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Challenging a parking fine: what you need to know

Challenging a parking fine: what you need to know

Motoring in the UK is fraught with predictable costs: fuel, insurance, MOTs, road tax, but it’s the unexpected costs that really get to drivers. Regular servicing from specialists such as T W White & Sons can help keep repair bills to a minimum, as can driving sensibly and safely. And keeping on the right side of parking inspectors.

One thing often said about the English is we don’t like to complain, but when it comes to parking fines, that would seem not to be the case. Over 70,000 motorists appealed against their supposed infractions in 2012-13 and half of them won their challenges. No-one likes returning to their vehicle to find a ticket tucked under the wipers, especially if it’s unwarranted. So if you feel your parking fine ought to be challenged then it’s always worth appealing against it through the official process.

Now, as any comprehensive guide will tell you, the grounds for appealing, and the actual process, are varied and lengthy. I’m not going to go into any great depth here on how to actually go about challenging your ticket, I’m going to focus more on information you need to know in order to stand the best chance of success.

1. Don’t pay. If you pay the fine, this is viewed as an admission of guilt. This doesn’t apply of course if your car has been towed or clamped and you need to pay to get it back.

2. If you’re planning to appeal you need to act immediately, but once your appeal is in the system be prepared for it to drag on for some time, perhaps even months. Consider if this is really worth the hassle.

3. Who issued the fine? There are four agencies that can do so in the UK: the police, local authorities, Transport for London, and private companies. Knowing which was responsible helps you determine if you’ve got a criminal or a civil fine (as well as the police, local authorities also issue criminal fines, although it’s usually civil). Criminal fines are more difficult to overturn.

4. You need to assemble your evidence. Use your phone to take photos of your car’s position, road marking, signs, anything relevant. Are there any witnesses who can corroborate your argument? Keep hold of your parking ticket if you had one, and any correspondence between yourself and the agency. If you have extenuating circumstances, proof of this will be needed. Fines issued by post are more troublesome, as the offence will have taken place some time previously, so in this case your best bet would be to check if the area you parked is covered by CCTV.

5. Remember that it is the registered owner of the car, not the driver, who is at fault. So if your son or daughter picks up a fine and doesn’t tell you, you may have difficulty appealing later on. If you’re driving a hire car then you will need to let the company know if you intend to challenge.

6. Assuming you have a civil fine, you begin with an informal appeal to the council. If this fails you can then make a formal appeal (this is the first step if your car was clamped or towed.) Finally, you can make an appeal to an independent body. If you pass through every stage and still have no luck, then you may as well give up. Pay your fine as soon as possible to avoid it rising by 50%, and move on.

7. If you received a fine while in a private car park, the process is different. The owners set their own rules, and you will be appealing instead to POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals). The operator will need to be in breach of the British Parking Association’s Code of Practise, or Contract Law. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can just ignore this kind of fine, it could end up costing you dearly.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

What can you find out about a company through Companies House?

What can you find out about a company through Companies House?

Companies House is the name of the registration office for companies in England and Wales. Companies incorporated in England and Wales must register and submit certain documentation to Companies House, who make most of that information available to the public.

Every day, many individuals and firms need to access the records held by Companies House in order to find out information about companies they are directly advising or companies their clients have dealings with. Among the professionals that frequently search information about companies are accountants, tax advisors, business consultants, solicitors and notaries (see, for instance Vanner Perez Notaries).

A company search may be required for a variety of reasons. The person making the search may need to find out or confirm details such as whether the company is currently active, when it was incorporated, who are the shareholders and directors, etc. The information publicly accessible via Companies House also includes information about mortgages and other charges and, crucially, the company’s annual accounts. This information can be very useful for those interested in how the company is doing, such as creditors, competitors or potential investors.

The register is searchable by anyone, not only professionals. Companies House’s website offers a general search facility, called WebCheck, as well as a subscription service called Companies House Direct. They have also recently developed a free app that can be used for easy searches through mobile devices.

What type of information about a company can be found via Companies House?

