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Legal 500 UK 2015 Results

Pinney Talfourd have been recommended in an outstanding eight categories by the Legal 500 UK 2015.
Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors have been recommended yet again when the Legal 500 UK results were published this week. These lists are carefully selected after rigorous assessment and provide a guide to the top providers in each region.



Pinney Talfourd is now recommended for excellence in the South East/ Essex area for:
Partner Stephen Eccles is praised for his ‘ability to grasp the key issues in complex cases’. His team is adept at handling shareholder, partnership, banking and director disqualification cases. The firm is also described as ‘streets ahead in terms of customer service’.

The firm is also described as ‘a reliable and proactive outfit’ that acts for small private owner-managed businesses through to large plc companies. Julien Pritchard is described as ‘an asset to have on side’.

Managing Partner, Philip Cockram said: "We are delighted that our hard work has been recognised yet again in such a prestigious listing. I am very proud of the team here and the fact that individuals have been singled out for their excellent work just goes to show that we are meeting our objectives of a first class service with first class results.”

If you would like to find out more about Legal 500 UK please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click on any of the listed categories to find out more about the teams.
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What will 7 May mean for commerce?

meetingboardroom
With the election just days away we look at what this means for business: what are the main parties saying they’ll do when it comes to commerce?
 
Many areas of commerce have been tackled, with parties agreeing on the need tackle cyber issues in order to keep the UK at the forefront of the business world. We take a look at their promises below:


Superfast broadband

All the parties are committed to rolling this out across the country, including reducing “not spots” in more rural and remotes parts of the country.


Cyber attacks

All parties have addressed the threat from cyber attacks, with the Conservatives leaning more towards criminal law solutions, while the Labour party favour reporting requirements of those that have suffered an attack.


Privacy and data protection

All parties are conscious of the threats to personal privacy in this internet age, with the Liberal Democrats particularly concerned to strengthen the powers of the Information Commissioner.


Freedom of information

There is a move towards extending this right to a degree. Labour, for example, intends to extend it to public companies that undertake public sector work.


Press and broadcast

The parties all tread carefully round the Leveson recommendations, possibly wary of antagonising the press in the run up to the election, but they all express their admiration of the BBC and their commitment to public service broadcasting.


Creative industries

All parties see the arts and other creative industries as a huge UK national asset and all emphasise the need to foster an environment in which such industries can flourish, including greater protection for intellectual property and continued tax incentives.

It will be interesting to see who comes into power and what they will tackle first.

Please contact us on 01708 229 444 for more information on how this may affect your business or visit the Company and Commercial page to find out more.

This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at May 2015.
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Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Act 2015

meetingboardroom
New legislation to take effect this year is the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015.
 
Measures will come into effect for all companies, large and small, as they are directed at producing greater transparency; so that UK companies cannot, for instance, be used to buy property with no way of finding out who the ultimate owner is.
 
The general feeling is that the current law left the UK vulnerable to being used to shelter the proceeds of crime, especially from abroad.

The Act is to be implemented in stages.

For 2015, the following will come into force

  • Within the next couple of months bearer shares will be abolished, so a shareholder’s name will always have to appear on the Register of Members. All bearer shares will have to be surrendered by the end of 2015. This is only likely to affect the largest companies, such as those quoted on the Stock Exchange.


From October, provisions will come into force that will affect every company, including smaller owner-managed and family companies

  • All directors will have to be natural persons i.e. it will no longer be possible for one company (or other corporation) to be the director of another (without leave of the Registrar of Companies). Existing corporate directors will have a year to come off the register.
  • Measures will be put in place to resolve disputes around the appointment of directors and any change of registered office to prevent corporate hijack (where an outsider takes over a company at Companies House and excludes the true board with a view to stealing its assets).
  • The procedure to strike companies off at Companies House will become easier.
Further provisions will come into effect in 2016, so look out for the next Commercial Bitesize on this Act.


Find out more 

Please contact us on 01708 229 444 for more information on how this may affect your business or visit the Company and Commercial page to find out more.

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2015 Budget and Commercial Property

george-osborne-budget
The final Budget of this Parliament was delivered in March. Julien Pritchard considers some of the headline issues affecting the commercial property sector.
 

Business Rates overhaul

The main announcement which is of  interest  is the government’s commitment to the long-promised (and some would say overdue) review of business rates. Large and small business has been lobbying on this issue for some time now highlighting the adverse effect which the system has on business (especially  SME’s) and the adverse effect the system has on economic recovery. This should be good news for the property sector. However, only time will tell.

