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We aim to provide practical guidance on useful areas of busness law.  

By sfbsolicitors, Oct 18 2017 09:18AM

Opening up the doors of your property to new tenants can be a daunting experience. We understand that our clients spend a considerable amount of time and money on their property and want to safeguard their investment. One way to do this is to speak to a Landlord and Tenant Solicitor before a tenancy begins to ensure that both you as the landlord and the prospective tenants know each other’s rights and responsibilities. After all, while the tenants are ‘under your roof’ you want to make sure that the tenants look after the property and make your investment a profitable one. Our clients often ask to speak to one of our Tenancy Dispute Solicitors and, due to our extensive experience, we have an in-depth understanding of our client’s needs.


Questions that we are frequently asked by our clients include:


What happens if the tenant fails to pay the rent on time?

Where do I put the tenant’s deposit and what information do I need to provide my tenant with?

What happens if the tenant sub-lets the property (or attempts to advertise a room in the property on Airbnb!)

What do I do when I want the tenant to leave the property?

What do I do if the tenant refuses to leave the property and how much does it cost to take a tenant to court?


For our landlord clients we would recommend the use of a robust Tenancy Agreement (sometimes known as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement). Such an agreement would typically include:


When rent is to be paid and how

What is to be done with Deposit monies

What the property can and cannot be used for


The service of Notices to quit (for example Section 8 Notices or Section 21 Notices)


An obligation for the tenant to indemnify the landlord for the landlord’s court costs and legal costs should possession proceedings prove necessary.


How much does a Tenancy Agreement cost?


For new clients we are pleased to offer a fixed fee scheme for the drafting of tenancy agreements. Please call 01858 414284 for a free, no-obligation discussion with a solicitor that can assist.


By sfbsolicitors, Oct 13 2017 08:44AM

In recent years, a moral debate flowed from a decision by the Court of Appeal in the case of Ilott v. Mitson, which increased an award from £50,000 to £163,000. This was a claim by a daughter, who had been out of contact with her mother for many years. The mother made a will which left her out of the estate entirely and her £500,000 estate went to charities. This decision was seen as an attack on testamentary freedom. The mother and daughter had not been on speaking terms since the daughter left home at the age of 17 and got married to a man whom the mother did not approve of.


The daughter fell on hard times and she challenged her mother’s will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. A claim was made for ‘reasonable financial provision’ which means such provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstance for the applicant to receive for their maintenance.


There was an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that the District Judge had decided the matter correctly and overturned the decision in the Court of Appeal, restoring the claim to the figure of £50,000. The decision of the highest court in the land gave guidance as to the law in this controversial area of a claim by an adult child. The decision probably reinstates the belief that adult children are going to find it difficult to bring a claim unless they are in financial difficulties. It also acknowledged the importance of testamentary freedom. It commented that although a claimant may be entitled to maintenance, it does not mean an entitlement to every type of maintenance.



Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Leicester and Market Harborough



By sfbsolicitors, Oct 9 2017 10:21AM

Fees


There is no requirement for a Claimant to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal or the Employment Appeals Tribunal.


This was confirmed on 26th July 2017 by the Supreme Court which declared unlawful the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013.


This is a major victory for employees and this great news was as a direct result of UNISON’S legal challenge.


If a Claimant has previously paid fees then they are entitled to a refund and further details can be found at GOV.UK - https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/employment-tribunal.


Previously


Prior to the 26th July 2017 Claimants were having to find as much as £1,200 to pursue a claim against their employer which prevented many from bringing a claim at all.


As a result of the above, this allowed employers to get away with breaking the law and left employees having to accept any unfair treatment at work as they were unable to fund a claim which in my opinion was wrong and unfair.


Procedure on how to bring an employment tribunal claim


1. Try and resolve your issue(s) with your employer as a starting point and see if you can sort it out without having to involve legal action.


2. If you still want to make a claim you will need to contact ACAS and go through the Early Conciliation process. This is a mandatory step.


a. You will need to complete an Early Conciliation notification form and submit this. You will then receive an Acknowledgement that your form has been submitted.


b. You will be contacted by an ACAS Conciliator and they will go through the details with you.


c. Early Conciliation will stop the clock and whilst these discussions are taking place with ACAS the time limit for making a tribunal claim is extended.


d. Early Conciliation will last for one month however this timeframe can be extended by another 14 days if both parties are hoping to come to a resolution.


e. At the end of the Early Conciliation period and if no solution has been reached then you will be issued with a Certificate. You will need this in order to pursue your claim to the employment tribunal.


f. The deadline clock starts again once Early Conciliation ends and extra time is added to ensure everyone had at least one calendar month to present an employment tribunal claim.


g. You need to ensure you understand the deadlines and note tribunal claims have limitation periods. Claims need to be presented usually within three or six months depending on the type of claim. For example, a person has three months from the date the employment ended in which to make a claim of unfair dismissal.


h. You will then need to complete a claim form known as an ET1 form which can be submitted online. This will include your personal details, name of the Employer and the basis of your claim.


