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News & Blog

News and views from Marchants - Archive

Nick Aspley

Brexit and Mrs Owens - one can, one can't

While the United Kingdom has triggered a divorce from the European Union poor Mrs Owens cannot divorce her husband after 39 years of marriage. She has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that she can divorce her husband on the basis of his unreasonable behaviour towards her. It appears that although she is stuck in a "loveless and unhappy marriage" she may have to wait until 2020 when she will have been separated from her husband for 5 years to get a divorce.

Who knows, she may get a divorce before the United Kingdom.

As our top judge Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, said "ought the decision whether or not a marriage should be dissolved to be one of the parties which the State is not in a position to question?"

The whole experience for both Mr and Mrs Owens must have been a terrible one having their dirty washing aired in court quite apart from the costs involved. At a time where court resources are stretched are such cases a good and proportionate use of those resources?

The Law Society, Resolution (the family solicitors organisation) some of the judiciary and MP's have called for the divorce law to change. Is it now time for no fault divorce?
Parliament, over to you.....

For help and advice on your divorce or separation contact Nick Aspley on 01623 655111 and at  naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk. For more information log onto www.marchantsolicitors.co.uk

Nick Aspley

Can you really defend a divorce?

This is what Hugh Owens, aged 78, has done up until now. His wife, Tini Owens, aged 65, is challenging the refusal of Judge Robin Tolson in Oxford of refusing her application for a Decree Absolute last year. They have been married for 39 years.

There is one ground for a divorce that the marriage has irretrievably broken down supported by one of five "facts." The most common "fact" is unreasonable behaviour as it is usually a simple process to follow. Not in this case, as Mr Owens successfully argued last year that his marriage had not irretrievably broken down.

This is a rare case. The barrister for Mr Owens has said that " as the law stands, unhappiness, discontent, disillusionment are not facts which a petitioner can rely upon as facts which prove irretrievable breakdown."
The barrister for Mrs Owens has said "It is extraordinary unusual in modern times for a court to dismiss a petition for divorce."

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, who is the top family judge, and is considering the appeal by Mrs Owens, with judgment to come at a later date, said "It is not a ground for a divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage - people may say it should be."

So, watch this space. Whatever happens how can you describe the state of their marriage especially in the middle of lengthy and costly litigation?

Most divorces take around 6 months and are agreed. Surely it is now time for the no fault divorce which is supported by many judges and other organisations in the family justice system including the Law Society?
For advice on divorce and other family issues please contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk or call 01623 655111.

Nick Aspley

New Year 2017 Resolutions

Happy New Year to you all. Here are 6 New Year Resolutions that you may like to think about.

  1. Make a Will. If you are not married and made no will your partner gets nothing. Even if you made a will some time ago it may need reviewing. Make sure your loved ones and family get what you want. Plan ahead.
  2. Create a Power of Attorney. We are all living longer and getting more sick. If you lose the capacity to do things that you would normally do make sure you have appointed someone who you trust to make decisions and act on your behalf before it is too late. Prepare for the future.
  3. Marriage or relationship over? Unfortunately if you are in this position you need to know your rights and options for the future. We can help you decide.
  4. Moving House? New year, fresh start? We can help you plan ahead and ensure your biggest financial commitment runs as smoothly as possible.
  5. Had an accident? Winter and bad weather can lead to more accidents at this time of year. Let us help you to get what you are entitled to.
  6. Fixed Fee Advice. Remember we offer fixed fees wherever possible to ensure you can budget accordingly and know how much it will cost with no unexpected big bills later on.

    Don’t take our word for it look at our testimonial page!

Nick Aspley

The Help and Support for Separated Families Mark

Marchants Solicitors have been awarded The Help and Support for Separated Families Mark which is government initiative designed to help and support parents who are separated or who are separating. It demonstrates that we are committed to helping parents work together to resolve their disputes and focus on the interests of their children.

Nick Aspley Head of Family Law at Marchants Solicitors, said “We are the only firm with offices  in Mansfield and Kirkby in Ashfield who have been awarded this mark, and it again demonstrates our commitment and service to clients who are going through tough times particularly during this time of the year. Christmas is always a difficult time for families for all sorts of reasons and we have always helped clients to try and think of their children when they are separating.”

For more information including fixed fees that may be available to you contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk.

Nick Aspley

Archers' child name disputes - what can be done?

Any Archers fan will have listened in the last few weeks to the situation of Rob and Helen Titchener calling their son by different first names. This is quite rare as usually the argument is over a child's surname but what is the law?

At birth, a child must be registered in accordance with the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 within 42 days of the birth. The child's birth certificate is then issued giving identity to the child. Where the parents are married the duty lies with both. One married parent may register the birth as Helen did in the Archers before Rob was able to.

Where the parents are unmarried the duty is the mother's alone. The father's details can only be registered if either both parents attend together or a statutory declaration has been made or a relevant court order. If there is a dispute what happens?

All those with parental responsibility should be consulted. If an unmarried father is not registered as the child's father he does not have such responsibility and has no right of consultation. Consent should be sought preferably in writing.

