A guide to workplace compensation claims in the UK

In the UK, all businesses and employers are required to have insurance in case anybody is injured while working. Since your claim is covered by your employer’s insurance, you will not be claiming directly against the employer as long as valid insurance is in place.

The following guide will provide answers to many of the questions that you have been searching for. If you would like additional information, don’t hesitate to consult an experienced accident at work solicitor for your free consultation.

Who is entitled to make a claim?

If you have sustained an injury in a work-related accident, you are entitled to claim compensation. If you are over 18 years, you can file the claim yourself with an experienced solicitor.  Solicitors can also handle claims for persons under 18 years, but in such cases, a litigation friend has to be appointed who is usually a close friend, parent, or family member. The litigation friend deals with the solicitor on the case on behalf of the victim. If the victim died after the injury, the dependants could claim on his or her behalf for the loss of dependency.

How do you file a claim for accident at work compensation?

It is quite simple to make your claim with a professional solicitor. The solicitor deals with all the paperwork and corresponding, including filing the court proceedings if needed. You will usually not be at financial risk since most solicitors have a no-win no fee guarantee.

You can also rely on a professional solicitor’s strict client confidentiality. The primary concern for every professional solicitor is ensuring that you can get back to full fitness, which means recovering the best payout possible from the insurers.

How much compensation are you entitled to receive?

One of the first questions that people have about their claim is the amount of compensation they are entitled to. The solicitor will take all the specific circumstances into consideration as well as the guidelines from the Judicial Studies Board to put a value on your case that can be expected as compensation from the insurers.

The most common injuries in the workplace include back related injuries, trip, fall & slip, or injuries as a result of faulty machinery, equipment or clothing. The accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries of varying severity. The solicitor will give you an indication of the levels of compensation you are entitled to with the amounts depending on the length of symptoms and seriousness of the injury.

When it comes to determining the appropriate amount of compensation for your claim, the solicitor also considers any loss of earning, out of pocket expenses, and medical costs you are likely to incur after the injury. The compensation amount can increase significantly in the more serious cases where lifestyle adaptations are required, or ongoing support is needed.

It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that each worker is protected at work and the area in which employees work is maintained to a safe condition. If you have suffered an injury at your place of work due to the lack of safety equipment or adequate training from your employer, you most likely have a genuine claim for workplace compensation.

How much time do you have to file the claim?

The sooner you file your claim, the better it will be since the incident will still be fresh in your mind. However, as long as your injury was discovered within the last three years, most solicitors are willing to accept your case and work to get the best payout possible for you from the insurance companies.

All injuries at your place of work should be recorded no matter how small they are. Businesses are required to maintain an accident book for keeping a record of incidents that occur on the property. You should also try finding witnesses to the accident and take pictures of the accident scene since it makes it easier to build a compensation claim.

The bottom line: you should choose the right solicitor to represent you

If you have sustained an injury at your place of work, you should get in touch with an experienced solicitor to help you file your claim and get the compensation you are entitled to. Smith Jones solicitors represent clients on a no-win no-fee basis to ensure that everybody has equal access to justice, which means that you have nothing to lose!

How to get a UK student visa

UK student vsa - London

Following the Brexit vote there has been a degree of confusion as to who will or will not need a student visa to study in the UK. As far as education goes, there is little room to leave things to chance and it is much better to ensure that all the boxes have been ticked before you arrive, rather than to take any unnecessary risks. Here we look at how to get a UK student visa.

Who needs a student visa?

UK visa requirements and overall immigration matters are governed by UK Visas and Immigration. With eligibility and requirements dependant on your nationality and other factors, we recommend you use their online facility to check if you need a visa. Alternatively, you can contact our friendly visa team.

Student visa types

There are differing types of visa, and each may or may not apply to your course. If you are over 18 years of age and studying a short-term course then you may qualify for the short-term visa. This is valid for courses up to 6 months but may be extended to 11 months for English language course.

Longer courses are different. Firstly you need to ensure that the place at which you are studying holds the correct licence. It will need a tier 4 licence. If you are aged 4-17 you may need a Tier 4 child licence; If you are older than 16 you may need a Tier 4 general licence.

