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  • Holly Diamond
  • November 09, 2016 12:26:11 AM
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A Little About Us

The McCarthy & Co. Solicitors blog provides useful updates, information and advice on medical negligence and personal injury cases and related legal matters. The blog also provides updates on nationwide medical negligence cases. As a team of nationwide medical negligence and personal injury solicitors based in Dublin and Cork, McCarthy &Co. Solicitors can provide you with expert advice and assistance.

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    Issues to be Aware of When Instigating a Birth Injury Claim

    If you are considering bring a birth injury claim for compensation than the following article contains answers to common questions that are asked and discusses some issues to be aware of when instigating a birth injury claim. Am I always entitled to compensation if I suffered an infection after giving birth? Most definitely not. Most […] The post Issues to be Aware of When Instigating a Birth Injury Claim appeared first on McCarthy +...

    Issues to be Aware of When Instigating a Birth Injury Claim - McCarthy Solicitors

    If you are considering bring a birth injury claim for compensation than the following article contains answers to common questions that are asked and discusses some issues to be aware of when instigating a birth injury claim.

    Am I always entitled to compensation if I suffered an infection after giving birth?

    Most definitely not. Most of these cases, unless there is manifest negligence on the part of the hospital staff, will be defended. To what extent is determined by the circumstances of the case, but infections can arise even if excellent care is given, so you have to show some shortcoming or some foreseeable thing that could have been done or not done, and because it was or wasn’t done, this gave rise to the infection. In the absence of clear evidence to that effect, an infection in and of itself won’t entitle you to be compensated.

    See our video guide on this topic – Am I always entitled to compensation if I suffered an infection after giving birth?

    Are there time limits for making a birth injury compensation claim?

    There are time limits and they’re very important, particularly for a mother who has suffered an injury. If you have suffered an injury, no matter how profound, unless you have actually brought proceedings in connection with that within two years of the date that you suffered the injury – or in some cases, if you only found out that the injury was as a result of negligence later on, then it’s two years from the date you found out – then no matter how strong your case is in liability, it will be statute-barred. So it’s a very, very tight timeframe and particularly when you’ve got a newborn, it’s the last thing on your mind and you yourself are trying to recover, so two years will seem like the twinkling of an eye. It’s a very unforgiving rule and if you don’t issue proceedings within two years of your date of knowledge (that’s the date that you suffered the injury or if there was some reason why you couldn’t have known, it’s the date that you found out that you did have a good cause of action) then your case is statute-barred.

    The law is a little bit more forgiving with babies because they’re deemed to be under what’s known as ‘illegal disability’, so time doesn’t run against them under the statute of limitations until they reach the age of 18. So essentially, their two-year period only kicks off when they turn 18, so they have until their twentieth birthday effectively to issue proceedings.

    Now, there is an inherent jurisdiction that the courts have to strike out proceedings that have been issued, even when they’re strictly speaking within the statute of limitations if it would be deemed to be unjust on the person defending the claim because they can no longer do so as a result of the fact that witnesses are dead or some other prejudice that they have suffered because somebody hasn’t actually pursued their case with the diligence that they should have. So while you can assume that you have 20 years from the date that the baby was born to bring a case, you shouldn’t sit on your hands, because if there’s any argument that the hospital or the doctor who’s defending themselves have been put in a completely unfair disadvantage because you didn’t actually pursue the investigations with appropriate haste, then you could find yourself up against it.

    The other thing to be said is that if a child has suffered a brain injury or they have some difficulty whereby they don’t have proper cognitive function as a result of the injury they sustained, then the time really never starts to run against them because that’s another legal disability and if you don’t have mental function, then the statute of limitation will never be construed against you. But again, the inordinate jurisdiction of the courts to strike out cases where there would be injustice for allowing to proceed because it wasn’t diligently pursued always has to be borne in mind.

    See our video guide on this topic – Are there time limits for making a birth injury compensation claim?

    How do I prove fault in a birth injury claim?