Therefore if an unmarried mother registers or changes a child's surname without consent of the father and he finds out, he can apply to the court for determination of the child's surname. If there is a Child Arrangements Order in force as to whom a child should live with, then an application for permission to change is made under Section 13 of the Children Act 1989. If not, then an application is made for a Specific Issue Order under Section 8 and he could also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent a child's surname being changed.

The welfare of the child will be the court's paramount consideration. The change, or registration of, a child's surname "is a profound and not merely a formal issue." 
A change of surname has been permitted by the court to protect children from the possibility of abduction by the father and, in a rare case, where it would have been detrimental to the children if the father had tracked them down.
The birth can be re-registered if the child's natural parents have married each other since the birth or where it is agreed that the father's details are added.

A deed poll or a change of name deed is evidence of a child's change of name. A deed poll is enrolled with the Central Office of the High Court. A solicitor can help in drafting either document.

For more information contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk.

Nick Aspley

I want a divorce and am going after your inheritance

As part of their divorce settlement it was agreed that Mrs Randall would keep the first £100,000 of her mother’s inheritance with the remaining balance split equally between her and her husband.

However Mrs Randall’s mother left exactly £100,000 to her with the remaining balance of her estate of around £150,000 to Mrs Randall’s children. Mr Randle brought a claim challenging the validity of the will wanting to get his £75,000 share in accordance with the agreed divorce settlement.

Without getting into the complex legal arguments that took place, the court last week gave Mr Randall the green light to bring a probate claim to set aside the will. Time will tell if he is ultimately successful or not. Watch this space.

This case reminds those couples going through a divorce (or are about to) is on what basis does the divorce court take into account future inheritance?    

In any divorce the court has to take into account a menu of factors in deciding what is a fair financial settlement and one of those factors is “a financial resource which one of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.” This potentially includes an inheritance.

The assets that Mr and Mrs Randall had were modest and they wanted to avoid a costly 2 day final hearing. The agreement was that Mrs Randall kept the sale proceeds of the house while Mr Randall had the prospect of a capital sum from her inheritance to supplement his small pension fund. Both had solicitors acting for them and know that the agreement could not in any way bind Mrs Randall’s mother as to the terms of her will. The risk was to avoid potential care costs in her old age.

Nick Aspley, Head of Family Law at Marchants Solicitors in Mansfield and Kirkby in Ashfield said “ultimately each case falls on its own facts under the court’s discretion as to what a fair settlement is. For example, if a case is based on the need of one party the court may look at a claim on an inheritance. However as a judge said in the case of Mr and Mrs Robson in 2011 “judges should be cautious and not invade inherited property unnecessarily.” 

Find out more by contacting Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk or ring 01623 655111.

Nick Aspley

Building construction / repairs and maintenance

You may from time to time be involved in disputes either as a consumer or as a contractor/subcontractor.  If a dispute or claim occurs we can provide a fixed fee package which could include negotiation [to help maintain the relationship] Alternative Dispute Resolution [Mediation] or if necessary litigation.

If this is an area in which we can assist please do not hesitate to contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchants.co.uk

Nick Aspley

Negligent care of the elderly

As can be seen in recent cases there have been unfortunate incidents where the elderly have been subject to either neglect or abuse from both nursing and residential homes.  If you have reason to believe that anyone receiving care is either being neglected or abused you may be entitled to compensation, similarly if you have been the victim of an unprovoked act of violence you may be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Please contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolcitors.co.uk who can assist further.

Nick Aspley

Slips and Trips

Many slips and trips are caused by derelict pavements.  The local Authority have a duty to ensure that roads and pathways are inspected regularly and to repair any defects within a reasonable time.  If you find yourself the unfortunate victim of either a slip or trip you could be entitled to compensation.

Please contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk who will be happy to assist.

Nick Aspley

Contested Wills and Estates

The death of a loved one is never easy.  But often after a death in the family arguments can arise over what has and what has not been left.  Members of the family may believe that they have been left insufficient financial provision or that a Will is not valid or that the Testator did not have the mental capacity to make a valid Will or was unduly influenced. 

We can offer fixed fee packages to review any potential claim that you may have. For further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk

Nick Aspley

Dispute Resolution

You may from time to time be involved in disputes either as a consumer or as a contractor/subcontractor.  If a dispute or claim occurs we can provide a fixed fee package which could include negotiation [to help maintain the relationship] Alternative Dispute Resolution [Mediation] or if necessary litigation. 

If this is an area in which we can assist please do not hesitate to contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchants.co.uk

Nick Aspley

Employer and employee help

Although at Marchants we do not have a specialist employment solicitor we can direct you to a specialist firm of solicitors who will provide solely employment advice.

  If you have a dispute with your employer or are an employer looking for advice please contact us as soon as possible for details.  Please note that most employment claims have very short time limits so it is essential that you contact us straightaway.

Please therefore contact the office on 01623 655111 for further information.

Nick Aspley

Industrial disease

A number of workers and former workers have unfortunately been subjected to either substances or working practices that have put them at risk of developing an industrial disease. 

