Care for the Elderly

People are certainly living longer. The number of people in Scotland, according to the National Records of Scotland in September 2016, living for more than a century has increased over the last ten years. In 2005 there were 900 centenarians in Scotland, an increase of 67% from the 540 in 2005. The number of men aged 90 to 99 increased from 6360 to 11,300 between 2005 and 2015, an increase of 78%. The number of females aged 90 to 99 increased from 21,630 to 27,590 during the same period, an increase of 28%.

Caring for the elderly is therefore now a situation facing millions of people who need help managing elderly relatives’ affairs and assistance to make plans for their own old age.

We can offer a wide range of advice and are specialists in these areas.

  • Putting a Power of Attorney in place before you may become unable to manage your own affairs
  • Making a Will
  • Setting up trusts
  • Inheritance tax planning
  • Financial planning
  • Making arrangements to pay for help and care home fees
  • Obtaining Guardianship Orders
  • Administration of Guardianships

Our private client team are here to help and are very knowledgeable in dealing with such matters applying sensitivity as well as legal expertise. Find out more at http://www.mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Housing Market Confidence is Still Fragile

The Building Societies Association (BSA) has revealed that consumer confidence in the housing market hasn’t fully recovered since June’s General Election.

Their recent research found that over a quarter of respondents (27%) do not agree that now is a good time to  buy a property compared to just 23% who do.

Although the political environment has stabilised a bit since June, confidence in the property market continues to be affected by a number of factors. 68% of those interviewed said that raising a deposit remained the biggest barrier to purchasing a property with 45% saying that being able to afford the mortgage repayments was a problem. Another particular concern for home movers is stamp duty costs which prevent those who want to move up the property ladder from doing so thus limiting the stock of housing for those looking to make their first purchase.

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage policy at the BSA commented:

“Consumers were faced with political uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU and unexpected General Election results, and now the rising cost of living is their latest challenge.”

“It is evident that home- movers are facing the same affordability pressures as first time buyers, meaning some homeowners are unable to sell their property-further reducing choice and pushing up prices for those just getting on to the housing ladder” he added.

If you are looking to buy or sell a property please contact me Elizabeth Baker on 0141 552 3422 or by email eb@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

New Scottish Private Residential Tenancy in force from 1 December 2017

The Scottish Government has published regulations which confirm that the new form of Scottish residential tenancy, known as the Private Residential Tenancy will be introduced on 1 December 2017. This new form of tenancy was created by the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 with the intention of improving security of tenure for tenants and also giving protection for landlords, lenders and investors.

The significant benefits for landlords include:

  • No more pre-tenancy notices such as the AT5.
  • If a tenant is in arrears of rent a landlord can refer a case for repossession more quickly.
  • The Private Residential Tenancy will include standardised terms.
  • When regaining possession of a property only one simple notice called a “notice to leave” will be required.
  • There will be 18 grounds for repossession, which include new grounds where the property has been abandoned or the landlord intends to sell.

The changes will only apply to tenancies created on or after 1 December 2017. Any tenancies existing prior to that will remain short assured tenancies or assured tenancies. The new tenancy will be open-ended and will end when the tenant gives notice of their intention to leave the property or the landlord evicts the tenant on one of the 18 modernised statutory grounds. You will find more information and guidance using these links.

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/private-residential-tenancies-landlords-guide/

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/private-residential-tenancies-tenants-guide/

If I can assist in any way please do not hesitate to contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Milestone Moments for Writing a Will

Throughout most of the world, disposal of an estate has been a matter of social custom. According to Plutarch, one of the best known Greek biographers and essayist, the written will was invented by Solon, an Athenian politician and lawmaker born in 638BC and was originally a device intended solely for men without an heir.

So much has changed of course but at present, will writing campaign group Will Aid indicate that only around half of the adults in the UK have made a will. By asking a cross section of people with a will what caused them to make one, Will Aid discovered  that one of the commonest reasons was hitting a significant birthday. 20% of those interviewed said landmark birthdays such as turning 30, 40 or 50 were one of  the primary reasons for making their first will. There are indeed other milestone moments that prompt writing a will such as getting married, having a child or buying your first property.

In reality though it does not matter how old you are or whatever your circumstances, having a professionally drawn up will in place is the best way to ensure your wishes are met after your death as you should never assume that your assets will automatically pass to the people closest to you.

Key reasons for making a will include:

  • Reassurance: A will is the best way to help ensure your savings and possessions go to the people and causes that you care about.
  • Avoiding disputes. Disputes over assets can arise among family members. By leaving a will you remove any doubt about how you want your estate dealt with.
  • Looking after your children. A will allows you to appoint legal guardians for your children.
  • Your funeral: Your will can be a way to let people know whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated, and the type of funeral service and music you would like.

There have been a number of notable wills through time. The Nobel Prizes were established by Alfred Nobel’s will.  The longest known legal will is that of Englishwoman Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook. It was 1066 pages and had to be bound in four volumes. The shortest known legal wills are those of Bimla Rishi of Delhi, India “all to son” and Karl Tausch of Hesse ,Germany “all to wife” both containing only two words in the language they were written in (Hindi and Czech respectively). While your own will may not make the headlines it still is extremely important to have one.

For advice on writing or updating your will please contact Heather Warnock on 0141 552 3422 or by email on heather@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Parkers Take Note

I was chatting to someone the other day who said they had received a parking ticket for parking their van in a Morrison’s car park for four hour. The gentleman said he was just going to throw it away because it was unenforceable.

