One Day I’ll Fly Away………..

Solicitor Evelyn James considers the impact the current pandemic is having on travel abroad, and your legal rights if your holiday plans have been impacted.

We suspect that that for many, the novelty of a stay vacation is wearing thin, and you are thinking about your holidays abroad right now.

Many people will be disappointed that pre-booked holidays have, or will have to be cancelled and  are unsure about what to do.

Holidays in the UK or abroad are classed as non-essential travel and are not permitted during the current lockdown, and are therefore having to be cancelled.

If your holiday has been cancelled because of the pandemic, you have the right to request a refund from your travel agent to be paid within 14 days of the holiday cancellation if you booked a package holiday (such as travel and accommodation) . However, many travel agencies and tour operators are facing severe cash flow problems and therefore offering Refund Credit Notes to cash or use at later date. Some of these have incentives such as 125% vouchers for future holidays.

You do not have to accept a Refund Credit Note, and are legally entitled to a refund. If you are tempted to accept one then make sure it is not time limited as the current crisis, and its impact on travel doesn’t look like it will pass any time soon.

The Refund Credit Note must record the original booking reference and attach the cancelled booking or invoice confirmation, and where appropriate the ATOL Certificate, if that applied to the original booking.

ATOL will provide you with some recompense if the travel agent or tour operator later ceases trading and becomes insolvent . 

Travel agents are currently contacting customers in order of date of holiday to deal with cancellations.

The current lockdown is in place until at least May 7th 2020, and if you are due to go on holiday around that time or shortly afterwards, you may be uncertain about whether to cancel, or to wait to see how the situation evolves. You may find it helpful to check your travel insurance, or to speak with your bank if you have travel cover as part of a premium bank account etc.

The issue of travel in the coming months is a very ‘hot’ topic at present and there are many websites and news articles out there to help but, as always, if you need our assistance then do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at JNP Legal.

Our Civil Litigation Team are on hand to assist you with all consumer  and contract issues, as well as general litigation and dispute resolution. Email law@jnplegal.org, call 01685 350421, or message us on any of our social media platforms.

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Photo by Rebeca Gonçalves on Pexels.com

 

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIFE PLANNING – Are Your Affairs in Order?

Evelyn James, a Solicitor from JNP Legal Life Planning Team explores the importance of having a valid and up to date Will, particularly in the current unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in.

Life is precious, life can be cut short.

We are all learning this lesson at present, and there has never been a more important time to get our affairs in order.

There would be nothing worse for a family stricken with grief to discover that no plans were made for who was to look after their children, or no consideration of what would happen to their home and other assets.

Take control; make sure that control of your estate and your assets go to the right people.  Make your wishes and feelings known so your loved ones are not left guessing or quarrelling, or worst – forgotten.

Make sure you make a Will and keep that Will updated by reviewing it every few years or when your circumstances change. Consider also your family and friends’ circumstances, and whether any changes in their lives mean you need to revisit your Will.

It is of vital importance that you ensure any Will you have has been validly executed so that it is not open to challenge.

Why be tempted to draft your own Will, when it is a document of such huge and lasting importance, and when instructing us is fast and straight forward to do.

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak, we continue to take instructions, prepare and assist our clients to execute their Wills on a daily basis.  We have adapted our usual process to ensure that this can be done without you needing to leave your home.

The law relating to the signing of a Will in the presence of two witnesses is currently under review given the challenges of the present situation but, as it stands, it cannot be done by video link and the two witnesses must be present with you when you sign.

The rules relating to social distancing can be respected if the Will is signed in an open space or you are behind a window so that your witnesses can see you sign.

If you are physically incapable of signing you can direct another to do so on your behalf, subject to there being no issues with mental capacity. Again, this must be done in the presence of 2 witnesses.

Our Life Planning Team at JNP Legal are here to help you at this difficult time and provide any advice and assistance you require.

Our Civil Litigation team are also on hand to assist with any cases where disputes arise regarding the validity of Wills, and Estate distribution.

If you need our assistance we are here to help you. Contact us for a no obligation discussion on 01685 350421, by email at law@jnplegal.org, or by direct messaging us on any of our social media platforms.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Make the Most of It!

Crime Solicitor Lewys Dymond gives us a glance into his life in lock down, and provides some useful tips on things to do to keep ourselves occupied.

