What a ‘SHIPPY’ Takeaway

seaborne freight
Seaborne T&C web page

In the media there has been controversy over a “shipping company with no ships”, Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited, that has been awarded a £14 million government contract in readiness for Brexit.

Ridicule has been heaped on the company in many publications because of the ‘terms and conditions’ that were published on its website at https://seabornefreight.com/. The terms and conditions that appeared on Seaborne Freight (UK) Ltd’s website stated:

“It is the responsibility of the customer to thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order.”

_105054073_excerpt-nc
Part screengrab of the original Seaborne T&C

It would appear that at least some of the published terms and conditions have been prepared for reasons other than freight shipping. The words in the excerpt have now been removed, presumably because of all the press attention. One would expect the company to have moved quickly to repair the damage to its corporate image that has resulted but no. As of today (04 January 2019) another section remains which is laid out thus:

“Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited and any

disclose, distribute, incorporate and otherwise use that material and all data, images, sounds, text and other things embodied in it for any and all commercial or non-commercial purposes.”

There is a noticeable gap between the word ‘any’ and the word ‘disclose’ which means the words on either side of that gap do not form a coherent sentence. Whatever editing was carried out by the company since this story hit the news has obviously been clumsy and less than thorough.

As the government are proposing to spend taxpayers’ money with this company the negative reaction has put the transport secretary in a bad light and brought questions as to what sort of due diligence the government carried out before awarding the contract.

A company website is a shop window to the world. Putting up terms of business copied from elsewhere without thought is a cheap shortcut, illustrative of a company whose managers do not care about important things. Also copying terms from elsewhere on the internet without permission is unlawful as it breaches the owner’s copyright. Terms and conditions are intended to create legal relations between the company and a customer. If there is a problem with a customer, how is a Court going to identify the obligations arising out of shipping freight relationship when the terms and conditions refer to food?

This sorry tale provides a stark illustration of how quickly a carefully cultivated business image can fall apart and how it can have a negative effect on customers of that business. For the sake of a modest expenditure, we work with the director(s) to prepare terms of business that fit around the business model. This process also helps the directors to understand how the law interacts with their particular business. After Seaborne Freight UK Ltd the benefits become obvious.

If you want to discuss your own business terms without obligation, please contact Stuart on 01543 440 308 or email on admin@fouroakslegalservices.com.

We Are the Dementia Champions!

Making Dementia Friends

Dementia Champions Joanna and Beckie
Dementia Champions Joanna and Beckie

Joanna Parkin recently became a Dementia Friends Champion, meaning she is able to deliver Dementia Friends information sessions on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society.  The Dementia Friends programme is a social action movement designed to change the way we act, think and talk about dementia.

“I have previously attended a Dementia Friends Information Session and found it really interesting and helpful with my understanding of people who are living with dementia. I wanted to join my colleague Beckie Head in becoming a Champion and keep spreading the word”, says Joanna.

Information sessions can be run for groups of 5 people upwards.  Should you or your business be interested in hosting a free session, please contact Joanna on 01543 440308.

Further information about the Dementia Friends programme can be found here https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

The Important ‘All in the Car Together’ Clause

A recent gift to the charity Oxfam has highlighted the importance of making a provision in your Will for the unlikely event that the whole family should die with you or before you.

Richard Cousins was the head of Compass, a successful Catering company, and had an estate worth in excess of £40m. On 31st December 2017, he was with his fiancée and 2 sons (aged 25 and 23) when the plane they were all flying in crashed into a river in Australia and all on board were killed.tom-barrett-318954-unsplash

Cousins’ Will provided that his estate would pass to his sons, sadly they died with him. His Will included a long stop provision that should his sons also pass away then the bulk of his fortune would pass to his chosen charity, Oxfam. Without this provision, his estate would have been governed by intestacy rules.

At Four Oaks Legal Services, when we talk to you about making a Will, of course we look at family members you wish to provide for in the first instance but often, particularly where children are young and it is likely that you travel together, or where the family is small, we will advise you to name a ‘long stop’ individual or charity who would be entitled to benefit should those first in line have passed away.

Hopefully, the worst won’t happen but if it does then it’s important to have a plan in place. Many charities rely on legacies in wills and in 2017 legacy giving accounted for over half the single source of funding for charities.

