All jobs carry some level of pressure, no matter what industry you are in but the distinction between working under pressure and stress is a fine line for some. As an employer, you may feel that minimising stress in the workplace is not a priority, however, this can be a huge oversight. According to Statista, in 2023, 875,000 workers reported experiencing work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with the Health and Safety Executive reporting just over 17 million working days are lost for the same reasons. These lost days will have cost employers millions, which could have been prevented or minimalised by having the correct guidelines and measures in place. Furthermore, this does not even include the additional lump sum that could be paid out in claims related to stress, sometimes reaching as high as £100,000. Therefore, it is incredibly important for employers to minimise stress in the workplace.
Read further to find out the intricacies surrounding work-related stress claims, how you can prevent them and how Tollers can help.
The Health and Safety Executive defines stress as the “adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them” at work. Stress is not considered to be an illness itself, however, it can lead to mental or physical illness. Likely physical and mental conditions that can result from stress include but are not limited to anxiety or depression, heart disease, back pain, digestive conditions and skin conditions.
Legislations that protect employees from work-related stress
Stress from work can be said to be directly related to two main articles of health and safety law and loosely related to The Working Time Regulations 1998:
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974:
This places a ‘duty of care or responsibility’ on employers to ensure the well-being of their employees by safeguarding them from the risk of stress at work
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:
This mandates that all employers must conduct a thorough and adequate assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees while at work.
Working Time Regulations 1998:
Working long hours without taking regular breaks can be a prerequisite of work-related stress.
Essentially what this entails is that the employers must identify any risks to employee health and well-being (carrying out risk assessments for example) and then take actions to avert or minimise work-related stress. Failure to adhere to these legislations could result in claims being made against your business.
Preventing Work-Related Stress Claims
Preventing work-related stress claims much like other activities should begin before the employee feels stressed. Creating a positive working environment can minimise the chance of your employees feeling stress related to work. To achieve this, as employers you can:
- Encourage workers and staff to raise and voice their troubles;
- Training senior members of staff and managers in dealing with stressed employees;
- Promote a work-life balance (using annual leave and breaks);
- Clear and encompassing policy on mental health, stress and employee well-being;
- Address and map out the causes of work-related stress through risk assessments and employee feedback questionnaires;
- Support for staff and employees;
- Providing training for employees to better handle different situations such as time management courses or stress management techniques.
Preventing stress: Risk assessments
As an employer, you can carry out risk assessments to protect the employees from stress at work. Only when you have 5 or more employees must a written risk assessment be done; however, it is good practice to do this regardless of the number of employees. By doing so you will have on record of what was said and the actions taken, as well as being perceived by employees as taking their health and wellbeing seriously. According to ACAS (The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) an employer, when concerning a risk assessment, should work with the employees to:
- Identify the risks of stress;
- Decide how to remove or reduce the risks;
- Agree on what steps to take;
- Make any changes to avoid or reduce risks;
- Regularly review the plan.
Risk assessments should be done for the whole team or by job type regularly. Additionally, individual risk assessments should be conducted if an employee tells their employer they are experiencing work-related stress.
Talk to Tollers
If you would like any help or advice on managing work-related stress in your organisation, or on your policies … Talk to Tollers on 01604 258 558 and one of the team would be happy to advise.
Our team are here for you.
Tollers solicitors are delighted to be sponsoring the Parklands Tigers U11’s Black team. As a Firm, we are proud to work with local grassroots teams based in the communities we serve and give back in whatever way we can.
Parklands Tigers U11’s Blacks are part of the wider Parklands Tigers Football Club, based in the Parklands area of Northampton. Originally formed in 1985, it is now become one of Northampton’s largest youth football clubs. The club currently runs 17 teams from age groups U7 to U16’s, as well as an active Cubs section for u6’s, providing regular football for around 250 players, supported by a group of Volunteer coaches and a committee.
The U11 Blacks Team play in the Northampton and District Youth Alliance League and developed from the U7 age group 5 years ago, playing 5 a side, to now competing in the U11 Primeira Section, playing 9 a side. A number of players are still with the team having started as members of the U7 age group.
