@lawsonwestlaw @LawsonWestLaw 0116 212 1000

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to make a flexible working request, what can I do?

It is no longer necessary to have childcare or dependency commitments to make an application for flexible working. All employees whom have been employed for 26 weeks or more have the right to make up to one application per year. There is no automatic right to flexible working. However, you do have the right to request it. You could request a change to the hours you work, a change to the times you work or to work from home. To make an application, you should put forward your request in writing allowing your employer the opportunity to consider the validity and any impact. Your employer will usually hold a meeting to discuss your request and provide any outcomes. 

A legal separation is more or less the same as a divorce isn't it?

Separation can be dealt with in one of four ways, and there are important differences:-

  1. Divorce Proceedings - either immediately or some time in the future. These proceedings will result in the marriage being dissolved and each party being free to marry again.
  2. Judicial Separation - the procedure for a Judicial Separation is the same as for Divorce, except for the Decree Absolute. The important difference is that it does not result in the dissolution of the marriage. However, the court pronounces that the parties, while remaining married, are not expected to live together. This is what many people think of as legal separation.
  3. Formal Separation Agreement or Deed of Separation - if no court proceedings for either Divorce or Judicial Separation are to be commenced, the parties to the marriage can still settle other matters by reaching an agreement privately between themselves e.g. arrangements for the children and financial matters. A Separation Agreement can be drawn up and signed by both parties. This is a legal document and it settles practical issues, but it does not dissolve the marriage.
  4. None of the above, it is perfectly reasonable to simply separate - in other words, live at different addresses. However, it is usually a good idea to record in writing how you want to settle practical matters, so as to avoid misunderstandings and future arguments.
As part of my job, I have to lift heavy parcels, should I have to now I'm pregnant?

Your employer should carry out a risk assessment and any risks should be removed.

Buying a business

The process starts with arranging an appointment to view your chosen business. Once you have met the sellers and hopefully had a chance to look at the latest profit and loss account information, you will be ready to put in your offer for the business.

Once your offer has been accepted, you should allow six to eight weeks for both sides' solicitors to agree the draft Sale and Purchase Contract details. You should also finalise your funding arrangements during this time. If it is a leasehold business, this period is also used to gather references and obtain the consent of the landlord.

Once both sides are in agreement, all enquiries have been answered and the landlord has given his consent, the business purchase can then move to an Exchange of Contracts and Completion.

Can I book a weekend appointment?

Our offices are open from 9am until 5pm on a Monday - Thursday and until 4.30pm on a Friday.

The Wigston branch is open from 10am - 1pm on the 4th Saturday of the month for Wills, Probate and Family matters.

Please contact us to book an appointment or feel free to drop-in.

Can I complete on a Saturday?

Completion of your transaction must take place between a Monday and a Friday as most banks and solicitors do not open at the weekend or Bank Holidays.

Can I give different people different shares of my estate?

Yes, by making a Will, you can set out exactly who is to get what amount. For example, if one child needs more money than another, you can leave them unequal amounts if you wish.

Can I oppose a divorce?

Yes, it is possible to oppose a petition for divorce. However statistically is very rare for divorces to be opposed. It is often best to check before commencing proceedings if there will be any opposition.

Can my landlord increase my rent?

Generally a lease gives the right for landlords to have the rent reviewed periodically and, usually, the landlord will be looking for an increase. The landlord will suggest a new rent either directly or through a surveyor or agent and then it is up to you to try and agree the new rent with the landlord.
There should be provisions in your lease stating what will happen if agreement cannot be reached. We would be happy to advise you on the specific terms of your lease.

Can the executors and beneficiaries in my Will be the same people?

Yes. In most cases, there is no reason why the people inheriting your estate can't be the same people as those dealing with the practicalities. We can tell you whether this will cause a problem in your particular circumstances.

Do different offices offer different services?

They do but we are more than happy to see you at any of our offices regardless of what you would like advice on.

Do you have parking at your offices?

Our Dominus Way office has ample car parking, as does our office at Wigston. If you are visiting our Harborough office, there is a small client car park to the right of the office. Free parking is available on both sides of Roman Way and additionally there is a pay and display car park opposite the office on Symington Way.

Do you have suitable access for people with disabilities?

Our Dominus Way office has 3 ground floor meeting rooms and there are also ground floor facilities in Wigston. Our Market Harborough office is situated on the first floor but has a lift and wheelchair friendly meeting rooms. We can also arrange home visits if it is more convenient for you.

Do you offer free initial legal advice?

Yes we do. Call us to see how we can help you.

Does having a Will mean my family won't need Probate?

No. If you have any asset worth over £5,000, any stocks and shares or a property then your executors will usually need to apply for probate. If you don't make a Will, they need to apply for Letters of Administration instead, which is very similar. Unless your assets are all owned jointly with someone else and pass to them automatically, you will need Probate before your estate can be paid out.

How do I make a Will and how much will it cost?

We can offer you a complimentary no-obligation consultation to discuss making or changing your Will. Because we tailor-make your Will for you, the cost will depend on your own particular needs and circumstances.

How do I stop my children inheriting until they are old enough?

If you don't have a Will, anything which your children inherit passes to them at the age of 18. By making a Will, you can determine when your children will inherit, safeguarding the money for a time when they may really need it. You can include a provision saying that your children are not to inherit until they reach 21 or 25 (for example).

