Why should you choose a local firm of solicitors to deal with your conveyancing transaction?

with my conveyancing transaction?

There are many online conveyancing firms advertising  both online and on social media that claim to offer the same level of service as local solicitors and conveyancers at a lower price, however sometimes these offers can be too good to be true as there are often extras, detailed in the small print, which are added on at the end of the transaction for which you may not have budgeted for.

Since buying a property is likely to be one of the biggest investments that you make during your lifetime, it is wise therefore to consider all the options available to you when choosing a conveyancer. 

Some of the benefits of choosing a local firm are:-

  1. Local Knowledge

    A local firm will have a good knowledge of the local area and also have an idea of any potential issues that may arise due to their experience of dealing with other properties in the vicinity.  Many also already have a good relationship with local estate agents which may come in handy should there be any issues in the chain as local agents may be more willing help conveyancers who they have an established relationship with.

    They will also have good connections with local mortgage brokers who they could recommend if you require assistance on obtaining mortgage finance to assist in your transaction.

  2. A Personalised service

When choosing a conveyancer it is best to choose someone who will take the time to speak to you and who you feel confident will have your best interest at heart during what can be a very stressful time.

When using a local firm, it is highly likely that you will speak with the same people (i.e. your conveyancer and/or their assistant) during every step of the transaction.  This will enable you to establish trust and build a good relationship with the people dealing with your transaction. 

Many larger conveyancing firms that you see advertised online generally consist of a team of people and you may not get to speak to the same person more than once.

  • A local office


This makes thing easier should something need to be dealt with urgently, or should you need to make an appointment to see your conveyancer or drop off any documents which are needed to progress the transaction.

  • Other legal services available

Following completion of your transaction, it may be that you require other legal services such as making a Will, dealing with Probate of relative or friend who has passed away, matrimonial or employment advice,.  Local firms will usually have other departments who are able to deal these issues for you whilst offering the same personal and professional service that you received during your conveyancing transaction.


Here at McCarthy Bennett Holland, we have a great team of people (many of whom live locally) who have many years of experience between them of dealing with all types of conveyancing transactions. To obtain a quote or to speak to one of team, please contact us by telephone on 01942 206060 or by email at mbh@wigansolicitors.com

You can also obtain a quote by using our no obligation online quote tool at https://www.wigansolicitors.com/residential-conveyancing-quote.html

Making a Will

With the Covid-19 pandemic and especially the lockdown, we had an unprecedented demand from clients wishing to make a will so as to ensure the correct persons inherit from their Estate.

Death is something we all try to avoid thinking and talking about, albeit the lockdown has made a number of our clients put their affairs in order as to whom should benefit from their Estate.

No matter how old you are, it is desirable to make a Will and it is not unusual to change your Will at least 3 times during your lifetime as personal circumstances often change.

The stigma that you only need to make a Will when you have assets, for instance a property to bequeath, is not necessarily correct. You could be a parent who wants to ensure your children are taken care of by the guardian of your choice. You could be a single person, with no children or, no nearest relatives, but have friends who have helped you during lockdown, that you wish to make some provision for. There is a vast differential of circumstances for making provisions in a will.

On the 25th July 2020, the Government legalised the remote witnessing of Wills so as to make it easier for people to record their final wishes during the coronavirus pandemic. These changes will be made via new legislation in September, which amends the law to include video-witnessing.

This move maintains the vital safeguard of requiring two witnesses- protecting people against undue influence and fraud.

Should I make a Will?

•    To ensure the correct persons inherit your estate. Without a Will, the law dictates who will inherit your estate (nearest blood relative).

•    For married couples or civil partnerships, to make sure your spouse or partner inherits everything from your estate if that is your wish.

•    For unmarried couples, to make sure that your partner is provided for.

•    Ensure your children are taken care of by the guardian of your choice, and to make financial provisions for your child’s upkeep and education.

•    identify the person(s) who will sort out your financial affairs after your death . Whoever you appoint will become an ‘Executor’ and are often family members, friends or professional advisors such as your solicitor.

