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UK Law Frequently Asked Questions

Wills, Probate and Trusts

How can I work out what I will be worth when I die?

You will not be able to work this out very accurately, but you will be able to calculate an approximate figure. Then you will be able to decide how you wish to leave your estate.

Values rise (and sometimes fall!), and therefore a review of your financial situation every few years, when you also review your Will, is very sensible.

What if I want to give something to someone in particular?

If you can let us have a full and accurate description of the item, and the details of the person you wish to leave it to, then this will be included in your Will.

What about arrangements for my funeral?

Your funeral and other related expenses are paid out of your Estate.

If you have a particular preference for burial or cremation, you wish to leave your kidneys for transplantation, your eyes for corneal grafting, or your body for medical purposes, then these wishes will all be included in your Will.

Will Inheritance Tax be payable on my death?

Whatever a person leaves for the benefit of his or her spouse will be free of Inheritance Tax.

Gifts that are made within 7 years of the date of your death (over and above the annual exemption of £3,000 approx.), have to be brought into account when calculating liability to Inheritance Tax. Remember, there are other exemptions apart from the annual exemption, and we can advise you about those.

All gifts to charities, political parties, and other national beneficiaries are exempt from Inheritance Tax.

Where all, or part of your Estate is potentially taxable, we will advise you on the amount which can be left without any liability to Inheritance Tax, and the rate of Inheritance Tax on any taxable part of your Estate.

What if I have made a Will but lost it?

Please check whether it is held by your Bank or with any previous Solicitor. If it cannot be found, it is very important that you should make a new Will.

Commercial Litigation

What will the Litigation cost?

All cases differ. We aim to approach any litigation in a commercial manner. At the outset of every case we will give you the best estimate we can as to the likely costs. We will also discuss with you the funding options that may be available. If you have legal expense cover we will apply to your legal expense insurers for them to assist with payment of your legal fees.

If you are funding the case privately, we will discuss our hourly rates with you and agree these in advance. We will also agree not to exceed any cost estimate without your express permission. We will also ask for your prior authority to incur any disbursements on your behalf.

We can also arrange for monthly budgeting and payment on account of costs to spread the burden of the cost over the duration of the case. Our aim is to provide transparent costs advice and we will ensure that we deal with your case in a sensible and cost effective manner.

Will I recover my legal costs from my opponent?

In normal circumstances, if your claim is successful, the Court will order your opponents to pay a large contribution towards your legal costs. We would normally expect to recover a substantial proportion of the costs incurred on your behalf and will advise you at the time of any settlement as to your likely contribution towards legal fees so that you are fully informed when a decision is made to settle the claim.

If the claim has a value of less than £5,000 the case will normally be assigned to the small claims track of the County Court. Save in exceptional circumstances, the Court will make no order as to legal costs and you will be liable to pay your own legal costs even if your claim is successful. We will provide you with a detailed estimate of such costs so that you are aware of the likely costs prior to any proceedings being commenced.

Will I be ordered to pay the other sides costs if I lose?

If your claim is unsuccessful, or if you unsuccessfully defend any claim against you, you will be liable to pay all of your own legal costs and a substantial contribution towards the winning parties costs.

Costs are a fundamental issue in any litigation and we will ensure that we provide you with considered advice as to the risks of any litigation at all stages, so that you can make a fully informed decision as to whether the claim should proceed or whether any claim against you should be defended.

How long will my case take?

Each case is different. The value of the claim will dictate how the Court allocates the case within the Court system. Cases with a value of £15,000 or less will be allocated to the Fast Track within the County Court System. Normally, such cases will take approximately 12 months.

More complex cases, or cases where the evidence is likely to take more than one day of the Courts time, will be allocated to the Multi-Track system. These cases are actively case managed by the Judge and the parties will be encouraged to proceed with the claim/defence as quickly as possible. These cases generally take longer than 12 months. We will advise you as to the likely duration of your case at an early stage as this will help you consider other options of alternative dispute resolution which may be open to you.

If your case is one of extreme emergency, e.g. where an injunction is necessary, the matter can be placed before the Courts within a very short time-scale.

Will I have to attend Court?

In any Court proceedings, the Court normally requires the relevant witnesses to give oral evidence at any trial. Prior to any trial you will be required to provide the Court with a detailed written witness statement and you will be questioned on that statement at any trial.

It is important that you indicate at an early stage the witnesses who will be supporting your case so that their witness evidence can be obtained in the event that they may move away, fall ill or for any other reason are unable to attend Court.

How do I enforce any Court award?

If your claim is successful and the losing party fails to honour any Court Judgement or Costs Order, enforcement action will have to be taken. We will try and establish at an early stage of the case, the financial position of your opponent.

