LEGAL COSTS – can you recover them from your opponent after winning a legal dispute?

Kuldeep S. Clair, our senior Consultant Solicitor in Dispute Resolution and Employment Law offers his views on this important topic: 

This question is understandably a common initial concern for many clients when they are deciding whether to issue court / tribunal proceedings, and  also when they are defending proceedings against them. 

The rules are complex and not automatic. They depend on the discretion of the Judge, and on things like the nature of the claim and the particular court or tribunal that you are in. Let’s go through a few guidelines but please remember to refer to the exceptions I have outlined later as well: 

  1. Employment tribunals – you will not recover your legal costs if you win, and will not have to pay the other side’s legal costs if you lose either. 
  • Civil money claims of less than £10,000 – as above, apart from relatively nominal fixed amounts totaling probably a few hundred pounds in most cases. (The other side will pay your court fees.)
  • Civil money claims above £10,000 – You will usually be able to recover a large proportion of legal costs which are reasonably incurred. What that means is that there is still a duty on your solicitors to act reasonably in the conduct of a claim so that whatever shortfall payable by you is as small as possible.   
  • Other civil claims, such as landlord/tenant, employment, commercial claims, company disputes – as per 3 above. The court is more likely to award you costs in a matter which is of higher value, since judges do not want to encourage people to clog up the courts with low-value disputes. But the value of the claim is only one factor, and of course, disputes can concern many other issues than just money. 

All of these principles can be overridden by the basic exception which is that a court or tribunal may award costs against a party if he/she has behaved in a manner which is regarded by the Judge as appalling or un-co-operative, and which has increased the legal costs incurred by the other side. It is important to appreciate that this does not mean just by losing the case. Clearly someone always has to lose. It means seriously inappropriate behavior, such as pursuing a utterly hopeless or dishonest case which was absolutely bound to fail. Or using litigation as a device to abuse or harass an opponent. 

If you are advised by your lawyer that all your legal costs will definitely be covered or recovered from the other side, you should remain skeptical. I always advise my clients honestly and fully about the merits of their case and also about the position on costs.  There are no guarantees concerning costs, other than through certain kinds of legal insurance. The problem with that kind of ‘after-the-event’ insurance is that it is only suitable for certain kinds of situations and cases, and it is also quite expensive. I can discuss those options with you in detail. 

Your best bet is to have a solicitor who has the experience and perspective to give you honest, forthright advice about the positive and negative aspects of your case, to prepare your case thoroughly, and fight your case vigorously once you have given clear instructions.  

If you have any queries about a dispute, please feel free to contact me initially without obligation. 

Kuldeep S. Clair 

Consultant Solicitor

Employment, Dispute Resolution and Litigation

+44 (0) 7484 61 4090

kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

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A Victory for Our Client in the Employment Tribunal

Our client was employed as a bus driver and had 18 years of continuous employment. He had a clean record with no warnings or incidents. 

While driving in the rain, he had been involved in one unexplained low-speed accident which resulted in a collision with three parked cars and a fence. This caused about £40,000 of damage. He believed that the brakes on his vehicle had failed, although the employer had carried out tests and found nothing to be wrong.

There was video evidence of the bus journey, including in the driver’s cab. This showed that he was obviously awake and not distracted at the time that the accident occurred. 

The cause of the accident could only be complete unexplained negligence by our client, the driver, but he did not accept that. He disputed it from the very first time that the employer interviewed him. The company dismissed him within a couple of weeks, and his internal appeal was also unsuccessful.  

Attempts to negotiate a compromise were unsuccessful and this led to a hearing recently at Watford Employment Tribunal. One of the large ‘magic circle’ City law firms and their specialist employment barrister opposed us all along. 

Our employment solicitor, Kuldeep Clair, handled the case for us, and also advocated at the tribunal.

The decision of the tribunal came a month after a three-day hearing. We pointed out how the company had not considered theoretical alternative explanations for the accident, and how disclosure of the brake test reports had come extraordinarily late. The company’s culture of hostility to lawyers representing employees was also criticised; their HR appeals manager had been uncooperative and failed to look at the original decision afresh. 

