LIFE BITE: BBC 2 ‘Mr V Mrs: Call The Mediator’ documentary shines a light on the world of Family Mediation

apple-150579_1280On 17th June 2016,  BBC2 aired the first part of its new documentary series ‘Mr V Mrs: Call The Mediator’, a show which promises its viewers access into the private world of family mediation, where separated couples make attempts to resolve financial and family disputes face to face in order to avoid the stress and expense of going to Court.  

Filmed over the course of a year, the series goes behind the closed doors of family mediation and allows the curious amongst us to see the procedure of mediation, how it works,  and whether couples using the service find it productive and useful in the long run.

Here at Life Law NI, we have been lucky enough to have a number of trained mediators provide us with guest blogs on the subject.  For those who would like to learn more about mediation, feel free to click on the links below to be directed to our blog articles:-

Mediation: A Practical GuideNigel Martin BL

Mediation & Relationship Breakdown:  Making Your Child’s Rights a Priority – Joan Davis, Director of Family Mediation NI

Life Supports:  Family Mediation NI

The Child Brain Injury Trust


Every 30 minutes, a child or young person will acquire a brain injury. 

This could be the result of an accident, an illness such as meningitis or encephalitis, a poisoning, a stroke or a brain tumour.
The Child Brain Injury Trust is the leading voluntary sector organisation providing non-medical services to families affected by childhood acquired brain injury across the UK.
In their guest blog for Life Law NI, Gayle Baird, Stakeholder Communications Coordinator for the organisation, gives us some information on the services the Child Brain Injury Trust can provide.


Undoubtedly, when a child suffers a brain injury, it will have a devastating and life-long impact on them and their whole family.  Bones can mend and scars can heal but a brain injury stays with you for life and impacts on everything you think, feel and do.

At the Child Brain Injury Trust, we offer support to children, young people, their families and professionals and help them come to terms with what has happened and how to deal with the uncertainty that the future may hold for them.

The charity was set up by a group of health professionals in 1991 and we currently have 3 offices across the UK.  Our registered office is located in Oxfordshire with regional offices in Belfast and Edinburgh.

At the Child Brain Injury Trust, we offer a number of services:

We provide Child and Family Support

Our Regional Child and Family Support Co-ordinators provide children, young people and families with the support that they need in order to live their lives to the full, within their local community.

The sort of support that families can expect includes:

  • Practical and emotional support for children, young people and families in hospital and at home
  • A national helpline offering support to children, young people and families across the UK
  • Support for children and young people in education
  • Social opportunities for children, young people and families
  • Training and information for parents and carers
  • Useful leaflets, booklets and other resources
  • Informative website and Facebook page
  • Small grants programme

For further information, or to make a referral, contact the Child Brain Injury Trust Helpline on 0303 303 2248

We have a dedicated National Helpline

There are times when you just need someone to help lighten the load.    Our Child Brain Injury Trust National Helpline Information Project (HIP) provides support for children and young people affected by childhood acquired brain injury as well as their families and any professionals working with these families.

Our helpline can be contacted via telephone on: 0303 303 2248Alternatively, you can email us at

Our Youth Zone

Acquiring a brain injury can be a scary and difficult time, particularly for teenagers. Our Youth Zone offers advice and support for teenagers to help them find answers to their questions as well as providing lots of helpful contacts, facts about the brain, fun games and quizzes.

Our Learning Events and Online Catalogue

We offer a range of opportunities to learn and understand more about childhood acquired brain injury. Many of our learning opportunities are free of charge to parents and education professionals working in the public sector.

Please click on for more information and to see our new learning catalogue.

We place children, young people and families at the heart of our work.  Our priority is getting the right support to children and young people and families at the right time for them.   We work closely with statutory and non-statutory services, and receive a lot of self-referrals from parents and young people who are affected by childhood acquired brain injury.

If you would like some further information on our service, please visit our website HTTP://CHILDBRAININJURYTRUST.ORG.UK/

Our Guide to Planning Permission and Building Control


So,  that dream home you bought years ago no longer feels like much of a dream – in fact, it may be turning into more of a logistical nightmare as your family grows and the house seems to shrink in size!

While many people in a position like this may sell up and ship out, some people may not want to leave their home and area and instead may decide to extensively renovate or extend their home.

Renovation works can be a major undertaking and quite daunting when it comes to the associated paperwork.   Frequently, this paperwork can be overlooked at the time the renovation work is being done  and this can cause issues should you eventually decide to sell your property further down the line.

Here’s our helpful guide to the approvals you may need when doing work to your home.

What is the difference between Planning Permission and Building Control?

