Solicitors High Wycombe, Author at Reynolds Parry Jones LLP

UK house prices grow by 0.9 per cent

UK house prices grow by 0.9 per cent

Average house prices in the UK grew by 0.9 per cent in October 2019 against figures from October 2018, according to the latest figures.

Halifax’s latest House Price Index indicated that the average price of a UK house is now £232,249, with figures also growing by 0.2 per cent from Q2 2019 to Q3 2019.

Residential transactions also reached the highest level in more than two years, since August 2017. There were 101,740 residential transactions in September 2019, which is a five per cent increase from August 2019’s figures.

Some experts have stated that a marginal growth figure is because of political uncertainty, but the increase in property values and residential transactions indicates that buyer demand has not waned.

Mike Scott, Chief Property Analyst at Yopa, said: “We expect a resumption of more normal levels of housing market activity once the Brexit outcome is more settled, which may then give a short-term boost to house prices, since the stock of houses for sale is quite low, and demand can react more quickly than supply once the uncertainty is lifted.”

Recent data from UK finance also indicated that 170,060 first-time buyers completed a residential property transaction in the first half of 2019, the highest figure in more than 10 years.

First-time buyers accounted for more than half of the entire UK mortgage market in 2018, which is the first time this has happened for more than 20 years.

For help and legal advice regarding property including conveyancing then contact our expert team today.

How can I spot the signs of fraud?

How can I spot the signs of fraud?

More than five and a half million offences of fraud are now thought to take place each year, accounting for almost half of all crime in the country.

Fraud can lead to massive problems for a business, whether through significant financial losses, or a loss of public confidence in your business following an incident.

Changes in behaviour

It is important to look out for changes in behaviour from members of staff as it could be an indicator of wrongdoing. Keep an eye out for sudden usual behaviours such as acting in a secretive manner, an increase in wealth, change in employees’ spending habits and a reluctance to take annual leave.

Unknown Invoices

One key sign that fraud could be taking place is the appearance of new invoices that you are unaware of or were not expecting. Ensure that all invoices have a purpose and can be linked to an action within the business. Invoice fraud is one of the most common methods of fraud.

Expenses

Expenses account for around 15 per cent of all business fraud. By carefully monitoring expenses, you can look out for warning signs including forged receipts, exaggerated claims or overcharging of the company cards. Employees will often turn to expenses as a way of taking money out of the company so an expense review process is vital to limiting misuse of expense accounts.

Cash Payments

The use of cash payments in a business can be a sign of fraud as employees can often choose this method of payment as it leaves no paper trail, meaning fees can be exaggerated or manipulated which can provide the opportunity for an employee to take money out of the company. Business-related transactions should be paid via an invoice using a debit/credit card or bank transfer to provide full clarity.

For help and legal advice regarding your business, contact our expert team today.

First opposite-sex civil partnerships set for New Year’s Eve

First opposite-sex civil partnerships set for New Year’s Eve

Mixed-sex couples will be able to enter civil partnerships after Parliament passed required legislation earlier this month, meaning that the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Act will now become law.

The secondary legislation was passed as one of the final acts before Parliament was dissolved ahead of the upcoming general election.

Couples will be able to give notice from 2 December 2019 and the first civil partnerships can be registered on 31st December following the usual 28 day notice period.

The changes to the legislation come following a Supreme Court ruling last year which found that restricting civil partnerships to same-sex couples breached human rights.

The case was brought forward by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who argued that they should not be denied the financial benefits despite not wanting to get married.

During the debate on the legislation, Baroness Susan Williams explained that the bill was being passed without the inclusion of conversion to/from marriage as this won’t be implemented until 2020 following the consultation.

It was also revealed that because a bill to create opposite-sex civil partnerships was currently passing through the Scottish parliament, civil partnerships formed in England and Wales will currently be treated as marriages in Scotland for legal and financial purposes.

Martin Loat, Chair of the campaign group Equal Civil Partnerships said: “It has been a long journey through both the courts and parliament to get to this point.

“I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who has been involved in the campaign – especially Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan whose eventual win at the Supreme Court led us to this place.

“We are all delighted and relieved that the start date of 31st December can be adhered to.”

For help and legal advice with any aspect of family law, contact our expert team today.

Non-league footballer wins landmark injury case

Non-league footballer wins landmark injury case

A non-league footballer has won a landmark case over an injury claim that could have serious implications for non-league clubs in future.

