The danger of DIY Wills

The danger of DIY Wills

Errors in Wills are common and can lead to disputes which result in considerable legal costs taken from the estate. Find out why a DIY Will may not be a good option for you.

DIY Wills have been blamed for the sharp increase in the number of contested estates across the UK. Indeed, attempting to write your own Will may lead to devastating consequences. For instance, unclear clauses may see your relatives turn against one another or a loved one may choose to contest the validity of your Will. Sorting out arguments may result in costly legal action which will reduce the money in the estate.

To highlight the dangers of DIY Wills, our Wills, Trust and Probate team at Foys Solicitors shares the pitfalls to avoid and advises you to think twice before opting to do it yourself.

What is a Will, and why should a solicitor help me write one?

A Will is an important legal document, encompassing how you want your estate (property, possessions and finances) to be distributed among your family members and/or charitable organisations that are close to your heart after you have died. This legal document includes every asset you have, your beneficiaries and most importantly, the name of your executor(s) who will manage the distribution of everything that you have left behind.

Getting a solicitor to help you write one means your Will is well-considered and error-free. Here are a few scenarios where a solicitor can help and make sure your Will is watertight.

Beware that witnesses cannot benefit from your Will

The witnesses of your Will (and their spouses) cannot benefit from your Will. If a witness (or the spouse) is a beneficiary, the Will is valid but the beneficiary will not be able to inherit.

You suspect some family members will want to make a claim

Divorce and remarry are now common occurrences and many of us have blended families with multiple step-siblings and stepchildren. It is not easy to please all and if you suspect a family member may challenge the validity of your Will when the time comes, make sure you get a solicitor to help you create an error-free Will and minimise the stress your loved ones have to endure later.

You share a property with someone who is not your spouse

This is actually more common than one would expect – you may have purchased an investment property with a friend, helped a relative to buy a house and pay for the mortgages – as long as you share a property with someone who is not your spouse, get in touch to create a Will that protects your interest and your loved ones.

Other scenarios

When there is a business involved, when you want to set-up a trust, when you have property in another country, when you retire in another country but have property in the UK, when you wish to make provision for a dependent who is unable to care for themselves – these are some scenarios when a solicitor can help you create a watertight Will.

The dangers of DIY Wills

Without the guidance of an experienced solicitor, a DIY Will is likely to contain mistakes or omissions, leaving your family to argue over your possessions and property.

Remember, when disputes happen, the legal costs are likely to be paid for by your estate, meaning the values of your estate will reduce. Do not let a disgruntled relative keep your heirs and loved ones from the inheritance – you can minimise this risk by not using a DIY Will and making mistakes.

To write a Will, you must be over 18 and have mental capacity to understand the outcome of the document you are writing and signing. If you have been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease, it is wise to contact us as soon as possible. Doing so will allow us to get medical evidence to say you understand what you are doing and we can help you create a Will that avoids future complications or doubts.

Also, a DIY Will is unlikely to accommodate the changing of your circumstances. For instance, you have children from your previous marriage and you are about to remarry – in this instance, it is wise to provide for them in a new Will to minimise the chance of them being disinherited in the future.

Common mistakes on a DIY Will

1. Incorrectly signed and witnessed

Your Will needs to be witnessed by two people who are present at the time of your signing for it to be legally binding. These witnesses must be UK citizens, 18 years or older and not be named as beneficiaries in your Will or married to someone who is.

2. Omitted assets or debts

Forgetting to mention assets in your Will means your heirs are not likely to get the amount specified. Also, it is important to consider debts like mortgages and how they may reduce the values of your estate.

Pecuniary and residuary legacies

If you have £100,000 in the bank, you may say your sister will get £20,000 (a specific sum of money which is considered a pecuniary legacy) and your child will get the remaining £80,000 (a residuary legacy). But by the time you die, the money in the bank may be just £20,000. This means your sister gets £20,000 and your child is left with nothing because residuary legacies are paid after pecuniary legacies.

Out of date

A new marriage will invalid any existing Will in England and Wales. Also, your named executor(s) or beneficiaries may have died before you.

Hand-written amendments

You cannot amend your Will after it has been signed and witnessed. The only way you can change a Will is by making an official alteration called a codicil which must be signed and witnessed.

Inappropriate executors

An executor will be considered inappropriate if they are under 18, do not feel capable of accepting the responsibility or live overseas.

What happens if your DIY Will is considered invalid?

