Category Archives: Uncategorized

Defamation for Businesses

A positive reputation for a business is vitally important as this can determine whether individuals engage with your business and in turn effect what profit the business makes. Here at Cohen Cramer Solicitors, we can help ensure that your business’ reputation remains intact.

The laws of defamation

The laws of defamation seek to protect a company from false allegations that damage or lower their reputation either as spoken word (slander) or in a written format (libel). 

In the internet age where there is a constant stream of reviews being posted online, businesses can be targeted by disgruntled customers with false allegations which can be potentially damning to your business’s cash flow, growth, and overall reputation may impact return customers/clientele.  

False allegations may be published online on social media or on forums for business reviews (for example Trust Pilot or Google Reviews), or alternatively could be an article published in newspapers. 

Slander or libel

Whether your claim is libel or slander will depend upon the form of the allegation. As a general rule, the following applies:

  • Spoken words are classed as slander
  • That which is written or held in any other medium that has a degree of permanence such as a recorded song, article, blog, tweet or video, etc is classed as libel.

If you are looking to bring a defamation claim, whether that be because someone is spreading untrue spoken words about you or there are written words that are untrue you must show that the words complained of are defamatory. Furthermore for a business to make a Defamation claim, not only does it have to suffer serious harm to its reputation, but the defamation has to cause, or be likely to cause ‘serious financial loss’. That is, defamatory words are likely to lower your reputation in the minds of others.

Get the help you need

We are an experienced team of solicitors who routinely deal with Claimant and Defendant defamation claims, this could be as a result of a disgruntled customer, or a competitor looking to tarnish your reputation and gain your custom.

Whether your business is on the receiving end, or is being accused of defamation, do not delay in getting in touch with us today.

If you would like to discuss your potential defamation matter further, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our disputes team by either of the following methods:

Telephone: 0113 2247808

Email: disputes@cohencramer.co.uk

Case Study for NFCI Military Injury Claim

We recently settled a claim for significant damages for Non-Freezing Cold Injuries for a former Soldier who served in the British Army.  Our client was exposed to freezing temperatures, well below zero degrees Celsius, whilst out on the ranges in basic training and thereafter on exercise in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada.  We alleged the Ministry of Defence failed to provide a suitable thermal kit for our client’s hands and feet.  Liability was admitted in part by the MOD.

Our client suffered mild symptoms to the hands and feet which cause discomfort in cold weather and in his day-to-day activities.  Our client is now limited in the type of work available which must be indoors.

Often cold injuries are extremely serious resulting in permanent nerve damage and life-long pain.  Service personnel are often discharged from service due to their injuries leaving them with a loss of career prospects. 

At Cohen Cramer, we have long experience of representing injured service personnel re-build their lives after injuries are needlessly caused.  If you or anybody you know has suffered a cold injury whilst in or out of service then please contact our Military Claims Specialist, Diane Davison on 0113 224 7837 or mc@cohencramer.co.uk .  We offer a truly “no win, no fee” service” which we can discuss with you.

Property Disputes: Defects

The pandemic has seen struggle and shortages across all sectors, however, one sector in particular which has been notably affected is construction. It is well known that the pandemic has caused problems in respect of the availability of many building materials across the country, which has put into jeopardy the ability to complete on many homes.

The problem

With the aftermath of the pandemic continuing, and shortages of materials, developers are under pressure to complete on properties by their buyers, and likewise after 18 months of uncertainty, and in some cases inability to carry on with developments, this may lead to possible future problems arising in respect of the finish and standard of properties.

If contractors are under pressure to complete on a property, a rushed job is likely to result in substandard workmanship leading to problems and snagging which need to be rectified.

Under the terms of the ten-year warranty that usually accompanies new build properties, developers are obliged to remedy defects reported to them within the first two years.  

But what happens if after a number of attempts to resolve any outstanding snagging issues with the Developer, nothing is done, or nothing appears to be being done in a timely manner. Where does that leave the buyer? Living in a brand-new property with numerous snagging issues, some potentially quite serious, with no resolution in sight?

