Solicitors in Essex, Colchester, Chelmsford, London – Fisher Jones Greenwoodhttps://www.fjg.co.uk Fri, 14 Dec 2018 16:32:08 +0000en-GBhourly1https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9Dealing with Christmas arrangements following a separationhttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/22/dealing-with-christmas-arrangements-following-a-separation https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/22/dealing-with-christmas-arrangements-following-a-separation#respondThu, 22 Nov 2018 11:44:03 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11459When the parents have separated and the family has changed there is no...

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When the parents have separated and the family has changed there is no denying that deciding on the arrangements for children over the Christmas period can be stressful and emotional for all involved.

Sometimes, one parent will expect to always have care of the children on Christmas Day.  Very often, when courts are asked to make this decision, the court take the view that Christmas arrangements should be alternated between the parents, with one having Christmas Day and the other having Boxing Day and this then alternating the following year. When making the arrangements try to see things from the child’s perspective. Let your child know what the plans are so that they know what to expect and take into consideration their views on those plans. Avoid putting children under pressure by having to choose between you and avoid letting your children feel that they have let you down by enjoying Christmas with the other parent.

Among separated couples with children, they may decide to deal with the arrangements by replicating Christmas Day on Boxing Day, so that the children have two Christmas Days rather than just one.

Agreeing the arrangements for Christmas does not necessarily have to involve a court application and it will be less stressful for all involved if an agreement can be reached without the need to resort to court proceedings.

Mediation is often useful for parents to agree these issues between them if they find communication difficult.

Depending on the children’s age, there will often be several years of Christmases ahead to enjoy with the children, so efforts should be made to ensure agreeing arrangements is as stress-free as possible, and for everyone to feel that the children spend a fair amount of time with each parent.

For further information about the ways in which Fisher Jones Greenwood can help with disputes regarding child arrangements, click here, call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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A Warning – Conduct of Litigation Mattershttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/22/a-warning-conduct-of-litigation-matters https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/22/a-warning-conduct-of-litigation-matters#respondThu, 22 Nov 2018 11:16:09 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11455A recent case, Imram Kassam –v- Karjit Gill and Jagbir Gill (unreported) heard...

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A recent case, Imram Kassam –v- Karjit Gill and Jagbir Gill (unreported) heard by the County Court in Birmingham on appeal, highlights the importance of getting suitably qualified legal professional to act on your behalf in the conduct of litigation.

The case concerned a claim for possession of a property rented to the Defendant, Mr Kassam, under the terms of an assured shorthold tenancy. By the date of the final hearing, the tenant had accrued £13,396.49 of arrears. The Claimant had instructed an enterprise known as “Remove a Tenant” (“RaT”). That business was not a firm of solicitors but had been set up to provide “services to Landlords who wish to obtain possession of their property.” Nonetheless, RaT drafted a section 8 notice for the Claimant, claiming possession under ground 8, 10 and 11 of the Housing Act 1988 Schedule 2. Following the expiry of the notice, RaT issued proceedings on behalf of the Claimant and obtained a possession order on 28 June 2018.

The appeal was to determine three issues. The first, whether the Claim Form, which had been completed by RaT and a statement of truth box ticked by the Claimant, was valid. Secondly, whether RaT was “conducting” litigation, which is a criminal offence for anyone other than a trained, insured and regulated firm of solicitors. Finally, whether the claim was an abuse of process as a result of the above.

Possession claims bought under Ground 8 are now issued online via the Possession Claims Online Portal. Signing the statement of truth confirming the accuracy of the contents of the Claim Form is a serious undertaking. The use of electronic forms creates complications. The PCOL forms contain a simple tick box rather than a signature box. The information submitted at the beginning of the electronic form is used to populate the information at the end of the form.

In this case, RaT filled in the Claimant’s name and the rest of the details contained within the form. RaT then gave the Claimants an opportunity to check the accuracy of the form and the Claimant then ticked the statement of truth before the claim was submitted by RaT, who also paid the Court Fee. The practice direction contained in the Civil Procedure Rules, which deals with statements of truth, provides that “Any provision of the CPR which requires a document to be signed by a person is satisfied by that person entering his name on an online form.”

On the first question, it was found that, although the Claimant had ticked the box himself, the details which populated the statement of truth had been entered by RaT; therefore the Claimant could not be said to have applied his signature personally. The judge did not, however, find that this was fatal to the Claim.