Enterprise zones

The government has announced a number of new enterprise zones but unfortunately none in the South East of England.

Flooding

Tax relief will be granted for contributions to flood defence projects.

Housing

The government has announced the Help to Buy: ISA. First-time buyers who choose to save through a Help to Buy: ISA will receive a government bonus, which will be calculated and paid when they buy their first home. We do not expect this to have a marked effect on this sector but it will assist some.

House building

The March 2015 Budget sets out information on the government's commitment to house building. This includes (subject to a business case) £7 million funding from 2015-16 to 2019-20 to the Greater London Authority to support the delivery of the Croydon Growth Zone, which could unlock over 4,000 homes and £97 million of funding to support the London Borough of Barnet and the Greater London Authority's plans for the regeneration of Brent Cross, unlocking 7,500 new homes. This will in my view assist growth in this area.

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2015 Budget And Your Taxes

george-osborne-budget
Chancellor George Osborne delivered his sixth and final Budget of this Parliament on 18 March. We summarise the key changes here.
 

We also explain the unexpected announcement about a review of Deeds of Variation that could lead to changes to Inheritance Tax planning opportunities for families on death.


Income Tax 

For those born after 5 April 1938 the personal allowance will be increased to £10,600, increasing to £10,800 in 2016/17 and to £11,000 in 2017/18.

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The threshold at which the higher rate band of 40% applies will rise from £41,865 to £42,385 increasing to £42,700 in 2016/17 and £43,300 in 2017/18. The additional rate of tax of 45% is payable on taxable income above £150,000.

A further change is the departure from annual paper tax returns which will be replaced with a digital tax account. This will enable individuals and small businesses to see and manage their tax return online.


Pensions

The total amount of pension contributions that an individual can accumulate over their lifetime (known as the ‘lifetime allowance’) will be reduced (from 6 April 2016) from £1.25 million to £1 million. The lifetime allowance will be indexed annually in line with the Consumer Price Index from 6 April 2018.

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Commercial Leases - To Renew or Not?

Commercial lease renewals under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 continue to be a frequent source of litigation for the Courts.
 

As the commercial property market continues to come out of recession, there have been an increasing number of cases where landlords are refusing to renew commercial leases. 

Under the LTA 54, a commercial tenant within the Act has the right to renew the lease on basically the same terms as previous subject to agreement as to rent and modern updating. 

There are however specific grounds on which a Landlord can refuse to renew. 

An example of this was in the case of Mussellwhite v Yoseffi. The landlord opposed the renewal of a lease where the tenant had persistently refused the landlord access to inspect the property, had made rent payments late, and had failed to open the premises as a shop in contravention of the lease. 

The Court agreed that the landlord was entitled not to renew and terminated the tenant’s interest.  The tenant appealed and in July 2014 the Appeal Court ruled in favour of the landlord holding that lack of access and failure to use the premises as agreed were substantial breaches of the lease.

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Resolving disputes in 2015

JacksonReport
"The Jackson Reforms" look set to continue to change the litigation landscape in 2015. Head of Dispute Resolution, Stephen Eccles, looks at what to expect.
 
There have been key changes in the rules of litigation over the last couple of years and new rules and procedures are currently working through the civil justice system. These have become known as “The Jackson Reforms”

It is the development of these new rules and procedures that represent change anticipated through 2015.

THE MOST RELEVANT CHANGES TO COMMERCIAL DISPUTES ARE:

  • the expansion of permitted contingency fee arrangements
  • increases to damages where a Defendant fails to beat a Claimant’s settlement offer
  • cost budgeting
The rules of procedure (CPR) have been amended to promote the avoidance of delay and a saving of legal costs. There will be a much stricter approach to 'parties to litigation' complying with each and every part of Court Orders made in the management of cases with stricter deadlines and timetables.

COURT COSTS 

The reforms have resulted in a vast increase in applications to the Court, an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the reforms. This comes at a time when the County Court system is suffering considerable difficulties in dealing with existing workloads and no additional resources for the County Court system, indeed rather the reverse.

We do not expect to see any increase in the funding of the Court system save through the increase in Court fees. We expect to see Court fees increase significantly both for issue of proceedings, and all applications, including Trial fees. The government’s aim is to make the Court system self-funding through the Court fee structure.  It is a particular worry that the Court system will not be able to cope and we are seeing considerable delays in the Court system in obtaining dates for hearing of applications and Trials. 

