Father Wrongly Jailed by Family Judge Wins Compensation Fight

Father Wrongly Jailed by Family Judge Wins Compensation Fight Family judges work under relentless pressure and the legal system is not afraid to recognise that they sometimes make mistakes. In one highly unusual case that proved the point, a father who was wrongly jailed by a judge in the midst of a bitter child custody dispute won the right to compensation. The father had been accused of deliberately failing to obey a succession of orders that required him to arrange the return of his young son from Singapore to the UK, where the boy’s mother lived. The boy was living with his paternal grandparents in Singapore and the father explained…

Probate Fees Reprieve

Probate Fees Reprieve The snap general election means that the Government acknowledges that it is unlikely that the large increases in probate fees due to come in in May will now take place, as there is insufficient Parliamentary time for the legislation to pass. It is not clear whether the fees (which have attracted withering criticism as a ‘stealth tax’ on larger estates) will be brought back in a future session of Parliament should the Conservatives be re-elected. However, one of the downsides if the planned changes are shelved is that the new system would have exempted small estates (those below £50,000) from the charge altogether. Under the present system,…

Everyone Knows A House When They See One – Or Do They?

Everyone Knows A House When They See One – Or Do They? Houses are for living in and most people would say that they would know one if they saw one. However, the use of buildings frequently changes over time and a Court of Appeal decision in a leasehold enfranchisement case revealed just how tricky it can be to define exactly what is, and is not, a house. The case concerned a large Edwardian townhouse and mews annexe that had been jointly used as a home until shortly after the end of the Second World War. The property was later used partially for residential and partially for office purposes. It…

Importers Beware! Ivory Inlaid Qing Dynasty Tea Set Forfeited to Crown

Importers Beware! Ivory Inlaid Qing Dynasty Tea Set Forfeited to Crown Rules on the import of elephant ivory and other materials derived from endangered species are extremely tight. A leading art and antiques gallery found that out the hard way when an extremely rare Qing dynasty tea and coffee set was seized at Heathrow Airport and subsequently declared forfeit to the Crown. The set had arrived at the airport in a crate from Hong Kong and was not accompanied by a valid import permit, as required by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species 1973 (CITES). Following its seizure, all attempts to persuade UK Border Force (UKBF) to…

Taxi Driver Wrongly Accused of ‘Crash for Cash’ Fraud Wins £28,000

Taxi Driver Wrongly Accused of ‘Crash for Cash’ Fraud Wins £28,000 One of the unfortunate consequences of the prevalence of so called ‘crash for cash’ insurance frauds is that innocent motorists can come under suspicion. In one such case, a taxi driver was cleared of fraud by a judge and awarded more than £28,000 in compensation for his injuries and damage to his vehicle. The man was at the wheel of his car when another car emerged from a side road and collided with him. He launched a claim against the other driver’s motor insurers but was met by an accusation of fraud. The insurers claimed that the accident had…

Under-Occupation of Social Housing a Major Challenge for Providers

Under-Occupation of Social Housing a Major Challenge for Providers A Court of Appeal ruling has illustrated the grave difficulties faced by social landlords in recovering possession of under-occupied properties so that they can be leased to those who really need them. It took more than four years and a series of contested hearings to establish that twin sisters were not occupying a council flat as their principal residence and were thus not secure tenants. The council had been suspicious for some time that the sisters were under-occupying the flat. Their Housing Benefit was stopped after inquiries indicated unusually low gas and electricity consumption at the premises and that the sisters…

Family Companies – It’s Never Too Soon to Start Estate Planning!

Family Companies – It’s Never Too Soon to Start Estate Planning! When it comes to family companies, the death of a shareholder can give rise to very serious tax consequences and, as one High Court case vividly revealed, it is never too early to seek expert advice in respect of estate planning. After learning that a company’s founder and majority shareholder was terminally ill with cancer, its directors were concerned that the entirety of his £490,000 director’s loan account would be immediately repayable on his death. Their response was to issue him with 490,000 new shares in the company, each with a nominal face value of £1. By that means,…

Equality Principle Upheld in £240 Million Divorce Case

Equality Principle Upheld in £240 Million Divorce Case Marital assets are generally divided equally between divorcing couples, but there are some ‘big money’ cases where a stellar earner’s financial contribution to a marriage is considered so exceptional that a departure from the norm is justified. The Court of Appeal considered that issue in an important test case concerning a finance professional who earned £240 million in little more than a decade. The former couple had been married for almost 20 years and had two children together. Both had been modest earners before the husband completed an MBA course and obtained a job with a private equity firm. Despite their high…

Libelled on the Internet? You Don’t Have to Put Up With It!

Libelled on the Internet? You Don’t Have to Put Up With It! Reputations are easily harmed by libellous allegations made on the Internet but, with the benefit of specialist legal advice, victims are far from powerless. In one case, the chief executive of a respected Islamic television channel won complete vindication and £140,000 in damages after he was unjustifiably branded a terrorist. The offending article had appeared on a much-visited website for well over a year and had caused the man enormous distress and embarrassment. He had proved conclusively that the allegation that he was a convicted terrorist was untrue and the company that ran the website had ultimately not…

Trade Marks – Luxury Restaurant Dispels Association with Dog Food

Trade Marks – Luxury Restaurant Dispels Association with Dog Food Trade marks are an invaluable means of maintaining a bright shine on brands and protecting them against inappropriate associations. In one striking example, the owner of a luxury restaurant won an injunction against a dog food company that traded under a similar name. The restaurant had traded successfully for 15 years, building up a well-heeled clientele, including many celebrities, and turning over about £14 million annually. Its name and logo were protected by UK and EU trade marks. Its owner launched infringement proceedings against the dog food company after the restaurant’s title was incorporated in the latter’s publicity material and…