Contact Law blog

September 2010

Millions of pounds in compensation paid to unlawfully detained migrants

The Guardian reports that millions of pounds is being paid to migrants as compensation for their treatment in UK detention centres. The compensation payments are couched in terms of ‘special payments’, which government figures show amount to £12m for 2009/10; this is up on the £3m paid in the previous year. These special payments include other payments than compensation, but a Home Office official was unable to specify precisely what proportion of this amount constituted compensation.

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Does every estate need a grant of probate?

Whether or not an estate needs a grant of probate will depend on the value of the assets that make up that estate. Generally, small estates that have a value of less than £5,000 and where all the tangible assets such as property are jointly owned with someone else, probate will not be needed. You should still check with an experienced wills and probate solicitor to ensure you do not have to fulfill any obligations.
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Does marriage invalidate an earlier will?

If you get married, the validity of your previous will depends on how you own your assets. Generally speaking, any previous will would be voided if you get remarried and jointly own any assets with your new spouse. On your death, all the joint assets will automatically become the property of your surviving husband or wife.
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Why are there different tracks for civil claims?

In civil claims, the court will allocate the matter to one of three tracks. Namely, the small claims track, the fast track, and the multi-track. When deciding which track to allocate a case to, the principal factor taken into account by the courts is the financial value of the claim.
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What is the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court was established by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The Court replaced the House of Lords, previously the last court of appeal in the UK. The business and workings of the Court will be essentially the same as those of the House of Lords; the changes brought about by the reforms are constitutional in nature and beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that The Supreme Court operates with greater independence from Parliament than the House of Lords, and with greater transparency and openness. (more…)

When should you use a tax solicitor versus a tax accountant?

All businesses should have their annual tax return completed by a tax accountant. These professionals not only have the knowledge and skills to ensure that all tax returns are completed on time and are a true and accurate reflection of the business’s tax affairs, HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs) will also appreciate the fact that the return was completed by a recognised (i.e. chartered) accountant.
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Why is Stamp Duty a key topic in 2010?

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is a tax that is imposed by the Government on property and land transactions in the UK. It applies to the purchase of residential and non-residential properties, and to both freehold and leasehold properties. The rate of SDLT depends on the type of property involved in the transaction and its purchase price.
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What are the sources of UK law?

UK law comes from three main sources: legislation, case law and European law. When we consider the sources of UK law we must consider that the UK is made up of four different countries and as a result the sources of law vary between those countries.

Scotland has its own system of laws and courts and its own Parliament. Northern Ireland has a similar system to that of England and Wales. England and Wales have the same legal system and laws passed by the UK Parliament automatically apply to Wales. The Welsh Assembly has created some measures resulting in different law in Wales, although this has yet to produce any significant differences.

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What is the law regarding phone-tapping?

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights gives everybody in the UK the right to a private and family life. This guarantees respect for privacy, although it can be derogated from in certain situations, for example in the interests of national security. Your solicitor can explain where Article 8 may not apply and how this could affect your case.

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What is the law regarding criminal transmission of HIV in the UK?

Recent court cases in England, Wales and Scotland have seen criminal prosecutions of people who have caused the transmission of HIV to their sexual partners. The criminalisation of HIV transmission is fairly new and the laws have developed not by statute but by individual cases in the courts. For this reason it is difficult to examine the current law with much precision. Additionally, the law in England and Wales differs from that applicable in Scotland.

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