How is statutory redundancy pay calculated?

Statutory redundancy pay is calculated with reference to the number of completed years’ service by the employee. The employee will receive:-

  • 1 ½ weeks' pay for each year in which the employee was over 41 years of age
  • 1 week's pay for each year in which the employee was over 22 but under 41 years of age
  • 1/2 a week's pay for each year in which the employee was under 22 years of age.

However, the maximum number of years which may be counted is 20. A week's pay is also subject to a maximum figure and redundancy payments up to a specified level are exempt from income tax.  Currently statutory redundancy pay is capped at £489.00 per week.

How long has Lawson-West been established?

We have been established for 40 years, since 1977.

How long will it take?

We estimate approximately 6 to 12 weeks. We will always do what we can to progress the transaction as quickly as possible. If you have a particular time scale in mind, please advise us as soon as possible.

How long will the process take?

Usually a straightforward undefended divorce with no delays will take approximately 4 to 5 months from start to finish. If there are no other outstanding issues between the parties (for example regarding children or the family finances).
However, where negotiations continue regarding other matters they can take longer to resolve. That very much depends on how difficult it is to reach an agreement.

How many offices does Lawson-West have?

We have 3 offices; 1 in Wigston, 1 on the Meridian Business Park and 1 in Market Harborough.

See them on our contact page.

How much Stamp Duty Land Tax will I pay?

The Rules relating to Stamp Duty Land Tax have changed. We will confirm the amount of Stamp Duty Land Tax payable for your particular transaction, before we commence work on your file.

How much compensation can I expect to recover?

This depends on a number of factors. The primary element of damages relates to the severity of your injuries. The more serious the injury, the more money you will receive. Pain and suffering damages will vary from case to case. You may also be able to recover your medical expenses and lost wages. If you contact us, we are happy to give you advice on accident compensation recovery and what you might get according to your circumstances.

How much does a divorce cost?

In a straightforward divorce, the court fees total £600. Solicitor's bills are calculated on how much time they spend on your case.

How much time will there be between exchange and completion?

Most people prefer to have at least a couple of days between exchange and completion to give them time to make removal arrangements.
However, exchange of contracts can take place up to and including the day of completion (the day you pay for your new property and get the keys, or the day you receive the net sale proceeds if you are selling a property).
If you have a particular timescale for your house move, let us know as soon as possible and we will do our best to accommodate exchange of contracts and completion dates to suit you.

How much will a Settlement Agreement cost me?

Your employer will usually pay your legal costs for a Settlement Agreement, although your employer may set a limit so we will endeavour not to charge more than your employer has agreed to pay.

We also offer a free initial consultation so it will cost you nothing to find out where you stand and how we can help you with a Settlement Agreement. All discussions are in confidence and we will negotiate with your employer on your behalf.

How much will it cost?

We review all cases individually but our Personal Injury and Employment departments usually work on a no win no fee basis. A simple Will costs £165 plus VAT and a straightforward divorce costs £600.  It is always best to talk through your specific needs with a Solicitor.

I am a purchaser and need to move quickly - do I need searches?

If you are a cash purchaser (that is, you do not require a mortgage to fund the purchase of a property), searches are entirely at your discretion however we would strongly recommend you obtain a local authority search, a drainage and water search and an environmental search to give you a complete picture of the property you are buying.

If you are purchasing with a mortgage, searches are a compulsory requirement of most mortgage lenders.

I am interested in buying a property at auction, but have never done so before, what should I do?

Buying at auction is a binding commitment and carries the same legal implications as signing contracts through a solicitor - if you are planning to purchase an auction property contact us before you attend the auction.

Once you have successfully bid for a property through auction, and the contracts have been exchanged, you are legally committed to purchase the property.

I am not being paid minimum wage, what can I do?

There are strict guidelines for an employer when looking at the correct minimum wages that an employee can be paid.  Current minimums are:

 

25 and over

21 to 24

18 to 20

Under 18

Apprentice

 

£7.50

£7.05

£5.60

£4.05

 £3.50

If you believe that your employer is failing in their obligations, please contact us to discuss further. 

I am part of a team completing ‘like work’ with male colleagues but am being paid less, is this right?

The Equality Act 2010 sets out that where male and female workers are employed under the same terms of employment, working like work holding the same experience, skills and qualifications they should be paid the same wages and afforded the same benefits. If you are not being paid the same or treated less favourably in any way you may be being discriminated against. Please contact us to discuss further if you believe you are being treated less favourably than your male colleagues. 

I can't do my usual job. My employer has another job for me but wants to pay me less, can they?

No. You must be offered suitable alternative work on similar terms and conditions if you cannot do your usual job because you are pregnant.  If you are offered an alternative job on less favourable terms and conditions then you could argue that the alternative job is not suitable. If a suitable alternative job cannot be found, you can be suspended on full pay whilst you are pregnant. 

I have been married for three years and now want a divorce - how will the court split our finances?

When married partners separate, they have to agree how to separate their finances. If the marriage is very short i.e. less than 3 or 4 years, and there are no children, it is possible that the court would look at who paid for things, and who brought sums of money into the marriage, such as a large deposit on the home.
But if the marriage was longer, or if you have children, this would not generally be the right answer.
It is generally accepted that all assets are joint property, regardless of who actually paid for them. Similarly, when sorting out the family finances due to separation, debts and other liabilities would be considered joint, whichever name actually appears on the documentation.
So if you have a family car, which is being paid for on a loan in the name of one of you, it will usually be regarded as a family asset, and a family liability.

