Sydney MItchell Yorkshire 3 Peaks ChallengeOn the 6 July a team of four intrepid climbers from Sydney Mitchell Solicitors will take on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. 12 hours, 3 Peaks, 64 pairs of socks and an abundance of plasters, is in between them and victory.

They are taking on this gruelling challenge to raise funds for two worthy causes, Age UK Solihull and The Buddy Bag Foundation.

Age UK Solihull is a charity with a mission to improve the lives of older people within the Solihull Borough. Age UK Solihull provides many services including social clubs and befriending programmes to tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness many within the older generation are going through.

Please click on the following link to learn more: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/solihull/about-us/

The Buddy Bag Foundation provides comfort to children who enter emergency care after fleeing violent situations at home. Buddy bags help to restore a sense of safety and security into a child’s life during a traumatic time.

To learn more about The Buddy Bag Foundation click on the following link: https://buddybagfoundation.co.uk/our-mission/

To sponsor our “Peaky climbers” in their aim to raise money for these two charites please click on the link below and donate, all donations are welcome.

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/PeakyClimbers-Sydneymitchell

Watch out for more information. Hour by hour coverage will be posted on the 6 July on our Facebook page @SydneyMitchellSolicitors

Sydney Mitchell is recognised in the Top Tier of the Legal 500 and is ‘very strong’ and ‘probably the best in central Birmingham outside the large National and International Firms’ for dispute resolution and commercial litigation matters.

Sydney Mitchell has again been recognised as a Tier 1 firm for its Contentious Wills and Probate work; with a ‘driven professional team’ led by Kamal Majevadia 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.

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

Div Singh, Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell commented:



“What an excellent result again this year for Sydney Mitchell, with the firm maintaining its ranking in Tier 1 for our Contentious Probate work and in particular Kamal Majevadia being singled out as a ‘leading individual’”.



Many of our talented solicitors have been named throughout for their hard work with our ‘client care second to none’.



It is great to see new team members being recognised, David Lydon, Adam Hodson, Samantha Glynn, Hayley-Jo and Gemma especially have shone through this year. Our clients and referrers have made fantastic comments on the work we have undertaken including…



‘solid, well respected team’, ‘can-do attitude’ ‘an approach to client care that is second to none’, ‘caring straight-to-the-point’ and ‘manages expectations’.

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

Dean Parnell is recognised as “very experienced and sensible; ...calm and reassuring, firm but not aggressive and tactically astute negotiator who secures good deals for his client’ and  ‘…strong on shareholder disputes and claims relating to directors’.

Karen Moores, Head of the Family Team, is recognised for her ‘compassionate’ and ‘understanding’ manner.

Leading Midlands Law firm Sydney Mitchell is ranked in 13 Legal 500 categories and won Birmingham Law Firm of the Year 2018.

END

Legal 500 information links are included below:

West Midlands: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Birmingham - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘very strong’, and for some ‘probably the best in central Birmingham outside the large national and international firms’. The practice handles a range of matters, many of which with fraud elements, with clients ranging from international businesses, trade bodies, regional businesses and individual executives. Dean Parnell, whose expertise includes acting as a supervising solicitor for court-ordered searches, on top of being ‘very experienced and sensible: he is calm and reassuring, firm but not aggressive, and a tactically astute negotiator who secures good deals for his clients’, is ‘particularly strong on shareholder disputes and claims relating to directors’ – he represented a foreign company on recovery of losses from director-level frauds. Kamal Majevadia acted for an engineering company concerning unpaid invoices for engine components – he also handles cases concerning alleged fraud.

Debt recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP ’s workload includes a number of matters acting for finance providers concerning lending secured on residential property, plus matters concerning social care fees, vehicle finance and unpaid invoices. Kam Majevadia  heads the practice, with solicitor Hayley-Jo Lockley  a name of note below partner level. Gemma Parker is a key legal executive. Clients include West Bromwich Commercial.

West Midlands: Finance

Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP's Leanne Schneider-Rose  advised an insolvency practitioner on gaining access to and possession of a sports and leisure club, and handled several cases concerning the sales of care homes from administration. Section 216 cases and personal bankruptcy are also areas of expertise.

