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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Monday
Jul242017

Diversification within Farming

The word "diversification" has been employed more and more frequently in recent years whilst discussing the future of the agricultural sector, but what exactly do people mean? Rather than crop diversification rules, the industry’s focus has been on branching out from traditional farming activities to add new sources of income.

Whilst the full implications of the EU referendum result in June 2016 are yet to be revealed, there is no doubt that the coming years will be testing for many of the region's farmers. Diversification could hold the key to enjoying a thriving business for those with the assets and ambition to make it happen. On the face of it, the statistics associated with leaving the EU make for grim reading for our farmers.  In 2014, subsidies paid out from the EU under the common agricultural policy (CAP) accounted for 55% of total UK farmers’ income, according to DEFRA.  Furthermore, in 2013 some 62% of agricultural exports from the UK were sold to other EU member states. The UK Government has indicated that today's level of subsidies will be maintained until 2020, but with demands for a bigger slice of public funds from many quarters, there is little expectation that the support for farmers will be increased or indeed maintained at the current levels into the next decade. It is a sobering fact that a large number of the small to medium-sized farms in the UK rely on the subsidies under the CAP to break even, let alone make a profit.  

These stark figures are no doubt the cause of sleepless nights for some in the agriculture sector. However, the possibility of a new kind of system for farm subsidies may help encourage diversification, with payments perhaps moving away from the existing model, which is largely based on the extent of the holding. The payments made to farmers for rural development projects under the existing CAP Pillar II may hint at the type of subsidy regime the UK could adopt in the next decade.

The idea of diversification is not a new concept to a great deal of farmers who are already exploring a variety of means to increase revenues and make their business sustainable, so that subsidies are a more of a bonus rather than the difference between ending the year in the red or black. 

Farmers across East Anglia are using their property in a variety of ways in addition to growing crops or rearing livestock, with the intention of ending their reliance on subsidies and to help protect against the effects of a poor harvest or lower commodity prices. 

New Permitted Development Rights, which allow certain types of change of use and development of property without the need for a full planning application, were introduced in 2014 in respect of agricultural buildings. This can allow farmers to utilise their existing buildings for flexible use, education and residential.

In an area of outstanding beauty, such as East Anglia, farmers increasingly cater for tourists by providing B&B’s and holiday lets. A barn conversion can make a wonderful home and sell for high prices on the residential property market. The utilisation of property for lease as commercial units can be a lucrative option, as can a well-stocked farm shop.

The key to success when it comes to diversification often comes down to finding a gap in the local market and making the most of any under-used resources at the disposal of the farmer. 

Before embarking on any project it is vital that full consideration is given to the financial and legal ramifications of each stage.  Expert accountancy and tax advice should be sought and any legal issues should be explored.  For example, are there restrictions or covenants affecting the use of the property or will you be required to obtain full vacant possession from an existing occupier before commencement of a project?

Greene & Greene can assist on all property aspects and can offer advice from in-house specialist tax lawyers with particular expertise in the agriculture sector.

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 previously published in the East Anglian Daily Times on 15/7/17.”

Friday
Jul212017

Greene & Greene advises Nexus on acquisition of Equinox Global 

Greene & Greene Solicitors, based in Bury St. Edmunds has advised specialty managing general agent (MGA), Nexus Group, on its recent acquisition of specialist trade credit insurer, Equinox Global.

Equinox, established in 2009, specialises in writing trade credit insurance for larger corporates and multinational companies and has offices in London, New York, Paris, Hamburg and Amsterdam. It will continue to be provided with underwriting capacity by Beazley – previously its largest shareholder – through a 10-year underwriting support agreement.

Nexus worked with Mergers and Acquisitions specialist, Simon Ratcliffe, a member of the corporate team at Greene & Greene, on this latest transaction, which follows the announcement of its purchase of Vectura Underwriting last week.

 

 

Nexus, which has secured all of the Equinox group companies, announced that the founding shareholders and management team will stay in place as part of the move.

Colin Thompson, founder and Executive Chairman of Nexus, said that Beazley’s offer of a 10-year capacity commitment “speaks volumes about the quality of both Equinox’s underwriting and management. We are excited about working together with Mike and his team to build a global market leading trade credit offering which, when combined with our current trade credit MGA Nexus CIFS, will be a £60m gross written premium (GWP) business underwriting profitable global specialist trade credit insurance”

The companies have exchanged contracts on the deal and completion is scheduled to follow during 2017.

