Sydney Mitchell is hosting its 8th Annual Charity Quiz Night on 9th March 2017.

Are you ready to rise the Challenge and test your knowledge skills and compete for the title of Sydney Mitchell Quiz Team Champions 2017.

The entry fee is £120 including VAT for a team of four.  All proceeds from the night will go to our nominated charities.  The entry price includes a hot buffet and there will be a cash bar on the night.  The bar will be open from 5.30 pm and the Quiz starts promptly at 6.00 pm. 

This year we have a guest Quizmaster on the night to try something different and entertaining.  So prepare yourselves now and ensure you have a smartphone, tablet or the like with you on the night.  If you don't have a tablet or smart phone, don't worry, just let us know and we can organise one for you on the night.

Prizes will be awarded  to the winners, together with runners up prizes.

There will be a raffle on the night and if you would like to donate any prizes, please bring them along on the night or drop them into one of our offices prior to the event.

If you are unable to play and join us on the night, there is also the option of making a donation to our charities or including a sponsor banner. See the booking forms to select your choice.

BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW - CLICK HERE.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Div Singh

Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell LLP

 

 

Within the Autumn Statement there were a number of changes to employment law of which employers should be aware. These include:

New Limits for Salary Sacrifice Schemes

From April 2017, a number of salary sacrifice schemes will no longer attract tax and National Insurance (NI) advantages. The benefits provided through salary sacrifice schemes that continue to qualify for tax and NI relief will be limited to enhanced pension schemes, childcare, equipment provided under the cycle to work scheme and ultra-low emission cars. However, arrangements under salary sacrifice schemes that are already in place will be protected until April 2018.

Removal of 'Employee Shareholder' Status Tax Advantages

Since its introduction in 2013, 'employee shareholder' status (ESS) has allowed employee shareholders to relinquish a number of employment protections, such as redundancy pay, in return for a minimum of £2,000 of shares in the employer's business.

Currently, ESS shares qualify for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax reliefs up to a lifetime allowance of £100,000. However, with the frequent use of ESS shares in tax planning schemes, the Government intends to abolish reliefs for ESS shares for agreements made on or after 1 December 2016.

For advice on any employment law matter, please contact Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300, email j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form if you need further assistance.

 

 

Accident victims may understandably feel that they have little chance in taking on big companies in court – but a good solicitor has no such concerns. In one case, a Tesco driver who was stricken by an extremely rare back condition following an incident at work won the right to substantial compensation.

The man had worked for the supermarket chain for 17 years and was engaged in moving trailers around the yard of a distribution centre. After he drove over a sunken fire hydrant during the night shift, he experienced immediate searing back pain. The severe jolt had ruptured a disc in his spine.

After being treated in hospital, he was diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome and underwent surgery. He had been left suffering from double incontinence, persisting numbness and weakness and residual neurological symptoms in his left leg. Tesco disputed the circumstances of the accident and argued that, even if it had happened as claimed, it had not caused the man’s condition.

Ruling in his favour on both those issues, the Court found him an honest witness who had given an accurate account of the accident. Although he already had a vulnerable back at the time, the Court was satisfied on the basis of expert medical evidence that the accident had caused his Cauda Equina Syndrome. The amount of his compensation had yet to be assessed but was likely to be substantial.    

For further information on this article or to receive advice on other personal injury matters, please contact Mike Sutton on 0121 698 2200 email, m.sutton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Midlands award winning law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP is delighted to announce that Teresa Mannion has joined their expanding family team. She specialises in family law, is a trained collaborative lawyer and is a member of the Law Society Advanced Family Panel.

Teresa joined the firm from Alsters Kelley LLP and she has over 20 years’ experience working in family law.

Teresa commented on her appointment:

Sydney Mitchell is a well-respected law firm. I am pleased to join the strong family team at Sydney Mitchell and am looking forward contributing to its future success.

I am committed to helping couples resolve their relationship issues and to help them achieve fair and practical solutions that benefit them and their families.

The family team at Sydney Mitchell in Shirley is led Mauro Vinti.

Mauro added:

When faced with complex financial divorce cases, expert advice is essential.  Teresa has a down to earth approach which puts her clients at ease; helping them understand the legal issues easily and helping them focus on the future.

Teresa can call upon the additional services of Sydney Mitchell’s private client, corporate and Dispute Resolution teams where appropriate to ensure that solutions are found using a multi-disciplinary approach.

Teresa is based in the Shirley office.

