The Growing Importance of Co-Habitation Agreements

The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Co Habitants Act 2010 gives rights to non-married couples who have been living together in an intimate and committed relationship. To qualify as co-habitants parties must :

  1. be living together for a period of 5 years if they have no children together or
  2. be living together for a period of 2 years if they share a child.

If a couple who comply with the above criteria subsequently break up the dependent co-habitant can apply to the Circuit Court for maintenance, property adjustment orders or other financial reliefs. Furthermore, if one of the parties dies the remaining co-habitant can assert inheritance rights over the Estate of the deceased.

Couples moving in together who wish to ensure certainly for the future should consider entering into a co-habitation agreement which sets out their intentions if the relationship come to an end.

Any such agreement will only be valid if both parties obtain independent legal advice or waive their right to legal advice in writing.

Agreements can be varied at any time should circumstances change but if you are looking for peace of mind and security over your assets a co-habitation agreement would be well advised.

For further information contact Jennifer O’Sullivan who will discuss and advise you through the process and draft the necessary agreement.

Jennifer can be contacted as follows:

045 432382 or


The long awaited Mother and Baby Homes Report has been published and the Commission has set out its findings and recommendations in an attempt to address the many complaints of former residents. These have been identified as deficiencies in the information and tracing system for births and deaths and redress for the wrongs committed.

It has proven very difficult for former residents to discover what happened to their babies and in particular whether they lived or died. Unfortunately the law as it presently stands does not allow unrestricted access to birth information for adopted people but the Government is committed to introducing legislation to rectify this.

Similarly, there are no current defined rights for obtaining information concerning burials. The Report has found that in many cases there are simply no records in existence. The Government will attempt to establish an agency to deal with this aspect of the controversy but the delay has brought about practical difficulties in establishing exactly who is buried and in what location(s).

The Government has stated that it is committed to providing redress for those affected but however how that will operate has not yet been clarified. It can only be assumed that it will take a format similar to the Residential Institutions Redress Board or the Magdalen Laundries Scheme.

If you were in a Mother and Baby Home or if you were a child born in one and are looking for information or advice on the recommendations set out in the Mother and Baby Home Report please contact our office and either Matthew Byrne or Jennifer O Sullivan will advise you on your rights.

Matthew and Jennifer both have long and varied experience in dealing with Government redress schemes having acted on behalf of many clients concerning the Residential Institutions Redress Board, the Prisoner Redress Scheme regarding breach of prisoner privacy rights and Army deafness claims.

You can reach us at 045 432382 or


In an important decision of the High Court U.K. the Court questioned the ability of under 16’s to be in a position to give informed consent to undergo treatment with puberty-blocking drugs

“…. we recognise that clinicians may well regard these as cases where the authorisation of the court should be sought prior to commencing the clinical treatment.”

The ruling came after Keira Bell brought legal action against the Tavistock and Portman National Health Service Trust, which runs the UK’s only gender identity development service for children. Ms. Bell claimed she was treated like a ‘guinea pig’ at the clinic, and said doctors failed to carry out a proper psychiatric assessment and should have challenged her more over her decision to transition to a male as a teenager.

The High Court ruled that, ‘in order for a child to be competent to give valid consent, the child would have to understand, retain and weigh’ a number of factors, including ‘the immediate consequences of the treatment in physical and psychological terms’.
In addition the High Court also found that the child would also need to understand that, ‘….the vast majority of patients taking puberty blocking drugs proceed to taking cross-sex hormones and are, therefore, a pathway to much greater medical interventions’.
The entire judgement of the High Court U.K. may be accessed HERE

You can reach us at 045 432382 or

Wards of Court : New provisions relating to affidavits of Medical Practitioners supporting a Petition to the High Court for Wardship.

The new provisions concerning the content of medical affidavits / medical reports in relation to Wardship Proceedings, came into force on 5th October, 2020. These differ considerably from the previous reports which were required and the details required is much more comprehensive.

The information set out below must now be included in the affidavit and/or medical report of any registered Medical Practitioner whose evidence is to be relied upon to support a petition to the High Court.:

(1)        The date, place, duration and circumstances in which the medical examination was carried out.  The examination should have been carried out within three months of the presentation of the petition. If not, the application may  be rejected and the Petition refused.

