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
Feb132019

#MeToo: Prevention is better than cure!

The Government has announced that a new statutory code of practice on sexual harassment will be introduced.  The code will be developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) so that employers can better understand their legal responsibility to protect staff.

The prevailing view is that prevention is better than cure and, as such, much of the work focuses on how to prevent sexual harassment before it occurs. The new statutory code is therefore aimed at helping employers understand and demonstrate that they have taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment (that being the statutory defence to a discrimination claim).

The Government shied away from introducing a new mandatory duty on employers to protect workers from harassment. However, this has not been ruled out, and will be the subject of future consultation.

Of note is that the Government has chosen not to introduce an uplift in compensation for breaches of the statutory code (as is the case for breach of the Acas code on discipline and grievances), although this will be kept under review.

Given that there is a lack of robust data on the level of sexual harassment in the workplace, a survey will be commissioned to gather regular data on the prevalence and nature of workplace sexual harassment. The survey will be conducted at least every three years and it is expected that the first survey will be launched later this year.

The Government will also be consulting on the following:

  • the use of secrecy clauses;
  • extending the employment tribunal time limits to submit a claim (from 3 months to 6 months); and
  • how to strengthen and clarify the law in relation to employers’ liability for third party harassment (e.g. from members of the public towards employees) at work.

The Government will work with Acas, EHRC and employers to raise awareness of appropriate workplace behaviours and ensure that individuals know their legal rights.

Given the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace and future legal developments, it is clear that employers need to be taking more preventative action. Please get in touch to discuss our various training packages including, Workplace Culture and Sexual Harassment, and how we can help ensure your organisation has taken all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the first instance. Prevention is better than cure.

Contact Us

If you have any questions on employment law please contact Selene Holden (seleneholden@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717436), 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 www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Wednesday
Feb062019

Greene & Greene shortlisted in prestigious legal awards

                    

Greene & Greene Solicitors was delighted to be one of eight national firms shortlisted for Firm of the Year in the Human Resources Category (outside London) as part of the prestigious Legal 500 UK Awards 2019.

It was a case of ‘double delight’ for the firm with Selene Holden, Head of the Employment Team, also being shortlisted for Individual of the Year (Outside London) in the Human Resources category.

The Legal 500 Awards recognise the best in-house, private practice teams and individuals over the past 12 months. The awards are handed to the elite legal practitioners, based on the most comprehensive research into the UK legal market.

Greene & Greene Solicitors is recognised as a top-tier firm in four of its core practice areas. The Legal 500 2018 Edition recommended 21 of Greene & Greene’s lawyers across 12 different practice areas. Four lawyers are singled out as ‘Leading Individuals’ with one praised as a ‘Next generation Lawyer’.

Stuart Hughes, Managing Partner at Greene & Greene, said:

“We are naturally delighted and immensely proud of Selene, Greg and Angharad for achieving the huge accolade of being shortlisted. Both our firm and its clients are extremely fortunate to have a team of such committed and exceptionally talented lawyers.”

If you have any questions on employment law please contact Selene Holden (seleneholden@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717436), 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 www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Wednesday
Jan162019

Workplace pension: increase in contributions

As of 6 April 2019, the minimum contributions for automatic enrolment pension schemes will increase.

The Pensions Act 2008 provides that it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the minimum contributions are paid for all eligible staff that have not opted-out.

Details of the new contributions and the date they are effective from are set out in the table below:

If you have any questions on employment law please contact Selene Holden (seleneholden@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717436), 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 www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Tuesday
Dec182018

New Partners at Greene & Greene

Greene & Greene Solicitors has appointed Ansa Khan and Greg Jones as Partners, rounding off a year of celebrations for the firm’s 125th anniversary.

Ansa qualified as a Solicitor in 2007 and joined Greene & Greene in 2012.  She has extensive experience in property and development work, acting on all aspects of residential property matters.  Her personal approach leads to regular referrals from fellow professionals and has helped her develop a large client base of developers, investors, landlords and homeowners throughout the region.

Greg qualified as a Solicitor in 2009 and joined Greene & Greene in 2016.  He advises businesses and senior executives on a full range of employment matters and has developed a reputation as a leading HR training provider to management teams and a speaker at seminars, conferences and networking events.  Greg was recently recommended by the 2019 edition of the Legal 500 directory as “knowledgeable, passionate and unflappable”.

Stuart Hughes, Managing Partner at Greene & Greene, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Ansa and Greg into the partnership.  They are extremely popular members of the team with colleagues, clients and fellow professionals, having already made a big impact at the firm over the past few years.  Their extensive experience further enhances the Property and Employment teams and the services that we can offer to our clients”

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

Friday
Dec072018

Entrepreneurs’ relief......time to say goodbye?

In his Budget speech on 29 October, the Chancellor provided reassurance to many investors’ concerns regarding the Government’s view of the capital gain tax (“CGT”) relief for entrepreneurs (Entrepreneurs’ relief, “ER”)), when he stated the following:

“I have received representations that I should abolish Entrepreneur’s Relief……and put the savings towards funding our NHS commitments……

[However] I will retain the Entrepreneurs Relief……but to ensure it is going to genuine entrepreneurs I will extend the minimum qualifying period from 12 months to 2 years”.

However, Mr Hammond unsurprisingly failed to mention the biggest change to ER, which was published in new draft legislation shortly after the end of his speech.

What is ER?

