Tram Stop


Where there’s a Will there’s a way!

A Will is a written document created during your lifetime which determines how any property you own or money that you have at the date of your death will be shared out.  In the event that you do not have a Will the law stipulates who will receive your assets after your death and this may not be the same as your wishes.

There are very strict rules concerning the procedure around creating a Will to ensure that it is valid.  This is currently being reviewed and considered by the Law Commission who has said “The law around wills should be updated and brought into the “modern world””.  Consideration is being given to whether or not more modern forms of communication such as email or text message should be permitted forms of communicating your wishes in exceptional circumstances.

As the law currently stands a Will document must be in writing and signed by the person making the Will, in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the Will in the presence of the person making the Will and each other.  If these steps are not followed the Will is not considered valid and your wishes may not be carried out after your death.


Many of our clients comment that had they attempted to make a Will at home, without the assistance of a solicitor, they would have encountered problems or made mistakes.  Our clients also benefit from advice relating to maximising the use of their tax allowances, care home fee planning, protecting their assets for and from relatives and future generations.  Unmarried couples do not have the same automatic tax reliefs and other rights as married couples, regardless of how long they have lived together, a common mistake made by our clients.

We invite you to contact our experienced Private client team to arrange an appointment to discuss making a Will.

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Employment Law Titbits

Our Employment Law Partner Geoff Lamb brings a couple of recent decisions which may be of interest.DSC_2846-2

The first concerns a Company making an employee redundant after a period of disability related sickness and whether that amounts to disability discrimination. No said the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the facts of the particular case.  It had become apparent to the employer during the employee’s sickness absence that they could manage without his post.  The Employment Tribunal had found that, although there was some link between the employee’s absence and the decision to make him redundant, this was not the same as finding he was dismissed because of his sickness absence.  The EAT upheld the Tribunal’s decision.

The second case of interest poses the question whether departing employees are under any duty to disclose to the employer their intention to set up a competing business once the period of their post-termination restrictions has expired. Two fairly senior employees (Technical Manager and Technical Sales Manager respectively) planned to set up a new Company in competition with their employer’s business.  When questioned by the employer after handing him their notice they lied.  The employer sought an Injunction and damages alleging they had breached their duty to answer questions truthfully and had misused confidential information to which they were privy.

A Deputy High Court Judge in the Chancery Division ruled “I am far from satisfied that these employees were under a duty to disclose their true intentions to [the employer]. The law will step in to prevent unfair competition or to hold employees to enforceable restrictive covenants or to protect confidential information.  Equally, employees must not induce others to breach their own contracts of employment, conspire to cause their employer injury or, in most cases, solicit their colleagues for their new enterprise.  Subject to these matters, employees are otherwise free to make their own way in the world.  I should therefore be reluctant to hold that an incident of the duty of fidelity is that, when asked a straight question, a departing employee is under a contractual obligation to explain his own confidential and nascent plans to set up in lawful competition”.

This may seem harsh upon the employer but I wonder what difference it would have made if they had been open about their intentions. The employer could not stop them once the post-termination restriction period had expired.  What the case is really about is whether the employees had misused confidential information to design and sell their own machines.  The claim for damages proceeds to trial.

The issue of truthfulness might have produced a different result if the employees had been more senior, for example, Directors of the Company, who owe greater fiduciary duties to the Company.

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What is a Lasting Power of Attorney – why might I need one?

Do you know someone who has dementia, Alzheimer’s or has had a stroke? They may have some other illness or problem that means they need help with their day to day life.  Have you ever seen a family struggle to handle someone else’s affairs and come up against confidentiality and data protection, and be able to go no further? Other issues may involve difficulties in paying bills or having to pay expenses out of their own money while they wait to be able to access the accounts of their loved ones. Care decisions may have been made by social workers and doctors instead of by their partner or family.  If you do know someone who has experienced any of these issues you will know that the challenges they face in these circumstances are upsetting and make an already difficult time harder.


It is possible to plan ahead so that should the worst happen to you then your family will not have to worry about how they manage to pay any bills or who will be making decisions about your care. The way to do this is by executing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) whilst you are well enough to do so.  Under an LPA you are choosing who you would like to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do decide for yourself.