I have been working for my employer for over four months and have not been provided with an employment contract.

It is unlawful for an employer not to provide terms of your employment within 8 weeks of your employment commencing.  In circumstances where the employer fails in their obligation, you may be awarded up to four weeks wages by way of compensation. 

I have sold my business, what happens next?

The process can vary from transaction to transaction but usually follows the outline below:
1. You need to gather together all the documents you have relating to the business e.g. contracts of employment, contracts with suppliers and customers, accounts, etc - and pass them to your solicitor.
2. Talk to your accountant or tax adviser about the correct apportionment of sale price between goodwill, fixtures and fittings, and premises.
3. Obtain the consent of your landlord and any other persons whose consent is required. Generally your landlord will want to see references (normally one bank and two trade references) for the buyer of your business.
4. Your solicitor will then prepare the draft contract tailored to suit you and send it, with replies to standard enquiries and title deeds or lease, to the buyer of your business (the contract package).
5. The solicitor for the buyer of your business will then look through the contract package and raise enquiries on it.
6. The terms of the contract will be negotiated and the formal consent from the landlord or any other third party (such as a licensing authority) obtained where necessary.
7. Completion of transaction including transfer of business premises and assignment of goodwill together with valuation of stock will then take place.

I have ‘blown the whistle’ at work and am now receiving hostilities and the threat of dismissal, is this correct?

If you have expressed to your employer or a prescribed person (regulating body) regarding misconduct or unsafe practices at work, and suffering a detriment as a result, you may be able to present claims to the employment tribunal relating to detriment following whistle blowing.  If you have been faced with this type of situation or similar, please contact our team to discuss further. 

I suffer with a diagnosed medical condition that I believe amounts to a disability, can I ask my employer to make adjustments to my role?

Employees who are considered disabled have the right to request adjustments to their role to allow them to perform in the same capacity as their non-disabled colleagues. In order to ascertain what might be reasonable and what help and assistance your employer can obtain, it is important to ask for an Occupational Health assessment or Access to Work assessment which will be able to set out specific recommendations and details of any payment relief. 

I suffer with mental health complaints along with physical complaints, how do I know if I am classed as disabled in employment law?

The Equality Act 2010 sets out that a person suffering with a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’ negative effect on your ability to carry out normal daily activities could amount to a disability. 

The test is vague and ambiguous in places meaning that many mental and physical complaints could qualify as disabilities. The test is an onerous one that means that all conditions (aside from the exceptions specified on our discrimination page) that can be evidenced as having a substantial and long term detrimental effect can qualify you as disabled. 

I think I have been unfairly dismissed/forced to resign how long do I have to present a claim?

If you believe that you have been subjected to unfair treatment that has lead to your dismissal, you must ensure that your have commenced Early Conciliation within three months from the last date work/dismissed or the date you resigned.  If you fail to present your case to ACAS before this deadline, you may be prevented from taking any further legal action.  

I used to get good appraisals but since I became pregnant my line manager has started to criticise me.

You should not be treated less favourably due to your pregnancy or maternity leave.  If you are treated less favourably because of pregnancy, you may have a sex discrimination claim, contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

I want to return part-time. My employer said I have to do full-time or I'll be dismissed.

If you are refused to be allowed to return on a part-time basis after maternity leave because of childcare commitments, you may have a claim for indirect sex discrimination as statistically women usually take the primary child care role so any requirement on you to work full-time after maternity leave, which cannot be justified, would put you at a disadvantage.  An employer can refuse a request for flexible working if there are sound business reasons for doing so. 

I was off sick due to pregnancy and have been asked to attend a disciplinary meeting about my sickness.

Your employer should not discipline you for taking time off sick with pregnancy-related problems. Depending on how much time you had off sick, you would be entitled to statutory sick pay and any contractual sick pay as you would if you were off sick with any non pregnancy-related illnesses.  If you have been disciplined for taking time off with pregnancy-related illnesses, you may have a claim for sex discrimination, please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

I wish to take someone off / add someone onto my title deeds - what do I need to do?

This process is called a transfer of equity. If the property being transferred is currently mortgaged, you will be required to obtain your Lender's written consent to change the ownership. A document called a 'Transfer Deed' is then drawn up and signed by all parties to the transaction, including the mortgage lender. Once this is done, an application will be submitted to HM Land Registry to change the title deeds.

I work part-time and have been asked to make antenatal appointments outside of my working hours?

Your employer can ask you to try and arrange appointments outside of your working hours but you have the same rights to paid time off for antenatal appointments as a full-time employee. So your employer cannot insist you attend antenatal clinics outside of your working hours if it's not possible.

I work with chemicals and asked to stand for long periods, what precautions should I take as I'm pregnant?

Your employer should carry out a risk assessment and provide you with appropriate personal protective equipment.  If the chemicals present a risk to your unborn baby, your employer must remove you from exposure to the chemicals either by offering alternative work, if available, or suspending you on full pay whilst you are pregnant. You may be at risk whilst pregnant if made to stand or sit for extended periods and your employer should carry out a risk assessment and make necessary adjustments.  If your employer has not done this, please call us.