    It very much depends on what the alleged negligence is. First of all, you can’t even allege negligence or fault on the part of any medical practitioner until you have appropriate evidence from an expert in the field in question. What type of expert that would be will depend on the nature of the treatment which is under scrutiny. It might be that the nursing care wasn’t appropriate, in which case you’d get a report from an expert midwife; it may be the case that it was obstetrics, in which case you’d get an obstetrician/gynaecologist with consultant status to give a report having reviewed all of the medical records. Likewise, there may have been some shortcoming during the neonatal phase, so you’d need to speak to a neonatologist.

    Generally speaking, you have to go to the UK for these experts because it’s a very small community here and understandably, they’re not anxious to start slinging mud at one another because of the interpersonal nature. So, even then if you have got your report from whatever expert has to show that there was a shortcoming, you then have to get reports on causation to show that the substandard treatment that has been highlighted actually gave rise to the injury that the baby or the mother has suffered. That might be a neuroradiologist who will review the imaging of the brain to see if that’s consistent with the injury which has been highlighted as a result of the substandard treatment, or it may be another expert such as a neurologist or someone of that nature. So, proving that there has been substandard treatment which resulted in harm can require several witnesses of different expertise, so each case is different in that regard.

    See our video guide on this topic – How do I prove fault in a birth injury claim?

    How much does it cost to bring a birth injury claim?

    Well, it’s not a very satisfactory answer, but ‘how long is a piece of string’ is where we start. Depending on what the circumstances of the injury are, you will usually require two reports from experts who are usually based in the UK, and they will be at consultant level; very busy clinicians who are going to be expensive. You’d want to allow for a number of thousand euro as a kind of a war chest initially. The most important thing is to not allow that to prevent you from seeking advice from a solicitor in the first place because a lot of solicitors will review the circumstances of the case and will be willing to investigate whether or not there is a claim worth pursuing on a contingency basis – a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. They will generally be in a position to first of all work out what type of expert you need and second of all, what that will cost you, without actually incurring any cost on your behalf up to that point. If it transpires that you can afford it and it looks as if there’s a case that really needs to be investigated, then you can proceed.

    The other thing to bear in mind is that while there might be a lot of reports required, the initial reports on liability will, in a lot of cases, determine for you whether or not those subsequent case reports are justified. So while the funding of the case, which could run for several years, might be very expensive (and you can look at ways of funding that through various means) the initial report on liability, in many cases, will tell you whether or not it is worth investing further money in the investigations.

    Unfortunately, I’m not giving you a clear answer, but what I’m saying to you is if you think that you suffered a birth injury, get onto a solicitor who works in the area and they can work out what the initial investigation costs will be and then you can make an informed decision about whether or not you can afford it.

    See our video guide on this topic – How much does it cost to bring a birth injury claim?

    If you have any questions you would like answered or if you need advice around this topic, you can find out more here. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss further.

     

    McCarthy + Co Solicitors LLP

    Email: info@mccarthy.ie

    Phone: 023 888 0090

    Freephone: 1800 390 555

    www.mccarthy.ie

    The post Issues to be Aware of When Instigating a Birth Injury Claim appeared first on McCarthy + Co.


    Advice on Bringing a Birth Injury Compensation Claim

    If you or your child has been injured as a result of mistakes by medical staff you may be entitled to make a birth injury claim. In this article, we provide information about bringing a birth injury compensation claim. In what sort of scenarios can I claim compensation for my child? Getting back to basics, […] The post Advice on Bringing a Birth Injury Compensation Claim appeared first on McCarthy +...

    If you or your child has been injured as a result of mistakes by medical staff you may be entitled to make a birth injury claim. In this article, we provide information about bringing a birth injury compensation claim.

    In what sort of scenarios can I claim compensation for my child?

