John Moores Painting Prize 2020

John Moores Painting Prize 2020 Candidates

Established by the well known philanthropist Sir John Moores in 1957, and described by the Guardian as ‘the prize at the forefront of modern art’, the John Moores Painting Prize is awarded every two years to the best contemporary painting by a UK-based artist, with the short-listed artworks exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Walker Art Gallery has been closed for most of the past year, opening briefly once more in December, before being forced to close again on the 30th of that month when the latest national lockdown was put in place. The Walker Art Gallery is now set to reopen on 17th May, in line with the Government’s four-step ‘roadmap’ to lifting lockdown restrictions.

For the John Moores Painting Prize 2020 candidates, the gallery’s closure has meant that their work has so far been inaccessible to the general public. Fortunately, however, the Walker Art Gallery and National Museums Liverpool have put together a virtual tour of the 67 short-listed artworks for the prize. This exciting collection of paintings can be viewed on the National Museums Liverpool website:

Kathryn Maple’s acrylic on canvas work The Common was announced as the winner of John Moores Painting Prize 2020, and her painting will now permanently feature in the Walker Art Gallery’s world famous collection. As friends and partners of the gallery, we offer our congratulations to Ms Maple, and wish the Walker team all the very best for a successful (and hopefully permanent) reopening in a little under a month from now.

Probate Holdups

Financial institutions are the main cause of delay in at least 25% of probate cases, according to two-thirds of the legal professionals recently surveyed for the Bereavement Index published by Today’s Wills & Probate. The delay in receiving financial information concerning the estate of a deceased person from institutions takes at least four weeks according to the majority of practitioners.   

While the average probate case takes around three months to complete, delays of up to a year may result from solicitors encountering delays in obtaining the necessary information regarding an estate and its assets, with the report suggesting this applied to one in 14 probate cases. The average delay caused by individuals failing to leave their affairs in order prior to their passing is around two months.

The surveyed legal professionals also expressed their frustrations with the probate process, with 88% labelling it ‘slow and complicated’, and 51% stating that recent probate cases they had been involved in took longer than expected. Three-quarters (75%) believe that the probate process can be improved, indicating that reform of the system is both necessary and likely in the near future.

Bartletts Solicitors is an expert probate law firm, with Louise Nelson having assisted clients with probate matters for 39 years. We offer our clients a winning team with real experience in probate and genuine expertise in this often complex area of law.

UK Housing Market Resurgent

Halifax Bank recently reported that the average UK house price hit a record high of £254,606 in March 2021, representing a 6.5% annual rise and adding around £15,000 to the value of the average residential property over the course of the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, statistics published by HMRC show that the number of transactions in the UK residential property market increased by almost 18% in January 2021 year on year to reach 98,830, the highest monthly total since 2017.

These figures prove that the residential property market has so far avoided the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic and is being boosted by attractive mortgage offers from various lenders, as well as the Government’s mortgage guarantee scheme which ‘guarantees’ 95% mortgages for property buyers with a 5% deposit.

Another key driver of the market’s resurgence is the temporary stamp duty holiday (the tax has been suspended on the first £500,000 of all property sales), which has recently been extended by a further three months until the end of June 2021.

So what does the future hold for the UK residential property market? Experts agree that the long-term outlook is unpredictable, with much depending on the UK’s economic performance and the impact of the Government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown.

Sentiment for the immediate future is positive however, with competitive rates on offer from mortgage providers, and many buyers seeking larger properties for better work-life balance and extra outdoor space. The success of the vaccine rollout and the lifting of lockdown restrictions should also help maintain the market’s current buoyancy during 2021.

Bartletts’ conveyancing solicitors can provide you with a no obligation immediate quotation based on our transparent fixed-fee structure. Find out more about all aspects of the conveyancing process and our Liverpool City Centre-based conveyancing team:

Hair Salon Reopening Delight

Following the reopening of hairdressers and barbers in Wales on Monday, March 15, customers in England are eagerly awaiting Monday, April 12, when hairdressing salons and barber shops are scheduled to reopen (along with all non-essential shops) in accordance with stage two of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

In Wales, hairdressers are currently only allowed to serve customers with pre-booked appointments, and are limited to providing haircuts only. Temperature checks are common before clients can enter the premises, and social distancing requirements mean that most salons will not be using every station in order to maintain the two-metre distance rule. Indeed, many smaller salons are likely to operate a one-in, one-out policy due to space restrictions.

During the series of lockdowns in England and Wales over the past year, those in need of a trim have been forced to decide between attempting to cut and style their own hair (sometimes with less than satisfactory results), or letting it grow and accepting the aesthetic consequences. With reports suggesting that hairdressers in Wales were ‘inundated’ with calls for appointments on and after April 12, and ‘heaving’ on that day, many people have clearly come to appreciate the fact that DIY hair care and maintenance is not as easy as it seems.

Another factor in the apparent ‘rush back to the salon’ is the community role that these locations play in many people’s lives. Particularly for those who live alone, a visit to the hairdresser is often a social occasion when having a chat with the hairdresser and catching up on the local gossip may be just as important as having their hair attended to. The state of a person’s hair can also affect their mental wellbeing and confidence, underlining the fact that lots of people have an emotional connection with their hairdresser and salon which they are currently keen to reestablish at the earliest opportunity.

While the government has emphasised that the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions will depend on ‘data not dates’, hair salons in England are on course to reopen on April 12. The anticipated surge in bookings will be challenging for hair salons in terms of sanitation measures and customer numbers, but also heartening news from a business perspective, and a welcome sign that life is slowly but surely returning to some semblance of normality.