I'm being made redundant and my employer has asked me to sign a Settlement Agreement, why should I?

More employers are using Settlement Agreements (formerly Compromise Agreements) when making employees redundant. Settlement Agreements protect the employer against the employees making employment tribunal claims for unfair redundancy procedures.

However, there are advantages for employees in signing a Settlement Agreement when being made redundant:-

  • Certainty of a settlement sum,
  • Terms agreeable to employee and employer,
  • Confidentiality about the terms of the redundancy package,
  • Ensures references given to future employers will be given with agreed wording,
  • Your employer will pay for legal advice you require before signing the agreement so you can be confident your settlement package is fair and the terms of the Settlement Agreement are fair to you at no cost to yourself. 

If you've been asked to sign a Settlement agreement, please contact us.

I've been bullied at work and have evidence. What can I do?

If you feel that you have been bullied or treated unfairly/unevenly at work by your employer or colleagues you may need to raise a grievance setting out your concerns. 

This may result in a solution to your problem i.e. your employer rectifies the issues and concerns you have. If the problem is not resolved, then remedies available depend on what type of bullying you have experienced. There is no specific legislation to protect employees from bullying, but you may have a discrimination claim or a constructive dismissal claim if you have been or feel forced to resign.

I've been forced out of my job, can I claim for constructive unfair dismissal?

If you have resigned because your employer is in breach of your employment contract and that breach was serious enough to cause the relationship to dissolve (the usual breach relied upon is that of trust and confidence) forcing you to resign, you may be entitled to claim constructive unfair dismissal. 

To bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal, you need to be an employee and employed for more than 24 consecutive months (2 years) and have resigned in consequence of the conduct or the employer.  This conduct may have typically been ongoing for a while where you may have tried to resolve matters informally with no success. If you have been experiencing workplace bullying or matters in breach of your contract, please contact to discuss in more detail. 

I've been offered Suitable Alternative Employment as my job is at risk of redundancy, do I take it?

You can refuse the offered suitable alternative employment if the basis for your refusal is reasonable, e.g. due to health, family commitments or similar reasons. You are entitled to a trial period of 4 weeks in the new job, during which time you can still leave and claim redundancy.

I've been told I'm going to be made redundant but think I've been unfairly selected, what can I do?

If you are an employee and have been working for your employer for more than 24 consecutive months (2 years) and believe that your employer has not conducted a fair selection process or criteria then you may be able to claim unfair dismissal. An employer must act fairly and reasonably when choosing the correct candidate who’s role has become redundant, this will include a fair selection pool (all of those undertaking like work/same team) to both a subjective and objective selection criteria. 

Leaving money to charity

The Intestacy Rules don't allow for any gifts to charity out of your estate but by making a Will you can leave a set amount or a percentage of your total estate.

My employer found discrepancies in stock levels, accused me of theft then fired me without an investigation.

If you have been employed for 24 consecutive months (2 years) or more, are an employee and your employer failed to investigate the alleged discrepancies adequately, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal.

An employer must explore and investigate allegations fully (investigations may vary depending upon the size and resources available to your employer). The investigations may be undertaken in the form of an interview where you are given the opportunity to provide your version of events and/or interviews and statements taken from those who may have witnessed the alleged incident. If your employer forms an opinion of guilt based upon no evidence, or adequate investigation, you may have been unfairly dismissed. Please contact us to discuss in more detail.

My employer has asked me to carry out unsafe practices at work, what do I do?

If you are an employee or worker being asked to carry out unsafe practices, this may be against employment law regulations and by doing so you could also be accepting that the conduct is correct.  If you feel the requests are unacceptable or unlawful, you must report the incident to the relevant whistle blowing person nominated within your company and/or prescribed person i.e. the regulating body. 

My employer has taken money from my wages without my consent, what can I do?

If your employer has failed to pay you, or paid you less than you are entitled to within your contract of employment, you may have a claim for an unlawful deduction from your wages. The deduction will be unlawful if any of the following applies, it is not required or authorised by legislation; it was not authorised in your contract of employment; it was not consented to by yourself in writing before it was taken.

My employer is holding a disciplinary meeting where I face disciplinary action due to my time off with ill health, is this correct?

If you have been diagnosed with a health complaint that constitutes a disability that has caused you to take periods of time off unwell and your employer is disciplining you for those absences, this may amount to an act of discrimination. Ill health absence which is solely as a result of your disability should not be counted as absences when looking at any Bradford scores or other associated disciplinary/capability procedures as this could be an act of discrimination. 

My employer said I have to make time up if I go to antenatal appointments, is that right?

No, you have the right to paid time off for antenatal appointments, although your employer does have the right to see your antenatal appointment card to confirm appointment times.  Please call us if you continue to experience difficulty in getting paid time off for antenatal appointments.

My employer wants me to attend a 1 hour course on one of my Keeping in Touch days and says that counts as a full day.

Any work carried out on any day whilst you are on maternity leave counts as a Keeping in Touch day, so even just an hour's work on one day will count as a full Keeping In Touch day.  It may be possible for you to arrange with your employer to do other work on that day as well to get the full benefit of a Keeping in Touch day. 

My lease has expired and I think my landlord wants me to leave. What do I do?