    Getting back to basics, this is a fault-based system and you have to show that firstly, there was a duty of care owed to the baby and that’s kind of a given, but it’s the bedrock of the working on whether or not there is a case. Secondly, you must show that there was a breach in that duty. There’s a test that was done by the Supreme Court in association with the National Maternity Hospital, which sets out the bar that has to be reached to show that there was a failure in the ordinary standard of care that’s owed to the mother and the baby. If you can satisfy a court, based on expert evidence that there has been a breach of that duty and that harm has flowed from that breach, then you’re entitled to be compensated – if you’ve ticked all those boxes. It can be difficult to do, because showing liability for breach of duty in and of itself may be contentious. You might have one expert saying one thing and another having a completely different view, but even if you can show that there has been fault or some shortcoming, it is then up to you to show that that shortcoming has actually caused direct harm to either the mother or the baby. There may be instances where there has been a clear breach of duty of some kind, but there is a difficulty in showing that the breach of duty, in and of itself, gave rise to the harm

    Obviously, babies are born with complications every day, where there’s nobody to blame and even if there has been some form of substandard treatment given to them, you still have to show that the harm that the baby is suffering from was directly as a result of that breach, as opposed to just a misfortunate event with nobody to blame.

    See our video guide on this topicIn what sort of scenarios can I claim compensation for my child?

    In what sort of scenarios can I claim compensation as a mother?

    A mother can have a number of different scenarios in which she can claim compensation, but the umbrella answer is that she has to have suffered an injury of some kind as a consequence of the process. It could be that she has suffered an anatomical injury herself, which is quite typical in vaginal birth, for instance when there’s a tear and the extent of that tear and the way in which it’s managed afterwards can give a cause of action. Alternatively, she may have suffered psychological injuries where she hasn’t actually suffered any physical injury, but if her baby has been harmed by the substandard treatment that baby has received, and if the mother, as a consequence of seeing this, suffers from some psychological injury, then she’d be entitled to be compensated for that. So, there are a number of different scenarios under which a mother will be entitled to be compensated for personal injuries – whether they be physical or psychological – arising out of the birthing process.

    See our video guide on this topic – In what sort of scenarios can I claim compensation as a mother?

    Can I bring a claim for compensation as a mother, as well as for my child?

    Well, the answer to that is yes, on two fronts. First of all, it may well be the case that the mother is injured and the baby is perfect. Secondly, the mother can be injured herself and the baby can be injured or thirdly, the baby can be injured and the mother can be physically perfect, but she can have observed a terrible thing happening to her loved one and she may have sustained a psychological injury as a consequence of that. In any of those three scenarios, if the mother has suffered either a physical or psychological injury, then she’s entitled to be compensated. It may well be the case that the baby has a cause of action against the hospital in its own right also, but the fact that the baby is perfect doesn’t mean that a mother doesn’t have the entitlement to be compensated if she’s injured under any one of those three categories.

    See our video guide on this topicCan I bring a claim for compensation as a mother, as well as for my child?

    Can I claim compensation for PTSD caused by birth trauma?

    Yes is the short answer, again presuming that the birth trauma was as a result of substandard care, because you will certainly have situations where there’s a trauma but there has been no shortcoming on the part of the medical staff who are providing the care that’s needed. If it’s the case that either the mother or the baby in the course of the delivery process has suffered an injury, whether physical or psychological in the mother’s case, then if PTSD flows from that, certainly there is an entitlement to be compensated. Even if the mother suffers no physical injuries but if she witnesses her baby suffering a significant injury, then there’s the principle of what’s known as ‘nervous shock’, whereby if a loved one is seen to suffer serious injury, and the person who witnesses that suffers from a psychological injury, they are entitled to be compensated if there has been substandard care and that gave rise to the injury of the loved one. So, if PTSD has been caused, either by a mother’s experience of her own injuries or her witnessing injuries caused to her baby, she will be entitled to seek cover for PTSD or for any other recognised psychiatric injury which flows from that.

    See our video guide on this topicCan I claim compensation for PTSD caused by birth trauma?

    If you have any questions you would like answered or if you need advice around this topic, you can find out more here. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss further.

     

    McCarthy + Co Solicitors LLP

    Email: info@mccarthy.ie

    Phone: 023 888 0090

    Freephone: 1800 390 555

    www.mccarthy.ie

    The post Advice on Bringing a Birth Injury Compensation Claim appeared first on McCarthy + Co.


    Stay Safe – Online and Offline

    We are particularly fortunate here at McCarthy + Co. in that much of our business had been done online even before the pandemic struck and we have been dealing with clients all over Ireland remotely for years.  This has meant that we have had the technology and systems in place to be able to continue […] The post Stay Safe – Online and Offline appeared first on McCarthy +...

