Blog

Changes to Landlord and Tenant Law Announced

The Government announced recently that it proposed to change the Law in relation to “no fault evictions”. 

It is the situation at the moment if a Landlord wanted to evict a Tenant they could use what is known as the “Section 21” procedure which meant that 8 weeks’ notice was sufficient to obtain possession.  There was an alternative Section 8 process which can be used when a Tenant fails to pay rent, or breaches the terms of their agreement, or other reasons.

The Government announced that it was doing this because of the worrying increase in private rented sector homelessness.  The problem has risen with the use of the no fault procedure.  Tenants had long complained that they were kicked out of their property when they raise concerns about repairs or the condition of their property.  Landlords complain that this will make it harder to get rid of poor tenants. 

It remains to be seen how the proposed change will affect the position and the housing market.  There is no date set for the changes to be brought into force.  The Government has suggested it will amend the law to allow Landlords to take possession to sell, or move back into the property.

When these proposals come in Landlords who have properties subject to mortgages will have to review the agreements because sometimes the mortgage terms and conditions dictate what sort of tenancies can be granted.

It may of course make no difference at all because as a responsible Landlord you would want a conscientious Tenant in your property looking after it to maintain your investment.  Responsible Landlords should also take steps to ensure the property is habitable and in good repair.  Misuse of the legislation has led to the issue being raised with Government and who are now proposing to enforce change. If you are a Landlord that has an issue with a Tenant or a Tenant that has an issue with the Landlord we may be able to help.  Please contact us on 01277 221010 or contact us here.

Brexit delays increase in Probate Fees

Probate fees were due to increase as of April 1st 2019. The new fees, branded as a stealth tax, would be based on the size of the Estate. The current Probate fee is £215 or for those applying via a solicitor the cost is £155

Under the proposed plans Probate fees would increase as follows;

  • Estates valued less than £50,000 – Will pay nothing.
  • Estates valued from £50,000 – £300,000 – Will pay £250 (a rise of £35)
  • Estates valued from £300,000 – £500,000 – Will pay £750 (a rise of £535)
  • Estates valued from £500,000 up to £1 million – Will pay £2,500 (a rise of £2,285)
  • Estates valued from £1 million to £1.6 million – Will pay £4,000 (a rise of £3,785)
  • Estates valued from £1.6 million to £2 million – Will pay £5,000 (a rise of £4,785)
  • Estates valued at more than £2 million – Will pay £6,000 (a rise of £5,785)

The Statutory Instrument that would bring the revised fee scheme into force has not been laid this week due to Brexit taking precedence. The Ministry of Justice has said that the reforms will come into force as soon as possible.

The earliest that fees could come into effect would be 21 days after the motion was passed.

If the new increase was to pass and come into effect anyone considering to be an executor should take into consideration whether they will be able to pay these fees as there is no way of knowing whether the estate will be able to pay these fees as it is more than likely that banks will freeze accounts and obviously houses cannot be sold before Probate is Granted. It really is a grey area and I wonder if these new fees would put people off of being an executor?

The below article featured in the Law Gazette explains why this Statutory Instrument has yet to be passed and who has been objecting to this.

Read more

The Myth of the ‘Common Law Marriage’

As a family law solicitor I often have to break the news to clients that they do not have the ability to claim any financial support against their ex-partner even if they have been living together for years.  There is no such concept as a ‘common law marriage’.

Many people are not aware that this is not a recognised legal status or that living together does not automatically give rise to the same legal rights against their partner that they would have had if they had been married.  This is particularly worrying given that an increasing number of couples are choosing not to marry.

couple holding hands in sunset

Unmarried couples living together should be aware of the following facts:-

Children

The father who is married to the child’s mother at the time of birth will automatically acquire parental responsibility over the child.  This effectively means that they will have all of the legal rights and responsibilities that a parent will normally have in relation to their child, such as input over where their child is schooled, their religious beliefs and similar issues.

However, if the father did not marry the mother and the child was born before 1st December 2003 or he is not on the birth certificate, then he will not automatically acquire parental responsibility.  To obtain this, he will either need to enter into a formal agreement with the mother or to obtain a Court Order giving him permission. 

Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax

Your marital status can also affect whether you have to pay any tax.  Transfers of assets between a husband and wife (or civil partners) will be exempt from CGT, but this does not apply if the couple are not married.  Similarly, exemptions for inheritance tax that are given to married couples are not available to those that are unmarried.

Death

If one of an unmarried couple dies without leaving a Will, then the other will not automatically inherit their estate, whereas if they had been married, they will inherit all or most of the estate.  

Separation

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that living together will give rise to the same rights on separation as they would on divorce.  This is simply not the case.  Marriage gives a couple the potential to make a claim against all of each other’s assets, including each other’s properties.  However, there are no such rights for unmarried couples and they can only obtain a share of their partner’s property if there is a written agreement, such as a Declaration of Trust or Cohabitation Agreement allowing them to do so or they can prove they made a contribution to it, which is often difficult to do.

Similarly, whilst a spouse could pursue ongoing maintenance from their husband or wife, if they are not married, then there is only the ability to make a claim for maintenance to support any children that they have together.

Marriage is not for everyone, but if you choose to live with someone then it is important to establish your rights.

If you are planning to move in with your partner then please contact our family law department on 01277 221010 in order to discuss the possibility of putting in place a cohabitation agreement to safeguard your position and/or discuss any other issues for your benefit. 

Privacy & Drone Laws UK

Their growing use has set the demand for regulation and a regulatory framework for licence or permission, liability and privacy and data protection.

drone in the sky at sunset

A drone is just one of the terms used to describe these many light aircrafts which have so many wide ranging uses. This article is not designed to detail the air regulations, licence or permission for commercial operation of these devices or further legal issues of trespass and nuisance but to focus on the data protection and privacy elements of the usage of these Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

How drones can impact privacy

The EU Commission published an analysis on data protection and the civil use of drones in 2015 which identified drones as technology which are increasingly used. In relation to data protection and privacy, drones normally carry video cameras and allow pilots to fly them. These images can be easily recorded and stored, and are often uploaded onto the internet. The privacy of private life and property can be interfered with and violated when drones capture images of people in their houses or gardens. A series of other applications and payloads can also be installed on drones, allowing the gathering and processing of personal data and seriously interfering with and potentially violating citizens’ rights to privacy and data protection.

There is no specific legislation at present which focuses purely on Data Protection, privacy and drone usage but current legislation including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) demonstrate that the law is recognising the rapid pace of technology changes and the rights of the individual.

The legislation recognises the importance of freedom of expression and recognises peoples privacy with the intention to strike a balance. The Information Commissioner has published guidance on drone usage and a code of practice for surveillance cameras and personal information which is available on the Information Commissions Website.

The potential for privacy and data protection risks to be associated with UAS usage is high and cannot be underestimated.

The majority of civilian drones use congested industrial radio frequencies typically used for amateur radio and where there are unencrypted data links used, they can be vulnerable to interception and hacking. The Civil Aviation Authority recommends the use of a spectrum analyses to assist and assess the radio frequency congestion. However, the danger is there for interception.

Drones and GDPR

A drone is technology and is a device that capable of being intercepted. The GDPR sets out in Article 32, details regarding the security of processing data. It is this section which sets out the specific requirement for an organisation to put in place technical and organisational measures to safeguard data. Before using a drone for commercial reasons it is therefore imperative in order to be compliant with the GDPR to ensure that these measures are taken.

The EU GDPR and the DPA deliver a fundamental change in how data controllers and processors handle data – which includes images of individuals captured on drones. Protection for personal data and privacy will now have to be designed into the very fabric of data processing systems and the use of these types of technology.

It is likely with increased usage and Brexit that drones will force a further and specific legislation change to ensure greater regulation but until that time data privacy and protection are encapsulated within the core elements of the GDPR and also the key Data Protection Principles contained in the DPA.

What is the Inheritance Act 1975?

The Inheritance Act 1975 allows a wide range of people to make a claim against an estate wherein the deceased’s will does not make reasonable financial provisions for them or in cases of intestacy.  Such provision can be procured from monetary assets as well as from others forming part of the estate.

Who can claim under Inheritance Act 1975?

The following people are eligible to claim:

  • The spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • The former spouses or civil partners of the deceased, provided they haven’t married again or engaged in another civil partnership.
  • Children of the deceased
  • Any person who was considered as a child of the marriage or civil partnership
  • The cohabitant of the deceased

Under Section 3 of 1975 Act, following factors would be taken into consideration by the court before making a decision to grant a financial provision to the claimant.

