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 Cohabitation - know your rights (11/01/2014)

Do you and your partner live together? Are you married? If not then read this article and get in touch with our Family Department if you have any concerns - 01270 212000 or 01270 610300 Click here for the link to the article

 Government Launch Mediation video guide (16/07/2013)

Click here to view the video about Mediation launched by the government

 Co-op are to offer family law services (08/11/2011)

Local solicitors are, surprisingly, welcoming the Co-op‘ s announcement that it is setting up a family law service aimed at people earning £15,000 - £40,000.

Hall Smith Whittingham, who are members of the prestigious Legal 500, already have 5 highly experienced and highly qualified family lawyers within their family team. It remains to be seen whether the Co-op will be able to recruit the same ratio of lawyers of that calibre.

Local Lawyers are also very confident that they will be able to offer at least equal service (but locally and not over the telephone) at equal, or less, cost.

‘Many people believe that the Co-op provides good value for money. It will be a tremendous yardstick by which our own clients will be able to compare the value for money service we provide alongside the Co-op‘s. Unfortunarely we will not be able to offer a ‘divi‘.‘

Chris Dodd

Managing Partner

 Solicitors Slam cuts in legal aid (02/11/2011)

Jane Wilson, who is also the chairman of the influential law group Resolutions‘ Domestic Abuse Committtee, highlights widespead concern that the governments cost cutting proposals on legal aid ‘will reduce justice to the poorest and most vulnerable in society, and will lead to children losing contact with their parents, and disproportionately affect women and those who have been abused‘.

See Jane's Crewe Chronicle interview - click here Crewe Chronicle 2 November 2011 - click here to read the full article

 Rights for unmarried couples are abandoned. (14/09/2011)

Extract from THE TIMES 14/9/11

(Frances Gibb Legal Editor)

Millions of unmarried couples who lose out financially if they separate will not be given new legal rights as recommended by the Government’s law reform watchdog.

The decision has been greeted with dismay by lawyers and senior family judges, who have warned that the present law leads to hardship and injustice when unmarried couples split up. At present, they have few legal rights, despite the myth of the common-law wife being entitled to maintenance or cash sums.

The Law Commission of England and Wales was asked in 2005 by the previous Government to look at the law as it applies to unmarried couples when they separate. In its 2007 report it recommended a new scheme of financial rights for unmarried couples.

Only those who had children and had been together for a suggested two to five years (the time was to be set by Parliament) would be able to apply for maintenance if they separated. Couples could also opt out of the scheme and financial awards would be based solely on contributions made to the relationship.

The Labour Government delayed implementation, saying that it wanted to wait for the findings of research in Scotland, where cohabitants have had legal rights since 2006. But Jonathan Djanogly, justice minister, has now said that those findings ‘do not provide us with a sufficient basis for a change in the law‘ and added ‘We do not intend to take forward the Law Commission’s recommendations‘. in this parliamentary term.‘

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said ‘The Government is committed to transforming the family justice system, including greater use of mediation for married or cohabiting couples, which can often be quicker, cheaper and less traumatic than going to Court.‘

Although ministers have cited the Scottish research as a reason for not legislating, a more likely one is the political sensitivities involved. The proposals would have received a bumpy ride from critics who fear that they undermine the institution of marriage.

The research, which was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, into the impact of legal rights for cohabitants in Scotland noted that the law had been in force for only four years and it was ‘early days‘. But it also said that the present law in England and Wales was ‘costly to operate‘ and regarded as producing outcomes that were ‘unfair.‘

Elizabeth Cooke, the Law Commissioner in charge of the project, said that the commission hoped the legislation would be given a slot early in the next Parliament. She said “The prevalence of cohabitation and of the birth of children to couples who lives together means that the need for reform of the law can only become more pressing over time.

