If you are considering purchasing a property with another person, it is important to be aware of the different ways in which it can be owned.

There are two types of joint ownership available to you under English law. When buying a property in joint names, you will need to decide which type of joint ownership will best suit your needs.

The two options are co-owners as joint tenants or co-owners as tenants in common.

Co-Owners as Joint Tenants

If you own a property with one or more other people as joint tenants, all the tenants own the property in its entirety. For example, if a husband and wife own a property as joint tenants, they are both wholly entitled to the entire property simultaneously and cannot be said to be holding specified shares of the property. If one of them dies, the surviving joint tenant automatically becomes solely entitled to the property, irrespective of what is provided for in the deceased’s will. This has various implications as the property passes directly to the survivor(s) and does not form part of the deceased’s estate until the last surviving owner dies, when the whole of the value of the property will be included in the valuation of that person’s estate.

If the property is sold, all the joint tenants will share the net sale proceeds equally.

Co-Owners as Tenants in Common

A tenancy in common differs from a joint tenancy in that tenants are not considered to own the property in its entirety but are said to own a notional share of it. If tenants own a property in equal shares, then as tenants in common they would each be said to own one half of the property, rather than both owning the whole property. Tenants in common can own shares in a property in any agreed proportion. However, in spite of the fact that the tenants are each deemed to own a share of the property, this does not mean that the land can be physically divided between them. A tenant under a tenancy in common is entitled to access to the whole of the property, however small their interest.

The rule of survivorship does not apply to this kind of tenancy so co-owners as tenants in common are free to leave their share in the property to whomever they choose. If you decide to hold a property as tenants in common with someone, the provisions of your will determine who will inherit your share. If you die leaving no will, your share will pass under the laws of intestacy: your co-owner(s) will not necessarily inherit your share.

On sale, the net sale proceeds will be shared among the owners in proportion to their ownership shares.

A decision regarding the way a joint property is owned need not be permanent. If circumstances change, it is possible to change from one form of ownership to the other.

If you are a joint owner of a property then you will normally be registered as such on the deed of title at the Land Registry.

Which type of ownership is best for you will depend on your individual circumstances.

We will be pleased to give you individual advice. In addition, it is always sensible for property owners to have a will, as it will simplify the administration of the estate.

Contact Adam Oleskow, Danny McCorry, Angela Hyde or Kay Stenson for help or advice on property ownership matters or complete our online enquiry form.

For Wills Trust or Probate Matters, contact our Private Client team.


In the UK, a person who is injured by an uninsured driver can claim compensation from the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB), which is funded by a levy on all motor insurers.

Across Europe there is a system in operation (the 'green card' system) which can provide compensation for a national of any participating state who is injured in an accident with a vehicle which is registered in a participating state.

Originally, the way the system worked was that the injured person pursued their claim for compensation in the state in which the accident occurred, which often meant that proceedings were conducted in a jurisdiction foreign to the injured person.

Because of the difficulty in dealing with such matters in a foreign language, the system was amended to allow a person injured while abroad to return home and pursue their compensation claim in their home country, making their claim directly against the vehicle's insurer or, if the vehicle was not insured, against the local equivalent of the MIB. When the claim is made against the MIB, it can seek reimbursement from the foreign equivalent body of the country in which the vehicle that caused the accident was registered.

However, this led to a problem regarding the different levels of damages for injury awarded in different jurisdictions, especially for UK citizens: damages here are higher than is normal throughout the rest of Europe.

A recent case before the Supreme Court dealt with this issue. It involved an English woman who was injured in an accident with a Greek driver in Greece. The driver was uninsured. The only issue involved was whether the MIB was required to pay damages to the woman at the level which would prevail in the UK or that which would apply in Greece.

The Court concluded that when the accident takes place abroad, the local law must apply as regards the legal liability of the driver and also as regards the amount of damages which should be awarded.

The practical effect is that if you are planning a foreign holiday, you should be aware that if you are involved in an accident, the damages you receive may be considerably lower than would be payable had the accident occurred in the UK. It may be sensible in some cases to consider obtaining additional insurance cover to protect your earnings in the event of an accident which results in you being unable to work.

Says Mike Sutton

If you are injured as a result of an accident or suffer sickness due to negligence when abroad, contact us for assistance in obtaining the appropriate compensation.

For Help and advice on accidents abroad or other personal injury matters and compensation claims, please contact Mike  Sutton m.sutton@sydneymitchell.co.uk 0121 698 2200.


Sydney Mitchell is strong and getting stronger and in commercial litigation it is recognised as being one of the best mid-sized firms in Birmingham according to the recent Legal 500 findings.

Sydney Mitchell has again been recognised as a Tier 1 firm for its Contentious Wills and Probate work; handling complex cases; some in excess of £22m.

