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Legal Updates

New Rules for Changing Times


To guard against the possibility that UK immigration requirements might remain the same for longer than one second, the Home Office laid further changes to the immigration rules before parliament on 11 December 2018. Immigration rules enter into force by negative resolution, which means proposed rules come into force without much, or any, debate or pro-active approval by Parliament. The proposed rules are wide-ranging. Most will come into effect on 10 January 2019.

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Separation doesn’t have to end in divorce


It may seem a strange sentiment, but this time of year actually sees the highest number of divorces than any other time of the year. Dubbed “divorce day” by many of us in the legal profession, January 7 2019 is the first working Monday after Christmas. It is also predicted to be the day we see a predicted spike in the number of divorces – but maybe there is something we can do about that.

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3 reliable “relationship killers”


We are probably all guilty of it, but, seeing as it is divorce season, perhaps now is the best time to be thinking about some of the things we do that cause unnecessary bitterness.

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Top 5 myths surrounding divorce – dispelled by a divorce lawyer


The most popular day to start divorce proceedings is in early January. Whether it is the pressure of the cost of Christmas, or working longer hours in the lead up to the festivities, the first working Monday of the new year is commonly referred to by many lawyers as “Divorce Day.”

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‘Tis the season – for divorce?


Whilst the fun and festivities come around, a number of people can find the effects of debt and stress finally take their toll. It is one of many reasons why this time of year, we often term as Divorce Season. However, there could be a solution to marriage breakdown and over the years I have certainly seen some of the simplest remedies become the most effective.

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Bringing your investments “home” for probate purposes


If you hold any overseas shareholdings, you might just find a very costly sting in the tail on your estate – so inheritance planning is key.

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Good Divorce Week – time to address the blame game!


This week is Good Divorce Week, aptly named as a way of raising awareness of the wider impact a separation can bring, particularly for children. Whilst divorce is always difficult, a number of studies have revealed the long-term serious impact on children, specifically around the conflict a divorce brings. Good Divorce Week aims to address the issues affecting children and how separating couples can mitigate any complications by providing practical help and support.

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How the Morrisons data breach case should put employers on their guard


GDPR seems to be the word of the year, but as many businesses still try to get to grips with it, the Court of Appeal have issued details surrounding a case of data protection. Is an employer responsible if an employee deliberately breaches a data protection law?

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Fact: No Will means unclaimed estates will be claimed by the crown


We really do seem to have a reluctance to write a will in this country. According to recent research, around 60% of adults in the UK have not written a will. We may shrug it off as something we’ll “get around to” or “maybe someday” – but there is a very serious underlying issue. If you do not write a will, your estate is likely to be claimed by the Crown.

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BREXIT: Migration to the future


Read Samar Shams, Head of Immigration, recent article in the Employment Journal which considers what the UK’s immigration policies may look like when free movement of EU nationals ends.

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House prices continue to flat line


According to stats from the Nationwide Building Society, house prices rose at their slowest annual rate for five years, due in part to a sustained period of economic uncertainty.

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Make sure a law suit isn’t welcome this party season


It’s that time of year where the seasons change and we celebrate a few festivals. But, whether it is a hellish Halloween, or November 5 goes off with a bang, employers need to beware. They could be held responsible for any mishaps during any celebrations – including the parties.

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IHT: Planning early pays off


An extremely controversial, yet lucrative source of income for the Treasury, inheritance tax has been in the news again highlighting the contrast around the country.

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Budget: The countdown is on


As we count down the days until the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget here are a few things to expect – as well as a few of the need-to-knows.

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Will the Autumn Budget provide any more news for housing?


As the frenzy builds as to what the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget may contain, all eyes are once again on the property market.

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Truth, proof and the right to work


Right-to-work checks and dismissal have always posed a challenge to employers. Recent inconsistent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgments have exacerbated the difficulties. What is an employer to do? Head of Immigration, Samar Shams recent article in the Employment Law Journal goes back to basics and extracts the most important lessons from the muddled judgments.

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LPAs: Are you entitled to a refund of overpaid registration fees?


The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) launched a refund scheme earlier this year for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) registered between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017[]. If this applies to you, you might be eligible for a refund from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

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Where there’s a will, there could be a cost trap


The following blog came about following a recent experience with a client. They had used a will writing company to prepare a will around 10 years ago. Since then they have paid £18 per year to cover the ongoing costs associated with storing the will. However, nine days after the client signed the will, it was deposited with the Principle Probate Registry for a one off fee of £20.  Once received the Registry issue a Certificate of Deposit of Will confirming that it is held by them.

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For better for worse: Why are cohabiting siblings losing out?


If you needed any further persuasion to plan ahead and consider your options for later life, you might the following interesting to know. 