The team has a keen squad of 15 mixed-ability players, boys and girls, with the team ethos being focused on participation, development, respect and most importantly Fun, rather than being solely results-driven. To this end, all players get equal playing time on match day regardless of score lines. This philosophy has been embraced by players and parents alike to create a great team spirit and empowers them to go and express themselves on the pitch and not worry about any consequences, which has resulted in not only competitive and close matches each week, but a year on year improvement as individuals and as a group, both as players and as young people.
It is this inclusive ethos that galvanised the firm to support the club, as well as the fact that through our support we see the benefits it brings to the children involved. Not only does it provide the kids with a way to enjoy sport, it also provides them with skills for life.
With 15 games already played across the county this season, the whole group are looking forward to their final 8 fixtures to complete another great season.
The staff at Tollers would like to take this opportunity to let them know how much we enjoy sponsoring the team, we are proud of all their achievements so far this season and can’t wait to see how they get on over the final 8 games and beyond. Go Tigers!
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of deciding how an individual’s assets will be managed and distributed when they either become incapacitated or pass away.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be a challenging time for those left behind, so ensuring that the right processes have been put in place, whilst you are alive, can help your loved ones manage your estate should you become incapacitated or once you have gone.
Just some of the things to consider when putting your estate plan together are:
- Have you got a Will?
- Would you benefit from setting up any trusts?
- What types of Trusts might you need?
- Who would you like to act as your executors?
- Who are your beneficiaries?
- Do you wish to transfer any specific assets to your beneficiaries for tax purposes?
- Do you wish to outline any specific gifts you wish to give now?
- Do you wish to put in place Powers of Attorney outlining your wishes in regard to your finances or possible future medical care?
How can Estate Planning benefit you?
Protection for beneficiaries
Having a clear plan of action in place allows you to outline who you would like your beneficiaries to be. It also allows you to state how you wish to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries, meaning that you can, if done correctly, pass assets over in a tax-efficient manner.
Without estate planning in place, it could be left to the court to decide what happens to your assets and who benefits from them, which may go against what you would have liked, as well as be a time consuming and expensive process.
Protection of young children
Knowing you have estate planning in place gives you peace of mind should you have young children as it allows you to name who you would like to become their legal guardians. It also allows you to outline how you wish your child be cared for, should you or your partner pass away before your children turn 18.
Importantly, estate planning can also prove particularly helpful in creating unique plans tailored to any specific needs your child may have relating to their health, education and general wellbeing.
Without estate planning in place these decisions could be left to the court to decide.
Reduce Inheritance Tax burden
The estate planning process can protect your wealth while you are still alive and after you pass away.
Estate planning can ensure that you protect your assets against the impact of Inheritance tax and can help you to minimise the amount of tax that would be payable by your estate when you die.
It allows you look at how to pass on certain aspects of your estate and assets whilst still alive and decide on the most tax efficient methods for distributing your estate when you die, to ensure your beneficiaries receive the greatest benefits.
There are many different ways to do this including; gifts, leaving a legacy to charity, establishing Trusts, adding to a pension or even spending your wealth now.
Help loved ones avoid disputes
Family life is often not straightforward and can sometimes involve disagreements. Estate planning can help you minimise potential disagreements between family members, as it clearly sets out how you would like your estate managed when you pass away or are incapacitated.
When estate planning you will designate Executors who will administer your estate and facilitate your wishes once you are gone. Just some of the things your executors are responsible for are:
- Locating and securing your assets;
- Filing any outstanding tax returns.
- Paying off any debts you may have.
- Identifying and notifying all of your beneficiaries;
- Distributing any remaining assets to your beneficiaries in accordance with your Will.
Having appointed executors should alleviate family tensions and conflicts and hopefully avoid any legal action, as your executors will ensure everyone is aware of exactly what they are entitled to and who will benefit from your estate.
Talk to Tollers
These are just some of the benefits of estate planning, each plan is tailored to the individual and their estate and may encompass other elements. This is why it is important that when putting your plan in place you seek out the best possible professional and legal advice.
For further advice and guidance on Estate Planning and how to put this important set of documents in place…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our experienced Trusts and Estates team will happily assist.
find out more here on Estate Planning.