On the second question, the Court found that RaT had “providing advice, drafting the proceedings, paying the issue fee, preparing a witness statement and certificates of service, preparing a hearing bundle and serving it on the Defendant and the Court, making arrangements (through properly qualified solicitors) for an advocate to represent the Claimants, paying for that service, and corresponding with the other party (albeit briefly).” This went beyond the provision of reasonable assistance and amounted to conduct of litigation. As this was a criminal offence, the court could only apply a restrictive interpretation.

On the third question, it was held that the Court could not be expected to give legal effect to a criminal act (i.e. RaT’s conduct of litigation) and that the Claim should be set aside (albeit not struck out). The Court held that it was not just or proportionate to deprive the Claimants of their judgment where they had not committed any wrong. The claim was allowed to continue, albeit, the Claimant’s claim under ground 8 was not due to errors within the section 8 notice.

The exercise was an expensive mistake for the Claimant. Not only did they have to foot the cost of the initial application but in defending the Defendant’s appeal, there was also a recommendation by the judge that they pay the Defendant’s costs. Further, the Defendant’s counterclaim for disrepair and failure to protect the deposit was allowed to continue and the Claimant was left to argue discretionary ground 10, that some rent was lawfully due from the tenant, and 11, that the tenant had persistently delayed in paying rent when it was lawfully due. These are grounds that are less likely to result in the successful eviction of a tenant.

The lesson is clear. If you require to take possession proceedings against a Tenant, instruct a suitably qualified Solicitor to do so on your behalf.

Fisher Jones Greenwood offers a free initial appointment on Wednesday mornings at its Chelmsford office. For details please call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk to speak to our litigation team secretaries who will take some detail from you and arrange an appointment. Alternatively, our team would be happy to book an appointment with one of our qualified solicitors to discuss your matter.

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ACAS issue new Guidance on Performance Managementhttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/22/acas-issue-new-guidance-on-performance-management https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/22/acas-issue-new-guidance-on-performance-management#respondThu, 22 Nov 2018 10:56:27 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11450Earlier this week, ACAS issued fresh guidance on Performance Management. The review of...

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Earlier this week, ACAS issued fresh guidance on Performance Management. The review of its guidance follows a survey of 1003 HR and general managers. The research was carried out by the NatCen Social Research on commission by ACAS. Published under the title ‘Improvement required?’, it found that one in ten employers said that their performance management system was a source of demotivation for its staff. It also found that only one in ten employers used performance management systems for planning and monitoring training and development.

One of the key outcomes from the research was that employers should more carefully consider adjustments that might need to be made for staff with disabilities. ACAS was also keen to highlight that performance management shouldn’t be seen as just a tool to identify poor performance or to measure staff against targets. Its Head of Diversity, Julie Dannis, was quoted as stating: “A good system can help an organisation to motivate their staff, recognise the work of their employees and identify development opportunities.”

The new guidance starts by explaining what performance management is and why it is important. It then goes on to explain, with reference to ACAS’ existing guidance on “How to get performance management right”, what organisations should be doing to achieve the aims of their performance management system. At all stages of the performance management process, an employer should be considering active consideration of workforce diversity and Equality Act provisions when assessing performance management arrangements.

The new ACAS guidance gives employers an opportunity to consider their own performance management processes. Often, policies and procedures are drafted and employers fail to carry out regular reviews of these processes. Poor performance management procedures can lead to claims of breach of contract, unfair dismissal and discrimination, and harassment. Failing to follow a fair performance management procedure can prove very costly for an employer.

Should you need advice on issues related to employee performance, or if you would like to conduct a review of your company policies or procedures then please contact our Employment Team on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.  

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Road Safety Week 2018https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/20/road-safety-week-2018 https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/20/road-safety-week-2018#respondTue, 20 Nov 2018 09:22:35 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11415Monday 19th November marked the beginning of Road Safety Week, coordinated by the...

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Monday 19th November marked the beginning of Road Safety Week, coordinated by the charity Brake. This year the focus will be on raising public awareness over the safety of cyclists and motorcyclists.

The number of cyclists in the UK is increasing at a rapid pace yet cyclists and motorcyclists remain the most vulnerable of all UK road users. Statistics show that in 2016 there were more than 18,000 casualties involving cyclists and more than 19,000 involving motorcyclists. It is reported that more than 100 bike riders are injured every day in preventable crashes.

So this year Brake are encouraging people to be Bike Smart.

