How we protect your money

Here at Solicitor Direct we are governed by the SRA (Solicitors Regulatory Authority).

This means that as a firm we must abide by their accounts rules. These rules are to ensure that clients’ money is protected at all costs. To do this we must have ledgers for each individual client and matter e.g. Conveyancing, Matrimonial, and personal injury etc.

All client money paid into the firm must be held in a bank account within England and Wales. We also offer designated deposit accounts for any funds that might be held for a period of time to make sure that interest is accrued.

Interest can also be calculated on funds held for more than … days if the client requests this and is worked out using the banks base rate for that period.

You can therefore, be assured that your money is in safe hands.

 

George Clooney and Wills

Those of you who have seen his Oscar nominated role in “The Descendants” will know that the plot concerns the implications of his wife being found to be brain dead and under a living will (They call it an “advance directive”) which you actually see she has asked to be taken off life support. Her husband and the Medical team wish to honour that and so start to tell all her friends (including her lover) that they must make their last farewells.

In England there has been a recent case where a lady was in a vegetative state but had limited perception alas still of pain. Unlike the patient in the film she had not left a living will but had merely told her relatives that she would not wish to be kept alive if she got into a vegetative state. The Judge was asked to allow the Doctors to turn off support and was given evidence of her spoken wishes. He stated that if she had left a living will he would have taken that into account but as she had not  he could not and therefore the application failed. Presumably she is still being supported and alas still feeling pain.

These two situations highlight the fact that along with wills and lasting powers of attorney a Living Will is important if we wish to have some influence how we are looked after in our end time. Naturally not everyone wants to address this problem. The young seem to think they will live for ever but the reality is that ;whilst Alzheimer’s may not be a problem ;the young indulge in ever an ever widening range of activities that could result in a period in extensive care. Only today the Times is speaking of a doubling of  the number of cycling deaths.

So thanks  to  George  and The Descendants more and more will wake up the idea that whilst we cannot have complete control over our life we do have considerable influence in the manner of our death.

At Solicitor Direct we offer you a choice of 4 different wordings for your living will which should suit most preferences. Just call us or use the callback service and we will call you.

Information Videos

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Welcome Message from Derek Forrest owner of Solicitor Direct.

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Divorce Video- Here listen to a message from Derek Forrest about our divorce/family service and what to expect

Ending a Commercial Lease

Ending a Commercial Lease

Contrary to some peoples belief a Commercial lease (i.e. one used for business purposes) does not automatically come to an end simply because the original term of the lease has expired. Instead it continues as of right, with the Tenant being described as ‘holding over’.

In many instances the landlord and tenants can negotiate successfully to terminate the Lease, often without the need for formal procedures. However the parties must be aware of their legal obligations, particularly where the annual rent is very high and even a day’s extra rent can be costly. This page briefly describes the law behind termination, and some the procedures laid down in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

 Below are some examples of how ending a commercial lease can cause an issue:-

 1)      Where the Tenants wishes to leave at the end, or after the end the last day of the Lease

Firstly the Tenant may leave at the end date of the Term of the Lease. If the Property is entirely vacant at this point then the lease will end. The Tenant much however ensure that everything, including stock and chattel is removed and the property put back into a state of repair as defined in the lease.

Secondly if the Tenants wants to leave once they have stayed beyond the end date of the lease, they must serve what is known as a section 27 notice. This gives the Landlord at least 3 months notice of their intention to leave the property. There was a time when the notice had to expire on a quarter day (which meant that in some cases almost 6 months notice had to be give) though this was changed by the Regulatory Reform (Business Tenancies) (England and Wales) Order 2003 which came into force on 1st June 2004 – this provided that the 3 months notice can expire at any time (but not before expiry of the fixed term)

 2)      Where the Tenant wishes to stay at the end of a Contractual term but the Landlord wishes to take his property back.

Either the tenant can serve a notice on the landlord specifying a date for the commencement of a new tenancy (known as a section 26 notice “26”), or the Landlord can serve a notice specifying a refusal of a new tenancy (known as a section 25 notice “25”). Each notice much expire not more than 12 months nor less than 6 months after the date of service of. In the 26 notice the tenant will request the landlord grant it a new lease – the notice must set out the terms that the tenant proposes for the new lease.