If a Will is considered invalid, then the Rules of Intestacy apply. In this case, only a set of individuals will be entitled to inherit your estate and the order is as follows:

  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Brothers and sisters (or their children)
  • Half-blood step brothers and sisters (or their children)
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles and aunts (or their children)
  • Half-blood step uncles and aunts (or their children)
  • The Crown

These may not be the people you have in mind as your heirs. Also, as the rules of intestacy do not acknowledge your unmarried partner, stepchildren, in-laws, friends and organisations you care about, they will not be able to cherish your legacy as a result.

By employing a dedicated and experienced solicitor to assist you with writing your Will, you can ensure that this will not happen. At Foys, our solicitors have decades of experience with Will writing, and you can rest assured that your wishes after death will be respected.

What does writing a Will entail?

The legal and correct process of writing a Will does not need to be complex or lengthy. With Foys, we will guide you every step of the way and make sure that your Will is well-considered and error-free, thereby preventing any misunderstandings and disputes among your relatives.

A valid Will needs to:

  • Be in writing, signed by you and witnessed by two people.
  • Have been written by you while you had the mental capacity to make and understand the effect of it.
  • Be made by you voluntarily, and without any pressure or coercion from another person.
  • Be completely free of errors and transparent as to what your wishes are.

Foys Solicitors is trusted with Will writing

With the assistance of our dedicated Will and Probate solicitors, the experience of creating your Will is made significantly straightforward and affordable. We offer competitive fixed standard fees for our services, safeguarding your wishes and putting you and your family at ease.

We do not want legal fees to deter you from protecting your interests in the future, so we offer a FREE initial consultation. This allows us to determine the best course of action and understand how we can help you.

To get in touch simply fill out our Online Form or call your local Foys Solicitors office:

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Please note that although we may use the word solicitor, your case could be carried out by a legal advisor, legal executive or paralegal depending on the nature of the case.

This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Close up of a hand signing a Last Will and Testament document

The importance of writing a will

The importance of writing a will

Wills are crucial to protect our loved one’s financial future and if you haven’t made one, contact the Wills, Trust and Probate team at Foys Solicitors.

Understandably, as many of us tackle life on a week to week basis, we spare little time for any future planning. This may be the reason why research carried out in 2018 by Royal London found that 54% of adults in the UK didn’t have a Will.

The truth is many of us work hard to protect and provide for our loved ones, and writing a Will can ensure this continues after we are gone. In this article, our Wills, Trust and Probate team at Foys Solicitors aims to discuss the importance of a Will and essential things to consider when writing a Will.

Why is a Will important?

Here are some of the key reasons why making a Will can be one of the most important things you ever do:

1. It makes sure your assets are distributed the way you want

By creating a Will, you ensure that your estate is distributed in line with your wishes to the people you love the most when you die. This is a vital part of estate planning. Estate planning refers to how you would like your estate – your property, money, financial and personal assets that you’ve worked all your life for – distributed after your death. In turn, this can make it easier for your loved ones to inherit and treasure your legacy during this challenging period. A Will can also allow you to voice any wishes you would like fulfilled after you’re gone.

2. Without a Will everything you own will be shared out in a way defined by law

At Foys, our solicitors have seen the devastating effects of what happens when somebody dies without a Will and relatives in mourning have no say on how the deceased’s assets are distributed. During this tough period, the Rules of Intestacy apply, meaning that people you may not have wanted to receive any part of your estate could end up with potentially all of it. According to these rules, only the deceased’s married or civil partner, children (whether they were within the individual’s care or not) and other close relatives can inherit from the estate. Partners who were not married cannot inherit through this process. Furthermore, all personal belongings, along with the first £250,000 of the estate and half the remaining estate, are inherited by the closest living married or civil partner. The remaining estate would be distributed among other living relatives including children.

The risk of not drafting a Will could disinherit the people your love dearly or discontinue the support you have been giving to charitable causes that are close to your heart. Having a Will drafted by our team of professional solicitors at Foys can make sure that you avoid this outcome and help you to provide suitably for those you cherish the most.

3. A Will can help you reduce Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is a tax on the estate of the deceased. However, you don’t have to pay this if the estate is valued below £325,000. Any assets passed on to your spouse, civil partner or a charity are also exempt from this tax. If you give your home away to your children (including stepchildren adopted and fostered) or grandchildren, this threshold increases to £475,000. The standard rate of Inheritance Tax is 40% and is charged on everything above the threshold.

4. In some instances, time is of the essence

There’s no set time to write a will, with most people assuming they’re going to do it later in life. However, if you have a family, have a lot of assets or are in unstable health, it is best to do it sooner rather than later.