    Cybercrime

    We are particularly fortunate here at McCarthy + Co. in that much of our business had been done online even before the pandemic struck and we have been dealing with clients all over Ireland remotely for years.  This has meant that we have had the technology and systems in place to be able to continue with business as usual largely uninterrupted with a few important exceptions whenever it is necessary and unavoidable to arrange physical meetings.

    However, the move to wider remote working has come with its challenges and risks and it is important to be aware and conscious of these.

    First of all, we are obliged to establish the identity of all of our clients for the purposes of anti-money laundering regulations.  While this has been commonplace for years, it comes with a few additional challenges where we are not meeting face to face, at least not initially.  Where we work with you online or remotely we may need to take some additional steps to verify your identity in order to comply with regulations and we trust that you will bear with us as we do so.  Wherever we receive funds from you for the purposes of transactions we may be undertaking on your behalf, we are obliged to satisfy ourselves on the source of funds and we may need to obtain some details from you on this and we appreciate your co-operation in working through these regulatory requirements together, particularly where we are not able to meet face to face as easily as we might have done in the past.

    Cybercrime

    Secondly, we need to have a heightened awareness of the threat of cybercrime when we are all working remotely.  Cybercriminals exploit uncertainty and changes in communication patterns; they are particularly devious with what is known as social engineering tactics, where they try to trick us into thinking that communications coming from the cybercriminals are actually coming from others whom we believe we can trust.

    Email is particularly vulnerable to social engineering attempts and when we are each more isolated from each other when working remotely out of our normal working environments.  When working from home we may be using different devices or sharing devices with others, which may make them more susceptible to attack by cybercriminals and fraudsters.

    For all of these reasons, please always remember that we will never, ever contact you by email in relation to a banking or financial transaction.  Similarly, we will never rely solely on an email from you to provide us with bank account details or other important financial information.  Where we do have to exchange information with you electronically we will always take precautions to verify the information with you separately over the phone or by physical documentation sent by post.

    When you speak to us to confirm details over the phone, please only do so by calling our main office number on 023 888 00 88 and always ensure that you speak to someone who you are familiar with and recognise.  We have heard of cybercrime attempts where people are sent fraudulent emails seeming to come from a real business with a phone number in the email asking the person to call that number to verify the bank details.  The person then calls the number thinking that they are contacting the business when in fact they are speaking to the fraudsters who then dupe the person into thinking that they have double-checked their bank details in a responsible fashion.

    If you ever receive what seems like an email from us requesting bank details from you, do not engage with anything in the email and call us on 023 888 00 88 instead.

    All of this may mean that things may take a little longer to deal with and we may need to go through a few steps to double-check and make sure that everything is in order.  When we do so, we hope that you understand that it is essential for the purposes of protecting the security of your transactions and ensuring that we keeping you safe in your dealings with us.

    Stay safe both online and off.

    The post Stay Safe – Online and Offline appeared first on McCarthy + Co.


    Understanding the Common Types of Birth Injuries

    Having a child is an occasion of great celebration and joy and for the majority, this is the case. In some instances, however, where perhaps there was some medical fault, it can result in injury to the child or mother causing great distress to a family. In this article, we aim to answer some of […] The post Understanding the Common Types of Birth Injuries appeared first on McCarthy +...

    image of doctor with heading "Understanding the most common types of birth injuries"

    Having a child is an occasion of great celebration and joy and for the majority, this is the case. In some instances, however, where perhaps there was some medical fault, it can result in injury to the child or mother causing great distress to a family. In this article, we aim to answer some of the questions around birth injury and the most common types of birth injuries.

    What are the most common types of birth injuries?

    A good first question and before I start, I should emphasise that I have three young children myself and I can remember vividly the delivery of each of them. I especially remember that feeling of dread and panic in that short window when you just don’t know if everything is going according to plan. Thankfully, they’re all healthy and that’s the case with the vast majority of children. It’s undoubtedly a very worrying time, but in the majority of cases, even when there is an injury, the injury can be quite modest and there can be a full recovery.

