The Wilkes Partnership Merges With Coley & Tilley

Friday, February 1st, 2019

The Wilkes Partnership and Coley & Tilley, have announced a merger creating a 185 person strong firm with a turnover of £12 million a year.

This expansion will significantly enhance our offering for corporate clients and expand our expertise in a range of areas including, commercial property, dispute resolution, corporate & commercial, employment, family, residential conveyancing and probate law. The personal injury team will stay under the Coley & Tilley brand as a recognised market leader in the Midlands.

Nigel Wood, Senior Partner at The Wilkes Partnership, says: “This merger continues the long term growth plans that we have for the firm and by joining with Coley & Tilley we have added considerable legal experience in a range of practice areas. We want to provide the best quality legal services to clients and through this merger we are doing that.

We set out with an ambition to continue growing and delivering expertise that is recognised both regionally and nationally. This merger is a huge step in the right direction of realising those ambitions.”

In 2013, The Wilkes Partnership merged with Solihull-based Williamson & Soden, and continued its growth with several promotions in 2018, as well as expanding its senior team by appointing a HR & Compliance Director, Head of Contentious Probate and two new Managing Partners.

James Leo, Managing Partner at Coley & Tilley, added:  “Through discussions with Nigel and other board members at Wilkes we quickly realised that bringing the two firms together would both complement and enhance our offering to clients. We have similar ambitions to deliver quality work that is industry leading and we have taken care that our clients will see a seamless transition to the new firm with their original points of contact.

“This is the start of a new chapter for both Wilkes and Coley & Tilley and one that provides fresh opportunities to expand and grow together.”

For more information please contact [email protected]

Sorting out Christmas contact with your children

Friday, October 12th, 2018

You know that Christmas is coming when rumours of the John Lewis annual Christmas televised advert start gathering pace and you suddenly find yourself counting down the weeks left.

For those parents who are recently separated from the other parent, it can also mean that they may not have got round to even considering Christmas contact. So, if you are a recently separated parent, why is it important to start discussing contact arrangements sooner rather than later? Unfortunately, due to emotions running high, not all parents can agree on contact arrangements following a separation especially if the split was not amicable.

Solicitors will often advise clients to attend mediation to try and reach an amicable and practical agreement however, even arranging mediation can take a couple of weeks. Solicitors will often go back and forth trying to reach an agreement, sometimes even before clients attend mediation.

If mediation fails and negotiations between respective solicitors also fail, then an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order may become necessary. This should always be a last resort.

The courts can take a few weeks to process applications and unfortunately, not all cases are resolved at the first hearing which means a parent can miss out on quality contact with their child over Christmas.

A helpful tool, that can be accessed and utilised for free, is the Parenting Plan which is available from the CAFCASS website.

The Parenting Plan is a written or online agreement between parents which helps to record how you will share the care of your child. It can be easily changed and is not a legally binding agreement. This does however mean that a parent is free to change their mind, which can often occur if the parties argue. It is not uncommon for parents to use parental alienation to stop contact if they feel they are not getting their way.

It is the children that suffer the most in such circumstances and CAFCASS are in the process of developing a practice framework to help their practitioners to assess cases which feature adult behaviours associated with high conflict.

It is hoped that a finalised version will be made available on their website from autumn 2018 and rolled out between then and March 2019. It is hoped that the framework will enhance existing practice tools, as well as introducing new resources. If a parent is unwilling to enter into a Parenting Plan and/or they are not responding to requests to resolve contact issues, than specialist legal advice should be sought immediately if not done so already. Delay can be against the children’s best interests and the children’s welfare is paramount.

A family solicitor will use their expertise and knowledge to look at the key issues and will draft the necessary correspondence / applications to court to ensure that their client has put their case forward in a coherent manner, setting out exactly what contact is sought and what orders are sought. Emotion is often left out of such correspondence, so that only the necessary legal arguments are highlighted.

If you wish to discuss your case and find out how Coley & Tilley can help you in arranging contact, please contact Sandeep Sandhu (Associate Solicitor) on 0121 643 5531 or via email at [email protected] We offer a free initial appointment at our Birmingham city centre office.

More information about the services that we offer can be found on our website at www.coleyandtilley.co.uk.

Please note that the above is not intended as legal advice. Specialist legal advice is recommended in relation to your own case.

