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Was my annuity missold?

The Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into annuity misspelling in 2014.  Since then Aviva has already started to compensate some of its customers but this is thought to be the tip of the iceberg and Standard Life had to set aside £175m earlier this year to compensate customers.

An annuity is what you buy when you retired, you give up your pension pot in return for an annual income for life.  Sometimes your annuity can be passed to your spouse if you die (often at a reduced rate).

Usually the company where you saved your pension pot is the first one you discuss an annuity with and they don’t always provide you with the right advice.

Pension companies have to abide by rules that mean they have to provide certain information to customers including whether those customers could get a better annuity rate with another provider by shopping around, or whether those customers could be entitled to an enhanced rate because they suffer from illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

You may have been able to get 20-25% more with another provider.  On a £100,000 pension pot the annual loss would be a little over £1,000 and so if you took out your annuity at 65 years of age and lived another 20 years you could be £20,000 worse off.

I will blog about this more but for now, if you have any queries or wish to investigate a claim please contact Nick on 01925 759 510 or fill in the contact form on the side of this page.

Ryanair Cancellations 2017

Today, on Breakfast the story about Ryanair’s cancellations was run.  During the story the presenter stated that for cancellations more than 2 weeks prior to the date of travel there was no compensation payable.  Whilst this is true for the EU compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 (the well known compensation scheme for cancellations, delayed flights and denied boarding) it is not the case for your rights under contract law.

The presenter also said that the wasted cost of your holiday that you had paid for but could not enjoy and could not recover your money would not be recoverable.  Whilst this would not fall under the compensation scheme of EC 261/2004 it could still be claimed for and recovered under contract law.

Legally speaking, Ryanair has a contract with everyone it has sold tickets to and if it cancels those flights it is in breach of the contract and should be liable for the consequential loss that follows from the cancellation, this is separate to and in addition to the EU compensation scheme which gives fixed amounts of compensation for flights where the flight has been cancelled, your arrival delayed or you have been denied boarding.

The breach of contract claim will still be available even if the cancellation was more than 2 weeks prior to the date of travel.  I would add that following you being made aware of the cancellation you will have to take reasonable steps to “mitigate” your losses, which would mean trying to minimise your financial loss caused by the cancellation, this might mean seeking to cancel your hotel if possible.

You may also have a claim for the disappointment caused by the loss of your holiday (if that it what was lost by the cancellation) although this is likely to be a minimal amount.

Ryanair are based in Ireland.  They do not have an English address for serving any legal documents and these will have to be posted to its Irish registered office (Ryanair DAC of Corporate Head Office, Airside Business Park,  Swords, Co Dublin , Ireland).  They will no doubt make it difficult to obtain any compensation but don’t let that deter you.

There are a couple of options if they do not pay up:

  1. The European Small Claims Procedure for claims worth up to €2,000.
  2. The Aviation Ombudsman (Ryanair have signed up to this scheme and so will be bound by a finding by the Aviation Ombudsman against it), the Ombudsman scheme is operated via an online portal.

If you are having difficulty getting your compensation paid by Ryanair, call Nick for legal advice, I am a senior solicitor 0n 01925 759 510 or complete the contact form on the right of this page.

 

Ground Rent Worries and Possible Solutions

“My ground rent keeps going up!”   “I was never told about the ground rent!”  “Do I have to pay my ground rent?”

There is been a growing trend in housing developers selling you a new house but actually only selling you a long leasehold interest.  By this I mean a large number of years (eg 999 years) so much so that your solicitor or conveyancer may have said “it’s as good as freehold!”

The freehold interest remains with the house builder which makes them the landlord and they can charge what is called “ground rent” to you as leaseholder.  This was usually a tiny amount and often described as a “peppercorn rent” but times have changed.  It is now often a monetary amount and can often double every 5, 10, 25 years.  Doubling every few years quickly means it grows to ridiculously high levels.  If your home is an asset you intend to pass onto your children you may be passing on a liability to pay substantial sums too.

More recently, the ground rents have been “traded” as investments (the landlord/house builder sells the freehold interest to someone else who then becomes the landlord and can charge ground rent.  Added to this, the leasehold interests are sold with clauses that allow the ground rents to be increased, this was probably to make the freehold interest more saleable.

