2012 marked 238 years in business for Tallents Solicitors, making them one of the oldest firms of lawyers in Nottinghamshire, and quite possibly the UK. Tallents offers clients advice and support on a wide range of legal services, as this business review of their year shows. More information can be found on the Tallents Facebook page, or make an appointment to discuss your personal circumstances in more detail. JANUARY Funding long term care is a worry more people are facing as life expectancies increase and the Dilnot Commission report estimated that one person in ten at the age of 65 faces future lifetime care costs of £100,000. Frances Kelly offered reassuring advice:

“At Tallents Solicitors we would be happy to help you review your affairs, both before and during care, and offer both our professional legal advice and financial advice via long-term-care-qualified Independent Financial Advisers.”

Children are often caught in the middle when their parents decide to separate or divorce. With emotions running high, it can be difficult for parents alone to make clear and fair decisions about their children’s futures but Andrew Stout, a family lawyer, offers a practical alternative to costly court proceedings – mediation. He comments:

“Mediation is a less acrimonious way to resolve disputes as both parties retain control over the process. Going to court can be both time-consuming and very expensive but mediation allows couples to work towards a fair agreement which suits both them and their children.”

FEBRUARY 2011 saw nearly 480,000 new businesses set up in the UK as many people tapped into their entrepreneurial spirits and chose self-employment over employment or unemployment according to research by Barclays. Alistair Millar commented:

“As government-funded business support, previously provided through bodies such as Business Link and EMDA, is gradually being withdrawn, it’s even more vital for new business owners to ensure they seek expert legal advice to get their business off to the best possible start. It could be the best business decision they’ll ever make.”

MARCH In an attempt to kick-start a recovery in the UK housing market, the government launched two new initiatives: the ‘NewBuy’ Guarantee scheme, which enabled both first-time buyers and people already on the housing ladder to buy new build homes or flats with just a 5% deposit and an extension to the ‘right-to-buy’ discount for up to £75,000 for social housing tenants. Alistair commented:

“We hope both initiatives will have a positive effect for our local housing market. Anyone thinking of taking advantage of either of these schemes should speak to their solicitor as soon as possible to ensure the house purchase will proceed smoothly.”

The word ‘conveyancing’ is used when purchasing a home, but confusion can remain about what exactly it is. To help house-buyers understand the process better, Alistair aimed to explain some of the key legal procedures that must occur before completion of the sale can take place including: evidence of title/contract, draft transfer/contract, mortgages, engrossment of transfer, signing of final documents and final searches. All this information and more can be found on this website or the Tallents Facebook page. Alistair also commented on the wide-ranging implications for rural landowners presented by the Localism Act 2011:

“The Act is designed to empower small communities and give them a say in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework, however three key areas of the Act, namely Assets of Community Value, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Enforcements against concealed developments could adversely affect rural landowners.” Alistair urged any landowners with concerns to contact an experienced agricultural lawyer.

  APRIL Remaining with the topic of agricultural law in time for spring farming, Alistair offered some guidance on what legal experience to look for when choosing an agricultural law firm, including: land registration, farm diversification, agricultural tenancy, employee rights and inheritance issues and reliefs. He said:

“Agricultural law is wide and varied and all too easy to fall foul of. By choosing Tallents you can be assured of legal agricultural expertise that’s been relied on for more than nine generations of clients.”

Charity definitely begins at home as the continued recession affected the attitudes of many people giving donations and making fundraising more challenging than ever for many good causes. Frances Kelly explained how leaving a legacy in a will could help future generations for many years to come;

“Many people do not realise that a charitable donation in their will is exempt from Inheritance Tax, reduces liability on their estate and as such should be considered as an integral part of anyone’s Inheritance Tax planning. After all, wouldn’t you rather help your favourite charity, rather than the taxman?”

MAY Olympic fever was sweeping the nation in the build up to the August Olympic games and many small businesses were not aware of the tight marketing restrictions surrounding the Olympic branding to protect key sponsors’ brand and broadcasting rights. Stephanie Whitchurch explained that it was all too easy to break the law, even by using certain words and phrases:

“Small businesses often rely on advertising creativity to give them an edge against larger corporate businesses, but by taking advantage of the excitement surrounding the games and referring to the Olympics in any of their marketing campaigns, small businesses could be unintentionally breaking the law.”

The legal advice was clear, take the advice of an experienced solicitor before committing to an expensive marketing campaign. JUNE Experienced commercial lawyer, Jeremy Blatherwick offered advice for start-up businesses regarding formal written contracts and explained how they can protect rights, ensure payment, or receipt of services and goods. He said:

“Many people don’t realise that a contract can also be made orally, or be proved by dealings, such as on the phone, via email, sending text messages etc., so it makes sense to protect a business with a formal written contract.”

