Recognition for local law Firm

Hartley & Worstenholme solicitors of Pontefract and Castleford have been shortlistedfor an award for ‘Small Conveyancing Firm’ of the year.  Victoria Davis, who heads up the online conveyancing department said,

“Online conveyancing is very fast moving, high pressure and demanding – you can’t afford to take your eye off the ball.  We have grown the team to be able to deal with the demand for our services both locally and nationally.  And we have an ever increasing returning client base of investors and homeowners.”

“The awards are given in recognition of our level of client care, attention to detail and quality of service. As a team, we are delighted to be selected and we are very much looking forward to attending the awards ceremony on 9thSeptember.”

 

Supreme court decision: a step closer to a no fault divorce?

A recent Supreme Court decision has applied pressure to Parliament to consider the state of divorce law in England and Wales.
The current law requires proof that the marriage has broken down irretrievably in order to obtain a divorce. You may divorce someone on the basis of their behaviour or adultery, but under current rules, if neither of these apply, you must wait till you have been separated for at least two years. In other words, the court must always find fault with one party to be able to grant a divorce. The nearest to a ‘no fault’ divorce under current rules allows married couples to request a divorce when they have been separated for two years or more.
The recent case of Owens v Owens asked the court to consider whether it was possible for Mrs Owens to divorce her husband on the basis that she was ‘desperately unhappy’ .  Mr Owens would not consent to a divorce. She therefore asked the court to grant a divorce based on her husband’s behaviour. This was originally allowed, but Mr Owens appealed and was successful.
Finally the matter has been heard by the Supreme Court, who have upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision. The Supreme Court have said however that this situation is archaic, and have asked Parliament to reconsider the law as it stands.
Many other jurisdictions have the capability of granting no fault divorces.
The no fault divorce has been something long discussed in the English and Welsh legal system, but as of yet, has not happened. It is quite possible that this recent decision could prompt a change in the law, removing the need for parties to place blame in what can already be a difficult and stressful situation.

Currently recruiting: Legal Secretary

Hartley & Worstenholme Solicitors are now seeking a Conveyancing Legal Secretary to join their Residential Property Team. This is a great opportunity for a personable applicant who is seeking to join a reputable firm. The role is offered on a full time permanent basis. Part time will be considered.

The Role
The successful candidate will be proficient in the use of the Land Registry portal. Experience in case management systems would be highly advantageous. Working well under minimum supervision, your duties will include: file management; typing; drafting legal documents; submitting search applications.
The Candidate:
• excellent communication skills
• IT literate to include experience in the use of digital dictation
• excellent spelling and grammar
• accuracy and attention to detail
• the ability to work in a team
• experience producing legal documents
• working from solicitors’ written notes and audio files (dictation)
• filing and general administrative work
• handling confidential information
or at 10 Gillygate, Pontefract, WF8 1PQ”

Local Law firm recognition for specialist services

Jonathan Sharp, Managing Partner, and Mandy Arkell, Chartered Legal Executive Advocate, at the local law firm Hartley & Worstenholme, based in Pontefract and Castleford have recently gained specialist qualifications respectively as a Notary and Children Panel Member.

Jonathan, a commercial property solicitor, is now one of around 850 Notaries in England and Wales to be qualified. As a Notary, he is primarily concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures, authority and capacity relating to documents for use abroad.

Jonathan is delighted to be able to offer this service to clients stating that “It is a great achievement to qualify as a Notary, in the third and oldest branch of the legal profession, and I am looking forward to offering Notarial services to our clients.

Following her qualification, Mandy is now a member of the Children Law Accreditation Scheme (the Children Panel) and the only scheme member based in Castleford. She regularly appears in Family Courts throughout Yorkshire in applications involving children as well as financial and domestic violence proceedings. Mandy represents and assists children, parents and other family members where a Local Authority Social Services Department has become involved with the family.

Mandy, who lives in Castleford and has worked for Hartley & Worstenholme since 1993 said “I am extremely proud to become a member of the Children Law Accreditation Scheme. This is something I have been working towards for many years. I am now able to represent children, parents and other family members and advise them where Social Services or the Local Authority is involved”.

 

 

Martin House Children's Hospice - Make A Will Month

The Castleford office of Hartley & Worstenholme are please to announce that they are participating in the Martin House Children’s Hospice “make a will month” in May 2016.

This gives you the opportunity to have a will written at the discounted price of £60 for a basic single will or £110 for basic mirror wills.

If you would like to take advantage of this offer please collect an entitlement voucher from our Castleford reception, or when arranging an appointment in May 2016 mention that you want to make a will under the Martin House make a will month scheme and we will have a voucher ready for you at your appointment.

 

Legal Aid restrictions marginally loosened

As many people are aware, in 2013 the possibility of obtaining Legal Aid to help in a dispute relating to divorce or children was severely restricted by the Legal Aid,  Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

This placed a requirement that in order for a person to receive Legal Aid (public funding) they would have to show that they were a victim of domestic abuse from their opponent, within the last 24 months. This is a strict test with very specific evidence requirements.

As the 24 month time limit was strictly adhered to, this led to a situation where some people in receipt of Legal Aid would find their funding cancelled once the time limit was reached. Potentially leaving litigants stranded mid-proceedings.

The Government has recently agreed to loosen this restriction. It is now the case that if you meet the criteria at the start, you funding will not be stopped due to an expired time limit.

The position remains however that at the time of application for funding, the victim must have suffered an incident in the last 24 months. Many campaigners still believe that the 24 month time limit is far too restrictive, and continue to lobby for the review.

