Notices of Possession and Eviction Proceedings in relation to Covid-19
Posted: 1st April 2020
During this difficult and uncertain time, we appreciate tenants will be concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on their ability to stay in their rented property.
On 25th March 2020, the government introduced the Coronavirus Act 2020 to provide tenants with protection from eviction. The new legislation is in force until 30th September 2020 but the Government does have the power to extend this period if necessary.
The main point tenants must be aware of is that the new legislation does not provide any relief from paying your rent. You are still under an obligation to keep to the terms of your tenancy agreement including continuing to make your rent payments.
Therefore, we advise you to continue paying your rent and if you do find yourself in financial difficulties you must communicate with your landlord with the hope of coming to an agreement.
New Notices Seeking Possession
The legislation provides that as of 26th March 2020, if your landlord seeks possession of your property they are required to provide you with at least 3 months’ notice from the date the notice is served. Therefore, your landlord is unable to commence court proceedings to evict you from your home for at least 3 months.
- As per the new legislation, your landlord must serve you a notice seeking possession in the prescribed format and provide you with certain specific information. Therefore, if you do receive either a s.21 Notice or s.8 Notice seeking possession, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist housing law department on 01642 247656. We will be able to review all documentation on your behalf to determine whether your landlord’s Notice Seeking Possession is valid or not and provide you with the appropriate advice moving forward.
Existing Notices Seeking Possession
The legislation does not account for notices of possessions that have already been served to you by your landlord before the introduction of the Act. However, the government has provided guidance on this situation and confirmed that all ongoing housing possession court cases or those about to go into the system are to be suspended for an initial 90 days. Therefore, your landlord will be unable to progress possession or eviction proceedings through the courts to eviction.
- If you believe you are due to have a possession/warrant hearing at court in the near future or if you have any concerns about your situation, please do not hesitate to contact our housing law department for specialist advise.
Our facilities allow our housing advice specialists to offer telephone and video call services such as skype / zoom / facetime to provide you with the best possible support throughout this difficult time.
We also have a Legal Aid franchise which allows us to assist tenants throughout the crisis by providing funded assistance under the legal help and assistance scheme to those who are eligible. We also offer a FREE 20 minute consultation and virtual advice clinics.
Contact us today on 01642 247656 or EMAIL email@example.com 0R TEXT 07876797578.
Non-Molestation Injunctions and Occupational Orders in relation to COVID-19
Posted: 27th March 2020
It is essential that the Court continues to meet the needs of those needing protection during the National Public Health Crisis.
Non-molestation injunction applications will be heard by Skype or by telephone.
At the conclusion of the hearing the Court will draw any orders and will send them to the relevant police force. Ordinarily the Court will make such orders to last for 6 or 12 months subject to the right of the respondent to ask the Court to reconsider the order.
The Court will list a return date within 14 days when the respondent only need attend by telephone or by Skype. If the respondent fails to notify the court or, having done so, fails to make themselves available at the time of the hearing, the Court will continue the injunction orders.
If the respondent attends the hearing and wish to challenge any orders made without notice the court will fix a further remote hearing for both parties to attend by Skype or by telephone when further directions will be given.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse or feel you or your children are at risk of harm. Please contact the office as a matter of urgency, our family solicitors are working throughout and will be available to give you specialist advice. You are not alone during this crisis.
If you would like to speak to a member of the family department, then call us on 01642 247656 or visit https://www.watsonwoodhouse.co.uk/service/family-law/ for more information.
Coronavirus Crisis: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders
Posted: 25th March 2020
Here are some practical points to consider.
1. Make use of Zoom, WhatsApp video calls, FaceTime and Skype. Agree that these calls can take place more regularly than may have happened before.
2. Allow time for children to make a video for the parent they may not be able to see as regularly.
3. If children are able to move safely between their respective parents’ homes, agree what is and is not appropriate during their time with the children. For example, are both parents in agreement that it is not appropriate to take the children to the supermarket or to a local park, or is that something both parents would feel comfortable with if appropriate supervision is in place.
4. Agree on what is expected in relation to school work now that the schools are closed. Draw up a daily timetable for schoolwork that each parent will be able to follow taking into account their own work commitments. Most school work is online but if it’s not, and the children are still moving safely between homes, parents need to make sure that the children have the books and resources they need.
5. If one parent is missing out on time with the children, consider agreeing additional holiday time later in the year. Parents need to be as flexible as possible with arrangements.
6. Whatever adaptations and changes are necessary, children will need to feel reassured that their parents love them and will be there for them in whatever way possible. We need to remember that the current situation will be causing most children anxiety and it is therefore even more crucial than ever to minimise parental conflict.
