About us

Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Wednesday
Sep062017

Taxing times...

Anyone looking to invest in property as either a second home or a buy-to-let since 1 April 2016 will no doubt be aware of the additional 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax ("SDLT") rate on the purchase of an additional dwelling.  However, SDLT is not quite all doom and gloom, as there are situations when the additional rates will not apply, and reliefs are available in certain circumstances which can reduce your SDLT bill with HMRC.

For example, if a buyer is looking to acquire two or more dwellings in a single transaction, then “multiple dwellings relief” may be available to reduce the overall SDLT liability.

Rather than applying to all “properties”, the additional rate is levied on the purchase of a “dwelling”.  What the man on the Clapham Omnibus would regard as a “dwelling” is not the same as HMRC, and often an analysis needs to be carried out in order to make a determination.

Also, the additional rates are only applicable when a buyer is not replacing his or her main residence. HMRC takes "replacing" to mean that there has been a disposal and acquisition.  Therefore, where a buyer acquires a new main home, but has not disposed of their previous residence, he or she will be initially caught by the additional 3% rate.  However a refund for the additional tax paid can be claimed from HMRC if the previous main home is sold within a three year window. 

If you have any questions in relation to SDLT, please contact Natalie Stoter on nataliestoter@greene-greene.com or 01284 717462 (Direct). For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw

This article first appeared in Issue Five 2017 of Bedfords Review

Monday
Sep042017

Get ready for the Jacobs Allen Accumulator Challenge

      

Greene & Greene is proud to announce that it will be participating in the Jacobs Allen 2017 Accumulator Challenge in aid of local charity, St Nicholas Hospice Care.

Each business that takes part is given a £50 note (kindly donated by Jacobs Allen Chartered Accountants & Chartered Tax Advisers) and the challenge over a three month period to find interesting and innovative ways to gain as much profit as possible, all of which will be donated to St Nicholas Hospice Care.

St Nicholas Hospice Care provides help, advice and support to people in West Suffolk and Thetford in the final chapters of their life, who are living with long-term and life-threatening illnesses.  Their services are not just for patients, but for their family and friends too. They include everything from specialist medical care to bereavement support and practical help. It costs £11,000 every day to cover the costs of providing this invaluable support service.

Since it started, seven years ago, thousands of pounds have been raised and each year more and more local businesses continue to get involved to support such a worthy cause.

Following the success of its Laser Tag Tournament last year, Greene & Greene will be returning to Planet Laser on Western Way in Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday 19th September from 6pm. Entry per team (up to 6 people) is £125.00 and will include a hot and cold buffet at the venue after the tournament.

Greene & Greene would like to invite businesses in and around Bury St. Edmunds to enter their teams by Monday 11th September.

Please contact andrewcooper@greene-greene.com if you would like to enter a team.

Let the battle commence!

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Thursday
Aug312017

Greene & Greene welcomes Senior Corporate Lawyer

Greene & Greene Solicitors, is expanding its Corporate and Commercial team with the appointment of Mark Williams.

Mark Williams, who was recently described by independent legal guide The Legal 500 as a “Rising Star”, qualified in 2010 and joins Greene & Greene in Bury St Edmunds from the Cambridge office of a well-known regional firm.  Mark has a particular interest in the technology sector and advises on a range of business matters including mergers and acquisitions, investments, joint ventures, shareholders’ agreements and intellectual property rights.  Mark is a keen musician and sportsman and having grown up in West Suffolk is delighted to have returned with his young family. 

Michael Batty, Senior Partner at Greene & Greene, said:

 “Mark’s experience within the technology sector will bring great value to our corporate and commercial team and the services that we can offer to our clients.  We are always on the look-out for talented lawyers and are delighted to welcome Mark to Greene & Greene.  I wish him every success in his career here in Bury St Edmunds.” 

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Thursday
Aug102017

Is your property at risk from fraudsters?

Fraud is an ever growing problem and it can affect all areas of our lives. Jemma Jones, a Solicitor, in Greene & Greene’s residential conveyancing team tells us why property fraud is no exception.

Property fraud can be committed in several different ways. The most frequently reported cases involve a fraudster using your identity to sell your property or securing a mortgage over your property.  You may have no idea that the fraud has taken place until a sold sign is put up outside the property or you receive requests for payment of the mortgage.

There are several groups of people who are more at risk of being a victim of property fraud and these include people who:

  • Have had their identity stolen;
  • Rent out their property;
  • Live overseas but have a property in the UK;
  • Have an empty property;
  • Have an un-mortgaged property; and
  • Own a property that is not registered at the Land Registry.

