Hastings & Co Solicitors win substantial settlement

Hastings & Co Solicitors have recently helped one of their clients win a substantial settlement in connection with a property dispute.

We acted for a client in a dispute with her former partner (we’ll call him Mr X). The parties had previously lived together and when they separated entered into a Separation Agreement. As part of the agreement Mr X agreed to continue paying the mortgage on the family home until their child attained the age of 18. In breach of the agreement Mr X stopped paying the mortgage and applied to the County Court to vary the Separation Agreement. We defended the claim and made a counterclaim against Mr X for damages for breach of the Separation Agreement.

At a court hearing Mr X was ordered to pay our client substantial damages and costs.

 

Hastings & Co Solicitors specialize in litigation and dispute resolution and can advise in connection with disputes between co-owners of property.

T. 01621 876 031

E: liam@hastingsandco.co.uk

Hastings & Co settle claim against solicitors

Hastings & Co Solicitors recently acted for a business in a claim against its former solicitors.

The facts briefly were that our client had entered into an assignment of a lease for a shop and the solicitor who acted for them had failed to advise them that there was a restriction in the lease that would prevent them operating their business from the premises.

Upon completion of the assignment our client duly relocated their business to the shop premises. Everything seemed okay until the freeholder  of the premises discovered that the business was using the premises in breach of the restriction.

The freeholder served a section 146 notice (section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925) on the business and thereafter issued forfeiture proceedings against their tenant. That’s where we got involved. We acted for the business in defending the forfeiture proceedings and renegotiating the lease. At the same time we brought a claim against the solicitors for losses arising out of their failure to properly advise their client.

Hastings & Solicitors can handle claims against solicitors, accountants, surveyors and other professionals. We also advise and act for clients in connection with different types of civil disputes.

Tel: 01245 835 305

Email: info@hastingsandco.co.uk

Hastings & Co Solicitors win claim against car dealer

Hastings & Co Solicitors recently acted for a consumer in connection with a claim against a car dealer concerning a faulty car.

The facts briefly were that the consumer purchased a car which subsequently broke down on the drive home from the dealership.

Under English law goods must be “fit for purpose” and of a “satisfactory quality”. If they are not fit for purpose or of a satisfactory quality the purchaser can reject the goods provided they have not been “accepted”.

In this instance the consumer rejected the car however the dealer refused to take it back or refund the monies paid. We subsequently acted for the consumer in connection with legal proceedings in the County Court. The claim settled on the morning of the hearing when the dealer agreed to refund the purchase price and also pay the consumer’s consequential losses which included storage costs.

Hastings & Co Solicitors specialise in litigation and dispute resolution. For advice or assistance telephone 01245 835 305.

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not a substitute for independent legal advice.

My car has been stolen – update

Since blogging  on this subject earlier in the year we’ve had success helping two car owners recover their stolen vehicles.

In the first case our client had decided to raise some extra income by renting out his car. He duly found someone to rent his car through an advertisement on the internet. The person renting the car immediately sold the car to someone else. Once people find out that the car is stolen and that the law favours the original owner and not the innocent purchaser they often cannot sell it quick enough. In this particular case the car was sold on a couple more times in the space of a couple of months and ended up in a dealership in Milton Keynes via Hull. We were able to assist our client to obtain an injunction preventing the dealership from selling the car and thereafter the vehicle was returned to our client.

More recently we assisted a client who had a vehicle stolen from a lock up garage. The vehicle was an old car awaiting restoration. One day the owner went to check on the car and discovered it had been stolen. A google search revealed that the vehicle was up for sale with a car dealer in London. We assisted our client to obtain an injunction preventing the dealer from selling the car and ordering the dealer to return the car.

In this situation the law favours the original owner – the innocent purchaser has no right to the stolen goods. The innocent purchaser does  have a claim against the person who sold  him the goods for his money back. In turn, if the seller was also an innocent purchaser he has a claim against the person who sold him the goods and so on. However, it is almost inevitable that the person who stole the vehicle in the first place has either disappeared or is not worth suing.

These same principles apply to all stolen goods and not just stolen cars.

Hastings & Co Solicitors are a niche practice in Essex specialising in litigation, employment law and debt collection.