David Boobyer of Tollers Solicitors and appointed counsel, Chris Barnes KC and Chris Allen of Exchange Chambers, have reached a lump sum settlement of £10 million for their Client, who was involved in a road traffic accident (RTA) before birth. The Claimant, a 23-year old now based in the USA, was aged 33 weeks in-utero when the parents were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle, resulting in the claimant suffering a serious brain injury and being born prematurely. Despite the serious and life-long impact of their injuries, the Claimant, hailed as a determined, diligent, and bright person by the Judge, has persevered to successfully obtain a degree at university and to further continue their studies.
The Claimant’s move to the USA brought additional complications to the claim, including; the costs of care and residing in the USA, whether a lump sum or Periodical Payment Order (PPO) was an appropriate award, consideration of multi-jurisdiction taxation and investment of damages, and sourcing appropriate reliable experts in a foreign country.
The claim was due to be heard at Trial in early 2024, however Tollers Solicitors and counsel successfully settled the matter at a Joint Settlement meeting (JSM) in late 2023 for £10million, translating into an award of around $12.5million based on current exchange rates. The settlement was approved by the court in November 2023 and the case is now subject to reporting restrictions and an anonymity order.
A brain injury is a complex and life-altering event that warrants the expertise of a specialist brain injury solicitor. Tollers in-depth understanding of medical, legal, and emotional aspects related to brain injuries allows the firm to provide comprehensive support, build a strong case, and secure the appropriate compensation. By engaging a specialist, individuals and their families can have confidence in the legal process and focus on the necessary steps towards recovery and rebuilding their lives.
If you think you might have a case or you want to find out more about the services Tollers Personal Injury team provide… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558. Our highly experienced PI specialists are on hand to answer any questions you might have and possibly advise and guide you through the process of making a claim.
In order to protect your business it is vital to understand restrictive covenants and how to use them in your employment contracts. An ex-employee who possesses insights into your classified data, customers, and suppliers could become a substantial liability if they join a rival company or launch their own competitive venture. Therefore, when creating and negotiating employment contracts, consider what restrictions you would like to place on your employees or consultants if they resign, the contract ends, or are terminated. Including restrictive clauses that your employee or consultant has agreed to in writing could provide your business with legal protection and help you enforce these restrictions if the employee attempts to breach them.
In this blog, our specialists in Employment Law and Dispute Resolution have collaborated to answer frequently asked questions regarding the advantages of restrictive covenants in an employment contract and the process for enforcing them if issues arise.
What are restrictive covenants?
Regarding an employment contract, restrictive covenants (also called post-termination restrictions) are a common feature of employment contracts and can help protect your business through periods of staff turnover. They are intended to survive the end of the employment relationship and prevent those employees from compromising your business interests by, for example, setting up a business in direct competition with you, going to work for a company that operates in direct competition with you, attempting to solicit your clients, customers or staff, or divulging trade secrets or confidential information.
How do restrictive covenants work?
Drafting restrictive covenants requires careful consideration. These covenants should be specific, tailored to the role and go as far as is reasonable to protect your business interests. You should decide on a timeframe for the restrictions to apply, which may typically exclude any garden leave or notice period and geographical scope, such as a ten-mile radius of your premises. It is also essential to update the restrictions if an employee is promoted or starts a new position in your company to ensure that the covenants apply to their current job role. If an ex-employee breaches these covenants, they may be liable to a claim for breach of contract, and you may be able to recover losses incurred as a result of this.
Why are restrictive covenants important for employers?
Restrictive covenants can provide businesses and employers with legal protection, covering matters such as:
- Protecting Business Interests: They help safeguard a company’s confidential information, client base, and trade secrets from being used by departing employees to benefit competitors. They are designed to protect a former employer’s confidential information, customer connections and the stability of its workforce by preventing an employee from using connections or information they were made privy to during their employment for the benefit of a new employer or business venture.
- Preventing Client Poaching: Restrictive covenants can deter ex-employees from approaching or soliciting clients they had dealt with during their employment.
- Safeguarding Intellectual Property: They help prevent former employees from disclosing or using IP information, which can be vital in technology, research, or creative industries.