If the landlord wishes to oppose the grant of a new lease then it must serve on the tenant a counter notice within two months of the 26 notice. The counter notice must state upon which grounds the landlord would object to the grant of a new tenancy. (a 25 notice served by the Landlord must also state these grounds) There are only certain specific grounds upon which the landlord can object to a new lease. The exact wording of these grounds are set out in Section 30(1) of Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and are reproduced in full in the body of the Section 26 request. In summary they are –

(a) The tenant has failed to comply with his repairing obligations under the present lease.
(b) The tenant has been persistently late in paying rent, which has become due.
(c) There is some other substantial breach by the tenant of the terms of the existing lease
(d) That the landlord is willing to provide suitable alterative premises
(e) The current lease is a sublease of part and the landlord would be able to obtain a better rent for the letting the whole building as one rather than the sum of the parts
(f) The landlord intends to demolish or reconstruct the premises in such a way that it could not be done with the tenant in occupation.
(g) The landlord intends to occupy the premises for his own business, or as his residence.

If the landlord relies on grounds  (e) (f) or (g) then he will have to pay the tenant compensation if he is successful in opposing the grant of a new lease. There is no particular form of counter-notice prescribed by legislation – though it is essential that it specifies those grounds that the landlord intends to rely on – the landlord cannot later rely on grounds that are not specified.

This is a brief discussion on the law of terminating Commercial tenancies. If you have any questions or require our assistance with your Commercial Lease please give our commercial property lawyer, Matthew Jones a call on 01772 424999 or complete the form below:

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Guide to Moving Home

The Steps of Conveyancing : Your Guide to Moving Home

We have put together a straightforward guide showing you the main steps of conveyancing or in other words a guide to moving home. It is not supposed to be a complete guide as every transaction can be just as individual as you are, and unusual and unexpected things can complicate the transaction, but the stages below make up the core steps that must take place.

Selling

Selling your property is usually the easier side of the process. This guide shows you what we as Solicitors must do for you:

1. Initial Paperwork

We will send you initial paperwork to include identity checks and some questionnaires detailing a bit of information about your property and what, if anything, you intend to leave at the property. At Solicitor Direct we offer this service by email/post/appointment, whatever method is easiest for you.

2. Contracts

Your Solicitor will then use your completed documents and deeds to draw up the draft legal contracts and send these to the Buyers Solicitor. The deeds will either be provided by you or they can be requested from the Land Registry ( The governments national deeds database). If you hold your own get them to your Solicitor ASAP. At this stage all paperwork is in draft format and any party can still pull out of the deal. At Solicitor Direct we download your deeds online so that as soon as we hold completed forms from you we can get the paperwork drawn and sent out without delay.

3. Enquiries
Having received the draft contract papers from us the buyers solicitor now looks through and asks any further questions or queries. Some maybe for you e.g. regarding furniture being left or some may be more legal and for your Solicitor to deal with e.g. Rights of way. At Solicitor Direct we use all ways of communication including phone/email/ Skype for you to get any required information to us to help speed things along.

4. Exchange
In order to get ready to exchange we will need to get you to sign the contract and obtain any repayment figures from your existing mortgage lender ( if any). Your buyers solicitor will have a little more to do include carrying out local searches, checking over paperwork, dealing with the buyers mortgage offer and obtaining monies from the buyer. From your point of view sometimes it can feel as though nothing much is happening but just bear in mind that your buyer has a little more to deal with before they can exchange. At Solicitor Direct we aim to keep you updated as soon as anything happens to hopefully help you feel in control and informed throughout the process.

Exchange of contracts will take place between each parties solicitor and usually will take place over the telephone. The process means that the contract is now legal and binding upon all parties and means that it almost impossible for any party to pull out. ( or at least without serious and expensive consequences) During the exchange the purchase price is confirmed and the completion date is set. Once the exchange has taken place the completion date cannot be changed. There is no set period between exchange and completion but in an ideal world a couple of weeks would allow all parties an adequate time period to organise themselves for the big day. At Solicitor Direct we always speak to you prior to exchange to obtain your authority and ensure you are happy to proceed.

5. Completion
The big day has arrived and the removal van is fully loaded. On the day the solicitors have to transfer monies between the banks and of course this sometimes can take a little while, As soon as the transfers have taken place and the monies are in the right place you will be informed that the keys should be passed over to the Estate Agent. At Solicitor Direct we keep you informed throughout the day of each stage to hopefully ensure you feel secure in the knowledge that everything is being done as quickly as physically possible. As Solicitors and Estate Agents we offer the whole package meaning that right from the beginning the process is quicker and cheaper!

Buying

When buying a property there is usually a little more involved including mortgages, searches and enquiries.

1. Initial Paperwork
Your Solicitor will send you initial paperwork to include identity checks and a request for payment of any searches. At Solicitor Direct we offer this service by email/post/appointment whatever method is easiest for you.