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

There continues to be considerable emphasis by the Judiciary on attempting to settle disputes without recourse to the Courts via alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which includes both arbitration and mediation. 

The Judiciary have made it clear that parties unreasonably refusing to mediate may well face cost sanctions. Cost sanctions are the primary method by which the Judiciary will seek to limit litigation and encourage parties to use ADR.

CONCLUSION

It is more important than ever to obtain legal advice at a very early stage in dispute resolution. If litigation is commenced, the combination of cost sanctions and the Jackson Reforms mean that a case must be ready to proceed to Trial on issue. Therefore we expect to see much more pre-action correspondence and fewer issued cases as prudent litigators will not wish to issue proceedings prematurely.

Where proceedings are issued, we expect to see much more detailed timetabling by the Courts which, combined with the much greater sanctions available for non-compliance with Orders, will substantially discourage the issue of speculative or under prepared litigation cases.

I will keep you up to date on developments with these reforms in the monthly Pinney Talfourd newsletter. If you are not already on our mailing list you can subscribe here.

In the meantime, if you need to discuss what these reforms will mean for any of your current disputes please contact me.

 
This article was written by Stephen Eccles, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at February 2015.
 
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The growing trend of cohabiting couples

Cohabiting is on the increase and many people believe they have "common law" rights. But this is not the case.
 
On 28 January 2015 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its Household and Families 2014 statistical bulletin, providing annual statistics on the number of families by type, people in families by type and children in families by type.

KEY FINDINGS

  • In 2014 there were 18.6 million families in the UK. Of these, 12.5 million were married couple families. This is the most common family type in the UK.
  • Cohabiting couple families grew by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014. This is the fastest growing type of family in the UK.
  • In 2014 there were 2.0 million lone parents with dependent children in the UK. Women accounted for 91% of lone parents with dependent children.

Cohabiting couple families account for 16.4% of all families in the UK.

51% of respondents to the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2008 thought that unmarried couples who live together for some time probably or definitely had a “common law marriage” giving them the same legal rights as married couples.

This is not legally the case.

YOUR RIGHTS

There is a bill which addresses the rights of cohabiting couples which is in the early stages of passing through the parliament and therefore the law may change in the future.

However, right now, couples who live together have very few rights in law in the event of relationship breakdown.  There is no such thing as a 'common-law' husband or wife and there is no length of co-habitation that will change this.

The Family Team at Pinney Talfourd can advise regarding cohabitation agreements and trust deeds to help protect couples and their assets in the event of separation.

Call 01708 229 444 for more information or visit the Family Law webpage to book an appointment online and get peace of mind.

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More employment changes in store for 2015

AlexP
2014 saw a number of changes in employment law and 2015 looks to continue at the same pace.

Our employment law solicitor Alex Pearce has been providing regular updates throughout 2014 on the changes in employment law. Now he looks at what's in store in the coming year.

A look back

Employment law has always been a fast paced area of law with frequent changes.

As we enter into a New Year, 2014 saw a number of major changes to employment law including:

  • changes to TUPE 2006
  • ACAS Early Conciliation became mandatory
  • discrimination questionnaires were abolished
  • financial penalties imposed by Tribunals for employers who lose in the Employment Tribunal where there are aggravating factors 
  • the right to request flexible working for all employees with 26 weeks service come into force


A look forward

2015 will bring about further changes.

This month we have already seen the new clawback provisions which apply to any variable remuneration awarded by PRA-authorised firms since 1 January 2015 and a ban on "overseas only" recruitment by employment agencies.

On the 5 April 2015, a new system of shared parental leave will be available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption with them on or after that date. Eligible employees will be entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks' leave and 39 weeks' statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of a child, which can be shared between the parents.

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Property Prospects in 2015

Julien-Pritchard
With the dawn of a new year, what should we expect 2015 to bring for property practitioners? Head of Commercial Property, Julien Pritchard, gives us an insight.
The influence of the approaching general election on 7 May 2015 was evident through much of the 2014 Autumn Statement, not least the surprise restructuring of Stamp Duty Land Tax. 

Political commentators have enjoyed characterising the changes as canny, a sharp attempt to outmanoeuvre the proponents of a mansion tax. For those working in the residential property market it will be interesting to see what effect the change in rates has on the spring market in 2015.

