Blog

Brexit: Employment rights?

19-10-2018

It could be a little risky reporting this, as by the time you reach the end of this article things could have all changed, such is the nature of the twilight hours of the Brexit process. But the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has issued a new warning that even if the UK and Europe do shake hands on a deal for Brexit, British workers’ rights could still be at risk. While it is fully expected that the UK and the EU will agree on common minimum working conditions and standards as part of the deal (if there is a deal), the IPPR is still concerned that the deal’s non-regression clauses that are supposed to ensure there is no reneging on existing workers’ rights once the process is completed are not robust enough to protect workers in many different sectors. They’ve come to this conclusion after looking at similar trade deals struck between the EU and other locations such as Peru, which certainly saw a reduction in rights after the contracts had been signed. Concerns are, though, that any re-examination of the non-regression clauses in the current Chequers Deal could mean that the whole deal falls flat on its […]

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Landlords face tough new regime for tenant protection

19-10-2018

Posted by Michelle Di Gioia

Landlords could face high fines if they are not up to date with the latest legislation designed to protect tenants. The new rules include revised criteria for mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation, known as HMOs, which will see 160,000 more properties having to be licensed. There is also a change to Section 21 eviction requirements for tenants on older tenancy agreements and a rogue landlord database has gone live. The changes follow hard on the heels of the energy performance requirements introduced in April. An HMO must satisfy special requirements regarding fire and general safety, utility supplies and management of communal areas. Under the extended regulations for mandatory licensing, buildings of less than three storeys may now be classified as an HMO, if they house five people or more in two or more separate households with shared kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities. There are also strict new requirements on bedroom sizes in HMOs, relating to the age and number of people using the room. One child under the age of 10 must have a minimum of 4.64m2 Anyone over 10 years must have a minimum of 6.51m2 Two people over 10 years sharing a room must have a […]

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Can’t afford to get on the property ladder? Shared ownership could be a possibility.

09-10-2018

Posted by Cate Beavis

The price of properties, even so-called ‘first-time homes’, is completely out of proportion to the average income. To save for a deposit on your first home is now taking house hunters (especially first-time buyers) years longer than before. The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is an option if you are struggling to get the funds together on your own. If you don’t have the ability to borrow from family members, or you are unable to raise the money for that essential deposit on your own, there is another way to get your foot on the first rung of the property ladder: shared ownership. What is shared ownership? Shared ownership properties are available through housing associations. Put simply, you go into partnership with the association and buy a share in a property of between 25-75%. You’ll still need a deposit and a mortgage but, depending on how big a share you purchase, the deposit and mortgage will be considerably less than the sum you would have to find for a purchase of 100%. The housing association continues to own the remaining share of the property and you pay rent on that remaining share of the property. The housing association charge a […]

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A quick guide for first time buyers

05-10-2018

Posted by Jeni Smith

Buying a home can be stressful, especially for first-time buyers, so it’s wise to do some research to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Conveyancing is the term that refers to the legal process of transferring one person’s property (the seller), to another (the buyer). What does the process involve? Put simply; this is what conveyancing looks like from start to finish: Get your mortgage sorted out before you start looking, so you know what your budget is. Find the property you want. Put in an offer usually through an Estate Agent i.e. tell the seller what you’re willing to pay for the property. This is also the time to raise any conditions you have. The offer’s accepted. At this point, you’ll need a survey to check the property’s condition, and instruct your chosen conveyancing specialist to handle your transaction. The survey checks will include a wide range of examinations, including the structural integrity of the property, whether there’s any signs of subsidence, damp or damage and whether any building works have been carried out at the property. The sellers will provide a Property Information Form and Fittings and Contents Form together with any other papers relating […]

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What happens when a parent wants to move abroad and take the children with them?

27-09-2018

Posted by Suzy Hamshaw

These days more and more people are spending time abroad, whether they’re overseas on business, trying to build a new life in a different country, or just taking a long trip. There are plenty of reasons a parent might want to take their child abroad for an extended period, or even indefinitely. However, if the parents have separated, there’s a possibility that this could result in disagreement, especially if one party feels they are being ‘pushed out’ of the family unit and that the move is done to deliberately reduce the amount of time they can spend with the children. If it’s done amicably, and good arrangements are put in place to ensure the children spend a reasonable amount of time with each parent, then there shouldn’t be a problem – regardless of whether one party moves to an EU or non-EU country. However, if the process is rushed, isn’t given enough thought, or is done out of malice, there could be serious consequences further down the line, especially for the children. Living Arrangements Living arrangements settled outside court require a lot of co-operation between the parents. Sometimes ex-partners tend to live relatively close to one another to ensure the […]

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[Part One] Effective Altruism: An effective method for charity donation decision-making

26-09-2018

Most people want to make a difference during their lifetime. This may be achieved by giving up time to volunteer for a local charity, campaigning for action against a worthwhile cause or simply by donating to a charity. As well as donating to a charity during their lifetime, an individual can make a gift to a charity in their will which takes effect after they pass away. The will may state a certain monetary legacy should be given to a charity (i.e. £10,000) or alternatively, it may specify a certain share of the estate (i.e. 25%). An individual also has the option of specifying the circumstances in which a gift should be given to charity, for example, only in the event the remaining beneficiaries (i.e. a spouse) dies before administration of the estate. Deciding what charity will benefit from a gift takes some consideration. There are thousands of registered charities in the UK which cover a wide range of causes from animal charities to homelessness charities. If someone has a special connection to a particular charity because of personal circumstances, their decision in choosing a charity may be easier. However, for individuals that do not have a personal connection to […]

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Power of Attorney – what is all the fuss about?