The negative side was the following:

The tribunal felt that the employer can conclude the brakes were not faulty. This is in the light of all of the evidence, and lack of a positive alternative explanation from the client.

Decisions to dismiss are rarely black and white. They need to fall in a ‘band of reasonable responses’. A tribunal will always be looking at the overall reasonableness of the employer’s decision taking account of the full circumstances.   

However, we were successful in pointing out the procedural irregularities throughout. The tribunal decided that if the employer had adopted a proper procedure, there was a 30% possibility that the employer’s decision might have been in favour of our client. So, he received only a proportion of his full damages. However, that was enough to cover the trial costs. He fought the case as a matter of principle, and so he was pleased with the result. He had few ongoing losses as he found an alternative job three months after being dismissed in any event.

If you would like advice on any aspect of employment or business law, please contact us directly:

Kuldeep S. Clair

Consultant Solicitor 

kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk 

+44 7 484 614 090

Debt and Money Claims in the UK

Debt and Money Claims: personal or on behalf of businesses, whether you are pursuing or defending

We are accustomed to recovering money or defending claims for monetary sums on behalf of our clients.

Unfortunately, the fact that it is not possible to recover hardly any legal costs in cases in ‘small claims’ cases  means that it may not be worth instructing us unless, practically, the dispute involves a sum of at least £6,000.

Having said that, sometimes our clients want to pursue their debtor as a matter of principle, even if the net sum recovered for them is a small proportion of the total sum that was due. That is entirely understandable.

Not all debt claims end in success. There is often a lot of frustration along the way. The lawyer’s job is very difficult. But often, we are very successful.

Sterling Law have concluded a settlement in a case where we had been acting for an architect who had been dealing with a company in the building trade. Several of our client company’s invoices totaling almost £9,000 over the early part of 2018 had remained unpaid for 5-6 months, despite repeated demands for payment. The debtor had just completely ‘blanked’ our client.

We have now received the final instalment in payment from the debtor company in this case, against whom we obtained judgment. This has been paid to our client, the creditor company. Of course our client’s director has expressed his delight at the outcome. 

Judgement-in-Default

The defendant, despite being a highly qualified professional, ignored our two ‘letters before action.’ He then ignored our issue of the court proceedings. We then obtained ‘judgement-in-default’ against his company. He then sprung into action when was threatened to face enforcement of the judgement. Various excuses were made, including blaming his accountants for not receiving the letters and court papers on time, even though they were sent to the correct registered office of the company. Ultimately, the director threatened that he would dissolve his company unless we accepted half the sum due, in full and final settlement.

We were not going to be fobbed off by this nonsense and advised our client accordingly. We had no reason to believe that the defendant company was on the verge of insolvency, and if it was so, we questioned why the director had half the sum sitting in his bank account, available to be paid immediately.

Ultimately, we obtained agreement for half the debt under the judgement to be paid immediately (which it duly was, this week), and for the second half next month.

Our client was delighted with the result; a combination of litigation and tough negotiation achieved a great result. If we had merely launched into enforcing the judgment, it would have taken much longer to obtain the money and costs (payable by our client and not all recoverable from the other side) would have been higher.

If you have a dispute upon which you need advice, please contact us. We can either represent you in court or just provide advice at an initial consultation.

Please contact Kuldeep S. Clair, Consultant Solicitor and Advocate, directly:

Email: Kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

Mobile: 07484 614090

Tel. 020 7822 8599

CYPRUS FAIRS FAVOURABLY FOR CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM

Especially in the government handling of Covid19, protection of its citizens and quick return to normalcy.

Never has there been so much emphasis placed on the importance of global mobility, further to the initial shock and disruption of Covid19, and the political and financial aftermath that has left us all searching for the  return to normalcy.  Most of us have waited anxiously to see the response by our government policy, and the steps taken to protect its citizens from the pandemic, during such unchartered territory. We have quickly come to realize, the importance of what  we perhaps once took for granted, the stability of our country’s infrastructure, health system,  and social security,  as a means of protecting its’ citizens and preserving business, wealth and  the economy.