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Need another reason to plan for IHT?


More than 60% of adults in the UK still have no will. This tells us that many of us are still not planning for later on in life – but believe it or not, there is a really good reason to do so.

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GDPR four months on: what’s changed?


The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May this year. It, together with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018), replaced existing laws in the UK relating to data protection and became an obligatory requirement across the whole of the European Union. Even though this had been bubbling away in the news for several months, there were concerns that businesses remained relatively in the dark about what they had to do. In the end, the majority of cases saw a last-minute scramble to implement the new regulation – and it appears to be still on-going.

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At the end of the day: IHT planning counts


The benefits of Inheritance Tax planning should not be overlooked. Many of us don’t like to think ahead to later life, but it is important to plan ahead as far as possible to mitigate any heavy costs to our families.

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Staying on the right side of the law


Back in June, we reported the story of Universal Wealth[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/are-you-caught-up-in-universal-wealth-preservation/]. The story surfaced to the front of my mind again at the weekend when I read a  comment  on the legalities around offering advice that is outside of your professional expertise.

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Another chapter open in no-blame divorce


Following on from our recent blog[] calling for a review of divorce law, more plans have now been revealed to address some of the outdated areas of the law.

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Managing a more flexible workforce


To follow up on a couple of recent news stories relating to flexible work, for employers thinking of adopting change, you will also need to know how to effectively manage a more flexible workforce.

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The email train: Does the commute count as working hours?


It seems the debate about “working hours” rages on. We recently wrote a blog[[sitetree_link id=926]] about how working hours have changed and that people are moving towards much more flexible models.

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Time to think proactively about later life


No one likes to think about getting old, or even what would happen to our family’s wellbeing and personal finances if we weren’t here. However, now is as good a time as any to be thinking about it, as yesterday, Sunday 9 September, marked Grandparents Day.

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Numbers of dependent elderly are rising fast – time to be proactive.


According to recent research by Lancet Public Health Journal, and reported by the BBC, the number of elderly people needing 24 hour care is set to double by 2025. This puts the spotlight firmly back on why families need to be taking advice and planning ahead for the future, now.

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Another step forward for change


For regular followers of our blog, you may have noticed a string of stories relating to cases of unmarried couples losing out, simply because they haven’t tied the knot.

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Working 9-5: not the way to make a living


Despite Dolly Parton's smash hit, it seems that just 6% of working people are sticking to the traditional 9-5 shift pattern, according to a recent survey by YouGov.

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Immigration reform and workforce trends


The Government’s white paper on post-Brexit immigration policy is expected in October. Will the future immigration rules reflect the self-employment and flexible working that are now intrinsic to the UK labour force?

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Will the latest inheritance pay out present law changes for unmarried spouses?


Two sisters have been ordered to pay their late father’s girlfriend almost a third of their inheritance payment, after she was deemed “a wife in all but name.” This is the latest story to cause families to reflect carefully on their particular circumstances and to take steps to protect the family and avoid emotional stress as well as avoiding large legal costs.

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The rental shortage – could it hit crisis point?


The continued housing shortage across the UK is hardly surprising, but according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) rents could rise by as much as 15% by 2023 as the supply of new rental property dries up. 

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Three ways to achieve a problem-free probate


According to recent statistics, more than 98,500 people handled probate without the help of any professional services, such as legal or accountancy advice, last year – around 38% attempted to execute wills on their own. It led to an increase of around 35% of cases that end up in court because of disputes relating to wills and probate.

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Jolie and Pitt’s situation is all too familiar for some


Another high profile case has hit the headlines, where divorced parents are in disagreement over child support claims, but it is something that can affect anyone – high profile or not.

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Interest rate rises may not all be doom and gloom for property


The rise in interest rates announced yesterday was reported to be at the highest level since the recession in 2009. How will these rises affect mortgages, savings and property in general?

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Family members acting as attorneys?


Last week we covered off some of the issues associated with Lasting Power of Attorney[] and what happens if family members take advantage. Not only does this often lead to financial difficulty for the vulnerable family member, but it can also cause a lot of heartache for other family members involved.

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Stopping the divorce blame game


The Owens v Owens case has thrown open the debate surrounding “no fault” divorce once again. Whilst the Divorce etc. Law Review Bill remains up in the air, there are more cases appearing where there are simply no legal grounds for a divorce.

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IHT: Possible to pay the “Bare” minimum?


Following on from an earlier article on inheritance tax (IHT)[[sitetree_link id=846]], there was mention of a way to make provision for your children, without being involved in a long period of running a trust and incurring IHT charges including the costs associated in running a trust. The answer might be creating a Bare Trust.

