Monthly Archive July 30, 2014

Cohabiting couples – legal rights

Who possesses what when there is no marriage certificate?

Joanna Toch writes exclusively for Female First about the rights of cohabiting couples who are single.

Cohabiting couples: you don’t need to put a ring on it, just be sure to sign on the dotted line
It appears that fewer Brits are putting a ring on it. Main figures from the ONS program that since 2003, the variety of unmarried heterosexual couples in the UK has increased by 700,000. The figure now stands at 2.9 million, making this the fastest growing family type– and 1.2 million of these households have reliant kids.cohabitation-agreement[1]

Yes, you could argue that marriage is just a piece of paper. But with this confirmation comes olden legal rights, and monetary defense should your relationship break down. As a non-married cohabiting couple, the rights you have when it pertains to the ownership of the house you live in are very murky.

Who legitimately possesses what?


The first thing to consider is whether the home is signed up in your joint names at the Land Registry or in one name just. There will be a presumption that this legal ownership is appropriate and that person can remain in the property if you divided and get the equity if it is offered.
But that isn’t completion of the story. There are two forms of ownership: legal and equitable. Legal ownership suggests your name is signed up as an owner. Equitable ownership offers you the very same advantages but your name is not taped on the legal title. The most simple means to establish this is by a trust deed– the time to have this ready is at the time of purchase of the home and have it registered on the TR1 (home transfer) type.

It is likewise possible to develop an equitable interest by arguing there was an arrangement to share the property advantages that did not get recorded in writing. This is when things start to get unpleasant, and really commonly personal. The courts will then examine whether there has been a ‘typical objective trust’, either by parties making a contract verbally, or more controversially, by looking at how each person has lived their lives.

Occupation, Child, or Trust Order– the courts will still decide

You could have the ability to get an ‘occupation order’ from the court if you can settle that the ‘balance of harm’ is in your favor to remain in the property short-term utilizing the Family Law Act 1996. If you have kids and you are the primary carer, you can apply to live there until the youngsters are grown up using the Children Act 1989.

Whether you make an application for a profession order, youngsters order or trust order, the courts have a broad discretion. This area of law is ripe for reform since cohabitants have a hard time to comprehend their legal rights. The Law Commission has in truth suggested that the law be reformed. This was pushed by family lawyers, with a bill presented last October, but hasn’t received government backing.

Up until the laws surrounding cohabitation rights change, or, at the minimum, end up being clearer, the very best thing to you can do to protect yourself is to regulate your position by making a composed trust, or a cohabitation contract.

These written contracts aren’t popular due to the fact that they are totally unromantic. It seems that those who choose not to sign the marital relationship register are those who appear equally careful about signing anything else. In many cases I have experienced big suffering, which might have been quickly prevented with a bit of preparing at the start.

The sad fact is that purchasing home jointly without a marital relationship certificate or a written arrangement is making lawyers rich and keeping judges busy.

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Divorce: Banker may lose £2m home

A leading banker fears he will be forced to give up his glamorous New York lifestyle and £2million home because of a disastrous divorce battle with his fashionista ex-wife.

Former City trader Yan Assoun, 44, was described by a judge as having spending power “beyond the wildest dreams” of his fashion writer ex, Anais Assoun, 45.

But now, in a bitter break-up, the banker insists he cannot ‘survive’ in his New York lifestyle after his ex-wife was given an “unfair financial advantage” over him by a divorce judge’s ruling.

In a drastic reversal in fortunes, Mr Assoun, who owns a luxury Manhattan apartment and founded a company which recently turned over £5million, is now left with only a fifth of his income.

In a previous hearing he had complained: “I own an apartment worth $3.3million – it doesn’t mean I’m rich.”

Mr Assoun and his ex-wife had met and married in London while he worked in the City for BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse. They raised their two children in the capital before splitting in 2007 and departing for different parts of the US in 2009.

In a divorce court hearing last year, Judge Glenn Brasse had ruled that the “reasonable needs” of Mrs Assoun and the former couple’s children amounted to almost $500,000 (£295,000) a year.

