Private Client

Making a Will? Don't Forget Your Moral Obligations

You are in principle entitled to bequeath your worldly wealth to whoever you choose. However, as a High Court decision made clear, the law will intervene if you ignore your moral obligations when making your will. A successful motor dealer and property...

Coronavirus - five things to do to keep you moving home

Here at Boys & Maughan we know that buying or selling a property during the current crisis is much more challenging than usual but we are being optimistic and taking a “can do” approach to keeping people moving through these difficult times. ...

When Is a Property 'Completed'? DIY House Builder Wins VAT Rebate

DIY house builders are entitled to refunds of VAT they pay on materials used in their projects. However, as a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) showed , seeking such rebates is far from straightforward and a strict time limit applies. A man applied...

Coronavirus - children in care and care proceedings

Our children law solicitors and lawyers have substantial experience in proceedings relating to Public Law children matters. Here we provide answers to the questions that our lawyers are regularly being asked.  Social Services / the Local Authority are...

Can I still move home in the current coronavirus crisis?

The Government has urged people not to move house to try to limit the spread of coronavirus across the UK. It has said that buyers and renters should delay moving while emergency stay-at-home measures are in place. For the full details see this page of the...

Guidance for separated parents on children moving between parents' homes

Increased social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus have undoubtedly been putting strain on families with shared childcare arrangements. Taking children from one home to another is a legitimate journey according to Cafcass and Government...

Adoption Only Justified If Nothing Else Will Do

Adoption of children outside their natural families is always a last resort and will only be permitted if nothing else will do. The Court of Appeal made that point in coming to the aid of a couple whose son was taken from their care when he was just two...

What are Boys & Maughan's current arrangements for making a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney?

Our offices may be closed to the general public but we are still working and available to you. We have always been flexible in the way we conduct our work to suit your needs and this remains the case.  We frequently take instructions for the...

Dispute With Builder Leads to Costly Outcome for Homeowner

If you are involved in a dispute with your builder, taking sound legal advice is by far the best means of ensuring that matters do not get out of hand. One householder who failed to take that sensible course found himself embroiled in costly legal...

Court Breaks Impasse Between Warring Brothers in Farmland Dispute

Co-ownership of land by family members can be intensely problematic if they do not see eye to eye as to the use to which it should be put. A High Court case on point focused on a naturalist's ambition to 'rewild' farmland he and his brother had jointly...

Still Time to Stay Ahead of CGT Changes

New rules surrounding the payment of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on profits made on the sale of a residential property are now just weeks away. Taking effect on 6 April 2020, the changes will reduce the amount of time individuals have to pay their CGT bill and...

New Statutory Instrument Boosts Intestate Entitlement

A change to intestacy law recently announced by the government has increased the sum of money that spouses and civil partners of people who die without having made a will are entitled to receive. The change has been introduced via a statutory instrument...

High Court Backs Big Money Divorce Wife's Pursuit of Fraudulent Husband

It is hardly surprising that confidential or privileged documents which have or may have been illegitimately obtained cannot be used in evidence. However, as the High Court made clear in the context of a big money divorce case , that rule does not apply...

Letting Your Land Go to Rack and Ruin is an Invitation to Squatters

Letting your land stand vacant, going to rack and ruin, inevitably carries the risk that a squatter will obtain title to it. A woman who inherited a small but strategic strip of land from her builder father came within an ace of suffering that fate. The...

Court of Appeal Allows Will Dispute to Proceed

There is a general principle that a person may leave their estate to anyone they wish, but legislation exists – the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 – to allow people dependent on a deceased person to claim against the...

Government Issues Bailiff and Enforcement Officer Scam Warning

The Government is warning people to be on alert for fraudsters posing as court bailiffs and enforcement officers on the telephone. After claiming to be County Court bailiffs, High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) or Certificated Enforcement Agents (CEAs),...

DWP investigations of estates can take 6-18 months

Sometimes the Department of Work and Pensions decides to contact the executors of an estate because they want to see if a means tested benefit was correctly claimed in the lifetime of the deceased.  The sort of information that they frequently require...

Couple Subjected to Race Discrimination By Adoption Agency Win Damages

Race discrimination may not be intentional, but it can be deeply hurtful and, with the right legal advice, victims can both express their disgust and secure compensation. In a striking case on point , a Sikh couple who were rejected as potential adopters...

Lack of Legal Advice Leads to Dispute Over Property

Couples can sometimes be tempted to enter into property transactions together without taking legal advice, on the basis that the love and trust between them will last forever. However, a High Court ruling strikingly showed how misguided such assumptions can...