You can help us in providing any financial information that you are aware of.

In the majority of the cases, the losing party will honour the Court award and any costs order, however, in those cases where the losing party is impecunious or insolvent, additional action may have to be taken to recover any money from them. This is an added risk of litigation and we will consider this carefully with you at the outset before substantial costs are incurred on your behalf.

Company formation

How do I go about forming a company?

There are two ways of forming a company and we can advise you on which best suits your requirements.

The most cost effective means of forming a Company is to buy a shelf company which is already in existence, having been incorporated and usually left “on the shelf” as it has not traded. The existing Directors resign and shareholders of the Company will transfer their shares. New Directors and Secretary are then appointed. We can then tailor the existing Company’s constitution to suit your requirements.

Often it is more appropriate to form an entirely new company.

We can assist and advise you with all the books required to be kept under Company Law (The Company Registers of Members, Directors’ interests), all Companies House formalities and documentation, the appointment of Directors, Shareholdings, and Shareholders Agreements, Company Finance and the Company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating your business?

The main advantages of trading as a Company are that the liability of members is limited to the extent of the value of their shares.

Directors are not normally personally liable for defaults of the Company unless they have given personal guarantees or breached certain duties or statutes.

A Company can also raise finance on certain assets which a Partnership cannot do.

In a small family company, control can also be engineered by means of shareholders agreements between the members.

The disadvantage to operating as a company is the law procedure and other formalities which must be followed, the restrictions on certain financial activities, and the requirement to publish and file accounts. You should speak to an Accountant regarding the tax effectiveness of incorporating the business.

Environmental Law

If the contaminating substance is found on my land will I be liable for the cost of cleaning it up?

You should be aware that responsibility for polluting substances, which lie in or on the land, (whether you know about them or not) rests on the owner or occupier of the land under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environment Act 1995. The cost of compliance with the clean up provisions is potentially a major liability and any “tainted” land may be difficult to sell or mortgage. Additionally, you may be liable to neighbouring owners if polluting substances are found to have “leaked” from your property to theirs. If the original cause of the contaminative substances can be found that person or company could be liable but in cases of historic pollution, they may be difficult to trace or insolvent, in which case liability could rest with yourself.

Please contact us for advice or assistance if you are notified of any contaminative substances affecting your property, notices of works or prosecution by the Enforcement authorities, or when you are purchasing or leasing land (when an Environmental survey can be organised).

I am having problems with fly-tippers? What can I do about it?

You should contact the Environmental Health Department of your Local Authority or the Environment Agency and the Police. You should not touch any tipping, if on visual inspection it appears hazardous, or otherwise disturb the site, until you have been given clearance to do so. Fly tipping is a criminal offence and to assist in the future you should, if possible, record details of the time and where the incidents happened and take photographic evidence.

I have heard that companies are to be responsible for reducing packaging? How will this affect my business?

Under Regulations implementing European Legislation, companies which have a turn over of £2m or over, and handle 50 metric tons of packaging in any calendar year have to comply with certain obligations to register with the Environment Agency and obtain accreditations.

I am entering into a development contract on a site with a number of sub-contractors. Is my company at risk if the Environmental Legislation is not complied with?

Yes? Contractual arrangements may make the head contractor liable for managing the site and waste or obtaining and ensuring compliance with Discharge Licenses. However, if your company, for instance, directly or indirectly causes or permits polluting substances to enter a water course, then your company can be prosecuted. Seek advice before entering into any such contract.

How do we go about changing our company name?

You should first comply with the Business Names Legislation and other matters specified in the Partnership FAQ’s section of this Website. Once a name has been chosen which complies with these and you have considered whether you actually wish to change the company name or adopt a business or trading name, a search must also ensure that the same name does not already appear on the Index of Company names.

The procedure to formally change the existing company name involves a special resolution altering the name being passed in a Company General Meeting, and a copy of the resolution is then submitted together with the appropriate fee to the Registrar of Companies at Companies House.

All letters, orders, invoices etc should state the business name, the corporate name, and an address in the UK for serving documents. This information must be supplied to any member of the public who requests it and displayed at all places of business, to which customers have access.

Personal Injury

What am I entitled to claim for?

Injury

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on how serious your injury is. We will obtain a report from a medical specialist who will examine you and provide a detailed report setting out the injuries you have suffered, and the effect that this will have on your employment and normal day-to-day life.

Items of Expense and Loss

You are entitled to claim for any reasonable out of pocket expenses and losses that have been caused directly as a result of the accident. This can include loss of earnings, hire of alternative transport, travelling expenses, damage to clothing and jewellery, medical treatment and prescription charges, physiotherapy and in the more serious cases, care and adaptation to your property

What will it cost?