The judge had earlier said of the banker: “[His] spending ability is not within the wife’s reach, not within her wildest dreams.”

But Mr Assoun is now claiming at the Appeal Court that he will be effectively exiled from New York by Judge Brasse’s order, as he cannot afford the cost of maintaining his lifestyle there.

Lady Justice Arden heard that Mr Assoun, majority shareholder in a banking business that turned over $8million in 2012, had already handed his ex $1.5million in assets and legal costs, prior to last year’s hearing.

Mrs Assoun, a “well educated” woman who owns a ranch in Texas, earns $65,000 a year herself, Judge Brasse found.

Her ex-husband had insisted at an earlier hearing that he was “bust”. But he was found to be reaping a yearly income of more than £400,000 by Judge Brasse, who went on to order him to pay the lion’s share of that to his ex-wife and children.

He is now asking for permission to appeal the judge’s order, which he says left him with less than £90,000 a year to live on, after tax. That is a sum on which it will be “very difficult to survive” in New York, he said.

Lady Justice Arden said she would decide whether to grant him permission to appeal after considering Mrs Assoun’s reply.

For divorce solicitors in London we should be your first port of call.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard 28/7/14

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PI: £300,000 damages claim against the MoD

The mother of a trainee Royal Marine who suffered catastrophic head  injuries when he fell from a high-level assault course is suing for at least £300,000 in damages.

James Cobby, 22, from Eltham, needs round-the-clock care after landing on his head and chest following the fall in 2011 on the Tarzan Course at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon.

He suffered acute brain haemorrhages and spent a year in a minimally conscious state after a pressure-relieving bolt had to be inserted into his skull.  He was treated at the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability in Putney and now lives at a Neurological rehabilitation centre in Peterborough.

His mother, Janet Cobby, is suing the Ministry of Defence, which has admitted liability, for damages on her son’s behalf so that he can gain access to the lifetime of care, rehabilitation, specialist accommodation and equipment he needs.  Papers have been submitted to the High Court claiming damages. They state that he will not regain his ability to walk and is totally dependent on others to  maintain his safety.

Ms Cobby’s lawyers said negotiations were under way on a settlement.

“James was just 19 years old when his life changed forever as a result of the head injuries he suffered,” Ms Cobby said. “The last three years have been incredibly difficult for the entire family as we have had to watch James struggle with all elements of life, when previously he was always so active and independent.”

Her solicitors in London, said: “James has made tremendous progress thanks to specialist rehabilitation but the fact remains that he is going to need substantial care and support. We are working with the MoD to finalise a settlement that ensures James has this specialist care as well as ongoing rehabilitation and therapies that help him to live life to his full potential.”

 Despite not completing his training, Marine Cobby was awarded his Green Beret in May as it was felt that his determination in his rehabilitation demonstrated everything it takes to be a Royal Marine. The ceremony took place at the Tower of London — the first time such a presentation has been held there.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “We can confirm that the MoD has admitted liability in this case. The Naval Service continues to provide support to Marine Cobby and his family.”

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard 22/7/14

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Insolvency: 200,000 businesses may go bankrupt

An  interest rate rise of just 1% could tip more than 200,000 businesses into administration across the country, a leading insolvency practitioner warned today.

The number of companies suffering from “significant” distress has risen by 34% to 237,362 over the past year despite a recovery in the UK economy they said.

However, the number of businesses in “critical” distress fell 9% to 2,745.

They implored that it is crucially important for the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to exercise tightrope precision in his decision on the timing of interest rates rises if he wants the UK to return to more normalised conditions, without initiating an emergency stop on its economic recovery.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard – 18/7/14

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Family Arbitration

Family Arbitration can save a mediated divorce from crumbling into a nasty costly court fight, so should more mediators be focusing on it as a resource for their clients?

