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Join us for Cupcakes – Thursday 15 June 2017

 

cupcake 3North Ainley will be joining in with organisations across the country for a day of fun, fundraising and fabulous cake-chomping.  It’s all about rising against dementia and having a giant helping of fun.  Dementia is the number one cause of death in England and Wales.  It doesn’t discriminate and currently there is no cure.  With your support, we aim to change this.

Last year dedicated Cupcakers around the country united to raise a mighty £330,000 against dementia.  That’s more than enough to fund 11 PhD researchers for a year giving them the opportunity to undertake vital, potentially lifesaving work.

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It is hoped that this year the country can raise even more.  By joining and supporting Cupcake Day 2017, you’ll not only be helping to create a better world for people affected by dementia today, but also to find a cure for tomorrow.

Please join us at our office on Thursday 15th June 2017 between 10.00 am till 1.00 pm for tea, coffee and Cupcakes to help support this worthy cause.

Further information is available at: https://cupcakeday.alzheimers.org.uk/home

 

 

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Mental Illness

disabilitiesWith mental health rightly being very much in the news at the moment, employers are asking whether illnesses such as depression are deemed to be disabilities for the purpose of disability discrimination legislation.

The statutory definition of “disability” must be satisfied for an employee suffering from a mental illness to be able to bring a discrimination claim. It reads “A Person (P) has a disability if P has a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

Thus the answer is that, although the illness may have a substantial effect on the person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities, it will not satisfy the test if it is not long-term. Therefore, it is important always to have an assessment of the effect, severity, and length of the illness with the assistance of medical evidence.  In decided cases Asperger’s syndrome, ME and chronic fatigue syndrome have all been held to be capable of being mental and/or physical impairments.  The burden of proving they have a disability is on the employee Claimant.

If, as an employee or employer you have any concerns in this often complex area, please feel free to contact our Employment Specialist, Geoff Lamb for further advice.

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Sleeping at Work

A question of vital importance to employers who engage workers for night work is whether ‘sleep in time’ counts as work time, for which the worker is entitled to receive the national minimum wage, not least because, if employers get it wrong, they could face criminal sanctions.

Three cases on the point were recently heard together in the Employment Appeal Tribunal.   Notwithstanding the importance for both employers and employees, the Judge was unable to give a straight “yes” or “no” answer, rather the outcome is “it all depends”.

The Judge did however set out four factors to be considered in addressing the question. In a nutshell, each case falls to be decided upon its own particular facts whilst applying the four factors.

sleepIf this issue is one of importance to you whether as an employer or employee and you would welcome some advice and guidance, we are happy to provide you with a consultation. Please contact Partner Geoff Lamb to arrange a convenient appointment.

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Trial by Trivia

ShelterThe North Ainley quiz team “Legal Squad” produced a stellar performance at last night’s quiz in aid of Shelter, the housing and homeless charity.  Overall we came 2nd out of the 13 teams that entered!

The evening was a complete success and we are pleased to report that a huge £500 was raised for Shelter.

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through their advice, support and legal services.

They campaign to make sure that one day, no one will have to turn to them for help.

 

 

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Higher Stamp Duty and Residential Properties

As you may be aware, anyone buying a second residential property in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will probably have to pay an enhanced stamp duty rate of 3% above the usual rates.

People may think this only applies if you already own a residential property and then either purchase a buy to let property or a second home.  However, there are different scenarios that fall into the higher rate category that you may not have been aware of.

For example:-

  • Married couples/civil partners who separate, sell the matrimonial home and then individually purchase separate homes would have to pay stamp duty at the higher rate on the second property to complete because they are still classed by the Inland Revenue as one ‘unit’ owning two properties until such time as they have either a Financial Consent Order sealed by the Court, or a formal Separation Deed.
  • If you buy a property with someone else and at the time of completion one of you then owns two or more properties, the second purchase is subject to the higher rate, even if the other purchaser does not own another property.
  • If you purchase a second residential property and rent out your first residential property, you will still have to pay the higher rate of stamp duty on your purchase.
  • Purchasing a property in the name of a company is also subject to the higher rates, even if the property will be the only residential property owned by the company, if any Director of the company owns another residential property.
  • A property owned outside England, Wales and Northern Ireland is still taken into account if you then buy a further residential property in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, even though the first residential property is in a different country.