If you have been affected by deafness, vibration white finger, been exposed to asbestos or any other recognised industrial disease then please do not hesitate to contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk who will be happy to provide a free preliminary assessment.

Please note that many workers who have been exposed to asbestos may have had that exposure as far as 40 or 50 years ago but you may still be able to claim.  Similarly if you are the relative of a former worker who has tragically died through an industrial disease you may still be entitled to claim on behalf of their estate namely if it is within three years of the date of their death.

Nick Aspley

Professional negligence

Although often we receive well founded advice sometimes professionals get it wrong.  If you believe that you have received negligent advice from a professional, including other solicitors, please contact us.  We can then review the advice given and confirm whether we agree or provide an alternative solution.  We can also give you an opinion on any claims you may have especially if a firm of solicitors have refused to take on your action or claim on a no win no fee basis.

Please contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhggins@marchants.co.uk who will be happy to assist.

Nick Aspley

Have you been involved in a road traffic accident?

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a road traffic accident it is important that you stop at the scene, contact the Police and ambulance service if anyone has sustained injury and obtain, if you are able, the third party’s details and details of any witnesses.

You should also be aware that if you submit a claim for damage to your vehicle to your own insurance that your personal details will be passed on to claims handlers who will contact you to persuade you to pursue a claim for any injuries you have sustained through them.  Please note that the claims handlers are unlikely to be local or specialist solicitors.  Therefore in the event that you do sustain injury in a road traffic accident please contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk who is a local specialist personal injury solicitor to handle your case.

Nick Aspley

Debt Recovery

From time to time you may find yourself in a position where either you or your company are owed some money by an individual or another company.

You may find yourself in the unfortunate position where you may need the services of a specialist solicitor in order to recover the debt that you are owed.  At Marchants we offer an effective debt recovery scheme for a fixed fee pay structure which is agreed with you from the outset.  This starts from as little as £100 plus VAT.  If you are having problems recovering debts then please do not hesitate to contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk

Nick Aspley

Does your child cost £780,000 per year?

A mother of a 7 year old boy had asked the High Court to order that his father pay her this amount of maintenance for his son whom he had never met. Last week the court said no, and that the current rate of £204,000 per year was enough.

The mother had also asked (the court having previously rejected the same claims) for the father to pay for a hospitality box at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and at Ascot as well as membership of Ascot and Wentworth golf clubs. These additional claims were also dismissed by the court.

The mother was born into an affluent Middle Eastern family and the father was a member of a hugely wealthy Royal family of a Middle Eastern country.

These are huge sums by any standards, and with previous litigation costing several million pounds, such cases on this scale are very rare but what principles can be drawn?

1. Although the parents had gone through an Islamic marriage ceremony in 2007 the marriage was not recognised here, hence an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.

2. Clause 4 lists the factors and circumstances that a court has to take into account, namely income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources, financial needs, obligations and responsibilities, the financial needs of the child, any physical or mental disability of the child and all the circumstances. 

3. Even if a father has vast wealth, the mother, as the child's only carer, has a duty to adjust her lifestyle as to bring up the child under a budget set by the court.

4. The court has to take a view as to what is a reasonable amount in all the circumstances of the case. In this case £204,000 per year was a reasonable amount.

5. Find out more by contacting Nick Aspley at naspley@matrchantsolicitors.co.uk or ring 01623 655111.

Nick Aspley

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

If you have been diagnosed with an industrial injury you may be entitled to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) if your injury or disease was caused by your work. 

Normally you must be assessed as 14% disabled or more to get the benefit, and the scheme covers more than 70 diseases including asthma, emphysema, deafness and asbestos related diseases.  For full details please see https://www.gov.uk/industrial-injuries-disablement-benefit/overview 

Here at Marchants Debra Higgins specialises in pursuing claims for industrial disease so if you have been diagnosed with an industrial injury please contact Debra on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk  for your free initial assessment to see if you may have a claim.

Nick Aspley

Clinical Negligence support

The majority of us receive treatment from time to time from healthcare professionals and whilst for most of the time the treatment received is of a good standard there are occasions when the treatment falls below what can reasonably be expected.

If you have unfortunately been involved with a Healthcare Practitioner (Hospital, Dentist, GP, Physiotherapist etc) where the treatment you received fell below what you could reasonably expect we have a solicitor dedicated to pursuing complaints and/or claims for compensation against the individual or Trust. 

You are entitled to a free no obligation interview after which if we believe that your claim has prospects of success we can offer you a No Win No Fee Agreement.

In order to arrange your free initial interview please contact Debra Higgins on 01623 655111 or email dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk

Nick Aspley

Consultation on Stamp Duty

The government is consulting for only five weeks ending on 1st February 2016 on the details of the higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on purchases of additional residential properties, such as buy-to-let properties and second homes, announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement. 


Band

Existing residential SDLT rates

New additional property SDLT rates

£0* - £125k

0%

3%

£125k - £250k

2%

5%

£250k - £925k

5%

8%

£925k - £1.5m

10%

13%

£1.5m +

12%

15%

From April 2016, those in England and Wales will have to pay a 3% surcharge on each stamp duty band as outlined above. Chancellor George Osborne has said the new surcharge would raise £1bn extra for the Treasury by 2021.

