ensuring their affairs are in order. Making a Will is one way to ensure your wishes are properly recorded and that your loved ones are adequately provided for.  In the current crisis however, you may be worried about the practicalities of updating your […]

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Will the Court of Protection deal with my case during Covid-19?

Will the Court of Protection deal with my case during Covid-19? The Court of Protection has jurisdiction over the property, financial affairs and personal welfare of people who lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. During the coronavirus pandemic, the Court of Protection’s business priorities are being regularly updated on the Government’s website.  At […]

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Are you a commercial tenant?

Frustration As a commercial tenant, you might be entitled to terminate your lease on the basis of frustration due to the current pandemic. In particular this concerns businesses that have been financially affected by COVID-19 to the extent that continuing to pay the rent will be challenging. In other words, you might not be under […]

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Are you a residential tenant?

As a tenant of private accommodation, you might be entitled to terminate your tenancy on the basis of frustration or suspend payment of rent, due to the current pandemic. Prior to getting in touch with us to determine whether you could legitimately suspend any rent payments or terminate the lease on the basis of frustration, […]

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Mental capacity and Covid-19

What happens when a patient who lacks capacity has coronavirus and decisions need to be made? It is important to point out that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 was not amended by the recent emergency legislation to deal with coronavirus and therefore where a person lacks capacity, its best interests decision making principles still apply […]

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An employer guide to Furlough – what do we now know?

The Government has introduced guidance in an attempt to manage levels of unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic. This guidance, known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (aka Furlough Scheme), is guidance only and certain elements of it remain unclear. What is the Scheme? The Scheme acts as a safety net as an alternative to a […]

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Limits to Landlord’s Powers to Evict Business Tenants

The Coronavirus Act 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020 and has increased the protection available to business tenants during the corona crisis. These will apply to tenants of commercial premises such as shops, restaurants, gyms or offices which have a lease under Part 2 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. No right […]

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Lockdown and invalid Wills

One of the most common issues clients ask us to look at, when someone has died, is whether a Will affecting them is actually valid. Far and away the most common challenge is that the person who made the Will (the testator) lacked the mental capacity to do so. Wills, however, can also be challenged […]

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CORONAVIRUS LEGAL EMPLOYMENT ADVICE

Has your employment been affected by the coronavirus? Or are you a small business with questions about your employees? Our specialist Employment lawyers are offering a free 15-minute telephone consultation for anyone looking for advice. Simply fill out the form below and we will respond promptly. All details are confidential.    

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Coronavirus: advice for UK landlords in relation to residential tenancies

The Coronavirus Act 2020 has amended section 8 and section 21 notices under the Housing Act 1988 in that the relevant statutory notice to be given to the tenants prior to issuing possession proceedings has increased, from 14 days to three months, in order to protect those who cannot pay their rent. Recognising the additional […]

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Running a business during Covid-19: your responsibilities as a Director

As a director of a company, you have probably spent the last month or so trying to keep pace with the ever changing world and the even more changeable guidance on working practices relating to COVID-19 and deciding whether any of your staff should be furloughed, all whilst trying to ensure the current and future […]

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Contracts and Coronavirus – force majeure and frustration

As the impact of Covid-19 continues to spread, we are seeing some clients express concern that they may not be able to perform their obligations under contracts with customers. Here, we look at how businesses’ contractual responsibilities may be affected by the coronavirus. First, do I have a contract? A contract is a legal agreement […]

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How does Covid-19 affect my building project?

We look at how the Covid-19 outbreak will affect ongoing building projects for homeowners where they have instructed a builder but there is no detailed contract in place. For smaller projects, it is common for builders to work in line with a written or verbal quote. Government guidance These are truly unprecedented times which could […]

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Update on New Coronavirus Criminal Powers – Individuals

What are the new rules? Subject to further review, no person may leave their home without reasonable excuse. The exceptions have now been clarified as: To obtain basic necessities such as food, medical supplies and supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household (including for pets and animals) and to obtain money […]

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Employers – get ready for important legal changes this April

The world news may be consumed with COVID-19 at the moment, but there are a number of important employment law changes set to happen this spring. Here’s our list of developments that businesses must be prepared for. All of these take effect on 6 April 2020. Written statements All new employees and those with worker […]

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Coronavirus – what are your rights to time off and sick pay?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop, the UK is beginning to see significant disruption to travel, public events and the economy. For employees, there are a number of important issues to consider, whether it’s restrictions on travel to and from work, or questions around sick pay during self-isolation and any ill health. Here, we […]

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Coronavirus – your obligations as an employer

With the UK facing continued uncertainty about how COVID-19 will spread, many employers face a difficult challenge in the event of wide spread infection or enforced restrictions on movement, travel and events.  We look at what you need to know. What should I be doing as an employer? Planning The Government has not yet implemented […]

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Will Trusts – making sure you appoint the right trustees

So you’ve made a Will and decided to include a Will Trust as the best way to protect your assets for those you are leaving behind? The next step is to choose your trustees and crucially, write a separate and detailed Letter of Wishes covering all realistic eventualities to go with your Will. This is […]

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Will Trusts – should you consider one?

The evolving nature of modern day life means more and more people are now choosing to include a trust in their Will. This is due to a number of factors including an increasingly affluent older generation and a sharp rise in the number of second marriages with, as a result, more complicated family structures. The […]

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Islamic faith marriage alone not valid under English law

An Islamic couple who marked their wedding with a traditional ‘nikah’ ceremony but without a civil service were never legally married, the Court of Appeal has decided in a landmark case. It ruled the marriage was ‘invalid’ under English law as the ‘nikah’ wedding was a ‘non-qualifying ceremony’ with no legal effect. This was because, […]

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He told me to keep his money or give it away says brother of man who died without a Will

The chaos you can leave behind when you die without a Will has been graphically illustrated by a recent case at the High Court. Mick Ivory died in November 2018 and, according to his brother Peter, it was his dying wish that the rest of his family didn’t get a penny. “There’s no money left […]

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Uncaring daughter’s attempt to overturn mother’s Will fails in High Court

A mother whose daughter showed ‘very little care for her’ had every right to leave her virtually nothing in her Will, the High Court has ruled. Maudlin Bascoe left a note with her Will which made it crystal clear how she felt about two of her daughters, Patricia Johnson and sister, Beverley Smith who died […]

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Can my employer force me to retire?

It’s no longer legal for an employer to make you retire at 65, or any other age, unless it can objectively prove there is a real business need for you to do so. However, as the recent case of an academic forced to retire before his 70th birthday shows, any employer attempting to impose a […]

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Appeal Court victory for son cut out of mother’s Will

A son left with nothing after his late mother disinherited him and sold the family home she’d always promised him, has won his case in the Appeal Court. Professor Christopher Gosden brought a negligence claim against his mother’s solicitors, on the basis that they had failed to register a legal restriction which would have prevented […]

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New paid leave rules for bereaved parents

Working parents who lose a child will be entitled to up to two weeks paid bereavement leave from 6 April 2020. According to the government, this makes the UK the most generous country in the world when it comes to statutory parental bereavement leave. Many countries provide no paid parental bereavement leave at all and […]

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How this costly dispute underlines the importance of a cohabitation agreement

An unmarried couple who failed to set out in writing how the family home was to be divided if they split, have had their fate decided by a county court judge. Kim Springall argued that the £1.5 million property purchased near Croydon in 2007 was all hers. She said it had been put in her […]

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Intestate estates – spouses and civil partners will inherit more

The amount that spouses and civil partners with children can inherit if their partner dies without a valid Will in place is to be increased from next month. From 6 February, the fixed sum paid to the surviving spouse or partner of someone who dies ‘intestate’ – in other words, without having made a Will […]

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Landlords: Key dates in 2020

Keeping on top of the latest legal changes when it comes to landlord and tenant law is crucial – so here’s our guide to some important dates for your diary. 20 March 2020 – human habitation laws extended The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 is extended to new and renewed periodic and secure […]

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Have you been mis-sold a Self-Invested Personal Pension?

With a much wider investment choice than a traditional private pension scheme, a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) can offer flexibility with investments. They allow people to invest in commercial property, stocks and shares on HMRC recognised UK or overseas stock exchanges, unit or investment trusts, cash deposits or even gold bullion. Individuals can transfer pension […]

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Inheritance disputes – can I get interim payments to help me during my claim?

For those who feel they have not been fairly provided for in a loved one’s Will, the prospect of bringing a long and potentially costly claim under the Inheritance Act can be a daunting one. When there is a dispute over someone’s estate, inevitably it takes even more time than usual to release funds. This […]

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Haven’t been paid your wages? What to do next

January can be a challenging time of year with finances commonly stretched over the Christmas period. For those who are unpaid or underpaid during that time, the effects can be frustrating at best and devastating at worst. Broadly speaking, it is against the law for your employer not to pay your wages. What are wages? […]

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Ethical vegans protected from discrimination at work

A landmark ruling that ethical veganism is a ‘philosophical belief’ is likely to have far reaching implications in the workplace. ‘Ethical vegans’ are people who not only follow a plant-based diet but try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation from their lifestyle. They now have the right to the same legal protection as people […]

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Why making or reviewing your Will is not something to put off till tomorrow

Making a Will is one thing, getting it right is another – as the growing number of inheritance disputes between family members shows. Whilst more than half of all British adults still haven’t made a Will, of those who have, around 54 per cent have never got round to updating it – despite major life […]

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Protecting the family firm with a financial Lasting Power of Attorney

When it comes to a family business, taking steps to protect its future by appointing a financial Lasting Power of Attorney can be a vital safeguard. Without one, the effects on a business can be catastrophic if a key director or shareholder suddenly becomes mentally incapacitated through an accident or illness. It could mean the […]

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I want to divorce my same sex partner. Where do I start?

The number of same-sex marriages ending in divorce is continuing to rise, according to the Office for National Statistics. A total of 428 same-sex couples divorced last year compared to 338 in 2017, an increase of more than a quarter and the third consecutive annual rise since figures on same-sex divorce were first collated in […]

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Delicate discussions – talking to your parents about a Lasting Power of Attorney

It’s not an easy conversation to have – talking to your elderly parents about a time when they may not be able to look after themselves. That’s why so many of us put it off. We don’t want to upset them. We don’t want to talk about death. We don’t want to appear negative or […]

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An office romance – could it affect your career?

Barack and Michelle Obama met at work. So did Bill and Melinda Gates, not to mention Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Considering how much time we spend with our colleagues it’s hardly surprising that so many love matches are forged in the workplace. A recent survey by Totaljobs found that 22 per cent of people […]

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Inheritance disputes – Court of Appeal allows another late claim

A disabled widow facing homelessness has been given permission by the Court of Appeal to bring a claim against her late husband’s estate despite missing the legal deadline to do so by a year. The court, overturning a previous judgement, declared it was ‘just and proper’ in the circumstances to give 60-year-old Ms Suriya Begum […]

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Why you should never store your Will in a bank safety deposit box

The importance of making sure your Will is safely stored and easily accessible has been highlighted by the failure of Lloyds Bank’s to return 9,000 Wills, held as part of its ‘safe custody’ service, to the families of deceased customers. The mistake means that hundreds of bereaved families may have administered a deceased relative’s estate […]

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“He didn’t want to be here” – how a Lasting Power of Attorney meant one man’s final wishes could be respected

If Bradley Visser had not given his wife Lasting Power of Attorney status, he could still be alive today – severely brain damaged, unable to enjoy his life and family in the way he wanted and denied his wish to ‘die with dignity’. The 38-year-old father of two young children suffered a traumatic brain injury […]

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Parental alienation – why spotting the warning signs early is so crucial

When couples separate, the impact on their children can be huge – particularly when one parent deliberately tries to sabotage the other parent’s relationship with their children This is not just parents being difficult with other.  At its most serious, this is known as parental alienation and a recent court case, albeit extreme, underlines just […]

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Executors – what to do if you can’t find a beneficiary

Being the executor of an estate under a Will can be complicated and demanding at the best of times – but particularly so when you can’t track down one of the beneficiaries. In this scenario, it is important to take specialist legal advice to ensure that you as executor do not become personally liable to […]

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Employers: Do your workers use display screen equipment?

Rules to protect the health and safety of employees who regularly use computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones at work are now in force. The Health and Safety (Display Screen Information) Regulations apply to employers whose workers use display screen equipment (DSE) for an hour or more at a time on a daily basis. This covers […]

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Happy New Year for opposite sex couples who want a civil partnership

Opposite sex couples will be able to enter into a civil partnership from 31 December this year. The House of Lords, in one of its final acts before parliament was dissolved for the general election on 12 December, approved the final orders for the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Act to be implemented. As a […]

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Parental responsibility – what rights does it give me?

Co-parenting after a relationship ends can be tough – especially if you don’t always see eye to eye on what is best for your child. Things can get particularly tricky when one parent wants to change the child’s school, for instance, take them on an extended holiday or even change their surname to reflect new […]

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Court of Appeal: part-year workers should not have their holiday pay pro-rata

Holiday pay for staff who work irregular hours for part of the year should not be pro-rated, the Court of Appeal has ruled in Brazel v The Harper Trust (UNISON intervening) (2019) EWCA Civ 1402). It is a landmark decision which could affect thousands of people, including many teachers and school staff employed on zero […]

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Another farming family torn apart by a bitter inheritance dispute

A daughter who worked long hours for low wages on the understanding she would one day inherit a significant part of the family farm has been awarded more than £1 million in compensation. The Court of Appeal upheld a High Court decision that promises and assurances made to Lucy Habberfield by her father before his […]

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Good news: ‘No fault’ divorce bill back on the parliamentary agenda

The widely supported ‘no fault’ divorce bill, dropped when parliament was prorogued last month, has made a welcome return after it was included in the latest Queen’s Speech. Family law experts feared the long awaited Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which was automatically jettisoned when parliament was suspended, would be killed off in the process. […]

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Pop-up shops – not just for Christmas

Christmas is coming and without doubt bringing a new selection of pop-up shops to a high street near you. From pubs to cafes, fashion to make-up outlets, lifestyle to charity shops, the rise of pop-up shows no sign of slowing as the face of British retail continues to change. The UK pop-up industry is currently […]

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Mobile phones and driving – know your facts

As the government contemplates extending the ban on using mobile phones while driving to hands-free devices, the latest research dramatically highlights just how many people are already breaking the current law. A survey by the RAC published this year found that a quarter of drivers across all age groups – that’s the equivalent of 10 […]

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Don’t want to leave your estate to your children? Make sure your Will is watertight

Being crystal clear in your Will about who is to inherit your estate is always important but never more so than when you don’t intend to leave it to your family. In these situations, taking specialist legal advice to make sure your Will is watertight is vital and to ensure that as far as possible, […]

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Don’t lose your decree absolute

We’ve all done it. Pushed to the back of a drawer a document which we know is important but which we’d frankly rather forget all about. But a recent case, in which James Power could not find his decree absolute almost 20 years after his divorce, serves as a reminder of how keeping this vital […]

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Post-nuptial agreements – ‘life insurance’ for your marriage?

An increasing number of couples are entering into post-nuptial agreements, sometimes many years into their marriage, to set out exactly who gets what if they divorce. The rise in second marriages and more complicated family structures is undoubtedly a contributing factor with solicitors seeing around four times as many couples seeking post-nuptial agreements, known as […]

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Compensation for passenger who slipped on aircraft steps

An airline which argued that a passenger’s headfirst fall down icy, snow-covered steps as he left an aircraft did not amount to an accident has been ordered to pay him more than £100,000 in compensation. Essex businessman Carmelo Labbadia, 77, broke his right shoulder and pelvis when he fell down the steps of an Alitalia […]

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Buying a property with an agricultural tie

An attractive rural property for sale at less than the usual market price can seem like an unexpected bargain – until you find out it comes with an agricultural occupancy condition, more commonly known as an ‘agricultural tie’. Agricultural Occupancy Conditions (AOCs) were brought in after World War II to keep rural housing affordable for […]

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Executors: make sure probate property is still insured

Being the executor for someone’s estate after they die carries many responsibilities – not least, making sure that any unoccupied property is effectively insured. Obtaining probate can sometimes take time and insuring the property can easily be overlooked. However, it is vitally important to ensure that the assets of the estate – and the property […]

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Could your family be due an inheritance tax refund?

Falling house prices mean that families who have paid more inheritance tax than they needed to may be due a refund. In the five years to June 2018, around 15,000 families applied for an IHT refund after homes they inherited ending up selling for less than they were valued for at probate. A general ongoing […]

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Deputyship refunds owed to thousands

A large number of people who had deputies appointed for them by the Court of Protection may be owed a government refund of more than £700. The move comes after a Ministry of Justice review found around 82,000 people had been overcharged in fees between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2015. Mental capacity A […]

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Probate fee increases ditched

The threat of a ‘stealth death tax’ which has been hanging over grieving families since 2017 has finally been lifted for good. At long last the government has scrapped proposed fee increases for probate with the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, admitting that charges must be ‘fair and proportionate’. The move follows massive opposition from many […]

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Need a private water supply from a borehole?

If you are purchasing a property in a rural area, there may not be a public water supply available and you may need to access a private water supply, usually from a borehole. A borehole is a narrow, deep hole used to extract water from a water source running under the ground and specialist advice […]

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Exchanged contracts but the seller has died – what happens now?

Thankfully, this situation does not occur very often. However, it can lead to confusion for buyers when it does. Once contracts have been exchanged, there is a binding contract between the buyer and the seller. The death of one of the parties does not change this but ultimately, it will be the personal representatives or […]

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Playback time – is it ok for an employee to secretly record a disciplinary meeting?

Now that mobile phones make it easy to record meetings, employment tribunals often find themselves considering evidence in this format. A growing number of employees now covertly recording meetings with employers, and important clarification on the legal issue has been issued. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has stated that ideally the party making the recording […]

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Planning a wedding? Make sure you know about marriage registration changes

A major overhaul of the way marriages are to be registered could be introduced as soon as this year with potentially huge implications for some newlywed couples. Most people know that the new Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 will allow opposite sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. What is less […]

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Is it a gift or a loan? When the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ helps out

According to recent reports, not all cases where parents lend their children money to buy homes are ending well with an increasing number ending up in court. The so-called ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is now the UK’s 10th biggest lender involved in one in five property transactions, lending an estimated £6.3 billion to family […]

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Number of cohabiting couples overtakes married couples

As Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds become the first unmarried couple to live together in 10 Downing Street, new research conveniently shows that cohabiting couples are now the UK’s fastest growing family type. In fact, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of people cohabiting has risen […]

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Making a Will for a second marriage when you have children from a first

Many people who get married for a second time have children from a previous relationship meaning keeping everyone happy in their Will can be a tricky exercise. But the importance of getting it right now to avoid the potential of a costly and stressful family dispute later, cannot be over-emphasised – as the highly publicised […]

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Why keeping your Will up to date is so vital

Great – you’ve made a Will. You’re ahead of the 31 million UK adults who still haven’t got round to it. But did you know, it’s almost as important to regularly update any Will to make sure that it continues to reflect what you want to happen to your estate after you die as well […]

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Cohabitee wins right to late partner’s military pension

A woman refused her late partner’s military pension because she was still technically married to her estranged husband has won a landmark victory for cohabiting couples in the Court of Appeal. Appeal judges unanimously overturned a previous decision allowing Jane Langford to claim under the armed forces compensation scheme in a ruling likely to have […]

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Can’t find a loved one’s original Will after they die? What to do next

Searching in vain for a loved one’s original Will when you are the executor can be a stressful experience. The law demands that you submit the original Will to be proved when you apply for probate at the Probate Registry – this basically means getting the required permission to deal with and distribute the estate […]

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Inheritance disputes – Court of Appeal gives another late claim the go-ahead

The Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling which refused a widow permission to claim from her late husband’s estate because she had applied late. In what is considered a landmark decision, Lady Justice Asplin said that the High Court had been ‘plainly wrong to come to the conclusion it did’. She gave Mary Cowan […]

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GDPR requests for workplace personal data – faster response times now required

An employer must now respond to a request for personal information, known as a data subject access request (DSAR), ‘without undue delay’ and within at least a month of receiving it. In some cases, for example particularly complex requests or when one person has made several applications, the response time can be extended to two […]

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Want to leave a conditional gift in your Will? Make sure it’s correctly drafted

Careful consideration is vital when leaving someone a gift with conditions attached in your Will. This is to make sure you don’t create potential problems for those you leave behind. A recent High Court case has shown how even the best intentions can go awry if you don’t regularly review and update your Will and […]

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Grandparents: Access to grandchildren when the parents split

More grandparents than ever before are going to court for the right to see their grandchildren, recent figures reveal. Statistics from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that grandparents applied to family courts for almost 2,000 child arrangement orders in 2016 compared to 1,617 applications in 2014. Close bonds with grandchildren are more and more […]

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Claudia’s Law – long awaited legal lifeline for families of missing people

A new law enabling the families of people who have gone missing to apply for powers to look after their financial and legal affairs whilst they’re gone, comes into force at the end of this month (31 July 2019). Claudia’s Law, named after the chef Claudia Lawrence who disappeared in 2009, creates a new legal […]

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Which parent died first? High Court asked to decide in inheritance dispute

The stepdaughters of an elderly couple found dead in their home are locked in a bitter High Court battle over who is to inherit their estate. The question of which parent died first is critical to the outcome. John Scarle, 79, and his wife Ann, 69, died from hypothermia in October 2016. They were not […]

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Public asked for views on extending civil partnerships

Heterosexual couples may soon be offered the chance to ‘convert’ their marriage to a civil partnership. The Government Equalities Office has launched a public consultation to see how best to enable opposite-sex married couples, previously denied the opportunity to opt for a civil partnership, to swap the status of their relationship if they wish. The […]

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Employers must pay agency workers the same as direct recruits

A major change in employment law aimed at improving the rights of agency workers is to come into force next April. The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 repeals what is known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ contract commonly used to employ at least ten per cent of the UK’s 800,000-plus agency workers. The change will affect […]

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Rip it up and start again? How to safely revoke or change your Will

So you want to make some pretty major changes to your Will? No problem – but the key is making sure you do it in a legally safe way – as a recent case highlights. The family of Mrs Agnes Moore, who died in 2016 aged 81, ended up in the High Court after her […]

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Supreme Court rules on landmark non-compete clause case

In what is being seen as a victory for employers, the Supreme Court has upheld a non-compete restriction in the contract of an employee who left her job and went to work almost immediately for a rival company. Tillman v Egon Zehnder Limited is the first employment competition case to reach the Supreme Court in […]

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Protecting the family farm with a pre-nuptial agreement

More and more farming couples are signing pre-nuptial agreements as a way to preserve wealth and ring-fence assets that have been in the family for generations. Farms tend to be much more than a business. They also encompass the family home and a way of life with close as well as extended family, often with […]

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Injured in a car accident on private land? You may be able to claim compensation

A man who was left paralysed after being run down and struck by an uninsured driver on private land is to receive substantial damages after winning a landmark case. In a decision which has huge implications for the motor insurance industry, the Court of Appeal has confirmed a High Court decision to extend compensation rights […]

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Making decisions for young adults with learning difficulties – who knows best?

