Five Things to Know About Being Named an Executor of a Will

Being appointed as an Executor for a loved one’s Will can be daunting. The responsibilities are time consuming and can cause stress – especially if this is your first time as an Executor.

It is important to be aware you may be liable for any mistakes made when carrying out duties as an Executor, even if those mistakes were innocently made.

Fortunately, our experienced Solicitor, Rebecca May, is here to tell you the five things you need to know about being named as an Executor of a Will.

What are the key things to think about if you have been asked to be an Executor of someone’s Will?
Firstly, are you prepared to take on the responsibility of carrying out the deceased’s wishes under their Will? You need to ensure you carry out the wishes of the deceased as they would have wanted. Be aware that issues can arise if there are family disputes between members over assets, or if they feel excluded.

What are the main responsibilities of an Executor?
You need to ensure that all the assets of the deceased are cashed, any taxes or debts paid, and distribute the assets in accordance with the Will.

Does the person making the Will need your permission to name you Executor?
There is no formal requirement for the Executor to give consent – though it is sensible to ask permission before appointing them.

Who can be an Executor and does being one mean you can’t be a beneficiary?
Anyone is able to be an Executor providing they are over 18 years old and have adequate mental capacity to do so. It is not uncommon to appoint professional executors such as solicitors or financial advisers. Furthermore, it is a common misconception that you are unable to be a beneficiary and an Executor – however this is not the case.

Can you change your mind about being an Executor?
Yes, it is possible to change your mind. If at the time the person passes away, you do not want or are unable to be the Executor then it is possible to stand down. In this instance, either the appointed replacement or another appropriate person would stand in.

For more advice about updating or creating your Will, contact our Wills & Probate Team today who will be happy to provide professional, friendly advice.

Email: privateclients@cjch.co.uk

Telephone: 0333 231 6405

6 Things You Need to Know About Prenuptial Agreements

By Sarah Perkins

With Spring underway, the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and wedding season begins!

Changes in society continue to affect people’s attitude towards marriage and particularly around prenuptial agreements.

The average age at first marriage continues to rise into the mid 30s. With people marrying later, they bring assets they have accumulated or inherited into the marriage that they may want to protect.

Women are prioritising their careers first and starting families later, which contributes towards the trend of putting these measures in place ahead of saying ‘I do.’

Discussing finances with a loved one can be a particularly sensitive issue and nobody plans for a marriage to end, but it is important to plan for any eventuality.

To help figure out if a prenuptial agreement is for you, below are six things you need to know about prenuptial agreements.

  1. What is a prenuptial agreement and is it a legally valid document in England and Wales?
    A prenuptial agreement consists of a formal written agreement which is entered into between the partners to the relationship ahead of the marriage. It outlines what each party is entitled to should the marriage end, as well as any other related conditions.
  2. Why should couples consider getting a prenuptial agreement?
    Both parties should consider a pre-nuptial agreement for the simple reason that it provides peace of mind going into the marriage that all aspects of their finances, assets and property are protected. It isn’t a matter of trusting each other, but rather a matter of being responsible and planning for your own future, for any eventuality. It can also protect one partner against the other’s debt, protect inherited assets or children’s inheritance, and ensure control over business assets.
  3. How can a solicitor help someone make a prenuptial agreement?
    A solicitor can ensure the prenuptial agreement is drafted properly. This makes it more likely the agreement will be upheld in a divorce. The agreement should be carried out at least 28 days ahead of the wedding to ensure that all matters are resolved by the ceremony. Allow as much time as possible to ensure all matters are thoroughly considered, negotiated and signed without any unnecessary pressure.
  4. What should someone do if they’re asked to sign a prenuptial agreement?
    Before signing, you should seek advice from a qualified solicitor. This doesn’t mean that you do not trust your partner, but it is important to protect your own interests as well as your collective interests. Ensure that the agreement takes your circumstances into consideration and is much for your own good as it is for your partner’s.
  5. What should be included in a prenuptial agreement?
    It is best to assess this on a case by case basis as it is largely related to the value of the item to the individual, both from a financial and sentimental perspective. There aren’t specific rules for what should not be included, but rather just as much is discussed and agreed as possible, and nothing is left to chance.
  6. What happens during a divorce if the couple has a prenuptial agreement?
    In the event of a breakdown in the marriage, couples will divide ownership of their belongings based on the prenuptial agreement.Generally, assets are divided 50/50 among both parties in the event of a divorce that doesn’t involve a prenuptial agreement. However, that may feel unfair to you if you have inherited assets, you own a business, or if your partner has outstanding debt.