Mike Cummins, Head of Conveyancing at Marchants Solicitors,   said: “The Chancellor wants to raise an extra £1 billion extra for the Treasury by 2021 but potential landlords may be put off by the extra tax they will have to pay. It is an easy way to raise more tax but only time will tell if the Chancellor is successful in his aim or not.”
Nick Aspley

Why should I make a will?

If you have not made a will then rules of intestacy decide who gets what. Why take the risk? Here are five good reasons why you should make a will.

  1. If you are an unmarried couple without a will your partner will get nothing.
  2. If you are married without children your parents/siblings will get nothing.
  3. If you have children who would look after them and manage their affairs?
  4. If you do not have a good relationship with a family member or relative you should make a will to ensure they do not get anything.
  5. You should be in control and protect your family and loved ones after death.

But I already have a will....
If you have made a will it may need updating if, for example, you are getting married, divorced, splitting up from your partner, bought a property, have had children or a loved one has died. 

It costs too much
Making a simple will is not expensive. Here at Marchants we offer fixed fees so that you know how much to pay. It could be far more expensive if you do not make one.

I can do a DIY will from a shop or off the internet
Yes you can, but there are risks involved if either things go wrong or the will is ineffective. You have no redress in such circumstances. Your family and loved ones will not thank you in these circumstances. 

What next?
Come in and see us!

Nick Aspley

Fraud does not pay after all

The Supreme Court have allowed two appeals by wives against their husbands who failed to provide full and accurate disclosure of their assets when the court made their divorce settlements. Therefore Alison Sharland and Varsha Gohil can ask the court to look again at their divorce settlements.

Nick Aspley Head of Family Law at Marchants Solicitors said “these judgments confirm that if couples want to come to a fair divorce settlement you cannot lie. The principle of full disclosure of each others financial circumstances cannot be ignored and it is everybody’s right to have a fair hearing. There may be others out there who feel they have been misled who may seek to challenge their divorce settlements.”

For help on this or any other family law issue contact Nick Aspley or ring 01623 655111

Nick Aspley

Disinherit children in your will at your peril?

The Court of Appeal in July 2015 awarded Heather Ilott £164,000 from her estranged mother’s estate despite being left out of her will. Her mother’s will had left all of her estate amounting to £500.000 to animal charities and expressly stated that her daughter should receive nothing.

Nick Aspley Partner at Marchants Solicitors said “this case was fact specific but consistent with the law under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. The judge found that the daughter, an only child, faced poverty and had great difficulty raising her five children meaning that her mother had failed to make reasonable provision for her. Also her mother had no connection with the charities involved.”

He continued “if there are generally good reasons to exclude an adult child in a will and the beneficiaries are closely connected to the Testator then there should be no problem. This was not the case here.”
If you have not made a will or want to review any existing will please contact Nick Aspley or ring 01623 655111.  

Nick Aspley

Marchants agree sponsorship with local football club

Marchants Solicitors have agreed a one year sponsorship deal with Ashland Rovers FC who play in the Precision Notts Senior League for the coming season which starts on 8th August.

Nick Aspley, Partner at Marchants (pictured with John Dawn Secretary of Ashland Rovers FC) said “We are proud to have the opportunity of sponsoring Ashland Rovers FC. As the only solicitors in Kirkby in Ashfield we are always looking to support our local community and this is a great way of doing our bit.”

John said “We hope to develop a longer working relationship with Marchants and are very grateful for their support at a time when the costs of running the club continue to increase.”  Both are looking forward to a successful season.

Marchants, who also have an office in Mansfield, are located opposite Morrisons in Kirkby in Ashfield with free parking and easy access.

Nick Aspley

Have you been injured in an accident at work?

Whilst at work, your employer has a duty to protect you.  If your employer fails in that duty you may be able to claim compensation for any injuries you may sustain.  This can also include pursuing a claim against your employer for the negligent acts of your co-workers.

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident at work please ensure that the incident is recorded in the employers Accident Book.  Make sure that you make an appointment to see your GP or visit the hospital and explain fully how you sustained your injury. 

Contact Debra Higgins or ring her on 01623 655111, a local personal injury solicitor who will offer a free initial interview and where appropriate a No Win No Fee Agreement which will entitle you to keep 100%* of your compensation.

*Less deductable insurance premiums where applicable.

Nick Aspley

No Win No Fee - with a difference

The Government has over the last few years completely revamped the way in which accident claims are funded with only limited fees now being recoverable.

Some firms are now deducting 25% from client’s compensation to meet the shortfall.  However here at Marchants we offer a No Win No Fee Agreement with a difference – we do not deduct any money from your compensation.  You keep 100%*

For more information contact Debra Higgins or 01623 655111
* Please note this will be for a limited time only.

Nick Aspley

Don't take our word for it - ask our clients

Marchants Solicitors, with offices in Mansfield and Kirkby in Ashfield, have announced the latest results of feedback from clients after their cases have finished. 95% of clients were “very satisfied” with the overall level of service while 99% would be “certain or likely to” recommend to others. In addition 95% of clients thought the result/outcome of their case was “better or the same” as advised by the firm.