•    To minimise the amount of Inheritance Tax payable on your estate, or to help preserve assets in relation to care home fees.

•    To ensure all is not lost for the children after a parent’s second marriage.

In essence it is necessary for you to make a Will, so don’t put it off until it’s too late.

Contact our Private Client Department on 01942 206060 or email darrenearnshaw@wigansolicors.com

Instructions can initially be provided by telephone, home visit, at the office or by Zoom Meeting.

Shareholder’s Agreements – What are they?

What are they?

Shareholder agreements regulate the relationship between shareholders

They can assist with the situation where a shareholder dies, becomes bankrupt or simply wishes to sell their shares on the open market.

There be a “right of first refusal” between the shareholders.

This means that there is a set procedure for offer and acceptance to the other shareholders first.

They can agree the value of the shares, with a referral to independent person if necessary.  

It might be necessary for you to agree between yourselves in the agreement that the articles of association will be varied to make sure that directors accept a transfer of shares.

It can also anticipate the costly and upsetting risk of a minority shareholders dispute.

Therefore it can try to reduce any risk of this by allowing for agreed exit clauses, non – solicitation clauses, and non – compete clauses.

Why would I need a Shareholder’s Agreement?

A Shareholder’s Agreement is a contract between two or more shareholders of a Company.

It can normally be sued upon in the English Courts, under contract law.

They often describe the shareholdings at the outset of the Company, as well as capital contributions and the declaration of dividend income.

They can note arrangements that govern who is to have the day to day running of the Company, perhaps where somebody is to take an advisory role as an investor.

They can also regulate decision making upon items of extraordinary expenditure, which may preferably need full ratification, from all members.

It sits apart from the Articles of Association and will need to be drafted in conjunction with the same.   For this reason it will also have an “agreement to prevail”, so it does not conflict.  

There is often a buy – out clause in a shareholders agreement that benefits some or all shareholders, should one or the other(s) wish to leave.

He must offer his shares first to the other for purchase at market value under a procedure before offering them to the market.

This triggers a procedure by giving an offer notice and then completion should occur not less than a certain time period after the date of the seller’s Notice.  

The timescale is often set at the outset, and agreed between the parties. If the Purchasing Shareholder fails to purchase within that timeframe then the Seller can sell on the open market within an agreed period, but often only at the agreed Price.

The Price is set by valuation by an independent auditor (or an auditor of the Company), at market value, with any disputes regulated by Arbitration (if preferred).

The advantage of shareholders agreements is that they are flexible and can include the contractual provisions you think you may need, to give your start-up business an agreement to work from.

There are often provisions relating to “Non-competition” after one party has left.

This is often a point of reference, but for a non-competition clause to be effective, it depends on the circumstances, and the relative bargaining powers of the parties.    

There are often some “boiler plate” clauses, which are quite standard.

These include :-

  • Stopping somebody else having the benefit of the agreement ,
  • Deleting a clause in the future that is agreed surplus to requirements,
  • Termination of the Shareholder’s Agreement by agreement between the shareholders,
  • Termination upon death, bankruptcy, and mental incapacity of one of the shareholders.

In essence they make litigation less likely, and give you the peace of mind to run your business, with a fully considered business plan, in place at the outset.

Where can I have one drafted?

Should you feel the need to take any advice on the drafting of a Shareholder’s Agreement, then please do not hesitate to contact our David Formby, Solicitor, who would be more than happy to assist.  

Help to Buy – Is the current scheme ending?

Help to Buy – Is the current scheme ending?

 

The current Help to Buy scheme is set to end on the 31st March 2021.

Under the scheme, the property previously had to be built by the builder by the 31st December 2020 for buyers to qualify to use this scheme. However, due to COVID-19 the government have extended this deadline to the 28th February 2021. This means that you can still use the current Help to Buy scheme if the builder is able to complete the house ready for you to move in to by the 28th February 2021.

