We’re marrying more and divorcing less – but why?

We’re marrying more and divorcing less – but why?

When we talk about divorce it’s often in the context of the rising numbers of people going through the process. However, the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate that the number of divorces in the UK has actually fallen in recent years.

Getting your home ready for a sale, now – or next year

Getting your home ready for a sale, now – or next year

The housing market can be an unpredictable place, but making improvements to your home to get it ready for a sale will always boost your chances of achieving the best possible price. So, what can you do to add value?

Wills: disclosing information

Wills: disclosing information

The issue of information disclosure surrounding a Will can be a tricky one, both for beneficiaries and for the trustee or personal representative.

Professional Negligence Claims – 10 things you need to know

Professional Negligence Claims – 10 things you need to know

The advice of solicitors, accountants, surveyors and financial advisors has become an increasingly important part of business and personal relationships over the past few years. Occasionally, as a result of bad advice or negligent actions, there may be a loss or a consequence for a client that could give rise to a professional negligence claim. If you think you have been affected and you want to make a claim then here are 10 things you should know about professional negligence.

1. The relationship between a client and an advisor is based on a duty of care to ensure that the client does not suffer unreasonable harm or loss. A duty of care arises automatically and doesn’t have to be written into the contract to exist.

2. A professional negligence claim has a number of key components. These include a breach of the duty of care and loss that has been suffered by the non-negligent party as a result.

3. The general standards of an advisor’s industry provide the guide for professional behaviour. A solicitor or surveyor’s behaviour that falls below this level might well be considered negligent.

4. There are time limits for a professional negligence claim – six years from the date on which the negligent action took place.

5. Occasionally, deadlines for making a claim can be extended. For example, if there is a period of time in which the negligent act has not yet become apparent. In those circumstances it might be possible to make a claim for professional negligence even after the six year time limit has expired.

6. Professional negligence claims are made on the basis of loss. I.e. if you have suffered loss as a result of the negligence of an advisor then you should be able to make a claim against them to cover it.

7. The financial payment under a professional negligence claim is designed to put the claimant back in the same position that they would have been in if they had not been on the receiving end of the negligent advice from the professional advisor. It is not designed to put someone in a better position than they were before receiving the advice.

8. Mitigation of losses is important. This means that, if you suffer a loss as a result of receiving negligent advice, you still have to try and minimise the consequences of that loss. If you don’t do so then you may not be able to make a claim for all the loss that results.

9. It’s important to note that any losses being claimed for must be the result of the actions of the professional advisor. If it’s not possible to make that link then making a claim will be difficult.

10. Professional negligence is a sensitive area and one that can be quite difficult to understand. As there is a lot at stake reputationally for a professional advisor, successful claims are best managed with the help of a solicitor.

To speak to a professional negligence Solicitor in Blackpool please call 01253 629300 or click here to contact us.

DIY Divorce – does it work?

DIY Divorce – does it work?

DIY divorce has grown in popularity as splitting couples try to keep costs down. However, in some situations a DIY divorce can end up costing a lot more than simply instructing a solicitor in the first place. So, when is it a good idea?

If you and your partner are on the same page

If both people in the relationship want it to be dissolved permanently then a DIY divorce is possible. It’s important that everyone understands that the divorce is the last stage in the process of splitting – if either party is not sure then a trial separation may be a better idea. Where only one partner wants to divorce and the other wants to stay together then a DIY divorce is not a good idea. In this situation relationships can get very acrimonious and you may need to bring lawyers in eventually to resolve disputes.

If you’re confident about the paperwork

A mistake in the paperwork may mean that the court rejects the divorce petition. If that happens then the whole thing needs to be re-drafted and re-served. Whether you use a solicitor or not the court fee of £550 will be payable to issue the divorce petition – if you do make a mistake you’ll need to pay the court fee again.

You have plenty of time

Any divorce proceedings take between four and six months to conclude – at best (there is no magic six week divorce as has recently been quoted in the media). The more straightforward the divorce, the more likely it will fall within this four to six month time period. However, if you’re doing a DIY divorce then there are all sorts of delays that can arise, for example if one party fails to return the paperwork to acknowledge the divorce. If you are pushed for time then a DIY divorce can be difficult to achieve and the pressure can add to an already stressful situation.

You’re agreed on the financials

The biggest issue for anyone planning a DIY divorce is working out the financial settlement. A recent case - Vince v Wyatt – showed just how crucial it is to conclude finances early on in a divorce, as in that case the wife’s financial relief claim went ahead even though the separation had occurred 20 years before. Sometimes the only way to come to a swift agreement on financial matters is when a couple has advice from third parties. It’s also crucial to get advice on the financial implications of a split, for example with respect to future inheritance and children.

Employing students – what to bear in mind

Employing students – what to bear in mind

The new university term is upon us once again and across the country students have returned to their halls and houses, ready to start another year of study. For many, that study will also be accompanied by some time spent doing part time work, whether to help fund a course, or something to look forward to at the end. A 2015 study found that 77% of students now work while studying. Students can be a very positive part of a workforce but, if you’re going to employ them, make sure you know how it should be done.

Avoid advertising for students

Age discrimination applies to adverts too and so advertising exclusively for students (e.g. “students wanted”) can put you at risk of being the subject of a discrimination claim.

Do your students have a right to work?

If they are not British, or from within the European Economic Area, there may be restrictions on the number of hours a student can work while studying. Make sure you have documentary evidence of their right to work and a letter from the institution where they are studying that shows term dates and enrolment.