In the majority of cases we will be able to advise you at an early stage as to whether your claim will be successful. We will use our experience and judgement to make to assessment and if we are satisfied that the claim will be successful, we will undertake our work under a Conditional Fee Agreement.

Under this agreement, in the event that we are unsuccessful in your claim, you will not be required to pay us in respect of our legal costs. In appropriate cases we can also arrange insurance cover to protect you from any liability for the Defendant’s costs, thereby giving you peace of mind.

We will explain the various forms of funding available to ensure that you have no risk as to costs associated with your claim. We will make enquiries with your Insurers to see whether legal expense cover is available under your policy of insurance as this may provide an alternative form of cost funding.

How long will my case take?

Each case is different. In simple, straight forward cases, where there is no argument as to blame, cases can be settled within 6 months. However in the more serious cases, where permanent injury has been suffered, requiring lengthy medical treatment, cases can take some time.

It is important that your case is not settled until it can be established that you have fully recovered from your injuries or the medical expert is able to provide a definite indication about future symptoms.

Who will my claim be against?

Your claim will be made against the person responsible for your accident. This could be the third party driver, a Local Authority or youremployer, depending on the type of accident. The majority of people responsible for causing injury have insurance cover and the Insurers will ultimately be responsible for payment of any damages, either by agreement or by way of court order.

In the case of uninsured, or untraced motorists, who have caused death or personal injury, the Motor Insurers Bureau will be responsible for payment of damages, although costs in such cases are limited. Your solicitor will explain this you in more detail.

When must I make a claim?

It is important to see a solicitor as soon as possible. Your solicitor can make early contact with the person responsible, secure evidence, interview witnesses, inspect the accident location and do anything else that is necessary.

The Law provides that court proceedings must be issued in respect of any claim for personal injury within 3 years of the accident, save in exceptional circumstances. In any case involving children, the 3-year period commences on the date of the child’s 18th birthday.

Family

How much will it cost?

We can provide legal advice to both private and publicly funded clients. At your initial consultation we will establish whether you will qualify for Public Funding (Legal Aid).

In all cases we will provide you with an estimate of our charges and this will be confirmed to you in writing.

We operate a free initial consultation.

Will I get Legal Aid?

This depends on your income and capital. Your savings, income and outgoings, and those of your partner will be taken into account.

We will calculate whether you are eligible at your initial consultation. If you are, we will prepare the necessary application on your behalf.

If you are not eligible, we offer a cost-effective service to achieve the best outcome for you.

How quickly can I get divorced?

Every case is different. If you and your spouse want to get Divorced, and there are no complications a Divorce can be granted in as little as 4 months.

The actual length of time will depend on whether there are any related matters that need to be dealt with, such as arrangements for children or resolving financial issues.

What will happen with the children?

It is in the best interests of yourself, your spouse and more importantly your children, to agree arrangements for residency, contact and maintenance. If this can be achieved, there is no need for the Court to become involved.

If that is not possible, we can assist in finding a workable solution to the issues such as who the children should live with and how much time the other parent should spend with them.

We’ve agreed everything. Do we have to bother with Courts and Lawyers?

When separating couples are able to reach agreement between themselves, it is essential to ensure that the implications of any agreement are fully understood and binding upon both parties.

This will ensure that neither party can seek to vary the agreement at a later date. In the majority of agreed cases there is no need for either you or your spouse to attend at any court hearing.

What will I be entitled to?

The Law is flexible enough to allow the parties to negotiate a financial settlement which suits their particular circumstances.

Factors such as income, earning capacity, financial needs, standard of living, age, and length of marriage are taken into account.

We have a wealth of experience in such cases and will ensure that we achieve the best possible outcome for you, whether this is by way of negotiation or by Court proceedings.

Criminal law

How much will it cost?

We can provide legal advice to both private and publicly funded clients. At your initial consultation we will establish whether you will qualify for Public Funding (Legal Aid).

In all cases we will provide you with an estimate of our charges and this will be confirmed to you in writing.

We operate a free initial consultation.

Will I be entitled to Legal Aid?

The vast majority of prosecutions against individuals now attract public funding, providing they are deemed serious enough, regardless of the individuals financial situation.

We will apply for public funding, where possible, at the outset or confirm in writing that no application should be made.

Employment Law for Businesses

What do I do if an employee has done something wrong and I need to discipline them?

Regardless of the seriousness of what an employee has done, it is extremely unwise to simply summarily dismiss them on the spot. Even if an employee is guilty of the misconduct, he or she will still have an unfair dismissal claim if a proper procedure is not followed. If an employee has done something very seriously wrong, and you need to get them off the premises immediately, the proper course of action is to suspend them. This has to be on full pay unless there is a provision in their contract to the contrary.

