Sunday, April 21, 2019
Legal

The Government has announced new legislation to overhaul divorce and reduce family conflict.

Divorcing couples will no longer need to blame each other for the breakdown of their marriage following an announcement by the Justice Secretary David Gauke.

The proposed legislation will update the 50-year-old divorce law which has been shown to exacerbate conflict. The current laws are excessively harsh and demand that the Petitioner proves fault as a ground for divorce: unreasonable behaviour; adultery; desertion or to prove a period of separation to show that a marriage has broken down irretrievably.

At present, a small minority of cases are defended, which is a practice misused by abusers choosing to contest a divorce to continue their coercive and controlling behaviour.  The new legislation will bring an end to defended divorces.

The new proposals for changes in the law will include: –

  • Retaining the irretrievable breakdown as the sole ground for divorce.
  • Replace the requirement to provide evidence of fault with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown.
  • Retaining the two-stage legal process currently referred to as decree nisi and decree absolute.
  • Creating the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside retaining the option of one party being able to initiate the process.
  • Removing the ability to defend a divorce.
  • Introducing a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from the petition stage to the final dissolution [20 weeks from the petition stage to decree nisi; 6 weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute].

The 20 week timeframe is designed to allow the parties to have a meaningful period of reflection and the opportunity to change their minds.  The 20 week period will also enable couples to reach agreement on practical arrangements in the future.  The new legislation will enable divorcing couples to separate with dignity and less conflict.

How we can help

Should you need any advice in relation to divorce or relationship breakdown, or any matters arising from those,  please do not hesitate to contact our expert family team on  0161 330 6821 or email:

Keith Bull – kbull@bromleys.co.uk

Denise Pinder – dpinder@bromleys.co.uk

Kristie Fawcett – kfawcett@bromleys.co.uk

Alternatively, you are welcome to attend any of our free legal surgeries. Please click here for dates and times – No appointment necessary.

 

Davis Blank Furniss has promoted property lawyer Jennifer Smith to partner and Lewis Thompson, private client solicitor, to associate solicitor.

Jennifer joined the firm in 2013 and handles all aspects of commercial and residential property, including commercial property sales and acquisitions, advising on business tenancies for landlords and tenants, and sales, purchases and re-mortgages of residential properties.

Lewis Thompson was appointed in March 2017 and works in the firm’s Glossop office. He specialises in all areas of private client work including Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Court of Protection matters and Probate.

Also, Charlotte Tyrer has been admitted as a solicitor in the Family and Private Client Departments following the successful completion of her training contract.

Kate Oldfield – managing partner – said: “Both these promotions are incredibly well deserved. Jennifer and Lewis have worked extremely hard and have shown tremendous commitment and energy to our clients and are central to the firm’s future. We are also delighted that Charlotte is continuing her career at Davis Blank Furniss and I have no doubt that she will be an outstanding addition to the team.”

Jennifer added: “Being promoted to partner is a real milestone in my career, but my focus will continue to be on adding value to my team, the wider business and our clients.”

 

Two staff members at Bromleys Solicitors have qualified as mental health first-aiders as the firm enhances the wellbeing services it offers to its team.

Associate solicitor Laura Stansfield and legal cashier Hailie Applegate undertook a two-day Mental Health First Aid course with training provider St John Ambulance.

Mental Health First Aid, which was launched in England by the Department of Health in 2007, is a training scheme which teaches people practical skills to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue in a non-judgmental and confidential way, and to offer advice and guidance on where they can seek the right support.

Louise Nolan, practice manager at Bromleys, said: “These qualifications demonstrate our commitment to enhancing the services we provide to staff which focus on their well-being, and we are looking at ways to improve this further.”

Laura, the head of Bromleys’ wills, probate and planning for the future department, said: “Mental health is less the taboo subject that it used to be, but there is still very much a general lack of understanding and support.

“Our role is to help anyone who might have a problem and to be a first port-of-call.

“Through our training, we have been given resources that we can refer on, and guidance on how to help people seek the professional help they may need.

“We are not here to judge or diagnose, only to assist people.”

Hailie, who works in the accounts department, said: “I hate the thought of anybody feeling completely lost and like they have nobody to turn to, so when the opportunity arose I really wanted to be involved.

“Life can be overwhelming at the best of times. There are occasions when people feel unable to cope or they don’t know where to turn in a mental health crisis.

“We hope to be that ‘safe place’ for everyone at Bromleys, by giving advice regarding coping strategies for stress, signposting towards professionals or simply being a non-judgmental ear.”

Nationally, mental health issues cost employers an estimated £35bn a year in sickness absence, reduced productivity and substituting staff members who are off work, according to MHFA England

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that, in 2016, 15.8 million work days in the UK were lost due to mental illness, while NHS England says approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health illness each year.

Hailie, (left) and Laura are pictured with their certificates.

Davis Blank Furniss and Capstone Financial Management to stage free Inheritance Tax & Estate Planning event

Glossop firms Davis Blank Furniss and Capstone Financial Management are joining forces to stage an exclusive evening event that will tackle the complex issues around Inheritance Tax and Estate Planning.