How we can help:

For more information on prenuptial agreements, get in touch with our dynamic team in family, matrimonial and childcare law directly via:

Telephone: 0333 231 6405

Email: family@cjch.co.uk

Tips for First Time Buyers: the Conveyancing Process Explained

Lauren Powell has joined the Residential Conveyancing and Private Client team here at CJCH and wanted to share these tips for first-time home buyers:

As a first time buyer, the legal process of purchasing a property (known as conveyancing) can be a confusing and stressful time.

At CJCH Solicitors, our dedicated team of solicitors are here to make the process as straight forward and stress-free as possible. We have created a brief guide to the steps of the conveyancing process and some of the terminology that is often used to give first-time buyers an initial understanding of the process.

For further information or for a competitive quote for our legal services, please contact a member of our team.

  • Step One: your offer is accepted

Congratulations! You have found your property and agreed on a purchase price with the seller.

It is at this stage that the estate agents, seller or developer (in the case of new build properties[1]) may ask for the details of the solicitor you have decided to instruct to act on your behalf.

At CJCH Solicitors, we pride ourselves on providing prompt service. We ensure that once we have provided a quote and agreed our fixed fee[2] with you, we send confirmation of our instruction to you as soon as possible. As this is likely to be the most important financial transaction of your life, it is vital to ensure you choose the right solicitor. A cheap service can often mean a poorer quality service!

Our quote will include information on whether any stamp duty land tax (which applies to properties in England) or land transaction tax (which from April 2018 applies to properties in Wales) is likely to be payable.  The rules can be complex, so a chat with one of our team is advised to ensure you know upfront what the costs are likely to be.

At this stage, we also request the contract pack[3] from the seller’s solicitor.

  • Step Two: apply for a mortgage/funding your purchase

If you require a mortgage to purchase the property and you have not already made arrangements, it is important to make an application for a mortgage to help fund the purchase and ensure you obtain your agreement in principle[4] as soon as possible.

For new build properties, a Help to Buy Equity Loan[5] in addition to your mortgage could also be a possibility for you. It is best to seek financial advice before agreeing to any mortgage or loan, to ensure you choose the best option for you.

Your lender will request the details of your solicitor. You should receive a copy of your mortgage offer and your solicitor will also be sent a copy by your lender. Your solicitor will normally also represent your lender during the process.

  • Step Three: survey and searches

It is always advisable that you commission a survey to ensure a detailed physical inspection of the property is carried out by a professional surveyor to highlight any potential issues. Although this is an extra cost to you, it can save you discovering any nasty surprises in the future!

Please note that if you are purchasing with a mortgage, it will not be enough to rely on your lender’s valuation report as this is done to satisfy your lender that the property is sufficient security for their loan.

Your solicitor will also order search reports[6]. Searches are normally carried out with the local authority, water and drainage provider and an environmental search is usually done (some additional searches can be required depending on the property itself).

Your solicitor raises any enquiries they feel necessary with the seller’s solicitor based on the information provided in the contract pack at the beginning of the process, the search reports received your survey report and any questions you may have for the seller from your physical inspection of the property. When the seller answers the enquiries satisfactorily, it is the time to agree a completion date[7] with all parties involved.

  • Step Four: exchange of contracts

Before the day of completion, a process known as ‘exchange of contracts’[8] will take place. The time in between exchange of contracts and the day of completion does vary depending on the circumstances of both the seller and the purchaser (and whether there is a chain[9] involved).

Exchange of contracts is a process that takes place over the phone between the seller’s solicitor and purchaser’s solicitor. Exchange of contracts is the point whereby you become legally bound to purchase and is designed to provide security that completion goes ahead on the agreed date. It is at this stage that you forward your deposit, normally 10% of the purchase price. If you withdrew from the purchase after the exchange of contracts, the deposit is forfeited to the seller. The seller can also face penalties if they withdrew from the sale after the exchange of contracts. Although, parties withdrawing after the exchange of contracts is very rare.

