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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

Friday 11 December 2020


MasterCard has lost its appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Court of Appeal that the Walter Merricks claim can proceed. Open the champers. On second thoughts, make it the prosseco. More to follow. See https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/search/label/MasterCard%20claim 

Monday 16 November 2020


Regulations made today and coming into force tomorrow 17 November 2020 will save the majority of residential occupiers in England from eviction and seizure of their goods for the time being. The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1290) stop evictions up to 11 January 2021. They also stop bailiffs and enforcement agents seizing goods inside residential premises (but not outside or on the road and not from business premises) until the end of the current national lockdown on 02 December 2020. Possession proceedings which are pending and new possession cases can still continue.

There are exceptions to the paralysis on evictions (which extends to even delivering tenants with a notice of eviction proclaiming when the bailiff or enforcement against will be calling and so this effectively amounts to a ban on fixing eviction appointments).   The main exception is where the possession order was made on the ground of rent arrears amounting to the equivalent of nine months but any arrears which have clocked up since 23 March 2020 will be disregarded for this purpose. Other exceptions include evictions where the possession order has been made in relation to social tenancies on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, nuisance, false statements to obtain the tenancy or domestic abuse and orders made against trespassers whose identities have not been established.  

Friday 13 November 2020


The High Court in London has just ruled in a matrimonial financial remedies case * how the twin horrors of the pandemic and Brexit should be reflected in the value of a company which figured highly in the assets to be divided up between husband and wife. 

In focus was a company providing ducting to a wide range of customers in construction and other industries. A significant proportion of trading business was in the EU and, if there was 'no deal', the free trade tariff on which the company operated would end. The company had already experienced a significant decrease in demand. 

It was agreed that the court should take into account both the pandemic and Brexit in deciding what the company was worth. By how much should the value  be discounted? The wife argued for a discount of 10% not only to the trading value of  the company but to the company's surplus assets of cash and quoted investments. The judge ruled that it was right to knock off 10% but only on the trading value. There was no logic in applying any discount to the pile of cash and investments, he said. There was no evidence that they had suffered a decrease in value.

* OG vAG [2020] EWFC 52


 If, as is highly possible. your mobile home site owner is giving you grief, you may now be able to do something about exterminating them other than strangulation - and please, please, don't resort to that. 

New laws* will prohibit the use of land as a residential mobile home site unless the local authority is satisfied that the site manager is a fit and proper person. Authorities will have until 1 July 2021 to establish a fit and proper register and applications to go onto that register will have to be submitted during the following three months.  From 1 October 2021, it will be an offence for the site to be used without a registered manager. Should there be a second conviction for this offence then the licence to use the site as a mobile home site can be revoked. This should all act as a deterrent to the owner and their staff from any unreasonable conduct towards occupiers. Just mention it in the sweetest of tones when they next throw a brick through your window.

So where do you come in? Start now in giving the local authority details of your legitimate complaints. Then they can take those into account next year in deciding whether the hateful swine who has been making your life a misery for so long is a saint or a sinner.

* The Mobile Homes (Requirement for Manager of Site to be a Fit and Proper Person) (England) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1034

Tuesday 3 November 2020


The lockdown in England due to start this Thursday 05 November 2020 will be governed by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No 4) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1200) which were laid before Parliament at 4.10 pm this afternoon and, unless I am a banana, will be approved in Parliament tomorrow. Just 32 pages! Here are a few things you may not have realised you will be able to do.

  • There are many specified reasons for leaving your home which  amount to a reasonable excuse and so will be okay. But you may have some other excuse for going out which is not specified. If it is reasonable, you will still be okay.
  • Going out for the purpose of visiting a waste disposal or recycling centre is classified as a reasonable excuse. We had better call that the rubbish excuse.
  • Attending an event commemorating Remembrance Sunday will also be a reasonable excuse.
  • For the purpose of one to one exercise or recreation gatherings outside- that is between a member of a household and one other person  who is not a member- the other person is not reckoned if a child under five. This means, for example, that one household member could meet up with one other adult and a four year old child. 
  • It is a reasonable excuse to leave home for the purpose of any training and not just education.
  • Leaving home for medical assistance is permitted as a reasonable excuse and that assistance can be from or by way of 'dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health.'
  • The child care bubble enables a person to provide informal child care for children in another household who are under 13. All the adult members of both households must agree.There cannot be a similar arrangement between two other households. This is an exception which will enable grandparents to continue to act as slaves to one set of grandchildren but it is not limited to grandparents and, on my interpretation of the regulations, the child care care may by more than one person from the second household. However, it must be reasonably necessary for this child care to be provided. If , for example, two children live with parents who are stuck at home and not working there and have two live in nannies and a governess, it would be difficult to sell the idea to the police that the informal arrangements were reasonably necessary.   
Stay safe.

