Category: General News

Vouched For Rob Clarke

5 Star Robert Clarke

5 Star Robert Clarke It wasn’t long ago we were congratulating Rob on his Crystal’ Anniversary as a Solicitor, now we are once again celebrating his achievement this time for his client care and service. Rob has been recognised by Vouchedfor  the comparison website for professional services for receiving 5-star feedback from clients for the  spring. 

The award is a fantastic recognition and goes to show what his clients think of his work  particularly in personal injury and negligence claims in which he specialises. When seeking out help from solicitors, we encourage clients to view reviews from other sources as well as the company’s website. We are very proud of the achievement from Rob, and we  are sure many more awards are to follow. If you are interested in the wonderful reviews Robert received you can view them now. 

“Its always nice to be recognised for the hard work put in to make sure that each client gets the best outcome and service possible” Robert Clarke, Dispute Resolution

 

 

 

 How can we help?

Robert specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, and works on a no-win no-fee basis for his clients. If you have been involved in an injury or have been the victim of medical negligence and want to understand your options then call Robert on 01302 965 402.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

 

The Queen’s Speech – and what it might mean to you

The Queen's Speech outlining the political agenda for the coming two years was given this week after the result of the recent snap election. The speech was dominated by brexit which is also the reason the agenda was set out for two years rather than the usual one.

While brexit did take up the bulk, other areas were also covered. We have identified three different areas which may be of some interest to you regarding new changes to the legal sector including:

 

Family Law

Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill

The Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill’s main purpose is to protect victims of domestic abuse. The bill has a few different elements to ensure this.

The main elements of the bill will be

  • To define what is meant by domestic abuse in order to create clarity for the courts and victims
  • A Domestic violence and Abuse Commissioner will be appointed and their role will be to
    • Stand up for the victims and survivors
    • Raise public awareness
    • Monitor the response of statutory agencies and local authorities
    • Hold the justice system to account in tackling domestic abuse
    • Ensure that if abusive behaviour involves a child, the court can hand down a sentence that reflects the devastating life-long impact that abuse can have on a child

 

Alison Kitchman, Partner & Head of Family Law

“It is a welcomed bill which will hopefully see zero tolerance of domestic abuse so that we can confidently help victims and protect them from future abuse.”

If you would like to know more information please visit our domestic abuse page.

 

Conveyance

Draft Tenants Fees Bill

This bill got introduced before the snap election and was expected to be upheld whatever the outcome as it was popular amongst most of the parties. The Tenants Fees Bill would remove the responsibility of paying letting agent fees from the tenants and be passed on the property owner. Buy-to–let property owners need to be aware of these changes and understand that it will be their responsibility to pay the fees once the bill becomes law.

Potential implications are that landlords pass the cost onto the tenants through increase of rent. The bill also states that renters will be able to recover any fees which were collected illegally. 

 

Mark Walton, Head of Conveyance

“The Tenants Fee bill is obviously good news if you are a renter, however if you are a landlord or are considering a buy-to-let property you need to be aware of any potential extra cost. You may want to take this into consideration while negotiating when buying the property or with incoming tenants rental agreement”

 

Dispute Resolution

The effect of the Civil Liability Bill on Personal Injury

Earlier this year we wrote a blog to inform people of the proposed amendments to the Personal Injury claims process. Within the Queens speech the reforms were referred to, but now as ‘The Civil Liability Bill.’

(Please seen the link above for the full break-down).

Here are some of the key points:

  • At present personal injury in excess of £1,000 allows for recovery of legal costs.  The proposals are to increase that to £2,000 for general personal injury and £5,000 for road traffic accident whiplash claims.
  • The Bill has been prepared with the intention of reducing the number of whiplash claims.

 

Emma Cornell, Head of Dispute Resolution

“Personal Injury claims seem to have a bad reputation.  Of course fraudulent claims need to be stopped, but the proposed reforms have to make sure that they are not at the expense of denying compensation to those who are genuinely injured through no fault of their own”

For more information or questions on any of the issues above please use our contact form and we’ll call you back.

Record-Breaker Lauren Smith

SOUTH YORKSHIRE LAW FIRM TOPS FUNDRAISING CHARTS FOR WILL AID

Sheffield and Doncaster law firm Taylor Bracewell has raised a record-breaking sum for charity through the annual Will Aid scheme.

Lauren Smith, Head of Wills, Probate & Trusts at the firm single-handedly raised £26,365 last year whilst being seven months pregnant with her first child, Greyson. This total tops the most raised in a single Will Aid month, which asks lawyers to write Wills for local people in exchange for a donation.

Their great achievement places them top of the fundraisers for Will Aid 2016 and in the top 20 fundraisers of all time.

Lauren Smith, Head of Wills, Probate & Trusts at the firm, said: “I was determined to do as much as I could to be the number one fundraising firm for 2016. After coming second last year, I had the bit between my teeth and went over and above to achieve this.

“I am so proud that the hard work has paid off and the nine great charities as well as will writers who have now secured their future will benefit.

“As a mother, I cannot stress the importance of writing a will to ensure that you are protecting what happens to your children if the worst should happen. I hope this story might inspire other solicitors to join the scheme as well as encourage parents to sign up and get their will created through Will Aid in 2017.”

John Coulthurst from the British Red Cross paid the firm a visit today to present them with a certificate to thank them for their achievement.
John said: “We are very grateful to Taylor Bracewell and the Will Aid scheme for this generous contribution.
“The Red Cross uses donations to reach people in crisis, here in the UK and all around the world.
“With £60 we could provide 16 thermal blankets for people in need in Syria.
With £300 we could provide 50 clean delivery kits for midwives in Myanmar.
And with £1,000 we could provide five people with the support they need to readjust to life at home following a spell in hospital, here in the UK.”

Will Aid, now in its 29th year, is a charity scheme that raises money for nine charities: ActionAid, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save The Children, Sightsavers, Age UK, SCIAF (Scotland) and Trocaire (Northern Ireland).

Peter de Vena Franks, campaign director for Will Aid said: “Will Aid has made an amazing contribution to the work of the nine participating charities and last year was no exception. Thanks to the commitment of local solicitors that took part in this year’s Will Aid, many people both in the UK and abroad will receive life-changing support and local people who used the scheme have the peace of mind thanks to having a professionally drawn up will.

“I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Lauren at Taylor Bracewell and let her know that thanks to her, lives will change for the better and people who need it will continue to receive the help and support that the charities work so hard to provide.

“Solicitors from Yorkshire raised an incredible amount of money in 2016, but we need more solicitors if we are to satisfy demand. Please sign up and donate time in 2017. Being part of Will Aid will raise the profile of your firm in your local community and bring new clients to your door, and all whilst supporting nine of the UK’s best loved charities.”

Will Aid will run again in November 2017. Solicitors and anyone who wants to make a Will can find out more by visiting www.willaid.org.uk

 

Are you in breach of a restrictive covenant?

Are you in breach of a restrictive covenant?

You may have seen in the news recently that a Yorkshire development company is seeking payments of £100-£300 per household for consent after a covenant in their deeds was breached. The consent is required for such items as the erection of a shed or a satellite dish. The householders may have pay the developer as when they purchased their properties they promised not to erect any such items without obtaining the developers consent.