David Allison, chairman of Resolution, which represents 5,000 family lawyers, said that one in four couples are predicted to cohabit by 2031. He added: ‘Time and again our members see people who thought they had legal protection as ‘common-law‘ husband and wife and who find out too late that they have no rights when they separate. Many then find themselves dependant on the State for help with housing and other living costs.‘

 Government cuts at the heart of Justice (29/06/2011)

Parliament is now debating the Government's Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. What will be the consequence?

Consider the woman who has been married for 25 years, and has had his 2 grown up children. Her partner has now told her to leave while he takes up with a younger woman. The house is in his sole name and he has always ‘managed the family finances‘. She has only ever worked part time whilst she has washed, cooked, cleaned and generally devoted herself to the care of the family. She is financially niave -having left all the finances to her Husband. She thinks he has a number of savings accounts, thoey have a property abroad (in his name) and a very good occupational pension. Sound familiar?

(Sorry, actually this probably will sound familiar to many of the clients we help, but it is not intended to refer to any particular individual or matter)

If the proposed Bill becomes law she will not be entitled to legal aid. There is also no such thing as a ‘No win, no fee‘ arrangement in Family work. She will be left without proper advice and support and probably without and real chance of getting anything like approaching a fair settlement. The Husband will be able to afford to pay good lawyers to help avoid her claims so that she will pleased accept ANYTHING by the end of what is often a very intimidating process. Our District Judges are far too busy to investigate all matters as thoroughly as they might wish and indeed our system of law actually relies on Lawyers to investigate matters, and of making sure the Judge has all the facts needed to fairly reach a decision. In fact under our historical adversarial system of law the Judges are expected NOT to take any ‘partisan‘ approach to investiate the facts (and hidden bank account) on behalf of the woman mentioned above. Tough luck for her then! The Husband need not be questioned about matters the Wife fails to mention or does not know about.

Never mind the Government‘s rhetoric about fat cat Lawayers. Did you know that the average teacher (and certainly the average policemen) will probably get paid more than the average legal aid lawyer under the government‘s existing legal aid deal - the one they are now wanting to take away altogether. AND yet we probably spend less than, for example, France on it‘s inquisitorial system of justice, so ensuring fairness for the poorer and the most disenfranchised of it‘s society. We also give India more than double the spending Bill of ALL legal aid help across the board in family work, clinical personal injury, housing etc. India is a nuclear power and has a space agency!

Is this in a Third world country? No. It is in Cameron's 'Big Society' (always good for a laugh is David).

Personal Comment by Chris Dodd

 A bad time for Justice (24/06/2011)

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill Justice Bill just placed before Parliament represents the single biggest attack on state-funded legal advice for the poor and vulnerable since the legal aid system was introduced as a vital part of the welfare state in the aftermath of the Second World War.

We believe the Government’s proposals are a serious attach on Justice and access to Justice for a very significant proportion of the population - particularly the most vulnerable.

Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society: ‘Today’s planned legislation will disproportionately impact upon the most needy and the least able to defend themselves by effectively scrapping social welfare law from the legal aid scheme. The existing system of legal aid provides a crucial safety net for some of the most vulnerable people in our society - the elderly, the disabled, the abused, children and the mentally ill - suffering from some of the most complex problems relating to homelessness, destitution, domestic violence and separation of families. Ministers propose removing housing, employment,
family, money and debt advice from the legal aid scheme in one fell swoop.‘

This is a bad day indeed for access to justice.

As well as removing entire areas of law from the legal aid scheme, ministers are also planning to slash the level of eligibility for civil legal which mean mosthomeowners in the South East won’ t be able to qualify. Those people on state
benefits such as Jobseekers’ Allowance will no longer automatically qualify. At
present just over one third of the population (36%) is entitled to legal aid,
compared to 80% when the scheme was introduced more than 60 years ago.
Cutting legal aid is ’ a false economy’ , continues Hudson. ‘The early resolution of someone's legal problems prevents lives spiraling out of control and that creates knock-on costs the state in terms of welfare benefits, cost to the NHS etc. For every one pound of legal aid spent, it is reckoned that the state potentially saves £8.80. Further, ministerial plans to remove areas of law from the legal aid scheme fail to recognize that reality that vulnerable people need advice on a range of interconnected problems. The plans to remove £350 million out of the £2.2 billion scheme will also irreversibly damage the provider base of solicitors’ firms and the not-for-profit sector creating justice desserts across the country.‘

