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SRA Equality and Diversity Data 2017

Under the Solicitors Regulation Authority's (SRA) guidelines we must publish Equality & Diversity data for our Firm. There is no obligation for all staff to complete the survey. Here are the results of our staff survey 2017.

You can view the data here

News - General

Legal Aid – a halt to cuts?

In October, The Trade Union Congress produced a detailed report on the provision of Legal Aid for UK citizens.  The report confirms a 99% reduction in individuals seeking Legal Help (a form of public funding), for debt cases, (public funding for which is now only available through a telephone gateway system).  The report also outlines limited access to public funding for women suffering from domestic violence.  As a result of  government reforms since 2013, women must now provide substantive evidence to prove the violence perpetrated against them.  The TUC, along with other organisations and professionals, have asked the Government to put further cuts on hold until they conduct their own review of the impact of Legal Aid changes to date.  Let’s hope they succeed in their efforts.

News - Legal

Asset Protection Seminar 23rd Nov 2016

Asset Protection Seminar

Percy Park Rugby Club, Preston Avenue, North Shields

2.30P.M. Wednesday 23rd November 2016

 

Hadaway & Hadaway Solicitors would like to invite you to our FREE Asset Protection Seminar. The Seminar will involve presentations from members of our specialist team on the importance of making Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. 

There will also be presentations from guest speakers from Three Counties Group financial advisors on the new pensions freedom legislation. There will be the opportunity for discussion with members of our expert team. 

A lunch buffet will be provided and the Seminar is expected to conclude no later than 4.30pm. 

To reserve your place at the Seminar please telephone or email the Office on 0191 2570382 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Finding Percy Park RFC

News - General

Pre-Nuptial Agreements: unromantic and unnecessary or realistic and pragmatic?

Pre-nuptial agreements are arrangements entered into by two individuals in advance of marriage to manage, amongst other things, the way their property will be owned should the marriage breakdown. 

Marriages are relationships traditionally based on trust, a willingness to share and the expectation that the relationship is secure and destined to last.  However, as of November 2015 an estimated 42% of all marriages in the UK ended in divorce.  Is it therefore really unreasonable to protect the property you bring into the marriage at the very outset, before the wedding festivities have even commenced? 

Pre-weds in the United Kingdom may wish to consider entering into such an agreement if they have substantial wealth in their sole names they want to ring fence for themselves in the event of breakdown of the marriage, or children from previous relationships they want to pass their own property to under a Will.   

However, as the law currently stands, there in no guarantee that divorce courts will abide by the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement when deciding how property should be divided during divorce proceedings.  The agreement is only one of many factors a court will take into account.     

English courts are inclined to give weight to non-financial contributions spouses make to matrimonial property when deciding on ownership, regardless of who owned the property prior to marriage.  At present, there is no guarantee that a pre-nuptial agreement will prevent a court doing this.  In the House of Lords judgement White v White (2000)  Lord Nicholls emphasised that a spouse may acquire a beneficial interest if they had brought up children, made material improvements to a property or contributed in other non-financial ways.  The key case in this area (Radmacher v Granatio (2010)), however did indicate that courts would now consider pre-nuptial agreements in divorce settlements, therefore going  some way to provide protection for property owned in a person’s sole name.

The legal profession has traditionally been cautious to give significant weight to pre-nuptial agreements on the basis that, by specifying what would happen upon marital breakdown, such agreements facilitate the disintegration of marriages (the ‘public policy’ argument as put forward by Lord Philips in the Radmacher case).   The tide is however changing. A Law Commission report, which followed the Radmacher judgement, highlighted three key reasons as to why pre-nuptial agreements should be made binding:-

  1. Pre-nuptial agreements create certainty for both parties to a marriage as to who owns what, certainty which may prevent disputes and divorce proceedings arising in the first place.
  2. Couples should be free to enter into a binding agreement if they so wish.  For a court to deny full effect to such an agreement is to undermine freedom of choice for both parties.
  3. The international dimension – spouses often come from different countries with different legal systems.  It is possible that one party will come from a country where pre-nuptial agreements are binding.  A Belgian or French national for example may expect a pre-nuptial agreement they have entered into in the UK, or in another country, to have automatic effect.  The agreement will however be entirely governed by English law if it is heard in the context of English divorce proceedings.  This means that there is no guarantee that an English court will give effect to the agreement, regardless of where it is drafted or the nationality of the parties to it.

 

Although not guaranteed to have effect, there are clear merits of a pre-nuptial agreement if you have significant assets in your sole name which you would like to ring fence for yourself upon separation, or children from a previous marriage you would like to inherit from you.  Such agreements for you may be a realistic and pragmatic choice.   

News - Legal

English Wills and Overseas Property

Are you a UK resident with property in another country, or a UK citizen living overseas  with property in the UK?

The number of UK citizens living overseas is on the rise.  In 2015 there were approximately 1.2 million UK-born people living in other EU member states.  If you are a UK resident and own property in another EU member state, or are a resident elsewhere in the EU with UK based property, the passing of your property when you die will depend on the relationship between the legal rules of both countries.  It is therefore important to have an awareness of a provision of EU law which applies to people who died after 17th  August 2015 -  The European Succession Regulation, more commonly  known as ‘Brussels IV’. 

What is ‘Brussels IV’?

Brussels IV is an EU Regulation.  EU Regulations automatically become law in any member state which signs up to them.  For consenting member states Brussels IV provides that the law of the country in which you are ‘habitually resident’ decides how your property will pass.  For example, if you are a UK resident and own property in France, UK law will determine what happens to your French property. 

You are ‘habitually resident’ in a country if you usually reside there.   This is different from being ‘domiciled’.  It is easier to be habitually resident in a country than to be domiciled.

The UK is not a signatory to Brussels IV.  This means that the Regulation only affects UK residents who specifically have property in EU member states which are signatories to it.  If you have property in any other parts of the world, Brussels IV does not apply.   Ireland, Denmark and the UK are the only member states which are not signatories.

If you do not want the legal system of your country of residence to determine how your property passes you can make an express election in your Will for another country’s legal system to apply.   For example, you might want to make an election if you are a French national living in the UK and want French law to apply.

I have property in Scotland and I am resident in England/I have property in England and I am resident in Scotland.  What does this mean?

Scotland and England are part of the same legal entity (the UK),  for the purposes of  EU law.  Brussels IV does not change the relationship between the two countries. 

There is however a conflict of laws between the Scottish and English legal systems.  Scotland operates a system of ‘forced heirship’ meaning that specific family members have a right to certain portions of your property regardless of the terms of any Will.  English law on the other hand provides for ‘testamentary freedom’ meaning that you have total freedom to decide who will inherit under your Will.  If any family members are not due to benefit under your Will, and they wish to inherit, they will have to claim through the English courts.    If you have Scottish property it would be sensible to seek advice from a Scottish solicitor, in addition to any solicitor you see for the drafting of your English Will.  

I have property in an EU member state and am a UK resident/ I am an EU resident and have UK property - What is the impact of Brexit for me?

As the UK did not sign up to Brussels IV in the first place Brexit has no impact.   Brussels IV has only been relevant in the past, and will only continue to be relevant in the future, when the other country involved is an EU member state which is itself a signatory to the Regulation.    

Please contact our Asset Management department if you have overseas connections and would like to discuss how to deal with these in a Will.

News - Legal

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