Are there different types of restrictive covenants?
Yes, there are various types, including non-compete clauses (which prevent ex-employees from working for competitors), non-solicitation clauses (which restrict solicitation of clients), and non-disclosure clauses (which prevent the sharing of company secrets).
Are restrictive covenants enforceable?
Standard contract clauses restricting an employee’s activities after employment ends are typically invalidated due to their conflict with public policy and being viewed as a form of trade restraint.
Therefore, the enforceability of any restrictive covenants is fact-specific to each case.
What should an employer do if they suspect a breach of a restrictive covenant clause in an employment contract?
If a former employee breaches legally binding restrictive covenants, the former employer can resort to specific measures to remedy the situation. One of the first steps includes sending a cease-and-desist letter to the former employee, detailing the alleged breach, and requesting compliance with the covenant in issue. Typically, the letter will specify a deadline for a response.
If a former employee does not respond or refuses to comply, the employer may need to consider legal action. Legal remedies could involve filing for an injunction to prevent ex-employees from committing further breaches and commencing a claim for damages for the losses the employer has suffered due to the breaches by the employee.
Can the dispute be resolved without legal action?
In most cases, it is advisable to attempt to resolve the dispute through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like mediation. This can save time and costs compared to litigation. It is also important to note that the courts typically view those who do not attempt to resolve disputes through ADR unfavourably when it comes to deciding who should pay costs at the conclusion of any court proceedings.
Remember, pursuing a claim for breach of restrictive covenants can be legally complex and should be approached carefully. It is crucial to seek legal advice and representation from specialists in this area of law to protect your interests and rights as an employer.
Legal Advice for Employers in Stevenage, Corby and Northampton
At Tollers, our employment lawyers in Stevenage, Corby and Northampton are experienced in assisting former employers in pursuing ex-employees who breach their restrictive covenants. We can advise on whether the restrictions you seek to rely on are enforceable and, with our experience, can help you protect your business from further damage caused by an ex-employee’s breach of such restrictions.
Should you require further information or assistance, please get in touch or contact us on 01604 258558 or complete the form below.
Robust Employment Support with Tollers HR
At Tollers, we understand the invaluable role your employees hold, along with the potential challenges they present. Hence, we have designed Tollers HR – a tool tailored to facilitate confident, cost-efficient HR management. Let us shoulder your HR responsibilities while you concentrate on what you do best – running your business. Our dedicated solicitors are here to provide you with personal, hands-on support, helping you navigate any employment law challenges that may arise. Utilising our legal teams for your outsourced HR solution ensures you can have peace of mind knowing that the advice and support you receive is legally protected and backed by regulated professionals who understand the intricacies of employment law.
Some of the key benefits of this service include:
Tribunal and Damages Claims: Specialist Indemnity Scheme Protecting Your Business
In partnership with a leading specialist insurance provider, the Tollers’ HR indemnity scheme covers tribunal costs and awards of up to £100,000 per case. We do not self-insure, which means we can cover all areas of potential claims, including discrimination. Our indemnity scheme is an essential safeguard against the unexpected costs of a Tribunal claim and can take away the temptation to settle a case on a commercial basis. Furthermore, it can protect against the cost of pursuing damages claims and injunctions, such as breaches of restrictive covenants. With Tollers’ HR indemnity, employers can have peace of mind, knowing they have a robust defence against legal uncertainties.
Robust Representation: Expert Guidance When You Need It
When faced with a Tribunal Claim or the need to pursue damages, Tollers is here to support you. Our professional and ethical advice can be critical to achieving successful outcomes, allowing you to focus on your business operations.
Navigating Employment Tribunals or Breach of Restrictive Covenant claims can be daunting and involve a specialist legal process that can prove complex, time-consuming, and costly. Tollers HR insurance indemnity can protect your business against the uncertainty of these costs, covering the expenses associated with Tribunal proceedings or legal actions against former employees.
What sets us apart is the expertise of our solicitors, who bring a wealth of experience in handling Tribunal and damages claims and a deep understanding of your unique case, thanks to your affiliation with Tollers HR. This insight allows us to meticulously prepare your case, and should you choose, we can even represent your business throughout the entire process, providing steadfast support from the initial stages to the final hearing.