Nick Aspley, Partner in charge of client care, said “Looking after, and helping, our clients has always been a top priority for us and we are really pleased with these results. Our staff work very hard to achieve the best possible outcomes for clients and these results demonstrate this. The legal market remains competitive and we will continue to try and achieve the very best service levels for clients. The best marketing for us has always been the feedback from our clients.”

Marchants are also offering fixed fees wherever possible for clients. Nick continues “96% of clients rated us as excellent or good at keeping clients sufficiently informed about costs and what was happening in their cases. Fixed fees provide certainty to clients and to enable them to budget accordingly and are proving very popular.” The results were based on feedback questionnaires completed last year.
Nick Aspley

Are you one of the 40 million people without a will?

More than 40 million people risk leaving their affairs in disarray when they die because they have not made a will, according to the Dying Matters Coalition.

The week beginning 18th May 2015 is Dying Matters Awareness Week, and will see events and activities around the country encouraging people to talk about bereavement and plan for their end of life.

Nick Aspley, Partner says “ It is difficult to talk about the end of your life but by sorting out a will now, it  gives you and your family peace of mind and avoids real stress and anxiety later on. Sorting out a simple will is not expensive and by using a solicitor it ensures that your wishes will be carried out after death.”

Nick Aspley

Beware of the Greedy Ex - even after divorce

Your marriage has unfortunately come to an end and you get divorced. You had no assets to argue over at the time and you both move on in life. That’s it. Sorted. Or is it?

This was  the main question for the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, to decide in the recent case of  Mrs Wyatt and Mr Vince.

Both met when they were young. They were new-age travellers with little money. Their only child, a son, was born who now works for his father’s company.

After marrying in 1981 they separated in 1984 and got divorced in 1992. Thereafter Mr Vince after erecting a wind-powered mobile phone service at the Glastonbury festival set up a company that generated and sold electricity through wind turbines. He is now a multi millionaire said to be worth £57 million. Almost 20 years after the divorce in 2011 Mrs Wyatt applied to the court for her ex Husband to pay her £1.9million.

The Supreme Court says she can make a claim against him. To rub salt into Mr Vince’s wound, he has  been ordered  to pay her legal costs as well as his own said to be around £500,000 to date.
Why? Is this fair?

Nick Aspley, Head of Family Law at Marchants Solicitors says “It is a common misunderstanding that once you have your Decree Absolute that is it. It is not. Your Decree only dissolves your marriage. It does not stop or terminate your financial claims against each other. You need to apply for, what is known as, a financial “clean break” order from the court, which is an entirely separate application to your Divorce. This is what Mr Vince failed to do. For him it could be an expensive mistake.”

However all is not lost for Mr Vince. The Supreme Court has  stated that her claim for £1.9 million is out of the question.  A more modest sum might be appropriate. As Nick observes  “What Mrs Wyatt has not explained is why it took her so long to bring her claim. This  may be a hurdle she might have real difficulty getting over.” 
Watch this space.

If you are divorced or thinking of getting a divorce contact Nick at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk  for a free initial consultation.

Nick Aspley

New litigator appointed

Marchants Solicitors are pleased to announce the appointment of Debra Higgins as Head of their Civil Litigation Department. Debra has over 20 years experience of civil litigation work in all areas of litigation including contractual disputes, debt, professional negligence and medical negligence. She also advises on all types of accident cases. Debra is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

Partner Nick Aspley said: "We are delighted to have Debra on board. She is an experienced, specialist solicitor in her field who has worked locally in the community for a long time and is a great addition to our team."
Debra said: "I am very happy to have joined Marchants and cannot wait to get started. I want to build on their reputation of providing local, high quality and affordable advice to clients."

For all enquiries contact Debra at dhiggins@marchantsolicitors.co.uk or 01623 655111

Nick Aspley

New Year Resolutions - make them count!

Have you made your New Year Resolutions yet? You may be thinking about getting a healthier lifestyle, but there are more fundamental things that you may have overlooked which need to be sorted. Here are 5 New Year Resolutions to really consider and get sorted

1. Put your family and friends first - MAKE A WILL

2. Worried about poor health and want peace of mind? DO A POWER OF ATTORNEY

3. Splitting up or wanting a fresh start? GET EXPERT ADVICE (FIRST MEETING FREE)

4. Wanting to sell and/buy your dream home? LET US TAKE THE STRAIN FOR YOU

5. Injured in an accident or at work? LET US GET THE COMPENSATION YOU DESERVE

WE CAN HELP YOU MEET THESE RESOLUTIONS TO LAST THIS YEAR AND BEYOND!

For expert advice available locally to you at a fixed fee wherever possible

Your only solicitors in Kirkby in Ashfield (opposite Morrisons with easy access and free car parking)

Do not delay contact us today!

Mansfield Office 01623 655 111

Kirkby in Ashfield Office 01623 688 400

legal@marchantsolicitors.co.uk

Nick Aspley

Don't put it off - make a Will!

