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Marlborough Town & Country Dec 2018

With Christmas nearly upon us and the spending sprees in full flow do we as consumers really know our rights when it comes to the supply of goods?

Did you know that in 2015 The Consumer Rights Act (CRA) replaced both the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, and created a simpler, more modern form of consumer rights legislation fit for the technological age.

Under the CRA, consumers have more statutory rights in relation to the quality and standard of goods and services they buy, as well as a wider range of remedies when things go wrong.

The CRA requires businesses who supply goods and services to consumers to comply with a number of statutory requirements :

  • Goods must be of satisfactory quality: goods bought must not be faulty or damaged on receipt. The test of whether goods are of satisfactory quality is, what would a reasonable person consider to be satisfactory in relation to those goods?
  • Goods must be fit for purpose: ie. fit for the purpose for which they are supplied, including any specific purpose explained to the trader when the goods were purchased.
  • Goods and services must be as described: they must, for instance, match a sample or model seen by the consumer before purchase.
  • Goods must be properly and correctly installed.
  • Services must be supplied with reasonable care and skill.

If when you get your purchase home it does not meet any of the above requirements then your supplier has committed a breach of contract and you have certain remedies available to you:

  • An early right to reject the goods within 30 days and to obtain a full refund. It is for the business to collect the goods at its own cost – the consumer does not have to pay to return the goods;
  • The right to one repair or replacement within 30 days, at cost to the business (including postage, labour and materials, unless this is disproportionate to the cost of other remedies available);
  • Thereafter, the right to a price reduction or the right to reject and receive a refund outside the 30 days (with a deduction for any use by the consumer) if not acceptable (or possible) repair or replacement takes place within 30 days.

Please note that the CRA does not apply to business to business contracts, or to consumer to consumer contracts. For business to business contracts it is always best to seek legal advice.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Marlborough Law.

Karen Salmon

Marlborough Town & Country Article July 2017

Do you have parental responsibility or not?

Many people assume that because they look after children either from a second marriage / partnership or residence order they automatically have the right to have a say in every aspect of the child’s live and upbringing. This is, in the eyes of the law, a misconception.

Parental responsibility means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law, parents have in relation to children. This includes not only day to day decisions (such as what the child should eat, what the child should wear and their everyday activities) but also long term decisions (such as education, health and religion).  

All mothers have automatic parental responsibility and so do fathers who are married to the child’s mother at the time of its birth or whose name is on the child’s birth certificate. This right does not disappear if the parent’s divorce in the future. 

Unfortunately here in the Marlborough Law Family department we often have to remind parties in a divorce who have children that even though the child or children now live most of the time with one parent for ease of attending school or staying in the family home both parents retain parental responsibility and as such have an equal say in such matters as medical treatment and school choices.

Unmarried fathers whose name is not on the child’s birth certificate can enter into a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child’s mother if she agrees of make an Application to court if she does not.

Step-parents do not automatically gain parental responsibility. This can cause a great deal of stress and tension in a household as sometimes a step-parent makes a decision which the non-resident parent does not agree with and this can lead to arguments and friction. Decisions are made in the heat of the moment often when something is going wrong such as urgent medical treatment or GCSE subject decisions at parents evening. Step-parents can apply for a Parental Responsibility Order through the courts as well as non-married parents, relatives of deceased parents and civil partners.

The application can be made either with or without the consent of the parent who has parental responsibility if they are known or their whereabouts known. The person making the application must be related to the child. These applications often involve a Hearing in the Magistrates Court in front of 3 magistrates and they will ask questions of both parties. At Marlborough Law we prepare a statement on behalf of our Clients who can be either the Applicant for the Order or the Respondent who does not agree to the application.

If you are in any doubt whether you have Parental Responsibility for your child or a child living with you and would like a chat about it please contact me for your free 30 mins consultation on 01672 552552.

Town & County Magazine Article Copy – 6th February 2019

 As of 9 January 2019, all unsolicited calls about pensions are now illegal, and companies who break these rules could face fines of up to £500,000.

Cold-calling is a common tactic used by scammers to commit pension’s fraud, with an estimated 8 scam calls being made every second – or 250 million a year with victims losing about £91,000 on average.

The ban is expected to discourage some cold-calling activity, but criminals will ignore it or find ways to get around the rules – so it’s important to remain alert to potential scams.

Anyone receiving a cold call about their pension  are  advised to gather any information they can, such as the company name and phone number, and report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office on 0303 123 1113.