5. If you can’t agree on changes to arrangements, consider an urgent telephone/webcam meeting with a mediator or trusted neutral third party.
Sadly, there are many parents for whom communication is difficult or impossible. If agreement cannot be reached or one parent feels that they are being unfairly excluded, an application can still be made to court. The Court will be dealing with court hearings remotely. However, this is very much a last resort and specialist legal advice should be obtained before making an application either to enforce an existing arrangement or make a new one.
As are many other businesses, we are adjusting our current working practice and procedure due to the Government advice on dealing with the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, which is changing on a daily basis.
At present we have members of staff who are working from home and others that are working within the office but our ultimate goal is to, as far as is possible, offer a ‘business as usual’ service to you and all other clients.
In light of the above we would request that email is used as the primary method of communication wherever possible.
Should our position change due to further advice provided by the Government we will update you accordingly.
We appreciate that we are in a time of uncertainty and unknown, and we want to reassure people that we are here to help you with your legal needs. If you would like to speak to a member of the family department, then call us on 01642 247656 or visit https://www.watsonwoodhouse.co.uk/service/family-law/ for more information. We also have a LIVE CHAT available via our website for clients to contact us online.
Response to COVID-19
Posted: 18th March 2020
We are committed to the safety and health of both our staff and our clients and are therefore introducing new procedures to minimise disruption to our work and our clients during this time.
From 24th March our offices are closed and our staff are working remotely via a secured connection, however, they will still be contactable by email and telephone in the usual fashion.
We would draw all clients’ attention to our privacy notice and terms of business on this site.
We would encourage all clients to ensure that we have your most up to date contact details, in particular telephone and email, in order that we can contact you promptly if necessary.
We are able to offer telephone and video meetings as an alternative to attending at our offices in accordance with the guidance from the government.
We are continually monitoring the position in relation to the Court Service. At present the Courts remain open and the majority of hearings are going ahead as planned and we will contact clients individually if their hearings are postponed. We will update this page if this changes at any point.
Our Law Clinics at the Stockton and Berwick Hills offices are now Virtual Law Clinics. Those wishing to access the clinics can call us or use our online chat facility to make an enquiry. There is no need to make an appointment – the virtual drop-in sessions will be running at the usual times of:-
Wednesday 1:30pm – 5:30pm
Thursday 2:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturday 10:00am – 2:00pm
Ministry of Justice Agrees Medomsley Compensation Scheme
Posted: 10th March 2020
Abuse Claims Experts at Watson Woodhouse Solicitors continue to fight for justice for the victims of Medomsley Detention Centre following the Ministry of Justice agreeing on a compensation scheme.
Alistair Smith and the Abuse Claims Department at Watson Woodhouse Solicitors have been leading the fight for justice for the victims of Medomsley Detention Centre and welcome the Ministry of Justice’s move to set up the Medomsley Compensation Scheme.
Medomsley Detention Centre was a prison for young male offenders from 1961 until the late 1980s, providing a place for young offenders aged 17-21 to prevent them from being sent to a mainstream prison. At Medomsley, during their stay of usually around six to eight weeks, some inmates were subjected to sexual, physical and mental abuse from prison officers.
Alistair and the team at Watson Woodhouse have helped many Medomsley victims in their fight for justice and compensation for the abuse they experienced. Now, after months of discussion with the Ministry of Justice, the Medomsley Steering Group, who represent over 1000 claimants, have agreed on a settlement scheme designed to help provide compensation to former Medomsley inmates affected by the abuse that occurred.
How does the Medomsley Compensation Scheme work?
The scheme provides an amount of compensation relative to the length of time an inmate was detained. There is a provision in the scheme to compensate for lasting injuries, physical and psychological, so long as there is medical evidence to support the claim.
To be eligible for the scheme:
- You must have suffered physical abuse from a member of staff who was employed at Medomsley during the period you were detained and who has received a criminal conviction in respect of such offences; and
- You must have independent evidence of your period of detention.
Under the scheme, physical abuse is defined as “the direct application of unlawful force”. Therefore punishments such as being ordered by Officers to run the perimeter fence or being made to perform bunny hops will be excluded from the scheme.
The scheme will fall into three categories:
- You were detained at Medomsley for three months or less and will receive a payment of compensation for the sum of £1750
- You were detained at Medomsley for more than three months and will receive a compensation payment of £2500
- You have provided medical evidence to show you have sustained a long term physical or psychological injury as a result of your stay at Medomsley and will receive a payment of between £3000 and £5000
Long lasting injuries are injuries that have lasted for a significant period of time beyond the time of detention. This can include fractures, dislocations, scarring, and emotional injuries such as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You must provide medical evidence to support your claim.
