After a couple of years where Tallents’ employment law offering was limited, we decided that the businesses of Newark and their employees really needed someone they could turn to for advice in the ever changing world of employment law. We found that person in Janine Lawton who joined us a couple of months ago and has already given a very good impression both to her colleagues and those clients who have consulted her. Below is an article from the local press introducing Janine to Newark:
Right to request flexible working extended
On 30th June 2014, the Flexible Working Regulations will be amended by the government to cover all employees with 26 weeks continuous employment, rather than only those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers. Janine Lawton, a solicitor at Tallents in Newark specialising in Employment Law, explains what this means for employers.
“If an employee meets the eligibility criteria and makes a request for flexible working, then under the new regulations, the employer will have a duty to fully consider the request in a reasonable manner and handle the request in a fair way.”
Flexible working can include: home-working, a type of employment contract (perhaps temporary), part-time working, flexi-time, job sharing and shift working.
There are several key points about the regulation changes for employers to note:
- Employees must have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date the application is made.
- Employers have a statutory right to consider applications.
- Once agreed, the change (permanent or temporary) must be noted in the employee’s contract of employment.
- An employee has the right to appeal, if necessary, against the employer’s decision.
- Employees have the right to renegotiate an agreement if their requested hours are not possible.
- Only one application can be made in a 12-month period.
“To ensure the requests are handled correctly, we are recommending that employers consider developing a ‘right to request’ policy which can help to ensure consistency in handling all requests for flexible working as well as making it much easier to communicate about the policy to employees and provide guidance on what their application must include. At Tallents, we can help employers draft appropriate policies.”
“Employers must be very careful not to discriminate when considering requests to work flexibly. You do not have to approve every flexible working request; you do have the right to refuse on business grounds, but these must be made clear to employees to avoid unlawful discrimination.”
Acceptable refusal grounds might include:
- The burden of additional costs is unacceptable to the organisation
- An inability to reorganise work amongst other staff, or recruit additional staff
- A detrimental effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand, or an affect on quality
- A detrimental effect on performance of an individual, team or the whole organisation
- There is insufficient work to do during the periods the employee proposes to work
Janine discusses how employers might avoid unlawful discrimination:
“Inadvertent discrimination is possible if you do not fully consider the flexible working request, for example, a man has just as much right as a woman to request flexible working to care for his children. If you do not make your reasons for your final decision fair and clear, then you run with risk of a dispute with your employee.
“At Tallents, we have employment law specialists who can help you though this regulatory change and ensure that both your business and your employee’s rights are fully protected. Call us to make an appointment today.”
There have been a lot of changes at Tallents lately. We’ve been expanding our range of services and brought in additional, top quality staff to either expand or add to the range of legal services we offer. Its made for a busy round of marketing and admin and meant that I’ve had to neglect this blog a little. However, fear not – I’m still here!
The piece below was placed in the Nottinghamshire press a month or so ago to introduce Vili Chung who has taken our Mansfield conveyancing offering and added commercial property work to it.
How to choose a commercial conveyancing solicitor
For many businesses, finding the right commercial property is vital to their business success. Considerable time and effort will have been expended in the search for the perfect premises and once you’ve found them, you’ll need to act quickly. Vili Chung, commercial property lawyer at Tallents Solicitors in Mansfield, explains what every business owner needs to consider when choosing a commercial conveyancing solicitor:
Vili comments: “Firstly, it’s important to ensure that your solicitor has extensive experience in commercial conveyancing law. It’s a remarkably complex area of law, often filled with detailed, technical phrases, and for the unexperienced the whole process can be very confusing. You need to know that you can rely on the commercial conveyancing experience of your solicitor to guide you through the whole process.”
Speed of service, a proactive approach, understanding of urgent matters
She continues: “Having found your property, you will need to find a solicitor who understands the urgency of either completing the property purchase quickly, or who can swiftly negotiate the best rental deal for you. Your commercial conveyancing solicitor should be proactive in anticipating potential problems and understand the urgency of finding solutions that are commercially viable.”