Couple's Claim for CGT Loss on Holiday Home Succeeds

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may appear a very big battalion indeed but, with the right legal advice, individuals can succeed in overturning their decisions. Exactly that happened in a case concerning a couple who lost over £6 million in a disastrous...

Boys & Maughan University of Kent Law School Civil Advocacy Competition

Matthew Champ , a non-practising barrister and Chartered Litigator and Advocate at Boys & Maughan, organises the Civil Advocacy competition which started in November 2017. Ebun Adeniran won the inaugural Boys & Maughan Solicitors Civil...

High Court Resolves Family Row Over Funeral Arrangements

What exactly is a will? The High Court addressed that fundamental issue in resolving a bitter family dispute in respect of where a much-loved son and husband should be buried. Following the man's death from cancer, his mother insisted that he should be...

Adoption is Always a Last Resort - Troubled Mum Achieves Redemption

One of the hardest tasks that family judges have to undertake is to remove children from the care of parents who are incapable of looking after them. However, as one case showed , adoption of children outside their natural families is only ever a last...

Family's Informal Occupation of Farmhouse Triggers High Court Dispute

Allowing people to occupy your property on the basis of a handshake is an invitation to misunderstandings and costly dispute. The point was proved by a case in which the trustee of an agricultural estate found himself in court after he informally permitted a...

Buyer of Crash-Damaged Ferrari Awarded His Money Back By Judge

If you have been deceived by a salesman into paying too much for dodgy goods, you should see a lawyer right away. The disappointed buyer of a crash-damaged Ferrari sports car who did just that was awarded his money back by a judge. The buyer was attracted...

Off-Plan Flat Buyer Wins Full CGT Relief in Test Case

Can a purchaser of a property be said to 'own' it after contracts are exchanged but before the transaction is completed? The Court of Appeal's answer to that fundamental question delivered a substantial Capital Gains Tax (CGT) saving to an off-plan flat...

Promises, Promises - Always Get a Lawyer to Put Them in Writing!

The trouble with informally agreeing with your loved ones what is to happen to your assets after you are gone is that you may not have considered all eventualities, and disputes can arise as to what has and has not been promised. Exactly that lay at the root...

Family Judge Blocks Attempt at Divorce Tourism in Big Money Case

English judges are respected around the world – but they are not the sole arbiters of fairness and the decisions of foreign courts must be respected. A family judge made that point in shutting the door on divorce tourism and refusing a Russian...

Trouble With the Neighbours? See a Lawyer Before It Gets Out of Hand!

One secret of a happy life is to get on well with your neighbours and taking legal advice is often the best way of defusing rows before they get out of hand. The point was resoundingly made by a case in which escalating boundary and right of way disputes...

Cryptoassets Are Property - Judicial Authority

The legal position of 'cryptoassets' – those which exist in electronic form and are held on distributed ledgers, bitcoins being the best-known example – has not been certain in the past. However, a recent legal statement by the Chancellor of the...

Failing to Keep Accurate Accounts is Like a Red Rag to the Tax Authorities

Failing to take professional advice and keep accurate accounts is like holding a red rag up to the HM Revenue and Customs bull. In a case on point, an international businessman who claimed to keep details of his income and expenditure 'in his brain' was...

High Court Assists Husband in Drawing a Line Under His Divorce

Litigation can be long and bitter, but it is the prime objective of the justice system to eventually bring it to a satisfactory end. In a case on point, the High Court came to the aid of a husband in drawing a line under his divorce . The case concerned a...

Judge upholds Will in dementia dispute

For a Will to be valid, the testator (the one making the Will) must be ‘of sound mind’ at the time of making and signing the Will. This means that they must be capable of understanding and approving of the contents and effects of the Will. With...

Field Owner Sees Off Neighbour's Squatters' Rights Claim

Landowners who neglect or fail to make use of their properties put themselves at risk of losing them to squatters. In a recent case on this subject, a woman faced a neighbour's claim that he was entitled to her field, having cut the grass for years. The...

Employee or Contractor? Broadcast Journalist Receives £400,000 Tax Bill

Establishing a company to act as an intermediary between yourself and the clients to whom you provide your services can have substantial tax advantages. As a case involving a broadcast journalist showed, however, such arrangements are pointless if the...

Divorce is Often Bitter, But Maintaining a Sense of Proportion is Crucial

Amidst the emotional and financial destruction that can arise from divorce, keeping a sense of proportion is crucial. The Court of Appeal made that point in lamenting a former couple's expenditure of more than £500,000 in legal costs fighting over an...

Is Your Will Out of Date? Execute a New One Before It's Too Late!

Allowing your will to become out of date stores up trouble for your loved ones. That was strikingly so in one case in which a successful businessman suffered a stroke before he could make a new will taking account of his changed financial and personal...