Thursday 8 October 2020


Here is the latest about free (because you cannot afford to pay for it yourself) legal help for those caught up in civil or family court cases or who just need to know how they stand legally. 

Sometimes you will get advice only and sometimes you will get more such as representation at the hearing, be it at a court or a tribunal. Where the people you go to are restricted in what help they can give, they will refer on to another organisation who may be able to help more. Because of Covid-19 and its financial consequences, advice agencies are currently under great pressure and face-to-face sessions may well not be available. If one organisation cannot fit you in, try another. 'Ere is my contact info.

LEGAL AID   There will be a means test. Advice only on debt, housing, education, discrimination and family. www.gov.uk/civil-legal aid-advice: 0345 345 4345.  There's not much legal aid available for the whole case including representation at court although it is available for some limited cases  - included are family cases where you have been the victim of domestic abuse and local authority care cases involving children - where you have reasonable prospects of success. However, you might just be able to secure legal aid which is ordinarily excluded if you can show it would be a denial of your human rights not to be granted it (for example, you could not follow the proceedings without a lawyer). Difficult to obtain but see

CITIZENS ADVICE - CAB They operate out of 2,500 locations. citizensadvice.org.uk: 03444111444

ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE ADVICE BUREAU It is based in London but don't let that put you off. www.rcjadvice.org.uk: 020 7092 3960 Monday to Friday between 2pm and 4pm and first email them a triage form which you can access online. 

ADVOCATE (formerly Bar Pro Bono Unit)  For representation in court but you need to be referred by Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau (see above), a solicitor or your Member of Parliament.

LAWWORKS Mainly advice at clinics (some of which may be housed in a law centre). www.lawworks.org.uk to find out your nearest clinic and other points of contact.

LAW CENTRES  Plenty of them and they can usually do more than just give initial advice: they may be able to take on a case where full legal aid is available (see above under LEGAL AID). lawcentres.org.uk

FREE REPRESENTATION UNIT Based in offices in London and Nottingham they represent claimants in social security, employment and criminal injuries compensation tribunals and will go out to venues which are within reasonable travelling distances of their offices.www.thefru.org.uk : 020 7611 9555.

SUPPORT THROUGH COURT (formerly Personal Support Unit) Emotional and practical support including help with court forms. www.supportthroughcourt.org

SHELTER Housing advice. Chatline at http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help.

FREE HOUSING ADVICE AT COURT For cases for possession in the county court which are mainly between landlord and tenant and mortgage lender and borrower, free legal advice at the court will be available for the tenant and borrower even though it has not been sought earlier. The adviser  may also be able to speak in court for the tenant or borrower concerned. This advice will be available for what will now usually be a review hearing when attempts will be made to get parties to agree some compromise or possibly refer the case to mediation but you will not see the judge on this day and the landlord or lender should also be present for discussions or remotely available. If the case has not settled on the review date, a later substantive hearing will be listed (at least 28 days later) and advice at court will again be available, as before.

INITIAL ADVICE FROM A SOLICITOR  Many solicitors' offices will give initial advice to see whether you have a good case and how you can go about bringing or defending it and- what it may cost you if legal aid is not available. Typically, this advice will be for thirty minutes and free. 

NO WIN, NO FEE AGREEMENTS These are for bringing a claim (not a family case) where you pay your solicitor and any barrister involved a success fee (nor more than 25% of your compensation in a personal injury case) if you win and nothing if you lose. Good game and the majority of solicitors will be prepared to act for you on this basis.

DAMAGES BASES AGREEMENTS  A bit like NO WIN, NO FEE AGREEMENTS except you pay the lawyer a cut of the compensation. 

