Sydney Mitchell is recognised in the Top Tier of the Legal 500 and ‘punches above its weight’ for contentious and non-contentious matters. The firm is recognised for thoroughness and good commercial approach to cases.

Sydney Mitchell has again been recognised as a Tier 1 firm for its Contentious Wills and Probate work; handling a variety of high-value complex cases.

In total the firm has obtained recommendations in 13 areas of legal practice; Contentious Probate, Commercial Litigation, Debt Recovery, Insolvency and Corporate Recovery, Employment, Clinical Negligence, Personal Injury, Professional Negligence, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate, Health, Commercial Property and Property Litigation.

The firm’s clients have made some excellent comments on the work undertaken by the legal teams.

Div Singh, Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell commented:

We have an excellent result again this year with the firm maintaining its ranking in Tier 1 for our Contentious Probate work.

We were especially pleased for some of our young solicitors Hayley–Jo Lockley and Preena Lal who have been recognised for their hard work and dedication. Our clients and referrers have made fantastic comments on the work we have undertaken including…

‘One of the strongest of the smaller city centre firms in commercial litigation’;  ‘experienced and sensible with sound judgement and a particular skill at negotiating very good deals…; ‘superstar and a joy to work with’; ‘very tenacious …’ ‘attention to detail and thorough approach’.

What more can you ask for than recommendations from your clients for the excellent service received for work undertaken by our legal teams.

The joint heads of the Dispute Resolution team, Dean Parnell and Kamal Majevadia were recognised for their high-value and complex claims undertaken with Dean recognised for his “technical knowledge that is second to none and is a solicitor you would want on your side’ and Kamal ‘… is very thorough and applies a good commercial approach to his cases’.

Leading Midlands Law firm Sydney Mitchell is ranked in 13 Legal 500 categories and has won Birmingham Law Firm of the Year 4 times in the last 9 years.

A full breakdown of the Sydney Mitchell recommendations and comments on Legal 500 are shown below.

West Midlands: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Birmingham

Commercial litigation: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘one of the strongest of the smaller city centre firms in commercial litigation’, and thrives under the leadership of Dean Parnell, who is ‘very experienced and sensible, with sound judgement and a particular skill at negotiating very good deals for his clients’. Parnell is an experienced mediator and is also qualified to act as a supervising solicitor for search orders. The practice represented clients in a number of multimillion-pound claims and noted an increase in injunctive relief, SWAP claims, shareholder disputes and civil fraud. Kamal Majevadia, who co-heads the team with Parnell, has ‘good technical knowledge and is particularly good at insolvency, restructuring and financial professional negligence cases’.

Debt recovery

Debt recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s ‘very efficient’ team has a ‘light touch’ and is led by Kamal Majevadia, who is ‘adept at spotting the wood for the trees and combines this with a user-friendly sense of humour for very experienced officeholders such as liquidators, who are his staple clients’. Majevadia’s recent caseload includes acting on behalf of the administrators of Blakemores in relation to the collection of several large debts from former clients. Another name to note is insolvency specialist Leanne Schneider-Rose, who leads on debt recovery matters for business lenders such as AIB Group (UK) and West Bromwich Commercial. The practice also acts for secondary lenders on mortgage repossessions.

West Midlands: Finance

Insolvency and corporate recovery

Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s practice offers ‘exceptional value for money’ and is also noted for its ability to ‘quickly grasp the instruction and work with the officeholder to implement (and refine as necessary) the strategy’. Practice head Leanne Schneider-Rose has a loyal following of lenders and insolvency practitioners, such as AIB Group and Smith & Williamson, and wins praise for her ‘attention to detail and thorough approach’. In one example, Schneider-Rose acted for a bankrupt in the Court of Appeal in a claim against receivers for breach of duty regarding a property owned by the bankrupt.

