Commission decision hits holiday pay sums for employers

As the big summer break gets underway, commission-based employees can expect fatter pay packets on their return following European Court ruling
Sales staff heading for the sun will have a rosier return in future, following a ruling by the European Court that commission payments be considered when calculating holiday pay.
The Court has said that commission-based employees could be put off taking leave if they are worse off when they take a holiday, and that undermines the intention of the EU Working Time Directive.  The directive is implemented in the UK through the Working Time Regulations 1998, under which workers have the right to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave at the statutory rate of a week’s pay for each week of leave.
The simple meaning of a week’s pay is the normal remuneration that a worker could expect to earn in a week, and if that varies, then it is calculated by working out the average over the previous 12 weeks.  But for employers, the calculation has become increasingly difficult to work out.  Earlier rulings had opened the door to compulsory and voluntary overtime payments being taken into account, and following this judgement, it just got even more complicated.
The latest case centres on an employee of British Gas.  Mr Lock was a sales consultant with around 60% of his total pay being based on successful sales.  When he took two weeks' paid annual leave at the end of December 2011, he was paid commission for previous sales that fell due during the holiday period, but then suffered in the months that followed and he made an Employment Tribunal claim based on lost holiday pay.
The tribunal referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling on whether member states like the UK should be taking commission payments into account and if so, how that might be calculated. The ECJ said that Lock, and anyone else heavily dependent on commission, would suffer a financial disadvantage in the form of less remuneration after a holiday and this would discourage them from exercising their right to annual leave, which was not the intention of the legislation.
Whether or not normal remuneration during a period of annual leave should include allowances on top of basic salary has been considered before, in the 2011 case of Williams v British Airways, which ruled that any element of pay that is intrinsically linked to the performance of the tasks that the worker is required to carry out should be included. A specified number of guaranteed contractual overtime hours, for example, should be included in the calculation of normal remuneration.
The happy outcome for Mr Lock means that in future, employers will need to factor commission into any calculation of holiday pay where the commission is permanent enough to be regarded as forming a normal part of someone’s monthly pay and there is an intrinsic link with the performance of tasks they are required to do.
Said Brendan O’Brien, Managing Director of Breeze & Wyles Solicitors Limited :  “The calculation of holiday pay has become a minefield and it just got even tougher.  The ECJ hasn’t clarified how the holiday pay should be calculated in these circumstances, saying it was up to the national courts of the member states but it is likely that UK legislation will be amended to reflect this ruling.  
“In the meantime, a form of averaging of commission over a previous period could be used, but it’s not just about how much should be paid during a holiday, it’s also about making sure that employees are not financially worse off in the period following.  Employers may want to think about reviewing their commission structure to see which elements are going to be relevant for inclusion.  Now is the right time to get this structure updated and to be clear on how it’s affected by the ruling.
He added:  “There’s been talk of employees taking strategic holidays, after a particularly lucrative period for example, and it all needs taking into account.” 
Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd  [2014] EUECJ C-539/12
Web site content note: 
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Schools Out!

The school holidays have just begun and if you are not sure what to do with the children Resolution have recently released a guide for surviving the school holidays... CLICK HERE!

If you need further assistance with agreeing arrangements with the other parent over the holidays please do not hesitate to contact us on 01992 558411.

CHERYL COLE PART 2 – Will Cheryl have to “fight for this love”?

Following Cheryl Cole’s secret marriage to Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini, it has been reported that she is so head over heels with her new husband that she “refused” to sign a Pre-Nuptial Agreement to protect her fortune. 

We appreciate that the idea of speaking with your husband-to-be about a Pre-Nuptial Agreement may not be the most romantic topics just before your big day, it may be a decision Cheryl may later go on to regret! 

Whilst we hope that Cheryl lives happily ever after with her new husband (especially given her last marriage ended in divorce to “love rat” Ashley Cole following reports of his adultery), as Family Lawyers we cannot ignore exploring with our client’s the “what if’s?” and the options available to help protect them in the best way possible. 