Court Steps In to Protect Security of 370,000 Pension Annuity Holders

Millions of people who invest their pension pots in annuities can ultimately rely on the law to guarantee their financial security. In a case on point, the High Court overruled financial regulators and refused to sanction the transfer of about 370,000...

Failing to Disclose Assets Can Bite Back in Divorce

In a case illustrating the importance of candour regarding financial circumstances in divorce proceedings, a husband who failed to disclose the true extent of his wealth to family judges was subsequently ordered to pay his ex-wife a seven-figure lump sum,...

Loyalty Bonuses Taxable, Rules Upper Tribunal

Investors using the popular online financial investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) may not have heard that the 'loyalty bonuses' they receive from HL have been deemed by the Upper Tribunal (UT) to be taxable income in the hands of the recipients and...

Couple Overcome 'One House' Restriction to Build New Home in Their Garden

New homes built in the grounds of existing residences make a valuable contribution to meeting burgeoning housing demand. However, as a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) showed , restrictions lurking in antique title deeds can stand in the way of...

If a Loved One's Will Does Not Meet Your Needs, Don't Delay in Seeking Advice

If a loved one upon whom you depend financially fails to make reasonable provision for you in his or her will, judges have the power to put that right. However, there are time limits that apply to such proceedings and that is why it is vital to consult a...

Family Judge Grasps Nettle in Sending Baby Boy to Live With His Father

Family judges are always absolutely focused on the welfare of children and will not shrink from grasping nettles to give them the best chance of leading fulfilled and happy lives. That was certainly so in one case in which a judge ordered that a baby boy be...

Vulnerable Witnesses Could Be Given Greater Protection in Civil Courts

Responses to a report from the Civil Justice Council (CJC) setting out proposed measures to better support and protect vulnerable witnesses and parties in civil proceedings are due to be considered following public consultation. The CJC wants to ensure 'a...

High Court Relieves Family of Consequences of Badly Drafted Trust Deed

Trust deeds can be an effective means of managing family wealth and minimising tax liabilities but, as a High Court decision strikingly showed , any mistakes in their drafting can have serious repercussions for generations to come. The case concerned a...

Facing a Tax Investigation? Don't Bury Your Head in the Sand!

If you are facing an investigation by the tax authorities, your very first step should be to seek professional advice. One taxpayer who sadly chose not to take that course, instead burying his head in the sand, narrowly escaped a six-figure back-tax bill. ...

Court Orders Must Be Obeyed

Public confidence in the civil justice system would collapse if court orders were not rigorously enforced – however agonising complying with them may be. The point was made by a case in which a divorcee who refused to move out of her home of 25 years...

Planning Building Work? Get Legal Advice

When a property development involving a building that is listed or in a conservation area is undertaken, it is reasonable for the contractor employed to do the work to assume that the employer has used due diligence to obtain the necessary planning consents....

Court of Appeal Acts to Save Entrenched Litigants From Themselves

The whole purpose of the civil justice system is to achieve just and final resolution of frequently intractable disputes – and, as a guideline Court of Appeal decision in an inheritance case made plain, that includes saving litigants from themselves...

HMRC Miss Tax Avoidance Target By Raising Assessments Too Late

When HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) find out that tax has been under-declared, the response is normally to raise a 'discovery assessment' to collect the tax due. This is usually the result of a period of investigation, and penalties and interest are also...

Missing Persons - Steps to Take

Surprisingly, nearly 250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. Leaving aside the heartache and worry this causes, until recent changes in the law it also created an appalling position for family members trying to deal with the affairs of the person who...

Boys & Maughan wins eight trophies at the top national conveyancing awards breaking previous records

Boys & Maughan’s conveyancing teams and individual lawyers have exceeded all of their previous achievements in the largest award scheme in the UK residential property industry. Our firm landed an amazing eight trophies at the ESTAS...

Growing Number of Cohabiting Couples Leaves More Families Open to Risk

Cohabiting couples are the fastest-growing family type in the UK, according to newly released figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The ONS reports that the number of cohabiting couple families continues to grow faster than the number of...

Inveterate Trespasser Rightly Jailed for Contempt, Court of Appeal Rules

It is in the nature of litigation that the losing party frequently feels that the judge was wrong and the outcome unjust. However, a case in which a householder repeatedly lost his liberty , and ultimately his home, due to his defiance of court orders shows...

LPA - Bank Practice

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a document that may be used so that the finances or other issues of a person who cannot deal with them themselves may be attended to by a trusted third party – normally a solicitor or a family member. When an LPA...

