The Supreme Court has ruled that the Metropolitan Police failed to effectively investigate allegations made against John Worboys, a serial sexual predator. As a consequence, two of his victim’s have been collectively awarded £41,250 in compensation.
The main issue in this case was the extent to which Article 3 imposes a positive obligation on the police to effectively investigate allegations made against other individuals.
The two victims brought a claim against the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis under the Human Rights Act 1998. They argued that the failure to identify and arrest Worboys breached their rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'.
This judgment has significantly widened the scope of police liability and paved the way for other victims to bring claims against the police should they fail to carry out an adequate investigation.
Commenting following the judgment, the Metropolitan police have recognised the implications this case will have on how they prioritise and resource their investigations. Coupled with the potential for future claims, it is not unreasonable to draw the inference that they vigorously defended the claim for fear of the financial repercussions; they appealed to both the Court of Appeal and then Supreme Court, following the original judgment in the Claimant’s favour in February 2014.
You can read the full judgment here
McMillan Williams is a leading specialist in bringing civil actions against the Police and protecting the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. We can represent you in pursuing a complaint, disciplinary proceedings or a civil claim against the Police for compensation.
If you have been a victim of crime and feel the police failed to sufficiently investigate or if you wish to speak with one of our solicitors who specialise in Actions Against the Police don't delay, all us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at email@example.com.
We urge you to do this as soon as possible as there is a one year time limit ( from the date of the incident) in which to bring a Human Rights Act claim.
The Government Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) comes into force from 1st April 2018 and will add yet more regulation to the minefield which already affects landlords.
Essentially, the MEES will require all properties rented out in the private sector (bar a few exceptions) to have a minimum energy performance rating of an ‘E’ on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It will affect new tenancy agreements and renewals of tenancies taking place after 1 April 2018, and will affect all existing tenancies after 1 April 2020.
If a property has an energy performance rating of an ‘F’ or ‘G’, the landlord must carry out energy efficiency improvements before they let the property or renew an existing tenancy arrangement.
The new regulations are additional to the existing requirement that a valid EPC must be provided to a tenant by a landlord, and form part of a wider clampdown on energy wastage as the UK works towards reaching its carbon reduction targets.
Penalties for non-compliance include a fine which is based on the rateable value of the property (up to a maximum of £150,000). It is therefore sensible for current and potential landlords to seek professional legal advice before they consider entering into a new tenancy or a renewal to ensure that they do not fall foul of the new requirements.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Landlords who want to ensure that their tenancy agreements stay up to date with lettings legislation and regulations.
If you are a Landlord and need help with your tenancy agreements, don't delay, contact us today. Our experienced and specialist Property Disputes Solicitors are here to help. Call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
April is fast approaching and with it come changes to the taxation of termination payments.
The tax treatment of termination payments has been the same for quite some time. Rather than taking note of the old saying “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” the Government decided to review and “simplify” the process. This has resulted in things becoming a bit more complex!
Some of the suggestions have (thankfully!) fallen by the wayside but a few are going ahead and they take effect in April 2018. A key change is the tax treatment of Payments In Lieu Of Notice (PILONs).
Under tax legislation, it has been the rule for some time that certain payments made to employees on termination of employment can be made free from tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) up to £30,000.
As things stand, the tax treatment of PILONs is different depending upon whether the employer has the contractual right to make the payment. In simple terms, if the employee’s contract terms set out the right to make a PILON that means there is no breach of contract and it has to be taxed in the normal way like salary. If the terms are silent it can be paid tax free as damages, therby compensating the employee for the breach of contract in not allowing them to work their notice.
This has meant that employees can end up receiving a bit more cash and employers pay out a bit less too (no employer’s NIC’s). From April 2018 all PILONs will be treated the same. They will be subject to tax and NI contributions whether or not there is a clause allowing the employer to make a PILON. This means that there will be no downside to including a clause in contracts of employment permitting payments in lieu of notice.
Other key areas of change include:
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Employers and Employees.
