Notwithstanding her formal adoption as a child, a war veteran’s natural daughter has triumphed in her fight for possession of his £250,000 home despite arguments put forward by a genealogist and so-called ‘heir hunter’ that the property should be inherited by his long lost brother and other relatives.
The home owner died at the age of 83 without leaving a Will. Government lawyers subsequently advertised for potential claimants to his estate and an heir hunter successfully tracked down his brother and other surviving relatives in the country of his birth, Ukraine. Acting under a retainer, he obtained a power of attorney from the brother and was granted letters of administration. Continue reading →
We at Shentons are strongly backing the campaign to resist changes to the provision of criminal defence services proposed by the Ministry of Justice. If the proposed changes are implemented, legally aided defendants in criminal cases will no longer be able to choose their own solicitor and there could be considerable delays in a solicitor attending the police station or Court to represent a defendant. It is important to remember that not all those accused of a crime have committed that crime. Any one of us could be accused at any time. If you were wrongly accused of a crime, would you not wish to have the solicitor of your choice to represent you?
Our ‘Saving Justice’ leaflet explains the proposals in further detail – please click on the link to find out more. Saving Justice
Employers should be aware that the amount of unpaid parental leave that can be taken by parents in relation to each child under five years of age (or, in the case of an adopted child, in the five years after the placement) increased from 13 weeks to 18 weeks from 8 March 2013, says Shaun Underhill, a Partner at Shentons Solicitors, based in Winchester. Parents of children who qualify for Disability Living Allowance are also entitled to 18 weeks’ parental leave up until the child’s 18th birthday.
Shaun explains that, to qualify for parental leave, an employee must have worked for their employer for more than one year. Where an employee has more than one child, he or she has the right to take unpaid parental leave in respect of each child but the limit on how much parental leave an employee can take in any one year is 4 weeks, unless the employer agrees otherwise. Also, unless an employer agrees otherwise or the child is disabled, parental leave should be taken in blocks of one week.
An employee’s employment rights, such as the right to pay, holidays and returning to a job, are protected during parental leave.
Parental leave is intended to give parents the chance to spend more time with their children, so that they can, for example, sort out new childcare arrangements, look at new schools, visit family etc. It is separate from the Government’s plan to introduce a system of ‘shared parental leave’ This will enable parents to share caring responsibilities after the birth of their child and is due to come into force in 2015.
The resolution of a long-running dispute between the children and carer of Oscar-winning composer, Sir Malcolm Arnold, largely hinged on the interpretation of a brief postcard he wrote to his son. The Court of Appeal ruled that 82 potentially highly valuable manuscripts of his work had been gifted by Sir Malcolm to his children prior to his death and therefore did not form part of his estate. Continue reading →
Motorists who receive parking penalties will at least have the comfort of knowing that they will not have to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on their bills. Shaun Underhill, a Partner at local law firm Shentons Solicitors, explains that the Court of Appeal has ruled that parking penalties should be viewed as ‘damages for trespass’ rather than payments for services.
Vehicle Control Services Ltd (VCS) operates car parks on behalf of hundreds of clients and the company has fought a long-running battle with Her HMRC over whether their charges should be subject to 20% VAT. HMRC had argued that parking penalties are all part and parcel of the service of providing car parking for motorists and that, therefore, VAT is chargeable. However, allowing the company’s appeal, Lord Justice Lewison ruled: “The contract between VCS and the landowner gives VCS the right to eject trespassers. That is plain from the fact that it is entitled to tow away vehicles that infringe the terms of parking…In order to vindicate those rights, it is necessary for VCS to have the right to sue in trespass. If, instead of towing away a vehicle, VCS imposes a parking charge I see no impediment to regarding that as damages for trespass”.
Shaun Underhill comments “Motorists may take small comfort from the fact that VAT can no longer be added to parking penalties. This case will also be of interest to any business which imposes similar penalties.”
The responsibilities of business owners have been underlined by a recent case says Shaun Underhill, a Partner at Winchester firm Shentons Solicitors. Shaun points to a recent tribunal case where the owner of a public house has been landed with Value Added Tax assessments totalling almost £20,000 more than four years after he quit the premises.
The owner failed to pay close attention to his business, putting its day-to-day operation into the hands of an unreliable manager who neglected financial record keeping. Continue reading →
Employers are entitled to offer older workers bigger redundancy packages than their younger colleagues even if the duration of their service is identical. Rejecting a direct age discrimination claim brought by a civil servant, the Employment Appeal Tribunal recently ruled that the different treatment of older and younger workers was justified by the greater difficulty the former often endure in finding alternative employment. Continue reading →
In a world where thousands of personal opinions and comments are posted online every second, who is responsible for what is posted? The law in this area has recently become a little clearer says Shaun Underhill, a Partner at Winchester firm Shentons Solicitors.
In a ruling with important implications for the future policing of the internet, the Court of Appeal has decided that there are circumstances in which Google Inc. could be successfully sued for defamation in respect of libellous statements posted by members of the public on its popular blogging site. Continue reading →
Two brothers were denied their rightful inheritance after their frail step-mother was pressured into changing her will by a relative, the High Court has ruled. The 75-year-old widow’s free will had been ‘worn down’ by her brother-in-law who had exerted undue influence upon her.
The brother-in-law’s attempts at coercion began after the death of the widow’s husband and took the form of persistent telephone calls which left her increasingly distraught. The result was that the woman, who was by then very fragile, signed a fresh will in December 2008 which left the bulk of her £594,000 estate to her brother-in-law’s children. Continue reading →
Local businesses are warned that late payments to HMRC might attract heavy penalties, even if the payments are only a few days late. Shaun Underhill, a Partner at Winchester-based Shentons Solicitors, points to a recent tribunal which has acknowledged that the Finance Act 2009 regime, under which penalties are levied for late payment of PAYE and national insurance contributions (NICs), ‘has obvious potential for creating unfairness and leaving some taxpayers with a justifiable sense of grievance’. However, in dismissing an employer’s challenge to penalties totalling more than £15,000, the tribunal has underlined that it has no jurisdiction to decide whether such charges are fair and reasonable, even if the facts point to attenuating circumstances. Continue reading →