Entrepreneurs’ relief is a valuable tax relief for individuals as it operates a CGT rate of 10% on qualifying gains arising from a qualifying disposal of assets or shares, up to a lifetime limit which is currently set at £10 million.  In the absence of ER, gains are taxed at 10% to the extent that the individual’s taxable income for the year falls below the basic rate band upper limit (currently £46,350) and 20% on the balance. 

Before the announcements made in the Budget, in order for an individual to be able to claim ER in respect of a disposal of shares, he or she must have throughout the period of one year ending with date of disposal of his or her shares:

  • hold at least 5% of the company’s ordinary share capital;
  • and that by virtue of that shareholding, carry at least 5% of the voting rights in the company; and
  • be a director or employee of the company.                 

The company in question must be a trading company or the holding company of a trading group.

New tests

Since 29 October 2018, individuals must also satisfy that, by virtue of his or her 5% holding in the share capital in the company, throughout the period ending with the date of the share disposal:

  • that he or she is beneficially entitled to at least 5% of the profits available for distribution to equity holders; and
  • that he or she would be beneficially entitled to, on a winding up, at least 5% of the assets of the company available for distribution to equity holders.              

From 6 April 2019, the qualifying period in which all conditions for ER must be satisfied is to be increased from one to two years.

The use of “Equity holders” in the new tests rather than shareholders widens the scope of the test to include the rights of loan creditors in respect of any redeemable loan capital issued by the company or any debt incurred (other than a normal commercial loan).  We do not have any clarity on what “beneficially entitled” means in this context.

These two new tests are meant to reflect the Government’s view that ER should only be available to those with at least 5% of the economic ownership of a company. 

However, the reality of complex share structures in place to provide different classes of investors with their agreed commercial return means that many may be prevented from claiming ER despite being key shareholders in a company.  Sadly, the lack of clarity in the new legislation means that it is unclear for many as to whether they will be denied a future claim for ER.

For example, a company with a share capital including preference shares will need to review the rights attaching to those shares, as a preference to a fixed percentage of dividends and capital on a winding up of the company may now prevent other shareholders from being able to qualify for ER under the new tests.

Why don’t you contact us? We are recommending to clients who hold a shareholding in a company with more than one share class (and have always expected to be entitled to ER on an exit), to review the rights attaching to different classes of shares, to ensure that there are no nasty surprises when claiming ER in respect of a share disposal.

If you do have any concerns regarding the availability of ER, then please do not hesitate to contact Natalie Stoter in the company commercial team on nataliestoter@greene-greene.com or 01284 717462. For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Wednesday
Nov212018

Farming Divorces and how not to lose the Farm

Farmers often do not get the credit they deserve. They grow the crops and raise the livestock that feed us all. Most of the farmers we meet work long hours, are exposed to the elements, and have reducing margins. Added to which, many farmers are custodians of land passed to them through the generations. They carry a heavy burden of responsibility.

Recent cases have highlighted the risk that a Divorce presents to family wealth for dynastic farming families. Although courts can take account of the source of the wealth, it is able to make awards that invade non-matrimonial assets. Divorces involving family farms are often complex and it is important that you seek advice from professionals experienced in this area.  

Decisions made concerning the farm’s succession plan, development or structure, during or before marriage, can have significant (and often unforeseen at the time) negative consequences in a Divorce. We regularly provide farming families with advice that draws upon our specialist Private Client and Family Law teams to ensure that families fully appreciate and understand the wider effects of any decisions made by them concerning the family farm structure. 

Here are six points to consider:

  1. Transferring land into joint names: often for perfectly sound estate planning reasons farmers are encouraged by professional advisers to transfer land or property assets to their adult children or to extended family. Please note however that these assets (once transferred) are then arguably ‘matrimonial’ in nature and therefore subject to the sharing principle in Divorce.
  2. Pre-nuptial agreements: pre-nuptial agreements can seek to protect the dynastic farm from claims in Divorce. The current custodians are often best placed to insist that their child or family member enter into a nuptial agreement to protect family assets.
  3. Making your spouse a Shareholder of a Limited Company or a Partner within a Partnership: for tax reasons you may be advised to appoint a spouse as a Shareholder or Partner in the family farm. Once that party has been given an interest in the business this may mean buying back their share or interest in any Divorce negotiations.  
  4. Wills: it is essential that you make a Will, and review this throughout your lifetime, in order to ensure that your estate passes to your chosen beneficiaries in the event of death.  Failure to have a Will means that your estate will pass in accordance with the rules on Intestacy and can lead to additional costs and delay in administering the estate.  Within your Will you can name your executor and trustee.  You can also consider succession planning for tax purposes and make reasonable financial provision for your dependents.
  5. Keep Records: having a record of how you acquired an asset and the contributions you have made prior to, and during, the marriage can assist with supporting or resisting any financial claims in a Divorce.
  6. Get Advice:  in the event of an impending Divorce or separation, it is imperative that early professional advice is sought before any assets are distributed as part of a financial settlement.  In these circumstances, we commonly liaise with other trusted advisors including accountants, land agents and financial advisors.

The Family team at Greene & Greene has a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success in farming cases.  The team is also able to call upon specialists in the Agricultural Property and Estate Planning teams to deliver creative and bespoke solutions.

If you require any further advice regarding a Divorce or separation involving farming assets then please contact Emily Woodhouse (emilywoodhouse@greene-greene.com or 01284 717459).

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

This article was first published in the EADT Rural Review - 29th September.