It’s a Court of Protection decision that has been long awaited by parents of children with severe learning difficulties who want to be allowed to continue to make health and welfare decisions on their behalf after they reach the age of 18. The emotive test case was brought by the families of three young people […]

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Take out insurance says cyclist facing huge costs award

A cyclist confronted with an enormous legal bill after colliding with a pedestrian who was looking at her mobile phone at the time, has urged other bike riders to take out insurance ‘to help protect them from experiencing what I’ve gone through’. Robert Hazeldean says he now faces bankruptcy after being ordered to pay £4,161 […]

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Don’t be like Prince – make a Will

When the singer Prince died without leaving a Will, few could have foreseen the extent of the complications and chaos that were to follow. Three years on from his untimely death in April 2016 at the age of 57, and the wrangles and in-fighting between his beneficiaries and the person appointed by the courts to […]

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Why it’s vital to establish mental capacity when making a Will

When you make or change your Will, the law requires you to understand exactly what you are doing, who you are leaving your estate and personal possessions to and the full implications of this. In legal parlance, it’s known as being ‘of sound mind’ and in a world where the number of Wills being challenged […]

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Second marriage? Put a pre-nup on your wedding list

More people than ever before are getting married for a second or even third time – and as a result, there has been a significant increase in couples who want the security of a pre-nuptial agreement before they tie the knot. An astonishing 40 per cent of all weddings in the UK are second or […]

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Construction industry – take care when starting work with a ‘letter of intent’

The far reaching implications of a ‘letter of intent’, and the potential liability which may arise as a result, have been highlighted after the Court of Appeal decided that a 15-year-old letter between an employer and a contractor did indeed amount to a contract. The case – Arcadis Consulting (UK) Ltd v AMEC (BCS) Ltd […]

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Gifts and payments – just what can you do under a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Being appointed to act as someone’s attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney is a big responsibility – not to mention potentially fraught with issues, particularly when it comes to the complex area of making gifts on that person’s behalf. The bottom line is that whilst some gifts, such as a small birthday present to […]

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Need to contest a DIY Will? You are not alone

The significant rise in inheritance disputes between family members has been further fuelled by the increasing number of people opting to make DIY Wills. The number of these sorts of disputes ending up in the court room has increased by 62 per cent over two years with the growing popularity of DIY Will writing kits […]

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Aretha Franklin’s handwritten Wills – don’t make the same mistake

It was thought that singing legend Aretha Franklin had died without leaving a Will – until three homemade and handwritten versions, one found tucked behind cushions in her living room, were reportedly discovered at her Detroit home recently. A court hearing is scheduled for next month to try to establish which, if any, of the […]

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Making gifts to your family – don’t get it wrong when it comes to Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is not only controversial but incredibly complex and as a result, widely misunderstood – especially when it comes to getting your head around exactly what and how much you can gift to your family. Figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph though a Freedom of Information request show that HMRC has claimed £372 […]

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Why a DIY Will can be an expensive mistake

The potential danger of DIY Wills has been highlighted by a significant surge in the number of disputes ending up in the court room. There has been a dramatic 62 per cent increase over two years with 368 disputes about probate – the legal process for executing a Will – heard in the High Court […]

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Disputed Will – Sisters say wealthier brother should inherit less than them

Just how complicated things can get when there is a breakdown in family communication has been highlighted by one of the latest inheritance disputes to reach the High Court. Sisters Jennifer Penny and Catherine Kennard have asked a judge to rule in favour of an earlier Will that left them 40 per cent each of […]

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Contractors: keep an accurate written brief or risk being found professionally negligent

In a case which emphasises the vital importance of contractors keeping accurate and up-to-date written project briefs, an architect who kept inefficient records has been ordered to pay a homeowner £500,000 due to his professional negligence. The row centred around a home cinema which was supposed to look like a glass box ‘floating’ in the […]

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Farming family inheritance fallouts – disputes on the rise

An increasing number of people are ending up in court claiming a promise that they will one day inherit the family farm has been broken. The latest case involves dairy farmer’s son, Andrew Guest, who was awarded a £2.7 million share of the family farm, land and business by a Bristol High Court judge even […]

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‘Wake up call’ for private sector as museum guides declared workers by court

In a potentially ground breaking case, a group of museum art experts and educators have won the right to be recognised as workers in the first public sector case of its kind. It is just the latest in a string of cases about employment status – including Uber, Hermes, CitySprint and Pimlico Plumbers – which […]

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New baby like Meghan and Harry? Why it’s time to make a new Will

The arrival of a new baby is an incredibly emotional and exciting time for parents – as Harry and Meghan are no doubt finding out. But when the dust settles, and life returns to some semblance of normality – sleepless nights and nappy changing aside – it’s time to make sure your child is provided […]

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Lasting Power of Attorney – why getting the paperwork right is so crucial

The importance of making sure Lasting Power of Attorney paperwork is carefully and precisely drafted has been underlined by the highlighting of an issue which could leave many people unwittingly denied access to their money and investments. A record number of people, worried about losing mental capacity in the future, are now handing over control […]

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When farming couples split – tackling the problems of a complex divorce

Getting divorced can be complicated – and never more so than when it comes to a farming divorce. Currently, 42 per cent of all marriages end in divorce and there are a number of factors which make farming couples particularly vulnerable to relationship breakdown including long hours, money worries, stress and social isolation. Add to […]

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Will your pre-nuptial agreement stand the test of time?

More couples than ever before are signing pre-nuptial agreements before getting married or entering into a civil partnership. This includes couples seeking to preserve inherited wealth, those in second marriages wishing to protect what they are bringing to the new relationship and wealthy couples who marry late and want to protect wealth they have created […]

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Registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney hits new high

A record number of people, worried about losing mental capacity in the future, are handing over control of their financial, legal and health-related decisions to family members. Last year, the number of newly registered Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) hit a new high of 800,400, compared to 273,600 in 2013, reflecting, many believe, the concerns […]

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How leaving money to charity in your Will can lower your inheritance tax bill

Gifting money to charity in your Will can reduce your inheritance tax (IHT) bill – and in some, albeit rare cases, get rid of it all together. All charitable giving is tax free and gifts to UK charities are exempt from IHT. So, when you include a charity in your Will, the amount you donate […]

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Compensation for Weston-super-Mare cyclist injured in ‘car dooring’ accident

Wards Solicitors’ Personal Injury specialist Helen Boyd has won compensation for a cyclist who suffered neck injuries in a ‘car dooring’ incident in Weston-super-Mare. The man involved was cycling down a quiet side road lined with parked cars on a clear, dry September afternoon last year when the accident happened. A driver in one of […]

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Truffle farm investment scam – could you bring a claim?

Unwitting victims of a major scam which tricked people into investing in non-existent truffle farms are being urged to take legal advice to assess their position and see what their options are. Five connected companies have now been wound up by the High Court amid reports by the Insolvency Service that more than 100 investors […]

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Second ‘true value’ adjudication cannot be used to set off sum owed in the first ‘smash and grab’ adjudication

The case of M Davenport Builders v Greer (2019) has confirmed that a party to a construction contract cannot use a second, ‘true value,’ adjudication decision to avoid paying an earlier ‘smash and grab’ adjudication. What happened in this case? The contractor, Davenport, carried out construction works for the Greers. There were no provisions in […]

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Legal by end of 2019 – civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples

Heterosexual couples in England and Wales who wish to enter into a civil partnership will be able to do so by the end of the year. A Private Members Bill, brought by MP Tim Loughton, has received Royal Assent meaning it will now become law, a move which has been heralded as a victory for […]

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Ending the blame game – historic change to divorce law will happen

The government is preparing to implement the biggest shake-up of divorce law in half a century with ‘no fault’ divorce a real possibility at last. The change, aimed at enabling couples to split up faster and with less acrimony and blame, will be introduced – says Justice Secretary David Gauke – as soon as parliament, […]

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Can I provide for my pet in my Will?

Before the iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld died, he put plans in place to make sure his cat Choupette would be well looked after when he was gone. Choupette, who has her own Instagram account and reportedly eats only from the finest china, will undoubtedly, thanks to her owner’s forward planning, live out the rest […]

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Could a family heirloom reduce your inheritance tax bill?

A little known scheme allows families liable for inheritance tax after the death of a loved one to offer up historically important artwork, furniture, artefacts and collections to the nation in lieu of paying all or part of their bill. The Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme, designed to preserve important assets of national significance within […]

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Online probate changes – fake Wills more likely to go undetected say civil servants

At the same time as the Government prepares to cash in on massive increases in probate fees, it is attempting to save money by handing over the vital Will verification process currently handled by experienced civil servants to a private ‘bulk scanning firm’ which will use an automated system. The scheme, which just like the […]

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Worker denied rest breaks wins personal injury award

Employment Tribunals can now award personal injury damages to workers refused permission to take statutory rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations 1998. In the ground-breaking case of Grange v Abellio London Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal approved an award of £750 to a worker who said he suffered physical discomfort after being refused rest […]

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Act now to beat probate fee increases delayed by Brexit

With Parliament so tied up with Brexit it can consider little else, probate fee hikes set to be introduced this month have been postponed giving bereaved families more time to apply while the lower cost limits are still in place. So consumed has the House of Commons been by Brexit, it has not had time […]

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Inheritance disputes – why bringing a late claim may still be worth considering

If you are unhappy with the provision made for you in a Will, it may still be well worth taking advice to see if you can bring a claim even if you have missed the strict legal deadline for doing so. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 says that a claim must […]

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Later life planning – why talking to your children about what you want is vital

More and more, we are all urged to ‘live in the moment’ – to make the most of the here and now and not to worry about the future. After all, who knows what might be round the corner? A commendable philosophy to live by – except when it comes to later life planning, things […]

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With probate fee increases looming – now is the time for action

With a new tier of probate fees set to be introduced next month (April 2019), it is worth taking stock now to see what you can do to potentially limit the amount you may have to pay. The House of Lords has voted the government’s proposal through, albeit reluctantly, with the House of Commons set […]

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Caring for an elderly family member – could you be paid for what you do?

With the social care system under increasing pressure, families are perhaps more than ever struggling to find affordable and sustainable care solutions for elderly relatives. Whilst many elderly people understandably want to receive care in their own homes, it can be difficult to find the right care package and often family members step in to […]

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Financial watchdog increases compensation limit for consumers and businesses

A new higher compensation limit of £350,000 for consumers who have their complaints against financial services companies upheld by the UK’s financial watchdog will come in to effect next month (April 1). It is an increase of £200,000 from the current £150,000 maximum and will also now be adjusted every year in line with inflation. […]

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Cyclists – have you been involved in a ‘car dooring’ incident?

The problem of ‘dooring’ – when a cyclist is knocked off their bike by a car door being opened in their path – is getting worse and Bristol has one of the worst records in the country. The city has the highest incidence of this type of accident outside London with 121 cyclists injured, 16 […]

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Right to Rent – ‘discriminatory’ and against human rights but still in force for now

The government’s controversial Right to Rent scheme, hated by landlords and tenants alike, has been branded ‘discriminatory’ and in breach of human rights laws by the High Court. Introduced as part of Theresa May’s attempt to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants, Mr Justice Martin Spencer  said the scheme had ‘little or no effect’  […]

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Equal Pay – the battle heats up

The pay gap between men and women is a hot topic, as Asda supermarket workers win a significant victory and a Morrisons group begins legal action. Four of the UK’s supermarket chains – Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – now all face claims from upwards of 35,000 workers. These are mostly women alleging they were […]

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A fast and efficient way through mass redundancy settlement agreements

As an employer, managing the requirements of a collective redundancy process – when a group of employees is asked to enter into settlement agreements – can be complex and demanding but there are some key ways that specialist lawyers here at Wards Solicitors can help. Proposing a single law firm to advise all your employees […]

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Home owners’ consumer group calls for regulation of ‘murky’ online property auction sector

Consumer group HomeOwners Alliance (HOA) says agents are securing increasing income from the use of online auctions – termed ‘the modern auction’ by online operators – but warns there are pitfalls for buyers and says the growing sector is ‘murky’. This is how it works: The property is offered for sale in an eBay style auction. The successful bidder then has a set […]

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Do you think you are too old to buy property or get a mortgage?

Older Peoples Shared Ownership scheme – Help to buy – Mortgages and Equity Release If you think you are too old to buy a new home or get a mortgage then you may well be wrong as the markets have moved and changed for the better for ‘older’ people. Why is this? Lenders have recognised […]

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‘Right to Manage’ – the story so far and proposals for reform

Almost a year ago, the Law Commission published its terms of reference and pledged that the Law Commission’s leasehold reform recommendations to government will provide a “better deal for leaseholders”. The Law Commission’s residential leasehold and commonhold project aims to improve consumer choice, provide greater fairness, and make the process of enfranchisement easier, quicker and […]

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Every little helps – leaving your loyalty card points in your Will

Loyalty points – we faithfully collect them throughout a lifetime of shopping but few of us know that in many cases we can actually leave them to our loved ones when we die. Recent figures show that British shoppers accumulate the annual equivalent of £5.7 billion in loyalty points from high street retailers, averaging out […]

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So let’s talk Commonhold

Scandals and issues and problems surrounding leaseholds have recently been very newsworthy. In the background however the Law Commission last year published terms of reference for leasehold reform. Included in this are reforms to ‘commonhold’ ownership. This little known form of ownership is not new but became law in 2004, as a new way to own property […]

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Protecting your property from fraud

Fraud and scams are now a fact of daily life, and no environment is safe. Not our doorsteps, telephones or Inboxes. Emails bring malware, and cybercriminals lurk whilst we are online to trick us into giving away personal details, goods or money. The elderly and most vulnerable in our community are targeted, but the reality […]

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Stamp Duty and the first time buyer (England only)

From 22 November 2017 ‘First Time Buyers’  have benefited from a  concession in respect of stamp duty land transaction tax (SDLT), commonly known as stamp duty, to reduce their upfront costs and this was subject to an important change in the 2018 Budget for buyers of shared ownership leases. This applies only to property in […]

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Home buying reservation agreements to be tested

In a recent speech by Housing & Homeless Minister Heather Wheeler MP at the Council for Licenced Conveyancers conference the MP outlined challenges in the government’s commitment to reforming the conveyancing process to make buying and selling quicker cheaper and less stressful. According to government research: Somewhere between 25-33% of transactions fail, costing £270 million […]

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The Help to Buy: ISA Scheme

If you are saving to buy your first home, save money into a Help to Buy: ISA and the Government will boost your savings by 25%. So, for every £200 you save, receive a government bonus of £50 up to a maximum of £3,000. But ending 20 November 2019! This popular scheme however is due […]

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Wards Solicitors welcomes new guidelines on the payment of referral fees to estate agents

New proposals on the payment of referral fees to estate agents are expected to be announced next month, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Matt Prior, head of the Ministry of Housing’s Home Buying and Selling Team told the Guild of Property Professionals’ annual conference: “The Government wants transparency on referral […]

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Woman wins £325,000 from late partner’s estate after ‘sad dispute’ with his daughters

A woman misled into moving out of the home she’d shared with her partner by his two daughters after he died has won her claim for reasonable financial provision from his estate. Carole Taylor, 70, was awarded £325,000 after a judge ruled that she and James Redmond, whilst not married, had lived together as man […]

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More gender pay gap figures out soon

By 4 April 2019, all private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more staff must once again publish their annual gender pay gap data. It’s the second year running that employers have been required to publish the average pay of both men and women employees, including basic pay and any bonuses. The information must […]

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Yet another survey shows common law marriage myth still exists

The urgent need to raise awareness of the fact that partners who live together do not have the same legal protection as married couples has been highlighted by a new survey. Almost half of people in England and Wales still wrongly believe that cohabiting couples have a ‘common law marriage’ giving them the same rights […]

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Employer reminder: new payslip legislation comes into force this April

From 6 April 2019, employers must provide detailed and fully itemised payslips for casual, agency and bank staff and zero-hours workers. The legislation, which already applies to permanent employees, is designed to make it easier for workers to understand their pay, ensure they are being paid correctly and challenge their employer if they have been […]

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Selling your flat – our top ten tips

Although the end result makes it all worthwhile, buying or selling a home can be pretty stressful, and a flat or leasehold sale can have its own challenges. The most commonly sold/purchased leasehold properties are flats or maisonettes, unfortunately more often than not accompanied by more than their fair share of problems and delays. However, […]

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Buying off-plan? How to make sure your deposit is as safe as houses

Purchasing a house or flat before it’s been built, known as off-plan, can be a great way of potentially grabbing a property in an up-and-coming area at a bargain price. With schemes such as Help to Buy equity loans and the supposedly upcoming Starter Homes Initiative for first time buyers in England (no start date […]

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Universal Wealth Preservation saga continues

The director of Universal Wealth Preservation (UWP), which collapsed taking the life savings of hundreds of people with it, has been jailed for eight months. A large number of people who had entrusted their money to UWP believing they were protecting their estates from care home fees and inheritance tax, have been left unable to […]

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Landlords: new ‘fit for human habitation’ legislation coming into force soon

A new act requiring all property rented out by a landlord to meet a ‘fit for human habitation’ checklist will become law in March this year. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 means all social and private landlords (or agents acting on their behalf) must ensure properties are up to scratch when it […]

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New Year, new start – new drug and alcohol testing policy?

It’s that time of year when many employers start to wonder whether it might be a good idea to put a drug and alcohol testing policy in place. There are up to 17 million working days lost annually in the UK because of alcohol-related sickness, according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies. One in 12 […]

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Just office banter? Why it’s not always a joking matter

Employers should remember that office banter must never go too far – even though a tribunal has ruled that a sacked salesman, called a “fat ginger pikey” by his colleagues in an office where “jibing and teasing” were commonplace, was not the victim of harassment. David Evans, who worked for the global software company Xactly […]

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Can I spend my savings now even though I might have to pay care home fees in the future?

Trying to look ahead, plan and budget for older age can be stressful enough without worrying about the complex rules which now govern the system of paying for any care you may need in the future. A growing number of people are becoming increasingly anxious about what they can and cannot do when it comes […]

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Know your lawyer – Wards Solicitors welcomes new rule requiring law firms to publish staff qualifications

From this week, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is introducing new rules to ensure all solicitors’ practices give more information on their websites. The aim is to make it easier for clients to compare the general level of fees for some types of work and also to compare the qualifications and experience of the lawyers […]

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Gifts and Inheritance Tax – making sure you don’t mess up

Complex and confusing not to mention potentially costly and upsetting – Inheritance Tax law is not an easy subject to get your head around. But two new reports have shed fresh light on just what a minefield Inheritance Tax (IHT) rules are and how hundreds of people are losing out every year as a result: […]

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Divorce – important developments on spousal maintenance

It’s an issue that has long been debated – are post-divorce maintenance orders with no end date a ‘meal ticket for life’ or an appropriate and sensible way of ensuring an ex-partner’s ongoing needs are fairly met? Now, two important legal developments seem to shed some light on this emotive area of the law: The […]

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Why the growing complexity of modern families mean inheritance disputes are on the rise

Second marriages, blended families, children from more than one relationship – the complex structural nature of many modern families means it has never been more important to make a Will to avoid problems after you die. Sadly, inheritance disputes can rip families apart. Bitter and expensive conflict can ensue when a loved one either hasn’t […]

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Selling your home with a solar panel lease – not always sunshine and roses

Solar panels may be good for both the environment and your energy bills but for some homeowners they can prove to be an issue when it comes to selling up. Sometimes, problems can arise for those who have chosen to effectively lease their roof, or part of it, to a solar power company in return […]

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When the Christmas office party leads to a punch-up

Christmas party season is upon us. While there may be plenty of reasons to be jolly, a recent court ruling serves up a sobering reminder of how badly things can go wrong when excessive drinking comes into the party mix. The Court of Appeal has ruled that a recruitment company was vicariously liable for the […]

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Inheritance Trusts – is a shake-up on the cards?

Trusts set up to mitigate inheritance tax are to come under scrutiny from the government as it begins a review to see if the system could be made ‘simpler, fairer and more transparent’. It has launched a 12-week consultation period seeking views and evidence on whether there is a need to reform trust taxation, a […]

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Want to buy a property with a short lease? What you can do

So, you have found the property of your dreams but it has a short lease. Should you walk away or go for it? Many people think that buying a home with a short lease term is a total no no. But there are several options worth considering as you weigh up the pros and cons […]

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Court of Appeal deals ‘smash and grab’ adjudication hefty blow – but employers must still pay first, argue later

The Court of Appeal, as predicted, has confirmed that employers do indeed have the right to challenge the ‘true value’ of a contractor’s interim application in a subsequent adjudication. It upheld a ruling made by Mr Justice (now Lord Justice) Coulson in the Technology and Construction Court earlier this year in the case of Grove […]

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Employer responsible for malicious data breaches

Supermarket chain Morrisons was recently held liable for the actions of an employee who deliberately caused a massive data breach – despite being able to show it had effective data protection controls in place. Information including the names, addresses, bank account and salary details of almost 100,000 staff, was posted on a file sharing website. […]

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Government’s probate fee rises amount to ‘stealth inheritance tax’

The government has resurrected highly controversial plans to dramatically increase probate fees in a move condemned as a way of introducing a stealth inheritance tax. The changes, which mean that some families will pay almost £6,000 more in probate fees, are to be introduced next April. Unjustified and unfair According to the government, the increase […]

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Putting a ‘common tragedy clause’ in your Will – not just for the wealthy

Planning for what might seem the unlikeliest of scenarios in your Will is vital to ensure you stay in control of who inherits your estate – as the recent tragic death of millionaire businessman Richard Cousins shows. Mr Cousins died when a seaplane, which belonged to a firm running sightseeing tours near Sydney, Australia, crashed […]

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Important update: whiplash reforms set to become law

Controversial legislation to reduce whiplash insurance claims has now passed successfully through the House of Commons – to the dismay of personal injury lawyers concerned about how it will affect access to justice for ordinary people. The third reading of the Civil Liability Bill was approved by 56 votes with the government successfully defeating Labour […]

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Cohabiting siblings – is a change in the law in sight?

Mixed-sex couples are now to be allowed the option of a civil partnership – so why not siblings who own and share a home? Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh said recently: “Why should siblings who’ve lived together for years have to pay estate duty when one dies?” It seems a fair question and one that […]

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Did you go to a Universal Wealth Preservation ‘Keep it in the Family’ seminar?