In many instances opening a line of communication and negotiation with a developer will result in an amicable resolution whereby either defects are remedied, or monetary equivalent paid to carry out the repairs yourself, putting you in the position you should have been in on completion of the purchase.

Resolving property disputes

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If negotiations fail or you consider the resolutions proposed by the developer are not adequate, then Cohen Cramer Solicitors can assist in trying to reach a resolution between you both.

If we are unable to reach an amicable settlement, then we can assist in taking steps to issue formal court proceedings against the developer. Depending on the losses incurred, these proceedings could be allocated to the Small Claims (losses less than £10,000), Fast Track (losses more than £10,000) or in more substantial cases Multi Track (losses more than £200,000). In order to determine the value of your claim, and depending on the value of the claim, it may be necessary to obtain an expert report compliant with the Civil Procedure Rules in order to establish the value of the claim before the Court.

In what can undoubtedly be a stressful and long road to remedying defects with your new home, Cohen Cramer can provide advice and guide you through the process to obtain a remedy to put right the wrongs cause by your developer.

How we can help

For further advice with building disputes or problems with new build properties, please contact James Colvin at James.Colvin@cohencramer.co.uk or call 0113 224 7805.

James Colvin: November 2021

Dealing with a POCA matter

Dealing with a POCA matter. The POCA team at Cohen Cramer Solicitors offers first-rate expertise representing people facing confiscation proceedings.  Lauren Bowkett, Head of POCA deals with the department’s most complex and high-profile cases in relation to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).  She is here to tell you everything you need to know about your POCA case.

What is a POCA matter

If you are convicted of a criminal offence, you might face confiscation proceedings.  The law in respect of POCA is very harsh and you may be faced with losing all of your assets.  At  Cohen Cramer, the POCA team can guide you through the proceedings and challenge the confiscation figures proposed by the Prosecution. 

The figures are made up of the “benefit” figure and the “available amount” figure and it is important that both of these figures are challenged, as they stay with you until they are paid in full.  The benefit figure is the amount the Prosecution says you have financially benefitted from your conviction and the available amount is the financial value of the assets you have available now to pay towards the Confiscation Order.  Even if you do not have enough assets available to pay the benefit figure in full now, you still owe this amount until it is paid in full. 

At the time the Confiscation Order is made you pay the available amount figure.  If you do not pay the available amount figure on the Confiscation Order you will serve extra time in prison.  It is extremely important to have a legal team who knows exactly how to challenge the figures and make sure they are as low as possible, so you can pay the order.  

How we can help

Since 2016 we have saved our clients over £50 million from confiscation.  The POCA team at Cohen Cramer has done this by challenging every single proposed confiscation order and revisited confiscation order.  What we mean by “revisited” is applications made by the Prosecution under Section 22 POCA 2002.  As previously mentioned, when a confiscation order is made against you, you may not be able to pay the order in full now.  You may pay the available amount, but still, have a large benefit figure left outstanding.  The Prosecution can look at the assets you have many years after your confiscation order was made and if you have assets available, the Prosecution can apply for those to also be taken from you.

We are regularly instructed by clients who had different solicitors dealing with their cases up to the point of conviction and we are regularly asked by clients and solicitors to take over cases at the point of the confiscation proceedings.  This is totally normal and if you are legally aided we can make an application to transfer your Legal Aid to us for the purposes of POCA.  We also represent clients privately.

Our ongoing commitment to you

We do not abandon a client once the Confiscation Order is made.  The service we offer includes helping our clients right up to the Order being paid in full.  Clients have 3 months to pay their confiscation orders.  This, on application, can be extended to 6 months.  We regularly make these applications successfully. 

Also, if there is a shortfall and your assets do not sell for the value in the available amount figure on your confiscation order we can make an application to reduce the available amount under Section 23 POCA 2002.  This stops you from spending extra time in prison.

Our expertise allows us to deal with overseas matters concerning the payment of your confiscation order.  If you have assets abroad we can help you and we regularly deal with property abroad. Our team are with you every step of the way and deal with the confiscation proceedings here or abroad.  We also work with foreign banks and institutions and prepare legal documents for the return of cash to the UK.  We also have experience dealing with foreign matters concerning hidden assets.

