Monthly Archives: June 2014

Violence On and Off the Pitch During the World Cup

Luis Suarez’s alleged  biting incident has not been the only violence during the World Cup.

West Yorkshire Police reported that calls about domestic abuse more than doubled during England’s first World Cup game, from 36 the night before to a shocking 92 calls on the night of the match.  West Yorkshire Police made it clear that they did not blame the football, but alcohol for fuelling these incidents.

The Home Office in a study in 2011 confirmed that the group most at risk were teenage girls aged between 16 and 24.  They are considered to be particularly vulnerable because of their lack of awareness of domestic violence, and the inability to recognise an abusive relationship.

The police have issued information and advice on how to avoid domestic violence on the West Yorkshire Police website.

In addition, we can offer assistance to those who are suffering domestic violence.  Whilst the amount of legal aid assistance we can provide has decreased significantly, one of the areas where public funding has been retained is to obtain a non-molestation order.  Obtaining such an order means that if there is an allegation that the order has been breached, it is a criminal offence, and the perpetrator can be arrested, and dealt with through the criminal courts.

Ridley & Hall LLP have a history of assisting vulnerable clients who are facing domestic abuse at home in a caring and sensitive manner.  If the circumstances justify it, a non molestation order can be obtained usually on the same day, or the following day.

To meet with a family lawyer, please telephone us on 01484 538421, and arrange an initial half hour consultation.  If your enquiry is urgent, please explain that to the Family Team, and we will see you as soon as we are able.

Le Tour Comes to Ridley & Hall – Book Your Tickets Now!

We are now only a few weeks away from the world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France and the eyes of the world will be firmly on our wonderful county during le Grand Depart.

As part of the build up, Dave Sowerby of Sowerby Cycles in Mirfield and the former Mayor of Kirklees, Martyn Bolt, have organised the Huddersfield Criterium cycle race on Friday 4th July.  At this unmissable event you will see professional and top amateur cyclists racing on the streets of Huddersfield and the cyclists will be racing right outside the Ridley & Hall offices!

To view the route of the course, please see the video below. The Ridley & Hall office is ideally located on Market Street and can be seen on the left hand side after the first left turn on the video.

Ridley & Hall’s Personal Injury department are hosting a ‘Cycling Soiree’ on the night of the Criterium in order to raise money for Hollybank and Brake (the road safety charity). The aim is for the event to be informal, with families welcome. Please feel free to use our premises as a base for the Town Centre event and enjoy any other activities running alongside.

Tickets are £7.50 for adults, £5.00 for concessions (children under 16, OAP’s and students) and family tickets (2 adults and 2 children) for £20.00. All ticket prices include food on the night – a Yorkshire/French fusion buffet, and a complimentary drink on arrival. All money raised will be split between both charities. Tickets can be booked through the Eventbrite website (a small booking fee applies).

We hope you can join us to experience this once in a lifetime event. Please do not hesitate to pass this to your friends and families and let’s make this an event to remember. We look forward to seeing you there!

For further information please call Janet Watson or Samantha Hirst on 01484 538421.

Manchester Grandmother Receives Out of Court Settlement for Support

A 63 year old grandmother has received £4,400 from Manchester City Council in an out of court settlement in a battle to get support for her grandchildren.

In 2007 the grandmother took on the care of her two grandchildren, who were at the time aged 8 and 10, to avoid them having to go into foster care.  She has continued to care for the children for the last 7 years.

The grandmother had applied for and been granted a residence order in respect of the children. She was challenging the council as they were not providing her with any financial support to help her to meet the children’s care needs.

The grandmother commented, “Things came to ahead in January 2007. The social worker was at the hospital with the children whilst they were being checked over for signs of physical abuse. The social worker contacted the children’s father. She attended the hospital. The social worker rang me and asked me to care for the children. It was made clear if I did not take the children they would go into foster care. The social worker took all three of my daughter’s children to my home.

There was a further meeting on the 20th January 2007. The social worker directed what would happen with the children – one would go and live with a relative, my granddaughter would stay with me and the other granddaughter would go back to live with her father. She only lived with her father for approximately four or five days before she was brought to me and left in my care. I contacted social services about this and was advised to keep her with me.

Social services directed what would happen with the children but I was not given any financial assistance and was just left to get on with it. Taking on three children was a massive commitment and I was left struggling financially. I only became aware that there was something that could be done to help with my situation after speaking with friends who had been in a similar situation. They urged me to seek specialist advice.”

