Old Bailey

Can multi-track claims be expedited?

The court process can be an unpleasant experience for litigants, particularly when a trial may be lengthy and the costs incurred could be considerable. These issues are more common in complicated or high value cases allocated to the multi-track of the court system.

Part 29 of the Civil Procedure Rules provides guidance on the procedure to be followed from allocation to trial in multi-track cases.

As of 01 October 2014 the Count Court in central London is partaking in a pilot study aiming to reduce the number of hearings in multi-track cases. The new scheme is predicted to cut the duration of cases by an average of 3 months. This of course will be beneficial to litigants as it will not only reduce time but also reduce cost and one should hope, any stress attributed to the engagement in court proceedings.

The pilot will last 12 months after which the Civil Procedure Rule Committee will consider and review the findings.

Whether the pilot scheme is successful remains to be seen but of course we will keep updating this website with developments and draw a conclusion from the final report.

By Paul Stubbs

EHL Solicitors

October brings big legal changes

Most months see a change in the law somewhere, but there’s rarely a major shake-up across several areas of British legislation overnight.

October 1st 2014 should be remembered as a red-letter day for new legislation, with several landmark changes coming into force.

Here’s a summary of some of the main alterations to British law to come into effect on October 1st.

Tax Discs

Probably the most widely publicised change is the abolition of the paper tax disc that must be displayed in the windscreen of taxed road vehicles.

From now on, a computer register will record which vehicles are taxed and which are not – and significantly, tax can no longer be transferred to the new owner when a vehicle is sold.

That means new owners must tax and insure the vehicle themselves, and the previous owner must apply for a partial refund of any remaining months.

Help to Buy

Homes bought under the government’s Help to Buy scheme can no longer be purchased using mortgages at excessive income multiples.

Up to 15% of each lender’s portfolio is exempt from this rule, but beyond that point the remaining 85% of mortgages must be at income multiples of 4.5x or less.

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage stands at £6.50 for over-21s as of October 1st 2014, up from £6.31.

For 18-20s it’s £5.13, under-18s receive £3.79 and apprentices get £2.73 – and you have to be of school-leaving age or over in order to qualify.

Intellectual Property

Finally, several reforms to intellectual property laws make it easier to use digital content in the way many people already have done for many years.

By Martin Wragg

Pricketts Solicitors

Copying music from a CD to an MP3 player has finally been legalised, clearing up any doubt as to whether or not doing so represents making a permitted ‘backup copy’ or not.

And using other people’s content for the purposes of parody has also been legalised, making internet mash-ups a legitimate form of comedy for the first time in the UK.

Business

My company is lending me money. What is Section 197?

A company may lend money to a director for a number of reasons.  This could be to use the director’s loan account before dividends are formally declared or for a specific purpose.  Each reason needs to be considered on the basis of its own merits.

Section 197 of the Companies Act 2006 provides protection to the shareholders by enabling companies to make loans to its directors with shareholder consent. The shareholders will have to pass an ordinary resolution, (more than 50% of shareholders will have to agree to make the loan to the director).

Further requirements must be satisfied in addition to obtaining shareholder consent.  A written memorandum setting out the nature of the transaction, the amount and the purpose of the loan must be declared to the shareholders before they give their pass the ordinary resolution.

There are many other aspects of any loan to be granted which should be considered in detail and it is therefore important to take advice before lending or borrowing any money.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact EHL’s business law department.

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer.  If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our solicitors who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

By Bijal Patel

EHL Solicitors

Divorce

Bully for you: 180 Italian divorces annulled by High Court

The UK’s High Court family division has annulled 180 Italian couples’ divorces, after it was found that an incorrect address had been supplied for at least one of the partners in each case.

One couple gave an address in Epsom, while the remaining 179 all involved one partner claiming to reside in a mailbox in Maidenhead.

The latter address – given in the paperwork for each divorce as Flat 201, 5 High Street, Maidenhead – was actually a commercial mailbox number.

Investigating officer DS Jonathan Groenen pointed out in his witness statement: “It is not possible for 179 applicants or respondents to reside at this address.”

High Court Judge Sir James Munby added in his verdict: “Indeed, given the dimensions of the mailbox, it is clear that not even a single individual, however small, could possibly reside in it.”

The situation arose due to fraudulent attempts to circumvent Italy’s snail-pace judicial system, and a woman named as Dr Frederica Russo charged around €4,000 per time to provide the mailbox address to Italian couples, whose claimed residency in the UK allowed them to divorce more quickly.

But in February 2012, a Burnley County Court staff member spotted the same address on two separate files, which was clearly an impossibility.

It was later found that Dr Russo had sent applications via many different county courts to make the fraud harder to spot.

The 180 discovered incidents of fraud have now led to those divorces being annulled, meaning the parties involved are actually still married.