Although there has been no formal global response policy to Covid19, it has swiftly become apparent that some countries governments have taken quick action to protect their citizens, whilst others have failed miserably.  Such unprecedented times have also seen us highly dependent on media, for validity of government information and guidelines, so we now know how living in a country that allows for freedom of speech and a trusting government is paramount.

With countries like the USA now enforcing martial law where Black Americans and other immigrants are made feel unsafe, losing their human rights and liberties, and Hong Kong citizens feeling suffocated by the newly proposed controversial national security legislation announced by Beijing to tighten Chinese rule, completely overriding Hong Kong’s own legislative process, threatening their human freedoms and civil liberties. Also with other countries such as Russia enforcing public surveillance, with prominence of facial recognition fast expanding, where government authority is stamping down on public freedoms and monitoring social media, the threat of losing our freedoms seems to have become a greater fear than the fear of COVID19 itself, resulting in many HNWIs placing global mobility and citizenship by investment on the top of their agenda, with view to protecting their families, safeguarding their wealth and preserving it for future generations to come.

So why has Cyprus, such a small gem in the Mediterranean sea, received so much praise and attention during the pandemic, by those searching for dual citizenship or looking to relocate their family and wealth?

Cyprus is the 3rd. largest island in the Med, and is located at the eastern end of Europe, at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Cyprus is known to have one of the lowest crime rates in the world and is considered to be one of the most attractive onshore tax regimes in the world, ranking 37th best country for business by Forbes in 2018, and 5th best relocation destination in the world, by Knight Frank. Having joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2008, Cyprus is deemed one of Europe’s rising stars, with a steady increase in GDP since the bank crisis of 2013, with its robust legal system based on English common law and transparent regulatory framework, with Cyprus’ banking system, now fully compliant with EU AML Directives.  Cyprus is also OECD compliant, and has one of the most attractive corporation tax rates worldwide, of only 12.5% and many non-dom zero tax benefits, and has attracted many UHNWIs and HNWIs alike.

With the highest tertiary education % in the EU, and a highly educated

professional workforce, where English is the main business language, as well as other widely spoken languages including Greek and Turkish, Cyprus has received much interest from international firms and investors worldwide.

Cyprus also has a strong infrastructure with a free, efficient national health service (YESI), and some of the best ranking universities and private schools, with languages taught as part of the curriculum including Chinese and Russian.

Cyprus’ main industries include financial services, banking, shipping, tourism, R&D and telecoms, as well as emerging industries such as energy and natural gas exploration. The real estate sector has also accelerated over the last ten years, seeing a steady increase in house prices to their pre 2013 high levels.

All this combined with a high quality of life, some of the best blue flag beaches of the world,  sunny  weather all year-round and friendly people with diversity and inclusion of all religions, makes  Cyprus a top Citizenship by Investment choice for many HNWIs and favourable relocation destination for many. With Europe having established itself as the most sought after region for high net worth investor immigration, Cyprus is now deemed the best Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) in the world.

Cyprus’ quick quarantine response to Covid19 and astute decisive action by economists, scientists and the Cyprus democratic government, has resulted in the island having one of the lowest fatality rates in Europe. Cyprus began lifting restrictions and returning back to normalcy in May, with the opening of the construction sector and public sector, with some schools resuming by mid-May, as well as private and public hospitals, and all citizen restrictions having been lifted by the end of May. From 1st June Cyprus hotels were open for business and Cyprus airports are to follow, with the reopening of international flights as from the 9 June, from selected low risk countries. Cyprus is proving an exemplary model country in pandemic management, taking successful measures resulting in quick returning back to normalcy, and has been praised for its quick recovery strategy, and shows optimism in its economic recovery.

Cyprus’ strong ethics in the importance family, education, wellbeing, business and innovation has held the country in good stead with amazing results. Therefore is a serious contender for someone evaluating their alternative citizenship application, dual passport, or a relocation destination.

The Cyprus Investment program offers the quickest route to a European passport obtained in approximately only 180 days. It is the only citizenship program offering such a simple and efficient way of obtaining dual citizenship.