(2)        The nature and duration of any prior relationship between the medical practitioner and the the person in respect of whom the application is being made.

(3)       The nature of the examination carried out and details of the test and/or capacity tools deployed by the registered Medical Practitioner for the purpose of concluding whether the person concerned is or is not of unsound mind and incapable of managing his/her affairs.

(4)        Whether in the opinion of the registered Medical Practitioner, the person concerned is or is not of unsound mind and incapable of managing their affairs.

(5)        Where the Medical Practitioner is of the opinion that the person concerned is of unsound mind and incapable of managing their affairs i.e. lacks capacity, he/she should state:

(i)         the nature of the persons illness/condition;

(ii)        the likely date of onset of that illness/condition;

(iii)       the symptoms pertaining to that illness/condition;

(iv)       the evidence relied upon in making their diagnosis; and

(v)        whether the illness/condition is permanent or likely to improve.

(6)    Where a Medical report is prepared containing the above information, any verifying affidavit sworn by the Medical Practitioner need only affirm the content of the medical report. The Medical Practitioner is not required to set out all the foregoing information as is contained in the Medical Report in their affidavit.

(7)     Any such medical affidavit must be sworn within one month of the date on which   the medical examination was carried out and the jurat [ swearing clause ] must comply with S.I. 95 of 2009.

You can reach us at 045 432382 or

Refund of Stamp Duty on the construction of one off houses

If you bought a site for the sole purpose of builing a single dwelling unit on it you may be entitled to claim a refund from the Revenue Commissioners of the Stamp Duty paid on the purchase. Stamp Duty is paid at the higher rate of duty  [ currently 7.5% ] applicable to non-residential purchases.

Conditions for the refund:

  • You must file a Stamp Duty return and pay Stamp Duty at the non-residential rate on the transfer.
  • You must have received a stamp certificate.
  • You must commence building within 30 months of the date of the transfer of the land to you.
  • You must develop the required proportion of the land for residential purposes.
  • You can make your claim after you commence building work.
  • You must make your claim electronically.

You must upload the following documents when making your claim:

  • the Declaration in pdf format provided by the Revenue Commissioners;
  • a copy of the instrument that transferred ownership of the land to you
  • a copy of the email from the relevant Local Authority that acknowledged the Commencement Notice or 7 Day Notice as valid. This is a crucial document when claiming the refund. In addition you must complete the work within two [2] years of the Local Authority acknowledging the Commencement Notice as valid.

To qualify for a refund of Stamp Duty you must commence building work:

  • in accordance with the Commencement Notice that has been acknowledged as valid
  • within 30 months after the date the land was transferred to you
  • and
  • on or before 31 December 2021.

You can reach us at 045 432382 or

Volkswagen can face emissions claims where cars bought, EU court rules

European Union citizens should be able to sue Volkswagen in their national courts if they have bought cars with emission cheat devices installed, the EU’s top court has ruled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has today ruled that EU consumers should be able to sue Volkswagen in their national courts. This is a step in the right direction for the vast number of Clients that Burns Nowlan LLP Solicitors are acting for in seeking compensation from Volkswagen for installing defeat devices in their vehicles. We have noted that the majority of our clients were first notified of the defeat devices in October 2015. The timeframe for issuing proceedings against Volkswagen is 6 years from this date and therefore anyone who has been affected should contact us as quickly as possible to ensure they protect their legal rights.

You can reach us at 045 432382 or

For more click HERE

Do parents have to leave something to each/any of their children in a will?

Section 117 of the Succession Act 1965 cover this very difficult question where it provides :

“ Where on application by or on behalf of a child of a testator, the court is of the opinion that the testator has failed in his moral duty to make proper provision for the child in accordance with his means, whether by his will or otherwise, the Court may order that such provision shall be made for the child out of the estate as the Court thinks fit”

The term “child” in the context of the Act includes an adult child, a child born outside marriage and an adopted child. The essence of the claim is that the testator has failed in his/her moral duty to make proper provision for the child in accordance with his/her means. The application is considered by the Court rom the point of view of a prudent parent

The criteria for determining whether proper provision was made was set out in the case of FM-V-TAM :

a. The number of children, their ages and their positions in life at the date of the testators death;
b. The means of the testator;
c. The age, his/her financial position and prospects in life of the child;
d. Whether the testator has already made proper provision for the child.