If the Prosecution says you have hidden assets, this means the Prosecution believes you have assets hidden somewhere which they are unable to identify.  The Prosecution may say this if they believe it is probable you may be hiding something.  The standard of proof for the Prosecution is very low and can have a detrimental effect on a client if they do not obtain expert advice on this area.  That is because if it is not disproved you have hidden assets you will still owe this amount now even if the hidden asset does not actually exist.  This means extra time in prison.  It is also very difficult to prove something does not exist on your own and therefore it is so important to have the right legal team to do this for you.  

The POCA team at Cohen Cramer has a vast amount of experience dealing with any POCA issue, including hidden assets.  We can advise and guide you through this complicated area of the law and get you the best result, stopping extra time in prison.  If you need assistance contact the POCA team at Cohen Cramer. 

Get in touch with us today for your initial consultation

We will deal with confiscation cases anywhere in England and Wales.

For the help and assistance you need to get in touch with us today:

  • Call: 0113 244 0597
  • Email: poca@cohencramer.co.uk
  • Request a call back by entering your details into the form at the bottom of this page

Lauren Bowkett – November 2021

Brain Injuries in the Military

Brain Injuries in the Military. Cohen Cramer’s personal injury team has specialist knowledge in relation to claims for head and brain injuries.  Our service will help you develop a rehabilitation plan at the outset to identify your immediate needs with a view to getting you the most appropriate package of care and support.

Brain injuries often have a huge impact on the person involved and their loved ones.  We have many years experience of supporting people through often very traumatic and life-changing times to secure maximum damages for the future.

We have access to the best medical experts, neuro-rehabilitation experts including care, occupational therapists, vocational therapists, architects etc.  We also instruct specialist brain injury barristers nationally who will seek to achieve the best outcome for you in terms of rehabilitation and securing financial damages to recompense you for your injuries and financial losses.

If you have suffered a head or brain injury during your military service as a result of failures in the system of work, equipment, colleague’s negligence, or in any other way then you should contact us on 0113 2247837 and we will fight for your right to rehabilitation and financial support.

How are brain injuries caused?

Brain injuries usually result from trauma to the head or body. They can also be caused by a penetrating injury to the head, skull or brain. These injuries can lead to very serious long-term consequences or even death. Some examples of circumstances are as follows :

  • Assault
  • Gun-shot wounds
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Sporting injuries
  • Failures in medical treatment
  • Symptoms of brain injury
  • Mild traumatic brain injury can result in the following symptoms :
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue/drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of confidence
  • Cognitive behavioural or mental symptoms
  • Loss of consciousness from seconds to minutes
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Moderate to severe brain injuries can cause the symptoms above and also :
  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Persistent headaches
  • Seizures/early onset epilepsy
  • Weakness in the numbness in the fingers and toes
  • Confusion
  • Aggression/agitation
  • Unusual behaviour changes

How to claim

Diane Davison, Head of Military Claims, is an expert in the highly specialised field of brain injuries. She also has experience of working in a Court of Protection Department and has a full understanding of the legal claims process to ensure appropriate arrangements are put in place throughout the conduct of a claim and post settlement where capacity is an issue.  Diane will seek to obtain early interim payments to assist with financial losses, care, equipment and any accommodation needs.  If you are unable to work as a result of an accident, either temporarily or permanently, then Diane will ensure appropriate payments are requested from whoever is at fault.

If you lose your military career as a result of a brain injury then Diane will ensure appropriate claims are made which can include future loss of career progression, loss of pension, loss of fringe benefits and allowances, loss of congenial employment and many others.

If you or a family member have experienced a head or brain injury at any time then please……

  • Fill in the contact form on this page
  • Telephone 01322 4787 to talk to our specialist team
  • Email mc@cohencramer.co.uk

 

avoiding contractual pitfalls

Avoiding Contractual Pitfalls

Avoiding contractual pitfalls. In light of the fallout from the European Super League and the possible contractual implications for those teams which had signed up to the League and have since pulled out, we set out below five tips to ensure you are protected when it comes to contracting with another party.

