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2016

Febraury 2016Legal News

Evidence tests for domestic violence are unlawful, says Court of Appeal

The legal challenge by "Rights of Women" of the domestic violence evidence requirements for family law legal aid has been successful. After an appeal hearing in the Court of Appeal on 28 January the two year time limit for evidence has been ruled unlawful and the Government required to amend the legal aid regulations to ensure that women experiencing financial abuse are able to access family law legal aid.

In his judgment in R (Rights of Women) v The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice [2016] EWCA Civ 91, Lord Justice Longmore said:

"Legal aid is one of the hallmarks of a civilised society."

"I would conclude that... regulation 33 does frustrate the purposes of LASPO in so far as it imposes a requirement that the verification of the domestic violence has to be dated within a period of 24 months before the application for legal aid and, indeed, insofar as it makes no provision for victims of financial abuse."

Director of Rights of Women Emma Scott said:

"For nearly three years we know that the strict evidence requirements for legal aid have cut too many women off from the very family law remedies that could keep them and their children safe. Today's important judgment means that more women affected by violence will have access to advice and representation in the family courts."

"The Court of Appeal has accepted our arguments that the fear of a perpetrator does not disappear after 2 years and recognised that forms of violence such as financial abuse are almost impossible for women to evidence. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Justice on amendments to the regulations to ensure that women affected by all forms of domestic violence are able to get legal aid."

Law Society President Jonathan Smithers said the Law Society supported the challenge brought by Rights of Women because legal aid is a lifeline for victims of abuse:

"The LASPO legal aid cuts have resulted in radical consequences for access to justice, with the worst impact affecting the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society. Survivors of domestic violence should not be subjected to the over-strict tests required by the regulations as they now stand.

"The harsh tests exclude victims from accessing legal aid for family-law disputes against an abusive ex partner or relative and are not what parliament intended. This ruling means that access to safety and justice will no longer be denied to the very people the government expressly sought to protect with its amendments to the regulations."

Febraury 2016Legal News

Joint enterprise law wrongly interpreted for 30 years, Supreme Court rules

The law which has allowed people to be convicted of murder even if they did not inflict the fatal blow has been wrongly interpreted for more than 30 years, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The joint enterprise law has been used to convict people in gang-related cases if defendants "could" have foreseen violent acts by their associates.

However, judges ruled it was wrong to treat "foresight" as a sufficient test. Their decision could pave the way for hundreds of prisoners to seek appeals.

Delivering the judgement, Lord Neuberger said it was wrong to treat "foresight" as a sufficient test to convict someone of murder.

"The court is satisfied after a much fuller review of the law than in the earlier cases that the courts took a wrong turn in 1984. And it is the responsibility of this court to put the law right," he said.

In further remarks after publishing the judgement, Lord Neuberger said:

  • The ruling did not automatically mean that all previous joint enterprise convictions were unsafe
  • "A person who joins in a crime, which any reasonable person would realise involves a risk of harm, and death then results, is guilty at least of manslaughter", the maximum sentence for which is life imprisonment
  • The rule that "a person who intentionally encourages or assists the commission of a crime is as guilty as the person who physically commits it" was not affected
  • It remained open to a jury to decide whether a person intentionally encouraged or assisted a crime, for example through knowledge that weapons were being carried

Febraury 2016Legal News

Changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax

Stamp Duty Land Tax for second properties will increase as from 1 April 2016. Any transactions completed on or after that date will attract the higher rate of 3% for properties up to £125,000, 5% for properties between £125,000 and £250,000, 8% for properties between £250,000 and £925,000, 13% for properties between £925,000 and £1.5 million and 15% for properties over £1.5 million. The rates are consistently 3% above the existing SDLT rates for residential properties.

2015

November 2015Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. sponsor Cirencester Advent Festival

Alison Fielden & Co. are the proud sponsors of Cirencester's Advent Festival and Christmas Lights once again for Christmas 2015. The lights will be switched on at the Advent Festival on 28 November 2015. For more details see the Christmas in Cirencester website.

We are also once again taking part in the Festival of Christmas Trees in the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Cirencester.

June 2015Office News

Cake Sale in aid of CHYP

Alison Fielden & Co. are holding a cake sale on Thursday 25 June 2015. We will be selling cakes made by the staff outside our office from the morning until the cakes run out. There will also be a raffle tickets on sale. We would be glad of any support that we get for CHYP.

May 2015Office News

Welcome to a new member of staff

We are very pleased to welcome Anna Evans to our office. She will be dealing part time with conveyancing and management secretarial duties alongside our full time long standing PA/Secretary, Mandy Habbitts.

May 2015Office News

Race for Life

One of our colleagues took part on 30 May 2015 in the Race of Life to raise money for cancer research and managed to do the run in a very good time. She is very proud to be able to hand over a good sum of cash to the charity.

May 2015Office News

SPG Conference

Alison Fielden attended the Conference for Sole Practitioners on 9 and 10 May 2015. This consisted of various items designed to keep small firms up to date with current management issues. There were contributions from the Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and experts in fields such as data protection, client care, the new rules on pensions and auto enrolment and more. This was a very worthwhile weekend giving a good update on best practise in many current topics.

April 2015Office News

Vacancy for secretary/administrator

Alison Fielden & Co. are looking to recruit a secretary/administrator. Please see the jobs section and apply before the closing date of 24th April 2015.

March 2015Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. reaccredited for Lexcel standard

We had our fifth Lexcel audit which was a major review of all our systems. We had the best result yet with no major non-compliances, one single minor non-compliance and many areas of good practice. We were absolutely delighted with the result and are keen to maintain our high standard next year.

March 2015Legal News

Changes to legal aid 'represent a black mark on government's children's rights record'

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has said that more needs to be done by the Government to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Committee's report on the UK's compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child points to areas, such as immigration, legal aid and children in custody, where some policy developments have actually worked against the best interests of children, despite the Government's specific commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) made in December 2010.

