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Domestic Violence Evidence Requirement Removed

Five Year Time Limit Removed

The Ministry of Justice confirmed that, after reviewing current evidence arrangements for accessing legal aid in private family cases, the current five-year, time limit will be removed completely.

The types of evidence that can be accepted will also be 'significantly broadened'.  In future, the ministry says evidence will be accepted from domestic violence support organisations, removing difficulties faced by victims in acquiring evidence.

The news was welcomed by campaigners who, with the support of Chancery Lane, fought rules introduced in April 2013 that required victims of domestic violence to provide a prescribed form of evidence to apply for family law legal aid.

If you think that you could now be eligible for legal aid or if you would like to seek advice in relation to divorce, children or domestic violence, our team of legal experts would be happy to help and can be contacted on 01392 258451.

 View Law Society Gazette Article Here

 


 

 

 

Crosse and Crosse secure top accolade from national Law Society

CROSSE + CROSSE SOLICITORS LLP secures top accolade from national Law Society

Crosse + Crosse Solicitors in Exeter has secured the national Law Society’s legal practice quality mark, Lexcel.

Lexcel is developed specifically for the legal profession. It is an optional, recognised accreditation schme for law firms and in-house legal departments which gives assurance that a practice meets high client care and business management standards.

To gain and retain Lexcel accreditation, practice must undergo a rigorous initial then annual application and assessment process. This includes conducting background checks and an on-site visit from an independent experienced trained Lexcel assessor.

Richard Stevinson, Partner said “While we are proud to have secured Lexcel, it is our clients and staff who are the main beneficiaries. They can be assured that the way we manage the practice has their interests at heart and runs efficiently. There is a lot of choice in the legal services market, but being Lexcel accredited demonstrates our commitment to client care and best practice.”

Robert Bourns, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “Delivering good client care and maintaining a strong client relationship are essential for solicitors and those gaining and maintaining Lexcel show their dedication to go above and beyond. Committing to high standards in customer service and practice management is fundamentally important in today’s evermore competitive legal services market.

By undergoing an independently assessed Lexcel accreditation, firms can demonstrate their commitment and consistent determination to exceed client expectations, improve overall satisfaction and assist regulatory compliance.

The quality mark is an objective and external assurance for clients and potential clients alike.”

Crosse + Crosse Solicitors LLP joins more than 1700 other legal practices in England & Wales with Lexcel accreditation. The practice management accolade has also gone international, with firms in Scotland, the Middle East, Poland and the Republic of Ireland having gained accreditation.

Extending Leases

Extending the Term of a Lease

We at Crosse + Crosse help clients all over the country for “enfranchisement” work.  This includes where owner of a lease (referred to in the legislation as the “Tenant”) extends its term. 

It is quite common for a lease term of just 99 years to have been granted. As a lease goes on, its remaining term gets less and less.  If there is less than 70 years left, it becomes very difficult for prospective buyers to get a mortgage and this in turn makes leased properties more difficult to sell.  

Sometimes the Tenant can agree an extension with the person who owns the freehold (in the legislation, known as “Landlord”.  However, often the deal is better if the Tenant exercises the right to an extended lease given by the Leasehold Reform, Housing & Urban Development Act 1993, especially if the freehold is owned by one of the big concerns who own thousands of freeholds as their business.

Tim Selley, Partner, is one of only a few local Solicitors who handle such cases.  Tim is a member of the Association of Lease Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP).

Tim says “Of course it’s not nice to have to pay out money for a lease extension but, for a Tenant, it is something that has to be considered seriously.  In addition to difficulties with borrowing, there is a big jump with the cost when the remaining lease period goes below 80 years so, if that date is looming, prompt action is important.  This is especially now the case due to a court decision last year which might increase the sum for the Tenant to pay due to some earlier accepted methods of calculating the payment to the Landlord being held to be wrong.

From my experience, many Tenants do not know about these issues and, often, they only become aware when trying to sell the flat at which point it can become a rush.  This may mean having to pay more in order not to lose a buyer.  It’s therefore often far better to sort out the difficulty before there is an imminent sale. 

Taking proper advice is also important as some Landlords do try to gain a benefit from the Tenant’s lack of knowledge.  Only the other day I saw a letter where the Landlord has suggested to the Tenant that no lease extension was available which was not the case as the Tenant clearly had the right to it under the Act!  I also often come across cases where it is clear that a Tenant has not taken proper advice and accepted an offer from a Landlord on terms which are worse than had the Tenant used the statutory route.”

If you would like to consider your own position, do feel free to contact Tim either by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or by phone 01392 678694.  Tim will be happy to consider your matter and give you information on likely costs.  There can sometime be a discount if more than one Tenant in the building seeks a lease extension at the same time.