New Intestacy Rules highlight the need for everyone to make a Will.

The new provisions are contained in the Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 which came into force on the 1st October.

If you die without leaving a valid Will, your estate which is everything you own, has to be shared out in accordance with intestacy rules.

What are the Changes to Spouses and Civil Partners with no children?

Old Rules

Surviving spouse or civil partner, inherited the first £450,000, personal chattels and one half of the remainder of the estate.

Parents would inherit the remaining half of the estate, or siblings, if no surviving parents.

New rules

Surviving spouse or civil partner inherits the whole of the deceased's estate outright. Parents/siblings get nothing.

What if there are surviving Children?

Old Rules

Surviving spouse or civil partner inherits the first £250,000, personal chattels and a life interest in half of the remainder of the estate.

Children receive the remaining half of the estate at 18.

New Rules

Surviving spouse or civil partner inherits the first £250,000, personal chattels and half of the estate outright.

Children receive the remaining half of the estate at 18.

What about Statutory Legacies?

These are fixed sums that a surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to receive.

Previously legacies were fixed at £250,000 where there were surviving children, or £450,000 if there were no children. Under the new rules the statutory legacy will be reviewed at least every five years and will rise in line with the Consumer Prices Index rounded up to the nearest £1,000. Interest is payable from the date of death to when the legacy is paid.

What else has changed?

The position of adopted children has changed, to ensure that they do not lose any potential claim from an inheritance, in expanding the definition of who can make a claim on the estate, including a person "treated as a child of the family".

In addition, the new law makes it easier for dependants to claim financial support from a deceased partner or parent if they would not receive anything under the intestacy rules. The Trustees would be allowed to use all the capital and income of a trust to support a beneficiary, whereas previously they can only use half of the fund for this purpose.

It all sounds a bit complicated, what should I do?

It is complicated! Make a Will now for peace of mind!

You can avoid all these complexities by making a Will by using a qualified, insured solicitor for a modest fixed fee.

Nick Aspley Partner of Marchants Solicitors states "the changes in the intestacy law, in order to deal with complexities of modern families is to be welcomed. However they do not significantly affect cohabiting partners' children from previous marriages or wider family members. Those who simply cohabit still lose out".

For further information contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk.

Nick Aspley

Parental Involvement in a child's life – what's new?

The law in relation to parents' involvement in the lives of their children has slightly changed from 22nd October 2014 in Section 11 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

The new law will require family courts to presume that each parent in a child's life will further their welfare if it is safe to do so. However the needs of a child will always be paramount.

The change is intended to encourage parents to be more focused on needs of their children following separation and in the role each parents play in their children's life.

Nick Aspley, Head of Family Law at Marchants Solicitors, said: "This is not about giving parents, especially fathers, new rights of 50/50 share of the time children spend with their parents , but is an attempt by government to ensure that both parents play an important role in their children's lives both before and after separation."

For more information log on to the Family Law section of our website and contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk for a free initial consultation.

Nick Aspley

DIY Wills and Estates - the expensive option

A recent report from the High Court confirmed there had been a 300% increase in mishandled wills claims over the last year. These claims included theft of assets from an executor, fraudulent asset distribution and debts that were not paid.

Mike Cummins Probate Partner said: “A reason for this unprecedented rise could be friends and family members being used as DIY executors and trustees who have little or no knowledge of how to deal with an estate. Some people believe that the estate is simple and straightforward and therefore there is no need for legal advice. This could lead to unintentional mistakes and in an attempt to save money could cost far more in court costs in recovering assets after a mistake, or worse, theft by an executor. If they had used a solicitor to begin with then such costs and difficulties might have been avoided."

Nick Aspley, Partner who deals with Wills also said: “It is really important when making a will you chose your executors and trustees carefully. They should be trustworthy, responsible and have no conflict with any proposed beneficiaries. For a relatively modest sum getting a will done by a solicitor, face to face, should avoid any potential disasters later on.”

Nick Aspley

Challenging top Tories over access to justice

Nick Aspley took the opportunity of challenging the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, over the impact of legal aid cuts on access to justice.

Nick, partner at Marchants Solicitors, was on the train from Newark to London Kings Cross taking the Top Tories back to London after electioneering in Newark. While the Mayor expressed sympathy on the issue the Prime Minister had no plans to change current policy.

 Mr Aspley said: “It is not every day that you have the opportunity of going right to the top of government to challenge policy. The fact is that since legal aid was withdrawn from most family cases in April 2014 this has led to the vulnerable in society, both locally and nationwide, not being able to get the most basic of legal advice.

"This has been supported by the judiciary in a written response published last week to the Justice Committee Enquiry on Civil Legal Aid which stated that the withdrawal of legal advice was  likely to have led to cases with a good chance of success not being brought “because individuals lack the knowledge & confidence to take cases forward.”

Nick Aspley

Family Law Changes - forewarned is forearmed

The government has introduced sweeping changes to the family law justice system which you need to be familiar with before you are thinking of going to court.