Requirements

You can apply up to 3 months in advance of the course. Visas are granted on a points-based system and in order to qualify, you will need the following documents:

  • Passport
  • A recent photograph
  • Details of the course provider – at tier 4 or above
  • Proof of English language skills, satisfied by taking the SELT (Secure English Language Test). However, students from English-speaking countries like the USA will not need this proof, likewise if you have a previous degree from an English-speaking country.
  • Proof of Financial support – this can be from a sponsor, or bank showing you can meet the fees, accommodation and living costs. Outside of London this constitutes £1,015 per month and in London £1,265.
  • You may need to produce evidence of your qualifications, attend an interview and even pass a biometric test, and, depending on your country of origin, show proof of vaccinations/test for TB.
  • Under 18 needs proof of consent from your parents/guardian.
  • You will need the Tier 4 visa as above.

Student visa fees

Currently the Tier 4 runs at £328 with an additional £328 per dependent. A healthcare surcharge of £150 per year is payable in addition. A 6-month student visa is £89 and an 11-month student visa is £170.

Usage

Your passport will be stamped setting out the duration of your stay. You are not permitted to stay beyond this period, which will exceed the total length of the course.

Police

Some will need to register with the police. This must be done within 7 days of arrival.

Work

You may need permission to work if you are from Croatia or outside the EU. If you are on a Tier 4 visa, you may work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time at Easter/Christmas – though 16 and 17 year-olds have a restriction of 10 hours.

It would be simple if there were standardised rules for all students looking to study in the UK, but that simply isn’t the case. You need to ensure that you check and satisfy all of the criteria before you commit to a course.

If you’d like a consultation regarding your eligibility and the process required for obtaining a student visa, you can email our visa team for a free assessment here.

How could legal aid rules affect future family law cases?

Legal issues concerning many aspects of family life have made the news lately. Arguably the most prominent involves the leading judge Sir James Munby, whose recent opinions on a case involving a vulnerable teenager shone a light on social care cases. In an unusual step, Mr Munby spoke about how if a girl would be forced out of care, the consequences would be dire.

The growing frustrations expressed even by those in high-ranking positions with the High Court suggests that changes are afoot throughout the legal sphere. Many of them centre around changes to Legal Aid, which is set to be pared back for many people.

Those most likely to be affected by any cuts are people with social care, custody and divorce cases to fight. The current scheme has enabled many poorer claimants to attend court cases by providing them with the necessary funding for proper legal representation. In scaling down Legal Aid, there could be a very real possibility that those people may be left with few options.

Self-representation

Mr Munby himself has tackled the government over their proposals to cut Legal Aid. His pleas had fallen on deaf ears, with the government’s initial decision from 2013 proving final. Since then, a string of stories about the impact of those cuts have surfaced. Aside from potentially putting an obstacle in front of poorer claimants, there is another knock-on effect.

Some of those going to family courts to resolve divorce proceedings, social care cases and the like are often left with little choice but to represent themselves. Rather than hiring family law experts, claimants are looking to go to court unassisted. This carries a number of risks, not least the possibility that many going down this route are likely to be ill-prepared.

Whilst self-representation is unorthodox, this won’t deter family law courts from turning down cases. Presently, there is no legal framework stopping claimants from representing themselves. It is a last resort, but for someone to go down this route, they need to do plenty of research and must argue their case in a controlled manner.

New approach

As more people look to represent themselves, divorce law specialists may need to change their approach. Regardless of how deep cuts to Legal Aid may be, trying to attract clients who seek a more cost-effective solution might benefit from receiving general legal advice rather than fully-blown representation in court.

With laws changing, there seems to be a shift in attitudes too, particularly when it comes to divorce. The most recent figures issued by the Office for National Statistics reveal that divorce rates in England and Wales are falling. Perhaps this is down to couples solving their problems or looking at alternatives, but whatever the reason, law cases of this nature will likely change.