A restrictive covenant is often imposed on a property when it is sold by developers. The householders should have been made aware of this when they purchased.

What is a restrictive covenant?

A restrictive covenant is an agreement or promise which is included in the deeds and that limits what can be done on the property. An example of a restrictive covenant might be that no caravans can be stored at the front of the property or that no livestock can be kept on the property. The reason why they are often imposed by developers is to keep the estate looking presentable whilst the houses are being sold. Another reason for imposing a covenant might be to make sure that a property is only used for a particular use, such as residential use not commercial or it might limit the number of houses built on land.

Restrictive covenants may be imposed for a period of time, such as not to carry out any structural alterations during the first 5 years or they may be imposed for all time. This is why it is important to check your deeds and make sure you are aware of any that might bind your property.

The Legal Implications

While covenants are often ignored and as owners change are often forgotten about you may still be liable to abide by them. Some possible implications of this could be that you have to pay damages, or apply for retrospective consent or rectify any breach of the restrictive covenant which could have substantial cost implications.

What can you do?

Firstly, be aware. It is important you be made aware of any covenants when purchasing the property. A good solicitor will bring these to your attention when you purchase the property. It is always worth checking your deeds before commencing any substantive alterations or changing the use of your property.

Secondly, consider restrictive covenant indemnity insurance. If you become aware that there is a restrictive covenant which affects your property and that you may be in breach of, then we would recommend you put in place restrictive covenant indemnity insurance.  This is usually available for a one off premium and affords cover to you and future purchasers and your lenders. This will often be required if you do decide to sell or mortgage your property in any case.

Thirdly, seek help. If you are or may be in breach of a restrictive covenant or are unable to find suitable restrictive covenant indemnity insurance to cover any potential risk it would be wise to seek professional help to try and find a solution. This can include negotiating for the restrictive covenant to be removed. This is a complex area of law and we would recommend seeking help from a solicitor with experience in this area.

 

"It is important for all buyers to be aware of the do's and the don'ts in their title. This may have implications for them not only on a future sale or mortgage but when alterations are carried out. If you are unsure then we are more than happy to help." Alison Turner, Head of Commercial Property

Alison Turner brings an enviable wealth of experience and cool, calm professionalism to our Business Team. Having specialised in Commercial Property for more than 20 years, Alison’s level of expertise is hard to rival. 

 

 

 

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Not Your Average Jo

Jo Empson, PA to Alison Turner and a key figure in our commercial team has finished as a runner up in this years National PSG ‘National Admin Assistant Award’. The award is a national recognition and is held annually which has seen our admin team get past recognition.

Jo was put forward for the award to recognise her superb contribution to Taylor Bracewell, not only as part of the commercial team but as leader and mentor for the young trainees. Jo received some flowers and a card as recognition from the PSG group.

Alison Turner, head of commercial property team had this to say:
"Jo is my right hand man. She is a key member of the team down at the Railway Court office. She does much more than a secretary. She meets and greets clients (who love to have a chat with Jo, as she is very down to earth and will always put them at ease). Jo is looked up to by the junior members of staff who she trains. She is a great role model for them. Jo is essential both to the successful running of the office but also to my success. She is fully aware of my clients and their cases and can often deal with enquiries on her own without needing to refer to me. For my clients she is often the 'first port of call”

Many of our clients would mirror the comments above as would the whole of the Taylor Bracewell Staff. We are grateful to have such and outstanding person amongst our team and are very proud of her recognition!

Congratulations Jo!

I’ve been sacked! – Unfair Dismissal – Employment Law

You’re fired – a saying made famous and used more recently by the U.S President Donald Trump when he “terminated” the employment of FBI Director, James Coomey. The termination has caused shockwaves in the States considering Coomey was currently investigating the ties to Russia with the Trump’s presidential campaign.

If your employment has been “terminated” and you feel that your dismissal has been unfair it’s incredibly important to act quickly. Being aware of what needs to happen and by when, can become a major tool in your belt should you ever be in the position of an unjustifiable dismissal. Your employer needs to make sure it meets the following criteria before dismissing you:

  • A fair reason that they can justify such as conduct, capability or redundancy
  • Acted reasonably in the circumstances

They must also

  • Be consistent with the dismissal reasoning and procedure and have investigated the situation beforehand.

This is not only for full time employees but also part time and fixed term workers.

 

I have been sacked - What next?

Fired Man

First things first, you should seek professional advice to see if you have a claim for unfair dismissal. (We cover this later)

There are strict deadlines for submitting a claim for unfair dismissal, usually within 3 months of your employment ending or the problem happening. You should also ask for a written statement from your employer giving you the reasons for your dismissal. (Your employer must give you this if you have completed 2 years’ service)

In the event of an unfair dismissal you will be able to file an employment tribunal claim.

Employment Tribunal claim

An employer would need a fair reason for dismissal which could be for any of the fair reasons listed below:

  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Breach of statute
  • Some other substantial reason

If the employer can show a potentially fair reason for dismissal you may still have a claim if the employer fails to show a fair procedure.

 

Causes for dismissal

‘Discrimination was a factor when I was fired’

Discrimination can be an issue with many people for many different reasons. Sometimes discrimination can be misunderstood and cause confusion about what legally counts and what doesn’t. Here’s a list of the protected characteristics on which people may be discriminated against in the workplace:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership    
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Discriminatory treatment can range from a one-off act or comment to a prolonged series of bullying and unfair treatment. Under current employment legislation, the different forms of discrimination are classified as follows:

Direct discrimination – For example, paying someone less because of their sex or overlooking someone for a promotion because of their race.

Indirect discrimination – For example, a requirement that an applicant for a job has 20 years experience in the field could represent indirect discrimination on the grounds of age if it can not be justified.

Victimisation – For example, a person who raises a grievance about discriminatory treatment is then continually refused a pay-rise.

Harassment – For example, a manager continually makes inappropriate comments regarding a colleague’s appearance.

Aside from discrimination there are many more reasons in which a unfair dismissal could take place, some examples are listed below:

  • Refused to give up your working time rights – working longer or through breaks
  • Went on Strike
  • You have decided to join a trade union
  • Compulsory retirement – being forced to retire
  • If you were on maternity or paternity leave
  • Whistleblowing in the workplace

Whether or not you have been a victim of unfair dismissal it’s vitally important to seek help as soon as possible. If you leave it too long a case may be dismissed meaning you lose the right to bring a claim.

 

How can I protect my business against a claim?

For employer's who have disruptive employees or have a legitimate reason for needing to dismiss an employee you should not fear doing this. Whilst the law protects employees from being unfairly dismissed, it does recognise that there are occasions when an employee is dismissed for a fair reason. Our advice to employers is to make sure your employment contracts and staff handbooks are fully up to date and compliant.