Most family work will be dealt with by the new Family Court to replace Family Proceedings and County Courts, although the new court is likely to be located in the same court building as the old courts. The aim is to make the court system more efficient and fit for purpose.

The changes also mean different arrangements in how to start a divorce and to sort out any arrangements for your children.<

A new Child Arrangements Programme has been introduced to sort out children arrangements and there are new rules on what to do before you can apply to the court for an order and how to make your application.

Once the application has been made the programme sets out what has to be done with the aim of reaching an agreement about your children with minimum court intervention. There remains the last resort of going to a final hearing should you not be able to reach an agreement.

Even the words have changed – “Residence and Contact Orders” have now been replaced by “Child Arrangements Orders.”

It will help you to take some legal advice and to discuss your options.

For more information log on to the Family Law section of our website and contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk for a free initial consultation. 

Nick Aspley

Make a Will before winter sets in

With the government’s latest statistics out on the amount of deaths during last winter it is not clear how many made a will and therefore is a timely reminder to us all about making a will or reviewing an existing will.

Making a will ensures that your wishes are carried out so that you decide who inherits your property. Without a will, the State rules who inherits, therefore your family, friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing.

By making a will you can guarantee care for your children through appointing Guardians for them, who should look after them if you were to die.

You should particularly make a will if you are either not married or you are not in a registered civil partnership. The law does not automatically recognise cohabitants or partners who live together as having the same rights as husbands, wives and civil partners. Therefore, if you have lived together with your cohabitant for many years, he or she may be left with nothing if you have not made a will.

You should review your will regularly to effect any major life changes for example if you are getting married, entering in to a civil partnership, separating, divorcing or if your civil partnership has dissolved. Such circumstances can make all or part of your will invalid.

To get a will done or review an existing one contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk or ring 01623 655111.

Nick Aspley

Family courts are changing - watch this space

From April 2014 there will be one single family court that you can use which means big changes as to how you start your case, going to court and how to proceed through the court process to the end. This will apply to every type of family case involving children, divorce and property issues. The government is currently consulting on its plans so once all the plans are finalised we will let you what it will mean for you and what you should do.

For further information contact Nick Aspley
Nick Aspley

Divorce - tell the truth or else!

A recent case has confirmed that when a couple reach a divorce settlement they have an absolute duty to disclose to each other the truth in what their assets and financial circumstances are.

A business tycoon who failed to disclose about his successful investments has had a divorce settlement of £1.8 million ripped up by the court and to renegotiate it with his wife.

The wife, who did not take legal advice when agreeing the settlement, found out about the investments later and took legal advice to challenge the settlement in court. The judge described the tycoon as a “master of the half-truth.” The case also demonstrates the need to take comprehensive legal advice before agreeing any settlement.

If you want advice about a divorce settlement Contact Nick Aspley 

Nick Aspley

Family Courts nearing collapse - how can we help you?

It has been reported that the family courts received 27% more children cases in relation to contact and residence (access and custody) than the month before and that the court cannot cope and risks collapse. This could mean more delays and that children are likely to suffer the most as well as their parents. This is likely to be a result in part due to legal aid cutbacks.

Marchants can help you by advising and helping you through the court process either if you are thinking about applying to the court to sort out the arrangements for your children, or if you are in the court process already and want to know how to continue.

We can offer you a Fixed Fee or you can Pay As You Go – the choice is yours. Contact Nick Aspley for more information.

Nick Aspley

Marchants secures Law Society's new quality mark

Marchants in Mansfield and Kirkby in Ashfield has secured membership to the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme - the mark of excellence for the home buying process.

Marchants underwent rigorous assessment by the Law Society in order to secure CQS status, which marks the firm out as meeting high standards in the residential conveyancing process.

Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said that the Law Society introduced CQS to promote high standards in the home buying process.

"CQS has established itself as the quality mark of the home-buying sector and enables consumers to identify practices that provide a quality residential conveyancing service. With so many different conveyancing service providers out there CQS helps home-buyers and sellers seek out those that can provide a safe and efficient level of service."

Partner, and Head of Conveyancing Department, Mike Cummins, says: Marchants is delighted to have secured CQS status. Buying and selling a home can be a stressful time. Choosing a solicitor to help in that process just got easier. By looking for a CQS firm like Marchants the public can seek out a firm that has proved its commitment to quality.

“The overall beneficiaries will be clients who use Marchants when buying a home. They will receive a reliable, efficient service as recognised by the CQS standard."

The scheme requires practices to undergo a strict assessment, compulsory training, self reporting, random audits and annual reviews in order to maintain CQS status. It is open only to members of the Law Society who meet the demanding standards set by the scheme and has the support of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies Association, Legal Ombudsman and the Association of British Insurers.

Marchants is now one of the few firms in the area that hold the Quality Marks for Conveyancing, Advanced Family and Children work and the only solicitor’s firm in Kirkby in Ashfield serving the local community and beyond.

Want to know more – contact Mike Cummins 01623 655111

For more information on the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme visit www.lawsociety.org.uk/cqs or contact the CQS Unit on 020 7316 5550 or CQS@lawsociety.org.uk

Nick Aspley

The Bedroom Tax – parents watch out!