An agreement may be required for anything from loaning money – whether commercially or to family/friends to agreeing to carry out a service in return for payment, for example, building an extension or decorating your home. Whatever the agreement, and no matter how formal or informal it may be, you should take steps to protect yourself in the event of fallout.

Verbal or Written – a contract can be formed whether verbally or in writing, however, it is always best to record the terms of the agreement in writing. This will help minimise any fallout should either party default on the agreement as you can refer to the contract terms as to how to deal with the breach. If a contract is made verbally, it will be difficult to prove what terms were agreed to then prove if that term has been breached.

Take professional advice – where possible, it is always best to take professional advice when drawing up a contract or agreement. A professional adviser can help incorporate terms into the contract to protect your position in the event a party doesn’t comply with the agreement.

Plan for the worst – whilst it can feel a bit awkward agreeing on what will happen in the event of fallout, it is easier to agree on what would happen whilst still on good terms. For example, should interest be charged on any unpaid sums?; do you have the right to withhold payment until defects are sorted?; can you terminate the contract without penalty? If these are discussed and agreed at the outset, in the event of a fall out you will be able to take speedier action to resolve the dispute.

Negotiate – a contract is normally for the benefit of all parties, whether that be paying a builder for their services to carry out work to your home, or loaning money in return for a payment in full with interest over a specified period. Having a clear agreement in which your interests are best protected on the best terms possible, means you shouldn’t shy away from negotiation. If it transpires at a later date that the agreement isn’t quite as beneficial as you thought, you are unlikely to be able to address this at a later date.

Due Diligence – we see time and time again people entering into agreements without carefully checking out the company or individual they are reaching an agreement with. Whilst it is not always easy to establish the financial position of the person you want to contract with, you should undertake as much research as possible to satisfy yourself that you are contracting with who they say they are; that they will be able to carry out the work you have paid for; or that any loaned sums can be repaid.

How we can help

We are often brought in to help clients at the point of the fallout of a contract. By taking into account the above steps, whilst we cannot guarantee you will not find yourself in the position of having to seek legal advice because a contract has been breached, it makes it easier to resolve any dispute if the above steps have been taken at the outset.

If you have any concerns over a contract or agreement you have entered into, about to enter into, or you are already at the stage where the contract has been breached and you are no longer benefitting from the contract, please get in touch on 0113 224 7808 or disputes@cohencramer.co.uk to discuss how we can help further.

 

Gemma Bowkett (Associate Solicitor) 5th May 2021

 

Avoiding contractual pitfalls

Section 22 Applications and Your Pension

Section 22 Applications and Your Pension. The POCA team was recently instructed in a case where the defendant, who had a Confiscation Order in 2010, was identified as having further assets available to him, including three pension funds. We were able to successfully negotiate a deferred payment for our client to maximise the money paid towards the Order and avoid paying penalty fees for realising the pension prematurely.

It is not uncommon for pensions to be included within Section 22 Applications. The question as to whether it is ‘just’ within the Proceeds of Crime is not straightforward and will depend on the individual circumstances. It is certainly a tough prospect for a defendant to face losing their nest egg that they were anticipating relying on in the future, especially when the money was saved from an early career, sometimes decades before any offending took place. This can be a particularly harsh reality when a conviction against a defendant’s name has the potential to limit future employment prospects.

The defendant, in this case, was also self-employed meaning that job security and retirement, particularly during Covid, was going to be very challenging without these funds.

The law in relation to S22 Applications

Case law shows us that there are many factors to be taken into account when considering Section 22 Applications to determine what is ‘just’, such as how long ago the Order was made; the amount outstanding; and the impact on the defendant (Padda). However, there has been no successful challenge in the Court of Appeal as to pensions specifically.

Pensions are also subject to strict tax rules. Save for exceptional circumstances, any withdrawal from your pension before turning 55 is classed as an ‘unauthorised payment’. While technically the pension can still be withdrawn – it will be subject to an eye-watering 55% tax which goes to HMRC as a penalty. For example, a pension worth £100,000 in total would see £55,000 being paid to HMRC and only £45,000 being paid towards the Confiscation Order.