West Midlands: Human resources

Employment - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP  is 'a solid, well respected team' that is 'a very popular locally' with 'a reputation that is growing nationally'. Dean Parnell  leads the team and is 'very popular with clients', and has 'a "can-do" attitude'.  He has a broad expertise in employment, and acts on behalf of employers and very senior employees. Also recommended is solicitor Samantha Glynn, who specialises in contentious issues.

West Midlands: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP  handle a range of clinical negligence claims, with 'an approach to client care that is second to none'. Mike Sutton  heads up the team and 'very well respected locally'. He is assisted by senior personal injury executive David Lydon, Adam Hodson  and  Stephen Jesson.

Personal injury: claimant
Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP is 'a small team that has built up considerable experience', whose 'approach to client care is second to none'. Mike Sutton  leads the team and is 'very well respected locally within the profession'. He specialises in handling road and work accidents, and recently represented a client who suffered from complex regional pain syndrome due to falling from a ladder. David Lydon recently joined the firm from Pearson Rowe Incorporating Springthorpes and has a similar focus on work and road accidents. He recently acted for an individual who required amputation to due to injuries suffered by his fingers while at work. Also recommended is solicitor Adam Hodson.

Professional negligence - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP 's litigation team is highly active in professional negligence cases, most notable against in the areas of legal services and construction. Sundeep Bilkhu is a key figure with extensive experience in negligence relating to property transactions.

West Midlands: Private client

Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Sydney Mitchell LLP

The 'driven' and 'professional' Sydney Mitchell LLP is led by Kamal Majevadia who is a 'caring, straight-to-the-point person' who 'tells it like it is' and 'manages your expectations'. He is particularly known for disputes on estates with a cross-border or commercial aspect. Shirley-based Tracy Creed  is also a key figure, with notable strengths in probate, trusts and estate planning.

Family: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP

The 'excellent' Sydney Mitchell LLP  focuses on complex matrimonial disputes and childcare arrangements. Karen Moores is a key contact and is known for her 'compassionate' and 'understanding'  manner. Mauro Vinti is also recommended and advises on all aspects on relationship breakdowns.  

Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

The 'excellent' Sydney Mitchell LLP  is particularly strong in dealing with elderly client issues, with additional expertise in wills and estate planning, powers of attorney and administration work. Tracy Creed leads the team and has extensive experience in probate and trust matters.  Also recommended is Shirley based solicitor Nicholas Bennett , who focuses on will and probate issues, and solicitor Ravinder Sandhu, who is experienced in wills, trusts and probate issues.

West Midlands: Public sector

Health - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP focuses on GP mergers, disputes, leasing and tax issues. Fahmida Ismail leads the team and is heavily involved in property and finance matters pertaining to GPs and medical practices. Consultant solicitor Tony Harris is active on Primary Care Commissioning and extending existing GP premises. Consultant solicitor Dean Parnell works on commercial disputes and employment issues.

West Midlands: Real estate

Commercial property: Birmingham - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team handles a range of multimillion-pound deals. Consultant Georgina Walsh in Shirley handles work concerning purchases and sales of development sites... At partner level Div Singh , who is based in Birmingham, also handles buy-side deals, often involving title issues. Fahmida Ismail is also a key contact.

Property litigation - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, associate Sundeep Bilkhu handles a range of commercial property disputes, frequently acting for landlords. Highlights include representation of a landlord in a dispute over the unauthorised removal of a stud wall, which was initially thought to have caused £30,000 of damage but triggered a subsequent order from the local authority to demolish and replace the buildings. Other work concerns boundary restrictive covenant disputes and Party Wall Act matters. In Shirley, Kam Majevadia handles trespass to land matters concerning residential developments, including Court of Appeal cases.