Taking a child on holiday  – is consent needed?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

As we rapidly approach the summer school holidays, family lawyers are often faced with the question of whether one parent needs to seek permission from the other parent when taking a child on holiday.

The first question I ask is whether the other parent has parental responsibility for the child. If so, then consent is necessary.

Fathers will only have parental responsibility if they were married to the child’s mother or listed on the birth certificate as the father (from December 2013); or if they have a court order that has granted them parental responsibility.

Mothers are automatically granted parental responsibility.

When a Child Arrangements Order is in force (or a Residence Order) that states that the child lives with you, then you are in the fortunate position of being able to take the child on holiday for up to 28 days without the other parent’s consent.

What happens if you don’t obtain consent?

If you have not obtained permission from the other parent and you are legally obliged to do so, then the criminal offence of child abduction may have been committed, if the child is taken out of the country. Anyone found guilty of such an offence can be fined, imprisoned or both.

What if consent is not provided? Can you still go on holiday?

Why was consent withheld? If it is withheld without a good reason and you believe it is in the child’s best interests to go on holiday, an application can be made to court for a specific issue order.

How quickly can the court deal with this?

An application for a Specific Issue Order can be applied for on an emergency basis if travel plans have already been made. The court will want to speak to both parties before an order is made. If it is not urgent, then the court can take a few weeks to list the matter for a hearing and it is therefore advisable to get an application into court as soon as it becomes evident that the other party will not change their mind.

If you are the parent who is refusing permission because you believe it is in the child’s best interests not to go on holiday, or if you feel the child is unlikely to return, then you can apply to the court for a prohibited steps order which, if granted, will prevent the removal of the child from the court’s jurisdiction.

Tips to try to obtain permission

  • Provide details of the holiday to the other parent as soon as possible, such as return flight details and address when on holiday.
  • Try to arrange additional contact to replace any contact that will be missed whilst the child is on holiday
  • Can telephone/video contact take place whilst the child is on holiday?
  • Provide contact details in case of an emergency
  • The other party is more likely to consent if you agree to them also taking the child away on holiday

If you wish to discuss your case and how Coley & Tilley can help you in obtaining consent for you to take your child on holiday, please contact Sandeep Sandhu (Associate Solicitor) on 0121 643 5531 or via email at [email protected]. We offer a free initial appointment at our city centre office.

More information about the services that we offer can be found on our website at www.coleyandtilley.co.uk.

Please note that the above is not intended as legal advice. Specialist legal advice is recommended in relation to your own case.



Spousal Maintenance – Court Continues Its Assault On Joint Lives Maintenance Orders.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

A few weeks ago, the Court of Appeal ruled that Mrs Waggott’s maintenance payments shall end after three years thus ending her entitlement to maintenance on a joint lives basis. Lord justice Moylan stated that “this case raises issues about the application of, and the relationship between, the principles of need, sharing and compensation”. Dubbed as “the meal ticket for life” case, it’s impact could be severe on those seeking long term spousal maintenance.


Mr and Mrs Waggott were both accountants when they met. The parties started living together in 1991, married in 2000 and separated in 2012. They had one child together who was born in 2004. In 2001 (due to the husband changing employment and the parties having to relocate to live near London) the wife left her employment as an accountant. Other than a short period in 2002/2003, the wife had not worked in paid employment again. At the time of divorcing, overall assets amounted to £16.2 million, Mr Waggott’s net income for the tax year 2013/2014 had been just under £3 million.

A final hearing took place in 2014, however due to various points being raised by the parties, further hearings took place. In 2016, the judge awarded Mrs Waggott a capital sum of £9.76 million which included a percentage of the husband’s deferred remuneration. The Judge ascribed a net income of £60,000 to the wife’s “free capital” and awarded her spousal maintenance for life of £115000 in order to meet her annual income needs of £175,000.

Mrs Waggott, unhappy with the award, appealed the decision requesting a further £23,000 a year in annual maintenance payments and an ongoing share of the husband’s deferred bonuses. Mr Waggott cross appealed, seeking to restrict the maintenance period to a period of five years for when the original award had been made.

The Legal Issues

Lord Justice Moylan identified three issues that he had considered alongside the circumstances of the case when reaching his judgement.

1. Is an earning capacity capable of being a matrimonial asset to which the sharing principle applies?

LJ Moylan very clearly said no as he believed that any extension of the sharing principle to post separation earnings would fundamentally undermine the court’s ability to effect a clean break.

