Defamation or Opinion – Social media blurs the lines

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Over 66% of the UK now use social media which has led to a huge rise in online reviews and a new wave of 'keyboard warriors'. However, a recent ruling has highlighted that leaving negative remarks on social media could land you in hot water for defamation, even if you didn't actually write it! ​ What is defamation ​ Defamation is the action of dama...
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138 Hits

Business owners cheer vital tax clarification

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In the face of widespread professional concern, the government has tabled an amendment to the Finance Bill to clarify how new rules for Entrepreneurs' Relief will affect business owners. ​ The October 2018 Budget introduced new rules for the relief which, if applicable, reduces the Capital Gains Tax payable on disposals of key assets such as shares...
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104 Hits

7th January is Divorce Day

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For many of us, the most depressing thing about Monday 7th January is that it marks the first full week back at work after the new year. However, for some it is also the day that marks the end of their marriage. In fact, so many people pick up the phone to a divorce lawyer on this day that is now known as 'Divorce Day'.&nbs...
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196 Hits

Dismissed for being Vegan?

Vegan_story
A recent employment case has highlighted again how discrimination in the workplace can cover many forms, when a man was sacked for, he claims, his ethical vegan beliefs.  Mr Casamitjana worked for an animal welfare charity based in Surrey and informed his manager when he discovered that their pension fund investme...
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High Court finds discretion is not always the better part of valour

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In a concerning case for borrowers, the High Court has ruled that a lender's discretion to demand full repayment of a loan means exactly that. The particular case before the court concerned a mortgage contract which was secured as a charge over a Grade 1 listed building in central London. Funds were being loaned on an interest only basis, and were ...
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97 Hits

Update on Probate Fee Increase

Probate Fees Increase
Not long after the Budget announcement, The Ministry of Justice has announced plans to increase the fees charged when making an application for probate ​.   Probate is usually needed to administer someone's estate after they have passed away regardless of whether or not that person has a Will. ​ The latest changes ​ Currently, the Co...
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159 Hits

Budget woe for small company shareholders – Urgent action required

Shareholders and the Budget
Now that the dust has settled on the Chancellors "giveaway" budget, closer examination reveals one lesser reported change will require owners of private companies to urgently check the entitlements attached to their shares. New capital gains tax rules for small shareholdings gives some indication on how the Chancellor's new spending ...
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365 Hits

Autumn Budget 2018 – The End of Austerity

Autumn Budget 2018 – The End of Austerity
Self-proclaimed 'Fiscal Phil' delivered his 2018 Budget recently, and it appears that Christmas has come early from the spending spree that ensued. His 5-year plan promises to bring an end to austerity and touched on everything, from high-streets to pot-holes and everything in between.  Employment  ​ The Chancellor confirmed the UK has en...
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Law Commission Consultation on the Electronic Execution of Documents

Law Commission Consultation on the Electronic Execution of Documents
The law relating to signatures and other formal documentary requirements has been considered by the Law Commission on several occasions over the past three decades. As technological advances improve speed and efficiency in day-to-day life, the Law Commission reviews whether the law in England and Wales is keeping up with the demand for modern and c...
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267 Hits

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and Commercial Property

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and Commercial Property
Energy used to power non-domestic buildings in the UK accounts for 12% of the country's carbon emissions. It represents one of many challenges our government faces if we are to meet our legally binding carbon targets in 2025 and 2030 under the Paris agreement or, further, the government's previously pledged (but not yet binding) target to reduce ou...
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271 Hits

EU Underlines Intellectual Property Infringement Costs

EU Underlines Intellectual Property Infringement Costs
The Intellectual Property arm of the European Union has just issued its most comprehensive report yet on the scale, costs, and risks of IPR infringement throughout the EU. Looking back on developments since 2013, the EUIPO has not only reported on infringement but has estimated that the total contribution of IPR intensive industries to the EU econo...
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248 Hits

Additional Legal Rights for Grandparents Confirmed

Additional Legal Rights for Grandparents Confirmed
The European Union's highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), has confirmed in a recent judgment that grandparents have a legal right to see their grandchildren. This ruling could potentially speed up proposed changes to UK legislation to remove the "permission" stage that grandparents face to applications for contact with their grandchi...
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258 Hits

Limited Partnership Law crackdown continues

Limited Partnership Law Crackdown Continues
The last few years have seen a crackdown by the UK Government to tackle the abuse of companies and partnerships as a means to hide crimes, money laundering and tax evasion. Limited Partnerships are a type of hybrid business which have at least one general partner who has unlimited liability and a number of limited partners who do not usually get ac...
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205 Hits

Leases and Licences - Make Sure You Get Them Right!