The grandmother contacted Ridley & Hall. They corresponded with Manchester City Council which led to a lump sum offer being made by the council.

The grandmother commented, “It has been a year long battle. I didn’t know my rights and Social Services never told me about their duty to pay a residence allowance. I am delighted with the pay out. My grandchildren can now participate in activities and socialise like other children their age. I can now afford to send my granddaughter on her school trip.”

Ms Ling of Ridley & Hall said, “All the children were “looked after” as the social worker had accommodated them with my client which triggered section 20 of the Children Act 1989. The agreement my client made with social services that two of the children would be accommodated with our client was as an alternative to the children being taken into foster care with strangers. My client subsequently applied for a residence order.  We firmly take the view that a residence order allowance should be paid in these circumstances.

I am very pleased with the outcome. Like many family and friends carers who suddenly find themselves in this position, this grandmother found herself in difficulty due to the lack of support from the council.  It is important people get the right advice when they need it.”

One local authority has today reported that in their area the council’s social services department have taken 12% more children into care this year and are looking desperately for more foster carers.  Their fostering department is already “overwhelmed and underfunded”.  There are now 855 children in care up from 765 at the same time last year.

Local authorities are increasingly relying on family and friends carers to fill the gap by the shortage of foster carers. Fostering Network reports that nationally there is a shortage of over 7,500 foster carers.

Ms Ling commented, “In these circumstances, local authorities should value kinship carers and pay them appropriately.”

For more information contact Tracey Ling on 01484 538421.

A Knotty Issue!

Is Your Garden Harboring Japanese Knotweed? Know the Issues

The effects of the plant known as Japanese Knotweed on property are becoming a well known issue amongst conveyancers and surveyors and now the question as to whether the same is apparent at a property is a standard question on the Law Society’s Seller’s Property Information Form, being a form completed by all sellers of residential property.

If you are affected it can impact on the saleability of your property and its presence can influence a lender’s decision even if the plant is seemingly well away from the boundary.  It is difficult to eradicate and its complicated root structures can reach far beyond what is visible to the naked eye.

Japanese Knotweed is a highly invasive plant which has long been recognised for its notorious ability to grow through concrete and tarmac, exploiting weaknesses in structures and potentially growing through walls, floors and even roads.  Brought to the UK by the Victorians it was able to thrive away from its natural predators in native Japan and now, according to official records, there is not a single 6 mile scare patch of the country where it is not present.

This extremely destructive plant is classed as “controlled waste” in Part 2 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and it can only be disposed of at licensed landfill sites as even small cuttings can grow into new root systems.  Japanese Knotweed can have dramatic impacts on property asset values and suitability as lending security.  It can be successfully treated with herbicides but to completely eradicate a crop can take many years and is costly.

The only comprehensive method is for a surveyor, with specialist Japanese Knotweed expertise, to undertake a site inspection.

Liz Wallis at Ridley & Hall comments “In recent weeks I have experienced issues with lenders wishing to identify suspect plants in gardens of property being purchased prior to the issue of Mortgage Offers and whilst this might be seen to be a delay and inconvenience to buyers, clearly the lenders’ caution appears well-founded.”

For further information, please speak to a member of Ridley & Hall’s Residential Property team on 01484 538421.

Financial Abuse and the Care Act 2014 – Does Anyone Care?

On 14th May 2014 the Care Act received royal assent.  The Act is designed to reform the law relating to care and support for adults (and the law relating to support for carers).  It also makes provision for safeguarding adults from abuse or neglect.  But does the Act go far enough to protect those at risk of abuse and in particular financial abuse?

Financial abuse can be described as “types of mistreatment where someone forcibly controls another person’s money and/or financial assets”.  It is the second most prevalent type of mistreatment after neglect.  Older people, particularly those with dementia, are at greatest risk of financial abuse.

In 2011 an enquiry into mistreatment of elderly people revealed that there were almost one in four cases of abuse reported (around 23,000.00) were of financial abuse.  It is likely that that figure is actually much higher as many cases are unreported.  The charity Action on Elder Abuse is deeply concerned about the extent of abuse and neglect uncovered in hospitals and care homes recently and considers that current systems and law have been insufficient to deter abuse and that too often those few perpetrators who reach the courts receive sentences that the public consider too lenient.  They are seeking a new criminal charge of elder/adult abuse to cover circumstances where an adult uses their relationship or position to cause or allow an older person or dependent adult to suffer unnecessary physical pain, mental suffering, injures their health, or steals, defrauds or embezzles their money or property.

