Monthly Archives: December 2013

Family Law Secretary – Huddersfield Office

Due to the recent launch our new Family First service, offering a range of family law support packages aimed at different levels to suit all budgets, we are looking to recruit a family law secretary.

Based in our central Huddersfield office, we are seeking an experienced legal secretary who has had exposure to working in a demanding and fast paced environment to join our family team. Legal secretarial experience within family law is essential, as is excellent typing, the ability to communicate with clients, good organisational skills, software skills and knowledge of digital dictation. We can be flexible on the hours worked, although full time staff work a 35-hour week.

If you are interested in this role, please email your CV and a covering letter stating your current salary to our Managing Partner, Adam Fletcher. No recruitment agencies please.

Clare’s Law

Clare Wood was a 36 year old woman who died in 2009, having being murdered by her partner, George Appleton.  She had been subjected to threats and he had been arrested for beating her door down.

Clare’s Law, named after Clare Wood, rolls out from March 2014.  It enables members of the public to check police records to see if someone  has been violent in the past.  The people who are able to ask for this information are people who are in an intimate relationship and who are concerned that the other  person may cause harm, or a concerned third party, such as a parent or neighbour;.

There is a lot of debate in the media about how effective Clare’s Law will be in tackling domestic violence.   Concern has been expressed that the request for information will only come when a relationship has already been formed, and it is difficult to judge how women will deal with the information they receive.  Vicky Medd, senior solicitor at Ridley & Hall stated “More work needs to be done to educate young people about what is acceptable behaviour from a partner.  Domestic violence is a serious problem with victims, men and women, feeling trapped, not knowing which way to turn.  Whilst it is good that the government are instigating Clare’s Law, more funding should be made available to prevent domestic violence from occurring in the first place.”

If you require any advice about the services available to you, please contact Vicky Medd on 01484 538421 or by e-mail.

G8 Discusses Dementia Today… Kirklees is One Step Ahead

At today’s G8 Dementia Summit, the Alzheimers Society Chief Executive, Jeremy Hughes, is anticipated to pledge at least £100million to dementia research over the next decade and David Cameron is to announce doubling the UK’s annual funding. This is the first time a Prime Minister has used the presidency of the G8 to take action on a single disease. It is hoped that the package of announcements to be made by the UK government will set an example to other G8 nations in international research efforts.

Adam Fletcher, chair of the Kirklees Local Dementia Action Alliance (KLDAA) and Managing Partner at Ridley & Hall commented “Today hopefully marks the dawn of a new era in dementia care and awareness. Whilst today’s announcement is clearly welcomed, the level of funding committed is still significantly lower than that committed to cancer research and care. According to the Alzheimers Society, 8 times more money is spent researching cancer than dementia. Recent statistics have revealed a sharp rise in the number of people living with dementia globally. Dementia is without doubt the largest social care and health challenge worldwide. Globally, 44 million people have dementia but no statistics are available about the number of carers and the challenges they face.”

Kirklees is taking a lead on raising the awareness of people living with dementia with a focus to improving the lives of people with dementia in the borough and is to officially launch the Kirklees Local Dementia Action Alliance in Spring 2014.

Adam went on to add, “Whilst we have little control over international policy and we are a relatively small region, I am encouraged by the individuals and organisations within Kirklees who are working tirelessly towards our community becoming dementia-friendly. As a small step, I would encourage everyone to become a dementia friend, which is an Alzheimers Society initiative launched by the Prime Minister in November 2012.”

If you care about people living with dementia, your organisation has an interest in helping to make life better for those living with dementia, or if your staff interact with or care for people with dementia, the KLDAA may be able to help you. For more information, please contact Adam Fletcher or Helen Webster on Huddersfield (01484) 558863 or 558878.

ITV News Interviews Nigel Priestley about Carers’ Rights

On Carers’ Rights Day (29th November) Nigel Priestley was interviewed by ITV Calendar News about the rights of family & friend carers and how many are treated by local authorities.

Nigel, senior partner at Huddersfield law firm Ridley & Hall and Grandparents Legal Centre, along with Anna Jackson from the support group Carers Resource were interviewed by John Shires and Kate Walby about the Local Government Ombudsman’s damning report (‘Family Values’) on the unfair treatment by local authorities of family & friend carers.

The full interview can be seen here:

For more information about family & friend carers’ rights or to discuss any other aspect of kinship care, please contact Grandparents Legal Centre by telephone, 0843 289 7130, or by e-mail.

Young Divorce – Lessons to Learn From a Bitter Divorce

The bitter and acrimonious case of Scot Young may not yet be over, despite the High Court ruling in November 2013 that Michelle Young be awarded £20 million.

The judge said that he felt sympathy for the children of the family after 7 years of bitter feuding between the parents had been played out in public.  Michelle Young had asked for £6.5 million towards her divorce costs, but the Judge awarded £5 million, saying that Michelle Young had duplicated costs by going to 13 different firms of solicitors, and 4 different accountants who between them dealt with over 65 different court hearings.

Michelle Young alleged that her former husband, Scot Young had tried to hide billions of pounds from her within the divorce proceedings.  Mr Young had been jailed for contempt of court for failing to comply with an order that required him to provide personal financial documentation.  The judge disagreed with the extent to which Mr Young had covered up his financial arrangements, but did accept that he had tried to hide a lot of assets from his wife.

The judge has ordered Mr Young to pay £20 million to his former wife within 28 days, on the basis that he had some liquid assets in 2008 to pay them.  If he breaches the order, Michelle Young will no doubt have to apply back to the court to enforce the order.