There are many different scenarios that will mean higher rates apply if at the end of the day you own more than one residential property at the time of completion.  The following link will provide further information : https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-higher-rates-of-stamp-duty-land-tax-sdlt-on-purchases-of-additional-residential-properties/higher-rates-of-stamp-duty-land-tax-sdlt-on-purchases-of-additional-residential-properties

In certain circumstances higher stamp duty can be reclaimed (as in the difference between the lower rate and the extra 3% rate) if within a three year period of purchasing the additional property you sell your previous home then a request can be forwarded to the Inland Revenue to see if you are eligible for a refund.

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If you are at all in doubt about whether the higher rates apply to your transaction, then you should check the Government website referred to above or seek tax advice from your Accountant or Financial Advisor.

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Employment termination payments

The calling of a snap General Election on the 8 June 2017 has raised the question as to whether any pending employment related legislation will complete its parliamentary progress in time.

The Government has in fact announced that it will push through, before Parliament is dissolved on the 3 May that part of the Finance Bill 2017 which will remove the distinction between contractual and non-contractual payments in the treatment of termination payments as from the 6 April 2018.  In short, this will mean that all payments in lieu of notice in a termination payment will be taxed as earnings. Employment

The new provisions, when they take effect, will require employers to split a termination payment between the amounts treated as earnings and the amounts benefiting from the £30,000.00 tax exemption, which will continue to apply.  Statutory and contractual redundancy pay (to the extent that the contractual redundancy pay does not exceed the statutory amount) will continue to benefit from the £30,000.00 exemption.

 

We will provide more information as and when the legislation is enacted but no longer will it be possible for the fairly common practice to be adopted by employers of rolling notice pay into a termination payment and thereby avoiding having to pay employer’s Nation Insurance.

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Potential new tax break for home owners

A new tax relief will be available from 6 April this year, for property owners who leave their property to their spouse or their children and grandchildren.

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At present, each of us is able to leave £325,000 to anyone we choose, without creating any inheritance tax liability. If your personal estate is worth more than £325,000 any amount over this sum can be taxed at 40%. This means for every £1 you leave which exceeds £325,000, 40p will go straight to the Government. For this reason estate planning has always been a very important aspect of the work that we do for our clients at North Ainley.

From 6 April 2017, the Government has introduced a new tax relief known as the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) which will see homeowners who die after April 2017 leaving their property to their spouse or children, being able to claim up to an additional £100,000 of tax relief. This amount is set to increase by £25,000 each year until 2020 when the additional relief that homeowners can claim will be up to £175,000 per person.

It makes sense to keep your Will under regular review to take advantage of changing circumstances and this is an excellent time to make a Will if you do not already have one. This latest change in legislation offers a perfect opportunity to reconsider the planning of your estate and whether or not your current arrangements take maximum advantage of the tax reliefs available.

However, the rules are complicated and the availability of the additional relief depends on your individual circumstances. We are happy to discuss your current arrangements to see if changes could be made. That way, we can advise you on the best course of action to take advantage of all tax reliefs available to your estate on your death and ensure that you maximise your RNRB entitlement.

To arrange an appointment with a member of our Private Client Team please get in touch using our Contact Form.

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New government proposals signal substantial increase in costs following death

In many cases following a death, it is necessary to make an application to the Court for a Grant of Representation (often known as Probate) in order to administer a deceased’s estate. The government has recently announced plans to increase the fees payable to the Court when applying for a Grant.  Previously, the Court has not charged a fee to extract the Grant for estates with a value of less than £5,000 and a fixed fee of either £215 for personal applications or £155 for applications made through a solicitor for all estates over £5,000.

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The new proposed fees, which are subject to parliamentary approval, will be based on the value of the estate, rather than any increase in the administrative role and responsibility of the Court.

The planned structure will result in Estates with a value below £50,000, being charge no fee and those valued between £50,000 and £300,000 the fee will increase to £300.  In the case of estates valued between £300,000 and £500,000 the fee will now be £1,000 and between £500,000 and £1 million £4,000.  The increase in fees continues, with estates valued between £1 million and £1.6 million paying £8,000 and between £1.6 million and £2 million £12,000.  Over £2 million the fee is £20,000.

