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Special Guardianship - An Agenda for Change

Julia Shaikh
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In August and November 2019, I wrote articles considering whether Special Guardianship Orders required reform. The case of Re P-S (Children) [2018] EWCA Civ 1407  spurred the need for change. Developments continue within this area of law....

Care Proceedings are lasting longer in Court due to COVID-19

Chelsea  Harris
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The duration of Care Proceedings in Court has increased since the beginning of the lockdown and has reached the longest length since the 26-week target rule was introduced in 2014, despite the number of cases being issued falling in 2019. Care Proceedings...

I have been asked to leave my family home away from partner and children by Social Services - what does this mean?

Jasmine Lees
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When the Local Authority have safeguarding concerns about a person within a household, they may ask them to leave the family home away from the children and other adults within the home to allow for various safeguarding assessments to be completed. The Local...

Appointeeship - What is an Appointee?

Jessica  Latimer
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An Appointee is an individual/organisation registered with the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). The nominated Appointee is allowed to receive another person’s benefits when they are unable to manage their finances. This could be due to them...

Restricting your right to protest: the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2019-2021

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On 16 th March 2021, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons. The Bill has already caused controversy within the media, particularly in relation to the restrictions it seeks to bring in, in respect of...

New Sentencing Guidelines for Drugs Offences

Zara Cowan
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The 1 st April 2021 will see updated and new sentencing guidelines for some drug offences come into force. These will apply to all cases sentenced on or after 1 st April 2021.   The updated and new guidelines are designed to take into consideration...

Is it normal to exchange financial disclosure to reach a financial settlement in divorce?

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Trying to agree a financial settlement during a divorce can be an intimidating and daunting prospect. In order to ensure a fair and reasonable settlement, we always advise clients of the need to exchange full and frank financial disclosure, whether in...

My relationship has ended: what happens to the house?

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According to the Office for National Statistics, there are over 6m people cohabiting without being married or in civil partnerships, However, unlike spouses and civil partners, cohabitees have no automatic right to make a financial claim against their former...

What is the role of mediation in family law matters?

Laura Cotton
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When a relationship breaks down, many issues can need resolving such as finances, divorce proceedings and often child arrangements. Sometimes it can be difficult to resolve these issues with your former partner and conversations may become heated. Roughly...

What is an Investigation in children matters? What types of investigations are there?

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There are two types of investigations, a Section 47 investigation, and a Section 17 investigation. Within 24 hours of suspected harm being reported it is the Social Workers decision in regards to what investigation is required. They will decide one of...

Should you use using an Estate Agent to sell your home?

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Are you looking to sell your home or investment property? One of the most important decisions you can make when selling your home is whether to sell through an estate agent or to arrange your sale privately directly to a prospective buyer. The aim of this...

Cladding - Government to bring an end to unsafe cladding

Jade Sansoye
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On the 10 th February 2021, The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick discussed the issues surrounding cladding in the House of Commons and unveiled a five-point plan to bring an end to unsafe cladding.  The Grenfell fire tragedy has highlighted and...

The Stamp Duty Holiday has been extended

Mandeep Rai
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What does this mean for you? We at Johnson Astills are excited to welcome the government’s announcement confirming the extension of the stamp duty holiday to 30 th June 2021. What is the Stamp Duty Holiday? The Stamp Duty Holiday was...

Did you know there is a legal requirement to restrain your dog in the car?

Olivia Peck
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Research shows that over a third of drivers fail to restrain pet passengers, with 1 in 10 allowing  pets to sit in the front seat of the car, and a further 9% of drivers, allowing their pet to sit on the back seat without a harness or seatbelt...

Social Services have asked me to leave the family home

Julia Shaikh
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What can I do in these circumstances? Parents often ask this question when seeking advice from our Care Team: When Social Services become involved with parents in relation to concerns about their child, they sometimes ask one parent to leave the family...

The Local Authority want to complete a Risk Assessment, what does this mean?

Chelsea  Harris
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The Local Authority are likely to want to complete a risk assessment where they consider there to be a likelihood of a significant risk of harm to a child. Where there are concerns around domestic violence in a relationship, allegations of sexual or physical...

Does a Non-UK Resident pay extra SDLT?