The number of people contacting solicitors like ourselves with concerns about Universal Wealth Preservation (UWP) has continued to grow – and it is estimated that as many as 8,000 people could have set up trusts with the now discredited company and its related firms. This unregulated company, which ran seminars locally in the South West, […]

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Divorcing for adultery? Why naming the co-respondent is a bad idea

The desire to wreak revenge on an unfaithful spouse is, many would agree, an entirely natural one – but naming the person they cheated on you with in your divorce petition is an urge worth resisting. Whilst it may seem tempting, and entirely fair considering the circumstances, to ‘name and shame’ this third party – […]

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The real price of the ‘gay cake’ case

The cake itself cost just £36.50 but the legal battle it sparked has racked up total legal fees of nearly £500,000 and done little to clarify a complex area of discrimination law. The row began back in 2014 when a bakery managed by Christians in Northern Ireland refused to make a cake with a slogan […]

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Cohabitee wins reasonable financial provision claim from deceased partner’s estate

A disabled man left just £5,000 in his cohabiting partner’s Will after a 20 year relationship and faced with having to move out of the home they shared, had not had reasonable financial provision made for him, the High Court has ruled. In the recently heard case, Mr Andrew Banfield was awarded a life interest […]

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Ending the blame game when it comes to divorce

The prospect of no-fault divorce has come one step nearer with news that the government has launched a public consultation on changes to the current system – a move welcomed by Wards Solicitors. Blame, bitterness, accusation and confrontation have become the hallmark of many divorces in England and Wales with one spouse forced to prove […]

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Asbestos related illness – claiming compensation

Up and down the country, every day, people are being diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses even though the use of asbestos in its most dangerous forms has been illegal for decades with all types eventually banned by law in 1999. It’s a shocking fact that asbestos currently kills around 5,000 workers a year – that’s more […]

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Japanese knotweed: Court of Appeal sheds light on a growing problem

Japanese knotweed. Two words that can strike fear into the hearts of house buyers and sellers everywhere – especially with the media full of alarmist reports about the havoc this plant can wreak. But now, the Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of two householders whose homes were affected by the voracious weed in […]

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Can you claim a refund on your LPA application?

If you applied for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, you were overcharged and can now claim a refund of up to £108. Around one million people will be eligible but so far, less than 200,000 valid claims have been dealt […]

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Why now is the time to review your Enduring Power of Attorney

Looking to the future and making plans to allow those you trust to make emergency decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity has long been encouraged. In the past, many people made an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) to do this. In 2007, EPAs were replaced by Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), governed […]

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Making a Will? Don’t forget your digital assets

Have you ever thought about what will happen to your Facebook photographs, your digital music and film collections not to mention your on-line bank accounts when you die? If you haven’t, you are not alone – research by the Law Society has revealed that more than 70 per cent of people have never given the […]

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Court of Protection authorises £6 million ‘gift’ to son of a woman with dementia

A son acting as an attorney for his mother, who has dementia and needs full time care, has been allowed to ‘give’ himself £6 million out of her £18.6 million estate to save inheritance tax when she dies. The Court of Protection, which considers issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make […]

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Opposite-sex couples can now have a civil partnership

In a move which has been heralded as a victory for equality, the right to enter into a civil partnership is to be extended to heterosexual couples. Since March 2014, opposite-sex couples have been denied the choice open to same-sex couples of picking either a civil partnership, which brings the same legal protection as marriage, […]

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Crucial reminder to landlords about changes to eviction rules

Landlords and letting agents are being urged to make sure they are clear on changes to the rules for evicting a tenant which come into force this week (1 October 2018). Section 21 eviction rules introduced under the Deregulation Act 2015 are now being extended to apply to all assured shorthold tenancies and not just […]

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Protect cohabiting couples from being forced into deathbed marriages

A rise in the number of deathbed marriages has led to renewed calls to improve legal and financial protection for cohabiting partners, many of whom still mistakenly believe they have the same rights as married couples. It is a move backed by Wards Solicitors’ Partner, Jenny Pierce, Head of the Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity […]

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Freeholders – is forfeiting a lease a fair way to deal with a difficult tenant?

A freeholder has used the ‘ultimate sanction’ of forfeiture to deal with a problematic leasehold tenant who breached his lease by installing a new kitchen, bathroom and central heating system without permission. As a result, and highly unusually, the leaseholder, Charles McCadden, lost his £600,000 home after the freeholder applied initially to the First Tier […]

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Avoid family feuds when you’re gone – sort out your chattels now

What do Shakespeare’s ‘second best bed’, Beatrix Potter’s piano and Peter Cook’s tiffany lamp all have in common? The answer is they were all personal possessions, otherwise known as chattels, listed in the Wills of these famous people and left specifically to particular loved ones. Making it clear in your Will, or an accompanying letter […]

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On your bike – cyclists no longer included in small claims limit

In what campaigners are claiming as a victory, cyclists will no longer be affected by controversial personal injury reforms which would have left many with a substantially reduced access to justice if injured in a road accident. Plans to introduce an increase in the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 for injuries arising from […]

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Is it fair to fire a warning for disability-related absence?

Even an employer with a sensitive approach to disabled employees can be found guilty of unlawful discrimination if it thoughtlessly disciplines an employee for disability-related absence. In the case of DL Insurance Services Ltd v O’Connor  [2017] the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found for the employee. Mrs O’Connor was a customer support worker whose absences […]

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Landmark court case could help tens of thousands of cohabiting parents

An unmarried woman of four children who was refused widowed parent’s allowance after her partner of 23 years died, has won a court battle that could lead to a change in the law for cohabiting couples. The Supreme Court ruled that the government’s refusal to pay Siobhan McLaughlin the £117 a week allowance because she […]

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Where does the buck stop when you engage an independent contractor?

Businesses should be aware that they can be held legally responsible for the actions of independent contractors engaged to work on their behalf, after an important Court of Appeal decision. The ruling in Barclays Bank PLC v Various Claimants [2018] is a significant development in the law relating to vicarious liability. The bank was found […]

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Time to call for a death by dangerous cycling offence?

Amid calls by campaigners for a change in the law, the Department of Transport has launched a public consultation to look at whether a new offence covering dangerous cycling should be brought in. The move comes after the number of pedestrians killed or maimed by a cyclist doubled in a decade from 50 in 2006 […]

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Infant children win court challenge for maintenance after father dies without updating his Will

The crucial importance of regularly updating your Will has been dramatically highlighted by the case of a man who died unexpectedly before his divorce was finalised. As a result, two of his children born during a long relationship with the woman he’d left his wife for, were not provided for meaning a claim had to […]

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Whistleblowing – it’s a matter of fact

Whistle-blowers play an essential role in highlighting injustice and malpractice in the workplace. By bringing breaches of rules to light, they can help prevent accidents, scandals and even crimes. That’s why under UK law it is illegal for an employer to take revenge on someone who has reported wrongdoing, for instance by dismissing them. But […]

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Menopause and the workplace – a hot topic

There’s been many a joke made about the menopause, but when it comes to the workplace, it really is no laughing matter. A recent study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Wales of almost 4,000 people found that 88% of women workers who experienced the menopause felt it had an effect on working life, […]

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Why your Letter of Wishes can be as important as your Will

The many problems that homemade, hand written Wills can so often leave in their wake has again been highlighted by the sad saga of the bitter wrangles over Mrs Pauline Wippell’s estate. The fallout included rival bids by the executors to remove one another from the role as well as a huge bone of contention […]

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Sexual harassment in the workplace – plans for reform

An action plan to tackle the ‘widespread and commonplace’ problem of sexual harassment in the workplace has been put forward by a group of MPs who are critical of the current lack of protection for workers. The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) published its report after a six-month long inquiry into the issue following […]

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Calls for divorce law reform as women told she has to stay in loveless marriage

There have been renewed calls for the reform of the divorce law system after a woman was told by the Supreme Court that she must remain in what she claims is a ‘loveless and desperately unhappy marriage’. Tini Owens, 68, wanted to be allowed to divorce her husband of 40 years, Hugh, 80, but he […]

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Latest gig economy tribunal rules couriers are workers not self-employed

A group of Hermes couriers has scored a resounding victory in the ongoing battle between gig economy employers and those who work for them. In what is considered one of the most significant developments so far, an employment tribunal has ruled that the 65 couriers should be treated as staff and not self-employed workers and […]

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Latest ‘sleep-in’ ruling supports care providers

Employers in the care sector have been thrown a lifeline by the Court of Appeal’s latest ruling on sleepover shifts. In a case brought by Mencap and others, it was decided that staff sleeping in at a client’s home were not entitled to be paid the national minimum wage (NMW) for their sleep-in shifts. The […]

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Why I know the personal injury reforms are unfair on innocent victims

Changes to the way personal injury claims for people involved in road traffic accidents are handled will leave claimants at a disadvantage when it comes to access to justice and their right to compensation, concerned lawyers – including myself – believe. The so-called “whiplash” reforms, which the Government has recently pushed back to April 2020, […]

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As investigations into attorneys soar, why taking legal advice is a must

The importance of using a solicitor when drafting a Lasting Power of Attorney has been dramatically highlighted by a significant increase in the number of investigations into the actions of attorneys and deputies in the past year. According to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), there has been an almost 45 per cent increase […]

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The Top 10 reasons why you should make a Will

Making a Will is something a lot of us put off for a whole host of reasons – the time, the hassle, the perceived expense or simply just not wanting to think about our own mortality. In fact, new research shows there are currently 31 million people in the UK who run the risk of […]

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Landmark civil partnership ruling sparks call to change law for cohabiting couples

As news breaks that an opposite-sex couple have won their legal battle to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage, calls have been renewed for the law to be urgently reformed in relation to cohabitees. Since March 2014, same-sex couples have had the choice of either entering into a civil partnership or getting married […]

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How might the personal injury reforms affect you?

Changes to the way personal injury claims for people involved in road traffic accidents are handled – increasing the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 – could be in force by next April. The Government believes some whiplash claims are ‘minor, exaggerated or fraudulent’ but others worry the reforms will disadvantage people who can’t […]

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Do you have a Universal Wealth Preservation Trust? What to do next

Along with other solicitors up and down the country, we have recently been contacted by a number of extremely worried people who have transferred the ownership of assets including their homes and savings into trusts set up by a company called Universal Wealth Preservation (UWP). This unregulated company, which ran seminars locally, is now uncontactable […]

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Plumber wins workers’ right legal battle in Supreme Court

When is a worker a worker and when are they self-employed? It’s a question that has been often asked recently and now a Supreme Court ruling has shed some further light on this much disputed area of the law. The Supreme Court decided that Gary Smith, who worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years, […]

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Stark warning to executors and administrators – know what you’re taking on

The recent case of a man found personally responsible for the £340,000 inheritance tax due on a Will he administered graphically illustrates the importance of fully understanding your responsibilities as a personal representative. A personal representative is the person appointed when someone dies without a Will or is appointed under the terms of someone’s Will. […]

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Good news for landlords: Right to Rent scheme to be reviewed

The High Court is to allow a judicial review of the Government’s controversial Right to Rent scheme, part of its attempt to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants, in a move that will be welcomed by landlords. Under the policy, landlords have to carry out detailed checks to ensure the immigration status of all […]

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Protecting your post-divorce finances

Getting divorced, even amicably, is always an emotional experience. But it’s sometimes easy to forget, especially when you are both determinedly trying to remain civil and considerate to each other’s feelings, that though the Decree Absolute legally ends your marriage, it doesn’t sever the financial ties between you. Undefended doesn’t have to mean unprotected Many […]

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“I’m a worker not self-employed” – another case upheld

The latest round in the long running and increasingly bitter legal battle between some gig economy employers and those who carry out work for them has once again been decided by the courts. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld a claim by an Addison Lee cycle courier that he was a worker rather than […]

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Diagnosed with a serious illness? Why making a Will is so important

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to make your Will when you are in good health but sometimes, unexpected illness can come along and complicate things. If this happens, it’s important to grasp the nettle and sit down with your loved ones to talk about what you want to happen when you die. Although an […]

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When someone you love loses mental capacity

Losing mental capacity can happen for a number of reasons – an accident, an illness like Alzheimer’s disease or even just getting older. And when it does, the ability to manage day to day life may be severely affected including important decisions about money and property. If this happens to a loved one, you may […]

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Employers – changes to how settlement agreements taxed now in effect

Pay in lieu of notice must always be taxed, in payments applying to employment terminations made on or after 6 April 2018. Under new tax rules, income tax and class 1 NICs must be paid on the basic pay an employee would have earned if they had worked their notice in full. This means that […]

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Inheritance disputes – why running out of time can be costly

The importance of taking legal action quickly if you are not happy with the provisions made for you in a Will has been dramatically highlighted by a recent High Court ruling. Farmer’s widow, Mary Sargeant, lost a landmark bid to increase the provision made for her in her husband’s Will because the court said she […]

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New tax rules affect settlement agreements

Pay in lieu of notice must always be taxed, in payments applying to employment terminations made on or after 6 April 2018. Under new tax rules, income tax and class 1 NICs must be paid on the basic pay an employee would have earned if they had worked their notice in full. This means that […]

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Get rid of death duties and tax those who inherit, says think tank

As the Treasury-backed Office of Tax Simplification seeks the public’s view on how best to reform inheritance tax, a think tank has come up with its own solution. The Resolution Foundation says death duty is the “least fair tax” of any in the country and should be replaced by a tax on those inheriting the […]

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What a difference a day makes – written notice of dismissal only valid once read

Employers who dismiss by post can be caught out – as a recent Supreme Court case, Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood, clearly shows. Sandi Haywood, who had worked for an NHS foundation Trust for more than 30 years, knew she was at risk of redundancy when she went on previously approved holiday […]

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Why it’s vital landlords stick to the letter of the law when it comes to tenant’s deposits

An important reminder that landlords need to make sure they not only protect tenants’ deposits but crucially, also give what’s known as prescribed information within a specified timescale to the correct people, has just been delivered in a county court judgement. In this case, Wood v Arkley, when the landlord, Wood, served a section 21 […]

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Woman left nothing in her partner’s Will awarded cottage to live in outright

A woman who had lived with her partner for 42 years but was left nothing when he died has been awarded a cottage and money to refurbish it and live on by a High Court judge. The decision, which could yet be appealed, is considered significant as it paves the way for cohabitees, who currently […]

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Getting married like Harry and Meghan? Should you have a pre-nup?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have decided not to sign a pre-nuptial agreement before their wedding, it has been reported, despite them both having obviously considerable assets. A friend of Prince Harry’s allegedly told a national newspaper: “There was never any question in Harry’s mind that he would sign a pre-nup. He’s determined that his […]

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Divorced but still married? Make sure your petition is legally safe

The launch of Divorce Centres across England and Wales was hailed by the government as an important step towards streamlining the divorce process with claims that applications could be turned around in as little as 48 hours. Now, there are fears that a number of newly divorced couples who submitted their petitions directly to one […]

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Making sense of the latest community care and charging for care fees legislation

The Care Act 2014 introduced long awaited and fundamental reform to the laws regulating access to community care and charging for care fees. Unfortunately, three years on, there is still widespread confusion about what it covers and how the legislation works, particularly when it comes to ensuring that the needs of those who require community […]

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Why a properly drawn up tenancy can save you money in the long run

A stitch in time can save nine, so the saying goes. This was certainly the case for a small business owner recently after he took what he thought was a money saving exercise which resulted in him having to pay almost double to resolve the issue some years later. At Wards Solicitors we see this […]

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Keeping warring neighbours in their place – new law to revolutionise boundary disputes

Boundary disputes between embittered neighbours often make the news not least because of the disproportionate time and expense spent on them – the owners of a £600,000 house were recently ordered to give it to the family next door to meet the costs of a lost legal battle waged over just three tiny inches of […]

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Care home contracts – the importance of reading the small print

With average care home fees now hitting £1,000 a week in some parts of the country, it has never been more important for families to check contract terms with a fine tooth comb before taking up a place for a loved one. Although the temptation may be to sign first, read later, particularly if you […]

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Will the new gender pay gap rules mean more women taking their employers to court?

Organisations with 250 or more workers must now publish figures on the difference in pay between male and female members of staff. Will the results provide women with new evidence to support claims for equal pay and sex discrimination in the Employment Tribunals? Newly reported figures reveal inequality The new, greater transparency in pay has […]

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Speeding up the conveyancing process – new central register for local land searches

A new centralised online register for Local Land Charges (LLC) – which the Government says will make the house-buying process simpler, faster and cheaper – is set to launch with the first phase of Local Authorities in June of this year. In preparation, HM Land Registry (HMLR) is working currently with 26 local authorities in […]

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Good news for employers – the end of the road for ‘smash and grab’ adjudications?

In one of his last judgements before leaving the Technology and Construction Court for the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Coulson has tackled this recurring issue head on, effectively overturning a line of important cases. The recent case of Grove Developments Ltd v S&T (UK) Ltd (2018) may well mark a turning point in the […]

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Sexual harassment in the workplace – what every employer should know

Sexual harassment scandals have been breaking in recent months like waves on a beach. From the casting couch syndrome in the entertainment industry to sleaze allegations against MPs, allegations have flowed. Victims continue to speak out in the media, often defying ‘gagging clauses’ in contracts. These stories also mirror the workplace claims that find their […]

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“If science can help, it should” – woman ordered to take DNA test to solve inheritance row

Science has been called as an expert witness to decide whether a woman is really the biological daughter of a man who died without making a Will and thus eligible to claim half his estate. In a legal first, a judge in Bristol has ordered Lorraine Freeman to take a DNA test to prove she […]

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GDPR – be ready with Wards Solicitors’ data protection policy for staff

Sweeping new laws on personal data come into force on 25 May this year. Although the deadline is looming, there is worrying evidence that the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is being ignored by most small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). GDPR, which replaces the Data Protection Act 2018, is set to make major […]

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Landowners – new Telecoms Code now in force

The provisions of the new Electronic Communication Code, part of the Digital Economy Act 2017, are now – as of 28 December 2017 – up and running, affecting all landowners with telecoms equipment on their land. The aim of the new code, which replaces the Telecommunications Act 1984 – long criticised for being out of […]

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Concerns about access to justice as personal injury small claims limit set to rise

The Government is to press ahead with reforms affecting personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents (RTAs) and aims to bring in these changes by April next year. The so-called “whiplash” reforms will introduce an increase in the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 for injuries arising from an RTA and are being […]

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Do you need to file an extra Stamp Duty Land Tax return?

The rules surrounding Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) are undoubtedly complicated and no one wants to get caught out – hence the need to make sure you avoid some common pitfalls as well as the associated penalties. There are two key times when it is particularly important to watch your step: When you remain in […]

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Landmark business rates case for property developers

A milestone ruling on an important business rates case, considered extremely good news for property developers, is beginning to have far reaching implications for owners and developers of vacant property. In a test case last March, Monk v Newbigin, the Supreme Court ruled that a Sunderland property – given a rateable value of £102,000 in […]

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Top 10 pointers for landlords about new EPC rules

After April, new rules mean you cannot legally rent out a property unless it passes a minimum energy efficiency test. According to Government figures, more than 400,000 properties in England and Wales could be unlettable if their owners don’t act swiftly. So, what do you need to know? From 1 April, the minimum energy efficiency […]

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Ruff-ruff justice…why Vinnie the terrier got evicted

‘No pets allowed’ is a familiar restriction in many leases – and the High Court recently held that a management company was perfectly entitled to categorically refuse permission for the owners of a flat to keep their beloved dog, Vinnie, on the premises. The issue revolved around the question of consent. Some leases prohibit the […]

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Pop-up shops – good news for landlords and tenants

Pop-up retail is continuing to blow a breath of fresh air through Britain’s high street – a trend that seems set to continue. With one in eight shops lying vacant across the UK, according to the British Retail Consortium, it’s a way of bringing life back to empty corners as well as a range of […]

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How to protect yourself from land banking scams

Land banking – when a company sells you a plot of land with the promise that it will soar in value if planning permission is granted – is still claiming a huge number of victims. In total, UK investors have lost an estimated £200 million so far, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and […]

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Battle of the beach huts – licensees or tenants?

The owners of five beach huts have failed in their legal bid to prove that their right to stay indefinitely on land at Portland, Dorset was guaranteed by a gentleman’s agreement they said went back generations. The case was dismissed in the High Court by Judge Paul Matthews, sitting in Bristol, who ruled that ‘promised’ […]

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Landlords: urgent warning on gas safety and energy performance certificates

A recent county court appeal case has shown how vitally important it is for landlords to make absolutely sure they give their tenants a gas safety certificate before they hand over the keys. In the case of Caridon Property v Monty Shooltz (2018), the landlord was refused a section 21 possession order to evict tenants […]

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What makes a good lawyer?

This was a question we were asked recently by a prospective client looking for a solicitor. We drafted this response to explain why, and how, Wards Solicitors can meet all your legal expectations and have shared it here as we thought it could be useful to others… Specialist legal experts in key locations across the […]

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Not a ‘Pennymore’ for son who claimed he’d been promised his farmer father’s estate

Insisting someone promised you something before they died is not a good enough reason to have their Will overturned in your favour, a recent High Court case shows. Farmer’s son, Sam James, sued his mother and sisters for ownership of his late father’s £3m farm but has now been told by Judge Matthews in the […]

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More and more people are contesting a Will – Wards Solicitors explain the grounds for taking action

The number of people contesting a Will and falling out over inheritance has increased dramatically in recent years. Statistics show that the number of cases involving adult children disputing their parents’ estates in the High Court is up on previous years – from 104 claims in 2014 to 116 in 2015 and 158 in 2016. […]

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Why you need to make a new Will if you’re getting married

So you’re getting married? Congratulations! But did you know that this happy event automatically cancels out any previous Will you made, leaving you in a potentially vulnerable position? In effect, until you make a new Will, you don’t have a valid Will, which means that if you die, the laws of intestacy decide how your […]

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Could the latest Inheritance Tax review ultimately help you and your family?

A sweeping review of inheritance tax has been ordered by Chancellor Philip Hammond amid claims that it is complicated, confusing and possibly causing ‘distortions to taxpayer decisions.’ The Office of Tax Simplification, an independent arm of the Treasury, will carry out the review. It will look at everything from submitting returns and paying tax, to […]

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Septic tank changes – know your obligations

The information below relates to properties in England If you own or are looking to purchase a property that is not connected to mains drainage and is instead served by a septic tank, there are changes coming in that you need to be aware of. Currently, where a property is served by a septic tank, […]

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The muddy waters of adverse possession: Can a boat owner claim he owns a bit of a river bed after mooring there for 13 years?

Adverse possession, more commonly known as squatters’ rights, has always been a rather complicated area of the law – and with two different rules for sorting out just who owns what, things aren’t getting any clearer. Adverse possession occurs when someone gains ownership of a piece of land because they have occupied it for a […]

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Employers: can you use surveillance cameras to keep an eye on your staff?

Suspect employees of stealing from you and want to prove it by secretly filming them at work with covert video surveillance? Think again. A recent case in the European Court of Human Rights (EUHR) ruled that a Spanish supermarket which filmed dishonest cashiers in this way, and then sacked them, had infringed their right to […]

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What to do if your insurance claim is turned down

We all know the importance of taking out insurance and we do it in our millions every year – everything from home, car and travel insurance to critical illness and life insurance We do it in good faith and in return, expect peace of mind and the knowledge that if something goes wrong, we are […]

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High View or no view? – An unusual case of restrictive covenants for developers

The Upper Tribunal has decided that a restricted covenant should be modified to allow a building development to go ahead despite a neighbour objecting on the grounds his view of the English countryside would be ruined. The case is an interesting one for developers. Finding a seemingly perfect potential site only to discover there is […]

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Elderly man wins right to buy home he shared with deceased cohabitee from her estate

A recent probate appeal decision means an elderly man, who wants to carry on living in the house owned by his deceased cohabitee partner despite the heartfelt opposition of her daughter, will be allowed to do so. The case is an important one because Mrs Audrey Blackwell left 93-year-old Mr Thomas Warner, with whom she […]

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Don’t be a J R Hartley

Those of us over a certain age will remember the 1983 BT advert for Yellow Pages where J R Hartley was looking for a copy of the book Fly Fishing. The ‘ah’ moment occurred when it was revealed that he had actually written the book. Why he hadn’t kept a copy or how he had […]

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Residential landlords – your first New Year’s resolution: do you know your EPC rating?

