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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.

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Be vigilant and organised warning as 6500 house moves anticipated for Friday 30th August

The month of August is always a busy time for our Property Team at JNP Legal. This year however, it is expected to be an even busier time. The date of Friday 30th August is set to be the most popular day to move house this year, according to research carried out by The Home Owners Alliance.

Statistical data from Reallymoving.com has revealed more than 6,500 moves are expected on 30th August 2019 – which is almost four times more than average. Some 175,000 homeowners will move on a Friday over the course of the year with 28% of completions taking place on a Friday. Completing on a Friday gives home owners time to settle into their new homes before starting work again on the Monday.

The Homeowners Alliance is warning people to be extra vigilant and to ensure they are well organised if they intend to move this Friday 30th August in view of the anticipated surge in moves.

The Homeowners Alliance have said “Many homeowners like to move during the school summer holidays so their children can settle down in time for the new academic year, the start of September across most of the UK.

It may appear sensible to move on a Friday, so you have time to unpack and settle in over the weekend before heading back to work, but we advise people to be exceptionally careful if they move on a Friday. On this particular Friday, 30th August, with even more moves expected to be happening than usual, it’s paramount that people are as organised as possible.

“Of course delays can occur at any time, but issues with transfers of funds are more likely to happen on a Friday when banks, conveyancers and removal firms are stretched to the limit as it’s the time when most housing deals tend to complete. On the last Friday of the month bank money transfers can get overloaded and it’s peak time for conveyancing fraud. If there are delays in transferring funds, you may have to spend the weekend in a hotel or on friends’ and families’ sofas.”

Rob Houghton, CEO of reallymoving, further comments on the difficulties of moving house in a busy period. He said:

“Moving on the busiest day of the year isn’t for the faint-hearted, especially with the August bank holiday also happening that week, pushing more moves onto the remaining four days. Ensure your solicitor and everyone in the chain knows you’re working towards that date and book your removals firm well in advance, so you only need to confirm as soon as you exchange. It’s best to ask them to come to your house to assess the volume of your belongings. This ensures you have the right sized van and number of team members on the day of your move.”

According to The HomeOwners Alliance study, 115,000 moves are delayed every year. Reasons for the delays can include problems caused by funds not being cleared, or sellers leaving their property later than they should.  Home movers can end up paying £500 or more and one in seven are having to pay in excess of £1,000 in charges because they have cancelled the removal van or have been forced to stay in a hotel.

With conveyancing scams already widespread within the legal industry, the month of August presents an even greater opportunity for cyber criminals to attempt to scam unsuspecting clients and legal practices. JNP Legal will be extra vigilant and alert to preying fraudsters when transferring house purchase money. Our due diligence team are on high alert at present to ensure your property move does not fall foul of any fraud or cyber crime. The ever-increasing sophistication of fraudsters has meant that JNP Legal have to continuously review transactions within our Property Teams so please don’t be worried or anxious if we contact you for additional information or documentation to verify information. We are ensuring both your transaction and our practice is kept as safe as we can.

Some of the potential cyber attacks JNP Legal are alert to relate to Conveyancing scams, which are a type of email modification fraud. These are widespread within the industry due to the significant amount of money passing between law firms and their clients. Criminals intervene and falsify emails between clients and law firms, resulting in bank details being changed and money being transferred to hackers instead of onto us. JNP Legal pride ourselves on keeping our clients’ money safe and will always do our best to keep your transaction secure.

These types are scams are also known as ‘Friday afternoon Fraud’ or even ‘Monday morning Fraud’. Fraudsters will target first thing Monday morning due to staff just starting their working week or on Friday afternoons when the JNP Legal accounts team are usually busy transacting funds. Our accounts team are fully trained on cyber fraud and are always on high alert for any suspicious activities.

You can be confident that your move really is in safe hand here at JNP Legal. Whether you are a first time buyer or a property investor JNP Legal can assist you. If you’re looking to buy or sell any kind of property, our conveyancing team of fully qualified solicitors and conveyancers can help to make the process as easy as possible whilst eliminating the risk of encountering any nasty surprises further down the road.

Our conveyancing team will be happy to provide you with a quotation. 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.

Contact us on 01443 454915 for a 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.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your legal needs in a discreet and professional manner.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

We offer home visits to those clients who are unable to attend our offices in person and we pride ourselves on offering first class client care.

If you need assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this blog please call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org and we will do our very best to provide you with the legal assistance you require.

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Same Roof’ rule abolished allowing victims to reapply Published by Ministry of Justice on 13 June 2019

Why?

In July 2018 the Court of Appeal decided that the ‘same-roof’ rule had unfairly denied a claimant who was abused by her stepfather the right to compensation. The government chose to not appeal this judgment, and confirmed that the rule would be removed as part of the Victims Strategy published in September.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme awards taxpayer-funded payments to victims injured as a result of violent crime, paying out over £150 million to victims in 2017/18.

What does this mean?

  • More victims will be apply to apply for compensation; and
  • Anyone previously denied compensation under the rule, or put off from coming forward because of it, will be able to make fresh applications.

What is the ‘same roof’ rule?

The so-called ‘same roof’ rule blocked victims of violent crime from receiving compensation if the attacker was a family member they were living with at the time of the incident.

  • The rule was part of the original (non-statutory) compensation scheme introduced in 1964 and was changed in October 1979, but the changes were not made retrospective.
  • The pre-1979 rule applied to adults and children. Under the rule applicants are not entitled to compensation if they were living with their assailant as members of the same family at the time of the incident.
  • The reasons for the rule were difficulties with evidence and a wish to ensure that offenders did not benefit from compensation paid to the victim who they were living with.
  • The rule applies to all victims of abuse, including physical as well as sexual abuse.
  • Under the 2012 Scheme, applicants can still be refused compensation if at the time of the incident they were adults living with the assailant as members of the same family unless they are no longer living together and are unlikely to do so again.