The Committee in its Report notes that the Government's recent changes to legal aid provision represent a black mark on its children's rights record; it also:

  • Calls on the next Government to review the legal definition of the age of a child in the UK;
  • Recommends that the Government undertakes to look into how the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England might be given the powers and resources to examine individual cases, as her counterparts in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are empowered to do;
  • Recommends that its successor Committee should look into the issues of reasonable punishment of children and of under-18s in the armed forces in the light of the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to be issued in 2016;
  • Concludes that a UK-wide examination of the impacts of devolution on the protection and promotion of human rights is required after the Election in order to provide reassurance that there is a sufficiently consistent approach to children's rights across the four countries of the UK, and that the different arrangements which very properly have been adopted in those countries do not reduce the level of protection for children but, where they have increased that protection, rather provide useful best practice for the rest of the UK to follow.

March 2015Legal News

Enforcing family financial orders - Law Commission proposes better solutions for separating couples

The Law Commission is seeking views on options for reform that would simplify and clarify the law and make it easier for the courts, practitioners and the public to use. In its consultation paper the Commission explores ways in which existing mechanisms for enforcing compliance can be made more effective and considers new mechanisms that might be used, in particular to bring pressure to bear on those who refuse to meet their obligations under a family financial order.

The Law Commission notes that under existing law, the courts can struggle to enforce the family financial orders they make. The mechanisms for enforcement are contained in a range of legislation and court rules. Court users can find the process bewildering and parties often face significant expense and distress in trying to get what they are owed which can lead to hardship for them and their children.

The Commission suggests reforms that would provide the courts and former partners with more useful information about the financial position of the party who has not complied. This would provide a better understanding of why a financial order has not been met, and enable the parties to make decisions about enforcement and find a solution. The Commission also makes proposals for information, support and advice to be provided for the public affected by the enforcement of family financial orders.

Professor Elizabeth Cooke, Law Commissioner for property, family and trust law, said:
"The law governing the enforcement of family financial orders is hard to understand and difficult to use. When the courts cannot enforce family financial orders, it can lead to real hardship for former partners and children and place a huge burden on the state. We need to understand whether existing mechanisms for enforcement are working as well as they might, what other powers the courts might use to tackle non-payment, and how we can find better solutions for couples when one partner is able to pay but refuses to do so."

The consultation is open from 11 March to 11 July 2015.

March 2015Legal News

Supreme Court allows wife's claim 18 years after divorce to proceed

The Supreme Court has allowed the former wife's appeal in Wyatt v Vince [2015] UKSC 15.

In May 2013 the Court of Appeal allowed Mr Vince's appeal against the dismissal of his application to strike out his former wife's, Ms Wyatt's, claim for a financial remedy, which she issued some 18 years after the parties were divorced. The Court also held that an A v A order should not have been made against the husband requiring him to pay a total of £125,000 to fund his ex-wife's legal costs of bringing the claim against him. In the High Court Mr Vince had been ordered to pay £125,000 directly to Ms Wyatt's solicitors.

Lord Wilson, explaining the judgment of the Supreme Court, said that the omission from the Family Procedure Rules of a power to grant summary judgment was deliberate.

"Ms Wyatt's claim should proceed to a short hearing," he added.

Ms Wyatt faces formidable difficulties in seeking to establish that a financial order should be made in her favour, including the short duration of the marriage and the long delay since then. It is not clear whether she will be able to sustain her claim on the basis of need generated by her relationship with Mr Vince. However, section 25(2)(f) of the 1973 Act obliges the court to have regard to "the contributions which each of the parties has made ... to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family". Ms Wyatt will no doubt rely on her much greater contribution to the upbringing of the couple's children over many years, a factor which may justify a financial order for a comparatively modest sum.

The court also considered the costs allowance order. Mr Vince argued that even if Ms Wyatt's application were not to be struck out, the deputy judge had been wrong to make the costs allowance order. The threshold test for making such an order was whether Ms Wyatt could reasonably secure legal services by any other means. Given that it would be unreasonable to expect her solicitors to continue to act without payment until the determination of her substantive application (as contended by Mr Vince), this test was satisfied.

March 2015Legal News

Regulations on legal aid funding for judicial review held to be unlawful

The Lord Chancellor suffered another setback in his efforts to restrict legal aid when the High Court ruled this week that regulations introducing a "no permission, no fee" arrangement for legally aided applications for judicial review are unlawful.

The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (No 3) Regulations 2014 amended existing provisions such that legal aid practitioners would not be paid for work done up to the permission stage on an application for judicial review if permission to bring the claim was subsequently refused. The stated purpose of the Regulations was to incentivise providers of legal services to focus on the proper application of the merits test for legal aid before applying for judicial review.

The claimants in R (Ben Hoare Solicitors & Ors) v The Lord Chancellor [2015] EWHC 523 (Admin) challenged the legality of the Regulations on the grounds that they were:

  1. ultra vires in that they were inconsistent with the Lord Chancellor's duty under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 to "secure" civil legal aid services, including for judicial review;
  2. incompatible with the statutory scheme that governs legal aid, principally under LASPO (ie a ground based on the well-known Padfield case, which requires decision-makers to act in accordance with the purpose of legislation conferring the power being exercised); and
  3. likely to have a "chilling effect" on access to the High Court as people eligible for legal aid for judicial review claims would not be able to find lawyers to take on their case.
The Court held that the Regulations were not strictly ultra vires, as they were consistent with the overall structure and purpose of LASPO to a limited extent. Accordingly, the claimants' first ground was rejected.

As for ground two, the Court noted that there were certain events in judicial review litigation that were unforeseeable or beyond the control of the provider - for example, the withdrawal by a defendant of the impugned decision such that the permission decision is never reached, or the court ordering a "rolled-up" hearing. The Court held that, in those circumstances, the provision extended "well beyond the circumstances which can be seen as rationally connected to the stated purpose given for its introduction". As such, it was inconsistent with the purposes of the LASPO Scheme. The application for judicial review therefore succeeded, and it was not necessary for the Court to determine the "chilling effect" ground.

