About this blog

Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

UPDATE ON LATEST LAW CHANGES: free video

For the quickest update on legal developments, take a look at my latest video It won't cost you a penny unless you want to spend one afterwards. Avoiding the Land Registry fees hike. Child dispute witness statements. Moratorium on business rent arrears (clocked up due to Covid) claims.  Halting enforcement of judgments. Christmas present buying tip. They are all there. 



Monday, 15 November 2021

FAMILY CASE STATEMENTS & ORDERS: The President threatens!

If you are due to make or prepare a witness statement or draft an order in a family case - it could be about financial remedies after divorce or a child welfare dispute - ignore the memos just produced by the High Court's Family Division's President at your peril. He's obviously fed up and he's in threatening mode. 

The memo on witness statements guides on what should go into and stay out of them. Too many statements, he says, are prepared in breach of proper professional standards. Ouch. He is mirroring a lot of the practice which must now be followed in the Business and Property Courts and he says, in effect, that if you do not play ball then these requirements will be imposed on you by (not the stocks, not a suspended prison, not firearm to the temple (or Temple) but).....a Practice Direction. In the meantime, materially depart from the guidelines, and the evidence contained in the offending statement could be excluded by the judge.  

What must statements do? For example: use the maker's own words; be confined to facts of which the maker has personal knowledge; where the witness sets out matters of which they have information and belief, indicate the source of them. And - stand by for the real stinker - there must be appended to each statement a list of any documents the witness has been referred to or shown for the purpose of the statement and these documents should be identified or described so that they can be easily identified at the hearing. There are special rules to be obeyed by a lawyer or anyone else assisting in the preparation of the statement. No attempt to alter or influence, thank you very much.

What must statements NOT do? Quote at length from any document; seek to argue the case; take the court through any of the documents; set out a narrative derived from the documents; express an opinion; use rhetoric; or, ideally, exceed 15 pages although 25 pages should be regarded as the maximum.

Litigants in person should follow the guidance as well. But, for a non-complex child dispute (not a care case), the memo has a template statement which is useful and covers the documents stuff.


The President has not stopped there. Another memo, this time on drafting orders which is intended for the lawyers, has flowed from his pen. He is fed up in private law cases with unnecessary verbiage and great delay in the production of agreed drafts. Attributing views to the court which did not from part of the decision must stop. Recording the position of a party before or during the course of hearing must stop. Background material in a financial remedies order will generally be unnecessary. More latitude will be allowed with consent orders. But restraint! When a lawyer has advocated, the order must be agreed, drafted and lodged before leaving court or, with a remote, on the day. If wholly impracticable, within two working days.

Again, no ball playing and there will be a Practice Direction.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

AVOID PROPERTY PURCHASE FEE HIKE

If you buy land in England and Wales - and, more often than not there will be a house or a block of flats stuck on it - the purchase will have to be registered at Her Majesty's very own Land Registry. And you guessed it, the registration will attract a fee. It's actually called a scale fee 'cos the amount of the fee generally depends on how much you have paid. The higher the price, the higher the fee.

The fees are being hiked on 31 January 2022.  That's down to the Land Registration Fee Order 2021 (S1 2021/1226). Lodge an application for registration on or after that date and the increased fee you will be required to pay. The moral is, get your application in before that date and there will be a saving. How much? Where the ownership of the land is already registered - and it will be so in the vast majority of cases - the increases range from 13% to 22% which adds on anything between £5 and £195, For example, if you are buying for more than £200,000 and  up to £500,000 you will pay £330 instead of £270. And if you are buying for £1,000.01 or more - in which event you may not give a fig - you will pay £1,105 instead of £910. The increases are lower when your conveyancer applies electronically for registration. 

Registration of a remortgage also attracts a lower fee which is increased but a new mortgage which is submitted for registration at the same time as the purchase will not generate a separate fee. The fee for registration of transfers under court order between parties to divorce or civil partnership proceedings are also increased but at a lower rate.

Where you can make a saving without moving heaven and earth, it makes sense to do so. 

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

SERVICE CHARGES FOR YOUR HOME: HOW NOT TO BE CONNED: FREE VIDEO

Here's another dose of me. But this time, perhaps you can bear it. I am looking at how to avoid passing out when you receive a service charge demand or reviving quickly if you do pass out. Have a view and it won't cost you a penny. You don't even have to apply for a health insurance quote. You might actually save some money.




Sunday, 31 October 2021

SMALL PRINT WIN, REPOSSESSIONS AND LATEST IN THE LAW: VIEW FREE VIDEO

In my latest video in the Law Watch series, you can discover the latest legal developments and you don't even have to open a law book. Find out about the High Court judgment which extricated a company from a £180,000 claim because contractual small print was hidden away; why county court repossession cases are set to be heard more quickly; the simplification in winding up a deceased's estate where no inheritance tax will be payable; and how making a will can be fun. 




Friday, 15 October 2021

Law Watch (episode 4): How to avoid being caught on a home buy or sell

This episode looks at buying and selling your home. I discuss how to cope with problems like GAZUMPING, GAZUNDERING, LIARS and TIME WASTERS. Click the picture below to start watching on YouTube.

sold sign for law watch episode 4


Thursday, 14 October 2021

HOME REPOSSESSIONS: REVIEW HEARINGS TO BE SCRAPPED

SIXTH 'RETURN OF BREAKING LAW' UPDATE  - TO CHAPTER 67 ('AT WAR WITH YOUR HOME LANDLORD')

There is huge backlog of home repossession cases waiting to be heard in the county court. This results from the succession of halts to the cases during the pandemic. As a temporary measure, a review procedure of most cases was introduced when cases started to be dealt with again at which the prospect of an agreement between the parties was to be investigated. Where there was no agreement and the parties were not agreeable to attempt reaching an agreement through mediation, a final hearing was to be fixed.

But the review procedure has been a disappointment. Too few cases have settled. The Master of the Rolls, who is the head of civil justice in England and Wales, has decreed that a review hearing should no longer be standard practice. Similarly, a triage hearing before any final hearing should generally no longer take place. This will be reflected in amended procedural rules which can be expected in the near future. But if local courts want to continue with these interim hearings they will be at liberty to do so. I fancy, however, that there will be little appetite for them unless the case is being defended on genuine and substantial grounds.

The changes will mean earlier final hearing dates for landlord and tenant as well as mortgage possession cases and will come as a relief to many landlords who have felt aggrieved at the long delays in them achieving what they claim is the justice they deserve,