You will need to investigate the matter thoroughly, taking care to ensure that you look at both sides of the issue and not just for things the employee has done wrong.

You are required to give the employee in writing details of what he or she is alleged to have done wrong, and send all the evidence you have colleted to the employee.

Once the employee has had enough time to study the evidence, you will then need to invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing to discuss the matter. The employee is entitled to be represented by a work colleague or a trade union representative (even if you do not recognise a union). The employee is entitled to present his case fully at the hearing.

After the hearing you will have to decide on the appropriate level of sanction. The course of action is to give an employee a series of warnings, a typical disciplinary procedure provides for a verbal, written and final written warning before dismissal. Only in cases of gross misconduct will dismissal for a first offence be permissible: what constitutes gross misconduct depends on the circumstances involved, and you may have to take advice on this if you are unsure.

Employees who are dissatisfied with the outcome of a disciplinary hearing should be given the right to appeal to a higher level of management.

I have had a complaint from one of my employees: what do I do?

It is important to deal with any complaints quickly and thoroughly to avoid the matter escalating.

If the employee has not already done so, ask him or her to put the complaint in writing and set it to you, together with any evidence he or she has.

You should then invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the matter, and get all the details of exactly what the employee is complaining about.

Do not make a decision at this stage, but tell the employee you will get back to them, and then thoroughly investigate the complaint. Make sure you know exactly what has happened and what the issues are, and exactly where you stand, taking professional advice as applicable. If necessary call the employee for a further meeting to discuss what you have uncovered.

Once you know exactly what has happened, set out in writing your findings and what you have uncovered, and what action and send this to the employee; it can be helpful to bring the employee in for a further meeting to explain your findings.
Employees who are dissatisfied with the outcome should be given the right to appeal to a higher level of management.

What do I need to do if I am making staff redundant?

Staff made redundant are considered to have been dismissed in law, and if the redundancy was unfair or a proper procedure is not followed, then they can claim unfair dismissal.

You cannot make a staff member redundant as an alternative to a disciplinary or poor performance procedure, or because he or she is unsuitable for the job or no longer fits in with how you envisage the job progressing: if you do so then you will be in danger of an unfair dismissal claim.

No matter how few staff you are making redundant there is an obligation to consult with the staff concerned. There are statutory minimum consultation periods if twenty or more staff are being made redundant, but if fewer staff are being made redundant you still have to consult with them sufficiently: there is just no set minimum time period. If twenty or more staff are being made redundant then unions or elected staff representatives have to be consulted with, otherwise staff may be consulted on an individual basis.

As a minimum you are required to write to the staff members concerned and inform them that redundancies are being considered and why, and meet with them to discuss it before taking a decision to make them redundant.

You are not allowed to simply pick which staff members are to be selected for redundancy: you must have a fair and objective method of selecting which staff are to be made redundant, and must consult with staff as to how those to be made redundant are to be selected before any decision is taken.

You are obliged to make every effort to find alternative positions for redundant staff.

Any staff made redundant have a right to appeal against this decision to a higher level of management.

What happens to staff if a business or part of it changes hands?

If a part of an undertaking is sold or transferred the staff employed in it become the employees of the transferee, who is obliged to honour all their terms and conditions of employment, and takes over any liabilities to the employees.

Any member of staff dismissed because of the transfer is automatically counted as unfairly dismissed, unless it can be shown that it was because changes in the workforce were required due to economic, technical or organisational reasons. The transferee would be liable for any such claims.

There is a legal requirement to provide information about the transfer to employee representatives, either the union if one is recognised, or elected representatives is not, and they must be consulted about any proposed changes due to the transfer.

If the transferor fails to meet its obligations to the employees, the liability is on the transferee, so it is strongly recommended that the transferee takes great care in purchasing a business, getting the appropriate indemnities from the transferor and making sure these obligations have been complied with.

Do I really need professionally drafted contracts of employment?

It is a legal requirement that all employees are provided with written terms and conditions. It is possible to draft these oneself, or purchase an off the peg set, but this can cause difficulties for employers.

All sorts of disputes can arise without a properly drafted contract:

  • When can I stop paying sick pay?
  • How do I calculate holiday pay on leaving?
  • How is salary calculated if employment terminates part way through the month?
  • What if I want to relocate an employee, or change their hours or duties or how they are paid?
  • Can I recover my costs if an employee leaves right after I have paid for his or her training?
  • What if an employee has set up his own business in his own time?
  • How can I protect my confidential information or prevent an employee taking my customers if he or she leaves?

All these issues can be provided for if employee?s contracts are properly set out.

Do I really need disciplinary and grievance procedures?