Contact us immediately. In most cases you will have a general right to stay, but your landlord can object on certain limited grounds.
If your landlord does think they have valid grounds for objection, they will serve a Section 25 Notice, but, instead of setting out their proposed terms, they will state the grounds under which they are objecting.
Even if your landlord proves their ground, you may be entitled to compensation. It is therefore very important that you take action immediately. Leaving it too late could mean you lose all your rights, including the right to compensation.

My lease is up for renewal soon, what should I do?

Call us immediately to find out what your rights under the lease are as they depend on the type of lease you have.  In most cases, the law gives you a general right to a new lease and, generally landlords are happy for tenants to renew their leases, provided the rent is increased to market level. Assuming that your landlord is happy for you to stay, they will serve you with a Section 25 Notice setting out their proposals for the renewal of the lease. There are things you can do to pre-empt this if you do not wish to wait and see.
However, the Section 25 Notice has the effect of legally ending your lease and legal steps need to be taken to protect you once you receive the notice. It is therefore very important that you contact us as soon as you receive a Section 25 Notice from your landlord otherwise you may lose your legal rights.
If you lose your legal rights, the landlord could charge whatever rent he or she wants and could even make you leave the premises. Obviously, this could have a critical effect on your business.

My lease is up for renewal, what if I do not want to stay?

Even if you do not want a new lease, you may still have to go through a legal procedure, otherwise you may have to keep paying rent.

My tenant is not paying his rent, what can I do?

Before you talk to your tenant, you should seek legal advice immediately. Not all remedies are available to every landlord and you should call us to talk about what options are available to you.

Briefly, the remedies available to a landlord if the tenant breaches payment of rent covenants are:

  1. Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR).
  2. Forfeiture.
  3. Debt Action.
  4. Bankruptcy or Winding-up.
  5. Pursue a former tenant, a guarantor or surety. And the following factors should be taken into consideration when deciding which remedy to pursue: How much rent is outstanding and how long it has been in arrears?

Can the defaulting tenant pay?

If it is an old lease, is the original tenant under a continuing liability and/or did any previous assignees give the landlord direct covenants? If it is a new lease, is there an Authorised Guarantee Agreement (AGA) in existence?

What are the consequences of pursuing third parties?

What does the Lease state (eg for forfeiture to operate there must be an express clause allowing for the same, or that particular remedy cannot be used)?

Call us for advice tailored to your lease and circumstances.

On what basis can an employer make me redundant?

You can be made redundant if your employer determines your role is no longer required. Examples of this may be the requirements of the business have ceased or diminished (or are expected to cease or diminish). It is important to note that it is a role that is made redundant and not the individual that occupies that role. If you think you have been unfairly selected for redundancy, please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

On what basis can an employer make me redundant?

You can be made redundant if your employer determines your role is no longer required. Examples of this may be the requirements of the business have ceased or diminished (or are expected to cease or diminish). It is important to note that it is a role that is made redundant and not the individual that occupies that role. If you think you have been unfairly selected for redundancy, please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

Things to consider when buying a buy to let property:
  • What sort of tenant do you want and what sort of properties will they want to rent? Consider both location and type of property your tenant will want to rent, eg students like to be near universities, young professionals need good transport links and may prefer newer, low maintenance housing.
  • Research - be prepared to shop around to find the right buy to let mortgage for you, find out the average rents for the area you are considering buying properties in, as most buy to let lenders want rent to cover 125% of mortgage repayments. Even properties in popular areas can stand empty, so factor in two months without rent.
  • How will you deal with and budget for maintenance and repairs? Letting agents will charge a management fee, but will have access to a network of reputable plumbers, electricians, gas appliance installers and decorators, and will deal with any problems. All electrical and gas appliances have to be regularly inspected and any furniture you provide will be subject to safety regulations
We are buying in joint names - what do we need to know?

Married couples or people living together can choose to purchase the property as with a) 'joint tenants' which means that upon the death of one or other of them - that person's share automatically passes to the other owner or b) ‘tenants in common’ which means that the deceased’s share does not pass automatically to the other owner, but can be left to a third party in a Will (such as a child from a previous relationship).  Owning as ‘tenants in common’ requires each owner to have a valid Will to ensure the property is passed in accordance with their wishes.

Neither of these choices is permanent and can be changed by the parties at any time, as often as they wish, throughout their ownership of the property.

What Terms will be in a Settlement Agreement?

Each Settlement Agreement has slightly different clauses.  A typical agreement would have:-

  • A breakdown of the payments you will receive when your employment contract ends and which sums will be free of tax.
  • Confidentiality clauses relating to your employment, confidential information you have been party to during your employment and also confidentiality about the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
  • You will usually be required not to make negative comments about your employer and your employer may agree not to make negative comments about your employment with them.
  • Restrictive Covenants – these are clauses that may stop you approaching previous clients on behalf of a new employer or stop you approaching your current employer’s staff.  If you have restrictive covenants in your current employment contract, these will be repeated in the Settlement Agreement.  However, new restrictive covenants may be added so you will need legal advice to ensure you are not hampered from new employment or starting up your own business, depending on your plans.
  • References – you can agree what any future references will say
  • The Settlement Agreement will contain a list of statutes under which you will agree not to bring a claim.  These will include the Employment Rights Acts, Discrimination Acts, etc.  An employer needs to list these.

If you are unsure of or have any queries regarding terms in a Settlement Agreement, contact us to discuss the specific terms.