Leases and Licences - Make Sure You Get Them Right!
Most commercial landlords appreciate the importance of a well-drafted commercial lease as a way to protect their interests. Commercial Property Solicitor Ben Hersom explains. Though it may seem like an unimportant additional expense, a well-drafted lease is the best way to ensure that cost implications, both during and after the term of occupation ...
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210 Hits

Employment Law Round-Up - New Rates and Limits

National-Living-Wage
It’s that time of year again in which employers have to familiarise themselves with the increases in compensation limits, statutory payments and the National Minimum Wage.

The new rates for 2018/2019 are as follows:

 

Statutory payments for time off work:

Maternity/Adoption pay prescribed rate (max)                                                                                        

£145.18

Paternity pay (max)

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229 Hits

Life is getting harder for offshore property owners

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The latest Companies House business plan makes tough reading for offshore corporate owners of UK property, with the annual update championing plans for a register of their beneficial owners. The company registrar has confirmed that it will be assisting the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and plans to work in conjunction with HM Land Registry in developing a register extending to beneficial owners of overseas companies holding UK residential and commercial property.

This will implement the Government’s ideological attempt to crack down on money laundering and financial crime in the UK, and stands to be the first of its kind in the world.  It is no secret that the use of offshore companies to launder money via the UK property market is an increasing problem. The scale of the issue is in fact much larger than many might assume. Companies House recently reported that over 75% of properties currently under investigation use off-shore corporate secrecy.

That said, for the many legitimate offshore entities that choose to invest in the UK, this register will mean more administration, more fees, and more ‘red tape’, aside from a perceived loss of privacy given that information will be placed on a public register for all to see in a similar way to the PSC (People with Significant Control) Register.

Arguably, reporting requirements in some overseas territories are lax in comparison to the UK.  This allows criminals to cover their tracks behind such companies by taking advantage of their comparative secrecy. By introducing the requirement, the UK Government hopes to clearly send a message that if you own property in the UK, then you will be held accountable in the UK.

It has yet to be decided how the register will work and be enforced. However, there have been suggestions that if an overseas company fails to comply with the requirements then they could face criminal sanctions as well as the ability to lose the power to sell the property.

Companies House will be releasing updates as plans develop over the next few years but have confirmed that the register is unlikely to be introduced until around 2021.

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The Importance of Lease Registration

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Another recent high court decision regarding effective service of a break notice highlights the importance of registration following the lawful assignment of a commercial lease.

In Sackville UK Property v Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers Limited and Integro Insurance Brokers Limited [2018] EWHC 122 (Ch), the landlord rejected service of a break notice by the new tenant on the ground that the notice was invalid, as it had been served by a party who was merely a beneficial owner and not the tenant at the time the notice was served. 

On an assignment of a commercial lease, the existing tenant is generally required to obtain the consent of the landlord to assign (‘transfer’) the remainder of the term of the lease to a new party, known as the assignee. When a registered leasehold title is assigned, a transfer deed is executed by the parties and sent to land registry to enable the assignee to be registered as proprietor of the leasehold title following assignment.

On the facts of this case, the landlord had granted consent to the assignment of the lease. However, the assignee failed to register a change in the ownership of the leasehold title at Land Registry on the mistaken belief that the assignment was sufficient to transfer the remainder of the lease. By failing to register the transfer of the registered legal title, the assignment took effect in equity only and the legal estate did not vest in the assignee. 

The new tenant purported to serve a break notice in accordance with the terms of the lease.  It is always advisable to obtain legal advice when serving a break notice, as this is one of the most litigated clauses in commercial leases. 

In this case, the landlord rejected the notice as invalid because the tenant had failed to register themselves as legal proprietor, and the high court agreed with the landlord; a disposition of a registered estate does not operate at law until the disposition is completed by registration.

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Employers - Get Ready For GDPR

GDPR
You have unlikely escaped the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which will take effect on 25 May 2018. We look at what this means for businesses and employers.