Our experienced and specialist team of Employment Lawyers can help across a full spectrum of Employment Law issues including termination payments and drafting of employment contracts. If you need and Emploment Lawyer call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at email@example.com
It can be very tempting to continue to re-use old tenancy agreements. They worked before, so why should they not work this time. Trouble is, the law moves on and those previous terms may now be deemed unfair and unenforceable.
Any contract made on or after 1 October 2015 between a landlord acting in the course of a business and a tenant, being an actual person acting outside the tenant’s business (if any), is now subject to the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The provisions made in connection with unfair contract terms by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 are similar to those made under the Unfair Terms and Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (which still apply to contracts made before 1 October 2015). However, the major difference is that, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the courts will not uphold a term that is ‘unfair’, even when that term has been individually negotiated.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) was abolished in 2014 and the Competition and Marketing Authority took over its power to take enforcement action in relation to unfair terms. The Competition Markets Authority also adopted the OFT’s Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements.
Although the new Competition Markets Authority Guidance has not been updated to take into account the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the repeal of the Unfair Terms and Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 in respect of contracts entered into after 1 October 2015, it still provides useful guidance, although it does need to be read with a degree of caution, until it is updated.
The Competition Markets Authority’s Guidance identifies a number of terms as being potentially unfair, amongst which are:
If you have been using a lease precedent for a number of years, it may well be that some of the terms of such a leases would be deemed to be unfair. It would therefore be advisable to seek legal advice to update your tenancy agreement and to check that all the terms are deemed fair under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Landlords who want to ensure that their tenancy agreements are fair and in accordance with the Consumer Rights Act and other contract legislation.
If you are a Landlord and need help with your tenancy agreements contact, don't delay, contact us today. Our experienced and specialist Property Disputes Solicitors are here to help. Call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tragically, a prisoner died yesterday after being stabbed at HMP Wormwood Scrubs.
This comes just under two months after the news reports that the prison was ‘dangerous and unsafe for both prisoners and officers’.
In August 2017 HM Inspectorate of Prisons undertook an inspection, which noted persistent problems that had not been addressed since they raised them in their 2014 inspection. The report further detailed that the prison had high levels of serious violence resulting in significant injuries. The surge in violence was thought in part to be down to understaffing.
The Ministry of Justice responded stating that the prison was recruiting additional staff in an attempt to "urgently" raise standards
As a Civil liberties solicitor who represents both bereaved families and prisoners who have suffered serious assaults, I struggle to comprehend how as a society we can lock up, predominately vulnerable individuals, in an institution that is known to be unsafe, whilst appearing to do little to improve conditions. This contributes nothing to the rehabilitate process and puts lives at risk. One of my previous clients once said to me that she appreciated that her brother deserved to be in prison but that was his punishment, he didn’t deserve to die in there.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including bereaved families who deserve to know the circumstances of their loved ones death.
If you have a family member or loved one who died whilst in custody and wish to talk to one of our specialist Lawyers, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at email@example.com.
A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) highlighted that police forces are not doing enough to stop their officers carrying out sexual abuses and abusing their powers.
The HMICFRS is an organisation that independently assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire and rescue services in the public interest. In other words, they assist in holding these organisations to account for abuses of their power and breaches of public trust.
Sexual abuse offences committed by police officers are on the rise as is evidenced by a number of prosecutions against officers in recent years. Not only are they committing a criminal act but they are abusing their position of public trust and this can have a devastating and traumatic effect on those abused. It calls into question the relationship of trust the public hold with police officers and could result in a fear of reporting such crimes. It also places already vulnerable people at risk of further harm from the very people they have turned to for help. It is through their position as police officers that this abuse takes place.
Allegations of sexual abuse by police officers need to be dealt with now to prevent any further abuses. The victim of abuse needs to feel that they will be taken seriously by the police force they deal with when reporting such abuse. They need to know that the Force have a plan or policy in place to deal with such situations and to ensure that the victim of the abuse does not have to face or deal with their abuser whilst the matter s being investigated by the Force. It calls for effective, considered and sensitive action.
