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Legal updates

07 August 2020 Employment advice

Following changes in government guidance, more and more employers are asking staff to come back to the workplace. But what are your obligations as an employer if staff are reluctant or unwilling to return? How should you treat employees who are shielding, pregnant or struggling with childcare? The HSE’s guidance on Working safely during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and the Government’s sector-specific guides on working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19) are crucial sources of information.  ‘However, the Government guidance does not provide the full picture for employers who must consider the whole gamut of their duties under employment law.’ Says Gillian Reid, Head of Employment with Pearsons & Ward in Malton, who outlines the raft of legal responsibilities, as well as highlighting key steps to reduce the risks of claims and considerations for particular groups when asking…
06 August 2020 Residential property

As lockdown restrictions ease and people want to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, we are seeing more activity in the housing market. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty, particularly over mortgage availability. On the one hand, interest rates are at an all-time low. On the other, lenders have reduced the number and range of mortgages they offer. If you are thinking about moving home or remortgaging, you may be wondering how this could affect you. Here Philip Taylor, Head of Residential Conveyancing with Pearsons & Ward in Malton, cuts through the confusion and answers some of your questions. As a first-time buyer, will I still be able to get a mortgage? Since the pandemic, lenders have generally become more cautious and risk-averse. Most have now withdrawn their low deposit mortgage deals from…
22 July 2020 Commercial property

A commercial property portfolio is just like any other investment - to get the best out of it, you need to manage it well, and sometimes it will benefit from being restructured. The unforeseen impact of Covid-19 on the whole of the UK economy has underlined the importance of keeping on top of your property investments, so you are able to move quickly when you want to grab an opportunity or mitigate risk. A good commercial property lawyer will get to know your property portfolio as well as you do.  The more closely we are involved, the more we can do to help you plan your strategy and head off problems before they arise. Careful planning and regular reviews of your property investments will give you the best chance both to prosper in good times and…
20 July 2020 Employment advice

Although lockdown is easing, government guidance advises people to continue to work from home if possible.  Meanwhile, the media is reporting that some employers are deciding to keep staff working from home. Homeworking has advantages; it eases the immediate difficulties of making workplaces COVID-secure and, longer-term, it can significantly reduce the overheads for a business. Employers bringing staff back to the workplace may wish to take stock of recent homeworking arrangements in preparation for any second spike in coronavirus or a localised lockdown.  Gillian Reid explains how to get homeworking arrangements in order and looks at particular challenges for managers of remote teams, as well as how to deal with an employee who has had enough of homeworking. Employers ending homeworking arrangements may face a wave of flexible working requests. You should check the Government website…
16 July 2020 Family Matters

The coronavirus pandemic has turned most of our world upside down, causing economic hardship for many people and job losses are expected to continue as the furlough scheme comes to an end. ‘If you have lost all or part of your income, your ability to pay or rely upon maintenance payments will be a cause for concern as you seek to manage cash flow,’ says Robert Bellhouse. ‘Uncertainty over child maintenance adds another level of stress for parents who are struggling to cope with home-schooling.’  Maintenance payments typically fall into two categories, spousal maintenance and child maintenance, which we look in turn and outline your options if you are worried about paying or receiving maintenance. Spousal maintenance Spousal maintenance may be paid because of a voluntary agreement during divorce proceedings or by way of a…
14 July 2020 Commercial property

Since the Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order came into force on 6 April 2018, rural communities have had greater development potential when converting agricultural buildings into residential units. In these deeply troubled times, the greater flexibility afforded by these relaxed permitted development rights is good news for the rural community, allowing agricultural businesses to unlock additional value and utility from their land. Farmers should be warned, however, that numerous conditions and prior local planning authority approvals are still required under the new rules, so it is a good idea to consult a professional expert to advise on available options before renovations begin. Hazel Anyon an agricultural law specialist, explains how the enhanced permitted development rights give agricultural businesses more flexibility to adapt existing buildings to create new housing and increase the size of…
16 June 2020 COVID-19

Estimates suggest 375,000 property transactions have stalled because of the coronavirus crisis. Recent easing of restrictions means these sales can now progress. What if you were thinking of moving, but had not yet put your house on the market? Some agents are predicting a buoyant market as we come out of lockdown, on the basis that you could benefit from any pent-up demand. It is unlikely that the property market will return to normal straight away so there may be some challenges ahead. What the latest relaxation of restrictions means During lockdown, emergency regulations prevented people from leaving their homes except for a limited number of reasons. However, recent changes have extended these exceptions so people can move home. You may now visit an estate agent and would-be buyers can visit your property. Professionals can visit…
15 June 2020 COVID-19

The Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) has helped many employers keep their staff. But, the winding down of the CJRS and the grim economic forecast mean that employers may need a more flexible workforce and for many sectors, redundancies seem inevitable. Here, we outline alternatives to redundancy and sets out five key elements of a fair redundancy. You should check the Government website for the latest guidance in conjunction with this article, as the guidelines on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are changing frequently.  Speak to your solicitor for specific advice for your business. Coronavirus job retention scheme extension The CJRS runs in its current form until the end of June. From July, ‘flexible furlough’ will allow employees to work part-time and be furloughed part-time. From August until the close of…
15 June 2020 COVID-19

If you are in the middle of getting divorced, or contemplating getting divorced, you may be worried about how the present COVID-19 pandemic will impact on your financial security after separation. If financial arrangements are disputed, how easy will it be to come to an arrangement and move on with your life? Naturally, people have concerns about whether it will be possible to reach an agreement with the various restrictions in place during the lockdown and of course, people are worried about declining asset values, reduced incomes and business uncertainty.’ Our family lawyers have embraced online communications We use all the latest technology to ensure our clients will not be left in financial limbo.  It is still possible to achieve a legally binding financial settlement, even during the pandemic.  We will consult with you over the…
07 April 2020 COVID-19

Unfortunately, alongside all the goodwill and community spirit which is coming to the fore during the current crisis, the coronavirus pandemic will also be seen as an opportunity for criminals and fraudsters. Action Fraud have advised that fraudsters will use any opportunity they can to take money from people. This includes exploiting tragedies and global emergencies and preying on the kind nature of people. Everyone needs to be extra vigilant at this time and watch out for scams such as these. 1. Tricking you into revealing personal information Watch out for suspicious and unexpected emails or text messages asking you to: update your details; click on a link to approve or validate something; or login to your account via a link. 2. Tricking you into handing over your bank card and pin number Take…
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