Perhaps once the honeymoon period is over for Cheryl that she may consider signing a Post Nuptial Agreement? A Post Nuptial Agreement is very similar to a Pre-Nuptial Agreement but it is entered into after the marriage has taken place and essentially sets out how the assets are to be divided in the unfortunate event of the breakdown of the marriage. The contents of the agreement are flexible and can vary depending on the individual’s circumstances and concerns. 

An agreement executed anytime after the marriage is binding on the parties subject to the usual contract principles such as fraud, mistake or duress and the power of the Court to vary maintenance agreements. If the agreement is executed properly and certain conditions are met, the mere fact it is not what the Court would have ordered is not enough to set aside the agreement. In light of this, if you are considering a Pre or Post Nuptial Agreement we would strongly suggest that you seek legal advice from one of our specialist Family Lawyers. 

If our Pop Princess has decided against protecting her fortune and let her heart rule her head, she may well face fighting off claims from her husband should their marriage breakdown. This is because by commencing divorce proceedings, the Court obtains significant powers to make financial orders. The extent of the Court’s power means that they are not confined to assets accumulated during the marriage and as such can deal with, and redistribute, assets whenever and however acquired. 

Let’s hope Cheryl does not have to “fight for this love!”. 

Should you wish to obtain advice about Pre-Nuptial Agreements or Post Nuptial Agreements please do not hesitate to contact us on 01992 558 411. 


It has today been reported, following Cheryl Cole’s shock announcement, that she has married her partner of only 3 months Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini on 7 July 2014 in a ceremony on the private island of Mustique. 

Our British Pop princess has not been lucky in love previously having divorced ‘love rat’ Ashley Cole in 2010 following reports of his adultery and splitting with her boyfriend Tre Holloway in 2013. 

Cheryl’s new husband is apparently an entrepreneur who runs a pop up restaurant business the couple met earlier this year at the Cannes film festival. Reports suggest that she was “ready to marry” just 3 months into their relationship and is apparently ecstatically happy and looking forward to their life together. Despite Jean- Bernard having built up a reputation as a bit of a playboy in his 20’s it would seem that he is equally smitten and loved up and apparently the couple moved into Cheryl’s home here in Hertfordshire last month. 

With such a whirlwind romance we suspect that neither have given any thought to entering into a pre nuptial agreement. These are agreements entered into before marriage which set out what the couple would want to happen if the relationship were to break down. When you love somebody, this is the perfect time to discuss and plan for all eventualities. 

Whilst it may well be too late for a Pre Nuptial, we would recommend a Post Nuptial.

These documents are ideal where;

- either or both have assets of their own they would like to protect in the event of divorce/ separation, 

- have children from a previous relationship/ marriage who they wish to provide for from their assets which will not form part of any divorce,

- - Have received or are they likely to receive an inheritance that they wish to protect from consideration in any potential divorce settlement,

- have an interest in a family business or company they would wish to protect from consideration if the marriage were to fail.

It may not sound romantic, but the realities of divorce are there and it is far easier to agree things when you are on good terms. It’s like critical illness insurance cover, you hope you never need it, but would be glad you did if the worst did happen.

Should you wish to obtain advice about Pre-Nuptial Agreements or Post Nuptial Agreements please do not hesitate to contact us on 01992 558 411.