In December 2016, the HMICFRS recommended that Police Forces take steps to implement a plan to deal with this. It recommended that within 6 months, each Force implements a plan setting out how they propose to deal with obtaining information about alleged abuses by police officers. It is vital that this is done to protect the more vulnerable members of our society.
The Forces may also need to consider the level of resources to be committed to this plan and to ensure that they reflect the seriousness of these abuses. Existing policies may need to be changed and amended.
The report acknowledges that there are only two Forces in the country, Derbyshire Constabulary and Merseyside Police, who currently have all elements in place
This is not a change which can happen overnight and is something which will need continuous review. It will also need a commitment to prosecuting those officers who have sexually abused an individual and breached their position of trust. Such prosecutions should be dealt with as expeditiously as possible and not be left for large periods of time thereby increasing the anxiety and distress caused to the victims of abuse.
At MW Solicitors Our Mission is “To make quality legal services accessible to everyone.” including vulnerable people who are victims of abuse by those in public office. Abuses of power by those in public office is something that we take very seriously at MW.
Leases usually include restrictions in respect of how you can use your flat.
A common restriction is to use the premises as a "private dwelling-house only" or alternatively as a "single private residence in one occupation only". There may also be a restriction "not to use the said premises or any part thereof for any business.”
A lodger is not normally a member of the tenant’s family. This will usually be because they are not related or it is a purely commercial venture, to enable the lessee to meet the costs of running the premises. They will often share the use of rooms, such as kitchens, bathrooms, or sitting areas, but will have separate domestic arrangements. The lessee will pay the bills even if the lodger makes a contribution towards them.
Each case is fact specific. The relationship between the parties has to be considered. For example:
The landlord in these cases can stop you having a lodger by making an application to the county court or the First Tier Tribunal. If the lodger continues to stay, you could, ultimately, in a very worst case scenario, lose your flat.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including leaseholders who wish to take in a lodger and wish to stay within the terms of their lease.
If you are contemplating renting out your flat as a whole or just a room, westrongly advise that you seek the advice of one of dedicated and experienced Property Disputes Solicitors. Timely advice at an early stage will no doubt lead to the avoidance of potentially expensive litigation. Our Leasehold Enfranchisement Department can also assist in re-negotiating or extending the lease on your property.
Katie Woodcock recently acted for sibling Attorneys involved in a dispute with a third sibling regarding their Mother who had executed an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) appointing them many years ago.
Our client’s Mother suffered with Alzheimer’s and when her health started to decline, the Attorneys made a decision to move her into a home suitable for her needs where she would receive 24 hour care. The only asset that could fund her care was the Mother’s house and a dispute arose with the third sibling as to how this would work. Shortly after the disagreement, a Deed revoking the EPA turned up, purportedly signed by the Mother.
Court proceedings were served on the Attorneys asking the Court of Protection to revoke the EPA, authorise a “gift” of the Mother’s property to the third sibling and to appoint her as sole Attorney. Shortly thereafter, access to the Mother was denied by the third sibling.
A difficult three day hearing took place in which the Court heard evidence from medical experts and the parties themselves including the Mother. Sadly, it became quite clear that the Mother’s mind had been poisoned by the third sibling against the Attorneys and very worrying evidence showing undue influence on the part of the third sibling was presented to the Court. Furthermore, during the evidence, the third sibling constantly prompted the Mother and handwritten notes were found in the witness box.
The Court handed down a preliminary judgement stating that the Mother lacked capacity, the third sibling had unduly influenced her and that she was considering making a costs award against the third sibling. Furthermore, the Judge expressed great concern that the Mother had not received any independent legal advice through the course of the proceedings. The Judge noted that the Attorneys Solicitors (McMillan Williams) had tried to encourage the third sibling to take her Mother to a solicitor but she did not heed our advice. The Judge ordered that the Official Solicitor now step in to give legal advice to the Mother and, as she lacked capacity, act as her litigation friend.