If you have any questions with regards to Corporate law matters, please contact: Simon Ratcliffe (simonratcliffe@greene-greene.com  ~ 01284 717426).

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

Wednesday
Jul192017

Record £9,000 Donation to Hospice from Greene & Greene Wills Week

Greene & Greene lawyers, Martine Swaep and Sandra Bowden, with the support of Sue Wiseman, recently took part in the “Wills Weeks” scheme in support of St. Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St. Edmunds. The scheme sees legal advisors across West Suffolk and Thetford offering to write or update wills, in return for a suitable donation to the Hospice instead of their usual fee.

The Greene & Greene team offered its services to the Hospice for a week in June and all appointments were booked by new and existing clients with a month to go, leaving a waiting list if last minute cancellations arose.

The week ran swimmingly and a record amount of donations of £7,678.00 were received. With a gift aid top-up of £1,404.50, the Hospice will receive a total of £9,082.50 from Greene & Greene and its generous clients.

Estate and Trusts executive, Martine Swaep, said “Wills Week is always extremely busy for us, but seeing how much money we have raised again this year makes everything worthwhile. These donations will help the Hospice to continue to offer its vital services to people in the community who really need it.”

On handing the donations to St Nicholas Hospice Care Legacy Officer, Nick Duncan, he said:

“St Nicholas Hospice Care has been promoting its Wills Weeks campaign for 14 years, attracting over £20,000 each year in donations.  Greene & Greene’s participation during the past five years has contributed significantly towards this total.  I am delighted, and most grateful, that Martine, Sandra and Sue have been able to achieve another outstanding Wills Weeks campaign for us, surpassing even their successes of previous years.  Our thanks also go to the Greene & Greene Wills Week clients, whose generous donations will help to support patients and families in our community.”

If you are considering making a Will please contact Martine Swaep (martineswaep@greene-greene.com or 01284 717458) or Sandra Bowden (sandrabowden@greene-greene.com or 01284 717411) who would be happy to talk throug the process and advise of estimated costs.

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

Thursday
Jul132017

Greene & Greene Helps Insurer Secure Multi-Million Loan Facility

Fresh from its role in advising Nexus Underwriting Management Limited on its recent acquisition of Vectura Underwriting, Greene & Greene provided further assistance in helping Nexus to secure loan facilities totalling £44m, which it will use to undertake additional M & A activity.

Simon Ratcliffe, a mergers and acquisitions specialist in the Corporate team at Greene & Greene has worked very closely with Nexus on a number of business transactions since 2008.

Initial funding of £30m has been jointly provided by B.P. Marsh & Partners plc, a niche venture capital provider to early stage financial services business, and a New York headquartered global investment firm with offices in 10 locations around the world. An additional £14m of borrowing has been committed by the funders.

Nexus has a number of M&A opportunities underway and will drawdown on the initial £30m loan facility as and when required over the coming months.

Nexus’ Executive Chairman, Colin Thompson, stated: “This debt raising provides Nexus with the ability to satisfy our short-term plans of creating a virtual insurance company through a buy and build strategy focusing on profitable, niche MGA’s.

Simon Ratcliffe of Greene & Greene added:

“We are delighted to have helped Nexus with securing this additional funding, which will further support its growth strategy and its position as the leading Specialist Underwriting Agency.”

If you have any questions with regards to Corporate law matters, please contact: Simon Ratcliffe (simonratcliffe@greene-greene.com  ~ 01284 717426).

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

Thursday
Jul062017

Data Protection is evolving - are you ready?

Angharad Ellis Owen, a Barrister within the Greene & Greene Employment Team, talks about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that is due to come into force on 25 May 2018. This new EU regulation replaces the existing Data Protection Act 1998 and aims to keep pace with the evolving digital world.

With Brexit looming, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) reported the government’s confirmation that the UK will be implementing the GDPR. Karen Bradley, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, stated: “We will be members of the EU in 2018 and therefore it would be expected and quite normal for us to opt into the GDPR and then look later at how best we might be able to help British business with data protection while maintaining high levels of protection for members of the public.”  