Sydney Mitchell LLP Top Tier Legal 500 FirmIn addition the firm has obtained recommendations in 12 other areas of legal practice; Corporate and Commercial, Commercial Litigation, Debt Recovery, Insolvency and Corporate Recovery, Employment, Clinical Negligence both Claimant and Defendant, Personal Injury, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate, Healthcare, Commercial Property and Property Litigation.

Our clients have made some excellent comments on the work undertaken by the legal teams.

Div Singh, Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell commented:

This is another excellent outcome for the firm from the new Legal 500 publication and we thank our clients for their outstanding comments and loyal support.  Ranking in Tier 1 for our Contentious Probate work is testimony to the excellent work we do on contentious probate matters and demonstrates that we are leading the market in this practice area.  However, I am also delighted with the recognition that we have received in all of our other legal practice areas and it is clear that our approach to recruiting high quality staff and our commitment to delivering an excellent service for clients is working.

Comments from our clients and referrers include ‘prompt and useful advice…; ‘sound practical advice to the lay client’. Our Family team led by Karen Moores, has ‘excellent rapport with clients, first rate legal team which is hardworking and always contactable’.  The Private client team led by Tracy Creed is also highlighted with ‘Quality firm with in-depth specialist know-how’.

Mr Singh added,

We admire the excellent work our lawyers provide to our clients; specialist knowledge of the law is expected but it is going that extra mile for our clients that makes all the difference and we aim to do this for all of our clients.  There is no doubt that many clients now see us as a viable alternative to much larger law firms and this is a good place in which we find ourselves.

Karen Moores, Head of the Family Law team, commented

All of our family lawyers do maintain that rapport with clients and they know we are doing all we can to support them through some very difficult and challenging times.  We pride ourselves on providing  a first-rate client service and our staff are all committed to getting the best resolution we can for our clients. 

The joint heads of the Dispute Resolution team, Dean Parnell and Kam Majevadia were particularly delighted with the fact their Dispute Resolution team were recognised “as strong and getting stronger” and Legal 500 also mentioned that they are regarded as one of the best mid-size law firms for commercial litigation; Dean Parnell was also noted for his “client focus and sensible advice”.  The commercial litigation sector is a competitive one but Sydney Mitchell has maintained its position alongside much larger regional and national practices due to the quality of their work, staff and their clients.

Leading Midlands Law firm Sydney Mitchell is ranked in 13 Legal 500 categories and has won Birmingham Law Firm of the Year 4 times in the last 8 years.

The Legal 500 Series, now in its 28th year, is widely acknowledged as the world’s largest legal referral guide. More than 250,000 corporate counsel have been surveyed and interviewed globally in the past 12 months. The Legal 500 is an independent guide, and firms and individuals are recommended purely on merit.

To see all recommendations for Sydney Mitchell in the Legal 500, please click here or continue reading below.

For further information on this article, please contact l.heyworth@sydneymitchell.co.uk on 0121 698 2200 or if you would like to submit an enquiry to the firm please complete our online enquiry form.



15 lawyers are recommended in The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2016 editorial (listed below)

West Midlands: Corporate and commercial

Corporate and commercial: Birmingham - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s John Irving has particular expertise in commercial contracts and provides ‘prompt and useful advice, especially on distribution agreements’. On the corporate side, Irving advised an investment company on the acquisition of a 50% shareholding in a frozen foods manufacturer.

West Midlands: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘strong and getting stronger and one of the best mid-sized firms in Birmingham in this area’, according to one client. Dean Parnell heads the team and is noted for his ‘client focus and sensible advice’. The team’s recent caseload includes a million-dollar cross-border dispute and various professional negligence and shareholder disputes. Associate Richard Cooper has an ‘intuitive understanding of litigation’.

Debt recovery - ranked: tier 3

West Midlands : Finance

Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s practice continued to be instructed by lenders and insolvency practitioners on various multimillion-pound administrations, including pre-packaged arrangements. Kamal Majevadia and Leanne Schneider-Rose are the names to note.

West Midlands: Human resources

Employment - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP added associate Tina Chander and solicitor Jade Linton to the team, which is headed by Dean Parnell. The team acted on behalf of senior employees and executives in employment tribunals.

West Midlands: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP acted for the relatives of a man who underwent surgery to remove cancer and subsequently died in hospital due to a failure to administer essential medication. The resulting compensation was a six-figure sum. Mike Sutton heads the team.

Clinical negligence: defendant - ranked: tier 3

Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP handled a number of workplace injury claims, with several cases ending with six-figure settlements. Mike Sutton heads the team, which also includes senior litigation practitioner Steve Jesson.

West Midlands: Private client

Contentious trusts and probate

Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team ‘offers sound practical advice to the lay client’, according to one source. Recent work includes settling two substantial claims under the Inheritance Act valued at £22m. Kamal Majevadia heads the department.

