The George Ide LLP Blog specialises in providing a host of information regarding personal injury claims, what to do in the event of medical negligence, personal grievances and a wide range of other legal matters. From wills and probate to why you should consider an insurance policy, the George Ide blog is designed to provide helpful advice and insight into a number of legal situations.
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In November 2018, the UK government published its response to a public consultation on road safety for cyclists and pedestrians. As a personal injury lawyer and a keen cyclist, I contributed evidence as part of... The post Government road safety consultation response signals major shift in attitude appeared first on George...
In November 2018, the UK government published its response to a public consultation on road safety for cyclists and pedestrians. As a personal injury lawyer and a keen cyclist, I contributed evidence as part of the consultation – I have also been considering the Department for Transport’s response and future plans.
The government’s ultimate aim is clearly expressed: by 2040, most people should travel short distances by bicycle or on foot, and our roads should be safe enough to accommodate cyclists as young as 12 years old. This policy goal is also tied in with the government’s initiatives on clean air, health, and tackling obesity.
UK road safety statistics detailing death and injury caused vulnerable road users including cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists make for uncomfortable reading. In 2017, for instance, 467 pedestrian fatalities and 87 cyclist fatalities resulted from road traffic collisions involving at least one motor vehicle, while failing to look properly was a contributory factor in 84 pedestrian fatalities and 28 cyclist fatalities.
Government thinking seems to be that through various initiatives such as encouraging cyclists and drivers of heavy goods vehicles to swap places for a trial period, individual road users may be more inclined to see road safety issues from a fresh perspective, reducing mistrust and misunderstanding between different groups of road users.
The consultation response quotes many examples of local or regional initiatives including the enforcement of cycle lane parking restrictions, police initiatives to target motorists who overtake cyclists leaving less than 1.5 metres clearance, and police force collaboration in the gathering of helmet-mounted camera video footage for use as prosecution evidence.
While the wearing of cycle helmets is encouraged, the government is still considering how best to tackle dangerous cycling and how best to amend the Highway Code in order to protect vulnerable road users.
Perhaps most significantly, the government is considering reversing the burden of proof to introduce a presumption of driver liability so that a driver would have to explain why he or she should not be held liable for a collision and any resulting injuries. For more than 100 years, a road user or pedestrian injured by another road user’s actions has been required to prove negligence against them – in this sense, such a shift in emphasis would represent a major change in the law.
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Despite overwhelming opposition, the government looks set to introduce a substantial increase in probate fees that will take effect from April 2019. Aimed at the wealthiest members of society, this new stealth tax is expected... The post New hike in probate fees – another stealth tax on the middle class? appeared first on George...
Despite overwhelming opposition, the government looks set to introduce a substantial increase in probate fees that will take effect from April 2019. Aimed at the wealthiest members of society, this new stealth tax is expected to raise £145 million in its first year, with the proceeds being used to subsidise court reforms.
Under the new rules, no probate fee will be payable on estates worth less than £50,000. However estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will incur probate fees of £250, estates worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will incur £750 in probate fees, and estates worth between £500,000 and £1 million will be liable to probate fees of £2,500. Higher-value estates will attract incrementally higher probate fees of £4,000 and £5,000 respectively, up to a top-rate band of £6,000 for estates worth more than £2 million.
These new charges represent a major departure from the current fees of £215 for a personal probate application or £155 for a solicitor’s application – and I have several concerns. Firstly, it creates an unjust precedent of charging court fees that are disproportionate to the amount of work undertaken by the court. By the government’s own admission, the work required to issue a grant of probate for a high-value estate is usually no more than that required for a more modest estate. Secondly, it is not clear how the executors will be expected to pay up-front fees while the estate assets are frozen – it seems probable that this burden will fall on the executors personally.
Thirdly, the new probate fees are likely to have significant repercussions for charities. The Institute of Legacy Management has speculated that such a hike could cost charities £10 million a year in lost legacy income, losses that the government could have avoided by exempting charitable organisations. But perhaps the most concerning consequence of the new fee structure may prove to be that it acts as a disincentive to make a will in the first place, encouraging people to opt instead for lifetime gifting or to rely on survivorship rules, tactics that may have undesirable outcomes for those acting without the benefit of sound legal advice.