It is now a legal requirement that all employees are provided with written disciplinary and grievance procedures, regardless of the size of your business: failure to do so allows employees to complain to an Employment Tribunal. There are also now legally-required statutory dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures, which are binding on all employers, and it is vital that businesses? disciplinary and grievance procedures confirm to the new rules.

Farleys are able to provide you with a full set of disciplinary and grievance procedures, tailor made for your business needs and conforming to the statutory requirements. We can also advise and assist you in implementing any new terms and conditions required.

What is involved with this consultancy service for a fixed annual fee?

Farleys are aware that the perceived expense of obtaining professional advice deters many businesses, and often fear of a hefty bill leads many businesses to look to the many unregulated (and often unqualified or inexperienced) HR consultants as what is seen as a cheaper alternative.

In response to this need for affordable, competent, effective advice from a regulated, professional law firm, Farleys are now able to offer businesses an employment law and consultancy service, providing unlimited immediate, effective advice from a legal professional for a fixed annual retainer, at extremely competitive rates.

What training can you provide for me or my management staff?

We can provide training on all employment law matters including:

  • Disciplining and dismissing staff,
  • Dealing with staff complaints,
  • Absence management,
  • Redundancy handling,
  • Transfer of undertakings,
  • Discrimination law,
  • Giving evidence in Employment Tribunals.

I have received an Employment Tribunal claim: what happens now?

You have 28 days to return the Response Form. If you do not return the Response Form then you will be bared from defending the claim and judgement will be entered for the employee without you being allowed to dispute what he or she is saying. It is important that the Response Form is completed thoroughly and accurately, as you may not be allowed to raise defences at any hearing that were not included in the Response Form, and if you change your mind later or contradict what was said in the form, this will severely prejudice your case.

Once the Response Form is filled in, there is a six-week period in which the case is put on hold whilst ACAS tries to reach a settlement between the parties; it is well worth trying to do so as effective negotiation at this point can often reduce the amount claimed by employees to well below what was originally claimed, or what might be awarded by the Tribunal.

If negotiations are unsuccessful, the Tribunal will notify you of a date for a hearing to resolve the issue.

The usual course of events is for, prior to the hearing, each side to send to each other all the papers, contracts, letters and other evidence that they intend to use in the case, each side to prepare witness statements as to what any witnesses they intend to call will say, and for a single, numbered folder of papers to be prepared containing all the papers that are needed for the case.

The hearing itself will usually last anything from one or two days for straightforward matters, to several weeks for large, complicated matters.

Each side will bring forward its witnesses (who will then be questioned by the other side and the Tribunal) and any other evidence on which they wish to rely, and present any arguments that they have.

The Tribunal will then make their decision. They will usually firstly decide whether the employee has made their case, and if he has, then hear any further evidence on how much compensation he or she is due before deciding this.

Tribunal decisions can be appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal, but only if it can be shown that the Tribunal has made an error in its understanding of the law, not because you disagree with its decision.

I have a problem that Farleys can help me with, or I am interested in what services they can provide: what do I do now?

You can contact Iain Lovejoy, the head of the Employment Law Department on the telephone, by letter or by e-mail. His contact details are given in the ?Contacts? section.

You can call him, or if you send or e-mail details of the problem that you have, or the services that you are interested in, he can send you back details of what Farleys can do to help.

If you are interested in the having contracts or other personnel documents drafted, or the consultancy service on an annual fee, if you send details of your exact requirements, the number of employees you employ, and the sector of business that you are in, we can send you details of the charges you can expect to pay.

How much will you charge me?

This very much depends on the price that you are selling/buying/re-mortgaging your property for. Please contact us by telephone or emailand we will be happy to give you a quotation.

If you are buying a property then you may have to pay stamp duty. This is currently assessed at 1% of the total purchase price if the property you are buying is over £125,000; 3% if the property is over £250,000 and 4% if the property is over £500,000.

Some regeneration areas are exempt from stamp duty if the price is below £150,000. If you are able to supply the postcode of the property that you are buying, we will be able to check this for you over the phone.

I want to be in my new property in two weeks, is this possible?

With the best will in the world it is difficult to say how long a transaction will take. Transactions are influenced by many factors.

Delays can occur simply because of the amount of parties in a chain of sales and purchases or because of unseen problems that arise such as mortgage offers not being issued quite as quickly as expected.

As a rough guide most transactions are completed within 6 to 8 weeks however they are often much quicker than this. We will do our best to accommodate your requirements.

It is important that you do not give notice on any accommodation which you are renting, cancel any standing orders (i.e. to pay your mortgage) or make removal arrangements until we tell you that it is safe to do so.

Do I have to have a survey done?

If you are getting a mortgage, then the answer is yes.