INSURANCE  You may hold an insurance policy that covers legal advice and/or representation for a host of topics. Check all you policies, even property and household contents jobs.

LEGAL SERVICES ORDER For financial remedy applications in matrimonial proceedings, if you cannot afford to pay a lawyer and cannot reasonably raise the money to do so but your opponent can afford it, then the court can order your opponent to shell out for your own lawyer: if not for the whole of the case, for part of it.


Friday 25 September 2020


Into force tomorrow Saturday 26 September 2020 for England come the swingingly entitled Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No 15) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1039. This - in the language of the notes to the regulations - is what they do. These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/568) (“the principal Regulations”) to— (a) remove Curaçao, Denmark, Iceland and Slovakia from the list of exempt countries and territories, in Schedule A1 to the principal Regulations, from which passengers arriving in England are not required to self-isolate; (b) amend Schedule 2 to the principal Regulations to: (i) create a new exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for people undertaking activities necessary for the participation of the organisation they represent in the 4th National Lottery Licence Competition, (ii) create a new exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for elite sportspersons travelling to the United Kingdom for medical examinations and people accompanying them in order to provide necessary care and support, (iii) expand the exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for people engaged in film and high end TV production so that it also applies to certain advertising production professionals, and (iv) amend the exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for elite sportspersons so that it applies to domestic elite sportspersons who have been to non-exempt countries or territories for the purposes of training and multinational ancillary sportspersons; (c) amendthelistofspecifiedcompetitionsinSchedule3totheprincipalRegulations,which is relevant to the exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for elite sportspersons. Passengers are not required to self-isolate on arrival in England if, during the 14 days preceding their arrival, they have only been in or transited through exempt countries or territories, or exempt parts of countries or territories. Passengers who have been in or transited through a non-exempt country or territory, or a non-exempt part of a country or territory, must self-isolate until 14 days have elapsed since the day after they last left a non-exempt country or territory, or a non-exempt part of a country or territory. The changes to Schedule A1 will not affect passengers who arrive in England before 4.00 a.m. on 26th September 2020.

Thursday 24 September 2020


The latest coronavirus regulations for England - the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No2)(England) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2020/1029- were published at about one minute before midnight yesterday and alomst all of them came into force at 5.00am today 24 September 2020. That's what I call fast-track law. The remaining bits and pieces come into force on 28 Seeptember 2020. Here's an edited extract from the government's explanation of the changes for you to get your teeth into. But remove your face covering first! "This instrument makes a number of changes to the Original Regulations. In particular: Regulation 4A has been inserted into the Original Regulations to provide for: • The closure of businesses selling food or drink from 22:00 – 05:00 o Cinemas, theatres or concert hall can stay open beyond 22:00 to conclude a performance that has begun before 22:00, but would then be obliged to shut once the performance has concluded. o Businesses which are required to close will be able provide services via drive through or delivery. o Exceptions are provided for certain types of business, such as motorway service areas and supermarkets, convenience stores and cornershops. Regulation 4B has been inserted into the Original Regulations to require certain businesses to: • Take reasonable steps to ensure that customers only consume food and drink while seated. • If the business serves alcohol for consumption on the premises, to only take orders for food and drink from customers who are seated and only serve them while they are seated. The business must also take reasonable steps to ensure that customers only consume food and drink while seated. Amendments are also made to each of the following regulations to remove their restrictions on businesses, and allow the provisions in Regulations 4, 4A and 4B of the Original regulations to take effect in their protected areas: • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) (No. 2) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North East and North West of England) Regulations 2020. Regulation 5 of the Original Regulations is amended in relation to the exemptions on gatherings restrictions: • The exemptions to the gatherings limit have been amended (Regulation 5(3)) to: o Restricting attendance at weddings and wedding receptions to 15 (down from 30) o Removal of exemption for religious or belief based standalone life cycle ceremonies (except for funerals, which will have a limit of 30 people able to attend) o Removal of the exemption for indoor organised sport (although indoor sport which is organised for the purpose of allowing persons who have a disability to take part will continue to be exempt, subject to conditions) o Place numerical restrictions of a maximum of 15 participants in a support groups, and restrict them from taking place in a private dwelling. Regulation 9 is amended to provide for the doubling of the amount included in Fixed Penalty Notices for breaches of the restrictions on participation in gatherings, the restrictions on access to specific outdoor places and the requirements to close business, meaning that the initial fine level starts at £200 to a maximum of £6 400. Amendments are also made to the following regulations to provide for equivalent Fixed Penalty Notices to be issued: • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) (No. 2) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Bolton) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North East and North West of England) Regulations 2020. A separate series of levels for Fixed Penalty Notices are established for the new restrictions in regulations 4A and 4B on the Original Regulations. The first Fixed Penalty Notice issues in relation to the offences of breaching these restrictions is set at £1,000, and increases to £2,000 for a second notice, £4,000 for a third notice, and £10,000 for the fourth and all subsequent notices. Consequential amendments are also made to all of the Regulations mentioned in 6.13 to ensure that the issue of an Fixed Penalty Notice in relation to regulations 4A and 4B of the Original Regulations does not affect the escalation of Fixed Penalty Notices in those Regulations, in the same way that it does not affect the escalation of Fixed Penalty Notices in relation to other offences in the Original Regulations. This instrument also amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Bolton) Regulations 2020 to provide that businesses in the protected area which are prevented from selling food or drink for consumption off the premises between the hours of 22.00 and 05.00 may still be allowed to make deliveries and allow customers to collect food or drink via a drive through if they remain in their vehicle."