Legal aid will no longer be available for the following issues:

• Debt matters where the client's home is not at immediate risk;

• Education;

• Employment;

• Other housing matters;

• Immigration where the individual is not detained;

• Private Law children and family cases (where domestic violence is not

• Welfare benefits;

• Divorce (where domestic violence is not present).

The government proposes that homeowners with a property worth over
£200,000 will not be eligible for legal aid even if they have no other disposable
income and little or no equity in the home.
Citizens Advice reckons that for every £1 spent on legal aid on debt advice, the taxpayer could save £2.98 on knock-on costs, and for every £1 on benefits advice, £8.80.

About ’Sound Off For Justice’

Sound Off For Justice is a campaign that wants to make a noise for all those that will be silenced in court if the Government’s proposals go ahead. SOFJ believes that a ubiquitous and fundamental rule for a civilised society is that everyone has a right to legal representation. With these principles and knowing the state of the country’s economic position, Sound Off For Justice has put forward a selection of positive reforms that would allow the areas currently proposed to go out of scope to no longer be scrapped allowing the country’s most vulnerable and needy to still have access to justice when they need it the most. Justice cannot be a right for the wealthy few, but for the whole of this country - after all it is our social standards that made this country Great Britain. Sound Off For Justice is a sister campaign of Justice For All.

The government is proposing cuts that will take £350 million out of the Legal Aid budget, with key areas including medical negligence and family issues, such as divorce, coming out of scope entirely, meaning that even the most deserving cases will not have access to Legal Aid. The Law Society has launched its new campaign, Sound Off For Justice, to help place pressure on the government to consider alternative reforms that, whilst making the required savings, would protect Legal Aid funding for millions of Britons.
Find out more at (click)

The Women’s Institute, Netmums, Shelter, Rights of Women, BOAZ Trust, The Children’s Legal Centre, Refugee Council, Gingerbread, Coalition of Resistance,Community Links, AvMA, Eaves Housing, Migrants Rights Network, Justice For All, The Law Pages, Hanne & Co.
Jemima Khan, Bianca Jagger, Joanna Lumley, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP, Harriet Harman MP, Tracey Ullman, The
Gurkhas, Thomasina Miers, Alistair McGowan, Jenny Eclair, Michael Mansfield QC, Alistair Campbell, Lynda Bellingham, Kate Green MP, Ben Shires and many, many more British citizens back the Sound Off For Justice campaign

 Jane Wilson warns parliament (14/02/2011)

Jane Wilson, senior partner at Hall Smith Whittingham LLP solicitors of Nantwich Road, Crewe warned the Family Courts Enquiry that the coalition proposals to cut legal aid are set to create misery for the abused and vulnerable.

The proposed cuts will leave large groups of vulnerable people without legal help, including people who want to divorce or whose partner wants to divorce them. The only option for families who still qualify for legal aid will be mediation, which is not suitable for all cases.

Jane Wilson gave evidence to the Family Courts Enquiry in Parliament on behalf Resolution, an organisation of 5700 family lawyers committed to achieving constructive and lasting outcomes when relationships breakdown. Mrs Wilson said ’Where one of the parties is exercising control or bullying, mediation is not appropriate. The risk is that the victim will agree to something that is inappropriate because they are afraid of repercussions if they do not.’

Large groups of people in need _ including parents who need help in tracing or arranging contact with their children and cohabitants at risk of losing their home _ will no longer be eligible for legal aid, except when there has been recent domestic violence.

