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

By brocs1, Dec 7 2020 12:36PM

The Competition Markets Authority (CMA) issues new warnings to wedding firms in relation to their refund policies for those whose big day has been affected by Covid-19. Although only a Court can decide how the law applies in each case the CMA guidance and statement may assist as many couples have not been able to get married as planned this year.

The current guidance is that:

• Businesses should NOT make deductions from refunds unless they can prove that costs have been incurred directly for the wedding in quest AND there is proof of the breakdown of such costs. Cases should be assessed on a case by case basis however a benchmark MAXIMUM deduction has been considered to be 37.2% .If the contract relates to venue hire ONLY the CMA does not expect any deductions

• There should be no additional charges where couples voluntarily agree to reschedule their wedding to a ‘comparable date and service”, as opposed to seeking a refund

• businesses need to meet their legal obligations promptly and should not unreasonably delay or refuse to provide refunds to couples when they are due

If your big day has been affected by Covid-19 and you are facing an uphill battle to get a refund OR your venue are suggesting you should pay more to move your date, please contact our specialist Dispute Resolution team to discuss your consumer rights on 0800 567 7595 or email [email protected]

By brocs1, Dec 3 2020 10:56AM

ACAS have quite rightly addressed in their recent message to employers that “whilst times are tough”, “employers should exhaust all possible alternative before making redundancies”.

With business needs having to change dramatically to keep its staff and users safe, most employers are working hard to ensure minimum impact of redundancies by offering reduced hours, alternative roles, job share and more.

Whilst ACAS have called on employers to work with their employees and trade unions to get the process of redundancy correct by following 5 principles as laid out on their website, we call on employees to ensure they seek legal advice on their employment rights – we have often seen some redundancies disguised as such when in fact, there was no genuine call for a redundancy.

If you are an individual and you are unsure about how you are affected or what your rights may be or you are an employer and you are concerned as to how your business will be affected then do contact our specialist team at Summerfield Browne Solicitors on 0800 567 7595 or email [email protected]

By brocs1, Dec 1 2020 10:14AM

What is it?

Proprietary Estoppel is a specific legal claim in English land law. It is a claim which will arise in relation to a property owner’s right to use his land or if there is a disputed transfer of ownership of the land. It is often based upon a promise to inherit or use land which has later been broken causing detriment or loss.

This is a historical doctrine and cause of action, however case law as recent as 2018, shows how relevant this still is in society today.

A worked example of a Proprietary Estoppel Claim:

-George works on Giles’ (his Father) farm all his life. He is paid the minimum wage despite his long hours and other farm jobs paying higher.

-George forgoes higher education and the opportunity to be employed in the higher paid roles.

-The reason George worked on the farm was because, when he was younger, Giles always told his Son that “all this will one day be yours”. This is a conversation that George remembers having many times with his Father as they toiled on the farm and walked across the fields back home after long days working side by side.

-When Giles died, his Will left the farm to his estranged Wife. Although Giles and his Wife had separated some years earlier, they were not divorced and Giles had failed to change his will.

-George did not inherit the farm and Giles’ estranged Wife wanted to sell the land to developers.

In order to gain a right of ownership over the farm, George considers a proprietary estoppel claim.

To make a successful claim, and to gain ownership of the farm, George has to show:

1. Giles has is given him a clear assurance that he will acquire a right over the farm property,

2. George reasonably relied upon the assurance given by his Father, and,

3. George acted substantially to his detriment because of the assurance

Considering the above points 1-3 does George’s claim have prospects?

1. Giles repeatedly (on George’s evidence) told his Son that the farm would “one day be yours” – this is a promise or assurance.

2. George relied upon this promise – he did not make future plans to buy is own farm, instead working diligently until such a time that he was given Giles’ farm.

3. George gave up higher education and the opportunity to earn more money in alternative roles, which paid better wages that his Father did, on the basis that he was investing in a farm which he would one day own himself – he acted to his own detriment.

On the raw evidence outlined above, George potentially has a strong claim to the farmland. The Court will make a decision, in cases such as George’s, based mainly on witness evidence – given that Giles’s cannot confirm his intentions. If the Court agrees that the Proprietary Estoppel claim is successfully proved, they will consider whether fairness or “equity” demands a remedy and what that remedy should be.