In the very first of a short series of short articles,  how family arbitration could become a powerful new device in the mediator’s toolbox is explored, as it has done over the pond in the United States and Canada. In part two, whether it conserves the client cash and whether the arbitrator’s decision is always enforceable by law is examined, and  part 3 will deal with the probability of family arbitration growing strongly in the UK, or will it go the way of collaborative law, which (up until now) is still mainly unidentified by the public as an alternative for navigating divorce?

Family Arbitration is the newcomer in the family law neighborhood in England and Wales, and the potential benefits to separating clients are tremendous. Family arbitration has triggered interest by people like New York Mediator Ken Neumann, who has explained how useful arbitrators could be in un-sticking a mediation process. “Sometimes,” he described, “the couple can not settle on one problem, and they simply really want someone else to decide for them.”.

An outstanding talk offered by UK Arbitrator Mena Ruparel is persuading some that the increase of family arbitration in the UK was a cause worth supporting. Several arbitrators were contacted through e-mail on a Friday evening resulting in a cascade of responses by the Monday morning! The  interest was self evident for arbitration among a wide range of family law experts who have certified as family arbitrators, ranging from barristers, mediators and collective attorneys.

In other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada, when a mediation process founders, an arbitrator is brought in if the couple desire it, to resolve the argument for them. This is also how it can work here – but currently not enough solicitors are notifying divorcing couples properly of this alternative.

When a Mediation fails to bring contract on all aspects of the divorce, instead of ending up in court – where the whole process can untangle and start right back where you started, losing all the contracts already made – with a Divorce Arbitrator that single sticking point can be fixed. And quickly (compared with waiting months for a court date).

Some feel sadly this is not presently possible in the UK if the Collaborative Law procedure gets stuck – it is just an option for mediation, which can advance after the issue has been chosen by the arbitrator.

Even if a financial planner gives clear advice on how a pension could be split or the division of home possessions, it might be that the social events would like an adjudication from the Arbitrator who will compose their award and make a legitimately binding decision. The Arbitrator can also handle discrete aspects of a case so if there is a mediation where there is one issue that has to be dealt with, this can be described arbitration keeping the remainder of the agreement in tact.

We recommend that even with the potential benefits of arbitration, you will benefit from the advice of a specialist family law solicitor. We can make a suitable recommendation in your locality.


Original reporting by the Huffington Post – 18/7/14


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High Court freezes £1.1 billion assets

The High Court has granted a worldwide order freezing the assets of the billionaire lover of London broadcaster and writer Alexandra Tolstoy.

She had consulted a consummate professional family solicitor in London.

Sergei Pugachev — a former ally of President Vladimir Putin once reportedly known as the “Kremlin’s banker” — faced legal action by the liquidator of his bank, which went bust in the global financial crisis owing hundreds of millions of pounds.

Ms Tolstoy — a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy — has three children with Mr Pugachev, and they share homes in London and the south of France. She recently claimed she owed nearly all her wealth to him.

This week, Deposit Insurance Agency, the liquidator of Mr Pugachev’s company Mezhprombank, was granted an injunction freezing £1.17 billion of his assets across the globe, including two London homes and a villa in Nice.

It means he cannot sell them or do anything that could diminish their value. He is also banned from spending cash in bank accounts.

Mr Pugachev, 51, is still allowed to spend £10,000 a week on living expenses plus legal bills.

Ms Tolstoy has claimed he is the victim of a high-level conspiracy in Russia to expropriate his empire.

She recently spoke of her fear for the safety of her and her family. In May she gave an interview in one of her London homes flanked by Russian security guards.

The Deposit Insurance Agency, represented by solicitors in London alleges Mr Pugachev transferred hundreds of millions of dollars from Mezhprombank to an account at a private bank in Switzerland. It also claims he is “vicariously liable” for the bank’s collapse. The injunction declares: “If you, Sergei Viktorovich Pugachev, disobey this order you may be held to be in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have your assets seized.”

The same potential punishment applies to anybody who assists in breaching the order.

Ms Tolstoy — whose branch of the author’s family emigrated to Britain in the Twenties —  has said that one of the affected properties is a £12 million house in Battersea that used to belong to the Forbes family.

