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North East Landlords Association Meeting – Next meeting Tuesday 27th November

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

CALLING ALL NORTH EAST LANDLORDS - The next NEL meeting will be on the 27th November at Bede Tower, Sunderland from 5.30pm onwards. The highly popular event is a must for any property investors or wannabe property investors. Our very own David Smith will be one of the speakers at this event to talk about passing down the family wealth to the next generation. Tickets are free but spaces MUST be reserved here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/north-east-landlords-november-meeting-tickets-46611046896

Call for Home Office Not To Get Data Protection Exemptions

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

Exempting the Home Office from new data protection rules could lead to miscarriages of justice, the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council have warned. Like thousands of other firms across the country, Sweeney Miller has been ensuring compliance with new GDPR rules due to come into force before the end of May 2018. But the Law Society has pointed out that The Data Protection Bill currently before Parliament exempts the Home Office from personal data requests, that has prompted Law Society president Joe Egan to warn the Bill will undermine the ability of British and EU citizens, as well as other non-UK nationals, to challenge unlawful deportation ordetention. “Recent events have shown how important it is to be able to scrutinise Home Office decision making,” he said. “The GDPR and Data Protection Bill are based on accountability and transparency and the proposed exemption completely flies in the face of these principles. “Anyone seeking their own personal data from the Home Office could be denied access without justification and with no avenue to appeal.” Chair of the Bar Andrew Walker QC said: “If the new law is brought into force in the form the government wants, then those Commonwealth citizens – and many others – who are lawfully living and working in the UK will be denied the right to know what information the Home Office holds about them, which could make the difference between success and failure in a legal challenge to their wrongful detention or removal. “The Home Office has a notoriously bad track record for unlawful decision-making, which can have catastrophic consequences for people who are detained indefinitely in removal centres or wrongfully deported.
“The legal profession’s concerns about the Bill were first raised many months ago, and we would urge the government to listen to them, even at this late stage.”
The Law Society and Bar Council are calling on all parties to remove the immigration control exemption from the Data Protection Bill and leave the Home Office subject to the same rules as everybody else. Paul Miller of Sweeney Miller said: “This is an ongoing issue that needs to be closely looked at. “Ourselves, along with so many other companies, have worked hard on making sure we are GDPR compliant and it is important that every effort is made to ensure that the law is fit for purpose from the start.”

Early July meeting of North East Landlords Association to be held in Sunderland

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

Guests who want to get involved with North East Landlords, which aims to bring together and support landlords across the region, can attend the meeting due to be held at Bede Tower in Burdon Road on Tuesday, July 3 at 5.30pm.

More than 100 guests attended the first meeting of North East Landlords, held at the NatWest offices in Broad Chare, Newcastle.

And the hope is the association will grow to become a big help and support to landlords as far north as Berwick and as far south as Bedale.

The new association is the brainchild of four separate businesses – solicitors Sweeney Miller, accountants Robson Laidler, mortgage advisers Approved Mortgages Solutions Ltd and Coversure Insurance Services Newcastle.

They are working with former National Landlords Association’s North East representatives Bruce Haagensen and Steve Johnson to engage with councils on behalf of members.

Paul Miller, of Sweeney Miller – whose Sunderland offices are a stone’s throw away from Bed Tower, gave a well-received talk on current legal issues in conveyancing at the opening meeting.

He told the Echo: “We’re trying to create an organisation that has all the benefits of a national association but with a local presence so it can do things like engaging with all 13 local councils on behalf of landlords.

“That way, we would look to help inform local authority policy, support their engagement with the private rented sector and improve housing on offer.

“North East Landlords will do that exactly that, run by local people and meeting the needs of all private landlords from the Border to North Yorkshire, however it will also have a national presence as it will be affiliated to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

“We plan to hold regular meetings throughout the area, both north and south of the Tyne where there is demand from landlords and it was great to get the launch off to a flying start with such a successful event.

”Now we want to follow that up in Sunderland, providing a regular forum for investors buying residential and commercial properties to talk about the various trends and opportunities in their areas. “

Surbhi Vedhara, of Sweeney Miller, who was instrumental in the creation of the association said: “Our intention is to make the meetings informative and useful with trade stands at each meeting providing information for landlords, refreshments and topics relevant and interesting to private sector landlords.

“We also would like to engage with all the Local Authorities in the North East to represent the views of the private rental sector and ensure a good working relationship.”

Bruce Haagensen said “It is important for the private rented sector to have a voice with the aim of balancing safeguards for tenants’ interests and setting the right conditions to enable the sector to contribute fully to the provision of good quality, well-managed housing.