Raising Cash on the Security of Your Home? Always See a Lawyer First

Many vulnerable people who fall into debt are tempted to raise cash on the security of their homes. However, a case in which an elderly couple came within an ace of losing the roof over their heads stands as a warning to all that such arrangements should...

Where, If Anywhere, Do the Jet Set Call Home? High Court Gives Guidance

Very rich people often live jet set lifestyles of ceaseless travel, so pinning down the country in which they are domiciled can be a serious challenge. The High Court faced exactly that difficulty in a case concerning the acrimonious breakdown of a...

No Going Back on Gift Freely Made

A recent case decided by the Scottish Courts shows the wisdom of not making irrevocable decisions that you may later come to regret. It involved a woman who gifted her house to her daughter and son-in-law, retaining a tenancy for life over the property....

Mental Capacity - Court of Protection Authorises Non-Consensual Caesarean Birth

Where people lack the mental capacity to make important decisions for themselves, judges will step in to ensure that their best interests are served, as was demonstrated by an unusual case in which the Court of Protection (CoP) authorised the planned...

Stamp Duty Land Tax Dodge Backfires

When a couple wished to avoid paying Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the purchase of a property, they hit on what looked to them like a great idea. Instead of buying the property outright, they paid for it in two stages…a deposit, plus the purchase of...

Big Money Divorce Engages Family Judge in Company Valuation

Companies are notoriously difficult to value, and particular problems can arise when they form the principal assets to be divided in divorce proceedings. In a big money case on point, the High Court bridged a huge gulf between the value placed by a wife...

Widow Pays for Delay in Seeking Provision From Her Husband's Estate

If you feel that you have suffered a wrong of any kind, a delay in taking legal action can put paid to your chances of obtaining justice. A widow who was left nothing in her deceased husband's will found that out to her cost when her hopes of obtaining...

Boys & Maughan residential property lawyers shortlisted for a record number of awards

Boys & Maughan’s residential property teams and individual lawyers have exceeded all of their previous achievements in the largest award scheme in the UK residential property industry. The ESTAS Group, which highlights the best firms for...

Don't Even Think About Doing a Property Deal Without Legal Advice

Property purchases are, for the majority of people, the highest-value deals they ever enter into and that is why they should never be undertaken in haste or without expert legal advice. A case in which an amateurish, home-made agreement led to years of...

Pension Scheme That Failed to Consider Wife's Claim Called to Account

It is usual for occupational pension schemes to allow the spouse or partner of a scheme member to receive a reduced pension in the event that the member predeceases them. Normally, the appropriate beneficiary is set out in the scheme rules. With defined...

Divorced Overseas? English Family Judges Can Still Help You!

If you have been divorced abroad but are habitually resident in this country, English family judges have the power to ensure that you receive a fair share of the marital assets. In a case on point , the High Court awarded a woman whose marriage was...

Estate and Dependants Receive Damages for Fatal Crash

When there is a fatal accident involving a person with dependants, a claim for compensation may be able to be made not only by the estate of the deceased person but also by their dependants, whether children or adults. In a recent case , the estate and...

Restrictive Covenants Can Go Undetected - Use an Expert Conveyancer!

Covenants that restrict the use to which properties can be put lurk undetected within many title deeds and can have a dramatic impact on a property's value. That was certainly so in the case of one unfortunate couple who said that tight restrictions applying...

Informal Agreement Leads Family to Court of Appeal

Disputes within families are very common indeed and one of the issues the courts see over and over again is where there is a family 'understanding' that ends in a disagreement. In a recent case , the result of one such dispute is that an 82-year-old woman...

Tax Investigations - Judge Authorises Disclosure of Credit Card Bills

To what extent are the tax authorities entitled to delve into what would otherwise be your private financial information? The High Court tackled that issue in authorising disclosure of a wealthy businessman's credit card statements to HM Revenue and...

Court Returns Two-Year-Old to Land of Birth When Parents' Marriage Collapses

For a UK court to have jurisdiction over a family law case, it is necessary to show that at least one party to it has habitual residence in the UK. In a recent case, an Israeli woman divorcing her Israeli husband sought a declaration that their two-year-old...

Be Careful What You Post

Although the final result was not financial ruin for the defendant, a recent case illustrates how unwise it is to vent one's spleen on social media. It involved a firm of solicitors that had been involved in the sale of 'off plan' properties in Cyprus. This...

Wealthy Online Investor in Bitcoin Futures a 'Consumer'

Can someone who trades in cryptocurrency futures or other sophisticated products via an online platform be viewed as a consumer? In a crucial decision for the investment sector, the High Court has answered that question in the affirmative . The case...

