New Law Provides for Prison for Tormentors

A new law which provides for prison sentences for people who attempt to torment or exert psychological control over others has come into force and includes online harassment in certain cases. The legislation is contained in the Serious Crime Act 2015, which creates an offence of ‘controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships’. For an offence to be committed, the behaviour must be repeated or continuous and the victim and perpetrator must be ‘personally connected’.Furthermore, the behaviour must have a serious effect on the victim and be such that the perpetrator knows or ought to know that it will have such an effect. Crucially, ‘the perpetrator and victim…

Reminder – Non-resident CGT Returns

Non-residents who sell a property they own in the UK are reminded that they are required to inform HM Revenue and Customs through the submission of a non-resident Capital Gains Tax return (NRCGTR) and to pay any applicable CGT within 30 days of completion. A NRCGTR is required to be submitted for all such disposals, even if there is no CGT to pay. It should also be included in the appropriate annual tax return. To calculate the appropriate gain or loss on the property sold, it will be necessary to assemble information on the original purchase costs (including legal fees etc.) and any subsequent capital expenditure on the property, together…

Son Who Fleeced His Dementia Sufferer Mum Stripped of Power of Attorney

Most people would rather have their affairs looked after by a loved one if they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves. However, a case in which a son helped himself to hundreds of thousands of pounds of his elderly mother’s money showed that it can often be better to employ a professional to do the job. Before the woman, aged in her 90s, developed severe dementia, she had signed an enduring power of attorney in favour of her only child, giving him complete control over her affairs if she became incapable. He sold her house after she moved into a care home, generating net proceeds of more than…

Impractical Child Custody Order Leads to Court Appearance

The family courts are kept busy these days with disputes over which parent children should live with – especially when the parents are of different nationalities. In a recent case, an Algerian court had awarded custody to the mother of two children, with the father, an Algerian, being granted visitation rights on weekends and holidays. The practical problem with this arrangement was that the Algerian court failed to take account of the fact that the mother and children live in the UK. Unsurprisingly, the arrangement proved unworkable. Because the mother failed to deliver the children to Algeria in accordance with the order, the result was her conviction by the Algerian…

Boundary Argument Costs Teacher £50,000

Boundary disputes can take a long time to resolve and can be ruinously expensive, as a recent case illustrates. It involved a teacher who put up a fence along what she thought was the boundary of her property. Her neighbours did not agree. The potential for a dispute was clear because she had to apply for planning permission for the fence and the difference of opinion over where the boundary lay was evident early on when her neighbours marked out a line inside the line she considered marked the edge of her property. The difference in the positions was a little more than a foot. Undaunted, the woman constructed a…

You May Want to be Careful Where Your Case is Heard

The English courts are enduringly popular with litigants, who often go to great lengths to have their cases heard in this country. The reason for this is that English law is well developed and usually achieves a high degree of fairness in its rulings. However, many contracts specify the country where disputes should be resolved and such terms are usually decisive, as is illustrated by a recent case involving a claim for financial losses. An investor had launched proceedings against a bank which was based in Monaco. She claimed to have suffered losses as a result of the bank placing unauthorised foreign currency trades or failing to follow her instructions.…

Court Approves Family Cost Control

It is common for people to appoint a family member as their attorney to manage their affairs for them should they become unable to do so. However, unless there is a specific ‘charging clause’ in the document appointing the attorney, they cannot charge for their time. Often, this will not cause any problems, but in some cases a family member appointed as attorney may face the awful choice of giving up their livelihood to care for a relative who is no longer able to care for themselves, or buying in care at a price that will exhaust the resources of the infirm person. Recently, the court had to deal with…

HMRC Get Ready to Throw the Book at Tax Evaders

In recent years, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have created a series of very generous ‘disclosure windows’ to allow people who have undisclosed assets in tax havens to reveal their existence voluntarily and thereby avoid both prosecution and the full extent of tax-geared penalties that can come with an HMRC investigation. However, because HMRC have been successful in negotiating intergovernmental disclosure arrangements with more than 90 countries worldwide, which means that they will automatically provide information to HMRC on assets, income and capital gains of ‘UK’ asset-holders within their jurisdiction, the decision has been taken to terminate the current arrangement and replace it with a much less beneficial one from…

Local Authority Not Liable for Foster Care Abuse

In general, employers can be held ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of their employees, in the course of their employment, where these cause damage to other people. A recent case has confirmed, however, that the principle cannot be extended to foster carers. The case involved the physical and sexual abuse of a child put into foster care by Nottinghamshire County Council. The Court of Appeal ruled that the Council’s duty of care to the child was not ‘non-delegable’. Accordingly, the Council was not liable for the abuse. The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice.…

OPG Outlines Investigation Policy on Abuse by Attorneys and Deputies

With a steady and increasing trickle of cases involving the misappropriation of assets by attorneys appointed by people who have lost the ability to look after their own affairs, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has published a ‘safeguarding policy’ document designed to assist the prevention of abuse or neglect of vulnerable people. The OPG has a public duty to ‘supervise deputies appointed by the Court of Protection, and to investigate complaints or concerns about the actions of deputies, registered attorneys and people acting under an order of the Court of Protection’. The OPG is not likely to become involved in an investigation where the person giving the power…