Please telephone 01245 835 305 without any obligation.

Court fee rises

The Ministry of Justice has announced that court fees in the County Court and High Court will rise (in most instances) from 22 April 2014.

For money claims up to £1,500 the fees for issuing claims will stay the same. However, for money claims exceeding £1,500 in value there will be rises across the board and in some cases the increase will be as much as 81%.

Take for example a claim worth between £5,000 and £10,000 the court issue fee will rise from £245 to £445.

For landlords, court fees for issuing claims for possession will rise from £175 to £280.

Comment

The government is trying to reduce the cost burden of the Civil Justice system on taxpayers. However, we strongly believe that having access to justice is a fundamental part of any civilised society. It is a key feature of a democratic society that its citizens should have civil rights and they should have access to justice if those rights are infringed.

Hastings & Co Solicitors specialise in debt collection and litigation. Telephone 01245 835 305 for advice without any obligation.

 

Credit companies owe consumers a duty of care

The Supreme Court ruled this week that credit companies owe consumers a duty of care when blacklisting them.

Richard Durkin of Scotland bought a computer from PC World in 1998. The computer cost £1,499. He paid £50 and then entered into a credit agreement with HFC Bank. When he discovered that the computer did not have an inbuilt modem he returned it to PC World. Eventually, PC World repaid his £50 however the HFC Bank told him he needed to continue making the payments on the credit agreement. When he did not, HFC Bank blacklisted his credit.

In 2008 the Aberdeen Sheriff Court ruled that Mr Durkin was entitled to reject the computer and end the credit agreement. Mr Durkin was awarded damages of £116,000. That sum was dramatically reduced on appeal to the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The decision was appealled to the Supreme Court.

This case establishes that if you buy goods using a credit agreement, and if you validly reject the goods and terminate the contract of sale you may also validly end the credit agreement. It is also establishes that credit companies owe consumers a duty of care. So that if a credit company wants to blacklist a consumer’s credit rating, if the consumer is asserting that they have validly ended the credit agreement, the credit company has a duty to make sure that they are genuinely in default of the credit agreement.

Hastings & Co solicitors specialise in civil litigation. For advice or assistance telephone 01245 835 305.

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not intended as a substitute for independent legal advice.

 

Cooling off rights

If goods are faulty and you act quickly enough you will usually have the right to reject them and get a refund. However, you are not always entitled to a refund just because you change your mind. Having said that there are a few situations where you do have cooling off rights.

Check the Seller’s returns policy

Some retailers have a no quibble returns policy if the goods are returned within a certain time limit. So, if you do change your mind it’s worth checking the seller’s terms and conditions to see what their policy is.

The Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008

These regulations apply to contracts between businesses and consumers which are made in the consumer’s home, or place of work or somewhere else away from the trader’s business premises. The rules apply if the contract is made whilst the trader is in your home, or place of work. So, it wouldn’t apply if the trader later sends you a written quotation which you later accept on the telephone or in writing.

Usually there is a 7 day cooling off period however some contracts are excluded so the rules need to be checked carefully.

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000

The Distance Selling Regulations apply to contracts made by consumers by mail order, online or over the phone. There is a 7 day cooling off period although once again some contracts are excluded so the rules need to be checked carefully.

Consumer Credit Act agreements

Consumers usually get a 14 day cooling off period when signing a credit agreement.

Hastings & Co Solicitors are a niche solicitor’s practice in Chelmsford specialising in dispute resolution.

T. 01245 835 305.

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not intended as a substitute for independent legal advice.

 

How to make a claim in the small claims court

Strictly speaking there isn’t a “small claims court”, however, claims for less than £10,000 (before 1st April 2013 it was £5,000) in the County Court are usually allocated to the small claims track and these are often referred to by the public as the “small claims court”.

One of the key features of the small claims track is that only limited legal costs are usually recoverable from the opponent. This does not mean that you cannot instruct a solicitor to act for you, however, it does mean that you may not be able to recover all of their charges if you do. Because of this, a lot of claimants and defendants in the small claims track are unrepresented (we call them litigants in person).

This is a step by step guide to starting a small claim.