The charity is concerned that the adult safeguarding clauses in the Act are insufficient to ensure the protection of people who are subject to abuse.

One of the difficulties of financial abuse in particular is that in many cases the abuse is carried out by a son or a daughter who take the view that they are simply getting their inheritance in advance, or attorneys appointed under a power of attorney – the very person appointed to a position of trust.  The temptation to take money and to say “well it’s what they would have wanted me to have” for example alongside an ignorance of what the legal duties and responsibilities of an attorney are, can lead to gross abuses of trust.

Sarah Young, Partner at Ridley & Hall Solicitors says: “It can be difficult to spot the signs of financial abuse – or if wrong doing is suspected, to prove it.  In many cases the facts do not become apparent until after the victim’s death; I often get enquiries about this and, depending on the amounts, it is possible to do something about it”.

Awareness of the potential signs of financial abuse can help to limit or prevent this unpleasant crime:

• Signatures that do not resemble the older person’s normal handwriting – or a signature when the person is too unwell to be able to write.
• Sudden changes in bank accounts or unexplained large withdrawals.
• The sudden and unexplained transfer of assets to someone else.
• Deliberate isolation of an older person from friends and family, resulting in the care giver alone having total control.
• Change of ownership of a property.
• The purchase of items that the person does not require.
• Numerous unpaid bills or overdue rent when someone else is supposed to be paying the bills – or apparent lack of amenities that the older person should be able to afford.

Sarah Young adds “The law relating to social care has largely remained unchanged for 40 years and the new Care Act will repeal many pieces of outdated legislation and bring social care law into one single modern piece of law.  Whether it will effectively safeguard vulnerable adults from financial abuse remains to be seen”.

Sarah Young is a Partner with Ridley and Hall solicitors. She specialises in will disputes. Sarah has a record of bringing the most complex cases to a successful conclusion.

Sarah Young, Specialist in Financial Abuse cases

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

Dementia: A Little Help From Your Friends

Dementia seems to be a current hot topic, with celebrity endorsed advertisements on the television, the Prime Minister’s challenge, G8 summits on the issue and focus stories in the news, but it is not just a social issue for now, but also for the future.

Britain has an ageing population. There are currently 800,000 people with dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2021. This will soar to 1.7 million by 2050. A shocking statistic to me is that one in three people over 65 will die with dementia. It is a terminal condition and there is no cure at present.

Dementia is an issue close to my heart on many levels. From a personal point of view, my beloved grandmother, who died 8 years ago this month, aged 87, lived the last few years of life with cancer and dementia. I cannot tell you which condition affected my grandma the most. Sadly, neither could she. She lost the ability to express herself and verbally communicate. I wish that there had been the spotlight on dementia then that there is now, and I wish that more people, myself included, had understood her needs. She received treatment and palliative care for her cancer. I don’t recall that any attention was paid to the dementia. Tellingly, the government invests eight times more in cancer research than it does in dementia research.

I recently met with a dementia support group, run by people who are living with dementia, for those who are living with dementia. This was an incredibly humbling experience that opened my eyes to something that I thought I knew about, but actually I had no idea. Listening to someone describe their self as shunned by society at large through no fault of their own, in the modern day, was utterly heart-breaking. The group explained that they felt patronised, misunderstood and outcast. I hoped that my grandma never felt that way, and hoped that I had never made her experience those feelings. I do know however that on reflection I did not necessarily help her enough or deal with her in the most appropriate way.

Fortunately, a lot is now being done to change the way that we as a population perceive dementia and deal with it on a day to day basis. A few months ago, I attended a couple Dementia Friend Information Sessions, which is an initiative being run by the Alzheimer’s Society, supported by Public Health England. A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. The campaign’s objectives are to make the nation more aware of dementia and improve attitudes towards the disease, with the hope to create a more dementia-friendly society by encouraging one million people to become Dementia Friends. My chosen action was to train as a Dementia Friends Champion, meaning that I am now able to deliver the sessions myself.