As for the courts, whether social welfare cases are done on an individual basis or centred around a major event such as the Grenfell Tower fire, they seem certain to deal with a high volume of people trying to reach settlements.

They will need to change their approach as well, making sure that those representing themselves act in accordance with court etiquette. Also, they need to ensure that those claimants won’t end up being short-changed due to their lack of legal nous.

 

Free Deputy Development Day for Local Authorities

the-microphone

The first Finders International Deputy Development Day for local authorities is to take place next month on Thursday 14th September (9am to 3.30pm) at the Holiday Inn, Regents Park, London.

The theme for the day is how to establish links between the public and private sectors, and speakers will discuss how the two can find ways of working together. The event is open to all local authorities in England and Wales.

One of the issues to be discussed will be changes to welfare benefits, often a source of stress for clients, especially those who rely on disability benefits where the changes to personal independent payments are having a profound effect on some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Tracy Atkinson, the welfare benefits and personal injury trust manager from Frenkel Topping, will be updating delegates on the changes and advising what can be done to assist their clients.

Forensic investigator Paul Smith will be discussing his work that looks into elder abuse, while Alison Taylor from Frenkel Topping will outline the topic of investment for people in later life about funding care.

The myths and mysteries surrounding the Senior Courts Costs Office are also on the agenda for the day. Local authorities often work for fixed fees but can apply for the costs to be assessed if more work is involved – giving them the potential to raise income.

Representatives from the Office of the Public Guardian will be on hand to discuss the new OPG102 online submission system as well as representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions. We have invited representatives from the Court of Protection to attend the open forum in the afternoon.

The day’s agenda also includes a talk on what Finders International can offer public sector clients. We have a proven track record, and we have worked with many councils, hospitals and care homes in cases where someone dies and appears to have no will or known next of kin. We also have the Finders International Funeral Fund, which can be used to help subsidise the costs of public health funerals.

Dave Lockwood, Finders’ newly appointed public sector development manager, said: “This is a chance for colleagues in the public sector to mingle with those in the private sector and discover how both sides can flourish in partnership. We want this day to help our colleagues and support them at a time when they face increased pressures and ever-dwindling resources.”

David has extensive experience in the public sector, having worked in four local authorities in London and the South East, dealing with various services and ongoing legislation changes. He has also acted as a deputy to the Court of Protection and is well-versed in the complexities of dealing with providing funerals under the Public Health Act.

A maximum of three delegates from each local authority can attend, and lunch will be provided, as well as refreshments throughout the day. If you’d like to attend, you can register here.

Delegates who would like to ask a question of the experts in the open forum should submit questions in advance. You can do so by emailing David Lockwood – David.Lockwood@findersinternational.co.uk

The Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill – what is domestic violence?

pui uroOf the 27 proposed bills included in the Queen’s Speech delivered on 21 June 2017, the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill was perhaps the one that piqued family law practitioners’ interest the most.

The bill, it is claimed, will protect victims and ensure that they have the ‘confidence to come forward and report their experiences….’. The bill also proposes establishing a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner, acting as an ‘independent watchdog’, who would stand up for the interests of victims and survivors of domestic abuse. The Commissioner would monitor the response of the authorities and help keep victims safe from domestic violence perpetrators.

Furthermore, it is proposed that there would be potential for longer sentences for those convicted of domestic violence against children, as well as those cases involving an aggravated offence, potentially allowing judges to hand out tougher sentences.

The proposal will also include a clear definition of ‘domestic violence’ so that victims can easily identify themselves as victims of domestic abuse and take action accordingly. Currently, domestic violence and abuse is defined as:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional”

Whilst many of us are familiar with identifying physical and sexual abuse, there are many who would not be able to identify themselves as victims where such abuse is of broader psychological, emotional or financial nature. For example, where a spouse or partner prohibits restricts the other from financial independence, may be considered as abuse and/or domestic violence. Further examples might include perpetrators restricting access to money, where financial activity is controlled or monitored through bank accounts or even where one party is asking the other to account for each and every penny spent – all such similar scenarios might be considered variations of financial abuse.