When writing a Will, it is imperative that you have mental capacity, meaning the ability to make rational decisions in your best interest. For those who have a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s and haven’t written a Will, at some point, you may lose capacity and could therefore legally be unable to write one. Writing a Will as soon as possible is vital for people with neurodegenerative conditions to ensure their future wishes are carried out. For more information, check out this Protection of the elderly service page.

Before writing a Will

Before discussing with our solicitors about your Will, it is vital to make a list of the following items:

1. All the assets you have

List all the money, property, investments that you have. If you have property in a country where they do not recognise the freedom of testation, our solicitors will advise if you need to make a foreign Will to ensure that the property will go to your beneficiaries.

2. Decide who are your beneficiaries

Most people naturally think of the immediate family members including:

  • Your spouse
  • Your children whom you provide for
  • Anyone whom you have been a guardian for, such as a foster or stepchild
  • Anyone else you were providing for
  • Extended family or friends

Nowadays, divorce and re-marry are common occurrences so it is worth to consider all possibilities.

In addition, although you’re at liberty to include or exclude anyone in your Will, there are a few people whom you must provide for under the Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975. If you wish to leave someone out, be aware that they may challenge your Will after you have gone. Therefore, it is best to contact our specialist team at Foys and make sure your Will is safe from any legal challenges.

3. Choose your executors

An executor is a person who is legally responsible for ensuring your Will is followed. The executor must be at least 18, trustworthy, and can be one of the beneficiaries (like your spouse or one of your children). It is wise to choose more than one executor just in case one of them is unable to perform their duties.

Sometimes relationships can break down between an executor and the beneficiaries to the extent that an estate cannot be properly administered. To avoid future complications, you can choose a solicitor to be an executor instead. By placing your executive trust in our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors at Foys, you can rest easy in the knowledge your estate is in safe hands.

The contents of the Will

A Will should contain several key elements:

  • Who you are, describing enough personal information to certify it is your Will.
  • The names of your beneficiaries (these can be people, charities or institutions).
  • The name of a guardian for children whom you care for independently (if they are under 18).
  • Your assets and their values.
  • How you would like your assets distributed after you’re gone.

In addition, you may also wish to include your funeral preferences (whether you want to be buried or cremated for example), trusts that you might have put aside for your children or sentimental items such as letters or messages you wish to give to specific family members.

Requirements for a valid Will

For a Will to be valid, it must be:

  • Made by you (who is 18 years old or over)
  • Made by you voluntarily and without pressure from any other person
  • You are of sound mind, meaning you are fully aware of the nature of the document being written or signed, aware of the property and the identify of your beneficiaries
  • You create the Will in writing
  • The Will is signed by you in the presence of two witnesses who are over 18
  • The Will is signed by the two witnesses, in the presence of you after you have signed it

Be aware that a witness or the married partner of a witness cannot benefit from a Will. If a witness is a beneficiary (or the married partner or civil partner of a beneficiary), the Will is still valid but the beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the Will.

If our solicitors help you to create your Will, we can act as witnesses to the signing of the Will and make sure all the legality is covered.

Carrying out your Will after you pass away

After you pass away, your executor will locate the latest Will and calculate the total value of your assets – if the values exceed £15,000, then the executor will apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate – a legal document which confirms the executor has the authority to manage your assets or administer the estate in legal terms.

With the Grant of Probate, your executor can now access your bank accounts, sell property, submit tax returns and pay tax liabilities. After that, the executor can start to distribute your estate to the beneficiaries stated in your Will.

It must be noted that administering an estate involves a significant amount of work, so the executor is often busy. During this stressful time, it may be worth getting our solicitors to assist, making sure that the probate process is managed efficiently and correctly.

Expert advice from our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors

Writing a Will can be one of the most important things you do to protect your family and loved one’s future. To help you through this process, we offer a FREE initial consultation so our Will, Probate and Trust team can help you create a well-considered and error-free Will that truly reflects your wishes.

Our services include:

  • Preparing your Will
  • Acting as witnesses to the signing of the Will
  • Preparing and Advising Trust Deeds
  • Obtaining Grant of Probate/ Letters of Administration
  • Distribution of a deceased’s estate

To find out more about how we can help with your needs, call your local Foys Solicitors office today or get in touch through our Online Form.

Please note that although we may use the word solicitor, your case could be carried out by a legal advisor, legal executive or paralegal depending on the nature of the case.

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This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstance. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Couple purchase property woman holding keys

Thinking about buying a house with your spouse? Our conveyancers can help!

Thinking about buying a house with your spouse? Our conveyancers can help!