Before exchange of contracts can take place, you will normally meet with your solicitor to sign the necessary documents. You will also be given information on how to transfer the deposit funds to your solicitor, which your solicitor needs to receive before exchange of contracts. Your solicitor will also request your mortgage funds directly from your lender to ensure they arrive in time for the agreed completion date.

  • Step Five: completion

On the day of completion, the seller vacates the property (if they have not already done so).

Your solicitor will send the purchase funds to the seller’s solicitors and, on receipt of the funds, the seller’s solicitor will notify your solicitor that the keys can be collected.

The keys are normally collected from the acting estate agents’ office and completion usually takes place around lunchtime, though it will depend on when the funds are received by the seller’s solicitor.

  • Stage six: post-completion

Your solicitor will see to the filing of a stamp duty land tax return to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or a land transaction tax return to the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) and the payment of any tax that is due on your behalf.[10]

Your solicitor will also register the property in your name with HM Land Registry[11]. When registration is completed, your solicitor will send you an updated version of the title to the property, showing you as the registered owner. If you are purchasing a leasehold property[12], the lease will be registered in your name.

This is often also an important time to consider whether you should make a Will to ensure your property, along with any other assets, would pass in accordance with your wishes. For more information on our Will drafting services and fees, please contact a member of our Private Client department.

Notes:

[1] New build properties are properties that are to be, are in the process of, or have just been built by a developer. The conveyancing process is slightly different when you are purchasing a new build property. Please contact our team for further information.

[2] At CJCH Solicitors, we offer a fixed fee service for conveyancing with no hidden costs. This means that the quote for our legal fees will be for a fixed amount and will not increase, provided no unforeseen work is required (if it is, we agree any further costs with you beforehand).  

[3] This will include information on the title to the property, the sale agreement, and forms completed by the seller providing details about the property and its fixtures and fittings, together with supporting documents.

[4] An agreement by your lender to lend a certain amount to you based on the information you have supplied at that stage. A formal application will need to follow to the lender before they formally grant you the loan.

[5] This is a government scheme which could help fund up to 20% of your new build home, leaving you with a 5% deposit to pay (rather than a 10% deposit which is normally required) and a 75% mortgage. There are different rules that apply to properties in England and properties in Wales (Help to Buy and Help to Buy Wales are separate organisations). Please contact us for further information.

[6] Search reports are carried out through an independent search provider. The searches can provide essential information on issues such as the property’s highways, connections to the sewage and water drainage systems, flood/contamination/subsidence risks and planning permission and building regulation documents relating to the property, to name just a few.

[7] The completion date is the date that you finalise the purchase and are able to collect the keys to the property.

[8] You will need to ensure you have a buildings insurance policy in place for the property for this date.

[9] This is where there are a number of linked sales and purchases that are all reliant on one another to complete. Naturally, the longer the chain, the longer the conveyancing process tends to take.

[10] For most purchases, there is a duty to inform HMRC or the WRA of the purchase via a return, even if no tax is payable.

[11] An organisation that registers ownership of property and land in England and Wales.

[12] This is where you have an agreement with a landlord called a lease that, amongst other things, will state how long you will have ownership of a property. The landlord is often the person/organisation that owns the freehold title to the property. At the end of the lease, ownership returns back to the landlord. If you own a freehold title to a property, you basically own the property outright.

CJCH Solicitors – Wales Legal Awards Finalist for Corporate and Social Responsibility segment

The team here at CJCH Solicitors were beaming recently when we learned of our firm being named a finalist in the Legal and Financial category of a leading local awards initiative. Our excitement has more than doubled when it was recently announced that our firm had also been listed as a finalist in the newly established Wales Legal Awards in the category of Corporate and Social Responsibility Programme of the year.

Our CSR initiative is lead by our senior partner, Jacqui Seal, together with a team of our staff. In 2018, our programme included on-going support for main charity, Y Bont school for children living with disabilities, who we partner with to support their events, conduct fundraising initiatives on their behalf and generally offer our support where we can.