Women such as Mrs E will have to represent themselves in court against their abusers. Mrs E fled to a refuge when she left her violent husband 3 years ago. She had not wished to rock the boat so she did not make an application for an injunction. She now needs to apply for legal aid to go to court to force a sale of the house she still owns with her him. She has the care of the children and only receives minimal child support from the father. She would not receive legal aid under the new scheme. A mediator is unlikely to consider it suitable for them to meet at mediation to discuss the house, because of Mrs E’s fear of her husband. Her only option will be to represent herself at court and cross-examine the man who abused her.

As the consultation on legal aid reform closed this week, David Allison, Chair of Resolution said: ’The Government’s deeply flawed proposed cuts could spell the end of family Legal Aid in England and Wales. They would certainly be a hammer blow for huge numbers of families and children, creating a society in which it is virtually impossible to gain free legal help when going through the pain of divorce and separation.

The Government should shelve these quick fix proposals, and take a more considered, constructive approach that includes fully joined-up thinking with its own on-going Family Justice Review. Otherwise the government risks creating an expensive mess that will cause misery for huge numbers of families and children.’

The proposals ignore the fact that 90 percent of cases are currently settled out of court through lawyer-negotiation. The proposed cuts could create spiralling costs for the taxpayer and create chaos in the family court system.

Contact Jane Wilson

 Jane Wilson writes on Domestic Violence (01/02/2011)

Jane Wilson, senior partner, has had an important article publish in the Family Law Journal dealing with Domestic Abuse.

Jane has already had a book published on the subject that is a reference guide to all solicitors.

Family Law Journal article - click here to read more

With thanks to the Family Law Journal for allowing us to reproduce this article

 Jane Wilson chairs national event (10/11/2010)

Nov 10 2010 by simon halewood, Crewe Chronicle

A LEADING family lawyer from Crewe has taken the chair at a prestigious national conference on the issue of domestic abuse.

Jane Wilson, a partner at Hall Smith Whittingham LLP of Nantwich Road, Crewe, spoke alongside Sir Nicholas Wall, president of the Family Division of the High Court at the Resolution London event - entitled ’Seeking Safety ’The Whole Picture’.

Sir Nicholas Wall recently made national headlines for claiming well-educated parents can do their children enormous harm by using them against the other parent during a marital split or separation.
Mrs Wilson delivered the opening address at the conference, introducing all speakers and also chairing a question and answer session alongside a senior county court judge, a senior police officer and other professionals.

She said: ’Domestic violence affects one-in-four women and one-in-six men in their lifetime. It crosses all economic and social divides and can be at the centre of any family situation.
That’s why it is so important that professionals of all disciplines work together and share experience and expertise at events like this.’

Mrs Wilson specialises in domestic abuse issues and deals with all aspects of family and children work in Cheshire

Reported in The Chronicle 10 November 2010

 Pre nuptual agreements - the latest (20/10/2010)

The Supreme Court yesterday delivered its long-awaited judgment in the case of Radmacher v Granatino. Some of the country’ s most senior law lords have held that pre-nuptial agreements can have ’decisive or compelling weight.’

The judgment follows Nicolas Granatino’ s appeal against the Court of Appeal decision which ruled in favour of his former wife, Katrin Radmacher. Mr Granatino, who hailed from a wealthy French family, had worked as an international financier. He abandoned his several hundred thousand pounds a year salary in the City to pursue a doctorate at Oxford University. Ms Radmacher is a German paper heiress and is reportedly worth £100m. The couple, who married in 1998 and had two children, separated in 2006. They had signed a pre-nuptial agreement ’binding under both French and German law ’ under which no financial provision was to be made for either party in the event of divorce.

Mr Granatino challenged the validity of the pre-nuptial agreement in the English courts on the basis that, amongst other reasons, he had received no independent legal advice, the outcome would be manifestly unfair and the marriage had produced two children. In 2008, the court of first instance awarded Mr Granatino a lump sum of over £5.5m. The judge took account of the fact that there had been no legal advice and that no provision had been made for the children. However, the agreement was not ignored completely.