At Hartley & Worstenholme we have encountered many clients since the Legal Aid cuts, who have difficulty accessing funding for technical or minor reasons. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you could receive Legal Aid on a family matter, please contact reception or come to one of our free advice clinics, opening times below.

 

Free advice legal clinics:

 

Castleford Office:   Tuesday 4.30pm to 6.00pm

Pontefract Office:  Wednesday 4.30pm to 6.00pm

HSBC ends probate service

You will no longer be able to bank on your Bank to sort things out after your death

HSBC, formerly known as the Midland Bank, have taken the decision to stop offering a probate service.

If you have appointed HSBC or the Midland to act as your executor, they will no longer undertake this role so now is a good time to review your appointed executors.

Hartley and Worstenholme have a wealth of experience both acting as executors and advising and supporting family members who have been given this role. We offer a personal and thorough service to ensure that your estate is dealt with appropriately in the event of your death.

If you would like to appoint alternative executors or if you would like to revise your will for any other reason, contact reception today and make an appointment’

Property Update: More Haste, Less Speed

A poll conducted by the Law Society has found that the most stressful aspect of buying a new home is the time it takes to advance the matter to completion. In fact, 65% of homebuyers indicated that they were willing to pay more in legal fees in exchange for a speedier transaction.

The conveyancing process takes, on average, 11.3 weeks to complete. At Hartley & Worstenholme, we aim to progress the matter to completion within this time frame, or sooner, without ‘hiking up’ our fees.

To speed up the conveyancing process, we aim to:

–          open your file and produce the initial paperwork within a week of receiving sales instructions

–          deal with correspondence as soon as possible

–          liaise with estate agents and brokers who are helpful in progressing the matter

–          schedule a review of your file at appropriate intervals so that you are always on our radar

–          tell you up front what we need from you to proceed as quickly as possible

Sometimes, transactions cannot be completed within the anticipated time period for many reasons – for example, where there are issues with funding, whether there are title defects or whether there is an uncooperative seller. Of course, we strive in these situations to keep you fully informed of any delay and to get the matter to completion as quickly as possible.

You can help us keep the process efficient by:

–          arranging funding prior to making an offer on the property

–          promptly replying to our correspondence

–          keeping in touch with the estate agent

Hartley & Worstenholme aim to ensure that our pursuit of a speedy and efficient transaction does not affect our thorough, diligent and tailor-made service.

Property Update: European Union Mortgage Regulations

The European Union (‘EU’) have recently announced new mortgage rules to be introduced in all countries that are members of the EU.

 

England and Wales will therefore be affected by the new regime which, by March 2016, must be implemented in relation to all residential and commercial mortgages.

 

The new rules will mean that, rather than producing mortgage offers as we know them today, financial institutions such as banks and building societies will make an ‘offer binding on the creditor’ along with a seven day period for the consumer to reflect on the offer before accepting or declining it. The ‘offer binding on the creditor’ will mean that, once the financial institution has approved a borrower as a candidate suitable for a mortgage, there will be a trigger where the offer becomes irrevocable (for example, by the submission of a request for funds by the conveyancer). The rules are said to be aimed at allowing borrowers to fully assess the offers, think about the implications of entering into the life-changing loan and thus make an informed decision whether to enter into the agreement or not.

 

This differs from the current regime as, when a mortgage offer is produced, there is an expiry period (usually of 6 months) whereby the buyer can either draw down the funds and use them or allow the offer to expire. A buyer is not bound by the terms of the mortgage until the monies are drawn down by the conveyancer and used to buy a property.

 

It is feared that, when these rules are incorporated into our domestic law, this will place some significant strain and cost on the industry, remove some consumer protections and design a new framework for conveyancers and consumers to work within. The government have, however, given us some hope that they will limit the effect of the new regime by altering only a minimal part of the framework we currently work within.

 

Hartley & Worstenholme are preparing themselves for the changes and training its staff on the new regime so that, once introduced, we can hit the ground running.

Family Law Update: Maintenance

A recent case in the High Court has provided guidance on what should be considered when a spouse applies for  maintenance payments.

 

Spousal maintenance, put simply, amounts to payments made from one spouse (‘Payer’) to another (‘Payee’)on a regular basis so that the Payee may continue to cope financially and transition to a financially independent life. Such payments are often made when one spouse cares for the children following divorce or if, prior to divorce, one spouse was supported financially by the other.

 

The guidelines set out by the Court will help family lawyers determine what criteria should resolve the issue of maintenance. They are also useful for divorcees when considering what type of information, along with supporting documentation, they could produce to assist their lawyers in making a good case.

 

Points to consider are:

 

  1. Why should the Payer be liable for the financial maintenance of the Payee?

Maintenance may be appropriate where, for example,: one has been a home-maker and forsaken their career, one has earned significantly more than the other and that person has come to rely on the additional income

 

  1. What are the Payees’ needs?

The focus is on needs not wants

 

  1. Will the Payee suffer any significant financial hardship of maintenance is not paid?

 

  1. What level of maintenance is needed, and how long is it needed for?

Emphasis is placed on the transition to independent life and a reasonable term should be considered (maintenance to be paid for, say, five years) unless undue hardship would be suffered after the order has expired

 

  1. What standard of living did the family have during marital life?

This is relevant to how much maintenance should be paid, but is not the decisive factor

 

  1. Does the Payee have to produce a detailed itemised budget that will be scrutinised for errors and economics?

No. The court say that a global view should be taken of the total budget and consider whether it represents a ‘fair proportion of the Payers’ available income’

 

Very often maintenance depends on balancing the Payer’s available income against the Payee’s financial needs.

 

If you believe that you are entitled to spousal maintenance, you should make an appointment to see one of our expert family lawyers who will be able to discuss your case further.