2. Contracts
Early on in the process your solicitor will usually receive the draft contract papers including deeds, draft contract and property forms. It is the job of your Solicitor to check this paperwork for any problems, errors and important information. Property forms will usually include a list of items that the seller is leaving at the property.

3. Mortgage
If you are buying the property with a mortgage you will have been communicating with the mortgage lender or via a financial advisor to apply for a mortgage. You will go through the application process which will usually involve credit checks, employment checks, survey and offer. Once the mortgage company is happy with the informations and the property survey they will issue a mortgage offer both to you and your solicitor. It is important to note that your Solicitor is neither authorised or qualified to help you with the application until the mortgage offer is released. Therefore it is important for either you or your advisor to progress things as best you can. Once your offer is issued it is the job of your Solicitor to check through it and ensure the matter can proceed.

4. Searches
As part of the conveyancing process you must conduct certain searches. If you are buying cash then these are optional, but still recommended. When you are buying with a mortgage the local and coal mining searches are compulsory. These searches check things such as planning applications on the property, (not the area) whether roads are maintained by the council, coal mining history of the area ( to check for mining shafts etc) and for any restrictions on the property. Your solicitor can advise you fully on the search and whether there is anything you need to be aware of. Other optional searches include water, and drainage search (to check the property is connected to a public sewer and water supply) environmental (any contamination issues) and chancel (historical church repair liability) searches. At Solicitor Direct we offer a variety of searches and we use a company which usually provides the results in around 5-7 days.

5. Enquiries
Your solicitor will check over the draft contracts, mortgage offer and searches to check to see if everything is in order. They will usually have to ask questions of the sellers solicitor relating to the deeds or searches. Your Solicitor will have to wait for satisfactory answers before they can proceed to exchange. Please remember that the replies to the questions may seem unnecessary to you when you are desperate to move, however they are crucial to ensure you are buying a property without a problem, and crucially we have a duty to protect your mortgage lender (if you have one) from lending money on a property with issues outstanding.

6. Exchange
In order to get ready to exchange we will need to get you to sign the paperwork obtain gain all necessary funding. Once we have satisfactory answers to of questions and signed paperwork we will have to contact your mortgage lender to ask them to send us the money in readiness for completion.

Exchange of contracts will take place between each parties solicitor and usually will take place over the telephone. The process means that the contract is now legal and binding upon all parties and means that it almost impossible for any party to pull out. ( or at least without serious and expensive consequences) During the exchange the purchase price is confirmed and the completion date is set. Once the exchange has taken place the completion date cannot be changed. There is no set period between exchange and completion but in an ideal world a couple of weeks would allow all parties an adequate time period to organise themselves for the big day. At Solicitor Direct we always speak to you prior to exchange to obtain your authority and ensure you are happy to proceed.

7. Completion
The big day has arrived and the removal van is fully loaded. On the day the solicitors have to transfer monies between the banks and of course this sometimes can take a little while, As soon as the transfers have taken place and the monies are in the right place you will be informed that the keys should be passed over to the Estate Agent. At Solicitor Direct we keep you informed throughout the day of each stage to hopefully ensure you feel secure in the knowledge that everything is being done as quickly as physically possible.

Finally
Moving to your new home should be an exciting time and we hope that by keeping you informed we can help you through the process. Remember this is only a guide and each transaction is different and your experience maybe slightly different.

When choosing a solicitor make sure you bear the following in mind:

Do you feel like they are listening to what is important to you?
Are they value for money?
Do they have the expertise?
Will they act in my best interests?

We will listen to you, we are value for money, we have the expertise and we only act in your best interests. Give us a call on 01772 424999, email enquiries@solicitordirect.com or complete the form below:

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Personal Injury – "Dog Attacks – The Postman Bites Back"

Dog Attacks – The Postman Bites Back

Everybody has seen a cartoon where the poor local Postman must run the gauntlet against the trouser-targeting guard dog. Recent developments in the Law have now improved the situation where the attacked Postman, or indeed any victim of a dog attack, may be able to hold the dogs owner accountable for the actions of their pet.

An owner/keeper will be liable if the following three stage test can be met:-

1. The damage caused has to be a kind which, if the animal was not restrained, it was likely to cause or was likely to be severe.

2. The damage caused has to be due to a characteristic of that animal which is not normally found in the species or is only found in particular times or circumstances

3. The owner or keeper must have knowledge of that characteristic

An owner could historically successfully defend the matter by arguing that, under point 3 above, the animal had never bitten before and therefore they could not be liable.

