Wednesday, 17 December 2008

An unhappy Christmas?

Shropshire couples who find the festive season taking a toll on their relationship should not make any hasty decisions. Nadia Davis, who leads our Family Team, said legal practices regularly saw an increase in divorce cases following the stresses and strains of the Christmas break.

“Although for many people, one of the best parts of Christmas is spending time with family, for others, it’s a time of year which can be incredibly difficult. We’re all expected to spend time with relatives we may not see from one Christmas to the next, and it can be an extremely intense experience which leads to some relationships cracking under the pressure.”

But Nadia said it was important for families to think extremely carefully before taking drastic action which could bring serious consequences.

“If things get heated, take time out and diffuse the situation – walk away from arguments which threaten to escalate, and really consider whether things have broken down irretrievably.”

If a couple feels there is no alternative but to begin divorce proceedings, Nadia said keeping communication channels open with discussions and negotiations could make a huge difference.

“This kind of collaborative approach is particularly good when children are involved, and matters are resolved through a series of meetings. The couple commit to not going to court except to rubber stamp the deal when an agreement has been reached. At such a difficult time, it may seem like you’ll never be able to resolve your differences, but the collaborative approach has a high success rate, and could be well worth your patience in the longer-term.”

Ski safely on your festive break

Holidaymakers heading for the snow over the festive season should make sure they follow safety rules carefully.

Alison Carter, who leads our Personal Injury Team, said it was vital skiers took proper responsibility for their own safety. “The festive season is an extremely popular time for people to choose to escape to the slopes, but it’s important to remember that safety must always be paramount.”

Alison’s warning came after a court case which decided a French ski instructor should pay damages to a British client who was severely paralysed after crashing into a tree in the French Alps.

“The issue was whether the instructor should have permitted or encouraged the client to ski in the off piste area where the accident happened. But the judge also stressed that the skier was partly to blame, as he could not abdicate all responsibility – after all, the instructor may have suggested the area, but the skier chose to take part.

“And in his decision, the judge ruled that although the ski instructor was two thirds responsible for the accident, the client must also be held one third responsible, which will of course affect the damages he will receive. So don’t be afraid to voice your concerns, and don’t feel that you’ll be the odd one out – your safety is more important than following the crowd.”

Support for carers in the workplace

Shropshire people struggling to combine work with caring for disabled or elderly relatives can now expect more support from their employers. Around 2.5 million people in Britain are currently trying to maintain jobs and care for sick or disabled family members at the same time.

And John Mehtam, our Employment Law Specialist, said employers would now need to consider their situations more sympathetically.

“Following a recent tribunal ruling, employers will have to think more carefully about the way they respond to requests for flexible working from carers. The judgement said carers had the right to claim against their employer if they were discriminated against and refused flexible working.

“The tribunal decided that such a situation amounted to discrimination by association. And this paves the way for hundreds of claims by carers who say they have been discriminated against not because of their own disability, but because of their role in caring for another person.

“Anti-discrimination law is not restricted to disabled people only, and anyone caring for sick or disabled family members will now be entitled to the same treatment as any other staff. This is excellent news for a silent majority of people who have struggled for recognition for a very long time, and the decision will make a world of difference to many people and their families.”

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Homeowners must beware

Shropshire homeowners must not ignore the effect the credit crunch is having on their mortgages - that's the message from Paul Matthews, of PMK Mortgages, in Shrewsbury, who warns that such a difficult economic period could have major consequences.

“Thanks to the challenges these tough financial times have created, most of us are now worse off financially than we were 12 months ago. With so many businesses suffering, whether you’re a company director, a sole trader or an employee, your income could well have been affected. Such a difficult situation is the perfect time to review your mortgage to make sure you’re making the most of the products available, and to possibly reorganise your finances to reduce your monthly outgoings.”

But Paul said it was vital to seek professional help from independent advisors to ensure you had access to the entire mortgage market, rather than just products tied-in to individual lenders.

“The market is changing almost on a daily basis, and the best rate today will not necessarily be the best rate by next week. Mortgage advisors are required to keep up-to-date with all the changes, saving you valuable research time, and they will also find the deal that best suits your particular needs. They will also look at the bigger picture of your finances, helping you to undertake a full budget planning process, to identify areas where savings could be made.

“So don’t ignore these increasingly tough times – uncertainty is inevitable given the current financial climate, but reviewing your circumstances will let you know exactly where you stand, and could save you money.”

PMK Mortgages ( offers independent mortgage advice for a wide range of clients across the county and beyond.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other debt secured on it. PMK Mortgage Solutions LLP is an appointed representative of Mortgage Broking Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority FSA No: 306012. We also provide advice on non-regulated products which are not authorised by Mortgage Broking Services Limited.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Tina plays a double role

We have welcomed a new employment solicitor who brings a whole host of skills to our team. Tina Chander has joined our Employment Law department at our offices in Euston Way, Telford – but she’s also a qualified barrister.

“I am still qualified as a barrister, but I decided to study further and become dual-qualified as a solicitor as well.This was because I developed a keen interest in employment law, and I wanted to be able to use the skills I had to help employers with practical solutions and employee disputes.

“Joining Martin-Kaye is a great opportunity to use all my knowledge and experience for the benefit of companies in the Shropshire area and beyond, and I’m looking forward to working with such a progressive team,” said Tina, who has spent most of her life in Telford.

And it’s not only in practising law that Tina has an in-depth knowledge thanks to her Masters degree in Advanced Legal Practice – she also has degrees in law with psychology, and clinical criminology.

John Mehtam, who leads the Martin-Kaye Employment Law team, said: “
Tina is an invaluable addition to our practice thanks to the training she has received and the skills she has developed. We believe her knowledge will help us to build on the relationships we already have with our clients, and help to attract new companies who are looking for professional help when it comes to difficult employment issues.”