Taxpayer alarm at demand for old records

Conduct of HMRC is not relevant in deciding whether documents should be produced
Alarm bells are ringing after a tax tribunal has decided that it was “reasonable” for HMRC to demand copies of certain documents that taxpayers had already provided eight years earlier.
The case involved Whitefields Golf Club and associated companies. A restructuring of their activities in 1999 came to the attention of H M Customs and Excise, as it was then known, during a routine VAT inspection in June 2003. As a result, Whitefields were asked to supply copy documents which they handed over in February 2004, including copies of minutes of board meetings, service agreements and leases.
But then the investigation ground to a halt and nothing happened until HMRC, in its new guise, tried to resume the investigation in July 2011, following another VAT inspection in November 2010. In the meantime, HMRC had either lost or destroyed the copy documents that had been supplied and so they asked for further copies to pursue their investigation. The request was made under paragraph 1 of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2008, which gives officers of HMRC powers to obtain information and documents.
Whitefields argued that it would be unreasonable for them to deliver documents and information that had already been supplied once, when HMRC had been slow to follow up that information, as well as losing or destroying it. But their argument was rejected when the case reached the First Tier Tribunal.
In making the decision, the Tribunal said that HMRC's conduct – which in this case meant losing documents and sitting on an investigation for almost a decade – was not relevant in deciding whether documents are "reasonably required" under Schedule 36 in order to establish the correct tax liability of a taxpayer. The role of the tribunal, they said, was not to carry out a supervisory review of HMRC’s conduct, it was simply to decide whether the requests were reasonable.
But the Tribunal did say that HMRC can only require a person to produce a document if it is in that person’s possession or power.
Said Brendan OBrien Managing Director of Breeze & Wyles Solicitors Ltd : “This is a challenge for both business and individual taxpayers, as it suggests that HMRC can go back as far as they want for information. We are all comfortable with the six year rule, so this stands things on their head and it will probably be a little while before we know how it will be interpreted.
“We may have to be a little more cautious about consigning documents to the shredder.”
Whitefields Golf Club Ltd and others v HMRC [2014] UKFTT 458 (TC)
Web site content note:
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Dont regret what you ate!