Companies can be searched by name or number, and with a couple of clicks it is possible to find out basic details about the company, including the following:

- Current and previous names

- Registration number

- Registered address

- Type of company (e.g. private or public)

- Date of incorporation

- Current status (e.g. active, in administration or dissolved)

- Nature of business (only if the company has provided this)

- Relevant dates (e.g. when the next accounts are due)

- Mortgages (classified as outstanding, satisfied and part satisfied)

A separate section gives the names of the company’s directors (and secretary, where there is one), including their contact addresses, their dates of appointment and, in the case of past directors, the date they resigned. In fact, it is also possible to search the whole register by director name. This brings up a list of all the companies of which that particular person is, or has been, a director or a secretary.

Furthermore, for a small charge it is possible to access the various documents that the company has submitted to Companies House and that form part of the public file of the company. These documents will include the memorandum and articles of association of the company (containing their internal regulations), the annual accounts, certain resolutions regarding events such as a change of company name or an increase in share capital, and the annual return (this is a snapshot of the company submitted every year to Companies House which gives up-to-date information about the shareholders, directors, etc.). From these documents it is possible to obtain useful information about the financial affairs of the company, the identity of its shareholders and directors, and any major events affecting the life of the company.

Apart from the simple copies that can be downloaded from Companies House’s website, it is also possible to order certified copies that will have the signature of an official acting on behalf of the Registrar of Companies. These certified copies may be used, for example, to provide evidence about the company to foreign authorities, which may be required for procedures such as setting up a branch, opening bank accounts, registering a trademark or suing a debtor.

It is also possible to order a document known as a ‘certificate of good standing’, which will confirm that the company is active and up to date with its filing obligations. This certificate can be useful to satisfy foreign authorities that a company is ‘healthy’. The certificate can include any relevant information requested, such as the registered address, previous company names, directors’ and shareholders’ names, share capital, etc.

There are other sources that may be used to gather information about a company. The University of Reading publishes a useful list of directories that can be useful to find other company details, both in the UK and abroad.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

Had an accident at work? Here’s what you should do

Had an accident at work? Here’s what you should do

Who’d have thought it? Even in some of the most banal workplaces, accidents happen with a huge frequency. In fact, government body the Health and Safety Executive report that over 27 million working days were lost due to work-related illness or injury. That amounts to more than 73,000 years!

Indeed, if you’ve ever tripped, slipped or taken a bad turn at work, you’ll know that, some of the time, it isn’t really your fault. A lot of the time, the blame lies with an employer who doesn’t have the wherewithal to conform to health and safety legislation.

That’s not to say that your boss is necessarily a horrible person. They might be a perfectly amiable, tweed-wearing, soft-spoken sweetheart. But no matter how pleasant they seem, the temptation to skimp on the appropriate safety measures for their employees can be too great for even the nicest of people.

When you’re lying at home with a cast on your leg or a burn on your arm through no fault of your own, there’s one thing you should do – pick up the phone.

A guide to your legal process

You’ve all seen those injury solicitor ads on the telly – “HAVE YOU HAD AN ACCIDENT AT WORK?” they boom at you, usually pointing an incriminating finger in your direction.

But these solicitors aren’t just about provocative ads. If you give them a call they could put you on track to gaining compensation from your injury.

On the phone, they’ll ask you to detail your case and, if they think it has a leg to stand on, you’ll be asked to provide as much evidence as possible for your solicitor to examine.

How much evidence do you need? Well, how long is a piece of string? Evidence could mean anything, including CCTV footage, witness testimonies, doctor’s reports, emotional impact and proof of shirked safety legislation. Essentially, the more you can dredge up, the higher the likelihood of you winning your case.

After this, your representation will get the litigation ball rolling, sending out a letter to your employer informing them of the claim. If your employer accepts it, then a settlement could be made. If they don’t then your solicitor will contact a judge to pencil in a date to prove your claim.

It’s by this point that you’ll have to put your full trust in the professionalism of your legal representation. They’ll represent you in your case, so all you have to do is help them in any way you can.