Apart from pension scams, criminals may also attempt to use texts, emails and social media messages.

As we have all submitted our self-assessment tax returns phishing scams claiming to come from HMRC are becoming ever more prevalent. “Phishing” is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication”  – as per Wikipedia.

Emails may say you’re due a tax rebate and need to fill in your details, or they might take a more aggressive manner and say HMRC will take you to Court if you don’t provide the money or information they demand.

Other commonly reported HMRC scams include emails about fake customs charges for something you have bought online from outside the UK and fraudulent tax forms sent to landlords living outside the UK.

HMRC says it NEVER uses emails, texts or social media to notify you about a rebate or ask for personal information.

The more sophisticated the scam is, the harder it will be to spot – but there are a few signs to be aware of. Here are three things to look out for:

  1. The call or message is unexpected. If someone contacts you out of the blue to question you 

about your personal information or offer you an investment opportunity, it’s likely they’re not a 

trustworthy caller.

  1. Their offer sounds too good to be true. Scams often succeed because they offer 

something appealing to the victim, but this is often an unrealistic promise – or one that 

comes with a high level of risk.

  1. They put pressure on you to respond quickly. Whether it’s a limited-time offer or a 

warning that you should “act immediately”, this is a tactic used to persuade you to 

act before you have time to think properly about what you’re agreeing to.

Firstly, it’s a good idea to get in touch directly with the organisation concerned, using contact details you know are right, to check the contact they have made.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, get in touch with Action Fraud National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting  Centre on 0300 123 2040 or seek legal help.

Karen Salmon 

Our Solicitor writes…

Our Solicitor writes……

It is with great pride, and some intrepedation, that I write my first column as resident solicitor here in Shalbourne. A quick potted history of me – I have lived in Shalbourne with my husband Mike since April 1995, just before our eldest daughter Rebecca was born. Our second Daughter, Charlotte, although many of you pub goers will know her as Lotte, came along in 1998. They both attended Shalbourne primary and for a couple of years Mike was Chairman of the PTFA and I was a parent governor.

It was my love and commitment to our family and our children that made me study law, and more specifically Family Law, although current legal rules mean solicitors in England and Wales must be proficient in all areas if need be.

I recently set up my own business, Marlborough Law in, you guessed it, Marlborough, with the aim of helping local people. So, my first column comes from my desk at Marlborough Law as I look out on to the turbulent skies that change from sunshine to dark storm within minutes and it reminds me of some of the laws of our land which often go through the rigours of Government Departments and Back Bench committees before finally going through the dark halls of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

A topic close to everyone in Shalbourne’s heart is the Parish Council’s fight for the 20 mile an hour speed limit through the village as many of us are subject to cars speeding through from Andover to Hungerford.  I must admit I am continually surprised that there have not been more accidents than there has been. This week the MOJ announced that drivers who kill someone in the most serious cases of dangerous and careless driving could now face life sentences.

Jail terms in cases involving mobile phones, speeding or street racing will now be the equivalent of manslaughter, the Ministry of Justice said.

And as the Festive season is nearly upon us, Causing death by dangerous driving, or death by careless driving while drunk or on drugs, will carry the top-level punishment.

A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is also to be created, and although we do not have too many cyclists in Shalbourne, the government is to examine whether the offence of dangerous driving should be extended to cyclists after a case in which a woman died after being struck by a rider whose bike had no front brake, which I am sure we all heard about in the news.

On a different note, and as many local parents will have had to do recently, Mike and I have gone through the painful process of finding accommodation for our student children. Many of them are entering their 2nd or 3rd year away from home and have looked for shared houses or flats with those friends they made in 1st year. In fact current 1st years will also soon be starting to look for houses for next year and the amount of suitable accommodation in many university towns becomes less and less. Parents are often presented with guarantor forms and leases which can be quite onerous in content.

It can be quite daunting and confusing for many parents and one has to weigh up the risk of losing the opportunity of a suitable property with the desire to challenge some of the terms of the contract.

One of the main issues is the deposit and the terms under which the deposit can be used for repairs and restoring the property to its former state – blue tac or other such products used to put things on the wall, being the main offender in these matters.

Unfortunately, as demand outstrips supply in most cases some student Landlords can be completely ruthless. However many of the clauses, if carefully considered, can be reworded to allow more flexibility and protection for the poor student and parents should never be hesitant to question the lease or seek independent advice.