    Unfortunately today, because of the nature of the topic we’re dealing with, we will be discussing issues where there is a lifelong change as a result of some complication in labour and delivery. That’s when you have cases that have been brought against hospitals, obstetricians and other medical professionals.

    As I say, the vast majority of deliveries are without incident but you do have injuries. Thankfully though, the more common the injury, the least problematic they are. For instance, you might have an injury where your baby might have their clavicle – or their collarbone – fractured during delivery, but in the vast majority of these cases, there’s nothing that needs to be done except to give a little bit of TLC and make sure that their pain during the healing process is managed. You might also have marks or bruising left by forceps or by vacuums and in the majority of these cases, it’s very distressing at the time, but it soon gets forgotten about in the whirlwind that follows.

    The ones that hit the newspapers are cases where babies have life-altering injuries such as cerebral palsy where, unfortunately, they will never lead a full life because of their injury. The extent of their injuries is dependent on the individual case, as there’s a spectrum; some have mild symptoms while others can have profound symptoms. You’d be forgiven for thinking that these happen on a daily basis because they’re in the newspapers, but the reason they’re in the newspapers is because infant cases have to be ruled before a judge and the media take an interest in them because of the amount of money involved and also because of the human interest angle, where you have a baby who’s injured in childbirth and that is inherently tragic. So, even though they’re in the news a lot, they’re quite infrequent. We don’t really know how many per annum go through the courts as there’s no register, but we suspect it’s probably in the tens rather than the hundreds. So as I say, thankfully, this is a relatively rare occurrence, but of course, when it happens to the people concerned, it doesn’t matter how often it happens – what matters is that it has happened.

    See our video guide to this topicWhat are the most common types of birth injuries?

    Which types of birth injuries cause cerebral palsy?

    Cerebral palsy is a very broad term, which refers to a number of neurological injuries and they can be caused by different events during the pregnancy. They can be caused by an infection during the term; they can be formed as a result of a lack of oxygen during the delivery process, or they can be acquired after birth as a result of the baby contracting meningitis or some other illness. It’s basically how the events that gave rise to the cerebral palsy were managed determines whether or not there might be a cause of action.

    They reckon that one in five of babies who have cerebral palsy sustained it as a consequence of the delivery process itself, so there are a lot of other babies out there where they don’t know what caused cerebral palsy and it certainly wasn’t as a result of the intrapartum care that they received. For this reason, cerebral palsy cases are often fought very vigorously by the hospitals, because there is a potent argument that even if the child does have cerebral palsy and if there were complications in birth, that’s not to say that that was the cause of the cerebral palsy.

    See our video guide to this topicWhich types of birth injuries cause cerebral palsy?

    What types of experiences are considered to be birth traumas?

    The broader definition encompasses all injuries that can occur in the antenatal period, whether due to infection or failure to monitor some condition that the mother has, and it follows through into intrapartum – the delivery phase – and then into the postnatal phase or the neonatal phase. You could have injuries in all of these three timespans and that’s known as birth injury. There is no precise definition for birth trauma, but it’s a more specific term and it’s usually an injury caused by some mechanical episode in the course of delivery, whether it’s overenthusiastic use of forceps or having to yank a child out because they’re trapped in the birth canal. So, trauma is more to do with mechanical injuries in the actual delivery process itself.

    See our video guide to this topicWhat types of experiences are considered to be birth traumas?

    What is the difference between birth injuries and birth traumas?

    There’s no specific definition of either of them and I’d imagine there’s probably a different definition for the medical world and the legal world. In layman’s terms, birth injury covers the entire spectrum where there could be an injury sustained, from the antenatal period, perhaps because of an infection the mother has that the child picks up for instance, or because of preeclampsia or diabetes that hasn’t been monitored properly, into the intrapartum phase, which is the labour and delivery. It also covers the neonatal phase, so there could be an injury sustained by either the mother or the child at any time in those three periods. Birth trauma is usually more specific to a mechanical injury, which is sustained in the course of the delivery, whether that’s by use of forceps, by a vacuum or by an obstetrician having to physically pull a baby out because of the way they’re stuck in the birth canal. Likewise, if there’s any injury to the mother’s anatomy because of the forced nature of the delivery, that will be perceived as a birth trauma, which is a kind of a subgroup of birth injury.