However recent case law suggests of that Courts consider that knowledge of a characteristic must be narrowed down to knowledge of characteristics normal to the breed in certain particular times and circumstances.

This means that the Courts take a more relaxed view in the case of a victim’s recovery of damages for any pain, physical or emotional injuries that they have suffered as a result of a dog attack.

Therefore, we would suggest that if a person bought a dog as a guard dog then he or she would know it may bite, and therefore take precautions against it doing so, even if it hadn’t bitten anyone before.

If you have been the victim of a dog attack call or email henry.prescott@solicitordirect.com or call 01772 426539 to speak to the team for a free consultation.

7 Reasons Why You Must Make A Will

7 Reasons Why You Must Make A Will

1. YOU decide who will receive the benefit NOT the law
2. If you are not married but have a partner your partner will receive NOTHING unless you make a will
3. If you are DIVORCED, you can decide to leave something to your former partner
4. You can make the best use of allowances to REDUCE the amount of Inheritance Tax to be paid
5. If you have CHILDREN, you choose who will care for them
6. If you have no surviving relatives, everything could automatically PASS TO THE STATE
7. You can decide to leave a donation to CHARITY

At Solicitor Direct we offer you a tailored service by our very experienced professionals. You can even take your will away the same day! Once your will is complete we can store it for you and you can then be reassured your wishes are taken care of.

Arguably everyone over the age of 18 should make a will, but certainly when you have a partner and children become involved, it is absolutely vital.

Please call Derek now on 01772 426530 to find out more or use the contact page at www.solicitordirect.com.

Already have a will?
It may be out of date or invalid. Have your circumstances changed? For a free will review please call Derek on 01772 426530

Conveyancing – Tips

This Article will hopefully provide you with some tips and suggestions to bear in mind throughout your conveyancing process:

Hints and Tips for a Stress Free Move

Congratulations, your offer has been accepted you are now on the roller coaster!

Once your offer has been accepted you should try to insist the vendors take the property off the market. Be wary of sellers who refuse and continue marketing their property as, should a higher offer be put forward, they will be tempted to take it. It could prove expensive should they pull out after you have incurred the initial expense of having a survey carried out and obtained a mortgage offer on the property and there will be little that you can do to recover your costs. It’s not much fun being “gazumped”!

Paperwork and Communication

Around one third of property sales fall through before contracts are exchanged as people get cold feet, or just fed up of waiting. Make sure you are not just another statistic; keep things on track by ensuring that your paperwork is completed as quickly as possible. As solicitors we can only push the conveyancing transaction along once we have the paperwork in our hands to deal with it so get it straight back to us.

Completing your mortgage application form is usually the first step. The conveyancing will be delayed if your mortgage application is slow so keep on top of your mortgage lender. Complete your paperwork with them quickly.

Your chosen lender will generally offer you several different types of survey and you will need to consider seriously whether you wish to have a full structural survey carried out. The standard mortgage valuation is not a guarantee that the property is in good condition; it is merely an indication of its value relative to your mortgage. If it is an old property or looks to be in poor condition you should pay the extra and ask for a fuller survey.

A homebuyers’ report or a full structural survey will give you detailed information about the condition of the property; the sellers are under no legal obligation to reveal any defect in the property to you themselves. So buyer beware!

Always budget for the cost of more than one survey as the results may require you to initiate further specialist inspections of the property.

Don’t forget keep your Conveyancing Solicitor informed about any developments. You do not wish to be presented with a bill should the transaction fall through simply because you forgot to tell your Solicitor that you no longer wish to proceed.

2. Exchange

Having received the results of your survey, and provided that your application has checked out, your mortgage lender should soon be in a position to issue you with a formal offer.

Once the contract has been agreed and signed by both parties and all enquiries that we have raised have been answered by the vendors solicitors to our satisfaction, you will then be in a position to exchange contracts with your vendor. This is the point of “no return” as once contracts have been exchanged it is almost impossible to go back.

Once contracts are exchanged, you will need to insure the property that you are buying. Make sure that your household insurance company knows that you are moving; your buildings insurance will need to cover your new home right away.

3.Completion – The best part!

You should consider suitable dates for completion. Of course between both parties solicitors we will need to agree a date which is suitable for everyone. You will need to have more than one in mind as if there is a long chain it may be difficult.

On the day the solicitors have to transfer monies between banks by all those in the chain and it can often be afternoon before you can collect the keys to your new home. Wait for our call to confirm that all is OK before you set off, as you do not want to be sleeping in your removal van! A good solicitor will always do their best to keep you updated as we know you are sat in your van!!!

