Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ridley & Hall Part with their Teddies to Support the Huddersfield Town Foundation

Huddersfield Town foundation is a registered charity which is making a difference to the lives of children and young people in our community.

As part of our work within the community, Ridley & Hall approached the charity earlier this month to find out what events we as a firm could take part in.

One forthcoming event was a Twenty20 cricket match held at Armitage Bridge on Sunday 21st July 2013 and they were collecting teddy bears to be used on the tombola stall.

As a loyal Town fan and keen charity supporter, Laura Dandridge, Administrative Assistant, co-ordinated the collection at Ridley & Hall. As a firm, we managed to collect a variety of teddy bears which are pictured below. The event itself was a huge success raising £1,358.55 for the charity.

The main cricket event was between ex-Huddersfield town players, staff and guests including two from Coronation Street! The day also included the LV=Britannia Rescue Under-9s Twenty20 tournament and other stalls such as cupcakes, a birds of prey attraction, face painting and souvenirs. Laura, who also attended the Twenty20 cricket match said “Luckily the weather stayed dry all day and it was great to be a part of. I am looking forward to doing more charity work in the future.”

Inheritance Disputes – The Dementia Timebomb

In the UK some 800,000 people are living with dementia; over 64,000 in our region.  Rising property prices, the baby boom and the wealth of the over 50’s have led to an increase in inheritance disputes where it is argued that the person who has made a will did not have the mental capacity to do so, usually as a result of dementia.

Inheritance disputes are often expensive to litigate but when the stakes are high, two recent cases illustrate the lengths that family members will go to, when arguing over a will.

In a recent case Constance Simon, a mother of 4 made her last will at her 88th birthday party in 2005.  She died in January 2009 at the age of 91 and left 3 surviving adult children, her eldest son Jonathan, another son Robert and his twin sister Hilary.  Her assets at the time of her death included a house in St John’s Wood, North West London valued at the time at £1.7 million and a flat in Westcliffe on Sea, Essex worth £262,500.

Her will was challenged by Robert who claimed that his siblings had coerced his mother into changing her will (which originally gave him most of the estate because he had helped run the family business).

From about 2000, before the onset of serious mental decline, Mrs Simon lived with Robert and his wife Michelle.  Prior to that in 1996 she had made a will in his favour, but in December 2005 at her 88th birthday party she made her final will.  Robert did not attend that birthday party – Hilary and Jonathan were there and the will was prepared and executed without Mrs Simon being medically examined and without a solicitor being present.

In court Robert accused his siblings of “sinister and reprehensible” behaviour.  The judge said that as Hilary and Jonathan had benefited from the changes at the expense of Robert. He had been bound to approach the issue of knowledge of the new will and its approval with care, but he did find the evidence of Hilary and Jonathan and other witnesses to be “truthful and substantially accurate”. He rejected the accusations of sinister behaviour in finding that Mrs Simon knew that her existing will did not favour her children and their families equally and wished to execute a will that did so.

Robert’s argument was that the will was invalid because at the time that it was made his mother was suffering from mild to moderate dementia and therefore lacked mental capacity to make a valid will.  Interestingly the judge agreed that Mrs Simon “was not capable of remembering her reasons for preferring Robert in her previous will, or its terms” but he went on to find that to rule that Mrs Simon did not have testamentary capacity “would be inconsistent with the authorities that support the right of elderly people to make a will disposing of their property as they see fit, even if their mental faculties are far from being at their peak.”

The judge went on to say that there “must be many legal cases in which people could no longer remember all the circumstances relevant to the division of their property between the people they wish to benefit.”  His view was that there might be cases where it may be necessary for a testator to understand the different provisions of an earlier will but “this is not such a case.”

Judgement was handed down in this case on 29th May 2013.  Permission to appeal was refused.

Another case which is still ongoing could turn on whether a senior judge finds that Daphne Jeffrey was well enough to enjoy a trip to Wimbledon in July 2007 to see Venus Williams win her 4th title at the Wimbledon women’s final.

The bitter dispute is between Mrs Jeffrey’s two sons Andrew, 50, and Nick, 54.

Nick, who inherited most of his mother’s estate, says that she remained “a delightful old lady” and a “shrewd business woman” right up to the end of her life.  His case is that his mother made a rational decision to cut his brother out of her will after she fell out with him in an argument about the family insurance broking business that they ran together.

