Let’s see detail on leasehold reform, says expert

By Linda Kirk of Adkirk Law

Plans unveiled to reform the leasehold housing system affecting up to 200,000 homeowners in Lancashire has received a cautious welcome by Adkirk Law.

Costs of extending residential property leases or purchasing the freehold of their property – to be brought before Parliament this year – could save some homeowners up to £9,000

The move comes following Adkirk Law’s support for the National Leasehold Campaign, which has been lobbying the Government for leasehold changes over the last four years.

Linda Kirk, director of conveyancing at Adkirk Law, said: “As the region with one of the largest number of leasehold properties in the UK, this is a welcome step.

“However, the devil is in the detail here and we need to see how this will be rolled out. We will need to see if this is fit for purpose across the different types of leasehold and that it works for those who have been so badly affected across the region.”

It is estimated around one million homes in the North West are leasehold, the highest proportion outside of London, and that the changes could save homeowners between £8,000 to £9,000.

The Government wants legislation in the current session of Parliament to allow house and flat leaseholders to extend their lease to a new standard 990 years with the ground rent set at zero.  They are also going to abolish the marriage value which is used to calculate the premiums payable. However the finer detail as to how this will be implemented is yet to be announced and whether this will be sufficient to resolve all the issues with leasehold property.

The Government is working with the housing sector to develop commonhold as a potential alternative to leasehold in the years ahead where flat-owners hold the freehold to their property, and blocks are jointly-owned and managed.

Adkirk Law offers a niche practice with expertise in lease extensions, residential conveyancing, regulatory law, including serious fraud, regulation and police misconduct.

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Legal expert warns care homes – be ready and safe

By Rachel Adamson of Adkirk Law

A specialist North West law firm is warning care homes to be extra vigilant in making their spaces safe as the care industry regulator steps up monitoring during the current lockdown.

Rachel Adamson, head of fraud and regulatory at Adkirk Law, highlighted the importance of safety for care homes during the current pandemic, which is managed by the Care Quality Commission.

She said: “There has been a lull in the monitoring and inspections because of the pandemic but care home operators and managers should be aware that just because we are in lockdown doesn’t mean there will be any less rigour in dealing with safety.

“It seems obvious, but the issue of infection control is one of the key measures being examined and care homes should be ready to be visited at any time, and having robust processes and systems in place will provide evidence of safety.

“The CQC has increased the level of enforcement action over recent years and has made it clear that it will take action if people are at risk during the pandemic. It is important that providers be prepared for the calls with their inspector.”

Whilst the CQC has temporarily halted routine inspections during this emergency period, it has retained its regulatory role by implementing a new Emergency Support Framework, designed to ensure risks can be identified and acted on.

The CQC inspectors are looking at four key areas of care home provision covering safety including infection control, staffing arrangements, protection from abuse, neglect and discrimination and processes dealing with the health, safety and wellbeing of staff.

Adkirk Law offers a niche practice with expertise in regulatory law, including serious fraud, regulation and police misconduct, and residential conveyancing.

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Stamp of excellence for regional law experts

By Rachel Adamson of Adkirk Law

A specialist North West law firm has been re-accredited by the industry standards body for best practice in the legal sector.

Adkirk Law, with its headquarters in Preston, has met the Law Society’s standard for excellence in practice management and client care under the Lexcel accreditation following a rigorous assessment process.

Lexcel provides a flexible framework to support practices in developing consistent operational efficiencies and maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly diverse market.

The accreditation defines quality management procedures in seven areas: structure and strategy, financial management, information management, people management, risk management, client care and file and case management.

Rachel Adamson, head of fraud and regulatory at Adkirk Law, said: “The Lexcel standard is a real mark of quality in our sector, demonstrating excellence in the eyes of the Law Society and reflecting our commitment towards best practice and high standards. It’s something which is reassessed annually to ensure standards and compliance are maintained so it’s pleasing to be able to consistently reach this benchmark.

“With all the challenges and uncertainty this year has presented, it’s more important than ever that clients can be assured we are delivering excellence and operating in their best interests at the highest levels, across all aspects of the firm.”

Adkirk Law offers a niche practice with expertise in regulatory law, including serious fraud, regulation and police misconduct, and residential conveyancing.

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Prepare now for tougher inspections ahead, care homes warned

By Rachel Adamson of Adkirk Law

Care homes owners across the country need to start planning now for tougher CQC inspection criteria, a leading law expert has warned.

Rachel Adamson, from Adkirk Law, says that the impact of Covid-19 on the sector could lead to stricter requirements in the near future.

With the latest government figures showing over 20,000 deaths involving Covid-19 involved care home residents, Rachel says it is inevitable that any future inquiry will suggest even stricter enforcement from the inspection body.

She said: “We’re sitting on the edge of another cliff face for care home owners. Not only are we expecting significantly more people to require social care support over the next twenty years, but Covid-19 has exposed some vulnerabilities that the Government can’t ignore.

“I think any inquiry into these care home deaths will undoubtedly lead to tougher inspection criteria beyond the main five questions, and potentially stricter criminal and civil enforcement.
“For care home owners, protecting their residents is always priority number one, but they can only do that by protecting their business. Making sure that they are ready for future inspections means being able to retrospectively answer questions on their approach to the pandemic and being prepared to make the necessary changes quickly to protect their reputation and rating.

“While the frequency of inspections has slowed due to the pandemic, care home owners should not rest on their laurels. In the near future the enforcement action for a failing home could be come even more serious and those homes which prepare for that now will be in the best place to look after their residents and their business.”
Adkirk Law is a leading UK Law firm offering a niche practice with expertise in regulatory law. Rachel Adamson and her team have successfully challenged the CQC for many years. Rachel instinctively understands the challenges care providers are facing and has extensive experience in representing organisations and individuals facing enforcement procedures; poor inspection reports and other compliance action being taken by the CQC.

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Tread carefully in financial investigations, says lawyer

By Rachel Adamson of Adkirk Law

Financial advisers and organisations involved in the finance industry across the region who may be under investigation by the financial regulators for no apparent reason are being warned to seek legal advice.

Rachel Adamson, head of fraud and regulatory at regional niche law firm Adkirk Law with more than 25 years’ experience in her field, is advising independent organisations and individuals to be careful when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) start an investigation because of alleged breaches of the regulations.

She said: “The original alleged breach may not be serious at all, and in many cases may not represent an actual breach. It may be that one of the organisation’s processes may need amending slightly.

“The investigations can take time to resolve and distract individuals and companies from their core business. Taking good advice can be the difference between being able to carry on in business or being prosecuted and/or closed down in the most serious of cases.

“A current trend for the FCA is to investigate the unregulated market selling investments such as mini-bonds. The best way to describe this is an IOU written to the investor by the company for a fixed rate of interest over a fixed period of time.

“It is essential that those investment companies promoting deals like this only promote to the exempted categories of high net worth investors and those known as sophisticated investors. There are many unregulated companies raising money for property developers in this way and it is these companies who are the focus of attention for the FCA.

“It is absolutely essential that these unregulated companies do not give any financial advice as they would then be in breach of the regulations and open to enforcement action.”

Over the last year, the FCA has undertaken an extensive programme including investigating more than 80 cases of regulated activities potentially being carried out without having the right FCA authorisation and assessing over 200 cases of financial promotions that appeared not to have complied with the FCA rules.
Rachel Adamson has defended a number of cases recently brought by the FCA as well as defended cases brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue and Customs and Trading Standards.

Adkirk Law is a leading UK Law firm offering a niche practice with expertise in serious fraud, regulation and police misconduct, acting for many high-ranking police officers accused of wrong-doing.

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