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Mortimers on national panel for domestic violence

We are delighted to announce that Mortimers has been successful in its application to join a national panel set up to help victims of domestic violence.

Mortimer has been accepted onto the panel for the National Centre for Domestic Violence which is based in Guildford.

The NCDV receives referrals from the police and support agencies such as Refuge and Women’s Aid in domestic violence cases,” said Karen Brake, a partner at Mortimers and a specialist in Family Law.

“They refer those cases to solicitors on their panel and then it is our job to seek an injunction from the court.

“We have a very strong team of Family Law solicitors at Mortimers, and we feel that we have a genuine depth of experience and expertise when it comes to cases of domestic violence.

“It is one of the few areas of Family Law in which Legal Aid can be granted as state funding has been withdrawn from almost all of the other areas of family work.

“I should also point out that as a firm we also accept injunction work direct from the public, and cover all local courts.”

The NCDV provides an emergency injunction service to victims of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation. 

It works in close partnership with the police, firms of solicitors and other support agencies to help those affected to obtain speedy protection.


Concerns with Children and Families Bill

Young people with special educational needs will not be adequately catered for in a new Government bill, a Shropshire solicitor and expert in education law has warned.

Bryony Walker, of Mortimers Solicitors, said the Children and Families Bill, as it stands now, would leave children in danger of not having their needs identified and open to less support than they currently receive.

Mrs Walker, who is based in the Bridgnorth office of Mortimers, said that the Bill – which is currently a working document and not the final version - will need significant refinement for it to clarify the position of those with special educational needs and their families.

The Bill is being introduced to reform legislation on various areas including adoption and social care, children and young people with special educational needs and aspects of the family justice system.

“The description of special needs should contain more detail about the severity of the child’s difficulties and how they impact on his or her learning,” said Mrs Walker.

“The proposed support plan does not spell out sufficiently clearly who will do what, how often or how long support sessions will last.

“Also, there is no clear distinction between special educational provision and non-educational provision, meaning that it is unclear who would be legally responsible for providing speech and language therapy.

“Furthermore, the time scales and format of the new assessment are not clear-cut.

“Local authorities can omit certain aspects of the assessment if they do not think a child has health or social care needs and as a result there is a risk that many children might not have all their needs identified.”

Mrs Walker added that as the current plan does not contain a clear section on special educational provision, it is possible that parents will not be able to appeal against the level of therapies or provision required.

She said that if parents request a reassessment, the local authority will not be obliged to carry out a full assessment and parents would not be able to appeal to the tribunal to the same extent as before.


Dementia: another reason why Power of Attorney is so important

The significant increase in men and women with dementia has prompted a Shropshire solicitor to urge people to get Lasting Powers of Attorney in place so that both they and their loved ones are protected by the law.

Hannah Banks, whose areas of expertise include wills, probates and trusts, says that it is a simple but vital process to avoid possible heartache and trauma for families.

Mrs Banks, of county law firm Mortimers Solicitors, said: “With over a million people predicted to have dementia by 2021, drawing up Lasting Power of Attorney is extremely important as far as older adults especially are concerned.

“The onset of dementia can be a rapid process and many sufferers and their families are often in denial over the issue, so it is imperative to act as quickly as possible to avoid the lengthy and unpleasant process of having to go through the Court of Protection.

“There is not necessarily a right time to get Lasting Power of Attorney but the sooner the better because it’s important for everyone, not only the elderly.

“It means that if you are not able to deal with matters yourself, your loved ones will be able to make decisions on your behalf in relation to your health, personal welfare and finances.

“If a young, healthy person had a car accident which left them mentally unfit, it would be just as important for them to have someone who they would have already chosen acting in their best interests on their behalf.”

Mrs Banks said that if a person’s mental health had deteriorated too badly, families might find it is too late to get Lasting Power of Attorney.

“Going through a Court of Protection process can be an extremely lengthy, onerous process and often distressing and frustrating for families,” said Mrs Banks, who is based in Mortimers’ Shrewsbury office.

“But by getting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place in good time allows you to manage someone’s affairs without any real outside interference.”

Children biggest victims in new Family Law system?

Children whose parents have to go through matrimonial courts without expert representation will be the biggest victims following a nationwide cut in legal aid for family law issues, a Shropshire solicitor has warned.

Unless proper guidance is given to couples going to court over matrimonial and children matters, kids are likely to be left in a less secure environment than under the old system where legal aid was available, says Jackie Meredith of Mortimers solicitors.

Family law expert Mrs Meredith said that the withdrawal of legal aid for almost all family law cases will lead to “chaos” in the courts.

“We are entering a situation where people are having to represent themselves in a court of law which for most will be a new and daunting experience,” said Mrs Meredith, who is based in Mortimers’ Shrewsbury office.

“I fear it will lead to chaos in the courts and, as traumatic as it is for those couples, it may well end up that their children will be left in a far more uncertain state after the proceedings than they were previously.

“Legal firms are having to reappraise the way they operate and at Mortimers we are tailoring what we offer.

“Where clients are unable to afford the costs of full representation, we aim to provide them with a helping hand and the empower them to speak up for themselves.

“Many of these people are already in a highly emotional state and have also probably never set foot inside a court in their lives.”

On April 1 legal aid funding was withdrawn from the majority of private family cases which includes divorce proceedings.

Mrs Meredith is part of an eight-strong team of family lawyers at Mortimers which has offices in Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Hereford.


Reduction in Legal Aid for Family Law cases may have its benefits

A Shropshire solicitor has welcomed changes to the legal profession which will come into effect in April, believing that the massive reduction in Legal Aid for family cases will force law firms to operate in a way which will be of benefit to both them and their clients in the future.

Bryony Walker, of Mortimers Solicitors, said that after April 1 publically funded help for family issues is being withdrawn apart from rare cases.

“Law firms are being forced to look at the way they operate and I envisage huge changes in the future,” said Mrs Walker who is a family law partner at Mortimers based in the firm’s Bridgnorth office.

“Many law firms have been deeply concerned at the withdrawal of a steady income stream but I think in the fullness of time we will see this as a step in the right direction.

“I firmly believe that the change in legal aid funding provides an opportunity for law firms to take a more inventive approach coming to the fore in meeting clients’ needs.

“At Mortimers we have spent a great amount of time researching what will work best for members of the public so that they can get expert legal advice at a price they can afford.

“We are offering an initial fixed-fee consultation and advice session, followed by support packages which are tailored to parties’ individual needs, whether that is full representation or advice behind the scenes.

“Whether this cut in state funding will work in the long term for the consumer, only time will tell.

“However, that is not anything we can influence – we are just looking at doing the best we can for our clients in the new system.”

On April 1 all legal aid funding is being withdrawn from the majority of private family cases.

However, domestic violence and other specific cases may still be eligible for legal aid.