The Court did not consider the question of appropriate relief; therefore it remains to be seen whether the Regulations will be quashed. It is nevertheless surprising that the MoJ is reported as having responded to the judgment as follows: "We are ... pleased this judgment confirms the principle of our reform is lawful. We will now carefully consider the technical aspects raised by the court and our next steps."

March 2015Legal News

Recent Adoption case establishes legal parenthood for sperm donor

In B v C (Surrogacy: Adoption) [2015] EWFC 17 (Fam), Mrs Justice Theis has granted an adoption order in favour of B, who was a single father of the child, A. B's sperm and a donor egg had been implanted into C (who was in fact B's mother). C was married to D (B's father). By operation of HFEA 2008 s.31, C was the legal mother of A and her husband, D was A's legal father by virtue of HFEA 2008 s.35(1). Accordingly B was not recognised as a legal parent and sought to establish legal parenthood (and to extinguish the parentage between A and C and D).

Since section 54(2) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 excludes single commissioning parents from applying for parental orders, B applied for an adoption order. The application was supported by all of the parties, including A's Guardian and the local authority.

This was an unusual case and the court analysed the relevant provisions of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, including possible criminal liability in respect of a breach of s.92 ACA 2002 (which effectively creates a criminal offence under s.93 ACA 2002 for private adoptions without using an adoption agency). In this case, a criminal offence had not been committed because of s.92(3) and (4) which provides that an offence is not committed if the prospective adopters are parents, relatives or guardians of the child, or a partner of a parent of the child. Given that as a matter of law, B was in fact the legal brother of A, the court found that B was a "relative" within the meaning of s.144 ACA 2002.

March 2015Legal News

New Children's Commissioner for England outlines her priorities

Anne Longfield OBE, who started as the new Children's Commissioner for England on 2 March, has identified her immediate priorities as:
  • working with children to make sure their interests are at the forefront of decision making nationally and locally
  • securing real improvements for the most vulnerable children in the country's care system
  • making sure adults and professionals understand and act on, the signs displayed by children who are abused or neglected
  • securing real commitments from all the major political parties to make children a key priority as they go into the election in May, including to renew their commitments to helping the poorest, most disadvantaged children.
As Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield is tasked in law with promoting and protecting their rights, with a particular focus on children who are in care, who receive social care services, or who live away from home for other reasons.

The new Children's Commissioner is an expert in children and family policy and services and has led ground-breaking campaigns and research in this area, including high profile inquires and Commissions which have shaped Government approaches to children and families. She has been Chief Executive of the charity 4Children for 20 years, growing it to run a national network of nearly 100 Sure Start Children's Centres. She is a passionate champion of early intervention and received an OBE in recognition of her contribution in the millennium honours. She gained the Freedom of the City of London in 2013 for services to children in the capital.

Anne Longfield said:
"It is a privilege to have been appointed to work on behalf of England's children, and I am determined to use my six years to make a real difference. I will spend my six year term as Children's Commissioner stretching every sinew to improve the lives of children - listening to what children and young people tell me and bringing their concerns to the table. The majority of children are flourishing and are destined to continue to do so. But there are still far too many who face severe disadvantages and sadly abuse or neglect, who are discriminated against for some reason or who simply who do not get a fair start in life because their parents or carers cannot afford to provide them with one. I will work on their behalf, championing their rights throughout the country. In 6 years time I would like the country to feel proud of the changes it has made to improve the lives of children."

March 2015Office News

Solicitor to take part in Bath Men's Walk

Family Law Solicitor Steven Barratt is taking part in the Bath Men's Walk, a sponsored walk on 21st March 2015 from The Dorothy House Hospice to the Recreation Ground in Bath, in aid of the Dorothy House Hospice and the Bath Rugby Community Foundation.

March 2015Legal News

Appeal Court judge tells ex-wife to 'get a job' in maintenance payment dispute

The ex-wife of a millionaire racehorse surgeon has been told by a judge to 'get a job' saying she has 'no right to be supported for life' at her ex-husband's expense. In a dramatic ruling this Court of Appeal decision is likely to have a significant impact for ex-wives of wealthy husbands. Lord Justice Pitchford said divorcees with children aged over seven should work for a living.

Lord Justice Pitchford rejected a challenge by Tracey Wright to a decision to slash her future maintenance, which she stated would cause 'a plummeting in the standard of living' of the youngest child. Mrs Wright's ex-husband Ian Wright, a racehorse surgeon in Newmarket, had been ordered to pay £75,000 maintenance and school fees per year (£33,200 was spousal maintenance for Mrs Wright's personal upkeep), in 2008 after 11 years of marriage. Last year Mr Wright went to the High Court to seek a reduction in the payments to Mrs Wright, stating it was not fair that he was expected to support his ex-wife for life, even after his proposed retirement.

Mrs Wright chose not to work after the end of the marriage, and instead be a stay-at-home mum. As part of the divorce, Mrs Wright received a mortgage-free home worth £450,000 and horse stabling for her and the daughters' horses. Lord Justice Pitchford stated that 'the world of work has innumerable possibilities these days ... vast numbers of women with children just get on with it and Mrs Wright should have done the same'. The judge continued to state that 'Mrs Wright has made no effort whatsoever to seek work or to update her skills ... I am satisfied that she has worked on this basis ... that she would be supported for life.'

The judge upheld the decision of the High Court that Mrs Wright's personal maintenance payments must cease, with a gradual tailing off over a 5-year period leading up to Mr Wright's retirement.

March 2015Legal News

Non-UK nationals subject to tougher checks on marriage in UK

The Proposed Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Waiting Period) Regulations 2015 come into effect on 2 March 2015. Many non-UK nationals who are planning to marry in the UK will face tougher checks by the Home Office in an effort to crack down on sham marriages. The new rules will also apply to civil partnerships.

