General

Christmas

Please note that our opening times over Christmas are as follows:-

  •  Our Brixham office will close from 5pm on 22 December and will re-open at 9 am on 2 January 2015.
  •  Our Paignton office will close at 12pm 23 December and will re-open at 9am on 2 January 2015.

The last date for completions prior to Christmas will be 19 December 2014.

May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Employment update!

Minimum Wage Increase – The minimum wage will increase as follows with effect from 1 October 2014:
£6.50 for workers 21 and over
£5.13 for workers 18-20 years
£3.79 for 16-17 year-olds
£2.73 for apprentices under 19 or 19 and over who are in the first year of apprenticeship

Antenatal Appointments – time off to accompany a pregnant woman
From 1 October 2014, an expectant father or the partner of a pregnant woman will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany the woman to up to two of her ante-natal appointments. The government has said that the aim is to achieve greater involvement of both of the child’s parents from the earliest stages of pregnancy.
Employees accompanying the expectant mother to her ante-natal appointments are entitled to unpaid leave for one or two appointments. The time off is capped at six and a half hours for each appointment.
It should be noted that the current position is that an employer is not entitled to ask for any evidence of the ante-natal appointments, such as an appointment card, as this is the property of the expectant mother attending the appointment. However, an employer is entitled to ask the employee for a declaration stating the date and time of the appointment, that the employee qualifies for the unpaid time off through his or her relationship with the mother or child, and that the time off is for the purpose of accompanying the expectant mother to an ante-natal appointment that has been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, nurse or midwife.

It should also be noted that this is a right to accompany, not a right actually to attend the appointment. It will always be open to the pregnant woman to refuse to have a person present.

Any queries, please contact Geoff Ford at our Paignton office, who will be happy to discuss these and any other areas of Employment Law.

Employment Law Update

Employers and employees should note recent changes which have now come into force.

Requesting flexible working – The potential for flexible working is becoming increasingly important and from 30 June 2014, important changes have been implemented regarding the right to apply for flexible working hours.
Before 30 June 2014 the right to request flexible working applied only to parents of children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child was disabled) and certain carers. The right to request flexible working has now been extended to all employees subject to a 26-week eligibility period i.e. employees must have served 26 weeks of continuous employment at the date the application for flexible working is made.

Prior to 30 June 2014, a strict procedure and timetable had to be followed if a request was made.  However, now employers are obliged to deal with such requests in a reasonable manner and within 3 months.  Employers must now have regard to the ACAS Code of Practice and guidance in dealing with requests to work flexibly.  There is no longer a right of appeal against the decision following a flexible working request, but ACAS guidelines recommend that any appeals be considered as good practice.

Early ConciliationFrom 6 May 2014, anyone intending to make a claim to the employment tribunal is now obliged to follow the Early Conciliation procedure.   ACAS must be notified of the intention to bring an employment tribunal claim, a conciliator will then be appointed to attempt a settlement between the two parties to the dispute.   There is no obligation on the parties to engage further in the conciliation process and if there is no engagement in the process by either one of the parties, a certificate is issued and the prospective Claimant may proceed to file his/her tribunal claim.  Note that there is also provision for employers to start the conciliation process by giving notice to ACAS.

Should the parties engage in the conciliation process and should the matter not be resolved after a one-month Early Conciliation period, the tribunal claim may then be filed in the normal way following the issuing of the appropriate certificate.  It should be noted that the limitation period for bringing the tribunal claim is automatically stayed or frozen during the period set aside for the Early Conciliation process, and continues to run after the end of the Early Conciliation period i.e. if the parties do not engage at all in the conciliation process or if they fail to settle the matter between them after one month has elapsed.

This process is an opportunity for the parties to a dispute to resolve their differences with the assistance of conciliation experts, before the matter reaches the employment tribunal when costs for both parties inevitably start to increase.

Any employer or employee requiring further information on any of the above should contact Geoff Ford at our Paignton office for a no-obligation free initial consultation.

Rowcroft Make a Will Week

We will, once more, be supporting the Rowcroft Make a Will week (18 to 22 May 2015).

During Make a Will Week, we will waive our fee for Will-making, in exchange for a donation to Rowcroft.   The suggested minimum is £100 for a single Will or £150 for a pair of mirror Wills.   For more complicated Wills a fee is agreed in advance.

To take part in Make a Will Week, simply contact us to make an appointment between 18th – 22th May, mentioning ‘Rowcroft Hospice’ when you call.

Where there’s a Will, there’s a way!

