West Midlands law firm, Sydney Mitchell has been short-listed in the medium size law firm of the year category at the Law Society Excellence Awards for the second year running. The medium law firm of the year category, which is open to all law firms in England & Wales with between 5 and 29 partners, is judged on matters such as professional excellence, staff engagement and development, business and client acquisitions.

Sydney Mitchell Shortlisted in Excellence Awards 2019

 

Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell LLP, Karen Moores commented,

We have had a fantastic year and it is wonderful that the Law Society has recognised our success by short-listing our firm in their national awards. It is also amazing to have been short-listed in these Awards for the second year running and I would like to thank all of our clients and staff for all of their support.

Sydney Mitchell is the only law firm based in the West Midlands within this category and so will be waving the flag for the West Midlands legal community at the Law Society Legal Excellent Awards ceremony which takes place in London on 23 October 2019.

The Law Society president Simon Davis said:

There are more than 140,000 solicitors in England and Wales – to be shortlisted for an Excellence Award is to be recognised as among the very best of the profession. The firms and solicitors shortlisted should be commended for going above and beyond to support their clients, often navigating tricky and sometimes contentious areas of the law.

Sydney Mitchell is a Midlands based award winning law firm, with offices in Birmingham City Centre, Sheldon and Shirley with additional facilities in Sutton Coldfield. Offering a range of specialist legal services for both businesses and individuals, Sydney Mitchell is listed in the Top Tier of the Legal 500, Lexcel accredited and won the Law Firm of the Year (5-15 partners) in the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards in 2018, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011 and 2008.
 
The firm’s specialist teams include employment, commercial property, company and commercial services, litigation and insolvency. Private client teams include family law, immigration, residential property, dispute resolution and wills and probate, tax and trusts and personal injury.
 

Full details of all shortlisted ... https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/events/excellence-awards/shortlist/#

More details can be found on the Law Gazette article link ...

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/shortlist-announced-for-13th-law-society-excellence-awards/5071160.article

Sydney Mitchell, leading Midlands’ Law Firm, is pleased to announce the launch of its new Immigration Department.

Andre Minnaar and Melissa Southall Sydney Mitchell

Andre Minnaar, Senior Associate and Melissa Southall, Associate, have taken the reins of the newly formed Immigration department covering the whole of the Midlands and beyond; both join the firm from Cartwright King.

Andre and Melissa have wide ranging and far reaching skills dealing with the ever changing complexities of immigration law. With Brexit or No-Brexit on the horizon their skill sets will be of great help to those faced with the turmoil caused when facing human rights issues.

Andre is an expert in resolving complicated UK immigration, asylum and nationality problems of all kinds and is well known and respected for his in depth knowledge, guidance, support and thorough preparation whilst keeping his clients informed throughout the process. He is an experienced tribunal advocate, having successfully represented hundreds of appellants during his long career, often succeeding where others have failed.

Melissa is an experienced Solicitor and provides extensive personal immigration advice on spouse visas, applications for children, asylum and European applications. She has experience in all kinds of immigration and asylum work, and has a particular interest in applications involving the rights of children. She has worked with a number of Local Authorities over the years representing children in Local Authority care who have immigration problems.

Sydney Mitchell is recognised in the ‘Top Tier’ of the Legal 500 as a highly regarded practice and both Andre and Melissa have received outstanding comments from clients and contacts covered in the Legal 500.

Newly appointed Senior Partner, Karen Moores, welcomed the team, commenting:

Both Andre and Melissa are a great addition to the firm. As a firm we are always looking to help and develop the service we offer to our clients. As a divorce lawyer and Senior Partner of the firm, I see first-hand the complexities encountered in dealing with children and family matters where there are foreign jurisdictions involved. I am looking forward to working with them both.

Individuals, who are looking to work, live or just visit the UK from countries where they have been refused entry into the UK will be in safe hands with Andre and Melissa.

Andre comments that:

I am pleased to be joining such a well-established and respected legal firm in the Midlands.

I pride myself in delivering a friendly and excellent service where no stone is left unturned to ensure that not only I meet my client’s expectations, but exceed it. As an immigrant who went through the immigration process myself, I understand exactly what my clients are going through.