Instruction Sufficient to Allow Third Party Reliance on Arrangements

The purchase of properties abroad is a process that can be replete with disputes and financial losses for the unwary or unadvised. Whilst some foreign countries have presented few issues, others have had more chequered histories. Recently, investors went...

Time of the Essence in Overturning Agreements Made Under Duress

We have often stressed the importance of obtaining high-quality legal advice in any dispute and starting any necessary legal action as soon as possible, and a recent divorce dispute illustrates why . It involved a couple who were divorced in 2015. The...

LPA Error Means Court Appearance

It is normally essential when creating a legal document to get the procedures right, and failure to do so can cause unnecessary complications. A recent case dealt with the problem of what happens if a person creates a document that contains an error but...

Lifetime Achievement Award for Peter Rodd, Boys & Maughan Senior Partner from 2012-2017

Peter Rodd, Senior Partner at Boys & Maughan from 2012-2017, has been presented with a Modern Law Conveyancing Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. Peter has been involved in the legal aspects of residential property for 43 years. He quickly showed...

Breach of Trust Brings Jail for Fraudulent Trustee

Yet another sad case reported recently shows the wisdom of appointing only those who are absolutely trustworthy and/or insured professionals as trustees over your assets. The court heard how a trustee appointed to safeguard the assets of a 17-year-old boy...

Tree Felling Without Permission Proves Expensive

Ignoring tree preservation orders can prove to be a very expensive mistake and if your property has a protected tree on it, you should make sure any order is understood and followed and any necessary permissions obtained. Felling a protected tree without...

CGT Loss Occurs When Payment Made, Not Before

When a personal guarantee has to be given in order to give a lender the security it needs, the guarantor hopes that the guarantee will never be called in. However, when it is, the loss suffered by the guarantor will normally qualify as a loss for Capital...

Court Appearance May Not Mean Public Disclosure

The principle of open courts is highly valued in the UK legal system. However, it is often a worry to people engaged in legal proceedings concerning family or marital issues that by going to court their family's private affairs will become public knowledge. ...

Rules are Rules

A recent case should serve as a reminder that rules are rules and 'close enough' often isn't! The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 states that 'the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwelling...

Court Allows Trust Error to Be Corrected

Mistakes do happen, and in some circumstances they can be rectified by the courts. In a recent case, the wife of a man who died in 2015 went to court after a mistake in dealing with a trust created under his will left a substantial potential Inheritance Tax...

Half of Estate Value Goes in Fees When Will Lost and Family in Dispute

When a person is appointed executor of an estate, they are given a reasonable period to progress the estate administration but cannot procrastinate without adverse consequences being likely. When a woman died intestate in 2012, she left behind a house and...

Motor Insurers Not Liable for £2 Million Fire Damage

The law requires that the driver of any vehicle has a valid insurance policy that covers injury or damage to third parties caused by or arising out of the use of the vehicle on a road or in a public place. The Supreme Court has given authoritative guidance...

Ignore Court Orders At Your Peril

A wealthy Omani man who failed to pay to his ex-wife the financial settlement ordered by the court, or to cooperate with disclosure orders, faces arrest if he attempts to return to the UK. When the couple's marriage broke up, they were divorced under Omani...

Failure to Challenge Repaving Results in Loss of Title

Failing to take active steps to protect your land from use by another can produce unfortunate effects, as a couple from York discovered recently. The couple own a bungalow which has a front driveway adjacent to that of the next-door bungalow – a...

Just Because You Agree Doesn't Mean the Court Will

It is common in legal disputes for the two sides to agree to suspend the court proceedings for a period so that they can get as much agreed between them as possible, and gather their evidence and prepare their arguments over what remains in dispute without...

Appealing Against a Tax Bill? Make Sure You Get a Fair Hearing!

If you dispute a tax bill, you are entitled to a fair hearing of your appeal and specialist advice will ensure you get just that. In a case that demonstrates this point, a couple were relieved of a substantial Capital Gains Tax (CGT) demand after...

Care Costs - Wales Raises 'Asset Cap'

It is not widely known that the 'cap' on assets above which people in residential care must fund their own care is only £23,250 in England and Northern Ireland. It is even less well known that elsewhere in the UK the cap is set at different levels. In...

Couple Outraged By 'Ugly Duckling' Home Cinema Win Six-Figure Damages

If building works on your home go wrong, strong legal representation can ensure that you are properly compensated. In a recent case, a couple who paid over £400,000 for a state-of-the-art home cinema, but did not get the architectural jewel they had...

Absence of Evidence Dooms Unequal Shares Claim

The legal ownership of property is not always the same as the beneficial ownership and disputes can arise when no documentation is executed to show the two are different. Such was the case in a recent dispute which occurred after a couple who had two...

