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    From our City centre offices in Exeter, our expert Solicitors offer specialist legal advice to both the business and non-business client.

    Clearly our main purpose is to provide sound legal advice. However, as well as the legal aspects of a case, we will also take time to consider other non-legal matters which may be just as important. It is because you are put in direct contact with a Solicitor, who will see your case through from beginning to end and becuase we use plain English when speaking with you, that you can be confident that you are in control of things.

    So, no stuffy lawyers, no legal jargon, one main point of contact and a relaxed and informal atmosphere with a fabulous view of Exeter Cathedral. What are you waiting for? Choose Morgan & Pope for a comprehensive approach and advice you can rely upon.

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  • Who are we

    Morgan & Pope Solicitors was formed on 1st October 2011 when 208 years' worth of experience were combined following the merge of Stephen Morgan & Co and Popes Solicitors (previously J. & S. P. Pope).

    We are a medium sized law firm based in Cathedral Yard, Exeter and you can expect to receive, as standard, exceptionally high quality legal services at a price you can afford. However, it is our friendly, non-stuffy approach to the law that sets us apart from the rest of the lawyers in Exeter and makes us a must when deciding who to instruct to deal with your everyday legal needs.

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Fresh off the press...

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

 

WHAT IS A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT ?

Settlement Agreements are legally binding agreements that set out the terms of a settlement between an employer and an employee (they used to be called compromise agreements).

Settlement Agreements came into force at the end of July 2013 as part of wider changes in employment laws.

The documents are usually given to employees when they are being made redundant or the business is being restructured.

However they are also offered to employees sometimes if an employer thinks he or she is performing badly in their job or where it might be best for both parties for the employment to end amicably.

Settlement Agreements tend to be used when employers are paying more than the statutory minimum entitlement. The benefit to the employer is that the Settlement Agreement gives the certainty of knowing there will be no dispute or claim afterwards.

You receive a sum of money in return for losing your job and employment rights and cannot bring a claim against your employer. The Settlement Agreement is the final clean break before you leave work.

Settlement Agreements vary but usually there are clauses that deal with:-

-       The claims to be settled.

-       The payment you would have received.

-       Tax issues.

-       Confidentiality.

-       An agreed reference from your employer.

HOW WE CAN HELP

Once you have signed the Settlement Agreement you are bound by it which is why the law insists that you take independent legal advice about the Settlement Agreement. Usually the employer will pay for this or make a significant contribution.

We can check if you are getting a fair deal and whether you may have any grounds for a claim against your employer (like discrimination or unfair dismissal).

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU GET ?

An average to well negotiated settlement may be around 4 to 6 months salary including notice.

However inevitably it can be more or less as every situation is different.

We have set out below the typical types of payment you can expect to receive.

Salary and Benefits

You should receive your normal salary and benefits up to the termination date.

Some benefits may extend beyond the termination date, typically:-

-       You may agree additional health care cover.

-       A payment instead of notice.

-       Continued use of a company car.

Payment for untaken holidays

If you haven’t had all of your holiday before the end of your employment you should receive a payment for the unused days.

Holiday entitlement accrues on a monthly basis. For example if you leave half way through the holiday year you will have accrued only half your holiday. Deduct from this the holiday you have taken and you are left with the amount of days for which you should be paid when your employment ends.

Statutory redundancy payment

If you are being made redundant you will be entitled to redundancy payment. The amount depends on:-

-       Your length of service.

-       Your age.

-       Your rate of pay.

You can go online to calculate this.

Enhanced Redundancy payment

Some employers offer better redundancy terms.

Your employment contract and staff handbook should tell you whether you are entitled to this.

Payment instead of notice

If your employment is being terminated under a Settlement Agreement you may not have to work your notice period. Instead your employer may make a payment representing the amount you would have earned during your notice period.

Ex-gratia payment

This may be referred to as a compensation or termination payment. This represents an additional amount as an incentive for you to sign the Settlement Agreement.

The amount you should receive will vary depending on the circumstances and may be open to negotiation.

Ex-gratia payments are tax free up to £30,000.

Retention bonus

Sometimes your employer may want you to stay up until a certain date possibly to ensure there are enough staff to finish a project.

Legal costs

Your employer will usually contribute around £250 plus VAT towards you Settlement Agreement.

It is in the employer’s interest to make sure that you receive legal advice because a settlement agreement is only binding if you have taken legal advice on it.

Often the contribution will cover our fees which means there is no charge to you but if you want us to negotiate a higher settlement than your employer is offering you will probably have to pay us for this.

Can you negotiate how much you get

Sometimes you may be able to improve on the settlement proposal but typically your employer will have taken advice and will be offering either as much as or if not more than you would get by bringing a claim for redundancy or breach of contract/unfair dismissal. We will work this out for you and tell you how your legal rights compare with the package you have been offered.

From the 17th August a new EU law, Brussels IV, comes into place affecting anybody who owns property in any EU member state.

The introduction of Brussels IV means that anyone making a Will can now choose the law of their nationality to govern their whole estate instead of having to create a separate will for overseas assets. This will unify succession laws and relieve a lot of the stress associated with carrying out probate after the loss of a loved one.