When looking back upon your divorce don’t regret what you ate. I am not talking about regretting the exceptionally hot Vindaloo nor the burger bought after that wild night out from the slightly dodgy van on the side of the road; more so regretting the choice of process used to resolve the difficulties that existed following the separation.
It is always important to make wise choices and given the far reaching ramifications of divorce and separation which impact upon where you will live, how you can afford to put food on the table, clothe yourself and any children and who the children will live with, the choices made at this stage are perhaps the most important. Very often people assume that the only way to resolve a dispute is to litigate. What those people fail to appreciate is the diverse menu of other dispute resolution processes which are available to them in the alternative; They could Mediate, Negotiate, Collaborate or Arbitrate.
Litigation is expensive and the financial cost can run into tens of thousands of pounds. Legal aid has been subject to dramatic cuts which leave all but a handful of clients eligible for legal aid regardless of their ability to afford to pay a solicitor or barrister privately. This has lead to a vast increase in the number of people representing themselves at court as well as increasing the actual numbers of applications made as people continue to fail to appreciate the other options open to them. However, it is not just the financial cost that needs to be taken into account, you also need to consider the time involved both in respect of the time that may need to be taken from work in order to attend numerous hearings and also the time taken to reach a resolution. The increase in applications and increase in people representing themselves has meant that the courts are heavily oversubscribed and the waiting time for hearings to be listed can be months.
Finally, it is also important to consider the emotional cost of litigation. All relationships break down for a reason. This may be as a result of one persons behaviour, adultery or even as a result of discovering that you no longer have anything in common. However, more often than not it is one person doing the leaving and one person being left. People faced with the breakdown of a relationship suffer loss. They grieve the loss of the relationship and failed dreams much in the same way as you may grieve after the death of a loved one. There are recognised stages of grief which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. The process is unique to the individual and is not linear so people may waiver in and out of the various stages before finally coming to terms with what has happened. This process can be helped or hindered by external factors. It is often tempting when you have been hurt by a partner or spouse so seek to lash out and hurt them too. However, this is never likely to be in a persons best interest and certainly not likely to be in the best interests of any child who is caught up in the midst of this adult conflict and is already upset, confused and most likely wondering if they are to blame. One of the biggest difficulties with litigation is that the process can seem to force people into the roles of combatants in the arena of the court each fighting to persuade the judge to make an order in terms more favourable to them and each pointing out the flaws in the others persons arguments or parenting and mudslinging is sadly commonplace. Where there are children involved this can be especially damaging. Consider yourselves 10 to 15 years from now when your children excitedly tell your of their engagement and explain that they would like both you and your ex partner to come to the wedding. These factors must also be combined with the fact that the judge does not know you nor your children which means that you are entrusting possibly some of the most important decisions of your life and which will impact on your future, with a stranger.
Now with the mere thought of ligation causing an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, are there tastier alternatives?
Mediation allows yourself and your partner to attend a number of meetings with a trained mediator who is independent and impartial and can facilitate the discussions and help you both explore numerous options for settlement with the aim of helping you both reach a mutual agreement which you can then where appropriate set out in a consent order and submit to the court for approval. There are numerous benefits of mediation; it is quicker than making applications to the court, it is cheaper than making applications to the court as Legal Aid is still available subject only to an assessment of your means and the costs when paying privately are still likely to be in the region of £600 + vat per person. (Based upon an average of 4 sessions). An additional benefit is that as you and your partner retain the autonomy in reaching a decision you retain control over your own futures and are more likely to be happy with the overall outcomes. Should you require it you can obtain legal advice alongside the mediation process.
Negotiation is a process which you could use either informally between yourselves or with the assistance of a solicitor to reach an agreement. When one or both of you instruct solicitors these negotiations will either take place in correspondence or where appropriate during round table meetings with your lawyer present. You will have access to specialised legal advice throughout the process in order to ensure the best outcome for you and your children.
Collaborative Law is the process adopted by specifically trained family law solicitors as an alternative to the traditional route of litigation when dealing with the breakdown of a relationship. This process involves the couple engaging in a series of open civilised discussions about the unique terms of their separation. Both parties will have their own collaborative family lawyer present and at their side during such discussions to aid the process of negotiation which both parties participate in and remain fully involved until a solution is achieved. The process is different to the traditional route in that all parties at the outset sign an agreement called the participation agreement which provides that no party can threaten or make use of the Court process in an adversarial way and neither collaborative lawyer can ever represent either party in any litigation against the other, encouraging the parties to the process to be fully committed to achieving a resolution together. The couple set the pace at which they are comfortable in relation to discussing the issues involved and endeavour to agree matters together rather than feeling that they have been dragged helplessly through a process by solicitors and sometimes the Courts.
In Family Arbitration, you and your ex-partner or spouse appoint a family Arbitrator who will make a decision that will be final and binding between you, on any financial and property disputes arising from the breakdown of your family relationship. The Arbitrator will deal with all stages of your case from start to finish and will make a decision after hearing from both of you or your representatives. The timetable is set by you both so there is flexibility as to the time and place of the hearings. The process and the decision of the Arbitrator is private and therefore no details will be available to the public.
Family Arbitration has been developed to allow parties to resolve their financial dispute in a forum that is confidential, at a pace set by them and by an Arbitrator who is chosen by the parties. You can have the confidence that the person dealing with your matter is experienced in family law and specifically in the subject matter you require their assistance with. All Arbitrators have to meet the exceptional criteria for being accepted by IFLA having proven their experience and expertise in order to qualify as an Arbitrator. The costs of Arbitration are often offset against the saving that can be made by avoiding the need to proceed through the Court process to obtain a decision where parties are unable to agree.
At Breeze and Wyles Solicitors LTD we are committed to assisting clients in choosing the best process to meet their needs and as such we are able to provide all of the above options. This when considered together with our clear and competitive pricing structure and range of fixed fees makes Breeze & Wyles Solicitors LTD a clear choice.
To make an appointment or for more information call 01992 558411.
Karen Johnson - (Associate Solicitor and Family Mediator) – A Graduate of the University of East Anglia who then completed her Legal Practice Course at the College of Law in London and then Qualified as a Solicitor in 2002 working in a local High Street Firm before Joining Breeze & Wyles Solicitors in 2009 and becoming an Associate with the firm in 2011.
Karen is a highly skilled and experienced Family Solicitor with in excess of 10 years experience of working in Family Law. She is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in the fields of Domestic Violence and Financial Matters. Karen is additionally a Family Mediator trained by and a member of the Family Mediators Association (The FMA) an association with over 20 years experience of Family Mediation.
Olive McCarthy – (Director of Private Client Department) – Olive joined the firm in 2000 and was appointed as a Partner and Head of the Family Law Department in the old firm in 2004. Olive is an accredited Specialist Family Lawyer with Resolution in advanced finances on divorce and cohabitation disputes. Olive has had panel accreditation with the Law Society as a Family Law Specialist since 2003 and has been a Collaborative Lawyer since early 2009. Olive is also a Family Law Arbitrator.
Olive specialises in dealing with complex finance cases, particularly high net worth cases. Olive has been a Trustee for the East Herts & Broxbourne Domestic Violence Forum since 2003 and is the honorary legal representative for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Broxbourne, Hertford and Ware.

When Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Having children is the greatest joy of our lives and they provide us with endless happiness and pride in their achievements. The ability to share these moments together as a family is precious. However, situations can arise when families face difficulties when relationships breakdown and where once decisions were being made for the children, parental conflicts can cloud decisions which in turn impacts on and affects the relationship and contact between the non-resident parent and the child. Although, it is the court's preference that parents should be able to agree arrangements for the children, where this is not possible either parent can make an application to the court for an order. When this happens the court will base their decision upon what is in the best interests of the child.
To help a Judge decide what is in the child’s best interests, they must have regards to a list of factors which includes the child’s wishes and feelings in light of their age and understanding. However, what a child says they want is not always what a child should get. In a recent case RE H (children) [2014] EWCA CIV 733 a mother made an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to Appeal against what she contended was a change of interim residence orders in respect of her 3 sons, A (aged 15 ½ ), B (aged 13 ½) and C (aged 11 ¾).
In this case the initial Judge making the order removing the children from the mother's sole care found that the Mother was emotionally manipulating the boys against their Father, she had encouraged them to make false allegations against him and had been obstructive to contact. The Judge found that it would be “unsafe” for the children to remain with their mother pending further assessments so made a residence order for A to the paternal grandmother and an order placing the younger boys with their father.
In making the order the Judge had disagreed with the Social Worker and the Guardian who both had the opinion that the children should remain in the mother’s care on the basis of the children’s expressed wishes and feelings. However, the Judge felt that there was a real difference between what the children were actually saying and how they actually felt based upon evidence of things such as the children’s behaviour. The Judge found on the evidence that they enjoyed contact with their father and in light of her other findings the change of residence was justified.
The Court of Appeal found the Judge was acting properly in reaching the conclusion she did and refused permission to appeal.
At Breeze and Wyles Ltd we can assist you in this difficult time, whether you are the parent seeking contact or the parent with whom the child(ren) reside. We can be contacted on 01992 558411 or 01992 642333
Henal Gautam - (Associate) Qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and joined the Family Department at Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd in 2005. Specialising in family law specifically relating to children. Representing parents, family members and children in a wide variety of public law cases. In addition adoption and special guardianship and representing parents in s8 Children Act proceedings. Henal deals with most of her own advocacy, being instructed in a number of complex cases involving cruelty to children and serious allegations of harm, adoption within the UK and overseas.
A member of the Law Society Children’s Panel, Resolution and the Association of Lawyers for Children, Henal is also a Trustee of the Broxbourne East Hertfordshire Domestic Violence Forum and the Hertford Contact Centre.

The New Child Maintenance Regulations – Who Really Benefits?