The parties returned to the Court twelve weeks later where the Official Solicitor agreed with our position and endorsed the concerns of the Judge. The Judge found overwhelming evidence of undue influence and this enabled her to deviate from the normal costs rules in the Court of Protection that the protected party i.e. the Mother, pays the costs. The Court ordered a significant percentage of costs be paid directly by the third sibling on account of her unreasonable conduct and undue influence. This represents a great result for the Attorneys and indeed, a significant success in this very difficult area of law.
There are 850,000 people in the UK with Alzheimer’s and with an ever aging population this figure is only set to increase. Issues faced by Attorneys and vulnerable individuals are on the rise and it is important to know where to turn when things don’t go according to plan. Vulnerable individuals are targets for financial abuse and Katie Woodcock and Sharon Bell both have considerable experience and a keen interest in this work.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Attorneys who are experiencing difficulty in dealing with the affairs of a loved one. If you think that someone you know needs protecting, please call our specialist Estate & Trust Disputes Team. Our dedicated and experienced Solicitors will happily discuss your case on a no obligation basis. Please get in touch with Katie Woodcock or Sharon Bell on 020 3551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Actress Jennifer Lawrence told Vogue magazine this month (Aug 2017) that she still suffers the psychological effects of the internet attack on her in 2014, in which nude pictures of her were hacked and then posted online.
She was not the only celebrity affected at the time, but she is almost certainly the most commonly mentioned one.
"It’s scary when you feel the whole world judges you… I think people saw [the event] for what it was, which was a sex crime, but that feeling, I haven’t been able to get rid of it. Having your privacy violated constantly isn’t a problem if you’re perfect. But if you’re human, it’s terrifying. When my publicist calls me, I’m like, “Oh, my God, what is it?” Even when it’s nothing. I’m always waiting to get blindsided again."
This type of situation is not exclusive to celebrities. Indeed, many thousands of people suffer from ‘revenge pornography’ attacks upon them, which has a similar impact on their well being. Revenge pornography is where someone releases naked images or sexual information about a person without their consent as part of a vendetta. There is also a problem with ‘sextortion’ on the internet, where people threaten to carry out the above.
A few months ago, The Guardian newspaper published an article about a leaked Facebook document. It indicated that in a single month Facebook needed to deal with nearly 54,000 potential cases of revenge pornography and sextortion. These cases occur on all types of social media platforms of course, not just Facebook, and we at MW Solicitors are seeing an increase in clients approaching us with an emotional and reputational crisis on their hands because of revenge pornography and sextortion attacks.
In our experience, these incidents often arise when people are having affairs, are getting divorced, or have a spiteful partner or ex-partner. We have even had cases where people in relationships have had to resort to sleeping with their mobile telephones under their pillows because they are concerned about their partners using their private PIN numbers to access their phones while they are sleeping. Whether the intention is to snoop, or to forward sexual or naked images to themselves or to share with others such as with the victim’s work colleagues or the victim’s family and friends, revenge pornography is almost always used to cause maximum embarrassment and emotional damage to the victim.
Sometimes contacting the social media provider directly to require it to remove the images or information is successful, but at other times a victim might not know where the pictures or information are published or stored and they can be difficult to trace. Despite the amount of resources they are reported to spend on tackling the issue, some social media companies are not as quick or as effective as victims may expect when it comes to removing revenge pornography from their networks.
UK laws and courts do provide various very efficient avenues to protect victims of revenge pornography, or sextortion. These can be used to deal with a problem quickly, to have the items traced, to have them removed from a particular website or IT storage facility, and to ensure that they are not disseminated further afield.
Once the law is used to protect a victim or potential victim, the legal sanctions on the offending person or host of the material can be severe.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including people who are the victims of revenge pornography or sextortion.
Your home is your castle and it is quite proper to seek to protect what is normally the largest investment you will ever make.
Recent newspaper reports have highlighted that 2017 could experience a serious drought caused by a hot dry summer and the driest winter in 20 years. When the ground dries out, it is increasingly prone to movement and shrinkage. According the British Geological Survey (BGS) shrinking and swelling of the ground (often reported as subsidence) is one of the most damaging geohazards in Britain today. This shrink swell situation is often exacerbated by trees and shrubs which suck up what little moisture is left in the ground in a bid to stay alive.
