With the romance of Valentine’s Day now behind us, let’s talk again about the practical aspects of our relationships.

With the unavoidable increase in divorce and separation rates, it means that more of us who are getting married or moving in together are not “first timers“. Not only that, either one or both parties may have children from a previous marriage. This can mean ongoing financial ties to an ex-partner and possibly having a home or assets to bring into the new relationship.

So it’s  more important than ever for couples to take a small step back from the romance of their new relationship or wedding plans and think about the practicalities. If they are about to start living together, or planning to tie the knot, they should take legal advice on having a Cohabitation Agreement or Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

These don’t have to be long or complicated documents. The aim is to record what can be agreed amicably straight away, to cover what would happen if you ever did split up:-

  • Do you get to keep the property you brought into the relationship ?
  • Do you have to financially support one another after separation ?
  • How do you split anything held in joint names ?
  • Do you have to share any debts ?

The idea of considering a pre-nup early on is to avoid the time, anxiety and cost of a complex legal battle further down the line. Of course no-one has a crystal ball and your thoughts on how assets should be divided between you may change if you are married for many years, or if you have children together but in that case, no problem – you simply agree to review the terms of the Agreement on certain “trigger” events.

If you would like more information on having a Cohabitation or Pre-Nuptial Agreement drawn up please contact


Vijaya Sumputh

0208 363 4444


Amanda Thurston 

01992 463727

Curwens LLP is your local firm of solicitors offering you expert legal advice when you need it most.

Offices in Royston, Hoddesdon and Enfield.




Seasonal Checklist for HR

Seasonal Checklist for HR”…..T’is the season to be jolly“, (“falalalala la la la la“) … so we thought employers and HR managers might find this seasonal post useful….

At this time of year, the last thing we want to think about is a legal issue but I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts with you if you are an employer and have the Christmas staff celebrations to deal with. I spotted this great seasonal post, courtesy of Daniel Barnett sharing an excellent blogpost by Gemma Reucroft :


“This is the ultimate advice checklist for how HR should deal with Christmas issues…

1. Employees sometimes do stupid stuff. At Christmas time and otherwise.
2. Just deal with it.
3. Resist the urge to worry too much about vicarious liability, discrimination and constructive dismissal. Although it is probably a good idea not to put any mistletoe up in the office.
4. Resist the urge to write any sort of policy.
5. Resist the urge to put any sort of disclaimer about behaviour in any Christmas party related literature. If someone wants to punch Bob from Accounts on the dance floor after 12 pints of beer then they will do it anyway. See points 1 and 2.
6. Resist the urge to write special rules about absence from work after social events. See point 2.
7. Apply Christmas common sense.
8. Avoid sprouts in an office environment at all times. This is especially important in small or poorly ventilated offices.
9. Never, ever, buy Secret Santa presents from Ann Summers.
10. Enjoy yourself. Put a tree up. Eat some Quality Street. Wear a Christmas jumper.”

Timely advice indeed !

Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful, peaceful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

NEM new profile pic March 2013

Norma Morris


Tenancy Deposit Scheme

With so many more people becoming landlords nowadays, it’s all too easy to fall foul of the very strict rules and regulations in this area.  It’s a very good idea to take proper legal advice from a Landlord & Tenant specialist, like Adrian Boulter at Curwens.

This briefing explains what a tenancy deposit scheme (TDS) is and what a landlord’s obligations are under a TDS.

What is a tenancy deposit scheme?

A landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) must protect a tenant’s deposit by using an authorised tenancy deposit scheme (TDS) operated by an approved scheme administrator.

A TDS has two main objectives:

  1. To ensure that, when a tenant pays a deposit, it will be protected and returned to the tenant at the end of the AST, except when the landlord has a legitimate claim on it.
  2. To resolve disputes between landlords and tenants using dispute resolution rather than via the courts.

There are two types of TDS:

  • A custodial TDS requires a landlord to pay its tenant’s deposit to a scheme administrator, who holds the deposit until the tenancy ends.
  • An insurance TDS where the landlord retains possession of the deposit, but secures it by paying a fee and insurance premiums to the scheme administrator.

What are a landlord’s obligations under a TDS?

Within 30 days of receipt of the deposit a landlord must:

  • Comply with the “initial requirements” of the TDS.
  • Give the tenant certain prescribed information. This information should be provided directly to the tenant. It is not sufficient to merely identify the TDS and let the tenant make their own investigations.

What sanctions are available if a landlord fails to fulfil their obligations under a TDS?

  • If a landlord fails to comply with the TDS, a tenant can apply to court even if the tenancy has ended.
  • The penalty for failing to comply with the TDS will be between one and three times the deposit.

If you are an inexperienced Landlord, you can see that dealing with this can be quite tricky and is a massive trap for the unwary.  If you need any help with Landlord & Tenant issues, contact Curwens’ expert, Adrian Boulter, on 0208 363 4444 or email him

Want to get paid ?

Clients often come to our Debt Collection service (“Prompt Pay”) when they are owed money and want to “go legal”. They sometimes have problems, however, with our first question which is “can we have all your papers?”

They often are so focussed on doing a great job for their customers that they lose sight of the need to keep good records as the job goes on. They can’t imagine it might go horribly wrong further down the line and they will need to issue Court proceedings. This is often the case in the building trade – not so much in the very large contracts but more often than not in the smaller projects such as extensions, kitchens, conservatories etc.

I’ve heard it said before…. “we don’t have a contract, it was just verbal”. This is a popular mistake – a contract can certainly be formed verbally but the problem is that when it goes wrong, it’s much more difficult to get convincing evidence, which is why solicitors advise contract terms and conditions should be in writing.

We always advise starting as you mean to go on – with good paperwork from estimate onwards, with details of any extras (there are always extras!) signed off by the customer as you go along. One useful tip – if you have two customers, say joint householders, either get them both to sign off extras or if one is giving instructions and taking the lead on the project, get an authority from the other one – believe me, it will save a lot of grief further down the line.

One last note of caution – it’s so easy nowadays to slip into over-familiar language in emails and, as a contract goes wrong and perhaps tempers get frayed, it might be tempting to fire off a heated email without thinking it through. Remember, if the case goes to Court, all that documentation will at some time be seen by a Judge who will be reading it in the cold light of day. Wouldn’t you like to be the one who sounds the most reasonable in how you dealt with a dispute? Just count to 10 (twice!) and edit before hitting “send” !