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Cohabitation Laws Are Under The Spotlight

As Boris Johnson and his partner were due to move into No. 11 Downing Street, they join the 3.3 million couples currently cohabiting within the UK. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that, one in eight people aged 16 and over in England and Wales are currently cohabiting, of this population, half of cohabiting couples own property and nearly half have financial assets including cash, shares and trade investments.

Around 53% have assets worth £100,000 – while 15% have up to £500,000. More than half also own financial and property assets between them – which are now co-owned. Weighted by financial commitments to each other, a staggering third of the nation incorrectly believes that co-owning, co-parenting and cohabiting means far more than it actually does on paper.

According to a nationally representative study from will specialist Farewill, the nation’s misconceptions of our loved one’s welfare post-death is severely skewed:

  • 29% of Brits believe that couples who have been together for more than 5 years should have the same legal rights as a married
  • 16% of Brits believe that that owning a house with their partner out of wedlock means that if they die their partner will get the estate
  • 24% of Brits stated that if they were co-owning a property with their partner who they were not married to, upon their partners passing they would expect their partner’s ownership of the property would pass to them
  • 20% of Brits state that if they were a relationship (but unmarried) and had been cohabiting for over five years, they would assume that if they were to pass their partner would inherit the entirety of their estate or assume executor status

With the average house price in the UK hovering around the £227,000 mark according to Halifax, failing to put appropriate measures in place during the relationship could throw up all sorts of problems further down the line, should you lose a loved one.

COHABITING VS MARRIAGE RIGHTS:

  • If one cohabiting partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner won’t automatically inherit anything. This includes any share of the house, unless the couple jointly own property as a “joint tenant” (not “tenants in common”). A married partner would inherit all or some of the estate
  • Cohabiting partners cannot access their partner’s bank account if they die, unless they’ve been named specifically as a beneficiary in their will, whereas married couples may be allowed to withdraw the balance providing the amount is small
  • An unmarried partner who stays at home to care for children can’t make any claims in their own right for property, maintenance or pension-sharing
  • If you are the unmarried partner of a tenant, you have no rights to stay in the accommodation if you are asked to leave – but each married partner has the right to live in the “matrimonial home”

Dan Garrett, CEO and Co-Founder of Farewill is of the opinion:“There’s a huge myth that, when you die, the person who you’re in a long-term relationship with, or even own a house with, will automatically inherit your estate. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. In the UK, the law only applies this type of automatic protection to married couples or those in a civil partnership. Being together for a long time doesn’t count, and means, legally speaking, you and your partner are entitled to nothing. For cohabiting couples, this is a particularly important issue. Millions of unmarried couples in the UK who have no protection, potentially stand to lose everything, unless they and their partner outline their wishes in a will. Without a will, the estate will often go to a parent or parent in law. The law as it stands isn’t set up for the modern family, so it’s important to take what you want to happen after you die into your own hands by making a will.”

Immigration lawyer struck off for “hijacking identities”

A jailed immigration solicitor who turned to crime only two years after qualifying has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Sheikh Muhammad Usman was jailed for seven years at Croydon Crown Court in April this year for assisting illegal immigration through the “hijacking of identities”.

The SDT said Mr Usman was born in 1972 and qualified in 2008. He “became involved in the criminal activity” in 2010.

“Although he was not particularly experienced as a solicitor, he was a mature individual aged 35. Of the four defendants, he was the only qualified solicitor.

“The judge described the offences as particularly serious and striking at the heart of the immigration system and undermining public confidence in that system.”

The SDT went on: “A crime had been committed which was deliberate, calculated and repeated. It was elaborate, sophisticated and involved a high degree of planning.

“It continued over a period of time from 2010 to 2016. As a participant, [Mr Usman] concealed his activities, which only stopped because the criminal activity was discovered. Vulnerable people were exploited.”

Mr Usman, both at his trial and his SDT hearing, which he did not attend as a serving prisoner, maintained his innocence. He has appealed his conviction.

“He asserted that he was a victim of crime and had been deceived, which the judge did not accept, and he had been convicted. The only real mitigation he asserted was that he was innocent.”

Counsel for the Solicitors Regulation Authority said Mr Usman had been involved in a “fairly sophisticated” illegal immigration scheme, the ringleader of which was a Home Office employee, Shamsu Iqbal.