Ms Radmacher appealed the decision. The Court of Appeal upheld her challenge, reducing Mr Granatino’s award, said that the judge at first instance ought to have given greater weight to the pre-nuptial agreement to reflect the fact that both parties were from countries where such agreements are standard practice and enforceable; it was suggested that our divorce laws should be brought in line with other EU states.

Mr Granatino’ s appeal to the Supreme Court was yesterday dismissed. The court said that the principle to be applied is that a court should give effect to a nuptial agreement provided that it is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless, in the circumstances prevailing, it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.

The court went on to say that a nuptial agreement cannot be allowed to prejudice the reasonable requirements of any children of the family, but respect should be given to individual autonomy. IN the right case, a pre-nuptial agreement can have decisive or compelling weight. Until now, pre-nuptial agreements had been one of many factors that the court takes into consideration when determining the appropriate level of financial settlement. It now seems that that separating couples should be bound by pre-nuptial agreements regulating financial settlement on divorce.

Source Connect2law

 Important Information - Domestic Abuse (12/05/2010)

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be subjected to domestic abuse. Many will not seek help, either from a solicitors or a GP.

The government defines domestic abuse as

’Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality’

You can logon to Solicitors Family Law Association’s website (now called RESOLUTION) and download, free, their Toolkit for domestic abuse sufferers.

Website: Resolution

 Managing Summer - Contact with Children (02/06/2009)

A useful guide and advice has been given by Christina McGhee of DIVORCE and CHILDREN.

Parenting Apart - click here

 Debt Relief Orders (28/05/2009)

An alternative to bankruptcy for an individual who is insolvent.


New Legislation was introduced from 06 April 2009 to provide a further alternative to bankruptcy for an individual who is insolvent and cannot pay their debts and provides for a Debt Relief Order (DRO).

The introduction of DROs is intended to minimise the cost of dealing with your insolvent financial affairs and allow you to obtain relief from them. Bankruptcy can cost in excess of £500.

Qualifying for a DRO
There are a number of requirements that you must meet before you qualify to apply for a DRO:

• You must be unable to pay your debts

• Your total debts must not be more than £15,000.

This does not include unliquidated debts (debts where the amount due is not yet known) or debts that cannot be included in a DRO (such as Student Loans, Fines etc.)

• Your total assets must not be more than £300.

It is important to note here that the £300 relates to the total value of your assets before charges such as a mortgage. In other words if you have a house with a mortgage (even if it is in negative equity) you will not qualify for a DRO.

• Your disposable income after deducting all normal living expenses, must not be more than £50 per month

• You must be living in England or Wales, or at any time during the last 3 years have been resident or carrying on business in England or Wales.

• You must not have been subject to a DRO within the last 6 years.

• You must not be involved in any other formal insolvency procedure at the time of the application for a DRO e.g. already be bankrupt or subject to an IVA.

• If you have presented your own petition for bankruptcy the court must have referred you to the DRO procedure.

• If you have been notified that a creditor has presented a bankruptcy petition against you, then you must get that creditor’s permission to apply for a DRO.

How to obtain a DRO

Providing you meet the criteria, the procedure for obtaining a DRO is relatively simple:

• The application can only be made on-line with the assistance of an approved intermediary (details of these are given below)

• A fee of £90 must be paid (compared to £500 or so for a bankruptcy) to the Official Receiver; and

• The Official Receiver then assesses the on-line application and if appropriate makes the DRO.

How does a DRO affect you?

When a DRO is made the effect of this is:

• It provides you with protection from enforcement action by your creditors, i.e. they cannot pursue you any more for their debt;
• The DRO normally lasts for up to 12 months and after that period the debts are written off;
• It imposes certain restrictions (very similar to bankruptcy) on you. The main restrictions are not being able to obtain credit of more than £500 without saying you have a DRO, and you cannot be a director of a limited company or be involved in the promotion, formation or management of a limited company.
• There are some other restrictions not detailed here.

A DRO is very similar to bankruptcy and virtually all the restrictions placed on you are the same.

