Blog - The Verdict
MSB Solicitors Liverpool
MSB Blog - The Verdict
Parental abduction and wrongful retention –where a child has been taken to or kept in a foreign country following an overseas trip without the appropriate consent – are not issues that any parent wants to consider. However, unfortunately as the summer holidays draw to a close, many parents are having to face them as a life-altering reality. Most commonly, retention of a child abroad takes place following a separation or divorce and is carried out by the parent who is the primary carer of the child.

According to Missing Children Europe’s latest report, out of 1,246 new cases opened on the hotlines in 2018, just 18% were returned to their parent at home following abduction by another parent. In 1.2% of the cases, children were found to have died. In addition, 64% of children who are abducted by a parent have no contact with a parent left behind during the abduction.

These shocking statistics reinforce the importance of preventing this happening where possible and expeditious resolution when it does occur. By seeking legal advice at an early stage, parents can avoid tragic circumstances such as this and ensure the best possible outcome for both parent and child.

When dealing with disrepair claims, access is an age-old issue that comes up time and time again.
 
  These are our six top tips for access:
1.       Check the tenancy agreement– Ensure any request you make for access falls within the terms of the tenancy agreement. For instance, put all requests for access in writing, giving at least 24 hours notice. It’s vital that you understand and comply with the terms of your tenancy agreements, so make sure you are aware of it before making any requests. Many tenancies state that requests should be made with no less than 48 hours’ notice.
 
2.       Be specific– Make sure access letters are clear and specific, giving an exact date, time slot and reason for the visit. 
 
3.       You can’t always blame the tenant– Avoid sending letters asking the tenant to contact you to arrange access. In almost all cases, it is not a breach of tenancy if the tenant then fails to make contact. Follow point two instead if your first letter asking the tenant to make contact doesn’t work.
 
4.       Turn up!– Make sure your organisation attends on the exact date and time specified.  Unless you attend, the tenant won’t be deemed to have refused access. 
 
5.       Evidence– If access is refused, post a card and take a picture as evidence that you attended. Then rebook the appointment by following point two, above.
 
6.       You don’t have to reinvent the wheel– If access becomes an issue on a disrepair claim, your organisation should already have pre-existing gas / electrical inspection / access procedures. With a few tweaks, you can use those procedures to try to gain access. If you are still having problems, seek legal advice to gain an access injunction.
 
If you need advice or guidance in relation to gaining access when dealing with disrepair claims, contact our expert disrepair guru, Louise Murphy on 0151 420 0718 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The battle lines have been drawn for what is set to be one of the biggest and most high-profile divorce cases in over a decade.

Having fled Dubai in June, Princess Haya has sought refuge in London, and it has been reported that she is seeking political asylum in the UK on the basis that she is a former Jordanian official and is allegedly seeking diplomatic immunity.

Princess Haya is married to the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum. who has a personal wealth estimated in the region of £4.5 billion.

The Princess has issued applications in the High Court in London in respect of her children, specifically protection from forced marriage, and is also seeking the protection of the Court by way of a non-molestation order. The Sheikh is challenging these applications made by his wife.

Having recently marched with my firm, MSB Solicitors, in the Liverpool Pride celebrations, it gave me the opportunity to think more about what Pride really means to me.

The festivities on the day itself are great and a lot of fun to be a part of. I was inspired to see the number of people that had turned out (despite the rain) and it was encouraging to see so many children and families in attendance.

As much as the Pride events are an opportunity to celebrate how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in the quest for equality, they are also a great chance to witness how the world could be if everyone just accepted each other as the individuals they are. The Pride celebrations are open to people from all walks of life, whether they be gay, straight, black, white, it doesn’t matter, everyone is welcome to join in the fun. In a world that is becoming more and more polarised, this is a fantastic and uplifting thing to witness.

The Pride events are also vital for the younger generation, who may be struggling with their own identities, to experience at least one day of the year, unity between all communities. They can have the opportunity to identify with their own feelings and find comfort in knowing that it is ok to be who you are and love who you want to love. Our differences are what make us.