If you are a Landlord of privately rented property, and have never looked at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)  for your property, then now is the time to do so. Particularly if you are one of the estimated 280,000 domestic private rented properties in England and Wales with an EPC rating of Band F or […]

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First steps on the journey for residential leasehold reform …

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, has announced new measures aimed at stopping unfair practices within the residential leasehold market. This announcement is in response to the Government’s consultation in the summer of this year. It has already been suggested that the measures are ‘weak’, but this […]

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Gig economy workers may be entitled to years of back dated holiday pay

Companies that routinely use staff on self-employed contracts need to be aware of a landmark holiday pay ruling made by Europe’s highest court which could have huge implications in the UK. British window salesman, Conley King, worked on a self-employed basis but was found by the court to have workers’ rights meaning that his claim […]

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Making sure your lasting power of attorney is legally effective, safe and protected from abuse

A recent ITV documentary called Elderly Theft – Robbing the Relatives, shone an alarming light on the way some people abuse their power over a loved one’s finances after being given power of attorney to manage that person’s affairs if they lose mental capacity. In England and Wales there are more than 2.6 million Lasting […]

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Poisonous behaviour – how a Will was declared invalid using a rarely used and rarely successful challenge

Fraudulent calumny. It’s not a phrase many people have heard of and is in fact so rare that even lawyers have to dust off their old text books when it comes up in legal circles. But a recent court case has confirmed that a Will can be set aside for this very reason after a […]

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Living Wills – ensuring everyone involved in decisions about your care knows your wishes

The importance of letting your family or close friends know you have made a living will, as well as having it recorded on your GP’s digital and paper medical records, has been highlighted by the case of a woman who was kept alive for nearly two years against her wishes. Brenda Grant, 81, never told […]

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Uber’s bid to take case on worker status straight to Supreme Court refused

The taxi-hailing app firm, Uber, has had its application to leapfrog the Court of Appeal and go straight to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the UK, turned down. The company made its move after the Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed that Uber drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed and therefore able […]

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‘Without prejudice’ and ‘protected conversations’ – getting it right as an employer

The need to exercise caution when it comes to using ‘without prejudice’ discussions and ‘protected conversations’ to ease along exit negotiations with an employee – and to appreciate the difference between the two, their advantages and limitations – has been illustrated by a recent case heard at the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT). In the case […]

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Unmarried woman wins legal fight over bereavement damages

A woman who was denied bereavement damages after her long term partner died has won a landmark legal battle to win fairer compensation for unmarried people who lose their partner. Jakki Smith from Chorley in Lancashire had been living with her partner, John Bullock, for 16 years and it was only after his death in […]

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New calls for ‘no fault divorce’ as the effect of current law on separating couples comes under scrutiny once again

The question of whether the concept of ‘no fault’ divorce should be introduced into UK law has again been explored in another House of Commons Library Briefing Paper published last month. Interestingly, it comes as a new research paper by the Nuffield Foundation found that divorce law in England and Wales incentivises people to exaggerate […]

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Uber seeks right to appeal to Supreme Court over workers’ rights ruling

The taxi-hailing app firm, Uber, has, as expected, launched an appeal against a tribunal ruling that said its drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed but has chosen to overshoot the Court of Appeal and take its case directly to the higher Supreme Court. A spokesperson for Uber said: “We have requested permission […]

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Pop-up shops – the legal issues landlords and tenants need to know about

Pop-up shops are a growing phenomenon – a stroll down many UK high streets reflects this. Once most common at Christmas, pop-ups are now a year round fixture and a market which generates a turnover in excess of £2.3 billion and employs more than 26,000 people. In 2015 alone, there were more than 10,500 pop-up […]

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Attacked by a cow while out walking – what are your legal rights?

As many of us who enjoy walking in the countryside know, cows can sometimes be unpredictable animals. Most of the time, they will look up with indifference then carry on grazing as walkers stroll through their fields – but every now and again, they will attack and it seems these incidents are on the rise. […]

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Stamp duty news for the first time buyer

The government today announced a relief from stamp duty land transaction tax (SDLT), commonly known as stamp duty, for the benefit of first time buyers and to reduce their upfront costs. This is a recycling of a measure used before. The last such measure was ended in March 2012 as the government said it had […]

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Employment Fees Refund Scheme opened up to all

Anyone who paid an employment tribunal fee can now apply for a refund with millions of pounds set to be repaid to claimants and in some cases, to employers too. The move follows a four week pilot scheme during which 1,000 claimants were contacted directly by the government and encouraged to apply. It has now […]

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National awareness week to help cohabiting couples understand their legal rights

The drive to ensure that as many cohabitating couples as possible understand how limited their legal rights are compared to married couples is to continue with a special awareness week dedicated to the issue. Every year, Resolution, a national group of 3,500 family lawyers who believe in resolving family disputes in a constructive and non-confrontational […]

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Why a personal conveyancing service wins over ‘conveyancing factories’ every time

Buying and selling a home can often, as so many of us know, be a highly stressful experience and much of this can be down to the quality of the conveyancing service which deals with all the many legal aspects of the transaction. What many people don’t always know is that there are different types […]

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Confirmed, at least for now – Uber drivers are ‘workers’ when it comes to employment law

In a legal saga that has been running for more than a year, the taxi firm Uber has lost its appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed. It is a case which has huge implications for people working in the so-called gig economy – a system of […]

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Holiday pay must now include regular voluntary overtime

The vexatious issue for employers of calculating staff holiday pay, complicated by evolving case law over the last few years, has received some clarification, at least for now, after a recent ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). Employees who regularly work voluntary overtime beyond their contracted hours must now have those payments included in […]

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Act now to be ready in time for major new personal data regulations

Demanding and sweeping changes to the way organisations can store and handle personal data come into effect on 25 May 2018 making it vital that preparations begin as soon as possible to ensure compliance. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will replace the Data Protection Act (DPA) and will affect all firms that deal […]

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Restrictive covenants – Employers: Are you protected?

The importance of taking painstaking care over the drafting of employment contracts – particularly when it comes to non-compete restrictive covenants – has been highlighted by a recent Court of Appeal decision. Mary Caroline Tillman won a legal battle against her former employer, Egon Zehnder Ltd (EZ), over a non-compete clause invoked after she resigned […]

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Digital divorce – is it for you?

Married couples may soon be able to apply for a divorce entirely online in a legal shakeup designed to speed up the process and save the government money. The move is designed to cater for extremely straightforward and uncontested divorces but with 320 couples currently filing for divorce every day, what percentage of couples actually […]

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Helping ordinary people make sense of the personal injury compensation system – Wards Solicitors back new publication

A comprehensive booklet which aims to ensure that everyone understands their legal right to redress for personal injuries which were not their fault has been fully endorsed by Wards Solicitors’ accident and injury specialist lawyers. The publication, called Compensation Explained, has been produced by The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), and explains in detail […]

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Daughters win court battle to prove their parents’ mutual Will was valid

When June and Bernard Clark decided to make a mutual Will with a legally binding promise never to change it, they probably hoped they were making things easy for their two children. Thirteen Wills later, that turned out to be far from the case with daughters Ann Legg and Lynn Burton ending up in the […]

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Latest review means more Harlequin investors can now claim for compensation

Even more people may now be entitled to compensation in relation to bad investment advice in Harlequin investments after the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) conducted yet another review. The FSCS is already paying claims against firms for negligent mortgage advice and pension switching where the underlying investment was in a Harlequin resort. Now it […]

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Handwritten, smudged and confusing – but still a Will worthy of interpretation

The complex legal difficulties that can be caused by a homemade, handwritten Will have been graphically illustrated by a fascinating case recently detangled in the High Court. Friends, charities, church authorities and a forensic document examiner were all used in the complicated process of interpreting and determining exactly what 91-year-old Mr Veljko Aleksic’s wishes actually […]

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Mind the gap – making sure your property purchase doesn’t trip you up

It’s easy to assume that on the day you ‘complete’ on the purchase of the property you’re buying, you become the legal owner. Let the champagne corks fly and the celebrations begin! But you may be moving too fast because of something that has become known as the ‘registration gap’ – the period between a […]

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The new telecoms code – what does it mean for landowners?

A new draft code covering mobile phone and broadband infrastructure affecting all landowners with telecoms equipment on their land is to come into force, possibly as early as next year. The Digital Economy Act 2017 contains a new Electronic Communications Code to replace the current Telecommunications Act 1984, long criticised for being out of date, […]

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Shine bright like a diamond? What commercial agents need to know about commodity exchanges

When a judge begins his judgement with the words “Diamonds are not forever”, you know the case he was dealing with was without doubt a fascinating one. It involved a claim by family run diamond broker, Willie Nagel (WN, a firm), against its client, Pluczenik Diamond Company, one of the world’s leading players in the […]

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UK investors lose out as Axiom Legal Financing Fund collapses

The Law Society Gazette has over seven articles reporting Solicitors including Senior Partners struck off, fined or otherwise sanctioned for misuse of funds received by their firms or themselves personally from the Axiom Legal Financing Fund, which was a £120m fund which was created in September 2009, and had as its stated aim, providing security […]

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Older and vulnerable people may be left at risk by proposals to digitalise powers of attorney

Jenny Pierce, Wards Solicitors Head of Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity, has expressed concern about a new proposal to scrap the need for a paper and pen signature when registering a power of attorney amid calls to turn the process fully digital. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a powerful legal document which allows a […]

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TCC limits defendants reopening adjudication at enforcement

In the case of Caledonian Modular Ltd v Mar City Developments Ltd [2015] (Caledonian), Coulson J allowed the unsuccessful party at an adjudication to challenge the substance of the adjudication decision when it came to be enforced in the Technology and Construction Court (TCC). Coulson J stressed that this was a rare occasion and that […]

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Cohabiting couples – make sure it’s clear who owns what if you split, including investment property

Having property and land in an exotic location may seem like a faraway dream to most of us but a recent dispute involving a cohabiting couple who jointly owned several investment properties on a luxurious British Crown colony could have legal ramifications much closer to home. The case, which culminated when the Judicial Committee of […]

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Settlement agreements – everything you need to know

So….your employer wants to talk to you about a settlement agreement. What do you need to know before embarking on discussions and, crucially, before signing anything? This article outlines the key points to help you make sure that the agreement you get is the one you want and deserve. What is a settlement agreement? Until […]

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What do the latest employment tribunal statistics tell us?

The Ministry of Justice has published its annual employment tribunal award statistics – of particular interest as in July it was announced that tribunal fees are to be abolished after the Supreme Court ruled them unlawful and a barrier to justice. Despite fees being in place at the time, the total number of claims in […]

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Government loses appeal to cut damages awarded to lung cancer asbestos victim

The Government has lost its appeal to reduce the damages paid to the family of an asbestos victim, who died after being exposed to the killer substance, because he was also a smoker. Cyril Hollow worked as a general decorator at a Plymouth dockyard between 1966 and 1986 where he indisputably came into contact with […]

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Why lasting powers of attorney are effective safeguards

Jenny Pierce, head of the Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team at Wards Solicitors, has come to the defence of lasting powers of attorney after Denzil Lush, the former judge of the Court of Protection, warned of a serious risk of abuse. What is an LPA? An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows […]

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Small business owners – make sure your Will protects your interests

The importance for small business owners of making sure they have protected the future of their business in their Will has been highlighted by a new report. Recently released figures by financial services company, Legal & General, has revealed that more than half of Britain’s small business owners are leaving their business in a potentially […]

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Divorcing Dobbin – Pets and Family Break-up

As a nation of pet lovers, many of us can’t imagine our lives without our adored cat, dog, horse or small furry – and the thought of having to part with them is utterly heart breaking. And of course, this emotive issue can cause real difficulties when finalising a divorce or separation. Often, the separating […]

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Pension Pains – what happens to my pension if I divorce?

After the matrimonial home, a long standing pension is often the most valuable asset to be determined as part of the financial settlement portion of divorce proceedings. But the truth is, pensions can be hideously difficult to split between former spouses. Here at Wards Solicitors we always try and encourage our clients to negotiate as […]

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Estranged daughter inherits even though father’s Will states she should receive nothing

When Stanley Nahajec made his Will, he couldn’t have expressed his wishes more clearly. “I have made no provision for either of my sons or daughter. I have not seen or heard from any of my children in the last 18 years and I do not believe they have any interest in me or my […]

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Government scraps employment tribunal fees – what does it mean for employees and employers?

Employment tribunal fees are to be abolished after the Supreme Court – the highest court in the UK – ruled them unlawful, despite the system having been in place for four years. The decision by seven Supreme Court justices to back an appeal by the UK’s largest public services union, Unison, overturned judgements by the […]

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The Party Wall Act or the Technology & Construction Court – which decides compensation in a dispute?

When it comes to the Party Wall Act, not renowned for its clarity, disputes are pretty common occurrences. What is less common is for one of them to end up going all the way to the High Court to determine the appropriate method of assessing compensation. It all started when Lea Valley Developments Ltd entered […]

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Irresponsible conduct with family assets could cost you dear in a divorce settlement

When it comes to divvying up the family silver on divorce, many people may be surprised to learn that even adultery or behaviour so unreasonable it leads to the breakdown of the marriage is highly unlikely to affect the final financial settlement. Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 lists the factors that the […]

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Time to end unfair leases on new build homes says government

Selling new-build houses on a leasehold basis in England could soon be banned under government plans to crackdown on what is seen as a growing problem. Flats can be continued to be sold as leasehold but ground rents will be dramatically reduced under proposals, subject to an eight week consultation, put forward by Communities Secretary […]

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Minimum wage for sleepover care workers – sleepless nights for employers?

Carers employed overnight ‘just in case’ they are needed should be paid the hourly national minimum wage even when they are asleep, an employment appeal tribunal has decided. A notoriously difficult area of the law, particularly in the care industry – the case has opened a can of worms for employers and care-providing charities who […]

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“I hereby leave you my entire estate – in a text message”

We all know that sometimes Wills can cause ructions within families – but just imagine the potential minefield if you could leave your entire estate to someone in a text message or a voicemail. A major overhaul of inheritance laws means that people may soon be able to make their Wills via electronic communications including […]

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All employment tribunal decisions now available online – what employers should know

The Government’s new online database of employment tribunal decisions, designed to make justice more transparent, is now live and available for the public to access and search. The database includes all first instance employment tribunal decisions handed down in England, Scotland and Wales and the new website allows visitors to search by name, date, judge, […]

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I want to divorce my partner … but I don’t know where they are.

What’s the issue? The title of this blog could be mistaken for a tag line on the Jeremy Kyle show but surprisingly, this issue comes up more regularly than most people would expect. The absent or missing partner situation encompasses a wide variety of scenarios, from the simple  “I don’t have their new address” to […]

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Helping the HM Land Registry shape the future of conveyancing

Researchers from the HM Land Registry (HMLR) have visited Wards Solicitors’ conveyancing team to gain a valuable insight into how lawyers currently order and obtain Local Land Charges (LLC) information in the course of their work. They will use this information to help create a user and business-friendly LLC register, an entirely new digital and […]

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Why make a trust?

Trusts have existed for centuries and remain an extremely effective way for families to preserve and manage their wealth for the benefit of their heirs. Creating a trust, enables the person making the gift to attach certain conditions to it and with this element of control, comes peace of mind. Trusts play a vital role […]

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Holidays with your children post separation – things to consider

As we approach the holiday season the temperature of the relationship with a former partner can begin to rise when the parties discuss taking the children on holiday. It doesn’t need to be this way. With a little gentle, expert advice and a reassuring guiding hand, this potential time of conflict can be navigated with little […]

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How short does a marriage have to be to count as short?

An Appeal Court ruling that couples who divorce after short, childless marriages cannot expect to have their marital assets split down the middle by default is likely to have a considerable impact on family law. Senior judges ruled that Robin Sharp, who’d also had an affair, could not claim half his ex-wife Julie’s fortune after […]

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Divorce and the corporate veil

A company is a separate legal entity, it is not a party to a divorce and assets owned by the company are not part of the marital pot. The court has power to order a transfer of shares from one party to the other as they are property belonging to the spouse. The value of […]

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Making sure your final divorce agreement is final

The importance of making sure your financial affairs are fully resolved, and approved by a Court, when you divorce has been underlined by a recent case. Glenn Briers and his wife Nicola married in 1984 but separated in 2002. A divorce decree was pronounced in 2004, but crucially, no financial agreement was ever signed or […]

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Bristol City Council bans use of property guardian schemes for its empty buildings

Developers are being urged to tread cautiously if considering using property guardians to look after their empty properties after Bristol City Council announced it will stop using them in the future. Now, sadly, the message could be that if you want to protect an unused building until you’re ready to start renovation work it might […]

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Can my Will include my ‘digital assets’ like photographs stored on my phone or online?

In an age where everything from photographs to bank accounts can be stored and accessed online, there are growing calls for people to be crystal clear about what they want to happen to their ‘digital assets’ after they die. This could even extend to making a provision for online data to be included in Wills. […]

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Wife still technically married to estranged husband may inherit his estate

The importance of making sure you update your Will when you separate from a spouse has never been more graphically illustrated than by a recent court case. A woman who was married for less than a month almost 30 years ago could inherit from her estranged husband’s estate because he failed to divorce her before […]

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New, lower fees for registering a Lasting Power of Attorney

The cost of registering a Lasting Power of Attorney has been reduced to reflect the rising number of people signing up. With dementia experts predicting that at least one million men and women will be diagnosed with this devastating illness by 2025, ministers hope that cutting fees will encourage even more people to register an […]

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Rent concession letters – making sure you get the wording right

A bitterly contested dispute between the iconic fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, and the landlord of her flagship Mayfair shop has highlighted the importance of taking great care when it comes to what is known as a ‘rent concession side letter’. The case recently ended up in the High Court and serves as a reminder to […]

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Make sure your beneficiaries don’t miss out under new rules affecting inheritance tax

It’s always important to regularly review and update any Will – and never more so than now because not doing so might mean missing out on new tax allowances which could save families thousands of pounds in death duties. The new “resident nil-rate tax band” or family home allowance, which came into force at the […]

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Asset Protection Trusts – are they for you?

It’s hardly surprising that a growing number of people are looking ahead to their old age to see how they can protect their home against care fees, should they arise, so that they have something left to leave their children. One way to do this, is to look at something called an asset protection or […]

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Landlords and property guardians – where do you stand?

It might seem like the perfect solution in an overcrowded housing market – you let people live in your empty property and in return, they provide protection from squatters and vandalism until you’re ready to start your renovation work at which point they leave. In recent years, the use of ‘property guardians’ by landlords with […]

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Business rates reduction for property developer doing renovation work

Property developers carrying out building renovation work have been given welcome news on the level of business rates they may pay in the future by a landmark Supreme Court ruling. In a test case, the court ruled that a Sunderland property – given a rateable value of £102,000 in 2012 – should not have been […]

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What makes a Will valid or invalid?

A Court of Appeal decision has highlighted once again the importance of making a properly executed Will and shown the problems that can arise when people try to create homemade Wills which don’t comply with the law. The case revolved around Kenneth King’s claim that his animal-loving elderly aunt, Mrs June Fairbrother, aged 81, had […]

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What is a reasonable time for building work to take?

There are few things more frustrating than building work that drags on and on, way after the time you were expecting it to be done, dusted and a distant memory. But what can you actually do about it? If you entered into a contract with your builder after 1 October 2015, you are covered under […]

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When your neighbour’s building work is ruining your life

Noise, dust, skips, scaffolding, nowhere to park your car – a neighbour’s building work can bring misery and disruption. Extensive periods of construction can be especially invasive and stressful if you do shift work, and need to sleep during the day, or work from home. Invasive and extensive The problem is particularly well illustrated in […]

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Buying a horse? Know your legal rights

Buying a horse is a serious investment and often an emotional one too – so making sure you know your legal rights is important and that you are clear who you are entering into a contract with, as a recent court case shows. Earlier this year, a county court judge found Mr Davies had bought […]

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What to do when a contractor does poor work

Every year, more than a million people fall out with their builder or decorator with a quarter forced to take formal action. The most common disagreement is over the quality of work with other major gripes including builders not turning up when agreed, delays over completion and properties being left in a mess. But how […]

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The power of a solicitor’s letter in debt recovery

A copy of a Wards Solicitors’ letter received recently, covered in rather gratifying PAID stamps, clearly shows a legal letter can work wonders when it comes to debt recovery. Highly effective This has been backed up by a recent survey which found that what is known as a ‘letter before action’ (LBA) – a warning shot […]

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New survey shows many cohabiting couples still don’t understand their legal status

As pressure grows for greater legal protection for cohabiting couples, so does the evidence that many cohabitees still mistakenly believe they have the same rights as married couples. A recent survey by a major chain of solicitors found that: More than one third of just over 1,000 cohabiting adults questioned either believed they had the […]

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Landlords – are you responsible for your tenants tobacco duty evasion?

Commercial landlords could be fined for failing to ensure their tenants are not breaking customs and excise rules – particularly the sale of illegal tobacco through retail outlets – if new Government proposals get the go ahead. A consultation document has been published by HMRC, with a deadline of 12 May, as part of its […]

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Planning permission – don’t turn a blind eye to copyright

Buying a land with planning permission is a bonus so going on to develop it is simple and straightforward, right? Well, actually the answer is no, as a recent High Court decision shows, highlighting how easy it is for a developer to commit copyright infringement when developing land that is already the subject of planning […]

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Harsher punishments for speeding drivers have arrived

New, harsher penalties for speeding are now in force as the government continues its crackdown on dangerous driving. From April 24, anyone caught driving significantly above the speed limit will be subject to a much higher fine than previously. Possible £2,500 fine Under the new rules, when dealing with the worst cases, magistrates will be […]

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New laws on reporting gender pay gaps

New gender pay legislation is now up and running requiring companies with more than 250 workers to publish the average pay of both men and women employees, including basic pay and any bonuses. It will affect around 9,000 companies, collectively employing more than 15 million people, and is intended to tackle the issue of equal […]

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Plans to raise probate fees axed

Controversial proposed probate fee increases have been scrapped by the Government because, it says, there is too little parliamentary time before the snap general election to push the legislation through. The move – which could lead to the changes being dropped altogether – follows pressure from organisations including Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), a body […]

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Parliament forced to look again at probate fee rises

The Government is coming under intense pressure to review its plans to increase probate fees by up to £20,000 – thanks in part to the efforts of Solicitors for the Elderly, an organisation of which all Wards Solicitors’ probate team are members. A parliamentary joint committee on statutory instruments has now stated that the proposed […]

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Stick to the terms of your contract, says Technology and Construction Court

A warning message appears to have been sent out by the Technology and Construction Court about payment notices recently – if you are going to try to enforce your rights on a technicality, make sure your own legal position is squeaky clean. The move follows the TCC’s consideration of several ‘smash and grab’ construction adjudication […]

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Buying a property with family? Read the small print

It is now increasingly common for siblings and friends to buy a property together and a recent court case shows how important it is not only to take independent legal advice but to make sure you read the small print of any documentation properly. Brothers A and B bought a £750,000 flat in Hampstead, London […]

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Should civil partnerships be an option for cohabiting heterosexual couples?