The reform to the fee structure has been met with much disdain from the legal sector, with feelings of this being nothing more than an additional “death tax”.

Practitioners are frustrated with the proposal which will see the estates of more wealthy clients being subjected to a much higher fee for what is largely the same application.  As the level of work required by the Court does not change there seems to be little justification for changing the fees to a value based structure.  It is claimed that it is to bring it in line with the fees charged for other Court applications; in particular civil claims. It seems to be an opportunity to fund the Court system as a whole by charging those who are presumed as being able to afford it.

In many cases an estate (in particular any which involve a property) cannot be administered and assets passed into the hands of beneficiaries without the Grant. Therefore, estates are being charged high Court fees for what is a compulsory application, a principle which is not reflected in many other applications to Courts.

There are also practical difficulties with the hike in fees.  The fee must be paid before the Grant is issued and in many cases, assets in the estate are frozen until the Grant is issued.  This creates a “catch-22” situation of needing the funds to get the Grant but needing the Grant to get the funds.  In response, the Court has suggested that the Court fee be funded by the executors or beneficiaries personally, who will be reimbursed once assets are available.  Some executors or beneficiaries will be unable or unwilling to find these fees in advance.

The proposals add a new burden to the responsibilities of an Executor, and may result in an unwillingness of executors to accept the role.  Furthermore, creditors may see a delay in settlement of debts while funds are made available to apply for the Grant.

For those families that have recently suffered a bereavement and need to obtain a Grant, it would be worth applying to the Court before May this year if the estate is over £50,000.  It is recommended that legal advice is taken on this issue as soon as possible.

Consideration should also be given to structuring assets to enable flexibility to meet the fees rather than relying on an executor or beneficiary to subsidise an estate until there is sufficient liquidity to repay them.  Anyone opposing the new fee structure can sign a Petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/188175

For further information please contact Charlotte Pritchard & Jennifer Kitchener who are both Solicitors in our Private Client Department.

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The Great Legal Bake

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North Ainley Solicitors will be taking part in this year’s Great Legal Bake, as supported by The Oldham Law Association Committee.  We will be baking cakes and raising money for pro-bono legal services on Thursday 23 February 2017 at our office at 34-36 Clegg Street Oldham OL1 1PS between 9:30 am and 1:00 pm.

We would like to invite all of our clients, family and friends to this fantastic event.  We will be turning one of our meeting rooms into a “pop-up” cake and coffee shop for your enjoyment.  All of the cakes and coffee will be donated by North Ainley staff, friends and family.  We ask simply that you make a donation as all money raised will be shared between the North West Legal Support Trust and Oldham CAB; 50% each.

Access to legal advice and services is hugely important.  For the poorest and the most vulnerable people in the community, access to justice is out of reach.  Free legal advice can make a huge difference to their lives.  In recent years, poverty has increased and support services decreased.  Meanwhile, funding for specialist advice centres has reduced; particularly since the 2013 removal of much of the legal aid previously available for humanitarian or social welfare legal advice.

The list of people helped by this free legal advice includes;

  • Families living in terrible housing conditions
  • Elderly people who need support to stay living independently
  • Women and children who have been trafficked to the UK to become domestic or sex slaves
  • People who suffer disability or illness and their carers
  • People who have been unfairly dismissed or who are discriminated against at work
  • Men and women who are working for less than minimum wage

We look forward to welcoming you to North Ainley to support this fantastic event.

For further information, please contact Charlotte Pritchard, in our Private Client Department on 0161 624 5614 or [email protected]

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Save the Children Christmas Jumper day

Christmas jumper 16bOnce again everyone at North Ainley have sported their most festive knits to raise money for the Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day.

Millions of people up and down the country will be joining in and donating £2 to wear their Christmas sweaters for the day.  Yet amidst the glitter, baubles and wacky jumpers there’s a serious side to all the silliness – the money raised will help to save children’s lives.

It can help to bring the bare essentials like food, healthcare, education and protection to millions of children around the world who are missing out on the most basic support.

This year we have raised a fantastic £72.00 which staff have generously donated towards this wonderful cause.

For further information on Save the Children, the amazing work they do and how you can help click on the link below.

save the children

 

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  • North Ainley gave me a first class service, just like everyone used to get however very rare these days. Thanks Geoff Lamb!
    Mr Wilkinson, Halifax
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