Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Recommendation: Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System

Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System explains and critically assesses how our law is made and applied. Annually updated, this authoritative textbook clearly describes the legal rules of England and Wales and their collective influence as a sociocultural institution. This latest edition of The English Legal System presents and analyses changes made to the legal system by the coalition government, and digests recent legislation and case law. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Crime and Security Act 2010, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, new European law, and the latest decisions of the Supreme Court are all incorporated into the text, and this edition also digests recent research on the work of juries and the criminal courts, and the 2011 changes to the regulation of, and Government contributions towards, legal services. Key learning features include: a clear and logical structure with short, manageable, well-structured individual chapters; useful chapter summaries which act as a good check point for students; sources for further reading and suggested websites at the end of each chapter to point students towards further learning pathways; an online skills network including how tos, practical examples, tips, advice and interactive examples of English law in action. Relied upon by generations of students, Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System is a permanent fixture in this ever evolving subject.

Available from Amazon

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Judicial College Guidelines for Personal Injury should allow wider consultation

I've just done an article for a blog I write for a firm of solicitors suggesting that the Judicial College Guidelines for Personal Injury (a new edition of which was recently published) should allow wider consultation before final publication due to their enormous influence, particularly with the judiciary. You can read it here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sponsored post: Annuities aren’t the only option

Many people have lost faith in pensions. They have done so largely the income that can be derived from them is poor and they are faced with a gamble with annuity providers over how long they will live to enjoy the income they are receiving in lieu of the pension fund given up. This statement is true to some extent but it does not take into account that an annuity is only one option for pension income. The other common option is income drawdown. Income drawdown allows for a fund to remain invested while income is received. This has the benefit of the retiree retaining control over the longevity of the fund; on their death it can be passed to a dependent rather than to the coffers of the annuity provider. The situation is further improved where retirees have £20,000 guaranteed income from other sources. In this instance the entire pension fund is available as capital for the pension fund owner to use as they wish rather than being restricted to 25% tax free lump sum and the balance as income.

This blog was written by Andrew Neligan, a Chartered Financial Planner who helps legal professionals achieve their lifestyle goals.

Sponsored post: Would you turn away free money with no catch?

This is what people are doing every day by ignoring pensions as an option to boost their retirement savings. Admittedly, pensions have had a tough time recently; the Government have messed around with them so much very few people understand the rules, the 2007/8 stock market crash still looms large in people’s memories and current annuity rates are at historic lows. But this ignores the free money I was referring to. Free money that is paid by the Government as well! This free money is in the form of tax relief which is applied at 20% to all contributions. Higher and additional rate tax payers can then re-claim the 40% and 50% income tax paid via their tax return. The benefit of this tax relief is increased through compound interest; growth on growth received each year. For example, basic rate tax relief on a £50,000 contribution would be £10,000. This £10,000 alone would grow by £6,289 in ten years assuming a growth rate of 5% a year. So, £16,289 you would not have by ignoring pensions.

This blog was written by Andrew Neligan, a Chartered Financial Planner who helps legal professionals achieve their lifestyle goals.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Recommendation: The First Rumpole Omnibus by John Mortimer

Who rose to enduring fame on Blood and Typewriters, told the pregnant Portia of the Chambers it would come out in the end, advised Guthrie Featherstone, Q.C. to adopt a more judicial attitude, returned in the tender gloaming of each evening via Pommeroy's and a glass of Chateau Fleet Street - to She Who Must Be Obeyed? The answer is Horace Rumpole whose legal triumphs, plundering sorties into the 'Oxford Book of English Verse' and less-than-salubrious hat are celebrated here in this first omnibus edition which includes Rumpole of the Bailey, The Trials of Rumpole and 'Rumpole's Return'. 
 Available from Amazon

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Article suggesting it’s time to repeal section 127 of the Communications Act 2003

I've just done an article for a blog I write for a firm of solicitors on the subject of freedom of speech in relation to Facebook and Twitter and specifically suggesting that it’s time to repeal section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. You can read it here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Travel Insurance Law

Brought to you by our friends at ASB Law

Although travel insurance was not traditionally considered a legal requirement, many travel companies now state that consumers must have travel insurance before travelling with them.  Despite this, many people do still travel without any insurance or with only limited cover. Whilst the majority of people hope they won’t be forced to rely on travel insurance, it can provide security if you suffer an accident, emergency, loss or theft whilst travelling. However, the law governing travel insurance can be complex and consumers are subject to the many terms and conditions contained within policy documents.

