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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Tips For What To Consider Before Embarking On Divorce

No one gets married thinking they will ever get divorced. It’s a difficult time in anyone’s life and involves complex personal and practical issues. If you have reached the unfortunate conclusion that your marriage has come to an end, here are my top 4 tips to consider before you take steps towards divorce:

Dependency Claims for Fatal Accidents

Fatal accidents are traumatic for anyone related to a victim. Where that victim has dependents, the period following a fatal accident can be particularly trying as the surviving spouse or children are left to cope with both the emotional pain and the financial fallout of their loss.
Although there is statutory compensation for families known as bereavement damages under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, pay-outs are fixed at £11,800 and dependents may be able to claim for much greater sums depending on the circumstances.

Exposure to Asbestos Triggers Employer’s Liability Insurance

In 2012 the United Kingdom Supreme Court confirmed that employer’s insurance liability is triggered when an employee is exposed to asbestos, not when mesothelioma manifests itself. The case BAI (Run off) and Ors v Durham and Ors [2012] known as the employer’s liability ‘trigger’ case was yet another test case in an area of law which has fostered much protracted legal wrangling over many years. The long-awaited outcome of this decision has delayed the resolution of thousands of claims.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Parental Child Abductions Rising Fast

The number of parental child abductions is rising fast with the rate nearly doubling in the last decade. Recent figures released by the government have shown an increase of just under 88 per cent in the Foreign Office (FCO) data on parental child abductions since 2003. This is believed to underestimate the actual number however, as many cases go unreported.

It is thought that the rise reflects a lack of understanding of the law by members of the public rather than a deliberate attempt by estranged parents to flout it. The Foreign Office is launching a campaign to combat the issue.

How to Make the Most of Christmas Following a Divorce

At Rollingsons our family lawyers have dealt with many cases of divorce. As well as offering legal advice, we try to ensure that our service is sensitive to the emotional upheaval faced by our clients and their families.

Christmas time can be particularly difficult following divorce as individuals deal with the festive period on their own for the first time or children spend the holiday without the presence of both parents together. As the winter holiday season reaches its crescendo, feelings of isolation can be overwhelming for those faced with absences left by divorce.

To try and help keep this Christmas season bright, our family team has put together some tips based on their experiences of helping clients overcome the negative emotions associated with divorce.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Referral Fee Ban and Legal Cost Reforms Due in April 2013

The implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) in April will have a profound effect on access to justice. The Act which was passed in May 2012 and implemented on 3 December 2012 will bring an end to referral fees and contains cost reforms that will change the way many civil claims are funded.

Potential claimants should be aware of the changes, particularly if they may be eligible for Legal Aid or are considering the use of a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) to fund a claim.

Case Note: Hussain v Hussain and Aviva UK Insurance Limited

The Court of Appeal made an important judgement on 23 October in relation to the case of Hussain v Hussain and Another [2012]. The importance of the case rested on the weight given to the defendant’s previously fraudulent behaviour where there was suspicion that he had deliberately ‘staged’ a road traffic accident and the ‘very powerful inferences’ that this implied on the claimant.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Flexible Parental Leave Due in 2015

In November 2012 Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, announced plans to reform parental leave. The plans will mean that both parents could get to share up to one year of leave after their child is born.

The legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament next year to take effect some time in 2015. This is great news for fathers who want to spend time with their new born baby but for smaller businesses it could represent difficulties.

Case Note: FW Farnsworth v Lacey

Employers often include restrictive covenants in employment contacts to protect confidential information that relates to their business. The case of FW Farnsworth and another v Lacey and others [2012] concerned the operation of restrictive covenants in an employment contract that had not been signed by the employee.

In FW Farnsworth v Lacey the court had to decide whether or not the restrictive covenants were in fact enforceable by virtue of the employee’s actions in the absence of a signed contract.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Unreasonable Behaviour in the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Divorce’

There have been many types of normally private interaction that have been cited as unreasonable behaviour for the purposes of divorce. It is perhaps not surprising then that elements of the biggest phenomenon in recent pop culture have made their way into the divorce courts with the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Divorce’.

