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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Friday
Jun302017

Greene & Greene advises Nexus on acquisition of Vectura 

Greene & Greene has advised Nexus Underwriting Management Limited on its acquisition of Vectura Underwriting, a specialist Marine insurer and reinsurer of niche marine business from Aquila Underwriting LLP.

Andrew Cooper

The Greene & Greene team was headed by mergers and acquisition specialists, Simon Ratcliffe and Andrew Cooper, both partners in the Corporate team at the firm’s office in Bury St. Edmunds.

Founded in October 2008, the Nexus Group is one of the largest and most profitable independent specialty Managing General Agents (MGA) in the London market, concentrating on niche classes of business whilst delivering excellent service and cutting edge products.  Vectura, founded in 2007, will operate as a Nexus Marine business unit within Nexus Underwriting Limited and will continue to specialise in International Cargo and Freight Liability Insurance, ATA Carnet and Customs Bonds associated with the transport of goods. As part of the transaction, founding partners of Vectura, Stephen Fletcher and Tim Hancox, will continue to lead the business and shall bring with them a wealth of experience in the speciality marine market.

Colin Thompson, Founder & Executive Chairman of Nexus commented:

“I have been impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm that has been shown by the Vectura management team through this process and look forward to them joining us at Nexus and helping us to grow our business further.  Simon Ratcliffe, Andrew Cooper and their team at Greene & Greene have been a great support to me and my fellow directors through this process and over the last 10 years as advisers to our company, providing invaluable commercially focused advice, for which we are very grateful.”

Simon RatcliffeSimon Ratcliffe of Greene & Greene added:

“We are delighted to have helped Nexus finalise the acquisition of Vectura Underwriting, and to continue our support of Nexus’s growth strategy. Nexus has made a number of strategic acquisitions in recent years, which have successfully integrated into the Group and we look forward to working with them again on future matters.”

Greene & Greene’s involvement in the acquisition of Vectura Underwriting follows on from its lead role in advising Nexus on its purchase of various businesses since 2011.

If you have any questions with regards to the acquisition, disposal or reorganisation of a private company, or any other Corporate law matters, please contact: Simon Ratcliffe (simonratcliffe@greene-greene.com  ~ 01284 717426) or Andrew Cooper (andrewcooper@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717511).

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

Thursday
Jun152017

Introducing the Gardeners Keeping the Greene & Greene Garden in Tip Top Condition

The Hidden Gardens of Bury St Edmunds, in support of St Nicholas Hospice Care, now in its 31st year is taking place on Sunday 18th June.  Greene & Greene Solicitors has participated for a number of years and the firm is regularly said to have the best office garden in town. The firm’s gardeners, husband and wife Barry & Wendy Hooper-Greenhill, are busy putting the final touches to the Greene & Greene garden in readiness for an enthusiastic group of visitors.

Barry & Wendy have always been interested in gardening but it became a real passion for them when their house they purchased 30 years ago came with a delightful one acre garden.  Whilst both were working in high profile jobs at the time they took pleasure in spending time in their garden, changing and fine-tuning it over the years to what has now become a place to relax and enjoy.

After almost 25 years of working in London, Barry decided it was time to get out of the city and take his passion for gardening and the joy of working outdoors more seriously. Not one for starting small, in 1998 Barry was appointed as head gardener at Kentwell Hall. In 2000 he began working for himself, and with a host of regular clients already filling the majority of his working week he took on the additional role of gardener with Greene & Greene – a position he has lovingly held ever since.

It was during a spate of major surgery, that Wendy deputised for Barry and her passion for the Greene & Greene garden grew, a place that she calls “a contented and calm space”.

Over the years the garden at Greene & Greene has changed considerably, none more so than when additional offices were constructed on the old vegetable patch.  The wall to the back of property separating the garden from the visitor’s car park was demolished to make way for a ramp that allowed access for the builders and their heavy duty equipment.

It was after the buildings were completed that the garden could be reinstated once again - a time that Barry & Wendy fondly remember. “We were given the opportunity of the planning, the design and the planting of the garden”, Barry says.  “We made some mistakes initially as plants that were planted in certain areas of the garden simply didn’t thrive as well as we had liked, due to soil conditions and sunlight that they received, so that first year was a case of moving things around until the garden settled.”

The revived garden has been maturing for the past 10 years and although Barry stepped away from his other gardening clients 18 months ago they continue to look after and maintain the garden at Greene & Greene. “We just love it here, we have seen the garden nurture and grow over the years since putting pen to paper and it’s just such a wonderful place to work.”

Over the years both have been called upon as judges of Bury in Bloom and Barry has also written several articles and features on gardening for local magazines.

This will be Barry’s 17th year as one of the hosts for the Greene & Greene garden during the Hidden Gardens of Bury and says that he is always asked lots and lots of questions regarding the specific names of plants. “What is the name of that tree? (Holm Oak) and what is that beautiful rose called?” being the most popular.

When asked of their favourite plant in the garden, Wendy told of her love for peonies and Barry of his fondness for roses or quite simply “anything that is in flower at the time”.