The event, which is free to attend, will take place at Glossop Golf Club on Thursday 25th April.

Topics will include how the value of a property can leave home owners vulnerable to inheritance tax and the ways you can plan to mitigate this tax.  Guests will also be given essential up-to-date information regarding Wills, Trusts, Lasting Power of Attorney and how they can be used to plan for later life care fees and reduce the potential worry for your family and beneficiaries.

Andrew Williamson – Executive Director at Capstone Financial Management – said: “Families are now paying more in inheritance tax than ever before so it is essential everyone knows the facts about what they can and can’t do in terms of their estate planning.”

Lewis Thompson – Associate Solicitor at Davis Blank Furniss – added: “Inheritance tax and estate planning are incredibly complex so our focus will be on cutting through the jargon and providing relevant information that guests can apply to their own situations.”

Places at the event can be confirmed by contacting Holly Smith on 01457 601 608 or via email: hollys.capstone@sjpp.co.uk 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) conceded on 27th March that the planned changes to probate fees, which could see some rising by more than 3,000%, will not come into force on 1 April as originally intended.

A spokesperson for the MoJ confirmed that the statutory instrument (SI) bringing the revised fee scheme into force would not be laid this week and that Brexit matters had taken precedence.

The plans mean that probate charges would be linked to the size of the estate. Estates valued at more than £2m would be charged £6,000. At present there is a flat fee £155 for those applying through a solicitor (or £215 for a personal application).

Usually, a SI passes unchallenged unless there is a formal objection – all that is required is that the name of the SI is read out before the House and for no-one to shout ‘object’.

It has however been indicated there will be objections. There is no date for when the SI will be laid. If and when the SI is passed it usually takes 21 days to come into force so there is no chance of it being ready for 1st April.

How Bromleys can help

Contact Laura Stansfield, Sue Darlington or Susanne Furness in our Wills, Probate & Planning for the Future department to discuss how one of our team of experts can help guide you through this process.

Email: lstansfield@bromleys.co.uk; sdarlington@bromleys.co.uk sfurness@bromleys.co.uk

Tel: 0161 330 6821

Supreme Court has recently decided on a case (Regency Villas Title Ltd and others v Diamond Resorts (Europe) Ltd and another) that raised the issue of whether a right to use sporting and recreational facilities, such as a swimming pool, tennis courts and gardens (amongst others), can form the basis of an easement (a valid enforceable right over another person’s land) under the test set out in the case of Re Ellenborough Park.

At the centre of this case was a development of timeshare apartments in the early 1980s. The development consisted of a country estate that was subsequently divided between Elham House, which comprised the 26 timeshare apartments, and Broome Park, where the sporting and recreational facilities were located.

When the estate was divided, the transfer of the timeshare apartments contained for the respective owners a right from “time to time . . . to use the swimming pool, golf course, squash courts, tennis courts, the ground and basement floor of Broome Park Mansion House, gardens and any other sporting or recreational facilities . . .”

The facilities were also used in common by members of the public, and it was intended that the income generated from them would cover the ongoing maintenance costs. The transfer of the apartments did not contain a clause requiring the owners to contribute towards the maintenance of the facilities.

The facilities began to fall into disrepair and the owners of the apartments made voluntary payments towards the upkeep and maintenance. In approximately 2000, the outdoor pool was filled in and an indoor pool was built in the basement of Mansion House (forming part of the Broome Park estate).

The owners of the apartments subsequently sought a declaration that they were entitled by way of an easement to the free use of all of the sporting and recreational facilities that may be provided at Broome Park.

This case worked its way through the High Court, Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Court, where it was held that the right to use sporting and recreational facilities as granted in the transfer in the early 1980s could form an easement.

Moving forward, this means that the grant of purely recreational rights over land could be capable of forming an easement provided that the four-point test in the Re Ellenborough Park case could be met.

This case is important as the Supreme Court has extended the law to recognise a new type of easement, and has tried to accommodate the common law to new types of property ownership and new ways of enjoying land.

It has significant implications for owners of an estate subject to recreational rights, or for developers considering granting such rights, as it may prohibit what the owner of an estate may be able to do with it in future. Estate owners and developers should therefore carefully consider the contents of any conveyances and transfers granting such rights to determine the extent of those rights and the repairing obligations/requirements for contributing towards repairs.

How we can help?

For advice relating to rights and easements, or indeed any other property law matters, please contact Paul Westwell at pwestwell@bromleys.co.uk or Martin Blaylock at mblaylock@bromleys.co.uk or on 0161 330 6821. Alternatively, you are welcome to attend any of our free legal surgeries – no appointment necessary.

 

The head of Bromleys’ family law team has achieved a milestone by becoming the only solicitor in Greater Manchester to be accredited by the Resolution organisation in four different specialist areas.

Resolution is an organisation of family lawyers and other professionals who are committed to constructive, non-confrontational ways to resolve divorce, separation and other family-related legal issues.

Keith Bull already held Resolution accreditations in the fields of domestic abuse, finances and private children matters.