Sunny Gangar
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From 1st April 2021, all non-UK residents who purchase a property  will be liable for a new surcharge of stamp duty land tax (SDLT). An additional 2% will be payable on all purchases of residential property (freehold or leasehold) situated in England or...

Changes in Legal Aid Capital Assessment

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It has long been an issue that if a person has equity in a property over and above £8,000 (after all disregards are taken into consideration) then they will be refused Legal Aid on the basis of having too much capital. This has prevented many from...

What happens if do not want to care for my baby / child anymore?

Jasmine Lees
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The Local Authority (also known as Social Services) often become involved with families where there are concerns about the care being afforded to any child within a home. However, sometimes the Local Authority are approached by parents who feel that they are...

What is an Advance Decision?

Jessica  Latimer
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An Advance Decision, sometimes known as a ‘living Will’ is a set of instructions of measures you would like to refuse when you no longer have the capacity to give or refuse consent to treatment. This can surround both medical and health care...

Raising awareness of Domestic Abuse - LWA Wear, Share Aware Campaign

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Since  the third lockdown came into force reports of domestic abuse have continued to rise nationally, with many victims of domestic abuse being forced to isolate with their abuser.  As a result they  are experiencing increased difficulty in...

Mental Disorders and Sentencing - New Guidelines

Zara Cowan
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A new guideline for sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders and neurological impairments has recently come into force. The new guidelines provide transparency and clarity for sentencing offenders with development disorders,...

Separation - What are your options?

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Deciding to separate or divorce is one of the hardest decisions to make, but the process itself does not have to be difficult. Once you have decided to separate the first step should be finding the right solicitor for you and for the outcome you are aiming...

How can I challenge a Will?

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A Will is a legal document which sets out how an individual (known as ‘the Testator’) wants their assets to be distributed after they have died. Following a death, we are often contacted by people who are either: not named as a beneficiary ...

Received a letter from Social Services/Local Authority? What do I do?

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The Local Authority can become involved in your family life for a number of reasons. This may be because they think you or someone else in your family may have done something to harm the child/children. They can also become involved even if you do not give...

Can you afford to buy your first property?

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First time buyer looking to get on the property ladder? At Johnson Astills we are here to guide you through the legal process of buying a property.  The most essential factor to determine if you can buy a property is affordability. The aim of this...

Criminal Courts To Remain Open During Third Lockdown

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As the country goes into a third national lockdown the Lord Chancellor has confirmed that the criminal courts will not be closed. Attending court is a legal exemption to the national lockdown ‘stay at home’ restriction. Judges, jurors, court...

Special Reasons argument for Driving without Insurance

Olivia Peck
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What is a  Special Reasons argument? A special reasons argument is put forward to the Court in order to ask the court not to disqualify a motorist from driving or endorsing their licence with penalty points. A conviction for most road traffic offences...

Does lockdown affect whether I can spend time with my children?

Laura Cotton
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As England is placed into another national lockdown, many parents will have concerns about what impact this has on Child Arrangements. The government have released national lockdown guidance which includes direction for child arrangement matters. The...

Completing Conveyancing Protocol forms

Sunny Gangar
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Selling your House can be a stressful time, with many forms and documents which you will be required to complete which will be unfamiliar to you. Below we will break down the 3 main forms used when selling your property and explain what each form is used...

Domestic Abuse - Am I eligible for Legal Aid?

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Legal Aid is the provision of financial assistance to people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal Aid is payment from public funds, and only provided in cases of need. If you have been the victim of domestic...

What are property searches and why do you need them?

Sunny Gangar
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When you are purchasing a residential property, you will need searches carried out on the property. These are essential as they can help identify any previous planning permissions or building regulations which apply for the property. It can help identify...

Will I get free legal advice if the Local Authority become involved with my family?

Chelsea  Harris
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Depending upon the extent of the involvement by the Local Authority, you may be eligible for free legal help under three levels of public funding Legal Help Level 1, Legal Help Level 2 or Full Representation. The lowest level of Local Authority involvement...

Lasting Power of Attorneys - Health & Welfare

Jessica  Latimer
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There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA); one which deals with your Property and Financial Affairs and one which deals with your Health and Welfare. In this article, we will be discussing the Health and Welfare LPA. A Lasting Power of Attorney...