The Government is coming under increasing pressure to look at the future of civil partnerships and consider whether they should now be an option for heterosexual as well as same sex couples. Despite a recent high profile court case which saw Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan narrowly lose their latest battle for the right to […]

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Daughter cut out of mother’s will in favour of animal charities has original award reinstated

The Supreme Court has overturned a six figure sum awarded to a woman who was cut out of her mother’s will after three charities appealed the decision. It is a significant judgment as it means that adult children may not be able to make such large claims against their parents’ estates if they are disinherited […]

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Probate fees row gathers pace

Anger and disappointment continues to grow over the Government’s decision to massively increase probate fees for most estates from May this year. Instead of the current flat rate of £215, or £155 if applying through a solicitor, a new band of charges will be introduced meaning that the more an estate is worth, the bigger […]

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What does a solicitor’s letter cost?

Most solicitors will be very familiar with this question – and the answer is not always an easy one to give! The majority of people can write a letter. The important part is making sure that the recipient understands what the sender wants it to mean. A good solicitor’s letter ought to be clear, to […]

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Probate fees set to soar

Most probate fees are set to rise substantially from May this year despite overwhelming opposition to the Government’s plan. Subject to parliamentary approval, a new band of charges will be introduced meaning that the more an estate is worth, the bigger the probate fee beneficiaries will have to pay. This replaces the current flat rate […]

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New court victory for self-employed

A self-employed plumber has won a legal battle for workers’ rights which could have implications for millions of people after taking the company where he’d worked for six years to court. The Court of Appeal ruled that Pimlico Plumbers should have given Gary Smith basic workplace rights like sick pay, holiday pay and the right to […]

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Vacant possession – could a partition wall get in the way?

The already murky waters of what vacant possession actually means in practice have been further muddied by a recent court case. Courts already tend to interpret the meaning of vacant possession on a case by case basis making it difficult for tenants to summarise what it is they need to do to comply with the […]

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Interest Rate Hedging claim – mis-sold swap and the application of COBS

James Taylor, with specialist counsel John Virgo and Holly Doyle of Guildhall Chambers, recently acted in a claim against National Westminster Bank plc where its private retail customer claimed that he had been mis-sold an interest rate swap in 2008. The bank fought the claim all the way to trial but after the Claimant’s evidence […]

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Divorce and overseas pensions – what happens?

Pensions are an important and valuable asset and when a marriage ends, the way in which they are shared has long term consequences for each party’s retirement. For divorces started from 1st December 2000 the court has had the power on divorce to make a pension sharing order – including relating to overseas pensions. There […]

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Unmarried woman wins rights to her dead partner’s pension

The pension rights of millions of unmarried couples in the public sector have received a boost following a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court. It took Denise Brewster from Northern Ireland eight years to win her legal battle. She argued she was being discriminated against after being denied access to her late partner’s occupational pension […]

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Payment notices – some clarity at last?

Being crystal clear, unambiguous and direct when it comes to Interim Payment and Pay Less notices could avoid expensive arguments in the Technology and Construction Court. That is the message coming out loud and clear after the recent case of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust v Logan Construction (South East) Ltd. The Court held […]

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Speeding – what the new rules mean

New, harsher penalties for motorists convicted of speeding are to be introduced after a review of the current sentencing guidelines. The Sentencing Council issued the advice to magistrates’ courts in England and Wales to ensure a “clear increase in penalty as the seriousness of offending increases.” Current guidelines mean the most serious speeding offences land […]

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Making sure your divorce isn’t bad for business

Getting divorced is hard enough but when there is also a business involved, it can make the split even more difficult, complicated and painful. In England and Wales, businesses can be considered as ‘matrimonial assets’ and are a key consideration when a couple split. The family courts, not the commercial courts, deal with all related […]

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Property in the news: Stamp duty surcharge ‘windfall’/Right to rent fines/Cornwall & compulsory purchase

Stamp duty surcharge ‘windfall’ Repeated calls have been made for the government to rethink the stamp duty regime, and the extra 3% tax which has applied now for almost a year. This affects mostly buy to let purchases and those of second homes. It has also had some unexpected consequences, notably for leasehold owners seeking […]

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Avoiding leasehold property pitfalls

An all-party parliamentary group of almost 60 MPs and lords is to look into growing problems associated with leasehold properties amid allegations that the system is being abused and buyers of new-build homes in particular being exploited. An increasing number of buyers of new houses, flats and sheltered homes for the elderly in England and […]

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What are the grounds for a divorce?

There is actually only one legal ground for a divorce – the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage that has lasted at least one year. The person who starts proceedings (the petitioner) must prove this by establishing one of the following: Adultery; Unreasonable behaviour; Desertion; Two years separation with consent; Five years separation without consent. Adultery […]

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Landlords: How to protect yourself from property fraud

Property fraud is on the increase but most people will still be shocked to learn that a property you own can potentially be ‘sold’ without you knowing a thing about it. In the last three years, the Land Registry’s property fraud line has received almost 3,000 calls and emails as the problem of stolen identity […]

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How long does a divorce take?

Although an undefended divorce – when both parties agree on every decision of the legal process – can take as little as four to six months, the answer is….it varies. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average time for a divorce to reach the final decree absolute stage was 33 weeks in the […]

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What is the divorce process?

So, you want to look into getting divorced… Here at Wards Solicitors we can talk you through the whole process from establishing the grounds for divorce to what will happen at each stage of the divorce timetable, from sending the petition to court at the very beginning of the process to being granted your decree […]

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Involved in a construction or engineering dispute? Make sure you know what you must do

When things go wrong on a construction or engineering project and a dispute seems unavoidable, it can be an extremely worrying time. However, there is a clearly defined and set process both parties in any dispute are legally obliged to follow before any court proceedings are issued. This is known as the Pre-Action Protocol for […]

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New domestic abuse law highlights obsession, control and intimidation

Thanks, in part, to a BBC drama, there is now growing awareness of a relatively new criminal offence called coercive control, a form of emotional and psychological abuse thought to affect many relationships. This often hidden and lesser known form of domestic abuse was highlighted recently in the Radio 4 series, The Archers, with a […]

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Personal Injury small claims limit increase – what impact?

Richard Green, a Specialist injury claims Solicitor who covers our North Somerset offices met North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox, also the Secretary of State for International Trade, on 17th December 2016 to discuss the Ministry of Justice’s proposed whiplash and small claims reforms. In a helpful meeting, Richard was able to highlight the impact […]

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Personal Injury law reform ‘wrong and unfair’

Wards Solicitors’ personal injury lawyers have added their voices to a campaign opposing Government proposed reforms to the law in this area. With an extremely short consultation period closing on 6 January, they are part of a growing number of lawyers worried about the implications of the outlined plans which include: Raising the small claims […]

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Charities take battle over mother’s Will to Supreme Court

In a legal first, three major animal charities have gone to the Supreme Court in a battle to win almost £500,000 left to them by a woman who cut her estranged daughter out of her will when she died 12 years ago. The final judgement, which is not expected till next Spring, will basically decide […]

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Horse riding accident on the road – can you take legal action?

The number of road accidents involving horses and their riders is now disturbingly high – as the latest statistics from the British Horse Society (BHS) reveal. In the last five years there have been 2,070 accidents of which 181 resulted in the death of the horse and 36 caused the death of the rider. The […]

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Drinking and driving – don’t risk it

  • Thu 8th December 2016
  • Crime

Christmas party season is upon us, alcohol is flowing freely and it remains as important as ever to remember not to drink and drive or give in to those who urge: “Go on, just have one more…” Sadly, every year, drink driving has grave implications for those who are stopped and found to be over […]

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Moving Home Reform

The Conveyancing Association, a leading body in the conveyancing industry, has published a White Paper calling for big changes in the house moving process, to make the experience more positive. It identifies the issues as including the steadily increasing transactions times, now some 12-14 weeks, and general dissatisfaction by stakeholders and customers alike as to […]

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Huge blow for innocent victims of whiplash injuries

Government proposals just published will potentially remove the right of ordinary people to receive full and proper compensation for injuries that they have suffered through no fault of their own. Cap on compensation The proposals include imposing a cap on compensation for smaller whiplash injuries or removing the right to compensation for these claims altogether […]

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What is a Notary Public?

So, you’ve been told you need a Notary public. And you’re wondering what on earth one of those is….. Well, a Notary is a qualified lawyer – many also practise as solicitors – and a member of the third and oldest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales appointed by the Court of […]

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Divorce – taking some of the sting out of its tail

It is never easy. But divorce does not have to be a battlefield. That is the message being put forward during Good Divorce Week by Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation and other family problems, as it launches its new code of practice. Even though 42 per cent of […]

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Rise of cohabiting couples sparks new demand for legal change

Further calls are being made to change the law to protect cohabiting couples if they separate. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show there are now 3.3 million cohabiting couple families in the UK. This makes it the fastest growing family type with the number more than doubling in the last 20 […]

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Frantic first time buyers seek help where they can get it

Forget the so-called Bank of Mum and Dad – first time buyers desperate to get on the property ladder are now seeking financial help from an increasing number of different sources. Grandparents, siblings, other relatives, friends as well as Help to Buy and shared ownership schemes are now also in the mix but alarmingly, many […]

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Not working is your ‘lifestyle choice’ – Judge dismisses daughter’s claim on father’s estate

An unemployed woman left out of her father’s will was foiled in her bid to claim a £300,000 slice by a judge who said her decision not to work was a lifestyle choice. Danielle Ames had her reasonable provision claim dismissed by Judge David Halpern QC who said Mr Ames’ second wife, Eileen, was elderly […]

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Food for thought – getting tougher on safety and hygiene

  • Mon 7th November 2016
  • Crime

Food poisoning, poor hygiene and misleading labelling – any company found in breach of regulations covering these areas now face potentially heftier fines with the introduction of new sentencing penalties. For the first time ever, courts can now focus on an organisation’s annual turnover as a starting point for a fine meaning a large company […]

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Renting out your property on Airbnb – does your home insurance cover you?

The importance of making sure you are properly insured before renting out your property using sites like Airbnb has once again been highlighted after an accident in Brighton. Four people were seriously injured after a balcony collapsed underneath them at a flat advertised on Airbnb in July. And whilst there is no suggestion the landlord […]

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Court of Protection: Frequently Asked Questions

The Court of Protection is a specialist court which was set up under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to help individuals who lack the capacity to be able to make decisions for themselves

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Court of Protection: Some case study examples

We acted for a niece who applied to the Court to be appointed a Deputy for both the financial matters and the health and welfare of her Aunt

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Goodbye to Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme

The Government’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme is to be shelved at the end of this year – despite calls by some lenders for it to be renewed. The scheme, one of two offered under the Help to Buy title, will close to new mortgages on 31 December 2016. Popular More than 86,000 households […]

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£70,000 legal bill in row over garden hedge

They have been to court numerous times, accumulated legal costs of £70,000 and say they are prepared to spend time in prison – and all because of a row with their neighbour over a garden hedge. For Steve and Sandra Marshall it all began back in 2012 when they found a middle section of their […]

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Time to talk – National Mediation Awareness Week

Trying to settle your differences to avoid an expensive day in court is worth the time, trouble and effort – that’s the message being promoted during this week’s National Mediation Awareness Week. Every year, and in many cases avoidably, billions of pounds are spent on legal and other fees by the business, construction, workplace, community […]

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No fault divorce – the debate rumbles on

The thorny issue of whether or not ‘no fault’ divorce should be introduced both in England and Wales and in Scotland has again been explored in a recently published briefing paper for Members of Parliament. Published by The House of Commons Library, the 18-page paper considers the current basis for divorce and the arguments for […]

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Living Wills – making your wishes clear

Looking ahead, however uncomfortable sometimes, is nearly always a good thing. A living will enables you to outline your wishes in case there comes a time when you lack capacity to make or communicate decisions yourself. Deciding to write down how you want doctors to care for you, and what treatment you do and don’t […]

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Attacked by a dog – can you take legal action?

Being bitten by a dog can be a terrifying experience, leaving lasting scars, both physical and emotional. Worryingly, it is also an increasingly common one. In the last three years, more than 20,000 people have been admitted to hospital after being attacked but less than a quarter of the dogs involved were seized by police. […]

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Driving offences – knowing the difference

  • Wed 5th October 2016
  • Crime

We all know what we think of as selfish and inconsiderate driving. Hogging the middle lane on the motorway, driving too close to the car in front and undertaking on the inside lane, to name but a few examples. If we’re honest, many of us will even admit to having done these things ourselves occasionally. […]

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Brad and Angelina escape divorce ‘blame game’

One of the world’s most famous couples, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are to split – but because California law allows for ‘no fault’ divorces, one does not have to blame the other to bring their marriage to an end. In direct contrast, in England and Wales, there are still only five ways to get […]

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Should mobility scooter drivers have compulsory training and insurance by law?

For many ill, elderly and disabled people, mobility scooters are a lifeline – a means of much needed independence and an indispensable way of getting about. Unfortunately, a minority of users drive their scooters inappropriately when on the pavement, either travelling too fast, not looking where they are going or misjudging speed and distance. As […]

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Why using a conveyancing firm for probate dispute cost one woman dearly

The danger of not using properly qualified and experienced lawyers to tackle probate disputes has been dramatically highlighted by a recent court case. Instead of using solicitors approved to conduct probate or litigation work, Andrene Kerr-Robinson opted for a conveyancing firm, unlicensed to act in this area, to defend her in a dispute connected to […]

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Speeding … what you need to know

  • Fri 2nd September 2016
  • Crime

The number of speeding fines issued to motorists is now the highest it has ever been as a new generation of digital speed cameras catch drivers creeping over the limit with increasing regularity. In fact, in 2014, more than 115,000 motorists in England and Wales were issued with fines of at least £100 by magistrates […]

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When you need to make a statutory Will on someone else’s behalf

Sometimes, sadly but inevitably, it may be necessary to intervene to make or change a Will on someone else’s behalf. This may be because a serious brain injury, illness or dementia – and according to predictions there will be 1 million diagnosed dementia cases by 2025 – means an individual is not able to do […]

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Mental capacity – selling a jointly owned property

New guidance outlining what to do if somebody you own a home with loses mental capacity, and a deputy for property and affairs has to be appointed on their behalf, has been issued by The Office of the Public Guardian. When two or more people own land or a house together they are referred to […]

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Making sure your Will is a legally safe document

Everyone knows that having a Will in place is vitally important. But a Will is a Will whether it’s drawn up by a solicitor or a Will writing company….Isn’t it? Actually, the answer is no. Qualified lawyers are overseen by the Legal Services Board (LSB) and if something goes wrong, complaints can be dealt with […]

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Understanding the complicated new inheritance tax changes

The arrival of new, more generous inheritance tax-free allowances sound great to most of us – the trouble is, not only are the new rules downright complicated and confusing but they are not even in force yet either. The former Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the changes in July 2015 to allow many middle-class families to […]

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Cycling – accidents on the rise

As more and more people take up cycling, particularly in cities like Bristol, the number of accidents is sadly increasing too. In 2014, a staggering 21,287 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents in the UK, including 3,514 who were killed or seriously hurt, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA). […]

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Divorce: What exactly is reasonable when it comes to reasonable needs?

Every now and then, amid screaming headlines, a divorce settlement will hit the newspapers and whip up a new storm of controversy about the definition of the term ‘reasonable needs’. One recent example is the case of former model Christina Estrada who was awarded a £53million lump sum – the largest ‘needs award’ ever made […]

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Man loses house to co-habiting partner he refused to marry

The complexity of the law surrounding the rights – or lack of them – of cohabiting couples has again been highlighted in a court case which saw a mum of three awarded the profits from her ex-partner’s £1million property. Waiting for “someone better” Property developer Stephen Farrer, 53, refused to marry Kirsty Cahill, 33, who […]

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Compensation bill for council after tree ruins conservatory

A council which refused to fell a 40 foot oak tree, even though its roots were slowly ruining a couple’s conservatory, has been ordered to pay them £25,000 in compensation as well as substantial legal costs. In a landmark decision, the judge ruled that the damage was “reasonably foreseeable” and that the conservatory would have […]

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Pay beneficiaries costs, law firm in breach of duty told

A firm of solicitors who repeatedly failed to pass on key information to five charities named in a will has been ordered to pay their £8,000 legal costs in full. The judgement – in which the executors of Evelyn Farmer’s will were found to be in breach of duty as well as being criticised for […]

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Boost for older borrowers

A growing number of high street lenders are agreeing to increase the threshold for lending into retirement to 80-years-old and beyond. Mortgage maturity The Nationwide Building Society has increased its upper age for mortgage maturity from 75 to 85 whilst Halifax and Scottish Widows have raised their thresholds to 80. Barclays, NatWest and Royal Bank […]

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Challenging your parents’ Will – has it just got easier?

A recent ruling may make it easier for adult children to challenge wills where they consider their parents have not made reasonable provision for them. But it may also seriously undermine the right of people to leave money and assets to whom and whatever cause or charity they wish. Not a penny for you… Heather […]

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Sibling executors removed by judge after falling out over mother’s Will

A brother and sister who could not agree on how to administer their mother’s Will have been removed as executors by a High Court judge who said taking them both “out of the equation” was the best option. Sybil Rigby, who had a “thing about solicitors” and drew up her own DIY Will before her […]

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When falling out with your neighbours leads to money down the drain – literally!

A row over a £4,000 bill for a blocked drain has left next-door neighbours facing court legal costs of more than £300,00O. Terry Court, 57, and her neighbours John, 60, and Bernadette Van Dijk, 47, disputed who was to blame for flooding in the back yard of the Van Dijks’ home in York, North Yorkshire. […]

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Watch my lips – is a verbal promise legally binding or empty words?

The statement “one day, all this will be yours” is one that has increasingly come to be relied upon in bitter family disputes.

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Proposed legal changes for cohabitants – are they for me?

It may be a long time, if ever, before the Cohabitation Rights Bill currently making its slow and laborious passage through parliament actually becomes law.

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Will more open family courts lead to transparent justice or privacy invasion?

Ever wondered why, when it comes to the break-up of Hollywood celebrity couples, that we get to hear every cough and spit, every allegation and counter allegation, every salacious detail of their often acrimonious parting of the ways?

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Time to shake up conveyancing?

Buying and selling a house has always been stressful but there are now moves afoot to reduce this by modernising the homebuying experience amid concerns about the conveyancing process.

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Is the law going to change to protect cohabiting couples?

It’s a fact of modern day life that more and more couples are living together before marriage with many choosing never to marry at all.

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Depp’s divorce – why it couldn’t happen here

Film star Johnny Depp’s marriage has hit the rocks with wife Amber Heard filing for divorce citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ – a term commonly heard by UK divorce lawyers even though these grounds don’t actually exist in British law!

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Property problems when cohabiting couples part

Another case illustrating once again how problematic life can be when cohabiting couples split up has had a bumpy ride through the courts.

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Lasting Power of Attorney arrangements affected by surge in applications

There are fears that delays in processing a significant increase in Lasting Power of Attorney paperwork could lead to patients who don’t want medical interventions being kept alive against their wishes.

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Fallen out with your neighbour? Mediate before issuing proceedings, urges judge

A High Court judge has once again strongly urged warring neighbours to try to sort out their problems through mediation rather than battling it out at vast expense in the courts.

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When time does not heal – financial remedies on divorce and delay

Thinking about, communicating, negotiating, making decisions about property, maybe a business, savings, where you will live and on what, pensions and your life in the future may seem overwhelming, even impossible at a time of great turmoil and distress.

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The rise and rise of the Bank of Mum and Dad

It’s never been so popular – the so-called Bank of Mum and Dad will finance 25 per cent of all UK mortgage transactions this year with lending from parents to their children amounting to £5 billion.

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Penalty stamp duty rate – the main residence exception

This post follows on from my previous article providing a summary of the main tax. Here we look at the above exception to the charge in more detail.

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Penalty Stamp Duty rate – Will your purchase be affected?

The vast majority of transactions, such as first time buyers purchasing their first property or home owners moving from one main residence to another will be unaffected” (Government Consultation document)

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Could Airbnb guests be more trouble than they are worth?

Letting out your home for a week or two using sites like Airbnb, can seem like a tempting way to boost your income. Especially as Bristol is such a popular city for tourists.

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Post budget summary – higher rates of SDLT on purchase of additional residential property

This summary follows on from previous posts. The budget has now been published and we now have confirmation that the higher rates will apply to purchases of additional residential properties on and after 1 April 2016 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Myths and misconceptions – Resolving LPA issues with local authorities and care homes

Alison Lamont, solicitor associate in our Wills and Mental Capacity team, sets the record straight…

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Lasting Power of Attorney – things to consider

Lasting Power of Attorney – what we all need to know

It’s sad but true – with our population ageing fast and more people diagnosed with debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s, an increasing number of us will need to think about appointing someone to oversee our affairs in the future. Or we may be asked to carry out that role on behalf of a loved one.

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Don’t bank on it – problems with power of attorney requests

Some bank staff are letting people down when it comes to enabling them to access and operate accounts on behalf of family members who, due to age or illness, are no longer able to do so themselves.

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Changes to probate fees – could your family be affected?

Big increases in probate fees are being considered by the Government in a bid to raise an extra £250m a year to help cut the deficit and fund the courts and tribunal service.

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Higher rates of SDLT on purchase of additional residential properties

The government has announced it intends to introduce an additional stamp duty (SDLT) charge. The full/final details are not yet known and will not be published until the Budget on 16 March 2016. Here is a summary of key points based on the information currently available. As this is not yet law, the final position may be different.

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Is your commercial property green enough to meet new laws?

t might sound ages away but from April 2018, it’s highly likely that commercial property landlords will be required by law to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, to at least band ‘E’, before they will be legally allowed to grant any new leases. From 2023, the regulations will also apply to existing tenants in occupation of any commercial properties.

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Vacant possession – avoiding the pitfalls

So, you’re buying or selling or you are a tenant of a commercial property. And the term ‘vacant possession’ has cropped up in the contract or lease. Everyone knows what that means…..don’t they?

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Dates for your diary – crucial news for small businesses

It’s going to be a busy, challenging but ultimately beneficial year ahead for small businesses as a rolling programme of legal changes come into force during 2016.

The Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015. Some reforms have already happened but many are due to be implemented in stages over the coming year.

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Dig out your deeds – voluntary land registration makes sense

Land and property bought and sold since 1990 is usually registered with the Land Registry, and the title stored electronically. But if you find that yours is not – possibly because it has never come up for sale in that time – then it could be worth taking action.