In this case, the defendant had not yet turned 55. Nonetheless, the pensions were pursued by the Prosecution as an available asset as the money could be withdrawn, even though the defendant would have to pay a significant tax penalty for doing so.

How we helped

We were able to successfully propose a Variation to the Restraint Order allowing the funds to remain in his pension accounts until age 55. This had the effect of preserving the full amount of money to be later contributed towards the Order with no tax payable. Rather than the tax going to HMRC, the full amount was used to pay the Confiscation Order reducing the amount owing in future.

The Section 22 Application was withdrawn, and all other assets were removed from the proceedings. A Variation to the Restraint Order was drafted and sealed by the Judge.

We can assist our clients in reaching a practical, common-sense resolution to any POCA issue to ensure that their interests are protected.  If you need assistance with a Proceeds of Crime matter, contact us today.

We can help you with your Section 22 Application and your pension

We will deal with confiscation cases anywhere in England and Wales.

For the help and assistance you need to get in touch with us today:

  • Call: 0113 244 0597
  • Email: poca@cohencramer.co.uk
  • Request a call back by entering your details into the form at the bottom of this page

 

John Goodwin’s submission to the Justice Select Committee on Private Prosecutions (2)

RSPCA has submitted evidence to this inquiry, which outlines how it approaches prosecutions and the measures it has put in place to improve its transparency and accountability.

The Committee has also received a number of submissions that are critical of the RSPCA’s prosecutorial activities.

The Countryside Alliance suggests that it is inappropriate for the RSPCA to remain the principal prosecutor of animal welfare offences and that it should instead be the responsibility of public bodies.

John Goodwin, a solicitor for Cohen Cramer Solicitors who defends prosecutions brought by the RSPCA, highlights concerns over the way in which the RSPCA operates at the pre-trial stage, the issues surrounding the obtaining and execution of warrants, the

Confiscation Proceedings in a Nutshell

At Cohen Cramer, the dedicated POCA Department specialises in all proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and associated legislation.  We have the expertise and knowledge to deal with the most complex of matters and can assist with any issue you face. Leah Arksey, our expert Paralegal, offers her overview of POCA, to explain what exactly you could find yourself facing during the proceedings.

If you have recently been convicted of a criminal offence, you may be facing confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  If this is the case, during the Sentencing Hearing, a POCA timetable will be set, outlining various dates for the service of the Defence and Prosecution statements.

The Statements

You should be provided with comprehensive information surrounding the POCA proceedings you face by your solicitors. If this hasn’t happened, it may be that your current solicitors are unable to offer you the expert advice you need.  POCA is a very complex area of the law and you will need specialist legal advice to get you through the proceedings. As mentioned, if POCA proceedings are to be instigated, a POCA timetable will be set which marks the date for service of ‘The Statements’ – the Section 18 Statement, Section 16 Statement and the Section 17 Statement (do not worry, we can count – this is the order that the Statements will be served in).

The S.18 Statement

The Section 18 Statement is served by the Defence and this outlines what your ‘available assets’ are. This can be anything from property, cash, cars, jewellery, pensions and savings, designer clothes and handbags, to Bitcoin. The list is endless and so the Section 18 Statement will outline exactly what assets you have available (over the value of £500) that can be sold to pay off the Confiscation Order made against you.

The S.16 Statement

Following this, the Prosecution will then serve the Section 16 Statement, which outlines the Prosecution’s case against you. The Prosecution will calculate what they think your financial benefit from the crime is and will outline the assets they think you have available to pay it back.  The Section 16 Statement is prepared by a Financial Investigator, and therefore it is common practice for them to go through your bank accounts to highlight any unidentified credits that they believe is from criminal conduct.  The Financial Investigator can go back 6 years and this amongst other things is added to your benefit figure.  When you see the statement, you will be surprised how large the benefit figure is.  However with expert assistance, this can be reduced substantially.