Anytime Advice Line: Direct to Solicitor Support at Your Fingertips
Enjoy peace of mind with our ‘direct to solicitor’ service, exclusively available to Tollers HR members. Our experienced employment law solicitors are just a call away, providing reliable support and advice whenever you need it on everyday employment matters and general inquiries.
Find out more ….
These are just a few of the benefits available and the protection covered by the Tollers HR insurance indemnity. Tollers HR package ensures you and your business get hands-on support and legal advice for all Human Resource issues from our specialist employment law solicitors. Click the link to find out more about Tollers HR.
Are you unsure on whether to buy a property in 2023/2024? The looming end of the temporary relief on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) may be the reason to think about this now and save yourself thousands of pounds!
The SDLT threshold increase to the rate announced in September 2022 has provided the opportunity for many first-time buyers to get on the property ladder. The savings made by first-time buyers has helped them to increase their deposit and to pay a reduced amount of tax on a home that costs more than £425,000.
However, be aware, that the SDLT threshold is coming to an end on 31st March 2025.
SDLT thresholds will return to the previous levels in just 18 months. This means that from the 1st April 2025 the cost of a property on which homebuyers start paying stamp duty land tax will return to the previous level of £125,000 from £250,000 and to £300,000 from £425,000 for first-time buyers. For example:
Current SDLT rate on a standard freehold property purchase, UK resident/main residence:
The SDLT homebuyers pay when buying a freehold property for £350,000 before 31st March 2025 deadline is calculated as follows:
- 0% on the first £250,000= 0
- 5% on the remaining £100,000 = £5,000
- Total SDLT = £5,000
SDLT rate from 31 March 2025 on a standard freehold property purchase, UK resident/main residence:
The SDLT homebuyers pay when buying a freehold property for £350,000 after 31st March 2025 deadline is calculated as follows:
- 2% on the first £250,000 = £2,500
- 5% on the remaining £100,000 = £5,000
- Total SDLT = £7,500
Homebuyers who complete before the 31st March 2025 deadline could save as much as £2,500 in SDLT.
The deadline is fast approaching and homebuyers need to be aware that a residential property transaction takes an average of 12 to 16 weeks to complete. Therefore, any property completion date that falls after this deadline could result in a significant tax burden.
If you are currently considering buying a residential property, planning ahead may be the right approach to reduce the risk of paying higher SDLT and missing the deadline.
Whether buying or Selling a property getting the advice and guidance you need is invaluable. For all your property needs…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258101, our experienced conveyancing teams are on hand to guide you through.
Tollers is proud to announce its support for Lakelands Hospice, Corby and Garden House Hospice, Letchworth as our chosen Charities of the Year for 2023/24. We will not only be fundraising for these hospices but will also be looking to make a difference in a more hands-on way of volunteering across the coming months.
Lakelands Hospice, Corby
Lakelands Hospice provides emotional and practical support for adults with life-limiting illnesses within a 20-mile radius of the hospice’s location in Corby, Northamptonshire. Their nurses facilitate Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Heart Failure courses for patients referred by GP’s, District Nurses and Hospitals. They also have a team of nurses who provide Hospice at-home services supporting patients who want to pass away in their own homes within the last two weeks of life.
Lakelands is an independent daycare hospice and does not receive any Government or NHS funding. It relies entirely upon charitable donations.
Lakelands Hospice is particularly close to the hearts of the staff at Tollers after it supported one of our own, Amanda Marlow, during her battle with cancer; a battle she sadly lost in November 2022.
Garden House Hospice, Letchworth
Garden House Hospice Care provides specialist palliative care for patients, families and carers facing life-limiting illnesses, enabling them to have the best possible quality of life by providing care and support in the setting of their choice, without discrimination.
Their team offers physical, emotional and spiritual care. It is available for people living in North Hertfordshire, Stevenage and surrounding towns and villages in Central Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire and they support hundreds of people every year.
To find out more about our chosen charities of the year, the vital work both hospices provide, to make a referral or to make a donation:
Click here to visit Lakelands Hospice Corby.
Click here to visit Garden House Hospice Letchworth.
