It can be tempting, especially for new, eager businesses, to start trading immediately without using any written terms and conditions or contracts. After all, there is no legal requirement for contracts to be written down and oral contracts are just as valid as written contracts. However, if a dispute arises over an oral contract, it can be extremely difficult to produce definitive evidence of what was agreed if nothing has been written down.
On almost every sale or lease of commercial property (whether that be offices, a shop, warehouse or farm etc.), the buyer’s solicitor will ask the seller’s solicitor to provide replies to a standard set of enquiries. In most cases, these are replies to general Commercial Property Standard Enquiries (CPSE), although there are different numbered versions of these standard enquiries, depending on the nature of the transaction. There are also additional sets of enquiries where the property is subject to one or more leases, and if the transaction involves the grant of a lease. Where the transaction involves agricultural land, a different set of enquiries more specifically dealing with agricultural land may be used.
The land registry was first set up in 1925, as a central register of land ownership. At that time it was not compulsory to register dealings with land in all areas of the country. Different parts of England and Wales gradually became subject to compulsory registration of dealings at various times until 2003.
If you let your barn using what you believe to be a simple licence agreement, then you should be aware that you may have inadvertently granted the occupier a lease. This is because if you allow someone to have exclusive occupation of a building (or part of a building) then legally you are giving them a lease, even if you call it a licence.
In April the think tank Resolution Foundation published a report stating that Inheritance Tax is “unfit for modern society” and should be abolished. This is not the first suggestion for IHT to be overhauled but they do go further with suggestions as to how it should be amended, providing further facts and figures as to the reasons why.
“Can I have a Separation Agreement and is it cheaper than a divorce?”
This is a question that I have been asked on many occasions. Some potential clients ask if it is possible to get a “legal separation”. When faced with this question it is important to explain clearly the differences between a Separation Agreement and a Consent Order.
The Silver Rebellion: Marriage and divorce on the increase for those aged 65 and over. The Office of National Statistics [‘ONS’] has published a marriage data survey reporting a distinct increase in marriages and divorces for those aged 65 years and over.
In order to be registered, a trade mark must be capable of graphic representation, have a distinctive character which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one business from those of another, and should not fall foul of the various grounds for refusal.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was introduced to increase the transparency of big businesses with turnover of £36m per year and adds additional reporting obligations on these businesses. The Act applies to commercial organisations and aims to encourage transparency in relation to slavery and human trafficking. The reporting element of the Modern Slavery Act applies to both UK and non UK businesses.
When entering in to any negotiation (or any dispute), it is tempting for the lead negotiator to try to decipher the objectives and motivation of their opposite number. That exercise will always produce imperfect results. Instead, be sure to conduct a proper analysis of your own motivation and ask yourself these questions:
Over the course of the next few blogs, we shall be exploring the different forms of intellectual property available in the UK, with each blog focussing on a different type of IP, namely: trade marks, copyright, patents and design rights. This first blog focuses on trade marks.
25th May is fast approaching and GDPR will then really be here!
Employers have been losing sleep over this new legislation but maybe they have been overreacting. Yes, the law is changing but in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way. The key principles of the current Data Protection Act 1998 will remain. Employers will need to deal with data “lawfully, fairly and transparently”; they must not hold excessive data and should only use it for the intended purpose. They also need to check accuracy and not hold the information for longer than needed. As has always been the case, information must be kept safe and secure.
Spring has sprung and although it appears that we are periodically being plunged into Siberian Winter, this is the traditional time when people turn out their cupboards, rifle through their collections and generally look to find space for items which may fall victim to the next year’s bout of cleaning.
The general rule is that a lease may only be terminated during the term of the lease if the lease contains a tenant’s break clause. If it does not, the lease can be terminated early by way of surrender however the landlord will need to be in agreement. If the landlord refuses to take a surrender, the lease will have to remain in place.
The process of divorce or separation can be deeply emotional and stressful for all involved. But it doesn’t have to be. A good family lawyer will help you through the process in the most painless way possible. Whilst they cannot help you to overcome the problems in your marriage they can put you in touch with a marriage counsellor who can. A family lawyer is not qualified to provide counselling. If you decide that your marriage is at end, a good counsellor can also help you deal with the emotional fallout of the breakup. This will help you to think clearly and deal with the divorce in a civilised and reasonable way.
From 1 April 2018, landlords will not be able to rent out their commercial properties if they do not meet a minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES). The reason for this change is to help the government to meet its obligations in the Energy Act 2011 to improve energy efficiency across commercial properties.