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Get ready for the new National Living Wage

It’s time to start planning for the arrival of the new compulsory National Living Wage which comes into force this April.

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Homeworkers – good or bad for your business?

More and more people are now working from home and as technology improves, it is a trend that is set to rise, according to recent statistics.

And whilst there are considerable benefits for employers there are also some drawbacks, not to mention some important legal points to take on board.

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Asbestos – staying on top of your responsibilities

Buying a new commercial property? Have you thought about having an asbestos survey done?

Although it has been illegal for builders to use asbestos for many years, it was once commonplace and even up until 1999, materials like asbestos cement were still widely used.

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The Help to Buy: ISA Scheme – How it works basics for conveyancers and buyers

Launched on 1 December 2015 as a further scheme to assist home ownership, this scheme has achieved early success having attracted some 250,000 new accounts already. A further boost to Londoners’ buying new build properties came on 1 February with government equity loans under the existing Help to Buy Scheme being increased to up to a possible 40%. There is already speculation as to whether more changes to Help to Buy will be contained in the budget on 16 March.

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Stamp Duty Changes in 2016 – update

Stamp Duty Changes in 2016 – Update

In my previous post on 17 December 2015 I reported on the changes as far as they were then known:

The Consultation document has now been published:

The Consultation is open up to 1 February 2016 and the final detail is to then be published in the budget on 16 March 2016 with the new higher rate tax being effective on 1 April 2016. The consultation brings in some important new information providing 42 examples and asking 21 questions.

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Stamp duty changes for 2016

This year’s statement included further changes which were equally unexpected, and the first question was, would this sound the ‘death-knell’ for the buy to let market? The changes however will not just affect existing or new landlords, but anyone who for whatever reason, may wish to own more than one property.

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Increase in small claims limit for personal injury – £1,000 to £5,000!

George Osborne announced in his recent Spending Review that he intends to increase the small claims track limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000. This will restrict access to justice for thousands of people who will no longer be able to afford to instruct a lawyer to act for them as their fees will not be recovered, leaving them to fight their cases against the insurers alone.

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Government spending plans for next 5 years – review by SFE

Following on from the chancellor’s autumn statement, Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) have published a summary of the key announcements affecting SFE members and their clients.

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New Consumer Rights Act 2015 – how will it affect you and your business?

What has changed?

Definition of consumer:- The new Act changes the definition of a ‘consumer’. A consumer may now only be an individual. This is a change from some existing law, where companies and other businesses could be classed as consumers in certain circumstances. This does mean that businesses will need to look at their current Terms of Business to check how a consumer is defined and whether these current Terms will work under the new law.

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Who owns the street art around Dismaland?

Since Dismaland came to Weston-super-Mare, a lot of street art has appeared nearby. Putting aside the question of: ‘is it art or is it graffiti?’ it had not been established who legally owned the work until this month. The High Court decided that a valuable work by Banksy painted on the outside of an amusement arcade belonged to the landlord and not to the tenant of a long commercial lease.

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All change! Section 21 Notices shaken up

Landlords of the average residential property are fully aware of the ability to recover possession under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 by serving 2 months’ written notice. Some have been caught out by the Tenancy Deposit Rules which invalidate any Section 21 Notice which is served whilst the deposit is not protected or in some cases whilst the regulated information has not be given to the tenant about where the deposit is held.

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Why is it important to make a Statement of Wishes to accompany your Will?

On 27th July 2015 the Court of Appeal gave judgment in the case of Ilott v Mitson [2015] EWCA Civ 797. The case has received wide media coverage and has raised doubts about the established principle of testamentary freedom.

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£1 million Inheritance Tax Threshold?

In the Chancellor’s budget of July 2015, significant changes to the Inheritance Tax (IHT) allowance were confirmed.

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Bristol Civil Justice Centre set to become a regional ‘hub’ for Court of Protection cases

At the recent South West Court of Protection Practitioners’ Association meeting His Honour Judge Marston revealed the latest plans for regionalisation of the Court of Protection, with Bristol Civil Justice Centre set to become a regional “hub” for Court of Protection cases.

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Landlords face penalties for letting to illegal immigrants

From 1 December 2014, landlords letting property to tenants in the West Midlands area had to check that the tenants had the right to be in the UK. David Cameron recently announced that he will roll this out nationwide to ensure that people have the ‘right to rent’. Landlords could face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant if they fail to perform the required checks.

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Changes to driving licence rules – what are the consequences for employers?

From 8 June 2015 a number of changes have been brought in regarding the operation of paper Driving Licences.

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Advice to Attorneys and Deputies – exercise your powers “carefully and responsibly”

The Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice states at paragraph 7.58: “An attorney takes on a role which carries a great deal of power, which they must use carefully and responsibly.” A recent Court of Protection case highlights how seriously attorneys must take their duties.

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Broken Promises and Proprietary Estoppel

A legal doctrine which can remedy broken promises? It sound too good to be true, but it does exist. Proprietary estoppel is a doctrine which enables justice to prevail when the cause might otherwise seem hopeless.

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Tenants at will, holding over and what this means for commercial property landlords and tenants

The Court of Appeal has recently handed down a judgment in another case arising as a result of falling rents. Increasingly seen, since the recession, the case of Barclays Wealth Trustees (Jersey) Limited v Erimus Housing Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 303, questioned whether the tenant was holding over under a tenancy of will or a periodic tenancy.

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Court of Protection Rules – it’s all change on 6th April

The Court of Protection Rules are changing for the first time since they were implemented alongside the Mental Capacity Act in 2007.

Some changes regarding appeals (to different tiers of Court of Protection judge) come in to force on April 6th and the other main changes have effect from 1st July 2015.

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What’s in the 2015 budget…

Everyone is talking about today’s budget but what does it really mean for those of us living and working in the South West? We’ve been through the report and pulled out some of the headlines that we think you need to know about… in short, here is our guide to what’s in the budget…

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Financial claim allowed to continue 20 years after divorce

On 11 March 2015 the Supreme Court gave judgement in the case of Wyatt v Vince [2015] UKSC14. It decided that a Wife could make an application to the court to ask for a lump sum of money 20 years after divorcing her husband.

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Buying property in Portishead – Portishead Station & Railway line. Update

The latest Portishead Rail Services newsletter (Spring update) has just been published. It confirms that the Office of Rail Regulation have decided they do not accept there is an exceptional circumstance case for a level crossing at Quays Avenue. This was required to enable the station to be at the Waitrose site.

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Wife told by Judge to ‘get a job’

In a recent case the Court of Appeal decided that a wife aged 51 could not expect to continue to receive £75,000 per year in maintenance from her former husband and that she should find her own income. The Court made clear that the wife should not be supported for life.

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Conveyancing – Boundaries and Boundary Disputes

Ministry of Justice Study – why ‘boundary’ disputes?

Of all the differing civil disputes which arise in a year, you may wonder why the Ministry of Justice singled out those relating to boundaries for a recent study.

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Buying property in Portishead – Portishead station and railway line

There are a number of issues when buying property in Portishead that are particular to the area – Portishead Marina, the old sea walls, the wildlife refuge area, and the pipeline, for example.

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Harlequin Investment Properties FSCS Update

The latest development in the Harlequin saga is reported by the FSCS on 17thFebruary 2015.

The FSCS pays out claims up to certain limits, for mis-sold investments to disappointed investors. One issue has been whether or not advice to enter into Harlequin property investments fell within the sphere of regulated advice for which FSCS is allowed to compensate.

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Buying a property in Portishead – pipeline conveyancing issues

On a sale recently the buyer’s searches threw up an unexpected issue: an oil pipeline. This was particularly unexpected, as it had not come up on searches when the property was purchased.

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Buying or selling a property at auction

Having worked in residential property for the last 18 years, 12 of them with Wards Solicitors, I have attended a fair number of auctions, usually on behalf of the sellers.

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New First Time Buyer Initiative

The government is proposing a new scheme to provide some 100,000 newly built homes to first time buyers with a discount of at least 20%.

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Court of Appeal decision in Southwell v Blackburn upholds payment to former partner in cohabitation dispute

On Thursday 16th October 2014 the Court of Appeal upheld an important order in relation to cohabitation disputes following relationship breakdown. This stresses the importance of putting in place proper cohabitation agreements.

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Tenant’s break clause deemed invalid because of one minor breach of covenant

The High Court has ruled, in Sirhowy Investments v Henderson [2014] EWHC 3562 (Ch), that one minor breach of the repairing covenant, by a tenant, invalidated its break notice. This cost the tenant £70,000.

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Stamp Duty reforms on residential property

From 4th December 2014 the rules on Stamp Duty were changed.

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Holiday pay must include overtime and commission, rules Employment Appeal Tribunal

A landmark ruling by the EAT has changed the way businesses must calculate holiday pay, potentially costing local businesses thousands to apply. The EAT ruled that employers should calculate holiday pay based on all hours worked not just ‘basic pay’, as was previously the case. This means that essential overtime and commission should now be included in calculations. Workers can now, potentially, ask for previous holiday pay to be recalculated to take this into account, if it is less than three months since their last holiday.

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Inheritance rules change

From 1st October a number of rules on inheritance have changed, following the adoption of the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014.

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Employment Law changes from 1st October

Just as the rest of the world has gone ‘back to school’ so too have the employment law makers and changers. A number of important changes are taking place from 1stOctober.

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Acas issue guidance on employee dress codes

There are many reasons why an employer might set out a dress code. It may relate to wearing a uniform or ensuring employees are recognisable or presenting a professional, corporate image. It may be for health and safety or hygiene purposes. Acas has issued some guidance on how employers can implement dress codes without straying into the territories of discrimination, that we have read about over recent months, in the news.

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Harlequin Investment Properties

We have been very interested to see the increased press coverage of the difficulties that investors in Harlequin Properties are experiencing with their investments.

This was an unregulated property investment scheme dealing with luxury hotels in the Caribbean.

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Centrepointe Development – FSCS claims begin to bear fruit

We have a group of clients who are pursuing claims to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in respect of investments in CentrePointe Developments, mainly advised by financial advisors Aston Court Chambers Wealth Management of Clevedon.

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What information do landlords have to provide to tenants?

As many landlords will be aware, the requirements of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) require them to serve ‘prescribed information’ on the tenants. This applies to all assured short hold tenancies that have commenced from 6 April 2007 and also fixed term tenancies starting before that date that have become a monthly rolling periodic tenancy after that date.

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Legal Aid cuts have left family courts ‘at breaking point’

Yesterday (Tuesday 29th July 2014) Guardian Legal Affairs Correspondent Owen Bowcott provided a clear insight into the state of family law in England & Wales, following the recent round of Legal Aid cuts. Reporting on discussions with Resolution, the body that represents lawyers and professionals in divorce hearings, the article provided valuable insight into the way separating couples are now faced with navigating their own way through relationship breakdown, often without professional support.

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More news on zero hours contracts

Zero hours contracts have been in the news, on and off, for many months. As part of the Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill (published on 25th June 2014) the government has announced plans to ban exclusivity clauses in contracts that offer no guarantee of work and to improve transparency of zero hours contracts by increasing the availability of information for employees. The consultation received an overwhelming 36,000 responses, with 83% in favour of banning exclusivity clauses.

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Employment law round up – July 2014

It’s that time of year when the Government crosses the t’s and dots the i’s in terms of employment law matters, before the go off for their socks-in-sandals, ‘MPs in Marbs’ extravaganza. So what changes do we know about, what rulings will impact in the future and what do employers need to take note of?

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Are we facing a reform to whistleblowing laws?

The eagle eyed amongst those of you responsible for managing people or HR departments will have noticed the Government’s recent ‘Call for Evidence’ regarding the UK’s current whistleblowing laws. This came about because of recurring questions linking diverse scandals, such as phone hacking and those that have hit the retail, health service and the banking sectors. People asked whether a different system that encouraged and protected whistleblowers might have mitigated or even avoided the problems that emerged.

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Flexible working for all – new rights launched

As of Monday 30 June 2014 the right to request flexible working has been extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service. A number of other amendments have also come into force.

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On-line divorce for £35 – fact or fiction?

Family Law seems to be surrounded by misunderstandings and misconceptions, common law spouse, quickie divorce and now the cheap divorce, some as low as £35, on line.

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Reference problems? Proving your loss …

Since the 1992 House of Lords decision in Spring –v- Guardian Assurance it’s been well known that an employee can take legal action against the author of an unfair and misleading reference.

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Court or Financial Ombudsman Service?

When taking on a financial services claim, we often have to consider whether to use the free Financial Ombudsman Service, or to “bash on” with legal action.

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Chattels and Stamp Duty

The inequities in the current way ‘stamp duty’ is charged inevitably mean that conveyancers are regularly faced with having to give unpopular advice to buyer clients seeking to reduce their liability, and seller clients, trying to increase their sale price.

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Buying a Portishead property

The Portishead harbour area has undergone dramatic change over the past 10 years or so. This waterfront development, known as Port Marine, is centered on the harbour area which was developed from a traditional deep water dock to a modern marina.

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Legal Ombudsman’s Report – Complaints in Focus – Stamp Duty

The Legal Ombudsman’s most recent report focuses on a ‘potentially alarming trend’ relating to the none payment of stamp duty by conveyancers.

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Got it on tape? Covert recordings of employment meetings admissible in tribunal.

Employers will need to be more alert to the risk of staff recording grievance & disciplinary meetings following clarification by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in a recent case.

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The ‘new’ Court programme

The 22nd April 2014 saw many changes being brought into the Family Court. You will no doubt have heard about many through the press however here is a practical summary of some of the main changes which may affect you and your family

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Pre-Nuptial Agreements – changes on the way?

With each year that passes, more and more people enquire about pre-nuptial agreements and eventually decide to put an agreement in place before they marry.

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Flooding and why you should have a Flood Search when you buy your new property?

Flooding is in the news, and over recent weeks the news has often seemed to be getting progressively worse.

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Sensible decisions on the ‘who pays’ issue

Cases where claimants pursue large amounts of compensation often hit the news as they appear to support the view that the so called ‘compensation culture’ continues. Two recent cases demonstrate it is anything but. It is, however, important to consider the reason for the claims in the first place, in order to understand why they proceed.

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Whiplash claims – fact over fiction

Compensation claims and the so called compensation culture are back in the news again, but the facts are often obscured by catchy headlines and I am left wondering who is actually driving this particular vehicle

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Court of Protection: Prison Sentence for Contempt of Court

In recent months the case of Wanda Maddocks has hit the headlines for being, supposedly, the first publically known case of someone given a prison sentence for Contempt of Court by the Court of Protection

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Divorce without Destruction

Contrary to the image of divorce and separation which we see in the media, the end of a relationship, painful though it is, does not have to give rise to an almighty battle

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Cohabitation and Joint Property Ownership

Cohabiting couples misunderstand how the law applies to them – specifically, all too often they believe that one gains ‘rights’ by virtue of the length of the relationship

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Help to buy: Latest

At Wards Solicitors we have been heavily involved with the first phase of the Help to Buy (HTB) scheme

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Has the wrong message got out about Legal Aid?

As of April 2013 the Government has changed the rules relating to which areas of legal advice apply for Legal Aid. These new rules are much tighter than the pre April 2013 ones.

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Employment Law Football: Understanding the Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA)

Recently, employment law has been developing at a breathless speed.  This can be seen in the Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA).  The idea behind this Act is to try and reduce the number of Employment Claims that end up at Employment Tribunal, thereby decreasing the burden on Employers and the cost to Government. Throughout […]

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Understanding Cohabitation Disputes

The large majority of us would consider that if you have lived together with your partner for many years you would have the same rights as any married couple

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Understanding Cohabitation Agreements: Part 1

There is a common misconception that there is something called a “common law marriage” This does not exist

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Does a ‘quickie divorce’ really exist?

The media has recently scrutinised the breakdown of Nigella Lawson’s marriage, sparing us none of the juicy details

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Susan Fairless article – Where there’s a Will

Jan Shankar of Amia talks to Susan Fairless, a legal expert, about everything to do with Wills – myths, benefits, facts and key things to take into consideration when either writing or updating your Will

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Clevedon-based Aston Court Chambers & Centrepoint Developments LLC subject of claims by disappointed investors

James Taylor of Wards Solicitors has experience in bringing claims related to mis-sold Financial Services products

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Dispelling the myths of Divorce

There are many common misunderstandings surrounding the divorce procedure

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VIDEOS: Debt Recovery

We all accept that cash-flow can make or break a business. We also all encounter slow payers, non-payers or disputed debts from time to time

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Financial Services Compensation Scheme Claims clarified by important Court of Appeal decision

Where negligent mortgage advice is given, the advisor can be held liable for compensation for losses arising

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There’s no such thing as a ‘Common Law Spouse’

We’ve all been there – looking through to find the cheapest car insurance and you are given the option of ‘single/married/common-law partners’

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Families missing out on mediation following legal aid cuts

Prior to changes to legal aid funding which took effect at the end of April this year, lawyers warned that removing many families from the scope of funding would create an intolerable burden on the court system

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Susan Fairless – An interview for You and Your Career

Wards Solicitors’ Wills, Wealth & Mental Capacity solicitors, Susan Fairless is interviewed by www.amiaonline.co.uk about how she ended up working as a solicitor and the things she loves about her job

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Supreme Court allows appeal in Prest v Petrodel

On 12th June 2013 The Supreme Court delivered its Judgment on the appeal in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd and others (Respondents) [2013] UKSC34.

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Employment Tribunal Fees – notice of implementation

In a letter to stakeholders HM Courts & Tribunal Service has announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, from Monday 29th July 2013, all cases brought before the employment tribunals (ET) and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) will be subject to a fee

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Justice Secretary rejects proposal to regulate will-writers

Following many months of discussion on the subject, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has rejected a recommendation from the Legal Services Board that will-writing should be regulated

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Court of Protection: What you need to know

The Court of Protection is a specialist court which was set up under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to help individuals who lack the capacity to be able to make decisions for themselves

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Fraud Hotline for homeowners

The issue of property fraud remains high on the agenda at Land Registry, as well with property professionals such as ourselves

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VIDEOS: Understanding probate disputes

Unfortunately, disputes involving estates after a death are on the increase and can make things complicated and sensitive

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UK housing market shows sales lift, says Rics

The BBC reported a two and a half year high in UK house sales, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), last week.

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Pensions Auto-Enrolment: is your business ready?

From October last year, changing pension legislation meant that all employers need to turn their attentions to the concept of auto-enrolment

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The two options on which to base your contributions levels for pension auto-enrolment

Following on from our ‘key points’ article on pensions auto-enrolment, we’ve set out the two options you can base your pension contributions on

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Weston-super-Mare – is it really one step away from being the divorce capital of the UK?

We may think of it as a sunny sea-side spot… or even a lovely place to retire to… but our very own Weston-super-Mare earned a dubious accolade late last month when it was listed as the ‘unofficial divorce capital of the UK’

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Care proceedings on the increase

The power to intervene in family lives and remove children from their homes is one of the most invasive powers that the state has

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Understanding the Conveyancing process

To help you understand the conveyancing process please take a look at the Wards Conveyancing Flowchart.

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Using a conveyancing lawyer: 10 Tips

If you would like to read these top tips in more detail, please click here to download our pdf guide.

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Have you suffered a fire at your property?

An alarm company has been found to be negligent over a fire which devastated Weston-super-Mare’s pier pavilion in July 2008

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216 good reasons to make a Will

I was recently asked by a sceptical friend to give a good reason why she should make a Will. I answered that, in fact, I could give her 216 reasons

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What does the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) mean to you?

The Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) provides a recognised quality standard for firms of solicitors providing Residential Conveyancing services. The CQS is accredited by the Law Society, who represent solicitors in England and Wales.

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Government reduces the consultation period for large-scale collective redundancies

Large scale collective redundancies (those involving 100 or more employees) will no longer require a 90-day minimum consultation phase, after the Government announced its decision to reduce the period to 45 days.

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Judicial Costs Management – what Mediators need to know

Since the Civil Procedure Rules came into force, the Court has exercised considerable case management powers – but has not been in a position to manage or control the costs of a case until after judgement has been given.

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Homeowners’ claim against building contractor succeeds – represented by Wards Solicitors

Wards Solicitors’ James Murray represented homeowners, Mr and Mrs Hurden, in the recently published case of Melhuish & Saunders Ltd v Hurden and another [2012] EWHC 3119 (TCC).

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Small Claims limit set to rise

For all cases issued after 1 April 2013 the “Small Claims Court” limit will rise from £5,000 to £10,000. Cases worth between £10,000 and £25,000 will still be dealt with in the fast track.

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Parental Responsibility – clarifying the issues raised in Coronation Street

It has recently been screened on Coronation Street that the only way an unmarried father can get Parental Responsibility for their child is to marry the mother. This is not the true position of the law.

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Domestic Abuse – clarifying the issues raised in Coronation Street

The current storyline between Tyrone and Kirsty raises questions in relation to Tyrone’s domestic abuse by Kirsty. The legal protection afforded to victims of domestic abuse does not discriminate on the grounds of gender.

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Understanding construction disputes

Are you one of the thousands of UK homeowners considering an extension or renovation to your property, instead of moving to a larger house? With increasing numbers taking this route it’s little wonder that there has been an increase in the number of disputes between homeowners and builders.

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Need to know: Ending a tenancy

The term of the Tenancy Agreement will depend on the Tenancy Agreement you have entered into with your Tenant. If you wish to bring the Tenancy Agreement to an end, either at the expiry of the fixed term or afterwards, it is extremely important that the correct procedure is followed.

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Need to know: Difficult tenants

Whilst most properties are let to tenants without any difficulty, it is inevitable that sometimes problems do arise, for example, if the tenant fails to pay their rent or breaches other terms of the Tenancy Agreement.

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Government announces plans for the right to flexible working for all

In response to the modern workplaces consultation Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has announced plans for flexible parental leave and the right to flexible working for all.

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No-names? no thanks!

We regularly have callers seeking advice on an anonymous basis. It’s all a bit secret squirrel!

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Conveyancers! Stand your ground!

A recent article in The Telegraph announced The Saga Group’s plans to enter the Conveyancing industry. According to this article Saga will handle the paperwork necessary for home buying and selling for a fixed fee of £750, regardless of the price of the property.

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You could leave your family at risk if you use an unregulated Will writer

Consumers risk losing everything if they allow unqualified and unregulated Will writers to have full control of their estate’s assets, says former Law Society President John Wotton, who recently spoke out on the matter. A recent announcement that the Legal Services Board has agreed to proposals to bring Will writing and estate administration services within […]

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Have you asked a Solicitor recently?

This month sees the launch of the Law Society’s Ask a Solicitor campaign, aimed at highlighting how the public can use a solicitor in life’s many crises – large and small.

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Border Patrol

The green bin is never put out less than 100% full in my household in the autumn. Many of us will be having a big garden tidy-up at this time of year, cutting back perennials and pruning like stink.

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The importance of having an up to date Will

The importance of having an up to date valid Will can never be under-estimated. A recent case demonstrates why.