In the case of In the Estate of ABS decd. Kearns J. held that the relationship of parent and child does not of itself and without regard to other circumstances create a moral duty to leave anything by will to a child. In addition he held that the section does not create an obligation to leave something to each child. The Court must consider the entirety of the testator’s affairs so that the moral claims of others may require such provision to be reduced or omitted altogether. Most importantly the Court must not disregard the fact that parents must be presumed to know their children better than anyone else.

The claim must be brought within a period of 6 [six ] months from the taking out of the Grant of Probate.

For specific advice on what is undoubtedly a complex issue contact us now on 045 432382 or

Donor Assisted Human Reproduction Regulations

The Children and Family Relationship Act 2015 came into effect on the 4th of May 2020.  Parts 2 & 3 relate to the regulation of donor assisted human reproduction [ D.A.H.R.] procedures carried out in Ireland and clarify the legal position of all parties involved and importantly the legal parentage of children born by way of D.A.H.R.

From the 4th. of May the use of donor sperm or eggs and donor embryos must comply with these regulations.  The Act allows donor conceived children access to information on their genetic heritage.

The main provisions of the Act are as follows: –

  1. Donors must sign away parental rights and consent to their donation being used in a D.A.H.R. procedure.
  2. The birth mother and the other intending parent must consent to their information being held on the Donor-Conceived-Person Register.
  3. Certification of a D.A.H.R. procedure allows both intending parents to be named on the birth certificate of the child.

The majority of anonymously donated sperm or eggs will no longer be eligible to be used in Irish fertility clinics. There is a three-year transitional period, which allows a sibling to be conceived using the same donor. In these cases, anonymously donated sperm of eggs may be used until 4 May 2023.

For children born prior to 4 May 2020 a Declaration of Parentage will be needed from either the District Court or Circuit Court. If you have conceived a child by way of  D.A.H.R. and wish to apply for a declaration or amend a birth certificate to name both parents please contact Burns Nowlan for further information.

Unfortunately, surrogacy is not covered under this Act but will be addressed in the proposed forthcoming Assisted Human Reproduction Bill.

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

Online Shopping

Sometimes online shopping is an impulse purchase which after a few minutes or days we might regret or reconsider. Alternatively when the purchase arrives it looks nothing like what was promised in the online advertisement.

Under EU legislation when a person buys a product from an EU based website you have a right to return it for whatever reason. As an online purchaser you will always have 14 days to change your mind from when you receive the purchased product.

However you must notify the seller/business from whom you purchased that it is your intention to cancel the transaction within the 14 day period. When you have written to the seller/business to let them know your intentions you then have 14 days from that date to return it. It would be best to ensure you send the email cancelling the purchase with a read receipt or delivery request to ensure there is no dispute that you did in fact write and that it was received.

Please note that the same rights are not afforded to you when you buy from a website outside the EU.

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

Should I Make A Will?

Making a Will is one of the most important documents you will create in a lifetime. A Will enables you to choose how your assets will be divided on your death. As a result you can provide accurately for your loved ones. If you die without a Will, the Succession Act will dictates what happens your estate and where your assets go. More often than not, this is not what someone would wish to happen.

In addition another benefit of making a Will is that it allows you to arrange for the administration of your estate in a tax efficient manner. The taxation system can be quite complicated and poor estate planning can lead to increased taxes being payable by beneficiaries when your estate is being administered.
Wills are particularly important if you have children less than 18 years of age. A properly drafted Will enables you appoint Trustees who will hold your assets on behalf of those children until they reach an appropriate age [possibly 23 or 25]. Likewise, if any of your beneficiaries are incapacitated and unable to manage an inheritance, properly appointed Trustees can hold the asset for the beneficiaries benefit.