Although there are plenty of people who might not have read the book itself, it will have been hard to have avoided entirely the nature of its contents – sadomasochistic eroticism. So, what exactly has constituted unreasonable behaviour in the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Divorce’?

Big Payouts Not Appropriate for Pure Needs in Big Money Divorces

Recent tabloid headlines and divorce court history are littered with staggering payouts being handed to wives who have divorced their wealthy husbands. However, the ‘rules’ in these cases are far from clear and the attitude of the courts do appear to be shifting. The Law Commission is also in the process of carrying out a consultation on the matter of divorce settlements but a report will not be published until 2013.

Highlighting the evolution of judicial attitudes in this area are the recent comments by Lord Justice Thorpe in the Court of Appeal who suggested that big payouts in big money divorces unrelated to pure needs should be consigned to history.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Employment Law and Social Media

The use of social media by employees can bring both tremendous benefits and great difficulties to businesses. In the early days of social media, companies’ greatest concerns were focused on the loss of valuable work time to social networks during office hours. This focus has rapidly shifted as businesses have become more Internet savvy and have sought to use the power of social networks to generate new business.

Social media including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is now being used for sales, marketing, advertising, PR and recruitment as well as peoples’ social lives. Ensuring that company’s employment contracts and HR practices keep up is important to protect both employers and employees from falling foul of expectations.

Social Media and Non-solicitation Clauses

Social media is playing an increasingly important role in business relationships. Although social networks like Facebook and Twitter were treated with initial trepidation by employers wary of losing precious work time to the ether of the Internet, many businesses now embrace them as powerful marketing tools. Meanwhile, networking through LinkedIn has become a virtual must in industries such as recruitment.

There are many facets of social media that bring both benefits and pitfalls to the business environment. Business development practices are not excepted from this double-edged sword. Enabling employees to foster relationships with customers online as well as offline can make it very difficult to restrict those relationships if employees decide to move on to a competitor. Can non-solicitation causes keep up?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Restrictive Covenants in Employment Contracts

All companies have information about their business that they would like to prevent from falling into the hands of competitors. That information may include client contact details, internal systems and processes, strategic plans for the future or trade secrets.

There is no real way to guarantee that confidential information will never end up in the wrong hands. Even where breaching confidentiality might be illegal, information can still be leaked – think of the Swiss bank account details that have been leaked to tax authorities in various European countries. However, employers can use restrictive covenants in employment contracts to reduce the risks. If you are an employer this is certainly something you should consider.

2012 Race Discrimination Tribunal Awards Average £102,259

The publication of the Employment Tribunal annual statistics for the year ending 21 March 2012 has revealed some interesting compensation trends. The most eye-catching awards were made in relation to race discrimination with the average award coming in at £102,259. Although hefty on its own, it was dwarfed by the highest overall award for race discrimination which saw the maximum pay-out come in at a massive £4.5 million.

2012 Employment Tribunal – Claims and Complaint Trends

The Ministry of Justice has published the Employment Tribunal annual statistics for the year ending 21 March 2012 revealing some interesting trends. Most notably the number of claims making their way to employment tribunals has fallen by 15 per cent this year to 186,300.

Although the long term (10 year) trend has seen overall tribunal cases generally increasing, 2011/12 marks the second year in a row that the number of claims has fallen year on year since their peak in 2009/10.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Case Note: NHS Leeds v Larner [2012] – Payment in Lieu of Untaken Holidays

The Court of Appeal has determined that employees on long-term sick leave are entitled to carry over their statutory minimum leave to a later period. Additionally, for the purpose of terminating an individual’s employment, the untaken leave will entitle the employee to payment in lieu of that leave.
This has clarified an area of employment law where inconsistencies have existed for some time.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Employment Law – Termination of Employment

Termination of employment can happen in one of two ways - the employee can resign or the employee may be dismissed. In either case it can be a difficult decision for the employee, the employer or both and this area of law is heavily regulated to prevent abuses.

