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Ilott v Mitson - Is The Principle of Testamentary Freedom Restored?

Calum Dickson
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The principle of testamentary freedom is a long standing feature of English law. Put simply, this means that a person who creates a Will has the right to leave their estate to anyone they wish to do so. Although there are many ways in which the validity of...

How Can I Protect My Property From Fraudsters?

Sara Garnett
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We are all aware of the need to protect our identity and our online accounts but how many of us have taken steps to protect our property  which, in most cases, is probably the most valuable asset we own.   Fraudsters may try to...

Not Paying Minimum Wage & The Debenhams Payroll Error

Theresa Carling
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It can hardly have escaped many people’s attention that Debenhams underpaid some of their staff and failed to meet the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or National Living Wage (NLW) when they topped the list of ‘named and shamed employers...

What Happens If My Tenant Is Still In Occupation After Lease Expired?

Kirsty Sills
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Someone comes to talk to you or the phone rings and you forget to diarise that all important date.  We have all been there.  But where do you, as a Landlord, stand when that date was the end of the contractual term of the contracted out Lease for...

How We Can Help In The Battle Against Loss Of Confidential Information

Joan Casson
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Employees are regularly allowed access to information about customers so they can do their job.  All too often, employees leave their employment for a new job taking with them customer details obtained from their former employer.  Sadly, many times...

Your Digital Afterlife - Let Us Help You Get It In Order

Joanne Tillotson
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“I must put my affairs in order ” ... is a common and traditional phrase. It conjures up an image of that all important box, containing vital paperwork about one’s finances and personal affairs, all prepared safe and sound for loved ones...

I Have Successfully Obtained A County Court Judgment ... What Now?

Ellie Gilbert
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If you have an outstanding debt and you have followed the correct procedure to obtain a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in your favour, unfortunately, it does not necessarily mean that the debtor will instantly pay you. Whilst in some cases, simply sending a...

The NDA: Protecting Your Confidential Information Without Stifling Potential Commercial Opportunities

Matthew Smith
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For many businesses one, if not the key, asset is some degree of knowledge or confidential information.  Whether that is the mechanics of a unique selling point or a list of customer information, it may still represent a significant proportion of a...

Protecting Empty Rates Relief For Landlords

Andrew Beattie
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A survey carried out by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors of their members found that 92% of respondents viewed business rates as a barrier to town centre regeneration and 89% thought that business rates were restrictive to overall economic...

Bah Humbug - Christmas Parties & What To Be Wary Of!

Theresa Carling
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Rather than trot out the usual warnings about Christmas parties and the pitfalls of allowing interactions between colleagues heavily influenced and emboldened by Christmas spirit(s) and the Christmas holidays, I thought I would instead consider some issues...

There May Be Trouble Ahead ...

Craig Malarkey
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A new Prime Minister resides in number 10. A new US President will soon be in the White House. The new Chancellor has set out his first vision for the British economy in his Autumn Statement. Article 50 and Brexit are coming, and who knows what...

Christmas Cashflow - Protecting Your Business From Debtors During The Festive Season

Helen Lyne
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Like it or loathe it Christmas is around the corner. Everyone will see an increase in their spending over the next 5 weeks, with reports suggesting that it will take the average family until June 2017 to clear their Christmas debts. Even businesses are...

Terms & Conditions: Why A Business Needs Them & Should Update Regularly

Michael Stevens
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Consumers today are savvier than ever before, and the majority of people will be aware of the basic rules surrounding defective goods and what their rights are to return such items and obtain a refund. However, are those rights the same when purchasing...

Selling Your House? Read Before You Sign ...

Ellie Gilbert
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With growing possibilities to view properties for sale and the desperation for sellers to sell, putting a house up for sale is not as straightforward as it might seem. You no longer have to go anywhere to look for your dream home, when you can take virtual...

A Reminder To All: Dismissal Claims & Qualifying Periods of Employment

Joan Casson
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Employees are becoming increasingly savvy.  They understand that basic procedures generally apply before they can be dismissed from their employment.  They are very forthright in insisting those procedures are followed, whether they have just...