Footnote:  In this wet and windy weather which sees big puddles forming in Shalbourne and surrounding areas – Please be aware that as a driver you may be committing an offence if you deliberately splash a pedestrian with water from a puddle. It’s considered ‘careless and inconsiderate driving’ and can land you with a fixed penalty notice.

And it’s just not a nice thing to do.

Until next month …….. Stay safe and stay legal.

Karen Salmon

Marlborough Law Article December 2020

Our Solicitor Writes:

As we weather through another lockdown it seems that Brexit has taken a back seat; however it, like Christmas, is creeping up on us.

With Brexit only a few weeks away, you may be unsure about the legal changes and implications that leaving the European Union will mean for you, as either an employer or employee. We are currently still in the ‘transition’ period until the 31st of December. We have been continuing to trade and live under the original guidelines that were in place prior to us leaving the EU.

Changes in the immediate future?

There is little change expected to employment laws in the near future, as the government have made their position very clear that all existing workers’ rights will be entrenched in British law. In relation to current employment rights, the Government has issued a series of technical notices which confirm that, in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, workers in the UK will continue to enjoy the rights they are currently entitled to under EU law. The Withdrawal Agreement also provides that EU law will continue to apply during the transition period until the Brexit Long Stop Date. Employment law rights derived from EU law, such as anti-discrimination, collective consultation obligations, family leave, and working time rights will therefore be maintained for this transition period as a minimum.

Changes to employment law in the future?

It is entirely plausible in the future that Parliament could make changes to the legislature in relation to employment law, however it would be unexpected for it to be anything major due to the commitments that have been given by the government. However, it is always worth bearing in mind that under the Withdrawal Act of 2020 the Supreme Court could re-examine and overturn doctrines derived from European case law.

What changes are most likely?

There are a lot of EU-based rights that are not guaranteed post 31st December. The first example is discrimination; while there are a large number of protected characteristics recognised by the UK, the EU added age, religion and sexual orientation to the list. Although these have all correctly been accepted, in the absence of EU law, the UK may decide to cap the level of compensation currently being awarded for these characteristics. There are also other topics that may be changed.

If you have any issues, or potential issues, you may be aware of in relation to your employment currently or in the near future, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Marlborough Law for quality legal advice and support.

And may all of us at Marlborough Law, myself, Alex, Mike, Christian, Mandy and Nancy, wish you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Can you ever have ‘enough’?

Article for Shalbourne Parish Magazine

There is one word that we hear constantly. In fact, at Hungerford Financial Partners, there is never a day when we don’t hear this little word. It’s what motivates all of us to go to work, sacrifice our free time, burn the midnight oil for that new great business idea, or simply gift money to friends, relatives or our favourite charity.

That word is ‘enough.’

“Do I have enough to retire?” “If we save £XXX per month, will that be enough for the future?” “Mark, I’m worried that my state pension won’t pay enough.” “Dan, can you let me know if my mother has enough for her care home?” “If the worst were to happen to me, I’m anxious about whether my family would have enough.”

‘Enough’ is a relative concept – what is enough for me might not be enough for you. Ten thousand pounds can be more than enough for one person. On the other hand, ten million pounds might not be enough for someone else.

So, is it possible to ever have enough money for the future?

Well, yes, of course it is…but you must determine what that figure will be. That figure is completely dependent on your lifestyle.  It is really important that you work out how much money you need to earn, save and invest in order to maintain the lifestyle that you want to live.  You can definitely have enough for the future – what is much harder to know is whether you can live the life that you want to and never have to worry about running out of money.

Perhaps the question to ask is: “Can I know for certain that I have enough money for the future, no matter what?”

Again, this is a conundrum that always has an answer… either a yes or a no.  There is nothing in between. It sometimes feels scary to get think about that answer but, unless you know it, you won’t be able to plan for the future. You may end up working far too hard, sacrificing things like attendance at important family and life events, and then, when it is too late, realizing you didn’t need to after all.

The best thing about being lifestyle financial planners is that we get to give people an answer to the important, scary questions… and then create a plan for them so that they can always say “Yes, I have enough; and I never have to worry about money ever again.”

Remember, you are unique. There is no one like you. Your lifestyle financial plan should reflect you and only you.

It is a privilege to be able to do this work and help local people. 

Written by Dan Gaskin of Hungerford Financial Partners. ‘Hungerford Financial Partners’ is a trading style of Mark Begg Asset Management.