Managing affairs for a missing person

Jessica  Latimer
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The Guardianship Act was bought into power in 2019 to help families deal with the affairs of a missing loved one. Prior to this act being bought in, the only way to deal with a missing person’s affairs was to make a declaration to the High Court that...

Am I allowed to physical chastise my child such as smacking them?

Jasmine Lees
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The issue of smacking a child as a form of punishment or as a way to control a child’s behaviour is a contentious subject which divides public opinion. The issue has recently hit the headlines after Scotland introduced a law banning the smacking of...

Fail to Provide Driver Details - Company Prosecutions

Helen Johnson
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Does a Company have to provide details of their drivers’ (s172 notice)? If a vehicle is registered at DVLA as being owned by a Company then the Company must provide details of the driver's identity. How is driver information requested? The...

Declarations of Trust: what they are and when you should use one

Laura  Anderson
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If a property is in joint names, and the owners aren’t married/civil partners, the presumption upon sale is that each person will get an equal share of the net sale proceeds. If each individual owner contributed equally to the deposit and the mortgage,...

Local Authority concerns about drug and alcohol use around children

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The Local Authority have concerns about drug use and excessive use of alcohol around my children – what should I do? Worried family members, professionals or members of the public may notify the Local Authority of concerns about parents or carers...

Affray just really what is it?

Olivia Peck
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Affray is a public order offence, the offence is committed if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety. If two or more...

Are you still thinking of purchasing a property? The stamp duty holiday deadline is fast approaching!

Jade Sansoye
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The Government announced in July 2020 the new reduced stamp duty rates, which meant that residential purchasers only paid stamp duty on properties above £500,000.00. If residential purchasers were subject to higher rate stamp duty then the changes...

I have been accused of Rape. How is a Rape Investigated?

Zara Cowan
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It is regularly reported in the newspapers that the number of Rape prosecutions are falling. Early this year in order to identify areas for improvement the Crown Prosecution Service published a five-year strategy to look at all aspects of how Rape cases are...

According to Ofsted, there has been a 20% rise of non-accidental- injuries and deaths to babies during the first Covid 19 lockdown

Julia Shaikh
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During the first lockdown due to Covid-19  in March 2020, there was an alarming rise of 20% of accidental injuries in children under 12 months old. According to Ofsted, these children were either seriously injured or killed by a parent/carer. In...

How can I become a Solicitor?

Laura Cotton
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There are now two different routes to qualify as a solicitor following the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The traditional route to qualifying has the following requirements:- Qualifying Law degree If you have obtained a...

What can I do if my ex-partner is stopping me from seeing my child?

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Many parents experience problems securing contact with their children following the breakdown of a relationship.  Are you one of them?  If so, this article may help. In accordance with the Children Act 1989, as long as it is safe, children are...

Remote Hearings in the Family Justice System: A review of the Rapid Consultation by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.

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It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact in virtually every aspect of our lives.  Arguably, one of the most significant changes for us at Johnson Astills, and for our clients, is that court hearings for Family and...

Can my information be shared between my Care Proceedings and Criminal Proceedings?

Chelsea  Harris
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The simple answer is yes. Your information can be disclosed and shared between proceedings governed by the 2013 protocol and good practice model . In Care Proceedings, there is a form Annex D that the Local Authority will complete and send to the police to...

How am I meant to engage and follow a remote / hybrid Family Court hearing?

Jasmine Lees
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, Family Court hearings moved to remote hearings which take place over the telephone or via a video platform to allow for social distancing restrictions. Initially, all major hearings such as final...

Positive mental health is important in the work place.

Julia Shaikh
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It was World Mental Health Day this year on the 10 October. The Mental Health Foundation suggests that ‘Tea and Talk’ is a great way to come together in difficult times to raise awareness for mental health. Prior to the Covid 19 pandemic,...

Supply of a psychoactive substance and offering to supply

Olivia Peck
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While many of these drugs were once legal, under the Psychoactive Substances Act, 2016, it is now illegal to produce, supply, or import them for human consumption, including for personal use. However, possession for personal use is not an offence. The...

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