With my solicitor’s hat on I told him that this unfortunately was a common myth and that recently motorist ,Carly Mackie, received the largest ever parking fine in Britain amounting to £24,500. Ms Mackie had been issued with multiple parking charges by Vehicle Control Services Limited who were employed by the factors of her parents’ housing estate to provide a parking scheme. In the estate there were visible signs , eight in all,  advising that a permit was required to park in the area and the consequences of a fine if the terms and conditions were breached.

Despite this Ms Mackie parked her car outside her mother’s home and ignored the almost daily parking charge notices on her windscreen. She wrongly believed she was entitled to park her mini without a permit within the private parking area and that the tickets were unenforceable. Ms Mackie had been offered a parking permit but declined on principle.

However the private firm Vehicle Control Services Limited took her to court last year when she had racked up an £18,500 bill for ignoring more than 200 penalty notices. The action raised at Dundee Sheriff Court was defended by Ms Mackie on the basis that Vehicle Control Services Limited had no right to issue the parking charges and therefore she was under no obligation to pay them.

Generally speaking the public accepts that Local Authorities are able to issue parking tickets known as a fixed penalty. But car parking operators are able to issue parking charges for private car parks provided they display signs in the parking area setting out the terms and conditions of use.  If a motorist parks a car within a private parking area  which has clear signage setting out terms and conditions of using the car park then the driver is taken to have accepted the terms and has entered into a contract which if breached can lead to charges being applied.

In a written judgement of the case Sheriff George Way said Ms Mackie had “entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractual chain in this case” and ordered her to pay £24,500.

So be warned!

Employment Tribunal Fees Ruled as Unlawful

On 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld an appeal by UNISON that tribunal fees, introduced by the UK government in 2013, are unlawful under UK and EU law. The ruling, described as “momentous”, has led to the existing fees regime being quashed.

UNISON’s claim, first issued in 2013, was that employment tribunal fees prevented employees on low incomes and those facing discrimination from accessing justice. Judgments from the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2015 both ruled in favour of the Government.

From July 2013, tribunal claims were classified as type A or type B based on how long the claim would take to be resolved. A single claimant filing a type A claim required to pay fees of £390. Type B claims attracted fees of £1200.

In practical terms, the decision of the Supreme Court means:

  • Fees are no longer payable for Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal claims.
  • Fees paid since 2013 are likely to be repayable by the Government – this will include cases where unsuccessful employers have been ordered to pay employee’s costs.

The President of the Law Society of England & Wales, Joe Egan, described the decision as “a triumph for access to justice, and a resounding blow against attempts to treat justice as a commodity rather than the right it is.” Egan added the decision of the Court supported the views of many that “the hike in tribunal fees… would deny people the chance to uphold their basic rights at work. Today the Supreme Court has vindicated that view and restored access to justice for those mistreated in the workplace.”

The judgement itself points towards a new regime with fees being set at a lower level or a more generous system of remission but this will require legislation so will take time. Another potential consequence is that time-barred claims may now be submitted on the basis that the unlawful fee regime deterred employees from submitting claims in time.

If you are an employer or employee facing difficulties in the workplace, please contact Paul Neilly or Hugh Grant by telephone (0141 552 3422) or email (pdn@mitchells-roberton.co.uk or hjg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk).

Is Body Art a Workplace Issue?

Recent research by Acas and Kings College, which explored employer perceptions on staff appearance at work found that visible body modifications such as piercings or tattoos are still likely to be frowned upon in certain areas of the service sector with some employers being worried that potential customers may be put off.

Certainly tattoos used to be considered part of a counterculture but today they have gained wider social acceptance – more and more people, men and women alike, have them and it is understood that a third of young people in the UK have tattoos.

So companies could be missing out on talented staff due to their outdated attitudes towards people who have a tattoo Acas states. They are urging firms to change their attitudes and relax their dress codes. Stephen Williams, Acas Head of Equality commented that “Businesses are perfectly within their right to have rules around appearance at work but these rules should be based on the law as appropriate and the needs of the business, not managers’ personal preferences.”

He further added that “While it remains a legitimate business decision, a dress code that restricts people with tattoos might mean companies are missing out on talented workers.”

But what I would ask is whether having a tattoo or not has any relevance on the individual’s ability to do their job?  Could there be legitimate resentment from employees with tattoos who may be judged purely upon their appearance rather than on the skills and attributes which they could bring to the business?

In an interview with the Sunday Times Margaret Mountford, the former right- hand woman of Lord Sugar recently warned that tattoos were a real problem for British young people, seriously decreasing their chances of getting a job. Indeed last year Charlotte Tumilty a trainee teacher was sent home on her first day of work at a Catholic School when staff objected to her tattoos.  Her case prompted debate about whether anti-tattoo discrimination should be made illegal. At the moment under UK law workers have no protection under discrimination legislation for having a tattoo.

So what would I suggest to an employer :

  1. Please keep an open mind- just because someone has a tattoo do not discount them without taking a proper look at their skills. If a candidate has got to interview stage then you must have seen something in their CV.
  2. Outline clear policies on what is and isn’t allowed and let staff know how these decisions have been reached.
  3. Talk to employees about their body art as open communication is the best way forward.

Embracing your workforce whether they are tattooed or not could lead to a more relaxed  atmosphere and  increase productivity levels.

At Mitchells Roberton we have staff with tattoos and I am one of them.

If you would like to discuss any employment law matter, please contact Hugh Grant (hjg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk) or Paul Neilly (pdn@mitchells-roberton.co.uk) or telephone 0141 552 3422. http://www.mitchells-roberton.co.uk