Now he has also been accredited as an expert in cohabitation disputes relating to land and financial issues.

He is one of just five lawyers in the Manchester area to be recognised by Resolution for the cohabitation specialism.

Mark Hirst, senior partner at Bromleys, said: “Keith’s latest accreditation strengthens his position as one of the region’s leading experts in family law.

“It’s a significant achievement because Resolution’s accreditation scheme is immensely challenging and is a quality mark which sets Keith apart from his peers.”

Keith said: “I am delighted to be recognised by Resolution as a specialist in four areas after passing rigorous assessments of my knowledge, abilities and the manner in which I deal with family law cases.

“Upholding the Resolution code of practice is at the heart of the work I do and I’m proud to be part of an organisation working to transform the way that family law is practised.”

 

For more information visit www.bromleys.co.uk

 

A local charity is calling on people to get their affairs in order this March, and help raise vital funds to support patients across Greater Manchester.

The St Ann’s Hospice Will Week is an annual campaign, which sees dozens of kind hearted solicitors giving their time for free to help people make their Will. Instead of charging their usual fee, they are suggesting that supporters make a donation to the hospice.

Margaret Poole, a volunteer at St Ann’s Hospice, updated her Will during the campaign last year. She says “I’d been putting off changing my Will, like most people it just wasn’t something I wanted to think about.

“I had already made one, but after some changes in my family circumstances, I needed to update it. Seeing the leaflets for the St Ann’s Will Week prompted me to take part – it allowed me to make the changes I needed whilst supporting St Ann’s with a donation.

“I saw a solicitor who was local to me, they were really good and it was an easy process. To anyone who hasn’t made or recently updated their Will, I’d say you’ve got to think about these things. It’s not for you; it’s for those who you leave behind so you don’t leave them in a mess. It’s easy to let years go by, but it really is something everyone needs to think about.”

The St Ann’s Hospice Will Week is from March 11th to 15th. To take part or for information, please call the hospice on 0161 498 3631 or visit www.sah.org.uk/willweek

 

A Tameside charity which provides accommodation and work for previously homeless and unemployed people is set for a boost from Bromleys Solicitors.

Staff at the Tameside law firm have chosen Emmaus Mossley as their charity of the year for 2019.

Emmaus Mossley supports formerly homeless people by providing them with a home and work in a community setting. The charity runs a social enterprise from its base in Longlands Mill selling furniture, household goods, clothes, bric-a-brac and vintage items, including vinyl records and collectables.

Bromleys’ staff will hold a variety of fundraising activities during 2019 as well as supporting the organisation’s events and volunteering at its premises.

Gillian Nettleton, support worker at Emmaus Mossley, said: “It is a huge honour to be selected by Bromleys Solicitors as the firm’s charity of the year for 2019.

“The Emmaus Mossley community is looking forward to getting involved with staff from Bromleys and we are excited by what the partnership will achieve over the coming months.”

Jill Lomas, a receptionist at Bromleys and member of the firm’s charity committee, said: “We are committed to giving back to the community, and are delighted to be involved with Emmaus Mossley.

“We look forward to working with Gillian and her team in a variety of ways to raise funds, take part in events, help out at the centre and raise awareness about the wonderful work they do.”

Meanwhile Bromleys has handed over a cheque for £1010.47 to Francis House Children’s Hospice in Manchester, which was the firm’s charity of the year for 2018.

Francis House supports more than 460 children and young adults with life-limiting conditions and their families from across Greater Manchester.

 

Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Division, warned in his first ‘View from the President’s Chambers’, that he was concerned for the welfare of all those working in the family courts who are under “remorseless and relentless” pressure and who are “conscientiously continuing to deliver a professional service in a timely manner despite the increase in workload”.

From social workers and guardians to solicitors and judges, all those working in the family courts are painfully aware of the “adverse impact of the high volume of cases”. Sir Andrew outlined that there was little he could do to relieve the current pressures, but he specified that it would be unsustainable for professionals to endeavour to undertake “business as usual”.

He encouraged professionals and local judiciary to establish a dialogue to develop the guidelines and parameters of sensible and acceptable working practices. He suggested agreements could be made in relation to:

  • The earliest and latest court sitting times;
  • The earliest and latest it is acceptable to send an email to another lawyer or the court;
  • Reducing components expected in a ‘position statement’ to only one side of A4 using bullet points.

He acknowledged that, whilst professionals will always go the “extra mile” for the sake of the child, he hopes that they will find new ways to work together to cope with the continued increase of care cases issued at court.

Should you need any advice in relation to divorce or relationship breakdown, or any matters arising from those,  please do not hesitate to contact our expert Care Team on  0161 330 6821 or email:

 

Olivia Bell – obell@bromleys.co.uk

Lauren Mayer – lmayer@bromleys.co.uk

Kate Allsop – kallsop@bromleys.co.uk

Anthony Theakston – atheakston@bromleys.co.uk

Daniela Maggioni – dmaggioni@bromleys.co.uk

Keith Platts – kplatts@bromleys.co.uk