West Midlands: Human resources

Employment

Employment - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s diverse practice ‘punches above its weight’. The practice acts for employers and individuals in contentious and non-contentious matters, and Birmingham-based team head Dean Parnell attracts praise for his ability to ‘focus on solutions rather than conflict for the sake of it’. He represented an individual in a complex disability discrimination and victimisation claim against their employer, as well as a shareholder who was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct following a health and safety audit. Jade Linton is ‘a superstar and a joy to work with’; she acted for an individual in sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims under the Equality Act 2010, which was complicated by the fact the claimant and respondent had previously been in a relationship. She also handled a whistleblowing claim brought by a high-ranked executive whose employment was terminated due to suspicions of fraudulent activity. Associate Tina Chander left the firm to join Wright Hassall LLP.

West Midlands: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant

Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘a small firm that really punches above its weight’, and clients rate it for ‘having the skills and knowledge to handle a vast array of negligence and personal injury matters’. Mike Sutton leads the clinical negligence practice; he ‘has an excellent manner with clients’ and his experience ‘allows him to focus on the key issues in the early stages of a case’. Sutton is representing the wife of a man who died of a pulmonary embolism following the hospital’s alleged failure to appropriately treat him during the post-operative recovery period. Stephen Jesson acted for a claimant seeking compensation in light of the alleged delay in diagnosis of cancer, and is acting in a group claim filed against a consultant urological surgeon for alleged improper treatment of prostate cancer.

Next generation lawyers

Stephen Jesson - Sydney Mitchell LLP

Personal injury: claimant

Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP acts for local clients on a wide range of personal injury work – much of which consists of multi-track claims – and ‘has a strong reputation in the West Midlands’. Team leader and ‘very tenacious lawyer’ Mike Sutton ‘does not shy away from difficult, complicated or messy cases’; he recently represented a man who suffered career-ending injuries following an accident at work, and acted on behalf of the family and financial dependents of a man killed by careless driving. Other key names include Stephen Jesson, who assisted an elderly client in her claim against a restaurant which allegedly failed to provide the duty owed by the manager to a disabled customer.

Professional negligence

Professional negligence - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP handles high-value and complex claims regarding property and banking issues for clients such as Hertford Solutions and West Bromwich Building Society. The ‘commercially astuteDean Parnell has ‘technical knowledge that is second to none and is a solicitor you would want on your side’. He leads the practice with Kamal Majevadia, who is singled out for insolvency, restructuring and financial cases. Assistant solicitor Sundeep Bilkhu supports the partners with regards to negligence claims against solicitors and construction professionals, and recently represented a professional client in a case against his governing body for allegedly failing to adequately represent him in court resulting in significant liability costs. The ‘hardworking and responsive’ Preena Lal is also recommended.

West Midlands: Private client

Contentious trusts and probate

Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s contentious trusts and probate team is based in Shirley and demonstrates ‘sound knowledge of the law, which it applies for the practical benefit of the client’. The team, led by Kamal Majevadia (who ‘is very thorough and applies a good commercial approach to his cases’) handled an Inheritance Act dispute in which a significant portion of the assets was held overseas. Solicitor Hayley-Jo Lockley supported the team in obtaining a grant of probate, forcing the removal of caveat and removing an individual from the deceased’s property, and led on the advice on the recovery of monies due to a client as per the deceased’s will. Tracy Creed is also a key contact.

Family: Birmingham
Family: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

 

Sydney Mitchell LLP

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, Karen Moores leads the firm’s family team alongside Mauro Vinti, who works out of the Shirley office. The partners are supported by legal executive Jayne Gregg, who is ‘very positive and firm with her advice’. Recently, the team represented clients in the Birmingham family court in connection with financial remedy and child arrangement proceedings. Solicitor Teresa Mannion joined the firm in Shirley from Alsters Kelley LLP...

Personal tax, trusts and probate

Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s clients find the wills, trusts and probate team, led by Tracy Creed, to be ‘extremely professional and efficient in all engagements and dealings’. The practice has substantial experience acting on behalf of vulnerable elderly clients in connection with care work and funding. Solicitor Ravinder Sandhu (whose ‘knowledge in this field is wide and deep’) recently assisted a client with the removal of an executor from an estate, and handled the administration of an estate according to a will, which was complicated by unclear paternity links and genealogical evidence. Clients also recommend ‘very good and helpful’ solicitor Nicholas Bennett, who is based in Shirley and acted for clients with regards to locating missing wills and applications for grants of probate.