Whether you win or lose your case, the important thing to remember is that the legal system gave you a fair hearing. Without someone to point the finger when health and safety legislation isn’t followed, many more employers would see what they can and can’t get away with it.

So, have you had an accident at work? Then pick up the phone!

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

Ways to Successfully Settle Employment Claims  

Ways to Successfully Settle Employment Claims  

Employment claims can be brought about for any number of reasons. Often it could be that the employer has terminated a contract of employment that the employee wishes to contest. Or, it may be that the employee feels that they are being mistreated in the workplace. Whatever the reason, going through with an employment claim can be hugely stressful and is not something that should be taken on lightly.

If things cannot be amicably settled between the two aggrieved parties there may be cause for the case to be moved on to an employment tribunal. All employment tribunals are independently judged and can result in the employer paying compensation to the employee should they win the case. However, since the introduction of employment tribunal fees in July 2013, the need for a solid and legitimate claim is more important than ever so the employee should not initiate a claim purely on a whim.

Settling disputes

When there are legitimate grounds for grievances to be heard there are three main ways that, with the help of a neutral third party, these can be brought to a satisfactory resolution. These are:

  • Mediation – An impartial third party will sit down with both the employer and the employee and look at the problems that exist between the two parties involved. Generally a solution can be reached at the mediation stage, but the mediator cannot push either the employer or the employee into accepting a resolution. It is prudent not to use the service of a mediator should the case be of a discriminatory or criminal nature.
  • Conciliation – Conciliation, just like mediation, is also voluntary. Both the employer and the employee must agree to the conciliation in order to progress. Conciliation is usually brought about when the employee believes that they have an entitlement to lodge a claim at an employment tribunal or if they have already previously made a claim.
  • Arbitration – Arbitration is where an independent, neutral third-party assesses the case and makes a decision based on the facts presented. Once all of the issues have been looked at both parties must concur to the arbitrator’s judgement being legally binding. If either party does not agree then there is still the option of an employment tribunal available.

Compromise agreements

Often referred to as settlement agreements, compromise agreements are legally binding and can be used to end disputes that may occur when an employment contract is terminated. Compromise agreements can be bewildering to the layman so it is vitally important that you employ a competent and reputable solicitor.Rodney Hylton-Potts, who has worked on high profile cases such as the Polly Peck trial in the 1980’s and the 2008 judicial review of the smoking ban, is well versed in compromise agreements and could help you get the desired outcome for your case.

Compromise agreements will, more often than not, end with an offer of a financial settlement. This means that should an agreement be reached between all parties concerned a full and final settlement will be offered and the case will be brought to an end.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

Your rights on the road

Your rights on the road

Part of the excitement of growing up is getting a driver’s license. However, don’t be quick to speed away. Know your rights on the road, because accidents can happen to even the most careful driver. It is important to know the process of determining who is at fault in an accident as well as the process of making a claim when you incur injuries in an accident.

Always drive defensively. Defensive driving is the easiest way to minimize risk and avoid collisions. Of course, if you have a valid driver’s license, you will know the formalities of road laws regarding where, when, and how you can drive on the roads, but do you know your rights when stopped by a police officer? Do you know what to do if you are involved in an accident?

If a police officer pulls you over for no apparent reason, they are not allowed to search your car. They must have probable cause. For example, if you’ve been pulled over for speeding or having a broken light, only then can a police officer search your car. However, you do not have to pull over immediately, only when it is safe to do so. It is important to know your rights.

What happens if you are involved in an accident? 

If you are involved in a major or minor accident, do the following:

  • Stop your car. Make sure the engine is off and determine if there are any major injuries among the parties involved.
  • Call your local emergency services if anyone has been severely injured.
  • If no one is severely injured, phone your local police in order to file a report and if the accident is blocking the road. Normally, you will have a 24-hour period to contact your local police.
  • Start getting the names and addresses of everyone involved in the accident, in order to follow up with insurance claims, etc.
  • Write down number plates and take photos of vehicle damage.
  • Try to write a recollection of what happened leading up to the incident. Include factors such as weather, road conditions, etc.

