Monthly Archives: May 2014

Ridley & Hall Invited to Showcase its Talent

Meena Kumari, Partner and Head of the Family team featured in the Huddersfield Examiner ‘Women in Business’ section.

Huddersfield born Meena reflected upon the success of Family First on its first year anniversary. Family First provides clear fixed charges with no nasty surprises.

For more information see the news article or contact Meena Kumari on 01484 538421.

Blame the Motorist!

A controversial campaign has been launched in Scotland to change the law in road accidents involving cyclists and motorists.

Cycle Law Scotland, the driving school RED and a number of cycling groups in Scotland launched an online petition last year named ‘The Campaign for Strict Liability: Road Share’.   They say that if a motorist was involved in an accident with a cyclist the driver should be presumed at fault for the accident, unless they can prove otherwise.  This is known in law as “strict liability.”

The current law relies on a cyclist to prove that a motorist has been negligent i.e. has ‘breached their duty of care’.

The national cycling charity CTC backs the campaign in Scotland and argues that it is much harder for vulnerable road users to claim compensation for injuries they sustain.  Cyclists are more likely to be the injured party in collisions with motor vehicles, but less likely to be at fault, and the current law does not reflect this.

Samantha Hirst, personal injury specialist with Ridley & Hall Solicitors, warns “the fight for strict liability in Scotland is likely to cause a lot of controversy, especially amongst motorists. But something has to be done to try and reduce the number of cycling injuries on Britain’s roads.  A change in the law could be a step in the right direction in transforming people’s attitudes towards vulnerable road users.”

The UK, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus are the only countries in Europe that do not operate a system of strict liability.  The Netherlands and Denmark are two countries at the forefront of cycling safety and both have a system of strict liability.

But strict liability has a very small role to play in protecting Dutch cyclists and they consider ‘Sustainable safety’ a priority.

After years of research the Dutch have come up with specific principles that have made their roads some of safest in Europe.  Some of these principles are the functionality of their roads.  Instead of emphasising blame they recognise that humans make mistakes and so design their roads in such a way that our natural human behaviour does not lead to crashes and injuries.  Details on the Dutch ‘Sustainable Safety’ model can be found here.

Samantha adds “There is a careful balance to be struck when making changes to the law.  From a legal point of view, although strict liability would place the initial blame on the motorist, the driver could still defend their claim by proving the cyclist wholly or partially caused the accident.  However, the lessons from Europe are that apportioning blame for accidents is not the best way to prevent collisions.  The government needs to take a more holistic approach to road safety to reduce the number of accidents.”

Samantha is a paralegal in Ridley & Hall’s specialist Litigation team with years of experience in personal injury cases.

For further information please contact Samantha Hirst of Ridley & Hall, Queens House, 35 Market Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2HL on 01484 538421.

Struggling Pensioners Not Getting Their Benefits

One in four people older than 65 are struggling to cope financially, yet up to £5.5bn in state financial help is going unclaimed each year, new figures reveal today.

There are two key reasons. First, some people are simply too proud or embarrassed to claim for benefits. But others don’t know that they can apply for financial help and in some cases are wrongly told by officials that they aren’t eligible.

Yet millions of older people who are struggling to survive on a meagre income could be entitled to benefits such as Pension Credit, which if claimed, could provide a boost to their weekly incomes. In fact, if everyone who is eligible for Pension Credit made a claim, it could increase their income by an average of £1,716 a year – which would more than cover the average dual-fuel bill which currently stands at £1,271 a year.

Read the full news story in The Independent


If you require any benefits advice; please contact Sangeeta Enright on 01484 538 421.

Ridley and Hall also offer help through our Elderflower services. This ties together specialist legal, financial & bereavement advice to those at, or approaching retirement age, from a group of regulated, professional firms. Please contact a member of the Elderflower team on 08432 895 160.

Happy First Birthday Family First

A year after its launch Ridley & Hall celebrates the success of Family First.