Local experience, local knowledge, local contacts
“By choosing a local commercial conveyancing solicitor, you gain so many advantages: they will have extensive experience in the local commercial property market; their professional contacts will provide them with a business network spanning estate agents, accountants, insurance brokers, etc.; all of whom could be vital in concluding your business transaction swiftly and efficiently,” says Vili.
Getting to know you
Vili continues: “A local solicitor is also available for face-to-face business meetings, which is vital when you need to discuss complex issues at length. Actually having met the person you are dealing with can help make what seems like an insurmountable problem, more manageable.”
Long-term relationship development
Says Vili: “Together, you and your local solicitor can develop a strong,long-term relationship, which has your business success at the forefront.”
A full-service firm, supporting all your business legal needs
“For a business, the right commercial solicitor backed by a full-service law firm, can offer a wealth of support to ensure your business’s future success. They can help with issues such as: employment law, dispute resolution and future development of the business.
“Tallents has extensive experience in helping commercial clients with their property requirements and planning projects. We are here to support our commercial clients with legal advice and support wherever needed.”
Here’s another article that we recently prepared for the local press:
As of 30th July 2013, the UK Government has published legislation to reform the process that landlord and bailiffs must follow when seizing goods to recover unpaid commercial rent, including VAT and interest. Jeremy Blatherwick, commercial lawyer at Tallents in Newark explains the revised procedures for commercial rent arrears recovery.
“Previously, under the common law right to ‘distress for rent’, landlords, or a certified bailiff acting on the landlord’s behalf, could enter leased commercial property to encourage tenants to immediately pay their rent arrears owed, or remove and sell goods owned by the tenant up to the value of the arrears.
“The element of surprise under the common law right made this an extremely effective process for landlords wishing to recover rent arrears quickly. There was also no requirement for landlords to initiate court proceedings to recover rent arrears.
“However, the remedy of ‘distress for rent’ could be very upsetting for tenants, so by making these changes to the law the government has taken steps to address the balance.”
“From 6th April 2014, the Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) will replace the common law right to distress for rent. The changes in regulation are fairly detailed and comprehensive, and there are areas that commercial tenants and landlords should both be aware of in advance of next April.”
The key aspects of the new CRAR law include:
- ‘Notice of enforcement’- a minimum of seven clear days’ notice in writing must be given before landlords can use the CRAR process to take control of any goods belonging to a tenant. However, the court can order a lesser notice period if the debtor is likely to move or dispose of goods to prevent enforcement of the notice.
- Principal rent recovery – CRAR can only be used to recover outstanding arrears of principal rent equal to or greater than seven days or more, plus VAT and interest. The procedure cannot be used to recover other outstanding lease sums (such as service charges or insurance payments) even if these are reserved as rent.
- Time restrictions for recovery – the ability to take control of goods is limited to the hours between 6am and 9pm (or other business hours for the tenant in question) and the previous restriction on the exercise of distress on a Sunday is abolished.
- Clarification on exempt goods – there are certain categories of goods that are exempt from the CRAR process and cannot be taken control of, including goods necessary for a tenant’s business, such as tools of trade up to a value of just £1,350; items required to satisfy the basic domestic needs of the tenant; and goods owned by third parties (including sub-tenants).
- Notice to sub-tenants – landlords will be able to serve notice on sub-tenants, redirecting their rent so it is paid directly to the landlord instead of the principal tenant, but this will only take effect 14 clear days following service of the ‘Notice of Enforcement’.
- ‘Controlled goods agreements’ – there will be detailed procedures for bailiffs on entering and re-entering commercial premises; specifically focusing on securing/taking control of goods left on site; i.e. replacing the existing ‘walking possession’ procedure; and selling goods. Landlords will no longer be able to apply distraint themselves.
- Restrictions on mixed-use premises – where part of the commercial property is let or occupied as a dwelling, it will not be included in the new law.
“These changes have been made to redress some of the more extreme results of the common law remedy of distress for tenants. However, we expect landlords to now seek alternative ways to recover rent arrears, including initiating court proceedings or forfeiting the lease. Our commercial lawyers are here to help with advice in advance of the law change on 6th April 2014.”