For many types of building work, both Planning Permission and Building Control will be required but separate approvals  will need to be sought.  So what is the difference?

Building Control is primarily concerned that the building is constructed and designed in such a way to ensure the health and safety of people who us or are about those buildings.  Building Control deals with areas such as the structure of the building, fire and electrical safety, ventilation, hygiene and drainage as well as access and facilities for those who are disabled.

On the other hand, Planning Permission is all about the way our cities and countryside develops.  Planning looks at how land is used, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, and the impact that the works may have on the environment around them.

For other types of work, such as internal alterations, Building Control approval will probably be needed but planning may not be.   You should always check with your both the Planning Office and Council to see what approvals if any you will need before starting any works.

What approvals will I need when renovating my house?

Depending on the type of alteration you are planning to do, you may require Planning Permission.   Planning Permission can be quite technical with many exemptions and your architect will be able to advise you on what is required.  Once Planning Permission is obtained, you should read it carefully and make sure you comply with all the terms. Often, Planning Permission will be dependent on certain criteria being fulfilled before work can start and the permission will have an expiry date.  Your local Council may also have to approve the works – this is  known as Building Control Approval of Plans.

Once works are underway, your local Council may wish to inspect them throughout construction, and once finished, they will issue a Building Control Completion Certificate to show the works are of a minimum required standard.

I didn’t realise I needed Building Control approval – what do I do?

Often, homeowners may not be aware that a smaller project of work that they are undertaking may require Building Control – for example, a ‘like for like’ boiler replacement, conversion to gas heating or the installation of cavity wall insulation.  This can often result in the work being carried out without the necessary Building Control approvals being in place beforehand.  Should the necessary approval not be obtained at the time the work is being carried out, this can be obtained retrospectively and the approval is then known as a Regularisation Certificate. If remedial works are required to bring the work up to the minimum standard necessary, the Council will not issue the Certificate until these works are done.

What would happen if I didn’t get Planning Permission or Building Control approval?

Without the correct Planning Permission and Building Control being in place, you may encounter difficulties selling your home.  If the purchaser of your home is buying it with the assistance of a mortgage, then their mortgage company will require proof that the correct planning permission and building control consents are in place.   It is worth obtaining all of the proper consents at the time the works are carried out and keeping all of documentation safely until you sell.

RFlinnRuth Flinn is a Solicitor in the Property Law Department of Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors. She is experienced in all areas of residential conveyancing. If you require any further information on planning permission or building control issues,  please feel free to CONTACT US HERE or contact Ruth on

LIFE BITE: HMRC current timescales delay Access to Justice for Personal Injury claimants

apple-150579_1280Individuals who require details of their employment history for the purposes of making a compensation claim are facing unnecessary delay in their claims being dealt with due to problems that the HMRC are having in providing this information.


Many people require full details of their employment history if they wish to seek compensation as part of an industrial injury, personal injury or medical negligence claim.

Such historical information is available from the HM Revenue & Customs however John Thompson, Chief of the HMRC, has conceded that significant delay is being caused due to most of the pre-1970s employment records being held on microfiche and there being a dwindling number of operational machines left to access them.

Following a complaint from Labour MP John Mann that people were having to wait more than a year to access this information, Mr Thompson told the Commons Treasury Committee:-

“The records are essentially people’s national insurance records, which identify their employer and allow them to open up potential insurance claims against their employer for previous histories. The challenge we have is that these records go back several decades to when records were kept in a very different way. The majority of these records from before the mid-1970s are on microfiche.”

The HMRC has only 36 operational microfiche machines and as these break down frequently, tax officials have been forced to hunt online for rare replacement parts or engineers with the skills to fit them.

As a result, there is currently a delay of up to a year in getting these employment histories.  It was noted that this delay is creating a significant problem for groups such as those affected by exposure to asbestos – or their widows.

Martin Hanna, NI representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and partner in Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors has commented;-

“The obtaining of these employment schedules is essential for both victims lawyers and the employers insurers in order to help prove the victim’s employment.  We are currently seeing delays of up to one year from the date of the request before the schedules are being provided.  That is just too long to have to wait for the most basic information, namely the provision of a person’s employment history.  It effectively puts a victim’s case on hold unnecessarily for one year as the insurers of those companies who previously exposed them to asbestos will not deal with the claims until the correspondence is provided.  This is far from satisfactory and the HMRC must now deal with this situation with the utmost urgency.”

Such delay will undoubtedly create difficulties for people in accessing justice and this will be deemed by many to be unacceptable.

if your would like further information on INDUSTRIAL INJURY, PERSONAL INJURY or ASBESTOS RELATED CLAIMS , please contact us here or email us on