Blog

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards – What you need to know

12-04-2018

Posted by Tim Blackman

The potential impacts for landlords, tenants and buyers of commercial property The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (otherwise known as MEES) came into force on 1st April 2018. The new regulations prevent landlords from granting new (or renewing existing) tenancies of non-domestic properties which fail to meet the minimum rating of an E. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be provided whenever a property is sold, built or let to a tenant. It will specify the energy performance rating of the property on a scale from A, being the best, to G, being the worst. Commercial landlords should be aware of the follow two key dates:- 1st April 2018: the commencement of the regulations means landlords are not able to grant new (or renew existing) leases to tenants. 1st April 2023: landlords can no longer even accept rent from a tenant should the EPC rating be an F or G. Landlords of properties which will require energy efficiency improvement works ought to plan early in order to avoid a loss of rent. Scope of MEES The regulations apply to all new and renewal tenancies, including also subleases and assignments of existing leases. The regulations will not apply in the following circumstances:- […]

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A Landlord’s Obligations and the Prescribed Information for Tenants

16-03-2018

Posted by Joanna Hemsley

Even though evicting a residential tenant is far from a landlord’s mind when the tenant signs an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, the landlord should be well aware of its obligations which will potentially affect a future eviction. Since 1 October 2015, at the beginning of a residential tenancy, a landlord must provide the tenant with specific documentation, namely:- Government’s “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” booklet A gas safety certificate (if applicable) An energy Performance Certificate In addition, landlords must also secure their tenant’s deposit in a government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receipt and provide to the tenant the prescribed information regarding the deposit. Section 21 Notice Under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, landlords are entitled to seek possession of their property once the fixed term tenancy has ended, or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (a periodic tenancy) by giving 2 months’ notice in writing to the tenant. However, a landlord cannot validly serve a section 21 notice if it has not provided the above documentation to the tenant. Historically, it was accepted that the provisions under the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 […]

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An easyPeasy update on Trademarks and Passing Off

14-03-2018

Posted by Jack Hobbs

The High Court of Justice has dismissed a claim of threats of trademark infringement against easyGroup Limited. The easyGroup empire is known far and wide for its range of orange themed companies which all use their ‘easy’ prefix, the most renowned of all being easyJet. The hearing of W3 Limited v easyGroup Limited and another [2018] EWC7 (Ch) concerned W3’s, long complained of, perceived trademark infringement of easyGroup’s ‘easy’ prefix. The Claimant in the action has offered its services as a roommate finder allowing people to find properties to share under the name EasyRoommate since the end of the 20th century. The use of this has been complained of by easyGroup since 2003 with numerous threats of action being made. The weight of this threat alone was enough to make it difficult in 2007, for W3 to find a buyer of its business. The purpose of the proceedings brought by W3 was to obtain a cessation of the groundless threats of infringement being brought by easyGroup and to satisfy its investors that this is not a potential liability. A counterclaim was entered claiming trademark infringement against the EASYROOMMATE word mark and logo as well as against its European equivalents such […]

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Provisional tribunals and gender recognition statistics

09-03-2018

Posted by Michelle Morgan

On 8 March 2018 the Ministry of Justice published the provisional tribunals and gender recognition statistics for the previous quarter (October to December 2017). The main points and statistics of key importance include: Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) increase in receipts are up 21% and caseload outstanding up 31% in the quarter compared to the same quarter in 2016. Claims received at Employment tribunal are the highest since the introduction of fees leading to increased caseload outstanding. Single ET claims – receipts increased by 90%, disposals by 21% and caseload outstanding by 66%. Multiple ET claims – receipts increased by 467% and caseload outstanding by 27%. Disposals decreased by 55%. From the launch of the Employment Tribunal (ET) fee refund scheme in October 2017 to 31 December 2017, 3,400 ET fee refund payments have been made, with a total value of £2.8m. Social Security and Child Support (SSCS) receipts have decreased by 1% when compared to October to December 2016, whereas disposals increased by 13% and caseload outstanding increased by 47%. 82 GRP applications were received and 115 were disposed of; 84 applications were pending by the end of December 2017. Of the 115 applications disposed of, a […]

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Did you make a power of attorney between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017?

12-02-2018

Posted by Becky Reilly

On 1 February 2018 the government launched a power of attorney partial refund scheme to those who were overcharged by the Office of the Public Guardian to apply to register lasting or enduring powers of attorney between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017. A reduced application fee took effect from 1 April 2017 and the refund scheme has been launched to refund those that paid a higher fee in the qualifying period. The maximum refund for each power of attorney is £54 and the total refundable amount is dependent on when the initial fee was paid. In order to qualify for a refund, the following criteria must be met: The donor must still be alive; The registration fee must have been paid between April 2013 and March 2017; The person applying for the refund must be the donor or one of their attorneys; and The refund must be paid to the donor. You will also need to provide full details of the donor and one of the attorneys together with a 7 or 12 digit Power of Attorney reference number. You can claim the refund online using the following link: https://claim-power-of-attorney-refund.service.gov.uk/when-were-fees-paid Alternatively, you can make a claim by phone […]

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Homemade Wills: How the approach differs globally