What are Lawson-West's opening hours?

Monday to Thursday 9am - 5pm and Friday 9am to 4.30pm.

What are disbursements?

Disbursements are the additional expenses which are required for the purchase or sale of your property but they do not form part of our professional legal fees. Disbursements are those expenses payable to other outside agencies/third parties i.e. searches, stamp duty land tax and land registry searches. Disbursements should be the roughly the same at all law firms. Our residential conveyancing team will be happy to give you a breakdown of all disbursements when we give you an estimate of our residential conveyancing charges for your particular transaction.

What compensation am I entitled to if I am injured?

You are entitled to compensation for your injuries and any reasonable financial losses incurred as a result of the accident such as:
- loss of earnings
- loss of pension contribution
- travelling costs
- care costs
- medical expenses

If in the future you can't work because of your injuries, you will be entitled to compensation for this. If you cannot return to work or return to a lower paid job - you will be entitled to a significant sum to cover future losses.

If you are unsure as to what accident injury compensation you are entitled to claim or what legitimate expenses you can recover compensation for, we can advise.

What do I do if I've had a car accident?

Always try to get the other driver's car registration number, name, address and insurance details. If the driver refuses to give you these details, make a note of the registration number. Take photos of the damaged vehicles and make a rough sketch of the road layout and show the path of the vehicles before and after the collision. It's best to do this as soon as possible afterwards.

Never admit liability - even if you think you are at fault, always speak to a solicitor or lawyer first. Seek medical help, you need to have your injuries recorded. Some injuries, such as whiplash or concussion, may not become apparent until 48 hours after the accident. Keep receipts of any expenses, such as painkillers, incurred as you may be able to recover compensation for these expenses. Let us know if there were any passengers in your car at the time of the accident as they too may be entitled to compensation.

What do we need in order to get divorced?

You have to show the court that your marriage has broken down 'irretrievably' (one or both of you feel that you cannot stay married to each other).

You can do this by proving one of five facts:
1. Your husband or wife has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them. You prove adultery by your spouse admitting it - if they won't you need to speak to your solicitor. If you continue to live with them for a period of more than 6 months after you find out about the adultery you will generally not be able to use this as your 'fact.'

2. Your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. This covers all kinds of bad behaviour - you need to think about the main things that have made your spouse difficult to live with. These will be summed up in a petition in a few short paragraphs. You cannot rely on single events that took place more than six months ago.

3. You have lived separately for more than two years and your husband or wife consents to the divorce. This is often called a 'no fault' divorce. You can have periods of living together as long as they don't add up to more than six months and you have been apart for at least two years.

4. Your husband or wife deserted you for a period of more than two years. Desertion means leaving your husband or wife without his or her agreement and without good reason.

5. You have lived separately for more than five years. Your husband or wife does not need to agree to this. He or she cannot defend this petition, but can ask the court not to grant the final decree because of a major financial or other type of hardship.

What does SAV mean?

SAV means Stock at Valuation. Most businesses sell a product and, to enable their customers to have a choice, they hold a certain amount of stock. When you buy a business, this stock is not usually included in the asking price for the business. When you buy the business, you may need the stock to carry on trading.
So the value (cost price) of the stock is calculated and paid for when you take over the business.

What exactly does No Win No Fee mean?

When we assist you with your personal injury claim, we will organise a No Win No Fee agreement so that you don't pay any expenses such as court fees or for medical reports to ensure you get fully compensated for your injuries. This means that in the unlikely event that your case is lost, you would not pay a penny.

What happens to my pension?

Your pension funds are part of the family assets. You have accumulated these funds during the marriage but when you separate or divorce, and negotiate ideas about how to separate your family finances, you must consider the pensions along with the other assets.

There are different ways in which pension funds can be dealt with in divorces:

Setting-off

The most popular solution. If there are other assets, such as a house, it is usually possible to reach an agreement where the person without a pension fund (or with a much smaller one) should receive a large proportion of the value of the other assets instead of part of the other one's pension fund.

Pension Sharing

Part of the pension-member's pension can be split off from the fund and used to create a pension fund for the other person. The split off section becomes the other person's own pension at the time of the split.

Earmarking

This option is more rare. It means that the person without a pension will receive a proportion of their ex- husband / wives pension when they reach pension age. For example, if a husband starts to collect his pension at age 65, the ex-wife will wait until her ex-husband is 65 before she receives her share of the pension fund.

What if I made an Enduring Power of Attorney?

Since 1 October 2007, Enduring Powers of Attorney were replaced by Lasting Powers of Attorney. However, any existing Enduring Power of Attorney made before 1 October 2007, is still valid but only in respect of Property and Affairs.

What if I’m not happy with the terms of the Settlement Agreement?

Once a Settlement Agreement is signed by all parties, it is a binding agreement in full and final settlement so cannot be re-negotiated.  If you are unsure about or not happy with any terms in the Settlement Agreement, you should seek legal advice.

You do not have to sign a Settlement Agreement.  We will advise you whether the Settlement Agreement is fair and what you are entitled to when your employer ends your contract of employment.  We can also advise if you have a claim for unfair dismissal and whether you are likely to succeed if you make an employment tribunal claim.  If you do not sign the Settlement Agreement, you would maintain your right to pursue an employment tribunal claim.