Working for MSB, a firm that prioritises equality and inclusion for all of its employees, gives me a personal sense of Pride. It is important for me to work for a company that allows me to be my true self and to know that everyone is given equal opportunities for career progression. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, this is still not commonplace.

MSB offers a full range of legal services to the LGBTQ+ community, including an increasing amount of cases involving surrogacy and adoption, which our family team have a particular interest and expertise in.
If you need support, get in touch with our team on 0151 281 9040.

And what it means for Creditors
The new Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) came into force in October 2017 and it affects ALL businesses who are dealing with sole traders or private individuals. The Protocol does not affect Limited Companies or Partnerships.

What is the objective of the Protocol?
The objective of the protocol is to encourage creditors and debtors to attempt to resolve matters or at least attempt to narrow down any issues, before bringing the matter before the Court so ensuring that litigation is a last resort.

So how is the Protocol different?
Prior to October 2017, if you were struggling to get your invoices paid, it would have been sufficient to simply send to the debtor a letter before action giving them 7 days to pay, or you would issue a claim against them, at Court. Since the implementation of this new legislation, it is no longer sufficient to do this and you now have to send a fairly detailed letter before claim and give a minimum of 30 days notice before issuing a claim at Court.

Recent press coverage concerning senior NHS staff and their pensions has again highlighted the difficulties that can arise for high earners and their pension saving plans.

It has been reported that hospitals have had to cancel operations, cancer scans are going unread for weeks and waiting times for patients are increasing exponentially, with waiting times already the worst on record, as consultants cannot afford to work beyond their contracted hours.

Changes to pension rules in 2016 have meant that rising numbers of consultants are receiving large bills linked to the value of their pension. It has been reported that some have had to remortgage their homes to pay the extensive tax bills. All of this has the potential to have a significant impact on the NHS.

Non-Disclosure Agreements, or NDAs, have featured regularly in the news in recent times. It is, however, not always obvious what they are, what they entail, and how legally binding they can be.

The recently reported cases involving Sir Phillip Green’s company, The Arcadia Group, and their reported use of NDAs with former employees has caused significant debate about their use.

These cases alongside the US cases involving Harvey Weinstein’s company, Miramax, and the now infamous #MeToo movement, have brought the use of NDAs firmly under the spotlight.

Key to being a progressive business is recognising that the people who help drive your organisation forward are imperfect human beings who all face their own struggles and challenges.

Supporting your employees through their own worst times will enable them to continue to make a substantive contribution to the growth of your business. Managing partner at MSB, Emma Carey, says that employee wellbeing is not only a moral responsibility for employers, but it makes good business sense too.

Mental health in the workplace in an issue that is finally gaining traction and this month offers an opportunity to give it a particular focus. The ‘Movember’ campaign seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues in men particularly.
The words Love Island have been hot on the lips of millions of viewers since the 2018 season launched on June 4. The fourth series of the popular reality show attracted record figures, with 3.6 million tuning in to watch the final this month.

And, this year, there has been no shortage of provocative headlines to further boost the show’s ratings.

From ex-partners entering the villa, to a double dumping for Scottish Laura Anderson and on-again off-again antics between Alex and Alexandra.

The Government wants to cut Legal Aid by up to 30% in the most substantial criminal cases where there are thousands of pages of evidence to be considered.

This is the latest in a long line of cuts. The last time legal aid rates were increased for criminal cases was in 1992. Twenty five years ago. Neil Kinnock was the Labour leader and only political nerds had heard of Tony Blair. Lisa Stansfield had the Christmas number one single.

I can hear some of you cheering already. Grasping lawyers lining their pockets by getting lowlife off serious offences. But behind that stereotype lies a very different truth, as was revealed in the case of Liam Allen earlier this month.

Liam, a 22-year-old criminology student, faced up to 10 years in jail after being accused of raping a fellow student in 2017. His trial was halted at Croydon Crown Court last week and the judge, Peter Gower, called for a review of disclosure of evidence by the Metropolitan Police, as well as an inquiry at the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is understood that some 40,000 texts sent by the complainant, that left no doubt of Mr Allan’s innocence, were not disclosed by police working on the case. Now, Scotland Yard is said to be carrying out an "urgent assessment" after the prosecution collapsed due to the late disclosure of evidence which ultimately undermined the case.