Since 2013, the Cyprus Investment Program has attracted an investment of €6.6 billion. The Cyprus government has now lifted the 700 application cap, imposed earlier in the year, and is now more than ever committed to processing the CIP applications as quickly and efficiently as possible, providing they meet the eligibility guidelines and are fully compliant, as a means of boosting the country’s economy.

Eligibility requirements for the CIP include:

  • The main applicant must be 18 years of age or above
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Have no frozen assets within the EU, as a result of sanctions
  • All applicants must have a Schengen visa
  • The applicant must not have had a citizen application previously rejected by any other EU member state
  • Politically Exposed Persons entrusted with a prominent public function in the last five years are not eligible to apply, even if they do not hold such function at the time of the CIP application;
  • Adult applicants must visit Cyprus in order to provide biometrics for the permanent residency permit, which must be held for a minimum of 180 days, prior to citizenship been granted.

The main advantages of the CIP are as follows:

  • Freedom to live, work and study anywhere in the 28 EU member states including over 172 countries worldwide, including Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  • A quick route to acquiring EU citizenship, as a means to relocate to the UK
  • An easy process, with no language or medical testing
  • All family members are eligible including spouse, children including adult dependants  up to age 28 (prior to 29 birthday), and parents, even if over the age of 65
  • No physical residency requirements to live in Cyprus, other than holding of the Residency permit for 180 days prior to citizenship being issued
  • A better quality of life for the family, including excellent healthcare and  education for children, access to top-rated universities
  • Increased personal security and safety and enjoyment of freedoms with excellent lifestyle for all the family
  • Attractive tax regime with zero tax for non-domiciled individuals, no dividend tax and no inheritance tax
  • Citizenship is valid for life and can be passed on to your descendants
  • The acquired assets can be sold after 5 years, other than the €500,000 primary residence which must be held for life, and the €150,000 government donation which is non-refundable
  • Property investment can be rented and may yield between 3-5%. Real estate investment may also provide a guaranteed buy back option, at the end of the five year term (this may be available by some real estate firms)

The investment criteria starts from €2,150,000. The applicant may choose to invest in residential real estate or a combination of real estate and other investment investments as well as a non-refundable contribution.

The €2,000,000 investment option, must be made in residential real estate investment (plus VAT if applicable), as well as a non- refundable government donation of €150,000.

Or

An investment of €2,500,000 can be made, in a combination of real estate and/or other investment instruments such as AIFs, or investment in Cyprus companies as well as a non-refundable government donation of €150,000.

The government donation involves a non-refundable contribution of €75,000 to the Government Research and Development fund and €75,000 to the Land Development Organisation, in both options.

The investor may choose to sell the primary residence to the value of €500,000 and replace with another at any time, and should they wish their parents to be added to the application they can do so without any additional investment other than the purchase of their own primary residence to the value of €500,000 plus VAT.

Jenny Tryfonos Consultancy can assist you with Cyprus investor immigration services. Being of Cyprus descent, living in the UK and speaking the Greek language fluently, Jenny works with trusted local Cyprus lawyers and partners to protect the interest of her clients, ensuring that their needs are met every step of the way, keeping them informed throughout the application process and giving clients peace of mind, from start to successful acquisition of their Cyprus passport. Through her trusted advisory network, other HNWIs services offered include relocation, property acquisition, tax structuring, banking, trusts, and Cyprus company formation services, making your Cyprus experience complete and hassle free.

For a better visual idea on what Cyprus has to offer, check out the video Cyprus-The real return on investment

For further information on the Cyprus Investment Program, feel free to email contact@sterling-law.co.uk or send a WhatsApp or Telegram request to Jenny Tryfonos, so you can discuss your requirements further, in strictest confidence, or call +44 7 305 966 531.

REDUCTIONS IN THE GRANT UNDER THE FURLOUGH SCHEME

The Government previously announced that the salient features of the Furlough Scheme will continue unchanged until 31 July 2020. The Government will continue to pay 80% of an individual’s wages up to a maximum cap of 2,500 per month, together with national insurance costs and mandatory pension contributions on that salary.

