@lawsonwestlaw @LawsonWestLaw 0116 212 1000

Frequently Asked Questions

For Business

Commercial Dispute Resolution

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.

Commercial Property and Real Estate

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.

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.

For People

Divorce and Family

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.
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.

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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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
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.

Wills and Probate

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 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 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.

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).

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.

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 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.
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 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.

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 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.

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.

Residential Conveyancing

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.

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 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 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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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 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.)
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 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.

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.

Employment

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 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 ‘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. 

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.