There are conflicting views on the remedy for cases such as George’s. it may be that the remedy is be monetary – i.e. compensation paid to George in lieu of inheriting the farm. This payment would be to compensate George for the detriment he has suffered and the opportunities he gave up during his lifetime based upon the belief he would inherit the farm. However, the remedy may be that the farm is transferred to George to the detriment of Giles’ estranged Wife. The Court will need to consider a balanced and fair conclusion in such cases.

Can we help?

If you think you have been promised access to or ownership of land, and that promise has later been broken to your detriment, you may have a claim in Proprietary Estoppel. It is important to act promptly and get expert advice and intervention at an early stage.

Please do call our solicitor, Emma Bush, for a confidential discussion about your options on 01858 414 284 or email [email protected]

By brocs1, Oct 27 2020 10:34AM

First Stage – Service of Notice

The first step taken to remove a tenant is to issue one of two notices available through the Housing Act 1988.

The initial steps is sometimes sufficient to secure vacant possession or payment of arrears outstanding.

• Section 21 Notice: a two-month notice to terminate a tenancy agreement and seek possession of the property. The Government has temporarily changed the rules around using a Section 21 notice during the coronavirus pandemic and any section 21 notice served in England must give at least six months notice to the tenant.

• Section 8 Notice: a 14-day notice seeking possession on grounds of rent arrears. The Government has temporarily changed the rules around using a Section 8 notice during the coronavirus pandemic. The notice period to be given in a Section 8 Notice will in many cases now be six months but can be much shorter depending on the grounds used.

To take instructions from you, prepare and service the appropriate notice = £150 plus VAT

Second Stage –

Possession Order following a Court Hearing

This procedure is available to a landlord following the service of either the Section 8 Notice or Section 21 Notice. However, it differs from the accelerated possession proceedings as it allows the landlord to apply for a judgment for rent arrears in addition to a possession order.

To issue proceedings in the County Court, prepare for and attend a hearing to obtain possession and judgement for rent arrears = £750 plus VAT. There will also be a Court fee payable to the Court.

In the event that the Court Hearing is contested by the tenants, then this may incur further costs and we will advise you on receiving instructions of what this may entail.

Accelerated Possession Proceedings

If the tenant has been served with a valid Section 21 Notice, then it may be possible to obtain a Possession Order without the need of a Court Hearing. The procedure is sometimes known as an Accelerated Possession Procedure, although this may not be the fastest route. An Accelerated Possession Order can only be made if you are seeking possession alone (and so not seeking a County Court Judgement for rent arrears).

If you wish to recover rental arrears under this Procedure, then you will have to issue standard possession proceedings or separate debt recovery proceedings through the County Court. The purpose of the Accelerated Procedure is to avoid the need for a hearing.

The landlord must file a notice setting out what they know about the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tenant and their dependents within the claim form.

A tenant can still seek a hearing on the following basis:

• Challenge the procedure

• Challenge the validity of the notice

• Seek to extend the time in which to vacate the property

If you are a Landlord or Tenant and need advice, please contact us on 0800 567 7595 or email [email protected]

By brocs1, Oct 12 2020 09:46AM

What is harassment?

Harassment is unwanted behaviour which you find offensive or which makes you feel intimidated or humiliated. It can happen on its own or alongside other forms of discrimination. Unwanted behaviour could be spoken or written words or abuse, offensive emails, tweets, or comments on social networking sites.

Some examples are as follows: -

• Phone calls, letters, emails or in person visits

• Abusive behaviour online

• Stalking

• Verbal threats

• Damage to your property

Harassment Act 1997

Harassment is both a criminal and civil action under the Harassment Act. This means that action can be taken in the criminal and civil courts. The Act states that you must experience at least two incidents from the same person or group of people before it can be classed as harassment. In the Act harassment has not been defined, the reason for this, is to keep the definition flexible, in order that the court can make the decision, if the actions of the individual are to be considered as harassment. All harassment claims must be made within 6 years of the harassment taking place.

What action can be taken to stop the harassment?

The civil court can make an order or an injunction, that will stop the person harassing you. If they do not stop once the injunction has been issued, then this is considered a criminal offense and they can be prosecuted in a criminal court.

What can you do if you are being harassed?

If you are being harassed, you would need to follow the points below: -

• Keep a record of the harassment for evidence by: -

taking screen shots

save emails

make recordings

or take photographs.

• Try and stop the person from contacting you by blocking them online or their telephone number.

• Hit the report button if the harassment is online

Summerfield Browne Solicitors have specialised Lawyers that can give you advice regarding harassment. Contact us by phone on 0800 567 7595 or by email [email protected]

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