The first change is that from 1 August 2020, the Government will no longer make any contribution to an employer’s NIC’s and pension contributions.

From 1 September 2020, the Government will, in addition to the changes introduced in August, reduce the amount of the Furlough

Scheme grant. This will move to pay 70% of the employee’s wages up to a maximum of 2,187.50 per month. In addition, however, the employer must also pay a minimum of 10% of an employee’s salary (up to 312.50), as well as the employer’s NIC’s and pension contributions. Employers will no longer be able to furlough staff on the basis that the only money received by the individual will be the Furlough Scheme grant, and, in addition to paying the employer’s NIC’s and pension contributions on the wages covered by the Furlough Scheme, the employer must now pay 10% of the employee’s normal salary during September.

In October, the employer must contribute 20% of the employee’s salary (i.e., up to 625), and the Government grant goes down to 60% of the normal salary (i.e., up to a maximum of 1,875 per employee).

The Scheme then ends on 30 October 2020.

 

If you need help, contact us on contact@sterling-law.co.uk

Tracking visa application status

Waiting for your visa decision is indeed stressful, and considering visa processing times (even before the COVID), it may take weeks or even months before you get a decision.

There are ways, however, to find out the progress of your application once it’s been submitted to the Home Office.

When you submit your application, you will be issued with a case reference number. You can then either use an online tool or call for updates.

Using the online system, you can email the team that is processing your application. This will give you an update on your case, and potentially help to troubleshoot any issues with your application. The system is, however, chargeable, and you may need to wait a few days for a reply.

You also have an option to call UKVI to find out about your matter, however, this method proved less effective due to the high workload of the caseworkers.

How to speed up the decision

For the majority of applications, you can use one of the UKVI enhanced services. Availability, fees and processing times will differ depending on the type of your application and your previous immigration history. If you are applying inside the UK, and want to use the priority service, you will be invited to one of the centres, present in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, London (Croydon) and some other locations.

If you are applying from outside the UK, the embassy/consulate/visa centre will advise you on whether you can use the enhanced services. Just bear in mind that processing times for the applications made outside the UK are likely to be longer.

Getting the decision

In most cases, you’ll receive the decision by letter (though sometimes it may come in an email or text). If you applied outside the UK, you’ll receive a vignette in your passport (entry clearance) allowing you to enter the UK. If you plan to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months, you will have 10 days to collect your BRP card.

If you applied from the UK, you will receive a letter or an email with the outcome of your application, and then your BRP card within the next 7-10 days.

Contact us on contact@sterling-law.co.uk

EPC Contracts

We have reviewed the EPC contract and provided a legal opinion on force majeure clauses (re Covid-19) and its implications.

Engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPC) contracts are the most common form of contract used to undertake construction works by the private sector on large-scale and complex infrastructure projects. Under an EPC contract, a contractor is obliged to deliver a complete facility to a developer who needs only turn a key to start operating the facility, hence EPCC contracts are sometimes called turnkey construction contracts. In addition to delivering a complete facility, the contractor must deliver that facility for a guaranteed price by guaranteed date and it must perform to the specified level. Failure to comply with any requirements will usually result in the contractor incurring monetary liabilities. The EPC contractor coordinates all design, procurement and construction work and ensures that the whole project is completed as required and in time. He also may or may not undertake actual site work.

Key features of an EPC contract are:

  • A “firm” contract price with limited ability for the contractor to claim additional amounts.
  • A fixed date for project completion with limited ability for the contractor to claim an extension of time (EOT).
  • Single point responsibility.
  • Contractor responsibility for proving the performance and reliability of the completed asset or facility.
  • A focus on the long-term performance of the asset or facility and its ability to generate revenue.

Xena Semikina

Senior Solicitor

xena@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

 

Michael Iatsukha

Trainee Solicitor

michael@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

 

 

 

Photo credits: stillmiracle.com

What is the impact of coronavirus on immigration detention centres?

Throughout the last two months, we have seen that the coronavirus is very contagious; we have witnessed that it can spread very quickly, especially in crowded places. Immigration detention centres are some of the places where an outbreak of the coronavirus will put the lives of many immigration detainees at risk.