Following a tackle during a Northern Premier League match between Ossett Town and Radcliffe Borough in 2015, footballer Reece Welsh suffered a broken ankle which led to the match being abandoned.

The injury meant that Mr Welsh spent the next 13 months unable to play as he recovered from the injury.

As a result, the player sued Ossett Town for loss of earnings as they were responsible for the player who caused the injury.

The case was heard at a court in Manchester which ruled in favour of Mr Welsh who was awarded £19,297. As a result, Ossett Town is also liable for the damages and prosecution costs which are estimated to be in the region of £135,000.

Whilst the decision has serious financial consequences for Ossett Town, there is a greater possibility that this case may open the floodgates and have serious ramifications for other semi-professional clubs in relation to retrospective claims.

For help and advice with any form of legal dispute, contact our expert team today.

Over half of employers unaware of the upcoming Good Work Plan

Over half of employers unaware of the upcoming Good Work Plan

According to a recent survey, over half of UK employers are unaware of how the upcoming Good Work Plan changes will affect their business.

From April 2020, changes to the current employment laws will come into force in a bid to improve the employment rights of workers.

The changes, as outlined in the Government’s Good Work Plan, will give many flexible workers the right to ask for a stable contract, extend the time required to break a period of continuous service, ban employers from making deductions from staff tips, and much more.

They come on the back of a series of recommendations by an adviser, Matthew Taylor, who was commissioned by former Prime Minister Theresa May to look at the current labour market and suggest ways in which the government could improve the UK employment framework.

However, according to the results of the survey by Citation, the majority of employers are unaware that these laws will come into effect, with 59 per cent of respondents found to have no idea of what the Good Work Plan is.

Of the remaining 41 per cent of employers who had heard of the Good Work plan, two fifths (42 per cent) of them only partly understood how it would affect their business, whilst 11 per cent were aware of the Good Work Plan but didn’t know how it would change their legal obligations.

The Government has warned that businesses could find themselves facing fines of up to £20,000 from employment tribunals as they look to implement that figure as the maximum penalty for what they consider to be aggravated breaches.

They are now encouraging business owners to familiarise themselves with the forthcoming changes ahead of their introduction.

For help and advice with any aspect of employment law, contact our expert team today.

What do I do if I want to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney?

What do I do if I want to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you are no longer able to make your own decisions or if you no longer want to make certain decisions yourself.

Whatever your age, it is important to consider your future and plan ahead by granting Power of Attorney to someone you trust. Being prepared should help to give you and your family peace of mind.

It is possible to set up an LPA in respect of your property and financial affairs or your health and welfare, or both. You can choose to appoint one or more attorneys and replacement attorneys. If you choose to set up both types of LPA, you can appoint the same attorney(s) or different attorney(s) for each type.

Why have one?

By setting up an LPA, you decide who will make decisions for you if and when you become unable to make your own decisions. If you lose capacity in the future and do not have LPAs in place, your loved ones may have to consider the more expensive and time-consuming process of applying to the Court of Protection to become your deputy.

An LPA for financial decisions can be used, with your consent, while you still have mental capacity, or you can state that you only want it to come into force if you lose mental capacity. An LPA for financial decisions can cover things such as:

  • Buying and selling property
  • Paying a mortgage
  • Investing money
  • Paying bills
  • Arranging repairs to property.

An LPA for health and welfare can only be used once you have lost mental capacity to make your own decisions. This type of LPA covers things like:

  • The type of healthcare and treatment you receive
  • Where you live
  • Your day-to-day routine.

You can restrict the types of decisions your attorney(s) can make, or give them general authority to make decisions for you.

If you’re setting up an LPA for financial matters, your attorney(s) should keep careful records and make sure their money is kept separately from yours.

How to make a Lasting Power of Attorney

Once you have chosen your attorney(s), you will need to complete the relevant documentation to appoint them to the role. There are a number of requirements which must be met to ensure an LPA is valid and effective, which is why it is important to seek legal advice.

Before it can be used, an LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The registration process can take up to 10 weeks.

The registration fees payable to the OPG are currently £82 per LPA, although you may not have to pay the fee if you receive certain means-tested benefits or a low income.

We highly recommend that you consider setting up LPAs. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist lawyers now for further information.

Are you considering releasing equity on your property?

Are you considering releasing equity on your property?