West Midlands: Public sector

Health

Health - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmigham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s public-sector healthcare practice is headed by Fahmida Ismail in Birmingham, closely supported by consultant Tony Harris, who splits his time between Birmingham and Shirley and acted for a retiring senior partner with regards to the cancellation of his GMS contract and the negotiation of his retirement agreement. Areas of expertise include advising on sales, acquisition and mergers of GP practices, partnership disputes, and LIFT and non-LIFT projects. Harris and Ismail recently advised on the changes to partnership agreements in the context of retiring and incoming partners and the re-mortgaging of freehold surgery premises through a complex borrowing scheme requiring safeguarding and indemnity clauses to protect each individual partner. In another mandate, Ismail oversaw the retirement of a GP partner who wished to remain an owner of the leasehold premises. Associates Stewart Coles and Roy Colaba recently represented a GP partnership in connection with the lease of its surgery premises, while Dean Parnell handled a commercial dispute between dentists working in the same practice where the relationship had completely broken down but a fee-sharing agreement remained.

West Midlands: Real estate

Commercial property: Birmingham

Commercial property: Birmingham - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team includes the ‘knowledgeable, prompt and efficientStewart Coles, who has particular expertise in dealing with property transactions involving pension schemes, and regularly acts on behalf of SIPPs and SSASs on the purchase, sale and leasing of commercial premises. Coles also represents clients in the retail and hospitality sectors and in 2016 he advised investors on a number of hotel acquisitions. Head of practice Div Singh and finance specialist Fahmida Ismail are the other main contacts.

Property litigation

Property litigation - ranked: tier 6

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, senior solicitor Sundeep Bilkhu is a ‘good driving force’ for cases and continued to be particularly active in landlord and tenant issues for lenders and receivers: Bilkhu represented Hertford Solutions in enforcing a possession order against a tenant in occupation, and also acted for a receiver in obtaining vacant possession of a property following the borrower’s default of a legal charge. In other highlights, the team is defending Property Link Midlands in a claim alleging breach of a landlord repair covenant in a lease. Kamal Majevadia heads the practice.


 

21 lawyers are recommended in The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017 editorial (listed below)

WEST MIDLANDS

Dispute resolution - Commercial litigation - Birmingham
- Dean Parnell
- Kamal Majevadia

Dispute resolution - Debt recovery
- Kamal Majevadia
- Leanne Schneider-Rose

Finance - Insolvency and corporate recovery
- Leanne Schneider-Rose

Human resources - Employment
- Dean Parnell
- Jade Linton

Insurance - Clinical negligence - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- Stephen Jesson

Insurance - Personal injury - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- Stephen Jesson

Insurance - Professional negligence
- Dean Parnell
- Kamal Majevadia
- Preena Lal
- Sundeep Bilkhu

Private client - Contentious trusts and probate
- Hayley-Jo Lockley
- Kamal Majevadia
- Tracy Creed

Private client - Family - Elsewhere in the West Midlands
- Jayne Gregg
- Karen Moores
- Mauro Vinti
- Teresa Mannion

Private client - Personal tax, trusts and probate
- Nicholas Bennett
- Ravinder Sandhu
- Tracy Creed

Public sector - Health
- Dean Parnell
- Fahmida Ismail
- Roy Colaba
- Stewart Coles
- Tony Harris

Real estate - Commercial property - Birmingham
- Div Singh
- Fahmida Ismail
- Stewart Coles

Real estate - Property litigation
- Kamal Majevadia
- Sundeep Bilkhu

Workplace accidents can have devastating consequences and, if they are caused by negligence, expert legal representation will make sure that you receive full compensation. In one case, an electrician who suffered catastrophic brain injuries due to a piece of faulty wiring has won the right to very substantial damages.