Examples of claims you can bring to an employment tribunal


1. Unfair dismissal

2. Discrimination

3. Redundancy claims

4. Wages claims


If you have an enquiry regarding any of the above issues please telephone us and ask to speak to an Employment solicitor for a free no-obligation discussion. Summerfield Browne have offices in London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford, Cambridge and Market Harborough




By sfbsolicitors, Oct 5 2017 10:56AM

Japanese knotweed was originally introduced in the UK as an ornamental plant. It is a fast-growing plant that, if allowed to grow unchecked, can soon take over large swaths of land including gardens and brown field sites. The plant is not alone in gaining the ignoble status as an “invasive non-native species” although Japanese knotweed is the most well-known plant species. Other plants that have been identified by the Government as being harmful include the broad-leaved dock, curled dock, common ragwort, spear thistle and “creeping or field thistle”.


Clients may find that they have purchased a property (either commercial or residential) that is blighted by Japanese knotweed. The maxim ‘buyer beware’ (or “caveat emptor” in Latin) applies to property purchased in England and Wales which means that a buyer should investigate the property they are purchasing before parting with their money.


Despite the ‘buyer beware’ maxim there are strict rules in place regarding the sale and purchase of property where a property has a Japanese knotweed problem and we can assist clients who find that they have purchased a property that suffers blighting from Japanese knotweed. The treatment of the problem can be expensive and in some cases buyers only find out after completion that the property they purchased suffers from blighting. In these cases, the seller of the property may incur a civil liability for the loss the buyer suffers due to the buyer having to pay for the treatment of the invasive plant.


Civil liability for monetary loss can arise where a party has not been forthcoming with information on whether a property has a Japanese knotweed infestation. When buying a property (whether commercial or residential) the seller should disclose whether there is a Japanese knotweed infestation and whether steps have been taken for the treatment of the problem. The seller may be liable for monetary loss if they have provided inaccurate replies to pre-contract enquiries. In residential property transactions the question that covers Japanese knotweed is enquiry 7.8 of the Law Society Transaction Form (currently Form “TA6”) that asks the following questions of the seller:


“Is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?”


and


“If Yes, please state whether there is a Japanese knotweed management plan in place and supply a copy”

If the answers provided by the seller do not match the reality ‘on the ground’ there may be a cause of action against the seller of the property if the buyer later incurs a monetary loss for the management and treatment of the problem.


Commercial premises


Similar enquiries that apply to commercial properties are found in the standard pre-contract enquiries for commercial property but interestingly do not mention ‘Japanese knotweed’ by name.

If you have an enquiry regarding any of the above issues please telephone us and ask to speak to a Japanese knotweed dispute solicitor for a free no-obligation discussion.


Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Leicester and Market Harborough



By sfbsolicitors, Sep 25 2017 08:46AM

A recent Sunday Times article discussed a case of a client ending up with a large legal bill after signing up to a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). The client was shocked to receive a large bill of many thousands of pounds despite believing she was on a “no win no fee” agreement. This kind of example is why the Legal Ombudsman is keen for the phrase “no win no fee” to not be used, because there is a danger that it is not always made clear to clients that there are some circumstances where the client ends up incurring legal costs. Also, lawyers need to ensure that they carefully consider cases before taking it on a litigation CFA to ensure they are well founded otherwise it may be to the detriment of the client and the lawyer.


Lawyers should advise the client at the start of the matter of all the options available for funding a case, such as existing litigation legal expenses insurance attached to a household or car policy. It may seem obvious but if a client does not win their case then they are usually faced with the other side’s legal fees. Clients can take out After The Event Insurance but what is not commonly known yet is that the insurance premiums are no longer recoverable from the other side and it has to be paid out of the winnings. It is very difficult to obtain litigation After The Event Insurance for cases that are relatively small in value, ie not larger than £100,000, and where you do obtain insurance the premiums can be very high in proportion to the amount you might expect to recover if you win.


The change regarding the recoverability of insurance premiums from the losing party has had a big impact on the funding of litigation, and some would argue it has restricted access to justice for many. With this in mind, the proposals for introducing fixed recoverable fees for litigation by Lord Jackson seem to be a sensible way forward and would give a client certainty as to what the risk is if they engaged in litigation. Whether law firms will expect clients to pay more than the fixed allowable amount is a matter for particular firms. Law firms should keep proportionality in mind when it comes to fees; those who bemoan the introduction of fixed fees are possibly those who contributed to their introduction by charging massively disproportionate fees. Summerfield Browne is a firm that is keen on offering reasonable fee levels to its clients and ,to this aim, fixed costs are an important element.


Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Leicester and Market Harborough



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