The first Thursday in December was time for the annual Laxton Court Leet again. For those that don’t know, I am the Lord of the Manor’s Steward, which effectively makes me a Judge. The Court was the only non-Magistrates, County or Crown Court to retain full jurisdiction when most Baronial Courts and Courts Leet were disbanded by statute in 1977. This means that I have powers to issue fines and other penalties to farmers using the Open Field system at Laxton and breaching the rules and regulations.
Anyway, this year was quite ordinary to begin with. We had fines of 12p for villagers who failed to attend the Court (six people at the rate of 2pence each…there would have been a time when that would have been enough to encourage attendance). Even though the fines are so low, it is interesting that there were only six no-shows.
I then swore in the jury for the next year. These people will go out into the Jury Field on the last Thursday of November 2014 and then deliberate as to who should be fined for what…ploughing to far, allowing spray to drift, etc. I was given the presentment paper with the list of this year’s fines and official warnings. It was then that events took an interesting turn.
There was a non-attendance following a summons to attend. I hadn’t come across this before during my Stewardship. If I was a County Court judge, I would simply check the very thick rule book and look up “failure to attend hearing”. If I was a magistrate, I would look to the legally qualified Court Clerk to check in the Magistrates’ manual. However, I am neither of these and I run a Court based solely upon common sense, tradition and whatever has gone before to create a precedent.
I could have had to read every set of minutes for the last hundred years before I found a previous non-attendance. I certainly didn’t want to have to do that so, using common sense (and on the basis that this is a Court where people are tried by their peers, I opened it up to debate by the jurors. Eventually we settled on a stiff warning this year and notification that next time would result in a massive fine. That is a big help for me because now I have the precedent, should it happen again.
If you want to find out even more about the Open Field System and the Laxton Court Leet, The Laxton Heritage Society are having an Open Weekend in June. I will be there, giving a talk about the Court and its workings. People are also welcome to come along to next year’s Court – 10.30am on the first Thursday in December.
I’ve been a bit lax on this blog of late. It seems the answer to the question I posed in my last blog (Recovery or Blip?) was in fact ‘Recovery’. The property market locally and, it seems, nationally, has gone mental. I haven’t been this busy since about 2007! That’s my excuse, anyway. I’m going to post up a couple of articles that Tallents have produced for the local media and then there are a few other bits that I’ll try and tell you about over the next week or so..
When it comes to divorce, there are very few couples who won’t have something that is jointly owned and needs dividing up, whether that is property, a car, savings, shares or claims on a pension. Andrew Stout, partner and family lawyer at Tallents Solicitors in Newark, explains how consent orders can offer divorcing couples a clean break and a fresh start.
“Cuts to legal aid in divorce proceedings during 2013 have meant many divorcing couples try to ‘DIY divorce’ in order to save money but if specific financial matters are not legally settled at the time of divorce, then it is possible for either spouse to make a claim on the other in the future.
“Anything of value should be protected, be that property, savings or a pension and a court-approved consent order will ensure that both parties have agreed to the contents.
“But a consent order cannot be appealed or set aside, so it’s vitally important for couples to seek legal advice, even in seemingly simple divorce cases, to ensure that they don’t end up agreeing to a consent order that they did not fully understand but which may have far-reaching consequences.”
A consent order can relate to one specific area or include a combination of the following:
Clean break only – this order dismisses both spouses’ rights to make any future claims against each other arising out of the marriage. For example, future claims for maintenance or a share of an eventual pension. This order does not contain any other provisions, such as property transfer, maintenance or pension splitting. This order also requires the complete and full cooperation of both parties.
Standard consent order – this order will include specific details about property. For example, whether it is to be sold and how the proceeds from the sale will be split.
Pension sharing order – this order will focus on how any accrued pensions will be split between spouses. It can be difficult to find a fair way to divide a pension, especially if one partner has always worked and the other has stayed at home to bring up a family. In these complicated situations, experienced legal advice is vital to ensure a fair and even division of the pension.
It is wise to have a consent order written by a solicitor, or barrister, authorised to give family law advice in England and Wales. The order also has to be approved in court by a judge and if the judge is not satisfied with the correct completion of the order they will reject it, thereby delaying the divorce.
