Staff at Leamington solicitors Blythe Liggins have put their baking skills to the test in a bake-off to raise money for The Myton Hospices’ Great Wall of China Trek.

The law firm is also sponsoring their head of wills and probate, Donna Bothamley, to take part in the charity’s walk along the Great Wall next year; paying all her expenses so that every penny she raises goes to the charity.

The cakes were judged by Becky Richards, assistant events manager at Myton, and Gill Mehmet, who was responsible for developing cakes for a major supermarket chain and now runs the Cake Company in Leamington making bespoke celebration cakes to order.

Winning baker Melanie Hallam, from the Blythe Liggins family law department, said: “I very much enjoy baking and winning this competition was just the icing on the cake!”

To support Donna’s China Trek, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Donna-Bothamley1

Caption. Winning amateur baker Melanie Hallam with judges Beccy Richards, assistant events manager at The Myton Hospices (left) and Gill Mehmet from the Cake Company.

Elderly people in south Warwickshire struggling to get financial support for their care have been thrown a lifeline by a former senior hospital manager.

Suzie Bleasdale, who spent 40 years in nursing, has teamed up with Leamington solicitors Blythe Liggins to help families or friends to understand the process of applying for care home funding for a loved one.

Mrs Bleasdale, who for 20 years worked with people with complex brain injuries, assessing both their mental capacity and cognitive skills, said: “Applying for care home funding can be a stressful process and can seem like you’re fighting a battle. With my clinical background and comprehensive knowledge of the process, we can ensure the correct procedures are followed and the best outcome achieved.”

She said people often needed immediate help and someone able to guide them through the complexities of applying for assessments so that they could receive financial support.

“We can assist them in gathering the information they need to complete a strong and comprehensive summary of care needs, and support all communication between them and the social workers and health assessors.

“We can also help them source the relevant care home by visiting the homes to ensure they meet the standards required. Once that is done we can empower them to have confidence in what lies ahead,” she said.

Donna Bothamley, head of wills and probate at Blythe Liggins, said: “Even if they have been through the process and have been unsuccessful in securing health funding we can still help and support them through the appeals process and vigorously challenge any decision not to fund their care.”

For further information contact Mrs Bothamley on 01926 884763.

 

Caption: Suzie Bleasdale (left) with Donna Bothamley from Blythe Liggins Solicitors.

 

The Myton Hospices has unveiled plans to open a further five shops before the end of this year, bringing its total number of shops in Coventry and Warwickshire to 29.

Head of retail & trading David Dyson, who has appointed Leamington solicitors Blythe Liggins to handle the legal work, said the shops were a vital contributor to the £12.3 million funding needed each year to run the three hospices in Warwick, Rugby and Coventry.

He said: “We rely entirely on fundraising and the shops to raise the money. We have no government funding, save for a very welcome contribution from the NHS just short of 20 per cent of our total requirement, leaving us to find the remaining £9.6 million. We need to expand our shops to meet new targets; all part of our expansion programme.”

Nick Watts, a commercial solicitor with Blythe Liggins, who handled the last 15 leases, said that four shops had been opened last year and that Myton was looking for five additional sites in Coventry and Warwickshire, including at least one in the Stratford area.

Warwick’s Myton Hospice, which opened in 1982 and was visited by Diana, Princess of Wales four years later, is the only hospice with inpatient beds in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Last year the three hospices – which care for people with life-limiting illnesses – supported more than 1,800 people and their families through the patient & family support services, and in the community through Myton at Home.

Ruth Freeman, chief executive officer, said: “We have touched the lives of thousands of people across Coventry and Warwickshire – both patients and their families – and as a consequence there are very few people living locally who haven’t been touched by Myton, or know someone who has.”

 

Caption: David Dyson, The Myton Hospices head of retail & trading, with Nick Watts from Blythe Liggins Solicitors.

 

An intrepid Leamington solicitor has signed up to walk along the Great Wall of China to raise money for The Myton Hospices.

Donna Bothamley, a veteran of the Two Castles 10k runs, which are sponsored by her firm Blythe Liggins, and a keen fundraiser for the charity, will take up the challenge in May next year.

“Few people are given the opportunity to walk along the lesser-seen parts of the wall so I didn’t hesitate when I heard about it,” said Donna, head of wills and probate at Blythe Liggins, which has The Myton Hospices as its charity for the year.

Only a few sections of the Great Wall are still open to the public, but the 36 km trek over five days will give Donna and other volunteers access to parts of the historic wall that not many people are lucky enough to see.

Rebecca Richards, Myton’s assistant events manager, said the trek would take them over watchtowers and mountains and through historic battlements that are well off the tourist trail. “There are sections where they will feel that the Great Wall is only for them, with no-one else in sight! They will also take part in lending a hand to repair a section of the wall which is currently being reconstructed. They will be able to lay a brick ‘in memory’ ensuring that they will have a place on one of the ‘modern’ Seven Wonders of the World forever.”

After the trek, participants will visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The charity is hoping to raise £42,000, enough to keep the Inpatient Unit running for seven days, and Blythe Liggins is paying all Donna’s expenses so that every penny of her sponsorship goes to the hospice.

