Motor Accidents

Motor Accidents

Following a road traffic accident the Gardaí should be notified immediately and where a person has suffered serious injuries an ambulance should be called. If the Gardaí do not attend at the scene you should go to the nearest Garda Station and report the accident and furnish them with full details of the accident. They will then record the details of the accident on their system. Where a claim is made against a driver the insurance company involved will often write to the Garda Station seeking confirmation that they either attended at the scene of the accident or that the accident was reported to them by one of the drivers involved and the details of the accident were recorded. At the scene If the Gardaí do not attend at the scene take down the registration number of the other vehicle involved, together with insurance details which are available on the insurance disc displayed on the windscreen of the vehicle. Each driver should exchange insurance details. Take down the full name and address of the other driver and the full name and address of the owner of the vehicle if it is owned by a different person. It is essential that liability is not admitted at the scene of the accident even where one party appears to be clearly at fault.  The shock of an accident may impair a party’s ability to properly appreciate the circumstances of the accident.  Each driver should notify their insurance company as soon as possible following the accident. It is important that you obtain and exchange all necessary details before you leave the scene of the accident as it will save a lot of work at a later stage. Damage to your vehicle When there is damage to your vehicle the insurance company after being notified of the accident will send out an assessor. The assessor will need to inspect the vehicle before it is repaired. They will then prepare a report outlining the damage done to the vehicle in the accident, together with an estimate of the cost of the repairs to be carried out, if the vehicle can be put back on the road. If the vehicle is not in a position to be repaired the assessor will provide in his report that the vehicle is to be written off and will state the salvage value of the vehicle. When the vehicle is being repaired any costs incurred in respect of supplemental vehicle hire will form part of the claim against the insurance company. Once the value of the works has been agreed between the insurance company and the party whose vehicle was damaged compensation is normally paid out in a matter of weeks provided that there is no dispute in relation to liability. If there is a dispute the matter may need to be referred to the courts for liability to be determined. An Uninsured Driver If the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident is uninsured then the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) will be involved in investigating the claim. They will contact the registered owner of the vehicle, therefore it is necessary to have the correct registration number of the other vehicle involved. The claim if successful will then be paid from a central fund which is managed...

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Contracts of Employment

Contracts of Employment

The Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994 states that each employee must be furnished with a written statement of the terms of their employment within two months of commencing work. This may be done by a letter of appointment sent by the employer to the employee or by a Contract of Employment. This document forms the basis of the legal relationship between the employer and employee. Types of Contract There are a number of different types of contract. An open ended contract may continue in existence until either the employer or employee terminates the relationship. A contract for a fixed term will end on a specified date while a contract for a specified purpose will cease when the specific task has been completed by the employee. What Details May an Employment Contract Include The full name of the employer and the employee The address of the employer The place of work The job title or nature of work to be carried out by the employee The date of commencement of employment Hours of work If the contract is temporary or for a fixed term or purpose, the expected duration of the contract Details of rest periods and breaks as required by law The rate of pay together with details of pay intervals Details of holiday leave Details of sick pay (if any) and details of pension scheme Period of notice to be given by employer or employee should either party wish to terminate the contract An employer may make available to an employee a handbook which includes details of many of the above requirements or may refer an employee to other documentation e.g. a pension scheme booklet or collective agreement booklet, where a Trade Union is in existence. Disciplinary & Grievance Procedure It is advisable to set out a Disciplinary Procedure and Grievance Procedure in the Contract of Employment or refer to same in an employee handbook. Employers must have written procedures in place to deal with complaints by employees and also to deal with disciplinary action. Details of the procedures in place should be furnished to employees at the commencement of their employment. Probationary Period The contract of employment may allow for a probationary period and can allow for this period to be extended in certain circumstances. The law states however that the probationary period cannot exceed one year. Changes to the Contract Changes to the contract of employment can occur due to changes in the law but otherwise changes must be agreed between you and the employer. Failure to receive a Written Terms of Employment If an employee does not receive written details of the terms of their employment after requesting same from their employer, either by way of letter of appointment or contract of employment a complaint may be lodged by the employee with the Rights Commissioner. The complaint must be made either while the employee is in employment or within six months of leaving their place of employment. If you have any concerns about the contents of a letter containing Terms of Employment or about the contents of a Contract of Employment you should obtain legal advice in advance of signing same. This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before...

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Buying a home

Buying a home

Buying a house is one of the most important purchases you will make during your lifetime. Therefore it is important that you are properly advised and kept fully informed at each stage of the process. Going “Sale Agreed” Once you have found the home of your dreams and negotiated the right price for you the next stage is to pay the booking deposit in order to secure the property from being sold to someone else while the legal work is underway. This is paid directly to the Auctioneer and is anything up to 5% of the purchase price. This deposit is fully refundable up to the point that you sign the contracts. On paying the booking deposit the Auctioneer will send out a letter called an “Advice Note” to both the vendor’s and purchaser’s solicitors. The Advice Note sets out the main details of the transaction and includes the vendor’s and purchaser’s full name, the address of the property which is the subject of the transaction, the sale price which has been agreed and the vendor’s and purchaser’s solicitors contact details. If contents are included in the sale the Advice Note should set out the list of contents to be included in the sale and their value. The property at this point is deemed to be “Sale Agreed”. Structural Survey for Second-hand Property A structural survey is not normally necessary for newly built properties as they usually come with a Home Bond warranty or Premier Guarantee. If however you are purchasing a second hand property it is strongly advisable that you arrange for a qualified engineer or architect to conduct a survey of the property to ensure that the property is structurally sound and also to confirm that the boundaries of the property correspond with the map of the property. The person undertaking the survey should also check whether there have been any extensions or alterations carried out to the property. This is a matter which can often cause grave difficulty in a transaction. If any structural change has been carried out to the property no matter how minor it will at the very least require an Architect’s certificate stating that it is exempt from planning permission and is in compliance with building regulations. This certificate should be retained with the title deeds for all future transactions. Obtaining Finance If you are obtaining a mortgage it is important that as soon as you have paid a booking deposit, you immediately secure finance for the transaction by contacting a mortgage broker or your bank. There are a number of brokers working in the area who are in a position to negotiate with a number of banks on your behalf. Alternatively if you have a good relationship with your bank they may be in a position to offer you loan approval. This stage of the process can be very time consuming and should be commenced as soon as possible. Once your loan approval is secured give the mortgage broker or bank your solicitor’s contact details. The bank will then arrange to issue the loan pack to them. This loan pack will include all the documents you need to sign to obtain a mortgage on the property you are purchasing. The bank will also forward a copy of the loan offer to...