Furthermore, a recent article published in the Guardian highlights another issue with immigration detention centres; that there are immigrants who have been unlawfully detained. As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the release of some detainees has been delayed. There are two reasons for this:

1) detainees who were particularly vulnerable to contracting coronavirus were placed in solitary confinement for a minimum of three months;

2) detainees cannot be removed to their home countries because of the pandemic. This means that the detention of such detainees may have become unlawful.

According to the leaked data from the Home Office released by the Guardian:

The Home Office is only supposed to detain people if there is a realistic prospect of removing them from the UK. Yet two people who have received letters telling them to stay in their cells for the next three months come from countries on a Home Office list of about 50 that officials cannot currently remove people to because of coronavirus.’

(‘Revealed: at-risk immigration detainees ‘to be put in solitary confinement’’ by Diane Taylor, published in the Guardian on 02 April 2020)

If an individual is still in detention that is unlawful, it may be possible to:

  • Challenge the unlawful detention in Court;
  • Challenge the detention procedure;
  • Ask the Court for compensation; and
  • Ask the Home Office or the detention centre for a formal apology.

Sterling Law is here to help those who have been victims of unlawful detain. In addition to the above, we can advise whether a human rights claim can be brought depending on how long the detention was and what treatment was received in detention.

If we are instructed on behalf of an individual to challenge their unlawful detention at Court, we will represent and guide them throughout the entire court process. Our immigration specialists have significant experience in dealing with the same or similar complex immigration cases.

If you or a member of your family are in a similar situation, or you know somebody who has been detained unlawfully, please contact us on contact@sterling-law.co.uk .

Refusal on Suitability grounds

Sterling Law successfully appealed refusal on Suitability grounds.

The client came to the UK on a visit visa, overstayed and became pregnant. The baby tragically died. She afterwards entered a relationship with a settled person and applied for leave on that basis. The application was refused and we successfully appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal.

The application was refused on Suitability grounds due to NHS debt from maternity services. However, the judge found it unreasonable not to exercise the discretion given the tragic and traumatic circumstances of losing the baby and the fact that the client was committed to settling the debt. It was held that the Suitability ground does not apply.

The appeal was allowed on Article 8 grounds outside the rules. Although the client did not meet the threshold of insurmountable obstacles, it was recognised that her return would be difficult, especially as she is currently pregnant and given her traumatic experiences.

You can contact us at contact@sterling-law.co.uk 

Or speak to us through Telmie for 50% off your first consultation.

Photo credits: stillmiracle.com

Daughter-in-law of an EEA national can stay in the UK

Our immigration team achieved great success in representing a client in her appeal against the Home Office’s decision to refuse issuance of the Residence Card as an extended family member of an EEA national.

Our client, a Ukrainian national entered the UK as a Family Permit holder and was residing in the UK as an extended family member of an EEA national (her father-in-law was Portuguese).  Our client lived with her husband and son, whose residence in the UK was also dependent on the same EEA national.

The family applied for Residence Cards under the European Community law. However, the Home Office refused to issue our client and her family Residence Cards on the basis of insufficient evidence of dependency on their EEA sponsor.

In the refusal letter the Home Office stated that printed envelopes and package labels showing our client’s address were insufficient evidence to prove that she was part of the household of the sponsor in Ukraine or UK. Also, there was not enough evidence to demonstrate that she was financially reliant upon the sponsor in Ukraine or the UK.

The family subsequently appealed against the Home Office’s decision to refuse their applications.

Shortly after the appeal was lodged, the Home Office issued Residence Cards to our client’s husband and son as direct family members of the sponsor. The client herself, however, was refused.