This is arranged with your mortgage lender at the time you make your mortgage application. Please bear in mind that the basic survey they will offer to you is purely a valuation, which means that it is only to confirm that the property is worth the price you are paying.

We would advise you to obtain a more detailed report that will point out any major defects in the property. This can be arranged either through your mortgage lender or independently.

I have received an Employment Tribunal claim: what happens now?

You have 28 days to return the Response Form. If you do not return the Response Form then you will be bared from defending the claim and judgement will be entered for the employee without you being allowed to dispute what he or she is saying. It is important that the Response Form is completed thoroughly and accurately, as you may not be allowed to raise defences at any hearing that were not included in the Response Form, and if you change your mind later or contradict what was said in the form, this will severely prejudice your case.

Once the Response Form is filled in, there is a six-week period in which the case is put on hold whilst ACAS tries to reach a settlement between the parties; it is well worth trying to do so as effective negotiation at this point can often reduce the amount claimed by employees to well below what was originally claimed, or what might be awarded by the Tribunal.
If negotiations are unsuccessful, the Tribunal will notify you of a date for a hearing to resolve the issue.

The usual course of events is for, prior to the hearing, each side to send to each other all the papers, contracts, letters and other evidence that they intend to use in the case, each side to prepare witness statements as to what any witnesses they intend to call will say, and for a single, numbered folder of papers to be prepared containing all the papers that are needed for the case.

The hearing itself will usually last anything from one or two days for straightforward matters, to several weeks for large, complicated matters.

Each side will bring forward its witnesses (who will then be questioned by the other side and the Tribunal) and any other evidence on which they wish to rely, and present any arguments that they have.

The Tribunal will then make their decision. They will usually firstly decide whether the employee has made their case, and if he has, then hear any further evidence on how much compensation he or she is due before deciding this.

Tribunal decisions can be appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal, but only if it can be shown that the Tribunal has made an error in its understanding of the law, not because you disagree with its decision.

Property

When will you need my deposit?

A deposit of 10% of the purchase price is payable once we have completed our title investigation and reported to you on various aspects of the transaction.

It is often acceptable to pay less than 10%.

Please let us know in good time if that is going to be the case, so we can check a lesser deposit is acceptable by the Seller.

When does the signing take place?

You might be surprised to know that there is no such thing as an official signing.

When we ask you to call in to sign the contract this means that you are at the stage of entering into a legally binding contract to sell / buy your property. It is at this stage when the completion date (the date you move) is agreed.

Once you have signed the contract, and that contract has been exchanged by us with your buyer / seller?s solicitors, you are then legally bound to sell / buy the property, and will be unable to back out without severe financial penalties being imposed on you.

You will also sign the Transfer Deed and, if you are borrowing money to enable you to complete your purchase, your Mortgage Deed approximately one week before the completion date.

You will not need to call in to see us on the date of completion leaving you to carry on with your move.

When do I pay you?

We will send a completion statement out to you approximately 7 working days prior to the completion date.

This will show a breakdown of all the financial details of your transaction and will show any balance required from you.

Please make sure any balance due to enable us to complete is paid at least 5 working days before completion to enable us to have cleared funds in our bank account. If any money is due to you this will usually be paid to you on the day of completion.

When do I ask for the money from my mortgage lender?

You do not, we do.

We ask for it approximately a week before the completion date to ensure it is in our bank account by that day.

Where do I get my keys from?

As a general rule, if you are buying a property, keys are usually available from the selling agents.

Please do not expect to get them much before lunchtime as the sellers have until 2pm to leave the property.

Alternatively we are happy for you to arrange to collect the keys directly from the seller, provided you check with us that the money has been sent through to their solicitors.

If you are selling a property, we are happy for you to leave the keys with the selling agents or to hand them over direct to the buyer provided you check with us first that the money has been sent to us.

When do I pay my mortgage off?

You do not, we do.

We do this on the day of completion. We also pay the selling agents.

Employment Law for Employees

What are my minimum benefits as an employee?

As an employee you are entitled to:

  • A written statement of your terms and conditions (after one month?s service) whether you are ‘permanent’ or not, and regardless of whether you are in any probationary period;
  • Be paid at least the national minimum wage for each hour that you work;
  • Four week?s paid holiday per year (the police, the armed forces, workers at sea and some workers in the transport sector are excluded);
    Statutory sick pay if you fall ill at work; and
  • Minimum notice of termination of employment (after one month?s service).

You can take your employer to an Employment Tribunal if you do not receive these benefits.

What are my rights if I am made redundant?