Wednesday 23 September 2020


I know you love 'em so let me present (cue drum roll) SI 2020/1026 - The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 which were made this morning and come into force in England tomorrow Thursday 24 September 202o. Here is an authoratative extracted summary of what they do from the government. "In order to increase the protection offered to members of the public and workers in hospitality settings, these Amending Regulations amend Schedule 1 of the Face Covering Regulations to require individuals to wear a face covering when in a restaurant, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members' clubs, bars, including bars in hotels or members' clubs, public houses and theatres. Regulation 2(8) of the Amending Regulations amends Schedule 1 of the Face Covering Regulations by removing the exclusion for areas with seating or tables provided for the consumption of food and drink. Members of the public are therefore required to wear a face covering when entering, leaving and moving around in these hospitality settings. The reasonable excuses in Regulation 4 of the Face Covering Regulations are unchanged. As such face coverings can be removed within these settings for the purposes of eating and drinking or taking medication. This amendment will reduce the risk of passing on the infection when moving through a restaurant, bar or other hospitality setting, hence offering greater protections to those visiting these indoor spaces as well as those working within them. While face coverings are not a substitute for distancing and hand hygiene, there is some evidence to suggest that when used correctly, face coverings may have some benefit in reducing the likelihood of those with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic. Regulation 2(4) of these Amending Regulations inserts a new Regulation 2A into the Face Covering Regulations. The effect of Regulation 2A is that it now requires staff and other workers to wear face coverings in the settings listed in Schedule 3, where these are open to the public, and the staff member may or is likely to come into contact with members of the public. This includes staff working in public facing areas in shops, supermarkets, museums, galleries, cinemas and other indoor settings as outlined in the new Schedule 3 to the Face Covering Regulations. Regulation 2(4) of the Amending Regulations also inserts a new Regulation 2B into the Face Covering Regulations. Regulation 2B states that the requirement to wear a face covering does not supersede any obligations placed on employees by their employers to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE). In such case, employees would be expected to comply with the provisions outlined by their employer, in conjunction with any obligations under the Health and Safety at Work act 1974, and wear RPE. Including staff within the scope of the Face Covering Regulations will enhance the protections offered to both workers and customers in these settings, where people are more likely to come into close contact with others they do not regularly meet. This will help minimise the spread of the virus particularly when moving around these settings. Regulation 2(5) of these Amending Regulations inserts a new exemption in Regulation 3(2)(o) the Face Covering Regulations. A staff member or other worker in a setting listed in Schedule 3 which is open to the public will not be required to wear a face covering if they are a performer performing in the course of their employment or in the course of providing their services. SAGE has previously advised that there is evidence to recommend the use of cloth masks in certain higher-risk settings as a precautionary measure where masks could be at least partially effective. These settings would be enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible to maintain consistently, creating a risk of close social contact with multiple parties the person does not usually meet. Distancing (>2 metres) remains the preferred option where possible. In such settings, evidence would support a policy where cloth masks could be used for short durations where unavoidable closer interactions with others are occurring or likely. This advice does not replace or change existing advice on other measures – such as hand washing, social distancing and self-isolation. Mandating the use of face coverings in additional hospitality settings and extending the requirement to staff and other workers working in customer facing roles, when used alongside other measures, therefore offers a reasonable protective measure to reduce the risk of infection on contamination by a virus that presents a significant harm to public health. The Amending Regulations also make changes to the Fixed Penalty Amounts for offences in relevant places and on public transport. Regulation 2(6) of this instruments amends Regulation 7 of the Face Covering Regulations and the Public Transport Regulations so that the amount of a FPN imposed for the first offence under the Face Covering Regulations is now set at £200 (previously £100), and continue to double at each subsequent offence up to a maximum amount of £6400. The amount of a FPN for the first offence will now reduce to an increased amount of £100 (previously £50) if paid within 14 days. There are no reductions from the second or subsequent fines. This is in line with penalties for other national coronavirus regulations. Whilst the vast majority of people have complied with rules throughout the pandemic, and enforcement measures remain a last resort, these amendments will further deter noncompliance and tackle those who repeatedly breach the requirement to wear a face covering.'