About the Family Law Department

Sydney Mitchell LLP has offices situated in Birmingham City Centre, Sheldon, Shirley and facilities in Sutton Coldfield, acting for clients not only from the West Midlands and surrounding counties but as far away as Australia, Hong Kong and Israel.

If you need family law or child-care advice, contact Teresa Mannion on 0121 746 3300 or a member of the family law department  or complete our online enquiry.

Some loan agreements are doomed from the start and that was certainly so in one case in which over £2.6 million was advanced by a bank to pay for construction of a minority church. The High Court found that both the bank and property consultants that it employed to monitor the project had made a catalogue of errors.

The bank agreed to lend the money to a company that had been established by the church’s pastor to pursue the development. By the time the loan facility was almost exhausted, the project was far from completion and it became clear that something had gone badly wrong. Neither the pastor nor his flock had the means to finish the development and the bank decided to cut its losses.

After taking possession of and selling the property, and two others owned by the pastor and his wife, the bank was left with a deficit of about £1.4 million. It sued the consultants whose task it was to monitor the development, to report on progress and to effectively act as the bank’s eyes and ears.

Ruling on the case, the Court noted that it was quite clear that the loan was based upon a grave overvaluation of the property and should never have been made. The bank could not blame the consultants for that, although the latter had unquestionably been negligent and were found two-thirds responsible for the bank’s loss.

In ruling the consultants liable to pay a total of £415,439 in compensation to the bank, the Court found that, but for their negligence, the bank would have withdrawn funding for the project substantially earlier and taken a smaller loss.

For advice on any aspect of landlord and tenant law and property related matters, contact Sundeep Bilkhu on 0121 698 2200 email, s.bilkhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk. On failure to pay on contracts or money related matters contact Kamal Majevadia 0121 746 3300 email, k.majevadia@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

Except in certain circumstances, an adult worker whose daily working time is more than six hours is entitled to a 20-minute uninterrupted rest break as laid down by Regulation 12(1) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). In an important test case concerning a bus driver who claimed to have been forced to work eight-hour shifts without a break, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that employers are required to take a proactive approach to compliance with this entitlement.

Prior to July 2012, Mr Grange's working day was fixed at eight and a half hours on the basis that he would enjoy a half-hour unpaid lunch break. However, the nature of his work made it difficult in practice for him to take such breaks. On 16 July 2012, he received an email from his employer, Abellio London Limited, expressing its expectation (at best) or instruction (at worst) that in future he was to work an eight-hour shift, without the half-hour break, but then to leave work half an hour earlier than he had done previously. In July 2014, he raised a grievance on the ground that he had been forced to work without a break and this had contributed to a decline in his health, but this was rejected.

Mr Grange subsequently complained to an Employment Tribunal (ET) that Abellio had denied him his entitlement to a 20-minute uninterrupted rest break, as provided by Regulation 12(1) of the WTR.

In dismissing his claim, however, the ET followed the approach taken by the EAT in Miles v Linkage Community Trust Limited and found that Abellio had not actually refused a request by Mr Grange to allow him to exercise his right to a rest break. The first time that he had complained about not being afforded breaks was when he lodged the formal grievance that his health had been affected by being forced to work non-stop for eight hours and there was no evidence that his employer had, in fact, refused his request.

In upholding Mr Grange's challenge to that decision, the EAT noted that there was conflicting legal authority as to whether there had to be an active refusal by an employer to allow breaks in order to give rise to liability under the WTR.

As the WTR were introduced in order to implement the EU Working Time Directive (WTD), it was appropriate to consider the language and purpose of the WTD, whereby rest periods are considered to be essential for the protection of workers' health and safety. Adopting that approach, it was clear that the construction of the WTR allowed by the EAT in Scottish Ambulance Service v Truslove was to be preferred to the approach taken in Miles.  

The EAT therefore held that the WTR impose a duty on employers to actively respect workers' rights to rest breaks. They are required not merely to permit such breaks but to proactively ensure that working arrangements allow for workers to take them.

For advice on any employment law matter, please contact Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300, email j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form if you need further assistance.

 

Family inheritance disputes can be witheringly sad and it is absolutely essential to seek independent legal advice to ensure that peace prevails after you are gone. In one case, a man’s death, leaving a £16 million fortune, raised the curtain on years of venomous dispute between his two children.

The man’s will was as simple as could be, in that it left his estate equally between his son and daughter. However, by a previous will, the daughter had been left her share only for her lifetime. That would have meant that, on her death, her inheritance would have passed to her brother or, if he did not survive her, his children.