'If one of the parties to a proposed marriage or civil partnership is a non-UK/non-EEA national with limited or no status then the proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office before the ceremony is allowed to take place. Those present in the UK with indefinite leave to remain, EU right of permanent residence or right of abode will not be referred but they must evidence their status adequately when giving notice.'

The key points of the new scheme, are:

  • All couples in the UK planning to marry must now give notice of their intention to do so 28 days before marrying (previously the notice period was 15 days);
  • Non-UK/non-EEA nationals with limited or no status in the UK who give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office;
  • Those couples referred to the Home Office may be required to wait 70 days before marrying if a decision is taken to investigate the relationship;
  • Non-UK/non EEA nationals who wish to marry in the Anglican Church will now be required to give notice at a register office also;
  • EEA nationals (including British citizens) will need to provide specified evidence of their citizenship to the Anglican Church prior to being married by the church;
  • All non-UK/non-EEA nationals who are not exempt from immigration control will now need to give notice of their marriage at a designated register office (there will be 75 such designated offices nationwide) rather than at the office in the district in which they reside.
Orders are in place which extend the referral and investigation scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland and transitional arrangements are in place for couples who have given notice prior to 2 March 2015.

2014

November 2014Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. sponsor Cirencester Advent Event

Alison Fielden & Co. are proud to be the main sponsors for the Cirencester Town Council Advent event on 29 November 2014. Click on the image below for further details of the event.

Christmas in Cirencester

August 2014Office News

New arrivals

Julie Cox has joined us to run our Wills and Probate Department and is proving very popular with clients. Andrew Stokes has joined us to deal with our litigation and employment matters and also to handle some family law matters and has been able to hit the ground running.

June 2014Office News

Cake sale in aid of CHYP

Alison Fielden & Co held an office cake sale where members of staff made cakes and sold them on our forecourt to raise money for CHYP (Cirencester Housing for Young People). We raised £193.67 and all our cakes were sold by lunchtime.

May 2014Office News

Solicitor joins the Law Society Children Panel

Steven Barratt received confirmation from the Law Society that he had been successful in his application to join the Law Society Children Panel. He will be hoping to take on even more work with regard to children both public and private law.

April 2014Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. re-enrolled into Conveyancing Quality Scheme

Our Conveyancing Quality Scheme membership expired and was renewed (confirmed by the Law Society a little later in the year owing to their backlog).

March 2014Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. reaccredited for Lexcel standard

We had our fourth Lexcel audit which was a major review of all our systems. We had the best result yet with no major non-compliances, 4 minor non-compliances and 34 areas of good practice. We were absolutely delighted with the result and are keen to maintain our high standard next year.

February 2014Office News

New computers and dictation equipment

New computers and dictation equipment purchased bringing us even more up to date with Windows 8 and a new generation of digital dictation.

2013

April 2013Office News

A new Family Solicitor joins the firm

We have a new solicitor - Steven Barratt who joined us this month to do family law. He has excellent experience. He will be working closely with our head of department Heather Weavill with both private and legal aided clients. It is a particularly challenging time in legal aid and our firm is one of very few locally still offering legally aided work to our clients.

March 2013Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. reaccredited for Lexcel standard

We are delighted to confirm that we have been re-accredited for Lexcel. We had no major non compliances, very few minor ones and no fewer than 18 areas of good practice where we have achieved significantly above the standard required by Lexcel. We are all very pleased and are trying our best to maintain high standards as an every day reality for each and every one of our clients.

2012

September 2012Office News

A new solicitor for Wills & Probate

Andrew Hill joined us in July to deal with our Wills & Probate, Employment Law and Litigation. He's made an energetic start and is enjoying meeting many new clients.

April 2012Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. reaccredited for Lexcel standard

We are very pleased to have been reaccredited for Lexcel this year. Lexcel is an optional recognised accreditation scheme for law firms which gives assurance that a practice meets high client care and business management standards. Once Lexcel has been awarded firms who have it are reassessed every year. Only quite a small percentage of law firms have this accreditation (9% at the last count).

February 2012Legal News

Statutory Payment Rates

Rates for 2012/13 will be as follows:

From 1st April 2012, for those earning £107 or more:
Statutory maternity pay, paternity pay and adoption pay - £135.45 per week.

From 6th April 2012:
Statutory sick pay - £88.85 per week.

February 2012Legal News

Employment Tribunal Fees & Costs

Ministry of Justice is considering introducing a system of fees for employment tribunals with an option for the tribunal to order the unsuccessful party to reimburse fees paid by the successful party. Two options are currently being considered by the Ministry of Justice:

Option 1 - An initual fee of £150 - £250 to begin a claim, a further fee of £250 - £1250 if the claim goes to hearing. On this option there would be no limit to the maximum award.

Option 2 - A fee of £200 - £600 with maximum award limited to £30,000, or £1750 for those seeking higher awards.


2011

August 2011Office News

Alison Fielden & Co celebrates 25 years in business

Today (6 August 2011) we celebrate 25 years in business in Cirencester. We would like to thank all our clients who have used our services over the years and we are offering a 10% discount for those who instruct us on a new matter in July, August or September on presentation of one of our special leaflets.

March 2011Office News

Alison Fielden & Co supports Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Our office supported the Breakthrough Breast Cancer fund-raising walk at Westonbirt Arboretum. Two of us did the walk and nearly all the firm (plus some family & friends) sponsored us. We raised more than £120 for the charity.

February 2011Office News

Alison Fielden & Co awarded 'excellence mark' by the Law Society

We are pleased to report that we have been awarded the Lexcel quality mark by the Law Society following a stringent assessment. This prestigious accreditation is only given to firms who demonstrate excellence in client care and business management, and has so far been awarded to fewer than 10% of solicitors' firms in England and Wales.