Significantly, this is still the case even if one or both parties has remarried or had a child – raising further questions that may require answering in the UK or Italian family courts further down the line.

By Martin Wragg

Pricketts Solicitors

 

Business Will

Commercial: How to protect confidential information

Confidential information is in most cases a fundamental asset of a business. Businesses rely on all sorts of information when carrying out their day to day objectives including customer lists, supplier agreements, financial and strategic information.  When negotiating the sale of a business, for example, the sellers will want to protect information they deem to be confidential and given that the business may be sold to a competitor, it is important to ensure adequate protection is in place.

Some information can be protected if the scenario applies (such as trademark protection and patent protection) but in the majority of cases, the information will usually only be protected as a business asset if it is kept confidential.

Here are some ways of keeping information confidential:

  • Put in place confidentiality agreements where there are express obligations not to disclose or misuse confidential information (this is particularly useful when business owners are negotiating a sale);
  • Mark any relevant documents as ‘confidential’ where ever possible;
  • Store the information in a place which is not easily accessible and only authorised persons can access it;
  • Put in place a confidentiality policy and make the persons who are connected to the business aware of this policy; and
  • Only disclose information that is confidential to third parties if extremely necessary and reasonable.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact EHL’s business law department.

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer.  If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our solicitors who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

By Bijal Patel

EHL Solicitors

David Cameron

Cameron pledges to ‘sort out’ human rights

David Cameron has pledged to ‘sort out’ the issue of human rights – by scrapping the Human Rights Act.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference, Mr Cameron explained that the notion of inalienable human rights for all people, no matter what, is not necessarily something the British Parliament agrees with.

“When that charter was written, in the aftermath of the Second World War, it set out the basic rights we should respect,” he explained

“But since then, interpretations of that charter have led to a whole lot of things that are frankly wrong. Rulings to stop us deporting suspected terrorists.

“The suggestion that you’ve got to apply the human rights convention even on the battlefields of Helmand. And now they want to give prisoners the vote. I’m sorry, I just don’t agree.”

His suggestion seems to be that certain actions can relinquish individuals’ human rights, based on their own infringements towards others.

Acts of terrorism or of war, for instance, or crimes committed in the UK or against British citizens, mean that under a Conservative government Mr Cameron would like to see individuals lose their privileges.

It’s an issue that is high on the agenda at the moment due to the actions of Islamic State and efforts to prevent British-based supporters from travelling to and from affected areas to become involved in the fighting.

But scrapping the Human Rights Act entirely would have far-reaching consequences in peacetime as well, making this one topic that is likely to run for some time before any consensus is ever reached.

By Martin Wragg

Pricketts Solicitors

Commercial Lease

10 Practical Tips on a Landlord granting a Commercial Lease

1. Negotiations – The commercial letting market is currently very competitive; it is advisable to be flexible with tenants, perhaps offering differing lengths of lease with suitable break clauses or rent free periods.

2. Rent Deposits – you can incorporate a deposit into the lease or have a separate rent deposit deed, you will need to state where the deposit will be kept and as to whom the interest will accrue, there should also be a clause to protect your deposit from the tenant becoming insolvent or bankrupt.

3. Term of Lease and Break Clauses – if you include a break clause then it should always be a condition that rent must be up to date, that they vacate the premises and do not have any sublet arrangements in place at the time of the break or have breached any other provisions in the lease

4. Rent Reviews – The dates of a rent review and the basis on which it is calculated need to be express and clear for the benefit of both parties and to avoid later argument.

5. Sub-letting and Assignment – your lease should include clauses on assignment and sub-lets. Assignment is where your tenant can apply to you to assign their lease to a new tenant. Sub-let tenants do not have protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and do not need to be on the same terms.

6. Service Charges – If you are intending on charging a service charge then it there should be an estimate which is provided to the tenant and the lease should have a proper mechanism for reconciliation at the end of each year and budgeting for the next.

7. Repairs – there should be an express provision which states the level of repair you expect the tenant to undertake, otherwise the property could be handed back in a very poor state, it may be an idea to annex a Schedule of Condition if the property is in good condition at the outset.

8. Alterations – any alterations and change of use must be agreed by you, the landlord, and you must consider the value of your property. If your tenant wants to make alterations internally which are not structural, then you should not insist on giving consent, just that you are informed of the work.

9. Insurance – It is often the case that the landlord will deal with insurance and this is reimbursed by the tenant, the lease should cover what insurance risks will be insured against and as to whether you are legally obliged to re-instate following damage by such insured risks. It is common for rent (or part of the rent) to be suspended in the event the property became unusable for the tenant in such circumstances.

10. Management – both you and your tenant need to have a clear understanding and expectation of what is required of you as a landlord and in what services will be provided for the service charge, again all of which should be set out clearly in the lease.

By Mark Adams

R.A. Wilkinson & Co.