Melissa added:

I am passionate about helping those affected by strict immigration rules. Whatever stage our clients are at, we put our heart and soul into overcoming the hurdles that they face to ensure their applications are dealt with fairly and ultimately reach a favourable outcome.

Sydney Mitchell is a Midlands based award winning law firm, with offices in Birmingham City Centre, Sheldon and Shirley with additional facilities in Sutton Coldfield.

The firm has specialist teams that include employment, commercial property, company and commercial services, litigation and insolvency. Private client teams include family law, residential property, dispute resolution, immigration and wills and probate, tax and trusts and personal injury.

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

Fantastic news Sydney Mitchell has won Law Firm of the Year in the 5-15 partners' category in the Birmingham Law Society Awards 2018. A great achievement!  Thank you to all the partners and staff who made this achievement possible.

Winners Birmingham Law Society 2018 law firm of the year 5-15 partners categoryPartners Fahmida Ismail, Sarah Archer, Kam Majevadia, Tracy Creed, Dean Parnell and Mauro Vinti accepted the award on the night presented by Emma Jesson and the category sponsored by Tony Rollason (Landmark Information Group).

Fahmida Ismail commented:

What an excellent result, recognising the hard work contributed by every single person in the firm in making us exceptional and being recognised by the Birmingham Law Society as Law Firm of the Year.

We are all extremely proud to continue to serve our clients to the highest standard.  Birmingham has such a lot to offer businesses and individuals and Awards like this just continue to show that we have great quality firms and people here in Birmingham.

Sydney Mitchell specialist teams include employment, commercial property, company and commercial services, litigation and insolvency. Private client teams include family law, residential property, dispute resolution and wills and probate, contentious probate, tax and trusts and personal injury.

Sydney Mitchell previously won this award in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and it is a fantastic result that the firm has won the award in 2018.

Well done to all the winners in the Birmingham Law Society Awards 2018  - full list link attached

http://www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk/2018winners

If you would like help on any legal matters, please call 0121 698 2200 or email enquiries@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form

Winners Birmingham Law Society 2018 law firm of the year 5-15 partners category

Agreements are frequently reached behind closed boardroom doors, but a failure to engage a professional to record them, contemporaneously and in writing, can cause serious problems down the line. That was certainly so in one case concerning the tax consequences of a corporate sale.

An entrepreneur and his family trusts disposed of their shareholdings in a thriving company. In return, they received shares in a corporate purchaser, which became the company's parent. The sellers asserted that, at a board meeting shortly before the transaction was completed, the company's directors agreed that the company would indemnify them against any tax liabilities and associated costs they might incur in consequence of the sale.

Such liabilities and costs did in the event arise and the sellers – together with the entrepreneur's wife, to whom he had transferred some of his shares – took action to enforce the agreement. The agreement had, however, not been committed to writing and the company denied that it had granted a legally enforceable indemnity to the sellers, in the terms alleged or at all.

The High Court noted that the absence of any reference to the alleged agreement in the transaction documents, board minutes and email traffic was striking and called for cogent explanation. However, in upholding the sellers' claim, it was persuaded by compelling evidence that an agreement had been reached and that an enforceable indemnity had been granted.

Amongst other things, the company had paid £3,135,816 to the sellers pursuant to the indemnity, before later claiming that no such indemnity had been granted. The terms of the agreement were also evidenced by a memorandum signed by directors who had been present at the critical board meeting about two years after the event. The Court rejected the company's argument that the indemnity could not have been validly granted without shareholder approval.

The company's counterclaim for restitution of the money already paid to the sellers was dismissed and, in order to give full effect to the indemnity, it was ordered to pay them a further £1,025,620.

If you want to make sure an agreement is honoured and will withstand a legal challenge, make sure it is recorded in proper form.

For help and advice please contact Julian Milan on 0808 166 8827 or email j.milan@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

Before disposing of real property assets, charities are required to meet a number of procedural safeguards that are designed to ensure that the best price reasonably obtainable is achieved. The High Court gave detailed consideration to those provisions in a case concerning a charity’s abortive sale of two commercial buildings.

The charity contracted to sell the properties for more than £8 million. The buyer paid a £410,000 deposit but failed to complete the purchase by the contractual deadline. In those circumstances, the charity purported to rescind the contract. The properties were eventually sold, about a year later, for £5.5 million.