Thursday 17 September 2020

COVID-19: Business Tenants: Reprieves Extended: England & Wales

Bad for business tenants if they are behind with their rent. Good news for business tenants if they feared the landlord sending in a bailiff to seize stock, their copies of Breaking Law and their padadol tablets to sell and pay off those arrears. Landlords are currently paralysed from forfeiting a business lease and bringing court proceedgs to have the tenant evicted until 30 September 2020. That period has been extended until 31 December 2020 by the Business Tenancies (Protection from Forfeiture: Relevant Period) (Coronavirus) (England) (No 2) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/994 laid before Parlimant yesterday. The same change has alreday made for business tenants in Wales. And there's an increase in the amount of rent that has to be in arrears before a bailiff can be sent in under the commercial rent arreras recovery scheme. Pre-pandemic it was seven days' worth. From 25 April 2020 this was raised to 90 days. There was a further increase from 24 June 2020 to 189 days. By the Taking Control of Goods (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1002 applying to business premises in both England and Wales, the figure is raised from 29 September 2020 until 24 December 2020 (inclusive) to 276 days' rent and from 25 December 2020 to a temporary 366 days.

Monday 14 September 2020


They'e arrived. The latest restrictions which came into force at 12.01am today were published around 15 minutes ealier. You'll find them in SI 2020/986 - The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020.If that's too much of a strain, below is a governnment summary of the changes (as slightly amended by me). Better than listening to me for four hours - or even more than six! Regulation 5 of the Original Regulations is amended to provide for: • The prohibition of a gathering of more than six people unless they are from the same household or two households where they are linked households* - unless a valid exemption applies. For a definition of linked households, you will need to take a look at the regulations. * The exemptions to the gatherings limit are (Regulation 5(3)): o For an elite sportsperson, their coach (or where the elite sportsperson is a child, their parent) and the gathering is necessary for a competition or training; o Where the gathering is reasonably necessary for work purposes; for the provision of voluntary or charitable services; for education or training; to provide childcare or to supervise activities for children; to provide emergency assistance; to enable the avoidance of injury or escape from the risk of harm; to provide care to or assistance to a vulnerable person; to facilitate access to and contact between parents and children where they do not live in the same household; o To fulfil a legal obligation; o Where the gathering is a support group; o For gatherings of up to 30 persons for marriage or civil partnership; o For gatherings for a significant event * Additionally, regulation 1(4ZA) is inserted into the Original Regulations to provide that the gatherings restrictions in private dwellings contained in the Regional Lockdown Regulations remain in place. This affects: the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) (No. 2) Regulations 2020; the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford) Regulations 2020; the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England) Regulations 2020; and the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Bolton) Regulations 2020 (together “the Restrictions”). * The police and local authorities will continue to monitor compliance with the Original Regulations, including the amendments set out in this instrument.