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Small Claims procedure for people claiming in their personal capacity

 Many people find the prospect of court and the costs and delays to be incurred daunting.  To ensure that small claims are not written off by people for those reasons an alternative method of commencing and dealing with a small claim has developed and it is governed by the Rules of the District Court. A person who has a complaint with regard to an item or service which they have purchased for their own use from a business may take a claim. The party who brings the claim is called the Claimant and the party against whom the claim is made is called the Respondent. The procedure is designed to provide a means of bringing claims in an inexpensive way without recourse to the courts. What is a Small Claim? For a claim to be dealt with under the Small Claims Procedure the value of the claim must not exceed €2,000. Matters which can be dealt with under this procedure include; A claim for goods or services purchased with which the consumer is dissatisfied Claim for minor damage to property Non-return of a rent deposit for certain types of rented properties Processing A Claim The District Court Clerk in the District Court Office is called the Small Claims Registrar and it is they who are responsible for processing claims. To bring a claim you should lodge a completed application form together with the €15 fee with the Registrar. The Registrar will then forward a copy of the completed application form to the other party, the Respondent who will have 15 days within which to reply. On receiving notification of the claim they have the following options. They may; Admit the claim and pay the amount due to you immediately (through the Registrar) Make payment conditional (for example, on you returning some faulty goods) Seek to pay the claimed amount in installments Dispute the claim or counterclaim (if they believe you have caused damage to the item or your actions have contributed to it not working properly) Ignore the claim If the claim is undisputed by the other side, the District Court will then make an order in your favour (without you having to attend court) for the amount claimed, and direct that the amount be paid within a specific period of time. If the claim is disputed the Registrar shall use their best endeavours to settle the dispute between you and the other party and may interview you both. Where a settlement is agreed, particulars of the settlement shall be recorded in writing. If no settlement can be reached a court date is assigned for the matter to be heard. If however, the claim is ignored and no reply is received from the Respondent by the Registrar within 15 calendar days then the other party are deemed to have admitted the claim and Judgement is granted in your favour. Going to Court Where the Small Claims Registrar is unable to effect a settlement of the dispute between the parties, they shall refer the matter to the District Court for hearing. If your case has been given a court date it is advisable to get legal advice in advance of the court hearing. Both sides must attend the court hearing. On the court day remember to bring with you documentary...

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Letting Agreements

Due to the current economic climate more and more people are opting to rent rather than taking the plunge and purchasing a home. Therefore it is important that a properly drafted Letting Agreement is in place at the commencement of the tenancy. In the event of dispute between the Landlord and Tenant reference to the Letting Agreement will be the first port of call.   What should the Letting Agreement include? The Letting Agreement should clearly set out all the details which have been agreed between the Landlord and Tenant before the commencement of the lease. The items which often give rise to dispute include the return of the deposit and the condition of the premises and contents. Also if there are any specific terms which have been agreed between the Landlord and Tenant these should be incorporated in the Letting Agreement. The Letting Agreement should be in a format which is up to date to take into account recent changes to the law in this area.   Deposits It is usual that one month’s rent be paid in advance as a deposit. The Tenant is not entitled to withhold the last months rent in the expectation that the deposit will fulfil their obligations. At the end of the Tenancy provided that there are no deductions to be made by the Landlord for any breakages or excessive “wear and tear” then the deposit must be paid back to the Tenant.   Contents A detailed inventory should be drawn up in advance of the Letting Agreement being signed and this should be agreed on between the parties. This will assist in avoiding or minimising disputes between the parties when the Tenant moves out of the property.   Obligation to Register the Tenancy By law the Landlord must register the tenancy with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (“PRTB”). The tenancy must be registered by the Landlord within 30 days of the Letting Agreement being signed and the fee to register the tenancy is currently €70.00. If the tenancy is not registered within the 30 days then there is an additional penalty for late registration. In the event of a dispute arising between the Landlord and Tenant, which can not be dealt with by reference to the Letting Agreement, it is the PRTB who will be contacted and they will decide the outcome after consulting with both the Landlord and the Tenant.   Term of Tenancy Once a Tenant is in occupation of a residential property for six months they are automatically entitled to a longer term tenancy of an additional period of 3 years and 6 months. This would mean that a Tenant could remain in occupation of a property for up to 4 years. However under the legislation there are certain circumstances when a Landlord can terminate a tenancy.   The above represents an outline of the law and practice relating to Letting Agreements. It does not constitute legal, personal or commercial advice. For further information on the subject, please contact the author, Joyce A. Good Hammond, at...

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