Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News, 7th April 2015

Q. I run a café in a garden centre and I am being ripped off for my electricity by my landlord. I have just been presented with a bill for £4,000 for six months. They say that what they’re charging me is correct. They’ve threatened to evict me unless I pay the full amount.

A. Landlords of residential premises can only charge their tenants what they themselves have paid for gas or electricity. However in commercial premises the cost of energy use should be the subject of an agreement between the landlord and tenant. Check your lease: it should say something on the subject, since your landlord cannot charge you for electricity at all unless the lease says so. Hopefully you took legal advice before signing up.


Q. My mother and father made similar wills, whereby if one died their share of the estate passed to the other, but if both died then the estate was divided equally between their children. My father died and therefore the estate has passed to my mother. Is her will still valid, ie will the estate be divided equally between the children when she dies?

A. To be absolutely sure I would have to look at the terms of the will to ensure that they were not both made as “mutual wills” which bind both parents even after the first has died. “Mirror” wills are a much more common way of drawing up such wills and if your mother doesn’t make another will her estate is likely to be divided as you suggest. Although these types of “mirror” wills are common they’re not very tax efficient.


Q. My daughter tried to purchase a settee from a large furnishing store. They delivered it yesterday but they couldn’t get it up the stairs, so they had to take it away again. Both the store and the finance company they use say she’s committed to paying for the settee – even though she hasn’t got it and can’t get it in the house!

A. Your daughter would only be entitled to reject the settee if it was faulty, or “of unsatisfactory quality”. The fact that it’s too big for the house is not the store’s problem, although if they wanted to be helpful they could offer your daughter a different (smaller!) settee for the same price. This is an avenue your daughter should explore at this stage, or she could put the settee into storage and sell it. The store has fulfilled its contractual obligations.


For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.



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