Judge Gower QC told Croydon Crown Court that Mr Iqbal accessed Home Office records of genuine individuals who had, at some point in the past, been in contact with it over their status.

He changed the records to “enable impostors to take the records of genuine individuals”.

The three other defendants would act as legal representatives of the impostors, corresponding with the Home Office to legitimise their immigration status.

Judge Gower said the motivation was “financial rather than humanitarian” and Mr Iqbal profited “to a very considerable extent”. A “considerable number of people” were helped to remain in the UK in breach of immigration law.

As an example of the impact on innocent individuals as a result of the “hijacking of identities”, the judge gave the example of a man detained at Heathrow and then Harmondsworth for nine days before the true position could be understood.

By virtue of his conviction, Mr Usman was found to have breached a number of SRA principles and showed a lack of integrity.

The allegation that he failed to notify the SRA of the date of his trial or fact of his subsequent conviction was rejected. He was struck off and ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Koen De Puydt

News Article by Leaders in Law Member – Koen De Puydt

Professional Liability of Intellectual professions in the Construction Sector 

Following the ten-year liability insurance for real estate projects for architects, engineering firms and contractors, which was made mandatory by the “Peeters-Borsus Law” since 1 July 2018, another insurance obligation has been introduced within the construction sector by the “Peeters-Ducarme Law” effective 1 July 2019. 

The title of this law is self-explanatory. It introduces “a professional liability insurance for architects, surveyor experts, safety and health coordinators and other service providers in the construction sector relating to construction works and amends various legal provisions regarding civil liability insurance in the construction sector”, as mentioned earlier also called the Peeters-Ducarme Law. 

peeters-law_buildings_2.jpg

This title shows that this law has in principle a larger scope than the Peeters-Borsus Law. Where the latter applies primarily to contractors and architects in the context of housing projects and for works that require the intervention of an architect, the Peeters-Ducarme Law introduces a professional liability insurance for all intellectual professions within the construction sector, with regard to all construction work. 

Consequently, the Peeters-Ducarme Law does not apply to contractors, but it applies to all kind of real estate work (and therefore not only with regard to housing projects). Thus, as a result of the execution of all real estate works, the principal will enjoy this protection regardless of the final destination of the property or the possible intervention of an architect. 

Compulsory insurance coverage cannot be lower, per claim, than:

  • € 1,500,000 for damage resulting from physical injuries;
  • € 500,000 for the total material and immaterial damage;
  • € 10,000 for the objects entrusted to the insured by the principal.

The law also provides for a posterior coverage on the basis of which the liability for claims must be covered if the claim is filed within three years after the cessation of the activities of the insured service provider . 

Although it could be expected that the Peeters-Ducarme Law has a larger scope than the Peeters-Borsus Law, we must conclude that it is largely eroded by the exceptions that are provided for in respect of the damage that the insurance must cover. 

For example, Article 5 of the Peeters-Ducarme Law states that damages are not covered if it is the consequence of a failure to comply with one or more contractual obligations or if damages resulting from environmental degradation, claims relating to an inadequate budget, or disputes in relation to fees and expenses.

These exceptions erode the potentially extensive coverage provided by the Peeters-Ducarme Law significantly and therefore the latter offers less protection than might be expected at first sight. 

The Peeters-Ducarme law has been published yesterday (26 June 2019) in the Belgian Official Gazette and will enter into force on 1 July 2019. 

Peeters Law (to be soon Seeds of Law) will be happy to provide you with the necessary advice or assistance in this matter. Please contact us via info@seeds.law or by telephone on +32 (0)2 747 40 07.

Koen De Puydt – Toon Delie

Real Estate and Construction Law    Professional Liability     Professional Liability insurance     Intellectual professions     construction sector     architect surveyor expert    safety and health coordinator

ParrisWhittaker finalists at 2019 Lloyd’s List Americas Awards

The 2019 Lloyd’s List Americas Awards are part of the Lloyd’s List Excellence in Shipping Awards – the industry’s flagship awards program that recognises and rewards excellence across the entire maritime sector.

Given the incredible list of companies nominated, It is with great pride and humility that ParrisWhittaker announces that their firm has been named a finalist for excellence.