Some buyers may be allowed more time to buy and move into the home and for the builder to finish building if you reserved the property before the 30th June 2020. If you reserved before the 30th June 2020, you may be able to complete the purchase and move into the property up to the 31st May 2021. However, this is only if severe delays have been caused due to COVID-19. This may not apply to all buyers and you should discuss this with your builder if you are concerned

If you have reserved after this date, the property must be built and ready for you to move in to by the 28th February 2021. If the property does not complete before this time you will not be able to get the equity loan funds. We would recommend discussing the anticipated completion date with your builder.

If you are unable to complete your purchase on time due to being unable to get the equity loan funds, the builder must unconditionally release you from the contract, the only exception is if you reserved prior to the 30th June, as you may be entitled to complete up to the 31st May 2021.

If the purchase does not go ahead, the builder must return the reservation fee but may be entitled to deduct reasonable charges, but they must inform you of this. You will have to pay any legal fees and/or any financial advisor fees, if applicable.

We would advise you to contact your builder to discuss the anticipated build date of the property you have reserved and whether any extension is needed.

A new Help to Buy Scheme will start on the 1st April 2021 and this will end on the 31st March 2023.

Please contact our residential property department on 01942 206060 if you have any concerns.

Coronavirus and commercial leases – what landlords and tenants need to know

Can tenants withhold rent or end a lease prematurely?

A common question is whether tenants can refuse to pay rent, pay less rent or terminate the lease before the expiry date.

Firstly, it is important to review the terms of the lease. The relevant provisions to consider include:

  1. Any break clause that may enable the tenant to terminate the lease early;
  2. Any force majeure clause (although these are rarely found in commercial leases and there is no common law right to terminate for force majeure); and
  3. Any turnover rent provisions that are dependent upon the income generated from the premises.

Most commercial leases will provide for rent to be payable without deduction or set off. In those circumstances a tenant is unlikely to be able to withhold payment of rent for Coronavirus-related reasons unless any specific provision in the lease enables it do so, or unless it reaches an agreement with the landlord.

Rent suspension clauses generally only apply where premises have been damaged or destroyed. Tenants may therefore struggle to argue for a rent suspension in reliance on such provisions.

Tenants may look to the common law doctrine of frustration where the lease provides no express option for early termination. To terminate a lease by frustration, a party has to prove that there is some form of illegality or failure of common purpose that renders performance of the lease/contract impossible or so radically different from the parties’ expectations that termination is justified. The bar for a successful frustration claim is high.

 

Can a Landlord forfeit the lease and evict the tenant for non-payment of rent?

The UK government announced on 23 March 2020 that commercial landlords are to be precluded from forfeiting commercial leases and evicting the tenant for non-payment of rent. This measure has been extended from 30 June 2020 and will remain in place until 30 September 2020.

 

Who will be liable to provide/pay for additional services?

The starting point is that landlords remain liable to provide, and tenants remain liable to pay for, services in accordance with the express service charge provisions in the lease.

The ability of a landlord to recover the costs of the enhanced cleaning regimes from tenants will depend on the terms of the lease. Most service charge provisions include the recovery of cleaning costs and we would anticipate that such costs would be likely to be seen by the courts as reasonably incurred subject to any cap that may apply. Alternatively, a landlord might be able to rely on any ‘catch all’ provision regarding costs associated with good estate management.

 

Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it is important to understand your legal obligations and commitments; to act responsibly and not to assume that you are or will be automatically released from your legal obligations under a lease.

 

For further information, please contact our Commercial team at MBH Solicitors:
http://www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.

 

What is a No-Fault Divorce?

The no-fault divorce bill has now been passed by parliament and has since attained royal assent on 25 June 2020. It is anticipated to be implemented by Autumn 2021.

The need for reform has been the view of many lawyers for years however, more recently, in the case of Owens v Owens [2018] UKSC 41, it was the case that the need for reform was suddenly brought into focus. In this case, Mrs Owens filed a divorce petition on the basis of unreasonable behaviour. Mr Owens managed to defend such allegations, therefore leaving Mrs Owens to remain unhappily married until the time came whereby Mrs Owens could file for a divorce on the basis of 5 years separation without consent.