The man was working on a ceiling light fitting at commercial premises when he was electrocuted and suffered a cardiac arrest. He was thrown off a ladder and struck his head, sustaining severe head injuries. His cognitive deficits are such that he is classified as a protected party, incapable of managing his own affairs.

After specialist lawyers launched proceedings on his behalf, it was accepted that he had suffered a massive electric shock because the junction box to which the fitting was connected had been miswired. The High Court found that the error had been made eight years previously, when the fitting was originally installed. On that basis, the company that was responsible for the negligent installation bore 75 per cent of the liability for the accident.

The Court found that the remaining 25 per cent of liability rested on the man’s employer, in that there had been a negligent failure to pinpoint the fault during two previous safety inspections of electrical fittings at the premises. Arguments that the man was in part to blame for his own misfortune were rejected. The amount of his award remains to be assessed but is likely to be a seven-figure sum.

For further information on this article, please contact Mike Sutton on 0121 698 2200, email m.sutton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

Following a consultation, the Presidents of the Employment Tribunal have issued revised guidance on the amount of compensation payable for injury to feelings in discrimination cases (the 'Vento' bands).

In future, the guidance will be subject to revision on an annual basis, without the need for further consultation, with the first review taking place in March 2018.

The Presidents consider that, for the time being, the Retail Prices Index (RPI) is the appropriate measure of the rate of inflation to be applied.

Applying the formula adopted by the Presidents, the new bands for awards for injury to feelings are as follows:

  • Lower band – between £800 and £8,400. Awards in this range are appropriate where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence;
  • Middle band – between £8,400 and £25,200. Awards in this range are made in serious cases but where an award in the top band is not merited; and
  • Top band – between £25,200 and £42,000. Awards in this range are made in the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment. Only in exceptional circumstances will a compensation award for injury to feelings exceed the upper limit.

The Guidance will apply to claims presented to the ET on or after 11 September 2017.

The response to the consultation can be found on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary's website. 

For further advice please contact Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300, email j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form

When a compensation award is made to the victim of an accident, the actual amount of the settlement is adjusted to take into account the interest the claimant can expect to earn by investing it. This is achieved by applying a 'discount rate', or 'Ogden rate' to the sum awarded. Traditionally, the percentage rate applied has been linked to returns on lowest-risk investments – typically index-linked gilts. The lower the rate, the higher the compensation award.

The rate also applies to compensation awards by way of damages made by an Employment Tribunal for personal injury where a claimant is found to have suffered ill health – physical or psychological – as a result of unlawful discrimination or detriment. Such an award is often in the form of a compensation payment for long-term loss of earnings.

The discount rate had remained unchanged at 2.5 per cent since 2001. However, in light of the low interest rates available to investors, a new discount rate of minus 0.75 per cent was introduced with effect from 20 March 2017 in an attempt to ensure fairness to those receiving compensation. The move was heavily criticised by the insurance industry, however, and a sharp increase in motor insurance premiums followed. The Government also had to make available additional sums to cope with the knock-on effect of the change on public services with large personal injury liabilities – particularly the NHS.

Following a consultation on this issue, the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, David Lidington, has announced the Government's intention to revise the way the discount rate is calculated. The proposal is that the rate should be based on 'low risk' rather than 'very low risk' investments. In addition, advice will be taken from a panel of experts and the rate will be reviewed at least every three years, with changes made when necessary.

If the proposals are approved by Parliament, the revised discount rate is likely to be somewhere between 0 per cent and 1 per cent.

For further information on this article, please contact Mike Sutton on 0121 698 2200, email m.sutton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

It is common for couples to make so-called ‘mirror’ wills, leaving everything to each other and, eventually, to their children. Such documents may appear simple but, as one High Court case showed, they can be effectively unchangeable, depending on what promises are made at the time.