There are three main aims to this year’s campaign:

  1. To encourage policymakers to implement changes that protect cyclists including cycle-friendly infrastructure and life-saving technology.
  2. To remind drivers of other vehicles to be Bike Smart, look out for bike riders, reduce their speed and give the riders plenty of space.
  3. To remind cyclists and motorcyclists to also remain Bike Smart by practicing safety riding behaviours and ensuring they have the correct training and equipment before taking to the road.

By adopting this year’s theme for Road Safety Week, Bike Smart, Brake is hoping to deliver safer journeys which encourage cyclists onto the roads. In turn, it hopes to reduce congestion and improve public health with fewer risks of injury or fatalities.

Throughout the week, businesses and individuals will be raising awareness for bike safety through talks, challenges and banners and Brake is encouraging everyone to take part.

To find out more visit their website http://www.brake.org.uk/.

If you have already been involved in an accident on a bicycle or motorcycle that wasn’t your fault, the personal injury team at Fisher Jones Greenwood may be able to pursue a no win no fee claim for compensation on your behalf. To speak to a Solicitor who can assess your claim please call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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FJG awarded Deaf-Aware Quality Mark from the RADhttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/19/fjg-awarded-deaf-aware-quality-mark https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/19/fjg-awarded-deaf-aware-quality-mark#respondMon, 19 Nov 2018 12:06:03 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11347We are proud to announce that we have been awarded a Deaf-Aware Quality...

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We are proud to announce that we have been awarded a Deaf-Aware Quality Mark from the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD).

As one of the leading Deaf charities delivering specialist services to, and working within the Deaf Community, RAD is committed to supporting mainstream services to become more accessible to Deaf people.

Communication is one of the biggest barriers and causes of social isolation for Deaf people, meaning that access to services can be a real challenge.

Paula Fowler, Managing Partner, Fisher Jones Greenwood said “Achieving the Deaf-Aware Quality Mark shows the commitment FJG has to helping everyone within the Deaf community.

It has been an inspirational, humbling journey working with Russell and others at RAD.  The training and guidance received along the way was motivational for everyone involved giving them a solid foundation on which to build.”

There are three standards that FJG had to achieve to be awarded their Deaf-Aware Quality Mark:

  • Accessibility – focuses on the personnel and equipment provisions linked to reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010
  • Communication – focuses on Deaf awareness and communication provision
  • Equality – focuses on developing equality between Deaf and hearing customers with regards to services provided by Fisher Jones Greenwood

Amanda Casson-Webb, Co-CEO, Royal Association for Deaf people said ‘We are delighted to award FJG with their Deaf-Aware Quality Mark. They have demonstrated a proactive approach to raise their Deaf awareness and ensure that their legal services are truly accessible to Deaf people. We are looking forward to continuing to support FJG in the future and hope that other law practices/firms will follow their lead.’

FJG is also the first law firm to work with SignLive, ensuring that Deaf clients gain swifter access to a qualified British Sign Language Interpreter.

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Fisher Jones Greenwood offer fixed fee packages for disputes between parentshttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/15/fisher-jones-greenwood-offer-fixed-fee-packages-for-disputes-between-parents https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/15/fisher-jones-greenwood-offer-fixed-fee-packages-for-disputes-between-parents#respondThu, 15 Nov 2018 16:38:35 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11267When parents separate, children can often be caught in the middle. Going to...

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When parents separate, children can often be caught in the middle. Going to Court about your children can be very unsettling both emotionally and financially. If you are a parent and need to make an application to the Court or a parent receiving an application made by the other parent, then we offer fixed fee price packages. We understand that these times can be stressful and you may be worried that costs will spiral out of control so by offering fixed price services we hope that this will provide peace of mind.

With our fixed fee service, our Solicitors will provide you with the highest level of care throughout. They will support and guide you through this difficult time offering constructive advice at all stages of the process.

Details of the fixed feed packages and costs can be found by clicking here: https://www.fjg.co.uk/services/services-for-you/family/information-about-legal-costs/

Please contact us on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk for more information.

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“Times Up” at Googlehttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/12/times-up-at-google https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/12/times-up-at-google#respondMon, 12 Nov 2018 14:49:06 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11184Thousands of Google employees staged walkouts across offices in Asia, Europe and US...