As well as Paul Miller’s talk, the first meeting heard how the Residential Landlords Association have expressed their support for the new organisation, a brief discussion on the lending market currently and an update on national and local issues.

For anyone wanting to go to the Bede Tower meeting next month, the link to get tickets is:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/north-east-landlords-july-meeting-tickets-46611046896?aff=es2

North East property investors supported by Sweeney Miller

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

The launch event was held on Thursday, May 17th at the NatWest Offices, One Trinity Gardens, Broad Chare, Newcastle. Explaining the mission of the new group, a spokesperson said: “We are setting up a landlords’ group with a few other professionals in the area. “The idea is that we will hold events aimed at investors buying residential and commercial properties and talk about the various trends in these areas. “So our message to landlords is this – would you like to see a Landlord Association that has all the benefits that a National Association can offer but with a local presence engaging with local Councils on your behalf? “If so, you are going to be interested in our new Landlord Association which will be run by local people for the benefit of local Landlords. “The new organisation will look to meet the needs of all Private Landlords from the Border to North Yorkshire and hold regular meetings throughout the area, both north and south of the Tyne where there is demand from landlords. “Our intention is to make the meetings informative and useful with trade stands at each meeting to provide information for Landlords, refreshments and topics of interest to private sector landlords. “We also would like to be engaging with all the Local Authorities in the North East to represent the views of the PRS and try to ensure a good working relationship.” The agenda on the launch night was:
  • Explanation of why the organisation is being established, how it will operate and what landlords would like to see it deliver.
  • A speaker from the Residential Landlords Association on how they will support the organisation.
  • A brief update on the Lending Market along with an update on national and local issues.

Call for Home Office Not To Get Data Protection Exemptions

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

Like thousands of other firms across the country, Sweeney Miller has been ensuring compliance with new GDPR rules due to come into force before the end of May 2018. But the Law Society has pointed out that The Data Protection Bill currently before Parliament exempts the Home Office from personal data requests, That has prompted Law Society president Joe Egan to warn the Bill will undermine the ability of British and EU citizens, as well as other non-UK nationals, to challenge unlawful deportation or detention. “Recent events have shown how important it is to be able to scrutinise Home Office decision making,” he said. “The GDPR and Data Protection Bill are based on accountability and transparency and the proposed exemption completely flies in the face of these principles. “Anyone seeking their own personal data from the Home Office could be denied access without justification and with no avenue to appeal.” Chair of the Bar Andrew Walker QC said: “If the new law is brought into force in the form the government wants, then those Commonwealth citizens – and many others – who are lawfully living and working in the UK will be denied the right to know what information the Home Office holds about them, which could make the difference between success and failure in a legal challenge to their wrongful detention or removal. “The Home Office has a notoriously bad track record for unlawful decision-making, which can have catastrophic consequences for people who are detained indefinitely in removal centres or wrongfully deported. “The legal profession’s concerns about the Bill were first raised many months ago, and we would urge the government to listen to them, even at this late stage.” The Law Society and Bar Council are calling on all parties to remove the immigration control exemption from the Data Protection Bill and leave the Home Office subject to the same rules as everybody else. Paul Miller of Sweeney Miller said: “This is an ongoing issue that needs to be closely looked at. “Ourselves, along with so many other companies, have worked hard on making sure we are GDPR compliant and it is important that every effort is made to ensure that the law is fit for purpose from the start.”

Need for the vulnerable to be legally protected is highlighted

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

In an unprecedented judgment, Mr Justice Charles, vice president of the Court of Protection, placed responsibility on the government to ensure each vulnerable individual whose liberty is considered in the Court of Protection has appropriate representation when their case is considered. Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws said: “The judgment shines a light on a largely hidden area of our justice system where people suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or a learning disability wait indefinitely for their cases to be heard because of a lack of funding for representation.” “People can be deprived of their liberty, their movements closely supervised and restricted and they may be given medication and other treatments to control their behaviour. “These restrictive arrangements may be in the individual’s best interests, but authorisation from the Court of Protection is needed to ensure the vulnerable person’s rights are adequately protected.” The Law Society’s campaign has been backed by Sweeney Miller, with the company doing more and more work to make sure correct legal provisions are in place for families where dementia or Alzheimer’s begins to become a factor. Senior partner Paul Miller said: “This is an area that we have a great deal of experience in as a firm of solicitors. “And the reality is that as we all live longer, the prospect of dementia or Alzheimer’s is something that needs to be generally considered and the correct provisions made in good time. “The Law Society is right to highlight these extreme cases of vulnerability but the fact is that in the years ahead, this field is something that people are going to have to factor in more and more as they look at their, and their family’s legal affairs.” Many people will understand the challenges of making decisions for a relative who is unable to give their consent. And Christina Blacklaws added: “We are very grateful to Mr Justice Charles for his continued determination to highlight the human cost of cuts to local authority and rationed Ministry of Justice funding – and to find a solution.” “The 330 stayed cases at the Court of Protection represent a fraction of the thousands of people around the country who we believe are being deprived of their liberty without proper judicial oversight, in contravention of their rights under the Human Rights Act. “The Law Society Mental Capacity Accreditation scheme, which trains and vets solicitors so that they have the skills and knowledge to represent the interests of people who lack capacity, is only part of the solution. “As Mr Justice Charles makes clear, the State can no longer abdicate responsibility for providing funding – either to local authorities or to the Ministry of Justice – to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Public access to home-buying information welcomed by Sweeney Miller

