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.

agr (1) Agriculture & Farming (9) Arbitration (2) Articles (11) Bribery Act (1) Business (36) Business Law (2) Charity (1) Charity Fundraising (9) Children Issues (10) Cohabitation (11) Collaborative Law (4) Commercial (9) Commercial Property (12) Compromise Agreements (5) Construction Law (1) Consumer (3) Contracts (2) Copyright (1) Corporate and M&A (18) Corporate Finance (7) Debt Recovery (2) Defamation (1) Development Rights (1) Dispute Resolution (48) Disputed Wills (6) Divorce (14) Divorce and Separation (27) Education (1) Employment (43) Employment Advice (23) Employment Law (30) Employment Rights (15) Employment Tribunal (15) Environment Agency Prosecutions (2) Environmental Law (5) Expert Witnesses (1) Family Businesses (6) Family Law (35) Family Mediation (9) fFamily Mediation (1) Freedom Workshop (1) GDPR (1) General (14) Health & Safety (2) Inheritance Tax (2) Insolvency & Bankruptcy (1) Insurance (3) Intellectual Property (4) Landlord & Tenant (7) Lasting Powers of Attorney (4) Lawyers (3) Legal Update (6) Letter of Claim (2) Marriage (11) Motoring (12) Pension (1) Personal Affairs (13) Personal Injury (9) Pre-nuptial Agreements (5) Professional Advisers (4) Professional Negligence (3) Profile (2) Property (18) Property Disputes (18) Redundancies (7) Renewable Energy (2) Residential Conveyancing (8) Scams (1) Selling (1) Selling Company (1) Seminar (2) Small Claims (1) SME (1) Social Media (2) Tax (5) Tax Planning (6) Terms and Conditions (2) Trusts (6) UKELA (1) Unfair Dismissal (5) Wills & Estates (14) Wind Farm (2) Workshop (2) wWills & Estates (1)

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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.

Friday
Nov092018

Government considering re-introducing Employment Tribunal Fees

Having recently attended the Employment Tribunal User Forum, we’re aware that claims have more than doubled in the period April to June 2018 (up by 165%) compared to the same period in 2017. The most likely reason for this is due to the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor quashing tribunal fees on 26 June 2017. In that case, the Supreme Court concluded that many people found the fees unaffordable and had been denied access to justice. The Court declared that the level of tribunal fees was unlawful and prevented access to justice. 

Tribunals are (understandably) struggling to cope with the increased workload, with an increasing backlog of cases (of up to 8 months in some instances). This has resulted in applications being missed/delayed and hearings being postponed etc. 

Perhaps with an eye to these issues, it is being reported in the Law Society Gazette that the government is considering reintroducing tribunal fees. Whilst no detail is given, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said it is confident that a fee system can be found which does not deny claimants access to justice. This follows on from a written answer in Hansard in the summer, where the MoJ said it was reviewing how (not whether) it would reintroduce fees. Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the MoJ stated “We have to get the fee level right. I can see a scheme working that is both progressive and allows people out of paying fees where they can’t afford to.”

Since the fees were quashed, individuals have been able to apply for a refund. In 2017/2018 refund payments totalled £7.1m and since the end of the financial year in April 2018 the MoJ has, on a cumulative basis, made refunds totalling £15.8m.

Whilst there are no immediate plans to re-introduce tribunal fees we will keep you updated as the debate unfolds.

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 (mailto: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.

Thursday
Nov082018

Decision reached on smash and grab adjudications

Back in 2014, The Hon. Mr Edwards-Stuart made what was then a controversial decision in the case of ISG Construction Ltd v Seevic College. In this case, he decided that if an employer failed to serve a valid Payment or Pay Less Notice in time, then it had to pay the notified sum, and could not challenge that sum (and thus seek repayment of it) until the final payment, which may be some significant time later.

This remained the position until February 2018 when The Hon. Lord Justice Coulson sent shockwaves through the industry by deciding in the case of Grove Developments Ltd v S&T (UK) Ltd that the decision reached by Sir Edwards-Stuart in ISG Construction Ltd v Seevic College was wrong (and thus that an employer who had failed to serve a valid Payment or Pay Less Notice, could cross adjudicate on the “true value” of the payment application). Indeed, it was such an important decision that Lord Coulson himself stated as follows:

“In all my time in the TCC, I am not conscious that I have ever concluded that one of my colleagues, past or present, was wrong in deciding an issue in a certain way. I am not entirely comfortable about doing it now, particularly given the distinguished nature of Edwards-Stuart J's service to this court. But the conflict in the cases is all too apparent and, for the reasons which I have given, I find myself unable to follow the "different line" that he took in ISG v Seevic and Galliford Try v Estura”

Given the importance of this decision, it is perhaps unsurprising that it went to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has now issued its judgment and has upheld the decision reached by Lord Coulson in Grove v S&T.  Sir Rupert Jackson gave the leading judgment, and found as follows:

  • An employer can start an adjudication to dispute the true value of the works for which the contractor claimed in an interim application for payment, even if it had not served a valid payment or pay less notice.
  • However, and the crucial point to the construction industry, the employer's valuation adjudication could only be started after it had paid the notified sum.

The only exception to this position may be if an employer is able to establish that the contractor is insolvent, and therefore could seek a stay of execution of an adjudicator’s decision to pay the contractor the notified sum, pending their own valuation adjudication.

Therefore, an employer who has failed to serve a valid Payment Notice or Pay Less Notice is no longer in such a quandary as they were pre Grove v S&T. However, they will still have to pay the notified sum, pending being able to commence their own adjudication. This could cause real hardship if the notified sum has been vastly over-inflated by the contractor. Therefore, it remains the case that an employer must be vigilant in responding to a payment application in time, and in accordance with the provisions of the contract. 

Sarah Western is a solicitor specialising in construction law. If you have any queries in respect of this decision, or need any construction legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact her on 01284 717434, or sarahwestern@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.