You should have been advised of this when you purchased your long lease by your solicitor or conveyancer.

Your landlord may be increasing your ground rent or selling the freehold to someone else who then increases it.  They often then offer to sell the freehold to you (which would mean you would own both freehold and leasehold and not have to worry about the ground rent anymore) but at a vastly inflated price.  When you can’t pay they put the rent up or sell the freehold on again for a profit to someone else.

This problem is seriously unfair but is coming under scrutiny by the government (whether they ever get round to doing anything and what is another matter).  There is some action being taken by customers who bought houses from Taylor Wimpey.

If you were not advised of the consequences of buying a long lease, the ground rent provisions (including rental increases) or re-assured they were “as good as freeholds”, but then found your ground rent going up and up and if you would not have bought that home had you been warned of the ground rent you may have a claim against your solicitors/conveyancers.

Call Nick, a senior solicitor at Sentinels Solicitors Ltd on 01925 759 510 or fill in the contact sheet at the side bar for advice and help.

Reclaim AA membership fees

I recently claimed a full refund of my AA membership fees since I joined.

The fees were increasing significantly year on year without any notification of the increasing fees.  I had joined in 2010 and not had to call the AA at all.

My first year membership cost £69 then the next year it went up to £114.

The rate of increase was also increasing each year so my basic package was going up by £15 to £20 each year.

I have moved house shortly after joining and sent notification of the new address but the renewal notices did not reach my new address.

I sent an email complaining about the lack of renewal notices, the large jump in membership after the first year and the ever increasing fees each year.

I then got a call from the AA.  They stated quite clearly that the first year for new members is a cheaper rate to hook new people in and this was then increased for subsequent years.  He went on to say I was free to call them if I was not happy with the fee and could ask for a reduction.  He accepted that I had not received the renewal notices and so was not easily in a position to call in to negotiate a lower fees.

When asked what I wanted from my complaint I said a refund of some of the fees over and above the introductory rate as I had not been given an opportunity to negotiate a reduction or shop around.  The AA rep then offered to refund me the whole amount since I joined in 2010 but said this would mean cancelling my membership.

Of course I was happy to accept this offer and the refund was processed within days.  I will now look for more competitive breakdown cover.

I don’t know whether it was because I am a solicitor or whether the AA knew they had not been as organised as they should have been but it was a quick and acceptable solution.

If you have AA or other major breakdown cover and have not checked your renewal rates it is worth doing so as you may be entitled to a refund or some or all of your membership fee.  If you need any advice about this or wish to send your request via a solicitor to see if this gets a quicker and more favourable response get in touch by calling me (Nick) on 01925 759 510 or completing the contact form on the right of this page.

 

Proposed increase to Small Claims Limit for Injuries

The Conservatives plan to increase the small claims limit for road traffic accidents to £5,000 and for all other accidents to £2,000.  These changes could come in by October 2018.

This means that if the injuries you sustain in a road traffic accident are worth £5,000 or less (or in another type of accident £2,000 or less) the costs you can recover if you win are very small and in effect you will have to fund your own legal expenses or represent yourself.  These costs will have to come out of your compensation.

If you have had an accident in the last 3 years and you are not sure whether your injuries will be below the proposed small claims limit YOU SHOULD TAKE ACTION NOW.

If you are in any doubt about what your injury might be worth contact Nick or Vicky on 01925 759510.

Has my solicitor deducted too much from my compensation?

“My solicitor has taken 25% of my compensation/damages for my injury!” If this has happened to you and you are not sure if it is right or fair please get in touch with us.

A 25% deduction is unlikely to be correct or allowed under your “no win no fee agreement”.

In personal injury claims, for all no win no fee agreements signed after 1st April 2013 the solicitor cannot take more than 25% of the compensation (or damages) BUT that does not mean he is entitled to take up to 25%.

The charge is often called a “success fee” and these are the rules which apply:

  1. Success fees have to be detailed in your no win no fee agreement with your solicitor.
  2. They cannot be more than 100%, and here’s the thing…
  3. The % is to be applied to the COSTS incurred, NOT THE COMPENSATION!
  4. The total success fee cannot be more than 25% of your compensation (for injuries and past losses).

Because of (3) above, the actual amount cannot be calculated until the costs are known.  Some solicitors may be misunderstanding these rules and applying 25% of compensation/damages as a standard approach.