Zero hours contracts

Zero hours contracts have not had good press recently. However, they are still an attractive prospect to students who are looking to work flexibly. Make sure you understand the point at which employment status and protections change with respect to zero hours workers. Steer clear of clauses that oblige you to provide a certain number of hours and avoid completely those that require a student to work for you exclusively.

Part-time workers have rights too

It’s important when employing students to make sure that they are not being treated any less favourably than full time employees. For example, part-time employees should receive the same rate of pay – pro rata – as a full time employee and you must take care to ensure they have access to benefits such as holiday entitlement and taking national bank holiday days off.

Minimum wage

Part-time workers are as entitled to be paid the Minimum Wage as full time workers. Take care to ensure that, if you are paying Minimum Wage or close to that amount, you adjust this as the employee gets older. There are different bands that kick in at ages 18, 21 and 25.

Pensions auto-enrolment

If you are already auto-enrolling certain workers into a pension scheme then you need to make sure you don’t miss obligations due to part-time workers. This depends a lot on how often they work for you and, ultimately, how much they earn. Someone working a few hours one day a week may not qualify but a lengthy period of employment over a break in term time could trigger this. Remember that even if you don’t auto-enrol a student yourself they may still have the right to opt in to your pension scheme.

To speak to an employment Solicitor in Blackpool call 01253 629300 or click here to contact us.

 

Wills and Tenants in Common - Protect your assets

Wills and Tenants in Common - Protect your assets

When you’re drafting a Will it’s important to make sure that your assets will pass to the people you want to have them after you’re gone. If you own a property and this is part of the Estate that you want to leave behind, then the way that you own that property will have an impact on what happens to it.

Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common

There are two main ways to own property in England – as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. A property that is owed by Joint Tenants will not pass under the terms of a Will, no matter what that Will says. Instead, it will pass from the deceased Joint Tenant to the surviving Joint Tenant, regardless of current circumstances.

A property that is owned by Tenants in Common does come under the remit of your Will. With this type of property ownership your entitlement is to a share of the property. That share passes to your beneficiaries after your death.

How do you know which type of ownership you have?

It’s fairly simple to find out whether you own your property as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. If your property is registered at the Land Registry then you will be able to access the records that show how the property is owned. If your property isn’t registered at the Land Registry then the information can be found in the title deeds to the property (which you should have been given when you purchased).

Is it possible to switch from Joint Tenant to Tenants in Common?

Yes, you can change the way that you own a property at any time. If you want to switch from being a Joint Tenant to a Tenant in Common so that your share of a property can pass to your descendents then that’s fairly simple to do. You will need to fill in a form to register a ‘form A restriction’ to sever the Joint Tenancy and you may need to provide supporting documents. Many people find it easier to be guided through the process by a solicitor, especially if there is disagreement.

Why go to the trouble of changing your property ownership?

It may be that you and the other Joint Tenant have been in a relationship that has now come to an end. In that case it may be more appropriate to hold the property as Tenants in Common. You may own a property with a friend or relative, but your life circumstances may recently have changed – for example, having children. If you now have people you would like to inherit the property, other than the Joint Tenant, the switch is worth it. Finally, if you are updating your Will and have realised that your share of the property won’t pass on as you had hoped then this is a good time to correct the arrangements.

 

Supporting carers in the workplace

Supporting carers in the workplace

Recent research revealed that around one in six of us regularly has to take time off work to carry out caring responsibilities. For anyone who is working full or part time, the burden of this kind of pressure can be immense. The same research also found that one in eight of us can officially call ourselves a carer, whether that’s looking after children or an elderly relative. That’s a fairly significant figure. Employers can play a big role in making life easier for carers by being aware of the pressures that carer employees face and making a few simple changes to the working environment.

Making flexible working easy

All employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service now have the right to request flexible working, including carers. However, individual employers have the power to make this lifestyle either much easier or harder to achieve. Introducing an informal internal procedure to speed up flexible working requests – in addition to the formal process – can introduce efficiency and clarity. Being receptive to flexible working and recognising the benefit to giving staff that flexibility will not only make life easier for carers but create a more committed workforce too.

Educate line managers

Part of creating a company culture that embraces flexible working is ensuring that line managers respond in the right way to requests and discussion on the topic. It’s a good idea to provide training for line managers so they understand how flexible working can benefit a business and so that it is made clear how important it is to be accommodating. It may also be beneficial to add a specific training module on carers in the workplace. Statistically, many carers tend to be female and there are still challenges when it comes to gender equality at manager level. This could mean that there may not be a natural understanding of who carers are, what they do and why they should be supported – and this needs to be overcome.

A carer policy

It is often most beneficial to put organisation attitudes to carers in black and white. A carer policy can set out the practical arrangements for accommodating those with carer responsibilities. This should tie in with other policies, such as those on flexible working. It’s a good idea to make sure that the policy gets plenty of airtime within the business. This is essential both so that carers working for you understand it’s there and also to educate others about how much the organisation wants carers to be supported.

Flexible leave

Caring responsibilities are not always predictable and having flexible leave arrangements in place can help a carer to take time off to manage a problem that may arise suddenly. All employees are entitled to take reasonable amounts of unpaid leave for dependants. However, employers can make these arrangements more accommodating to carers by, for example, offering paid leave or the opportunity to make up lost time at a later date. Being able to accommodate last minute leave requests is also key to making life easier for carers trying to balance their responsibilities with a working life.