Our lawyers are recommended in The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2018 editorial (listed below)

WEST MIDLANDS

Dispute resolution - Commercial litigation - Birmingham

- Dean Parnell

- Kamal Majevadia

Dispute resolution - Debt recovery

- Kamal Majevadia

- Hayley-Jo Lockley

- Gemma Parker

Finance - Insolvency and corporate recovery

- Leanne Schneider-Rose

Human resources - Employment

- Dean Parnell

- Samantha Glynn

Insurance - Clinical negligence - claimant

- Mike Sutton

- David Lydon

- Adam Hodson

-Stephen Jesson

Insurance - Personal injury - claimant

- Mike Sutton

- David Lydon

- Adam Hodson

Insurance - Professional negligence

- Sundeep Bilkhu

Private client - Contentious trusts and probate

- Kamal Majevadia (leading individual)

- Tracy Creed

Private client - Family - Birmingham

- Karen Moores

- Mauro Vinti

Private client - Personal tax, trusts and probate

-Tracy Creed ~

- Nicholas Bennett

- Ravinder Sandhu

Public sector - Health

- Dean Parnell

- Fahmida Ismail

- Tony Harris (Deceased)

Real estate - Commercial property - Birmingham

- Georgina Walsh

- Div Singh

- Fahmida Ismail

Real estate - Property litigation

- Sundeep Bilkhu

- Kamal Majevadia

It is hardly surprising that confidential or privileged documents which have or may have been illegitimately obtained cannot be used in evidence. However, as the High Court made clear in the context of a big money divorce case, that rule does not apply where such documents are likely to assist in exposing a fraudster's schemes.

A wife had obtained a record financial award against her husband. He had, however, failed to pay a penny and her legal team was engaged in an international struggle to enforce the debt. A former adviser to her husband had provided the wife with a USB stick containing documents concerning the husband's affairs. That prompted the wife's lawyers to seek the Court's guidance as to whether the documents could be retained and made use of in the enforcement proceedings.

Ruling on the case, the Court noted that the former adviser's employment contract with a company through which he dealt with the husband's affairs contained a widely drawn confidentiality clause. Many of the documents related to communications between the husband and his lawyers and they were therefore, on the face of it, absolutely privileged and thus inadmissible in evidence.

The Court, however, noted that it is a recognised exception to the rule that privilege does not extend to communications that are, whether lawyers know it or not, conducted with the intention of pursuing a fraudulent purpose. In finding that that exception applied, the Court noted that the husband had previously been found in contempt of court orders and to have engaged in an elaborate and dishonest campaign to evade enforcement of the wife's award.

A brief perusal of the documents revealed that they formed part of the husband's fraudulent scheme to defeat the wife's claim.

It was not a case where she had unlawfully accessed the husband's confidential material, or procured another to do so, in the hope of obtaining some improper advantage.

She had entrusted the documents to her lawyers, who had conducted a thorough review in order to weed out privileged material. In those circumstances, the Court found that it would be a disproportionate response to require the wife to destroy, or make no use of, documents which might assist in unravelling her husband's schemes.

For advice on dealing with any family law issue or the dissolution of a relationship, contact me k.moores@sydneymitchell.co.uk or a member of the family team at any of our offices.

 

Press coverage, featured in Birmingham Post Rich List, links below:

https://www.business-live.co.uk/enterprise/billionaires-rise-west-midlands-according-17612116 

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-post-rich-list-2020-17603440

 



 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all at Sydney Mitchell LLP

Pleas of poverty are commonplace in divorce cases, but family judges are well able to discern whether they are true or false. In one case, a property developer who fell heavily into arrears on maintenance payments to his ex-wife was ruled in contempt of court and warned to expect punishment.

Following the end of the couple’s long marriage, the sale of two properties, including the matrimonial home, was ordered with a view to providing the wife with around £950,000. The husband was also ordered to transfer to her £2 million and to pay her £10,000 a month in maintenance pending her receipt of that sum. He was later refused permission to appeal against those and other orders.

The wife launched further proceedings after the husband fell £117,500 behind on the maintenance payments. His response was that his business had fallen on hard times and that he simply could not afford to pay them. However, following a hearing, the High Court was satisfied so that it was sure that he at all times had the means to make the payments when they fell due.

The Court noted that he had received around £100,000 from the sale of watches and more than £40,000 from his share of a development property. He had throughout been renting a flat in a prime location at a cost of £8,100 a month. The evidence established that he had placed the wife at the bottom of his list of priorities and could have paid her maintenance had he wanted to.