These different forms of abuse can often be extremely subtle, leading to difficulties with victims identifying themselves as suffering from domestic violence. Financial and psychological abuse is most effective over prolonged periods of time and typically, tends to worsen once the perpetrator has established a position of trust and authority.

Physical violence does not always follow other forms of domestic violence or abuse. Many perpetrators find they do not need to resort to physical abuse if for example, psychological or financial abuse is effective in controlling their partner.

The Office of National Statistics states that 53% of unsuccessful prosecutions in domestic violence cases were due to victims retracting their evidence, not attending hearings or not supporting the case.

It is widely recognised that domestic violence and abuse remains under-reported. The Crime Survey for the year ending March 2015 showed that 4 in 5 victims of domestic violence do not report abuse to the police. The lack of reporting to the appropriate authorities is often as a result of control and fear, lack of confidence that the relevant authorities will take action against the perpetrator and lack of understanding about what is considered as domestic violence and abuse.

In December 2016, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, called for a bar on victims of domestic violence being cross-examined by their perpetrators in court. Munby urged for reform following an investigation by The Guardian, which revealed that women faced questioning in family proceedings by the men who had abused then. Following the post-LASPO austerity drive and cuts to public funding, victims and perpetrators alike are frequently finding themselves unrepresented in the family court. Sir James Munby proposes a complete ban on cross-examination of victims by perpetrators in family cases, in accordance with the provisions in criminal proceedings, but such proposals would require changes in primary legislation. In addition, Sir Oliver Heald, Minister for Courts and Justice, has confirmed his commitment to review the availability of legal aid by April 2018.

The introduction of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill comes as a welcome relief to many charities and organisations dealing with victims of domestic abuse. It is anticipated that the bill will bring about a greater awareness and understanding of domestic violence, which is all too often associated only with physical or sexual abuse, but it is clearly one, small step in a long journey to address the difficulties that victims face.

This article was written by Pui Uro, solicitor and partner at Hunter and Uro Solicitors in London and Bedford.

6 out of 10 separations ignore the law and go straight to court – why it is important to mediate

phil hunterSince 06 April 2011, following the breakdown of a marriage, all couples were supposed to have considered mediation before turning to the court to settle disputes relating to their children or family finances. There has long been provision for exemption to this rule, including cases involving domestic violence or child protection issues, which would still go directly to court. This ADR step became mandatory in private law applications, following the implementation of the Family and Children Act 2013, making attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) mandatory from April 2014.

Following a recent Freedom of Information request, National Family Mediation obtained data illustrating that 60% of separated couples still ignore their MIAM obligations. From some 89,886 private law applications to the family court, only 35,627 had correctly followed the MIAM process.

NFM conducted some very similar investigations two years after the 2013 Act came into force, which demonstrated that in the region of 22% of private law applications complied with the MIAM obligation. This was an improvement itself on the 2015 figures (7%) and so the trend is certainly moving in the right direction.

Nevertheless, NFM, who conduct over 35,000 MIAMs a year, queried whether solicitors are encouraging clients to exempt themselves from mediation and whether the courts are properly monitoring applications or using their powers to direct separating couples to attend a MIAM.

Certainly, there will be circumstances wherein ADR of any sort is sadly not suitable or available for a party in a particular case. This might, for example, be on grounds of geographical location or the urgency of the application in hand – exemptions will also be appropriate for some parties.

The benefits of mediation are widely familiar to all practitioners. For the uninitiated, in cases with successful mediation outcomes, agreements between parties are generally achieved quicker and at a lower overall cost to the parties. However, MIAM, mediation and in fact ADR in general, will not serve as a panacea to all disputes and the courts will always be required to operate as an institution of last resort.

NFM’s Freedom of Information request, processed by the Ministry of Justice in May 2017 also demonstrated that almost 73% of financial remedy applications did comply with the MIAM requirement (36,461 from a total of 50,261). Clearly, private law children applications are the stumbling block to improving the overall MIAM compliance picture.