Whatever the wider impact of this probate fee hike, it now seems inevitable that the wealthier you are on death the higher the fees payable on your estate will be – and you have limited scope to mitigate this.
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This week marks Good Divorce Week 2018, a national campaign designed to raise awareness of how separating parents can minimise the impact of conflict on their children and calling for government to reform the divorce... The post Good Divorce Week – lawyers align with Resolution to call for a fairer family justice system appeared first on George...
This week marks Good Divorce Week 2018, a national campaign designed to raise awareness of how separating parents can minimise the impact of conflict on their children and calling for government to reform the divorce process by remove the element of blame. Backed by Resolution, formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association, the campaign for no-fault divorce also promotes the work of family law professionals in highlighting ways for separating parents to put their children’s needs first.
It is really important that as local family lawyers we do everything we can to reduce conflict in divorce and separation – introducing a no-fault divorce system would enable early discussions between separating parents to get started on the right footing.
According to a new YouGov poll commissioned by Resolution, children are harmed as a result of conflict in divorce proceedings and, as a family law professional, I support anything that will help minimise conflict.
The current divorce system requires the applicant party to rely on one of five criteria to establish they have valid grounds for a divorce. The list includes adultery, desertion, unreasonable behaviour, a two-year separation with consent, or a five-year separation. More than 200,000 divorce petitions are issued in England and Wales each year.
Although about 60 per cent of these divorces are fault-based, 29 per cent of respondents to Resolution’s YouGov poll said the fact relied upon in the divorce petition had no relevance to the actual breakdown of the marriage. The survey also showed 67 per cent of family lawyers reported that having to rely on a fault-based petition made it much more difficult to reach amicable settlements on other matters, while 80 per cent felt that no-fault divorce would assist in helping reach out-of-court settlements.
A large number of 14-22 year-olds polled in 2014 reported an impact on their examination results, getting into trouble, and experimenting with drugs or alcohol; 32 per cent reported that one parent had tried to turn them against the other, and one in four claimed at least one parent had tried to involve them in the dispute.
If we can remove the concept of fault and just look at constructive approaches to finding solutions, hopefully the divorce and separation process will be improved for all parties, and children will have more positive outcomes.
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Many commercial property clients grapple with the question of how to categorise and document the occupation of a property. Whilst many landlords would like to get an occupier into their property as soon as possible,... The post When is a commercial property lease really a licence? It is important to know the difference… appeared first on George...
Many commercial property clients grapple with the question of how to categorise and document the occupation of a property. Whilst many landlords would like to get an occupier into their property as soon as possible, to cover the running costs for example, it is important to take care with the paperwork and ensure the documentation accurately reflects the intention of both parties from the outset – that way, when the time comes to end the agreement, both parties should know exactly where they stand.
There are various ways in which a property can be legally occupied, each with its own characteristics and legal consequences. The most commonly confused are leases and licences to occupy, and confusing these two categories can have potentially detrimental effects.
A lease gives the occupier a legal interest in the property, for a specified term, in return for the payment of rent. One of the key elements of a lease is the concept of exclusive possession granting the tenant power to prevent the owner entering the property except in very specific circumstances.
A licence, however, conveys a personal right offering no security. It entitles the licensee to use the land for the purpose authorised by the licence, so the occupier cannot be deemed to be committing trespass, but a licence does not create a legal right nor bestow upon a tenant the right to exclusive possession.
Depending on the characteristics of the agreement, different rights are conferred to the occupier, many of which are unfavourable for the landlord – and whether an arrangement is a lease or a licence depends on specific circumstances, irrespective of how the agreement is labelled.
For a landlord, one of the main problems with a lease is that an occupying tenant may have a statutory right to renew the tenancy at the end of its term, whether or not this was intended at the outset. This may have serious consequences if the landlord had been planning on redeveloping or re-letting the property once the agreement had run its course.