Try and keep these tips in the back of your mind, though it may not be easy during the chaotic aftermath of an accident. The main thing is to try to record as much information as possible while on scene, because this information will be especially important as you try to get the vehicles involved fixed and payments sorted out.

How to determine who is at fault in an accident

First, try to remember what traffic violations occurred at the time of the crash. Whoever has broken the law will be held largely responsible for the accident.

If the driver has rear-ended someone, it is usually his or her fault. The same goes for someone making a left-hand turn.

Always record what each driver says after an accident. Sometimes drivers can inadvertently admit guilt right after the accident has occurred.

An investigation should be undertaken after the accident to see who breached driver duties and responsibilities. The police will usually undertake this step.

How to claim when injury occurs in an accident

In order to claim compensation, the plaintiff must have incurred injury. After the accident, you will receive medical support as well as a full medical report. With this medical report as well as the help of an accident claims attorney, you should be able to receive some form of compensation, depending on the severity of your injuries. A number of considerations will take place when trying to claim for injury, including:

  • The type of injury you have suffered
  • The amount of pain you feel, and how regular it is
  • If the injury has impaired your ability to work
  • How it has affected your daily life
  • The nature of the treatment required

In order to be fully compensated for any injuries you have received, be sure to hire legal representation. Doing so will increase both your chances of winning a claim as well as the amount of compensation you are likely to receive.

There is a time limit in which you can claim for damages. If you wait too long, your case becomes weaker. It is recommended to file within three years of the date of the accident. Remember that when trying to gain compensation from someone else for an accident, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. In a court of law, the jury or judge will always come from a stance of “innocent until proven guilty.” The accident may very well be the other person’s fault, but it is up to you to prove that.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

how to find a good lawyer in london

How to find a good Lawyer in London

Big cities like London can be a magnificent place to spend a few days taking in all the sights as a tourist. However, if you’re looking to find a good lawyer for a case, then this can prove to be a nightmare.

There are literally thousands of lawyer firms in the capital as lawyers rush to the city. With so many to choose from, it can be an immensely difficult task to find one that’s suitable for each individual case. Usually what happens is that one offers you expert advice, but charges very unreasonable prices, while others are very cheap but don’t know the first thing about your type of case.

The majority of the city’s firms are located right bang in the middle of the city. Bond street in particular is always pebble-dashed with ladies and gentlemen in fine suits all going about their daily routines and work.

Just because you are in London though, it does not mean that you have to pay through the roof for some decent, solid legal advice. In order to find the best lawyer for you, the most important thing to do is compare the different price ranges against the different firms.

There are many Lawyer jobs in London to be found, so if you are qualified, then it’s definitely the place to be (in the UK anyways). Just like finding a good law firm involves researching, so does finding a good law firm to work for.

Unless you are extremely lucky, you will not get the best deal when you contact your first lawyer. By putting yourself in the position of contacting loads of firms, you will get a better idea of what’s available and ultimately get a better deal.

The two best methods of finding a suitable firm, is by either “word of mouth” or by searching on the internet. Online is by far the most efficient method, and the one that will yield the most results. There are a plethora of relevant websites out there for you to spend a few solid hours researching, so you shouldn’t have too much hassle.

Make sure you do an analysis on which of the firms can provide the most experience that pertains to your case. This alone will give you a lot more confidence is establishing whether or not you stand a chance of winning the case in court.

Remember that at the end of the day, just because the lawyer may work in London, it doesn’t mean that he needs a bigger slice of the money pie to do a good job!

 

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

understanding european law

Understanding European Union Law – A Short Introduction

European Union Law can sometimes be a daunting topic, it has as all legal traditions, been forced to develop over time and as a result of codified laws and legal cases. In this sense, European Law can be seen as somewhat of a mixture between civil and common law systems – while at the same time also maintaining elements of international law.

To understand the basis of European law you must first be familiar with the treaties. These, the most recent of which is the Lisbon treaty, have codified to a large extent the general principles and frameworks under which European law operates and functions.