There are two types of LPAs; property and financial affairs and health and welfare. You can choose to do just one of these but to be fully prepared we would recommend that both are put in place.

Your choice of attorney(s) (you can name up to four) is an entirely personal decision but it is crucial that you trust them as they will be making important and sometimes life changing decisions for you.  It is especially important if you are unmarried and want your partner to have decision making powers in relation to your health care as they do not have any legal standing as a family member and would not be considered your next of kin.  In any event, no person is permitted to deal with assets held in your sole name, should you lose mental capacity, without an order of the Court or an LPA regardless of whether or not they are your next of kin.

You can include guidance or restrictions for your attorneys in the LPA so you can have an element of control over the decisions they make later in your life.

If you are not well enough and have lost mental capacity then an LPA cannot be signed.  This means someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection on your behalf and asked to be appointed as your Deputy (another type of attorney) in order to be able to look after and manage your finances.  It is a costly and lengthy process. There is no guarantee that the person you would choose is the one that will be appointed, especially if your family cannot agree and the court has to decide.  Please note they rarely make Court of Protection appointments for health and welfare, so if you do not have an LPA, those decisions may be made by professionals instead of those who know you best.

The process is fairly straightforward but there are some technicalities involved which makes it important that professional advice is taken in order that the formalities are complied with.

Making an LPA now does not mean it has to be used straightaway and you will not lose control of your assets or your decision making powers by signing it. Instead you are ensuring that you are prepared should your circumstances change so your loved ones will be able to take over straight away.

Making an LPA may seem unnecessary if you are fit and healthy, but things can change unexpectedly and in an instant so the opportunity to prepare an LPA will be lost.  Preparing now is the key for you having the peace of mind that in the future you will be well looked after by people of your choosing.

To discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney further, please contact our Private Client Department.

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North Ainley Solicitors retain their Lexcel Accreditation

North Ainley Solicitors has once again successfully secured the Law Society Legal Practice Quality Mark, Lexcel.

Lexcel is developed specifically for the Legal Profession.  It is an optional, recognised accreditation scheme for Law Firms and in house Legal Departments which gives the public the assurance that a Practice meets high Client Care and Business Management standards.

In order to gain and retain the Lexcel accreditation a Firm must undergo rigorous initial and then annual assessments.  This includes conducting background checks and an onsite visit from an independent experienced trained Lexcel Assessor.


John Ainley the senior partner of the firm said “while we are proud to have retained the Lexcel Accreditation, it is our Clients and Staff who are the main beneficiaries.  They can be assured that the way we manage the Practice has their interests at heart and runs efficiently.  There is a lot of choice in the legal services market but being Lexcel Accredited demonstrates our commitment to Client Care and Best Practice”.

North Ainley joins more than 1700 other Legal Practices in England and Wales with the Lexcel Accreditation.

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Do adjustments have to be made for a job candidate with Asperger’s Syndrome?

In a case recently before the Employment Appeal Tribunal a job applicant was found to have been discriminated against by being required to sit a psycho metric test.  The applicant, Ms Brookes, applied for a job with the Government Legal Services (GLS).  Along with all other candidates she had to undertake a multiple choice Situation Judgment Test.  Brookes requested adjustments to the Test on the grounds of her Asperger’s Syndrome.  (Her Psychiatrist had made previous recommendations in relation to her university course that a multiple choice format would not be appropriate for her).  She was told that an alternative test format was not available, although time allowances would be made.  She completed but failed the test.  She then claimed disability discrimination.aspergers_syndrome_zes21

The Employment Tribunal concluded that the requirement that all applicants take and pass the test put a group of people, such as Ms Brookes, at a particular disadvantage compared with those who did not have Asperger’s Syndrome.  Whilst the requirement served a legitimate aim, the means of achieving that aim were not proportionate to it.  Brookes was put at a disadvantage.  Her claim of indirect discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments succeeded.  The decision was upheld on Appeal by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Put simply, whilst GLS needed to test the competency of its candidates to make effective decisions, a psycho metric test was not the only way to achieve this.  A salutary warning for prospective employers.