    See our video guide to this topicWhat is the difference between birth injuries and birth traumas?

    If you have any questions relating to birth injuries or the most common types of birth injuries, you would like answered or if you need advice around this topic, you can find out more here. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss further.

     

    McCarthy + Co Solicitors LLP

    Email: info@mccarthy.ie

    Phone: 023 888 0090

    Freephone: 1800 390 555

    www.mccarthy.ie

    The post Understanding the Common Types of Birth Injuries appeared first on McCarthy + Co.


    Help To Buy Scheme – What You Need To Know

    In July of 2020, the Government announced that, as part of the stimulus package, there would be an increase in the amount of relief that first-time buyers may obtain on purchasing or self-building a newly constructed dwelling house under the Help to Buy Scheme. Under this scheme, the maximum relief available had been temporarily increased […] The post Help To Buy Scheme – What You Need To Know appeared first on McCarthy +...

    Couple with new house keys

    In July of 2020, the Government announced that, as part of the stimulus package, there would be an increase in the amount of relief that first-time buyers may obtain on purchasing or self-building a newly constructed dwelling house under the Help to Buy Scheme.

    Under this scheme, the maximum relief available had been temporarily increased from €20,000 or 5% of the property value to €30,000 or 10% of the property value up to 31st December 2020. In Budget 2021, this increase was further extended up to 31st December 2021.

    For those looking to get on the property ladder, this is a very valuable relief and is only available for a limited period. Due to this we have been receiving a lot of enquiries about how it all works so we have now selected some of the most frequently asked questions and answered them below for your reference:

    1. What is the Help to Buy incentive?

    Basically, the name gives it away; it’s a government tax refund scheme, which was enacted in order to help purchasers get the deposit for their home. It also incentivizes developers to build new homes so that the scheme can keep running.

    Many people will have heard about Help to Buy given its prevalence in the news, when the July stimulus package, and subsequently the October Budget, offered by the government extended the scheme as and from the 23rd July of 2020 Before the July stimulus package, you could avail of Help to Buy when certain satisfying criteria were met. You could avail of the lesser of a €20,000 rebate, five per cent of the value of the property or the amount of income tax or deposit interest retention tax you paid in the previous four years.

    The criteria are quite strict in that the property must be your home and your principal private residence, but the benefit of it is that you will get money back from tax you have paid over the previous four years.

    2. Who is eligible for Help to Buy and what type of property qualifies for the scheme?

    The eligibility criteria are specific to both the person and the property. To become eligible, you must first and foremost be a first-time buyer – that’s key to it. Secondly, as mentioned, the property must be your home – your principal private residence.

    You must buy or build your property between the 19th July 2016 and the 31st December 2021. The claimant must live in the property for five years after getting the rebate and you must be tax compliant. If any of those criteria aren’t met, the applicant will be unsuccessful.

    To qualify, you can’t have previously owned a property, as explained above. If you did, you are automatically excluded. If you’re buying or building as a couple, both applicants have to be first-time buyers. Some people have queries regarding the inheritance of a property in the last number of years and that doesn’t automatically preclude you, because you wouldn’t have been the first-time buyer in that instance. Another query we see coming in is if you’re a first-time buyer and you’re required to have a guarantor on your loan and that guarantor isn’t a first-time buyer, again you’re not automatically precluded from applying.

    When it comes to eligibility criteria for the property, the house in question needs to be your home, it must be built subject to VAT and it can’t be used for any other reason other than a residence. The legislation is very strict when it comes to defining what is a residential property. If it’s a refurb or you’re doing renovations to a property, that won’t satisfy the criteria. To qualify for the Help to Buy scheme, it has to be a new build or a self-build.

    So while you as an individual may qualify for the scheme, the property you are looking to buy may not, so there are numerous steps just to tick the box.