Buying a property as a couple can be an exciting time, but it is not without its stresses. Thankfully, a good property solicitor or a licensed conveyancer can make that process more manageable.

In 2019, there were over 350,000 first-time buyers in the UK. If you are looking to buy your first property with your spouse, or even if this is the second time you are buying a property, you are likely to need professional help navigating the process.

Conveyancing, referring to the process by which legal documents are prepared to ensure the lawful transfer of ownership of a property from one party to another, is a vital part of any home-buying process.

At Foys, our property and conveyancing solicitors based in South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are here to help you buy your dream home, making sure that you have a stress-free move. In this article, we are going to briefly explain the conveyancing process and talk about what you should be aware of before you agree to buy a property in England or Wales as a couple.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing refers to the transfer of the legal title from the seller to the buyer. When you buy a house, you engage a conveyancer or a property solicitor to ensure that the seller and you exchange ownership of the property you are buying legally.

At Foys, our conveyancing solicitors will assist you with:

  • Drafting the contract, which describes the terms and conditions of the sale agreed upon by you (the buyer) and the seller.
  • Exchanging contracts when both parties are satisfied with all the terms of the contract before committing to a transaction. The exchange will set a date for the legal completion of a transaction.
  • Handling completion day – the most critical day of any property transaction, which involves overseeing the transfer of funds to pay the balance of the purchase price and the releasing of keys.

Throughout the process of a transaction, your conveyancing solicitor will serve as your legal representative, negotiating on your behalf, guiding you through every step while continually updating you on the progress.

Five things you should know before buying a property

Before buying a property, especially if this is your first time and you are buying it with your spouse, it pays to know the following points.

1. Work out the true cost of buying

When you buy a house, be prepared to have some money set aside to pay for costs associated with the purchase such as:

  • Valuation fee
  • Legal fee
  • Mortgage arrangement fee
  • Survey
  • Stamp duty
  • Home repairs
  • Home furnishings

2. Find a mortgage that best suits you

It is essential that you find out how much you can borrow before you start looking for a house. When talking to a mortgage company, you are likely to be presented with many types of mortgages. Do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

A fixed rate mortgage allows you to pay the same interest rate throughout the length of the terms. The advantage is that you know exactly how much you need to pay each month and you can budget accordingly. The disadvantage is that when the interest rates fall, you won’t benefit.

A variable rate mortgage, on the other hand, means the interest you pay can change at any time – you could be paying more or paying less, depending on the interest rate.

Apart from these two, there are other types like standard variable rate, discount mortgages, tracker mortgages, capped rate mortgages, to name but a few.

3. Beware of risks

When you view a property, it is important to look beyond the décor and check for damp, leaking roof and faulty electrical wiring. The house should also not be in a floodplain or at risk of subsidence (when the ground under the property sinks or collapses).

A property chain, referring to a line of buyers and sellers linked together as each is buying or selling a property from a person in the chain, tends to progress slowly and cause sleepless nights. The idea of a chain is that it gives the seller the money needed to buy their next property but a weak line in the chain can spoil your purchase. First-time buyer is usually chain-free. If you need to sell your current place to buy somewhere, look for a property with a short upward chain or even chain-free, like a probate property or a new-build home.

Fraud is also another issue that can impact the purchase of a property. For more on property fraud, and how to mitigate this risk, read our article on property fraud.

4. Draw up a Declaration of Trust

A Declaration of Trust or Deed of Trust is a legal document outlining the financial arrangements between joint property owners and/or anyone else with a financial interest in the property. In the event that the property is sold, you and your spouse know exactly how much each person would get from the property.

For instance, if you borrow money from your parents as deposit and your spouse does not contribute to it, and subsequently you pay 80% of the mortgage and contribute 80% to its maintenance, then you need a Declaration of Trust to protect your investments, reducing any disagreements in the future. In this case, the document will clearly state how much you will get if your spouse wants to buy you out or if the property is sold.

5. Your choice of conveyancer matters

The proficiency and diligence of a conveyancing solicitor can make an impact on your move.

Inexperienced conveyancers may not know how to react when unexpected circumstances arise and they could be overworked too, handling many transactions at one time without support from a team of colleagues.

A good conveyancer knows when to speed up a deal if you are in a hurry or slow it down if you need more time. This is particularly true if you are involved in the property chain as your conveyancer (and estate agent) need to be in agreement with all parties over the key dates and arrangements. Internal support is also key. At Foys, we have over 45 years of experience in property and conveyancing. We also have a team of trusted colleagues who can step in to ensure the process goes smoothly should your conveyancer go on holiday or off sick.