  • The size and nature of the estate of the deceased.
  • The financial resources/assets and needs of the applicant
  • The financial resources/assets and needs of other applicants
  • The financial resources/assets and needs of the beneficiaries
  • If the applicant or beneficiary is physically or mentally disabled.
  • If the deceased is indebted or has any responsibilities towards any applicant or beneficiary
  • Any other factor including conduct or behaviour which the court finds relevant.

The Court also considers some factors relating to particular type of claimant.  For instance, in the case of a spouse or civil partner, the court will consider the age of the claimant and the duration of the marriage or civil partnership.  They will also take into account the claimant’s contribution to the well-being of the deceased’s family and what the claimant would have received in the event of divorce or dissipation.

The Court will finally make orders if they are satisfied that reasonable financial provision has not been made for the claimant.  This order may include the transfer of assets to the claimant, payment of lump sum money out of the deceased’s estate to the claimant, periodical payment by the estate for a stipulated period of time.

 

Satwinder Sahota Satwinder@sanderswitherspoon.co.uk 01277 889251 01277 219125 Billericay, United Kingdom

How can I help you?

Complete the short form to request a confidential assessment of your legal issue.

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What is Bitcoin?

How is Bitcoin relevant to applying for Probate?

Bitcoin is a form of Cryptocurrency. If this makes your head hurt then we will try and help you understand. It was the same way for us when we came across the term. Cryptocurrency is something that exists in the virtual world. It is has no physical presence like a coin or note, you will never hold it in your hand. It is a digital asset. You hold it in a virtual “wallet” with a provider or on your smartphone or computer. You pay money in and convert your funds into the type of currency you want to hold or trade. There are many types of coin Bitcoin, Etherium, Litecoin, Ripple XRP etc.

Why is cryptocurrency or bitcoin be relevant to making a will or in applying for probate?

Well the assets are not held in a normal way so they are very difficult to trace. Someone could hide a fortune in a virtual account, you would never know unless you had their log in details or their “cryptokey”. They are not held in the normal banking system so cannot be traced unless you know how. For instance, if I wanted to hide my cash from my partner I could put it all in crypto. If someone is investing or trading secretly much like gambling you might not know until it is too late. That is why it would be important to know how to get access to the account by way of usernames, passwords and cryptokeys. They would still form part of a deceased’s estate so they would need to accessed, gathered, declared and distributed.

Why is a lasting power of attorney so important with cryptocurrency

It is particularly important that you make a Lasting Power of Attorney in case you lose the ability to manage your affairs so someone can manage them for you. Your investment as with any other could be lost or severely damaged if not looked after.

There is a case currently whereby a fund manager has died and the $190m under his control looks like it could be locked away forever without the investors being able to get it back.

Tim Gir

tim@sanderswitherspoon.co.uk

01277 889251

01277 219125

Billericay, United Kingdom

How can we help you?

Complete the brief form to request a confidential assessment of your legal issue.

[formidable id=4 title=false description=false]

How does cryptocurrency work?

The process is controlled by Blockchain technology. This is a public system which records every transaction simultaneously. It provides an almost instantaneous transaction process. It is said to be impregnable and cannot be changed as any hacker would have to change every record on every system where the records are held at the same time.

There is no central bank and they are not recognised by Governments or financial institutions as a formal currency. However, they have become increasingly relevant and are traded in their £$billions every day.  This is why they are becoming increasingly popular with organised crime and money launderers and people that simply want to “stay off the grid”. The transactions are almost untraceable.

When Bitcoin was launched it was worth almost nothing but by December 2017 it reached a record high of $19,783.21 per coin! It is now trading at around $3500 per coin. You can see the attraction in investing and trading in these currencies. Trading is only for those that know what they are doing. It is very risky and you should be aware you can lose as well as make money.

It seems advances are being made daily into established practices. There is even talk of a currency called Ripple XRP replacing the Swift and other banking systems. This is the process banks use to transfer money internationally. The present system is said to cumbersome and costly. Ripple think they can reduce the costs to users substantially.