Always remember that a Will only takes effect when you pass away and you are free to amend or change your Will as many times as you like during your lifetime. By making a Will you are in charge and you decide what is to happen your estate upon your death and with proper estate planning you can minimise any potential tax implications upon your beneficiaries.

It is important you consult with a Solicitor to ensure the Will is drafted accurately and in accordance with established legislation in this country. The consultation should not take too long and it is time well spent!

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

Whistleblowers - how does the law protect you?

The provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 protect whistleblowers. An application can be made to the Circuit Court to protect your employment rights if they to be affected by your disclosure.

However there are a number of provisions in the Act which have to be borne in mind when seeking the protection of the Court through legal proceedings. The “relevant information” that is disclosed must ,in the reasonable belief of the worker, show one or more relevant wrongdoings and have come to the attention of the worker in connection with his/her employment.

Section 5 (3) of the Act defines eight acts, which are deemed to be relevant wrongdoings. In the vast majority of disclosures a Court will normally seek, at the outset of any application for protection , to determine whether the disclosure relates to whether :

  1. An offence (i.e. a criminal offence) is being or likely to be committed; Or/
  2. The health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered.

The motivation for making the disclosure is not relevant and in legal proceedings a disclosure is presumed to be a protected disclosure until the contrary is proven.

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

What amounts to bullying at work?

In the Ruffley case  [in which Burns Nowlan acted on behalf of the employee] the Supreme Court ultimately held that a breach of fair procedures does not, in and of itself, constitute “bullying”. The Court stated that it was important “not to blur the distinction” between a claim for breach of procedures and a claim of bullying, noting that while the “denial of fair procedures is never a trivial matter” it did not, in this case, amount to “undermining of human dignity“.

In order to succeed in a claim of bullying the conduct complained of must be repeated; amount to inappropriate behaviour; and undermine the employee’s dignity in the workplace.

Repeated: The conduct to be repeated in order in the test for bullying requires a “pattern of behaviour“, not a “number of incidents“.

Inappropriate:  “Inappropriate behaviour” means the behaviour complained must be inappropriate at a human level “not merely wrong

Undermine dignity at work: The conduct toqualify as undermining an individual’s right to dignity at work must be “both severe and normally offensive at a human level“.

NOTE: In the Ruffley case , although the decision of the High Court was ultimately overturned , the Supreme Court awarded the employee a portion of her High Court legal costs and made no order requring the return of a significant amount of the damages paid to the employee pending the finalisation of her appeal.

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

5 Tips for Buying A Property

1. Know the Process

Buying a property [house or site] can be broken down as follows:

  1. Find the property you wish to purchase and pay a booking deposit to the Auctioneer.
  2. Before contracts are signed it is important you have your financing in place and have also had the property surveyed to your satisfaction.
  3. Contracts will then be signed and the balance deposit is paid. You should then insure the property.
  4. The closing date will have been set out in the Contract for Sale . You will need to pay all fees and outlay in advance such as Solicitors fees, Stamp Duty and Property Registration Authority fees.
  5. Once the purchase has completed your can move into your new home and the Solicitor will pay the Stamp Duty to the Revenue Commissioners and afterwards apply to the Property Registration Authority to have you registered as owner.

2. Finances First

Work out your budget and keep in mind that first time buyers can borrow up to 90% of the value of the home, second time buyers and everyone else can only borrow up to 80% of the value of the home. At the present time there is the Help To Buy Scheme which assists first time buyers with the deposit needed for a new home or apartment, up to 5% of the purchase price is potentially available but this is capped at €20,000.00 As well as the purchase price there are other costs ; Legal fees; Stamp Duty, Property Registration Authority , Surveyors fees; searchers fees. It is important you discuss these with your Solicitor at an early stage to avoid any unwelcome surprises down the line.

3. Instruct the Right Professionals

It is important you ensure you instruct a Solicitor who you can trust , but also who addresses all your concerns and explains the process to you from start to finish in simple language leaving you with no doubt as to how the system operates. This is what sets a quality professional service apart from a good professional service.  It is the elimination of stress and worry that can make a purchase of a property an enjoyable experience for you.