“It's important that an employer follows a fair and reasonable procedure when dismissing an employee. Having fair grounds on which to dismiss is not enough in itself and a Tribunal will look at the resources available to an employer in determining whether the procedure followed is fair and reasonable. Unfairly dismissing an employee can be costly as the employee can claim compensation for the loss of their earnings for up to 12 months losses. This is subject to the Tribunal cap but none the less is an expense many employers would like to avoid.” Sara Ellison, Head of Employment Law

Sara is an experienced Employment Lawyer and deals with all aspects of employment law and advises a wide range of individuals and private, public and third sector clients with regards to employment law and HR issues. Sara's specialism includes unfair dismissal and discrimination. Sara participates in the delivery of our Charity/not for profit sector HR forums and runs interactive HR Workshops for our business clients, providing invaluable information and updates.

 

 

 

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Rising Probate Fees

Rise in Probate Fees – Shelved

The planned rise in Probate fees which would have significantly increased the fees payable from larger estates has been shelved by the Government after calling the forthcoming general election.

To administer an estate Executors appointed in a Will or next-of-kin if there is no Will usually have to apply for a legal document called a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no Will). At present, an application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is a flat fee of £215 for personal applications or £155 if a solicitor makes the application, regardless of the size of the estate. The fees were due to dramatically rise in May 2017 and were to be based on the size of the estate.

Estate values have risen considerably in recent years due to the rise in property values. One of the public concerns is that the proposed new Probate Court fees would have to be paid before there is access to the estate assets. This is currently not a problem as the fees are low but under the proposed increase, if an estate was worth more than £500,000 a Probate Court fee of £4,000 would need to be found from somewhere before the estate could start to be administered.

 

Changes In Probate Fees

The proposed changes to the fee structure were as follows:-

  • Less than £50,000: no fee
  • £50,001 to £300,000: Fees to rise to £300.
  • £300,001 to £500,000: Fees to rise to £1,000.
  • £500,001 to £1 million: Fees to rise to £4,000.
  • £1 million up to £1.6 million: Fees to rise to £8,000. 
  • £1.6 million up to £2 million: Fees to rise to £12,000. 
  • Over £2 million fees to raise to £20,000

The proposed changes, instigated by the Ministry of Justice, had looked to be rushed through Parliament ahead of the general election. The widespread disapproval of the proposals has led to them being put on the back burner. The result of the general election on June 8th will prove to be vital for the future of Probate Court fees. The current Government, if re-elected would be expected to follow through with the proposal for increasing the fees.

The proposed changes were strongly criticised by politicians and the legal sector alike and were described as a 'stealth tax'. Respected figures voiced their concerns that the proposed changes may have even been illegal which would have undoubtedly led to challenge had they been introduced.

 

“I am delighted that the proposed increase in Probate fees will not be happening as it was an extremely unfair and unpopular proposal which would have put considerable pressure on already bereaved families. Sadly, I think this may just be a temporary reprieve and that if re-elected, the Government will look to put this back on the agenda so it is still important to plan for the future and if someone needs a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, they should apply for it without delay." - Stephen Coates. Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate.

 

Stephen Coates is head of our Wills, Trusts and Probate team, dealing with a wide range of personal business disputes ranging from Will, trust and probate disputes to criminal and personal injury. Emma brings extensive and varied experience, including having worked on numerous contested probate cases and general litigation cases that progressed to Appeal at the High Court

 

 

 

Stephen Coates - Head of Wills, Trust & Probate

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Do you know where your charity donations goes?

The UK and in particular the Yorkshire area has a wonderful reputation of donating money to charity, a great character trait that we pride ourselves on. Charities unfortunately are not all built equal and its becoming extremely difficult to figure out which are the best charities to give to where it will make a real difference.

The charity commission has reported that more than half a 107 random sample of charities it looked at are missing vital opportunity to tell their story and explain their impact.

How Charities are failing

The criteria, the charity commission looked at was:

  • How charities are reporting on the public benefit requirement
  • Whether the accounts meet readers’ needs

Some of the key findings that the commission made should give an indication to why it’s vitally important to have a clear message and accounts.

58 of the charities (54%) did not meet the public benefit reporting requirement: out of those 58:

  • 13 failed the requirement as they did not describe the difference that their charity had made
  • 21 of those charities did not include the statement that they had complied with the public benefit requirements and read Commission guidance
  • 24 had done neither

 Meeting reader’s needs, the commission’s findings include:

  • 75% of the accounts were of acceptable quality in meeting the basic needs of readers
  • 27 of the charities however (25% charities) did not meet the basic standard.

Charities employ more staff in the UK than the car, aerospace and chemical sectors. Transparency to the public is a vitally important part of how charities operate. To have a more open operation could be a great way to show why you matter and perhaps place you higher on the publics priority chart.

We have seen in the past several charities have been confronted on video and uploaded to social media outlets. The videos include questions from the public to charity stands asking what the money collected is being used for, who benefits from it and also what % of money collected will go to charities. One of these videos make national news as they did not have any answers and we forced to move on.

‘Its important for charities to really shout about the good work they are doing, not just report the bare minimum in terms of compliance. Seeing the impact a charity has on the community and to tell its story can be a powerful thing. As they say if you don’t blow your own trumpet who else will!’  Rajinder Singh

Rajinder Singh is part of our Business Team assisting in dealing with a wide range of commercial matters including company and business acquisitions and sales, all types of contractual work, academy conversions and charity work.

 

 

 

Rajinder Singh, Commercial Paralegal, Taylor Bracewell Solicitors

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Will and probate dispute

Will Disputes On The Rise

One of the most stressful situations after a loved one has passed away is going through what they left behind. A Will is always a good idea to help make the process more simple and efficient as it sets out the last wishes of the deceased. It can however, be particularly painful if the Will created is not amended or updated as that persons relationships change, potentially leaving new people or family out of the Will.  

Most commonly in a Will, a deceased chooses to pass their money and assets down to their closest family members. In recent years we have seen a boost in the housing market with property prices increasing, meaning that the values of estates are much higher. The latest trend shows that more and more elderly people are bypassing their children and naming their grandchildren as the main beneficiaries.  

We have seen recently that one of the main issues people are having is forgetting to update their Will as they get older. Circumstances and relationships change with time so to avoid any potential problems or legal implications it is incredibly important to amend the Will whenever there is a change in circumstances.

The number of disputed cases brought before the courts has increased from 11,735 in 2014 to 14,167 the following year. This figure is likely to increase due the so called ‘wealth mountain’ that is expected to be passed on in the future. 

The Legal Implications

Some legal grounds why a will may be disputed may include: 

Validity

  • Has the will been validly constructed and signed? If the wording is not clear on some of the gifts then the Will may be valid but a specific gift fail.
  • Did the deceased have capacity?
  • Was the deceased subjected to any undue influence?

Challenges regardless of validity

  • Inheritance Act claims i.e. did the Will make reasonable financial provision?
  • Proprietary estoppel. Did the deceased promise to leave something to someone, who in return has acted on that promise and then not received it under the terms of the Will?

A recent case study of a dispute without a will came to an end last month after 13 years. A case last month which granted Heather Ilott £163,000 of her mother’s estate had been overturned in the high court. The judgement was responding to a court of appeal ruling to increase the sum a county court granted her on the grounds that her mother had acted in an “unreasonable, capricious and harsh” way towards her.