The client contacted one of our experienced immigration lawyers, Nozima, who successfully represented her in bringing an appeal against the Home Office decision. Sterling Law submitted that the client was dependent upon the sponsor both in Ukraine and the UK and formed part of the sponsor’s household in the UK, moreover, she was financially dependent on the sponsor in the UK and thus, the refusal to issue residence card was wrong in all the circumstances. After reviewing all the ample evidence, the First-Tier Tribunal decided that the Home Office’s decision to refuse to issue a Residence Card to our client was wrong. The Tribunal stated there was sufficient evidence to show that our client and her family were financially dependent on the sponsor and that she was part of the sponsor’s household in the UK:

‘…money transfers from the sponsor to the appellant and her family members in the Ukraine … are significant in value and extensive covering a significant period of time…’

And:

‘substantial evidence of a reliable nature to demonstrate that the appellant is part of the sponsor’s household in the UK … includes official documentation including the application for National Insurance number, HMRC documentation, confirmation of residence of all parties from the landlord and registration with a GP at the sponsor’s address…’

Therefore, the appeal was allowed and the client was permitted to stay in the UK with her family and obtain residence card, which allows her to exercise more rights in the UK, including the right to work.

Are you an extended family member of an EEA national and have been refused/or want to apply for a Residence Card/ pre-settled status to stay in the UK? If you are in a similar situation or should you have any other immigration-related query or issue, please do not hesitate to contact us on contact@sterling-law.co.uk.

 

 

Photo credits: stillmiracle.com

Why it is important to have a Will and ensure it is up to date

A Will is one of the most important documents of a person’s life because it gives you control over how you dispose of your assets after you die. Without it, your assets could go to people you do not know or like, leaving your beloved family members and relatives without a share of your estate. Even if you have made a Will, your loved ones may still get nothing from your estate if you do not have your Will updated to reflect your changing personal and financial circumstances.

If your personal and financial circumstances change significantly and you do not have a Will in place, you may wish to have one prepared for you to reflect these changes.

Major life events, which necessitate changes in your Will, include the following:

  • Marriage or civil partnership

If you have made a Will prior to your marriage or civil partnership, the marriage or civil partnership automatically invalidates the terms of your existing Will. This means that your Will is invalid and, unless a new Will is drawn up, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy after you die. The rules of intestacy mean that your property is shared out according to set rules, where your spouse or civil partner is the first to inherit what remains in your estate. This creates a problem if you wish to leave your estate to your children or other family members instead of leaving it to your new spouse or civil partner.  If that is the case, you need to make a new Will in order to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.

  • Divorce or dissolution of civil partnership

Getting a divorce or dissolving your civil partnership does not automatically invalidate your Will. If your marriage or civil partnership ends, your Will works as if your spouse or civil partner had died on the date when the divorce or the dissolution of the civil partnership was issued. This means that if your spouse or civil partner was named as an Executor or Trustee in your Will, they are no longer able to fulfil this role. Further, any portion of your estate that you had left to them no longer takes effect unless you expressly state this, and it returns back to the residue of your estate passing to your Residuary Beneficiaries. Also, you may wish to take into account your stepchildren when updating your Will.

  • Children and grandchildren

The birth or adoption of children or grandchildren may necessitate a change in your Will if you wish to provide for your new children or grandchildren in your Will.

  • If your spouse or civil partner dies

If you had appointed your spouse or civil partner to be the Executor or Trustee in your Will and they die, you need to update your existing Will to remove them as the Executor or Trustee and include a new Executor or Trustee.  Similarly, if your spouse or civil partner was the Beneficiary in your Will, you need to update your Will to remove them as the Beneficiary and include a new Beneficiary.

  • If an Executor or Beneficiary named in your Will dies

If your chosen Executor in your Will dies, you need to update your existing Will to remove them as the Executor and add a new Executor. Likewise, if a beneficiary in your Will dies, you need to update your Will to remove this Beneficiary and include a new Beneficiary.

  • Moving home

If you buy or sell your home or other property, you should review and update your existing Will if you already have one prepared. If you do not have a Will in place and you are purchasing a property, you should have a Will prepared for you to reflect this.

Similarly, if you acquire assets or property outside England and Wales, you need to update your Will to cover your assets and property located abroad. If you have already made a foreign Will in respect of your foreign assets and property, you need to ensure that your existing Will does not revoke any previous ones you have made.

  • Start or sell your business

If you start your own business or sell your business, you should review and update your existing Will if you already have one in place. If you do not have a Will in place and you are setting up a business, you should have a Will drawn up for you to reflect this.