The current divorce legislation is extremely outdated and contested by many. Resolution, mainly run by a group of family lawyers, have campaigned for a number of years for a no-fault divorce to be introduced on the basis that current legislation is causing further animosity between separating couples. Unless the parties have been separated for a period of two years, and consent to the divorce, or a period of five years if the Respondent does not consent, the Petitioner must essentially blame the Respondent for their actions, as the reason to why the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The new bill will not change the fundamental principle, but will change how this principle must be established.

Presently, there are 5 factors that can be shown to prove the ground of irreconcilable breakdown of a marriage. These are as follows:

  • Adultery and Intolerability
  • Behaviour (which you find unreasonable)
  • 2 years desertion
  • 2 years separation with consent
  • 5 years separation without consent

It is often the case that many separating couples use behaviour to enable them to get Divorced quickly and to assist them in resolving their financial dispute. There is often a view that bad behaviour will have an impact upon and will be taken into account when calculating a financial settlement between the parties. This is very rarely the case. It is often viewed that blame upon another will be a distraction for the parties and the idea of blaming another may also have an impact upon the children and any future contact arrangements. The no-fault legislation aims to limit such conflict between the parties to ensure the focus remains on reaching a resolution as quickly and amicably as possible.

In the past, Divorce was looked down upon and was extremely rare. However, more recently, relationship breakdowns are considered one of life’s realities, leaving more and more couples separating on a daily basis. The new changes will hopefully mean that this will become easier for couples to separate amicably and without blame (where appropriate).

Key changes to be implemented in the new legislation

  1. No more statement of case

This amendment will remove a major amount of animosity and conflict alone. Within the current divorce petition, when the Petitioner is to use the fact of unreasonable behaviour or adultery and intolerability, a statement of case must be produced. This consists of a number of small paragraphs as to the Respondents actions during the relationship which have resulted in the Petitioner unable to remain married to the Respondent. The new bill will remove this section entirely and will allow couples to apply jointly for a divorce, and should this not be consented, will still allow one party to apply solely.

  1. Removes the ability to contest a divorce

Given the fact no evidence is required to stipulate the relationship has broken down, and the parties/party must instead make a sworn statement that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the Court is expected to take the statement as conclusive evidence to make an Order.

Presently, it is often the case that although being ‘blamed’, parties will agree to the wording of the statement of case. This, in essence, reduces the amount of contested applications.

  1. Time lines introduced

The new legislation will introduce a 20 week period between the filing of the divorce application, and obtaining the ‘conditional order’ (the Decree Nisi). It shall remain the same that from the first stage (Decree Nisi) until the second stage (Decree Absolute) the parties must wait at least six weeks and one day from the date of the conditional order before filing for the final divorce order.

The new minimum period to obtain a divorce has been increased by three months, and the reason to do this was allow parties to reflect on their marriage and whether the marriage can be reconciled. Lawyers do however, continue to raise questions in this regard and state that the decision to divorce will require reflection and thinking.

Our thoughts

The new no-fault divorce is most definitely, a step in the right direction. It is still the view by many, however, that there is much further to go. It is noted that there is still very little protection for cohabiting couples and other diverse family types.

Should you wish to discuss matrimonial matters with us, please contact Gillian Lavelle or Megan Brookfield who will be happy to assist you.

Temporary SDLT Relief for residential properties

On 8th July 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a temporary holiday for SDLT on the first £500,000.00 of all property sales that take place in England and Northern Ireland between 8th July 2020 and 31st March 2021.

The SDLT holiday was introduced to encourage buyers to continue with their house purchases in a bid to keep the property market moving during these turbulent times. The hope is that, following the decrease in property transactions during lockdown, this will boost the property market which in-turn will assist with the recovery of the UK economy.

But what does this mean for you and how much could you potentially save?