My firm, MSB Solicitors in Liverpool, employ 80 local people despite the best efforts of the Ministry of Justice.
We have an excellent Family Law department and we also do a lot of work for small businesses.

The latest wheeze from the Ministry of Justice (proprietor Chris Grayling MP, Lord Chancellor) is to increase court fees for bringing money claims over the value of £10,000.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/418837/leter-to-lord-dyson-27-march.pdf

As mothers across the UK and Ireland celebrated with their loved ones on Sunday, one very famous mum was left bereft after admitting defeat on a custody battle to return her son to their New York home.

Pop icon Madonna has been locked in a battle with her ex-husband Guy Ritchie since December, when their son Rocco failed to return to New York following a trip to London to visit his film director father.

It is reported that Madonna made an application under Hague Convention to enforce the return of her son, arguing that she agreed Rocco could visit London but expected him to be returned. She did not, she says, consent to him staying there long term. Since then, a bitter and public battle has ensued between the estranged couple with regards to the wellbeing of their fifteen year old son.

Judges in both the US and the UK have slammed the pair for not being able to reach some resolution, both suggesting that an amicable decision on the teenager’s residence is in his best interests. This has been supported by a court-appointed solicitor for Rocco who indicated that the youngster was experiencing emotional upset and was finding the situation ‘very difficult’ to deal with.
We all know or can imagine that going through a divorce is a difficult process for anybody, but without having gone through it, it is hard to know exactly what you need to do in order to protect yourself, your finances, your assets and your future. 
Family partner at MSB Solicitors, Emma Carey, shares some advice.

I’d like to begin with a word to the wise for unmarried couples - there is no such thing as cohabitee rights. 
When you marry, you enter into a partnership that is legally binding. That legal partnership can only be brought to an end by death or by an Order of the Court, commonly known as a divorce.

Married couples are protected by a set of laws put in place to ensure that the Court can distribute assets, if the parties can not agree distribution between themselves. 
There are no such laws in place for cohabitees. A cohabitee would need to look to representatives in particular areas of the law to help protect their assets - for example, if the asset in dispute is the house, then the cohabitee would need to seek advice in property law. 
Zero hour contracts normally refer to contracts of employment, which do not guarantee the employee a minimum amount of work.   They are used by employers because they minimise overheads, i.e. during quieter periods the employee can be offered little or no work and vice versa.
Zero hour contracts have been condemned by unions and caused political controversy due to the perceived imbalance they create between employee and employer.  They were a significant issue at the 2015 General Election and politicians have been pledging to address them since at least 1997.

The common perception of these contracts is that the employee is effectively at the employer’s beck and call, forced to work when it suits the employer’s commercial interests without having the stability of a fixed salary.
This perception, at least in terms of the party’s legal obligations, is not entirely accurate as employees are not usually required to accept any work offered. 

On 26th May 2015, new regulations came into force (The Exclusivity Terms In Zero Hour Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015).  These regulations prohibit exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts, namely clauses that prevent an employee working for other employers.
The regulations state that it will automatically be unfair, if an employee is dismissed for breaching an exclusivity clause.   There will be no qualifying period of continuous employment in order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal in such circumstances.
Additionally the regulations make it unlawful to subject an employee to detriment for breaching such a clause, for instance reducing the usual hours that they are offered.

In light of these recent regulations, it is unlikely that the UK will go the way of New Zealand and abolish zero hour contracts altogether, any time soon.

Unfortunately it may be impossible for the aims of the regulations to be achieved.   For instance some employers may not use exclusivity clauses in contracts but will develop a practice of discriminating against employees who work for other employers.  Similarly proving detriment will be difficult as it will involve a detailed analysis of the employer’s business practices.

Most zero hour contract employees are low paid workers and legal costs are not normally recoverable in the Employment Tribunal.  Therefore it is unlikely that solicitors will be prepared to accept instructions for breaches of the new regulations.
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