2. How should the court assess whether an award determined by application of the sharing principle meets the parties needs? To what extent is it fair for the wife to be required to use her sharing award to meet her income needs when the husband will meet his needs from earned income?

The Court of Appeal rejected Mrs Waggott’s argument that her capital should be preserved and should not be used to meet her income needs ie.to give her an assured income of £60,000. As to whether it was fair to do so, depends upon the circumstances of each case. In this case, LJ Moylan believed that Mrs Waggott would be able “to adjust without undue hardship” to the termination of maintenance.

3. Compensation – Does it apply?

LJ Moylan’s view was that “compensation is for the disadvantages sustained by the party who has given up a career. The court would have to determine on a balance of probabilities that the applicant’s career would have resulted in them having resources that are greater than those which they will be awarded by application of either the need principle or the sharing principle. Further, the court must separately determine whether, and if so, how, this factor should be reflected in the award so as to ensure that it is fair to both parties”.


The Court of Appeal dismissed Mrs Waggott’s appeal. Furthermore, the court allowed Mr Waggott’s appeal and imposed a term order ending Mrs Waggott’s maintenance payments on 1 March 2021.

What does this mean?

1. Earning capacity should not be shared equally.

2. Joint lives order replaced with a fixed term.

3. Mrs Waggott’s claim for a share of Mr Waggott’s deferred bonuses was denied.

The message therefore is clear to those seeking long-term maintenance payments that the Courts are adopting a very strict approach to such claims. It is therefore vital for any person seeking long-term spousal maintenance to obtain specialist legal advice when considering the impact of divorce upon their financial situation.

If you wish to discuss your case and how Coley & Tilley can help you reach a financial settlement that works for you, please contact Sandeep Sandhu (Associate) on 0121 643 5531 or via email on [email protected]  We offer a free initial appointment at our city centre office. More information about the services that we offer can be found on our website: http://temp.coleyandtilley.co.uk/

*Disclaimer: Please note that the above is not intended as legal advice. Specialist legal advice is recommended in relation to your own case.

Claim Your Lasting Power of Attorney Refund Now

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

The government has just announced a refund scheme for Lasting Powers of Attorney where the application for registration was made between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017. If you are either the person who made the Lasting Power of Attorney or the attorney appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney where the application was made between these dates, you can apply for a refund online or by phone.

The refund scheme follows cost savings by the Office of the Public Guardian which have not been passed on to consumers.

This scheme applies to both Lasting Powers of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs and Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health and Welfare. The refund amount per Lasting Power of Attorney is as follows:

When You Applied to Register Refund for each Power of Attorney
April to September 2013 £54
October 2013 to March 2014 £34
April 2014 to March 2015 £37
April 2015 to March 2016 £38
April 2016 to March 2017 £45


To apply online or by phone should only take a few minutes, but you will need the account number and sort code of the person who made Lasting Power of Attorney. For more information, or to claim your refund, please visit https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund.

If you are unsure about when the application to register your Lasting Power of Attorney was made, and Coley & Tilley made the application on your behalf, then please contact us at [email protected], and we will be happy to confirm the date of the application for registration.

Digital Inheritance – Protecting your online assets and memories

Monday, November 7th, 2016

We are living more and more of our life online. Many people have internet banking, access investments over the internet and keep in touch with family and friends over Facebook or other social media channels. What we do with our digital life after our death is therefore becoming increasingly important.

From a practical point of view, the people that deal with your estate upon your death (known as your personal representatives) may not be aware of the existence of online bank accounts as there will be no traditional paper trail. They may be denied access when trying to deal with these accounts online. It could also mean that important sentimental materials, such as photographs on social media, are unfortunately never recovered.

Your online presence needs be planned for as you would your physical possessions, yet very few people have put any plans in place. Instead this is often left to personal representatives to hopefully stumble across the various accounts.

The concept of a digital legacy is relatively new, so legal procedures are not yet in place to set out how matters are dealt with on your death. It is therefore the individual websites who set out what their users are able to do. For example, recently in the UK, Facebook has launched a “Legacy Contact” feature.  This enables users to designate a person who will receive limited posthumous access to their account.  The Legacy Contact is notified at the time of nomination or by Facebook when they become aware of the death.