However, there are a number of ways that you can protect yourself against property fraud:

  • Having your property registered at the Land Registry -   By doing this they will have your contact details and can contact you if they are concerned that a fraudulent transaction is occurring.  When registering the property, you can provide up to three addresses that will enable them to contact you.  You can also include an e-mail address.
  • Sign up to the Land Registry Property Alert Scheme – This is a free service that notifies you if there is significant activity in respect of a property you are monitoring.  You can monitor up to 10 properties. Details of the Property Alert Service can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/property-alert

  • Keep your contact details up to date with the Land Registry – The Land Registry can only contact you if they have the correct details for you.
  • Adding a restriction to your title – If your property is registered or you are purchasing a property that you will not be living in, a restriction can be added to the title so that if the property is sold or mortgaged, a certificate has to be provided to confirm that the person who is selling the property is who they say they are. 

If you would like any assistance with registering your property or adding a restriction to your title please contact Jemma Jones in our Conveyancing Department at jemmajones@greene-greene.com or by calling 01284 717522 (Direct).

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Thursday
Jul272017

Marriage: A Partnership of Equals?

 

In 2006, the House of Lords introduced the equal sharing principle in the joint appeal of Miller -v- Miller and MacFarlane -v- MacFarlane.  The Court described marriage as being a “partnership of equals”

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal decision in  Work -v- Gray referred to the sharing principle as being “firmly embedded” and confirmed that the “ordinary consequence of its application will be the equal division of matrimonial property”.

However, in the recent case of Sharp -v- Sharp, the Court of Appeal decided that perhaps this was taking the sharing principle too far.  Mr and Mrs Sharp were in their early 40s and had no children.  Their relationship, including 18 months of living together before their marriage, lasted 6 years.

Mrs Sharp argued that the sharing principle should be relaxed in respect of their matrimonial assets. This was because  of their short, childless, dual career marriage and the way in which they had organised their financial affairs.

Throughout their relationship and marriage, Mr and Mrs Sharp shared household utility bills and divided restaurant bills equally. Mr Sharp had not been aware of bonuses received by Mrs Sharp and she had gifted him three cars.

The Court of Appeal agreed with Mrs Sharp that this situation fell within the realms of a very small amount of cases where it was appropriate for the equal sharing principle to be disregarded for their matrimonial assets.

The Court has always had the ability to exclude or depart from equal sharing of non-matrimonial assets, such as those owned by one party before the marriage or received by inheritance or gift, the general approach has been that matrimonial assets would be shared, and where they were sufficient to meet each parties’ needs, those matrimonial assets would be shared equally.

It appears that following the outcome of this case,  Courts will look more closely at how couples have organised their financial affairs in short to medium term marriages.  In a limited number of cases,  the way in which couples organise  their finances may influence the outcome of financial aspects of their divorce.

To misquote George Orwell, this may lead to an assumption that all marriages are equal, but some marriages are more equal than others.

For further advice following a relationship breakdown please contact Melanie Pilmer, solicitor in the Family Team at Greene & Greene on 01284 717 418 or melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com.

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Wednesday
Jul262017

Employment tribunal fees unlawful

   The Supreme Court has declared this morning that fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful and will be nullified. As a result, the government will possibly have to repay up to £32m to claimants in respect of fees paid between 2013 and now.

The decision follows the appeal by the trade union Unison who argued that the fees prevented many workers from getting ‘access to justice’.  The Supreme Court referred to the Government’s review on the impact of fees (discussed in our previous blog on 1 February 2017).  There has been ‘a sharp, significant and sustained fall’ ‘in the number of employment tribunal claims since the introduction of fees representing a reduction of 66–70% of cases. The proportion of claimants receiving fee remission was also lower than the government had anticipated. On this evidence the Court concluded that many people found the fees unaffordable and had been denied access to justice.

With fees ranging between £390 (Type A) and £1,200 (Type B) for a case to be heard at a hearing, the Supreme Court also concluded that it was indirectly discriminatory to charge higher fees for type ‘B’ claims (which include discrimination claims) than type ‘A’ claims (such as unpaid wages). It was found that a higher proportion of women bring Type B claims than Type A and that they were placed at a particular disadvantage compared to men; and it could not be objectively justified why Type B claims were more expensive.

What happens next?

  • Anyone lodging a tribunal claim will not be required to pay the tribunal fees. Those who have paid the fees (be it Claimants or Respondents) will have to watch this space in terms of how to reclaim fees (if possible).
  • Whether the number of claims will rise as sharply as they fell on the introduction of the fees regime is something Employers, ACAS and the Employment Tribunals will be watching very carefully. If they do, significant resources will need to be put back into the system to avoid a further backlog of claims.  
  • The Court’s decision does not prohibit the government imposing fees in the future as the decision relates to the level of fees being unlawful and preventing access to justice. Further consultation on this is likely to be necessary before any decision is taken.
  • Immediate attention is required by the Employment Tribunals Service for reprogramming the online claim form system and for them to rewrite the tribunal rules.
  • There is also the question concerning the amount of people who chose not to bring a claim due to the cost of the fees and whether they will seek to lodge their claims out of time. Although the answer the question is unknown, anyone in this position will need to act immediately to avoid prejudicing their chances.

If you have any questions regarding employment tribunals or any other employment matter please contact Greg Jones (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717446) or Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453).

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit http://www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.