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28 March 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of lockdown measures on 23 March 2020, separated parents and their children were left in the position of trying to negotiate a new and complicated landscape in which they were uncertain of their rights in relation to child visitation and other important matters.

However, even a close reading of the initial lockdown measures failed to provide much in the way of useful clarification. They told us that we were only allowed to leave our homes for the following reasons:

  • Essential shopping, but as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – to be carried out alone or with fellow household members only.
  • To meet medical or care needs.
  • For essential travel to and from work, if it is impossible to work from home.

As you can see, this summary of the key points held little to nothing in the way of guidance for what to do in the case of children of separated families who might normally move between homes. Such uncertainty had the potential to prove problematic for the children of separated families, particularly as routine is typically thought to be essential to their emotional and psychological wellbeing.

20 March 2020

The global fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues and is being felt in every possible sector and section of society.

As the mediating point for every regulated aspect of our lives, the legal services sector is now in a unique position, but, like so many other sectors, such as hospitals and supermarkets, it runs the risks becoming overwhelmed at a time when businesses, individuals, employers and employees face not only their usual raft of day-to-day disputes and challenges but must also grapple with the legal and financial fallouts of COVID-19.

In some ways it is fortunate that COVID-19 has occurred at a time when many law firms have finally begun to embrace a certain amount of technological disruption within the sector, thereby increasing their flexibility and ability to respond to the challenges ahead.

17 March 2020

Cross-border probate disputes are inherently complex and also have a tendency to be high-value, although as the world becomes increasingly connected, such disputes are becoming a more common feature for families across all kinds of economic groups.

The recent case of Rehman v Hamid [2019] EWHC 3692 (Ch) serves as a useful reminder of the need to ensure the correct jurisdiction for a dispute arising in relation to cross-border probate issues.

10 March 2020

In some jurisdictions in the world – including in certain states in the US – a verbal Will may be considered valid. However, in the United Kingdom, for a Will to be considered legally enforceable it must be written down, preferably by an experienced solicitor for Wills using the appropriate language, and correctly signed and witnessed.

Once a Will is in place, any amendments should also be made formally through a signed and witnessed codicil, as any change to the original document could invalidate it.

So, what happens if, on your deathbed, you tell someone that you want to cut one of your children out of your Will or you decide to leave your entire estate to a donkey sanctuary? And what happens, if you have made a verbal promise to someone about an inheritance, but your Will does not reflect this?

02 March 2020

It was as odd as it was anomalous that for some time heterosexual couples did not have the same legal right to civil partnerships as their same-sex counterparts did under the Civil Partnerships Act 2004. In fact, alongside numerous campaigners, the oddity was recognised by leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who went so far as to call it discriminatory.

However, the law has now changed, meaning that heterosexual couples who do not wish to enter into a marriage are now able to undertake a civil partnership which affords them near legal equality with married couples without any of the religious or patriarchal connotations.

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