It is possible to divorce without any consent orders or financial agreements in place but couples are strongly advised against this. Rights against a property or to claim maintenance do not diminish over time so a former spouse can still bring a claim for financial provision years after the divorce has been granted. Claims can also be made against a former spouse’s estate if there are no financial orders in place.
“Anyone seeking a divorce should consult a solicitor to fully understand their legal and financial situation, both now and in the future. At an emotional time, it can be hard to think beyond the present and into the future but a solicitor will help you do this. A consent order will give both couples the certainty that the divorce and everything else has been dealt with on a full and final basis.”
For more information, contact Tallents on 01636 671881
Tallents Solicitors, 3 Middlegate, Newark
It seems astounding to think that the economy has been in the doldrums for 5 years now. However, here seems to be an awful lot more confidence at this stage than I can remember over that half decade. We have seen confidence before and I have seen the property market suddenly get busy…but it only lasted a month or two and then tailed off again. The property market itself tends to be a clear indicator of how well the country is doing and this time, my workload (and that of those I speak to) has rocketed and stayed high for almost 5 months. That begs the question…is this a recovery? Or is it just a big blip that will dip again any time now? Obviously we all hope the former, but I have no doubt I will be expecting the drop for a few months yet.
As the property market takes off again, I find myself being bombarded with snippets of information about what is going on out there and I thought I’d share some of those with you.
This week, the Land Registry announced house prices in England and Wales rose by 3.4% in the last 12 months. That is higher than inflation, so your property is earning interest (possibly at a greater rate than it possibly would in the bank). However, at its peak, the average property price was £181,839. It is currently £167,063, so there is some way to ge before we reach 2008.
London, of course, leads the way when it comes to prices and values. Click here to see a re-possessed property that is currently being marketed at £34 million! I’ll bet that the first offer of £33.5 million may get it, but you’ll have to hurry!
A former council house (click here) has also just sold for almost £3 million at auction. Southwark Council sold it and reckon they can build 20 new council houses for that money. It is close to the Borough Market which I recently visited and thought was a fantastic place. However, I wouldn’t swap it for Newark market! In any event, protesters moved into the property and squatted just after the sale.
London isn’t doing the best, though. In agricultural circles, owners of farmland will be pleased to note that, for the first time since 1997, the average price rise percentage per acre has outsripped the average price rise percentage of London property. Last year the price per acre rose by 10.7% and predictions are that it will rise by around 40% in the next 5 years. Arable land currently averages £7,594 per acre.
Mortgage lending is now at its highest since 2008. There were 66,375 mortgage approvals by lenders in September. It is still down from the 100,000 that were being approved per month pre-2008, but nevertheless represents a big leap. The cost of borrowing is, on average, now 3.3% on new mortgages, and that is the lowest since the average started being recorded in 2004.
Of course, all of this good news for homeowners and house buyers doesn’t come untainted. Gazumping seems to be back, particularly in London and the South East. Some sellers are accepting 5 or 6 offers on a property before finally settling on an offer, turning the buying process into an unofficial auction. I am not aware of similar practices heading North, though.
It is also the case that we risk a return to the housing bubble that we saw in the early 2000’s as mortgage applications are accepted and interest rates fall.
I’ve been a bit lax on here of late with no post in 6 weeks. For anyone to whom that may have caused distress…sorry!
Below is a piece that we put together on the new Government planning regime for the local press last month.
On 30th May 2013 the permitted development rules concerning which building developments required planning permission have been relaxed for a limited period, from 30th May 2013 to 30th May 2016. Alistair Millar, solicitor from Tallents comments:
“This could be great news for businesses who had wanted to expand, but were previously held back by planning restrictions, as now it may be possible to make alterations to buildings, undertake certain building works, extensions and changes of use without having to apply for planning permission.”
The government has taken the move to amend the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to try and stimulate local development and boost struggling businesses. It is hoped that this time-limited relaxing of the red-tape surrounding planning permissions could help to turn around our high streets.
“These reforms will allow a wide range of business development to take place, for example B1 office buildings can now be changed to C3 residential homes.