The S.17 Statement

Within POCA proceedings, the ‘burden of proof’ is on the Defendant to provide the necessary evidence to challenge the Prosecution’s case.  So it is important that you receive expert legal advice and representation for these proceedings. The Section 17 Statement that is served on your behalf by your solicitors must be prepared with the utmost care.  The Defence team must gather as much evidence as possible to challenge the figures put forward by the Prosecution and your solicitors should guide you through this. In many cases, especially where the Financial Investigator has noted unidentified credits, you must consider each individual transaction and provide evidence showing the legitimacy of that transaction.  Often we instruct a Forensic Accountant.

It is also important to challenge the valuations the Prosecution place on the available assets by obtaining expert valuation reports.  The Prosecution often undertake simple desktop valuations that are not accurate.  We will explain why this is important later.

Third-party interest applications

We also represent family members where the Prosecution are seeking to argue that their assets represent the proceeds of crime, when in actual fact it belongs to the family member, or a family member is entitled to an interest in the asset. For more detail about this, see our blog, ‘Section 10A POCA – Third Party Interests’.

Paying your Confiscation Order

Following the service of the statements, there is usually some to-ing and fro-ing between the parties in order to settle on a benefit and available amount figure.  Once the case has concluded, either by way of settlement or following a Contested POCA Hearing, a Confiscation Order will be made. This will outline the benefit figure, the available amount figure and will also list the available assets, if there are any. There will also be a ‘time to pay’ deadline given, which is usually three months.  This can be extended by a further 3 months (6 in total) by way of a Section 11 application. It should be noted that once the time to pay has expired, interest will accrue daily.

You will need to sell all available assets in order to settle the Confiscation Order. At Cohen Cramer, we have the necessary knowledge and expertise to assist our clients with the sale of their assets. We also have a dedicated POCA Conveyancing Department to assist with the sale of property, both in the UK and overseas.  We have an expert panel of foreign agents and lawyers to assist with foreign sales. For more information about this, see our blogs, ‘Selling Assets Abroad’ and ‘Potential Problems with a POCA Conveyance’. We also work closely with foreign banks and institutions and have the expertise to prepare the legal documents required for the repatriation of funds from overseas.

Get the Help You Need

For the help and assistance you need get in touch with us today:

  • Call: 0113 244 0597
  • Email: poca@cohencramer.co.uk
  • Request a call back by entering your details into the form at the bottom of this page

For the Quality Legal Service that You Deserve

 

 

Debt recovery for businesses and SME’s

Debt recovery for businesses and SME’s. Whilst many of us are acutely aware of the threat to health that Covid-19 (Coronavirus) has brought in 2020, we are also aware of the threat it has brought to our companies and small businesses.

The business landscape of today shows a picture of uncertainty, due to reduced consumer/client engagement which has resulted in reduced profit margins and cash flow, with many companies simply unable to stay afloat.

It seems that with the instability in gaining revenue that companies are currently facing, they may have to look internally to increase cash flow. This could involve an assessment of their debt recovery procedures and whether they have outstanding debts owing.

Internal debt management

Businesses should of course look to manage overdue payments internally and can do this by keeping communication clear and on a regular basis with their clients. This will ensure a full understanding of any contracts entered into and payments to be made and can help to reduce disputes.

Businesses must also have a recovery procedure in place that is consistent and adhered to, but that is also flexible in any potential recovery arrangements that can be put in place. When an invoice is unpaid, act quickly, and be willing to think alternatively to come to an agreement with your debtor.

When debts remain unpaid

Maximising debt collection should be a priority to many businesses; to recover owed debts would increase available means to your business and would make for a happier balance sheet.

The recovery of money owed can be a sensitive area and it is important that the process is managed promptly and with skill, especially during the current Pandemic.

Cohen Cramer can provide a fast and cost-effective debt collection service to your business.

Do not let Coronavirus put your business off taking debt recovery any further. Cohen Cramer is experienced in establishing which debtors are in difficulty and truly unable to make payment and which ones may be simply looking to avoid making payment.

For your free and confidential initial discussion to see how we can help your business run in an effective, efficient, and economical way, please get in touch with us on the following details.

How we can help with debt recovery for businesses and SME’s

To get the help you need get in touch with us today:

  • To speak to a member of our Disputes Team on the phone please call 0113 224 7808
  • To send a member of our Disputes Team an email please use disputes@cohencramer.co.uk