The judge criticised both parties, saying “I have to be highly critical of the way in which the case has been conducted at various times by both parties. In many respects, this is about as bad an example of how not to litigate as any I have ever encountered.”

Divorce is always difficult, and emotions run high, and for most people, the sums of money involved in this case are mind boggling.  However, the judge criticised both the husband and wife in this case.  Mr Young was criticised for attempting to hide the true scale of his wealth, and Mrs Young was criticised for seeing conspiracies everywhere.  Vicky Medd, an experienced family solicitor said “It is the job of the family lawyer to help guide clients through the process, and to try and help them concentrate on their future, rather than allowing emotions and a lack of trust to guide them in their decision making now.  This hopefully ensures that legal costs are kept to a minimum and that the process is relatively short.  The stresses that separating couples undergo as a result of the separation are bad enough, without long, expensive and fraught court proceedings making things worse.”

Vicky Medd is a Family Solicitor and Mediator at Ridley & Hall LLP. She can be contacted on 01484 538421 or via e-mail.

Bought a Property This Year?

Are you still affected by potential chancel repair liability?

Chancel repair liability is an ancient interest benefiting many parochial church councils in England and Wales. Owners of former rectorial land may be obliged to meet the cost of repairing the church chancel.  Frequently, property to which the liability originally attached will have been divided into many separate ownerships, but each individual owner (and potentially any tenants) may be liable for the whole cost of any repairs.

Completed your purchase before 13th October 2013?

Your property, and therefore you, may still find yourself potentially liable for chancel repair.  You may have undertaken a chancel check in advance of your completion date to ascertain whether there is a potential liability associated with the property.   In any event, your property may still be at risk of the church registering an entry in your title registers at Land Registry to note the property owner’s obligation to contribute towards chancel repairs.  Should this happen in advance of any subsequent sale, your buyer will have take the property subject to such liability.

The liability will, however, be extinguished on the first transaction for value, ie, a sale, following 13th October 2013, provided the church has not in the interim registered the obligation on the property’s title deeds, but this may well be some time from now.

Generally insurance can be obtained to cover the potential risk of liability although it can be expected that premiums will be lower whilst there is no registered liability against the property’s title.

Completed your purchase after 13th October 2013?

Any potential chancel repair liability is extinguished following the first transaction for valuable consideration after 12th October 2013, provided there is no notice on the property’s title indicating there is such a liability.  In these circumstances your property will free and clear of any potential liability for chancel repair.

If you have purchased property recently, your conveyancers should have provided you with an opportunity to undertake the chancel check to ascertain a property’s liability in advance of completion but clearly if you have purchased after 13th October 2013 and your conveyancer has not indicated any note on the property as to chancel repair liability, you will have escaped future liability.

If you are not sure whether you are affected, we would invite you to contact Liz Wallis, Alison Mason or Adam Fletcher who can discuss your concerns.

New ‘Guardianship’ Law to Help Families of Missing People

The Presumption of Death Act, which received royal assent in May 2013, put in place the legal framework to enable families of someone who has gone missing to obtain a certificate of presumed death.  That certificate will help families deal with the many legal and financial issues that arise when a person is missing and will be equivalent to a death certificate.  It replaces the current patchwork of legal provisions that can be a very difficult minefield for families to navigate and will come into force in April 2014.

The Act has one major defect however – identified by the Chief Executive of charity Missing People, Jo Youle;

“The absence of “guardianship” provisions means that families currently face a huge ordeal in managing their missing loved one’s affairs.  Ongoing direct debits can drain a missing person’s bank account, some families are forced to pay both halves of a joint mortgage and some families risk losing their homes.”

In response, the government has put forward a proposal to create a new power of guardianship.  The proposals would allow a guardian to be appointed who can manage the missing person’s property and affairs. If they are implemented as planned in April 2014, these provisions will make a significant difference to the families of missing people in the months and sometimes years after someone has gone missing. At present they have no way to make alternative arrangements until their loved one can be presumed dead.

Jo Youle added:

“We look forward to working with families and other partners following this very positive announcement to help ensure the most efficient system for families facing significant practical and financial challenges alongside the distress of a disappearance.”

There is some concern amongst legal practitioners that the procedures under the new Act will be more expensive than at present as a hearing will be required in front of a High Court Judge.  Sarah Young, Partner at Ridley & Hall solicitors in Huddersfield, comments:

“Over the last year I have obtained four ‘leave to swear death’ orders for the families of people that have gone missing.  It’s not always a straightforward process but it does have the advantage that the case is dealt with on the papers alone; no court hearing is required. Once the new Act is in force, in April 2014, the costs of obtaining a certificate will probably increase substantially because a court hearing will be required.  So I would urge families of someone who has gone missing – if they are as sure as they can be that they are not going to return – to apply for a ‘leave to swear death’ order under the current provisions before April 2014.”

She adds:

“Having dealt with a number of cases involving missing people I think that the guardianship proposals will be incredibly important.  It can be very difficult emotionally for families to seek an order confirming that their loved one has died; it can feel like giving up on them. Guardianship powers offer a ‘halfway house’ and will help to protect the assets of missing people.”

Sarah Young is a Partner with Ridley & Hall solicitors. She specialises in inheritance disputes and contentious probate. Sarah has a Masters degree 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 & Hall, Queens House, 35 Market Street, Huddersfield HD1 2HL on 01484 538421 or mobile 07860 165850.