Blog – Severn Valley Business Group

Firework Display & Safety
Firework displays should be enjoyable and spectacular occasions – but they obviously need some responsible planning. The good news is that there is straightforward guidance to help you.
If you are organising a major public event, you will clearly need a robust and detailed approach to planning as well as professional involvement. If you are holding a local firework display, such as those organised by many sports clubs, schools or parish councils, you still need to plan responsibly, but the same level of detail is not necessary or expected. Below are some tips and guidance to help you.

Before the event:
• Think about who will operate the display. There is no reason why you should not light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3. but remember, category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal.
• Consider whether the site is suitable and large enough for your display, including a bonfire if you are having one. Is there space for the fireworks to land well away from spectators? Remember to check in daylight for overhead power lines and other obstructions. What is the direction of the prevailing wind? What would happen if it changed?
• Think about what you would do if things go wrong. Make sure there is someone who will be responsible for calling the emergency services
• Make sure you obtain the fireworks from a reputable supplier.
• If the display is to be provided by a professional firework display operator make sure that you are clear on who does what especially in the event of an emergency
• Ensure you have a suitable place to store the fireworks. Your firework supplier or local authority should be able to advise
• If you plan on selling alcohol the bar should be well away from the display site
On the day of the event:
• Recheck the site, weather conditions and wind direction
• Don’t let anyone into the zone where the fireworks will fall – or let anyone other than the display operator or firing team into the firing zone or the safety zone around it
• Discourage spectators from bringing drink onto the site
• Don’t let spectators bring their own fireworks onto the site
• If you will also have a bonfire at the display then you should:
o Check the structure is sound and does not have small children or animals inside it before lighting it
o Not use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
o Have only one person responsible for lighting the fire. That person, and any helpers, should wear suitable clothing e.g. a substantial outer garment made of wool or other low-flammable material.
o Make sure that the person lighting the fire and any helpers know what to do in the event of a burn injury or clothing catching fire
• Never attempt to relight fireworks. Keep well clear of fireworks that have failed to go off

The morning after:
• Carefully check and clear the site. Dispose of fireworks safely. They should never be burnt in a confined space (eg a boiler)
Additional points to consider if you are organising a major public display
For major displays, particularly those involving category 4 ‘professional’ fireworks or very large number of spectators, a more robust approach is obviously needed.
• Plan and mark out the areas for spectators, firing fireworks (and a safety zone around it) as well as an area where the fireworks will fall
• Think about how people will get into and out of the site. Keep pedestrian and vehicle routes apart if possible. Mark exit routes clearly and ensure they are well lit. Ensure emergency vehicles can get access to the site
• Appoint enough stewards/marshals. Make sure they understand what they are to do on the night and what they should do in the event of an emergency
• Contact the emergency services and local authority. If your site is near an airport you may need to contact them
• Signpost the first aid facilities

Although it is not required by health and safety law, if you are holding a public firework display, it’s a good idea to have public liability insurance. Bear in mind that not all companies are used to dealing with this type of event, and as with any other type of insurance, it’s worth shopping around: look for a company that’s used to insuring firework and other public events – you are likely to get much better deal and avoid unsuitable terms and conditions. If you have difficulty with the standard insurance terms, TALK to your insurer and find a way forward; they can be very helpful.


Onions & Davies are offering 10% off conveyancing services for members of the armed forces…

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Onions & Davies are offering 10% off conveyancing services for members of the armed forces buying under the Forces Help To Buy Scheme before the end of the year

The Forces Help to Buy Scheme is coming to an end in December 2018.

FHTB is the government’s home loan scheme, which was designed to assist military personnel to get on the property ladder.

It is a loan of up to £25,000 (a maximum of 50% of the member’s salary), which is usually taken out in addition to a mortgage, to facilitate the purchase of UK residential property only.

Further details of the scheme can be found at

Onions & Davies Solicitors are signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, @APPGCovenant, and, as part of our pledge, we offer a discount of 10% off our private client, family and mediation services to members of the armed forces, their families and veterans.

Currently, our pledge does not extend to our property services, which makes our current offer very special. It applies to members of the armed forces only (as clients will have to be serving military personnel to qualify for the FHTB scheme), until the end of December 2018 only.

Call our offices on 01630 652405 to speak with our property department and quote code AFC1 for the discount.



We are participating in ‘Free Wills Month’ this October at Onions & Davies

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We are delighted to be involved this year in the ‘Free Wills Month’ campaign, designed to encourage Will-making for those people who don’t have a Will or need to update their Will.

With over 20 charities participating in the campaign, it will hopefully encourage people to think about leaving gifts to charity from their estate.

‘Free Wills Month’ is exactly what it says on the tin: we are offering a free single standard Will or a free double standard Will, to those individuals or couples aged 55 or over who come along in October 2018 for an appointment.

Our usual charges are £120 plus VAT for a single standard Will and £195 plus VAT for double standard Wills. The same service will apply, but free of charge!

The campaign applies to standard Wills only but, if you wish to discuss or include more complex matters in your affairs, such as trusts or inheritance tax or care fees planning, we can accommodate this and will simply charge you the difference, so that you still benefit from the scheme.