Monday 7 September 2020

Covid-19:Wills: New Law on Witnesses

A testamentary trio. That's what the law of England and Wales requires to make a will valid. The willmaker and two witnesses, all physically together at the same time and able to see and smile at each othet. But the pandemic has made this impossible in many cases. Some wills have been signed up virtually using special software. Opinions are divided on whether or not this satisfies legal requirements. Have no fear. The law is changing retrospectively under the Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications)(Amendment) (Coronavirus)Order 2020 SI 2020/952 made today 07 September 2020 and coming into force in three weeks' time. Wills made after 30 January 2020 and for two years from then will be legally okay if video witnessed. This period may be shortened or lengthened in due course.

Tuesday 1 September 2020


The life of a notice seeking possession of premises let in England under an assured shorthand tenancy   - the commonly called section 21 notice - has been extended from six to ten months (by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/747 and for more on those regulations see https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk).

But the above regulations failed to reflect the extended period in the prescribed notice that is Form 6A. That is put right by the Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) and Suspension (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/924 - cute title, eh? - which were made at 11.33am today and come into force tomorrow 02 September 2020. Although there is a current stay on bringing possession proceedings, there is no stay on a landlord serving a notice requiring possession on their tenant. This means that the revised section 21 notice should be used as from tomorrow and be for at least the increased period of six months. When that period reverts back to two months and the life of the section 21 notice to six months, the form will be reamended. Now, that's something to look forward to. 

Good evening!

Sunday 30 August 2020


I reported on the extended stay to 20 September 2020 for  possession proceedings and enforcement at https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk Further covid-19 laws on the notice period to be given to tenants (before possession proceedings can be brought against them) came into force yesterday Saturday 29 August 2020. 

The new laws will last until 31 March 2021. For any notice given to a tenant from yesterday and up to 31 March 2021, the period  is doubled from what was the temporary three months to six months. There is a mighty exception. Where the landlord is relying on non-payment of rent and the arrears are for at least six months' worth of rent, the notice period is temporarily shortened to four weeks. There are other exceptions in relation to possession on the ground of anti-social behaviour and in respect of introductory and demoted tenancies.

For chapter and verse, see the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Residential Tenancies: Protection from Eviction) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/914).

Monday 24 August 2020


I told you, didn't I? The ban in England and Wales on tenants being evicted and court possession proceedings being pursued was to be lifted as from yesterday. If you were a tenant, you blessed. If you were a landlord, you cursed - as you read https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/2020/08/bailiffs-about-to-awake.html

And what have they gone and done? The ban has been extended until 20 September 2020 by the Civil Procedure (Amendment No 5) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 SI 2020/889. This means that where a possession order has already been made, a tenant cannot generally be evicted before 5 October 2020 (a 14 days notice of the eviction appointment must be given unless the court shortens the notice period). And it means that the hearings of cases where no order has yet been made are unlikely to take place before around 28 October 2020.

The notice by the landlord requiring the tenant to vacate is being extended from the temporary three months to a temporary six months but more on this shortly when the necessary legislation has been published.

But the ban on bailiffs and High Court enforcement agents seizing goods where a judgment has gone unsatisfied is over.

Friday 21 August 2020


Changes to face covering legal requirements in England come into force tomorrow Saturday 22 August 2020. Feast of the details at -https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/882/pdfs/uksiem_20200882_en.pdf

Monday 17 August 2020

Bailiffs About to Awake

County Court bailiffs and High Court enforcement agents in England and Wales awake from their slumber next Monday 24 August 2020. They have been paralysed - thanks to coronavirus legislation and court directions - from seizing goods from debtors' homes where money is due under a court judgment and from evicting tenants and mortgage borrowers under court possession orders. Landlords and mortgage lenders have also been paralysed from pressing ahead with possession cases where no order has yet been obtained.  This paralysis end on 24 August 2020.

But various procedural hoops must first be gone through. Bailiffs and enforcement agents after seizure of goods are required to give the debtor at least seven days' prior notice of their intention to visit - unless, that is, the  court has waived or reduced the period of the notice on the basis that the debtor might otherwise take their goods to the other end of the world.

Where a possession order has already been made, the bailiff or enforcement agent is to give at least 14 days' proper written notice by way of a new form of the date and time on which they will be calling to evict. In some tenancy cases - it depends on the type of tenancy and the basis on which the possession oder was obtained - the tenant may be able to apply to the court for the bailiff or enforcement agent to be kept out by a suspension of their authority so long as the arrears are cleared at a specified rate on top of the rent being paid as and when it falls due. The likelihood is that the court will only have power to suspend where it is a social tenancy- council or housing association - and possession has not been order on a mandatory ground which prevents the court from granting longer than 42 days from the court order for the tenant to go. The court has much wider powers to suspend in mortgage possession cases.