“Additionally, various business buildings and their land can be temporarily changed to accommodate alternative business uses, including as free schools, for up to two years. As a result certain business classes can be altered for a limited period: shops, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes, drinking establishments, hot food takeaways, businesses, non-residential institutions or assembly and leisure.
“The relaxation in the planning rules is also good news for farmers wishing to diversify as most agricultural buildings can now be converted to shops, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes, business, storage and distribution, hotels or assembly and leisure – but not into a dwelling.”
“However, the developers wishing to use the new rules must still apply to the Local Authority and allow the Council to check for potential contamination or flooding risks, or transport and highways impacts.”
For homeowners, these changes mean they can double the amount by which their home can be extended at the rear. Within certain restrictions, a detached house can now be extended as a single storey extension up to 8m (6m for any other house type) to the rear instead of the 4m (3m for other house types) previously possible.
Extensions on both types of properties will be limited to four metres in height. This change will last until 30 May 2016, after which the scope for extending the scheme will be assessed.
“Homeowners will still need to give notice of any proposed work to the Council, who will then consult the surrounding neighbours. If the neighbours don’t object, then the extension can continue unhindered. This is known as the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.”
“Tallents has extensive experience in helping both commercial and residential clients with their planning projects and is here to help guide people through the new changes with legal advice and support whenever needed.”
The Nottinghamshire County Show took place at the Newark Showground last weekend. It was the Newark & Notts County Show, but I understand that there was a fear that the name made it sound very parochial and meant that people in other parts of the County felt that it wasn’t for them. It would be interesting to see the stats and whether the visitor demographics changed as a result of the name change this year.
For many, many years, Tallents Solicitors have sponsored the Show to one degree or another. Visitors to the main show ring will be familiar with the big advertising hoarding bearing our name. The Lincolnshire Longwool sheep also compete for the Tallents Godfrey Perpetual Trophy each year! This year, we contributed by paying for a full page in the programme. That was another change – previously, the show catalogue and programme had been separate but this year they were amalgamated.
Tallents staff often serve as Stewards at the Show (the traditional looking chaps in the bowler hats). In 2010, I was asked to judge the sheep and pigs. It panicked me somewhat as, although I work with and for quite a number of farming families in the area, my knowledge of these animals is limited to their taste…and I can tell the difference between the two! Thankfully, that was all of the knowledge that I needed for the job. Essentially, I was judging the quality of the grooming and how tidy the pens were!
Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed the County Show and, as a family, we now have a tradition where we take guests up to the Showground on that weekend. The kids love the animals and the variety of attractions and sports taster sessions available. I love the food hall where I stock up on meats (pork, spring onion and ginger this year), cheeses and, last year, a bottle of rose port. There’s always a great show in the main ring, after the parading of tractors, shire horses and other agriculturally based displays. This year it was the White Helmets motor cycle display team. In previous years there have been some breathtaking motorcycle stunt shows.
All in all, the show is good value – kids get in free and parking is free, so we got a family of 4 in this year for £24. That’s roughly the same price of a ticket for one person to see Nottingham Forest for 90 minutes. This is a blatant plug for the Nottinghamshire County Show, but it is such an important event in Newark, bringing in thousands of people from all over the country over the two days. It’s been around for something close to 150 years and last year it was visited by 50,000 people (no stats for this year yet). The staff at the Showground work unbelievably hard to bring it all together each year.
Agriculture is something that I’m very interested in. When I came to Tallents, I took over from a couple of people who had been dealing with agricultural work and, in the ten years I’ve been with the firm, I have improved my knowledge year on year. We have always serviced our agricultural clients and farming families well and been able to offer a good service. However, this year, all of the disparate elements that make up an agricultural service will be brought together at Tallents and will be covered by one single ‘Agricultural Department’ I am looking forward to being able to offer an even better service and growing our relationships with our agricultural family clients, some of whom we have served for generations.
Below is an article that has appeared in a number of places this week, including the Newark Advertiser. It is a subject close to my heart – choosing your conveyancer wisely!
Finally, there’s some good news for the UK’s housing market; the National Association of Estate Agents is reporting a 41% increase in house hunter numbers in December 2012 since their lowest December level in 2008 and, according to Moneyfacts.co.uk the cost of a two-year fixed-rate mortgage is now at a record low. But if you want to buy a property how do choose the right conveyancing solicitor? Kerry Baldwin, from Tallents Solicitors in Newark, offers some advice for house hunters.