I also got involved with my local Dementia Action Alliance in Kirklees. This was a newly formed group of various organisations in the area that all commit to make a difference within their organisation to try to become more dementia-friendly. They pledge to do this by taking various actions be it through raising awareness in their workforce, making their facilities and buildings more accessible to people living with dementia and helping their carers, or providing an enhanced or specialised service for those people to make them feel included and valued.

This year, Dementia Awareness Week ran from 18 to 24 May, with many events being run up and down the country to try and encourage the public to speak up if they had concerns about themselves or a loved one: not to bottle it up, as dementia can be difficult to talk about. People may feel scared, confused or even ashamed. People may also be hoping that the problem will go away so they don’t have to deal with it. Sadly there is still a lot of stigma attached to dementia and all of these campaigns and efforts are to try to get rid of those negative connotations and change society’s attitudes. I was privileged to help officially launch the Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance during that week and the hours of voluntary work I had spent all seemed worthwhile – that a large group of businesses and organisations all wanted to take positive steps to make a change.

I think that is where my professional interest comes in. I am a solicitor specialising in private client work. The majority of my clients are elderly and some have already been diagnosed with dementia, or are starting to have memory problems. These clients are just as entitled to put their personal affairs in order as any other client – in fact, it is these clients who should ensure that their personal affairs are in order at this time, before their capacity is lost and it is too late to sort things out. It is exactly the time that they should be ensuring that they receive all the state benefits that they are entitled to and undergo any relevant financial assessments, that their Will is up to date and that they have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place in case they do lose mental or physical capacity to deal with their own property and financial affairs or can no longer make their own decisions about their health and welfare.

Living with dementia does not automatically mean that the person does not have mental capacity to give instructions, and this is something I must assess in all my clients, without discrimination. Sadly, prejudice is something I think we are all guilty of to some extent however in my personal pledge as a Dementia Friend, I am trying to understand and appreciate that there is more to a person than the dementia. It is my job as a solicitor to take my client’s instructions and follow them in accordance with their wishes, and to be as helpful and supporting as I can throughout the process. Most legal documents are hard enough to understand as it is: jargon, lack of punctuation in Wills, valid execution of deeds. Whether my client has dementia or not should not really matter – I should be treating everyone with the same respect, without being patronising or making them feel stupid or small.

My attitude towards dementia has changed massively over the past twelve months, and it has affected my views on society as a whole and the way we all treat each other. Professionally, I hope it now makes me provide an improved service to my clients and makes a difference to their experience with a solicitor (we tend to get a bad press!). Ridley and Hall as a firm have also pledged their commitment to change by completing an action plan and signing up to the Dementia Action Alliance, so it is not just me but our staff as a whole who see this as a priority that needs to be addressed. Personally, I hope it makes me a better human being who is more understanding of others and their needs – particularly those with dementia – as statistically this issue will only become more prevalent throughout my lifetime. I also hope that if more people do become Dementia Friends, that the lives of the people I met at the support group and others like them can be improved as attitudes hopefully do change over time. People with dementia can take an active role in life and should not feel excluded or outcast.
I wish I’d have known all this ten years ago, so I could have made a difference in my grandma’s life when she needed me, but sadly I didn’t. All I can commit to is to trying to be more dementia friendly for the rest of my life – to my clients, loved ones and others who I don’t even know. I am optimistic that will start to change, and I sincerely hope that in the future, if I do become one of the statistics, that my solicitor, my neighbours and my grandchildren will all be Dementia Friends and help me get by.

For further information on any of the issues raised in this article please contact Helen Webster, Solicitor in the Wills and Probate department on 01484 538421 or by email

Helen joined Ridley & Hall’s private client team in September 2013 and she is a full member of both the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and the Private Client Section of the Law Society. Having been born in Huddersfield, Helen lives in nearby Saddleworth and has worked at firms in Leeds and Bury since qualifying as a solicitor in 2006, specialising in Wills, estate administration, powers of attorney and inheritance tax planning.

Location, Location, Location

“Location, Location, Location” is the mantra for house-hunters, but new business owners are being urged to heed the message or face tough times ahead.

That’s the warning from Huddersfield’s multi award-winning law firm Ridley & Hall, after location was highlighted in two reports as one of the main reasons for start up firms failing to take off.

Costs are always crucial, particularly for young businesses, but bosses are being urged not to just look for low-rent sites when they start trading but to carefully pick their location – pinpointing where their customers are, ease of accessibility and proximity of competitors – and be prepared to pay for that prime plot.