The amount she will now receive is just £50,000 of the estate instead of the £163,000 she had appealed for. The mother and daughter had fallen out and the mother passed on all of her £500,000 estate to three charities and Heather was left out of the will. The case has been ongoing since Melita Jackson died in 2004 and was wrapped up last month. Ilott made an application under the Inheritance Act 1975 for “reasonable financial provision” from her mother’s estate.

"There can be strict time limits in which to challenge a Will or seek reasonable financial provision from an estate.  We would suggest that you do not delay in seeking legal advice".

Emma Cornell is head of our Dispute resolution team, dealing with a wide range of personal business disputes ranging from Will, trust and probate disputes to criminal and personal injury. Emma brings extensive and varied experience, including having worked on numerous contested probate cases and general litigation cases that progressed to Appeal at the High Court

 

 

 

How can we help 

If you are in need of either writing or amending a will, our Wills, Probate and Trusts team can assist with a variety of different options to help you through the process clearly and efficiently.

If you are unsure if you have a case to dispute a will our dispute team can help you understand if and what you are entitled to and fight to get you  the desired result.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Misleading Travel Websites

Misleading travel websites could be in BIG trouble

The age old saying ‘if it’s to good to be true it usually is’ has struck true once again, this time involving travel websites and your holidays.

The time has come (or gone in some cases) for booking a summer holiday, a vacation from the daily grind to enjoy some well earned stress free relaxation time. As you may be aware the cost of holidays for many has seen an increase in the past few years. The price increase of holiday packages and other travel websites offers have led the public to shop around for the best deal. As you browse for the best deals you may come across an offer that seems to good to be true, only to find out that the final cost is much higher than what was advertised. This seems to be a common occurrence from travel websites and has led the European consumer protection authorities to investigate.

Some travel websites have been misleading customers over the actual price of their bookings compared to the prices which were actually advertised, effectively enticing you with one price to only see an increase once you are on the site and ready to pay.

Legal Findings

The review found that:
• In one third of cases the first price shown was not the same as the final price to pay.
• In one fifth of cases promotional offers were not really available.
• In nearly one third of cases the way the total price was calculated was not clear.
• In one quarter of cases prompts on scarcity (e.g. "only 2 left") only applied to availability on that particular website, which wasn't made clear.


The travel websites included some comparison sites as well as others offering accommodation, transport and car rental.

These outcomes were found by the review conducted by the European consumer protection authorities. The review was carried out on 235 travel websites which were identified to have problems with misleading claims.

Potential Implications

The travel companies could be at real risk of breaching advertising standard regulations set by Advertising Standards Authority. With many people tightening the purse strings it’s vital to make sure the deal you think you’re getting is actually true, don’t rush into booking a holiday and also shop around.

 

“Its important that travel companies, especially in light of the above, check not only their website to ensure that they are legally compliant but also any terms and conditions that they may have. It is important that the web presence or any web marketing matches the actual product offering”. Rajinder Singh

Rajinder Singh is part of our Business Team assisting in dealing with a wide range of commercial matters including company and business acquisitions and sales, all types of contractual work, academy conversions and charity work.

 

 

 

Rajinder Singh, Commercial Paralegal, Taylor Bracewell Solicitors

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

April 2017 – Key changes in Employment Law

April is always a significant month for employment lawyers as it is the month that changes to rates and limits (for things such as redundancy pay, statutory sick pay, and maternity pay) come into force. This year is perhaps even more significant than most as, in addition to the customary changes to rates and limits, April 2017 will also see the introduction of the long anticipated Gender Pay Gap Regulations and the equally anticipated Apprenticeship Levy. We summarise the key changes below:


1. Gender Pay Gap Regulations

On 6 April 2017 the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 came into force. This new legislation requires large employers (those with 250 or more employees) to report data about their gender pay gap, including bonus payments. Our Head of HR and Employment Law, Sara Ellison, has written in detail about exactly what the new legislation means for your business in this blog.

2. Apprenticeship Levy

The 6 April 2017 also marked the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy on UK employers to help fund new apprenticeships.

The Apprenticeship Levy is charged at 0.5% of an employer’s annual pay bill. However, under the scheme, employers have an Apprenticeship Levy allowance of £15,000 each year, meaning that only employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million will pay the levy.

The GOV.UK website provides some useful information as to when and how the Apprenticeship Levy will be applied.

3. Increase in Employment Tribunal compensation limits

From 6 April 2017 there were also new increased compensation limits for Employment Tribunal claims, which will included as follows:

  • The maximum compensatory award increased from £78,962 to £80,541;
  • The maximum amount of a week’s pay (used for calculating a redundancy payment and various other awards including the unfair dismissal basic award) increased from £479 to £489, with the maximum basic award or statutory redundancy payment increasing to £14,670; and
  • The minimum basic award for trade union, health and safety, working time representative, pension scheme trustee and employee representative dismissals increased from £5,853 to £5,970.

4. Statutory family-related pay and sick pay rates increase

With effect from 2 April 2017 the rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increased to £140.98 per week.
From 6 April 2017, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay also increased to a rate of £89.35.

5. Increase in National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

Increases to the national minimum wage and the national living wage took effect on 1 April 2017, with the new rates as follows: The rates from 1 April 2017 will be (figures in brackets show the current rate):

  • Workers aged 25 and over (the National Living Wage): £7.50 per hour (increased from £7.20).
  • Workers aged 21 to 25: £7.05 per hour (from £6.95).
  • Workers aged 18 to 21: £5.60 per hour (from £5.55).
  • Workers under 18: £4.05 per hour (from £4.00).
  • Apprenticeship rate: £3.50 per hour (from £3.40).

We’re here to help.

If you are unsure about these changes will effect you or your business or would like further information please do not hesitate to contact one of our employment experts on 0114 272 1884 or by email at employment@taylorbracewell.co.uk

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Duty on employers to report their gender wage gap annually

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

From the 5th April 2017, gender pay gap reporting has been introduced for private and voluntary sector organisations that employ 250 or more employees. This is to illustrate the differences in the average pay and bonus pay between men and women in each organisation which has recently been reported as standing at 18.1%. The intention in doing this, is to publicly highlight any differences between male and female pay which in turn should encourage employers to respond to any differences and eventually eliminate the gap altogether.

Duty on employers to report their gender wage gap annuallyWhat is gender pay gap reporting and what does this mean for your business?

If you employ less than 250 employees then for now, this does not impact on your business. However, for those employers with more than 250 employees the new gender pay reporting legislation requires you to publish a report on your gender pay and gender bonus gaps. There are 6 calculations that must be published both on the company’s and the government’s website. You have 12 months from the 5th April each year to publish this information. The calculations are the:

  1. average gender pay gap as a mean average;
  2.  average gender pay as a median average;
  3. average bonus gender pay as a mean average;
  4. average bonus gender pay gap as a median average;
  5. proportion of males receiving a bonus payment and proportion of females receiving a bonus payment; and
  6. proportion of males and females when divided into four groups ordered from lowest to highest pay.

The calculations should be confirmed as accurate in a written statement by an appropriate person such as a senior executive and a narrative can be given explaining any differences including any positives.

For public sector organisations, gender pay reporting duties began on the 31st March 2017 and the report needs to be published by the 30th March 2018.