‘Where there’s a Will there’s a way’ (to pass possessions or gifts to those you love).  Where there is not a Will, there’s a Chancellor of the Exchequer waiting in the wings to grab a slice of everything you have worked hard to accumulate rubbing his hands with glee. Perhaps its time to make a simple, but effective, Will, so that you decide who benefits after your death.

What if you have a Will already?   Is your Will ‘up-to-date’?  Does it do what you want it to do?  Call us now for a free Will review!

To discuss your requirements (or those of a loved one) in a straight-forward way, just speak to Kim Griffith, our Probate partner.  She can prepare a Will for you using everyday language which will ease the burden on your loved ones after you have gone and ensure you decide who benefits, rather than the Chancellor of the Exchequer!

You might be surprised how little it will cost to leave your affairs in order.   Kim can advise you about Trusts and Inheritance tax planning too.

To experience our service at first hand, new and existing clients are welcome to call in to our offices at 10 Churston Broadway, Paignton (01803 845191) where there is ample free parking, or 10A Bolton Street, Brixham (01803 854123) any week day between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.

If ‘9 to 5’ is not convenient, our Paignton office is open until 7:00 pm on Wednesdays.  Just ‘drop-in’!  Alternatively, home visits can be arranged.

Lexcel Annual Assessment!

We have just had our fourth annual assessment for the Law Society Lexcel Accreditation. We are proud to say that we passed with flying colours and indeed exceeded the Lexcel Practice Management requirements in seven areas – an achievement in itself! Well done to all the team – we are constantly working to raise the standards, providing quality advice at competitive fees. A professional service with the personal touch!

Family Matters

‘You can choose your friends, but not your family’!

Gillian Major, who heads the Matrimonial team at Roger Richards Solicitors, Paignton has heard that on many an occasion.

Highly qualified yet refreshingly normal and with more than 20 years’ experience, Gillian uses her wealth of knowledge to provide sound advice on all family matters including divorce, break up of a relationship, financial settlement, associated pension issues, child access issues and more!

“Divorce and family problems can be extremely traumatic”, says Gillian, “however I try to make the process as easy as possible for people. I find a straight-talking yet compassionate approach guides clients to a solution as painlessly as possible.

Senior Partner, Caroline Thompson said: “At a time when there is a tendency for emotions to run high, Gillian’s calm approach and her natural empathy puts clients of all ages at ease. Gillian has the ideal approach in this sensitive area of Family matters”.

For an initial, free half-hour appointment, call either of our offices: 01803 – 845191 (Paignton) or 01803 – 854123 (Brixham). Alternatively, just drop-in to our Paignton office on a Wednesday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. – no appointment necessary.

Residential Landlords Beware!

RESIDENTIAL LANDLORDS BEWARE!

Residential landlords have been required to protect their assured shorthold tenant’s deposit in one of the statutory schemes since 6th April 2007.

In addition to protecting the deposit, a landlord must ensure that he/she provides the tenant with certain prescribed information relating to the tenant’s deposit. This must be done within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.

Failure to provide the prescribed information to the tenant could lead to the landlord being liable to pay a fine to the tenant of up to three times the amount of the deposit. A landlord who fails to supply the required information within the stipulated time period would also not be entitled to make use of the more cost effective and often speedier “accelerated procedure” in order to obtain an order for possession against the tenant. This could impede the landlord’s ability to evict a tenant.

It is therefore essential for a landlord not only to protect the tenant’s deposit but to provide all the required information within the prescribed time period. Landlords should beware of providing incomplete information.

Is it enough, however, to protect the deposit and supply the required information? What happens if a dispute arises and the tenant denies having received the required information within the time period?

In order for landlords to avoid such difficulties it is strongly recommended that landlords retain written proof of having supplied all the required information to the tenant within the 30 day time-limit. A good way of obtaining proof would be to have the tenant sign for the receipt of the required information on a copy of the documents on which all the information is actually provided. Should there be more than one document, the tenant should be asked to sign and date on each document and preferably initial each page. If the tenant refuses to sign, an independent witness may be asked to sign a statement to verify that all the required information was provided to the tenant and the date on which the information was provided.

For further information and a free initial consultation to discuss any legal issues relating to tenancy agreements contact us.

Roger Richards Solicitors – Professional service with the personal touch!

The Dartmouth Chronicle

Roger Richards chronicle

We are in the Dartmouth Chronicle this week!

Storage of documents and Walk in Wednesday

Thinking about where to store your Wills and Deeds? We offer storage of important documents in our fire proof safe, free of charge. For further information telephone us on 01803 854123 or call in to either our Paignton (Windy Corner) or Brixham offices. Don’t forget we are open until 7pm on Wednesdays where anyone can drop in for a free half hour consultation on a legal issue.