“2019 has been a real whirlwind of a year for us. We’ve been incredibly busy working for our clients. But, moments like this give us the opportunity to pause and take this as a sign that we are doing good work,” said Kenra Parris-Whittaker, partner of ParrisWhittaker.

Lloyd’s List Awards promote and celebrate excellence in shipping. Their award judges volunteer their time and experience to consider hundreds of annual entries. They come from all core sectors of the maritime industry to engage in lengthy face to face deliberation to debate and, ultimately, decide on winners.

Other awards Lloyd’s List Americas Awards include:

  • Excellence in Future Fuels Solutions
  • Deal of the Year
  • Excellence in Data and Technology Innovation
  • Excellence in Decarbonisation towards 2050
  • Excellence in Environmental Management
  • Excellence in Port Management and Infrastructure
  • Excellence in Safety & Training

“We consider it an award any time a client recommends us to a colleague or friend. However, winning this award would truly be something special and we would like to congratulate all of the other nominees. We’re all in the business of fighting for people in the maritime sector and we should all take a moment to be proud,” added Parris-Whittaker.

How A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You

If you have been charged with a crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, it is very important that you work with a criminal defense attorney throughout the entire process.

Whether or not you think that the situation is serious, there may be a lot more at risk than is immediately apparent, and you could find yourself looking back on this case years from now wishing that you had taken some different steps. Criminal law is complicated, which is why it is so important that you take this process seriously and work with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Worth.

Many criminal defense attorneys offer free initial consultations with potential clients so that they can ask a variety of questions about their situation and learn about the most appropriate steps that they should be taking to move forward with as much success as possible.

HELP NAVIGATING THE CRIMINAL LAW SYSTEM

The criminal law system in the United States is complicated and confusing, especially for individuals who do not have a comprehensive understanding of the situation that they are involved in, and the possible consequences of a guilty finding or plea agreement. If you are at a court hearing working with a prosecutor, they will make an initial offer for the individual to accept a guilty finding, or may make an initial offer for a plea deal. While this may seem like the proper decision given the circumstances and the individual may want to get the process finished with, it could come back to cause a major issue.

NEGOTIATING ACCEPTABLE OUTCOMES

You may have noticed that there is a theme here, and it all comes down to working towards the most acceptable outcome for your situation. Every step that your attorney takes will be with the intention to get you the lightest possible sentence, the most minimum penalties available for your charges, and how you can mitigate the impact that these charges have on your life. When you are working on your own and attempting to represent yourself, courts and prosecutors will take advantage of your inexperience and you will find yourself walking away with steep penalties without much clarity on how it even happened.

PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR YOUR SPECIFIC CASE

When you hire an attorney to represent your case, they are working directly on your behalf in order to help you with your case. This means that any action you think about taking outside of the case that you are unsure of how it will impact your proceedings, then you will be able to consult with them. If you are wondering how your case will impact your ability to apply for jobs, renew a drivers license, apply for housing, or anything else that is unclear at the time, you will be able to contact your attorney and get a specific answer about the exact situation that you are in. While this may not seem like a big deal right off the bat, you will find that their advice and counsel throughout your case is absolutely irreplaceable because of how simple it will make each of these otherwise complicated questions seem.

CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CASE

The most important thing that you will get from working with a criminal defense attorney is confidence. You will be able to get straight answers from them about your entire situation and will be able to plan accordingly for your future given their history of experience and their understanding of how they expect your case to go. 

No deal Brexit disastrous for aspiring lawyers, Law Society warn

Disruptive departure could damage UK’s ability to attract and retain world’s top legal talent

A no deal Brexit will be disastrous for those seeking to enter the legal profession, a new report produced by the Law Society has warned.

The professional body, which represents 140,000 practising solicitors in England and Wales, has raised fresh concerns over the impact “Brexit disruption” will have on law graduates and junior lawyers’ moving around Europe.

According to the Law Society’s UK-EU future partnership and legal services report, published this morning, a no deal Brexit could also damage the UK’s ability to attract and retain the world’s top legal talent. It said:

“This has an impact on the attractiveness of qualifying in England and Wales. Their rights to provide services under their home title, to establish and practise in Europe and to requalify in host state law will all become more complex under an FTA [free trade agreement] or in case of a no-deal Brexit.”