Whilst gender pay reporting is not mandatory for employers who employ less than 250 people, these employers can start reporting sooner and are encouraged to do so. This is good practice which can provide a positive image of the company as the results can be checked by customers, suppliers and contacts.

We’re here to help.

If you are unsure about your businesses obligations under the new legislation or would like further information about gender pay gap reporting please do not hesitate to contact one of our employment experts on 0114 272 1884 or by email at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Robert Clarke Celebrates his ‘Crystal’ Anniversary as a Solicitor

Robert Clarke Celebrates his ‘Crystal’ Anniversary as a Solicitor

Congratulations to Robert, who recently celebrated 15 years since he qualified as a solicitor, his ‘crystal’ anniversary.

Of course, ‘crystal’ is totally appropriate for Robert. He excels at providing ‘clear’, comprehensible and coherent advice. Like all crystals, he is a bit of a gem, indeed a jewel of a solicitor in Doncaster – which is why he is the only Civil Litigation/Personal Injury Solicitor in Doncaster to get a 5 out of 5 rating over the past 12 months on VouchedFor.

It’s crystal clear why his clients like him. He works hard to put his clients at ease and he helps people when they need help the most. Of course, like all crystals, he’s totally transparent regarding fees and charges. Not only that, his advice is clear and unambiguous.

When he’s fighting on behalf of a client he’s as hard as diamond.

We’re all wishing him another 15 successful years, and after 30 years of practice he will be a ‘pearl’ of a solicitor.

How can we help?

Robert specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, and works on a no-win no-fee basis for his clients. If you have been involved in an injury or have been the victim of medical negligence and want to understand your options then call Robert on 01302 244 875.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Landlords-Electrical-Safety-Checks-Housing-and-Planning-Act

Electrical Safety Standards Apply to Landlord Properties

Landlords have an obligation to ensure that electrical safety standards are met while letting a property to a tenant.

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has received Royal Assent, and is now passing into law. One of the clauses in the Act relates to the electrical safety of properties that are let to tenants in the private rented sector.

In the future the Secretary of State will be able to pass regulations which place a positive obligation on Landlords to make sure that the properties that they let meet relevant electrical standards. This obligation covers both the electrical supply into and within the property, as well as any electrical fixtures or equipment that the Landlord supplies within the property.

Until the Secretary of State issues the regulations the details of what they will contain are unclear. The likelihood is that the Secretary of State will require testing rather than a simple declaration of safety by the Landlord; that any testing will need to be performed by a qualified electrician; and that the testing will be similar (if not identical) to the current Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). The tests might be required annually.

It is not yet clear if the standard set by the Secretary of State will simply aim to eliminate unsafe electrical installations or whether it will force Landlords to bring wiring up to the latest standards.

The Act has a very wide definition of ‘premises’ – it can include caravans and mobile homes as well as the more traditional residential properties.

What happens if the Landlord doesn’t comply? As well as a financial penalty, the local authority (with the Tenant’s consent) could enter the property to remedy any electrical safety failures, and they would presumably pass any costs on to the Landlord.

There is every possibility that when the Secretary of State issues the regulations there will be a surge of testing, and this could easily increase the cost of getting those tests done. If you are a Landlord the wise thing would be to get an electrician to check your wiring now and to get all appliances PAT tested – and after all, wouldn’t you want your properties to be as safe as possible anyway?

How can we help?

If you need help making sure that, as a Landlord, you comply with the relevant legislation then talk to us. We can also help you with your tenancy contracts and, if you get into a dispute, our specialist Dispute Resolution team can help find the most cost effective way to resolve the issue to your advantage.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Surveillance in Personal Injury on the Rise

Surveillance in Personal Injury on the Rise

Surveillance in Personal Injury on the RiseWhen making personal injury claims, claimants often don’t realise what impact their social media activities can have on their claims. For most people, posting a simple Facebook or Twitter update about their life is an everyday occurrence. However, it is now quite common for defendant firms to search social media platforms for evidence they can use to imply your symptoms are exaggerated, even if they aren’t.

Defendant firms and insurance companies have been known to search your Friend lists on social media to see who you are friends with and whether you are linked to anyone else involved in your claim.

Our advice to clients is to always be aware that your activities could be being watched when you leave the house or that anyone could be reading what you post online. It may be worth checking your privacy setting on your social media sites just in case.

If you are unsure whether to post a certain video or status update, please check with your solicitor before doing so.

Cases in the courts

Locke -v- Stuart and another (2011)

A series of 9 road traffic accident cases were investigated after the insurance company used information taken from public Facebook profiles and compiled it into 3 lever arch files to present to the Court. The insurance company argued that the cars were crashed deliberately so that the parties could make personal injury claims. The Court found against the claimant and held that the accident had been manufactured.

Fairclough Homes -v- Summers (2010)

The claimant was found by the Court to have grossly and dishonestly exaggerated his injuries following an accident at work, after video surveillance footage was disclosed by the defendant’s insurers. His compensation was reduced significantly as a result.

How can we help?

If you have suffered a personal injury and believe that you have a claim then talk to our specialist personal injury solicitors, who have a wealth of experience. We can offer advice not only about the claim but about other things such as your social media activity. We have offices in Sheffield and Doncaster, but can help anyone in South Yorkshire.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Tenant signing for keys from landlord; Planned Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing affects Buy-to-Let Landlords

Planned Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing

Tenant signing for keys from landlord; Planned Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing affects Buy-to-Let LandlordsThe government is consulting on changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing which will bring more properties and landlords inside the scope of the law – and adding more penalties for landlords without a license.

In 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government published a technical discussion paper for consultation on extensions to the licensing of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupancy) in England. They are trying to tighten up on HMOs by bringing more rental properties within the scope of the licensing requirements.

Some of the planned changes include:

  • Removing the rule about the number of stories for the building; this would mean that all houses with five or more people from two or more households come under the scheme.
  • Including flats that are either above or below a business premises, no matter how many stories the building has.
  • Setting a minimum standard for the space per person, based on the overcrowding standard in the Housing Act 1985. The minimum space will be 6.25 sq-m for one person or 10.23 sq-m for two people. Visitors don’t count, but children are treated as adults.

The government is also consulting on issues such as whether criminal record checks on the landlord be made mandatory in order to gain a licence, and if so, which body should they be made through; and whether there should be ‘adequate receptacles for the storage and processing of waste’.

The expected timescale for implementation following consultation was April 2017, though this has now been extended to October 2017 while the government processes responses.

It is expected that when it does come into force there will be a 6 month grace period for landlords who currently don’t have a licence, allowing them to apply for one. It’s important not to ignore this – buy-to-let home owners and landlords who don’t comply could face criminal prosecution and civil penalties up to £30,000.

The government say they are trying to build a country where everyone has a safe and secure home, and that they want to drive rogue landlords of business.

Of course, changes that improve living conditions should be welcomed by all. On the other hand, there is the potential for this to lead to a reduction in the amount of shared housing available on the market, putting more pressure on the rental sector.

 

How can we help?