As a firm we are constantly looking for ways to develop and improve our service to clients and we are delighted to have reached this milestone. Our assessor identified no fewer than 14 areas of good practice in which we have achieved over and above the requirements of Lexcel.

More details on the Lexcel scheme can be found at the Law Society website.

January 2011Legal News

You can't take it with you!

The first of the BBC series of programmes "Can't take it with you" was broadcast on Friday 14th January. The programmes deal with the sometimes difficult decisions that each of us should make regarding our wills and inheritance planning. Not having a will, or having an inadequate or outdated will, causes anguish for those who have to pick up the pieces after we have gone, and the outcome might not be the one that you would have wished for.

If the programme has prompted you to think about your own situation, then our Wills specialist can advise you regarding all aspects of wills and inheritance planning, as well as offering a probate service. We are conveniently located in the centre of Cirencester within easy reach of the market and shops.

By taking action now, you will avoid leaving difficulties for your loved ones in the future.

For further information please contact our Wills & Probate department.


2010

November 2010Legal News

Family Law case

We are pleased to have had a case of ours reported in the legal press. The Court of Appeal decided that in some circumstances a child would not be obliged to have contact with the absent parent if the child made clear that it did not want that contact to take place.

October 2010Legal News

Equality Act

The Equality Act comes into force this month. It aims to harmonise existing discrimination legislation.

August 2010Legal News

Bribery Act 2010

This will introduce a new corporate offence of "failing to prevent bribery". Adequate compliance procedures must be put in place.

July 2010Office News

Legal Aid Tender

All firms who wish to continue offering legally aided work to the public have recently had to go through a tendering process. We are pleased to confirm that we have been successful in our tendering application. Further details are available from our Family Law solicitors Heather Weavill and Recbecca Scammell.

June 2010Legal News

Budget: Impact on Business

Two taxation changes have been helpful to business.
From April 2011 Corporation Tax will be reduced from 28% to 27% for companies with profits over £300,000 and 20% for those with profits below that figure.
Capital Gains Tax - although the rate has increased to 28% for those whose income/gains exceed the basic rate, the 18% rate remains for gains below that level.
Also the limits for Entrepreneurs Relief is being raised from £2million to £5million.

May 2010Legal News

Goodbye HIPs

On 20 May 2010 Home Information Packs were suspended pending legislation to abolish them altogether. Sellers will no longer need to supply the pack, but will still need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate in order to market their property.

April 2010Legal News

VAT goes online

New traders registering for VAT after 5 April 2010 and existing traders whose turnover is more than £100,000 will need to file their VAT returns online from 5 April 2010.

April 2010Legal News

Land Registry closures

The Land Registry has announced colsures of its offices in Stevenage, Tunbridge Wells and Portsmouth by 2011. Some London boroughs will be serviced by Swansea. Head Office will move from Central London and Croydon.

April 2010Legal News

Employment Law changes

The Government now makes most Employment Law changes in the April and Ocotber of each year. This month's changes include the following:
  • The maximum Unfair Dismissal compensatory award went down from £66,200 to £65,300
  • There is a new system of sick notes. Sick notes have been replaced by 'fit notes'. Doctors have to specify whether an employee is unfit to work at all or whether the employee can work with appropriate support such as a phased return to work, reduced hours or lighter duties.
  • Additional paternity leave: 26 weeks may be available if the child's mother returns to work without opting to take the 1 year entitlement. This will apply to children born after 3 April 2011. It also applies to adopted children.

January 2010Legal News

Business information regulations

As from 28 December 2009 regulations require all service providers to give specified information to customers including:
  • name of business;
  • legal status;
  • address and contact details;
  • any trade register and registration number;
  • any authorisation scheme;
  • VAT number if relevant;
  • any regulatory body;
  • terms and conditions;
  • after-sales guarantees;
  • price of service (if pre-determined);
  • main features of service;
  • any trade dispute resolution service;
  • who to contact in case of complaint.

2009

December 2009Office News

New solicitor heads Wills & Probate department

Eva Synowiec has assumed responsibility for our Wills & Probate work. She is particularly interested in developing our expertise in Lasting Powers of Attorney and welcomes all enquiries.

October 2009Legal News

Companies Act 2006 comes into force

The Companies Act 2006 will be fully in force from 1 October 2009. A single person can now set up a private or public Limited Company.

Documents required for incorporation will now be:

  1. A new form memorandum
  2. A copy of the articles (unless adopting standard articles provided under the Act)
  3. An application to register
  4. A section 10 statement of capital and initial shareholding
  5. A statement of the proposed officers of the company
  6. A statement of the registered office
  7. A section 13 statement of compliance which replaces the previous Form 12 and no longer must be signed before a solicitor or notary public.

There will also be changes in the information which directors have to provide about other directorships and private addresses.

October 2009Office News

An extra pair of hands

Due to our increasing workload we are pleased to welcome Lauren Reynolds to the firm. She will give secretarial assistance in Family and Conveyancing departments.

July 2009Office News

New recruit for Family department

We are pleased to welcome Linda Rogers to the firm. She will be secretary to Rebecca Scammell, assisting her in her ever-increasing workload. Linda has extensive experience in Family Law work and has previously worked in offices in Swindon.

May 2009Office News

Exam success

Congratulations to our Family Law secretary Michelle Kiddell who has passed her paralegal exams in Family Law, managing to study while keeping up with the department's work.

April 2009Legal News

Family Courts open to reporters

Accredited press representatives may now report on family proceedings (other than adoption proceedings) unless the welfare of the child requires otherwise.

April 2009Office News

Free Legal Advice

We have started free legal advice sessions in Family Law and Wills & Probate. These take place on Wednesday afternoons and selected Saturday mornings.

Phone us or see this site or the A-board outside our office for more details and updates.

April 2009Legal News

Further changes to Home Information Packs

As from 6 April 2009 a new Property Information Form is required to be included in Home Information Packs. First day marketing exemption ends.