Andrew claims that his mother was addicted to prescription drugs, had mental health problems and was very unwell when she wrote him out of her final will two days before the visit to Wimbledon.

Daphne Jeffery died in 2010 aged 77 and left an estate worth approximately £500,000.

Nick Jeffrey’s wife Nicola gave evidence supporting her husband and said that on the day of the trip to the Wimbledon championships her mother in law, who was a keen tennis fan, was in good physical and mental health; “She drove us to Wimbledon and had no problems driving.  We met her husband David outside the centre court … she was fine.  We were there the whole day.  I had no concerns about her at all.  It was a very hot day and our seats were in direct sunlight and we sat there the whole day.”

Andrew Jeffrey claimed that his mother had in fact shown signs of unusual debilitation that day which cast doubt on her soundness of mind when she signed her new will.  He is seeking a declaration that his mother’s will was invalid and that she died intestate; if he is successful then his mother’s estate will be split equally between himself and his older brother.

Dementia is not always easily or quickly diagnosed and in a report recently published by the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia 2013, The Hidden Voice of Loneliness, a key finding was that only 44% of people with dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have a diagnosis.  This has increased just 3% from last year.

When someone makes a will, if they instruct a solicitor then that solicitor should carry out a capacity assessment to determine whether the person has testamentary capacity – that is, sufficient mental capacity to make a will.  The test is set down in the case of Banks v Goodfellow, a case from 1870 which held that it was essential that “a testator shall understand the nature of the act and its effects; shall understand the extent of the property of which he is disposing; shall be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims which he ought to give effect; and, with a view to the latter object, that no disorder of the mind shall poison his affections, pervert his sense of right or prevent the exercise of his natural faculties – that no insane delusion shall influence his will in disposing of his property and bring about a disposal of it which, if the mind had been sound, would not have been made.”

This case continues to be relevant even since the passing of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The courts are, generally speaking, very reluctant to set aside a will – it is the last known expressed wishes of the deceased and a judge must be satisfied by the evidence on the balance of probability (i.e. be more than 50% sure that the will is not valid, before it will be set aside).

Very few cases are fought out at trial and each case turns on its own facts so it’s vital not to read too much into case law.  That said it is likely that in the future judges and solicitors will increasingly be presented with cases where it will be argued that the person making a will lacked the mental capacity to do so.  A diagnosis of dementia does not necessary mean that an individual lacks the capacity to make a will.  But it is vital that to protect the will as far as possible, steps should be taken if there is any doubt about capacity including a medical assessment and will advice from a solicitor accredited by Solicitors for the Elderly.

Those seeking to challenge a will after the death of a loved one should consider very carefully what evidence there is in support of the claim and seek advice from a specialist in contentious probate law.

Sarah Young is a Partner with Ridley and Hall solicitors. She specialises in contentious probate and personal injury. Sarah has an LLM in Personal Injury Law and has a record of bringing the most complex cases to a successful conclusion.

For further information please contact Sarah Young of Ridley and Hall, Queens House, 35 Market Street, Huddersfield HD1 2HL on 01484 538421, 07860 165850 or by e-mail.

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Financial Update in the Family Court

Generally, the courts within divorce cases deal with pensions.  They deal with them by way of a pension sharing order, or a pension attachment order.  The other alternative is for the court to look at giving more of the other assets to a husband or wife within divorce.

However, the Pensions Ombudsman has recently dealt with a complaint by a wife, Mrs McNicholas, against Scottish Widows.

Mr McNicholas’ pension was with Scottish Widows.  During negotiations between solicitors and financial advisers, Scottish Widows produced a calculation of the value of the pension as being £608,436.74.  Mr and Mrs McNicholas were able to agree how to divide their assets, and the court made an order by consent that the pension would be shared.  This means that money was transferred from Scottish Widows to a pension fund that Mrs McNicholas had set up with Legal & General.  By the time the transfer was put into effect, the Scottish Widows pension had increased in value to £622,946.  £311,473 was transferred to Legal & General, to put into effect the terms of the order.

Scottish Widows then contacted Mrs McNicholas saying that they had calculated the pension value in error, and that she should have received £213,847.  They indicated that they were going to request Legal & General to return £97,626 to them.

Mrs McNicholas complained to the Pensions Ombudsman who upheld Mrs McNicholas’ complaint.  They found that the injustice to Mrs McNicholas in returning the money was far greater than the injustice to Scottish Widows who had made the error in the first place.  They also ordered Scottish Widows to pay £250 to Mrs McNicholas for the distress and anxiety that had been caused to her.