We provide help and advice for landlords, and support them in their licensing applications. If you are a landlord, whether you have properties that need an HMO licence or not, why not get expert advice from us to make sure you are completely compliant with all required legislation.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Ilott v The Blue Cross and others – Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeal decision in an Inheritance Act claim

Ilott v The Blue Cross and others – Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeal decision in an Inheritance Act claim

A daughter has failed in her claim for a larger part of her estranged mother’s £500,000 estate when the Supreme Court upheld a challenge by the animal charities named in the will.

 

The Will

Ilott v The Blue Cross and others – Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeal decision in an Inheritance Act claimThis story starts in 1978 when 17 year old Heather Jackson, the daughter and only child of Melita Jackson, left home to live with her boyfriend who she later married. Now Heather Ilott, she has been married to her husband for over 50 years. It seems that Heather and Melita had not had an excellent relationship, and it worsened when Heather left home.

Melita Jackson took a very dim view of her daughter moving in with her boyfriend. In 1984, only 6 years after her daughter left home, she updated her Will to exclude Heather.

In 2004 Melita Jackson died at the age of 70 and, because they had never reconciled, she was true to her intentions and left her daughter nothing in her Will. Her estate of £486,000 was split between three animal charities – Blue Cross, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She was absolutely clear that she wanted no money to go to her daughter, and had said ‘expect no inheritance from me’. Before she died she wrote to her lawyers to say that her daughter should get no money, and instructed her Executors to fight any claim that her daughter might make after her death.

 

The Story So Far

Heather Ilott challenged this Will in 2007 under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. She was awarded £50,000 on the basis that there had been a failure to make reasonable financial provision for her in the Will. She applied for a larger share of the estate but was unsuccessful.

Not giving up, Heather Ilott went to the Court of Appeal which ruled that she was entitled to a larger share of the estate after all. The Court of Appeal ruled that Heather Illott should receive £143,000 to buy her rented property and a further payment of £20,000. At the time her mother’s actions were described as ‘unreasonable, capricious and harsh’, and her letter instructing that any claim by Heather be fought was described as ‘spiteful’. Part of Heather Ilott’s claim was that she has no pension and is living on state benefits.

That brings us to the current case in 2017.

The three animal charities who were the beneficiaries of the estate went to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal. They were concerned that the ruling would set a precedent; many charities receive a significant proportion of their income from legacies in wills. They were successful in their challenge – on 15th March 2017 the Supreme Court decided the original judgement was correct and upheld Heather Ilott’s original award of £50,000.

The charities have not acted without some compassion. Although not disclosed in court, the charities had said there would be ‘some arrangement’ with Heather Ilott should they succeed.

 

Why The Charities Won

The original District Judge awarded Heather £50,000 because Melita Jackson had not made a reasonable financial provision for her.

When this went to the Court of Appeal they increased the amount because the District Judge had made two errors: he had limited the award in the light of the long estrangement and Heather’s understanding that she would not receive any benefit in the Will, but didn’t say what the award would have been without those factors; and he had not considered the impact of the award on Heather’s benefits, which are means tested.

Because of that, the Court of Appeal re-evaluated the claim, and decided that an award for £143,000 to allow Heather to buy her house (which would not affect any means testing as your residence is disregarded) plus an option to receive £20,000 in one or more installments was reasonable.

However, the Supreme Court ruled that the District Judge had not made either of the two errors, so they set aside the Court of Appeal’s order and restored the District Judge’s. In fact, they said that the District Judge had worked through the appropriate factors in the relevant Act to reach his £50,000 award decision; and that the £50,000 would not necessarily impact Heather Ilott’s benefits as a portion could be used to replace worn household items, leaving the remaining amount below the £16,000 savings benefit threshold.

 

The Future?

Lady Hale, one of the Supreme Court Justices, suggested that the current law is unsatisfactory. Perhaps this will lead to changes in the future, particularly around the weight that a court should give to the factors which determine if an adult child is deserving or underserving of reasonable maintenance. Lord Kerr and Wilson agree with her comments.

For now, it is clear – the wishes of the deceased as expressed in their will should be upheld. It’s also clear that it’s much better to find a way to get along and have a working relationship than to challenge a will in court after a parent has died.

 

How can we help?

We can help you prepare your will, which we strongly recommend – too many people die without a will, leading to lots of uncertainty, costs and delays for deceased’s family. When a family member dies we can help with probate, which is the process of proving a will in court so that the wishes expressed in the will can be executed. We can also act as executors for your wills.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Personal injury discount rate changes

The Personal Injury Discount Rate is Being Cut – But What Does That Mean?

Personal injury discount rate changesThe Lord Chancellor has lowered the discount rate applied to personal injury compensation claims from 2.5 per cent to -0.75 per cent. This means that anyone awarded compensation will get higher amounts to cover their lifetime care and future financial needs.

 

What has Happened to the Personal Injury Discount Rate?

Liz Truss, the Lord Chancellor, has changed the personal injury discount rate (also called the Ogden rate). She has said that in law this was the only thing she could do. The discount rate had not been reviewed since 2001, and of course interest rates for investments are much lower now than they were then.

Personal injury compensation is paid as a lump sum. The courts assume that the lump sum will be invested and will earn interest, and therefore they discount the lump sum to take those future earnings into account. The bigger the discount, the smaller the lump sum.

This change therefore means that insurers (and public bodies such as the NHS) will have to pay bigger amounts as a lump sum because the discount has been reduced.

 

What does it Mean?

For the individual who is making a claim and who has won compensation, this is good news. They will get a bigger lump sum. This has been welcomed by The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

For the insurance company, of course, it goes the other way. They will now have to pay more. Direct Line, for example, has calculated that a 1% decrease in the Ogden rate takes £190m off its profits, and the rate has reduced by 3.25 per cent.

Because of this, insurance companies are warning that motor and liability premiums will have to go up for everyone else. Some have estimated that a 22 year old driver might see premiums soar by £1000 a year, though the average increase might be closer to £50-£75.

By and large, it would be fair to say that the insurance industry is not happy with Lynn Truss! Her decision has been described as ‘crazy’. The insurance industry is meeting with the government, and it is possible that lobbying pressure might cause the rate to be changed again, but to one less advantageous to the victim.

 

How can we help?

If you have been in an accident and think that you should receive compensation for a personal injury then our expert solicitors can help you.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

£20 - finders is not always keepers

Finders is not Always Keepers

There’s an old saying – ‘finders keepers’. However, it isn’t always true, and recently it led to someone getting a criminal record.

£20 - finders is not always keepersNicola Bailey, 23, spotted some cash on the floor at a branch of One Shop in Blurton, Stoke-on-Trent. It had been dropped by a previous customer who had just got it out of a nearby cash machine.

She thought it was easy money. However, the customer who dropped it came back, and her actions were caught on CCTV when the staff checked to see what had happened. Given the evidence on camera she pleaded guilty, and now has a criminal record.

Magistrates handed her a 6-month conditional discharge, so if she remains out of trouble she will face no punishment. However, she has had to pay £175 court costs, including £20 compensation to the victim and a £20 victim surcharge.

 

How can we help?