As so often is the case, the devil really is in the detail, so all parties to rental agreements should be absolutely clear about their requirements before signing on the legal dotted line. Failure to do so may result in a very costly break-up.
Kate Gibbs. Solicitor, Commercial property department
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Property buyers looking for a bargain can find themselves drawn to auctions in search of discounts against market value of 20 per cent – after all, who does not like to feel they are getting... The post Buying property at auction can be perilous – instructing a solicitor is a sensible first step appeared first on George...
Property buyers looking for a bargain can find themselves drawn to auctions in search of discounts against market value of 20 per cent – after all, who does not like to feel they are getting a bargain? But unfortunately, in many cases, it turns out that there are plenty of things not to like and the old cliché that speaks to getting what you pay for can hold true when purchasing a dwelling at auction. In short, if a property appears to be on sale at a knock-down bargain price, there is probably an underlying reason.
Under UK law a purchaser at auction is contractually bound to pay 10 per cent of the bid price immediately their bid is successful; the balance is due for payment within 28 days. Furthermore, as soon as the auctioneer’s hammer falls the buyer is liable for all damage to the building they have just bought.
So what actions should you take if you are keen to purchase a property at auction? Your first move should be to instruct a solicitor to consider the property’s auction pack on your behalf. The property might suffer from lack of basic rights, or from onerous or unusual covenants that could prevent the purchaser from undertaking alterations or making specific use of the property. The auction pack should also include the results of a local search highlighting any previous alterations or extensions to the property and showing whether all the requisite local authority consents were in place. If the property you are considering is less than ten years old, your solicitor should also check whether it benefits from a structural warranty to meet your mortgage lender’s requirements.
However, many auction packs do not include a property survey and, although you may be tempted to avoid as many additional costs as possible, a survey is essential to ascertain the structural condition or development potential of a dwelling before you buy.
There are other points to consider, too. For example, if you are relying on a mortgage to help fund your auction purchase, you would be wise to make sure your mortgage application can be processed in time to meet the 28-day purchase completion deadline.
For more information on property law and buying at auction, or for advice and support from our specialist residential conveyancing team, contact us on 01243 786668 or email us at email@example.com.
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Writing in this column we have previously recommended everyone looking to acquire a property should undertake certain searches with the relevant authorities – because not all matters are apparent simply from a review of legal... The post Property purchasers beware – work out the water works before you buy appeared first on George...
Writing in this column we have previously recommended everyone looking to acquire a property should undertake certain searches with the relevant authorities – because not all matters are apparent simply from a review of legal title. One of the most important searches is a water and drainage search, which can be undertaken with the water authority that serves the property’s local area.
The results of this type of search will show whether the property you are considering is connected to the authority’s water supply or mains drainage and locate the property’s mains connection. You will also discover whether any public sewers lie within the property boundary and uncover any further supply or drainage issues that may restrict any intended development – it is always a good idea to conduct this search if you are planning to make any structural changes to your newly-acquired property.
Whether you are considering buying or renting a property, mains connection details are also important. If the water and drainage search reveals that the property is not connected to mains drainage, your legal advisors will be able to raise the appropriate enquiries with the seller or your prospective landlord to establish how and where drainage and surface water drains if not directed to a public sewer. For instance, you will want to know up-front if there is a cesspit at the property, or whether flooding could be a problem if no alternative drainage arrangements are in place to dispose of surface water.
But what happens if no water supply is revealed? In cases such as this, it may be necessary to agree additional rights in order for the property to be connected to the public supply, either directly or perhaps via a neighbouring property, using a formal deed of easement. You would not want to purchase a property without such supply – after all, there is no guarantee that a neighbouring owner would agree to grant you, as the property’s new owner, a right to connect into their supply. This unresolved matter could hinder your use or development of the property and, no doubt, would affect you financially – especially if your prospective neighbour asks for a financial incentive to agree an easement.
A water and drainage search typically costs between £120 and £150 plus VAT but many prospective buyers or tenants will agree that it is not money down the drain…
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