To support Donna, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Donna-Bothamley1

Further information can be obtained at www.mytonhospice.org or by calling Rebecca Richards on 01926 838891 or emailing Rebecca.Richards@mytonhospice.org

CAPTION: Donna Bothamley (right) with Rebecca Richards.

 If a person enters a residential care home, there are various funding options available.

Firstly, consideration will need to be given as to whether Continuing Healthcare Funding is available. There is a national framework for assessing someone for Continuing Healthcare and if a person’s primary need is nursing care, the cost of care will be paid for by the NHS. This type of funding is not means tested and is based on need. In particular, if a person is discharged from hospital straight into care, they should be assessed before discharge. The process of applying for Continuing Healthcare funding can be involved and complex, but help would be available from professional advisors. It is often helpful if the elderly person has an attorney to assist in this process and if a power of attorney has not been set up previously, consideration should be given as to whether one can now be set up.

If a person is not eligible for Continuing Healthcare they will be privately funded if they hold capital assets of more than £23,250. Certain assets will be disregarded in an assessment – for example, if a surviving spouse continues to live in the matrimonial home, the house will be completely disregarded.

If assets are worth less than £23,250, or if the cost of care has reduced them down to this figure, an application can be made to the Local Authority for funding. An assessment by the Local Authority is means tested and based on the available capital and income of the person being assessed. Again, it is often important to consider seeking professional advice to ensure that the correct funding is made available.

Even if a person enters a home as a privately funded person, or with support of the Local Authority, consideration should be given over time as to whether a Continuing Healthcare Assessment is appropriate. If the person has a deteriorating condition or when their care needs are formally reviewed, an assessment ought to be carried out to ascertain whether they are now eligible for continuing care.

 

Caption:  Donna Bothamley

 

The case of Various Claimants v Barclays Bank plc recently went to the Court of Appeal. The facts are truly awful but this case should serve as a stark warning to all employers to think carefully before they make their employees carry out an activity without fully checking what risk they may be exposing them to.

So – what was the case about? Prospective employees of Barclays Bank had to agree to undertake a compulsory medical examination as a condition of their employment. These examinations were carried out by the late Dr Gordon Bates from 1968 until 1984. The Bank provided Dr Bates with a pro-forma to fill in and paid him a set fee for each examination. It transpired that Dr Bates had behaved inappropriately during these examinations, requiring employees to strip down to their underwear and examining their breasts and/or digitally penetrating them. The police confirmed that, had the doctor still been alive, he would have faced criminal prosecution for sexual assault.

Some 126 claimants claimed that the Bank was ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of Dr Bates and, as such, they sought damages from the bank. The Judge at first instance agreed that the Bank should be responsible for the acts of the doctor and that damages were payable to Claimants who could prove that they had been a victim of the doctor.

The Bank appealed to the Court of Appeal, denying that Dr Bates was an employee or in a situation akin to employment. He was instead an independent subcontractor and, as such, liable only on his own part. Dr Bates had organised his own professional life, carried out the examinations in his own home and also worked for other organisations. They denied that he was an employee or quasi-employee.

The Court of Appeal rejected the Bank’s arguments and held that the judge had not erred in concluding that Barclays Bank was vicariously liable for any assaults that the late Dr Gordon Bates had carried out. The Bank’s relationship with the doctor was one of employment or akin to it and the negligent acts complained of were sufficiently connected with the employment.

It is wholly unimaginable that a doctor would behave in this way and some commentators feel that the decision is unfair to the Bank. What is pertinent about this case, however, is that the Claimants were all 16 years old at the time of the examinations and were never offered a chaperone or the choice of a female doctor. The Bank created a foreseeable risk of a negligent act being carried out, with scant regard for their employees. I completely agree that the Bank should be held liable: they forced teenage women into a dangerous situation as a pre-requisite to getting an offer of employment or continuing in their employment.

All employers should receive this case as a stark warning of how far their duty of care towards their employees may extend.

 

Caption: Claire Kirwan, Partner and Head of the Personal Injury Department

 

Case details

Various Claimants v Barclays Bank plc [2018] EWCA Civ 1670
Court of Appeal, Civil Division
Judges: Sir Brian Leveson P, McCombe and Irwin LJJ
Date of judgment: 17 July 2018

Today is the day when our most senior Family Judge and President of the Family Law Division, Sir James Lawrence Munby, retires and the job is taken over by Sir Andrew Macfarlane.

Never could it be said that Sir James shied away from difficult and controversial topics and the challenges they present.

In his last major speech on 24th July 2018, Sir James acknowledged that he had failed to correct a grave injustice in the family courts. It would be illegal in the criminal courts, but in the family courts the alleged perpetrator can cross-examine the alleged victim. So there we have it, the alleged perpetrator grilling the alleged victim without the judge being able to stop the process. Having witnessed as a Judge this type of cross examination time and again, Sir James’s view is that this process is no more than a continuation of the abuse.

Having championed the cause to stop this injustice and having made some progress politically, Sir James’s advances were dashed and set back earlier this year when the Justice Minister said that there would be no new legislation to stop this type of cross examination.