No Will Means Negotiation to Decide Estate Split

A professionally drafted will is something every adult should have. Not only does it provide certainty as to who should inherit your possessions after your death, but it will also make things a lot easier for your executor at a time that is usually...

Share Sale Tax Avoidance Scheme Fails the Reality Test

Judges interpret tax statutes in the real world and are experienced at looking beyond the detailed provisions of intricate transactions to discern their actual purpose. In a case exactly on point, the Court of Appeal found that Capital Gains Tax (CGT) was...

Insurer Not Liable Where Driver Unidentifiable

In order to sue someone, they have to be served with a notice of claim unless the service of the notice can be properly dispensed with. Can the notice of claim be properly dispensed with if the person being claimed against is not only unidentified, but...

No Fault Divorce Legislation Promised in Next Parliamentary Session

The process of divorce in the UK has for many years been seen as rather long-winded and tending to produce more conflict than need be. One of the reasons for this is that the grounds which demonstrate an 'irretrievable breakdown' of a marriage – the...

High Court Rules Against Right to Rent

The legislation that introduced the Right to Rent scheme, which went live in February 2016 and compels landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, has never been popular with landlords or tenants. Recently, the High Court ruled that the...

Woman Who Assisted Husband's Suicide Can Inherit Estate

The law in the UK is not supportive of people who assist, however unwillingly, those they love who want to die. Although such wishes are often borne out of suffering years of intractable pain or disability, assisting the suicide of another remains a criminal...

Court Denies Widow the Right to Challenge Trust Arrangements

Trusts have been gradually falling out of favour, according to a recent report. It is thought that the fall of some 4 per cent in trusts submitting tax returns last year (and 30 per cent since 2003/2004) is due to both a lack of understanding of trusts and...

Mother Placed Under Improper Judicial Pressure to Consent to Care Orders

The quality of British justice is respected around the world – but there are inevitably occasions when judges overstep the mark. In a family case on point, a mother had her two young children taken into care after a judge dismissed out of hand...

SDLT Reminder

Clients are reminded that, following the introduction of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (Administration) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 , the time limit for the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on property transactions has been reduced from 30 days to 14...

Lost Will Means Court Hearing in Family Dispute

The impossibility of asking a deceased person what their real intentions were makes the value of these being clear before death quite obvious, as a recent case shows. It involved an elderly widow who died in 2016. After her death, her family discovered an...

Care Home State Support Limits Unchanged for Ninth Year

Having enough money to pay for care costs in the final years of life is a major concern for many and, despite promises made by governments in the past about limiting the impact on people, in reality the scale of the problem is such that the potential impact...

International Dimension Makes Child Travel Risky

The welfare of children is always top of the list of priorities of the Family Court when making arrangements following the break-up of a family. This can be especially difficult where the parents are from different countries, as shown by a recent case in...

Is IHT Simplification On the Way?

More than 550,000 people die annually in the UK and half of those deaths require the completion of Inheritance Tax (IHT) forms, which are not straightforward and can be a daunting burden at a difficult time for families. However, only 5 per cent of estates...

Fake Will Admission May Lead to Criminal Charges

When your spouse's lack of attention to making a will causes issues, faking one is definitely not a good idea, as a Kent woman found out recently. Her husband died in 2013 leaving various properties in Spain and a flat in England, but no will. The woman...

High Court Decision Underlines the Finality of Divorce Arbitration Awards

Divorcing couples can sometimes achieve savings of both time and money by opting for arbitration, rather than court proceedings, as a means of resolving any financial disputes. However, as a guideline High Court case underlined , arbitration has its...

Court Decides How Injured Child's Estate Should Be Distributed

It is not uncommon for children born with severe abnormalities or injuries to die in childhood. In a recent case, the Court of Protection was required to decide how to divide the estate of a child who died when the lump-sum compensation settlement for...

No-fault divorce - a step forward but what about the bigger picture?

When people first see Jonathan da Costa , head of family law at Boys & Maughan, they have usually made the decision to separate or get a divorce and started discussing it with their partner. At this point they are typically unaware of the variety of...

When a Covenant May Be More Than it Seems

If you own or buy a property, you may find that there are covenants which apply to it, a covenant being a requirement to do something or refrain from doing something with your property. A covenant will benefit other property in the vicinity. Typically, a...

Attorney Allowed to Take Over as Executor

It is commonplace for people to appoint siblings or friends as their executors. When they do and they are of a similar age, there is a risk that when the person who has made the will dies, the proposed executor will have predeceased them or lack the mental...

Sharing Principle - Court of Appeal Gives Guidance

The application of the 'sharing principle' to big money divorces is more than a matter of simple mathematics, and what family judges aim to achieve is a broadly fair outcome for both sides. That was certainly so in one case in which the Court of Appeal...