22-12-2017

Posted by Helena Taylor

For a person’s will to be legally binding in England and Wales, certain requirements must be met. These are briefly set out below: The person making the will (‘the testator’) must be aged 18 or over; The testator must have the requisite capacity as set out under the Mental Capacity Act 2005; The testator must have knowledge and understanding of the effects of their will; The testator must intend to dispose of their assets in accordance with the will; The will must be signed by the testator in the presence of 2 witnesses; Both witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator. These are the minimum requirements for a valid will. The results of not meeting these requirements can cause great stress and hardship for a family after a loved one has passed away. The will could be rendered invalid and would then pass under what are known as the intestacy rules. These rules often differ greatly from what the testator had intended. The significant problems that can be caused by errors in the making of a will is the key reason why most people feel comfortable with a solicitor drafting their will. This is undoubtedly the […]

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Capital Gains Tax Savings on Divorce

21-12-2017

Posted by Stephanie Buckeridge

In the majority of cases sadly the transfer of the family or the sale of the home is very common. However how that sale is structured and the timing of a transfer or sale can be essential to the outcome of a settlement. The issue of Capital Gains Tax is frequently forgotten until its impact bites and tax savings are no longer possible. Married couples living together do not attract Capital Gains Tax which includes transfers of property however this changes position when a married couple separates. It is important to establish the date of separation for tax purposes. It can be quite tricky to establish the date of separation as each spouse may have a different view as to the point at which there relationship had broken down to such an extent that the separation was likely to be permanent. The date of permanent separation is critical for the purposes of a Capital Gains Tax calculation. In the tax year of separation, assets can be transferred between spouses as if they remain living together. This means for example if a married couple separate permanently at the beginning of May 2018 they will have until 5th April 2019 to complete […]

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Are you in a row with your neighbour over a boundary?

30-11-2017

Posted by Farah Ali

If you have ever found yourself involved in an argument with your neighbour over the boundaries of your property then you would know the frustrations of trying to resolve the dispute whilst keeping legal costs to a minimum. If the matter reaches court then your legal costs may end up being far more than the value of the dispute itself. To manage these cases and minimise costs and court proceedings, the Boundary Disputes Protocol (‘The Protocol’) was issued in September 2017. This is a voluntary tool that aims to provide neighbours involved in a boundary dispute with an alternative process to avoid expensive court proceedings, yet still reach an agreement on the boundary issues. The Protocol narrows the issues to help resolve disputes and ultimately save on legal costs. The Protocol warns that boundary disputes often involve legal interpretation and the input of a surveyor which end up costing more than the value of the land you are arguing over. There is merit in mentioning this at the outset so that neighbours do not underestimate the costs of unnecessarily exacerbating matters. The Protocol provides a framework for neighbours to follow in terms of ideal timescales and relevant information to exchange. […]

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Thousands of unmarried couples in Newbury, Thatcham and Maidenhead are at risk of losing everything if their relationship breaks down

29-11-2017

Posted by Suzy Hamshaw

As a family lawyer in the area I regularly work with couples whose relationships have, sadly, broken down. Increasingly these couples are cohabiting – living together but unmarried. They are the fastest growing family type, with recent figures showing there are over 3.3m cohabiting couples in the UK. Unfortunately, as well as being the fastest growing family type, couples in cohabiting relationships are amongst the most vulnerable in the event of relationship breakdown. Despite the commonly held myth, there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage,’ and these couples have little or no legal protection should they separate.  Under the current law it’s possible to live with someone for decades – even to have children together – and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for their partner.  Yet a large number of unmarried couples we work with at Gardner Leader mistakenly believe that they acquire “common law” rights after living with their partner for a certain amount of time or having children together. I regularly meet people who have been affected in this way, and because of the lack of legal protection, there are times when I simply can’t help them This week is Cohabitation Awareness […]

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Under the Influence

21-11-2017

Posted by Helena Taylor

Undue influence occurs when a person is pressured into acting other than by their own free will. The result of this may be that a person making a will (referred to as the testator) does not express their own last wishes in their will, but rather those of another person. The bar for proving a claim of undue influence is exceptionally high. For a challenge to a will to succeed on this basis, the person challenging the will must be able to prove that the influence exercised over the testator was such that it overpowered the testator’s discretion to make their own decisions and that there is no other explanation for the contents of their will. The level of proof required in order to prove a claim of undue influence may be problematic, as the act of undue influence will often be a secretive one in nature. This has recently been highlighted by the Law Commission of England and Wales. The Law Commission is an independent body whose role it is to keep the law under review and recommend reforms when necessary. In July 2017, the Law Commission acknowledged the issues surrounding this area and published proposals for reforming the […]

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Happy 10th Birthday to the Mental Capacity Act!

21-11-2017

Posted by Tamsin Wooldridge

Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Court of Protection and the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘MCA’). The MCA came into force on 1 October 2007 and created a new Court of Protection with jurisdiction to adjudicate decisions for anyone whom was not found to have decision-making capacity.  Previously, there had been a common law presumption that individuals had the requisite mental capacity to make decisions and although the MCA was consistent with there being a presumption of capacity, it also provided a test for incapacity. In circumstances where a person lacks capacity, the MCA permitted decision-makers to act on behalf of the person (‘P’) in accordance with his best interests. At first, the Court of Protection was subject to criticism as it was seen to be a secretive court where life-changing decisions were made behind closed doors. As such, there were few decisions made during the starting years, however, the transparency rules introduced in 2014 has seen a number of reported cases and has to the most degree eliminated this concern. Although, perhaps now the worry is that family members do not always get the closure and privacy they need during challenging […]

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