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

The suggestion was made by the  Law Society of England and Wales argued in response to a consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Law Society believes making clear and concise information available at the right time could speed up the entire home buying process. And Sweeney Miller is all in favour of efforts to help the public understand what is often a very complex process. Paul Miller said: “Buying or selling a house can be a time-consuming and complicated business and occasionally it can be very confusing to the public who are unsure of exactly what the process entails. “In such circumstances, any moves which give the public a greater understanding of what is involved is to be welcomed. Paul’s words were echoed by Law Society president Joe Egan. He said: “Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions people make, and it is important they have access to enough information to make an informed choice. “Many people can get lost in the conveyancing maze – estate agents, lenders and conveyancers all have a role to play in ensuring things proceed as smoothly as possible. “Home buyers and sellers should be aware of their rights, as well as the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the transaction. This should include an overview of the process and the potential costs and fees involved. “We are calling on the government to ensure consumers have access to this information at the beginning of transactions. This should limit the number of purchases that fall through.” On top of that, The Law Society has also argued the need for strong consumer protection. Mr Egan added: “Ensuring clients are able to make informed decisions is just the first step in protecting their interests. “We are also calling for all stakeholders to be held to codes of conduct or protocols which will maintain the high standards expected by consumers. “There need to be minimum standards which require all relevant information to be shared. “Too often we hear stories about consumers being surprised at the eleventh hour or after a sale has gone through about extra costs involved in their purchase – this is unacceptable. “We want to ensure consumers are well-informed and protected. “This consultation is a good first step in improving this process and we hope the government takes action to address our concerns – and more particularly the concerns of consumers.”

Domestic violence legal aid changes are welcome and will benefit victims

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

From January 2018, time limits preventing victims of domestic violence from obtaining legal aid for court proceedings will be scrapped.
These restrictions have been heavily criticised, not least by the Law Society, and have left large numbers of women confronting abusive ex-partners without representation.
The restrictions will also be relaxed to accept evidence from victim support organisations.
Paul Miller, senior partner at Sweeney Miller, said: “The decision by the Government to move in this direction can only benefit the public and in particular those who have suffered domestic violence and seek their day in court.
The move is also long overdue, according to Law Society of England and Wales president Joe Egan.
He said: “The government’s decision will make it easier for victims to provide evidence and to qualify for legal aid.
“The five-year time limit causes difficulties for victims who were abused more than five years ago but have no recent documents to prove this.
“The forms of evidence required have also been very restrictive.
“Broadening the types of evidence that can be accepted to include statements from domestic violence support organisations and housing support officers will remove many of the difficulties faced by victims.
“Legal aid is a lifeline for those who have suffered abuse.
“It is often the only way someone can bring their case before the courts.
“This positive decision is the end result of work the Law Society and other organisations have been doing with the Ministry of Justice for many months.”