Never, ever, under estimate the importance of a surveyor, especially with second hand homes. A good surveyor will inspect the property on your behalf before you have committed to signing a contract and who will be the one to tell you of any nasty surprises you need to know about before you put pen to paper. Admittedly it’s an extra expense, but an expense well worth paying.

4. Patience

The time required to complete a purchase is quite often outside of your Solicitors hands as there are numerous parties involved in the entire process. Generally speaking a conveyancing transaction will complete in a matter of weeks and not months.

5. Enjoy It

By making the right choices, particularly with what is set out above, it’s highly probable that the process will be an enjoyable one free from the stress and anxiety many people fear it will be. There is nothing like the feeling of collecting keys to your new home, it’s something the average person will only do a couple of times in their lifetime. It’s important to enjoy it and enjoy the thoughts of the future you are going to make there. The weeks leading up to collecting your keys should be weeks where your only worries are what colours you will put on the walls or what furniture you want to buy, and not ones of worry and confusion. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is you instruct a Solicitor who will ensure this is going to be a positive experience and one you will enjoy.

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

What can I do if the Insurance Company refuses my claim under my Business Interruption Policy?

This type of insurance cover normally forms part of your property insurance and when claiming you need to ensure that the cover is specifically for business interruption. The wording of the policy document is crucial in assessing whether you are entitled to claim. The cover can have several components relating to your business such as profits, extra expenses incurred and fixed costs.

If your Insurance Company disputes or denies your claim you should be entitled under the terms of the policy to refer the dispute to Arbitration. Burns Nowlan has been involved in many types of Arbitration involving Insurance Companies and is ready to help you immediately.

Of relevance in these type of cases is the judgment in Manor Park Homebuilders Limited  -v- AIG Europe (Ireland) Limited where McMahon, J. stated: “ The principle of uberrimae fidei, which applies to all insurance contracts imposes a heavy onus of disclosure on the insured …. the insured’s duty is balanced by a reciprocal duty on the insurer to make its own reasonable inquiries, to carry out all prudent investigations and to act at all times in a professional manner. In fact the onus to do this, because of its experience and expertise, lies primarily on the insurer.  ”  [our emphasis]  

Thus where a doubt arises as to the interpretation of a policy document the principle of uberrimae fidei should assist the policyholder in having a claim resolved in his/her favour.

           [ ]

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

Who can apply to Court for a Protection, Safety or Barring Order?

All partners in an intimate relationship, whether living together or not, can apply to Court for a Protection or Safety Order under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act 2018. However, to obtain a Barring Order however you must be cohabitating [ i.e. living] with your partner/spouse. If a Domestic Violence order is granted it makes it a criminal offence for a person to behave in a manner which puts an applicant in fear and can include communications by email/text or through social media.

The Act has widened the issues which must be taken into consideration by the Judge when deciding whether or not to grant an order and which include:

History of violence; Previous convictions; Coercive control / Psychological abuse; Financial control; Substance abuse; History of animal cruelty; Access to weapons.

New measures have been brought in to try to assist applicants during the application including:

  1. The Court can prohibit a self-represented abuser from cross-examining an applicant. Cross-examination may take place but only by a Solicitor/Barrister.
  2. Victims can bring a person to support them in Court.
  3. Evidence can be given by video link to avoid intimidation during the Court process.

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or

Booking Deposit – what does it mean?

Once you have agreed to buy a property an Auctioneer will normally ask for a booking deposit to be paid before a “Sale Agreed” / Sold” sign is put up. The payment made to the Auctioneer – normally no more than 2% of the purchase price – is deemed a booking deposit and the Solicitors for the owner(s) of the property will then be asked to issue contracts.

However, it is important to be aware that payment of a booking deposit does not create a binding contract to sell or buy. No binding agreement will exist until the contracts have been signed by both the Seller(s) and the Purchaser(s) , the contracts have been exchanged as between Solicitors and the balance of the 10% deposit paid in full.

A booking deposit is refundable if you decide not to proceed. Always ask for a receipt on payment.

For more information contact us on 045 432382 or