For first time buyers, this now means that you can purchase a property up to £500,000.00 and pay no stamp duty. The previous threshold for first time buyers to claim the FTB Relief was £300,000.00 with any consideration between £300,000-£500,000 attracting stamp duty at 5% i.e. first time buyers purchasing a property at £500,000.00 can now save £10,000.00 under the temporary relief rules. First time Buyers purchasing above £500,000.00 were not entitled to FTB SDLT relief under previous rules.

For anybody thinking of moving home and replacing their main residence, there will be no SDLT to pay on property purchases up to £500,000.00. If you are purchasing a property above £500,00.00 SDLT will be paid on a sliding scale for anything above £500,001.00 (i.e. 5% for any consideration between £500,000.00 and £925,000.00, 10% on any consideration between £925,001.00 and £1.5m and 12% on any consideration paid above £1.5m. The new SDLT relief could therefore save you up to £15,000.00.

What if you wish to purchase an additional property i.e. buy to let property or second home? Under the new SDLT Relief rules, you will now only pay 3% on anything up to the value of £500,000.00. Previously you would have paid 3% up to £125,000.00, then 5% on any consideration paid between £125,001.00 and £250,000.00 and 8% on anything between £250,001.00 and £925,00.00 and so on. i.e. under the previous rates you would have paid £30,000.00 SDLT on an additional property purchase at £500,000.00 but under the new rules you will now only have to pay £15,000.00.

The new relief does not only benefit individuals but also companies purchasing residential properties can also benefit from the same savings when purchasing a buy to let or additional property.

For anyone considering purchasing a new residential property prior to 31st March 2021, you can use the Government calculator (copy the link below into your search engine) to check exactly how much SDLT is payable dependant upon your circumstances.

Government SDLT calculator: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/calculate-stamp-duty-land-tax/#/intro

For any further information or property advice, or if you are thinking of taking advantage of the temporary SDLT Relief by purchasing a new property, please contact us for a competitive quote either by telephone (on 01942 206060) or email at mbh@wigansolicitors.com

Land Registry Update – Electronic Signatures

When buying a house, one of the most significant moments for the parties involved is the signing of the contract documentation. Until recently, the Land Registry would only accept the original “wet” signature to the documentation to reduce the risks of fraudulent transactions.

However, due to the recent lockdown restrictions, wet signatures have become increasingly more difficult to obtain due to postal delays, a solicitor’s inability to see their clients in person and difficulties with printing and scanning. This led to an increase in demand for the Land Registry to accept electronic signatures.

As a result, the Land Registry are now accepting electronic signatures however the signature must be witnessed by another party who is a present at the time of signing who will also have to sign the document electronically.

Not only will this help in the current climate, it is also a strong step towards modernising legal processes and keeping up with technological advances. It will also ensure that solicitors can work with clients over long distances as they will be able to correspond via email and finalise the transaction without relying on the postal service or having to travel long distances.

The hope is that, in the near future, electronic signatures will become more commonplace which will significantly modernise the conveyancing process and help to keep legal transactions up to speed with technological advances.

Retirement for Paul Aynsley

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McCarthy Bennett Holland Solicitors (MBH) would like to announce the retirement of their senior Partner, Paul Aynsley as from 1st May 2020.  We are sad to see him go but wish him all the best in his retirement.  Paul was a key member of MBH for over 27 years and has an excellent reputation and standing in the community.

As most of Paul’s clients will be aware, Darren Earnshaw joined us in February 2020 and has worked side by side with Paul over the last few months.

Paul Aynsley said “After nearly 27 years with the firm it is a big change for me to be leaving but I know am leaving the department in Darren’s very safe and vastly experienced hands. The department will continue to go from strength to strength and has a very exciting future ahead. Darren is hugely talented, dedicated and knowledgeable in whom I have the utmost confidence and trust to deliver the best possible advice on litigation and private client matters.”