25-09-2018

Do I need a Power of Attorney? It is important to understand what a power of attorney is, plus the difference between a property and financial Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and a health and welfare LPA. First of all, what is a Power of Attorney? A power of attorney is a legal document which enables you to give another person (‘your attorney’) authority to make certain decisions on your behalf.  There are different types of power of attorney and you can set up more than one. An LPA is the most common power of attorney. There are two types of LPAs A Property and Financial affairs LPA gives your attorney authority (subject to any restrictions imposed by you) to deal with and make decisions about your property and finances should you ever lose the mental capacity to do this yourself.   You can also allow your attorney to use your LPA even though you have the mental capacity to make such decisions yourself at that time.   For example, if you are going abroad, are injured in an accident or are otherwise physically unable to deal with your own affairs. A Health and Welfare LPA gives your attorney authority to make […]

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Til Death Do Us Part

20-09-2018

The summer months are often popular for weddings and no doubt many happy couples were pleasantly surprised by the unprecedented heatwave which hit the UK bringing sunshine to many a wedding day! However for lawyers the summer of 2018 will also be remembered for an unprecedented judicial decision which allowed an unmarried woman to claim a Widowed Parent’s allowance for her 4 children following the death of their father and her partner of 23 years. The UK Supreme Court ruled on 30th August 2018 that the decision to refuse this allowance to Siobhan McLaughlin was incompatible with human rights law. This decision sent shockwaves through the UK governmental departments, with the DWP stating that they would consider the ruling carefully. Whilst the decision does not in itself bring about a change in the law, it will put heightened pressure for changes to be made which could bring more rights to affected families. It raises a question in the meantime over the current rights of the 3.3 million or so unmarried couples in the UK and highlights many of the misconceptions around this area. Married couples share various tax advantages, including the ability to pass their estates to their surviving spouse […]

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Safeguarding is vital when appointing others to act

17-09-2018

Have you considered who would manage your affairs and make decisions, if you have an illness or accident that leaves you incapable of looking after things yourself? A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint someone you trust to look after your financial affairs or your health and welfare, with minimum effort, delay and expense. The process of applying has become much simpler since an online system was introduced a few years ago, which has encouraged many more people to prepare an LPA, with digital applications soaring from 14,000 in the year to March 2014 to 164,000 in the year to March 2017. Paper applications have risen also, and a total of almost 560,000 registrations were made in the year to March 2017, compared with 200,000 in March 2012.   But while easier to make, they are also easy to abuse, if safeguards are not put in place. Unfortunately, that is demonstrated by reports of a significant increase in the number of investigations into the actions of attorneys and deputies who have been appointed under an LPA. These have increased by more than 40% in the past year – 1,729 investigations were carried out in 2017-18 – up from […]

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Right to Die vs Forfeiture rule

28-08-2018

“The forfeiture rule states that a person who has unlawfully killed another cannot benefit from the victim’s estate.”[1] This also applies to an individual who has unlawfully killed or aided, abetted, counselled or procured the death of another person from benefiting in consequence of the killing. At first thought this seems right. It appeals to our common sense of justice that a criminal should not be able to benefit from their crime. If we take the facts of Macmillan Cancer Support v Hayes & Another [2017] further however, that sense of justice wobbles. Say, for example, your partner had a terminal illness and wanted to end their life before their illness became too advanced, but they relied on you for day to day tasks and were therefore not capable of ending their life themselves. If you were to assist them with their wishes, you would be assisting a suicide and could receive up to 14 years imprisonment. This would also impact your ability to inherit under your partner’s will. The question is whether or not that feels fair. As seen in Macmillan Cancer Support v Hayes & Another [2017] and Dunbar v Plant [1998] (“Dunbar”) the courts can use section […]

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Constructive Dismissal: A Guide

17-08-2018

If you think you’re the victim of constructive dismissal, then you’re in the right place. Michelle Morgan, Senior Associate in our Employment team has put together a guide to tell you exactly what constructive dismissal is, and how you can deal with the consequences of what can be a very stressful situation. What is Constructive Dismissal? Put simply; this is when an employee is forced to leave their job because of their employer’s behaviour. There’s a list of issues that could qualify as bad behaviour, but you need to know exactly what could be regarded as contributing to constructive dismissal, and what doesn’t. Who Can Claim Constructive Dismissal? Employees who have served under the same employer for two years’ or more can make a constructive dismissal claim. This two-year timeline includes your statutory notice period. The Explanation for Leaving Needs to be Serious If you’ve been forced to leave your job due to any of the following reasons, you might be experiencing constructive dismissal: Your employer refuses to pay for the work you’ve completed; Your employer took away the benefits your contract entitles you to, without explanation; You’ve brought a grievance to your employer’s attention, and they’ve refused to investigate; […]

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