 

Not that long ago, if you had offered me the opportunity to work from home for a few weeks, I would have jumped at it. No daily commutes in rush hour traffic and best of all NO FILING, who could refuse??

But after nearly 4 weeks of working from home and depressing news stories, it’s easy to get lost in all the gloom. Whilst it is important that we all stay home to stay safe and help the NHS, I’m sure we all had very different plans for spring. As a hobbyist photographer spring is one of the best times of the year to get out with a camera. I had hoped to be taking a trip to Skomer Island to see the Puffins returning to their nesting sites (there’s a picture from a previous trip below to help brighten your day), enjoying long hikes in the spring sunshine and booking a long overdue holiday to somewhere hot and sunny. Instead, I am in self-isolation.

But don’t lose hope, you don’t have to look too hard to find some good news. Social media is awash with praise (and quite rightly) for Captain Tom Moore and his heroic efforts to raise money for our NHS. Every Thursday at 8pm thousands of us stand on our door steps in support for our NHS workers and people who are not able to go to work in these tough times are volunteering to support those who need help.

And whilst everything is in lock down, professionals such as chefs, hairdressers, musicians and fitness gurus are taking to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram like never before to keep us all motivated and educated to help get us through. All you have to do is look and you will find something for you.

In the last 4 weeks, I’ve had a go at cutting my own hair (though granted there wasn’t that much left to begin with), I’ve made a lamb rogan josh with pila rice, monster burger with spicy burger sauce (my favourite so far) and a Chinese take away inspired sesame and honey chicken, all made from scratch and I am already eyeing up a pasta machine for my next culinary experiment. As for exercise, I haven’t done this much running since I left school, I even tried Yoga, only to learn I really can’t bend that way but hey, I tried. If cooking, exercise and self-hair styling isn’t for you, there are countless tutorials covering everything from musical instruments, DIY and even learning a new language.

What I am trying to say, is that whilst we are all stuck indoors, there is so much we can learn and experience, things we never had the time for before but always wanted to try. As hard as it is to stay indoors, it’s vital that we do. So let’s make the most of it. Learn something new and come out of this with something to show off to your friends and family when we can finally meet up again.Puffin

Keep safe everyone!

Keep Calm and Make the Most of It

Crime Solicitor Lewys Dymond gives us a glance into his life in lock down, and provides some useful tips on things to do to keep ourselves occupied.

 

Not that long ago, if you had offered me the opportunity to work from home for a few weeks, I would have jumped at it. No daily commutes in rush hour traffic and best of all NO FILING, who could refuse??

But after nearly 4 weeks of working from home and depressing news stories, it’s easy to get lost in all the gloom. Whilst it is important that we all stay home to stay safe and help the NHS, I’m sure we all had very different plans for spring. As a hobbyist photographer spring is one of the best times of the year to get out with a camera. I had hoped to be taking a trip to Skomer Island to see the Puffins returning to their nesting sites (there’s a picture from a previous trip below to help brighten your day), enjoying long hikes in the spring sunshine and booking a long overdue holiday to somewhere hot and sunny. Instead, I am in self-isolation.

But don’t lose hope, you don’t have to look too hard to find some good news. Social media is awash with praise (and quite rightly) for Captain Tom Moore and his heroic efforts to raise money for our NHS. Every Thursday at 8pm thousands of us stand on our door steps in support for our NHS workers and people who are not able to go to work in these tough times are volunteering to support those who need help.

And whilst everything is in lock down, professionals such as chefs, hairdressers, musicians and fitness gurus are taking to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram like never before to keep us all motivated and educated to help get us through. All you have to do is look and you will find something for you.

In the last 4 weeks, I’ve had a go at cutting my own hair (though granted there wasn’t that much left to begin with), I’ve made a lamb rogan josh with pila rice, monster burger with spicy burger sauce (my favourite so far) and a Chinese take away inspired sesame and honey chicken, all made from scratch and I am already eyeing up a pasta machine for my next culinary experiment. As for exercise, I haven’t done this much running since I left school, I even tried Yoga, only to learn I really can’t bend that way but hey, I tried. If cooking, exercise and self-hair styling isn’t for you, there are countless tutorials covering everything from musical instruments, DIY and even learning a new language.