It is a good idea to prepare a list of online accounts which can be stored safely alongside your Will and be updated as and when necessary, without the need for your Will to be amended.

It is advisable to discuss with family and friends how you wish for your digital assets to be managed on your death and leave clear details of how you would like these to be dealt with either in your Will or a letter of wishes. Do not assume family members know where to look online. You will need to give consideration to not only those assets with a monetary value but those with a sentimental value such as all those photographs which may only be stored online rather than in a traditional album.

For now, keeping an up to date list of your online accounts would appear to be a sensible step in order to make the job of your personal representatives as simple as possible. For security purposes we would suggest storing such information safely with your Will in the secure storage facility of your solicitors.

It is clear that a fuller legal structure is required to deal with this ever growing area and hopefully this will be addressed by the Government in due course.

Lindsey Bohanna – Solicitor and Head of Probate, Wills and Trusts at Coley & Tilley Solicitors.

Lindsey is a full accredited member of SFE and STEP. She prides herself on her friendly, yet professional approach which puts clients at ease.

Coley & Tilley are a dedicated Birmingham Law Firm. Businesses and individuals looking for friendly, expert and highly experienced legal advisers choose us


Friday, July 1st, 2016

Aurelia & Evan - Coley & Tilley Solicitors Birmingham (2)On the way into work on Wednesday it was raining. It was cold as well, considering it was June. As usual I had a busy day ahead; lots to do in so little time. Just the usual trivial worries that we have on a day to day basis.

Then I received some shocking news. One of our colleagues, Solicitor, Katy Dawson, has aggressive breast cancer and she is only 36 years of age. Suddenly my worries disappeared into oblivion.

Katy was on maternity leave having recently given birth to her son Evan. Her 4 year old daughter, Aurelia, is now a big sister and her husband Paul, a Daddy again. Just before Katy gave birth she found a lump on her breast which was diagnosed as aggressive breast cancer.

Katy’s world was turned upside down. She had to have surgery whilst still carrying Evan. Fortunately this went well. After Evan was born Katy started chemotherapy, but her future prognosis is uncertain.

Katy is a fighter, after all she is a litigator in our Employment and Litigation Department. Katy won’t give up for the sake of her children.

The type of cancer Katy has is classed as triple negative. She is still undergoing chemotherapy treatment and may have to have further surgery and radiotherapy.

The statistics aren’t great and even if she survives, the cancer can reoccur.Katy with Aurelia - Coley & Tilley Solicitors Birmingham (1)

Apparently there is a cutting edge and innovative treatment available, but this is in Germany and expensive. It can cost around £50,000. Other patients have had amazing results.

For the sake of the children, Katy is now frantically fundraising to try to reach the £50,000 target so she can have the treatment in Germany. Katy has just opened up a ‘gofundme’ page and donations are steadily flowing in.

Coley & Tilley Solicitors is a firm who support staff, but even more so in times of crisis. As well as making our own personal donations, all the Partners and staff have joined together as a team and now launch their own challenge called “Let’s get Katy to Germany…and back!” We ask that those who sponsor us to donate via Katy’s https://www.gofundme.com/2av467jr page.

If Katy does get the opportunity to go to Germany for the treatment she will have to travel a total of 671 miles. To get home again a further 671 miles, making a total distance of 1,342 miles. All of us at Coley & Tilley will as a combined team cover the same distance (in our day to day lives) over a 3 week period starting today and finishing on 22 July 2016. We will either walk, run, swim, cycle and for those here who struggle with sporting activities, they will still undertake a similar task but on a computer software program. One way or another we hope to cover the same distance that Katy will have to travel and get sponsored for our efforts. We will measure our steps with our step-counters or other devices and convert them to miles. We will have a map which will track the progress of our journey to Germany and back home again.Katy with Evan - Coley & Tilley Solicitors Birmingham

Most children break up for the summer holidays on 22 July 2016 which is the date our challenge will end. Most of us will enjoy summer holidays with our children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces etc. Let’s do this so Katy enjoys future summer holidays with her adorable children.

We will update you with our progress of our challenge and our fundraising on social media. Please share our posts so that we can achieve maximum publicity.

If you have not already done so please “Like” our Coley & Tilley Solicitors Facebook Page or “Follow” us on Twitter.

We are also on Linked if you want to connect.


The sun is shining today and the future looks a whole lot brighter!

