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Mediation

We are always committed to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome in their case.For many of our clients, this does not involve the need for court proceedings as we are often able to reach an agreement with the other party. We will always take time to consider and discuss alternative methods of resolving your dispute with you at a very early stage.We have direct links to local mediation specialists who are able to help you to resolve your dispute as amicably as possible. We can be on hand to offer advice and assistance to you throughout this process.What is mediation?Several of our senior solicitors are trained mediators and it is something we actively encourage our clients to consider as it can be a very cost effective method of resolving a dispute.Mediation is a third party service, not connected to solicitors or the courts. The aim is to assist people to come to their own agreements in relation to matters in dispute. A trained mediator will initially invite both parties for an intake session to discuss the main issues, explain the mediation process and the costs involved. If the mediator believes that mediation is appropriate in your circumstances and both you and the other party are willing to attempt it, you will be invited to attend a session together with a mediator present. At that session, the mediator will help you to reach agreement in relation to the elements in dispute. In relation to mediating on financial matters, both parties will be asked to bring financial disclosure to the mediation session(s). This process may take only one session or it may take several depending upon the issues in dispute. If you are able to come to an agreement with the other party, the terms can be recorded in a formal document prepared by the mediator and we can often then use this to prepare a consent order incorporating these terms so that the agreement can be made legally binding and enforceable by the Court.Mediation is not successful in every case but where it is successful, our clients generally find that it saves considerable time and cost. If you attempt mediation and it is unsuccessful, there is always the option to pursue the matter in the court if necessary. In any event, the court will look for evidence that the parties have previously attempted mediation when any new application in relation children or finances is made.Lawyer supported mediationWe generally find that this process works best when the parties have independent legal advisors to assist and advise them during the mediation process. Whilst we cannot attend the mediation appointments with you, we can explain the process to you and give you legal advice about any proposed agreements or settlements so that you can be sure that what you are agreeing to is fair and equitable (this is important since the mediator cannot give legal advice).Negotiations between the parties (or their legal representatives)If mediation is unsuccessful, inappropriate or you simply do not feel comfortable with that process we can try to come to negotiate an agreement with the other party in correspondence instead.However, even if it is possible to reach an agreement in correspondence with the other party (or their legal representative), it will not be legally binding and we will therefore need to discuss with you the various options for incorporating the terms into an order which, if approved, will make the agreement legally binding and enforceable.Next stepsFor more information, an informal chat or to book an appointment – call our friendly family law specialist on 020 7790 2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Dilapidations at end of lease

Dilapidations are the costs to the tenant of putting a property back into repair, including reinstating tenant’s alterations, at the end of a lease. There appears to be an increase in disagreements between landlords and tenants about dilapidations. This is believed to be linked to leases generally becoming shorter in term, in which case any degradation to the property during the currency of the lease is harder to justify.In almost all cases a commercial tenant will have an obligation in its lease to return the leased property to the landlord in the condition and standard of repair dictated by the lease during its term and on expiry. If you are tenant looking to vacate the property at the end of a lease’s term, here are five key points: Check the lease and the lease plan so you understand what actually comprises the leased property. Cross-check the way the property is described in words in the lease. Where you are leasing the entire building there may not be so much of an issue. However, in a multi level or multi-let environment, it pays to be clear. Take a look at your lease to see whether your liability is linked to a “schedule of condition” or inventory of some kind agreed at the commencement of the term. This is potentially a list or may also be or include images. It should provide the information you need on the minimum standard of repair to which the property should be returned. Generally speaking, the obligation to repair means remedying any defects in the property by renewing or replacing parts of it.  It does not require the tenant to make improvements or renew or replacing the whole of the property. It should be noted that the contractual requirement to “to keep in repair” imposes an obligation on the tenant to “put” the property into repair. In reality this may mean putting the property in a better state it was in compared to when the tenancy commenced. At the end of the term it is possible that a landlord may make a claim for damages for dilapidations after the property is returned to it. If the landlord brings a claim of this nature, the damages may be for the cost of any required rectification works and potentially also for loss of rent while the works are being performed. It is a good idea to keep records of the state the property is left in by taking photographs to provide evidence to deal with any such claim. These may show that works are not required. Attempt to resolve any potential issues in a reasonable and appropriate period of time before the end of the lease. Contact your landlord so that you can have a reasonable dialogue about it, based on an objective assessment of the property. Where you have doubts, it may pay to consult a solicitor or a property surveyor. Mr. San This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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New rules for immigration visitor visas

Taking effect from 24 April 2015, various changes have been made to the visitor visa categories of the UK’s immigration regulations, known as the Immigration Rules. The rules find themselves in the newly coined “Appendix V” of a larger volume of all of the Immigration Rules.The gist of the changes has been to simplify the visitor category. “Visitor” now acts as a broad rubric for a number of permissible activities, instead of having visitors apply for different visas for each type of activity. This will be of particular interest to people regularly travelling to the UK for work or business purposes.Some guidance can be gained from the introductory paragraph, which states that a visitor is a person who is coming to the UK, usually for up to six months, for a temporary purpose for example as a tourist, to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity. It should be noted that visitors as defined are not permitted to study or work in the United Kingdom unless specifically authorised to do so under one of the sections of the Immigration Rules.Part V1 sets out the differences between visa nationals and non-visa nationals and the permission required to enter the United Kingdom. It describes how the fifteen previous visitor types have been replaced by four new simplified categories. As it happens, the majority of the categories have actually become subcategories of the new visitor (standard) category. Part V1 contains guidance and notes on multiple entry. There have been no changes in the maximum permitted length of stay for a visitor coming to the United Kingdom.Visitors cannot study or work in the UK unless specifically permitted to do so by the Immigration Rules. As the rules now stand, there are four new visitor categories, refined down from fifteen previously. These are: Visitor (standard); Visitor for marriage or civil partnership; Visitor for permitted paid engagements; and Transit visitor.Under the visitor (standard) category it is now permissible for all visitors to perform permitted activities which were not originally required to be declared on the visa application for the visit. The complete list of permissible activities is located towards the end of Appendix V. The list of permitted activities now includes for example Employees of a non-UK company delivering global training to staff of a multinational corporation based in the United Kingdom. Notably, Employers may be asked to provide undertakings requiring them to accommodate and maintain their “visitor” for the duration of the visitor’s stay.In essence there has been a reorganisation and update of the former Appendix 1, which has been removed from the rules. Visitors Appendix 2 to the Immigration Rules for visitors outlines the visa national countries, listing the exceptions for nationals of particular countries and updating some country names to reflect any new status. Some aspects which have been deemed not to be visitor related have been shifted to a different part of the rules. Mr. Sanjeev This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Recent employment case confirms commission to be include in holiday pay