Step 1 is to try and resolve your dispute before issuing legal proceedings. This can be done by sending the other person a “letter before claim”. The letter should set out what you are claiming and why.

Step 2  is to fill in an N1 Claim Form. The form is fairly self explanatory. A few tips: (1) make sure you put the correct name and address for the defendant, for example, is it Bob the Builder or Bob the Builder Limited? If your contract was with Bob the Builder Limited then you can’t sue Bob the Builder personally. (2) The amount of the court fee is determined by the value of the claim – see court form EX050. (3) You will need to state on the form what your preferred court is. In Essex, there are County Courts in Romford, Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend and Basildon.

Step 3 is to send 2 copies of the N1 Claim Form to the following address:

County Court Money Claims Centre
PO Box 527
Salford
M5 0BY

You will need to enclose a cheque to cover the court fee. The cheque should be made payable to “HMCTS” (which stands for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service). For every additional defendant send an extra form eg if there are 2 defendant send 3 forms.

Step 4. Within about 7 days the court should “issue” the claim and send it to the defendant by post. The defendant will then have 14 days to file either an acknowledgement of service or a defence. If they file an acknowledgement of service they will then have a further 14 days (ie 28 days in total) to file their defence.

Step 5. This will depend whether the claim is defended or not. If no defence or acknowledgement of service is filed then you can request judgment in default. This is done by completing the Request for Judgment form at the bottom of the Notice of Issue. This is a form which the court sends the claimant once the claim has been issued.

If the claim is defended then the court will send both parties a Directions Questionnaire to complete and return to the court.

Step 6. Once the court has the Directions Questionnaires back it will make “directions”. For small claims the case will usually be listed for a hearing lasting about 1.5 hours and usually the parties would be required to exchange witness statements and documents no later than 14 days prior to the hearing. The whole process usually takes 3-6 months.

Hastings & Co Solicitors are experts in litigation and disputes based in Chelmsford, Essex, acting for clients throughout Essex.

T. 01245 235 835

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not a substitute for independent legal advice.

What happens if I buy stolen goods?

If you are unlucky enough to buy stolen goods, the law will not come to your rescue, even if you have acted in good faith and did not know that the goods were stolen. This principle applies to all stolen goods including cars.

So you buy a car and it turns out to be stolen. The law returns the car to the rightful owner. However, the innocent purchaser will have a claim against the person that sold the stolen car to them. And so it goes back up the chain.

Section 21(1) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 says:

“Subject to this act, where goods are sold by a person who is not their owner, and who does not sell them under the authority or with the consent of the owner, the buyer acquires no better title to the goods than the seller had, unless the owner of the goods is by his conduct precluded from denying the seller’s authority to sell.”

Hastings and Co Solicitors specialise in litigation and dispute resolution.

Tel: 01245 835 305

Disclaimer: this blog is only intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not intended as a substitute for independent legal advice.

Cohabitation and the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996

The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 is an important piece of legislation for unmarried couples and other people who jointly own property together or who live together. This includes for example gay couples that have not entered into a civil partnership and relatives that live together, for example, siblings living together and children  living with their parents.

Where the property is held in joint names the law presumes that it is held equally (i.e. 50/50 where there are 2 owners).

Sometimes, for whatever reason, the property is held in one person’s name only. However, it is possible for someone else to also have an interest in the property.

Section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 gives the courts power to determine who owns a property and what shares they have. It also gives them the power to make an order for sale of the property. These are often referred to by lawyers as TOLATA claims.

It was my experience after the last recession, that couples would often do nothing after separating especially if there was little or no equity in the jointly held property. However, as property prices increased it  became worthwhile to make a TOLATA claim. A lot of property owners became very disappointed to learn that their ex-partners still had an interest in their property and that because the property had increased in value it would now cost a lot more to buy them out. This was often many years after their ex-partner had left the property. Unmarried couples splitting up should get advice early on. 

It is adviseable for anyone thinking of making an application, or faced with an application, to get advice from a solicitor. Liam Hastings specialises in TOLATA claims and litigation generally. Please telephone 01245 835 305 for advice.

Disclaimer: this blog is intended to give a brief overview of the law and is not intended as a substitute for independent legal advice.