Whilst Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has told businesses there’s no time to delay in preparing for “the biggest change to data protection law for a generation”, a YouGov report suggests that only 30% of the UK's businesses have so far taken steps to prepare for the introduction of the GDPR.

It has been said that the “GDPR is an evolution of the existing rules, not a revolution” and it is fair to say that the main concepts and principles remain unchanged; for example, the concepts of personal data, data controllers and data processors are broadly similar. However, the GDPR introduces new concepts and enhancements, such as the definition of personal data being extended to include IP addresses. Accountability and transparency are key concepts of the GDPR and preparing for the change will certainly require the attention and additional financial resources from organisations.  

Some of the main changes to be introduced by the GDPR are:

  • Harmonisation – of privacy laws across EU members states.
  • Fines – the ICO wields a bigger stick with fines against data controllers and data processors based on a two-tier basis. For the most serious violations of the law, the ICO will have the power to fine companies up to €20 million or 4% of a company’s total annual worldwide turnover for the preceding year.
  • Consent - the framework for consent is strengthened. Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous, and a positive affirmation of the individual’s agreement. It will no longer be possible to rely on implied consent.  You should therefore review how consent is managed and explore seeking consent to meet the new GDPR requirement.
  • Data breaches – the GDPR places an obligation to notify the ICO within 72 hours of a data breach where it is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals, such as through identity theft or a confidentiality breach. The ICO recommends that you take action now to ensure that you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.
  • Subject access requests (SAR) - in most cases the charge will no longer apply to process the SAR and organisations will have a month to comply with a SAR request.
  • Privacy Notices - additional information must be provided to data subjects, such as explaining the lawful basis for processing personal data.
  • Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) - this will become a legal requirement in circumstances where processing operations are likely to present specific risks to data subjects (e.g where new technology is being deployed).
  • Data Protection Officers - whilst public authorities (and some other specific organisations) must designate a named Data Protection Officer who has responsibility for data protection compliance, it is recommended by the ICO that all organisations have such a designated officer.
  • Demonstrating compliance - organisations will need to demonstrate compliance with the GDPR.
  • Children - GDPR introduces special protection for children’s personal data, though only in the context of commercial internet services, such as social networking.
  • International - for organisations that operate in more than one EU member state, the ‘main establishment’ will become the lead data protection supervisory authority.

Action

It is important that you start preparing now, for example you should consider:

  • Conducting an audit of all personal data processed - to understand what personal data you hold, the source of the data and who it is shared with. 
  • Consider why you process this data.
  • Ensure that you have systems (e.g. audit trails) in place to demonstrate compliance.
  • Allocate a Data Protection Officer.
  • Review all data processing contracts with a view to updating from May 2018.
  • Review and update internal policies and procedures, such as Data Protection Policies, Bring Your Own Device to Work Policy, Privacy Notices and Consent.
  • Review, update and/or implement internal processes, e.g. SAR process, DPIA, and data breaches.
  • Consider training key personnel on GDPR, who in turn can cascade knowledge business-wide.

The ICO has produced guidance on the steps that organisations should be taking now to prepare for the introduction of the GDPR (see useful links below).

Contact Us

If you have any questions in relation to your obligations or any other employment law matters please contact Angharad Ellis Owen (aellisowen@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717453) or Greg Jones  (gregjones@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717 446).

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

Useful links

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1624219/preparing-for-the-gdpr-12-steps.pdf

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/overview-of-the-gdpr/

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/improve-your-practices/data-protection-self-assessment/getting-ready-for-the-gdpr/

Wednesday
Jul052017

Greene & Greene present Law Award at West Suffolk College

                      

West Suffolk College held its Celebration of Achievement Awards for 2017 in a large marquee in the college grounds on Friday 30 June. This annual event recognises students for their hard work and dedication to their chosen subjects.

Greene & Greene is proud of its association with West Suffolk College and sponsored its ‘Outstanding Student of the Year Business Management (Law)’ award for the second year. Angharad Ellis Owen, Employment Law Barrister at Greene & Greene, was delighted to present the award to Andrew Stokes for his hard work throughout the year, which was rewarded with excellent results.

Hospitality students from the College’s Edmunds restaurant catered for the gala dinner, with entertainment provided by the A Capella student group, Amado, and a choir from Conservatoire East.

If you have any questions regarding employment law matters please contact 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/index.html and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.