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Friday, 28 February 2014

Law Commission: Pre-Nuptial Agreements Should be Binding

The Law Commission has completed its report on matrimonial property, needs and agreements. The headline-grabbing conclusion is that pre-nuptial agreements should be binding in divorce cases.

It has traditionally been the case that English courts have ignored pre-nuptial agreements but this approach was significantly undermined by the Radmacher divorce hearing in 2010.

The Law Commission has set out to bring clarity to the divorce laws to help the general public better understand them and to ensure that the laws are applied more consistently across different areas of the country.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Grounds for divorce

In order to apply for a divorce, you need to have been married for at least a year and your marriage must be legally recognised within the United Kingdom.

You then need to prove that there has been an irretrievable and permanent breakdown of your marriage, meaning that your marriage effectively no longer exists and that reconciliation is impossible.

In order to do this, you have to prove that the one or more of the following five scenarios applies:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable Behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation without consent

Friday, 14 February 2014

Case Note: Hotel Cipriani SRL and others v Fred 250 Ltd – ‘Own Name’ Defence Narrowly Defined

The High Court revisited the principles underlying the ‘own name’ defence to trademark infringement in the recent decision of Hotel Cipriani Srl vs. Fred 250 Ltd [2013]. Following this case anyone thinking of using their own name as a defence to trademark infringement should be aware that the courts will construe it very narrowly if there is a historical or family connection between the parties.

Preventing and Dealing with Child Abduction

We outlined in a previous article how parental child abduction is on the rise and that incidents of parental child abduction increase around holiday periods. A vivid warning was provided by the widely publicised recent child abduction carried out by Saleem Tahir of Nottingham who kidnapped his two children from a hotel in Stoke on Trent just before Christmas 2013.

This issue is a serious concern for both parents and authorities so an increasing amount of information and advice is becoming available. The police, in collaboration with the government-supported organisation, Reunite, have issued guidelines to assist those who consider their children at risk of abduction. The full advice can be viewed here; a summary is set out below.

If an abduction has already taken place, parents should contact the police immediately.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

JP Morgan Regulatory Fines Near $20bn In 12 Months

JP Morgan has been breaking dubious records recently as it pays the price for its role in the financial crisis and related scandals. Despite complaints of unfairness by CEO Jamie Dimon at the World Economic Forum in Davos, there is likely to be little public sympathy either here or in the US.

Over the last 12 months JP Morgan has faced a slew of legal claims from the US Justice Department and others which has resulted in record settlements being made by the bank. The latest is a $2bn agreement related to allegations against JP Morgan concerning Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Divorce and finances

Contrary to the myth, there is no rule that married couples should split their assets 50:50, and if there are children involved they will be the most important thing to consider when it comes to organizing a financial settlement. It’s important not to get immersed in constant financial dispute, or get weighed down by lengthy negotiations. Here is an overview of the process to determine financial settlements through divorce.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Obtaining a Protective Cost Order for Richard III’s Relatives

Starting a legal case in the full knowledge that you will not be liable for the other side’s legal costs whether you win or lose is certainly an attractive idea for claimants. Sadly though protective cost orders (PCOs) are not available to ordinary litigants but are preserved for judicial review cases where there is a public interest at stake.

The issue of protective cost orders came to prominence most recently when distant relatives of King Richard III challenged the decision to bury his remains in Leicester. The Plantagenet Alliance has sought to have the remains buried in York instead and brought a judicial review claim against the Ministry of Justice.

In an early hearing Mr Justice Haddon-Cave ruled that the Plantagenet Alliance should be granted a protective cost order.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Before considering surrogacy overseas do your research, advises FCO

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is today encouraging prospective parents to seek professional legal advice before entering into surrogacy arrangements abroad.

British Embassies and High Commissions are dealing with an increasing number of people who are choosing international surrogacy as an alternative route to parenthood, with more and more parents heading to the US, India, Ukraine and Georgia to enter into surrogacy arrangements.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Bizarre Employee Misconduct: Delegating Your Lawn Mowing to a Colleague

If one were to survey employers about the various forms of misconduct they have seen in their workforce there would no doubt be some eyebrow raising incidents that popped up. A recent case involving a nurse from Basildon Hospital in Essex gained widespread media attention for not just one strange alleged incident but for whole host of alleged activities that must have shocked bosses and other workers when it came to light.