The report added: “The prospective candidates from the EU may no longer be attracted to studying in the UK and getting an English and Welsh qualification since they cannot use it in their home country to the same degree as under the current regime.”

Aspiring lawyers wouldn’t be the only ones left worse off from a no deal departure. According to the Law Society’s president, Simon Davis, a crash-out Brexit could cost Britain’s legal services sector an eyewatering £3.5 billion, nearly 10% higher than under an “orderly Brexit”.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The UK stands as the EU’s largest exporter of legal services. According to Davis, the sector contributed £27 billion to the UK economy in 2018 and produced a trade surplus of £4.4 billion in 2017 — this largely the result of the UK’s access to European markets through directives. Davis continued:

“That is why we are urging the UK government to negotiate a future agreement that enables broader access for legal services so that English and Welsh solicitors can maintain their right to practise in the EU.”

Newly-installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to negotiate a better exit agreement with the EU, but maintains the UK will leave on 31 October with or without a deal.

This isn’t the first time the Law Society has shared its bleak Brexit fears. Last year, Chancery Lane’s number crunchers predicted that a no deal scenario could cost the legal market up to £3 billion by 2025, with growth slumping to 1.1%.

Boris Johnson

Suspected Terrorists and illegal immigrants Deported

Taxpayers paid £57m to lawyers who successfully fought Government attempts to deport suspected terrorists and illegal immigrants

Two former justice ministers today urge Boris Johnson and the Government to rethink the practice to end such big pay-outs CREDIT: WPA POOL/GETTY IMAGES EUROPE

Taxpayers have had to foot a £57.5 million bill to pay off lawyers who successfully fought Home Office attempts to deport suspected terrorists, foreign criminals and illegal immigrants.

They have had to pay or settle the legal costs of lawyers who have often used European human rights laws to outflank the Home Office and win cases for their clients.

The 6,098 cases covering four years from 2014/15 to 2017/18 have involved foreign criminals, illegal immigrants and asylum seekers whom the Government unsuccessfully attempted to send back to their homelands, according to figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws.

It includes lawyers for hate preacher Abu Qatada who got £57,000 from the Home Office after they initially defeated its bid to send him back to Jordan to face terrorism charges. The Home Office paid their charges at a rate of £330 an hour.

Radical al-Aaida linked preacher, Abu Qatada

Radical al-Aaida linked preacher, Abu Qatada CREDIT: MOHAMMAD HANNON/AP

Two former justice ministers today urge Boris Johnson and the Government to rethink the practice to end such big pay-outs.

Mike Penning, a former policing and justice minister, said: “The Prime Minister needs to add this to his list of legislation that needs to be changed.

“If these people have been convicted and are not conducive to the public good, people won’t understand why we are paying out this money to lawyers abusing the legal system rather than spending it on the NHS.”

Oliver Heald, who was also a former Government law officer as solicitor general, said the Home Office should pay out where there was a serious mistake, but any awards should be “taxed on a reasonable basis so that it’s not possible to make a fortune out of these cases.

“They should be decided on a moderate basis rather than an expensive one. This is something the Ministry of Justice may wish to review.”

The £57.5 million for the 6,000 cases – equivalent to 30 every week for four years – excludes the additional £28.4 million that the Government had to pay for its own legal costs.

Oliver Heald

Oliver Heald, former Government law officer CREDIT: CHRIS MCANDREW / UK PARLIAMENT

The total of £86 million means the average case ends up costing the taxpayer more than £14,000 in legal fees.

Complex procedures around legal fees mean the Government can be forced to pay out extra payments on top of these to lawyers who successfully challenge legal rulings.

It is supposed to act as compensation to solicitors who may take on some cases where they lose and then end up potentially out of pocket with nobody to pay their costs.

But others believe the “No Win No Fee” culture has gone too far with lawyers able to get away with huge costs’ bills for winning cases against the state.

Other cases included lawyers for Kevin Kiarie, who fought deportation after being convicted of drug offences, who were paid expenses of £194,353. They won the case on the basis that having to appeal from abroad was a breach of his human rights under EU laws.

Human rights lawyers also won a court case claiming it was unfair to send migrants back to the EU country where they first arrived – and sent taxpayers a £600,000 bill for their work.

