Category Archives: Commercial Litigation

Choosing the right lawyer

It can be a big decision to instruct a solicitor and it could end up costing you a lot of money, so you need to get it right!

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Certainly, it can be tempting to go to the first firm you think of, drive past on the way to work or that has the fanciest offices but there are some things you should consider before parting with your hard earned cash:

Specialism – Often, high street practices try to be a jack of all trades, with the same Solicitor offering advice on all manner of problems. But, if you have an employment law issue why would you want advice from a Solicitor with a background in property law? Do your research and make sure the Solicitor you will see is a specialist in and has good experience in the area you need advice on.

Recommendations – from people you know and trust are always useful but if your friend recommends a firm because they did a good job of selling their business, it does not make them best placed to help you make a personal injury claim.

Attitude – Make sure you are on the same page. If you want to resolve your issue amicably, you do not want an aggressive lawyer who will rack up costs arguing over nothing. Likewise, if you want a robust approach, don’t instruct a wallflower. A good lawyer will explain the options and alter their approach based on your instructions and will be mindful of how their approach will affect your costs; even if that means telling you what you don’t want to hear.

Alternatives – Does the firm promote and actively engage in other ways of resolving legal problems; such as ACAS Conciliation for employment problems or Mediation or Collaborative Law for family matters? Again, a good lawyer who isn’t just interested in taking your money will encourage these approaches where appropriate.

Likeability – Believe it or not, not all solicitors are cut throat so it’s important that you feel comfortable speaking with your legal adviser and that you feel able to build a relationship of trust and confidence. That said, just because you might want to go for a pint with them does not mean they will give you quality legal advice.

Fees – Make sure you have a very good estimate of what it’s likely to cost and when you will be billed. From 6 December 2018, all Solicitors websites must display prices and service information for residential conveyancing, probate, unfair & wrongful dismissals, debt recovery and licensing applications.

Choice – Remember you don’t have to use any firm which may already have been ‘assigned’ to you – perhaps by your employer when handling a settlement agreement or your car hire company when dealing with an Road Traffic Accident.

At North Ainley, we have been advising the people of Oldham since 1901 but that doesn’t mean you will get out of date advice, just lots of experience! Our size allows us to combine a friendly, personal service with city professionalism from a team of specialist Solicitors and legal advisers.

For more information, please call Laura Campbell, a Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution team on 0161 624 5614.

Also posted in Commercial & Corporate, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Residential Property | Comments closed

Is your property energy efficient?

For most residential lettings, a Landlord has to have an Energy Performance Certificate (“EPC”) before they let a property.  As part of the government’s strive for energy efficiency, with effect from 1 April 2018, a Landlord should not grant a new tenancy/lease if the property has an EPC rating below E.  This is according to Part Three of The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, known as the MEES Regulations.

From 1 April 2020, the MEES Regulations apply to existing tenancies of domestic properties (usually granted prior to 1 April 2018) and from 1 April 2023 to commercial properties.

This article gives an overview of the Regulations and will focus on domestic private rented properties.  Broadly, this term covers ordinary lettings of properties by a private landlord.

What to do if your property has an EPC rating of less than E?   energy-efficiency-154006_960_720

  • A Landlord should check the MEES Regulations apply to the property and the type of tenancy.
  • A Landlord should carry out “relevant energy efficiency improvements” (for the meaning of which see below) to bring the EPC rating above the minimum threshold, unless an exemption to the MEES Regulations (as set out in the PRS Exemptions Register) applies.

The exemptions are:-

  • No funding exemption – If the costs of purchasing and installing the “relevant energy efficiency improvements” cannot be financed at no cost to the Landlord.
  • The consent exemption – A Tenant or other third party refuses to give consent to the relevant works being carried out to increase the energy efficiency or the Tenant refuses to give Consent to Green Deal funding.
  • The devaluation exemption – A Landlord has obtained a report from a Surveyor, which shows that the works to improve the energy efficiency would result in a reduction of more than five per cent in the value of the property.
  • Temporary exemption – In some situations, a Landlord (usually if the Landlord has recently acquired the property) may be given six months to comply with the prohibition on letting and carry out the relevant energy efficiency improvements.
  • Wall insulation exemption – If a Landlord has obtained written expert advice that cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation or internal wall insulation is not appropriate due to its negative impact on the structure of the property.
  • Although not classified as an exemption, if all relevant energy efficiency improvement works have been carried out but the property still has an EPC rating of lower than E, it may be let and the Landlord has up to five years to grant new lettings or continue existing lettings.

For all exemptions, the Landlord must register the property and his/her details on the PRS Exemptions Register.  The exemption is to be registered before it can be relied upon.