“House buying is expensive and it can be all to easy to cut corners, but when it comes to conveyancing, this is one area where you shouldn’t just pick the lowest price. Sadly the reasons can be very clear if things go wrong:
- You might end up paying more in ‘hidden extras’ that are added to your final legal bill.
- You never actually speak to your solicitor and instead deal with paralegals, or staff in a call centre.
- In a worst case scenario, you might miss out on the house of your dreams because another solicitor exchanged first.”
“We would always recommend that people do their research and look for a conveyancing solicitor with an established local reputation for providing fast and efficient property transactions. Perhaps ask friends or colleagues whom they would recommend or visit your local law firms personally and ask for quotes.
“A local law firm will always have an advantage since they are likely to know and have a good business relationship with the estate agent or builder selling the property. If things don’t quite go to plan, this relationship could prove invaluable in getting things sorted and the sale back on track quickly.
“I would also ask your solicitor to fully explain their quote to you so you know, and can anticipate the full conveyancing costs, and what disbursements will also be incurred such as: search costs, land registry fees and bank transfers. You shouldn’t be charged for items such as photocopying or phone calls.
“A cheap conveyancing quote can be very tempting but it will be cheap for a reason. It’s not worth losing your dream home for the sake of a couple of hundred pounds. Always choose an experienced conveyancing solicitor who you can rely on to complete your transaction quickly and efficiently.
“Even if you’re just looking for a house at the moment, you should find and instruct a solicitor as soon as possible to allow them to be ready to act when you do find your dream home.”
“At Tallents we understand that buying a home can be an emotional and stressful time so we will always work hard to keep our clients fully informed during the process. We’ve been helping people buy and sell houses since 1774, so have a wealth of local experience to draw on.”
Below is an article that was written for the Newark Advertiser (and appeared in other places) last month. It considers the importance of agricultural land-owners preparing properly for future generations.
For owners of tenanted farmland, 50% Agricultural Property Relief (APR) is available on land subject to a tenancy granted before 1 September 1995. Only if the tenancy was granted on or after this date, does the land attract 100% relief. Alistair Millar, agricultural lawyer at Tallents Solicitors in Southwell explains that as part of an estate planning and inheritance tax exercise, it could be worthwhile landowners reviewing older tenancies and holdings to see if 100% APR can be achieved.
“Much landlord and tenant law is complex and hard to understand. The rules relating to agricultural tenancies could be regulated by one of two acts depending on the start date of the tenancy so it makes good business sense for landlords to seek specific agricultural legal advice as there are potential pitfalls for the unwary.”
The Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 (“the Act”) introduced the concept of ‘Farm Business Tenancy’ to replace the old style Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (AHA 1986). The Act was introduced to ensure that the relationship between landlord and tenant would be governed by the agreement between them but it also increased APR to 100%.
So, the potential positives for landowners to amend old tenancies to come under the Act are undeniable, but why should tenants agree to a surrender and re-grant of an older tenancy? Especially when AHA 1986 has many advantages for a tenant.
“Prior to the introduction of the Act, all tenancies were governed by the AHA 1986 under which tenants enjoyed extensive security of tenure rights and rights of compensation upon quitting of the tenancy. Landlords should note that AHA 1986 will still continue to have practical implications for some time into the future and this is especially true when it comes to APR and inheritance tax implications.”
However, it may be possible to create a new tenancy which will give the tenant all the advantages and securities he enjoys under AHA 1986 but which is a tenancy under the Act for the purposes of APR.
“The surrendering and re-granting of a tenancy may have additional tax implications for the tenant which will need to be considered carefully by an experienced agricultural lawyer as the transactions may attract Capital Gains Tax and/or Stamp Duty Land Tax.
“But with careful negotiations during the process and appropriate tax advice, a tenancy review could result in a positive outcome for everyone, continued security for the tenant and APR at 100% for the landowner.”
For more information, contact Tallents on 01636 813411
Tallents Solicitors, 2 Westgate, Southwell