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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Laptop Litigation Lasts 16 Years

There are few things in life worth spending 16 years litigating over, particularly a £1,499 laptop.

Unfortunately for one stubborn consumer that is exactly what has happened. Richard Durkin claimed that HFC Bank destroyed his credit rating over a credit agreement dispute which led to long and arduous legal battle. The case provides a cautionary tale for those who choose to litigate on principal.

After 16 years, a multitude of legal proceedings and cost running into six figures Mr Durkin finally reached a victorious conclusion in the Supreme Court, winning damages of £8,000.

Although the outcome is a rather pyrrhic victory for Mr Durkin personally, it is great for other consumers who also benefit from a multitude of protective legislation when it comes to consumer credit.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

How Do Tenants Seek Relief From Forfeiture?

Leases generally contain a right for the landlord to bring a lease to an end before the fixed term if the tenant breaches any of the covenants. Where property is occupied this requires the landlord to pursue forfeiture proceedings through the courts.

If the breach of covenant is for non payment of rent then the landlord must normally make a formal written demand for the outstanding sums before resorting to forfeiture proceedings. Many leases contain a provision for landlords to reclaim possession of the property ‘whether rent is formally demanded or not’ but lack of a formal demand is unusual.

Where forfeiture proceedings are brought for other types of covenant breach, the landlord must follow the procedure set out in the s146(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925.

Under the legislation, tenants can seek relief from forfeiture before or after proceedings have been issued.

Beware the Effect of Chancel Repair Liability on Property Prices

Are you responsible for the costs of repair the roof on your local church?

You just might be even if you are not aware of it due to ancient laws governing what is known as ‘chancel repair liability’. Chancel repair liability specifically relates to the chancel which is the part of the church containing the altar.

This little-known legal snare can be a nasty surprise for property owners that are unaware of it. As you can imagine, repairs to ancient buildings such as churches do not come cheap and property haunted by chancel repair liabilities can take a significant hit in value.

Monday, 7 April 2014

New Sentencing Guidelines Spell Bigger Fines for Serious Environmental Offences

The Sentencing Council issued new sentencing guidelines for environmental offences in February 2014 following a public consultation. They come into force on 1 July 2014.

The new guidelines cover activities such as fly tipping, waste handling and others. The offences are primarily regulated by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

The Sentencing Council is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice which issues guidelines to the courts that must generally be followed unless it is in the interests of justice not to do so.

This is the first time that the Sentencing Council has produced guidelines for environmental offences and it entails significant changes, particularly in the most serious cases.

Forfeiting a Commercial Lease

Most commercial tenancies are forfeited due to non-payment of rent. Breach of other covenants in the lease may give rise to forfeiture but this is less common. The first step down this path requires the landlord to ascertain that the right to forfeit has arisen.

Before opting for forfeiture, commercial landlords must consider the pros and cons of bringing their lease to an end in this way.

Once the decision to forfeit has been made, it is essential to follow the correct procedure to avoid unnecessary costs and to ensure the best chance of a successful outcome.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Changes to National Minimum Wage Regulations

Two important amendments to the national minimum wage regulations came into force on 7 March 2014.

The changes were brought in by two statutory instruments, The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and The National Minimum Wage (Variation of Financial Penalty) Regulations 2014.

The first made changes to the exemptions from the national minimum wage in order to try and help with the problem of youth unemployment while the second increased the penalties for underpayment.

Employers should be particularly cautious regarding the latter.

Forfeiture of Residential Tenancies

Residential leases usually contain a right for the landlord to forfeit the lease if the tenant fails to comply with certain conditions. The most common reason for forfeiture is non-payment of rent but it can also apply to other breaches of lease terms.

Forfeiture is generally applicable to long term leases such as 99, 125 and 999 year leases. Tenants under these types of leases, or leaseholders as they are commonly referred to, threatened with forfeiture can apply for relief as soon as they are issued with a notice to forfeit under s.146(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925.

If a lease is forfeited, the landlord can then seek to regain possession of the property.