Bartletts Solicitors offers an all female team of lawyers specialising in hair and beauty treatment injuries. Call us for a free consultation if your hair has been damaged by a  poorly trained, inexperienced or incompetent hairdresser:

Divorce & Child Arrangements

To avoid going to court, a divorcing couple will need to agree arrangements for looking after their children, particularly where they will live, how much time they will spend with each parent and how they will be financially supported. Child maintenance payments will need to be settled, either via a private agreement between the divorcing couple or through the government’s Child Maintenance Service scheme.

Mediation can help a divorcing couple agree child arrangements, while a written Parenting Plan can help parents clarify how their children are going to be cared for after the separation, as well as require that the best interests of the children are always put first.

Once child arrangements are agreed, a solicitor can help make the agreement legally binding by drafting a consent order, which must be signed by both parties and approved by the court. To get a consent order approved, a C100 court form will need to be completed (a solicitor can help with this) and submitted along with the draft consent order. The court fee is £215, and the consent order will normally be approved by a judge without a court hearing if they think decisions have been made in the children’s best interest.

Find out more about child arrangements following a divorce and the overall divorce process from our expert divorce solicitors in Liverpool City Centre:

Stamp Duty Holiday Extended

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced in his recent budget that the government is extending the temporary stamp duty holiday on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland by a further three months until the end of June 2021 (it was due to end on 31st March).

From 1st July until the end of September, the nil rate band will drop to £250,000 before returning to its standard rate of £125,000 from the start of October.

This move will come as welcome news for buyers and sellers rushing to complete on property transactions, many of whom faced the prospect of failing to complete before the March 31st deadline.

The tax cut has significantly increased activity in the UK property market recently, with large numbers of buyers seeking to take advantage of the reduced tax rate that can lead to savings of up to £15,000 on a property purchase.

Property transactions across the UK increased by almost 18% in January this year compared with the same month last year according to the latest figures from HMRC, proving that the market remains in robust good health, and indicative of the rush of buyers looking to complete their purchase before the original cut-off point.       

The stamp duty holiday also applies to second home buyers, although the extra 3% of stamp duty charged under the previous rules will still need to be paid. The stamp duty holiday temporarily replaces the first-time buyer discount.

You can find out more about Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), the property purchase process and our transparent fixed fee residential conveyancing service below:

Divorce & The Mediation Process

Mediation can help a divorcing couple reach a financial settlement and divide up assets in a neutral and impartial manner. Assets may include savings, investments, property and pensions (maintenance payments can also be agreed during mediation). The services of a mediator can be significantly cheaper and faster in terms of reaching an agreement than asking a judge to decide the matter in court.

The first step is to attend a mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM) costing around £30. The mediator will decide whether mediation is right for the divorcing couple, and if so, will attempt to help the couple reach an agreement during further mediation sessions (these will cost more and fees vary depending on location).

Successful mediation will produce a document showing what has been agreed, and while this agreement is not legally binding, a consent order approved by the court will make it so. A solicitor can help draft a consent order, which is a legal document confirming what was agreed during mediation. The court fee is £50, and a judge will approve the consent order and make it legally binding, usually without the need for a court hearing, if they believe it is fair.

Find out more about mediation and the divorce process from our expert divorce solicitors in Liverpool City Centre.

The Benefits Of Using A Divorce Solicitor

Do you have to have a solicitor to get divorced? No. Do you need a solicitor? Absolutely Yes. 

We believe that a solicitor’s advice and services offer huge benefits. Divorce is a process with many forms to fill out and many potential triggers for arguments. It is an emotionally-charged time, and an experienced solicitor can take much of the ‘heat’ out of the situation by avoiding or minimizing arguments which will lead to further estrangement between the divorcing couple.

One of the main goals of a successful divorce, especially when there are children involved, is to lay the foundations for a ‘professional’ relationship between the divorcing parties. The primary consideration in building such a relationship is obviously the good of the children.

Secondary to the welfare of children is, of course, a fair and equitable financial settlement. Each party’s needs must be met, and these negotiations should be carried out by solicitors for two main reasons. Firstly, each party will receive a settlement which is more likely to be seen as ‘fair’. If both parties feel that a settlement is fair they have a better chance of building a constructive relationship in the future. Secondly, if solicitors are negotiating and a judge perhaps ends up making the final decision, the argument is taken out of the hands of the divorcing couple altogether.

This offers a number of advantages. You do not need to worry because you have a solicitor with expertise and experience who will obtain the best result the system can offer. So you can disengage and de-stress to some extent. It also depersonalizes the whole experience. As a client of a reputable law firm, you may no longer be seen as the ‘enemy’. This is obviously particularly important when there are children involved.

Our divorce solicitors in Liverpool city centre outline the main steps in a divorce, starting with mediation – the guided, cheapest and most sensible option. Failing that, we talk you through the ‘process’ and what is involved.

Out Of The Foil

A hairdresser is often your confidante who you reveal your secrets, joys and problems to. Even offers you a glass of Prosecco. Then – ‘out of the foil’ – the salon ruins your hair. Awkward to say the least. You are torn as to what to do. Sue someone who may be a friend… really?

However, sometimes it’s necessary to get private corrective medical treatment which can be costly and time-consuming. At least the salon will be covered by its insurance, so it’s nothing personal. Speak to our female lawyers if your hair has been ruined by your hairdresser.