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.
A High Court judgment at the end of May 2017 in favour of Sir Cliff Richard against the BBC illustrates how the principle that a journalist must protect their sources has its legal limits.
In the above case the Court ordered the BBC to disclose whether or not its information that Sir Cliff was under investigation by South Yorkshire Police came from Operation Yewtree, which is the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into historic sex offences.
The background to Sir Cliff’s application was neatly summarised by the judgment in this way:
‘On 14th August 2014 his flat in Sunningdale was raided by the South Yorkshire Police (the second defendant - "SYP") seeking material in connection with an investigation of child abuse. Mr Dan Johnson, a journalist working for the first defendant, had been told of the raid in advance, and as a result the BBC was able to be in place to cover it as it happened, which it did with journalists, photographers and a helicopter. It was thus able to broadcast its occurrence more or less concurrently and did so, giving apparently extensive coverage both at the time and subsequently. In due course the police announced that there would be no further investigation into Sir Cliff.’
The judgment was part of a larger High Court case by Sir Cliff against the BBC for alleged breaches of his privacy rights and his rights under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Sir Cliff has argued in his claim that BBC journalist Dan Johnson found out about the existence of an investigation into him from a person involved in, or from a person associated with, Operation Yewtree. Both Sir Cliff and South Yorkshire Police said that Mr Johnson was able to use information about Sir Cliff being the subject of the Yewtree investigation to get more information out of South Yorkshire Police, particularly to provide Mr Johnson with advance information of the raid.
In relation to protecting its source, the BBC pleaded in its Defence to Sir Cliff’s overall claim,
‘The BBC asserts its right and the rights of its reporter Mr Johnson, to withhold information which may lead to the identification of the Confidential Source… and any information tending to identify the Confidential Source, including whether the Confidential Source was from within Operation Yewtree (which is neither confirmed nor denied)…
‘The source was not an open source. The source provided information to Mr Johnson in confidence and on condition that Mr Johnson would protect the source's identity. These are familiar attributes of a confidential journalistic source.’
The importance of protecting a source is recognised by section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. It is also a right protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression). Protecting a source is regarded as a ‘negative right’ for the purposes of Article 10 – ie, a right not to be compelled to provide information.
The European Court of Human Rights explained in the case of Goodwin v United Kingdom (1996) that, ‘… limitations on the confidentiality of journalistic sources call for the most careful scrutiny by the Court,’ and the judge in Sir Cliff’s case took the above into account, although ultimately ruled that Sir Cliff’s matter was not a Goodwin-type case.
The Court when making its decision struck a balance between the journalist’s Article 10 rights and Sir Cliff’s Article 6 right (right to a fair trial) and Article 8 right (right to respect for private and family life). It decided that the risk that the answer to Sir Cliff’s question would lead to the source of the BBC’s information being identified was very low but could not quite be regarded as non-existent. The Court also considered that the information was likely to be something that the source would be uncomfortable with having disclosed (ie, that there would be a ‘chilling effect’). This was diminished however by the fact that Operation Yewtree had already been suggested as the source.
Balanced against the above was the fact that the journalist’s knowledge of the source was of real significance, which will not be fully revealed until the trial of this case. The Court ruled that the information is something that Sir Cliff may well need in order to be able to make his case, or to rebut one of the BBC's defences, or to improve his chances of success. The Court also weighed in the balance that Sir Cliff had a procedural right to the information under normal principles of disclosure. The Judge ruled that, ‘A fair trial, with the benefit of being able to argue that which can legitimately be argued, requires that the question [posed by Sir Cliff] be answered.’
In striking a balance between the above competing points, the Court found that the balance came down clearly in favour of the question being answered.
The lesson for journalists to take from this judgment is that there are limits to how far they can protect their sources.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is “To make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including Journalists and other media professionals who need representation in Court or wish to protect the anonymity of their sources of information.
If you are worried about having to divulge your sources in an impending legal case or need representation talk to one of our team today, call us on 0203 551 8500 or email us at email@example.com.
The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May 2018 leaving businesses less than 12 months to become compliant with a host of new rules and regulations.
The GDPR will:
The Information Commissioner's Office, the UK watchdog of the data protection regime, has heavily publicised the need for businesses to take steps to ensure that they are compliant. In her YouTube video address to corporate boardrooms, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that there is no time to delay in preparing for
‘the biggest change to data protection law for a generation’.
‘If your organisation can’t demonstrate that good data protection is a cornerstone of your business policy and practices, you’re leaving your organisation open to enforcement action that can damage both public reputation and bank balance.’
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including businesses trying to keep up with the burden of ever changing legislation imposed upon them.
Our specialist solicitors can assist in re-drafting your data protection policies and procedures, as well as giving direct training to you and your staff via seminars and on-demand advice. We specialise in helping you to navigate through the requirements of the GDPR leaving you to focus on what you do best.
Our team are also expert litigators who specialise in conducting cases on behalf of clients in disputes over data protection and privacy laws. If you are are worried about GDPR compliance or wish to discuss a data protection or privacy dispute call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is becoming more and more common for friends and family members to own property together. Hayley Prideaux, Solicitor MW's Estate and Trust Dispute Team, discusses the difficulties which can be experienced when joint owners disagree about what to do with a property and how our specialist team can assist to resolve the dispute.