April 2009Legal News

Employment Act 2008

From 6 April 2009 various provisions of the Employment Act 2008 come into effect including changes to disciplinary and grievance procedures.

April 2009Legal News

Cost of registering Lasting Powers of Attorney is reduced

From 1 April 2009 it now costs £120 instead of £150 to register a Lasting Power of Attorney.

March 2009Office News

Welcome back Mandy

Mandy Habbitts is back! After a year away Mandy has rejoined our conveyancing department and is living up to her reputation as a champion work shifter.

March 2009Legal News

Housing Registration Act 2008

From 2 March 2009 parts of the Housing Regeneration Act come into force.

February 2009Office News

Fairford and Lechlade Business Club Awards

We were delighted on 31 Jan 2009 to receive two awards from the Fairford and Lechlade Business Club:
  • Innovation: First place - delivering traditional services in new ways;
  • Business Person of the Year: Second place.

February 2009Legal News

Spouse entitlement in intestacy

From 1 February 2009 where a person dies without leaving a will, his or her spouse or civil partner is entitled to up to £250,000 where the deceased left children and up to £450,000 where the deceased left parents or siblings but no children.

January 2009Legal News

Employees on long term sick leave are entitled to carry leave allowance forward

Have you seen the recent case of Stringer v HMRC reported in the press? This states that employees on long term sick leave who cannot take their paid leave that year are entitled to hold it over. If they leave the employment they can be paid in lieu.

January 2009Office News

Rebecca Scammell qualifies as solicitor

Congratulations to Rebecca Scammell who qualified as a solicitor at the beginning of the month. She will be staying with the firm in our Family Department. Rebecca has a strong commitment to client care and regularly goes the extra mile to help those who are facing court proceedings or difficult legal issues affecting their personal lives. She takes a particular interest in domestic violence cases.

2008

December 2008Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. raise money for CHYP

We have raised a little money for local charity CHYP, by donating to them what we would have spent on "Secret Santa" gifts for each other.

December 2008Legal News

Land Registry to destroy paper documents

The Land Registry has published notice that it intends to destroy all paper documents it is holding which relate to entries on the Register. It will begin the process on 28 February 2009. Requests can still be made for the return of original documents but if these are made after 28 February 2009 there is a risk that the original documents will already have been destroyed.

For further information, or for help in retrieving documents, contact the relevant Land Registry or ask us to do so on your behalf.

November 2008Office News

Advent Market - 22 November 2008

We are again participating in the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Advent Market this year. We will be offering mulled wine and mince pies at the front of our offices from approximately 3pm until they run out!

November 2008Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. mark Remembrance Day with playing of the Last Post

Heather Wannell playing the Last Post outside the Alison Fielden & Co. offices
Our Wills and Probate specialist, Heather Wannell, played the Last Post at 11am on Tuesday 11 November 2008 outside our offices.

October 2008Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. Wear it Pink again

We supported "Wear it Pink" Day on 31 October 2008. Zoe, one of our receptionists, also made pink cakes to help the fundraising. We raised £47.50 for Breast Cancer research.

October 2008Legal News

Holiday Entitlement

From 1 October 2008 employees are entitled to a minimum 27 days per year paid holiday, that is, 20 days plus 7 Bank Holidays. For other provisions in force on 1 October 2008 please see our Autumn 2008 Newsletter.

October 2008Special Bulletin

Client Information Bulletin: Banking crisis and client monies

You will doubtless be aware from the press that last week the government was prepared to guarantee up to £50,000 per investor per bank, and this week some banks have been nationalised.

There remains a risk, however, that in the event of a banking collapse some client monies could be lost. While even at this point, collapse of a major high street bank is extremely unlikely, we are sending this information to our clients in accordance with guidance from The Law Society, recently issued to all solicitors' firms.

Alison Fielden & Co. bank with Barclays Bank plc and place client funds there strictly in accordance with the Solicitors' Accounts Rules. There is no other action that we as solicitors have the power to take.

The Law Society's guidance suggests that the sums of £50,000 being guaranteed are per client per bank.

If you, as a client, bank with Barclays then the £50,000 guarantee refers to all monies of yours, including your own personal accounts, as well as monies we hold in our client account, and only one sum of £50,000 will be available to cover these amounts.

Any claims should be made through the FSA. For further information please visit http://www.fscs.org.uk/consumer/FAQs/Deposit_claims_FAQs/.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss this information bulletin.

If circumstances change we will provide an update on this website.

September 2008Legal News

Public Guardian Board AGM

The Public Guardian Board is having its first Annual General Meeting in central London on 7th October 2008. The Public Guardian Board is an independent body set up to scrutinise and review the way in which the Public Guardian discharges his functions. The Public Guardian is supported by the Office of the Public Guardian and is responsible for a range of services that help protect people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions.

The Board would like to invite members of the public who have an interest in the work of the Public Guardian and his office to share their views about these services.

Places at the meeting are limited, and if members of the public would like to attend, they should contact the Secretariat to the Public Guardian as soon as possible:

E-mail: publicguardianboard@publicguardian.gsi.gov.uk
Tel: 020 7664 7235

September 2008Legal News

Stamp Duty Land Tax concession

As from 3 September 2008 Stamp Duty Land Tax is suspended for transactions of £175,000 or less for a period of one year. The disadvantaged areas relief, which gave a concession for transactions of £150,000 or less in certain designated areas, will be discontinued for the same period.

August 2008Legal News

E-Conveyancing - Mortgages

Another step towards E-conveyancing has been taken: the Land Registration (Electronic Conveyancing) Rules came into force on 4 August 2008. They allow mortgage lenders to create electronic mortgages. In practice, however, such mortgages are not likely to be used just yet as they need to be authenticated by borrowers by means of electronic signatures for which appropriate procedures are not yet in place.

