How best to choose transcription services for court-ready documents

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People who work in the legal profession understand very well how important documents are, and how important the linguistic factors – even certain wordings – can make a big difference in the way a certain document is perceived. When it comes to the legal profession, the way documents (and transcripts) are prepared and presented can make a very big difference. It’s for this reason that you only want the best. In court, nothing less will do.

There is no doubt that transcription services are very useful. However, exactly because these documents are so important, it’s crucial that any transcriptions are done in the right way. Here’s how best to choose transcription services for court-ready documents.

The advantages of transcription services

The value of transcription, especially accurate transcription from a reputable UK transcription company, is easily understood; it ensures that you have on paper what is otherwise only established on tape or other audio/video equipment. It allows you to dissect and present the evidence in black and white.

The advantages of transcription services are equally clear: a lot of valuable time and money can be saved, which could otherwise be used for more pressing tasks – such as planning strategy, research, and compiling other forms of documentation.

How do you choose?

There are many services that provide what you are looking for, but the terms of the contract, the fees, and the quality of the finished product can be very different. To be sure you choose the right transcription service for your needs, here are some handy tips:

  • Confidentiality – Because you are in the legal arena, confidentiality is not just a promise given by a possible provider; it’s a downright requirement. Question your potential partners to see how they deal with this issue, whether they have had any problems in the past, and how they might have dealt with them.
  • Accuracy – One word can make a big difference; actually, the spelling of one particular word can make a very big difference. You want to make sure their transcription services deliver fully accurate transcriptions.
  • Customisation – They should be willing to adjust and deliver what you need in the format that you need it.
  • Costs – This may seem obvious, but you want an economical solution for a quick delivery.

Outsourcing your transcription needs is an excellent way of saving time and money, getting rid of chores that tie up time better spent on more important goals, and ensuring that everyone is on the right page. However, it’s crucial that the job is done right, and for this you need the right partner. Do your research and make sure you have questioned your prospective partner in detail – too much depends on it.

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Research settles age-old debate: property really was more affordable in your parents’ day

Despite salaries being higher, analysis of Government statistics verifies theory that it’s harder to get on the property ladder now than 20 years ago.

 It’s an age-old dispute: parents are eager for their grown-up children to get onto the property ladder and the twenty-something kids claim it’s not as easy as it was back in Mum and Dad’s heyday. But who is right?

To put an end to the debate once and for all, South Wales solicitors firm Howells has searched through house price history and income data from the Office for National Statistics to find out the truth.

The historic house price research found:

Properties are more expensive than ever – In 1980 the average home in the UK cost £24,000. By 1990, this had grown to £60,000, and ten years ago you could expect to pay just under £200,000.

As of June 2017, the average UK property costs £223,257.

House prices have risen well above inflation – In 1997, the average prospective homeowner could expect to pay up to 3.6 times their earnings on purchasing a home. Last year, the average person needed to pay around 7.6 times their earnings – more than double!

In this decade alone, residential property prices in England and Wales increased 259%, but median individual annual earnings grew just 68%.

First-time buyers are getting older – In the decade 2005/2006 to 2015/2016, the mean age of first time buyers rose from 31 to 32.

Looking even further back, in 1991, 67% of 25 to 34 year olds owned their own home, compared to just 36% in 2014. During the same period, the number of homeowners aged 16 to 24 dropped from 36% to 9%, and aged 35 to 44 fell from 78% to 59%.

Commenting on the results of this study and the effects it has had on the conveyancing industry, Tristan Lewis, Business Development Manager of Howells Solicitors said:

“With property prices considerably higher than twenty years ago, we have become familiar with the requirements of first time buyers for an affordable conveyancing service during these demanding times. However, the comparison of these values against income data has reiterated this further.

To combat these issues, Howells offers a fixed fee conveyancing service with no hidden extras and a no sale, no fee policy. We pride ourselves on making moving home as straight-forward as possible and look forward to helping even more people purchase their first home.”

Matt Stevens, Director of Mortgage Genie, shared his thoughts on Howells’ report. He advocates recent changes in the property finance industry and has added:

“Looking back to mortgages 20 years ago, it’s important to remember that August 1997 saw a Bank of England base rate of 7%. This saw an increase of 0.25% by November that year — an increase alone that is the equivalent of today’s base rate.

Since then, we’ve seen a continual expansion of the mortgage market, with more options and products for clients.