Other initiatives we have taken on in 2018 have included:

  • Developing a campaign to raise £3000 to donate to Huggard centre for the homeless.
  • Exceeding our 2017 milestone by raising over £2000 on behalf of Will Aid charity when our private client solicitor team donated their time to provide Will drafting services to the public in exchange for donations to the charity.
  • Donating time and support to the Recovery Cymru initiative. 
  • We also worked with family and lifestyle blogger, Cardiff Mummy Says, to provide legal insights and awareness for various family-related matters over the last year.

We are proud to be representing this category of the awards, as the ethos of the CJCH legal practice is to always give back to the communities in which we provide services.

Expert speaks out on everything you need to know about a Blue Monday job crisis

Blue Monday is considered to be one of the most depressing days of the year for every-day working people.

It’s a day that often leads to self reflection, and encourages many to question life and relationship decisions, but more commonly work-related choices.

With that in mind employees across Wales could be contemplating handing in their notice of resignation this January 21. And CJCH Solicitors’ employment law expert Nigel Daniel revealed that the firm does traditionally experience an upturn in employment queries throughout January.

But where do employees stand legally if they make a snap decision to leave their job? Where do employers stand in this situation? And what happens next?

Here, Mr Daniel answers all the questions that discontented employees, and their employers, may have this Blue Monday.

Do you see an upturn in queries to the Employment Team on Blue Monday/ or during January?

It is usually the position as far as this firm is concerned, that we see an upturn in relation to Employment Law in the month of January, however this year there has actually been a decline at CJCH.

What sort of issues is the employment team contacted about? 

At this time of year, there are the inevitable enquiries about incidents arising out of Christmas Parties.  From the employer’s perspective, we have instructions regarding the implementation of disciplinary procedures, enquiries from new start-ups and unfortunately in this present uncertain economic climate, queries regarding redundancies and procedures that have to be followed.

Regarding the issue of Blue Monday and employees it may very well be the position, that if and when an employee decides to leave, we may have enquiries both from the employer and the employee regarding the possible impact of post-employment agreements.

What is the most common problem people contact your team regarding?

The Employment Team in CJCH, undertakes a broad spectrum of work involving both contentious and non-contentious Employment Law matters.  We are frequently instructed to prepare company handbooks, advice on disciplinary and grievance procedures and all aspects of family friendly policies.

On the contentious side of matters, the introduction of Section 111(a) Protected Conversations, means that we are frequently asked to try and negotiate exit packages for employees by both the employee and the employer.  In addition, of course, we are always instructed to act on matters involving unfair dismissals, wrongful dismissal and areas of discrimination.

The increasing awareness of the Me Too campaign has led to an increase of enquiries from female employees who have suffered the indignity of unwarranted attention of a sexual nature. 

What are the options for someone who wanted to leave a job with immediate effect and not give notice?

Most responsible employers will have in place contracts of employments for their employees which will give a clear indication of what notice the employee is entitled to, whether or not it is contractual or statutory.  In addition, most contracts of employment will give a clear indication of what period of notice an employee is required to give the employer.

It is the position, that even when there is no formal contract of employment, the employer is under a statutory obligation to provide an employee with a written statement of the main terms and conditions of his/her employment within two calendar months of starting work.  This should also include the notice provisions.

If therefore, there is no contract of employment or for that matter a Section 1 Statement of Terms and Conditions, the Employment Rights Act lays down the minimum period of notice required from an employee, that is one week.

It may very well be the position, that an employee who wishes to leave a job with immediate effect can agree with his employer to waive the notice period.

If however the employee leaves his job without giving notice, and without the agreement of the employer, a number of situations may arise.

  • It may very well be the position, that post-termination restrictive covenants are in place and the employer may very well seek injunctive relief to prevent the employee starting employment with a new employer if, there is a risk that the post-termination restrictive covenants would be breached.
  • It may also be the position that the employer is concerned about the breach and can refuse to accept the employee’s repudiation and request that he/she sits out the notice period at home.
  • It is also possible for an employer to seek damages against an employee who leaves in breach of notice provisions if it can be shown a financial loss has arisen.  However, circumstances such as these are very rare, as quantifying loss is difficult.

Can someone leave during a probationary period and what would they need to consider?

Leaving during a probationary period, has very similar consequences as above.

The main difference of course, is that an employee who wishes to leave during a probationary period is usually in the position of finding out, that he is not suited or does not like the post he has taken.