She was educated at Downe House — the Berkshire boarding school that the Duchess of Cambridge briefly attended — and studied at Edinburgh University. In 2009 she made BBC2  documentary series Horse People with Alexandra Tolstoy, in which she lived with remote communities around the world where horses are central to the culture. It was during a decade of wild travelling around China, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan that she met her first husband, an Uzbek horseman.

When they split there was a legal row over the £250,000 Moscow apartment they lived in. She says this property, along with a cottage in Oxfordshire, is the only asset she independently owns.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard – 17/7/14

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Fraud up by 17%, Rape up by 27%

Crime in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level since 1981, according to a national survey.

We recommend some of the toughest, shrewdest criminal defence solicitors in  London.

The latest data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales — which includes offences not reported to police — estimated that there were 7.3 million crimes in 2013/14, down 14 per cent on the previous year and the lowest since 1981.

But police figures showed no change compared to the previous year, with 3.7 million offences recorded in the  12 months to March. The police statistics also showed rises in offences of violence, up by six per cent, and a sharp increase in rapes and sex offences.

Sex offences rose by 20 per cent last year — including rape offences which showed a 27 per cent rise to the highest level since 2002/03. Mark Bangs, from the Office for National Statistics, said: “Part of the rise in sexual offences is related to the effect of the Operation Yewtree investigation which has brought to light a large number of historic sexual offences. The increase is also likely to reflect a broader Yewtree effect whereby more victims are coming forward to report sexual offences to the police.”

The police figures are the first to be released after concerns were raised about the poor quality of the way police record crimes, and the figures being stripped of an official gold standard.

Until now they have shown year-on-year reductions since 2002/03.

While the police figures show violent crime is rising, the national crime survey showed there were 1.3 million violent incidents, a drop of 20 per cent.

The police figures also show deaths by dangerous driving rose sharply to 282, up from 174 the previous year and fraud was up by 17 per cent. Analysis showed that 5.1 per cent of bank or credit card users were victims of card fraud, up from 4.6 per cent.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard – 17/7/14

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Hedge Fund Couple in £817,000,000 Divorce Case

The wife of a hedge fund tycoon is seeking hundreds of millions of pounds in what could be the largest divorce award ever made in a British court.

Lawyers for Jamie Cooper-Hohn, 49, argue that she is entitled to half the property, shares and businesses held by her husband, Sir Christopher Hohn. The couple had four children, including triplets, before she petitioned for divorce in March 2012.

The dispute extends to the true value of their personal wealth, which has been estimated at as much as $1.4bn (£817m). Cooper-Hohn’s lawyers argue that she is entitled to a 50/50 split; his lawyers have offered her 25%.

Hohn, 47, the son of a Jamaican car mechanic who attended Southampton University and then Harvard, runs The Children’s Investment (TCI) Fund Management (UK), a hedge fund which mainly returns profits to a charitable foundation. TCI controls investments worth around $8bn, including holdings in Moodys and Royal Mail.

The charity established by the couple, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), is believed to hold $4.3bn and is chaired by US-born Cooper-Hohn. The couple have been described as the UK’s most generous philanthropists. Last year CIFF pledged to spend more than £500m tackling childhood malnutrition around the world, during a summit hosted by David Cameron.

Following an appeal court hearing last month, which dismissed expert evidence on the value of hedge fund management companies, lawyers for the couple began presenting their cases in the family division of the high court on the 30th June.

The couple have said they live relatively modest lives, given their wealth. She denies enjoying a jet-set lifestyle; he has described it as being more of a “Swatch” lifestyle.

The couple, who met at Harvard, married in 1985. Much of their personal wealth is in the form of a stake in the TCI hedge fund. She claims the holding is worth £870m; his lawyers insist it amounts to £64.3m.

In the earlier court of appeal case, Hohn argued that his former wife should receive only a quarter of the assets because he was the “key man” who had made a special contribution to the accumulated wealth.