Over the last 20 years, we’ve also seen an increase in regulation, ensuring mortgages are much more carefully agreed. Plus, these days, clients have the opportunity to work with fully-qualified and regulated professionals, who are easily accessible and will always be willing to help. This is in stark contrast to the very limited options available to clients 20 years ago.”

Howells Solicitors offers expert legal advice in South Wales and beyond. With six offices across Wales, including its headquarters in Cardiff, Howells has the size, experience and knowledge of a large legal firm, with the personal service of a small organisation.

Find out more about Howells’ conveyancing services and get advice today by calling 0808 178 2773, or for further details on this press release view the full report here.

For more information on Howells Solicitors, or for further quotes, please contact Stephanie Lamerton at Steph@Libertymarketing.co.uk

Is NHS and Google’s data sharing a threat to patient confidentiality or a worthwhile risk?

deepmind-health-app

The news that Google’s DeepMind received a huge amount of personal data from the Royal Free London NHS Trust, was met with alarm and concern by the public and the 1.6 million patients whose confidential information was shared without consent.

But why was this data handed over by the NHS Trust? The Royal Free NHS Trust has been working alongside DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence company, in developing an app named Streams aimed at the prevention and treatment of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). The NHS Trust provided patient information in order for DeepMind to test the app with real-life data.

AKI occurs when sudden injury to the kidneys prevents the organ from working effectively and is initially symptomless and usually only detected through a rise in creatinine levels. As 13-18% of all patients admitted into hospital show signs of AKI, and 30% of those in critical care, it is a condition that is clearly a huge issue.

The severity of the condition and the sheer number of sufferers led to the Royal Free handing over confidential records to DeepMind, a decision that has prompted concern from the media, the public and the patients who may have been affected.

One of the primary concerns is the potential risk posed by private companies having access to confidential data. This is a very unpopular prospect with the public and questions have been raised about what a company could do with this data and how it may impact these patients. A specialist from a medical negligence law firm explains that whilst DeepMind’s app would lead to more efficient diagnosis of AKI and improved patient outcomes, this does not justify the fact that the Royal Free had provided this information without consent.

The seemingly increasing number of data breaches that hit newspaper headlines across the world is also a cause for worry. The prospect of a third party accessing this personal data is very problematic and one of the major factors behind the negative response that has greeted the news that the Royal Free had shared confidential information with DeepMind. Although Google and its subsidiary companies will have data protection methods in place, breaches can, and have, occurred in the past. For example, the personal data of Google employees has previously been accessed whilst user passwords have also been hacked.

Of course, the NHS itself has recently been the victim of a huge data breach. The cyber-attack that took place in early 2017 accessed the information of millions of patients across the UK. With this data breach still fresh in the minds of many, the public response to the decision by the Royal Free to share data with DeepMind has been even more vociferous.

The third major factor in the negative response from both the public and the media has been the concern regarding the relationship between Google and DeepMind. Although DeepMind has explicitly stated that this information has not been shared with Google, this message has not always been fully embraced by the media. As a result, many fear the repercussions of Google potentially having access to the intensely private information of over one million NHS patients. With the sheer amount of confidential data held on Google’s servers, questions have naturally arisen over what impact this may have on the long-term safety and interests of the patients who have been affected.

Understandably there have been significant concerns about this issue, but should the NHS Trust have handed over this data to DeepMind in the first place? And was it illegal to do so without the consent of the patients involved? According to Peter Wainman, an expert in law relating to technology and data, as DeepMind merely acted as a processor of this data, any issues regarding data protection or patient confidentiality remain solely a matter for the Royal Free. More recently, the Information Commissioner (ICO), an independent authority set up to deal with information issues, ruled that the Royal Free failed to comply with the Data Protection Act when providing this information and patients had not been adequately informed that this data would be used in such a way.

Lessons learnt?

Both the Royal Free and DeepMind made several errors of judgment throughout this process. However, since the ICO ruling, there has been improved transparency from both sides as well as willingness for a change of approach on this project.

A future option could be providing anonymous or “de-identified” data which cannot be traced back to patients, as opposed to actual patient data. This is an approach taken by Genomics England, the Department of Health-owned organisation which runs the 100,000 Genomes research project, where an individual’s information is not provided to researchers just the raw figures. Importantly, the individuals in this genome research had consented to allow this unidentifiable data to be used.

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

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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.