August 2008Office News

Trainee solicitor passes Professional Skills course

Our trainee solicitor Rebecca Scammell passed her Professional Skills course on 6 August 2008 - one more step on the way to becoming a fully qualified solicitor. She has now enrolled for her final course, an elective course, dealing with skills needed to appear in the higher level courts. She is spending the last few months of her training in the firm's Family Law department where she is taking a particular interest in domestic violence cases.

July 2008Office News

New Legal Secretary appointed

Mary Wells has joined the firm as Legal Secretary dealing with conveyancing and also Family Law work. Mary has a qualification in Business Studies and plays the clarinet and saxophone in her spare time. We're pleased to welcome her as a colleague and look forward to working with her.

July 2008Legal News

Energy Performance Certificates for commercial properties

Energy performance certificates are of course already required on the sale of most residential properties as part of the compulsory Home Information Packs.

From 1 October 2008 energy performance certificates will be required for the construction sale and rental of dwellings and all commercial property (with limited exceptions).

If more or fewer units are created in an existing property and there are changes to heating hot water and ventilation or air conditioning systems an energy performance certificate will be required from 1 January 2008 for dwellings and from 6 April 2008 for commercial properties.

An energy performance certificate is valid for 10 years except in the case of homes when it is valid for 12 months.

See further the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002/91/EC(EPBD).

Business rates on empty properties

Since 1 April 2008 the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007 has been in force and there are now fewer concessions on business rates for empty properties.

Commercial properties now have 100% relief for the first three months after which the rate is payable in full, and industrial/warehouse properties have 100% relief for 6 months after which the rate is payable in full.

July 2008Office News

A healthy reward for staff

Alison Fielden has rewarded her entire workforce with free membership of Cotswold Leisure Centre with effect from 1 July 2008. Alison hopes her staff will enjoy the benefits of membership.

June 2008Office News

Trainee Kathryn qualifies as solicitor

Congratulations to Kathryn Hall, who has been a trainee with us since 2006 and has now qualified as a solicitor. She will be officially admitted to the Roll on 1 July 2008. Kathryn will be staying with the firm to work in our non contentious departments (Conveyancing and Wills & Probate). Kathryn has a methodical and careful approach to her work, is very approachable and pleasant to clients and will leave no stone unturned to give a good and competent service. She is looking forward to building up her own individual workload over the next few months.

May 2008Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. join the 2020 Lawyers Group

We have joined 2020 Lawyers Group LLP. This is an organisation providing training, consultancy and other services to lawyers to help them maintain high standards of service and well run practices.

May 2008Legal News

Cost of long-term care to double

Saga has recently conducted research which has established that the average cost of a four year stay in a care home could double from £112,312 to £223,476 in the next 20 years. The figure is based on the current level of inflation (2.5%) and the rate of increase of care home fees (3.5%).

17% of people aged 85 and above are receiving long term care. Life expectancy is also increasing. An average 60 year old man is expected to live until 86 and an average 60 year old woman is expected to live until 89. Therefore more and more people are likely to require an element of long term care in the future.

May 2008Legal News

Improved Blue Badge map service

Holders of "Blue Badges" for disabled people can now have access to an improved Blue Badge Map Service through the Office of Disability Issues, making it much easier for disabled people to find places to park. Users can search by postcode or town name for designated Blue Badge Parking Bays, accessible stations, toilets and petrol stations. There are also more details about rules for street parking and time restrictions.

April 2008Legal News

Legal Services Act comes into force

The Legal Service Act 2007 is now in force. It sets up a new regulatory body and a new ombudsman. It specifically allows legal firms to have non-solicitor partners, that is, to form multidisciplinary practices.

April 2008Office News

Wills & Probate Talks

Heather Wannell, head of our Wills & Probate Department, is visiting local groups to give presentations on the subject of Wills & Probate. So far this year she has visited UC3A in Fairford, Silver Threads in Lechlade and the Phoenix WI in Cirencester.

Her planned forthcoming talks this year are as follows:

  • 29 Apr 2008, 7.45pm - Ashcroft Ladies, Cirencester
  • 29 May 2008, 7.30pm - Poole Keynes British Legion
  • 17 Nov 2008, 8pm - Liden Women's Institute, Swindon
If you would like to book her to talk to your local group, please contact us.

March 2008Office News

Trainee Monitoring visit from the Solicitors' Regulation Authority

Periodically all firms who train trainee solicitors can expect a monitoring visit from the Solicitors' Regulation Authority. This month it was our turn. We were very pleased to be told that our training systems were "spot on" and that there were no improvements or changes that we need to make. Well done to our trainees Kathryn and Rebecca and their supervisors.

March 2008Legal News

Obsolete Laws

Parliament is considering the Law Commission's representation regarding the abolition or amendment of 328 obsolete Acts of Parliament, including the 1695 London to Harwich Roads Act which allowed county justices to set up turnpikes to collect tolls on that road. It meant that people using the road would be charged every time they used it with the proceeds being used for the upkeep of the road. The road in question is now known as the A12 from London to Colchester and the A137 and B1352 to Harwich.

Another Act set for the Judicial Dustbin includes a law of 1839 concerning Street Musicians, requiring them to leave the area if requested to do so by irritated residents. The law was especially referring to Brass Bands and Organists.

The Law Commission's Chairman Sir Terence Etherton made it clear that the abolition of the acts was to ensure that the statute book is not filled with out of date information which wastes people's time.

March 2008Legal News

McCartney divorce settlement

The Judgement of the Court in the divorce of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills has now been published.

The fundamental issue was what financial provision should be made for Ms Mills. She had sought an award of in the region of £125million, and Sir Paul had proposed that she leave the marriage with assets of £15.8million, inclusive of any lump sum award.

The Judge decided that the husband should pay her a lump sum of £16.5million, which together with her assets of £7.8million meant that she had total assets of £24.3million, inclusive of a deemed figure of £500,000 referable to her overspending in the period of separation.

He valued the husband's assets at about £400m, as opposed to the £800m claimed by the wife.

