2017 changes to penalties for road traffic offences

A four part review of Road Traffic law news in 2017 – Part 1 2017 has been a busy year for road traffic law reforms with no shortage of opportunities to fall foul of road traffic rules (Sky News reported in October that a road traffic penalty is issued every 2.5 seconds with 30% of drivers receiving one penalty annually). The following sentencing guidelines have been amended this year: Careless Driving The approach to sentencing has changed with a more sophisticated analysis of culpability and harm to determine the starting point of a sentence. The new approach addresses a potential anomaly in the previous guidance where low culpability but serious…

New web based transport law information service for businesses and professional drivers

The law is constantly changing with increasingly severe punishments and penalties particularly in the context of road traffic law and health and safety. The impact of this punitive approach to policy making is being felt quite acutely by businesses that have a haulage or fleet operation, or require employees to drive in any capacity. Sills & Betteridge has launched a new and comprehensive web based transport law information service for businesses and professional drivers. This year has brought a number of important reforms aimed at improving road safety including increasing penalty points for using a mobile phone and the recent announcement that drivers involved in fatal road traffic accidents will…

What will happen to my business in a divorce?

Divorce can be emotionally draining for everyone concerned. However, it can be even worse when a business is involved, and has the potential to be financially draining as well, not just for the couple seeking a divorce, but for many other people too. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, any business interests that one of the spouses has can usually be taken into account during the divorce. However, whilst this sounds scary, in reality what often happens is that the court aims to leave the business owner with their business untouched, and as a result will compensate the other spouse by say giving them a greater share of other assets,…

What are the grounds for divorce?

If you are considering a divorce or have definitely decided that a divorce is the only option available to you, then it is quite likely that you are feeling very emotional, and also that you don’t really know what the next step is. This article sets out one of the first things you need to establish in order to begin divorce proceedings. In order to start divorce proceedings, you will need to file a divorce petition at court. In order to do that, you will need to have been married for at least a year (you cannot get a divorce if you have been married for less than a year),…

Making a Will? You Can Make Whatever Bequests You Wish!

It seems only right that people can do what they want with their own money and can make whatever bequests they wish in their wills. In one case which underlined that fundamental freedom, a judge upheld a businessman’s right to cut his daughter out of his estate and leave his entire £2 million fortune to his girlfriend. The man was in a nursing home, suffering from cancer, and had only a few months to live when he changed his will, leaving everything he had to his girlfriend. Under a previous will, his daughter would have received £100,000. She argued that he was confused and lacked the required mental capacity to…

Traffic Noise Blight Householders Win £125,000 Compensation

It is often thought that if a planning decision with which you are unhappy goes ahead and the development takes place, you must simply grin and bear it. This is not always the case. For example, if public construction works have an impact on the value of your home, you should take specialist legal advice to ensure that you are properly compensated for your loss. In one recent case, householders whose properties were blighted by a road building project secured a settlement of more than £125,000. Twelve homeowners argued that their properties had been devalued by the noise of traffic travelling along a newly constructed bypass. However, Transport for London,…

Jersey Tax Avoidance Scheme Runs Aground

The lengths to which people go to avoid paying taxes are sometimes surprising, and the schemes that are created to facilitate tax avoidance come under close scrutiny from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). So it was that a tax avoidance scheme based on a Jersey Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) led to an appearance before the First-tier Tribunal (FTT). The LLP ‘traded’ in the UK and it contained 99 members who put more than £62 million into it. The LLP used the cash to buy the rights to the dividends from a company registered in the Cayman Islands and by a convoluted scheme claimed that it incurred a trading loss, even…

Sixteen Old Enough to Banish Parental Knowledge

The respective rights of children and their parents has long been a tricky subject for the courts. A recent case on this topic involved a couple’s adopted 16-year-old child, who was born female but wished to change gender and attended the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic. He changed his name to a male name by deed poll. His adoptive parents did not come to terms with the decision and used his prior name in conversation with him, which caused him distress and made him decide that he wished them to have no information about his day-to-day life or about his attendance at and potential gender reassignment treatment from the Tavistock Clinic.…

‘Know Your Client’ Failure Costs Firm

Although clients often regard as a nuisance the extensive ‘know your client’ procedures that are required by financial institutions and professional firms, the importance of strict adherence is clear, as a recent case involving a property fraud illustrates. The case involved the seemingly straightforward sale of a South London property. The ‘vendor’ pretended to be the real owner, who was actually abroad. When the house was sold, the proceeds of sale were transferred to the fake vendor’s account in Dubai and disappeared. The purchaser, having laid out £470,000 to buy the property, found his title to it was void. He sued the vendor’s solicitors and the conveyancing firm he used.…

High Court Puts Right £400,000 IHT Blunder

Even the most sensible attempts at tax planning can be undone by changes in the law and achieve the exact opposite of the intended objective. However, one High Court case has shown that, when inadvertent mistakes are made, the law can put them right. A couple jointly owned a £1.4 million home. In the hope of achieving significant tax advantages, they transferred title to the property to the husband alone. Three days later, it was transferred again into both their names, but this time in their capacity as trustees of a settlement which was simultaneously established by deed. Those transactions were carried out in ignorance of a Budget statement a…