Highlights to look out for in 2015 include:

  • A year behind schedule, the new Common Agricultural Policy regime will get underway with the commencement of the Basic Payment Scheme and work to flesh out the successor Rural Development Programme continuing. We shall have to wait and see the impact this has on the agricultural sector.
  • Landlord and tenant lawyers will be delighted if the Supreme Court hears the appeal in Marks and Spencer plc v BNP Paribas Securities Services Trust Company (Jersey) Ltd and another [2014] this year. This is a case which required a lease to contain an express clause to refund rent paid in advance following the exercise of a break in a lease and is viewed as unfair by many practitioners. As leave to appeal was only granted in November 2014, having this decision reviewed in 2015 may be optimistic.
  • The immigration pilot requiring residential landlord's to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and occupiers is likely to be expanded across further regions.
  • The Law Commission published its final report, Rights to Light (Law Com No 356) and draft Right to Light (Injunctions) Bill, in December 2014, recommending significant changes in the law relating to rights to light. The government's interim response is anticipated by late spring, and its final response before the year ends. This will impact on developers in the coming months and years.
  • The Stamp Duty Land Tax Bill 2014-15 (which has been given provisional statutory effect by virtue of a House of Commons resolution under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968).
  • In the 2014 Autumn Statement, the government announced both a structural review of business rates (to report by Budget 2016) and publication, for comment, of a paper on business rates avoidance (now published). Various sections of the business community had been lobbying for the structural review and will be eager to participate in consultations and evidence gathering during 2015. As we all know business rates and their application can make or break a business and are of particular importance to some entities such as Charities who currently have an exemption.
I will be keeping you up to date on developments within the world of commercial property in the monthly Pinney Talfourd newsletter. If you are not already on our mailing list you can subscribe here.

In the meantime, I wish you all a prosperous 2015.


This article was written by Julien Pritchard, Partner and Head of the Commercial Property Team at Pinney Talfourd. This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at January 2015.
 
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2015 - the year of the consumer?

Terri-Corti
2014 saw the main focus of commercial law on consumer protection legislation. Terri Corti looks at what this means for you the consumer.

The Consumer Rights Directive

The Consumer Rights Directive came into force on 13 June 2014 and strengthens the existing Distance Selling Regulations. This means that consumers cannot be subject to unwarranted and additional charges e.g. credit card payment surcharges must now not be ‘excessive’.

It also adds additional automatic rights of cancellation for consumer contracts, so that, for instance, ancillary contracts are also automatically cancelled at the same time.


The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

The Government added a new right to sue for aggressive or misleading selling practices from 1 October 2014; this is again a protection limited to consumers.

This give you new rights to redress - specifically if you've been the victim of a misleading action - for example a false statement - or aggressive selling.

These break down into three key areas:

  • A right to undo the contract. You will be able to end the contract as long as you haven't fully consumed goods or digital products, or received a service in full. To get a refund you will also have to exercise your right to unwind the contract not more than 90 days from when you received the goods or the service started.  This is on the provision that any goods supplied to you are made available for collection by the trader. 
  • A right to a discount on the price paid. You will be able to seek a discount in respect of past or future payments due under a contract. The new regulations entitle you to a 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% discount on the payments depending on whether the trader's breach is considered to be minor, significant, serious or very serious.  The level of seriousness of the trader's actions will depend on their behaviour, the impact this has had on you and how long it has been since you signed the contract.
  • An entitlement to seek damages. If you incur a financial loss that you wouldn't have done if it weren't for the trader's actions, you will be able to make a claim for damages.  A claim can also be made if you have suffered alarm, distress or physical inconvenience or discomfort as a result of the trader's actions. Be aware that these regulations give the trader a defence to a claim for damages in certain circumstance, for example if they can demonstrate that their actions were accidental, due to a mistake or factors outside their control. 
Generally, this emphasis on consumer legislation is set to continue in 2015 with the Consumer Rights Bill and the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill both originally scheduled to receive the Royal Assent (and so become law) in this Parliamentary session.

However, the General Election of 2015 is fast approaching, and it may well be that this ‘housekeeping’ legislation goes by the wayside in the face of an incoming Parliament’s new legislative programme.

 

The Company and Commercial team will be providing regular updates and information in the monthly Pinney Talfourd newsletter. If you are not already on our mailing list you can subscribe here.

 
This article was written by Terri Corti, Consultant Solicitor in the Commercial Team at Pinney Talfourd. This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at January 2015.
 
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