Cheque

The cheque rule

Cheques have been around for over 350 years, although their days are now numbered.  However, whilst cheques remain a valid type of bill of exchange, there will always be the risk that a cheque will be stopped.  So, when this happens, what can the payee do?

A payee’s action lies in the cheque being dishonoured, as opposed to the contract for the supply of goods and services.  Once a cheque has been signed and handed over, then a legally binding contract is entered into and the drawer has to honour the debt.

When a cheque is issued as consideration for goods and/or services, a separate contract is entered into between the seller and purchaser to the contract that was previously entered into for the supply of the goods and/or services.  Hence when a cheque is returned unpaid, the seller may elect to bring a claim either under the supply contract or, the separate contract entered into when the cheque was issued to the seller. If the seller elects to bring a claim under the cheque contract, this is referred to as the ‘Cheque Rule’.

The foundation for this cause of action is in the basis that cheques are a bill of exchange, being construed as the equivalent to instalments of cash, albeit deferred, and as such are unconditional promises to pay based upon the presentation of the cheque. If the cheque is stopped or is returned unpaid for whatever reason, a good cause of action arises.

The Cheque Rule applies to payments made by:

  1. Direct debit.
  2. Cheques and bills of exchange.
  3. Letter of credit.
  4. Performance bonds.

There are exceptions to the rule, for instance where the customer has received absolutely nothing in exchange for their payment, or where the contract was illegal, or the cheque was obtained in a fraudulent way.

If the cheque is for more than £750, then the statutory demand route is the way to go.

© Michael P. Gerard, EHL Solicitors

If you would like some advice on this, please contact Michael P. Gerard on 0116 266 5394 (Leicester branch), or 01858 434022 (Market Harborough branch), or email michael.g@ehlsolicitors.co.uk, to discuss this further.

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic.  The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer.  If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

Author background

Michael is a Practising Solicitor, Barrister, Chartered Builder, Registered Construction Adjudicator & Accredited Expert in quantum and planning matters. He is a Consultant Solicitor with Edward Hands & Lewis, based in Leicestershire.

 

H-Pipes-Banner

Visit our office in Melbourne (Derbyshire)

The EHL Group have offices in many cities across the country, one of which is nestled in a small town called Melbourne in Derbyshire.

Melbourne has one of the richest heritages of any Derbyshire location. In Melbourne you will find one of the finest Norman Churches as well as the stately Melbourne Hall which was home to Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s first Prime Minister.

Lord Melbourne passed his name to the then principle town in the state of Victoria in Australia. Over time Melbourne in Australia has grown to become a city known by the world.

Not only is this town the birthplace of the man who gave his name to the Australian city, but also the birthplace of the tourism king. Thomas Cook was born in 1808 in Melbourne and started his business by conducting travel excursions to Leicester.

Melbourne is a mixture of old and new with masses of new homes being developed in and around the area. Regardless of the new developments there is a great sense of community in Melbourne. Visitors to this town will discover Melbourne’s charming streets and historic buildings which have many tales to tell.

Please do come and visit our office in Melbourne for friendly professional expertise. We are based at 34 Market Place, Melbourne, DE73 8DS.

By Nisha Gorania

H. Pipes & Co.

Green Deal

Green Deal Scheme

You may be aware of a Green Deal Scheme which was initially launched in 2013. This was put in place to help home owners make improvements to their home.

According to BBC News there were not enough applications for this and the submissions were closed in July. Therefore changes have been put in place setting aside £120m for the new Green Deal Scheme.

John Alker, of the UK Green Building Council, said: “As temperatures start to drop and households turn up their heating, this additional funding is a timely, but ultimately temporary, solution to encouraging energy efficiency.

“This funding could see us through to the General Election, but what happens after that? All parties must recognise that home energy efficiency is an infrastructure priority, with public investment needed to support the most vulnerable and to create the confidence for the private sector to scale up investment over the long term.

There are many energy saving measures which can be put in place under the Green Deal Scheme. These consist of:

  • Condensing boilers
  • Heating controls
  • Under-floor heating
  • Heat recovery systems
  • Mechanical ventilation (non-domestic)
  • Flue gas recovery devices
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Loft insulation
  • Flat roof insulation
  • Internal wall insulation
  • External wall insulation
  • Draught proofing
  • Floor insulation
  • Heating system insulation (cylinder, pipes)
  • Energy efficient glazing and doors
  • Lighting fittings
  • Lighting controls
  • Innovative hot water systems
  • Water efficient taps and showers
  • Ground and air source heat pumps
  • Solar thermal
  • Solar PV
  • Biomass boilers
  • Micro-CHP

Please refer to the following websites for more information:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48088/1734-what-measures-does-the-green-deal-cover.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29519320

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer.  If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our solicitors who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

By Jovana Maksimovic

EHL Solicitors