What I am trying to say, is that whilst we are all stuck indoors, there is so much we can learn and experience, things we never had the time for before but always wanted to try. As hard as it is to stay indoors, it’s vital that we do. So let’s make the most of it. Learn something new and come out of this with something to show off to your friends and family when we can finally meet up again.Puffin

Keep safe everyone!

Government Guidance Issued on House Moves – Covid-19 Pandemic

Property solicitor Rachel Church considers the recent Government guidance issued, and the impact on house moves.

The current Covid-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing provisions have had a big impact on the housing market. This comes after the recent boost in house prices with months of price increases following the December election and the effect of the ‘Boris Bounce.’

The Government  is aware of the impact of the health restrictions on the housing market and  has issued advice to help clarify the position.  The Government has urged parties involved in sales and purchases ‘to adapt and be flexible’ and  to stay at home  and delay moving whilst the emergency measures are in place. The advice is to amicably agree alternative dates and not to withdraw from transactions.  The Government has stated, ‘prioritising the health of individuals and the public must be the priority.’

The health restrictions have raised a number of questions in relation to the conveyancing process, for example, issues in fully marketing properties  without viewings; possible delays in obtaining standard  searches from Local Authorities and mortgage lender’s ability to carry out physical inspections for valuations. There are also other questions arising, for example, where a matter is ready to complete but   a seller is in ‘isolation’ or a buyer is unable to book removalists whilst at all times  complying  with the social distancing provisions.

The Government advice includes guidance at various stages of  the home moving process,  such as marketing the Property, before and after exchange of contracts and moving into  unoccupied Properties.

The advice includes the following:

  • Where a Property  is not yet being marketed, a seller is able to  speak to estate agents over the phone to obtain advice on marketing but they are not allowed to invite’ unnecessary visitors’ into their home, including estate  agents to carry out a market appraisals or take internal photographs.
  • If a Property is already on the market, the advice is that a Seller can continue to advertise it as being for sale but they  should not allow people in to view the Property. Virtual viewings are however allowed.
  • If a Property is vacant, the parties are able to continue with the transaction,  as long as the Government guidance currently in force from Public Health England and Public Health Wales is strictly followed.
  • Where a Property is currently occupied and contracts have not been exchanged, the advice to all parties is ‘to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move’  for a time when the  stay-at-home restrictions are no longer in place.
  • If contracts have been exchanged and the Property is currently occupied , all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter.  The advice states, ‘If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus. Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if at all possible.’

 

The Government also stated in its advice that UK Finance have confirmed that mortgage lenders are looking at finding ways to enable buyers  who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to 3 months so that they are able to delay completion.

The  effect  of the current health emergency  on the housing market is no doubt significant  but it  is temporary  and the  general  Government advice appears to be to sit tight and look to delay the moving process if you can until the restrictions are eased and then removed altogether.  Hopefully then the housing market will quickly start  to ‘bounce back’.

If you have any queries in respect of your house move please do not hesitate to contact our Property Team for expert advice. Paper house in hands_4278838_1

 

 

 

 

 

WE ARE HIRING!!

Receptionist/Administration assistant – Temporary full time role

JNP Legal is a fast growing and forward thinking High Street legal practice with three offices. Our main office is located within the borough of Merthyr Tydfil and our branch offices are in Nelson, Caerphilly County and Llanishen, Cardiff.

We currently employ around 50 members of staff. We are one of the premier law firms in South Wales. The firm recognises that the quality of its service to clients depends directly on its directors and staff and strives to provide the sort of working environment that will enable you to do your best in all your duties for the firm. JNP Legal actively encourage staff development and wishes to be an employer of choice for top quality legal advisors and support staff.

Our vision is to be the leading High Street Legal Practice and we want the best people in place to achieve this. Our continued success is built entirely on the talented people who work here, so employee development is important to us because everyone is a valued member of the team, and we want every individual to have the skills and capabilities to achieve both your own personal goals and our business goals. We want good people to join our company, to help our company continue to go from strength to strength.

The services we provide are mainly procured by individual clients and small companies within the locality. Our mission is to provide quality legal services at a price people can afford, ensuring access to justice for all. Our clients are people and small businesses throughout South Wales who are in need of a broad range of legal services. They require solicitors who are accessible and able to provide expert advice on their legal matters affordably.

The Role

We are currently looking for a temporary, full time Receptionist/Administration assistant to work within our busy Merthyr Tydfil office. You may also be expected to cover occasionally at our Llanishen or Nelson office.