If we can help with updating or making a new Will for you please contact Rebecca or Joanna on 0121 308 8231 or e-mail us at rebecca@fouroakslegalservices.com or joanna@fouroakslegalservices.com

 

Great News – We are Expanding!

We are pleased to announce that we are expanding and will be opening our new Lichfield office at Ground Floor, New Media House, Lichfield, WS14 9DZ on Monday 22nd October.  

We have outgrown our offices at 168 Birmingham Road, which has been our home for the last 2 and a half years.  New Media House will become our main office but we will continue to offer appointments at 168 Birmingham Road, Shenstone Wood End, WS14 0NX as we currently do now.  Therefore clients who visit us at our offices can choose which location they wish to visit.shutterstock_159894752

The new Lichfield office is on the outskirts of Lichfield and there is plenty of parking at the rear of the office.  We will be based on the ground floor with an easily accessible meeting room.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new office soon!

Lasting Powers of Attorney Refund Fees Update

We reported back in February that the Office of the Public Guardian would be making partial refunds to people who had paid to register their Lasting Powers of Attorney between the 1st April 2013 and the 31st March 2017.  This was due to the Office of the Public Guardian making savings on their operating costs which weren’t passed onto the public during that time.

Following a Freedom of Information request, the Office of the Public Guardian have confirmed that as at the end of August, there have only been 158,212 claims made for refunds.  The OPG believes there are over a million potential refunds due.

rawpixel-1065670-unsplashIf you might be due a refund and you haven’t yet made a claim, full details can be found on the Government website https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund

Applications can be made online or by telephoning the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300 (choose option 6).

Tamworth Wellbeing Cancer Support Centre Charity Golf Day 2018

Aston Wood Golf Club
Aston Wood Golf Club

On Wednesday 12th September 2018, Four Oaks Legal Services and Tamworth Wellbeing and Cancer Support Centre, held their inaugural charity golf day at Aston Wood Golf Club.

Ten teams played the 18 hole course at Aston Wood, including a team made up of former football manager Ron Atkinson, former Aston Villa footballer Steve Staunton and local Birmingham based actor Mitch Powell, in superb September weather.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the golfers, the sponsors and our hosts at Aston Wood, the day was a great success and raised a whopping £2,209.15 for Tamworth Wellbeing and Support Centre!

A huge congratulations go to the winning team ‘The Peaky Blinders’, consisting of our very special guests Ron Atkinson, Steve Staunton, Mitch Powell and Aston Wood Manager Simon Smith.  Also, a well done to the best individual player Richard Bywater and the runner up, our very own Stuart McIntosh. Nearest the pin winner was Simon Trevelyan of Four Oaks Financial Services.  The longest drive winner was John Burton and the putting competition winner was Mark Blake – congratulations to you all!

The Peaky Blinders
Winners! ‘The Peaky Blinders’ (Left to Right) Ron Atkinson, Simon Smith, Mitch Powell and Steve Staunton.

Finally, we would like to thank our sponsors for the event, who helped raise much needed funds for the charity.  To you all, we are very grateful:-

Tamworth Wellbeing Cancer Support Centre Sponsors
Tamworth Wellbeing Cancer Support Centre Golf Day 2018 Sponsors
Please keep Wednesday 11th September 2019 free as we are planning to do it all over again!

Aston Wood Golf Club

Universal Wealth Preservation

Were you a client of Universal Wealth Preservation?

attention-road-sign-sign-39080

Four Oaks Legal Services have been made aware by the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) that they have received an unprecedented number of enquiries about Mr Steven Long and the companies of which he is a Director, namely Universal Tax Solutions which traded as Universal Wealth Preservation. Associated companies also include Universal Asset Protection Ltd and Universal Trustees Ltd.

Mr Steven Long, his Wife Mrs Melanie Long and Universal Trustees Ltd have acted as Professional Trustees for many clients. Universal Wealth also assisted clients with the drafting and management of trusts; drafting wills and lasting powers of attorney (LPAs); as well as providing  storage of original documents.

STEP have confirmed that they suspended Mr Long’s membership back in November 2017, pending the outcome of investigations into the numerous complaints they received.