People generally assume travel insurance covers medical bills and expenses if you are unwell or injured abroad, and in the majority of cases it does. However, travel insurance policies vary dramatically and not all medical expenses are covered by all policies. Consumers can face significant costs despite buying an insurance policy that claims to cover medical expenses. For example, FirstAssist Services Ltd estimates the cost of travel via air ambulance from the US to the UK at £35-40,000. If your policy merely covers treatment received whilst abroad, you may be liable for the cost of transportation back to the UK in addition to other potential costs.

As well as offering cover for medical purposes, travel insurance policies offer protection for a range of eventualities from lost luggage to family bereavements and emergencies at home. However, not all policies offer such comprehensive cover so it is advisable for consumers to thoroughly check policy terms and conditions to ensure they have obtained an adequate level of cover.

Issues can arise when consumers incorrectly believe they are covered and find out they are not when they attempt to make a claim. Although a policy may offer cover for lost luggage, for example, there may be certain exclusions or limitations which apply. Many policies state that an item is only covered if you take ‘reasonable care’ of it. With the term ‘reasonable care’ being open to such wide interpretation, it’s easy to see how disputes between insurers and policyholders can arise.

Similarly, many complaints are made regarding the period of cover the policy extends to. Whilst it’s beneficial for the policyholder if the cover starts from the date the holiday is booked, often it starts from the date of departure. Therefore, if you are forced to cancel your holiday before you depart the insurance may not pay out as technically the policy hasn’t started. This would apply even if your reason for cancellation is covered within the policy.

In the event of a disputed travel insurance claim, consumers can complain to the company directly, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service, or take legal action against the company. Many lawyers specialise in travel insurance law and can offer advice regarding the likelihood of success and whether there are grounds for taking legal action. Although such claims and complaints to the FOS can be successful, it can increase distress during a difficult time if your insurance does not provide the cover you assumed it would whilst you’re travelling. To avoid this, consumers should take time to compare policies, assess their terms and conditions and discuss additional cover in order to ensure they obtain an appropriate level of cover and can fully rely on their travel insurance should they be forced to use it. n

This post has been provided by Travel Lawyers at ASB Law.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Article on revised judgment in Simmons v Castle @thelegalterrier

I've just done an article for a blog I write for a firm of solicitors on the revised judgment of the Court of Appeal in Simmons v Castle. You can read it here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Recommendation: Porterhouse Blue by Tom Sharpe

Porterhouse College is world renowned for its gastronomic excellence, the arrogance of its Fellows, its academic mediocrity and the social cachet it confers on the athletic sons of county families. Sir Godber Evans, ex-Cabinet Minister and the new Master, is determined to change all this. Spurred on by his politically angular wife, Lady Mary, he challenges the established order and provokes the wrath of the Dean, the Senior Tutor, the Bursar and, most intransigent of all, Skullion the Head Porter - with hilarious and catastrophic results.

Available from Amazon

Thursday, October 11, 2012

PlusNet's supposed customer service @PlusNet

Am I the only one suffering from Plus.Net's customer service? Moved into a new house and the broadband worked. Then it dropped and when I rang up I was told that they would get back to me within 72 hours (yes, three days). Despite the fact that I'd read they get back within about five minutes, it did indeed take around two days or so. Even then, they only managed to start the landline and said it'd be five to seven days for the broadband. Despite the delay, when I asked for someone to keep me updated, I was simply told it would be 5-7 days and that was that. Yet when I rang later the following day I was again told it would be five to seven days and that I'd actually just been sitting in a queue and that (coincidentally) it had just been actioned as I phoned. So from making my order it could be just under three weeks and from moving in just under two weeks.

The irony is that when we have a problem in our business we see it as an opportunity to show people how good we are at dealing with that problem. This approach has the potential to turn a frustrated customer into a loyal fan of your product. Very odd that this wasn't happening with Plus.Net, particularly when they actually seem to be selling their service on the basis of customer service.

Sponsored post: New trend for splitboards

 Skiers will always give you their reasons why skiing is so much better than snowboarding. And while most snowboarders take this on the chin, there is one advantage of skiing. That is, the ability of skiers to go uphill by using skins on the bottom of their skis. Uphill skiing is part of the sport of ski touring. But now snowboarders have the solution. A splitboard is a snowboard that can be split in half to create skis for “skiing uphill”, before putting the board back together for the ultimate thrills of snowboarding down again.