Following the man’s death, aged 92, his son launched proceedings, claiming that he lacked knowledge and approval of the contents of the later will at the time of its execution. He argued that the earlier document was his last true will.

In rejecting those arguments, however, the High Court found that the son had lost all sense of perspective about the case, to which he had devoted himself full time for three years. He had persuaded himself, contrary to the evidence, that his sister and his mother had engaged in a conspiracy to overcome his father’s free will.

There was nothing remarkable or suspicious about the man’s decision to make an equal and outright division of his estate between his children, and the Court had no hesitation in concluding that he was fully aware of the nature and effect of the document he was signing.

For advice please contact Kamal Majevadia 0121 746 3300, email k.majevadia@sydneymitchell.co.uk and for Wills Trusts and Probate matters contact Tracy Creed 0121 746 3320, email t.creed@sydneymitchell.co.uk.

House buyers often regard any inspection of a property beyond that undertaken by the surveyor acting for their mortgage provider as unnecessary. A recent case shows why this is a risky approach to take.

Under British law, the purchaser of a property takes it 'as it is' once they have contracted to buy it. Therefore, as well as satisfying oneself of the condition of the property, it is also sensible to ensure that you are aware of the exact boundaries of the land and whether any rights have been granted over it to others.

The case involved the purchase of a house on the Isle of Wight, which had a patch of land to the rear that, unknown to the purchasers of the property, had been previously let on a 1,000-year lease to the owner of a neighbouring property. That lease had never been registered at the Land Registry as it was acquired before compulsory first registration on sale applied to the Isle of Wight.

When the almost inevitable dispute over ownership of the patch of land ensued, the leaseholders attempted to register their interest in the land at the Land Registry and this application was opposed by the purchasers of the property.

The land in question was fenced off, but the fence was obscured behind a large fuchsia bush. Although the purchasers had visited the property on more than one occasion, they had not taken care to examine the boundaries. If they had, they could have raised the question of why part of the land was fenced off and resolved the situation (or not) prior to purchase.

The First-tier Tribunal ruled that a reasonably diligent purchaser would have raised the question and that, accordingly, the application by the leaseholders to register the interest in the land should proceed.

For advice on any property-related matter, please contact Adam Oleskow on 0121 746 3300, email a.oleskow@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

 

Landlords frequently need to evict tenants, and where a possession order is sought because the tenant breaches conditions in the lease (typically for reasons of behaviour which impacts negatively on other tenants), the order will often be postponed or suspended on condition that the tenant's anti-social behaviour ceases.

Until recently, it had been thought that postponed possession orders were preferable for landlords because, in the event of a breach of the condition, these were typically enforced without further legal proceedings being necessary. However, a recent court case has confirmed that, in such circumstances, a two-stage procedure designed to give the tenant the opportunity to argue that the condition has not been breached should be used. Simply sending in the bailiffs without notice is not acceptable and may make the warrant for possession voidable.

Failing to follow the appropriate procedures to obtain possession can be counterproductive. We can guide you through the process to protect your property interests.

For advice please contact Sundeep Bilkhu on 0121 698 2200, email sundeep.bilkhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

The rise and rise of Airbnb and similar online community marketplaces that allow property owners to rent out their properties on short-term lets has led to many people making use of the facility to earn extra income, or even to operate as commercial providers of accommodation, using the Internet as their main marketing tool.

However, a recent court case highlighted just one of the factors that should be borne in mind when considering putting your property into the lettings market in this way.

It involved the owner of a leasehold property in Enfield, whose right to use Airbnb was challenged in court and found to be contrary to the terms of her lease, which stipulated that the property had to be used as a private residence only. The court considered that the occupation by non-leaseholders on a short-term basis did not show sufficient permanence to constitute 'residential use'.

This ruling would not normally affect those who let out a room or rooms in their property whilst they remain in it, but it is not the only issue that may arise. There are also potential tax issues, as rental income (unless covered by the Rent a Room exemption) will not only create a liability to Income Tax (or Corporation Tax if the property is owned by a company) but also can affect the owner's Capital Gains Tax position on an eventual sale.

Many mortgages also prohibit the renting out of a property and require it to be occupied by the mortgage holder only.

For advice on the legal implications of using your property as a source of rental income, please speak to Adam Oleskow on 0121 746 3300 email, a.oleskow@sydneymitchell.co.uk or complete our online enquiry form.

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