This is WRONG, the 25% of compensation/damages is a CAP not the starting point.  It cannot be exceeded but it is not the way the success fee is to be worked out.  The 25% cap includes VAT.

How costs are calculated

Costs in most injury claims are fixed.  Sometimes, you might have agreed to pay your solicitor based on the time spent on your case.  Your no win no fee agreement should say how your solicitor’s costs are to be calculated.  You may even have received a bill from your solicitor.

The success fee % must then be applied to those base costs (base costs just mean costs before the extra expenses such as medical report fees and court fees).

A 25% success fee is unlikely to be as much as 25% of the compensation.

How much can the % success fee be?

The % success fee can be anything up to 100% of the base costs.  Base costs mean costs not the extra expenses and disbursements such as medical expert fees, medical records fees or court fees.

EXAMPLE

Lets say you have a personal injury claim which settled for £10,000 and the costs which your solicitor is entitled to recover from the losing party is £2,500 plus VAT (a total of £3,000).

(1) If your no win no fee agreement contains a success fee of 25% of base costs.

The correct success fee by law would be 25% of the base costs of £2500 plus VAT ie 25% of £3,000.  This would be £750.  You should therefore receive £9,250 of your compensation.

What might have happened is your solicitor has deducted 25% of the compensation ie £2,500 and sent you £7,500.

This would be WRONG and you would have been overcharged and entitled to recover the difference between the £7,500 and £9,250  (ie £1,750) from your previous solicitor.

(2) Compare this to a no win no fee agreement that has a success fee of 100%, the success fee would be £3,000 as this is the same as the costs.

BUT this amount exceeds the CAP of 25% of the compensation (25% of £10,000 which would be £2,500).  The solicitor is only entitled to deduct £2,500 even though his calculation comes out higher and you would have paid £500 too much and be entitled to reimbursement of this amount.

I agree it is sometimes hard to get your head around the figures and so please get in touch with us as we can help you recover what was rightfully yours.

If you think you have had too much deducted from your damages or compensation or are not sure that the success fee has been calculated correctly please please get tin touch with us and we will do our best to recover what you should have had.  Nick is a senior solicitor and can be contacted on the telephone number 01925 759 510 or by using the contact form on the side panel of this page.

Please don’t be short changed of the rightful amount of compensation by wrongful deductions by your solicitor.

BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT CANCELLATION CLAIMS

Many British Airways flights were cancelled and others suffered long delays last weekend following a major IT failure.

Hundreds of flights out of Gatwick and Heathrow being cancelled or delayed.British Airways Flight Cancellation Claims

All passengers affected should be entitled to claim for financial loss and compensation.

If your flight was delayed or cancelled have been unfortunate enough to be affected you may be able to claim:

  1. the refund of your ticket price (if it was cancelled);
  2. any additional overnight hotel and food expense;
  3. any additional travel expense;
  4. compensation under the EU flight delay regulation (261/2004), the amount of this compensation will depend on the distance of your booked flight;
  5. you may also be entitled to claim for a wasted holiday or spoiled holiday.

If you were kept waiting for over 3 hours or your flight was cancelled you should be able to claim.

Each member of your party who had a seat booked is entitled to claim (this includes children even if they did not have their own seat – provided they paid something for their travel ie did not get to travel for free).

How do I claim compensation for British Airways flight delay and cancellation?

You can do this yourself or you can ask us to make your claim for you.  We will need details of the people travelling, copies of the booking confirmation and tickets, details of any expenses including amounts and copies of any receipts if possible.

BA have signed up to an alternative dispute resolution service operated by CEDR (the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution).  This is a free service if CEDR find in your favour.  It is done on paper or by email/online and is generally faster and easier than going to the small claims court.  If your claim fails there is a £25 admin charge and you are still able to pursue your claim in court.

Contact Nick at Sentinels Solicitors Ltd on 01925 759 510.

Holiday Sickness Claims and Package Travel Regulations

If you or anyone in your travel group was made ill on your holiday, whether through food poisoning or some other infection you may be able to claim for your injuries, any financial losses and your spoiled holiday.

Your holiday has to be a package holiday under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (the Package Travel Regulations).

