The law surrounding organ donation has changed. The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill came into effect on 20 May 2020 and has implemented an opt-out system for organ donation.
Any measure created in contemplation of divorce, or within a relatively short period before it, is potentially reviewable by the court if it is intended to defeat a spouse’s claim for financial relief. The court can set it aside or draw an adverse inference from the creation of legal structures intended to act as barriers to a claim. However, if such a structure sufficiently predates the breakdown of the marriage or can be justified for any other reason, then parties can and should take sensible steps to protect their wealth/assets.
A trust is one such vehicle, but it must not be a sham. If the settlor retains sole control of the trust’s assets and doesn’t consult other trustees, it might be viewed as such. Secrecy, complexity or hidden assets all contribute to the potential failure of the measure to stand up in a matrimonial court.
You can protect shares in a private limited company by the way the company is structured. Classifying shares that cannot be owned by a member’s spouse prevents their transfer on divorce. However, after valuation, offsetting against other assets can still occur, but it does prevent interference by disaffected spouses, which might be harmful to the company.
Inherited or money not derived from the marriage itself – ‘non-matrimonial assets’ can be protected to some degree by keeping it separate. Although it must always be disclosed, placing it in a separate account and avoiding ‘mixing’ with jointly owned assets can provide an extra barrier. The overall need of the claiming spouse may still enable recourse to it, but if not, it may withstand an onslaught.
Finally, there are pre and post-nuptial settlements, the latter more likely to be enforceable but both are still well worth a try. Neither would oust the jurisdiction of the family court but if created in the right conditions, would probably stand up to challenge. Conditions include the taking of legal advice, giving full and frank financial disclosure and being entered into well before the date of the marriage to avoid the challenge of undue influence.
If you would like further advice or information about financial remedy from a relationship breakdown, please contact Elizabeth Wyatt.
Commercial and local authority landlords could benefit from urgently reviewing their legal options.
The Cabinet Office has published guidance asking for people to act responsibly, fairly and “in the national interest”.
To help our charity clients look to the future, we summarise key guidance and updates over the last week.
On 18 May 2020, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) wrote to all social housing residents in England (residents).
For anyone who is currently restrained from holding their General Meeting or have held such in breach of their governing documents, help is on the way!
Social landlords may be surprised to learn that “landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs for most households”.
Many housing providers are now re-thinking about gathering information to complete their data return to the Regulator of Social Housing, with the initial exercise having been delayed by Covid-19.
With many premises being left unoccupied (or minimally occupied) during the lockdown, both Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive have warned of the increased risks of Legionella.
The Court of Appeal judgement in Booth and another v R  EWCA Crim 575 will be welcome news for local authority prosecutors and their investigation teams.
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