Does any solicitor provide conveyancing services?

When it comes to conveyancing, you can either get a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.

Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), a conveyancing solicitor is a professional who specialises in property law. Their sound knowledge comes in handy when the buying process uncovers a few legal issues.

Regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), a licensed conveyancer is a specialist who has trained only in property law. They can be a CLC Technician (entry level) or a fully qualified CLC lawyer.

At Foys, we have a team of solicitors and conveyancers working together to assist you with your property purchase.

Qualified conveyancing solicitors at Foys can help

At Foys, our property and conveyancing solicitors are members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), dedicated to upholding standards and credibility in conveyancing practices. We pride ourselves on the quality of our conveyancing and property services.

We handle new builds, freehold, leasehold, and property under the government HTB scheme. If you are buying a council house, the council will first determine whether or not you are eligible. Once it is clear that you can buy, our team can step in to assist you with the transaction.

We work closely with you and help you purchase your dream home. Our personal touch ensures that we will help you break down the lingo so you understand the buying process better. With over 45 years of experience in all areas of property law and thousands of property sales under our belts, we have the experience and people power to handle many situations.

To get started, take advantage of our FREE initial consultation where we will listen to your specific needs, guide you through your options and be upfront with you about the kind of costs you should expect. In addition, we can assist you to set up a Declaration of Trust, making it easier for you and your spouse to receive the appropriate portion of the profit when you sell the house in the future.

To get access to our expert legal advice and talk to one of our conveyancing solicitors today, simply call your local Foys Solicitors office for your FREE initial consultation.

Our offices are:

This was initially written in 2018 and updated on 04-Mar-2020.

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Man with his arm in a sling is looking at a legal document, woman is behind him with a supportive hand on his right shoulder. They are claiming compensation

Claiming personal injury compensation with Foys Solicitors

Claiming injury compensation with Foys Solicitors

Claiming compensation for a personal injury can be a tricky process, but with a specialist and highly trained solicitor by your side, you can leave the legal jargon at the door and get the remuneration you deserve.

We’ve all been there. You pick up the phone, and it’s another company telling you that you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault. Most likely, you put the phone down in frustration. But when you’ve actually had an accident and you weren’t to blame, do you know who to turn to?

This is where Foys Solicitors comes in. The compensation process can be very complicated, but with the right legal representation and support, you can navigate the claim with ease and gain the maximum amount you deserve. In this article, our team of expert personal injury solicitors explain the claims process and what you could get with Foys by your side.

What does it mean to claim compensation?

Compensation is generally money awarded to a person who has been involved in an accident that wasn’t their fault and suffered an injury or loss. A common case for compensation is a personal injury claim, which is the formal process of seeking payment from the party responsible for your injury. This can be as a result of a road traffic accident, a violent crime, a slip, trip or fall, an accident at work or due to a faulty product or service. However, there are many forms of compensation.

You can be compensated for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Personal injury
  • Financial loss from fraud
  • Medical expenses
  • Travel expenses
  • Loss from theft or damage to property
  • Time off work or loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Mental health issues and trauma

Suffering from an injury, whatever the cause and severity, is never pleasant. Often, you’re forced to take time off work to recuperate, and can even face financial difficulties. In the worst-case scenario, your life may be changed entirely due to a catastrophic injury. This could result in you needing extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, and you may also need to alter your home or car to cope with your injuries. All of these things can be very expensive and can leave you in a bit of a financial bind. This is why it is important to start the claims process as quickly as possible so that you can get your life back on track.

The process for claiming compensation for an accident

Dealing with the aftermath of your accident is complicated enough without the added pressure of dealing with the claim process alone. This is why you need to work with a solicitor who has had plenty of experience helping people get the compensation they deserve.

The process of pursuing a claim begins with an honest conversation with a reputed solicitor. Our personal injury solicitors will aim to understand your situation and assist you in arranging the necessary paperwork. This will include a medical report outlining your injuries, estimated recovery time, proof of loss of earnings and evidence of additional expenses such as physiotherapy costs and medication.

By working with you to understand every detail of your case, we can establish the value of your claim, the likelihood of it winning and help you negotiate a settlement with the offending party. If the case goes to court, we will represent you and help get you the justice you deserve.

Are you eligible for injury compensation?

There are strict time limits in place for claiming compensation. Normally, you have three years from the incident to begin legal proceedings. However, if the effects of your injury weren’t realised until years later, you have three years from the ‘date of knowledge’ from which to pursue your claim. There is no amount of time that you have to wait to start your claim, so the sooner, the better. One advantage of filing a claim shortly after the incident is that details will be fresher in your mind and easier to find witnesses.