A husband and wife signed mirror wills in 2000 which provided that each would inherit the other’s estate and that, when both of them had died, the combined estate would then pass to their daughters. Following the husband’s death, the wife made more than a dozen further wills, each replacing the other, before her own death 16 years later. The last of those wills bequeathed £40,000 in legacies to the daughters, but the remainder of the wife’s £213,000 estate was left to other beneficiaries’

There was no dispute that the wife had the mental capacity required to make a valid will. However, her daughters argued that, by changing her will, she had broken a binding commitment that she had made to her husband before his death. They had been present when the mirror wills were signed and had been assured by both their parents that their terms were ‘set in stone’ and would not be changed.

In upholding the daughters’ arguments, the High Court accepted their evidence as to the mutual promise that their parents had made. There was no doubt that both of them intended at the time that their wills would not be changed. On her husband’s death, therefore, the wife lost the unilateral right to dispose of her estate as she pleased. In the circumstances, the Court ruled that her personal representatives held her estate on trust to give effect to the mirror wills.

For help and guidance on this or other private client matters contact Ravi Sandhu 0121 698 2200 or email, r.sandhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

When an employee falls ill, it is absolutely vital to avoid discrimination and treat them with sensitivity. In one case where that certainly failed to happen, a breast cancer sufferer won substantial compensation from her former employer.

The woman worked as PA for the chief executive of a property company. After her condition was diagnosed, she was initially treated with sympathy and concern and flexible working arrangements were put in place to enable her to undergo treatment. Relations with her boss subsequently frayed, however, and a dispute developed as to whether or not she should go on sick leave, at a reduced rate of pay.

She ultimately resigned and, after she lodged a complaint, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that she had suffered three incidents of harassment and disability discrimination within the meaning of Section 15 of the Equality Act 2010.

Her flexible working arrangements had been removed without proper consultation or discussion and she had been required to go on sick leave for three to four months, during which she would receive statutory sick pay. She had also been required to accept a different role within the company, at a reduced salary.

Medical evidence established that she had suffered psychiatric injury as a result of her treatment and in that respect she was awarded £7,500 in compensation. She was also awarded £16,000 for injury to her feelings. After interest, financial losses and expenses were taken into account, the total award came to £47,701.

For further advice please contact Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300, email j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form

Going abroad on holiday or to live is becoming a common occurrence for many children. Parents may be offered positions abroad, either for a specific time or with endless possibilities of a permanent move. Likewise, grandparents may have chosen to move to a warm climate with a more relaxed way of life and promises of frequent long holidays for their family.

Although these changes can be viewed with a mixture of excitement and fear, if both parents agree, then their children can explore new vistas.

However, if the parents are no longer residing together there are many issues which may arise that need to be addressed. Karen Moores, family law solicitor explains the legal implications of taking your children abroad if you are divorced or separated.

Taking a child on holiday

The necessity to obtain permission to take a child out of the UK is not commonly known. It often depends on what Children Act Orders have been made, if any, and applies whether it is a day trip to France, a fortnight to Florida or the whole of the school holidays with relatives in Pakistan.

Consideration should first of all be given as to who has parental responsibility. If both parents have parental responsibility and there are no Child Arrangement orders (residence orders) or other restrictions in place, then neither can take the child on holiday outside the United Kingdom without the written consent of the other parent or any other party with parental responsibility. If consent is refused, an application to the Court will need to be made for permission.

The situation is different where one parent has a Child Arrangement Order. A person with a Child Arrangement Order (Residence Order) can take a child abroad for up to a month without the written consent of the other parent. However, it is good parenting to endeavour to agree the arrangements in advance; if consent is unreasonably withheld then an application may be made to the Court.

If the mother alone has parental responsibility and there are no child arrangement orders concerning the child, permission is not strictly needed by her to take a child abroad on holiday. However, again it is responsible parenting to consult and reach agreement with the other parent. Of course this does not stop a father without parental responsibility applying for parental responsibility and then objecting to the temporary removal of the child.

In almost all cases it is best to agree holiday or similar arrangements in advance to avoid misunderstandings, problems with contact, accusations of abduction and other applications to the Court. In the normal course of events permission for a child to go abroad is invariably given by a Court. Often details are required stating where the child will be staying, giving the date of departure, return and details of flights along with contact telephone numbers. If however there are suspicions that the child will not be returned, especially if the child is going to a non Hague Convention Country, then security will be necessary.