Complying With Vacant Possession When Exercising The Break Clause In A Lease

Andrew Beattie
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When negotiating a lease it is strategically beneficial for the tenant to have a break clause. If a landlord offers a break clause he will often try to fetter the tenant’s ability to exercise the break clause by including as many conditions as...

The Grass Isn't Always Greener - A General Guide To Boundary Disputes

Gemma Smith
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An Englishman’s home is his castle…..Or so they say. But what happens if you end up in a dispute with your neighbour about the boundary between your homes? It can be an argument that is emotionally fraught and expensive. In  the case of ...

Can I Make Money Out Of My Home By Renting It Out?

Sara Garnett
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With the increasing popularity of  Airbnb and the ability to offer your home on the internet as an alternative to hotels, many of you may be wondering whether you can make money by letting your home when you are not there. In addition to the...

Protecting Your Business Assets From Divorce

Helen Hunt
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The separation of celebrity power couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, brings into sharp focus the turmoil that can accompany a divorce. The stress and anxiety of a separation can be exacerbated if one or both of the parties want to protect their assets...

When Is A Field Not Agricultural?

Helen Dexter
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Agricultural Property Relief (APR) is a valuable relief from inheritance tax (IHT) and can significantly reduce or even eliminate the payment of IHT in the estates of farmers and landowners when they die. Not all land is however eligible for APR. Just...

Is Being On 'Casual Terms' Ever Okay?

Theresa Carling
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Before you read on, you might be surprised to note that I am not writing about personal relationships but instead the much maligned issue of using casual worker contracts or ‘zero hours’ contracts as they are more commonly known.   There...

Top Tips For Buying Into A Brand With A Franchise

Matthew Smith
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2015 saw a demoralising downturn for industry in the North East and sadly, 2016 looks like it might follow that trend with further redundancies mooted in our region and subsequently, unemployment figures expected to rise. However, in economically trying...

The Pros & Cons Of Allowing Pets In Rented Properties

Calum Dickson
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The right for tenants to keep pets in a rented property ultimately rests on the terms negotiated and agreed to in the landlord and tenant agreement. However, recent figures suggest it may be time that landlords relaxed their approach on this issue. The PFMA...

The Law When Employee Holidays & Sickness Coincide

Joan Casson
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Since the holiday season has now arrived, we thought it might be helpful to remind all employers about the interaction between sickness and holidays. Employees will continue to accrue up to at least 4 weeks’ of the statutory holiday entitlement...

A Cautionary Tale: Parents v Proprietary Estoppel

Gemma Smith
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A recent decision in Davies v Davies [2016], illustrates just how family relations can turn sour and how the law can step in on the grounds of ‘fairness’. Background Eirian and her two sisters grew up on the family farm in Carmarthenshire...

Private Parking Tickets - To Pay Or Not To Pay?

Ellie Gilbert
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Parking on private land can be an expensive and stressful business. If you outstay your welcome, you could find yourself having to pay a hefty charge. So, what are your rights when parking your car on private land and are you able to appeal the tickets, or...

Top Tips For Landlords & Tenants - Exercising A Tenant's Break Clause

Michael Stevens
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When negotiating a commercial lease (especially one of any significant length) it is quite common that the tenant will want an option to break the lease. These options will quite often be at agreed periods during the contractual term of the lease and provide...

What Can I Do About My Neighbour's Tree?

Sara Garnett
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My neighbour’s tree is overhanging my garden -  what can I do? It is very common for a tree belonging to a third party to grow and for the branches to overhang into your garden or for the roots to encroach under your land and cause an...

Insolvency: Not So Easy Being Green?

Helen Lyne
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The BHS saga continues this week, as former owner, Sir Philip Green, is appearing before MPs from the Work and Pensions Committee and Business, Innovation and Skills Committee today to discuss the sale and collapse of BHS. This follows explosive...

