Monthly Archive July 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.

Find out more:

Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

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

Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

Employment: Tribunal cases are now 55% Sex Discrimination claims

The proportion of employment tribunal cases relating to sex discrimination is growing, research has shown.

The proportion of discrimination cases as a whole in the Employment Tribunal workload is at the highest level for four years.

But while some cases are dwindling, sex-based claims now make up more than half, 55 per cent, compared with 38 per cent two years ago.

The employment solicitors in London, which produced the figures, say the trend is in part down to employers continuing to make mistakes over maternity leave.

There is also an increasing number of potential claimants as more women decide to stay in work after having children. The number of women in the UK workforce has risen by over 300,000 in the past year, to 14.16 million from 13.85 million last year.

The solicitors said: “Employers who are not up to speed on the rights of their employees can easily fall foul of employment laws.

“Over recent years there’s been a big effort in the City to improve equality at a senior level.

“Some City women perceive that while every effort is made to promote and support female superstars, women who are not quite part of that elite are less valued than their male peers and find it harder to  progress.”

The figures appear just a month after two sales executives who won their sexual harassment employment tribunal case urged other women to stand up to abuse in the workplace.

Diana Nicholl-Pierson and Anna Mazover are in line to receive substantial compensation. The tribunal found their boss Darren Scott was “fixated” on Miss Nicholl–Pierson’s breasts and groped her bottom, and also fondled Miss Mazover, whom he falsely accused of being a sex worker.

The rise in the proportion of discrimination claims comes as the total number of claims being filed has fallen by around 80 per cent since tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013.

The fees are deterring many potential claimants from pursuing cases where the value of the prospective compensation is limited.

For example, compensation for unfair dismissal claims is capped at £76,574 or one year’s pay, whichever is lower.

But there is no upper limit on the compensation that can be claimed in a discrimination case.

For guidance from a specialist employment solicitor in London contact us.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard 24/7/14

A mother-of-two has won nearly £30,000 compensation after an employment tribunal heard how she was groped by her boss and compared to a bondage model.

Recruitment manager Jennifer Newman, 34, told how she was called “proper top totty” in front of clients and accused of dressing like “someone who works in a dubious establishment.”

Widowed Ms Newman was subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment by Steve Hoad, managing director of cleaning firm Hydro Cleansing.

The Croydon tribunal panel unanimously upheld her claims and ordered Mr Hoad to pay £29,526 in damages and more than £12,000 in legal costs.

After her victory Ms Newman spoke of her relief at “justice prevailing”. Her problems had begun when Mr Hoad emailed her a picture of a semi-naked woman in bondage gear, asking: “Have you got a suit like this?” She told the tribunal she then had to endure the laughter of colleagues when he added: “She does look like you.”

On another occasion he threw a pen to the floor in front of clients and asked her to pick it up. When she refused and walked off he said “Look at that: proper top totty” to laughter from the  clients.

She said the final straw came when Mr Hoad groped her bottom when she asked for a salary  advance to take her two daughters on holiday.

Ms Newman, whose husband died in a car crash in 2009, said: “I felt absolutely violated, upset and demeaned.

“It was as though Steve felt that by asking for an advance on my salary it gave him the right to touch me.”

Ms Newman, who earned £32,000 a year, reported the incident to the firm’s human resources department, but the details were leaked to Mr Hoad’s wife Carol, who also worked for the firm.

Mr Hoad’s  inappropriate comments escalated, Ms Newman  said,  after she underwent breast enhancement  surgery shortly after joining the firm.

Referring to the bondage email, she said: “I did not report this at the time as I was relatively new in my position and I really needed this job due to my personal circumstance and did not wish to rock the boat.

“I kind of hoped that after a while Steve would get bored making such comments and sending offensive emails.”

But when she decided to approach him to ask for a loan to pay for her family’s holiday in Cornwall she said he groped her left buttock in his private office at the firm’s Croydon depot.

She reported his behaviour to HR manager Nicole Moore in confidence but said  Mr Hoad’s wife found and “put two and two together” and believed the pair were having an affair, the  tribunal heard.

On returning from her holiday Ms Newman, from Croydon, was told “within an hour” she had been made redundant.

Kayleigh Long, representing Ms Newman, told the hearing: “She was pushed out of the company because of her rejection of behaviour by Mr Hoad”. She said a letter sent during the  litigation referred to Ms Newman  wearing a crop top without a bra after her breast enhancement and said she dressed like “someone who works in a dubious establishment. Ms Newman found this very upsetting and degrading.”

She said after the verdict: “This means a lot to me…I’ve made a stand for lots of women who are afraid to speak out”.

The benefits of employing a competent employment solicitor in London cannot be stressed highly enough.

Original reporting by the London Evening Standard 5/8/14

Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

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

Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

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

Share This:-

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


Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

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

Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

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

Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

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


Share This:-
ByMichael Morrison

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.

Share This:-