The lawyers, who charged £330-per-hour, represented an Iranian and three Eritreans who had smuggled their way into the UK after first claiming refugee status in Italy. Once in the UK, they lodged claims to stay here saying it would breach their human rights if they were sent back to Italy.

The Home Office said it took seriously its duty to spend public money effectively. Given the volume of cases, it was “unsurprising” it faced a number of legal challenges: “We have a good track record in defending Judicial Reviews of decisions but remain committed to learning where the Courts do not find in our favour.”

Baker & Mckenzie

Baker McKenzie Advises Monomoy on Engineering Acquisition

Baker McKenzie advised private investment firm Monomoy Capital Partners in its acquisition of Kauffman Engineering Inc., an Indiana-based manufacturer of wire harnesses and cable assemblies for electrical systems.

Founded in 1973, Kauffman operates about 20 facilities across the United States and Mexico and serves clients across the HVAC, commercial equipment, specialty vehicle, lawn care, marine, medical and other industrial markets.

“We partner with our private equity clients to add value wherever we can and ensure a smooth process in negotiating and closing deals, so they are able to realize as much growth as possible. We are pleased to help Monomoy do just that in this acquisition,” said Michael Fieweger, Baker McKenzie’s lead M&A partner on the transaction.

Baker McKenzie has the world’s largest M&A practice, with nearly 1,400 lawyers executing more cross-border transactions than any other law firm.

The Baker McKenzie team included Michael Fieweger, Garry Jaunal and Emeka Chinwuba.

About Monomoy Capital Partners

Monomoy Capital Partners is a private equity firm with $1.5 billion in committed capital that invests in middle-market businesses in the manufacturing, industrial, distribution and consumer products sectors. The firm invests in the both the equity and debt of middle-market businesses that can benefit from operational and financial improvement. Monomoy designs and executes a customized value creation plan for each acquisition that seeks to generate significant cash flow and improve earnings within 12 to 18 months of an investment. Over the past 14 years, Monomoy has closed over 50 middle-market acquisitions. To learn more about Monomoy and its portfolio companies, please visit the firm’s website at www.mcpfunds.com.

 

White & Case Advises Naspers on US$1.16 Billion Acquisition

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised Naspers, a global internet and entertainment group and one of the world’s largest technology investors, on its US$1.16 billion acquisition of an additional 29.1 percent shareholding in Avito, the leading Russian online classifieds site.

The transaction values Avito at an implied enterprise value of US$3.85 billion. Following the acquisition Naspers stake in Avito will increase from 70.4 percent to 99.6 percent (on a fully diluted basis). The remaining shares are held by existing management.

White & Case also advised Naspers on its minority investment in Avito in 2013 and on Naspers’ subsequent US$1.2 billion investment in 2015, when Naspers became the majority owner of Avito.

Avito was established in 2007 by Filip Engelbert and Jonas Nordlander together with founding investors Vostok New Ventures and Kinnevik. It achieved revenue of US$286.5 million and EBITDA of US$127.6 million for its last full financial year to March 2018 and Avito currently has 10.3million unique visitors per day.

The White & Case team which advised on the transaction was led by partners Eric Michailov (London / Moscow) and Johan Steen (Stockholm) with support from counsel Sophie Sahlin (London) and associates Hanna Wingren (London / Stockholm) and Ksenia Tyunik (Moscow).

 

EU court advisor sides with Airbnb against French restrictions

The European Court of Justice Advocate General submitted an opinion Tuesday siding with Airbnb in a case challenging strict French rules.

The Prosecutor’s Office in Paris France filed an indictment for infringement of Hoguet law (real estate law) concerning real estate agents against Airbnb Ireland. Airbnb Ireland denies acting as a real estate agent and the Court of Justice agreed. The opinion found that Airbnb services fall within the scope of “information society services.” The AG rejected that the Irish company would be covered by the nation’s Hoguet Law because there was not proper notification of the intention to apply French law to the Irish company.

In a press release accompanying the opinion the court said that the AG found that Airbnb is a “service consisting in connecting potential guests with hosts offering short-term accommodation, via a electronic portal, in a situation in which the provider of that service does not exercise control over the essential procedures for the provision of those services, constitutes an information society service.”

The opinion is not binding on the court, but is likely to be adopted.