    3. What is the purchase value?

    It’s a rebate so, you’re not going to get money for nothing – you have to be tax compliant, meaning you’ll have to have made your tax returns for the previous four years. Revenue won’t even entertain a claim unless all your tax affairs are in order. The rebates that are available to you are based on what is called the ‘purchase value’. It’s quite straightforward for a new build; the purchase value is going to be your contract price, which is the price that you’re told by the contractor you have to pay. For a self-build, it’s a little different in that the purchase value is going to be the approved valuation you get when you apply for your mortgage from the bank. You must take out your mortgage with an approved lending institution and the criteria is very specific. For example, the loan you take out can’t be used for any other purpose other than that of building your home. Also, the loan must be a minimum of 70 per cent of the completion value and this is known as the ‘loan to value’ ratio. Let’s say the purchase value of the house you built was €450,000, your loan would have to be a minimum of €315,000. It is more straightforward for a new build because the contract price is on your contract for sale, but when it comes to ‘loan to value’, that’s what purchase value then means.

    4. How much can you claim?

    The most important bit! If you sign a contract for sale or if you drew down the first-stage payment of your mortgage between the 19th July 2016 or the 22nd July 2020 – the date prior to when the enhanced Help to Buy scheme came into effect – you can claim the lesser of the following: €20,000, five per cent of the purchase value, or the amount of income tax or deposit interest retention tax you’ve paid in the previous four years. That’s from the 19th July 2016 to the 22nd July 2020. If you sign a contract for a new home or drawdown on a self-build mortgage between 23rd July 2020 and 31st December 2021, you are eligible for the increased relief – called Enhanced Relief.

    These will see a jump from five per cent to 10 per cent of the purchase value and it goes from €20,000 to €30,000, so it’s quite a substantial increase, but it’s only if you sign a contract for sale or draw down the first-stage payment of your mortgage within that strict time period. Unfortunately, if you applied for a drawdown of funds on the 22nd July, you’re not going to avail of the advanced Help to Buy scheme – you could lose out on €10,000 when there might only be 24 hours in the difference, but there has to be a cut-off point.

    5. If you have already submitted an application under the old rate are you entitled to the new rate?

    You are, under the assumption that your contract has or will be signed between 23rd of July and 31st of December 2021. You simply need to cancel your application and resubmit it. Revenue are moving quite quickly in the sense that they are processing the applications and the claimants will be able to see that they have been approved for the higher rate almost overnight. So ‘yes’ is the short answer; it’s just a matter of cancelling and reapplying. 

    6. How will the refund be paid?

    Again, it’s to do with time scale. If you bought or built the property between the 19th July and 31st December 2016, the refund was paid directly to the claimant. If you bought or built after the 1st January 2017, it gets paid to the qualifying contractor, who is basically the developer.

    I know I’m sidetracking a little bit, but for anyone thinking of applying for it, it’s important to note that not every contractor can avail of this scheme – it has to be a qualifying contractor. You can log on to the Revenue website and you’ll find a list of these qualifying contractors, so if you’re looking to buy or build, it’s important to make sure that you’re not going to lose out on the scheme if the contractor building the property is not registered. If it’s a self-build (built after the 1st January 2017) the refund gets paid directly into your bank account.

    We, as solicitors, also need to be registered with Revenue in the case of self builds because we will be verifying the claimant’s application. Essentially what that means is we will be telling Revenue that ‘Yes, they drew down on the 1st August 2020’, so if you’re applying for the Help to Buy scheme make sure that the solicitor you are employing is registered – which we are!

    7. How do you work out the rate on a self-build home?

    Again, that comes back to the loan to value ratio. It’s the purchase value, which is approved by the bank. The bank will give you that valuation and as I mentioned already, your loan has to be a minimum of 70 per cent of the purchase value.

    8. When does the HTB end?

    As of Octobers Budget for 2021, the Enhanced Relief for the Help to Buy has now been extended to 2021.

    9. What do you need to do before you apply?

    Most importantly, make sure all your tax affairs are in order. If you’re applying as a couple, you both have to be tax compliant. The application is done through Revenue, so you need to log on to www.revenue.ie. There are different applications for PAYE and self-employed. If you’re PAYE, you go to the myAccount section and if you’re self-employed you apply through ROS – the Revenue Online System. The application stage is basically an inputting exercise where you must input details such as your PPS number. Once you’ve submitted the application, you’ll get a six-digit application number that you really need to retain carefully, because those access codes are passed either to the contractor in the case of new builds or the solicitor in the case of self-builds. It’s all a verifying process; I would need that number for my client in order to verify their claim.