Take Care if You Have a Carer

Many people employ carers or cleaners to assist them with daily living. Quite often, such arrangements are informal and can last many years. However, failing to put them on a proper footing can prove to be an expensive mistake. Where an agency is used and...

Overcautious Approach Means Compensation for Pension Scheme Member

With significant losses being reported in 'pension transfer scams', it is no surprise that when the administrators of a pension scheme receive a request to transfer a pension to a new scheme, they are expected to conduct an appropriate due diligence process....

Disinheriting Relatives Can Be a Recipe for Discord

You may have good reasons for writing close relatives out of your will but, as any lawyer will tell you, the consequence of doing so can be family discord after you are gone. That was certainly so in one case concerning a father who disinherited his...

Tribunal Paves the Way for Suburban Garden Development

Restrictions on land use appear in the title deeds of many properties – but the law permits their deletion or modification if they become obsolete over time or stand in the way of reasonable development. Exactly that happened in one case in which the...

Commercial Surrogacies Abroad Are Not Illegal - Court of Appeal Ruling

Although commercial surrogacy businesses have long been banned in the UK, the Court of Appeal recently ruled that a clinical negligence victim would not be breaking the law were she to enter into such an arrangement in California, where a more liberal...

Social Media - Be Careful!

The legal dispute between Elon Musk and Vernon Unsworth, the man who helped to rescue boys trapped in a cave in Thailand, may have dropped out of the press over the last few weeks, but a recent case shows the lack of accuracy of Mr Musk's assertion that...

Quality of Occupation Determines Tax-Free Status of Residential Property Gain

The supposition that residential properties are exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is a common, but incorrect, one. You would think, for example, that if a person only owns one property, sleeps there quite often, has post sent there and tells the council...

Son Who Did Not Do Enough Excluded From Farm Inheritance

When parents changed their wills to exclude their son from inheriting their £1 million farm after a family falling-out in 2016, he took the unusual step of challenging their right to do so. Normally, such challenges are made against the estates of...

Thinking of Dispensing With Legal Advice on a House Sale? Think Again!

Home-made contracts, particularly for the sale of land, are a singularly bad idea and can lead to costs that dwarf the modest sums needed to secure proper professional advice. Exactly that happened in one case in which a house purchase contract was so...

Procedural Unfairness Stops Council Care Action

When the mother of a teenage daughter who had been taken into care in 2016 with her agreement had another child, the local council's social services department became involved. The woman's daughter had been removed from home as a result of her mother's...

Bank Fined for Failure to Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries

Recently, Santander was fined more than £30 million for failing to distribute more than £180 million held in deceased customers' accounts to their personal representatives or entitled beneficiaries. More than 40,000 account holders were involved...

Ignorance Not a Reasonable Excuse for Tax Disclosure Failure

When an 18-year-old woman bought a derelict end terrace property in London in 2006 and sold it to developers the following year, she made no entry on her tax return, believing that principal private residence relief applied. Having made a 'discovery' of the...

Court Visit Required to Give Clarity to Will

Many wills contain clauses which alter the distribution of assets in the event of changing circumstances, such as the death of one of the beneficiaries under the will before the person making it. When drafting such clauses, it is essential that they are...

Fraud Victim Sacrificed His Home by Delay in Seeking Legal Advice

If you have a legitimate legal complaint, any delay in consulting a solicitor is highly likely to benefit the wrongdoer. A man whose home was taken from him by fraud, but who delayed over 20 years before taking legal action, found that out to his cost. The...

UK Fairness Test Mitigates Italian Pre-Nuptial Agreement

The law relating to the division of family assets on divorce varies widely across the world and the UK is generally regarded as one of the fairer jurisdictions for such financial arrangements in that the assets tend to be divided more equally than in many...

What is the Tax Status of Compensation for Financial Product Mis-Selling?

Is compensation paid to individuals whose businesses have failed due to mis-selling of financial products subject to Income Tax? In a decision that will disappoint many victims of bank wrongdoing, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) has answered that question in...

Transfer of Pension Fund Does Not Escape IHT Charge

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is not only payable on the value of the estate of a deceased person, but can also be levied on 'transfers of value' from the deceased's estate in the seven (exceptionally 14) years prior to their death. But what counts as a transfer of...

Hedge Cutting Proves Costly

You might think that where the boundaries of property lie should be clear, but boundary disputes are a fruitful source of argument in the courts. A recent case arose when, between contracts being exchanged on a property and the completion of its purchase, a...

Wronged by a State Authority?