You have the right to the following minimum termination payments:

  • You must receive all wages and holiday pay owing.
  • If you have at least one month service you are entitled to a minimum of one week notice.
  • If you have at least two years service you are entitled to a minimum of one week notice per year of service up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
  • If you have at least two years service between the ages of 18 and 65, you are entitled to a redundancy payment. This is in addition to any notice entitlement.

If your contract, offer letter or other agreement with your employer provides for better benefits than the above, then you must receive the agreed amounts. No matter what your contract says, you are entitled to the above minimums.

If your employer has become insolvent, then some of the above payments may be obtained from the government instead; however, your employer cannot avoid these payments by saying that he has not got the money to pay.

In addition, if you have at least a year service, you may be able to claim unfair dismissal if your employer has made you redundant and:

  • You are not genuinely redundant (for example if your post still exists with just a change in job title);
  • Your employer has not consulted with you properly over the redundancy;
  • A fair method of selecting you for redundancy has not been used; and / or
  • Your employer has not made a proper effort to find you alternative work.

Also, if 20 or more staff are being made redundant, your employer is obliged to consult with employee representatives, and you may be entitled to up to 90 days pay by way of consultation if he does not do so.

I believe I have been dismissed unfairly: can I claim against my employer?

To claim unfair dismissal you must have at least one year service. If you do not, you are only entitled to receive a minimum of one week notice (after one month service), and any wages and holiday pay due.

This rule may not apply if you can show that you have been dismissed because of:

  • sex, race or disability discrimination, or discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or religion;
  • working part time;
  • your exercising or insisting upon legal rights such as statutory minimum holidays or the national minimum wage or time off, or maternity rights or time off for family reasons;
  • a health and safety complaint you made;
  • your disclosing or threatening to disclose unlawful or dangerous practices by your employer;
  • your activities as a trade union or other official representative for employees; or
  • Participating in other trade union activities.

If you have been dismissed for any of the above reasons, your dismissal will usually be automatically unfair.

If you have a year service, before dismissing you, your employer must:

  • have a good reason for dismissing you;
  • investigate the matter thoroughly;
  • write to you setting out the reasons why dismissal is being considered;
  • invite you to hearing (at which you are entitled to be represented by a trade union official or co-worker of your choice);
  • give you a proper chance to defend yourself and properly investigate any matters you raise;
  • set out in writing the reasons for dismissing you; and
  • give you the right to appeal the decision.

In cases of alleged poor performance or misconduct (except in the most serious cases) you should also have received warnings about your conduct or performance before you were dismissed.

If your employer has not done these things, your dismissal is likely to be unfair.

Note, however, that your dismissal will not be unfair purely because you did not commit the misconduct of which you were accused, or because the decision to dismiss you was wrong. If there is at least some evidence on which your employer could come to the conclusions he did, he has investigated the matter thoroughly and given you a proper opportunity to defend yourself, then your dismissal will not be unfair even if you disagree with the decision.

What if I resign?

If your employer is making life difficult at work, it may still be possible to claim unfair dismissal if you resign. You will need at least one year service to claim, and will have to show that you left because your employer, by his actions, made it impossible for you to stay. You should be aware that it this is very difficult to do.

To give yourself the best chance of being able to claim, before taking the final step and resigning, you should:

  • Keep a diary of everything that happens;
  • Complain to your employer through your employer?s formal grievance procedure, or, if your employer does not have one, put your complaint in writing and give it to your employer, stating that it is a formal grievance;
  • Detail to your employer everything that has gone on and make a note of the response;
  • Do not assume that your employer knows what is going on, and make sure every compliant you make is recorded in writing;
  • Go through any appeals procedure if your grievance is unsuccessful.

If you resign after giving your employer the every possible chance to correct the problem, you have the best chance of claiming following termination of your employment.

What can I do if I am being discriminated against at work?

There is no general right to claim against your employer for unfair or unequal treatment. To claim the discrimination must be due to:

  • your sex, race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation;
  • your being a part time or temporary worker;
  • your exercising or insisting upon legal rights such as statutory minimum holidays or the national minimum wage or time off, or maternity rights or time off for family reasons;
  • a health and safety complaint you made;
  • your disclosing or threatening to disclose unlawful or dangerous practices by your employer;
  • your activities as a trade union or other official representative for employees; or
  • Participating in other trade union activities.

If you are subject to a detriment on these grounds then you may be able to claim against your employer.

Unfair treatment on other grounds may not be something that you can claim for, unless it breaches the terms of your contract, or the situation gets so bad that you have to resign (see ‘What if I resign?‘).

If you have been discriminated against you should keep a diary of what is happening. The first step must be to go through your employer?s grievance procedure, or, if your employer does not have one, put your complaint in writing and give it to your employer, stating that it is a formal grievance;

If your employer has not dealt with the matter within 28 days of your having submitted your complaint, then you may take the matter to an Employment Tribunal.