If grandparents and other family members want to take a child abroad, permission will be needed from both parents with parental responsibility and not just from one parent.

All of these issues may be dealt with at the local Court, however, if the approved holiday requires consideration of the law and procedures in foreign countries, then a Judge of the High Court may deal with such applications as consideration will need to be given with regard to putting in place specific orders. This may include mirror orders, notarised agreements and significant sums of money placed in a bond to be released upon the child's return. There have also been cases where family members, not just the person taking the child abroad, have been required to enter into a solemn declaration guaranteeing the safe return of the child.

The Court would also look at the risk of non return along with the magnitude of the impact on the child of any non return. It is therefore evident from previous Judge's decisions that they take account of each individual circumstance, the age of the child and detailed protective steps if there is a significant fear of non return after a trip abroad.

For further information and questions on taking your child/children abroad, contact us today.

Concerns of abduction

It is not unusual, particularly in families with international connections, for either parent to be anxious that the child will not be returned. These doubts may arise prior to the child leaving on holiday or indeed where the parent and child are returned late after a contact visit or if it has been difficult to get in touch with the other parent at any stage. If there is an immediate risk, port alert will be required. If there is time to secure an application to the Court for an order prohibiting the removal of the child from the jurisdiction without notice being given to the other parent, this should be done quickly as it can be crucially important to prevent the child leaving the UK. Any delay in an application can result in the child being taken out of the jurisdiction and may then result in great difficulty in locating the child and securing their return.

Nevertheless, if it is known that the child has been taken to a Country within the European Union there are considerable resources and facilities in place to track and locate a child in the hope of securing a return before departure to the rest of the world.

Abduction is known as a failure to return a child after an agreed period abroad. As stated above there are protective steps which can be taken if there is a fear of a non return after a trip abroad and legal advice should always be sought promptly to address anxiety about any concerns of an abduction. Information such as names, addresses, photographs and descriptions of people and places where it is likely that the child could be taken should be gathered as soon as possible. Clearly, this evidence may only be available if there is a reason to suspect that the child is being taken to other family members or friends who reside abroad.

If you have any concerns about abduction and need some legal advice on the issue, contact our family team.

Relocating abroad

A parent needs the permission of the other parent or a Court Order to take a child permanently abroad. This is known as a relocation application or leave to remove.

In some cases it is appropriate to oppose the relocation application but in others it may be wise to consider putting energies into legal representation to ensuring very good future contact before the relocation proceeds. If there are well thought out plans, with good reasons given to the Court for relocation, they will generally allow relocation. This however, does not mean that a parent opposing relocation of their child should immediately give up.

When considering opposing relocation applications it is essential to consider all aspects of a child's life. The Court will hear evidence as to the child's educational progress, family and support network, activities that they are involved in along with the impact of losing contact with the wider family. Consideration will also be given by the Court as to what more could the one parent offer the child if they continue to reside in this jurisdiction. If the child is to remain in Europe where the country has signed up to the appropriate conventions, there will be certain protection and enforceability of orders for contact. Even if a child has been permitted to go abroad, certain safeguards can be put in place to ensure that good contact continues. This may include extended staying contact during the school holidays and consideration as to travel arrangements, the use of emails and web cams.

Enforcement is another important issue that is required to be looked at before a child leaves the jurisdiction as often if there is a breach of an agreement or an Order these may have no validity abroad and may therefore not be relied upon. Therefore notarised agreements, mirror orders, bonds, religious oaths and other safeguards to ensure compliance with arrangements should be considered. Contact Orders made in England may not automatically be recognised or may require separate Court procedures and all of this must be done before departure.

A mirror order is an order made in the courts of the country of relocation.  This is identical to the order made before the UK courts. Therefore the advantage for the left behind parent is that because the order becomes an order of the foreign state, local enforcement is available.

There are therefore many issues that have to be considered as far in advance as possible. Legal advice from a Solicitor, preferably who has experience in such matters, should be taken so that due consideration may be given to all the possibilities that may arise and precautionary measures put in place.