At that hearing, Hohn’s counsel, said: “… the husband was the sole decision-maker in this enterprise, makes all the investment decisions and is the regulated person as far as the Financial Services Authority is concerned. Without him there is no business.”

The QC, representing Cooper-Hohn, said: “He has spent his whole life making money; he has generated $5.7bn. It’s not in his character to simply walk away.”

The appeal court judges were told that the couple’s assets comprised of investments in TCI of $1.15bn, other disputed TCI entities, investments of about $30m, pensions worth about $85m and properties worth $36m.

The UK has gained a reputation as the divorce capital of the world because of the multi-million-pound settlements awarded to former partners. Sir Paul McCartney was required to pay Heather Mills £24.3m after four years of marriage. Beverley Charman, the former wife of John Charman, an insurance magnate, recently received £48m.

Many high net worth individuals have secured very favourable financial settlements through our service.

The largest payout to date is the estimated £100m-£200m believed to have been made to Galina Besharova by Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian oligarch who was found dead last year.

The case continues.


As reported in The Guardian on the 1/7/14


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Crime: Benefit Fraud

A costume designer on the Disney movie Maleficent starring  Angelina Jolie has been convicted of a £20,000 benefit fraud.

Helen Beaumont, 37, also worked on alien invasion movie Attack The Block, music videos for Jarvis Cocker and Scouting For Girls, and West End productions of Billy Elliot and  Singing In The Rain.

Her CV also boasts a string of credits for work for the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Young Vic, the  BBC and E4. But Beaumont, of  Highgate, north London, did not disclose her work or savings of more than £16,000 when applying for housing benefit and jobseeker’s allowance.

An investigation by Haringey  council and the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that  Beaumont, who studied for a BA in art history and design at Camberwell College of Art, illegally claimed nearly £20,000 in benefits between May 2009 and November 2012.

But she escaped jail when she appeared at Highbury  Corner magistrates’ court this week.  After admitting two charges of fraud by failing to disclose capital, she was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

We have solicitors local to this magistrates’ court who have been successfully defending such prosecutions for many years.

Haringey councillor Jason Arthur said afterwards that Beaumont, who has repaid the cash, “was living a real-life fantasy”, but she “should have known  better than anyone that fairytale villains never get away with it”.

This article appeared in the Evening Standard on 11/7/14.

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Family Law Disputes – Legal Aid Cuts

Former High Court judge Baroness Butler-Sloss has criticised the Government over cuts to legal help for dealing with personal family law disputes.

In her very first Lords speech since being appointed to lead the coalition Government’s questions into allegations that establishment figures conspired to cover up child abuse, she alerted the cuts “block the courts” and “create delay”.

Lady Butler-Sloss dealt with calls yesterday to step down from the questions after reports that her sibling Sir Michael Havers tried to prevent ex-MP Geoffrey Dickens airing claims about a diplomat in parliament in the 1980s.

But the Prime Minister supported her and Lady Butler-Sloss refused to give up.

Today, in a discussion on the UK’s legal systems, the former president of the family department and independent crossbencher welcomed much of the family regulation presented over the last 25 years.

But she said the “bad” part was that from April there had actually been no legal aid in private family law disputes, including youngsters and finance, with the exception of those involving domestic violence or child abuse.

Lady Butler-Sloss said divorce was a “unpleasant process” for all but in a small minority of cases the former relationship turned “corrosive” with one or both previous partners using the courts to combat their failed relationship.

Some disliked their partners so much that they could not come to any arrangement and mediation would not work in these conditions.

She said men and women, inexperienced in the law, battling their failed relationships, were appearing unrepresented before the courts due to the cuts.

Courts faced with “provider bags of unsorted and disorganised papers” discovered the task “huge and unmanageable”.

“It obstructs the courts. It creates delay and I hope the Government would pay attention to the reality it is not cost effective.”.

Lady Butler-Sloss added: “We have Magna Carta celebrations next year and they will sound hollow in the face of the failure to be able to do justice in private family law disputes.”


Original Article

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