As a Receptionist/Administrator in our busy offices, you’ll ensure things run smoothly behind the scenes. By providing excellent client care and administration, you’ll help our solicitors to really focus on our clients.

Ideally candidates should possess practical experience within a similar role, however full training will be provided. Whilst some of your tasks may be repetitive, the ability to make a difference to our solicitors and clients makes this an extremely important role. The role would therefore suit someone who has a genuine interest in helping our clients receive an exceptional service at the time when they need it most.

The successful candidate will be the first point of contact our existing and prospective clients have with the practice and therefore must project an image of professionalism and approachability to the public. You will deal with all enquires made by the public, including clients, potential clients, organisations and professional bodies, regardless of how such enquires are made.

This is a temporary full time role. The candidate will be required to work Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm each day (with an hour for lunch).

Key tasks associated with the role:

• Deal with all enquiries into the office quickly, accurately and appropriately
• Responsibility for the running of the reception and waiting room areas
• Dealing with telephone calls, faxes, deliveries, recalls from storage
• Archiving of files
• Collection and distribution of faxes and telephone messages left, to the appropriate department
• When required to assist in general office administration at the direction of the managers of the practice,
• fee earner, senior support staff or director by whom instructions are given
• Filing, scanning documents, faxing, photocopying, preparation of court bundles, opening and closing files on computer databases, ordering stationary, running errands, dealing with incoming and outgoing post, contacting clients by telephone, covering at other offices if required.

Personal Specification:

• Excellent client care and organisation skills.
• Honesty and integrity
• Ability to work as part of a team with excellent inter-personal skills.
• Ability to meet deadlines and targets.
• Has a passion for excellence and can enthuse others to have the same
• Strongly determined and shows tenacity when facing challenging situations and feedback.
• Self-starter, capable of operating at a level well beyond day to day direction.
• Excellent attention to detail
• Confidence in liaising with senior colleagues regarding requests
• Accuracy and efficiency
• Good standard of education including GCSEs (to include English and Mathematics at C or above)
• Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office systems and an interest in IT systems would be a distinct advantage.

How to Apply and Salary information

Working hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour for lunch. This is a temporary role for a minimum of 1 month initially. We are offering National Living wage for this role – currently £8.21 per hour.

To apply for this position please send us a copy of your CV and covering letter to Cairan@jnplegal.org.

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Probate Delays

The implementation of a new IT system which makes it possible to submit probate applications online has been causing significant delays. The Ministry of Justice has stated that there have been problems both with the Probate Registry’s new software, and also their printing systems.

When an application is submitted for probate, the usual turnaround time is 2 weeks. However, the recent delays have seen applications taking up to 15 weeks to be processed.

The Law Society, along with The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors For The Elderly (SFE) have been routinely meeting with HMCTS to review matters, with the last review being held on 10 September 2019.

Click here to read the Law Society’s article in full.

If you have concerns about an estate which involves you or your family, or have any questions about obtaining a Grant of Probate, please contact our team of experienced private client lawyers on 01443 450561 who will be able to guide you through the process as swiftly as possible.

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My offer has been accepted but how long will it take before I can move into my new home?

Once an offer has been accepted, the estate agents prepare the sales particulars,  which include details of the Property being purchased,  the agreed price and the Seller and Buyer’s solicitors. Once this is sent out to both parties, the solicitors can begin  the conveyancing process which will include carrying out identification checks and obtaining completed client care documentation from their client.

Once  the Buyer’s solicitors have received the Contract papers, the transaction generally can take between  6 and 12 weeks to ‘complete,’ which is when the balance of monies is paid, the keys collected and the Buyer can physically move in. This timeframe can be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances of each transaction.

Conveyancing  transactions can be complex and there are a variety of factors affecting the amount of time  it can take to complete. These can include the following:

1.The nature of the Property and transaction. For example, if the Property if Freehold or Leasehold, a new build, unregistered or if it is a probate sale. For example, Leasehold transactions typically take longer than Freehold ones due to the fact that there are additional parties involved, such as the managing agents and Landlord; further documents to review and advise on, including the Lease and Leasehold  information pack; further enquiries to raise and additional complexities to consider arising  out of the Lease.