There are very rarely any circumstances, where an employer would seek to take action in such circumstances, other than possibly where the employer has paid for the employee to attend training courses prior to commencement of his employment and/or during the probationary period.

In those circumstances, there may be a recoupment provision.  In addition, notwithstanding the fact that an employee is in a probationary period, he may have gained confidential information which again may be subject to post-termination restrictive covenants.

What if a staff member is on Maternity Leave? What would they need to do to change jobs?

If a member of staff is on Maternity Leave, and wishes to change jobs, then the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations provide that the female employee is bound by the contractual obligation to give notice to terminate her employment.

So a woman on Maternity Leave who decides not to return to work must advise her employer before the end of her leave period, either by a notice period which is contained in a Contract of Employment, or by the Statutory Minimum of one week under Section 86 of the ERA.

What industries do you generally get the most queries of this nature from? 

Most enquiries at this time of the year are generated from the care industry, retail, health care and security industries.

What is your top tip to anyone who might be spurred on to change jobs from Blue Monday?

Any Employee who is minded to change jobs under the Blue Monday syndrome, should consider a number of issues.

Firstly, it may very well be the position that they have more than two years continuity of service.  To leave therefore, would mean starting again and losing all employment rights that have been gained through having two years continuity of service.

In addition, any employee minded to leave and change jobs must also be acutely aware of any contractual provisions relating to the dissemination of confidential information, and of course post-termination restrictive covenants.

If the situation has arisen where the employee for some reason has become dissatisfied with his/her role, then possibly speaking to the HR Department or a line manager to discuss areas of dissatisfaction may resolve a problem.

CJCH Solicitors’ employment team is highly experienced and skilled in all aspects of employment law and the provision of HR legal services.

It supports a wide range of employers from SMEs to household name companies, universities and public sector organisations.

CJCH Solicitors partner named one of Wales’ 30 young lawyers to watch!

The senior partners of CJCH Solicitors are proud to congratulate Amy Roberts-Rees, our firm’s partner in charge of the Mental Health Law and Court of Protection practice, for being named one of the 30 young lawyers to watch in the Wales Online publication.

Amy joined CJCH in 2013 as a partner and has been instrumental in expanding the great work we do in Legal Aid to represent those in need of assistance with Mental Health Law. Amy has also developed and grown our Court of Protection practice, and built a high performing, client-centric department of dedicated specialists.

Congratulations on a well-deserved accolade and recognition of your continuous growth.

Find the full Wales Online feature here.

 

CJCH History Month: The Story of Colin Jones Solicitors (CJS)

By Danny McNeill

Colin Jones

In 1992, the fabric of Barry society was changed forever with the opening of a new law firm by local boy, Colin Jones. After studying law at Aberystywth University, Colin Jones joined Mallia and Co., another Barry institution, where he qualified as a solicitor after completing his articles alongside current CJCH Senior Partner Jacqui Seal (in 1982). Jacqui would go on to join the CPS, while later Colin left Mallia in 1992 to found his own Criminal Defence practice in the heart of Barry. Despite the firm’s humble beginnings in Colin’s back garden, his charisma and reputation for intelligence, integrity and honesty allowed him to begin growing the practice, which soon opened its first office on Barry’s Holton Road, before later relocating to where we still have offices today on Thompson Street.

Colin’s first hire was Traci Doyle as a Legal Secretary, who along with subsequent hires, John Moyle (Criminal Law), Chris Lacey (Criminal Law) and Tracy Higgins (Legal Secretary) are all still with CJCH to this day. The secret to this longevity, according to both Traci and John Moyle, was the trust, mutual respect and loyalty that Colin fostered. As the firm grew, so did its practice areas and by the early 2000s the firm was one of the largest Criminal Law practices in the Vale of Glamorgan, having established a reputation for high quality work and expanding into Family/Child Care law.

In 2010, Colin welcomed Jacqui Seal into the practice as a consultant once she retired from the CPS. Sadly, in that same year, Colin lost his life in a tragic accident. This was a loss, not only to the firm both professionally and personally with Colin described as the heart of the practice, but to the greater community and profession as well.

However, the respect and loyalty Colin had shown those he had encountered and brought together over the years laid the foundations for the firm’s continuation.