Many children go abroad on holiday to visit family and friends or indeed to emigrate and it is a positive experience for them. Ultimately wherever the children is residing, it is usually in the best interests of that child to have regular, quality and contact with both parents. If this is an issue that you require further assistance or advice on please contact us today.

The definition of ‘disability’ has been the subject of much legal debate ever since the Equality Act 2010 came into force. However, an Employment Tribunal (ET) has shed some much-needed light on the issue in a case concerning a visually impaired office worker.

The woman had worn spectacles since childhood and her eyesight had deteriorated with age. She had suffered from a macular hole and cataracts before starting her employment with a social housing provider, but those conditions had been corrected by surgery and she had described her vision as massively improved.

Her job required her to perform detailed work on a computer for long periods. Hours spent looking at the screen gave her headaches and the glare led to eyestrain. She also had to lean forward from her chair to see words on the screen. She launched proceedings before the ET, claiming that her employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments to her computer to accommodate her visual disability.

In ruling on her claim, the ET noted that she had self-treated her headaches and eyestrain with painkillers and had not consulted her GP or an optician about them. Although her visual problems were not trivial and were a physical impairment, they were no more than minor. Her need to lean forward to view her computer screen also did not amount to a substantial adverse effect on her normal day-to-day activities. The ET’s decision that she was not disabled within the meaning of the Act was fatal to her claim.

For further advice please contact Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300, email j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form

If you suffer discrimination in the workplace you can be compensated for injury to your feelings as well as for your financial losses. A £12,000 award was made for injury to feelings in one striking case in which a woman was told that she was being made redundant on the same day that she put in a request for maternity leave.

The woman, who had a senior managerial role in a large company, was so upset and shocked on being told that she would lose her job that she had to go on sick leave, suffering from stress. In her absence, her bosses proactively looked for errors in her work and informed her that she faced disciplinary action. She ultimately resigned.

After she took legal advice and lodged a complaint, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that she had been selected for redundancy because of her request for maternity leave and that the allegations of gross misconduct against her were unjustified and unsustainable. She had thus been constructively dismissed and had suffered unlawful discrimination based on her sex.

Following a further hearing, the ET noted that the circumstances of her departure from the company had resulted in a loss of confidence and mental health problems from which she took some time to recover. In the circumstances, the company was ordered to pay her a total of more than £42,000 in compensation, including the substantial award for injury to her feelings.

For further advice please contact Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300, email j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form

A decree absolute, ending a marriage, does not necessarily signal the end of judicial involvement in divorce. As one High Court case showed, financial arrangements can be revisited in the light of changed circumstances, including children growing up, the formation of new relationships and increases and decreases in income.

The case concerned a middle-aged NHS dentist and his care worker ex-wife who had two children during their 11-year marriage. After their relationship broke down, a decree absolute had been granted in 2011 and the wife had been awarded 53 per cent of the couple’s capital assets. The husband had also been required to pay her £2,250 in monthly maintenance.

The husband had since remarried and his new wife was expecting a baby. Whilst his financial responsibilities had increased, his income was said to have substantially dropped due to changes in NHS funding of dentistry. In those circumstances, a family judge agreed to reduce his maintenance payments to £2,000 per month. Provision was also made for their further reduction in stages as he approached retirement. However, the judge directed that the husband’s NHS pension, worth more than £190,000, should be shared equally with the wife.

The husband remained dissatisfied and, in challenging the judge’s order before the High Court, he presented fresh evidence as to his declining income and increased outgoings. In seeking a clean financial break, he claimed to be facing a deficit between his income and expenditure of £3,360 per month.

In rejecting his appeal, however, the Court could find no sufficient evidential basis on which to interfere with the judge’s clear and comprehensive conclusions. His decision to gradually decrease the wife’s maintenance payments until such time as they would be replaced by the pension sharing order was carefully crafted.

For advice please contact Emma Gray on 0121 746 3300, email emma.gray@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

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