There are limited places! The campaign starts on the 1st October and ends on the 31st October 2018.

If you are interested in making a new or replacement Will under the scheme, we open our booking for appointments from Monday 1st October to those clients who call quoting FWS1. Please telephone Sarah McDermott, our Private Client Assistant, on 01630 652405 for more details or to make an appointment.


End the Blame Game… an Update!

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We are hopeful, here at Onions & Davies Ltd, that long-awaited divorce reform is afoot as news is released that there is to be a public consultation on introducing ‘no-fault’ divorce.

As explained in our blog earlier this year, ‘End the Blame Game’ in order to obtain a divorce in England and Wales at present, an applicant  must demonstrate to the Family court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and she/he does that by relying on 1 of 5 facts: adulterydesertion2 years’ separation with consent5 years’ separation or so-called unreasonable behaviour.

Our Louise Martin, Head of Family, family mediator, and member of Resolution: First for Family Law, says of the news

“it is about time that we are able to rely on divorce law which assists family practitioners to take the heat out of what is very often an emotionally-fuelled process, and lay the focus on achieving for our clients a workable, fair and child-focused resolution”.

Tini Owens’ case demonstrates in all its glory the absurdity of not being able to access a remedy under our legal system in 2018 because, under current divorce law, she has been unable to convince the Court of her husband’s unreasonable behaviour.

At the time we published our blog ‘End the Blame Game’ back in June, Mrs Owens was awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court which has now been delivered. She was unsuccessful as the Supreme Court unanimously rejected her appeal, and she is now forced to remain married to her estranged husband until she qualifies to divorce him based on 5 years’ separation in 2020. It was the plight of Mrs Owens which has highlighted the need for reform, with Supreme Court President Lady Hale commenting herself on the issue, but noting that legislation is what is needed to effect change.

Resolution continue to campaign for no-fault divorce under the hashtag #abetterway and the country will be hard pressed to find a family practitioner today who would not be pleased to see it in practice!

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Must You Have A Solicitor To Help You Administer An Estate?

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The short answer is no, but you might want to.

There is no legal requirement for a Solicitor to be involved in the administration of an estate, unless they have been appointed as an Executor under the terms of the Will because that is the choice of the person who made the Will. However, there is more to administering an estate than most people think – here are some of the things people do not normally think of:

• There are different procedures depending on whether or not there is a Will.
• Do you know for certain that you have the latest Will?
• Do you know who and where all the beneficiaries are, particularly if there is no Will?
• Have you met all the requirements of HM Revenue & Customs in relation to Inheritance Tax, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax?
• You have to keep estate accounts and provide a copy to all the main beneficiaries, and the Court if it asks for them.
• You have to pay all liabilities and all legacies before you distribute the estate to the main beneficiaries.
• In certain circumstances, you may have to pay interest to some of the beneficiaries.
• The estate may need to be registered on HM Revenue & Customs’ trusts and complex estates register.
• You can be sued by the beneficiaries if you interpret the provisions of the Will wrongly.
• Have any trusts been set up by the Will?
• Do you know the difference between assets that pass by survivorship (such as a property held as joint tenants) and assets that pass purely under the terms of the Will?
• Are there any nominated assets or assets written in trust that you need to take into account?
• Has the deceased been in care, because if they have, there may be retrospective care fees funding claims to be made.
• Was the deceased in receipt of means-tested state benefits? If so, the Recovery from Estates Department of the Department for Work and Pensions will investigate the estate to see if there were any underpaid or overpaid benefits.
• Do you know what expenses you can claim?
• Would you know what to do if there were minor or disabled beneficiaries?
• Would you know how to deal with “appropriation”, “transfers in specie” or “hotch-pot”?
• Are you certain that the estate is safe from a claim against it?
• Do you know what Probate means?

A lot of administering an estate is just the sheer volume of paperwork involved rather than any particularly technical legal issues and, of course, not all of the things listed above crop up in every estate, but there are a good many that do and it can be easy to miss something. There was a recent case where an Executor, who paid out the estate to a beneficiary, assuming that they would pay the inheritance tax due, was sued by HM Revenue & Customs because the beneficiary did not pay the tax and an Executor is personally liable for any unpaid liability of an estate.

But what about the cost?

It is understandable that you would want to save the estate the expense of legal fees but, actually, for the work that is involved and the peace of mind that you have that the burden of responsibility has been taken off your shoulders (we can be sued and have to carry professional indemnity insurance to cover any loss if we get something wrong) makes the cost worthwhile. We have heard a number of stories recently of organisations (quite often estate administration companies recommended by banks or Will-writing companies) who have told prospective clients that solicitors charge tens of thousands of pounds to administer estates, but here, at Onions & Davies, the vast majority of the estates that we deal with cost no more than the amount of the funeral bill to administer and sometimes a lot less.

We will always provide an initial, free of charge, no obligation meeting with Executors, to let them know what is involved and the likely cost and we will always try to find ways in which the workload can be shared between you and us, to save costs.

For further information about the estate administration services that we can offer, please contact Chris Milne on 01630 652405 or by email


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