The jurisdiction of European law is also somewhat difficult to arrive at. Although European law always trumps national law, it can only do so when the issue relates to European legal matters. In this sense, although the European legal framework is vast, the European court cannot impose itself in all national realms.

Other than the treaties, regulations and directives based on the treaties – but arising separately, also help to inform decisions and rulings. Although this is the case, because these regulations and directives are based on the treaties, they can still be described (and are in a legal definition) as secondary to what has been codified in the treaties.

The treaties are an important aspect of European law as they are accepted by all member states individually and must be arrived at through consensus. This has been important in the development of European law as past attempts to create a European Constitution were rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands.

Although France, and to a smaller degree the Netherlands, are countries where civil law (based on codified law and constitutions) is part of their legal tradition, a European Constitution seemed a step too far. Perhaps it is because of their own constitutional and codified traditions, however, that these nations decided to reject a European one that would override their own national system. This aside, European law is still primarily based on case law and the decisions arising from it.

Although the treaties are the legal basis for European law, if you will, case law and legal precedence play a far larger and more dynamic role in creating and influencing the legal debate and even the creation of new laws.

Because the European Court of Justice acts so independently, it has come under criticisms from member states that believe it has perhaps gained too much power. The main argument against this however, is that European law only has an impact on European issues. Furthermore, all treaties – which are the legal basis for European law, are willingly signed by the member states that must therefore abide by them.

Whatever the political future of the European Union may be, its long legal tradition that began long before the Union was even created has continued to adapt and change. With a growing number of cases and jurisdiction, it will be interesting to see how European law moves forward in the coming decades.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

human rights

Explaining the Criticisms towards the European Court of Human Rights

The European Convention of Human Rights established the European Court of Human Rights in 1959. The main role of this court is to protect the rights set out by the convention, although its jurisdiction is mostly limited to those who have signed onto that convention – which includes most European countries.

The Court

There have been many criticisms with regards to the court, which is seen as being either too involved, or not enough. With such a wide remit and applications but relatively little resources, the court is often forced to concentrate on what it believes are more landmark cases. The more narrow view of the court has been described by its critics as self-serving.

Nevertheless, the court has been a great instigator of rights and freedoms, particularly within the EU. Although not directly linked to the EU per se (as the court is first and foremost a supranational court), the laws of the convention were codified into the EU’s legal modus operandi. For this reason, the European Court of Human Rights has effectively become the European Union’s Court of Human Rights – as most of the signatories are EU countries or prospective members that have codified, or have begun to codify, its laws.

That having been said, any signatory to the convention can sue another signatory for breaches of laws, although this rarely occurs. What is more common is that individual(s) bring forward a case to the court against their own or another signatory nation.

Given the necessarily wide scope of the European Convention of Human Rights, the amount of claims brought forward to the court are palpably large. So much so, that the court has over the years needed to defer cases in order to only focus on those seen as most pressing with regards to breaches on human rights.

Criticisms

Since the court of human rights is not controlled by the EU or any other state, but is rather a separate legal entity, it gives the court considerable power and legal leverage. With regards to the EU, its members must abide to the laws of the court as they have already been codified into European law – as well as often into national law on top of that.

What me must remember is that although the convention may be seen as somewhat static, unless amended, the rulings by the court are not necessarily. What this means is that via the court’s rulings, a huge impact can be made on the laws of the signatories of the convention, when regarding EU member states this is effectively immediately.

Much of the criticism that has been brought forward against the court is that is may be too independent and influential without being necessarily democratic. It is ironic that a convention and court that was established to protect right is now seen as potentially infringing on them.

There is no doubt regardless, that the court will continue to have a huge impact on transformations with regards to human rights, as well as European law.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

common law

An Easy Guide to Common Law

There is a difference in legal systems around the world that mostly separate into two main types: common law and civil law. This short guide is intended to get you used to what common law is and how it differs from civil law.

The main difference in a nutshell, is that common law rests on legal cases and the decisions made by judges and tribunals that over time create an accumulation of legal precedence.