Currently, the UK relies on the Data Protection Act 1998, which was enacted following the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive. Some of the new regulations mirror those found under this Act, but as of May this year, all will be superseded by the new legislation. GDPR aims to introduce tougher fines for non-compliance and breaches and gives people more say over what companies can do with their data. It also makes data protection rules more or less identical throughout the EU.

Under Article 5 of the regulations it requires that personal data shall be:

Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes: further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes;Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date: every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purpose to which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;Kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or any public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals; andProcessed in a manner which ensures appropriate security of the personal data including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.

Article 5(2) of the regulations requires that the controller should be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate compliance with the principles. So, in short, what does that all mean for you?

As a business, you must have a lawful basis in order to process personal data. Article 6 of the regulations sets out the lawful basis for processing data.  At least one of these must apply whenever you process personal data. The lawful bases for processing data are:

The data subject has given consent to the processing of his or her personal data for one or more specific purposes.Processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract.Processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject.Processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another natural person.Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.Processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data, in particular where the data subject is a child.

You must determine the lawful basis (or base) before you begin processing and should document it, as well as the purposes for processing. Privacy notes should be updated in compliance with the new regulations.

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Interest-Only Mortgages – Stirring Up Future Trouble?

Mortgage-1
The mortgage market today offers a wide range of products for your average and, not-so-average, house buyer. But just how risky are interest-only mortgages?

Whether you are a first-time buyer, multiple property owner or looking to help your children get onto the property ladder, there’s a mortgage out there for you. At least, that’s what we’re led to believe…

In fact, broadly speaking, mortgages fall into one of only two types - repayment and interest-only.

Under a repayment mortgage, your monthly payment will clear both the month’s interest on the loan and a small part of the capital. The end result being that, when the final payment is made at the end of your agreed mortgage term, you own the property free and clear.

Under an interest-only mortgage, the monthly repayments simply clear that month’s interest that has accrued, however, the capital (the original loan amount) remains untouched. At the end of your mortgage term, you will still have to repay the original loan amount, and the sum will be due to be repaid in full immediately.

Monthly repayments on an interest-only mortgage are typically cheaper than those under a repayment term. First-time buyers tend to opt for interest-only as they appear to be the more attractive, cheaper option. If finances are tight, some borrowers change their mortgage to interest-only, telling themselves at the time that it’s only for the short term and they will change back when finances aren’t so tight. People who do so are unlikely to put repayment plans in place due to the cost. Borrowers believe they will switch to a repayment mortgage when the current deal comes up for renewal, or when finances get easier. The reality is they never do because interest-only will always be the cheaper monthly option.

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Is Your Lease Extension About to Become a Lot Cheaper?

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The Court of Appeal is soon expected to deliver their decision on an appeal brought by a leaseholder challenging the traditional tools by which a leasehold premium is calculated.

Sloane Stanley Estate Trustees v Mundy [2016] UKUT 223 (LC) is a case that challenges the system of lease valuation, specifically the ‘relativity graphs’ used by surveyors and others in the property industry to calculate the value of the property following the increase in the lease. It is the position of the applicant that the existing models are currently too generous to the freeholder. In May 2017, the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) ruled against a new relativity graph proposed by the applicant which would have reduced the cost of lease extension premiums for flat owners.  

Leases are known as ‘wasting assets’ as they diminish in value as they expire over time. Traditionally, mortgage lenders wouldn’t provide loans on leases below 70 years, although over the last ten years many lenders have increased this with some lenders requiring 85 years of unexpired term; 5 years beyond the point at which the ‘marriage value’ comes into effect. The marriage value is the additional premium on lease extensions paid to the freeholder that reflects the increase in the value of the property once the lease has been extended.

As a result of the increased lease extension premiums, many leaseholders who have allowed their leases to run down now face inflated costs when looking to extend. In some cases, the premium increases to the point where the property has to be sold at a reduced cost to allow the purchaser to immediately extend the lease at the same time as their purchase to obtain mortgage finance.

Whatever the result of Mundy v the Sloane Stanley Estate, here at Pinney Talfourd we advise all leaseholders to look into extending their lease long before it reaches 85 years. If you have allowed your lease to run down beyond this point, then it really is a ‘sooner rather than later’ scenario to make sure the property is marketable when you look to sell the property or extend the lease. If the legal challenge is successful, we expect changes to the way that leasehold premiums are calculated that could benefit leaseholders - but it may take time for any changes to come into effect.

 

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