If you are a parent in rented accommodation getting housing benefit with a spare bedroom, new rules being introduced by the government in April 2013 may have an adverse impact on seeing your children. If you are separated from each other and you see your children at weekends, for example, the government appears to be saying that you cannot keep your children's bedroom as a spare room for them at weekends without paying additional rent, or as some are calling it, a "bedroom tax."

A government minister is on record as saying the children should sleep on a sofa bed or settee instead. Should a parent be forced to move into smaller accommodation in these circumstances? Very shortly, the answer may be provided.

Want to know more? contact Nick Aspley or call on 01623 655111

Nick Aspley

Get in control after death and make a will!

Many of us do not make a will or try to and find out later that it was done wrong. The Legal Services Board is recommending that the government do something about it by regulating will writing to restore client confidence. The Law Society has submitted evidence of people who have been prosecuted for running off with people's estates amongst other problems caused by unregulated individuals distributing large sums of money.

You can avoid all this by getting expert help from a firm of solicitors who have been advising your local community for well over 100 years on making a proper will which is right for you and the family you leave behind. Contact Mike Cummins on 01623 655111 without delay today!

Nick Aspley

Children and Families - new law coming

The Children and Families Bill is going through parliament at the moment seeking to extend statutory rights in family and employment law and the role parents play in the upbringing of their children. It could become law in April 2014.

The law in relation to children will be amended with a presumption that a child's welfare will be furthered by the involvement of each of the child's parents in their life unless such involvement would not do so – in other words shared parenting.

This may seem quite reasonable and you may be wondering what is wrong with this presumption? However considering the needs of your child can be no easy task in the highly emotionally charged and difficult time when you are going through a separation. It does not mean equal time with both parents. "Involvement" is the key word and could lead to misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations for parents. This could lead to disagreements which would otherwise not have happened. Each case must be considered on its own merits.

Another change is the introduction of a Child Arrangements Order to replace Residence and Contact Orders. Such orders could reflect the practical arrangements for children and remove the emotive labels that are currently being used. Watch this space!
Nick Aspley

How getting lost wine tasting in France led to a divorce

A property investor failed to get permission to appeal his divorce at a court hearing last week. The couple had taken a wrong turning while in France, looking for some wine tasting during a summer holiday. The husband got out of the car and argued with his wife over her map reading - actions which led to the wife filing for divorce.

The judge granted the Decree Nisi in December 2011 and said the husband had argued with his wife over map reading. The wife is now free to end her 10 year marriage by applying for her Decree Absolute to dissolve her marriage, on the basis of the husband's unreasonable behaviour towards her.
Nick Aspley

Law Commission's consultation paper on rights to light

Rights of light are a complex area of law and they can often have a large impact on the development of property.

The Law Commission have published a consultation paper which, although is not yet law, sets out their future proposals for rights to light. The consultation paper aims to draw a balance between the interests of landowners and the need to facilitate the effective and efficient use of land through its development.

Broadly, the consultation paper's main proposals are to abolish the acquisition of a right to light through prescription (long user), a new test to be applied to determine whether damages or an injunction would be the appropriate remedy, statutory time limits on notice procedures and negotiations to be imposed, and to introduce a procedure for applications to be made to the Lands Tribunal to have obsolete rights to right extinguished. If you believe that you are likely to be affected by these proposals, either as a developer or landowner, please contact Peter Dilks at our offices for further information.

The full report can be downloaded and read at:

http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/consultations/rights-to-light.htm .

Nick Aspley

New Year New Start.....Time to take the plunge?

Fed up after Christmas or fired up for a new relationship? For many couples January is a time to make a fresh start either by divorcing, beginning a new relationship or getting engaged.

According to the Church of England more couples are getting engaged in January than in any other month in the year. Last year saw a 56% rise than the previous year in inquiries about a church wedding to a special weddings website. As there are now more churches to choose from, and following the Royal Wedding, inquiries are expected to increase further.

Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (in relation to England and Wales) showed a rise of nearly 5% in the number of divorces in 2010 from the previous year. The number of divorces was the highest among the 40 to 44 age group. There were nearly 120,000 divorces in 2010 the first annual increase in 7 years following years of a decline in numbers.

Why? One reason is likely to be the recession – financial strain on households, unemployment and related lifestyle changes. Some may think that they may get a more favourable divorce settlement in bad times than in good times. The increased use of Facebook and Twitter could have led to more separations.

In contrast, couples are less able to end their marriage for the same financial reasons – lower incomes, negative equity and banks not willing to lend and not being able to afford to split one household in two. Stick it out until the general economy improves. If you are married or not, all couples face the same issues.

The average duration of marriage is 11 years with the average of men divorcing being 44 compared to 42 for women in 2010.
The "pensioner divorce" is also on the rise with couples divorcing in their 60s increased by almost 50% since the 1980s.

Whether you are considering starting a relationship or ending it Marchants Solicitors can provide you with expert help. Contact Nick Aspley at naspley@marchantsolicitors.co.uk or ring on 01623 655111.

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