    The claim stage only comes into effect once the contract has been signed, so you upload a copy of your contract for sale onto Revenue through myAccount or you provide proof that you’ve applied for your first-stage payment drawdown. Once again, this all needs to be verified by your contractor or solicitor. If anyone is thinking of applying at the moment, the process is slow because they’re issuing the passwords by post, so it might be important to keep this in mind if you want to avail of the enhanced Help to Buy. Time passes quickly so it would be a good idea just to get the application set up. It can sit there until you’re ready to sign contracts or drawdown, but as long as that application stage is done you’re on the front foot.

    10. Can Revenue clawback refund?

    Yes, unfortunately! If for some reason, you weren’t actually entitled to the refund, Revenue can come back and claim it. The rates of refund are outlined on the Revenue website and that is one of the conditions. As I previously mentioned, one of the qualifying criteria is that you live in the property for five years. If you vacate the property within anything less than that five-year period, they can come back and claw back the rebate. If you didn’t proceed to purchase the property they can come back for a refund or if you didn’t finish building the property, again they can claim it back. If the property isn’t built within two years after the time you get the rebate, the Revenue can claw it back.

     

    An important note from McCarthy and Co. Solicitors:

    The subject of fees is a very important issue to touch on. It’s the bottom line, what we want to know. We have a tool called the Conveyancing Calculator on our website, which is available here. A lot of the time there is a grey area around legal fees and ‘hidden costs’ when you’re looking for a self-build, a sale or a purchase, so we offer a full breakdown of costs that will show you your VAT, your stamp duty and basically any associated outlay involved. If you’re querying what such fees might amount to, this is a very accessible tool that might be a big help.

    The post Help To Buy Scheme – What You Need To Know appeared first on McCarthy + Co.


    Back to School (and to Court)

    While it is back to school time, it is also back to court time this month. Usually, the superior courts do not sit in August and September, but this year the High Court has resumed sitting from 1 September and this is a very positive development. As well as sitting this month, the High Court […] The post Back to School (and to Court) appeared first on McCarthy +...

    While it is back to school time, it is also back to court time this month. Usually, the superior courts do not sit in August and September, but this year the High Court has resumed sitting from 1 September and this is a very positive development.

    As well as sitting this month, the High Court also returns to what is hoped to be close to full-time duties this month, which means we expect to see personal injury and medical negligence trials resume in earnest. These types of cases had been put on hold during the lockdown period because they involve multiple parties and witnesses being physically present in court to give evidence etc.

    The fact that personal injury and medical negligence matters are now moving again is now unreservedly good news for people who have been waiting to have their cases dealt with; justice delayed is justice denied.

    It is also hoped that much of the work of the High Court will be able to be carried out remotely from October and in this context, we hope that this will be an opportunity for the recently introduced Statements of Truth to come into their own in practice.

    As part of getting High Court personal injury and medical negligence trials moving again, we now have a new Practice Direction from the Court which provides that solicitors acting for parties in court proceedings will have to:

    • obtain contact details from ALL persons attending court on behalf of the party whom they represent
    • seek their consent to the retention and the delivery up to the HSE of that information if so requested and
    • upon obtaining such consent, keep the said information safe and available for a period of four weeks following the said application or proceeding and thereafter ensure safe disposal of same in accordance with Data Protection Regulations.

    So, if we are acting for you in any proceedings coming before the courts for the foreseeable future, you might note that will have to obtain and retain this information and consent and you might bear with us while we do so. Thanks in anticipation for your co-operation.

    This is just another aspect of the new reality which we find part of our lives as we work our way through this pandemic; but as with getting our kids back to school, if it also allows us to get our clients’ important personal injury and medical negligence matters moving through the courts again, it seems well worth it.

    The post Back to School (and to Court) appeared first on McCarthy + Co.


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