Josh Clayton Inquest Adjourned

 Following the dramatic adjournment and suspension of the inquest into the death of Josh Clayton on Wednesday we have issued the following statement on behalf of Josh’s family

Statement issued by Crosse + Crosse Solicitors LLP on behalf of the family of Joshua Clayton following the inquest into his death at Plymouth Coroner’s Court on 9-11 January 2017

On Wednesday we outlined to the Coroner in considerable detail the serious concerns Josh’s family had about the adequacy of the police investigation into his disappearance and death. His family believes that it was not appropriate to treat Josh’s disappearance as simply a missing person’s inquiry and consider that third party involvement was likely. There were a number of lines of investigation, which were never pursued. Evidence was not secured; other evidence was destroyed. Critical witnesses were either not interviewed at all, or were not interviewed as fully as they might have been; it remains unclear why that was so, particularly in relation to senior figures within Tresco Estates. Until Tuesday, the evidential position was that Josh had attended a party with somewhere between 40 and 60 other people present; although many saw him arrive and many saw him when he was at the party, apparently not a single person saw him leave.

Josh’s family waited anxiously for this inquest to take place. Quite simply, they wanted to discover what had happened to Josh. The inquest process became their only means to do so because the police investigation had failed them.  Very unusually, there were four procedural hearings prior to the inquest itself in which the family consistently set out their dissatisfaction with the police investigation and the further lines of inquiry that they considered should be pursued.  It is a matter of great regret that those lines of inquiry were not followed up as they should have been.

Some might consider that the statement issued by the police following the inquest that they were only made aware of new evidence at the inquest is overly simplistic. Although what Mr Thomas said in Court was new evidence, his evidence was given in response to questions prepared on behalf of the family nearly three months ago. Quite simply had that line of inquiry been pursued prior to the inquest then the inquest would never have commenced, as it would have become clear very quickly that other evidence was required.

From the outset of our involvement in this case almost 12 months ago, it seemed an extraordinary omission that Tristan Dorrien-Smith had never been interviewed by the police about this matter. This issue was raised repeatedly at the pre inquest hearings. It was confirmed by the police’s legal representatives on more than one occasion that there was no statement from Mr Dorrien-Smith in existence and that he had not been interviewed. It is difficult to reconcile Tresco Estate’s apparent assertion that Tristan Dorrien-Smith has made a statement to the police with what the police have said about this previously.

Tresco Estates also apparently maintain that Tristan Dorrien-Smith knew nothing about this inquest hearing, a contention which the family finds difficult to accept. On the 16th September 2016 we sent to the Coroner details of those areas which we wanted to question Mr Dorrien-Smith about.  At a procedural hearing on the 31st October an order was made by the Coroner that Mr Dorrien-Smith should attend the inquest and as far as we are aware, Mr Dorrien-Smith was notified of this date by the Coroner. On the 23rd December we were notified by the Coroner’s office that Mr Dorrien-Smith would be unable to attend because he was “abroad”. It is understood by the family that Mr Dorrien-Smith had been in Tresco over the Christmas and New Year period but by 9 January was in Majorca on a cruise. The family struggles to understand how Tresco Estates can maintain that he or they knew nothing about this inquest. Contrary to some reports, it was never the case that Robert Dorrien-Smith was going to give evidence at the inquest.

As we said in Court on Wednesday what is urgently required is a robust and thorough re-examination of the circumstances surrounding Josh’s death. Unfortunately Devon and Cornwall Constabulary have failed to investigate this matter properly when they have had ample opportunity to do so and as a result they have lost the family’s confidence to investigate the matter effectively now. The family’s view is that a force other than Devon and Cornwall should handle this new investigation so that matters are looked at completely objectively, impartially and from a fresh perspective. They have instructed me to write to The Chief Constable about that. Any new investigation needs to be untarnished by the errors which have already been made.  The family would hope that the Chief Constable will, after due reflection, consider that it would be appropriate for this investigation to be assigned to another force, which can re-investigate this matter without fear or favour. The family looks forward to receiving confirmation that this will happen.

This has been a difficult time for Josh’s family and they have asked that their privacy be respected. They very much hope that the widespread coverage of the inquest into his death will encourage others to come forward with any information they hold about the events surrounding Josh’s disappearance, however insignificant they may consider their evidence to be.

Josh’s mother Tracey Clayton commented that “Josh was a very loving, caring and selfless man.  He loved his family & friends. He was also much loved and is greatly missed by his family and many friends. There was evidence at the inquest that it was Josh who devised the buddy system to ensure no one was ever alone walking home from a night out etc. There was also evidence that it was completely out of character for him to have left a party without saying goodbye to anyone; that simply wasn’t his style. His jacket was left behind in The Shed where the party took place and it was only recovered after his disappearance the following afternoon. He was very friendly and open and he simply wouldn’t have slipped away without letting his friends know unless something extraordinary had happened”.

Josh’s family wishes to place on record their deep gratitude and thanks to all members of the various search teams, most notably Cornwall Search and Rescue for their diligence and care in undertaking the search for Josh.

Richard Stevinson

Solicitor acting for the family of Joshua Clayton

13 January 2017

 

 

Crosse + Crosse are happy to provide support and advice in relation to any Inquest, Clinical Negligence or personal injury matters. Please feel free to contact a member of our Personal Injury Team on 01392 207603.

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