Keeping Your Eye On The Ball When It Comes To Your Employees

Theresa Carling
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Many of the nation’s football fans will be delighted to see the UEFA European Championship kicking off today, Friday 10th June 2016 and watching it through to its conclusion on 10th July 2016. As the games take place in France there are no...

To Mediate Or Litigate? That Is The Question

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In any commercial dispute, one of the first things a client asks is “How much will we recover?” shortly followed by “how much will it cost?”  Whenever we are instructed by a client, no matter what the basis of the dispute, a cost...

End Of The Road For Serial Litigators?

Theresa Carling
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Tribunal fees have certainly had a big effect on the number of claims that reach the doors of the employment tribunal but we can remember that, until those changes, there were often tales of serial cases being brought by unworthy applicants. The question...

Academy Backtrack Or Back On Track?

Craig Malarkey
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In March this year the government announced that it proposed to introduce legislation to turn every school in England into an academy by 2022. Amidst threats of industrial action by head teachers, Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, this week declared that...

What Is Wrongful Trading & How It Affects Company Directors?

Michael Stevens
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As you are no doubt aware, the recent economic recession put an enormous strain on small to medium enterprises all over the UK. Unfortunately, many companies were not able to survive but, through excellent business management and hard work, a lot of them...

Bankruptcy Made Easy?

Helen Lyne
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With effect from 6th of April 2016, it is now easier to declare yourself bankrupt. All bankruptcy applications submitted prior to this date had to be (and will still be, in the case of those yet to be determined), submitted to the court and considered by a...

What Employers Need To Know About Recent Changes To Maternity Benefits

Joan Casson
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There have been some recent changes to the benefits to be provided to employees on maternity leave and we provide employers with a quick update below. Salary Sacrifice Schemes and Maternity Leave A frequent problem for employers is deciding what employees...

People With Significant Control - Is Your Business Compliant?

Matthew Smith
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The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBEE 2015) is now in force with the remit of creating a greater sense of corporate transparency, making companies more accountable and also making it easier to determine who actually runs, controls...

Bailment - Landlords Left In The Lurch

Gemma Smith
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What Happens When A Tenant Leaves Their Possessions? Bailment is probably an unfamiliar and archaic word to most. However, it refers to a surprisingly common legal relationship whereby one person is in possession of goods that belong to...

Chancellor Announces Mandatory Academy Conversions In His Budget

Craig Malarkey
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Amongst all the talk of capital gains tax being cut, cabinet ministers resigning and the sugar tax, the government made another announcement last week that has been met with divided opinion. It was announced that the government proposes to introduce...

Has Residential Investment Property Been Taxed Too Much?

Andrew Beattie
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Following the recent budget it is now clear that there will be no relief from higher rates of residential SDLT (Stamp Duty Land Tax) available for institutional investors. This is leading many parties to think that residential investment...

Residential Service Charges - What Should A Tenant Be Paying For?

Sara Garnett
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What Is A Service Charge? A service charge is a payment to the landlord or management company, traditionally to cover the costs incurred by the landlord in maintaining the structure of the building and any common areas and the costs of cleaning,...

Cyber Crime: Is Your Business Secure?

Matthew Smith
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Following last year’s headline-grabbing Talk Talk data breach and with many commentators predicting that cyber crime is set to overtake physical crime in the UK in 2016, the issue of cyber security needs to be high on the agenda of all organisations,...

How 140 Characters Could End You Up In Court

Ellie Gilbert
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Practically everyone uses social media these days. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have many positives and using them is an easy way to interact and communicate with friends and colleagues. However, it is also really easy to...

Q & A On How To Deal With A Dilapidations Claim

Andrew Beattie
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What Are Dilapidations? Dilapidations are a damages payment to a Landlord of commercial property for the repair and ‘making good‘ of defects which have occurred during a Tenant’s occupation. Whilst all leases contain obligations placed on...

We're All (Not) Going On A Summer Holiday!