A relevant energy efficient improvement is a list of recommendations (often detailed on the EPC or a Surveyor’s report) and the impact they will have.  If such works are required, they must be one of the following:-

  • A measure to improve efficiency in the use of energy in the property and;
  • Identified as an improvement for the property in question.
  • Can also include installation of a service pipe for the supply of gas, if the property is not fuelled by mains gas and is situated 23 metres from the main of a gas transporter.

If a Landlord does not carry out the energy efficiency improvements and does not register the property on the PRS Exemptions Register, or puts false or mis-leading information on the PRS Exemptions register, a Landlord is likely to face enforcement action. This could mean a fine, depending on the type of breach up to £5,000 per breach for each property and/or publication of a notice detailing the non-compliant property, details of the breach of the MEES Regulations, the financial penalty (if any) and the Landlord’s details but not if the Landlord is an individual.

UPDATE

On 5 November 2018, following  a consultation, the Government confirmed that new Regulations will shortly be put before Parliament.  These will apply on the grant of a new tenancy to a new tenant or an existing tenant.  These Regulations will remove the “no cost to Landlord” principle and:-

  • Introduce a Landlord contribution towards any works required to improve energy efficiency capped at £3,500 including VAT.  Any energy efficiency measures undertaken since October 2017, will be included within the £3,500 cap, as will any available third party funding
  • There will be a new “high cost” exemption if the EPC grading of E of a property cannot be achieved for £3,500 or less.  Landlords will have to obtain three quotes, to enable registration of this exemption on the PRS Register
  • The “consent exemption” referred to above will be removed where a tenant has withheld consent to a Green Deal finance plan.

For advice and guidance on these issues or other Landlord/Tenant issues contact our litigation team.

Also posted in Property Development, Residential Property | Comments closed

Helping Society Grow

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North Ainley value the importance of supporting young people, schools and colleges.

One of our Solicitors, Laura Campbell, will be starting her role as an #EnterpriseAdviser with a local school today – we are proud to be part of www.bridgegm.co.uk

 

Also posted in Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News | Comments closed

Holidays during term time: cheaper, but is it really worth it?

As we all struggle with the January blues, it’s no surprise this is prime holiday booking season.

Regardless of your views on whether it’s appropriate to take children out of school during term time, most of us are a bit vague on what we can and can’t get away with…..

When are absences allowed?

As a starting point, under English law any parent who fails to ensure their child goes to school ‘regularly’ is guilty of a criminal offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

The basic position is that you can only allow your child to miss school if:

  • They’re too ill to go in, or
  • You have advance permission from the school.

Advance permission

Previously, under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 schools had the discretion to grant up to 10 days term time holidays each year for ‘special circumstances’. But, since The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 came into force head teachers can now only give permission in ‘exceptional circumstances’ (e.g. visiting seriously ill family, attending a close relative’s  funeral or if immediate family in the Armed Forces is returning from operations).

Basically, even with the most persuasive request you’re unlikely to get permission for a term-time holiday.

What happens if I take them away anyway?

You are breaking the law.

Head teachers have to report all absences to the council responsible for education in their area (LEA). Therefore, if an absence is unauthorised (i.e. advance permission was refused) you could face a £60 fine (per child per absence) or worse.

What if I don’t pay the fine?

If you don’t pay within 21 days the fine increases to £120 and if you don’t pay the fine after 28 days you can be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school under the Education Act 1996.

If found guilty you could end up with a criminal record and face a fine of up to £2,500, court costs or even a jail sentence of up to three months.

Repeat offenders may wish to note that the LEA are technically under no obligation to issue a fine (penalty notice) first and could take you straight to the Magistrate’s Courts.

A cautionary tale: Platt v Isle of Wight LEAJudgement

The Isle of Wight dad was prosecuted by the Council after he took his daughter to Florida for 7 days during term time without permission resulting in a fine which he refused to pay.

At first instance the Magistrates Court found there was no case to answer and two High Court Judges upheld that decision due to the child’s otherwise high attendance (95% prior to the holiday).  In April 2017 the Council successfully appealed to the Supreme Court who unanimously found that Mr Platt must face prosecution as “regularly” in the Act meant “in accordance with the attendance rules” and that a child’s prior record of attendance was irrelevant. The matter was sent back to the Isle of Wight where the Magistrate handed Mr Platt a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £2,000 in costs.

This decision is binding on Courts and local authorities meaning anybody appealing a fine is now unlikely to be successful.

For further information and advice, please contact Laura Campbell at our office.

Also posted in Legal Briefs | Comments closed

City litigator joins North Ainley

Long established Oldham firm North Ainley is pleased to announce the appointment of experienced lawyer Laura Campbell to bolster its litigation practice.