Starting with cryptocurrency

If you wanted to start investing in cryptocurrency a place to start could be a site such as Binance  which has some good tutorials. If you use their own coin to pay fees they give you a discount. Please be very careful and take advice before risking any money. We cannot offer you any advice about investing or trading.

If you are thinking of making a will do not delay. We can assist in helping you get though the process contact us on

Cryptocurrency and your will

How is Bitcoin relevant to applying for Probate?

Bitcoin is a form of Cryptocurrency. If this makes your head hurt then we will try and help you understand. It was the same way for us when we came across the term. Cryptocurrency is something that exists in the virtual world. It is has no physical presence like a coin or note, you will never hold it in your hand. It is a digital asset. You hold it in a virtual “wallet” with a provider or on your smartphone or computer. You pay money in and convert your funds into the type of currency you want to hold or trade. There are many types of coin Bitcoin, Etherium, Litecoin, Ripple XRP etc.

Why is cryptocurrency or bitcoin be relevant to making a will or in applying for probate?

Well the assets are not held in a normal way so they are very difficult to trace. Someone could hide a fortune in a virtual account, you would never know unless you had their log in details or their “cryptokey”. They are not held in the normal banking system so cannot be traced unless you know how. For instance, if I wanted to hide my cash from my partner I could put it all in crypto. If someone is investing or trading secretly much like gambling you might not know until it is too late. That is why it would be important to know how to get access to the account by way of usernames, passwords and cryptokeys. They would still form part of a deceased’s estate so they would need to accessed, gathered, declared and distributed.

Why is a lasting power of attorney so important with cryptocurrency

It is particularly important that you make a Lasting Power of Attorney in case you lose the ability to manage your affairs so someone can manage them for you. Your investment as with any other could be lost or severely damaged if not looked after.

There is a case currently whereby a fund manager has died and the $190m under his control looks like it could be locked away forever without the investors being able to get it back.

Louise Welch

Louise@sanderswitherspoon.co.uk

01277 889251

01277 219125

Billericay, United Kingdom

How can we help you?

Complete the brief form to request a confidential assessment of your legal issue.

[formidable id=4 title=false description=false]

How does cryptocurrency work?

The process is controlled by Blockchain technology. This is a public system which records every transaction simultaneously. It provides an almost instantaneous transaction process. It is said to be impregnable and cannot be changed as any hacker would have to change every record on every system where the records are held at the same time.

There is no central bank and they are not recognised by Governments or financial institutions as a formal currency. However, they have become increasingly relevant and are traded in their £$billions every day.  This is why they are becoming increasingly popular with organised crime and money launderers and people that simply want to “stay off the grid”. The transactions are almost untraceable.

When Bitcoin was launched it was worth almost nothing but by December 2017 it reached a record high of $19,783.21 per coin! It is now trading at around $3500 per coin. You can see the attraction in investing and trading in these currencies. Trading is only for those that know what they are doing. It is very risky and you should be aware you can lose as well as make money.

It seems advances are being made daily into established practices. There is even talk of a currency called Ripple XRP replacing the Swift and other banking systems. This is the process banks use to transfer money internationally. The present system is said to cumbersome and costly. Ripple think they can reduce the costs to users substantially.

Starting with cryptocurrency

If you wanted to start investing in cryptocurrency a place to start could be a site such as Binance  which has some good tutorials. If you use their own coin to pay fees they give you a discount. Please be very careful and take advice before risking any money. We cannot offer you any advice about investing or trading.

If you are thinking of making a will do not delay. We can assist in helping you get though the process contact us on

Successfully applying for a Child Arrangements Order

Sanders Witherspoon have successfully acted for the father on an application for a Child Arrangements Order. At that time, the child was living with her mother and spending time with her father. The father instructed us as he was seeking to alter this so that his daughter came to live with him permanently. A Section 7 CAFCASS Report had been directed by the Court in which recommendations were made that the child’s living arrangements should indeed be altered to enable her to live with her father and instead spend time with her mother. The CAFCASS officer had used assessment tools relating to parenting styles of both parents and these revealed a huge variation in insight.