Victims Minister Edward Argar said:

“The ‘same-roof’ rule was unfair and we recognise the impact this had on victims whose applications were refused simply because they lived with their attacker. Whilst no amount of compensation can make up for the immense suffering caused by such appalling crimes, by abolishing the rule we are widening access to much needed support and continue to review the entire scheme so it better supports victims. Improving support for victims is at the very heart of this government’s work, and through our Victims Strategy we are determined to improve their experience at every stage of the justice system.”

Gabrielle Shaw, NAPAC’s CEO, said:

“We are delighted that the ‘same roof’ rule has been scrapped. Given that most child abuse happens within the family and children are likely to have had no choice but to live under the same roof as their abuser, this rule was rightly viewed as deeply unfair and punitive.”

President of the Law Society of England and Wales Christina Blacklaws said:

“This change is a welcome correction to a historical anomaly that was causing significant injustice. We are very pleased the government has made this change, as a result of which more victims of historical child abuse will be able to claim recompense for the traumas they suffered.”

How to apply?

You can:

 

Victims applying or reapplying for compensation will still have to meet the Scheme’s other eligibility criteria to be made an award.

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How much is my personal injury claim worth?

We here at JNP Legal are specialists when it comes to personal injury claims. Our Nelson office is a corporate member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and two of our solicitors are accredited members of APIL. We have successfully negotiated settlement on a number of claims over the years.

One of the most common questions asked at the outset of a claim is in relation to the value of it. At the start of a claim, it is extremely difficult to say with any certainty how much a claim will settle for, as this is dependent upon lots of factors. This blog will try to explain how a claim is valued, and what types of items can be claimed for.

As part of any personal injury claim, compensation is broken down into 2 headings: General Damages and Special Damages. General Damages are paid to compensate the injured person for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the injury itself. Special Damages take into account expenses such as loss of earnings, care and assistance, travel and future losses.

For the Special Damages claim, it is usually possible to calculate this very precisely. For a loss of earnings claim, this is calculated using the average wage before the accident. This is usually done by looking at the wage slips in the 3 months before the accident occurred. Once an average is worked out, you would then deduct what was actually received (i.e. statutory sick pay) and the figure you are left with is the loss of earnings claim. For a self-employed individual, the loss would be the loss of profit to the business.

It is sometimes the case that an injured person will require care and assistance from family members for activities such as personal care, shopping and housework. This is also something that can be claimed for and it is worked out on the basis of a reduced hourly rate, to reflect the fact that the family member helping is not a care professional. It is usually the case that the Defendant will try and defend this aspect of the claim and it is normal for no offers to be made in respect of this head of loss. This is something to be prepared for in negotiation.

For the injured person’s travel claim, we here at JNP claim this at 45p a mile. Again, this is a head of loss which is normally disputed by the Defendant and it is not uncommon to see an offer for mileage at around 30-35p a mile. Local courts have also awarded mileage as low as 25p a mile.

For someone who has a more serious injury, there are sometimes future losses i.e. future loss of earnings, future care and assistance etc.

For any item of Special Damage, it is important for the injured person to keep whatever proof they can i.e. receipts, wage slips. It is often useful to keep a diary so that you can keep track of the care and assistance received, and the travel to appointments undertaken. This will strengthen the case.

The other type of compensation is General Damages. This is to compensate the injured person for the injury itself. Unlike the Special Damages claim, it is not usually possible to give a precise figure for this head of loss, as this type of compensation is normally calculated by reference to a bracket i.e. £1,500 to £2,000. This head of loss is based upon the medical report obtained as part of the claim. The medical expert will confirm what type of injury has been sustained (i.e. soft tissue, fracture etc), and they will confirm the seriousness of that, along with a prognosis period (i.e. how long the injury is expected to last for). Once we have this detail from the medical expert, we then look at previous case law to see what similar injuries settled for. We are also guided by guidelines issues by Judges. It must be stressed that no two cases are identical and the case law found is only really an indication of the potential value of the claim. We would usually seek to negotiate settlement with the Defendant at the higher end of our valuation, but it is sometimes the case that cases settle towards the lower end of the bracket. For this type of compensation, each case will be dependent upon its facts.

There are lots of reforms going on at the moment in the personal injury sector. Our previous blogs have written about this. The reporting of these reforms in the national press has gone under the radar recently due to Brexit. However, these reforms are coming, and they are set to dramatically change how personal injury claims are brought and settled. At the moment, the average value of a claim for whiplash, which lasted 0-3 months, is £1,800. One of the reforms due to go through is that there would be a set tariff. For this type of injury, post reform, the amount of damages would be capped at £235. This would result in a saving for insurers of around £1,600 per claim, but it highly unlikely that this type of saving will be passed onto the car insurance customer. The anticipated saving per customer is going to be around £40 a customer. The aim of these reforms is to reduce the number of claims being brought, the so called ‘Compensation Culture’, but recent statistics show that the number of claims being brought is actually dropping. Both the Law Society, and APIL, have heavily campaigned against these reforms, with the worry that they will reduce access to justice.

At JNP Legal, we always strive to get the best possible result for our clients. This applies not only to personal injury claims, but the other areas that we work in. We are your local solicitors. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, please contact us now and we will be more than happy to try and assist you. We do offer No Win No Fee Agreements, as long as we are happy that the claim has a good chance of winning.

We have 3 offices and we are able to travel to the office most convenient for you. Our telephone numbers can be found on our website.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your legal needs in a discreet and professional manner.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

We offer home visits to those clients who are unable to attend our offices in person and we pride ourselves on offering first class client care. If you need assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this blog please call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org and we will do our very best to provide you with the legal assistance you require.