The case has highlighted the sometimes bizarre nature of employee misconduct and also the possibility that improper behaviour may go unnoticed for quite some time. It also demonstrates the importance of employers remaining vigilant to misconduct by their employees, particularly if it affects the wellbeing of other workers or the reputation of the organisation.

Where misconduct is uncovered, it is vital that employers follow disciplinary procedures carefully and take action without unreasonable delay.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Transsexual Discrimination in the Workplace

The Equality Act 2010 has brought a much needed focus to discrimination in the workplace. Certain forms of discrimination such as sex and race discrimination have long been protected by specific pieces of legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976.

In the last decade more has been done to stamp out harmful discrimination in all its forms culminating in the broadly constructed Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act protects against discrimination relating to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Transsexual discrimination has rarely been tested but late in 2013 a transsexual police officer brought a tribunal claim against the Essex Police force.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

London’s Libel Tourism Finds its Limits

London has a great reputation for many positive attributes including culture, fashion and respect for the rule of law. Although the average layperson might not see the last of those as fitting with ‘London, New York, Paris’ moniker in quite the same way as the others, it is still an important asset that puts London ahead of many of its peers.

One unintended consequence of this legal prowess, which is not quite so positive, has been the development of ‘libel tourism’ whereby wealthy foreigners come to London to take advantage of our somewhat draconian libel laws, often to silence critics. They do so in the knowledge that the English courts rely on precedent when considering the facts of each case meaning arbitrary judgements based on interpretive views of the wider circumstances are less likely.

Despite this reputation for reliability in the field of libel, the High Court has recently demonstrated that it has reached its limits when it comes to accepting dubious foreign claimants. New legislation in the form of the Defamation Act 2013 should also help repel such unwelcome visitors in the future.

These MPC Meetings Are Getting Even More Boring!

Swap Rates and Fixed Rate Pricing Starts to Diverge

So does Fixed and Variable Rate Pricing

Ray Boulger, of leading independent mortgage adviser, John Charcol, comments on today’s statement from the MPC and the mortgage and housing markets.

Age Discrimination in Redundancy Payments

Age is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Individuals cannot therefore be discriminated against due to their age meaning that they cannot be treated less favourably than another person due to an age difference.

An important proviso exists to this rule however whereby an individual or organisation will not discriminate against a person on grounds of age if their treatment of that person is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Computer Glitches, Free Money and Consumer Rights

The fantasy of free money spewing out of cash machines or online shopping offers that promise unlimited amounts of free goods do occasionally turn into reality. The imposition of computer programmes on virtually every facet of our lives means that the opportunity for glitches to create such cheerful errors is abundant.

Although these occurrences are undoubtedly a pleasant surprise at the time, the old saying that it’s too good to be true ought to spring to mind pretty quickly. Consumers are generally well protected from businesses that try to exploit them but it doesn’t mean that businesses have no protection when it comes to erroneous generosity on their part; their terms of business play an important role in their protection.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Politics, the Press and Your Privacy Rights

In the pitched battle between politicians and the press at the end of 2013 advocates of greater regulation drew heavily upon examples of individual privacy intrusion by certain newspapers.

However, the average individual following events may well have been forgiven for thinking that individual privacy concerns were pushed into the background by something that resembled more of a power struggle between two pillars of the state.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Dress Codes in the Workplace

There is no doubt that dress codes in the workplace have become more relaxed compared to the late 20th Century. Quite how relaxed they are depends of course on the employer and the type of employment - the likes of US tech companies formed the vanguard of casual office dressing decades ago but City lawyers are still unlikely to be seen visiting clients wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

There are limited legal rules governing what is or is not appropriate in a given work environment but without a clear policy it is easy for even the well versed to get things wrong. A light-hearted approach to dress code guidance for trainee lawyers was recently withdrawn by a major City law firm after the powers that be deemed it to contain misplaced humour.

With the potential for disagreements between employers and employees, even casual dress codes need serious thought.