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Terms and conditions of business – do you need them?

Many businesses start life, and indeed continue to trade, without terms and conditions of business in place. The main reason is often that there have not been any problems so far and therefore it is assumed that things will just keep ticking over.

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Wards acted for Oxfordshire-based Abbeychart on its acquisition by Diploma plc

Bridget Juckes from the Bristol law firm acted as lawyer for Stanford in the Vale-based Abbeychart’s shareholders during the £4m sale to Midlands-based Diploma.

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The Briefcase of Justice

Once upon a time, as a moderately experienced trainee solicitor, I was sent at short notice up to Cheltenham County Court to apply to set a statutory demand aside, to stop my feckless client going bankrupt. I was given a file some 6 inches thick, a copy of the Green Book and told to succeed.

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Your responsibilities to agency workers

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 came into force on 1st October 2011, entitling agency workers to the same basic employment and working conditions as your existing employees/workers.

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Protecting tenancy deposits: will the changes make it work?

Deposits are often taken by landlords when they grant an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). This provides the landlord with some redress at the end of the tenancy, should the property have been damaged or if rent is owed.

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Are you buying a house and planning taking a new mortgage with HSBC?

Following on from my earlier post, I am pleased to report that HSBC have today issued a press release which makes changes to their panel arrangements.

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Trees, and the potential for liability for property owners

When you buy a property, the likelihood is that you will not think about the trees in the garden as being a potential source of trouble and liability. There are a number of different areas of the law which apply to trees and which may affect householders.

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New home development in South Gloucestershire

Newland Homes have now launched their latest new home development in South Gloucestershire – Newland Mews, Morley Road, Staple Hill, Bristol.

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What you need to know about Inheritance Tax changes from 6th April 2012

As of today’s budget changes, Inheritance Tax matters have largely stayed the same…

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Hospice raises thousands with help of solicitors

WESTON Hospicecare’s first Make Your Will Week event has been declared a resounding success, with more than £6,500 raised by some of Weston’s leading solicitors.

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Legacy changes in April’s budget

It came as no surprise in the Budget that, as previously announced, for deaths on or after 6th April 2012 a lower rate of Inheritance Tax of 36% will apply where 10% or more of a person’s net estate is left to charity.

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Tens of thousands of people could be helped to buy newly-built homes

Tens of thousands of people could be helped to buy newly-built homes worth up to £500,000 after the Government said it would use £1billion of taxpayers’ money to ensure they get mortgages with just a 5 per cent deposit.

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To my wife, I leave her lover

We don’t need to preach to you about the importance of a correctly drawn-up and regularly reviewed Will. In an ever-complicated world it is an inexpensive way of putting you in control of the final destination of your estate and making sure you avoid difficulties for your relatives, business associates and friends after your death…. Or is it?

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This year’s employment law change – what do you need to know?

What have you missed already? February 2012 – Statutory redundancy payments and guarantee payments increase The maximum amount of a week’s pay used to calculate a statutory redundancy payment and the basic and additional awards for unfair dismissal increased from £400 to £430 on 1 February 2012. The maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award increased from […]

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Centre Pointe Development Global Vision Investment – Are investors’ funds at risk?

UK investors are facing a period of uncertainty about the safety of capital invested with a group of companies based in Arizona, under the name of Centre Pointe Development Global Vision Investment.

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Britain’s busy roads

Most roads in this country were built for horses and carriages, carts and animals. When cars were first made they were few and far between and did not go very fast.

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Land Registry launches free security measure to help owners protect their property from fraudsters

Fraud continues to be of high concern for everyone involved in the property market. In particular it has been indentified that property most at risk is that which is not occupied by the owner, i.e. where they live abroad, let the property, where the property is vacant due to death or where elderly owners have moved into hospital or care.

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What does the extension of the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims mean for employers?

As part of its commitment to reforming employment law, the Government has confirmed that the qualifying period for protection from unfair dismissal will increase from the current one year to two years as of April 2012.

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NewBuy Guarantee Scheme

The Government has announced its intention to launch the NewBuy Guarantee Scheme in March 2012. This is a scheme for UK citizens who are looking to buy a new build property as their main home up to a purchase price of £500,000.

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Adverse Possession – can you turn a long story into a simple title?

Often, when I come to sell a property, particularly those being sold by executors or close to disused railway lines or other redundant areas of land, the plan held at the Land Registry and the outline of the property on the ground do not match.

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Can you prove you loaned your horse and didn’t give it away?

With the current economic climate looking gloomy, for many people loaning out their beloved horse or pony is the only way to keep them in their ownership and thus avoid a sale. Many loans are agreed verbally, on the basis that “we’ll sign something later” or “I know they are good people… Bob said so”

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Do you pay a service charge to Port Marine Management Limited?

Portishead has expanded vastly in recent years, with development taking place on the old power station site (now known as Port Marine) and on the other side of the old dock (which was originally known as the Ashlands Site as it was the site where the ash and the old power station was deposited).

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What’s in your pipeline?

Portishead is known for a number of things including an old power station site (now the Port Marine Development), the dock (which is now the marina), as well as a radio station which used to serve most of the northern hemisphere’s shipping needs (now a residential development).

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Renting out roof space for solar panels: trouble for homeowners?

Solar energy remains very much in the news with the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (Decc) decision to cut subsidies for “feed-in tariff” payments to households generating electricity with solar panels having been branded “unlawful” by a High Court judge last month.

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The New Year brings more houses onto the market

When people know I am a conveyancing solicitor, I am frequently asked whether we are busy. “Yes we are”, is the answer! There is a perception of activity in the housing market being linked to house prices.

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Rents going up and up into 2012

Letting agents suggest that a shortage of homes to rent is pushing yields up for landlords. Income from rental property has risen for 21 months in a row, according to the latest buy to let market review for the three months ending October 31 from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

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The wind has blown the fence down!

In the two week count down to Christmas a surprising number of people choose to move house. Every year we do all we can to make this happen. Some factors, however, are beyond our control, the weather being one of them. Last year we had snow and freezing conditions to contend with.

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Law Society warns that consumers are at risk from unregulated Will-writers

Consumers risk losing everything if they allow unqualified and unregulated will writers to have full control of their estate’s assets. As part of its submission of evidence to the Legal Services Board, the Law Society has highlighted the potential risks during will writing, estate administration and probate activities.

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Stamp Duty and the First Time Buyer update

Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement has confirmed that first-time buyers stamp duty concession or ‘holiday’ will end on 24 March 2012 as planned and will not be extended.

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Get Britain Building scheme

This week the government announced details of a £400m ‘Get Britain Building’ scheme to ‘unlock’ the construction of up to 16,000 new homes and also to pledged to assist First Time Buyers in obtaining mortgages.

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Stamp Duty and the First Time Buyer

Any one who is contemplating buying their first house or flat should keep in mind that the stamp duty holiday or concession, which may currently apply, is due to expire on 24th March 2012.

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Cohabitation and joint property ownership

The case of Jones v Kernott was decided last week by the Supreme Court, (formerly the House of Lords), and is a landmark case dealing with the rights of unmarried couples who have purchased property together in their joint names.

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Buying a property at auction

Having been qualified for more years that I care to admit, I have attended my fair share of auctions, either for clients with a property they are hoping to buy, or more usually on behalf of the sellers.

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Your name on the deeds? Not always a guarantee of property rights…

Today, 9th November 2011 the Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited decision on property rights of unmarried partners. The case provides clarity on issues affecting jointly-owned property following its previous decision in Stack-v-Dowden.

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Online estate fraud – the latest worry for families

Following on from our recent articles relating to the online portion of your estate, it has been reported that fraudsters are increasingly targeting the estates of deceased people for valuable assets, hosted online, such as online bank accounts.

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No you can’t share my lottery win!

In the first UK case of its type, the High Court has refused to award a man a half-share of his ex-wife’s lottery prize. The case was brought by a hotel porter whose wife had won £500,000 on a National Lottery ticket she had bought more than a decade ago.

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Working relationships

Being a responsible employer can often come down to the challenging world of relationships. When your employee is going through a divorce or family problem, what do you need to be aware of?

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Land Registry registers its 23 millionth title

At the beginning of October 2011 the number of title registered by the Land Registry in England and Wales passed the 23 million mark. This however, still leaves almost 25% of England and Wales unregistered.

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What exactly is Stamp Duty Relief for First Time Buyers

We’ve all heard about Stamp Duty… you’ve probably come across it yourself if you’ve bought a property, but what is it all about? Why exactly do we need to understand it? What relevance does it have to working out the costs of buying a home?

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Reported decline in professional Probate applications

Research released on 03rd October, by the Probate Service and conducted by Title Research reports that applications for grant of probate in England & Wales, made by Practitioners, have declined for each of the past three years.

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Making conveyancing really local to you

Having recently returned to our Portishead office, after 11 months based in Worle, whilst my colleague Claire Blackman was on maternity leave, I am reminded as to how the demands on our conveyancing service can vary considerably from one office to another, based on their geographic location.

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Including your online life in your Will

With almost 2million Facebook users, worldwide, expected to die this year (yes, you read that right), and over 200,000 of them over the age of 55, the time has come to consider your digital footprint in your Will.

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I bequeath my iTunes credits to…

It may seem far-fetched to consider leaving access to an online poker and bingo account, or iTunes credits, to a relative in your Will. But as more of us amass digital assets, it opens considerations for us as to how we write our Wills.

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Osborne announces Employment Law Reforms

Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to reduce the number of employment tribunal claims and boost the economy, with two major changes proposed today.

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Cohabitation: government shelves Law Commission reforms of property rights

The government has announced that it will not be taking forward the Law Commission’s recommendations for reform of the law governing the property rights of unmarried cohabiting couples during the life of the current Parliament.

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Law Society statement on referral fees

Following on from a number of articles on this blog, on the subject of referral fees, we wanted to update you as to the Law Society’s most recent comment.

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Live-in couples can still have rights despite Government U-turn, says Law Society

Couples who live together but do not marry can still have similar rights to married couples, despite the Government’s U-turn on giving cohabiting couples more rights, says the Law Society.

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Charitable Giving on Death

In April 2011 George Osborne announced in the Budget Speech that the Government will introduce for deaths occurring from 6th April 2012 a reduced rate of Inheritance Tax of 36% where a person leaves 10% or more of their net assets to a charity or charities.

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Help from ACAS for employers concerned about social media

Smart phones, internet, tweeting, blogging – we have accepted all of these innovations, and many more, as part of our working lives, helping us to work more flexibly, stay in touch for longer and respond to each other more quickly.

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When should an Lasting Power of Attorney be registered?

Before the LPA can be used it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Their fee covers registration and should it occur, their costs of investigating allegations of mismanagement.

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Giving away your home

For a variety of reasons many people wish to transfer their home from their name into that of another. It is important that the implications of transferring your home are fully understood, so the advantages can be weighed against the disadvantages and you make the appropriate decision for you.

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LPA’s – The certificate provider

As an important safeguard against abuse, one of the requirements to validly make a lasting power of attorney is for the document to be signed by an independent person who can confirm that the person (‘the donor’) making the power.

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Comments made on Facebook lead to ‘fair’ dismissal

One lesson for employees in this case is never to vent work-related frustrations on social media. The Liverpool Employment Tribunal has found the dismissal of a pub manager for inappropriate comments made on Facebook to be fair.

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Make a LPA now – can you afford not to?

Can you imagine a situation where you or a member of your family is no longer able to make decisions? Frightening isn’t it? An LPA or Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document, that enables one person to make decisions on behalf of another.

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Advanced medical decisions

An advanced medical decision, often referred to as an ‘advance directive’ or ‘living will’, is a written statement of your wishes about medical treatment if you become terminally ill or incapacitated.

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Solicitors for the Elderly Call For Urgent Regulation of Will Writing

Solicitors for the Elderly fears thousands of people are putting themselves at risk of being cheated by unscrupulous salesmen who offer to write their wills but who are not adequately qualified, trained or insured.

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Understanding Vacant Possession

There’s a fair bet, if you have anything to do with commercial property, that you’ll have heard the term ‘vacant possession’.

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Tackling whiplash

We’re all increasingly aware that the roads and motorways in and around Bristol and the surrounding areas are getting busier.

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What happens when a charity gets caught up in a dispute?

It is common for charities to be named as beneficiaries in a Will but difficulties can arise when a Will is subsequently challenged.

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What happens if you want to remove or substitute executors or administrators?

As you might well expect, the principles regarding the removal or substitution of executors or administrators of estates are contained within a thick and dusty legal document – in this case in Section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 (“the Act”). Whilst, over the past 26 years, we’ve had relatively little guidance as […]

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‘Some other substantial reason’ – the scope just got wider

The scope of the “catch all” fair reason for dismissal, ‘some other substantial reason’, has been widened by the EAT.

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A jolly difficult decision

Some of you, who as I do, may follow the Alex Cartoons in the Daily Telegraph, will notice that Alex is undertaking a mission to have the forthcoming Bribery Act repealed. He is concerned that it will spell the end to those days out of the office on “marketing” or “practice development” where we either […]

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Legal Aid cuts

There has not been enough press about the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill published on 21 June 2011. The effect of this bill will be to remove legal aid from some of the most vulnerable in society. Public funding for representation and, crucially, basic legal advice in areas such as housing law, […]

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By their Deeds ye shall know them

The Land Registry’s reliance on paperless deeds gives ID theft opportunities. When the Land Registration Act 2002 abolished paper deeds, professionals voiced concerns about how easy it would be for fraudsters to impersonate landowners to bring about sales or mortgages of property. With anyone able to check ownership, and mortgage status of registered property at […]

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Do your investments fit your risk profile?

In the current economic climate, many private investors are losing significant sums of money as financial institutions struggle to stay out of the rescue statistics. Many banks and investment companies simply cannot now return the kind of interest rates which were being promoted a matter of months ago. Similarly, investments which might have appeared sensible […]

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Women solicitors work wonders for Will Aid

Women solicitors along with hundreds of trainees and support staff have played a major role in Will Aid’s continuing success. The charity will-writing campaign which runs annually in November has demonstrated tremendous growth in fundraising income year on year, raising more than £1.5 million in November 2010 – and women solicitors have paid a big […]

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A flat over the shop? Landlords beware the 1977 legacy!

Landlords with non-paying tenants are often keen to use the right to forfeit when the rent is unpaid for more than 21 days. It’s a basic self-help remedy which has ancient origins. This is still included in most leases, residential or commercial, but it is largely meaningless for a residential letting. Every day, however, defaulting […]

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Resolving internal business disputes… applying pressure to the wound

It is common for a business to run into difficulties from time to time, with third parties such as suppliers, customers, landlords or agents. Prompt legal advice and assistance can help ensure that the dispute is addressed correctly in the first place, carefully following paths which will lead towards the best possible outcome, rather than […]

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What the Law Society says about appointing solicitors as executors

Here at Wards we don’t believe in taking a smoke and mirrors approach. It’s too easy for solicitors to hide behind the mystery of the legal process, baffling with the science. We want to make sure you’re aware of the standards we’re working to, and that you can expect. In no way is this more […]

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Do you want to see your children in a bitter dispute after your death?

Of course it goes as read that no parent wants this. However, unfortunately, disputes can and do arise and this is illustrated by a case reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post in the estate of Lena Hirst. The background Mrs Hirst died aged 75 in December 2005, suffering from Alzheimers Disease. Mrs Hirst’s Will had […]

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RSPCA wins legacy dispute but at what cost?

It may feel like it has been in the news forever, but the court battle fought by the RSPCA in RSPCA v Sharp has finally been won. But is it a bitter-sweet win for this charity? In February 2010 the High Court had ruled against the Society in the case RSPCA v Sharp and others. […]

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Removing executors – what you need to know…

If you feel that the Executors appointed by Will are failing to administer the estate properly then you may want to take action sooner rather than later. We’ve put together some basic facts to consider. If you are facing this situation, however, we would always advise that you start by calling us, so we can […]

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Charities beware: The case of Heather Ilott v David Mitson and others

In spite of letter of wishes, claim against the estate wins A recent Hearing at the Court of Appeal has clarified the law in relation to claims brought by adult children against estates, under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975) (’the Act’). The Court in this case has ruled that the adult […]

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Apple’s location files could have an impact on divorce proceedings

When we wrote about searching your spouse’s electronic data on 17th February 2011, we could not have anticipated the public outcry that would come from today’s news that Apple iPhones and iPads contain a hidden file that tracks the owner’s locations. It has been discovered that Apple has been logging the whereabouts of 3G phone […]

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Bristol Enterprise Zone and its impact on planning

In March this year the chancellor, George Osborne announced that Bristol would be one of the 21 new Enterprise Zones. The zones are being proposed as a way of encouraging investment and stimulating business growth. As yet the exact site has not been confirmed but the Board of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership […]

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Common sense for street parties

With only 2 weeks to go, there is a lot of talk about the royal wedding and the street parties that people are planning to hold. Recent news items have reported how local councils are tying party-organisers up with red tape, rather than assisting with the bunting. If you’re thinking of throwing a party, here […]

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April 2011 regulation changes – from Business Link

Common commencement dates Most new laws affecting businesses come into force on one of two common commencement dates (CCDs) each year – 6 April and 1 October. CCDs enable you to prepare your business for the introduction of new, amended or reduced requirements. Note that certain changes affect the financial year and so may have […]

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How will the Budget affect your business?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, presented the 2011 Budget on 23 March. The Budget builds on announcements in the Spending Review 2010 and the June Budget 2010 which can be found at HM Treasury website – Opens in a new window along with all the detailed announcements. The Budget sets out a package of […]

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Workers choose when they retire… not the bosses!

On 1st March 2011 the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills published draft regulations to repeal retirement. This is good news for those who want or need to carry on working past 65. Dismissed workers over 65 will be in a stronger position to bring unfair dismissal claims. Before now, employers have been able to […]

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A hidden sting in the budget tail for charities

Following our post on last week’s budget there seems to be a hidden sting in the ‘good news’ for charities. Civil Society Fundraising reported… ‘The scrapping of Self Assessment Donate, the mechanism for giving income tax repayments to charity via the tax return, which was announced in Wednesday’s Budget but not given much attention, will […]

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Budget “a reasonable stab at growth” for small firms, say business groups

Business groups have criticised the Government’s so–called “enterprise Budget”, saying the announcements would do little to encourage people to start a business and will only help small firms in the short term, writes Clare Bullock. National Federation of Enterprise Agencies chief executive, George Derbyshire said this was a “reasonable stab at a growth strategy” as […]

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Budget headlines for charities

Reforms allowing charities to claim Gift Aid on donations totalling up to £5,000 per charity without any paperwork – Osborne claimed this would help 100,000 charities to save £240m Implementing an online claim system for tax relief by 2013 A 10% tax break on inheritance tax for people whose wills include a 10% legacy to […]

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Budget headlines if you’re thinking about Wills and Probate

The inheritance tax nil rate band is frozen until April 2015. The Government has announced that a reduced rate of inheritance tax (IHT) will apply where 10% or more of a deceased’s net estate (after deducting IHT exemptions, reliefs and the nil rate band) is left to charity. In those cases the current 40% rate […]

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New Wills & Mental Capacity solicitor for Ward’s Nailsea office

Wards Solicitors are delighted to welcome Susan Fairless to their Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team. Susan will be based in Wards’ Nailsea office. Originally from Manchester, Susan moved to Hertfordshire to train as a nurse before changing career to qualify as a Solicitor in 2005. Susan developed her specialism in Wills and Probate whilst […]

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Tenancy Deposit Schemes and the Landlord’s Penalty

On 6th April 2007, it became compulsory for landlords receiving tenancy deposits to pay them into a protection scheme within 14 days of receipt, and to notify the tenant of the details of the scheme. If a court becomes aware that a deposit is not held in a scheme, it must order the landlord to […]

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Forwarding jokes to friends? Think again…

In a recent Employment Tribunal case, Mr Gosden was dismissed for forwarding a racially offensive American email from his home PC, to a workplace friend’s home email. The unusual point is that the email was sent from home PC to home PC – thus entirely outside of the workplace. You might expect that Mr Gosden […]

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Will Aid 2010 – A great outcome

The 2010 Will Aid campaign has now drawn to a close. Shirley Marsland, Campaign Manager for Will Aid, reports that they have now received nearly £1 million in donations (£1.25 million including Gift Aid). With donations still to be received, Will Aid is hopeful that the final total could be as much as £1.5 million. […]

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When playing in the dark is negligent

There is a lot of talk about whether we are living in a nanny state, as more rules are made and people continue to bring compensation claims after accidents for which there is apparently very little negligence. Our judges however go to great lengths to study the facts of each individual case in order to […]

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Searching your spouse’s electronic data could get you into trouble

When the prospect of divorce is on the table it can spark a flurry of searching desks, drawers, pockets and briefcases for information that might help your case when identifying assets. In the past, courts have tended to be pretty relaxed about this process. As long as you haven’t forced a lock or broken in […]

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The uproar over the compulsory retirement age continues…

f you’re an employer, or coming up to retirement, you’d have had to have your head buried in the sand not to be aware of the government’s plans to phase out the default retirement age. Having published its response to the consultation document, the government has confirmed that proposals will be implemented from 6th April […]

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Volunteers not covered under Disability Discrimination Act

In a landmark case, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a volunteer with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) was not covered by the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). Background to the case The claimant volunteered for four to five hours per week with the CAB and was given a volunteer […]

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When is a right of way not a right of way?

Or rather, when you can make a right of way without having a right of way? If you have been using someone else’s land without force, secrecy or permission for a period of 20 years you can acquire a right of way by prescription. This is particularly useful when you’ve always used a certain means […]

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Collaborative Law – how does it work?

Collaborative lawyers, often in tandem with mediators, offer a ‘no court’ option for people who are separating. Collaborative law is a method of resolving differences which involves a series of face-to-face meetings with both lawyers (know as four way meetings). All four people commit, up front, to having open and constructive discussions about the children […]

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Mediation – divorce

This year the Government plans to make mediation a compulsory part of divorce proceedings, when applied to resolving disputes relating to children and financial disputes. Before couples enter into fully-fledged litigation about their children or their finances, it is intended they will have to attend mediation as a first step. There will be exclusions for […]

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A clear reminder to undertake proper e-disclosure in disputes

It can sometimes appear that it is too easy for lawyers to throw legal cases at you and use them to justify what can seem like extra admin and bureaucracy. In the case ofEarles v Barclays Bank Plc ([2009] EWHC 2500), however, the judgment (handed down in 2009) raises an issue not to be overlooked. […]

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The Better Divorce

‘When my solicitor first suggested to me that my wife and I could sit around a table and resolve all of our issues without the need to go to Court, although I liked the idea, frankly I thought she was mad. We hadn’t co-operated well since the breakdown of our marriage over anything – children, […]

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The Equality Act 2010 – what’s new and what’s changed, at a glance

The Equality Act became law in October 2010. It replaces previous legislation (such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and ensures consistency in what you need to do to make your workplace a fair environment and to comply with the law. The Equality Act covers the same groups that […]

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‘Can’t take it with you’ – BBC2 – Friday 14th January

Were you watching BBC 2 last Friday at 9pm? The first in a 6 part series looking at wills, inheritance and intestacy aired. ‘Can’t take it with you’ is fronted by businessman Gerry Robinson, ably assisted by wills lawyer Sue Medder from London firm Withers LLP. Each week the programme looks at the two familes […]

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Did the ‘Right to Buy’ council houses really help tenants in the way Margaret Thatcher had hoped?

