DISPUTE RESOLUTION

DISPUTE RESOLUTION - HELP FOR YOU

PROPERTY LAWDISPUTE RESOLUTIONPERSONAL INJURYSETTLEMENT AGREEMENTSWILLS & PROBATEMEDIATION
​NEIGHBOUR OR BOUNDARY DISPUTES
Our expert property litigators can help you to bring or defend a case involving a boundary or neighbour dispute. By their very nature, these are extremely stressful and difficult cases.
 
Neighbour or boundary disputes can often involve: building extensions, boundary changes, right to light arguments, and anti-social behaviour. If they aren’t addressed quickly and effectively they can quickly spiral out of control. Nobody benefits from having conflict arrive on their doorstep.
 
Because these disputes are so close to home, emotions can occasionally see legal costs spiral out of control as each party goes to war. We will provide you with all options so that you can explore ways to resolve the dispute quickly, inexpensively, and without damaging your relationships any further.
 
Our solicitors will assess your case for you and advise on what options are available to you. We will agree a pricing structure before we start any work for you, and we will only begin work once you are happy with all information received from us.
​FAMILY DISPUTES
If there is a dispute between family members we will be available to advise you on what options such as litigation, negotiation, mediation, etc.
 
Common family disputes will likely involve a family owned business, or a contested will.

We will aim to offer a fixed fee service wherever possible for any work involving family disputes.
DIVORCE

How We Work

Divorces are often emotionally draining processes. They can be finanically draining too unfortunately. We use our knowledge to do everything we can to make the process as straightforward and quick as possible - saving you time, stress, and money.

For straightforward divorces we offer a fixed fee service. For more detailed divorce proceedings we will consider all information before advising you of your options.


The Grounds For Divorce?

The only legal ground for a divorce currently is to show that a marriage has irretrievably broken down. To prove this you must be able to show any of these five facts:-
 
  • Unreasonable behaviour - your spouse's behaviour is so unreasonable you cannot be expected to continue to remain with them
  • Desertion - your spouse has deserted you for at least two consecutive years before you seek a divorce
  • Adultery - your spouse has committed adultery and you cannot possibly remain with them
  • Two years' separation - you and your spouse have not lived together at all for at least two consecutive years, and your spouse consents to the divorce being carried out
  • Five years' separation - you and your spouse have not lived together at all for at least five consecutive years. You do not need the consent of your spouse to seek a divorce in these circumstances.

Stripped back to its basics, the divorce process is relatively straightforward. You and your spouse should attempt to agree, if possible before contacting a solicitor, which assets are to be retained by whom and how you envisage access to children being worked between you in future. If you are struggling to reach agreement regarding this family mediation may be required, and is certainly recommended.


The basic divorce process is as follows

  • The Petition - a divorce petition is prepared and sent to your spouse. They have 14 days to respond, after which it is sent to the court to be officially issued upon your spouse.
  • The Response - your spouse then has 14 days to acknowledge receipt of the divorce petition from the court. This is their opportunity to contest the divorce if they intend to.
  • The Decree Nisi - your next step sees your solicitor submit an application for a Decree Nisi certificate. Once the Decree Nisi certificate is received it is possible to set out the agreed terms of your divorce in a Consent Order (if you have been able to agree terms).
  • The Decree Absolute - once 6 weeks plus one day have passed since you received your Decree Nisi, you can apply to the court for a Decree Absolute. This certificate will formally dissolve your marriage and confirm your divorce.


Our Fees

If you are the one petitioning for the divorce, and your divorce is undefended and follows the basic 4 point process set out above, our fees would be:
 
ACSL Fee VAT          Court fee 
£600 £120 £550


If you are the one receiving the divorce petition, and your divorce is undefended and follows the basic 4 point process set out above, our fees would be:
 
ACSL Fee VAT          Court fee 
£400 £80 £nil

If your divorce becomes more complicated or difficult, then we will advise you of the fee options available to you.

Peter Skinner heads up the divorce department, ably assisted by Andrew Mulrooney.

If you have any quetions regarding the divorce process, or how ACSL Solicitors can help you, please feel free to get in touch with us.
​CONTESTED WILL DISPUTES
Contested Will disputes are extremely difficult and stressful for all concerned. They can often see previously close families torn apart by the dispute. We will consider all available information before setting out your options, including court processes and alternative processes such as mediation.

  

Who Can Contest a Will?