Pensions are a complicated area of financial provision within divorce and civil partnership dissolution.  When funds are large, husbands and wives often instruct actuaries to value a pension.  Sometimes funds are valued lower by the pension company themselves for all sorts of reasons – including where pension funds are in deficit, as the pension company is trying to protect the other pension pots.

Here at Ridley & Hall LLP, we can offer comprehensive advice on pensions within divoce and civil partnership dissolution.

Please contact the Family team on 01484 538421 for more information.

Landmark Ruling for Family and Friends Carers

In a landmark case with wide ranging implications for all local authorities who pay less to family and friends carers,  the Court of Appeal has ruled that kinship foster carers should be entitled to all the support and benefits as unrelated foster carers.

Rebecca Chapman of Ridley & Hall Solicitors, solicitor for the aunt who brought the case explained why the decision was so important:
“Since 2001 family and friends carers should have been paid the basic fostering allowance as unrelated carers. This payment only covers the basic cost of looking after a child. But most local authorities pay their own foster carers significantly more than this basic sum.”

“This can be a very large sum. In this case the kinship carer received around £600 per week to care for three disabled children, whereas an unrelated foster carer would have received over £1200 per week to care for the same children. North Yorkshire pays a premium to foster carers of between £46 to £81.82 per week which family and friends carers cannot receive. Blackburn with Darwen pays an additional £56 per week per child which is not immediately available to family and friends carers.

Kinship carers are now entitled to request the local authority to provide training and access to the fee scheme. Many local authorities operate schemes where unrelated foster carers can apply for extra fees for the children they care for due to their skills or qualifications. Kinship carers now can have access to training to allow them to develop the skills and qualifications in order that they can receive the increased fees.

In the case an aunt was looking after 3 very disabled children, who had previously been cared for by unrelated foster carers. Unfortunately the previous placements broke down due to the demands of the children and Tower Hamlets approached the aunt as a last resort to keep the children together.

The local authority recognised that the care and support provided by the aunt could not be replicated elsewhere but they refused to pay her the same as an unrelated foster carer. She did receive an enhancement on the fostering allowance due to the needs of the children but she was only entitled to half the allowance as she was a kinship carer. Unrelated foster carers would have received the full allowance. Altogether the aunt received around half the amount of money an unrelated foster carer would have received even though she was succeeding to care for the children were previous foster carers had failed.

Initially the aunt took Tower Hamlets to judicial review where the court found that they were wrong to discriminate between kinship carers and unrelated foster carers. Tower Hamlets appealed the decision. The appeal was heard and the judges gave their verdict on the same day. The appeal was dismissed with the detailed reasons to follow.

It was clear that where the Secretary of State provides guidance that there should be equity of provision and entitlement that the guidance should be followed unless there are good reasons for not doing so. The guidance in this case included Family and friends carers: statutory guidance

The aunt said:

“I am really pleased that I am now finally eligible for the same benefits and fees as an unrelated foster carers. This is now much fairer as before I was doing the same job as an unrelated foster carer without the benefits, the only difference was that I succeeded where the other carers did not.”

Rebecca Chapman said:

“It has been a long battle but I am absolutely delighted for my client. This means that she can now be treated equally compared to unrelated foster carer so she should be able to receive the same fees and training. This will have an enormous impact on my client as she will have enough money to be able to continue to care for the three very demanding children.”

It will also have an impact on other local authorities as they will have to make the same fees, rewards and training available to kinship carers. I am already aware of several local authorities who will have to change their policies in light of this decision.”

If you would like anymore information please contact Rebecca Chapman at Ridley & Hall Solicitors on 01484 538421 or by e-mail.

The Green Deal – Is your home at risk of overheating?

The BBC News Website this week reported :-

“Temperatures could soar to dangerously high levels in some homes insulated under the government’s flagship Green Deal scheme, experts have warned.

Energy-saving measures designed to save on winter fuel bills and protect the environment could pose a risk to health during summer heatwaves, they add.

The government says it is aware of the problem and is taking steps to prevent overheating in Green Deal properties.

Homes in densely populated urban areas such as London are most at risk.

Heat can build up during the day and has nowhere to escape at night leading to poor air quality and a greater risk of heat stress for the occupants which, in extreme cases, can kill.

Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, said it was vital that homes in the UK better insulated to help meet carbon emission targets and save on winter fuel bills.


But he said the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the “big rush to insulate and make homes airtight”, particularly as more extreme weather events, including heatwaves, are being predicted for the UK by meteorologists.

“Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand. It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big,” he told the BBC News website.

Research by Professor Goodier and Prof Li Shao, of Leicester De Montfort University, suggests top floor flats in 1960s tower blocks, and modern detached houses were most at risk, particularly if they were south facing.

Heat was likely to have the biggest impact on elderly or infirm people who remained at home all day, the research suggests.

“If you are in the wrong type of house, facing the wrong way, in the wrong street and you don’t deal with heat in the right way, it is a problem,” said Prof Goodier.

“Particularly for the elderly. They are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating.”

Under the Green Deal, householders take out loans to finance improvements such as double-glazing, loft insulation or more efficient boilers. The idea is that the energy savings they make should more than compensate for the repayments.

According to research by a group of leading engineering and climate change experts, published last year, “Green Deal measures could create new problems in the future, with inappropriately insulated properties experiencing poor indoor air quality and significant summer overheating.”

‘Complex problem’

It said the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves could lead to rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 “if action was not taken”.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change says it has now issued fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce potential risk from installing energy efficiency measures – as part of a broader plan to deal with the effects of climate change, published on Tuesday.

But Prof Goodier said it was not always possible to predict which houses were most at risk from overheating, saying: “The problem for DECC and the Green Deal assessors is that is such a complex problem.”

He said there were simple measures anyone could take – whether living in a well-insulated home or not – to keep heat levels down, such as keeping windows closed during the day to trap cool air and opening them at night.

Fitting shutters to windows and painting exterior walls white – both common sights in Mediterranean countries – would also help, but were unlikely to be widely adopted in the UK due to the relative rarity of heatwaves.


Anastasia Mylona, adaptation science officer at UKCIP, an organisation based at Oxford University which carries out research into mitigating the effects of climate change, said there was a danger of “over-insulating for the winter” in the UK.

“The crucial thing we are looking at, at the moment, is government initiatives such as the Green Deal,
“They are taking very effective measures to protect against winter temperatures but by doing that they increase the risk of overheating.”

She added: “We have repeatedly spoken to Decc, through the university, and we have presented various research results which show it is a risk. I think they are starting to realise that this is a problem.”

In a statement, the department said: “DECC is working with experts and other government departments to understand the potential risk of overheating in retrofitted homes and ensure that the energy efficiency supply chain, including those working within the Green Deal, are aware and guidance is provided on homes which are most likely to be vulnerable and what steps could be taken to minimise any risk of overheating.”

Only four people have signed up to the Green Deal since it was launched six months ago but DECC says that number is expected to increase with more finance in place.

In total it said there had been 38,259 Green Deal assessments, where customers are given initial advice about what energy improvements they might be eligible for.

Of those, 241 households have confirmed they would like to proceed with work.”

We are clearly not used to thinking of ‘Britain’ and ‘heatwave’ in the same sentence but in light of this week’s summer sizzler, with temperatures reaching nearly 50 degrees at Centre Court in the men’s singles finals at Wimbledon, this revelation is certainly food for thought.

As with any works to be undertaken to your home, thought should be given to all pros and cons and perhaps this most unexpected of cons, remarks Liz Wallis of Ridley & Hall LLP.

Ridley & Hall in Final Preparation for the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10km

Ridley & Hall Solicitors are participating in the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k on Sunday 14th July. They are running for MacMillan Cancer Support – their Charity of the Year for 2013/14.

Ten hardy souls have volunteered to take part in this year’s race having braved the varying weather over the past few weeks as part of their strict training regime.

If you would like to support us on the day, the race starts at 9:30am on Sunday 14th July in Leeds Millenium Square.

If you would like to sponsor us, please feel free to go to our JustGiving webpage. Alternatively, if you would prefer, you can donate money our reception.

We would like to thank everyone who has already donated to such a wonderful cause.

Casa Gelato are partnering us on this. Stewart Proctor is running with us on 14th July and they have kindly put on a free coffee day on Wednesday 10th July. If you would like a coffee from their shop you can have one free of charge. If you wish to make a donation then all proceeds will go to MacMillan Cancer Support. For more information on the free coffee day, please phone Casa Gelato on 01484 548835.