Those living in the UK with holiday homes in any EU countries that have opted in for Brussels IV (all apart from UK, Ireland or Denmark) can elect for UK succession laws to govern their overseas affairs. This avoids ‘forced heirship’ laws in European countries such as Italy, Spain and France and allows the individual the freedom to leave whatever they choose, to whoever they choose.

This case seems to allow anyone without a completed financial order or settlement to bring a claim against their ex-spouse regardless of how long ago they divorced.

Whilst lawyers always try to ensure that financial matters are finalised and that neither party can bring a claim against the other in the future it is vital that those couples who do not have financial orders in place review their situation because they may now face claims based on wealth subsequently acquired after their divorce.

In this case Dale Vince married Kathleen Wyatt in 1981 when they were penniless new age travellers.

They separated in 1984 and divorced in 1992. Three years later Vince founded Ecotricity which is now one of the largest green energy companies in the UK. He is said to be worth over £100m.

He ex-wife took him to court 22 years after they divorced seeking £2m claiming that he left her destitute while he grew his business.

Lasting Powers of Attorney are very important whether you are young or old. It is a fact that we just don’t know what is around the corner and it may be that you find yourself unexpectedly in need of assistance due to an accident or illness.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:

(i) Property and Financial Affairs

(ii) Health and Welfare Issues

Each document will enable you to authorise someone or a number of people to make decisions on your behalf both when you have capacity (so perhaps you might just need some help to make certain arrangements) and also when you lack mental capacity (in which case your chosen Attorney/s will make the relevant decisions on your behalf).

It is important that you completely trust the person/people you have chosen to act as your Attorney/s. They will have access to all your personal information.

In addition to appointing main Attorneys, you can also choose to appoint replacement Attorneys. This allows you to extend the life of your Lasting Powers of Attorney to take account of a situation where your main Attorney’s may become unable to act on your behalf.

Although the most widely employed form of conflict resolution, it is arguable that mediation remains underrated in terms of its utility in resolving everyday disputes, as it is commonly linked with the resolution of family matters alone.

 

During mediation, parties to a dispute are encouraged, with the assistance of a neutral third party to resolve their issues and agree a mutually acceptable way forward. Successful mediation enables the parties to communicate their views and to formulate options instead of continually rehashing what have often become entrenched and hostile positions.

 

Indeed, although conflict resolution has traditionally been associated with an expensive, litigious court battle, following the implementation of the Family Procedure Rules 2010, even the Judiciary has begun to champion mediation as a viable and effective alternative to litigation.

 

During the recent Tory party Conference, David Cameron addressed the party’s concerns regarding the impact of the Human Rights Act on the Judiciary and consequently the British population by suggesting that a future Tory Government would abolish the Act and replace it with a new Bill of Rights. The idea being to give Britain more control over the laws implemented.

 

Mr Cameron stated it has long been his intention to ‘entrench’ a British Bill of Rights detailing ‘core values’ and responsibilities in British law, so it could not be overturned in the Commons. He went on to say, a ‘clear and codified’ bill would allow the European court to exercise a ‘margin of appreciation’ in its rulings where Judges are obliged to take into consideration the cultural, historical and philosophical differences between Strasbourg and Britain.

 

If your child has not been admitted to their first choice of primary School what can you do? Well, it may be possible to launch and appeal to the Local Authority against the decision. However, you only have fourteen days from the date of the decision to make such an appeal.

 In order to increase your chances of launching a successful appeal, consideration should be given to the following:

  1. The reasonableness of the Admissions Policy
  2. Whether the Admissions Policy has been applied properly

A recent survey has found that the cost of chasing late payments such as unpaid invoices and overdue accounts is an astounding 130 hours and even more for larger companies.

These valuable hours wasted means a loss in business productivity which can have serious adverse effects on the company’s cash-flow and overall profitability.

Businesses can keep on top of their unpaid invoices by following a simple approach:

  1. Ensure that you know your customer and their business and therefore the likelihood of getting paid
  2. Make sure payment terms are clearly visible on your invoices

Have you struggled to get your child into your preferred choice of school? Has he/she been unfairly excluded, or perhaps you have a dispute with your child’s school and don’t know where to begin? In an age where parents’ are keener than ever for their children to get ahead, competition for school places is tough.

Education has become somewhat of a hot topic and is often at the centre of one controversy or another, whether it’s yet another change to the National Curriculum, attitudes towards school discipline or teachers’ pensions. However, despite the enormity of the role education plays in shaping our children’s lives, parents often feel that the system does not afford them a say on how their children are educated and that decisions are imposed on them without consultation and without full explanation.

It is an inevitable that as a business, you will sometimes get the odd customer that does not pay. Here are 10 top tips to reduce those debtors.

 1)      Know who your customer is 

Have a checklist or a form that new customers complete. Get as much information from them as possible e.g whether they are a sole trader, partnership. It is essential you know who you’re dealing with.

 2)      Terms and conditions

It is very advisable to have clear terms and conditions within your contract. This will govern things like the right to charge interest