CJS Office 17 Thompson Street, Barry

Colin’s fiancé, and now CJCH Partner, Jodi Winter believes it was in part this dedication and loyalty that he showed, not only to his staff but the wider local community, of which he was an integral part, that has allowed his legacy to carry on to this day.

It was during this difficult time when the firm was dealing with the personal loss of Colin and changes to the distribution of legal aid contracts, that Jacqui, in collaboration with her husband Nick stepped in to lead the firm. Both Jodi and John Moyle agree that it was the hard work and leadership shown by both Jacqui and Nick that helped get the firm through this difficult time. John was surprised by the staggering amount of time and energy Nick, previously a Director at Deloitte, was able to put into the firm. Jodi also noted that for Jacqui this was a labour of love and that neither Jacqui nor Nick would allow the firm to close.

It was under their stewardship that, as Tracy Higgins said, the firm began to ‘’explode’’. With Nick’s background in financial strategy, mergers and acquisitions, he brought a different perspective to the legal market and began growing the firm over the following years. In May 2011, the firm acquired Garth James Solicitors, followed shortly by the recruitment of Garry Newberry to establish a foothold in Bridgend. Later, in September, the firm acquired Jeff Lloyd Solicitors expanding the expertise of the practice into Private Client work, into which Colin Jones Solicitors had not previously ventured. In March 2012, the Criminal Defence practice of Hurlows led by Lydia Harper in Cardiff was acquired, giving the firm a presence in the Capital.

Mallia & Co Office

Coming full circle, in July 2013 Mallia and Co., where both Colin and Jacqui had trained, was acquired bringing with it a fantastic mental health department led by CJCH Partner Amy Roberts-Rees and Keith James. Finally, in September 2013 Colin Jones merged with Clarke and Hartland and CJCH Solicitors emerged as it is known today – a thriving and dynamic South Wales based law firm with client service delivery at heart and a global reach of services and customers. Though the size, practice areas, and number of office has changed over the years, the core principles of loyalty and hard work have remained coded into the firm’s DNA, and John Moyle sincerely believes Colin would be proud to have his name attached to the firm it has become.

Fluctuating capacity and how to address future uncertainties of care planning in a section 21A appeal

By Emma Sutton (instructed on behalf of MB) and Rebecca Evan-Williams (CJCH Solicitors). Re-post of article from No5 Barristers Chambers.

31 January 2018

Background

The court had before it an application brought on behalf of MB pursuant to section 21A of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘the Act’) by his RPR, Mrs Claire Reid, to challenge a standard authorisation made in accordance with schedule A1 of that Act; the primary challenges being whether the mental capacity and best interests qualifying requirements were met. So far, so good.

MB had resided in a care home since 2008 and had a diagnosis of moderate learning disability, autism spectrum disorder and complex epilepsy and as a consequence of his diagnoses, required close supervision of daily living and prompting from his carers.

Due to the complexities of MB’s presentation, a number of expert reports were necessary to assist the court to resolve the proceedings and a position was reached whereby the capacity evidence prepared by Dr Michael Layton (Consultant Psychiatrist) and Dr Lisa Rippon (Consultant Developmental Psychiatrist), and their jointly prepared statement, was accepted by the parties. The expert evidence unanimously concluded that MB had the capacity to make decisions regarding his residence and care needs, but lacked the capacity to conduct the proceedings.

By reason of the above, the court accepted that it had no jurisdiction to make best interest decisions regarding MB’s residence and care; notwithstanding his requests to leave his care home and move to alternative accommodation. The court determined (per section 21A(2)(a) and section 21A(3)(a) of the Act) that MB did not meet all of the necessary qualifying requirements in order for a standard authorisation to be in place (the mental capacity qualifying requirement not being met), and on such basis, the standard authorisaation was terminated with immediate effect.

Comment

Mrs Reid, as MB’s litigation friend, fully recognised that MB would (as a consequence of the expert evidence) effectively be removed from the procedural safeguards contained in schedule A1 of the Act. Her status as RPR would also end upon the termination of the standard authorisation.