Caroline Rooks, Senior Partner, paid tribute to Paul:

“Paul has been an outstanding partner for the clients of MBH Solicitors and has delivered exceptional service to the firm. Paul has had a huge influence on everyone here at MBH Solicitors and thanks to his guidance, friendship and expertise we are able to build on all he has achieved over a long and highly successful career. On behalf of the whole firm, I thank him for all that he has given to us and our clients over the years”.

About MBH Solicitors

MBH Solicitors has been in business since 1971 and has a widespread and diverse client base. The firm is forward thinking and offers electronic or traditional ways of conducting your case.  A modern approach is taken to ensure that you are provided with an efficient service.

MBH offer the following services:

  • Commercial Advice & Litigation
  • Commercial Property
  • Company Share Sale & Acquisition
  • Landlord & Tenant
  • Commercial Leases
  • Business Acquisition & Sale
  • Shareholder Agreements
  • Wills & Probate (Estate Management)
  • General Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
  • Residential Conveyancing
  • Family, Children & Divorce Law
  • Employment Law

MBH’s prices are competitive and fixed fees can be offered where appropriate.

Contact MBH Solicitors on 01942 206060 or by e-mail to mbh@wigansolicitors.com.  For further information please visit our website www.wigansolicitors.com

Update on Covid-19 and Compliance with Child Arrangement Orders

It is understandable that parents have been extremely concerned about adhering to Court Orders during these unprecedented times, and of course, when they will next be able to see their children.

The Government Guidelines are rapidly changing, and new rules are put in place to ensure the safety of each person, and to attempt to relieve the strain from the NHS.

Each family’s circumstances will differ. The Guidance below is general and has been released as a guideline for separated families to consider when making the necessary decisions about contact arrangements.

 

  1. Parental Responsibility lies with the Mother, and the Father (who is named on the birth certificate, or married to the Mother, or has a Parental Responsibility Order in their favour) of the child. It does not lie with the Courts. It is down to the parents to make the decisions in the best interests of the child. If you believe your child, yourself, or someone in your household is at risk, then you should isolate in line with the Government’s Guidelines.
  2. You must continue to act in line with the Governments ‘Stay at Home Rules’, put in place on 23 March 2020. Under these rules, it is no longer permitted for a “a person, and this includes a child, to be outside their home for any purpose other than essential shopping, daily exercise, medical need or attending essential work”.
  3. Contained in the Stay at Home Rules, is guidance relating to child contact arrangements stating that “where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parent’s homes”. The guidelines do provide an exception to the ‘Stay at Home Rules’, however it is important to note that this is not mandatory. The Government have stated that you should make a sensible assessment of all the circumstances, and whether this is in the best interests of the child and immediate family around the child during contact. For example, if someone in the household is at high risk, contact should be suspended at this time.
  4. Separated parents should communicate with one another, and if possible, come to an agreement as to a practical solution. It is understandable that parents who have limited contact with their children will be frustrated, however it must be considered first and foremost, the best way to maintain the child’s safety. Even if one parent believes contact is safe, the other parent may completely disagree and feel genuinely worried about the situation.
  5. If a Child Arrangement Order is in place, and parents wish to suggest alternative contact arrangements or vary the Order, they are free to so do. To avoid disputes, parents should write this agreement down, by way of email, text message or paper.
  6. If one parent wishes to vary the Court Order due to sufficient and reasonable concerns, that parent may exercise their Parental Responsibility to vary such Order to ensure the protection of their child, to one they consider to be safe.
  7. Should this be raised at any Court hearing, the view of the Court would be to consider whether the parent acted reasonably and sensibly in light of the official advice, along with any evidence relating to the child or the family.
  8. As noted in our previous blog, parents who are unable to see their children during this time should be offered alternative contact to maintain the relationship, as well as being offered remote contact, whether through Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or any other video connection. If this is not possible, the parent should be offered contact via telephone.

The overall note is to ensure you act within the best interests of your child to ensure their safety.

 

Still have questions? Please do not hesitate to contact the Family Team on 01942 206060.