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Thousands of Google employees staged walkouts across offices in Asia, Europe and US after a small group of staff announced a protest and demands on social media for the company to:
  1. End pay inequality and provide statistics on the number of harassment claims;
  2. End policy of forced arbitration which prohibits staff from suing in harassment claims;
  3. Appoint employee representative at the board;
  4. Provide disclosure of salaries; and
  5. Appoint a Chief Diversity Officer.

The New York Times reported that Google allowed senior executives subject to “credible” allegations to leave quietly with substantial severance pay-outs not to work for Google competitors. According to the paper, only 31% of its global workforce are women and only 26% of its executives are women. Recent allegations about inequities at Google have included a Department for Labour investigation into the systemic gender pay gap in the US. Lawsuits have also been filed in relation to gender bias in pay and promotion.

What does equal pay for equal work mean?

Equal work doesn’t require you to do the same job. The Equality Act says that equal work can mean work where one job is similar to another and where the differences do not affect their practical terms.

In the UK, all employees have the right to equal pay if they work:

  • for the same employer at the same workplace;
  • for the same employer but at a different workplace where common terms and conditions apply, for example at another branch of a store; and
  • for an associated employer (e.g. parent organisation).

Equal pay claims include pension benefits, holiday pay, company cars, overtime, bonuses, shift work, and sick pay.

In the UK from April 2018 businesses with more than 250 employees have been required to publish gender pay gap information. This includes the differences between the pay of men and women and the discrepancies in their bonuses.

If you feel that you are being paid less than your colleague who is of the opposite sex then:

  1. You must first identify the person who you are comparing your pay to. The comparator does not have to have the same job as you. They have to work for the same employer but that could include a parent company. However, they do not have work at the same location as you.
  2. Write to your employer to ask if there is a difference in your pay and that of your colleague and request for reasons for this.

Try and resolve the situation informally. If you do not receive a response your employer then file a formal grievance.  Notes of meetings and copies of all emails should be retained.

Formal grievance

Your employer will usually arrange a meeting to discuss your grievance. It may want to investigate further before making a decision on whether or not it thinks you are entitled to equal pay.

Mediation

Sometimes a mediator can help you and your employer reach an agreement with your employer.

Time limits

You can make a claim for equal pay at any point during your employment. A claim may be lodged within six months after you’ve left a firm. This time limit may be affected if:

    • You are incapacitated
    • If your  employer has deliberately concealed the pay inequality
    • If you have been engaged on several contracts
    • If there has been a fundamental change to the claimant’s contract of employment
    • If there has been a TUPE transfer
    • If you have been in the Armed Forces

If you would like to discuss an employment-related issue please contact Neemah Ahamed by calling 01206 700113 or emailing contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Fisher Jones Greenwood Starts Free Landlord & Tenant Advice Clinichttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/12/fisher-jones-greenwood-starts-free-landlord-tenant-advice-clinic https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/12/fisher-jones-greenwood-starts-free-landlord-tenant-advice-clinic#respondMon, 12 Nov 2018 14:05:00 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11172Do you have a burning legal question concerning your responsibilities as a landlord...

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Do you have a burning legal question concerning your responsibilities as a landlord or your rights as a tenant?

Fisher Jones Greenwood offer a free drop-in clinic on Wednesday mornings. Our solicitors are happy to discuss your legal issues during a free 15-minute consultation on this day. We have appointments available between 10 am and 1 pm on Wednesday’s at our Chelmsford office on Baddow Road, a short walk from Chelmsford town centre. (map to the right)

While we cannot provide in-depth specific legal advice on a matter, it can help to point you in the right direction.

We are happy to provide assistance to Landlords on matters concerning:

  1. Entering into a tenancy agreement with a tenant and your responsibilities beyond this.
  2. Tenant breaches of tenancy agreements.
  3. Forfeiture of commercial leases

Similarly, Tenants can also receive advice on:

  1. Repair obligations
  2. Deposit protection concerns
  3. Defending possession claims

The above examples are by no means exhaustive of the types of advice our solicitors are able to give. If you wish to meet with them, it is necessary to book an appointment. Please call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk to speak to our litigation team secretaries who will take some detail from you and arrange an appointment.

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Samaritans Partnershiphttps://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/08/samaritans-partnership https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/08/samaritans-partnership#respondThu, 08 Nov 2018 15:16:37 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11131Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors are delighted to announce that it is working in...

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Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors are delighted to announce that it is working in informal-partnership with the Samaritans of Chelmsford & Mid Essex to provide both legal and support services to the Chelmsford region and beyond.