JULY Frances Kelly tackled the sensitive subject of will making, describing it as:

Without a doubt, the single most important piece of paper anyone will ever sign in his or her life. Without a will could mean that the government gets to decide who gets what from your estate, depending on domestic circumstances. Making a will can give an enormous amount of comfort to the people left behind.”

AUGUST Concerned about the ever-widening pensions deficit, the government planned to launch pension auto-enrolment from October 2012. The initiative is particularly aimed at lower-paid workers or workers in smaller businesses who do not have access to a pension scheme. Not every UK company would be immediately affected as the implementation would be staggered over five years, however, Stephanie Whitchurch explained why employers needed to understand their key obligations:

“Employers should take steps to ensure they understand when their business will have to auto-enrol workers into the new scheme as the Pensions Regulator can issue fixed and escalating penalty notices of up to £10,000 per day to businesses that it feels are deliberately seeking to avoid meeting the scheme requirements.”

Alistair Millar explained how a farm that could meet the requirements of Agricultural Property Relief (APR) could reduce inheritance tax bills by up to 100% on succession. He commented:

“However, APR is complicated and frequently misunderstood so we recommend experienced legal advice is regularly sought to ensure careful succession planning and that potential relief is being maximised.”

SEPTEMBER With the wealth of DIY information and online template forms available to everyone today, often it’s very easy to think you can do something better yourself. However, there’s one area of Do-It-Yourself that should really be left to the experts – the law. Frances Kelly said:

“People might think they are saving themselves perhaps time or money by completing their own wills, or a Lasting Power of Attorney, but it’s a false economy in the long run that generally requires great deal of expense to put right. The simplest of mistakes, even a miss-spelt word or misplaced comma can have serious and long lasting consequences. ”

OCTOBER With more than 400,000 people randomly selected for compulsory jury service in the UK each year, the effect of losing employees for significant periods of time in small businesses during a difficult economy can be extreme. Stephanie Whitchurch was keen for employers and employees to have a basic understanding of what they are entitled to if an employee is called for jury service. She says:

“It’s much easier to consult a solicitor early and set out everyone’s rights and obligations in a Staff Handbook so that everyone knows what they are entitled to, should the situation occur.”

October also saw Tallents shortlisted in the finals of the Newark Business Awards for their Business Commitment to the Community and Excellent in Business. At the time of writing, we all still keeping our fingers crossed for a positive result, but want to thank our staff and clients for all their support over the year. Tallents was also extremely proud of partners, Andy Stout and Alistair Millar, who both volunteer in local youth sports. For his achievements in coaching the Corsair’s youth rugby team, Andy was also appointed as one of the Nottingham county U14 rugby coaches, as well as mentoring a rugby coach from Mansfield rugby club. Having achieved his Football Association coaching Level 1 qualifications, this year Alistair Millar helped lead the Farndon Colts U10s football team to victory in their league. NOVEMBER With economic times still tough for businesses and Britain starting to claw its way out of recession, a guide to getting paid written by Stephanie Whitchurch couldn’t have come at a better time. She said:

“Non-payment is usually caused by one of three reasons: either the client can’t afford to pay, wants to delay payment, or disputes the payment, however knowing the right steps to take can help businesses avoid payment problems.”

The guide can be found here on the Tallents website. Another damp and wet British summer lead into an extremely wet autumn, and localised flooding highlighted an issue that homebuyers needed to consider – flood risks. With one in six buildings in the UK at risk of flooding according to an Environment Agency report, Alistair Millar explained that homebuyers should ask their solicitors to carry out a Flood Risk Report when purchasing a property, even if the property is apparently landlocked. He said:

“This is an increasingly important report for homebuyers to consider, especially as British insurers intend to return to risk-based pricing for flood insurance after June 2013.”

DECEMBER Tallents is sponsoring the Newark Palace Theatre’s Pantomime Charity Gala Night.  Alistair Millar commented:

“Tallents has been deeply involved in the community spirit of Newark for nearly 240 years. I hope that the people of Newark and the surrounding areas are able to support and help these charities to continue with their excellent work in the community as well as enjoying the fantastic Beauty and the Beast pantomime that the Newark Palace Theatre is showing this year.”

2013 In 2013, Tallents is preparing for a very busy time ahead but is looking forward to continuing to serve the people and businesses of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire during 2013 as it enters its 239th year of legal practice. Check out this website, or follow Tallents on Facebook to keep abreast of key legal issues that may affect you or your business, or make an appointment with one of our talented lawyers to discuss your personal circumstances.