The charity launched proceedings, seeking declarations that the contract had been validly rescinded and that it was entitled to keep the deposit. In seeking summary judgment on its claim, it submitted that the buyer’s defence had no reasonable prospect of success. She, however, argued that the contract was void, voidable, or unenforceable, due to the charity’s failure to meet the requirements of the Charities Act 2011, and that the deposit should be returned.

In ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the charity had not sought a court order, or the sanction of the Charity Commission, before contracting to sell the properties. In those circumstances, the Act required its trustees specifically to consider, in the light of a written report from a qualified surveyor, whether the price offered was the best that could reasonably be obtained. They were also obliged to publicly advertise the properties, unless advised by a surveyor that that would be contrary to the charity’s best interests.

The Court noted that the contract did not state on its face that the properties were held by a charity, a further requirement of the Act. Although the charity’s trustees had obtained an expert valuation report prior to exchanging contracts, the properties had been placed on the market some time beforehand. The properties had also not been advertised and the charity had received no advice which obviated that requirement.

The charity pointed out that the properties had been valued at £7.5 million and argued that the substantially higher price offered by the buyer could thus be viewed as the best reasonably obtainable. It submitted that any failures to comply with the Act should not be treated as fatal to the contract. In refusing the summary judgment application, however, the Court considered that a full investigation of the steps taken to market the properties and the trustees’ decision-making process was required. The matter would therefore proceed to trial.

For help and advice on matters such as this please contact Sundeep Bilkhu on 0808 166 8827 or email s.bilkhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

So-called squatters’ rights mean that when it comes to land ownership, it really can be a case of use it or lose it. In a case on point, three siblings who let the weeds grow in a field given to them by their father came within an ace of having the property wrested from them by their neighbours.

The field, which had been in the siblings’ family since the 1950s, was gifted to them in 1987, but was thereafter little used and became heavily overgrown. The owners of a neighbouring wedding venue applied in 2017 to have the two-acre plot registered in their names. They asserted adverse possession rights in respect of it on the basis that they had treated it as their own for over a decade.

In rejecting the neighbours’ claim to the field, however, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found that it had, at least until late 2018, formed a separate and distinct parcel of land, bounded by historic fences. Their evidence that they had incorporated the field into their garden, spending about £1,000 a year on maintaining it, was rejected.

The field had remained accessible to the siblings until very recently, when the five-bar gate giving access to it had been padlocked by the neighbours. Although the neighbours may have taken steps to control vermin in the field and lit the occasional bonfire, such sporadic acts were too trivial to amount to the taking of exclusive possession.

The FTT had no hesitation in preferring the siblings’ evidence that the field remained important to them, both because of the childhood memories it evoked and as a potential commercial investment. All of them had visited the field now and again and at no point were they put on notice that it was being occupied, as opposed to merely trespassed upon, by the neighbours.

For help and advice on matters such as this please contact Sundeep Bilkhu on 0808 166 8827 or email s.bilkhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

In case you hadn't already heard, its a tad warm out there today. Nevertheless, I am aware of other places that will be feeling the heat today who do not have the luxury of air conditioning (unlike me).

It is rare in the UK to experience any prolonged periods of intense heat (last year was exceptional) and many employees will now be asking the question ...  should we be forced to work in these hot conditions? Is there a law that says if the temperature reaches a certain level should we be sent home? 

In short, no. There is no rule about employees being relieved from working conditions that they believe to be too hot (which is a gap in the market). Guidance suggests that the minimum temperature in the workplace should be at least 16 degrees Celsius, but if the work involves 'rigorous' physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. Whilst these temperatures are not an absolute legal requirement, the employer has a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the particular circumstances. In heat such as this, employers need to provide appropriate controls to help reduce the temperature (fans), although it is advisable for employers to conduct a risk assessment of the environment and consult with its employees.

For employment law help and advice speak to Emma on 0808 166 8860 or email e.hewitt@sydneymitchell.co.uk

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 Arrangements 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 Arrangements Order. A person with a Child Arrangements Order that provides for a child to live with them (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 on holiday 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.

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UK Top Tier Firm 2017 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

 

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