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Employers glimpse the future of EU skilled migration


The Brexit White Paper of 12 July 2018 suggests what the future of skilled EU migrants in the UK might look like, but the wording is vague.  In this analysis for Thomson Reuters, Downs Head of Immigration Samar Shams tries to decode the government’s plans for skilled migration from the EU.

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For richer for poorer?


The case of Mills v Mills has thrown open the debate once more, surrounding upkeep of non-earning partners in the event of a divorce. How easy is it to financially support a separated partner, but also guarding the interests of each party?

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GDPR and Immigration: How to fulfil both


In this month’s Employment Law Journal, Downs’s Head of Immigration Samar Shams offers practical advice on GDPR compliance. The analysis covers immigration contexts including the resident labour market test and visa applications as well as right to work checks. The article is designed to support employers in this developing area of compliance. 

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Keeping LPAs child’s play


A story in the news at the weekend highlighted an important point: how can you ensure you keep control of your finances, after you have legally signed them away?

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Downs Solicitors submits evidence to the Home Affairs Committee


The Home Affairs Committee has published Downs Solicitors’ submission to its inquiry on post-Brexit migration policy.  The submission, drafted by Head of Immigration Samar Shams[[sitetree_link id=850]], makes suggestions relating to the future of work and the realities of corporate restructurings.  Samar argues for appeal rights and gender equality, and the reduction of application fees.  Samar also warns that mobility negotiations might lead to overly complex immigration rules and requirements.

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Gifts and trusts are an important part of protecting family wealth


On your death, everything you own that is part of your estate will be liable to 40% inheritance tax (IHT), which could cost your loved ones thousands of pounds. The only way to help reduce paying any IHT unnecessarily is to plan as effectively and as early as possible to ensure your family is protected – and your wishes are respected. Here are a few things to consider for your IHT plan.

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The law surrounding incapacity: time to dispel a few myths


We wrote an earlier blog[[sitetree_link id=900]]relating to research from the SFE, which revealed an incapacity crisis-causing gulf between those who planned for mental incapacity and those who didn’t. Despite a growing concern among individuals, and how their mental state may deteriorate, it seems that excuses for not getting their affairs in order are boiling down to a few common myths.

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The incapacity crisis – a disconnect


There is something of an unspoken topic in the headlines at the moment – that of mental incapacity and what we should do with respect to your wishes during future life.

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Cohabitation: should the law be changed?


We’ve been closely following the case of[[sitetree_link id=896]]Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan[[sitetree_link id=896]], who have just won their battle in court to be granted a civil partnership. As well as the case raising questions around equality – until now only same sex couples have legally been allowed to enter into a civil partnership – there are ethical issues too.

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Hetereosexual couples: what will the future mean for civil partnerships?


The well-documented case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan has barely left the headlines whilst the court ruling continued as to whether or not the couple would be granted a civil partnership. Now the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favour of the couple, what could this mean for other couples in future?

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Buying a leasehold property may not always be totally straight forward


As the famous saying goes, an Englishman’s home is his castle – or is it? If you’re buying a leasehold property, you might just find that there are a few hidden aspects to take into consideration before signing on the dotted line.

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Dispelling the myth: Can employees go home early if office temperatures are too high?


As the temperatures set to reach record levels in the UK over the next week or so, there’s no doubt that many of us will be enjoying the great outdoors. But, what about those long office hours in stuffy, windowless buildings? Are employees entitled to go home if it is too hot? Do they have a “right” to air conditioning, for example?

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The Home Office published a Statement of Intent on 21 June 2018 setting out the application processes EU nationals and their family members will have to undertake to stay in the UK beyond the post-Brexit transition period.  The Statement does not indicate when exactly the application process will open, stating only ‘late 2018’.  The settlement scheme will be introduced in phases, and will open fully from 30 March 2019.  Subject to the outcome of ongoing negotiations, the UK proposes to extend the settlement scheme to EEA and Swiss citizens.

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For the technology sector, the Immigration Rules just got real


The Tech Nation (formerly Tech City) visa scheme has gradually become useful.  The Tech Nation scheme falls under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa category, for migrants with outstanding achievements or promise in their fields.  During Tech Week , the Home Office published (another) Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules.  The changes take effect next month and include changes to the Tech Nation scheme which will be of interest to migrant techies.

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Are you caught up in Universal Wealth Preservation?


You may have already heard of Universal Wealth Preservation but, if you haven’t, there’s plenty you can read about them in the headlines. However, the case has recently come to light again, as the company’s owners have been arrested in connection to a number of offenses – and families are wondering if they will ever see their hard-earned cash again.

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Does your business have a game plan in place for the start of the World Cup?


Even those who are not football fans will probably be aware that the Football World Cup competition starts in Russia on 14 June. ACAS have produced some guidance to assist employers in dealing with the issues that are always thrown up by tournaments of this kind.

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