Family: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s Karen Moores (who ‘maintains excellent rapport with clients’) runs a ‘first-rate legal team, which is hardworking and always contactable’. Mauro Vinti is also recommended.

Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team handles complex Court of Protection issues, administration of estates, and elderly client care and care work. It is described by one client as ‘a quality firm with in-depth specialist know-how’. Tracy Creed and Sue Capstick are key contacts.

West Midlands : Public sector

Health - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team is headed by Fahmida Ismail and also includes key individual Tony Harris. The practice has a particular strength in assisting sole practitioners and GPs.

West Midlands : Real estate

Commercial property: Birmingham - ranked: tier 4

Property litigation - ranked: tier 5

Further information held for the West Midlands in the Legal 500 on Sydney Mitchell LLP

Offices in Birmingham, Shirley, and Sheldon

See more at: http://www.legal500.com/firms/3216-sydney-mitchell-llp/746-birmingham-england#sthash.F4mgpHRw.dpuf

Source: UK Legal 500 2016 - West Midlands Region




Obedience to court orders is not voluntary and judges possess a battery of powers to enforce compliance. In one case, a divorcee who barricaded himself into his former matrimonial home in order to prevent its enforced sale was given ten days to move out – or go to prison.

The sale of the £500,000 farmhouse had been ordered so that the proceeds could be divided between husband and wife as part of their £6 million divorce. However, over a prolonged period, the husband had refused to leave. He was said to have surrounded the property with barbed wire and to have stated that he would only move out in a body bag.

A family judge ultimately imposed a six-month suspended prison sentence after finding the husband in contempt of court. He was warned that the sentence would be activated if he did not move out by a particular date. In challenging that decision before the Court of Appeal, his lawyers pointed to his mental health difficulties and argued that he had not knowingly or wilfully breached the order. The sentence imposed was also said to be disproportionate.

In rejecting his challenge, however, the Court acknowledged his health problems and protestations, but these did not alter the fact that he had deliberately defied the order for a considerable period. He was given ten days to vacate the property or face arrest and immediate imprisonment.

Obtaining compliance with judicial rulings regarding financial settlements on divorce can sometimes be problematic. For assistance in making sure court orders are complied with, contact us.

For help or advice on family matters, please contact Amanda Holland or one of our Family Team on 0121 746 3300

Sydney Mitchell LLP …
HR Forum

Come along to our HR forum and discuss topical employment issues

In a round table discussion, join with your fellow HR professionals from across the region. 

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
– the legal framework

In this month’s Forum there will be an active discussion about Pregnancy and Maternity Leave given recent reports that you are more likely to be discriminated against in the workplace if you are a pregnant woman than for any other protected characteristic it is important your teams understand what is expected from them. 

In this month’s forum we shall look at the key rights for pregnant women and those on and returning from maternity leave

Let Jade Linton, Sydney Mitchell Employment Law Specialist, give you the opportunity to review some recent case studies and host an active discussion.  You will also receive a copy of the latest Sydney Mitchell Employment Law Update.

We are sure you will find this forum of interest.  Book now to attend this FREE forum.  Please confirm your attendance by contacting Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300.

We do hope you can join us.


27 September 2016

1.00 pm

Sydney Mitchell LLP
336 Stratford Road,
Solihull, B90 3DN





With businesses becoming insolvent in large numbers, opportunities abound to acquire assets from their administrators. However, the low prices sought for the assets are due, at least in part, to the additional risk to the purchaser.

Here are some of the main issues to be aware of when buying property from an administrator:

  • Vacant possession of a property will not normally be guaranteed and the cost of clearance of items left in the building should be borne in mind;
  • No guarantees or warranties regarding the property will be given – undertaking proper due diligence to reduce risks is strongly advised;
  • There may be items that appear to be a part of the property being sold which do not in fact belong to the insolvent business; and
  • The administrator acts only as agent for the insolvent company and will accept no liability for errors or omissions.

Buying a property from an administrator is a risky business. We can help you to control the legal risks.

For help or advice on this or other related administration matters, please contact Leanne Schneider-Rose on 0121 698 2200 or email l.schneider-rose@sydneymitchell.co.uk or Shilpa Unarkat on 0121 746 3300 s.unarkat@sydneymitchell.co.uk

Family members who run businesses together should take careful note of a High Court case in which a husband and wife’s mixing of personal and company funds and failure to keep proper records landed them in legal hot water.

The couple’s company had traded for little more than a year before it went into administration and, subsequently, creditors’ voluntary liquidation. Its outstanding liabilities were estimated at more than £2.8 million, much of which was owed to HM Revenue and Customs.

