I am agreeing a financial settlement with my ex-spouse. Should we carry on negotiating despite COVID-19?
No. Before continuing any negotiations, you need to strongly consider whether now is the best time to settle. There is a myriad of uncertainty due to the pandemic, with unemployment rates increasing, volatility in the stock markets and difficulties regarding placing valuations on assets. This could all lead to the financial settlement being unfair to you and cause you financial difficulties in the future.
Any financial settlements reached following marital separation should be embodied in to a Court Order, to prevent future claims from your ex-spouse. As a general principle, although maintenance orders are always variable, financial orders in respect of capital (e.g. house, cash, investments, pensions) are final and it is very difficult to set aside a Court Order. The question will be whether or not the pandemic is judged as a Barder event, which broadly means something viewed as unforeseen. It would be challenging for you to argue that the effects of COVID-19 are unforeseen given the widespread expectation of an economic crisis. The Court previously found against a husband who wanted to revisit an Order that he said was unaffordable following the 2008 financial crisis, with one Judge commenting that a 90% drop in the Husband’s share price was a “natural process of price fluctuation”.
Even if you informally agree a settlement with your ex-spouse, and you do not have this reflected in a Court Order, your ex-spouse may still rely on this agreement within future Court proceedings and argue that you should be held to it.
It is, therefore, very dangerous to be reaching any financial settlements at this time with your ex-spouse without careful consideration and legal advice. Further, even if an agreement is reached, market volatility can mean longer implementation times, especially when a settlement relies on the sale of property.
At 10am on the 21st July, we hosted the fourth of our “in conversation…” webinars, this time featuring the ninth largest private bank in the world, Swiss-based Julius Baer. Ward Hadaway partner Emma Digby once again lead the conversation, this time with Luke Downes and Darren Hirst from their investment and relationship teams on “Market outlooks – the before, during and after”. They were joined by Andrew Evans from our private client team to feed in his perspective. This will be of interest to individuals who are thinking about investment portfolios and pension pots, but also businesses keen to see how investors are viewing their sectors, markets and customers.
Luke and Darren took us through how the markets looked pre-Covid, how they responded to the pandemic, and obviously most importantly what we might expect going forwards. They took a look at the sectors that are seeing the quickest bounce-back, discuss which countries are likely to be the most attractive for investors, and where the long term financial gains are expected to be. They also touched on that imminent event, shrouded in mist recently but no less significant – Brexit! What is the expected effect on the markets, and who are likely to be the winners and the losers?
Where a development is considered to be “EIA development” (being development where an Environmental Impact Assessment or Environmental Statement is required to be submitted) there are additional statutory publicity and notice requirements over and above the requirements for a standard planning application. Regulations usually require that the environmental statement is to be made available for inspection by the public at all reasonable hours at an address in the locality for a period of at least 30 days. Copies of the environmental statement are also to be made available for people to take away from that address. This clearly requires physical copies to be available at a specified location for a prolonged period of time, which may prove problematic during the current health crisis.
New regulations came into effect on 14 May 2020 which will temporarily suspend the above requirements and will instead require the Environmental Statement to be available for inspection online. The applicant must however provide a certificate to the Local Planning Authority stating what steps have been undertaken to bring the application (and the Environmental Statement) to the attention of people who are likely to have an interest and why it considers that such steps were reasonable.
The Chief Coroner adopts the approach taken by the Lord Chief Justice in that no physical hearing should take place unless it is urgent and essential business, and it is safe for all involved. If a hearing is to take place, social distancing must be maintained. All hearings that can take place remotely should do so, if it is not possible for social distancing requirements to be met. The expectation is that some hearings will go ahead, most notably Rule 23 hearings. Coroners are reminded that they must however conduct any remote hearings from a court. Decisions as to the most appropriate approach will be left to the senior coroner in that jurisdiction.
As we have already seen, some inquests will be adjourned, most notably those with multiple witnesses and/or a jury.
The guidance stresses the need, when dealing with medical professionals, for coroners to recognise their primary clinical commitments, particularly in these high-pressured times. This could mean avoiding or deferring requests for lengthy reports/ statements and accommodating clinical commitments if clinicians are called as witnesses.
The guidance encourages proactive reviews of outstanding responses to Prevention of Future Death reports and extending timescales for Trusts to respond.
On 13 March 2020 the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government issued a Written Statement in respect of delivery restrictions.
In this respect, many supermarkets, food retailers and distribution centres in England operate under planning restrictions (conditions and/or obligations) which limit the time and number of deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles which can take place particularly at night primarily to protect the residential amenity of nearby residential property.
Key points in the Statement include;
- Given the exceptional challenges facing the UK from the coronavirus, it is vital that deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential products over the coming weeks can be made as quickly and safely as possible, minimising disruption to the supply chains. The likely pressures on driver capacity mean additional flexibility is needed so that retailers can accept deliveries throughout the day and night where necessary.
- That planning enforcement is discretionary and that local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.
- That local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries of food and other essential deliveries during this period having regard to their legal obligations.
The Statement acknowledges that the increased frequency of deliveries particularly at night could have a temporary impact on residents. It therefore concludes that the Government will review the need for the flexibility outlined in the Statement after the pressure from the coronavirus has reduced and that it is the intention to withdraw it once the immediate urgency has subsided.
A link to the Written Statement is below.
You should have in place a dispute resolution procedure that sets out the appeal process or contractors or the agency as appropriate. You must respond to an appeal within 45 days.
If the status determination is disputed you should consider the contractor or agency’s reasons objections. You must consider if the original determination is to be maintained and give reasons for this. Or a new determination with reasons can be provided if appropriate.
Records of disputed determinations and the outcome of any appeal should be kept.