The indicators by the CAFCASS officer showed that:-

  • The relationship between mother and daughter was likely to become more turbulent due to the parenting style adopted by the mother.
  • It appeared to be a relationship more akin to siblings than mother and daughter. It was felt that the mother needed to get the right support and help which would benefit her being able to care for her child in the future and to put in place the appropriate parenting strategies.
  • The father was best equipped to provide the care and boundaries needed which were in the child’s best interests.
  • The mother’s home conditions were also a factor in the decision in the recommendations and the decision made by the Court to change the child’s living arrangements.

The Court took the view that our client, the father, had been consistent and credible in his evidence and had demonstrated his love for the child when advancing his proposals to support his application. The mother on the other hand, appeared to be inconsistent in evidence, at times seeking to minimise her levels of chastisement. However, she seemed willing to access parenting support, albeit belatedly.

Evidence of the mother’s home conditions were factors that the court could not ignore. It was felt that the child should not be exposed to this for any length of time as it could prove harmful for her health. The property was untidy and unclean both of which can and should be rectified in order to provide the child with a safe home environment. In contrast, the father’s property was more child focused and clean and tidy.

The Court having considered all of the evidence decided that the father at this time was the best person to provide the child with the relevant care. A Child Arrangements Order was therefore made in favour of the father and defined arrangements put in place for the child to spend time with her mother.

The Court followed the Welfare Checklist contained in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 very closely when making their decision – the status quo not always being preserved – and having the right representation was very important to ensure that crucial evidence was put before the Court to assist them in the decision making process.

How to Appeal against a conviction for Dangerous Driving


Contact Us about a Dangerous Driving Charge

Sanders Witherspoon LLP are delighted to confirm the successful outcome of a long running ordeal for one of our clients charged with dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen.

The case had gone on for well over a year since our client was charged with driving his Ferrari at over 100 miles per hour in heavy traffic. Our client was on bail for a very long time. There were allegations of aggressive driving, tailgating and speeding, these were all made by police officers who said they followed his vehicle. Our client was stopped a number of miles later after the police had allegedly lost sight of his vehicle. He was then subjected to a roadside breath test which they said he failed and was then arrested. Upon arriving at the police station he was asked to provide a specimen of breath which he tried to do but was unable. He had a medical condition which meant it affected his ability to blow into the machine.

Our client was charged with dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis. He went on trial last year at the Crown Court for the dangerous driving. We were able to show that the police evidence was unreliable in that he would have had to have been travelling faster than a Jumbo Jet at 35,000 feet if what they said was true. His vehicle was also said to have appeared on a road where it simply could not have been. A jury found him not guilty.

A trial then took place at Southend Magistrates’ Court on the failing to provide a specimen because the prosecution wanted to continue the case against him. After a hearing before lay magistrates the court excluded evidence which they said was inadmissible because of serious and persistent breaches of procedure under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. These cases can be successfully defended if done the right way and with lawyers that are prepared to examine every single point in the case. Our client paid privately to defend himself as he didn’t qualify for legal aid. Our client was awarded costs from central funds in relation to the Magistrates Court proceedings and whilst this will not fully reimburse his legal fees, the fact that our client was able to retain his driving licence and his unblemished good character, meant that it was an all-round wise investment.

How to Appeal against using a mobile phone whilst driving


For help with contesting a mobile phone conviction contact us now

We are delighted to confirm the result of a hearing at the Magistrates Court this week which resulted in an acquittal to a mobile phone prosecution.

Our client was summonsed in relation to using a mobile phone whilst driving. He was stationary in traffic on the day the penalties were increased to a £200 fine and 6 points. A police officer detained our client and accused him of using his mobile phone whilst driving. This can happen even whilst you are stationery in traffic. Our client had merely picked up the phone and rejected a call and then put the phone back down. There was a disagreement at the side of the road over what had happened and our client was summonsed to attend Court. At the proceedings, we were able to persuade the prosecution their case was hopeless as our client was not using the mobile phone or handheld device as alleged. They agreed that they had no prospect of a successful conviction, and offered no evidence. Our client was awarded a contribution towards his legal costs by the Court.

The consequences of receiving 6 penalty points on your driving licence can be fatal if you already have 6 points or more. A conviction for this client could have led to a driving ban of at least 6 months. If you have a similar problem, and require advice or assistance in relation to any driving matter, please contact us on 01277 221010. We have a wealth of experience and lawyers who are ready to fight your corner.