Child Maintenance is often one of the parent’s first concerns when parent separate. The Child Support Agency (CSA) was introduced in order to provide a mechanism for the parent with care of the children to seek a financial contribution towards the costs associated with raising children from the child’s non resident parent.
The CSA has not always been popular with either parent and has been dogged with complaints about arbitrary methods of calculating maintenance, delays in processing applications and a failure or lack of adequate options available to ensure the enforcement of any child maintenance assessment.
Over the years there have been a number of changes to the CSA and the way that is operates. This has included a change of name to Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) and now to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). There have also been changes by way of additional enforcement powers being made available and a change in the manner in which child maintenance is calculated. The most recent change is however, perhaps, the most controversial.
Child Maintenance application fees were introduced from 30 June 2014 which provide that all new applicants to the Child Maintenance Service from 30 June 2014 will now be charged a one off application fee of £20. You do not have to pay the application fee if you have experienced domestic violence. In return, the Child Maintenance Service checks the income of the absent parent with HMRC and will then provide both parties with a maintenance calculation and a schedule for payments. The parties will be given information on how to arrange the payments directly between themselves and the applicant can access the child maintenance account online in order to track payments. In addition the Child Maintenance Services will undertake an annual review and check the income of the paying parent with HMRC in order to ensure that the applicant is still getting the correct amount.
If the Child Maintenance Service continues to act as a go between for the parents, there will be additional charges and a 20% administration fee will have to be paid by the paying parent on top of the usual child maintenance amount. This means that for every £50 assessed so the non-residence parent will have to pay £60. From this sum, the government will take an administration fee of 24% with 20% being the administration fee paid by the non-resident parent and 4% reduced from the resident parent’s maintenance. Therefore, the receiving parent will only receive £48.
Any existing cases handled by the Child Support Agency will be transferred to the new Child Maintenance Service over the next few years. Existing parents already within the collect and pay systems have “a choice” or a “cooling off period” to allow them to avoid paying collection charges from 11 August 2014. If non-resident parents still choose to use the Child Maintenance Service’s “collect and pay” service or fail to settle the arrears the new fee will be added to every maintenance payment. If non-resident parents with arrears clear their arrears by 5 August 2014, they will be able to opt for a direct pay arrangement and therefore avoid having to pay administration charges. Therefore if non-resident parents do choose to use the Child Maintenance Service’s “collect and pay” service or fail to settle the arrears the new fees will be added to every maintenance payment from 11 August 2014.
Given that the CSA was designed to offer parents a simple and free process for calculating and managing payments of child maintenance as opposed to making applications through the court, at Breeze and Wyles Solicitors LTD we wonder whether this is in fact a step backwards. The Work and Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, is understood to believe that the new system will provide an incentive for parents to reach an agreement without the need for a state administered system being used. There is also argument in these times of austerity that nothing is free and parents who require assistance in this manner should contribute towards the costs. It is however, a concern that these changes will create further hostility between the parents and financial hardship as money, which arguably would be better spent for the benefit of the children, is hived off and placed in the government coiffeurs.
A further question arises; In light of the fact that parents will now being paying for a service from the Government, does this also mean that there will be improvements in the service and levels of recovery? Sadly, we suspect not.
If you are in the situation of needing to deal with a question of child maintenance and you don’t want to pay these charges then the first step is to try to reach an agreement with your ex partner. Parents are able to calculate the amount of maintenance that should be payable at . Solicitors and Mediation can help in seeking an agreement in the event that this remains difficult. In the event of an agreement our specialist solicitors can draw up a child maintenance agreement or, if you are in the process of divorce proceedings, can seek for the agreed child maintenance to be set out in a court order.
If you have any questions or want to know how this applies to you, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01992 558411 or 01992 642333 and we would be happy to book you in to see one of our solicitors for an appointment.
Samantha Murphy is an Assistant Solicitor at Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd. Samantha qualified as a Solicitor in April 2012 and specialises in family and matrimonial matters, including divorce, separation, children, finances, and cohabitation disputes.
Samantha is passionate to ensure people can obtain access to justice by providing correct and practical legal advice in order that people can make informed decisions. Samantha is committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational manner by adopting the Resolutions Code of Practice.