To be able to contest a will a person must be a spouse, child, cohabitee or someone who is expressly mentioned in the current or previous will. The person must also make sure they have valid legal grounds to contest a will successfully.

Valid legal grounds for contesting a will can include:-
 
  • Lacking testamentary capacity – The person creating the terms of the will, (known as the testator) must be of sound mind when they create and sign the document. They must understand the full extent of their estate and possessions and understand who they are choosing to include and exclude in the will
  • Lacking due execution – The testator must sign their will in the presence of at least two formal witnesses who are present at the time of signing. Each witness must also sign to confirm that they have witnessed the testator signing the will. If there is any evidence to suggest this didn't happen then a claim m be raised
  • Undue coercion – A claim may be raised if there is significant evidence to suggest that the testator has been manipulated into submitting unfair or invalid terms within their will. Due to the nature of this claim, the supporting evidence must be of a high standard in order to stand any chance of it being successful
  • Fraud – It possible to contest a will if the claimant has valid grounds to suggest that the will has been forged in some way. For instance, if a testator instructs another person to formalise the terms of their will, and then that person submits false terms to benefit themselves and forges the signature of the testator, then the will may be overturned and declared fraudulent.


How Long Do I Have To Contest A Will?

You should act as quickly as possible if you intend to contest a will. Strict time limits can apply, and might apply to different trigger events. Listed below are some of the more common types of claims and relevant time periods:-
  • Inheritance act – Six months from the issue of the grant of probate
  • Beneficiary making claim against the will – 12 years from date of death
  • Claim for maintenance – Six months from the issue of the grant of probate
  • Fraud – No time limit at all


How Do I Contest A Will?

Act quickly – If you intend to contest a will then you should seek legal advice quickly to confirm whether you can submit a valid claim in time. Contesting a will after probate has been granted is possible, but it is better to raise a claim before probste is granted.


Lodge a caveat – Once a solicitor is happy with your claim, you are in a position to submit a formal claim (known as a ‘caveat’) to the Probate Registry office. This means that an official probate cannot be completed and issued – and the deceased’s money and estate can't be distributed – without first notifying the claimant and resolving the dispute. The caveat lasts for six months, but can be renewed if necessary.


Pursue court action – Often, a dispute may be resolved outside of court through mediation or ongoing negotiations. However, if an agreement can't be reached during the caveat stage then a formal court claim should be submitted. These claims tend to be categorised in one of two ways: a claim against the validity of the will, or a claim that the will doesn't make sufficient provision for the claimant. Everyone involved should keep in mind that court costs can quickly build up in a prolonged dispute, which is why it is always better to reach an agreement outside of court if possible


What To Do If A Will Is Contested Against You?

If you are a family relation, a friend to the deceased, or a direct beneficiary from their will, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

It is always preferable to reach an amicable agreement outside of court to avoid costly legal fees. In the event that the case is taken to court and the will is declared invalid  then the court might rule to discredit eitehr part of the will, or the entire will outright. The court might then refer to an earlier, validated will if one exists. If there is no earlier will to refer to then the money, property and possessions of the deceased may be distributed under intestacy law.

Our contested probate team includes Peter Skinner, Gina Simpson, and Joseph Mulrooney.
 
ACSL will advise you on your position, and what options are open to you. We will also advise you of your options regarding our legal fees which might include 'no win no fee', fixed fee packages, or hourly rates.
​DISPUTES WITH A COMPANY OR PROFESSIONAL

If you’ve purchased a service or product and it has not provided what was expected by you, we may be able to help you to recover damages for your losses. 


Consumer Rights Act 2015

Most consumer complaints will refer to the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This single piece of legislation replaced the Sale of Goods Act, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations, and al the Supply of Goods and Services Act.

The Consumer Rights Act covers both physical products and digital products.. All such products must meet the following standards:-
  • Satisfactory quality - any goods shouldn't be damaged or faulty when you receive them. 
  • Fit for purpose - any goods should be fit for the purpose they are intended to be used for. This can cover the specific purpose they were designed for, or a specific purpose that you tell the supplier you intend to use them for and the supplier confirms their suitability for that purpose.
  • As described - any goods provided to you shoud match the description given to you or any models or samples shown to you at the time of purchase.
 

Who To Claim Against?

Under the Act your claim would be against the retailer, not against the manufacturer. 


Time Limits - Inside 30 Days

Physical goods - If the goods don't meet any of the three conditions above, you will be entitled to a full refund if less than 30 days have passed since you first received the goods.