It is important to note that a DRO is a very good solution for someone with relatively uncomplicated financial affairs. The Official Receiver will not generally investigate your affairs but is able to do so if he suspects you have not made a full disclosure in your application or if a creditor makes a complaint about you obtaining a DRO.

A DRO should therefore not be considered as an 'easy way out' of dealing with your financial affairs. It is there to assist someone who would normally have gone down the bankruptcy route, but has a relatively low level of debts and assets and cannot afford the costs of their own bankruptcy petition. If you are found to have been 'less than honest' then rather than lasting for 12 months, a DRO can be extended (together with all of its restrictions on you) for up to 15 years depending on how serious it is!

Approved intermediaries

The following authorities are charities which can put you in touch with an approved intermediary:

Citizens Advice Bureau

Myddelton House

115-123 Pentonville Road


N1 9LZ

Telephone: 0207 833 2181


National Debtline

Tricorn House

51-53 Hagley Road



B16 8TP

Telephone: 0121 410 6247


Consumer Credit Counselling Service

Wade House

Merrion Centre



Telephone: 0800 138 1111 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm)



DSi Services

 Warning - Loans to Children (12/02/2009)

The Law Society is warning parents to be careful when making loans to their children. The warning comes in the light of restrictive lending conditions in the mortgage market which have required young people to stump up large deposits when buying their first home.

The parents must decide whether they are making a loan, a gift or taking part ownership in the property. If they are making a loan they must decide on the terms of the loan. These terms must be set out in writing and should state at least the amount of the loan, the rate of interest payable, how and when the capital is repayable.

If it is not clear that a loan has been made then the money may never be returned as it may be treated as being a gift. The Law Society cite the case of parents making a £ 150,000 loan to a married child without documenting the loan. Unfortunately for all parties the child died, but the parents were dealt a double blow when they discovered he died intestate. This meant that all he owned passed to his widow. As there was no evidence of a loan the £ 150,000 could not be recovered.

If a loan is made at interest, the interest will be charged to income tax on the parents.

If the parents take part-ownership of the property, their share of any capital gains on sale of the property will be chargeable to capital gains tax, as it is not their main residence.

If the parents make a gift this will be a potentially exempt transfer for IHT purposes.

Kay Masters

 HSW supporting new 'Living Together' Bill (22/07/2008)

(Reported Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle 16 July 2008)

Senior partner Jane Wilson is joining forces with one of Britain's top law makers to introduce a Bill in the House of Lords this autumn. As a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers, Jane is supporting the Bill as part of a new campaign to end the injustice and financial hardship faced by thousands of cohabiting couples, carers and siblings who live together.

The Bill to give rights to couples who live together will be introduced by Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, a veteran human rights lawyer who successfully introduced the Forced Marriages Bill and was instrumental in developing the recent Civil Partnership Act.

"It is a scandal in modern Britain that existing law does almost nothing to prevent people from losing their home or sliding into poverty if their relationship breaks down or their partner dies," says Jane.

"Sensibly drafted legislation is urgently needed to tackle the vulnerability not only of unmarried cohabiting couples and their children but also co-dependent carers and siblings who live together."

The Bill's introduction is part of a new "Living Together" campaign, launched today by Resolution and Lord Lester's Odysseus Trust.

Joyce and Sybil Burden, the elderly sisters who took their 30-year fight to protect their home from inheritance tax right up to the European Court of Human Rights, have added their support to the campaign:

"We have always tried to secure each other's future after the death of one, but have found it impossible under this system. It was a bitter disappointment to lose our case at the European Court. We do hope you can help us, as after all these years, we are getting quite past it for ourselves."

One in six couples in the UK co-habit and do not marry according to the Office of National Statistics and this is predicted to rise to one in four by 2031. More than half of cohabitants (53%) still falsely believe in the existence of Common Law marriage. However, the Government has decided to postpone action on recent Law Commission proposals to reform cohabitation law pending research into the cost and benefits of reforms introduced in Scotland.