Samaritans

The Samaritans are operated by a workforce of volunteers who all share the vision that fewer people die by suicide. The Samaritans work to achieve this vision by making it their mission to alleviate emotional distress and reduce the incidence of suicide feelings and suicidal behaviour.

In Chelmsford, the Samaritans are open for half the week, many days around the clock. The core of its work is a telephone helpline, in addition, to which it offers a drop-in service for face-to-face discussion, provides emotional support via email and SMS, undertakes outreach at festivals and other outdoor events and trains prisoners as “Listeners” to provide support within HMP Chelmsford.

The Samaritans are locally run, entirely by volunteers.

With the support of Fisher Jones Greenwood and working in partnership with them, the Chelmsford & Mid Essex Samaritans can stay open; each year answering 20,000 calls, spending 4,500 hours on the telephone and replying to 2,300 texts and 2,000 emails.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors, with more than 35 years’ experience, has over 160 lawyers, paralegals and support staff to deal with all legal needs. Its modern, forward-thinking approach has seen it stay at the forefront of what is now a fast-moving, evolving market. This has been achieved by listening to its clients’ feedback and committing to providing the highest possible levels of customer service.

From commercial property and commercial litigation through to employment law and immigration services, Fisher Jones Greenwood can help all clients in most areas of law. Where clients’ needs and requirements are paramount, you can trust Fisher Jones Greenwood to provide innovative services and straightforward, commercially relevant advice to all our clients.

The Samaritans and Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP are committed to working together to raise the awareness and reach of the good work done by both the Samaritans and Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP, the latter especially through its charitable foundation known as the ‘FJG Foundation’. By working together, it is hoped that a real impact can be made in Chelmsford and the surrounding areas, to reduce the number of emotional distress cases recorded and ensure those that need the support offered by the Samaritans and Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP, receive it.

Both the Chelmsford & Mid Essex Samaritans and Fisher Jones Greenwood Solicitors are very excited to be working in informal-partnership with one another to extend the remit of the services provided by each service and doing what they can to help those in the local communities of Essex.

If you would like advice or information in relation to any of the services offered or provided by either the Samaritans or Fisher Jones Greenwood, please contact our Corporate Commercial Team on 01206 700113 or contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Proposed average probate fee increase of 545%https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/07/proposed-average-probate-fee-increase-of-545 https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2018/11/07/proposed-average-probate-fee-increase-of-545#respondWed, 07 Nov 2018 10:49:39 +0000https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=11111On Monday the Government laid before Parliament new legislation with a proposed structure...

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On Monday the Government laid before Parliament new legislation with a proposed structure of court fees payable to obtain a grant of probate.  When someone dies and probate is required, these fees are payable by the executor appointed in the Will (or administrators if no Will).  In 2017 such a proposal was made however it was never implemented because at the time the elections intervened.

Currently, a flat fee of £155 is payable upon a probate application made by a solicitor (a lay person pays £215). The proposed fees will see a dramatic increase and are based on the value of the estate. The average estates are valued at £300,000 to £500,000 so the new probate fee will be £1000 which is a massive 545% increase.

Estates valued at less than £50,000, will not pay a fee (the current limit is £5000) but in practice, it is rare for an estate of this value to have to go to probate in any event.

The proposed fees are:

Value of estate / Proposed fee

  • Up to £50,000 – £0
  • £50k-£300k – £300
  • £300k-£500k – £1,000
  • £500k-£1m – £4,000
  • £1m-£1.6m – £8,000
  • £1.6m-£2m – £12,000
  • More than £2m – £20,000

The probate fee has to be paid in advance of the grant being issued.  Therefore the executor (or administrator if there is no Will) will have to settle the fee and later be reimbursed by the estate. The Government states that “The cost of the fee is recoverable from the estate and executors have several options to fund it” – however it is not very clear as to what these options are.  In cases where families are dealing with the estate of a loved one, this can add even more worry at a very emotional time.

The proposed increase is not without controversy.  Firstly, the argument against the drastic increase is that the Probate Court are providing a service.  The same service is applied by the Court regardless of whether a loved one’s estate is worth £100,000 or one million pounds, so the question being asked is why in the latter case should the fee be more when no additional work is undertaken by the Court?

Secondly, the current method that has been adopted to increase these fees, means that the government are proposing to avoid the scrutiny of parliament as the changes will be brought in by way of a statutory instrument.

It remains to be seen whether the new fee increase will be implemented.  If you need help with any Probate matters, we can help. Please call us on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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