If a child has been injured, a parent or guardian can claim compensation on their behalf. This may be from a traffic road accident or even a work-related injury if the child is old enough to work. Sometimes, an injury may have been sustained during birth or as a result of medical negligence during labour. This too is a case for compensation and can be pursued via a medical negligence claim. Alternatively, you can wait until the child is 18 years old, and they can make a claim themselves. Once the child is 18, they have three years to start legal proceedings.

Reach out to Foys Solicitors

With Foys, you can rest assured knowing that we’ll be with you every step of the way throughout the entire claim process. We can determine the value of your claim and help you to negotiate a settlement that’s in your best interest. If you have to go to court because a settlement can’t be agreed on, we will be there to ensure you’re well represented.

Choosing Foys as your personal injury solicitors mean that you’ll be working with people who genuinely care about your claim. We are dedicated to getting you the compensation you need to make your life more comfortable following your accident.

So, if you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you need someone to fight in your corner, we can be there for you. For a FREE initial consultation or more information on our personal injury claims services, contact one of our local offices today. Alternatively, you can email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk or complete our Contact Form.

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

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Employment law book on desk of lawyer in law firm. legal education concept

What changes will there be to Employment Law in 2020?

What changes will there be to Employment Law in 2020?

Whether you’re an employer or employee, it’s crucial that you remain up to date on the UK’s employment law.

2020 is almost here and with the New Year comes changes. In this post, our specialist employment law solicitors explore the changes in employment law any business owner, employee or self-employed person should expect in 2020. This includes:

  • The publishing of executive pay gap reports
  • Parental bereavement provision
  • Changes to the IR35 rule
  • Introduction of the ‘Good Work Plan’
  • Termination tax changes

Executive pay gap reports set to be published

As of 1 January 2019, UK-listed companies with more than 250 UK employees were legally obliged to annually disclose the salaries of their chief executives and compare them against the average UK worker.

What information needs to be reported?

Companies need to report on the pay difference between a CEO and the full-time UK employees from the 25th, 50th (median) and 75th pay percentile. In addition, this pay gap must be justified, meaning that directors have to show what effect an increase in share price will have on executive pay and whether they are doing enough to earn their pay packets. They also have to justify any changes to the ratios compared to the previous year and whether the current median ratio is consistent with the company’s broader policies on employee rewards, pay and progression.

As this requirement applies to the financial year beginning on or after 1 January 2019, companies should start publishing their pay ratios in 2020. There isn’t a fixed deadline for all companies’ reports to be published.

Parental bereavement provision

In October 2017, the government confirmed its plans to pass a new workplace right of leave for bereaved parents. The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act entitles employees who have lost a child under the age of 18, or have suffered a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, to two week’s unpaid leave from the start of their employment as a right. The leave is set to be paid at the statutory rate if the employee has accumulated 26 weeks’ service. This Bill is set to come into force in 2020.

Changes to the IR35 rule

From 06 April 2020, the IR35 tax rule will be extended to private sector businesses with an annual turnover of over £10.2 million or more than 50 employees. The IR35 tax rule makes sure that intermediary workers’ pay broadly the same tax and National Insurance contributions as permanent employees.

This rule may apply to you if:

  • You provide a service through an intermediary
  • You are an agency providing workers’ services
  • You are a client who receives workers’ services through an intermediary

It is the government’s aim to cut tax avoidance for off-roll payroll contractors working for personal service companies (PSC). From April 2017, it has been the discretion of public sector employees to decide whether the IR35 rule applies.

The Good Work Plan

The Good Work Plan is a commitment to a range of policy and legislative changes that work to improve workers access to fair work.

Agency workers – on the 06 April 2020, the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 will come into full force. This will abolish a legal loophole known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ rule that allows agencies to opt-out of equalising the pay of agency staff with permanent employees.

Seasonal workers – the reference period for calculating an average’s weeks pay will be extended from 12 weeks to 52 weeks from 06 April 2020. This should improve holiday pay for seasonal workers.

Written particulars – rights to receive a written document setting out basic terms of employment and conditions will be extended to workers, as well as employees. This is intended to improve the clarity for many workers regarding their contractual agreement. Presently, employers have two months to provide written particulars; it is moving to become a day-one right.

Tax on termination payments

On 06 April 2020, a measure comes into force that aligns the rules for tax and employer National Insurance contributions (NICs). According to CIPD, any part of a termination payment above £30,000 will be subject to employer NICs. The £30,000 threshold guarantees that no statutory redundancy pay on its own will be affected.

