Archive for November, 2016

Widow’s Intransigence Puts Her £2 Million Farm in Jeopardy

In almost any dispute, legal advice is vital so that you know when to dig your heels in and when to give ground. In one example of unwise intransigence, a 91-year-old widow’s refusal to pay a £68,000 debt that she owed to her son left her at risk of eviction from her £2 million home. A judge accepted that the son had been promised a barn and an acre of farmland by his father before the latter’s death. The son had acted to his detriment in reliance on his father’s word, but the whole of the farm passed to the father’s widow after his death. She had refused to honour her deceased husband’s promise and was ordered to pay her son £68,000 in compensation for his loss. The debt was secured by way of a charging order against the farm. In ... Read more

No Matter How Bad Parents Are, Adoption is a Last Resort

No matter how imperfect parents may be, placing children for adoption outside their natural families is always a last resort. The Court of Appeal made that point in the case of an illegal immigrant father who callously used his two young children as puppets in an attempt to maximise his benefits. The father, who had never had any right to be in Britain, took the view that it was a local authority’s duty to wholly provide for him and his family. He had, amongst other things, threatened to jump off a bridge with his children unless the council provided him with a new home and financial support at the level he demanded. Making use of the children to put pressure on the council, he kept them off school and hid them in cupboards to evade social workers. He also made wholly ... Read more

Husband Wins £70,000 Damages for Negligent Divorce Advice

One of the principal reasons why sensible people instruct solicitors to represent them in divorce proceedings is that lawyers are obliged to have professional indemnity insurance just in case something goes wrong. That point was made by one case in which a husband won compensation of almost £70,000 from a law firm that was over-generous to his ex-wife in negotiating their divorce settlement. Acting on legal advice, the man transferred the entire benefit of a pension policy worth over £143,000 to his ex-wife. That was despite actuarial advice that he only needed to transfer 58 per cent of the fund to her in order to achieve an equal split of the marital assets. In ruling that the legal advice that the man received was negligent, a judge found that any competent solicitor would have appreciated that the settlement was excessively generous ... Read more

Making an Important Family Decision? See a Lawyer First!

When family members reach important decisions between themselves, it is tempting to dispense with formality and save a little money on legal fees. However, one case in which an elderly woman faced eviction from the home where she had lived all her life showed how very unwise that approach can be. The woman was one of three children brought up in the house and, when her brother and sister moved out, she remained living there with her parents. When her mother died, the house was left to her siblings. However, it was agreed at a family meeting that she could remain living there for the rest of her life. No written record was kept of what was said at the meeting or the terms of the agreement reached. Following her sister’s death, her brother sold the house. The price that he ... Read more
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