Tollers are proud and excited to support these fantastic organisations this year, and hope you will join us in showing them support.
The government introduced the Renters (Reform) Bill (‘the Bill’) to Parliament on 17 May 2023 proposing significant reforms to the residential letting sector in England. Some provisions also affect Wales.
The Bill is likely to be subject to change as it passes through parliament and the purpose of this update is to highlight some of the possible changes coming down the road and what these could mean for landlords.
The changes will affect new residential tenancies other than purpose-built student accommodation.
The key points in the Bill are:
Currently a landlord can provide mechanisms for reviewing or increasing the rent to avoid the statutory regulation of rent increases. The Bill will prohibit landlords from increasing rents other than by serving a statutory notice, and only where the market rate rises. Tenants will be able to challenge the rent increase. The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) will continue to hear those challenges and will determine the correct market rent. The Bill also includes a requirement for landlords to give at least two months’ notice before increasing rent and rent increases will only be permitted once a year.
Abolishing fixed-term tenancies
Fixed-term tenancies will be abolished and tenancies can only be periodic. The period can be no longer than one month. Tenants will be able to end their tenancy by giving two months’ notice (unless the parties have agreed to a shorter period) or a landlord can provide evidence for a valid ground of possession. Note that a fixed-term tenancy of more than seven years cannot be an assured tenancy.
Abolishing assured shorthold tenancies (‘ASTs’)
ASTs have been the standard form of tenancy granted by private landlords in the residential property market since they were introduced in 1997. The Bill will abolish them. New residential tenancies are likely to be assured tenancies.
Abolishing ‘no fault’ possession notices
As a consequence of abolishing ASTs, the mechanism to end quickly and at no fault (by the landlord serving a section 21 notice), also falls away. Existing fault-based grounds can be used to end a tenancy. These will require service of a notice specifying a particular ground for possession and then, most likely, a court hearing.
New grounds for possession
- Landlord selling property: Landlords who wish to sell the property will have a mandatory right to seek possession so long as the tenancy has existed for at least six months.
- Landlord wishing to move in: A mandatory ground for possession should the landlord or close family members wish to move into the property as their only or main home, so long as the tenancy has existed for at least 6 months.
- Serious rent arrears: Where there have been at least two months arrears on any three occasions within a three-year period, a longer notice period must be given (four weeks rather than two at present), but the court must grant possession, even if the arrears have been cleared at the hearing.
- Serious anti-social behaviour: This wording arguably introduces a lower threshold for the landlord to meet, although possession is not mandatory and the court will still have to find it reasonable. The notice period required is shortened and a possession claim will be capable of being made immediately.
The Bill proposes a new “property ombudsman” who can deliver binding decisions in landlord-tenant disputes (including payment of compensation), and these decisions can be enforced just like court orders. This will be free to tenants and funded by landlords. Private landlords will be required to join this scheme.
Landlords will have to provide tenants with a written statement, including terms of the tenancy before the tenancy starts.
Tenants will be given a right to request permission to keep a pet in their home, which cannot be unreasonably refused (although landlords can require the tenant to maintain pet insurance or cover the landlord’s reasonable costs for doing the same). A decision must be given within 42 days.
Various financial and criminal penalties will be introduced for landlords who breach their obligations. For example, if a landlord uses the new possession ground to move a family member into the property and subsequently lets the property within the prohibited three-month window, the local authority may impose a financial penalty of up to £5,000 (which may be recurring if the contravention continues for more than 28 days) or prosecute for a criminal offence.
If the abolition of ASTs and ‘no fault’ notices become law, investment landlords are likely to want to see a commitment by the government to introduce court reforms to provide an effective mechanism to remove tenants who are withholding rent payments. In any event, Landlords will need to consider the increased legislative burdens and costs of these proposals.
Talk to Tollers
We will provide more updates on the Renters (Reform) Bill as it progresses through parliament.
If you are a landlord and would like more information on how the Renters (Reform) Bill could affect you and the properties you own and rent…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, our experienced Commercial Property experts are on hand to guide you and provide the latest updates on the progress of the bill.