In June 2017, CAFCASS reported their largest monthly increase in private law instructions for over three years, up 12% to almost 4,000 instructions to the month end. The latest data from the Family Court Statistics Quarterly further demonstrates the continued rise in private children law applications, which is up over 20% in just two years – (2015 Q1: 10,547, 2016 Q1: 11,515, 2017 Q1: 12,796).

In private law matters regarding children, the court has a duty not to delay under s.1(2) CA 1989 and so the idea of referring parents that are in dispute back to a MIAM attendance is not a particularly attractive proposition, but should the court “gatekeepers” be doing more to ease the congestion of cases currently faced by the court?

In the face of an ever-increasing demand for court services, at odds with court closures and the reduced resources available, is it right that the appetite of gate-keeping staff for a rigorous application of the MIAM obligations should be questioned? Decimating court resources will inevitably impact on the court service provided. This has now led to a prioritisation of the work that the court service can provide. The wider picture appears to reflect CAFCASS’ recent statement on the “Guidance of the use of Professional Time to Benefit Children” and the reduction in services being provided in the future.

Tacitly, it may be that MIAM compliance is overlooked by gate-keepers, simply attempting to operate a “light touch” service that their reduced resources will only currently allow. Solicitors and mediators alike, should continue to work hand in hand and bang the proverbial drum extoling the benefits of mediation to parties in dispute.

This article was written by Philip Hunter of Hunter and Uro Solicitors in London and Bedford.

A cheating partner: the worst kind of betrayal

In the hectic modern world, a stable home life is something we all yearn for. We want to find our life partner, get married, and presume to take their faithfulness for granted. But it’s not always so. After all, where would arts and music be without marital infidelity?

Same Old Scene

It may make for a great soundtrack, but a cheating lover can be a heart-breaking and trust-shattering experience for the partner who’s spurned. Worst of all, when the cheating happens in secret but a faint aura of suspicion pollutes the kitchen at breakfast time, it can build into a devastating relationship breakdown. So what do you do? Ignore it or confront them?

Innocent or Not?

Your partner is working later than usual and going on long trips. A colleague calls after hours and they chat and laugh more than is strictly appropriate. Your partner is defensive and protective over computer passwords. What’s going on? One way to find out is to hire a private investigator.

Love Is the Drug

At Insight, our highly trained private investigators are used to making discreet enquiries anywhere in the world. We can undertake surveillance, either in person or electronically, to find out what’s going on. Loved-up couples always leave a trail, allowing a private eye to put together a portfolio of evidence. You can then approach your partner, certain in the knowledge that they are at fault.

Dance Away

Happily though, there’s often a perfectly satisfactory explanation for their behaviour. Your partner’s motives are entirely honourable and you feel like a fool. But you’ve got your evidence and you never had to broach the subject. So you can put your suspicions aside and get back to living, loving and enjoying your relationship, trust renewed.

More Than This

At Insight Investigations we have over thirty years’ experience of investigating a whole range of situations. So whether you suspect your partner of cheating or you already know and want concrete proof, contact us today.

The legal locum market is booming

LR Legal

The Legal locum market is booming. Firms of all sizes are increasingly seeing the benefits of sourcing qualified legal assistance on a locum basis, but what is the locum-motive?

There are a variety of unavoidable scenarios, where a locum can be the perfect solution. When a partner goes on a long summer holiday, a sabbatical or maternity leave, small and medium firms can really feel the pinch. Hiring a locum solicitor can also help with a specific project or a temporary increase in your workload, which can provide multiple advantages. You get the benefit of obtaining an experienced, flexible solicitor who is used to adapting to new environments and getting to grips with projects quickly. This is someone who can add value to your team immediately. Locums are also invaluable as an interim measure during the recruitment process. This prevents your talent acquisition decisions being made in haste, and allows the work to be done in advance of the new team member entering the firm. Whatever your motivation, LR Legal Recruitment is ideally placed to help solve your needs.