What is ski touring?Until now, back country skiing and ski touring have mostly been the preserve of the skier. With skinned up skis, skiers can ascend and traverse snow-packed mountains. Taking the skins off then allows skiers to come back downhill. For snowboarders, it’s always been a bit of a compromise. Walking uphill is aided by “comfier than skiing” boots but the weight and shape of the snowboard has meant that carrying the board is slow and hard-going.

Now the splitboard overcomes the problem.Take an ordinary snowboard, the designers have split it vertically in half to create something resembling two fat skis. Skin up these fat skis and the snowboarder can leave the busy lifts behind, skiing up pristine faces of untouched snow using manpower alone. At the top, the "skis" slot back together to form a normal board for the run back down. And as any snowboarder can tell you, nothing beats the feeling of floating sideways through deep powder. Gone are the days when snowboarders can only look on in envy as skiers skin up and ski uphill, because now it’s the turn of the snowboarders to make skiers jealous! If you heading off skiing this year make sure you visit, they have a great range of ski clothing, helmets and accessories.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What will firms do when the referral fee ban comes in?

I've just done an article for a blog I write for a firm of solicitors on how firms might react to the referral fee ban. You can read it here.

Alternatives to Banking for Business Finance

Brought to you by our friends at Osborne Clarke

Whilst many companies have relied on bank loans to finance growth in previous years, the majority of businesses are now forced to look elsewhere when considering funding.  As banks continue to reduce their lending, businesses are using other methods of financing in order to expand. Fortunately for businesses, there are a number of alternative methods which can be used to finance company growth and expansion.

Over the past year there have been various high profile deals involving alternative forms of finance. These highlight the options available to companies planning to expand without relying on bank loans. For example, the securitisation of Centre Parcs has enabled the company to manage their existing sites and potentially develop others using the money generated from the deal. Whilst the nature of the business and the stable revenue history made securitisation a viable option for Centre Parks, this may not be the case for other businesses which may need to consider different funding options.

The growing retail bond market can enable companies to generate long term funding, as evidence by the People for Places retail bond issuance earlier this year. By securing funding for long term growth, the company is able to operate strategically and meet future demand with the aim of increasing revenue without relying on the bank.

Companies with existing assets may seek to release capital from these assets to enable them to expand over upcoming years. In order to access funds, Tesco arranged a sale and leaseback transaction involving approximately £450 million of their UK property assets. They have created and sold the assets to a joint venture between Tesco and its pension scheme who will then lease the property back to Tesco. The funds generated from the deal will allow Tesco to carry out their plans for further growth.

With banks continuing to limit their lending, there has been an increase in the availability of alternative forms of lending. Whilst securitisation, the retail bond market and the use of existing assets to release funds all provide viable options for obtaining capital, there are a variety of opportunities available to businesses hoping to implement their plans for expansion. Companies who broker deals whilst the non-bank lending industry continues to grow are likely to find the best deals and generate the best return as a result. Although the reluctance of banks to lend may have initially led to valid concern for many businesses, the increase in alternative forms of lending will allow companies to operate effectively whilst continuing to grow, enabling them to achieve their original and overriding objective. 

Osborne Clarke is an international law firm and has a specialist legal team with a focus on banking law

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Recommendation: Food for Free by Richard Mabey

Illustrated throughout with stunning colour photographs this fully-revised edition of a Collins bestseller explains the best ways to make use of the foods we can find in the wild. Food for Free by Richard Mabey was first published in 1972, since then it has been reprinted 11 times. An all-colour, revised version produced in 1989 has sold over 30,000 copies in the trade. A guide to over 200 types of food that can be gathered in the wild in Britain, Food for Free explores the history and folklore of the foods as well as explaining how we identify them and the best ways to cook and eat them. The new edition will bring the subject right up to date. Organized by season rather than food type Food for Free will take us through the year. Richard Mabey’s fully-revised text will be accompanied by stunning photographs, new recipes and a wealth of practical information on collecting, cooking and preparing. Beautifully illustrated, beautifully written and produced in a new, larger format Food for Free is designed to inspire us to take more notice of what is around us, how we can make use of it and how we can conserve it for future generations.
Available from Amazon

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book recommendation: 'Kiss and Tell' by TJ Cooke

With his first novel, TJ Cooke introduces us to Jill Shadow, the accidental lawyer with a past she wants to stay hidden. But despite her best efforts, it catches up with her at the speed of a hurtling train and threatens not only her but her daughter Hannah. The various strands of both her personal and professional life slowly become inextricably linked until all becomes clear as the book reaches its climax. This a crime thriller with soul and a page-turner to boot. I am sure this is not the last we'll see of this tenacious lawyer. Highly recommended! You can buy it for the Kindle at