As our protest against the Ministry of Justice reforms on Legal Aid continues, I have tried to explain to as many people as I could how important legal aid is, how it gives a voice to those people who haven't got one themselves, how being able to choose a solicitor you trust to give proper and quality advice is fundamental. More importantly how Legal Aid is not just for the criminal, and how anyone might find themselves in a police cell one day for something that was beyond their control.
Sir Alan Beith MP has welcomed our pledge to bring down the cost of accessing expert legal advice, saying it is vital that people from all backgrounds can afford high quality legal advice in Berwick.
His words came at the launch of our new office at 127 Marygate, which he officially opened on Friday in a ceremony attended by the Mayor and Mayoress and leading business people and town councillors.
“Our new, larger office will allow us to provide a wider range of legal services at affordable prices,” said Tait Farrier Graham Senior Partner Richard Tait. “At TFG we believe that access to the best legal advice should be affordable and readily available. This is all the more so in the current economic climate. Everyone wants and deserves value for money and this is what we aim to provide at TFG.”
TFG had been previously based in Sandgate but has invested significantly in the new premises at 127 Marygate.
The spacious new office now allows TFG to provide the locality with legal expertise in most areas of law including Conveyancing (domestic and commercial), Wills and Probate, Criminal, Family, Personal Injury and Employment.
Good news! Our long awaited new office in Berwick is now open and it does look good even if we say so ourselves. Our new premises are at 127 Marygate, TD15 1BH, in Berwick and our phone number stays the same, 01289 309 851.
Our legal services include Criminal, Conveyancing, Wills + Probate, Family, Personal Injury and Employment and we offer a free initial consultation so give us a bell and tell us about your own personal situation.
We would like to wish all of our clients, past and present, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all at TFG.
Our offices will be closed from 5.15pm Friday 21st December until 9 am 2nd January.
However, we know this holiday period can be a difficult time so we have a special 24/7 number if you need help at a Police Station during the Christmas and New Year period.
You can call us on 0776 838 6045 and a member of the TFG team will be on hand to represent you and offer guidance.
The news that social workers in Rotherham took three ethnic minority children from their foster parents’ care because they were members of the UK Independence Party, has raised important issues around the care of children and the power of local councils.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, condemned the council’s decision as ‘indefensible’; however, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has so far failed to apologise to the couple and refused to release the findings of an internal report into the case.
The couple, who are in their fifties and have been described as ‘exemplary’ foster parents, have questioned the council’s claim that the children’s removal was in their best interests. The couple were given just 20 minutes notice.
The case is likely to strike a chord with not just foster parents but with all parents as it is every parent’s worst nightmare that social services may need to get involved with their childcare. And local authorities do have a valuable role to fulfill in terms of protecting children’s wellbeing. So what are the social services and local authorities trying to achieve if they get in touch and what kind of conduct or incident would warrant local authority intervention in your family?
Many referrals come from outside agencies such as school, a hospital reporting a violent incident in the family home or a child where a child has an injury and doctors consider it to be non-accidental or the parents’ explanation does not fit the injury. Referrals can even be by neighbours if they have concerns, for example, around late night parties and alcohol and drug use in the home.
All referrals, anonymous or otherwise must be acted upon by the local authority. The local authority’s duty is to ensure that children in their area are safe. If a child is deemed by the social worker to be at risk of harm they may ask the parent to agree to work with the local authority under a child protection plan or to agree to a voluntary placement with an alternative family member or, if appropriate, a local authority foster carer.
At this stage is it extremely important that parents appoint a solicitor to guide them even though the children can only be removed long term by the court if they are at risk of significant harm. We can guide you through exactly what that actually means and how courts interpret this. In many cases children do return home where parents have made necessary changes.
Should you ever find yourself involved with the local authority regarding your children’s wellbeing, it is vital that you find a qualified solicitor who is experienced in family law immediately.
Our experienced, expert and approachable family team offers a free initial consultation then legal funding can often be accessed to help advise you further. Call us on 0800 0274 274 for more information on any of the issues this blog covers.
The Justin Lee Collins case, where the Bristol comedian was convicted of domestic abuse, follows a recent announcement from the Home Office which announced revised definitions of domestic violence, which for the first time specify a pattern of ‘coercive-controlling’ behaviour, a move which provoked wide spread discussion on how this should be defined.
The conviction of Lee Collins has highlighted the issue of controlling behaviour and the impact it can have on victims’ lives. Collins was charged and convicted with harassment intended to cause fear or alarm and not for any other physically violent offence.
Allegations of physical abuse were heard in court, but it was his controlling behaviour that made the headlines. These ranged from forcing his former partner Anna Larke to throw away DVDs starring actors she found attractive, to verbal abuse and intimidation.
And while recognising this type of controlling behaviour when it is summarised in court is relatively straightforward, when it takes place in the home it can be a lot harder to define precisely what constitutes a ‘normal’ marital dispute and what is coercive and controlling behaviour .
Chief executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley, sought to define domestic abuse where she responded to the Government’s revised definitions and the recent case of Lee Collins. Although she refers to women, the same definitions can be applied to male victims also.
“Let me be clear: domestic violence involves the repeated, habitual and random use of intimidation, whether by physical or verbal aggression, to force a woman to submit to her partner’s demands. Domestic violence is systematic, purposeful and patterned behaviour designed to gain control of a woman.
“The effects of emotional and psychological abuse can be just as damaging as physical violence. The scars left are deeper, and take longer to heal. And because this kind of abuse is largely invisible, victims are often disbelieved when they find the courage to disclose it. All too often, society turns a blind eye. People think that if it doesn’t result in a swollen eye or a broken arm, it’s not a ‘real’ crime. But we should never underestimate the impact of psychological and emotional abuse.”
If you or a friend or member of your family would like to talk in confidence about any of the issues raised in our blog, our experienced family team can offer free advice, support and guidance. Call them on 0800 0274 274.
Recently the TFG team was at a festival near Berwick offering free legal advice. Many of the enquiries we received centred on Wills and Probate and our solicitors heard many stories of bitter family disputes and divisions caused by a lack of a Will.
We also had people from all different backgrounds confessing they needed to make a Will but had been delaying it.
And while this is natural, none of us really want to face our own mortality, the process really isn’t that complicated or expensive. Compared to the significant financial benefits making a Will offers, and the peace of mind that comes from making the probate process less stressful for your loved ones, the time it takes is neglible.
Unfortunately, many people presume that even if they don’t make a Will, their partner and family will still inherit all their assets. But if you die without making a Will you are said to die intestate and the rules of intestacy will apply.
These set out who would administer a person’s estate and who would benefit and are not always as clear cut as people expect. The surviving spouse in a civil partnership, for example, would only receive a portion of the estate while if you were co-habiting, your partner wouldn’t receive anything, even if you have been living together for many years.
The intestacy provisions are complex and can make the administration of a person’s estate more expensive leaving less of an inheritance for your family.
If you have made a Will be aware that changes in your circumstances might mean you need to revisit it. For example getting married automatically cancels a Will unless it specifically states that it’s been made in contemplation of that marriage. Setting up home with a partner, becoming a parent or getting divorced, all mean a Will should be revisited. Likewise, if you come into money or if you own a business, because you’ll need to make provision for the business to be wound up or sold following your death.
If you need further advice or information, call one of our Wills and Probate team on 0800 0 274 274. Initial consultations are free.