To date, the members of staff who have received a criminal conviction are:
- Christopher Onslow “Machine / Mean Machine”
- John McGee “Big John / Pigeon Man”
- Brian Greenwell “Puppet”
- Kevin Blakely “Broken Nose”
- Alan Bramley “Bong Eye”
In November 2020, there will be another criminal trial involving Ian Nicholson and Alexander Flavell.
How Watson Woodhouse Can Help
At Watson Woodhouse, our solicitors have acted for many victims of historical abuse and understand the trauma survivors have to deal with on a daily basis. We deal with all cases in a sensitive and confidential manner, with both male and female solicitors available to provide advice and support on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. With Medomsley Detention Centre and other historical abuse cases we will not be deducting success fees from claimant’s awards, so our clients will keep 100% of the compensation they are awarded.
Watson Woodhouse Solicitors offer a no obligation, free initial consultation with flexible appointments to suit your needs.
If you have been the victim of abuse at the hands of Medomsley Detention Centre and would like our support to take action, you can speak to Alistair Smith, or another member of the team by calling us today on 01642 247656.
Watson Woodhouse acted for Daughter who killed in Self Defence
Posted: 18th February 2020
Director and Head of our Crown Court department, Sean Grainger, acted for and supported a young woman who killed her father in self defence after he threatened to kill her, and her mother.
Read coverage here: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nursery-nurse-cleared-murdering-dad-21471654 and here https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7989437/Woman-20-cleared-murdering-abusive-father-reveals-violence-monster.html#article-7989437
In situations where someone has killed in self defence, they will need a supportive and specialist legal team to guide them through the legal process and be their voice. Watson Woodhouse’s Criminal Defence experts have decades of experience in these matters and are on hand to represent those who require advice in situations of self defence. We always represent our clients’ best interests and are there to support them from arrest to the conclusion of their case and beyond.
For more information on how Watson Woodhouse can help visit: https://www.watsonwoodhouse.co.uk/service/criminal-defence/murder-and-manslaughter/
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness
Posted: 7th February 2020
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 3.4 million female victims and 631,000 male victims.
And according to the year ending March 2017, the CSEW estimated that 3.1% of women (510,000) and 0.8% of men (138,000) aged 16 to 59 experienced sexual assault in the last year, which was no significant change from the previous year.
The CSEW showed that around 5 in 6 victims do not report their experiences to the police, however, there has been an increase in sexual offences recorded by the police which is thought to be driven by improvements in recording practices and a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes, including victims of historic abuse.
This week is Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. The hashtag #ITSNOTOKAY was created to raise awareness and help tackle the stigma that discourages people from openly discussing sexual assault and abuse.
Sadly, cases of sexual abuse and sexual violence are extremely common, and it is important to know that you are not alone. It is important to speak out and report the crime committed against you.
The CSEW estimated that 12.1% of adults aged 16 to 59 have experienced sexual assault, including attempts, since the age of 16, which is equivalent to an estimated 4 million victims.
At Watson Woodhouse, we offer free and confidential advice to those who have or are experiencing sexual abuse. It’s likely that you will have a lot of questions and may need more information before you can decide what to do. We can advise and represent you in obtaining protective court orders in respect of you, your home and your children, whether your case has been reported to the police or not.
We also have close links with ARCH North East. A sexual violence service offering support to people in the Teesside area who have experienced rape and sexual abuse, at any point in their lives.
If you would like to speak to a member of our family team, contact Natalie Blake on 01642 247 656.
Watson Woodhouse Represents Daughter Cleared of Murdering her Abusive Father
Posted: 3rd February 2020
Director and Head of our Crown Court department, Sean Grainger, represented 20 year old Jessica Breeze, who was today cleared of murdering her abusive father after a trial at Teesside Crown Court.
Mr Grainger had this to say: “Today by a unanimous jury Jessica Breeze was found not guilty of the murder of her father on the 20th of June, 2019.
The jury accepted she was acting in lawful self defence, of herself and her mother, when under a sustained and violent attack.”
Since Watson Woodhouse was founded in 1988, we have developed an enviable reputation for the successful defence of cases of serious crime. We have acted in some of the most high profile criminal defence cases in this region and nationally over the past 25 years. As one of the largest criminal defence firms in the North East, the firm has amassed a wealth of knowledge and skill in defending the most serious of crimes.
For more information visit: https://www.watsonwoodhouse.co.uk/service/criminal-defence/