  • Significant changes in estate value

Fluctuations in a person’s wealth are common and if the size of your estate has grown or shrunk significantly, you may wish to update your existing Will to reflect these changes in your financial circumstances.

  • Inheriting assets or money

If you have recently inherited a large legacy, you need to update your existing Will or have a new Will drawn up for you to add the new legacy. There might be tax consequences that you need to take into account.

Once you have updated your Will or had a new one drawn up for you, ensure to tell your Executor where your Will is stored so that they are able to locate your Will when it is necessary.

It is good practice to review your Will regularly, at least every three to five years, or after any major changes in your life to ensure that it reflects your wishes and changing personal and financial circumstances.

Ensuring that your Will reflects accurately any changes in your personal and financial circumstances could save your family members and relatives a lot of the complications and hassle that an outdated Will might entail. Further, a Will that reflects your wishes can ensure that your assets go to the people you want to benefit from your estate, that your children are looked after by people you trust and that people of your choosing administer your estate after you die.

Book a call with our family lawyer to discuss.

You can learn more about us here

Signing documents during the Covid-19 outbreak

As a lot of legal professionals are working from home at the moment, one of the main questions is how to execute remotely documents that require signatures.

An electronic signature can take a form of the typed name in the contract, pasting the signature in a form of an image into the contract, making a signature through Docu Sign or Adobe Sign, using a finger or stylus and touchscreen to sign electronically, scanning a printed document with a signature on it.

Use of electronic signature under English law

Simple contact

Indeed, according to the Law Commission, an electronic signature can be used to execute a document. The signatory party should intend to authenticate it and formalities for the execution of the documents have to be satisfied.

Deed

One of the key requirements for the execution of a deed is that it has to be signed in the presence of a witness. The Courts have stated on numerous occasions that a deed cannot be witnessed through a video call. This, of course, poses some concerns during the pandemic.

One way to solve the issue is for either two directors to sign the deed or director and a secretary. Those two parties can one after another sign the deed electronically. The parties will need to stay the date when the deed was executed and delivered.

One of the common questions that arise is how can one sign a document if they are unable to print it. There are several electronic platforms (DocuSign or AdobeSign) that allow signing the deed electronically. One can also type their name into the contract and this signature will be valid.

While it is clear that the simple contract can be executed by an electronic signature, it is less obvious how the more complex contracts should be approached. We, therefore, advise those with more complex issues to receive professional legal help in order to ensure that any transaction goes smoothly.

Still unsure? Speak to us: 07 305 966 531 or contact@sterling-law.co.uk

Self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) – what you need to know

In response to COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced the Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) for those self-employed and members of partnerships whose income has been lost due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, for 3 months (but may be extended).

The grant will be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions but does not need to be repaid.

Unlike Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the SEISS allows recipients of the grant to continue to work or take on another employment.

Eligibility:

  • You have filed a tax return for 2018/19,
  • You have continued to trade into the tax year 2019/20,
  • You intend to continue to trade into the tax year 2020/21 and trading when the application is made (or would have been trading had the coronavirus outbreak not occurred).
  • You have lost trading profits due to coronavirus.

Trading profits need to be no more than £50,000 and more than half of the individual’s total income for either:

  • the tax year 2018/19, or
  • the average of the last three tax years (2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19)

 

You can make a claim for Universal Credit while you wait for the grant. You should record the grant as part of your self-employment income, and it may affect the amount of Universal Credit you get. This will not affect Universal Credit claims for earlier periods.

The SEISS is intended to make payments by early June and claims will be backdated to March and paid in one instalment. There is no application process at the moment. HMRC will use tax returns already submitted to contact those who are eligible by mid-May and invite them to apply online.

If you require any assistance with applying for the SEISS scheme we provide such assistance via our sister company Sterling & Beanland[1] for FREE provided you sign a 12-month contract  with them for accounting services. Please speak to Dina Taimunkenova +44(0)745 068 4215 or email at dina@sterling-beanland.co.uk for further assistance.

[1] CIMA accredited city-based firm of Chartered Management Accountants.