Lord Lester says that Britain's more than two million cohabiting couples and co-dependents should not be made to wait any longer for justice:

"The Government's proposed research won't even begin until 2010 and if cost was the issue, one has to ask why the Government specifically excluded research on cost from the Law Commission's original brief. Many other countries, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand already have protection for cohabiting couples. It is high time that Britain had a family legal system fit for the 21st century."

The Government's timid response also flies in the face of growing popular support for reform.

Findings from the British Social Attitudes Survey, published earlier this year, show that almost nine out of ten people think that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision if their relationship is a long-term one, has involved prioritising one partner's career or includes children.

The campaign will also look at ways to extend protection to those who cannot marry but nevertheless live together in a co-dependent way. For example, it would cover siblings such as the Burden sisters, elderly parents and children who live with them and care for them.

The Bill would protect the vulnerable without equating living together to marriage or civil partnership in every way. For example, the Bill would apply only to people living in the same household for a minimum period of time in which the parties have provided a financial or other commitment to each other.

To protect freedom of choice, couples who wish to do so could "opt out" of the scheme provided legal advice is sought by both parties to protect the vulnerable.

 Pension Forecasts online (08/07/2008)

The DWP have apparently restored the BR19 State Pension Forecast service, although unfortunately access is only currently available online (post and phone access to follow by Christmas)


Department of Pensions - click here

 When is a firm 'Accredited' (or NOT Accredited!) (16/05/2007)

Many firms of solicitors advertise 'SFLA/Resolution Members' or 'SFLA/Resolution accredited'. This reference can be inadvertently misleading.

Firms are NOT members, nor are they accredited.

It is an individual solicitor who may be a member and may be accredited. In other words, one person in a firm may be a member or accredited. Most firms have no more than one solicitor member - even if they have several other 'family' solicitors who are not members, nor even very experienced!

We have 5 accredited specialists within our Family department,who, between them have over 100 years experience.

To be more precise:

• Glynis Crowe is an accredited member of the SFLA/Resolution AND a member of the Law Society Children panel (an expert specialist in child care work).

• Cathy Lowndes is an accredited member of the SFLA/Resolution AND a member of the Law Society Children panel (an expert specialist in child care work).

• Jane Wilson is an accredited member of the SFLA/Resolution AND a solicitor-advocate with Rights of Audience in the Higher Courts (most solicitors do not have these rights).

• Kay Masters is an accredited member of the SFLA/Resolution

• Chris Dodd is a member of the Law Society Family Law panel, who has also been appointed as a Advanced member (equivalent to accreditation)

We do not know of ANY firm in the North West of England with a greater number of accredited specialists.

There are few, if any, problems that one or other of our specialists lawyers have not come across before. We aim to work as a Team. Many specialist heads are better than one!

 What Accreditation means and Links (16/05/2007)

Here are some links:

The Law Society Family Law panel


Resolution (formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association - or SFLA) was set up by family Lawyers for family Lawyers.

The Law Society (Solicitor‘s governing body) set up the Family Law panel for the same reason.

Membership by a solicitors tells the public that the solicitor‘s work is primarly family work (doesn‘t dabble) and they have a real degree of experience and a positive and constructive approach to resolving family disputes.

Members of the Law Society Family Law panel (a complimentary body) are similarly experienced.

Accreditation is the process by which members can seek to demonstate more than experience - that he or she has specialised expertise. There is an open examination process, which is difficult and quite daunting.

Here‘s what the Law Society says:

Advanced members of the Family Law Panel can provide advice and assistance to clients in more-complex family law cases.

Family Law Panel members themselves should consider using advanced members of the panel to handle cases that may be beyond or outside their expertise.

Only solicitors and legal executives who successfully complete the Law Society‘s exacting accreditation process are permitted to join the panel. When you see the Family Law Panel Advanced logo, you‘ll know that the practitioner‘s skills, knowledge and experience have been rigorously and independently assessed.