Law Society Warnings Need To Be Heeded, Says Sweeney Miller

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

The Law Society has warned of a ‘wild west’ outcome if two consultations put out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) are taken up. And Paul Miller, of Sweeney Miller, said: “It is good that the Law Society is raising these issues now because any proposed changes to legal services need to be considered very seriously. “The risk is that changes can do more harm than good and impact not only on the quality of legal services in our country but also negatively impact on clients.” Law Society president Joe Egan said: “Under the guise of improving access to legal advice, the SRA is proposing changes to its handbook that can only put consumers at risk and undermine trust in legal services. “We are gravely concerned the SRA is ploughing ahead with proposals that would see solicitors subject to entirely different regulations depending on where they practise. “The regulator has failed to think through the implications for consumer protection nor has it proposed adequate safeguards. “A new tier of solicitors, working in unregulated outfits, wouldn’t have to have the same insurance, wouldn’t pay into the solicitors’ compensation fund and wouldn’t inevitably afford their clients legal professional privilege (LPP). “A further new class of solicitor would freelance, with neither a firm over their head nor the badge of a sole practitioner. “Removal of the rules which prevent solicitors establishing their own firms immediately after they qualify could put vulnerable clients with complex legal problems in the hands of inexperienced, unsupervised lawyers.” The SRA is also consulting on enforced publication of information on pricing, service and regulatory matters. Of these proposals, Joe Egan said: “Regulation is a blunt instrument. Publishing a raft of information without proper context may cause confusion and not actually help consumers understand legal services.” In contrast to regulated law firms, which would be forced to publish reams of information, the SRA has said that unregulated entities cannot be forced to publish anything about their business, including about the level of client protection they offer. “It seems counter-intuitive that consumers should have less information about solicitors operating away from the protections of regulation,” Joe Egan added. “Most clients seek legal advice at moments of great anxiety and stress. Helping them to make informed choices about what is required to resolve their legal problems is at the heart of our work, as it should be for the SRA. “The expertise and regulatory protection offered by a solicitor today means clients can be confident that their issue will be resolved as satisfactorily and speedily as possible. Public trust in solicitors provides stability and certainty for businesses and consumers – let’s not exchange that for a new wild west.”

Prevention better than cure when it comes to injury claims, Sweeney Miller

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

Solicitors are regularly brought in to resolve disputes where injuries have been caused by negligence or lack of safety precautions, either in the workplace or the public environment. But much litigation could be avoided if there was greater emphasis on avoiding accidents in the first place. And the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has been leading efforts by organising a series of events around Injury Prevention Day in August. Lindsey Christie, head of litigation at Sweeney Miller, said: “Prevention is better than cure and the more people are made aware of simple and sensible precautions that can be taken, the better. “That is particularly important on the roads where drivers should avoid things like tailgating for example.” Brett Dixon, APIL president, said: “We want to see fewer people injured needlessly. “We are dealing with a continued onslaught in relation to soft-tissue injury claims but the Government is making no effort to reduce the needless injuries which cause suffering and claims for compensation in the first place. “There is also no evidence that the UK has “the weakest necks in Europe”, but we do know that we have a lot of traffic on our roads compared to other European countries. “Tailgating, particularly in traffic, causes low-speed collisions, injuries and claims. “This is why we have our anti-tailgating campaign ‘Back Off’ to encourage better driving habits. “If fewer claims is what the Government and insurance industry want then this approach makes sense. “Preventing needless harm is something everyone can agree on and our Back Off campaign is supported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Road Safety GB, and Road Safety Wales.” You can view APIL’s Back Off – Tailgating video here.

End of employment tribunal fees welcomed by Sweeney Miller

SWEENEY Miller has backed the UK Supreme Court’s decision to end employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 for complainants.

The ruling will offer hope to tens of thousands who might want to take their employer to a tribunal for bullying or discrimination but were put off by the fear of having to fork our four-figure fees. Paul Miller said: “This is a common sense decision and is to be welcomed. In our view, those who look to go down the employment tribunal route do not make the decision lightly. “And if they do have a legitimate grievance it’s wrong that they would be put off because they can’t afford the fees that existed up to to this point.” The Sunderland and Newcastle firm of solicitors take a stance which is reflected nationally by the Law Society. Law Society president, Joe Egan, said: “This decision is a triumph for access to justice, and a resounding blow against attempts to treat justice as a commodity rather than the right it is. “We argued against the hike in tribunal fees before it was implemented and – like so many others – warned that they would deny people the chance to uphold their basic rights at work. Now the Supreme Court has vindicated that view, and restored access to justice for those mistreated in the workplace.” The Law Society has previously highlighted the massive drop in cases coming to the tribunal in the wake of the fees being introduced. It has also pointed to figures – contained in the Ministry of Justice’s own review of the fees – showing at least 14,000 people every year are unable to afford to go to the tribunal to resolve their claims, as well as tens of thousands of missing cases. Commenting on the wider implications of the case, Joe Egan added: “As the Supreme Court identified, these fees placed an insurmountable barrier in the way of tens of thousands of people. “Access to justice is a fundamental right – if you can’t enforce your rights then it renders them meaningless. Today’s decision will serve as an urgently needed wake-up call – justice must never be a luxury for those who can afford it, it is a right we all share.”