What is Early Conciliation and what do I have to do?

In May 2014 Early Conciliation was introduced to assist individuals and companies in bringing employment disputes to a conclusion without the need for litigation in an Employment Tribunal.  Early Conciliation is a service offered by ACAS to all.  If an individual or employer is involved in a work related dispute where early intervention may assist ACAS must be contacted.  You will not be permitted to present proceedings to an Employment Tribunal if you have not completed the Early Conciliation process.  Our team are fully trained and committed to assisting in Early Conciliation, if you have a dispute that you would like conciliation assistance, please contact our team to discuss further. 

What is Unfair Dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is where an employer has not followed a fair and reasonable dismissal process when dismissing an employee, e.g. failed to allow an employee to be accompanied at disciplinary hearings, failed to make an adequate investigation or failed to consider alternatives to dismissal.

To bring a claim for unfair dismissal you must be an employee and you must have worked continuously for the employer for more than 24 months (2 years), although there are some exceptions, e.g. when the dismissal is for pregnancy.

If you think you have been unfairly dismissed, please contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.

What is a Finance Order?

A Finance Order covers all the financial aspects of your divorce including:

  • Your house
  • Car/s
  • Savings
  • Pensions
  • Bank accounts
  • Contents of the house
  • Debts
  • Incomings and outgoings etc

The divorce procedure doesn't do this automatically. The costs of this aspect of your divorce depends entirely on how complicated your financial picture is, and how difficult it will be to divide it between you both and enable you to go your separate ways.

To give you some idea of the costs involved, if you and the other side can reach an agreement fairly easily, with only a couple of details to clarify, we could document your agreement for you for around £300 - £400.

But if it is necessary to seek the assistance of the court in finding the fair answer, your costs will inevitably be far more - around £600 - £700 per visit to court. You can expect a financial action in court to cost at least £1,500, if you settle it during the course of the process. If it proves impossible to settle it, and you have to ask the judge to hear the case and decide for you, your costs will be several thousand pounds.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process in which a property is transferred between owners.

What is exchange of contracts and do I need to be there?

Exchange of contracts is the formal process whereby you become legally committed to proceed with the sale or purchase of your property. You do not need to be present when exchange takes place, however, we will let you know when contracts have been exchanged. From that point you are bound to complete your sale or purchase and there are severe financial penalties payable should either party withdraw from the contract, after exchange has taken place.

What is involved in making a Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you’d like us to draft a Lasting Power of Attorney you will need to provide us with the following information:

  • Your full name and any previous names (e.g. maiden name), date of birth, address, telephone number, mobile phone numbers and email address
  • The names and contact details of the person or people you have chosen to act as your attorney(s). (If you want to make both a Personal Welfare and a Property and Affairs LPA, let us know if you want to appoint the same or different attorneys for each).
  • If you choose to appoint more than one attorney, you will need to consider whether you want them to work together or have the ability to work alone.
  • You will also need to tell us if you require any restrictions to be placed on your attorneys, e.g. if there are specific assets you don’t want them to have power over, such as a house. If you have any personal views you want them to take into consideration about medical treatment or care, then this needs to be recorded as well.
What is the difference between purchasing a business Freehold or Leasehold?

In effect, if you purchase the Freehold as well as the fixtures and fittings and goodwill of the business, then you will own the property as well as the business. If you purchase Leasehold, you will own the business and fixtures and fittings and will have the right to occupy the business premises for an agreed rent.

What is the difference between registered and unregistered land?

Unregistered land is simply land which has never been formally recorded at HM Land Registry. The main reason land remains 'unregistered' is that the property hasn't been sold/mortgaged in the last 25 - 30 years, as registration was not compulsory at that time.

Selling unregistered land is not a problem, providing all of the original documents are available. If you purchase a property which is currently unregistered, submission of your application to the Land Registry will trigger 'first registration' as registration is now compulsory throughout the UK. The Land Registry will produce a Title Information Document and a copy of the newly created Register in your name.

What type of injury cases do Lawson-West solicitors handle?

We handle all types of injury cases, including car accidents, accidents in public places and accidents at work. We also handle clinical and medical negligence and product liability claims.

What type of searches do you do and what are they for?

The main types of searches that are carried out are:

  • Local Authority Search - reveals details of planning history along with any proposals for new roads or traffic schemes.
  • Environmental Search - carried out to see if there is any landfill or waste disposal sites in the area. It also checks for toxic emissions, flooding and subsidence.
  • Drainage & Water Search - will show whether or not the surface and / or foul water drains run into public or private sewers.
  • Chancel Repair Liability Search – which will show if the postcode of the property is situated in an area which has a liability for Chancel Repair (that is they can request a contribution from each of the home owners in that Parish towards the maintenance and repair of the Chancel of a medieval church near to the property.)
What will my solicitor do in return for their fee?

Your solicitor will:

  • Meet with you - the first meeting with us is free
  • Consider information and options
  • Prepare documents
  • Write letters
  • Telephone or receive calls
  • Appear for you in court
  • Meet witnesses to take statements
When I appoint an attorney, what do they do?

There are two types of LPA, which allow you to choose someone to act on your behalf as your attorney, in relation to either your Property and Affairs or your Personal Welfare.

If you make a Property & Affairs LPA, your attorney can make decisions about matters such as buying or selling property, managing your bank account or claiming benefits for you. If you make a Personal Welfare LPA, your attorney will be able to make decisions about where you should live, your medical treatment and any day to day care you require.