Historically, there has been a reluctance to use locums based largely on the view that no-one knows the cases as well as the regular fee-earner. Sourcing a locum through LR Legal Recruitment, you can be rest assured that the quality of each professional on our books will be extremely high, and capable of understanding and tackling the cases presented to them. We have moved away from the perception that locum candidates may be of lower quality than their permanent counterparts. Locums today are no longer viewed as inferior, but rather as highly flexible, motivated and adaptable individuals. People are becoming locums as a career decision rather than accepting the role passively due to lack of options in the job market. By electing to be a locum, individuals are taking control over their work life balance and are no longer slavishly following the traditionally long hours of regular employment. Many locums are choosing to work for a portion of the year, before spending the remaining months abroad.

Due to the nature of locum work, the individuals that are attracted to it are highly adaptable and are excellent at understanding and taking on a caseload, with immediate effect. Some former city partners are interim locums, between permanent jobs, while others are professional locums who would never consider a permanent position. The best locums tend to be a certain type of lawyer – someone who is not only technically excellent but has a real flair for business development. Hiring a locum can give you access to a top-quality lawyer without needing to maintain a high-end position for that individual. This can be exceptionally useful in a variety of scenarios.

With the world becoming more instant, the days of expecting your clients to wait for long periods of time are past us. Hiring a locum to keep you on top of your workload if you experience sudden fluctuation in you work flow, is an excellent solution to keep your clients happy, and retain their services. People have become less loyal and are more inclined to move firms if they feel the service they are receiving is not within their stringent time frames. So if you are experiencing sudden expansion, maintaining client satisfaction needs to be considered a top priority. Hiring a locum is an economically viable solution, when you consider the cost of losing good clients.

Locums are a perfect solution for providing cover for sickness or maternity leave and they are often hired to provide an extra resource for transaction, litigation deadlines or sudden bursts of client activity. More specifically, locums can cover gaps, in the capability of, and provide relief to, permanent associates during the often long, and occasionally contentious search for a new permanent team member. The use of a locum can help smooth over the on-boarding process of a new employee, keeping the workload up to date, while the new employee can take their time to understand the operating system of their new firm. Clients who choose to do this take the view that locum cover for a difficult-to-fill permanent vacancy will allow them to be less reactive and more discerning in finding the ideal talent for their team. The costs associated with making a bad employment arrangement are notoriously high, so providing your firm with the time to make a well-considered decision is an economically advantageous situation to be in.

The market for good locums is recession proof. In an economic downturn, In-house, private practice and local government sectors will want to keep their fixed overheads under control so permanent hires may not be possible. Likewise, at the beginning of an economic upturn, initial uncertainty may mean firms do not want to commit to adding to headcount, and a locum is an obvious solution. This makes being a locum a wise decision as the fluctuations in the employment market are well documented. Many locums enjoy exciting openings in firms that may not have previously been available to them in the permanent job market.

The legal profession is slightly behind other sectors in taking advantage of temporary and flexible contracts but the tide is changing and the concept evolving. For firms looking to expand, or deal with a sudden influx of work, the hiring of a locum is an ideal solution. Likewise firms who are wishing to restructure, or re-orient their offerings can use locums to provide a good service for their clients, while they move their firm onto its new trajectory.

With both parties benefitting, the future for locum arrangements is only getting brighter. In  world in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to juggle the work-life balance, this can only continue to strengthen. It seems to be a case of ‘All Aboard!’ unless you want to be left behind.

LR Legal Recruitment LogoAbout us, we have over 15 years of specialist legal recruitment experience and a unique hiring and induction process that ensures we engage the best talent for each sector of law we provide for. With our extensive network of locums and other highly trained individuals, we have a range of talent waiting to be placed. Due to the expansion of the locum market, we have developed a network of highly engaged professionals. As we maintain and improve our relationships we are in the position to know who is looking for a new opening, and which firms are considering a locum. This relationship with our clients means that we will often have the ideal candidate waiting for you. With our understanding of what motivates people, we can help you to choose the right individual to fit in with the ethos of your firm.

To discuss what every law firm should know about locums, whether you are a locum, or are looking to recruit one, please contact LR Legal Recruitment for an initial confidential discussion on 0208 464 2503. To learn more about what we do, please visit our website www.lrlegalrecruitment.co.uk.