Reducing conflict in family matters is vital. For many years the family court has encouraged family law solicitors to adopt a more constructive and collaborative approach to how they deal with the resolution of family issues compared to other courts. This is because it has been found that trying to resolve matters in a way that minimises conflict between the parties is likely to lead to better outcomes for the family in the long run. Many family law solicitors agree to act in line with a code of conduct and are members of an organisation known as Resolution which supports this approach. The courts are continuing to develop this approach in many ways.
We have now passed the one-year anniversary of the change to the divorce law in England and Wales which removed the need for separating couples to make any allegations against one another when they were seeking a divorce. Since April 2023 anyone wishing to divorce has been able to simply file an application online through the divorce portal stating that their marriage has broken down irretrievably to start the divorce process.
Changing the process in this way has undoubtedly allowed some couples to avoid the difficult confrontation or negotiation that previously arose following the breakdown of their marriage in deciding who would petition whom and on what basis. It has also stopped the rush to get in first with the divorce petition to gain control of the process. Between April and December 2022, 22% of the divorce applications issued under the new law were issued on a joint basis, something that was not possible previously.
As part of the changes, the court also took the opportunity to review and change some of the legal terminology affecting the divorce process. Petitioners became Applicants and the Divorce petition is now the divorce application.
Recently the Family Solutions Group published a paper called “Language Matters” which addresses the effect of legal terms used in the family court. They have recommended that the terms used be looked at again to minimise their impact. The language used can stoke a combative mindset and some terms such as “opponent”, “judgement” and “dispute” create the suggestion of an environment that is far from collaborative. Instead, they suggest the use of the parties’ first names in documents and the discussion of resolution in more constructive terms.
Talk to Tollers
Tollers family solicitors will always aim to minimise conflict in dealing with your family matters as far as possible. If you require assistance and would like to look at ways of reducing conflict…Talk to tollers on 01604 258558, our experienced family team is on hand to guide you through and facilitate you.
We would all like to imagine that we will always be capable of managing our affairs, but what happens if through mental or physical impairment we cannot? Planning ahead is essential and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) are a vital part of the process.
The Trusts and Estates team at Tollers is experienced in assisting and guiding our clients through the process of making an LPA to ensure their wishes are respected.
Here they answer some common questions concerning Lasting Powers of Attorney:
Q: What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A: A Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) is a document appointing a person (an ‘Attorney’) to manage the affairs of another person (the ‘Donor’) and can continue to have effect even when the Donor has lost mental capacity.
Q: Are there different types of LPA?
A: Yes – there are two different types of LPA:
Lasting Power of Attorney for finance and property:
The Property and Financial Affairs LPA usually relates to dealings in respect of the Donor’s house, bank accounts shares etc. It can remain in effect if the person it relates to loses mental capacity at a later date.
If someone owns a business or has an interest in a business they can also make an LPA to appoint a suitable person to make decisions concerning their business interests when they are unavailable or lack mental capacity.
Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care:
The Health and Welfare LPA relates to decisions such as where the Donor lives, life-sustaining treatment, medical decisions, medication and social care.
Q: When can an individual make an LPA?
A: If someone has mental capacity they can make an LPA at any time. If they lack mental capacity then someone else cannot make an LPA on their behalf instead, an application would need to be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order.
Q: Can an LPA be used as soon as it has been signed?
A: No. An LPA must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (the government body that administers LPAs) before it can be used. An application would normally be made when all parties have signed.
Q: Are there safeguards?
A: The advantage of an LPA is that the Donor chooses the people to manage their affairs (the Attorneys). The Donor can also include within the LPA binding instructions or non-binding advice for their Attorneys. There is also provision for family members to be notified that the LPA is being registered.
Q: Can the Donor still manage their own affairs?
A: If an LPA is in place the Donor can still manage their own affairs provided the Donor has mental capacity. If the Donor loses mental capacity the appointed Attorneys will then take over the management of the Donors affairs.
Q: What happens if the Donor dies?
A: If the Donor dies the LPA automatically comes to an end. The Attorney should send the original LPA and the death certificate to the Office of the Public Guardian as soon as possible.
For further advice and guidance on how to put these important documents in place…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our experienced Trusts and Estates team will happily assist.
More information can be found here.