The advice comes as more and more people are being tempted to pursue their dream of starting their own business, and the time is right with the British Chambers of Commerce upgrading its economic growth forecast for 2014 from 2.8% to 3.1%.

Now Ridley & Hall solicitors, based in Market Street, are offering new bosses a free pep-talk to prepare their business ventures.

It is the latest initiative from the firm’s new Commercial Property department.  The free-30 minute consultations will give advice to business owners who are starting up or branching out.

Commercial property solicitor, Julie Devenport said: “Our consultations mean we can come up with ideas and advice on how commercial property deals can work for you, and to help you avoid the pitfalls. And the best thing is that the advice is free, so businesses have nothing to lose by talking to us.”

Ridley & Hall specialises in commercial property matters including landlord and tenant work, mortgages, and sales and purchases of freeholds and leaseholds.

The law firm earlier this year announced a major investment in expanding its commercial property department with its own dedicated team.

As part of that move, they have recruited the vastly experienced and well-known commercial lawyer John Royle.

Ridley & Hall has recently won the title of Law Firm of the Year and senior partner Nigel Priestley was named Legal Champion of the year.

To book a free business consultation, contact Julie Devenport on 01484 538421 or call into Ridley & Hall’s offices on Market Street, Huddersfield.

Ridley & Hall Work with the National Business College on the Apprenticeship Scheme

The challenges of job searching for one young man did not stop Jack Robinson from overcoming each and every obstacle before him. Despite applying for numerous vacancies, he received limited responses that he did not have the required experience or right qualifications. This resulted in low self esteem and a lack of confidence in himself and his perception of what the future held for him.

It was only when Ridley & Hall Solicitors gave Jack a rolling monthly contract that things changed. Jack says, “I was surprised at my successful completion of all tasks within the deadlines asked of me.”

Jack was later asked if he was prepared to undertake an apprenticeship at the National Business College, at which point he was unsure saying, “College life was an unknown for me and not something I felt confident about doing.”

Jack always thought his career would end up within the sports industry having come from a sporting background with both his parents; Dad as a professional footballer and Mum who played for the Yorkshire netball team.

Jack explains more about Business College, “I was unsure about working in an office environment as it wasn’t where I expected to go and it did present some minor setbacks and challenges. I was nervous to talk to anybody and didn’t think I fited in well with the situation that was in front of me. However, with the support, trust and confidence in my ability that I received from the National Business College, management staff and colleagues at Ridley & Hall I was made me feel very welcome and it gave me the confidence I have in myself today so that I continuously make an impact on the job role I hold as an administrator.
“I didn’t have the best qualifications from school, therefore I had to retake a Maths and English test. Although it sounded hard, I found it wasn’t as daunting as I expected! By the time the last exam came round, dare I say I was really looking forward to it. In the middle of both these exams I also had to take an Information Communication Technology exam which is included in the apprenticeship and complete a porfolio of coursework. After taking all these exams I am now proud to say I have passed everything and achieved my intermediate apprenticeship framework.”

Left to right; top – Managing Partner Adam Fletcher and Practice Manager Ruky Mahboob; bottom – National Business College’s Managing Director and Assessor Christine Hoyland congratulates Jack Robinson on passing his intermediate apprenticeship framework

Jack is now progressing to the advanced framework alongside mentoring Ridley & Hall’s second apprentice, Jessica Johnson, who joined us from the National Business College at the end of April. This is an ideal opportunity for Jack to share his learning to support and encourage Jess through her apprenticeship, having been there himself not too long ago.

The State of Our Welfare

Sangeeta Enright, Welfare Benefits Adviser, has been invited to speak at an event  organised by Third Sector Lancashire, called ‘The State of our Welfare’.

Third Sector Lancashire is a group of organisations which represents third sector bodies that specialise in health and well-being in the county of Lancashire in their dealings with the public and private sector.

Sangeeta says, “Austerity measures are hitting benefit claimants very hard and I am always looking at ways to assist them to get their entitlement, to be treated fairly and with compassion. Legal Aid cuts have affected the provision of advice in this area, but there are still ways we can help those who need us’. She will talk more about this at the event.

We are delighted that she has been asked to share her experiences of providing Welfare Benefits advice with the third sector so that we can work with them towards a fairer society.

More details about the event, on 11th June, can be found on the Third Sector Lancashire website.