And where a possession case was already started but then paralysed, the landlord or mortgage lender will have to send the court a reactivation notice so as to obtain a hearing date for the case. The court will generally give at least 21 days' notice of the hearing date.

In tenancy cases where the landlord has given notice to the tenant requiring possession, the period of any notice given or or after 26 March 2020 (and up to 30 September 2020)  was temporarily extended to three months (anything from 14 days or two months before). If short notice has been given the landlord should serve a fresh notice (after 30 September 2020 it can be for the 'old' period  which applied unless there is further legislation on the point). 

Friday 7 August 2020


Changes are being made to the list of exempt countries and territories from which passengers arriving in England are not required to self-isolate on arrival. The instrument removes Andorra, the Bahamas and Belgium from that list and adds Brunei and Malaysia. For more, have a look at


From tomorrow 08 August 2020 the wearing of face coverings is extended in England to indoor places of worship, crematoria and burial ground chapels, museums, galleries, cinemas, public libraries, public spaces in hotels (such as lobby areas) and community centres. For the whole 
story, have a look at 

Thursday 23 July 2020

What IS a face covering?

The face covering legislation coming into force in England tomorrow 24 July 2020 tells us exactly what is required. It is 'a covering of any type which covers a person’s nose and mouth.' So there.

Friday 17 July 2020

Court Fee Cuts (E&W): WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A range of court fee cuts in England and Wales will be effective on 03 August 2020 and so if you want to save some dosh, WAIT!!!!!! until then, provided it is not going to prejudice your position, to issue the reduced fee application. Alas, the fees for starting civil or family proceedings remain untouched.

Here's my pick of the reduced fees and remember that 'Help with fees' still applies so that you may be eligible for a free ride.

civil proceedings

  • application for a witness summons - down from £50 to £21
  • application to vary a judgment (for example, to be able to pay by instalments) or to suspend enforcement including to suspend a warrant for possession- down from £50 to £14
  • request for a certificate of satisfaction in relation to an entry at the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines - down from £15 to £14 
family proceedings
  • application for a third party debt order - down form £100 to £77
  • application for a charging order - down from £100 to £38
  • application for a judgment summons - down from £100 to £73
  • application for an attachment of earnings order - down from £100 to £34
  • request for bailiff service (sometimes no fee) - down from £110 to £45

probate fees

Not quite what you would call 'court' fees but some cuts coming in under the same legislation-
  • entering a caveat at the Probate Registry (to prevent issue of probate or letters of administration and good for six months) - down from £20 to £3
  • applying for a standing search (so that you are notified that probate or letters of administration have been granted and you get a copy of the document and good for periods of six months at a time)- down from £10 to £3
If you want to check out the recent legislation to thank it, then have a butchers at the Court Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2020 SI 2020/720

And if you want millions of legal tips (slight exaggeration) buy my book Breaking Law and give me a break.

Tuesday 7 July 2020


Are you due to make a second self-assessment payment on account of income tax for the 2019/20 tax year by 31 July 2020? Are you finding it difficult or impossible to make that payment due to the impact of coronavirus? Worry not. HMRC has announced that you may defer payment and show 'em your money by 31 January 2021. If you do, there will be no interest charged or penalties imposed as a result of the delayed payment. You do not need to ask HMRC for permission to defer or even tell them that you are deferring. Just don't pay!

Sunday 5 July 2020


The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 is alive. Here's what it does for Great Britain.
  • A creditor's ability to ask the court to wind up a company which owes them money is likely to be paralysed up to 30 September 2020 - and that date can be extended. Winding up can now only be sought and will only be ordered by the court if the creditor can show that coronavirus has not had a financial effect on the company or the company's indebtedness to the creditor would have arisen even if coronavirus had not had a financial effect on the company. 
  • The potential liability of a company director for wrongful trading (for example, continuing to trade and take customers' money when it was known or should have been known that the company was insolvent) is suspended for what the director did or omitted to do during the period O1 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 and, again, this period is extendable.