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HR Audit for Businesses

Employment checklistEmployment Law is an ever changing area and carries many potential risks and pitfalls for employers.

At North Ainley we offer to clients an HR Audit Package to include a review of existing Contracts of Employments and Policies to ensure you are complying with current legislation and your documentation is fit for purpose.

 Key areas are:-

  • Terms and conditions of Employment Contracts
  • Ensuring confidentiality
  • Protecting businesses when key employees leave
  • Working time and holiday arrangements
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Discipline and grievance
  • Redundancy processes
  • Performance management
  • Absence management
  • Putting in place relevant and effective Policies

We find many business owners and organisations keep meaning to get round to addressing these matters but rarely have the time to do so.

At North Ainley we can help you through what can often be a minefield. For a no obligation chat about your needs and the assistance we can offer, contact Geoffrey Lamb, our Employment Law Partner for further advice.

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Join us for Cupcakes – Thursday 15 June 2017


cupcake 3North Ainley will be joining in with organisations across the country for a day of fun, fundraising and fabulous cake-chomping.  It’s all about rising against dementia and having a giant helping of fun.  Dementia is the number one cause of death in England and Wales.  It doesn’t discriminate and currently there is no cure.  With your support, we aim to change this.

Last year dedicated Cupcakers around the country united to raise a mighty £330,000 against dementia.  That’s more than enough to fund 11 PhD researchers for a year giving them the opportunity to undertake vital, potentially lifesaving work.


It is hoped that this year the country can raise even more.  By joining and supporting Cupcake Day 2017, you’ll not only be helping to create a better world for people affected by dementia today, but also to find a cure for tomorrow.

Please join us at our office on Thursday 15th June 2017 between 10.00 am till 1.00 pm for tea, coffee and Cupcakes to help support this worthy cause.

Further information is available at:



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Mental Illness

disabilitiesWith mental health rightly being very much in the news at the moment, employers are asking whether illnesses such as depression are deemed to be disabilities for the purpose of disability discrimination legislation.

The statutory definition of “disability” must be satisfied for an employee suffering from a mental illness to be able to bring a discrimination claim. It reads “A Person (P) has a disability if P has a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

Thus the answer is that, although the illness may have a substantial effect on the person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities, it will not satisfy the test if it is not long-term. Therefore, it is important always to have an assessment of the effect, severity, and length of the illness with the assistance of medical evidence.  In decided cases Asperger’s syndrome, ME and chronic fatigue syndrome have all been held to be capable of being mental and/or physical impairments.  The burden of proving they have a disability is on the employee Claimant.

If, as an employee or employer you have any concerns in this often complex area, please feel free to contact our Employment Specialist, Geoff Lamb for further advice.

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Sleeping at Work

A question of vital importance to employers who engage workers for night work is whether ‘sleep in time’ counts as work time, for which the worker is entitled to receive the national minimum wage, not least because, if employers get it wrong, they could face criminal sanctions.

Three cases on the point were recently heard together in the Employment Appeal Tribunal.   Notwithstanding the importance for both employers and employees, the Judge was unable to give a straight “yes” or “no” answer, rather the outcome is “it all depends”.

The Judge did however set out four factors to be considered in addressing the question. In a nutshell, each case falls to be decided upon its own particular facts whilst applying the four factors.

sleepIf this issue is one of importance to you whether as an employer or employee and you would welcome some advice and guidance, we are happy to provide you with a consultation. Please contact Partner Geoff Lamb to arrange a convenient appointment.

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Trial by Trivia

ShelterThe North Ainley quiz team “Legal Squad” produced a stellar performance at last night’s quiz in aid of Shelter, the housing and homeless charity.  Overall we came 2nd out of the 13 teams that entered!

The evening was a complete success and we are pleased to report that a huge £500 was raised for Shelter.

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through their advice, support and legal services.

They campaign to make sure that one day, no one will have to turn to them for help.



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  • Mr Mistry was outstanding. He was always very patient and informative even in very trying and frustrating circumstances! Thank you.
    Mrs H Tinley, Oldham