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Laura has spent her career to date in Manchester city centre, having trained at a large national practice before moving to top global law firm DWF LLP.  With experience in all areas of litigation, Laura joins the Dispute Resolution team which has provided the people of Oldham and its surroundings with advice on personal injury, clinical negligence, employment, consumer rights, property and commercial disputes for over 100 years.

Laura explains “I’ve acted for all kinds of organisations and individuals from business owners and national companies to prisoners, nurses and athletes which has exposed me to all manner of claims and taken me to the Court of Appeal…you name it I’ve dealt with it”. She added “I’m sure my family would agree that I am a born litigator and I am passionate about what I do which means I will go above and beyond to secure the best result for my clients”.

When asked why she’s moved from the ‘bright lights’ of the city Laura was clear “I was keen to move away from the corporate culture but I didn’t want to compromise on quality and had been looking for an opportunity at a thriving local law firm with a long standing reputation.  North Ainley more than fits the bill and I am keen to use my experience for the benefit of a more local clientele”.  She added “From the moment I met with the partners I knew it would be a good fit for me…it’s a friendly, professional practice and client satisfaction is at the heart of everything they do”.

Managing Partner John Ainley, welcomed Laura, saying: “This is a fantastic appointment for the firm.  Laura brings a wealth of experience and a commercial attitude which will enhance our litigation practice” and her arrival coincides with an exciting time of development for both the practice and the new ‘Independent Quarter’ of Oldham, of which we are a proud part”. Geoff Lamb who heads up the Dispute Resolution team added “Laura is a confident and tenacious lawyer but she is also engaging and approachable which fits perfectly with our aim of combining a local, friendly, personal service, with city professionalism”.

Laura lives locally with her husband and two young daughters where they play an active part in the village and school communities. Laura concluded: “I look forward to being part of North Ainley’s continued success and to helping ensure they remain at the forefront of the local legal community”.

For more information or advice, please contact Laura Campbell at our office.

Also posted in Business Employment, Employment, North Ainley News | Comments closed

Data Protection – Don’t get caught out!

As from the 25 May 2018 the existing law on Data Protection will be repealed and replaced by a new Act to work alongside the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).  New sweeping powers to punish breaches in respect of Data Protection you hold on employees, customers, suppliers and clients will be introduced.  Failure to report a breach, as well as the breach itself, could result in a heavy fine.

Many of the principles and main concepts in the GDPR are much the same as in existing legislation that there are new elements which businesses (and key people within them) will need to take on board.

The Information Commissioners Office has issued a document listing 12 steps we can all be taking now to prepare for the changes.  This can be accessed on the ICO’s website https://ico.org.uk

In the New Year we will be offering a service to business clients to assist them in ensuring their existing Policies and procedures accord with the new Regulations.  This is intended for those clients who do not have the time and resources to carry out an audit of existing arrangements.  Educating key people in the organisation is going to be essential.

For more information please contact Geoff Lamb at our office.

Also posted in Legal Briefs | Comments closed
  • In This Section

  • Mr parents used North Ainley for their legal transactions and we have continued to use them as they provide an excellent service at a reasonable price.
    Mr M C Blower - Halifax
  • Lisa Wright
    Lisa Wright
    15:05 25 Feb 19
    Cassie was fantastic throughout our sale and would recommend North Ainley if selling or buying a house.read more
    Lynn Findlater
    Lynn Findlater
    18:55 01 Dec 18
    I have used North Ainley for a number of years. They have successfully dealt with my parent's wills and more recently the sale of 2 properties. The staff are exceptional and imparticular Cassie who took care of the whole process from start to finish whilst I was overseas. She diligently chased all third parties and kept me informed at all times. I would recommend North Ainley as they have proved themselves time and again over the last 10 years in all of my family's legal affairs.read more
    Idnan Ahmed
    Idnan Ahmed
    12:57 30 Nov 18
    Excellent service. handled my latest commercial purchase professionally. Would recommend to anyone who is looking for a solicitors who are proffesional and easy to work with. Top service.read more
    Lucy Hoy
    Lucy Hoy
    16:39 27 Nov 18
    Excellent! Very friendly and fantastic communication throughout. Nothing was to much trouble. Thankyou Vinesh and Cassie. Would definitely recommend.read more
    Anil M
    Anil M
    15:11 04 Nov 18
    Fantastic Solicitors firm. Very professional. Close to Oldham Town Centre. Answer all your questions and concerns. Keep you upto date at every stage. I have used this firm for many years in buying and selling property. You can not go wrong using North Ainley Solicitors.read more
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