Talk to an employment law expert

As an employer, understanding employment law is crucial to your business’ success and retaining employees. We can give you impartial legal advice on any of the following issues:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims pursued by employees, i.e. unfair dismissal and discrimination
  • Advice on redundancy procedures
  • Disciplinary and grievance issues
  • Dismissing or disciplining an employee
  • Drafting and dealing with settlement agreements
  • Variation of contract terms
  • Discrimination
  • Business transfers (TUPE)
  • Breach of restrictions by an employee

Our expert employment law advice applies to employees as well as employers. If you are an employee and you want to know what you are entitled to, contact the specialist employment solicitors for employees at Foys Solicitors. We will help you understand your rights as an employer and how they are going to change in 2020.

To find out more, get in touch by filling out our Online Form, or contact your local office for a free initial consultation.

Alternatively, you can email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk.

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Concerned businesspeople argue with colleague or client dissatisfied with contract terms

Bonus payment disputes: arguing rights and discretion

Bonus payment disputes: arguing rights and discretion

Bonus payments are a welcome boost for many employees, but sometimes, employers take away bonuses for their own unexplained reasons. Despite what many think, you do have some rights when it comes to bonuses, and the Foys employment law team are here to explain some of them.

A bonus payment is a form of compensation that is over and beyond the amount specified as base salary. Some companies may include bonuses as part of their work package or contract, and some may offer them on a random basis to those they may wish to thank or reward for good work.

The two types of bonuses an employee can receive

The first thing to understand is that there are two different types of bonus payments: contractual and discretionary. These are broad definitions, and bonuses can often be a mix of the two.

  • Contractual – Your contract will define these bonuses. An employer must make this payment if the employee meets certain criteria laid out in the contract. For example, if an employer lays out clear performance targets and you meet them, you will be entitled to your bonus.
  • Discretionary – These bonuses are controlled by your employer. They decide who will be paid and when and why it will be paid out, as well as the amount that is to be paid.

Generally, there are very few disputes concerning contractual bonuses; this is because they are laid out in writing and end with the written promise.

However, discretionary bonuses can cause far more problems. This is because they are ultimately down to the will of the employer, and not backed up by any form of written agreement. However, that does not mean to say that they have full control, as some court cases have proven.

The laws governing discretionary bonuses

For starters, discretionary bonuses though strictly oral and usually not written down, are fully binding once declared. Many points of contention between employer and employee occur when an employer unfairly exercises their discretion and reduces or terminates a bonus. There are a few key factors that come into play when deciding whether you have a case, if you feel that you have lost your bonus unfairly.

Discretion – Discretion must be exercised rationally – an employer cannot legally remove a bonus if it can be proven that the employee had earned it. In the case of Clark versus Nomura International plc, Mr Clark wasn’t granted his performance-based bonus because he was dismissed for misconduct, despite having earned the company almost £6 million in profit. This was found to be an irrational and perverse exercise of contractual discretion.

Discrimination – Bonus disputes can also come about as a result of discrimination. If your employer is withholding payment due to your race, gender or other physical factors, then you are entitled to fight them for it. In the case of Land Registry versus Houghton and others, Ms Houghton and four of her colleagues didn’t receive bonuses due to excessive absence, which was a result of their individual disabilities. This was found to be discriminatory and unjustified, even though the bonus was discretionary in the first place.

Bonus clauses – In the case of Farrell Matthews & Weir versus Hansen, Ms Hansen left her job shortly after her bonus was declared, and the company refused to pay as a result. The court found this to be an unlawful deduction from wages, and she received her bonus.

It must be noted that while these cases set precedence, the law surrounding discretionary bonuses remains in a grey area. Many of these decisions came after lengthy court battles.

Are you missing your bonus?

If you’ve had your bonus removed unfairly, then you may be eligible for a claim to get it back. Get in touch with the team at Foys Solicitors – we have experience in all aspects of employment law, and we can advise you on whether you have a case or not. And even if you think you don’t, there’s no harm in checking with our free initial consultation.

To find out more about whether you have a case, fill out our Online Form, or get in touch with our employment law solicitors at your local office.

Retford – 01777 703 100
Worksop – 01909 500 511
Doncaster – 01302 327 136
Clowne – 01246 810 050
Rotherham – 01709 375 561
Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

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Company and commercial law

Company and commercial law solicitors

Company and commercial law solicitors

Understanding company and commercial law is central to starting and running a successful business.

