Saturday, 25 July 2009

Preserving Your Wealth With Woolley & Co

I reviewed the website of a firm called Woolley & Co on the Family Law Week blog . The firm has recently sent me a press release promoting their service in drawing up cohabitation agreements.

"Economic reports for the last twelve months have been grim with the UK and indeed the world, in the grip of the worst recession on record. Now the family law specialists at Woolley & Co , are encouraging the public to make savings, cut back on their costs and preserve the wealth they have.

Despite some reports offering a chink of light at the end of what seems like a very long tunnel, the fact of the matter is that our economic recovery will take years and self-preservation is in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Woolley & Co are not only there to assist you in times of crisis or when you are heading off to the divorce courts, they can assist a broad spectrum of people ranging from those separating and divorcing to those just starting out together.
What they are able to achieve for you personally depends on your circumstances so aside from those who are separating, about to enter into marriage, about to enter into a mortgage with someone or about to live with someone, Woolley & Co can help preserve your wealth!

With the number of unmarried couples reaching an all time high, comes an increasing number of disputes in Court when those couples separate. There are no precedents or law that governs how these matters should be dealt with and although there are some landmark cases that offer some guidance, cohabitation remains a relatively grey area.

A cohabitation agreement (also known as a living together agreement) captures the terms of agreement the parties wish to be bound by when embarking on their life together. It can detail the assets each party is bringing to the relationship and what they can expect or intend to leave with. It can also detail what you intend to happen if you subsequently have children.

Ultimately, if you and your cohabitee were to separate and then start arguing over who get’s what the cohabitation agreement could be used by the Courts as guidance to show your intentions at the time of entering into the relationship. The Court does have discretion in deciding whether to enforce it or not. But essentially if the document has been properly drafted and each party was frank about their position at the time of the agreement being drafted, you stand a better chance of having it enforced meaning less costs incurred and the possibility of avoiding proceedings altogether.

For those of you who are about to make the big step into married life, Woolley & Co can help you to arrange a pre nuptial agreement. We’ve all heard of them but most of us don’t have one and probably don’t even know anyone who has. They’re generally far more popular in the USA where they’ve been around longer and are watertight, but they are on the increase in the UK too.

They are similar in format to cohabitation agreements. People have shied away from them in the past as it was thought they weren’t legally binding. The fact is, a Court of Appeal ruling in July 2009 means prenuptial agreements are more likely to be seen as binding. A Judge will give consideration to the terms of the prenuptial agreement and the intentions of the parties at the time it was drafted.
Similarly, post nuptial agreements are also growing in popularity. These are very similar in format to prenuptial agreements but are entered into after marriage rather than before. They deal with the difficult issue of the division of assets and money were the marriage to come to an end. A relatively new concept, they are now considered to be fully binding in the UK after five law lords clarified their position in English law shortly before Christmas 2008. As with prenuptial agreements, both parties must be upfront and honest about their financial position at the time the document is prepared and the agreement itself must be properly drafted. Assuming that to be the case, these agreements will be binding even if they reflect something different to what a Court may have ordered.

If you go down the matrimonial route and it doesn’t work out you will probably end up separated or divorced.

To protect your wealth you need qualified legal advice on the options of divorce or legal separation and the pro’s and con’s of sorting things out quickly or waiting. Many factors have to be taken into account. For example, you could be receiving spousal benefits from your spouse’s pension while you’re still married. This would come to an end on divorce. Alternatively it could be that you want to try and end or limit your spousal maintenance liability upon divorce.

It’s important for you to be aware of the financial implications of divorcing or separating and at Woolley & Co we have highly experienced lawyers who can guide you through the process. Book a free initial half hour appointment with a Woolley & Co family lawyer here."

Baby Barista and the Art of War

No doubt a number of pupils were secretly rather relieved when the identity of the author of the Time’s Baby Barista blog was finally revealed in the Times to be Tim Kevan so that the finger of suspicion was no longer pointing at them. I have long been a fan of the blog describing its style elsewhere as Henry Cecil on speed. Every new pupil of mine (Natasha, take note) is lent a copy of Brothers-in-Law by Henry Cecil which, although now a little dated, describes the life of a post-war pupil along with some of the more quaint traditions of the bar. The book was also made into a very fine film starring Ian Carmichael & Terry Thomas (and later a radio & tv programme starring Richard Briers) and was one of a series of legal novels written by Henry Cecil who became a Judge in 1949 & used to sit in Clerkenwell & Shoreditch, I believe. I am also rather fond of the follow up book – Daughters-in-Law for obvious reasons. You can buy the books from Amazon

For more pupil lit I would also thoroughly recommend the appropriately named The Pupil by Caro Fraser (Henry Cecil on Viagra?) the first in her delicious serious about Caper Court Chambers and the gorgeously seductive Leo. Caro’s take on lawyers is that we are all crippled inside as she puts it.

If I had any doubts about how the Baby Barista column might stand up as a book (especially as I have read it already) they are entirely dispelled by Baby Barista & the Art of War (which you can also buy from Amazon . The whole is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts and it’s lovely to have it all in one place so you don’t have that feeling you have missed an episode. It’s just as witty on re-reading. And just as much fun trying to match the characters to real life barristers (& please don’t tell me who I remind you of & I will return the courtesy!). But, of course, none of it could be true could it?

One particular passage made me wince. TheBoss to his pupil:
“..we start off in this job with so much potential. The world is our oyster and we can do anything we choose. We then spend years taking ourselves further and further away from the mainstream until we are so specialised that if we were to jump ship there would not even be a life-raft nearby. We are good only for being barristers. Otherwise it’s straight back down to the bottom of the pile aged forty-four”.
Substitute ‘family lawyer’ for ‘barrister’ and it sums up many of the conversations I have been having with family practitioners in recent months.

And SlipperySlope:
“The law’s not about ivory towers or wigs and gowns. It’s about one thing and that’s costs. Not justice. Not rights. Not defending the innocent or prosecuting the guilty. It’s cold, hard, stinking cash. Your time, literally, is money. You sign away your life, but for a price of which even Faust himself would be proud.”

Fortunately, these are atypically bleak moments in an otherwise hugely enjoyable debunking of the world of the Bar. But is Baby Barista really as Machiavellian as he is made out to be? Most of his victims are odious and richly deserve what they get. He has far too soft a spot for OldRuin whose life he saves, returning a brief to do so & upsetting his HeadClerk (is he mad?). He loves his mother despite her embarrassing appearance at the chambers’ tea party bearing cake. Part of his drive to succeed in the tenancy stakes is the desire to keep her from hookey street. And then there is the fragrant Claire for whom he is clearly destined so long as she doesn’t find out the full extent of his shenanigans. If there is a moral to this amoral story perhaps it is that inside every barrister is a nice person trying to get out?

John Bolch’s review

CharonQC's review

GeekLawyer's review