Theresa Carling
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A recent tribunal case that was brought against the London Underground illustrates an important point of law relating to the employer’s right to reject holiday requests. Mr Gareddu is a Roman Catholic who hails from Sardinia who had returned to his...

New Mandatory Rules For Landlords Now In Force

Helen Lyne
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New Mandatory Rules for Landlords In Force Monday 1st February 2016 New rules come into force today which apply to all landlords. From today all landlords are obliged to undertake ‘right to rent checks’. These checks essentially require you...

Can I Read My Employee's Private Emails & Social Messages?

Joan Casson
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A hot topic in the news recently ...  Employers in large part trust their employees to get on with their jobs using the electronic tools provided to them for their work.  There are occasions, however, when employers may suspect that their...

The Future of Data Protection: Make Sure Your Business Is One Step Ahead

Matthew Smith
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Technology moves quickly. So quickly, that it is often difficult for both legislation and businesses to keep up with the rapidity of the ever evolving technological frontier. Data protection is one area that has been under particular scrutiny in the modern...

Protecting Your Business From The Unexpected

Nicola Dalzell
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Disruption to travel hit the headlines several times in 2015 and in light of this I would recommend that business owners, especially those who run SMEs, ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This will enable...

Why Employers Need To Make New Year's Resolutions

Theresa Carling
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I really enjoy my work. It has so many variations that in one day I can be advising an employer on a disciplinary process , drafting a defence, meeting an individual with a settlement agreement or preparing detailed service agreements.  If...

The Rise & Fall Of The Phoenix Company

Michael Stevens
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When a company goes bust it is never a pleasant experience for those involved. The lead up to the liquidation of a company can be incredibly stressful and worrying for the directors and the liquidation itself can be a lengthy process with many issues along...

Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide & How Landlords Need To Look After Their Tenants

Sara Garnett
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The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 (“the Regulations”) came into force on 1 October 2015 and and had to be complied with immediately. Who Do The Regulations Apply To? The Regulations apply to landlords of...

What Should A Tenant Look Out For In Their Terms & Conditions?

Michael Stevens
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Terms and Conditions or  Heads of Terms as they are legally known as for a new lease are usually negotiated between the Tenant and Landlord before property lawyers are involved. By the time the lawyers becomes involved both parties are...

The Pitfalls Of Representing Yourself In Court

Gemma Smith
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More and more we hear of individuals representing themselves in Court, following cuts in legal aid, changes in funding, an increase in the small claims limit to £10,000 and a rise in Court fees.  These people are referred to as Litigants in Person...

Are Employers 'Safe' From Employment Tribunals?

Joan Casson
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Since employment law is always changing, it is easy to miss the latest developments.  There is one change, however, that few could have missed.  Claims at employment tribunals have dropped significantly since the introduction of tribunal fees in...

Five Top Training Tips For Dealing With Social Media Misuse

Theresa Carling
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These last few weeks, I have been out and about speaking to lots of local businesses about social media in the workplace. It is currently a hot topic once again, following the Proudman/Carter-Silk LinkedIn exchange and, even more recently, relevant to the...

Can I Use My Pension Fund To Buy A Commercial Property?

Sara Garnett
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Following the change in the lending policy of a number of national banks we have seen a rise in the number of people using their existing pension funds to acquire commercial property.   This is done through a Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP)...

Essential Planning For Business Owners

Andrew Steel
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Owning and running a business can be very stressful and time consuming. The last thing anybody probably thinks about is, is  what could happen if things go wrong with their health or what would happen with their business if they were to die...

The Socially Networked Workplace

Theresa Carling
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Advising business leaders to stay up to date with developments in social media, including the introduction of live video streaming apps is part of a suite of seminars available at Tees Valley Business Summit on Wednesday, 8 th July, at Teesside...

What Does The Biggest Trade Union Crackdown Mean For You?

Theresa Carling
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Whilst Tilly, Bailey & Irvine generally act for employers in their disputes with employees, it is difficult to ignore that the influence of Trade Unions has proven helpful in improving the working lives of millions of employees. The current government...