Equity release allows homeowners over the age of 55 to unlock part of the financial value in your home to help manage your financial situation in later life.

A loan is taken out against your property, with the money repaid following your death, your surviving spouse’s death or when they move into a care home.

This means you keep the right to live in your home for the rest of your life and the money raised can be used in any way you wish.

If you are considering releasing equity on your property it is important that you seek specialist legal advice.

Our expert team are members of the Equity Release Council and have many years of experience providing help and legal advice to anyone considering equity release.

Contact a member of our team today for further information and a discussion on how we can help you.

Government abandons planned probate fee increase

Government abandons planned probate fee increase

The Government has abandoned its plans to increase probate fees following a campaign by experts and associations to scrap the fee hike.

The plans would have seen some bereaved families pay up to £6,000, while some experts described the increase as a “tax on grief”.

Plans were announced in November 2018 to replace the current fixed fee structure with a sliding scale format.

The new system would have abolished fees for estates worth less than £50,000, while supersizing the fees for estates worth £2 million or more.

But the Government has now taken a U-turn on the plans, stating that probate fees will be reviewed as part of the annual assessment of charges in family and civil courts.

Simon Davis, President of the Law Society, said: “It is inherently unfair to expect the bereaved to fund other parts of the courts and tribunal service when they have no other option but to apply for probate.

“In its review of court fees Government should bear in mind that it is a false economy to impose charges that go beyond cost recovery. Equal access to justice is a fundamental part of the rule of law.”

This follows the news that HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has announced that it will be rolling out a national online probate service pilot scheme.

Policymakers stated that the move will enable legal professionals to apply online for any probate, intestacy of a grant of letters of administration with a will-annexed application.

For help and advice regarding Wills and probate, contact our expert team today.

New cybersecurity project to protect businesses from online fraud, says Government

New cybersecurity project to protect businesses from online fraud, says Government

The Government is launching a new cybersecurity programme to protect businesses from the threat of online fraud.

It comes after a third of businesses reported having been victim to a cyber breach or attack in the last 12 months.

The £36 million project, launched in collaboration with artificial intelligence (AI) firm Arm and backed by Google and Microsoft, will see the development of new technologies that are “more resistant to cyber threats”.

According to experts, the new hardware will be made to specifically protect businesses from hackers taking control of computer systems and prevent high skill cyber-attacks and breaches.

“Cyber-attacks can have a particularly nasty impact on businesses, from costing them thousands of pounds in essential revenue to reputational harm,” said Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom.

“Cyber-criminals operate in the shadows, with the severity, scale and complexity of breaches constantly evolving. It’s critical that we are ahead of the game and developing new technologies and methods to confront future threats, supporting our businesses and giving them peace of mind to deliver their products and services safely.”

The announcement comes after a major new study revealing the extent and scope of cybercrime in Britain.

According to the research, the average cost of a cyber-attack, which results in the loss of data of assets, amounts to £4,180 – a £1,000 increase since 2018.

With around three in 10 businesses and two in 10 charities affected, the most common breaches include phishing attacks, CEO or high-level executive impersonation, and viruses, spyware or malware attacks.

For help and legal advice regarding your business, contact our expert team today.

Civil Partnerships rise for third consecutive year

Civil Partnerships rise for third consecutive year

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales during 2018 has increased.

This is the third consecutive year to have seen a rise, with 956 civil partnerships formed last year, representing an increase of 5.3 per cent when compared to 2017.

Nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of all civil partnerships formed last year were between men, whilst the average age of women forming a civil partnership (51.6 years) was one year higher than the figure for men (50.5 years).

Over one-fifth of people (21 per cent) entering a civil partnership during 2018 was over the age of 65, a significant increase on the 4 per cent in 2013, before the introduction of marriage for same-sex couples.

There were also 927 civil partnership dissolutions in England and Wales during 2018, this represented a fall of 24 per cent on the figure from 2017.

Kanak Ghosh, of the ONS’s Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, said: “The number of same-sex couples forming a civil partnership increased slightly in 2018, for the third consecutive year. Just under 1,000 couples preferred this option to marriage. Those choosing to form a civil partnership are more likely to be male or over 50.

“The recent change in the law to make opposite-sex couples eligible to form civil partnerships from the end of this year is likely to bring further increases to the overall number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales.”

For help and advice on any aspect of family law, contact our expert team today.

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