It is a mark of a civilised society that anyone who suffers a wrong at the hands of state authorities is entitled to compensation. In a case on point, a prisoner whose release was considerably delayed when the Parole Board was stricken by staff shortages ...

Misled Mother to Lose Home

It may sound overcautious to say so, but it is always worth taking legal advice before entering into any significant arrangement, even when it is with a trusted member of the family. Failing to do so has proved to be an expensive lesson for a woman who has...

CGT Net Tightens for Homeowners

The recent Budget contained an announcement that will be unwelcome news for some property owners. The sale of a person's principal private residence has always received favourable treatment for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) purposes. Normally such sales are...

Probate Charges to be Increased for Larger Estates

Proposals to link the cost of being granted probate over an estate valued at more than £5,000 (currently fixed at £215 for those applying individually or £155 if applying through a solicitor) to the value of the estate were announced in...

Leasehold Reform Consultation Ends

The leasehold system in the UK has been crying out for reform for years, and the Government has decided to tackle the issues through the medium of a new consultation paper called 'Fixing our broken housing market'. The chief target for the Government has...

International Litigation Poses Challenges That Make Legal Advice Essential

Modern litigation spans the globe and issues concerning cross-border service of documents and jurisdiction often raise difficulties that make specialist legal advice essential. That was certainly so in a High Court privacy case with a strong international...

If HMRC Don't Get it Right

You may be forgiven for thinking that the authorities always follow proper procedures, but that is not the case, and when they fail, their actions may not be legally valid. In a recent case, a series of errors put a taxpayer and HM Revenue and Customs...

Recalcitrant Husband Banned From Paying His Lawyers Until Arrears Cleared

It is commonplace for one spouse to control the family finances and, while relations are amicable, this usually causes few issues. However, if the relationship falls apart and separation or divorce is in train, this is often no longer the case. When a...

Lack of Will Leads to Family Dispute in Court

When a man's first wife died, he inherited her share of the property they had owned jointly. At the time, he was living with his third wife, and the couple remained together for a further 28 years until his death in 1990. He died without making a will and...

The Sky Above and the Earth Below

A recent case may raise alarm bells for anyone thinking about adding a basement to a property which is divided. It involved a terraced house which was converted into two flats. The top two floors of the property were owned by the freeholder. The owner of...

Ombudsman Acts Against Slipshod Council

When people need to go into care, the local councils that end up supporting the care costs are well known for their doggedness in attempting to ensure that the person being cared for supplies as much of the funding as possible. This will often involve a...

Relief for Families as Missing Persons Act to Come Into Force

Legislation that will give families of people who go missing the ability to administer their affairs is to come into effect: but not until July 2019. The Bill received the Royal Assent as long ago as April 2017, but the need for secondary regulations and...

Vaccinations Protect Child's Welfare

There has been a massive amount of disinformation put about over the years (and, apparently, recently promoted by the Russian security services) regarding the effects of various vaccinations on children. One result is that some parents are deeply wary of...

Leaving Your ISA to Your Family

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) have many advantages over normal savings accounts – chiefly that the investment income earned on them is tax free and gains within them are not subject to Capital Gains Tax. They are, not surprisingly, widely regarded...

Your Home May Be Your Castle But Planning Rules Must Be Obeyed

The widespread belief that 'an Englishman's home is his castle' can all too easily lead the unwary into breaching planning rules. That was certainly so in a case concerning a householder who found herself in serious trouble after splitting her home into...

Capital and Income Losses Mean Different Things for Tax

When an investment is made in a capital asset that subsequently becomes valueless, the loss can normally be used to reduce future liabilities to Capital Gains Tax when a capital asset is sold at a profit. There are also rules which permit trading expenses...

Child Contact Disputes Can Be Defused by Mediation - But Take Advice Soon

If parents engaged in child contact disputes take up entrenched positions, it is very nearly always the child that suffers most. Such disputes can often be defused by taking legal advice at an early stage in order to promote dialogue and an amicable...

Timeshare Credit Agreements Worth £47 Million May Be Unenforceable

Lending money to the public is, for obvious reasons, a heavily regulated activity and, as a case concerning timeshare properties showed , any involvement by those who are not authorised to carry out such activity can render credit agreements entirely...

Keep Your Records Safe

The High Court of Justice is a very expensive place to resolve a family dispute, as is evidenced by a recent case which pitted members of a farming family against each other : it shows beyond doubt the importance of documenting decisions and retaining the...

Credibility of Witness Defeats Adverse Possession Claim

The law allows people who occupy land over a long period and use it as their own, without anyone else asserting ownership rights to it, to apply to have their title to it registered at the Land Registry. This is normally called 'squatter's rights' and...