Legal precedence basically means that you can refer back to other similar cases and their rulings to support your own unique, but similar case. Although common law systems often refer to codified law, these are mostly codified in the first place only as a result of cases and decisions.

In contrast, a civil law system tries to exhaustively cover every area of law from the outset using codified laws that should be adhered to in new cases. This tradition is based around Roman law that heavily influenced continental Europe and its legal development.

In contrast to the civil law systems that developed in most of Europe, England developed their unique form of common law in the middle ages and as a result this expanded across the globe and also affected the legal systems of its colonies.

For this reason, the third of the world that uses a common law system is mostly a list of ex-British colonies such as the United States, India, Canada, Australia, and many others.

Common law systems are often somewhat difficult to describe as they also have elements of civil law in the sense that they adhere to overarching codified law. This is apparent, for example, with the United States constitution. It is in this context of a common law legal system that the United Kingdom and specifically England does not have a legal constitution – also, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own unique legal systems.

In England, as with the other national common law systems, the greatest weight towards the development of laws is not a government but rather legal cases. In this way it is up to the government to enact new laws based on an accumulation of legal precedence, rather than the government influencing law from the outset.

Common law systems are noted for their regional and decentralized elements. In this sense, most courts usually only have a local legal jurisdiction within a nation with still other higher national courts that can ultimately overrule, or have more weight than, a local ruling. This aspect is extremely important to understand, as common law systems have a huge impact on politics too – it affected in many ways, for example, how the federal legal system within the United States has historically operated.

Another important aspect of common and regional legal decisions is that many aspects of it only exist through case law and are not strictly codified as they are in civil law.

In conclusion, it can be said that common law systems are indeed slightly more complicated that civil law systems. Nevertheless, there is a tendency in both for a somewhat blurring of the lines between them.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.

civil law

Civil Law Explained: A short Guide

Most countries around the world can be described as forming part of two main types legal systems; these are common or civil law. This guide is intended to explain civil law and how it is distinct from common law. Although both are distinct, it should be remembered that most countries incorporate aspects of both to a smaller or larger degree, making classification somewhat more difficult than is outlined here.

The main difference between civil and common law is that civil law systems have a codified legal system from the outset and decision made in cases will refer to this code of laws, or scholarly tradition, with regards to its ruling.

In a common law system it is mostly the converse. In these situations case law develops independently and is what ultimately forces a codification of built up legal precedence. More and more, case law is starting to have an impact on rulings made in civil law countries but in some more than in others. France remains one of the archetypal examples of a civil law system and its rulings are generally concise, without referring to other cases.

Civil law formally developed out of Roman law, particularly the laws outlined under Justinian. These laws, overarching and exhaustive, were used as the benchmark for codified law across most of Europe with certain regional variations. Some countries used a mixture of civil law and common law that had started to develop in countries like England.

The Roman-Dutch system that developed in the medieval Low Countries, for example, used a combination of case law and codified law and can still be seen in many of the Netherlands’ previous colonies –including South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Another example of a more mixed system is that of Scots law that is practiced in Scotland. Although a neighbour of the influential English common law system, Scotland developed its own unique blend of case law that also drew on codified law, particularly Roman law.

At various times the codification of laws in Europe saw huge transformations. The enlightenment and the formation of nation-states was the final push that cemented a codification of laws as a moral ideal and as a practical solution in the wake of politically weakened monarchies.

One of the most organised and well-structured civil law systems from an early era was the German model. When different countries in Asia began to adopt codified legal systems in the 19th century the German model was a main source of inspiration. The German model heavily and directly influenced the Japanese legal tradition. Since that time, Japan is now seen as another archetype of civil law.

Civil law systems, as noted are not wholly simple and must be recognized as more of an ideal-type rather than reflecting exact national systems. Nevertheless, it is clear how Roman law has had a far and overreaching influence that made civil law into the most popular form of legal system. Understanding how it works is crucial to any general understanding of world legal systems.

About Winter S.

I believe in holding the legal community to a high standard that we can be proud of. Outside of work I love philosophy, traveling & my miniature schnauzer.