We can offer some simple advice! If you wouldn’t do it if someone was watching you then it’s probably wrong. Be honest instead.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Amendments to Personal Injury Claims Process Confirmed

Amendments to Personal Injury Claims Process Confirmed

The government has recently announced the changes that will be made to personal injury, in particular road traffic accident claims over the coming years. Part one of the response to the “Reforming the soft tissue injury (‘whiplash’) claims process” has been published following the closure of the consultation in January 2017.

Amendments to Personal Injury Claims Process ConfirmedThe small claims limit will rise from £1,000 to £2,000 for non-road traffic accident claims. This means that your general damages (compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity) will have to be worth £2,000 or more for the claim to be appropriate for the online portal process. If the claim falls below this and into the “small claims” bracket, each party pays their own legal costs which means that many firms will not be able to deal with these kinds of cases on a “No Win No Fee” basis. In relation to road traffic accident claims, the small claims limit will rise to £5,000. The risk with these changes is that people will be forced to represent themselves if they cannot afford legal representation, which could result in lower awards as people do not have the knowledge to fight for themselves when faced with insurance companies’ wealth of experience.

There are many other changes to be implemented in terms of road traffic accidents, in particular a tariff system to be introduced for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity aspect of a claim for injuries that last up to 24 months. This will be for whiplash and minor psychological injuries and will apply to anyone injured whilst using a motor vehicle or being carried in or on a motor vehicle. The exceptions will be pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The tariff is as follows:

Duration of injury Award
0-3 months £225
4-6 months £450
7-9 months £765
10-12 months £1,190
13-15 months £1,820
16-18 months £2,660
19-24 months £3,725

The judiciary will have the power to increase an award if exceptional circumstances apply, but only by a maximum of 20%. They can also decrease an award for contributory negligence.

The amounts for the new system differ significantly from the existing guidelines for injuries contained within the Judicial College Guidelines. The most recent edition of the guidelines gives a bracket of £1,160 to £2,050 where there is a recovery between 28 days and three months. As little as £25 can be added if there is an element of a psychological injury.

The government is also going to ban offers made before a medical report has been received in whiplash claims. These are known as “pre-medical” offers and are commonly made immediately after the insurers have admitted liability for an accident but before the client has obtained a medical report. These offers are therefore made before the client’s solicitors are able to correctly value the claim and the injuries sustained in the accident.

Insurance companies have vowed that the benefits of the reforms will be passed on to consumers and that premiums will be cut by £40 per year as a result.

However, statistics show that whiplash claims are actually falling. Solicitors who act for claimants are concerned that the new reforms will reduce access to justice for those innocently injured in accidents, particularly road traffic accidents, through no fault of their own.

The reforms are currently due to be implemented on 1 October 2018.

 

How can we help?

If you have had a road accident leading to an injury and believe that you have a claim then talk to our specialist personal injury solicitors, who have a wealth of experience. We have offices in Sheffield and Doncaster, but can help anyone in South Yorkshire.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Ministry of Justice changes Probate Fees

Will Probate Suddenly Become More Expensive For You?

The Ministry of Justice is changing the way in which the Probate Court charges to issue a Grant of Probate. Currently a flat fee of £215 (or £155 if handled through a solicitor) is paid regardless of the value of the estate. From May 2017, the fee payable will be based on the estate value. For the highest value estates, the new fee will be a massive 129 times more expensive.

 

Ministry of Justice changes Probate Fees

What are the changes to Probate Fees?

From May 2017, subject to Parliamentary approval, the proposed scale of fees will be:

Value of Estate (before inheritance tax) Probate Court Fee
Up to £50,000 or exempt from

requiring a grant of probate

£0
£50,000 – £300,000 £300
£300,000 – £500,000 £1,000
£500,000 – £1m £4,000
£1m – £1.6m £8,000
£1.6m – £2m £12,000
Above £2m £20,000

There are a number of reasons why the government is making this change. They have been quite open in saying that the justice system needs to raise more money to properly fund a system which costs close to £1bn each year. This helps the government to deliver a fair and functional justice system which benefits everyone in society. They also believe that it is reasonable to ask those who use the justice system to pay more where they can afford to do so.

 

How will the new Probate Fees affect you?

One issue that arises is that the Probate Court fee must be paid in advance by the Executor(s). With the current low flat fee, this is not a problem. In future, those using the probate system will therefore need to find money to pay a much higher fee, and the government suggests ways that this might happen will include using cash in the deceased’s estate, using an Executor’s own assets or getting a loan.

The good news is that very few estates are large enough to incur the highest fees. According to government figures, 58% of estates will pay no fee following the change, while a further 23% will only pay £300. 1% of estates will pay a fee of £8,000, 0.3% will pay £12,000 and 0.5% will pay £20,000.

The Law Society expressed criticism of these proposals, suggesting that it is not fair on the bereaved to be paying to subsidise other parts of the judicial service.

If you think that any of this affects you then there is still time to act. If you are an Executor or Administrator for someone who has died with an estate over £50,000, it is vital that you apply for a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration) before the increase takes effect.

Our Probate Lawyers at both our Doncaster and Sheffield offices can act for you to ensure that, if at all possible, an application for a Grant is submitted before the changes take effect, even in complex cases. Our expertise could save an estate almost £20,000!

If you are an Executor and you do not act quickly enough and a new higher fee has to be paid, the beneficiaries of an estate could hold you personally responsible.

However, time is running out so you must act quickly. In many cases where higher fees will be payable, you will only be able to apply for a Grant after HM Revenue & Customs have stamped and returned a Form IHT421. HMRC are currently taking several weeks to do this. If you do not act quickly, you may find yourself missing a deadline to pay the lower fees as a result of HMRC delays!

We cannot stress enough the importance of getting professional help and advice as soon as possible.

 

How can we help?

Our Probate Lawyers in Doncaster and Sheffield can help you with any inheritance issue, whether you are planning in advance or are managing the effects of a bereavement. Speak to Stephen Coates at our Doncaster office (01302) 640384 or Sue Fletcher at our Sheffield office (0114) 3990096.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Child Abuse and Domestic Violence, Changes to Practice Direction Guidelines

Child Contact and Domestic Abuse

Following recent campaigning by the charity Women’s Aid, there will no longer be a presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to have contact with the father where there is evidence of abuse that would place the child, or mother, at risk.

Child Abuse and Domestic Violence, Changes to Practice Direction GuidelinesWomen’s Aid have been campaigning for many years to change the law with regard to child contact for fathers where there is evidence of abuse.

In 2004 they published a report, Twenty-nine child homicides: Lessons still to be learnt on domestic violence and child protection (Hilary Saunders), which detailed the murder of 29 children from 13 families over a period of 10 years. The murders were carried out by fathers who were known to be violent and abusive to the mothers, and yet they were granted contact with their children, sometimes unsupervised.

This report has been followed up by a new analysis of child murders by their fathers: Nineteen Child Homicides – What must change so children are put first in child contact arrangements and the family courts. Again there is a horrific picture of children being put at risk because of a presumption by the courts that parental involvement in a child’s upbringing is a good thing.

Women’s Aid campaigned for changes to Practice Direction 12J, following which a draft version has been produced which moves away from the ‘contact at all costs’ presumption to one where the risk to the child is considered.