Family First is an innovative and unique service that supports families in need of legal advice.  This service allows clients at Ridley & Hall to choose the level of support they require for divorce, children and financial cases and in doing so they choose the price that they pay.

Meena Kumari, Head of Family at Ridley & Hall, explains:

“There have been many challenges in family law in the last 12 months with many firms closing their doors after the loss of Legal Aid.  These profound changes have affected clients’ ability to access legal advice.  When a relationship breaks down, the next steps you decide to take and the thought of legal action can often be overwhelming.  Family First offers clients greater freedom of choice and an opportunity to save money on legal costs, with our costs starting from only £200.

Family First offers an alternative that is both affordable and transparent.  The level of support includes a checking service for court documents, a do-it-yourself with help service where our clients pick and choose when you seek assistance and a pay as you go service which helps you budget.”

Statistics shows that there are more clients representing themselves in court proceedings.  Litigants in person often need legal advice for only part of their case, for example, at a hearing.  Family First offers this flexibility.

The Family First team wants to help resolve your dispute as painlessly and cost effectively as possible.  We offer a free half an hour consultation, where we can talk you through your options and costs.

For more information, please contact the Family First team at Ridley & Hall either by phone on 01484 538421 or by e-mail.

Ridley & Hall Supports Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance Launch Event on 21st May 2014

Adam Fletcher, Managing Partner at Ridley & Hall and chair of Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance (KDAA) would like to invite you to the launch of the new Dementia Action Alliance for Kirklees.

Whether you are an organisation dealing directly with those living with dementia and their carers or a sympathetic employer who is keen to support your staff who may well be caring for a loved one living with dementia and want to better understand dementia, then this event is for you.

Please further information, please see the formal invitation.

To book your place online, please follow this link to Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, please contact Elaine Bostock by e-mail.

The Help to Buy Warning – Don’t Get Unwittingly Trapped!!

Mortgage brokers have warned that first time buyers who have purchased a home through a shared equity scheme could be left trapped on an uncompetitive mortgage rate in the future due to little known rules of some of the country’s biggest lenders.

Brokers warn that a handful of banks that are still offering shared equity mortgage deals lend only to either new buyers or their own customers.  As a result, existing home owners have only a limited choice of rates when their current or variable rate deal ends.

Thousands of borrowers who bought their first home with the government backed FirstBuy shared equity scheme between 2011 and 2013 along with similar builder schemes could be affected and, if rules don’t change, first time buyers who have signed up to Help to Buy equity loan deals since the scheme launched could also be hit.

Some of the country’s biggest lenders provide mortgages to new buyers using popular government backed shared equity schemes under which buyers can put down a 5% deposit, take 20% equity loan from the government or builder and then arrange a mortgage for the remaining 75%.  However, lenders can refuse to allow homeowners in shared equity arrangements to remortgage, potentially blocking them from accessing the most competitive mortgage rates available.  Some lenders will only offer mortgages to existing homeowners if they first clear the 20% equity loan.  Unfortunately the loan to value may not be sufficient to provide the funding to clear the equity loan.

Most borrowers expect to simply clear the loan only when they sell their properties and find at a point that they wish to refinance for a more competitive mortgage deal they have become trapped.

The issue is thought to become an increasing problem next year when the early Help to Buy mortgages on two year fixes come to an end.  For many the choice will be staying with current lenders and taking a product transfer unless other lenders change their criteria.

Liz Wallis comments, “I wonder how many participants of the Help to Buy scheme have considered their position going forward in light of the above particularly at a time when the threat of an increase in mortgage rates is on the horizon.  Even if that doesn’t come until 2015 or beyond, how many Mortgage deals on similar schemes will end to coincide with that rate rise and the resultant homeowners find themselves with limited choice on re-finance options?  After all, it is not just about getting onto the property ladder but staying there!”

For more advice about help to buy mortgages, please contact us on 01484 538421 and ask to speak to a member of the Residential Property team.