Perhaps our politicians are too tied up with Brexit and their own self-preservation to attend to the needs of those most vulnerable in our society, who are powerless to protect themselves from what would appear to be legitimised abuse on the part of the family law system. Let us hope that Sir James’s successor continues the fight for a change in the law.

 

Caption: Andrew Brooks, Partner and Head of the Family Law Department

The highest court in the land, the Supreme Court has decided that the present law about divorce and unreasonable behaviour should continue.  

The court decided that Mrs Owens should not be granted a divorce from Mr Owens because her petition based upon his behaviour was not strong enough. This goes against many people, including divorce lawyers who would like to have divorce based upon, ‘no fault’.

 This means that if a party is going to rely on unreasonable behaviour then that unreasonable behaviour must be strong enough and robust enough for the court to agree that a divorce should be allowed. It is imperative therefore that the divorce petition is drafted by a professional who knows where the benchmark is in terms of the court’s perception of, ‘unreasonable behaviour’.

 The law will doubtless change one day, but for the time being lawyers drafting unreasonable behaviour divorce petitions must make sure that on the one hand they are not offensive, but on the other hand they are not so weak that a divorce is denied.

 

Caption: Andrew Brooks

 

(Considering the recent Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Mills v Mills)

There are straightforward divorces, just as there are straightforward marriages. And then, there are not so straightforward marriages and divorces. It seems that the lengthier marriages carry more complications with them upon divorce, especially when one of the spouses has a much higher income (usually the husband) and/or has considerable wealth in comparison to the other spouse (usually the wife).

There are some genuine cases where it is appropriate for a spouse to receive periodical payments (maintenance) following divorce to ensure fairness and to ensure that they are appropriately housed and able to continue to look after the children of the family. There can be circumstances whereby a spouse’s future income will be affected, hence the need for the other spouse to continue to maintain their ex post-divorce.

Section 23 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the types of periodical payments orders (also known as orders for spousal maintenance) the Court can award to the less advantaged party and in some cases those orders can be awarded for life, as was the case in Mills v Mills when it first came before the Family Court.

In this case, the court originally ordered the husband to pay the wife a lump sum which would enable her to re-house herself appropriately. In addition, an order for spousal maintenance was made at the rate of £1100 per month and this was to continue for life or until the wife remarried. Anyone would have thought that this would be sufficient for the wife to become financially independent after divorce.

However, not quite so unfortunately. Indeed, after the case was originally concluded, the wife made a number of what have been regarded as unwise financial decisions, which then led her to apply to the court for the original maintenance Order to be varied and increased to support her in securing herself appropriate accommodation following on from her unwise investments.

The husband made an application for the maintenance order to actually be discharged and one cannot help but think that it appears most unfair that husband has to continue to pay such spousal maintenance for life, when he has a new family to support, having remarried and when the ex-wife must surely have reached independence since the divorce.

That is not the case and the Supreme Court was quite clear that although it would be unjust to increase the amount of spousal maintenance, it considered it fair that the order should remain in force and so it seems that this decision is not an end to the famous ‘meal ticket for life’. One cannot help but sympathise with this husband who feels that there is ‘no end in sight’.

This is why it is so important for divorcing parties (husbands and wives alike) to seek specialist family law advice to resolve the financial issues that will always be linked to divorce and to try to achieve a ‘clean break’ wherever possible, to prevent future claims being made again and again and to achieve fairness, as that was always what the law intended.

It is all very well that parties may be amicable now and not wish to enter into discussions regarding the financial aspects of the divorce, especially when they are trying to keep costs down, but sometimes, those costs are not only justified but wholly beneficial if it means preventing further claims being made in the future, thereby saving money in the long run.

 

Caption: Sophia Mellor

Three months after touring with the Warwickshire Academy in Barbados, 16-year-old all-rounder Dan Mousley put in such a display for Kenilworth Wardens against reigning champions Knowle & Dorridge that he has been crowned our first Player of the Month for this season.

Each month we celebrate the deeds of our cricketers, with the winner being presented with a box of six new cricket balls for their club, provided by Leamington solicitors Blythe Liggins.

Dan was nominated for the award after Kenilworth Wardens upset the odds to defeat the current champions in a game that will live long in the memory of the Glasshouse Lane faithful – a match in which he took a valuable wicket and batted superbly for such a young player.

This isn’t the first time that Dan has hit the headlines, he made national news last year when he and his brothers Alex (U14) and Tom (U13) all scored centuries for Bablake School in Coventry – in the same week!

“I have been playing for Kenilworth Wardens for five seasons,” said Dan, who is the 1st XI captain at Bablake. “It was my grandfather and two uncles who really got me interested in cricket, they and my father (Richard) are all involved with a village cricket club near Coleshill and very quickly got me playing at a young age.”

Kevin Mitchell, a commercial solicitor and partner at Blythe Liggins, and chairman of Leamington Cricket Club, said: “Dan has shown great talent in his teenage years and will certainly go on to even greater things. Being a member of the Warwickshire Academy is testament to his skill with both the bat and the ball. We wish him every success.”

 

Caption: Kevin Mitchell and Dan Mousley