Considering a pre packed sale? Know your legal responsibilities

What is a pre pack?

Before we start, let’s be clear exactly what a pre pack sale is. A pre pack sale is a sale of a business that has entered into Administration, with the sale being effected almost immediately after the Administrators have been appointed – in most cases, this is usually the very same day. The term “pre pack” is used, given that virtually all of the negotiations to buy the business are completed pre the appointment of the Administrators. Once the Administrators are formally appointed, they then have the legal powers to complete the sale.

Sounds all a bit odd? Not really – in most such cases, speed is absolutely vital in ensuring the survivability of the business, especially with one that has significant financial problems. In such circumstances, very few if any prospective Administrators like trading on – the risks are just too great. There are exceptions – BHS, Woolworths etc. – those companies had huge amounts of stock that could easily be sold through their own retail outlets.

The pre pack time lines

Let’s look now at the mechanics and key issues to consider when thinking about a potential pre pack Administration. The time line works something like this:

  • The company directors recognise the company has problems and seeks out the help of a reputable insolvency practitioner. Alternatively, the company’s bankers/lenders decide that the directors need advice and recommend that an Insolvency Practitioner should consult with them.
  • The directors and IP meet so that the IP can get a better understanding of what the company does, what its problems are, and what solutions are available.
  • Assuming that a pre pack sale of the business is the most viable option, and the one that returns the most to creditors, then the planning for this process begins.
  • The IP will organise a valuation of the company’s assets, whilst the directors look to secure the funding to buy the assets back and then to continue trading.
  • Once the valuations and funding are finalised, the IP will arrange for his solicitor to send to the directors’ solicitor, a draft sales agreement – usually referred to as the SPA – sale and purchase agreement.
  • Once the terms are finalised in draft, the IP will then assist the directors in completing the relevant forms to formally appoint the IP as Administrator.
  • As soon as the Administrator is appointed, he will then immediately complete the sale of the business.
  • Depending on the size of company and its complexity, pre packs are usually completed within two to three weeks of the IP first being consulted.

The legal considerations

The main legal requirement of any pre-packaged sale, is that it must be the deal that returns the most back to creditors. However, there are some transactions where that simply will not be possible, given that after paying secured creditors and the costs of the Administrator, there will be no surplus funds available.

When the Enterprise Act came into force , it abolished the right of HM Revenue & Customs to be preferential creditors. To partially compensate for this and also, to try and return some funds to unsecured creditors, the provision dealing with the “prescribed part” became law. Basically in all Administrations, the Administrator has to put to one side a proportion of the sales proceeds in order that a dividend can be paid to the unsecured creditors. This is worked out by reference to the “net property”. The net property is the amount realised for none charged assets, after the costs associated with the realisation have been deducted. The Administrator must then take 50% of the first £10,000 of net property and 20% of the balance up to a maximum of £600,000, and use this to pay a dividend to unsecured creditors. Let’s say that the Administrator has realised £100,000 for stock, and other assets that are not charged. His costs amount to £20,000, so the net property is therefore £80,000. The prescribed part is therefore £19,000, being 50% of the first £10,000 (£5,000) and 20% of the next £70,000 (£14,000).

Another key consideration are the SIPs that any IP must work with – Statement of Insolvency Practice. These are effectively best practice guidelines that all IPs must follow. The two key SIPs that affect pre pack Administrations are SIP 16 and SIP3. SIP 16 deals with all of the relevant issues affecting how an Administrator goes about effecting a pre pack sale. SIP 16 covers the following key points:

  • The IP must be clear as to his role in giving advice to the company pre appointment and his role post appointment in acting as Administrator.
  • The IP must inform the directors of the existence of the pre pack pool and recommend that the directors submit their proposal for pre pack sale to the pre pack pool. The directors are under no legal obligation to submit their plans to the pre pack pool, although doing so does help with the issue of transparency.
  • Independent professional valuations of the company’s assets should be organised by the IP.
  • The IP/Administrator must demonstrate that he has marketed the business to the widest possible audience – the guidelines on this are fairly strict and are given in an appendix attached to SIP 16.
  • The Administrator must within 7 days of the transaction completing, issue a comprehensive report to all creditors explaining why the pre-packaged sale was in the best interest of creditors.