Thank you in advance for your kind donations.

Katy & Paul - Coley & Tilley Solicitors Birmingham

Lifetime Giving – Wealth Management

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

With the Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently releasing his tax records and confirming lifetime gifts made to him by his mother, the question of Inheritance Tax has again stepped into the media spotlight.

It has emerged that following the death of his father in 2010, Mr Cameron was left £300,000 from his father’s estate. His mother then transferred two payments to David of £100,000 in May and July of 2011.  If his mother survives until July 2018 both gifts will be outside of her estate for Inheritance Tax purposes potentially saving her estate £80,000 in tax.

Outright gifts which are made more than 7 years before death, where no benefit is reserved, such as the gift to Mr Cameron are called potentially exempt transfers. On the expiry of the 7th anniversary from the date of the gift it no longer forms part of their estate.  Taper Relief may also apply after the 3rd anniversary if the gift is chargeable to Inheritance Tax and exceeds the Nil Rate Band which is currently £325,000.

Lifetime giving has always been a useful tool when estate planning for individuals. The timing of any gifts is obviously paramount to ensure that firstly the money is not required by the donor and secondly that they are likely to survive for the 7 years from the date of the gift.  Unfortunately none of us have the benefit of a crystal ball to determine when the gift should be made and only time will tell if the gift to David was a timely one!

For more details regarding lifetime giving and its effect on your estate please contact Lindsey Bohanna at [email protected] or by telephone on 0121 643 5531.

Women’s Aid’s latest contribution to the debate about domestic violence

Friday, March 4th, 2016

There is an ongoing debate about where, and how, complaints about domestic violence should be dealt with. At the moment victims can receive redress in both the civil and criminal courts.

Women’s Aid chief executive Polly Neate has been quoted in a recent article for The Law Society Gazette as suggesting that domestic violence victims are “routinely abused” in the family courts.

Whilst one should be cautious about generalising – most Litigants in Person (LiPs) are well behaved – the rise in the number of LiPs has undoubtedly led to an increase in aggressive behaviour at the door of and inside the courtroom. There is certainly more that the courts can and should do to protect victims of domestic violence from further abuse.

My colleague Jane Barclay and I have been practicing family law, including regular forays to protect victims of domestic violence and defend alleged perpetrators, for in excess of 20 years each. Our experience is that family judges do not tolerate bad behaviour either in or in the environs of their courts.

It must be remembered that there are sometimes good reasons why one might wish to use the family rather than criminal courts, including importantly:

  1. You may not want to criminalise your other half but just stop their behaviour;
  2. You control the decisions made in the proceedings, including whether, when and in what circumstances they are to be dealt with;
  3. Very often the same facts are also relevant in other family proceedings such as what the care arrangements of the children are going to be or the financial consequences of the breakup of the marriage, and the criminal courts cannot help you with those.

If you are facing an immediate threat to your person the police should always be your first port of call.

If, however, they are unable to help or you would rather not involve them then please do contact us and we shall endeavour to help you.

The Family Team at Coley and Tilley have a lot of experience dealing with cases involving allegations of domestic violence and the consequences of relationship breakdown. If you require additional advice on either, Chris Allen-Jones, Head of the Family Department at Coley & Tilley Solicitors, can be contacted through the switchboard on 0121 643 5531 or by email on [email protected]

Proposed Increase in Probate Fees

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

The government has announced proposals for reforming the fees payable for an application for a grant of probate. The increase could see some estates paying as much as £20,000.  The intention is to raise an additional £250 million per year to fund the running of the courts and tribunals.

The proposed fees will remove some estates from paying any fee by increasing the threshold for estates exempt from paying fees from £5,000 to £50,000. Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £300 whereas estates valued at over £2 million will be charged £20,000.

The current probate charges are £215 if made by an individual and £155 for applications made via a solicitor (which itself was significantly increased in April 2014 from £45).

Whilst paying a fee based on the size of the estate may appear to be fairer, the work involved at the probate registry will be the same irrespective of the value of the estate.

There is concern that such a hike would increase the pressure on vulnerable individuals to gift money during their lifetime in an attempt to mitigate the fees. There is also concern how the fees will be paid particularly if the deceased has a valuable property but limited cash assets.

For advice on drafting your will, probate or administration of estates please contact Lindsey Bohanna at [email protected]