Perishable goods - the 30 day period doesn't apply to perishables. Instead they are expected to retain their quality for a reasonable time. This 'reasonable time' will vary depending on the good - for example, a loaf of bread will be expected to maintain its quality for a shorter time period than a house plant.

Digital downloads - please note, if you have downloaded something and it doesn't meet any of the three conditions above, you can seek a replacement, repair or price reduction. In theory, the price reduction can be up to 100% of the value of the goods.


Time Limits - Outside 30 Days

If more than 30 days have passed since you received the goods, you must give the retailer one chance to repair or replace the goods or digital content. The retailer can usually choose which option it will proceed with.

If the repair or replacement isn't successful you can claim a full refund, or a price reduction if you want to keep the defective goods, or you can request that the retailer tries to repair or replace again.

You can demand a full refund if:-
  • the cost of a repair or replacement is too much compared to the original goods value, or
  • if a repair or repalcement isn't possible any more or isn't successful; or
  • if a repair or replacement would be significantly inconvenient to you; or
  • if the repair would take an unreasonably long time to perform.


Burden of Proof - the first 6 months

If you notice a fault wihtin 6 months of receiving the goods the law will assume that the fault was there when you received them unless the retailer can prove otherwise. This means that it is the retailer who must prove that the goods weren't faulty when you received them.

If a repair or replacement doesn't succeed, then you can seek a price reduction if you want to keep the faulty goods, or a full refund without any deductions. The only industry where a deduction can be made is the motor vehicle industry which allows for a reasonable deduction for the priod of use you have had.


Burden Of Proof - After 6 Months Or More

If you notice a fault after 6 months of receiving the goods the law will assume that the fault wasn't there when you received the goods unless you can prove otherwise. This means that it is you who must prove that the goods were faulty when you received them. You will need evidence to prove this, and possibly expert evidence.


Delivery

The goods remain the responsibility of the retailer until you physically take control of them. This means that if the goods are damaged while being delivered by a courier, you would claim against the retailer not the courier company.

If the goods aren't delivered within 30 days of the order being placed, and you haven't agreed a longer delivery period with the retailer, you can seek a full refund.


Supply Of A Service

When a company supplies you with a service they are also caught by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. A 'service' can include anything from professional services supplied by solicitors, accountants, estate agents, to kitchen fitters, hairdressers, builders etc.

Any service which is provided to a consumer must:-
 

  • be performed with reasonable care and skill
  • abide by the rule that any information provided to the consumer - written or oral - will be binding if the consumer relies on it
  • be provided for a reasonable price, unless a set price is agreed beforehand
  • be carried out in a reasonable time, unless a set timeframe is agreed beforehand.

If a service doesn't meet any of the above conditions then you can seek to have the service provider redo the part of the service which wasn't adequate, or perform the entire service again, at no extra cost to you and without causing any signficant inconvenience to you.

If the service provider can't take the above steps for you, you can claim a price reduction of up to 100% of the original price. The value of the refund will be linked to the severity of the problem, and should be paid within 14 days of you reaching agreement on the refund.


Enforcing Your Rights

You have several routes to follow to seek to enforce your consumer rights:-

  • Court proceedings - You have 6 years from the date you are denied a solution by the retailer to issue court proceedings against them for a faulty goods claim.

  • Industry ombudsmen - many industries have Ombudsmen bodies which deal with customer complaints

  • Trading Standards - these have the power to censure retailers if they have behaved improperly

  • Industry regulatory bodies - certain professions or industries are tightly regulated. Examples include: SRA, FCA, ICAEW 

  • Consumer or Industry Mediation Schemes - these schemes are free to the consumer and seek to resolve a dispute without formal court proceedings

  • Informal negotiations - you can explore this option directly with the retailer. 


We will consider all information and advise you of what options you have, as well as what fees are likely to be incurred in pursuing your case. We will only begin work once you are entirely satisfied with all of the information we have provided.


Joseph Mulrooney is the solicitor who oversees this area of work.

You can find the full text of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 here.
INJUNCTIONS
Injunctions between individuals are usually found to relate to neighbour disputes, family disputes or community disputes. They are usually designed to ask the court to force an individual to stop doing something which is causing harm to the person seeking the injunction.
 
If you believe you are suffering harm due to the actions of another individual, contact us and we will provide you with an initial consultation. We will advise you of the options open to you, and the likely cost of each.
NEED A CHAT?
Give us a call today on
0151 363 3977

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