The company’s liquidators launched proceedings against the wife, who had acted as the business’s bookkeeper, on the basis that various sums that had been paid to her at a time when the company was insolvent were either gifts or transactions at an undervalue, within the meaning of Section 238 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

The Court noted that the wife did not have a written employment contract and that various sums had been paid from the company into a joint personal account that she held with her husband without explanation. In the absence of adequate records, it was considered that such payments might be used to disguise a process of extracting cash from a company at the expense of creditors.

The Court accepted that some of the payments represented remuneration for the wife’s work or reimbursement of motoring or other expenses. However, the lack of a paper trail meant that certain other payments could not be so explained. She was therefore ordered to repay £12,700 to the liquidators for the benefit of the creditors of the company.

For help or advice on insolvency or administration matters, please contact Leanne Schneider-Rose on 0121 698 2200 or email l.schneider-rose@sydneymitchell.co.uk

Recognition of ‘units’ of workers for the purposes of collective bargaining can be a thorny issue and that was certainly so in one case in which supermarket chain Lidl fiercely objected to 223 warehouse workers – representing only about 1.2 per cent of its total 18,000-plus workforce – forming such a unit.

The warehouse operatives worked at one of Lidl’s eight distribution centres and their quest to become a bargaining unit under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 was backed by their trade union. However, the chain complained that the move would undermine its ‘one culture’ policy by which standardised employment terms were applied across its entire workforce.

Allowing such a small number of workers to form their own bargaining unit could lead to fragmentation of the workforce, with a multiplicity of small groups competing for the most favourable terms and conditions. That would be unworkable, Lidl argued, and inconsistent with Employment Law advice Sydney Mitchell 0121 746 3300efficient management of its business.

However, the Central Arbitration Committee, the independent body that deals with such disputes, ruled in favour of the union on the basis that Lidl’s concerns were not, on the evidence, well founded and that the 223-member bargaining unit was appropriate. In dismissing the chain’s judicial review challenge to that ruling, the High Court found that its arguments had been fully considered by the committee and that no legal flaw could be detected in the decision.

Lidl has announced its intention to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal.

For Employment Law advice please speak to Jade Linton at Sydney Mitchell on 0121 746 3300 j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk

There is nothing at all wrong with fierce competition – but a pharmaceutical company was accused of seriously over-stepping the mark by circulating an anonymous letter criticising a trade rival, and ended up having to pay £60,000 in libel damages.

The company was alleged to be the source of the letter, more than 400 copies of which were sent to NHS authorities and GP practices around the country. Amongst other things, it claimed that the rival company did not have product insurance in place, thus putting patients at risk, and was unfit to do business with.

Those allegations were wholly without foundation and, despite its denial that it was responsible for the letter, the company admitted liability in defamation and made an offer of amends to its competitor. In a settlement that was approved by the High Court, the company and its chief executive agreed to pay the libel damages and the rival company’s legal costs on the punitive indemnity basis.

For help on litigation or defamation matters, please contact: Dean Parnell, Partner 0121 698 2200 d.parnell@sydneymitchell.co.uk

When companies fall into insolvency the courts are often heavily involved in ensuring that creditors’ interests are properly protected. That was certainly so in one case in which the High Court sanctioned the appointment of two additional administrators to assist in the immense task of settling the affairs of a troubled national retailer.

The retailer reported a trading loss of £69 million in 2014 and, after that, its financial position only got worse. Its sole shareholder sold it to another company for a nominal sum and, as part of the deal, agreed to write off £215 million of inter-company debt. The seller retained a £40 million floating charge over the retailer’s assets in respect of other debts.

Trade did not improve and the retailer eventually entered into a company voluntary arrangement with the approval of creditors. A hoped-for refinancing package subsequently failed to materialise and two administrators were appointed by the board. The retailer’s largest unsecured creditor was the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), which was owed an estimated £571 million. It was anticipated that sufficient funds would be raised to satisfy the seller’s floating charge in full.

The administrators had continued to trade the business on the basis that that was likely to achieve a better outcome for creditors as a whole than a swift winding up of the retailer. At the PPF’s behest, the administrators had launched an inquiry into the company’s affairs and, in particular, the circumstances of the retailer's sale.

The administrators were fully engaged in the task of concluding trading activities and asset realisations ahead of a creditors’ voluntary liquidation. In those circumstances, the Court approved the appointment of two further administrators so that the inquiry could be pursued without delay into any possible claims that the retailer may be entitled to bring against its current or former directors.

For help or advice on insolvency or administration matters, please contact Leanne Schneider-Rose on 0121 698 2200 or email l.schneider-rose@sydneymitchell.co.uk


Lexcel Practice Management Standard Birmingham Law Firm of the Year for 2011 Resolution Collaborative Family Lawyer The Law Society Accredited in Family Law UK Legal 500 2016 Conveyancing Quality Scheme
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