Although his ‘appeal’ had been successful, careful consideration had to be given prior to the final hearing as to whether the case fell into the ambit where ‘contingent’ capacity decisions were appropriate. The Court of Protection Practice helpfully provides a template order [see pages 2362-2364 of the 2017 edition] for such circumstances and this was brought to the courts attention. However, on the facts of this particular case, it was accepted that there was no identifiable external trigger which would ‘cause’ a loss of capacity – for example, another person who unduly influences P, P resorting to alcohol use, capacity being dependent on a continuance of training/ advice etc.

Instead, MB’s fluctuation of capacity was intrinsically linked to his own inherent complex functioning and could not be put into a prescribed ‘box’ of when he would and wouldn’t have the ability to make capacitous decisions. In this regard, the experts said this:

Both Dr Rippon and Dr Leighton agreed that MB’s capacity could fluctuate during times of seizure activity but also when his level of anxiety rises and he becomes distressed because of environmental triggers. It was Dr Leighton’s view that these periods could last for several days and he gave the example of the time that MB had become angry with his RPR and had refused to see her for a week. However, what is less clear is whether his capacity was affected over the whole of this period. Therefore, although both doctors agreed that MB’s capacity had fluctuated, what is less certain is how long these periods could last(my emphasis)

As MB’s care plan had (for the past 10 years) met his complex needs, and due to the lack of specificity regarding whether and if so, for how long, seizure activity could potentially impact on his decision making, it was not considered appropriate for further exploration to be given to this issue – particularly as the ongoing nature of the proceedings was having an impact on MB.

A further point that required consideration was whether the appointment of an independent advocate (within the meaning of section 67 of the Care Act 2014) to represent and support MB for the purpose of any future needs assessment and the preparation of a care and support plan (etc) was necessary.

This was raised on behalf of MB which HHJ Parry addresses in her Judgment (with reference to the Care and Support (Independent Advocacy Support) (Number 2) Regulations 2014) and emphasised that the order would record ‘the Local Authority’s willingness and indeed, in my view, obligation to consider this ongoing additional support for MB in the decisions that he will now be making on his own behalf’.

Although set out in a recital (which is positive for reference as to the ‘reasonableness’ of future actions) this ultimately relates to a primary issue that the powers of the court do not extend to decisions compelling parties to provide services for P (N (Appellant) v ACCG and others (Respondents) [2017] UKSC 22, Baroness Hale, paragraph 29).

 

 

Emma Sutton was instructed by Rebecca Evan-Williams and Amy Rees-Roberts (Partner) of CJCH Solicitors (Cardiff) on behalf of MB

Claire Reid is a professional RPR and Project Lead for Training in Mind

Mental Health law: Support, resources, and insights.

We have come a long way in terms of awareness and support, but Mental Health matters continue to have a stigma and an air of uncertainty overshadowing them. For example, a 2016 survey by Time to Change Wales revealed that 1 in 10 people believe that people with mental health illnesses can never fully recover, and 1 in 7 believed that people with mental health problems should not be allowed to hold public office. People still have reservations about speaking openly and honestly about their personal mental health experiences and challenges.

In a bid to raise awareness, the CJCH Solicitors mental health department have shared insight into some of the information we believe people should be aware of when it comes to mental health law.

We asked Craig Mills, a solicitor in the mental health law department to answer a few important questions:

What the aim of mental health law is?

The Mental Health Act protects the rights of people with mental health challenges, not only when someone is detained in hospital but also when someone is being treated for their ailments within the community under the Act. People should only be admitted to hospital against their wishes when it is essential to their health and safety or the protection of others.

What should people be aware of when it comes to matters relating to mental health?

Personal rights are an important thing for people to be aware of. There has been a lot of mental health advocacy recently and people need to be aware that it can affect individuals in a number of different ways  (Read a recent article in BBC News on South Wales Police wanting mental health lessons for youths). It can sometimes be difficult to identify when/if people are suffering from mental health problems, but it is important that everyone is aware that help is available. There are a number of mental health charities that can provide support.

Here are some links to assist with finding the right support for you or your loved ones:

For an example of how these matters are impacting people in Wales, you can read this recent article about three people’s personal struggle with mental illness which was shared for World Mental Health day.

For more information or assistance with a mental health legal issue, contact our team via email: mentalhealth@cjch.co.uk ; to telephone: 0333 231 6405.