Was it really a property owning democracy? You may remember that Margaret Thatchers’ policy to allow council tenants to buy their council houses was hailed as a breakthrough in producing a “property owning democracy”. It arrived, supported by claims that everyone was also now a shareholder, buying shares in the newly privatised utilities such as […]

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Eroding the boundaries of the ‘without prejudice’ rule

The first priority in efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement in a dispute is allowing both parties to speak frankly, without prejudicing their position regarding liability, should the matter proceed to trial. This is known as the ‘without prejudice’ rule. Under this rule both parties can openly exchange offers and solutions, knowing that any admissions […]

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Comment on regulation in the hairdressing industry

Did anyone see Inside Out West last Monday? They did a great feature on the lack of regulation in the hairdressing industry. You can watch it again on the BBC iPlayer. I think the general public were astounded to hear that anyone can set themselves up as a hairdresser, with no qualifications whatsoever. I helped […]

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Bristol Property Live

Goldbrick House was last week was the scene for a unique first, when Bristol’s leading independent estate agents gathered together in its cocktail bar. ‘What do you call a room full of estate agents..’, may seem like the start of a gag, but this highly convivial but remarkable soirée was to mark the official launch […]

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Probate disputes case studies – My partner’s Will is out of date

A man and woman lived together and had two children. The women tragically died from cancer at an early age. They had not sorted out their finances before she died. She had made a Will many years before she met her partner or had children, which gave all her assets to her mother and brothers, […]

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Probate disputes case studies – My brother died leaving two families

The deceased had lived with his brother for many years, having come over to England after World War 2 from the West Indies. He left a wife in the West Indies and several children. Gradually he paid for some of the children to come over to England, but he became estranged from his wife, although […]

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Probate disputes case studies – My husband’s Will doesn’t reflect our joint assets

The deceased and his wife had worked hard all their lives in a business venture together contributing equally and bought lots of properties and owned a large amount of savings. For convenience everything was put into the husband’s name. On his death, he gave 50% of his assets to his wife and 25% to two […]

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Probate disputes case studies – How do I contest a Will to access funds?

The deceased and his wife had divorced acrimoniously and they had two children. The deceased then remarried and he and his second wife moved into a new property held in his name. On his death he gave a life interest to his second wife in the property with all of his assets to go to […]

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Probate disputes case studies – I have been left out of mother’s Will

The deceased and her husband married very young and had had three children one son and two daughters at a very early age. When the youngest child was only 5, she became the life time companion of a wealthy business man and went to live with him. She asked her parents and the parents of […]

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Probate disputes case studies – Our step father inherited our family money

The deceased married the two Claimants’ mother in the late 70s and the Claimants went to live with him. Unfortunately their mother died in the early 80s and at that time their relationship with the deceased deteriorated and they both left his home and went to live on their own when they were in their […]

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That’s mine! Retention of Title to upaid goods/materials

With 4,000 companies going into compulsory or creditors’ voluntary liquidation in the second quarter of 2010, the biggest threat to the livelihood of the SME can still be considered to be bad debt. A sub-contractor business, which relies on a small number of large contracts for its livelihood, is highly vulnerable to crippling loss when […]

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European Court of Justice hands down judgment on compulsory retirement age

In the recent case of “Rosenbladt v Oellerking” the European Court of Justice dealt with the thorny issue of whether the compulsory retirement age of 65 was discriminatory on grounds of age. Mrs Rosenbladt was a cleaner at barracks in Hamburg for 39 years and was employed on a part-time basis from 1994. Her contract […]

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Even If There’s Not A Will There Can Still Be A Way

Without question, the best way to ensure that your estate gets distributed in accordance with your wishes is to create a Will during your lifetime. A validly executed Will can reduce the circumstances in which disputes can arise between family members of the deceased over rightful ownership to property. Of course, people regularly die without […]

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Cohabiting and buying property together… what do you need to know?

With the recession, it is perhaps not surprising that we are receiving reports of increasing numbers of cohabiting couples seeking relationship breakdown advice. Cohabiting couples frequently misunderstand how the law applies to them… and the most common misunderstanding is that one can gain rights by virtue of the length of the relationship. This is not […]

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Jonathan Harvey v Plymouth City Council

This case is a welcome decision in favour of commonsense and shows that Judges are less likely to decide that a defendant Council is liable for any accident which occurs on its land. The claimant was drunk. He had been out for the evening with friends and immediately before the accident had been running away […]

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Drawing a Line Under Boundary Disputes

There appears to be little let-up in the flow of press coverage relating to examples of legal costs in boundary disputes between neighbours reaching astonomical figures. These disputes are usually fought with disproportionate ferocity, considering the value of the land, and regularly go all the way to trial, when most other disputes would have settled […]

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Thinking of investing in land?

An increasing number of disappointed investors are making complaint, having been snared into “land banking” schemes. Invariably, a cold call from a company with an impressive name prompts the private investor to show an interest in the concept of buying land on the hope that one day, it will be the next Cribbs Causeway or […]

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When it comes to will-writing, Britain has no will

Over half of Britons do not make provisions for after their death – and there is no regulation to ensure those who do are protected. Following the Panorama programme and our recent posts, The Guardian has published an excellent review of the key issues… and why it is so important that we all write a […]

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Legal aid tendering row

On Monday 9th August, the Law Society Gazette reported that The Law Society has called on the Legal Services Commission to suspend the implementation of the family legal aid tender round in a letter to its chief executive Carolyn Downs. The new contracts are due to start on 14 October, but the Law Society’s chief […]

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Panorama Highlights Dangers of Using Will Writers

In this week’s Panorama programme, presenter Vivian White highlighted the risks in using a will writing service. Many people are under the false impression a ‘will writer’ is a solicitor, but unlike a solicitor they do not have to undergo any training, have insurance, and are not regulated by any organisation which ensures that they […]

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You can’t choose your family but you can choose your solicitors…

The Dangers of Trusting a Relative to Safeguard Your Finances Using a Jointly Owned Bank Account The recent case of Re Northall (deceased) highlights the importance of getting legal advice before transferring money into joint bank accounts. One of Mrs Northall’s sons had helped her to finance the purchase of her council house and, when […]

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Coffin chasers targeting grieving families

In our article on 2nd July Cashing in on Death we reported on the alarming news that banks, specialist probate firms and Will-writers were exploiting the public with their probate charges. Since then our investigations and links with local support groups have highlighted a worrying development. Grieving families registering deaths at town halls or visiting their […]

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Deleted Emails – The Smoking Gun?

The law has rapidly caught up with the development in electronic communications by broadening the scope of the rules to incorporate emails, text messages, blog posts and every other form of electronic communication into the category of documents that have to be disclosed in litigation. The ease and speed of electronic communications have lead to […]

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Betting on a charity’s future after your death

On 21st June, the Daily Telegraph reported on the story of Nicholas Newlife’s estate and the impact it could have on the charity Oxfam. Mr Newlife left his entire estate to Oxfam when he died in February 2009, aged 69, which included the outcomes of the series of outstanding bets he had placed. The bet […]

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Cost of a lie

Introduction It is a question nearly as old as employment litigation itself: If as an employer, I win at Employment Tribunal will I be able to recover my costs, from the employee who brought the claim against me? As you may be aware the general rule is no. The reason behind this is that when […]

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Did you know? – Registration Fraud

Fraud fact: Just over £5 million was paid out by Land Registry in 2008/9 for 62 fraud and forgery claims, out of more than 4 million applications to change the register Anyone who owns a property they do not live in, such as buy-to let landlords, or those living abroad may be at increased risk […]

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Did you know? – Drainage searches

Why conveyancers obtain drainage and water searches ? These contain information as to: whether foul water and surface drainage from the property drain to a pubic sewer, the location of public sewers within boundaries of the property or its vicinity, whether the sewers or proposed sewers are adopted, the location of public water mains and […]

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What happens when living together doesn’t work? A cautionary tale for unmarried cohabitees

When the Judge allowed Mr Kernott, the ex partner of Miss Jones, to claim 50% of the value of their jointly-owned house, despite having left the home 17 years previously and paying no part of the mortgage in that time, the judgment caused an uproar. Previously, Judges would assess the whole course of dealings between […]

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Did you know? – Voluntary First Registration

– that 30% of Land in England and Wales is unregistered * – that even if your title is currently unregistered you can apply to the land Registry for this to be registered. What is registration? All land and property ownership in England and Wales is subject to a system of registration at the Land […]

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Did you know? Land registration

All land and property ownership in England and Wales is subject to a system of registration at the Land Registry. Land registration confers benefits and safeguards to property owners. In particular the registered title is guaranteed so that if an owners suffers loss as a result of an error in the title, compensation should be […]

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Cashing in on death

On 16th June, The Daily Mail reported that banks, specialist probate firms and will-writers were exploiting the public with their probate charges. According to The Daily Mail, they offer cheap Wills, have themselves appointed executor and then charge tens of thousands of pounds for executing the estate. Research conducted by Which? identified that the fundamental […]

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Did you know? – that ‘deeds’ are a thing of the past

Or certainly this is the case for property which has a registered title, which applies to some 70% of property in England and Wales. Since the Land Registration Act 2002, came into force on 13 October 2003, no physical deed is now issued by the Land Registry when property changes hands or any other change […]

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Are All Men Created Equal?

Introduction With all the political shenanigans over the last couple of months, it is easy to forget that not everything has changed. If matters proceed as planned the Equalities Act 2010 will come into force this October. Though there is currently some discussion as to whether the new Government will go through with all or […]

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Getting personal

Article published in Elderly Client Adviser March/April 2010 As a solicitor specialising in Wills and Probate work I inevitably spend a large proportion of my time dealing with the elderly. As a firm our philosophy is to offer all our clients a rounded service in addition to focusing on the individual transaction or issues that […]

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Delaying protection

The first report into the work of Court of Protection, established when the Mental Capacity Act came into force on 1 October 2007, reveals a consistent failure to meet five out of six targets for the time taken to respond to applicants and arrange hearings. In his introduction, the Senior Judge of the Court of […]

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By their Deeds shall ye know them

The Land Registry’s reliance on paperless deeds gives ID theft opportunities. When the Land Registration Act 2002 abolished paper deeds, professionals voiced concerns about how easy it would be for fraudsters to impersonate landowners to bring about sales or mortgages of property. With anyone able to check ownership, and mortgage status of registered property at […]

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Did you know? – Conveyancing terminology

There is always a need in all walks of life for clarity. At Wards our aim is to advise clearly and in terms our clients can understand, without underestimating their ability to assimilate new terminology. This however is a brief guide to common conveyancing terms which may assist newcomers: Parties to a transaction: The seller […]

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Nursing Home Fees – Anti Avoidance and making the family pay

There are many ways for Local Authorities to recoup the cost of long term care from residents or their families. Most people will be aware that major gifts of property or money made by an elderly person will come under scrutiny in the event that long term care is needed later. The political debate rages […]

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The facts about the future of Capital Gains Tax…

The activities of our new Coalition Government have been watched keenly over the past few weeks, particularly when they relate to our already fragile finances. Discussions have been well-publicised concerning potential changes in VAT, income tax, pensions and now Capital Gains Tax (CGT). With an emergency Budget due on 22 June, the fact that many […]

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Social Networking and the Employer’s Confidential Information

SME and B2C marketing thinking has many ideas and theories about why and how people buy. Sometimes we’ll buy an item or service because we trust the brand – think of John Lewis for example – but a great deal of business transactions are brought about by knowing, liking and trusting an individual. There are […]

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The Consumer Code for Home Builders

Buyers of New Homes should now benefit from this new Code which applies to reservations made after 1 April 2010. Most Home Builders will offer Buyers the benefit of an insurance backed guarantee for the New Home usually with the National House-Building Council (NHBC). Where this applies there is now an additional benefit as the […]

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The truth about HIPs (and EPC’s)

The background Since 2007, sellers have been required to provide Home Information Packs (HIPs) when selling their residential properties. The contents of HIPs included property information, searches and energy performance certificates (EPCs). HIPs are history…. The coalition government has suspended Home Information Packs (HIPs) with effect from 21 May 2010. However, energy performance certificates (EPCs) […]

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Society welcomes suspension of HIPs

The Law Society has welcomed the new coalition government’s decision to suspend home information packs (HIPs). This provides an opportunity for the home buying process to be reformed to meet the real needs of the housing market. Read more about HIPs here

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Breaking news – HIPs scrapped by coalition government with immediate effect

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/10130254.stm http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/construction_and_property/article7131575.ece More news and comment to follow…

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HIPs – your questions answered

The news today that HIPs are no longer will present a huge number of questions, not least for those currently buying/selling. This site gives some comprehensive answers. http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/buyingselling/homeinformation/homeinfopackquestions/ More to follow.

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Supreme Court refuses to allow man to sue brother’s solicitors over Will

In May 2010, the Supreme Court refused to allow a man to sue his brother’s solicitors in a dispute over their grandmother’s Will. To allow this, they would have had to agree to lift the limitation period, within which claims must be brought. Mark Roberts claimed that, under the Will, his brother John had to […]

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Stamp Duty

For many home buyers ‘stamp duty’ is the hidden peril and one of the biggest cheques you’ll have to write in the process… what is it, and how does it apply to you? Stamp duty land tax (to give it its full name) is a tax on property transactions. It is calculated as a percentage […]

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As if you needed proof that you needed to write a Will…

A recent case in the High Court of Justice Chancery Division in Cardiff has highlighted, again, the importance of leaving a Will. If you’re concerned about making sure that your estate passes to the people you want, you may want to read this article! The background David Evans died on 23 March 2009, aged 59, […]

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Tribunal award limits reduced

After many years of seeing them rise, the Employment Rights (Revision of Limits) Order 2009 came into force on 1 February 2010, bringing reductions in several limits applying to tribunal awards and other amounts payable under employment legislation. Where an event which results in an award or payment occurs on or after 1 February 2010, […]

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Take your holiday or leave it

In a decision that will cheer even the most hardened HR Manager or business owner, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has held in Lyons v Mitie Security Ltd that annual leave not taken close to the end of the leave year can be lost by an employee, as long as the employer has made provision to […]

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The Agency Workers Regulations

The Agency Workers Regulations were published by the Government last month with the intention that they will come into force on 1st October 2011. Although the final outcome is dependent on the result of the forthcoming Election, the intention is that these will provide all Agency Workers with the right to equal treatment with their […]

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The sick note is no more

From 6 April this year, UK employers will no longer be presented with the traditional sick note setting out the reason for an employee’s absence. Instead, GPs will produce “fit notes” which will focus on the work that an ill person is able to do, rather than what they are unable to do. The GP […]

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Pregnant workers at risk

The EAT has clarified its ruling on the case of O’Neill v Buckinghamshire County Council to explain that an employer is not under a general obligation to carry out a risk assessment for a pregnant employee, but must do so if certain circumstances exist. In this case, the employee was a school teacher who had […]

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Making things equal

Currently, discrimination law protects against less favourable treatment on the grounds of characteristics such as sex, age, race, religion, or disability. There is no effective remedy, however, for an individual subjected to “multiple discrimination”. An example of this might be a Muslim woman passed over for promotion as a hotel manager because her employer thinks […]

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Right to legal representation

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that an employee may have the right to legal representation at a disciplinary hearing where the hearing could result in them being prohibited from practising their profession. This is based on the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (R (on […]

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Spiritual beliefs?

When the Greater Manchester Police dismissed him, police trainer Alan Power claimed that they had discriminated against him because of his belief that psychics could help to solve criminal investigations. At an initial hearing, it was decided that spirituality could be seen as a faith and therefore amount to a religious belief, because it has […]

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Is the insurance worth the risk?

When you next renew your house or contents insurance pay particular attention to the breakdown of charges. Very often the insurance company will offer you legal expenses insurance for an additional £10.00, £5.00, or even, for ‘free’. If you have this you are able to use the insurance company’s indemnity to either pursue, or defend, […]

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Can you trust your estate agent?

My husband’s quiet Sunday afternoon with the papers was disturbed last week, as the Mail on Sunday made me see red. This was nothing new but on this occasion the headline of ‘Is your estate agent taking bribes’ from your lawyer?’ really made it personal. I may be over reacting, but Sebastian O’Kelly must have […]

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Will you still be sending me a payslip, when I’m 65….?

The High Court has struck a blow in favour of an employer’s ability to force workers to retire at 65, but has also dealt a backhander to the government, giving hope to Age Concern and other campaigners that the current legal situation will not be with us for much longer. When European legislation against age […]

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Coping with the future now… Do you need a Lasting Power of Attorney?

What are they? A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document whereby you appoint a person or people to act upon your behalf in the event that you are unable to manage your financial property and affairs or make healthcare decisions. This article concentrates on LPAs applicable to your financial property and affairs. Do […]

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The Budget 2010: Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Alistair Darling has today made two major changes to SDLT, (stamp duty) on homes. The 1st which applies from midnight tonight is to give a temporary stamp duty ‘holiday’ to ‘first time buyers’ of property up to £250,000, and the 2nd to be introduced from 6 April 2011 is to increase the rate for property […]

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Declining Mediation leaves a bitter costs legacy

The RSPCA has been in the legal headlines recently in two legacy disputes. Sadly for the Society, success has proven elusive – and defeat costly. Trustees of charitable bodies have a duty to safeguard legacies, but should also energetically mediate and settle cases where possible, before putting their claims through the uncertainty and expense of […]

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Does your email policy still protect you?

Although they aren’t binding in the UK, employers can often learn a great deal from watching how the USA courts interpret matters. A recent case in New Jersey demonstrates exactly why it is so vitally important for employers set out clear policies for personal email and internet usage. Marina Stengart, was employed as a nursing […]

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Asbestos Awareness for Residential Property Owners

A seminar by Patrick O’Connor, (Director of the newly formed Bristol based Chartered Building Surveyors, Kenneth & Edwards), on Asbestos in Property Transfers, for the Residential Property Team of Wards solicitors, had an immediate and unexpected consequence… two attendees immediately replaced their ironing boards! We learned of the danger of asbestos to health and that […]

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Is the property crash over in Bristol?

I was privileged this week to be invited to be on the panel of ‘the Essential Debate’ ‘ Is the Property Crash over in Bristol’ hosted by Andrews estate agents. The Bristol Evening Post reported this afterwards as ‘City property market ‘is now poised for good times again’’ with ‘Experts in an upbeat mood…’. The […]

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No more blacklisting

Following consultation in 2009, The Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010 will soon be brought into force. This means that the compilation, distribution and use of lists by employers and employment agencies in order to facilitate discrimination against trade union members and activists will be prohibited. The Final Impact Assessment of January 2010 confirmed […]

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Exercise hurts

For those of you, who like many of us, have decided to start the New Year full of resolve to shed those unwanted pounds gained over Christmas and to get fit by joining a gym or engaging a personal trainer, you may be well advised to approach this with a little caution. You may be […]

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Investment losses… just one of those things?

The oft-heard joke about investments that can go down as well as plummet is proving all too true for many investors at the moment. Some funds have taken a hit through poor market performance, and investors’ financial plans or retirement prospects have been dealt a severe blow. The majority of capital investments will naturally vary […]

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Final stage of implementation of Companies Act 2006 1st Oct 2009

Practical implications for your company On 1st October 2009 life changed forever, at least for anyone involved at whatever level with the administration of a company, when the final parts of the Companies Act 2006 still outstanding came into full force. As I am sure you are all aware when, the Companies Act was given […]

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Sick Pay Ruling makes employers feel queasy

The European Court of Justice has recently decided that employees who are on sick leave will still accrue the right to paid holiday leave. This applies whether they are on long term or short term sick leave. In the case they considered, an employee was injured some weeks before a pre-booked holiday. He was allowed […]

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Is the insurance worth the risk

When you next renew your house or contents insurance pay particular attention to the breakdown of charges. Very often the insurance company will offer you legal expenses insurance for an additional £10.00, £5.00, or even, for ‘free’. If you have this you are able to use the insurance company’s indemnity to either pursue, or defend, […]

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New Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ)

Home Information Packs (HIPs) from 6 April include a new Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) completed by the Seller. The government states the information required ‘is easy to complete without professional help and gives buyers basic information to help inform their decision to view or make an offer’. Property professionals protested to no avail against the […]

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Rehabilitation is key for accident victims

Injured people often benefit from remedial treatment, whether from an osteopath, chiropractor or physiotherapist. Treatment that starts early and continues often helps an injured person’s recovery to their pre-injured state and an earlier return to work. However, not all accident victims can afford to pay for such treatment, especially if they are off work as […]

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Why use Wards for Accident Claims?

No 2 accidents are ever the same No 2 people are the same No 2 injuries are ever the same We will treat you, your accident and your injury as unique. We will tailor our service around your accident and your needs. We are completely independent from claims management and/or insurance companies. WHAT YOU SHOULD […]

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Arrears? New rules may help

Are you in arrears on your mortgage and facing the threat of repossession? New protocol from the Civil Justice Council could help you. Changes mean that mortgage lenders may now only use “possession” proceedings as a last resort. This is in response to the recession drawing more businesses into bankruptcy and forcing them to lay […]

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Court order will ensure time is not your enemy

It’s all just a matter of time…There may be those of you reading this who are struggling to keep financially afloat at the moment. You may be under pressure to repay loans taken out during more buoyant times and feel that you have no solutions to a mountain of problems. Under new legislation, which came […]

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Can litigation ever be risk free?

If you are contemplating legal action, however strong your case, no lawyer will tell you that your case is guaranteed to win. Should the worst happen and you lose, you could be responsible not only for meeting your own legal costs but also those of your opponent. When you start to delve into what those […]

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Changes for agency workers and parents

Changes to the rights of agency workers in the UK could have implications for recruitment agencies as well as employers. The draft Agency Workers Directive was discussed at the European Employment Council in June 2008 and agreement was reached in principle. The agreed revised wording of the Agency Workers Directive allows the UK to implement […]

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Loss of profits for breach of contract

A recent Scottish case allows a claim for economic loss from a normal breach of contract. It is Scottish and so does not strictly apply to England and Wales but is likely to persuade the courts in this country. Mr and Mrs Strachan owed a property in the north of Scotland which they planned to […]

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Legal Executive named as Family Law Specialist

Sylvie Penwill, a Legal Executive at the Weston office of Wards Solicitors, has been recognised as a specialist by the UK’s leading family law group, Resolution (formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association). Sylvie is one of only a handful of Resolution accredited lawyers in the Weston area. Already a Law Society family panelist, […]

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Are you ready for the changes the Companies Act will bring?

The following key provisions of The Companies Act 2006 come into effect from 1 October 2008. Trading name Companies (except dormant ones) must display their registered name at their registered office and any other location at which they carry on business. They must also still display their company name and number on their business letters, […]

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