Murdered by my boyfriend – don’t become another statistic

Am I in an Abusive Relationship?
We all want the Fairytale ending and in the midst of a relationship, which is rarely ever all bad, in which excuses and promises are regularly made and broken, it can be difficult to even acknowledge that something is really wrong.
Domestic violence is physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.
Everyone argues from time to time and it is common to fall out with family friends and partners. We also can do and say things that we later regret. However certain behaviour, like violence, can never be acceptable and there are additional types of behaviours which, when they happen more than once and a pattern starts to form, are likely to be indicative of abuse.
While every relationship and every experience of Domestic Abuse is different there are common factors. This list can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship. That recognition is the first step towards a future where you are able to prevent the abuse and enjoy a healthy relationship and your Happily Ever After.
• Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting; mocking; accusing; name calling; verbally threatening.
• Pressure tactics: sulking; threatening to withhold money, disconnecting the telephone, taking the car away, taking the children away, or reporting you to welfare agencies unless you comply with their demands; threatening or attempting suicide; withholding or pressuring you to use drugs or other substances; lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
• Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
• Breaking trust: lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
• Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives; shutting you in the house.
• Harassment: following you; checking up on you; not allowing you any privacy (for example, opening your mail), repeatedly checking to see who has telephoned you; embarrassing you in public; accompanying you everywhere you go.
• Threats: making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or a gun; threatening to kill or harm you and the children; threatening to kill or harm family pets; threats of suicide.
• Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts; having sex with you when you don't want it; forcing you to look at pornographic material; forcing you to have sex with other people; any degrading treatment related to your sexuality or to whether you are lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.
• Physical violence: punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling.
• Denial: saying the abuse doesn't happen; saying you caused the abusive behaviour; being publicly gentle and patient; crying and begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.
Help Available
No one deserves to be abused and there is plenty of help and support available should you decide you want it.
At Breeze & Wyles Solicitors we have solicitors who are specialised in dealing with Domestic Abuse and can offer sympathetic and practical advice and assistance in relation issues such as the occupation and ownership of the house both in the short and longer terms, protective injunctions, the arrangements for children, finances and divorce. Where eligible Legal Aid remains available.
For more information contact our Family Team on 01992 558411.
Useful Contacts:-
Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline
(Run in partnership between Women's Aid & Refuge)
Phone: 0808 2000 247
Men's Advice Line 0808 801 0327
The Men's Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence and abuse. It welcomes calls from all men - in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.
Respect Phoneline - 0808 802 40 40 (free from landlines and mobile phones)
For domestic violence perpetrators. Monday - Friday 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. You can also email
Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline offers free and confidential advice, support, signposting and referrals to anyone affected or concerned by domestic abuse between 10am and 10pm Monday to Friday.
Phone: 08 088 088 088
Safer Places - an independent domestic abuse charity dedicated to supporting adults and children affected by domestic abuse. Able to provide a wide range of services to support you and respond to your individual needs and circumstances, whether it is in our refuge accommodation or in the community.
All our services work in a holistic and empowering way to help enable you to live independent lives free from domestic abuse. Call 08450 177668 or email
In an emergency dial 999.
Karen Johnson - (Associate Solicitor and Family Mediator) – A Graduate of the University of East Anglia who then completed her Legal Practice Course at the College of Law in London and then Qualified as a Solicitor in 2002 working in a local High Street Firm before Joining Breeze & Wyles Solicitors in 2009 and becoming an Associate with the firm in 2011.
Karen is a highly skilled and experienced Family Solicitor with in excess of 10 years experience of working in Family Law. She is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in the fields of Domestic Violence and Financial Matters. Karen is additionally a Family Mediator trained by and a member of the Family Mediators Association (The FMA) an association with over 20 years experience of Family Mediation.