Another example is new build Properties where there is quite often a very short time scale imposed to exchange contracts, for example, four weeks from receipt of papers by the Buyer’s solicitors, but the completion date is not fixed but  ‘on notice.’  The notice is given by the Seller’s solicitors,  typically providing 10 working days’ notice ,  which may mean there is a long period of weeks or even months in between exchange and completion with an uncertain completion date. In another example, the purchase of  ‘unregistered’ land may have an impact on timescales where there are missing title deeds or where there is purchase of a Property from an Executor of an Estate and the  Grant of Probate has not yet been issued by the Probate Registry.

2.Mortgage finance. If you are buying with a mortgage, it is important to submit all the requested  information to your Lender as early as possible to complete the application and for the Lender to arrange their valuation in order for the mortgage offer to be issued.  Although the issuing of the mortgage offer usually  runs alongside the transaction  and generally does not in itself cause a delay,  there may be other issues arising once the offer is received that may need  to be reported to the Lender and resolved. For example,  where a valuer has identified a loft conversion at the Property but there  is no evidence of Planning and Building Regulation Consents being obtained.

3.Surveys. If you are carrying out a Survey on the Property, for example, a Homebuyers or full Structural Survey, issues may be identified requiring further investigation. Often there may be direct negotiations  via the estate agents between the Buyer and Seller , for example, if the Survey has identified a damp problem, electrical works required or  a rodent infestation. Further reports and investigations may be required and the Seller may agree to carry out work to remedy issues identified in a Survey  prior to exchange of contracts.

4.Searches. The usual searches on the Property include the Local Authority Search,  Water and Drainage search and the Environmental search. Other searches may also be required which are region specific, for example, a Coal Mining search. There may be issues arising from the searches  that require investigation and resolution before proceeding to an exchange of contracts.  For example,  a contaminated land issue in an Environmental search; the Local Authority Search revealing that the road accessing the Property  has not been adopted by the Local Authority and therefore is not maintainable at public expense or  the Water and Drainage Search  showing that a sewer or drain is located underneath  part of the Property.

5.Complex transactions. Once the title documents are received from the Seller’s solicitors, they may reveal title defects or  issues with breaches of  restrictive covenants or  rights of way that need to be dealt with. This may  include making enquiries with the Land Registry to clarify the position, obtaining indemnity insurance and reporting to the Lender.

6.Source of Funds. It is important for the Buyer  to ensure funds are in place and they have provided detailed evidence of accumulation and source of funds to their solicitors as early as possible  together with details of any gifts being made towards the purchase price. Third party gifts may also need to be reported to Lenders where there is mortgage finance in place and if required it is important to do this as early as possible.

7.The length of the Chain. The Seller’s related transaction and the length of the ‘chain, ’ where  multiple people are buying and selling and are all reliant on each other may have a big impact on the timescale of the transaction. There is an increased risk of unexpected delays where this is a long chain and there is no control over how quickly other parties progress their own transaction.

8.Slow responses to enquiries. The time the Seller’s solicitors take to respond to enquiries will affect the process and if slow and unresponsive, can cause significant delays. In Leasehold purchases, third parties such as  managing agents may take some time to respond to additional enquiries  which can cause further delays.  It is recommended that you instruct a firm, such a JNP Legal,  that has been awarded the conveyancing quality scheme certification,  ‘CQS’ which means they are accredited by the Law Society as having  been able to  demonstrate they have the skill and expertise to provide quality residential conveyancing advice.

Although the above examples explain how various  factors can delay the conveyancing process,  it is still important to try to agree and communicate any  expected timescales with the other side,  if possible, to work towards at the start of the transaction so that all parties expectations can be managed and  to reduce the risk of frustration  being caused at  a  later date.

At JNP Legal we provide expert legal services by qualified conveyancers to ensure your property transaction goes as smoothly as possible. Our transparent pricing structures will identify all the payments involved in the conveyancing process without any hidden extras or paying referral fees to a third party.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist you with all your legal needs. We have qualified solicitors who can provide you with a advice and assistance to ensure you legal needs are fully serviced.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil (01685 350421), Nelson (01443 4560561) and Llanishen offices (02920 763211). We also open on Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr office for your convenience.

Contact us on 01443 454915 or 02920 767072 for a conveyancing quote or email us – House@jnplegal.org. You can also visit our website www.jnplegal.org where our self-service conveyancing portal will allow you to obtain a no obligation quote when it suits you.