Other defaults on the husband’s part included his failure to pay anything towards the mortgage on the matrimonial home, thus diluting its equity to the point where it was effectively worthless. A finding of contempt carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine. The Court, however, adjourned sentencing the husband so as to give him an opportunity to put in evidence concerning his current financial position. The Court would also consider his application to vary the maintenance payments downwards.

For help and advice on divorce matters please contact Teresa Mannion on 0808 166 8860 or email your enquiry to t.mannion@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

Litigation can be long and bitter, but it is the prime objective of the justice system to eventually bring it to a satisfactory end. In a case on point, the High Court came to the aid of a husband in drawing a line under his divorce.

The case concerned a middle-aged couple who were self-employed in the IT world, each of them earning enough to support themselves. The wife had a child from a previous relationship who was treated as a child of the family. In dividing the marital assets between them post-separation, a family judge awarded the wife £478,000, approximately 49 per cent of the total.

After the judge handed down her judgment, but before an order was perfected giving effect to it, the wife sought to present fresh evidence that the proposed award would not meet her and her child's reasonable housing needs. The judge was persuaded to adjourn the matter with a view to hearing further argument.

In upholding the husband's appeal against that ruling, the Court emphasised the importance of finality in litigation. The adjournment application was a spurious attempt by a disappointed litigant to get the judge to change her mind immediately after she had given judgment. She should not have succumbed and the decision to grant an adjournment was plainly wrong. The judge was directed to make a final order reflecting the terms of her original judgment.

Says Karen Moores, "Strong and experienced legal representation can protect you against proceedings being prolonged unnecessarily."

For help and advice please contact Karen Moores on 0808 166 5638 or email your enquiry to k.moores@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

Amidst the emotional and financial destruction that can arise from divorce, keeping a sense of proportion is crucial. The Court of Appeal made that point in lamenting a former couple's expenditure of more than £500,000 in legal costs fighting over an asset worth less than £300,000.

At the start of the couple's 12-year marriage, during which they had two children, they both had highly paid jobs. However, by the time of their separation, their circumstances were greatly reduced and the only asset that was potentially available for division between them was an overseas flat.

The flat was owned by a company, the sole shareholder of which was the husband's mother. However, following a hearing, a judge found that the husband was the flat's beneficial owner. He was ordered to pay the wife £150,000, that sum representing roughly half of the flat's value. After the mother appealed, the judge's orders were upheld.

In upholding the mother's further appeal, the Court noted that the case was yet another sad example of a highly educated former couple engaging in emotionally bruising, destructive and disproportionately expensive litigation in relation to money and the young children of the marriage.

The Court found that the initial trial of the action had been infected by serious procedural irregularities and that the mother had been denied a fair hearing. There was no basis for that part of the judge's order which set aside any transactions that had led to the flat's title being vested in the company and ultimately the mother. She thus continued, via her shares in the company, to be the flat's legal owner.

The Court, however, went on to uphold the judge's conclusion that the flat was and remained in the husband's beneficial ownership. That finding was almost inevitable on the evidence. The lump sum order made against the husband was therefore justified. The Court noted that it was a matter for the husband whether to require his mother to sell the flat in order to raise the necessary funds.

Family disputes are often highly emotionally charged, but the Court of Appeal is an expensive place to settle them. We will do our very best to help you achieve a resolution without court action, but will ensure that whichever route is taken, you are expertly represented.

For help and advice please contact Mauro Vinti on 0808 166 8860 or email your enquiry to M.Vinti@SydneyMitchell.co.uk.

Divorcees who seek to hide the true extent of their wealth can expect to be dealt with firmly by family judges and often end up facing bigger bills than those who are frank from the outset. The Court of Appeal made that point in rejecting an uncooperative husband’s challenge to an order requiring him to pay his ex-wife a seven-figure lump sum.

Divorce following the acrimonious end of the couple’s 20-year marriage, which yielded three children, a judge found that a clean break was imperative, not least because the wife was in fear of the husband, who had been convicted of assaulting and harassing her. The husband had refused to dissolve the marriage by means of a Get, a religious requirement in certain sections of the Jewish community.