Universal Asset Protection entered into compulsory liquidation in May 2018, although the business premises of Universal Wealth Preservation was closed several months before this time and the website is no longer active.

Four Oaks Legal are aware that many people have experienced great difficulties in attempting to contact Universal, with no responses to emails, letters or phone calls made.  Those clients have been concerned about the management of their trusts and have been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of their assets, or retrieve original wills and LPAs held in storage by Universal.   Some clients have discovered their LPAs have not been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), although they believed they had.

We are aware that Suffolk Police are in the process of investigating Mr and Mrs Long, and they have seized all documents that were held at the businesses premises.  Universal clients now face the realistic prospect that they are unlikely to retrieve original documents or to recover cash assets.

What should you do now?

The advice STEP is giving to Universal clients is as follows:-

  • Seek independent legal advice from an experienced trust and estate practitioner on your options, which may include how to make an application to the courts to replace Mr and Mrs Long/Universal Asset Protection Ltd as trustees, making new wills and LPAs.
  • Check whether Lasting or Enduring Powers of Attorney have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian – call the OPG on 0300 456 0300.
  • If you are not in possession of an original will held by them, make a new one without delay.
  • Contact the Land Registry to ascertain in whose name your property is registered. Call the Land Registry on 0300 006 0411. The Land Registry is aware of the issues with Universal.
  • If appropriate, consider whether to make a report to Action Fraud quoting ‘Operation Ardent’.
  • If concerned by marketing information received or direct approaches from other firms advising you to use their services, consider taking advice from Trading Standards/Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you are affected by any of these issues with Universal, please contact Rebecca Head or Joanna Parkin on 0121 308 8231 and they will be pleased to discuss your options with you.

Making Dementia Friends

Beckie is a Dementia Friends Champion for the Alzheimer’s Society.  This means that she was trained by the Alzheimer’s Society to present Dementia Friends information sessions.  The sessions are aimed at increasing understanding about dementia and helping make our communities more inclusive and  dementia friendly.

Beckie has been a Champion for a number of years and has been delivering the sessions to small local groups and companies.  We are pleased to announce that Beckie has now trained over 100 people to become Dementia Friends, having hit 113 on the 18th July 2018.  Beckie has more sessions planned for later in the year as well.

Rebecca Head of Four Oaks Legal Services
Beckie Head, Co-Director of Four Oaks Legal Services

Beckie said “The sessions are a great way to get us all talking and thinking about dementia.  By increasing our own understanding, it can only be beneficial to those living with dementia.  There are some 850,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK, so whether we realise it or not, we all know someone living with dementia, be it the person themselves or those that care for them”.

Many businesses, large and small, are seeing the benefits of making their team dementia friendly.  A member of staff from a Sutton Coldfield security company who recently had a session delivered said “Really enjoyed your session and the feedback from the attendees was equally complimenting. It evoked a lot of thought and we all feel better equipped to engage with those that have the condition. I shall spread the word – so just be aware you may get a deluge of requests!”

If you would like Beckie to run a session for your group or business, please contact us.  The sessions are run by Beckie on a voluntary basis on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society and are therefore completely free of charge.

Can I get a copy of a deceased’s Will?

A question that our probate team often get asked is “Can we get a copy of a Will after a person has died?”.

Can I get a copy of a Will?
Can I get a copy of a Will?

If an estate requires a Grant of Probate then the deceased’s original Will is submitted to the Probate Registry and is retained there.  The Will then becomes a public document and anyone, upon payment of a small fee, can apply for a copy of it.

You can find out if a Grant of Probate has been obtained, and order a copy of a Will, by using the Gov.UK search tool here:-

https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills

If an estate does not require a Grant of Probate, the Will remains a private document and only the Executors of the estate can then agree to release a copy.

 

 

 

Court of Protection to Refund Overcharged Fees

Following the successful refund scheme for registration fees in relation to Lasting Powers of Attorney, the Ministry of Justice have now announced that some Court of Protection fees are also to be reduced.  An internal review found that the fees are higher than necessary to recover court costs. Therefore, a refund scheme will be set up to reimburse people the amounts they have been over-charged. Details of the scheme are yet to be published.