SIP 13 deals with transactions with connected parties – as most pre packs are with existing directors, then this SIP will usually also apply. This SIP is not as detailed as SIP 16 and the key issue is that the Administrator must demonstrate that, by completing a sale of the business back to the directors, that he has acted in the best interests of the creditors.

General considerations

Most of the onus for ensuring that a pre-packaged sale complies with statute and the relevant SIPs, falls mainly on the IP/Administrator. That said, you do need comfort that the IP/Administrator has complied with all relevant statutes/SIPs etc. to ensure that there’s no comeback later on. The best way to ensure that you are protected is to engage a suitably qualified lawyer to act on your behalf – ideally, one that has some insolvency knowledge.

For most directors looking to complete a pre-packaged sale, the most important issue is finance – how to fund the actual acquisition of the business and then how to fund trading in the new business until cash flow kicks in. These issues are best addressed with your own accountants. It is an issue though, that you must have resolved before contemplating a pre-packaged sale/purchase – very few Administrators give credit!

Richard Saville is a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner with Corporate Financial Solutions. He has over 40 years of experience helping companies large and small who may be experiencing financial problems. Richard takes pride helping to save struggling businesses and return them to profitability. He has an extremely broad knowledge across most industries having effectively dealt with pretty much every type of business around!

Concerned about Brexit? Find out how an immigration lawyer can help you obtain EEA Permanent Residence

Since the EU referendum in 2016 there has been a lot of hysteria, media outrage and panic. EAA nationals have been caught in the crossfire of politicians and voters with their livelihoods used as bargaining chips. Due to the uncertainty and instability it is sensible advice for any EEA national and their family members to secure a document certifying their permanent residence. By obtaining Permanent Residence, an EEA national will guarantee their long-term rights in the UK and only be one step away from British Citizenship. In previous years, EEA nationals could apply direct for British citizenship after 6 years of exercising treaty rights, but rule changes in recent years have required proof of EEA PR first.

Do I need legal advice?

Like many tasks in life, people can do these themselves. Many people file their own taxes, fix their plumbing problems or repair their car. For many others, they understand that seeking help from an accountant, a plumber or a mechanic is the right thing to do. This avoids costly mistakes down the line. It may appear that by doing these tasks an individual can save themselves money, but it’s when it all goes wrong the problem quickly escalates. Would you want to install faulty brakes on your car and find you can’t stop on the motorway? The same reason applies to seeking legal advice. You will receive help from a professional who is experienced and knowledgeable. With immigration, the stakes are higher. Mistakes can mean losing jobs, families being separated and having to leave the UK.

What if I’ve already been refused an EEA application?

Previous refusals don’t mean you don’t qualify. It only means that you need to address any short fall in documents, procedures or wait until you meet the specific criteria. Immigration lawyers can always explain a refusal and help you work through any problems with your application. A prior refusal does not mean that you will have a black mark or problem with further applications.

What help can I receive if I’m an EEA citizen in the UK?

If you are considering making your status in the UK permanent, the best option is to apply for EEA Permanent Residence. This is typically achieved through exercising treaty rights in the UK for 5 years, with the most common form being through work. Immigration advice would ensure that you are eligible to apply, you understand all the procedures and steps involved and what documents are suitable to prove you meet the requirements. Often, the minor details and specifics are what cause applicants’ problems. By having your documents assessed and your forms completed by a competent UK Immigration Advisor you will have peace of mind knowing that your application will be filed correctly.

How long does the process take?

Waiting times vary for EEA PR applications to be approved by the home office. Currently estimates are 3-6 months. Due to the lengthy time it takes to process and the uncertainly that lies ahead, it’s best to ensure you obtain your EEA PR certificate the first time around. EEA nationals can’t avail of the premium service centre same day route for these types of applications, leaving the only option to mail the application. If you want to ensure smooth sailing with your immigration matters, it’s best to seek expert legal advice.