This means you have to book at least 2 components in a pre-arranged transaction at an inclusive price.  Some travel agents will try and price and sell these separately to avoid the regulations applying.  The components are:

  1.  transport;
  2. accommodation;
  3. other service (not associated with transport or accommodation) accounting for a significant proportion of your holiday, this could be something like a sports add on (golf, sailing, tennis etc); car hire (other than connection between the airport and hotel).

Whether your holiday is a package or not is determined by reference to the Regulations and so can be quite complex and open to legal argument.  If you have any queries call Nick for assistance.  It is helpful to know how the various components of the holiday were offered or advertised in the marketing material and how they were priced, whether separately or together as an all inclusive figure.

A traditional package would be flights, hotel and transfer from airport to hotel offered together for an all inclusive price.  It gets more complicated when you buy the various parts of your holiday online.  A cruise is likely to be a package so if you have been ill on a cruise ship you may be entitled to claim.cruise ship food poinoning

If you have been ill on holiday you should try and report it to your rep on holiday or a doctor at the hotel or to the hotel itself.  If the sickness is serious you are likely to have done this.

If you have returned to the UK you would be best served visiting your GP to report your illness and symptoms.  In any case, keeping a diary of sickness symptoms would help in demonstrating your sickness and the severity of it.  This would also be used to help instruct a medical expert to confirm the sickness and in valuing any compensation.

We can pursue these claims for you on a no win no fee basis.  We are senior solicitors and will deal with your claim personally not sell it on.  Call Nick on 01925 759 510.

Fast debt recovery – plus over 8% interest on unpaid debts!

Question: How do I maximise the recovery of my business debts and get paid faster?

Answer: use a solicitor and claim interest under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act 1998 and Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013!

Research has shown that using a solicitor gets the best results in debt recovery.  2/3 of debts where a solicitor’s letter is sent are paid within 7 days compared to 2/3 where no solicitor’s letter is sent are still unpaid after 1 month.

If you wish to recover debts quicker is may be worth sending a solicitors’ letter which generally has the desired effect.

Read more here.

Sentinels Solicitors have a proven track record of successfully recovering debts for professionals and small businesses.

If you are a business and your debt is owed by another business you may be able to charge interest on any debts under the Late Payments of Commercial Debts Act 1998 and the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013.

The interest applies if your debt is unpaid after 30 days from delivery of invoice or goods/services unless you have agreed a longer period.  The interest rate under this act is 8% plus the Bank of England base rate so it is far higher than current savings rates.

On top of interest you can charge a fixed sum based on the debt owed:

Amount of debt What you can charge
Up to £999.99 £40
£1,000 to £9,999.99 £70
£10,000 or more £100

Finally, you can claim reasonable costs in recovering your debt.

Call Nick on 01925 759 510 or complete the enquiry form at the side of this page.  We can chase your debts for a fixed fee and also advise on any disputes over payment.

 

Retail Ombudsman

If you have bought products or services from many retailers you can now use the Retail Ombudsman service to settle disputes instead of going to court.  The Ombudsman service has the advantage of being simpler, quicker and less formal and cheaper.

Court cases that have a value of up to £15,000 and do not involve personal injury or have an injury element that is worth less than £1,000, will be allocated to what is called the Small Claims Track which used to be called the Small Claims Court.  This is still a court and your case would come before a Judge.  You would be allowed to use a solicitor or other lawyer but would have to pay the costs of your own solicitor yourself even if you win your case.Retail ombudsman corportate members

The Ombudsman could be an alternative to going to court.  You would still need to pay your own solicitor if you wanted to use one.  If you wish to discuss this in more detail please call Nick (a senior solicitor who will handle your claim) on 01925 759 510 or complete the contact form on this page.

The list of independent retailers who have signed up to this Scheme can be found here.

The home services companies who have signed up can be seen here.

Even if the retailer has not signed up it could agree to the terms of the Retail Ombudsman on a case by case basis and agree to be bound by the ombudsman findings.

Directors: Victoria Jane Carr LLB (Hons). Nicholas John Bettridge LLB (Hons).
Registered Office: 792 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6UG
Sentinels Solicitors Limited is a company registered in England & Wales. Registered Number 5984329
This company is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Number 450386

This website is designed for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Changes may occur which affect the accuracy of the information presented. The authors of this website shall not be liable for any damages caused as a result of the use of this information.

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