I often work in conjunction with my colleagues in our commercial team, particularly for business owners who are thinking about their own Wills and Inheritance Tax planning. The most frequent area in which my colleagues and I work together relates to the preparation of cross option agreements.
When selling or buying land, you might hear the terms “conditional contract”, “option agreement” or “pre-emption agreement”. Whilst these all essentially involve the sale of land from a seller to a buyer, there are significant differences.
I work in our Private Client Department and manage older and vulnerable clients’ affairs. This position has made me realise how difficult it is for clients who do not have family members close to them. It could be that they do not live close by, or they do not have a close relationship with the client for whatever reason. At Longmores, we act as Attorneys under Lasting Powers of Attorney for Property and Finances where there are no other suitable people to take up this role. Where there are no family members to provide a helping hand my role can include a regular visit to check the client has everything they need, liaising with financial advisors to ensure the client’s money is achieving maximum income, arranging care, arranging meal deliveries, contacting third parties for jobs around the house, etc.
Generally speaking these days if you own a flat and the remaining length of the lease is anything less than 75-80 years then you should consider extending the length of the lease. Indeed if at all possible you should extend it before the remaining term dips below 80 years since after that the cost of extending is likely to be higher.
Many of my clients have business interests, which need to be considered at the time of preparing a Will. Such interests may be in the form of a shareholding in a private family company, or an interest in a partnership, or acting as a sole trader. The type of business structure will have an impact on how the Will might be drafted and what, if any, administrative provisions should also be included.
A question which is often asked by a lot of employees and employers is whether or not an employee with less than 2 years' service can be dismissed without following any process and without the risk of the employee bringing any claims against the company. Whilst it is true that to qualify for an unfair dismissal claim an employee will need to have 2 years' continuous service, there are other claims which can be sought without this length of service.
Generally speaking these days when a developer builds a new housing development he will include in the conveyancing documents things known as “restrictive covenants”. Basically these are rules about how the property can be used. They remain binding on the property for ever and therefore do not just have to be complied with by the first people who buy the property but by all subsequent owners as well.
Prevention is better than cure. The adage is well known and applies to many situations, including dispute resolution. There are a great number of disputes that most likely could have been avoided altogether, had the parties had the foresight to discuss and set out clearly in writing exactly what they were agreeing to before signing any contracts.
In my earlier blog The new Data Protection Regulation is upon us, I wrote about the start of the implementation process of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). At that stage, it was still very much early days, and since then there have been a number of developments and with the deadline for compliance now in sight, this blog outlines some of the requirements that businesses should be aware of.
The Office of Tax Simplification has provided details of the scope of its review for the current Inheritance Tax system, and whether and how, it might be simplified. They have advised that this will include both administrative and technical questions, which will include:
Settlement agreements (previously known as “compromise agreements”) are common place but not always fully understood. So, exactly what are they? Put simply, they are a contract between an employer and employee which is usually used to resolve any disputes which have arisen within the employment relationship. Under this type of agreement, an employee will agree not to pursue specific legal claims against their employer, as set out within the agreement, usually in return for a sum of money from the employer. Typically, a settlement agreement will be proposed at the end of the employment relationship, but this is not always the case.
It depends. As with so many questions concerning flats, the answer is normally in the lease. It may contain an absolute prohibition on pets, in which case the leaseholder won’t be able to keep a dog. Or it may be silent on the subject of pets, in which case they will be able to keep a dog.
Running a business invariably means that you will build up sensitive business specific information; whether that is a novel manufacturing technique, the confidential information of your clients, or even your staff wages, it is obvious that you would not want this information in the public domain.
Employment Tribunal fees were abolished on 26 July 2017 and a significant increase in claims is already being observed, just as there was a major depression of claims when the fees were introduced in 2013. Employers will also need to contend with late claims being brought by former employees if they can show that it was the payment of fees that stopped them bringing claims in the first place.
The area of private client law does not often go through a period of prolonged change. However, as I reflect upon the year it seems that 2017 has seen a number of development and proposals affecting our day to day work.
It may not always seem obvious but everyday life is full of contracts. Whether you are buying a train ticket, a chocolate bar or simply going to work, contracts underpin all these transactions, and in order for all these transactions to be valid they must all share five key elements.
If you are in the fortunate position to own valuable antiques, works of art, sculptures or other valuable personal possessions, it may be possible to consider using such items for your Inheritance Tax planning strategies.
From 27 November to 1 December, it is Cohabitation Awareness Week. Resolution, a national organisation that campaigns for improvements to the family justice system, are raising awareness about the lack of legal protection on separation for cohabiting couples. They are also continuing their call for greater protection for couples in this type of relationship.