In a recent decision The Employment Tribunal has determined that UK law should be construed to include commission in the calculation of entitlement to holiday pay.The claimant Mr Lock was a salesperson for British Gas. He received a relatively low rate of basic pay, on top of which he received commission for successful sales to customers who signed up to be supplied by British Gas. The essence of Mr Lock’s contention was that while he took holiday leave, he was not in a position to generate commission. He contended that the calculation of his holiday pay ought to have taken into account what he would have earned from commission during the time he was taking a holiday.When the proceedings were initially started in 2010, the Employment Tribunal referred to the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) the question of whether the United Kingdom ought to take commission into account in the legislation setting out how holiday pay is calculated.The CJEU ruled on the issue in 2014. It determined that, under applicable European law, an employer should take into account commission when calculating holiday pay. In reaching this decision the CJEU did not provide additional guidance on how this was to be achieved. With regards to this aspect, it remitted the case back to the Employment Tribunal.It appears that the Employment Tribunal will determine this issue in a number of steps. It has published one judgment and intends to issue a second judgment which will explain the appropriate period for calculating commission and what remuneration is actually owing to the claimant.The first, recently delivered judgment, is principally concerned with whether the Court should construe the Working Time Regulations (“WTR”) in a certain way to be consistent with relevant European law. The tribunal found that it was able to construe the WTR to include commission. In reaching this conclusion it took a similar approach to a recent, similar case, Bear Scotland, which concerned the treatment of overtime in the calculation of holiday pay.In this particular case, the tribunal determined that the claimant’s holiday remuneration ought to be calculated according to his normal working hours at his average actual hourly rate of pay (including commission), instead of basic pay only.The tribunal therefore adopted a submission from Counsel as to what should be inserted into the regulations so that they would be construed consistently with the relevant EU law.In a sense this is an unremarkable decision because it simply does what was required by the CJEU decision. The more interesting part of the decision will probably be the second part which should deal with the practicalities of implementing the principal established in the first decision.It certainly is the case that there are many practicalities to be worked through. These include: How work with irregular hours, such as shift work might require a different calculation; How different commission schemes should be treated, for example, where there are targets which already take into account the fact that the employee will be on holiday for part of the relevant period; How bonuses might be treated. This may require a clear distinction to be made between a commission and bonus, which may be a difficult issue of principle.Generally speaking, employers would be well-advised to include commission in the calculation of holiday pay, unless it is clearly the case that it is already taken into account by compensating for time taken for holidays. However, as illustrated above there are still some issues to be worked through regarding what should actually be happening in practice. Employers would be well-advised therefore to check their practices following delivery of the second Lock decision.There is a clear case for arguing that the commission scheme already compensates for holidays.  That said, there is still room for much debate over the precise calculation method and its implementation in practice. Mr. James This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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New pension rules for those aged over 55

From 6 April, new pension rules will give people over 55 more freedom regarding how they access their pension savings. Specifically, people over 55 will have the ability to draw an income from their fund at any time they want, or “cash-in” their entire fund.This new power applies only to Defined Contribution schemes. These include both occupational and person pension schemes. If a person has a final salary pension, they will need to transfer their pension to a DV arrangement to take advantage of these changes. Notably this kind of transfer is not available to members of any unfunded public sector schemes such as the NHS Pension scheme.The Government has acknowledged that the person on the street has very little comprehension of pensions. It has created the “Pension Wise” service which will be provided through the Citizens Advice Bureau and made available via the Pension Wise website. Its services are provided free of charge to members of the public. It provides general guidance only and not detailed advice on a person’s specific situation. Some have questioned the utility of a service of this kind, but it is better than nothing and should at least create general awareness.These new rules have followed the roll out of automatic enrolment which has seen over five million working people enrolled in a workplace pension scheme. It seems probable that this new approach to accessing a pension from 55 will increase interest and awareness in retirement savings.These changes may have consequences for the workplace. Some working people may wish to cash in their pensions once they reach 55 to pay down debt or improve their living standards. This may leave little or no money in the fund for their eventual retirement. This may result in these people having to working beyond usual retirement age. This can create an issue for employers.On the same theme, workers with better rates of saving may look to draw down their pension to permit partial retirement, off the back of which they may request flexible working. This also introduces issues for employers who may be obliged to consider and then accommodate such a request.An employer should consider how it communicates information about the change. It should also give thought to whether it will be offered via the employer’s existing workplace pension arrangements to workers.An employer would be best placed to refer workers to Pension Wise in the first instance. However, as noted earlier, it only provides very general guidance. Time will tell what the issues prove to be, but at the very least employers should prepare themselves for potential flexible working requests from staff around the relevant age. Mr. Antony This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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