Frequently Asked Questions…
Divorce: Will I need to go to court? How long will it take and what will be the cost?
The process of Divorce, being dissolution of the marriage itself, is now very much a paperwork exercise. Rarely do either of the parties need to attend court. An exception would be where the Respondent opposes a claim for costs and is required by the court to appear in person to explain why he/she shouldn’t meet part, if not all the Petitioner’s financial outlay in bringing the proceedings.
In terms of time, subject to the court’s workload and the parties working together to achieve an early conclusion, dissolution of the marriage could be reached in perhaps four months. Other aspects of the proceedings, in particular, financial/property matters, quite often take longer.
At Tickle Hall Cross, divorce proceedings attract a Fixed Fee of £450.00 plus VAT of £90.00 and Court Fee of £410.00. The former might be subject to an increase in the event of some unforeseen difficulty. Further the latter can be reduced if not waived altogether, dependent upon the Petitioner’s financial circumstances, a decision which the court alone makes. All other aspects of a divorce, children and financial matters, are subject to our hourly charges. An estimate of costs for such work is always provided at the outset and this will be reviewed from time to time, during conduct of the proceedings.
Personal Injury: How long do I have to make a claim for compensation?
For most claims, there is a statutory limitation period of 3 years which means that you have to issue Court Proceedings within 3 years of the date of your accident or the date when you realised that your injury could be someone else’s fault. Children usually have until their 21st birthday as the limitation period does not start until their 18th birthday.
Personal Injury: Do I have to use my Insurers Panel Solicitor?
The general rule is that you can use the Solicitor of your choice, your insurer will often instruct one of their chosen Solicitors but you have a choice as regards who to use. It is often the case that the Solicitor who you are referred to will not be local and you may find that it is difficult to get hold of them, you could be left on hold or that your calls are not returned. Most people like to use a local friendly Solicitor whom they are able to pop in and see if needs be.
Landlord/Tenant: How can I get rid of my nightmare tenants!
As a landlord there are two ways to regain possession of a property which you have rented out; you can serve the tenant(s) with a 2 month notice, if they do not leave the property after the notice has expired then accelerated repossession proceedings will need to be issued via the court. Alternatively if the tenants are in substantial rent arrears (2 months or more) then you can serve a 2 week notice and then issue possession proceedings through the court to regain possession and recover the rent arrears.
Commercial: What should I do if I am unable to pay my rent when it becomes due ?
Speak to your Landlord immediately to advise him of the situation. Do not just ignore the fact that you will not be paying your rent (or have not paid your rent) when it was due as your Landlord could forfeit your lease.
Commercial: What do I need to do if I want to sell my business and transfer my lease to the buyer ?
Inform your Landlord and provide him with details of the buyer as he will need to take up reference etc. from the buyer before a Licence to Assign your lease is issued. You should also be aware that in almost all situations when you assign your lease, your Landlord will require you to act as a guarantor for the incoming tenant (ie. your buyer).
Court Proceedings: How do I start a claim?
If you are issuing a claim the first thing that you need to determine is the track for your claim as the track will determine whether or not you can pursue the other side for your reasonable legal costs.
If your claim is worth less than £10,000 it will be in the small claims track, if the claim is £10,001 or more then the claim will be in the fast track – fast track claims entitle you to seek to reclaim your reasonable legal costs. You then need to complete an N1 claim form and send three copies of the same to the court with the issue fee. You must detail the other party’s full name and address on the claim form. Once the court has received the form the claim will be issued and once served the Defendant has 14 days to respond to the claim.
What is Probate?
“Probate” is the term used by people to mean the process involved in sorting out the financial and legal affairs of a deceased person. An estate may need a “Grant of Representation” to allow the assets to be dealt with. There are various different sorts:
A “Grant of Probate” is the legal document which proves that a Will is valid. You may need to obtain this if the deceased owned a house, held shares in companies like utility providers or privatised banks or building societies, or if they had bank accounts with over ₤15,000 in them. The Grant may be needed even though there is a Will.
If a person dies without a Will then a “Grant of Letters of Administration” is needed to deal with their financial and legal affairs. In this case the document proves that the people named within it have the legal right to deal with the deceased person’s affairs.
When the phrase “going to Probate” is used this is often a reference to the District Probate Registry, which is the branch of the Court which deals with the administrative paperwork involved. The District Probate Registry which we use is in Liverpool, but when you instruct a solicitor to deal with the estate then you do not need to actually go to court – we deal with all of this on your behalf.
My relative has dementia, and Social Services have said I need to get “Power of Attorney”. How do I do this?
A “Lasting Power of Attorney” is a document which a person signs, which gives someone else the authority to act on their behalf. The word “Lasting” means that the Power given will continue to be effective even if the person making the Power (the “Donor”) loses capacity to make decisions for themselves. The document remains effective until the Donor dies.
In order to draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney, the Donor must understand the nature and effect of the power they are giving to their Attorney – they must have ‘Capacity’ to sign the document. An independent Third Party (often one of our solicitors) will meet with the Donor to assess whether they have Capacity, to discuss with them any questions they may have, advise of any issues they should be considering and to assist with ensuring that the relevant paperwork is completed correctly.
Before the document can be used, it must be registered with a part of the High Court called The Office of the Public Guardian. They will check the paperwork, ensure that everything is in order and then register the document in their records. This process takes at least 6 weeks, and often much longer as the Court usually has a backlog of outstanding cases.
If your relative no longer has capacity to make a Lasting Power, and very often if they were diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s some time ago, they may not, then there is the possibility of making an application to be appointed as a “Deputy” on behalf of the person who lacks capacity. This is a much more involved process, but we would be pleased to discuss the options available to you.