The length of their marriage was four years and the Judge, in undertaking the exercise prescribed by Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, decided that the needs of the wife were a factor of "magnetic" importance. The lump sum arrived at by the Judge was made up of capitalised maintenance for the wife's income needs which the Judge put at £600,000 per annum and £2.5m for the wife to buy a property in London. Additional maintenance provision was made for their daughter, Beatrice.

March 2008Legal News

Cohabitation Law Reform - delay in implementation

The Government has announced that it intends to delay acting on the Law Commission's proposals for the introduction of legal protection for couples who live together.

At the request of the Government, the Law Commission had consulted widely on this issue and their proposals for legal reform were published on 31 July 2007.

The British Social Attitudes Survey published in January 2008 had backed the case for urgent reform of the law. It revealed widespread confusion over what protection couples that live together have under the law, with 51 per cent of people still believing that cohabiting couples have rights as "common law" spouses - but no such rights exist.

For further information about the current position for cohabiting partners, please contact our Family department.

February 2008Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. win a 'Best of Cirencester' Award

Alison Fielden & Co. have won the top prize in the 'Legal & Finance' category of the Best of Cirencester website. Visitors to the site during January were asked to vote in the category. We're delighted to have won and would like to thank all those who voted for us.

For more details, see the 'Best of Cirencester' awards page.

Best of Cirencester Business Awards 2008 WinnerPresentation of award

January 2008Legal News

Money Laundering regulations

New regulations last month bring into force the Third European Money Laundering Directive. The new regulations require solicitors and others to operate a 'risk-based' approach for verifying clients' identity and considering the provenance of monies coming into client accounts. The regulations extend the 'due diligence' measures introduced in previous directives.

January 2008Office News

New Legal Secretary appointed

We are very pleased to welcome Dawn Jeffries to the firm, who has been appointed as Legal Secretary to assist in our Conveyancing work.

2007

December 2007Legal News

Home Information Packs extended again

Home Information Packs have been extended to include one- and two-bedroom properties so that now packs are required for all residential properties. For more information visit our factsheets page for the latest version of our Home Information Packs factsheet.

December 2007Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. support 'Kids for Kids'

Outside the office our probate secretary Angela Anslow works very hard for the charity Kids for Kids which provides goats for families in the Darfur region of Sudan. This Christmas, instead of our usual 'Secret Santa' presents for each other, we donated funds to Kids for Kids and financed two goats.

November 2007Legal News

The right to park on someone else's land - a recent case

An owner of land may have a right over another person's land for defined purposes, for example, drainage or rights of way. This kind of right is known as an easement. Easements may in some circumstances continue to benefit the land when the owner sells to someone else.

In the past it has been unclear whether a right to park can exist as an easement, or is a personal right for an individual, or something which has to be paid for as a type of contract.

The case of Bachelor v Marlow, 2003, decided that a right to park could not be an easement where the owner of the land on which the parking took place was deprived of any reasonable use of his own land because of the right.

This has now been effectively reversed in the case of Moncrieff v Jamieson, 2007. A right to park is now capable, in appropriate circumstances, of existing as an easement, even if this results in the whole of the land in question being parked on.

Also, a right to park can now, in certain circumstances, be implied from the existence of another easement - a right of way - without itself being specifically granted in express terms.

Both these parts of the decision in Moncrieff v Jamieson are changes which make it easier to establish permanent rights to park over another person's land, but only where very particular circumstances apply.

If you need further information or advice, please contact our Property & Business department.

November 2007Office News

Alison Fielden & Co. raise money for CHYP

We are supporting Cirencester Housing for Young People (CHYP) and have raised funds for them at our Mulled Wine and Mince Pies evening in November 2007 and through the sale of their Christmas Cards.

October 2007Office News

"Wear it Pink" Day

Michelle Kiddell, our Family Law secretary, organized our participation in the annual "Wear it Pink" day in aid of breast cancer research. We raised £40 for the cause.

October 2007Legal News

New form of Power of Attorney comes into effect

From 1st October 2007, Lasting Powers of Attorney replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney. For details of what this means for you, please see the Lasting Powers of Attorney Factsheet on our factsheets page.

Alternatively you may contact our Wills & Probate Department.

October 2007Office News

Senior Secretary joins Alison Fielden & Co.

Jane Jones has joined us as Conveyancing Secretary. Jane has many years legal experience and we are delighted to welcome her as a colleague.

September 2007Legal News

Home Information Packs extended

As from 10 September 2007 Home Information Packs now apply to sales of homes with three or more bedrooms. For more information visit our factsheets page for the latest version of our Home Information Packs factsheet.

September 2007Office News

Alison Fielden gains Diploma in Land Registration Law

For the past two years, Alison Fielden has been studying for a Diploma in Land Registration Law, and this month learned that she has obtained the qualification after the second year examinations. The Diploma is a degree-level course which is run by the Land Registry in conjunction with The College of Law and undertaken by very few solicitors in private practice.

It has been hard work for Alison studying while at the same time running the Conveyancing services in the office but the new qualification will enhance the firm's expertise in Land Law and Conveyancing.

August 2007Legal News

Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007

In the last few weeks a new Code of Conduct for Solicitors has come into effect. It introduces new rules regulating solicitors' dealings with their clients and third parties and introduces new requirements for solicitors in managing their practices.

August 2007Office News

Celebration of 21 years in practice

Party photo
Clients and business contacts recently gathered to help us to celebrate 21 years in practice in Cirencester. We first opened for business on 6th August 1986 and, 21 years later, we had a very enjoyable anniversary evening with drinks supplied by Talking Wines and canapes by Food for Thought. We look forward to many more years in practice.
Alison Fielden & Co.
The Gatehouse
Dollar Street
Cirencester
Glos. GL7 2AN
DX 39418 Cirencester
Tel 01285 653261
Fax 01285 885372
alison@alisonfielden.co.uk