If an employee resigns he effectively gives up his rights as an employee so there are also safeguards in place to protect employees that feel pressurised into doing so or obliged to do so. These generally fall into a category of termination known as constructive dismissal.

Relaxation of Liquidity Requirements Adds to Competitive Pressures

  •  Fixed Rate Mortgages Keep Getting Cheaper

Ray Boulger of leading independent mortgage adviser John Charcol comments on Thursday’s standstill announcement from the MPC.

“Today’s no change decisions on both Bank Rate and Quantitative Easing were both wholly expected. The comment from HBOS’s former Chairman, Lord Stevenson, in a letter of 18 March 2008 to the Chairman of the FSA, published this week following his appearance at the Commission on Banking Standards, claiming just 6 months before HBOS had to be rescued was that its business was “boringly boring,” was clearly somewhat misleading, but these two words could very aptly be used to describe today’s announcement from the MPC.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Personal Injury Claims – Basic Principles

Personal injury claims often arise in complex circumstances. Although most claims will be founded in an area of law known as tort, they may also be borne out of a breach of contract. There are important differences in the way compensation for damages are assessed under each heading.

Aside from the differences between claims in tort and claims in contract there are also some general principles of law that apply to all claims, including personal injury.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Defamation – Libel and Slander

A defamatory statement is one that lowers a person’s character in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally or exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contempt.

If a defamatory statement is communicated or published it can lead to an action being brought for either libel or slander depending upon the means of communication. The remedies are slightly different in each case but the defences to both are similar.

Defamation - The Basics

The laws of defamation tend to receive most attention in relation to the media-celebrity relationship that dominates today’s news flow. There is no shortage of litigation passing through the English courts each year detailing lurid stories published in newspapers and allegations of defamation that follow in their wake.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Use of Trademarks For Online Marketing – Interflora v Marks & Spencer

Businesses using online advertising to attract new customers should ensure they are familiar with the law relating to trademarks. Tools such as Google AdWords can be a great way to market online while managing costs but care must be taken to avoid abusing trademarks belonging to others and to protect trademarks that belong to you.

Trade Mark Registration

Registering your trade mark at the Intellectual Property Office can bring significant benefits to your business. It gives you exclusive rights to use your mark for the business, goods and services that it covers in the UK. Registration lasts for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely.

The use of the registered symbol discourages others from using your trade mark without permission and registration makes it easier to take legal action against anyone that does. Charges may also be brought against counterfeiters by the Trading Standards authorities or the Police.

Ownership of Intellectual Property

Many disputes arise out of ownership issues relating to intellectual property. Ownership issues affect all parties, large and small; from self-employed individuals, to small businesses to multinationals. Although the media focus tends to be on large disputes worth billions of dollars, such as Apple’s recent battle with Samsung, small businesses can be a fertile breeding ground for litigation.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Understanding Consumer Rights Online

Any business that sells to consumers should ensure that is fully aware of the rules protecting its customers. This is particularly important for the swathe of new online businesses that have started trading recently. Given the nature of online transactions, consumers have been given considerable rights to ensure that they get a fair deal from businesses that they may never come into physical contact with.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Making Interest Rate Swap Claims

The latest scandal to engulf the banks is the mis-selling of Interest Rate Swaps or Base Rate Swaps to small businesses. Affected businesses may be entitled to a refund of premiums, a refund of exit fees and substantial damages.

Massive Mis-selling of Financial Products to Small Businesses

Banking scandals never seem to be far from the front pages of newspapers these days. The mis-selling of financial products to consumers by banks has been widely reported. The payment protection insurance scandal has engulfed banks for months now with millions of pounds being paid out in compensation.