4. Few extras

Before you move check that your new home has enough telephone lines. You may want to book the installation of a new line or additional extensions in advance.

Pack a box of essentials to include: kettle, tea bags, coffee, milk, toilet paper, screwdriver, and light bulbs. It is also a good idea to have a secure box with essential documentation in, plus keys to the new property!

Keep some blankets or old sheets available to put down to protect carpets if it is wet on moving day.

The essential services

Arrange for professional disconnection of any gas appliances you are taking.

If you are moving out of an area, then remember to de-register with Doctor, Dentist, and Optician.

Cancel standing orders with the bank that relate to your old home.

Arrange to have meters read at new property. Previous householder could have had them read a few days earlier!

Don’t become a social outcast

Remember to let your friends and family know your new address.

Arrange for post to be forwarded. Royal Mail will do this for a charge; you will need to pick up a form at your local post office.

Checks and double checks

Don’t forget these important people:

Gas
Electricity
Water
Phone
Council Tax Office – both from and to
Bank/Building Societies
Credit Card Company
Rental Company (TV etc)
TV Licence Authority
DVLA
Doctor
Dentist
Optician
Employer
Friend/relatives
Life Assurance Company / Pension provider
Insurance Company
Post Office
Break out the bubbly

Finally, we suggest that you sit down in your new kitchen, open a bottle of champagne and put your feet up, as it will soon be time to start unpacking all those boxes!!

Finally….

We are Solicitors and Estate Agents based in Leyland and therefore can help smooth the whole moving home and conveyancing process. Because we know the legal conveyancing process inside and out we can help you avoid the pitfalls and delays you tend to find when moving home. Ask to speak to Alex our senior conveyancer on 01772 426532.

Commercial Property – Carbon Reduction Programme

Commercial Property

Landlords and Tenants of larger property will continue to become increasingly interested and concerned in equal measure over the carbon reduction commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme. This is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme to cover all organisations using more than 6,000MWh per year of electricity (equivalent to an annual electricity bill of about £500,000). Businesses who fall into this category should have registered their business with the Environmental Agency by September 2010. Those businesses will monitor their energy output and then, from 2012, purchase allowances for each tonne of carbon they use, the cost of this is the disincentive to produce excessive carbon.  It is intended that there is a financial incentive to perform well in the CRC.

The governments spending review at the end of 2010 produced two important changes in this scheme, namely:

  • The money raised from the sale of allowances will be retained by the Government rather than recycled back to CRC participants.
  • The first sale of allowances to cover emissions in fiscal year 2011/12 will be in 2012 rather than 2011.

The first of these is important for Landlords and Tenants as it will significantly increase the cost to whichever holds the liability. There are currently increasing concentration in the drafting of clauses within leases to in consideration of this. The Landlord will be looking to ensure the Tenant pays a fair proportion of the CMC costs and administration, and the Tenant will be looking to limit or exclude these costs. Interrogation of Sellers or Landlords at the outset will be important as part of due diligence including; establishing the type of meters, previous energy consumption, recovery of costs, and any sale of CRC allowances.

There is still further consultation surrounding these regulations,  and they may changes further but what is important is that businesses are ready to take advantage and position themselves as best they can in light of the current rules.

If you have any questions regarding your commercial property, then please call

"A Right to Light"- Commercial Conveyancing

Commercial Property

Right to Light Law

A recent Court of Appeal case has highlighted the importance of a Commercial Developer taking particular care when inferring with a neighbours right to light.

Right to light is an established part of English law, and can arise either by express agreement and be written down in a person’s Deeds (or alternatively can be specifically excluded), or can arise by enjoyment of the light over time.

In the case of HKR UK II (CHC) Ltd (“Highcross”) v Marcus Heaney, Highcross built an office block in Leeds city Centre. The last two storeys severely restricted the light to Mr Heaney’s property.

My Heaney won an injunction forcing Highcross to take down the top two floors. The Court could have awarded damages to Mr Heaney for Highcross’s breach of the right to light. The Court felt that the developer’s actions in proceedings regardless and with knowledge this would cause an actionable injury, and his was driven largely by profit. The cost of reparation works was said to be in the region of £1.2- £25m

For a property owner therefore it is important to know and be able to enforce their right to light. For a developer it is important to prepare, and even to insure against, such risks. There is also Notice of Obstruction of Light and applications under s237 Of the town and Country Act 1990 that should be considered by the developers.

If you require further information or wish to discussion any issue then please contact Matthew Jones 01772 426532 or email matthew@solicitordirect.com