Friends ‘clubbing together’ in order to get onto the property ladder, parents lending money to their child and perhaps their child’s partner to enable them to purchase a property, and siblings inheriting a property under a Will or on an intestacy. The reasons behind this growing trend are many and varied but joint ownerships often come with a much greater potential for a complex and distressing ownership dispute in future years.
A dispute may arise when the relationship between joint owners breaks down or when one joint owner wants to sell their share of the property and the other does not want to sell or if they cannot agree the value or size of their share. The more joint owners that are involved the more chance of a dispute occuring.
This often happens when property is inherited under a Will or intestacy and when one owner wants to sell the property and the other wants to keep it. This can be particularly distressful at a time when you are also suffering bereavement and coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.
If agreement cannot be reached, a stalemate can arise which may go on for many years, during which, the property must be maintained and other outgoings must be paid for.
Where the joint owners of property cannot agree, any one of them may apply to the Court to resolve the situation.
Applications are made to the Court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA). The Court has wide-ranging powers under the Act and can make an order that the property be sold and/or an order that one party living in the property pays the other owner an occupation rent, if those orders are applied for.
However, there is no guarantee the Court will make such orders where they are applied for. The Court will take a range of factors into account when deciding whether to make them, such as:
At McMillan Williams, our mission is “to make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including those who find themselves in dispute with a co-owner of a property. We can act for clients who have inherited a property under a Will or on an intestacy, or who bought a property with a loved one or friend.
We can advise you as to whether you may be entitled to bring a claim under TOLATA and we can assist you with any discussions and negotiations with your co-owner in order to resolve the dispute. We are keen advocates of mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and will do all we can to resolve your dispute in a sensitive and cost effective way. Our specialist Estate and Trust Dispute Solicitors are here to offer a helping hand and to guide you though the process of making a claim as quickly and painlessly as possible. If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8550 or email us at email@example.com.
In England and Wales, unlike other countries, a person can leave their estate to whomever they choose. Therefore, if you want to leave your whole estate to Charity and not to your spouse or children, you have every right, legally, to do that. This right is known as Testamentary Freedom.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows for certain people to bring a claim against the estate if they can show that reasonable provision was not made for them under a Will or an intestacy.
The 1975 Act widened the scope for adult children to make such claims, albeit that they have to show a real need for maintenance from the estate. Therefore, if they are capable of earning a living and have no real mental or physical disabilities they would, you would think, find it difficult to mount a claim.
The long awaited and widely reported judgment from the Supreme Court of Ilott -v- Mitson has made people question if it is still worth writing a Will if the terms of that Will can be so easily overturned.
If you are intending to omit a child from your Will, you should think very carefully about how you document your decision.
It is important to appraise your will writer fully and comprehensively about your family background and family members, particularly if you are not intending to leave them anything, so that they can provide you with the best advice about how to prevent a challenge to your Will after your death.
At MW,our mission is “to make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including those who find themselves embroiled in a 1975 Act claim.
Our dedicated Estate and Trust Dispute Team are specialists in navigating the tricky waters of such claims to help ensure the best outcome for our clients. Our specialist lawyers have experience in helping both Claimants and Defendants to adult child 1975 Act claims and we are best placed to guide you through the process as quickly and painlessly as possible.
News stories are not all about celebrities, politicians, and famous people.
A cursory glance through the newspapers or viewing the television news on any given day shows that probably most news items focus on ordinary people who may be doing extraordinary things, or who may find themselves in an unusual situation.
Take the example of 22-year-old Marcus Hutchins, credited with halting the global spread of a massive international ransomware attack, WannaCry. It was estimated that Mr Hutchins prevented more than 100,000 computers across the globe from being infected by WannaCry.
Yet, despite being feted as a hero in the Press, there was a negative side to all this publicity for Mr Hutchins, a person who used the alias of ‘MalwareTech’ to avoid being identified. He was propelled into a Media spotlight that often brings with it unwanted attention. It has been reported, for instance, that Mr Hutchins has said that he will have to move house after a newspaper identified him and published his full address, resulting in him being hounded.
As part of the WannaCry story, it was not just Mr Hutchins who was targeted by the Media, but also those who knew him.
Media attention can often be short lived, but like a tornado that rips through a town, the duration of the event is not always as significant as the damage it leaves behind.
If you become the focus of unwanted Media attention, it is important to act quickly.
At MW Solicitors we can help individuals who receive unwanted Media attention. There are various legal avenues that can be explored to counter this attention, and our experts in MW’s Media Law and Reputation Management Department are not just experienced in the law regarding these matters, but also in how to communicate with the Media in an effective manner.
By way of contrast to Mr Hutchins’ situation, if a client wishes to obtain Media attention for a brand, event, or simply because they have a newsworthy story, we also assist with how, when, and on what terms information is conveyed by clients to the Media. That way clients can speak to the Media in the knowledge that Press intrusion will only go so far.