Home owners can mitigate the risk themselves by maintaining the trees and shrubs on their property at levels where their “zone of influence” does not extend to under the foundations of their property. Care must be taken that any trees to be treated are not covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) as this could possibly lead to a breach of the TPO and land you the homeowner legally liable. Read our article Tree Preservation Orders: The Facts for more information about Tree Preservation Orders and how to deal with them.
However, trees are living organisms and they will sometimes extend their roots beyond the recognised zone in order to source moisture from further afield. Each species of tree has a different recorded zone of influence to the point where a copse containing an Oak, a Willow and an Ash for example will have roots extending for different distances and treatment will need to tailored accordingly.
Tell-tale signs of subsidence are:
If you spot any of these signs you should contact your buildings insurance company immediately.
Your insurance company will appoint a loss adjuster to inspect your property and seek to identify the cause of the problem. It may also be necessary to appoint an arborist, soil engineers and a structural engineer if the tree belongs to a third party which will need convincing to remove the cause.
If the tree belongs to you then, subject to any TPO protection, it should be more easily removed although it will also be necessary to assess whether the tree pre-dates the property in which case “heave” where the soil recovers too much and pushes the property higher than it was originally designed for should be considered. In these cases the tree is usually removed in stages to allow recovery of the moisture levels in manageable stages. Often a property will be monitored before and after removal to ensure that the cause has been remove an the property stabilised before repairs are undertaken so these claims can last for months – the sooner the claim is reported the earlier the remedy can be in place.
If the cause is caught early then repairs can be as simple as raking out and replacing the cement but, in more severe cases, the property may have to be underpinned which involves the owners normally having to vacate the property for the duration of the works.
In cases where the cause of the damage is vegetation belonging to a third party, it may be possible to recover the costs of any repairs from that party. Any subsidence claim will be subject to a £1,000 excess if it is the first occurrence. This is a significant sum for any householder to find and therefore, if this sum and subsequent repairs costs can be recovered, you should appoint Solicitors to deal with the claim.
At MW our specialist Solicitors have many years experience acting for homeowners and their insurers in recovering significant sums from Councils, Housing Associations and other public bodies and private individuals.
If you have insurance, your insurer will cover the costs of an insured peril subject to your policy coverage and adherence to the terms of the contract by the policyholder. They will then seek to recover the costs of those repairs under its right to step into the shoes of the insured. This removes undue and unnecessary stress from the insured who has already experienced the worry of seeing their property damaged. At this point MW Solicitors can be instructed by your insurer if you require.
Where there is no valid insurance, you should look to instruct a Solicitor as soon as possible in order to avoid the potentially costly repairs falling on you personally.
If we can assist we will approach the liable third party for a contribution towards the repair costs at the earliest opportunity. In the case of private individual owners of the problem tree, it is vitally important that they are placed on notice of the damage as soon as possible. If they remain unaware of the cause under their control, it is more difficult to convince a Court that they failed to act in a reasonable manner to abate the nuisance.
Claims involving subsidence are always a complex combination of Science and the Law. Taking the correct approach to preparing evidence before the claim is presented will pay dividends and you should always instruct a specialist Solicitor who has experience with the claims process and is capable of dealing with insurers, experts and other third parties.
At MW Solicitors our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including homeowners who are worried that their home is suffering or might be at risk from subsidence. If you believe that your property is suffering subsidence damage, it is important to act quickly.
We can help homeowners whose property is damaged through the actions of a third party. We will explore every legal avenue and our experts in MW’s are not just experienced in the law regarding these matters, but also in the underlying geological and biological causes.
We can advise if you are entitled to bring a claim for the recovery of your insurance excess and any repairs costs and we will act on behalf of your insurer should you wish to instruct a local firm. We can assist you with any discussions and negotiations with third parties in order to resolve any dispute. We are keen advocates of mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and we will do all we can to resolve your dispute in a sensitive and cost effective way.