Taylor Bracewell, an ambassador of the charity ‘Voices in the Middle’, fully supports these reforms, which are due to be introduced in the family courts in the near future. We hope this approach will provide the necessary safeguard for both children and families who have been victims of domestic abuse.

 

How can we help?

For details of how to protect you and your family by obtaining an injunction, or for advice on any issues surrounding child arrangements, please contact Tarik Elhadidi on 01302 640 382.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Supreme Court ruling regarding cohabitee rights to deceased partner’s pension

Unmarried Cohabitees Could Have Rights to Deceased Partner’s Pensions

The UK’s Supreme Court ruling says that a cohabitee has a right to receive payments from their deceased partner’s pension in the same way that a spouse would. This is the case even where a nomination form identifying the beneficiary of the pension has not been completed.

Supreme Court ruling regarding cohabitee rights to deceased partner’s pension

This case involved Denise Brewster, from Coleraine in Northern Ireland. She had lived with Lenny McMullan for 10 years and they owned their own home; they got engaged on Christmas Eve 2009, but he died suddenly just two days later on Boxing Day, aged only 43.

McMullan had been an employee of Translink, Northern Ireland’s public transport provider, for 15 years. During that time he paid into Northern Ireland’s local government pension scheme. The scheme required its members to nominate unmarried cohabiting partners as beneficiaries before they could become eligible for survivor’s pensions, but McMullan had never completed the form. Ms Brewster believed that the form had been completed. The pension scheme refused Brewster the pension.

 

The Judgement

The five Supreme Court justices were unanimous in their judgement – the requirement for a nomination form should be removed from the pension scheme. Brewster had argued that she was the victim of discrimination under article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights; the justices agreed with this, describing the nomination form as ‘unlawful discrimination’ because married couples did not have to complete them. The court also found that article 1 of the first protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights had been breached. This protects a person’s right to property and peaceful enjoyment of possessions.

This judgement brings Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK regarding the requirement for a nomination form for public sector pensions. Although this case applied to a public-sector pension scheme it could have implications for all pension schemes.

 

Rights of Cohabiting Couples

Potentially, this means that the 6 million cohabiting couples in the UK have rights to each other’s pensions if one of the couple dies. However, these rights are not as clearly defined as they are in the case of married couples or those in a civil partnership, and there are other areas of law where the rights of cohabitees are either reduced or are less certain. For example, married couples and civil partners are exempt from inheritance tax when one dies, while cohabiting couples are only exempt up to £325,000; also, spouses and civil partners can transfer assets to each other without incurring capital gains tax, but that’s not the case for cohabitees.

One of the main ways in which cohabiting couples still face a battle when proving their rights is that they have to demonstrate that they were genuinely cohabiting, and for how long they had been doing so. To qualify for a ‘survivors allowance’ a surviving partner might need to demonstrate that they had been together for some time and that they had shared finances in some way.

Whatever the ruling, if you are a cohabiting couple you can avoid the costs and delays in the surviving partner receiving the benefits by taking action with your wills and your pensions. Top tips are to make sure your partner is nominated as a beneficiary on any pension or life insurance scheme; to check scheme rules to make sure you are not excluded; and to each make a will.

 

How can we help?

For advice on cohabiting, marriage and civil partnerships contact Alison Kitchman or Tarik Elhadidi on 01302 640409, or Rosemary Finn 0114 399 0093, all expert solicitors in our family team. For advice on wills talk to our Wills, Tax & Probate teams – Stephen Coates on 01302 341 414 or Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884 – who will provide all the expert advice you need.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Alt = Government white paper to increase number of starter homes

Could This Be The End Of The Housing Crisis?

A white paper on housing sets out the details of how the government intends to stimulate the building of more affordable homes, and how it will help people to buy and rent.

Government white paper to increase number of starter homes

It’s well known that there are too few houses available, and that this shortage is part of what is driving house prices to sky high levels. The government recognises that around 250,000 new houses are needed every year, and is putting in place plans to fill this gap.

Of course, it’s not all about increasing the housing stock in the UK. Houses have to be affordable, and for those that can’t afford to buy there has to be easier and affordable ways to rent.

The government white paper sets out their strategy to deliver all this. It includes measures to:
• Increase the density of housing, getting more homes into less land, where space is at a premium
• Push councils into developing up-to-date plans to address the housing demand
• Bring down the time between a planning application and the granting of planning permission from a typical 3 years to 2 years
• Help for first time buyers saving their deposit using a lifetime ISA
• Help for smaller building firms so that they can compete with the more established building firms
• Removing the worst landlords or agents from the market
• Banning letting agents’ fees

A key element is the focus on starter homes. These are built for first time buyers who are expected to be between 23 and 40 years old, and aim to be valued at least 20% below market value.

The BBC news website helpfully illustrates just how many homes 250,000 amounts to – it’s the equivalent of building a Newcastle and Sunderland. Every year!

Of course, all the new homes won’t be built in one location. The government intends to promote house building where it is needed most, wants to get the market moving by allowing houses to be built faster, intends to diversify the housing market, and get help for people trying to buy or rent right now.

The white paper is out for consultation.

 

How can we help?

We can help with buying or selling your home, whether it is the first time or not, and can help with investing in buy-to-let properties. You want the whole process to go as smoothly as possible and that’s where we excel. We take the stress out of what is traditionally seen as one of the top three most stressful events in people’s lives! Talk to our expert conveyancing team.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Railway Court in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

We are supporting Doncaster Business Month!

February 2017 is Doncaster Business Month! With many great events being held across the month, the aim is to increase awareness of Doncaster’s thriving business community. As an established and successful business within Doncaster we are proud to be supporting Doncaster Business Month and, in addition to attending a number of the events, were are hosting two events of our own.

Free Contract Month

As well as being Doncaster Business Month, here at Taylor Bracewell Solicitors February 2017 is also ‘Free Contract Month’. We will ensure your contracts of employment and business terms and conditions are up to date and legally compliant for FREE during February 2017.

Simply book an appointment with us during Doncaster Business Month (quoting “Free Contract Month” when you call) to have your current employment contract and/or business terms and conditions reviewed (or a new standard contract of employment drafted from scratch) at no charge.

As part of the offer, you will receive a free 30 minute appointment with our experienced Employment and Commercial Lawyers at either our Thorne Road or Railway Court offices in Doncaster where we will get to know you and your business before completing the review for free.

You can also take advantage of 20% off any other Commercial or Employment Law services during Doncaster Business Month by quoting “Doncaster Business Month”.

To book your appointment call Steven Conway on 01302 341 414 or email us at Steven.C@taylorbracewell.co.uk. Spaces are limited to the month of February 2017 only so book early to avoid disappointment.

Free Business Law Workshop

In conjunction with ‘Free Contract Month’ we are also running a free workshop titled ‘Business Law – Contracts that work for you’, on 23rd February 2017 at our offices in Doncaster.

Through this interactive workshop you will learn how your contracts and terms and conditions can be drafted to protect your business and give you an edge over your competitors.

This event is free to attend and onsite parking will be available. Book your place today either online or by emailing Steven Conway at steven@taylorbracewell.co.uk.