How long have I got to claim?

In the case of unfair dismissal or failure by your employer to give proper notice, a claim must be brought within a period of three months beginning within the date of termination of employment.

Most other claims also have a time limit of three months beginning with the incident being complained about.

In most cases, you must write to your employer stating your grievance and giving your employer 28 days to resolve the matter before you can claim in an Employment Tribunal.

In many cases, writing to your employer in this way will increase the time limit on the claim to six months, but we do not recommend that this be relied upon, and it is safer to bring the claim within the ordinary three month deadline.

My employer says I am ‘self-employed’: does this make a difference?

Most employment rights require that you be an employee to claim. Most claims of discrimination, and in respect to the minimum wage, or for holiday pay under the working time regulations only require that you be a ‘worker’, which means that you have to be required to do your work for your employer personally (instead of sending a substitute) and cannot be running your own business of which your employer is a customer.

Sometimes, although employers say that you are ‘self-employed’ you may still be an employee. This will occur most often where you work for a single employer on a regular, permanent basis for set hours and under your employer?s control.

Even if you have signed something to say you are ‘self-employed’, if your working arrangements are in reality those of a ‘worker’ or employee, you may still be able to claim in an Employment Tribunal.

Where can I obtain the Employment Tribunal forms?

These are available from a Job Centre or Citizen?s Advice Bureau.

If you want Farleys to act for you in your dispute, we are able to obtain copies, fill them in and submit them for you.

How much does going to an Employment Tribunal cost, and how can I pay for it?

The Employment Tribunals do not charge for their service.

In general, you only have to pay your own legal costs, but if you have brought a misconceived (i.e. hopeless) case, or persist in pursuing the case just to cause problems for your employer without any real chance of success, you can end up paying some or all of your employer?s expenses in fighting the claim (although this is rare).

It is possible for you to obtain your costs and expenses back from your employer, if they have been unreasonable in dragging out a claim they cannot win, but this is also rare.

Legal costs for taking a case all the way to its conclusion can cost around £2500 to £3500 or more, although it is possible (if difficult) to bring a case yourself without representation.

If you believe you have an Employment Tribunal case then Farleys can do an initial assessment of your claim for free if you contact us with the details.

If you do have a case, many home contents insurance policies come with a legal expenses policy which will pay for Employment Tribunal claims. If you can let us look at your policy we can check this for you.

If you do not have insurance, and do not want to pay on an hourly rate, in appropriate cases Farleys may be able to carry out the work for you on a ‘contingency fee’ basis. This means that instead of you having to pay up front for our legal costs, we will pursue the matter for you and take our fees out of any compensation you obtain. (If you were unsuccessful then you would not have to pay our fees).

This is not always available in every case, but please ask and we will let you know whether we are able to do this for you.

I believe Farleys can help me with my employment problem: what do I do now?

You can contact Iain Lovejoy, the head of our Employment Law Department on the telephone, by letter or by e-mail.

Or, you can fill out an on-line form.

Wills, Probate and Trusts

Who will administer my Estate?

We will advise you about the appointment of Executors. The Executor carries out the instructions given in your Will. Most people appoint members of their family or friends to be Executors. However if you would prefer to appoint us, or another professional Executor, please raise this at your appointment and we shall be pleased to assist.

Can I make changes to my Will?

Once you have made a Will you can make as many changes as you wish thereafter. Sometimes it will be best to have a new Will drawn up, and sometimes a Codicil will be sufficient. Any Codicil will then be read together with your Will. It is worthwhile checking your Will every few years, to see if any updating needs to take place.

When should I make a Will?

The minimum age is 18 years. The best advice we can give is that everyone who is over that age should consider having a Will, but certainly if you are married you should have one.

Please remember that if you have a Will, and then you marry after that, your Will will be revoked, unless it was drawn up expressly in contemplation of that particular marriage.

Who should I ask to witness my Will?

Witnesses to your Will must be adults, and must not benefit under your Will or be married to anyone that does. Most of our clients choose to sign their Wills in our office, and members of our staff will act as witnesses at no extra cost.

Where should I keep my Will once it is made?

Your Will should be kept safe, and preferably not at home. We offer clients the facility of storing their Wills in our strong room. Alternatively, some clients choose to lodge their Wills at their Bank.

Where should I keep my Will once it is made?

Your Will should be kept safe, and preferably not at home. We offer clients the facility of storing their Wills in our strong room. Alternatively, some clients choose to lodge their Wills at their Bank.

What happens if I leave something to a person who dies before me?

A specific alternative provision in your Will will come into operation, if you’ve made one. Otherwise the gift to that individual simply fails and the sum of money or item then passes back into your general Estate.

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