By having an understanding of company and commercial law, you can safeguard your business and ensure that it is appropriately structured. This would allow your business to grow safely and effectively to reach its maximum potential. However, the law can be a challenging topic to understand, which is why we’re here to help.

At Foys Solicitors, our company and commercial law team want to assist businesses of all sizes with growth, adaption to changing markets and safeguarding business interests. This passion led us to update our ‘Company and Commercial Law’ page with a reliable and easy-to-understand explanation of how we can help business owners, shareholders and directors.

On our ‘Company and Commercial Law’ page, we’ve explained the areas of company and commercial law that we cover. Here, you will find information on:

  • Incorporations & start-ups
  • Corporate Governance for limited companies
  • Acquisition and disposals
  • Shareholder and partnership arrangements
  • Company reorganisations
  • Transferring sole trader/partnership business into a limited company
  • Commercial contracts

We also explain how company and commercial law assist in business growth.

Contact Foys Solicitors for advice on company and commercial law today

Whether you want more information on our company and commercial law services or to discuss a plan of action, get in touch with Max Kennedy on 01909 500511. Max Kennedy has more than 25 years of experience in company and commercial law and is known for his jargon-free explanations and practical approach to all matters.

Alternatively, you can complete our Contact Form and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Company Dispute Resolutions

Commercial dispute resolution solicitors

Commercial dispute resolution solicitors

With the dedicated assistance and guidance of our commercial disputes specialists, you can rely on us for a straightforward and speedy commercial dispute resolution, which is in your business’ best interests.

Commercial disputes are never pleasant and can be quite draining without proper help. At Foys Solicitors, our expert commercial dispute specialists have a passion for helping business owners, directors, employers or partners get the straightforward dispute resolution they need.

That’s why we updated our ‘Commercial Dispute Resolutions’ page with more up-to-date information concerning how we can help you.

On this page, you’ll learn about the types of commercial disputes that we cover, which is as follows:

  • Partnership/company/director disputes
  • Employer/employee disputes
  • Disputes regarding quality issues, that arise out of the sales of goods and supply of services
  • Interpretation of contracts and contractual terms
  • The recovery of unpaid monies and invoices, as well as defending such claims
  • Commercial property disputes
  • Professional negligence claims

We also explain how litigation and dispute resolution law can help protect your business.

Contact Foys Solicitors for company dispute resolution services today

For a free initial consultation or more information on our commercial dispute resolution services, give us a call on 01909 500511. You can also email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk or complete our Contact Form.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Two businessmen shaking hands

Employment solicitors for employers

Employment solicitors for employers

With the assistance of our employment law solicitors, advisors and experts, business owners can rely on us for sound legal support and advice regarding employment and employee-related issues.

As an employer, you must be mindful of your employees’ rights, your responsibilities to your employees, and how best to manage them. It is also in your best interests to know how you can protect yourself if necessary.

At Foys, our employment law solicitors can help employers with all of the above. Our drive for advising employers in employment law led us to update our ‘Employment Law for Employers’ page with up-to-date information about our services.

On this page, we explain the areas of employment law that we cover, including:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Employee handbooks and policies
  • Defending employment tribunal claims pursued by employees (i.e. unfair dismissal and discrimination)
  • Advice on redundancy procedures
  • Disciplinary and grievance issues
  • Dismissing or disciplining an employee
  • Drafting and dealing with settlement agreements
  • Variation of contract terms
  • Discrimination
  • Business Transfers (TUPE)
  • Breach of restrictions by employees

Contact Foys Solicitors for employment law advice today

For a free initial consultation or more information on our employment law services, give us a call on 01302 327136. Alternatively, you can email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk or complete our Contact Form.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below


Employment law for employees

Employment solicitors for employees

Employment solicitors for employees

You can rely on our employment experts for employees for advice and support in protecting your career and employment rights.

We believe that every employee should have the ability to protect their employment rights and safeguard their career. That’s why we provide employees in need with reliable and sound legal advice regarding employment law.

To ensure that we provide our customers with reliable information on how we can help, we’ve updated our ‘Employment Law for Employees’ page.

On this page, you will find out how we can assist with:

  • Unfair or constructive dismissals
  • Discrimination
  • Redundancy
  • Settlement agreement
  • Change of contractual terms
  • Disciplinary and grievance hearings
  • Breaches of contract
  • Bullying and harassment at work
  • Retirement

Contact Foys Solicitors for employment law advice for employees

For a free initial consultation and a discussion on how our employment law services can help you, call us on 01302 327 136 today. Alternatively, you can fill out our Contact Form or email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below