The judge found that the husband had added to the complexity of the case by comprehensively failing to comply with court orders or to accurately disclose the extent of his financial resources. With a view to providing for the wife’s fair needs, the husband was ordered to pay her a £1.4 million lump sum. He was also required to pay interest on that sum, and £22,000 a year in maintenance to the wife until he both satisfied the debt and granted her a Get.

In dismissing the husband’s appeal against those orders, the Court rejected his plea that the judge had erred in failing to make even a broad brush evaluation of his undisclosed assets. The judge was entitled to find that such an assessment had been rendered impossible by the husband’s lack of cooperation.

Giving guidance for the future, the Court emphasised that judges must not jump to conclusions as to the extent of undisclosed wealth. However, if the lump sum order was unfair to the husband, that was his own fault and better than any unfairness to the wife. The judge was rightly astute to ensure that the husband did not obtain a better outcome due to his failure to comply with his disclosure obligations and was entitled to conclude that his assets were sufficient to meet both his own and the wife’s reasonable needs.

For help and advice on family law matters please contact Jayne Gregg on 0808 166 5638.

Cohabiting couples are the fastest-growing family type in the UK, according to newly released figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS reports that the number of cohabiting couple families continues to grow faster than the number of married couple and lone parent families, with an increase of 25.8 per cent over the decade 2008-2018. It highlights the fact that more and more people are choosing to live together before, or without, getting married.

These changing demographics mean that an increasing number of people may be at financial risk in the instance of a cohabitation relationship break-up or the death of a partner. Currently, there is no such thing as a common law marriage in the UK and cohabiting couples are not afforded the same legal rights and protections as married couples.

The House of Lords is seeking to address this imbalance with the Cohabitation Rights Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament. The Bill proposes to establish a framework of rights for cohabiting couples following the end of the relationship or the death of one of the cohabitants.

The Bill's provisions would only apply to cohabiting couples who had either been living together as a couple for a minimum period of three years or had a dependant child. It is intended to provide the right for either cohabitant, when a relationship breaks down, to apply to a court for a financial settlement order to redress a financial benefit or an economic disadvantage resulting from the period of cohabitation. It is also designed to make provision regarding the property of deceased persons who are survived by a cohabitant.

Says Emma Gray:

With any proposed changes to the law still some distance away, it is always advisable to seek professional advice on matters relating to cohabitation.

For help and advice on cohabitation matters or any other family law matter please contact Emma Gray on 0808 166 8860 or email her on e.wileman@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

Public confidence in the civil justice system would collapse if court orders were not rigorously enforced – however agonising complying with them may be. The point was made by a case in which a divorcee who refused to move out of her home of 25 years came within an ace of being sent to prison for her defiance.

Following lengthy and bitter divorce proceedings, the woman had been ordered to quit the home where she brought up her children so that it could be sold and the proceeds divided between her and her ex-husband. A writ of possession was eventually issued and she was compelled to leave by bailiffs. However, she returned to the property a few weeks later and had remained there since.

As a last resort, the husband launched committal proceedings against her. He said that he had no wish to see her jailed, but the High Court noted that more than just his private concerns were in play. Those who choose the court process to resolve their differences are entitled to expect that obedience to judicial orders will be enforced to the hilt and, if necessary, by imprisonment.

The Court noted that the wife, aged in her 50s, had never previously been in trouble with the law. She was suffering from stress and was clearly struggling to move on from her divorce. The Court imposed a six-week jail term but was prepared to suspend the sentence for 15 months. That would afford her sufficient time to clear the house of her possessions and ready it for the market.

We can advise you on any family law matter. For help and advice please contact Amanda Holland on 0808 166 8827. Or email her on a.holland@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

Pages

UK Top Tier Firm 2020 Lexcel Practice Management Standard Birmingham Law Firm of the Year for 2011 Resolution Collaborative Family Lawyer
The Law Society Accredited in Family Law Conveyancing Quality Scheme

 

Subscribe to Family Law