When do I get my sale proceeds?

Net sale/re-mortgage proceeds will be despatched to you from our conveyancing team on the day of completion by either a cheque in the first class post or by bank transfer to your chosen bank account.

When do I get the keys to my new home?

The keys are released when all of the money for the purchase has been received by the seller's solicitor, this will happen on the day of completion and is around 1pm or 2pm, depending on the time specified in the contract you have signed.  This will be explained to you at your appointment, when you are invited into the office to sign the documents.

When does an LPA take effect?

An LPA cannot be used by the attorney until it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Before an LPA can be registered, it is necessary to notify members of your family or friends whose details are in the LPA that it is the intention of your attorney to register the LPA.

Once registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, your LPA can be used by your attorney in determining matters to do with your Personal Welfare or Property and Affairs.

Although LPAs are mainly designed to be activated following the loss of mental capacity, a Property and Affairs LPA can also be put into action if you still have mental capacity, but would prefer someone else to deal with such matters for you.

When will I get the confirmation the property is registered in my name?

Registration at HM Land Registry generally takes between a few weeks, although you could expect to receive the amended register within a month of completion, providing the property is not unregistered land.  If the title to the property is unregistered, the registration process generally takes around 4-6 months, due to the workload of HM Land Registry at the time.

Who can I claim against if I have been injured at work?

Usually the injury claim is against your employer. If you have been seconded to work for another employer and are injured while you are working for them, then they may be the appropriate defendant for your accident claim.  If you are attending another business's premises as occupiers, they may be liable for any injury claim resulting from an accident.

Who keeps the house?

This depends on several different considerations, the most important of which is children. If you have small children living with you when you divorce, the court will not let you finish the divorce until it is satisfied that the arrangements for the children have been settled in the best way available to them.

Who will see my Will?

Your Will is a private document whilst you are alive and will not become a public document until after you die and probate is granted. Anyone can then obtain a copy from the Probate Registry for a small fee.
While you are alive, no-one has any right to see your Will unless you want them to.

Why do I need a Settlement Agreement?

The benefit to you of a Settlement Agreement is that you have a legal document setting out how much compensation your employer will pay you.  It is quicker than pursuing a claim in an Employment Tribunal where there is always a risk you might not be successful.

The other advantage of the Settlement Agreement is that it may contain clauses regarding giving references for you on request and what the reference will say. This gives you peace of mind that any future employers will receive a reference from your current employer that will not contain anything negative.

Why do I need a Solicitor to sign a Settlement Agreement?

According to the Employment Rights (Dispute Resolution) Act 1998, advice regarding Settlement Agreements can only be given by a qualified lawyer, a qualified trade union official or a qualified advice centre worker, all of whom have to be covered by an appropriate certificate of indemnity insurance. 

A solicitor will have indemnity insurance and will be able to advise you if the terms of the Settlement Agreement are right for you and whether the amount of compensation being offered is fair. Settlement Agreements can be packed with legal jargon and refer to Acts and Regulations so it is vital you understand the full implications of what you are being asked to sign.

Lawson-West solicitors have a client charter promising to communicate with you in a jargon-free way.  We can advise and negotiate any terms that may be unfavourable to you.

Why make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

When you make an LPA, it allows you to decide who you would like to deal with your affairs in the future, if you are unable or unwilling to deal with them yourself.

Why should I appoint guardians in my Will?

If you have children, you can name guardians to look after them if anything were to happen to you. The choice of guardians is up to you, we are happy to advise you on the factors to consider when making this important decision. If you haven't named anyone to look after your children, it might be that members of your family need to go to court for permission to look after them. In the worst cases, it might mean that your children are taken into care until this is sorted out.

Will I have to go to court if I claim compensation for an injury?

It is unlikely.  If the injury claim is valid, your opponents Insurers will want to settle without the need for filing a lawsuit. However, if the insurance company thinks the injury claim is not valid, then they will refuse to settle and your solicitors will have to file legal proceedings.

Will I have to pay for legal fees for an accident claim?

No, our solicitors specialise in personal injury claims. All accident injury compensation claims are based upon a genuine no win no fee arrangement. This means that you do not have to pay legal fees if your claim is not successful.  If your claim is successful our legal fees and expenses, such as medical fees, are recovered from your opponent.  If you do not already have legal expenses insurance, you will need to take out a special legal expenses insurance policy (which we can sort out on your behalf) which covers your opponents legal costs and expenses such as medical fees and court fees if your claim is not successful. You only have to pay for the insurance policy if you win. If you win you will pay us a success fee which will be capped at 25% of the compensation for your injuries and past financial losses or 100% of our legal fees.

Will you require money upfront?

On a purchase or re-mortgage, we require £275 from you at the outset to enable us to request the searches on the property on your behalf. 

On a purchase/sale/transfer of equity or re-mortgage, we require £275 from you at the outset on account of costs. 

These amounts are then deducted from our final bill at the end of the transaction.

Won't everything just go to my husband/wife?

Not necessarily. The Intestacy Rules set out a strict order of who will inherit what. If you have children, your spouse may not inherit everything you own, whether or not you are close to your children or how wealthy they are in their own right. Your spouse might not even get the house, depending on how much it is worth.