Greene & Greene’s Senior Partner, Michael Batty, added: “We are very proud of our garden and the way that it contributes to an enjoyable working environment.  We have recently celebrated the 80th anniversary of the firm moving into 80 Guildhall Street and I can see that in my 30 years here the garden has never looked better.  We are hugely grateful for Barry & Wendy’s ongoing commitment, hard work and good humour.  Staff and visitors regularly comment on the exquisite care that they display and their close attention to detail – in fact, these skills would make them excellent lawyers!”

Further information regarding Tickets for the Hidden Gardens of Bury which is in support of St Nicholas Hospice Care serving West Suffolk can be found via the following website: https://www.hiddengardens.co.uk/tickets/

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

Thursday
May252017

Greene & Greene continue its sponsorship of The Suffolk Show

The Suffolk Show is the county’s largest two-day visitor experience and a unique celebration of everything that makes Suffolk great, showcasing its agricultural heritage and unique offering of world-beating food and drink.

Greene & Greene Solicitors has been a loyal advocate of the Suffolk Show for a number of years and are delighted to be supporting the event again as joint sponsors of the Honorary Director’s Dinner.  Held the night before the show, the dinner is an opportunity for the judges, stewards and other supporters to raise a glass to the Show’s success.

Jonathan Mathers, head of the firm's agricultural and rural affairs team, is widely respected for his advice on farming matters and is looking forward to this year’s show. “The show seems to get bigger and better year on year, which is a credit to the team at the Suffolk Agricultural Association. Whilst my colleagues and I have enjoyed working with Bill Baker over the past three years, and wish him all the very best for the future, with this year’s show just around the corner we are delighted to join Bee Kemball, the first female director of the Suffolk Show in its 185-year history, at the Honorary Director’s Dinner”

If you would like advice on agricultural and rural property matters please get in touch with Jonathan Mathers via email at jonathanmathers@greene-greene.com or call him direct on 01284 717404.

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

Friday
May122017

Gender pay gap reporting in practice

In December 2016 we reported on how we had been working with clients for a number of months to prepare them for the new gender pay gap reporting procedures.  

In this latest blog employment specialist, Angharad Ellis Owen, takes us through the gender pay gap reporting obligation that came into effect on 6 April 2017.  Whilst there have been some amendments to the initial draft, which was published in January 2017, the final version of the ACAS Guide ‘Managing Gender Pay Reporting’ is now available. The most notable amendment was that the obligation now also applies to public authorities.

Employers have been wondering how the data will be displayed on the government website. Well, the wait is over as the website is now live and at the time of writing, six employers have already uploaded their gender pay gap information.

You can view it here: https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/Viewing/search-results

The government website

The website has two sections; ‘find employer’ and ‘download data’.  In the ‘find employer’ section, companies are listed by name, address and sector. There is also a function to filter the list of employers by reference to one of 22 sectors.

When selecting the company, the gender pay gap figures are displayed on three ‘tabs’ (1) hourly rate,  (2) pay quartiles, and (3) bonus pay. Surprisingly, despite there being a requirement to publish data relating to the proportion of males and females receiving a bonus payment and the proportion of males and females in each quartile band; the website does not provide this data and I wonder whether this is an omission which will be corrected.

The name of the person responsible for the employer’s report is also clearly stated on the page together with their job title. However, this is not a requirement for public sector employers.

Interestingly, despite the ACAS Guide suggesting that employers’ should provide a narrative to support their gender pay gap report there is no section on the website that enables you to document a supporting narrative.  

The Regulations also state that the information must be published on the employer’s website ‘in a manner that is accessible’.  Many employers are waiting to see how others are publishing the data on their respective websites. At the time of writing, there are two examples of how this has been done and can be seen via the following links:

http://www.contractorumbrella.com/genderpayreporting.html https://www.fdmgroup.com/uk/investors/gender-pay-gap-reporting/

The ‘download data’ section collates all employers’ data into one Excel spreadsheet. With only six companies having published so far, I do wonder whether this spreadsheet will become more sophisticated once greater numbers of employers have uploaded their data. Currently listed in alphabetical order, I also query whether over time, business sector may be included in the spreadsheet to enable the data to be compared by sector thus enabling greater analysis and comparison of the gender pay gap to take place.

Action required

It is important that relevant employers (any organisation that has 250 or more employees) are collating their gender pay gap data and preparing it for publishing.

If you have any questions regarding your obligations to gender pay reporting or any other 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 www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.  

Other useful links

Government website: https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/Viewing/search-results

ACAS Guide: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/m/4/Gender_Pay_Reporting_GUIDE3.pdf

Wednesday
May032017

Land Sale Comes Back to Haunt Trustees 

Helen Hendry, a Solicitor in our Commercial Property team emphasises the importance of obtaining professional advice when it comes to the acquisition or disposal of any property on behalf of a charity or a trust.

In 2010, the Spiritual Association of Great Britain Limited (SAGB) decided to sell its headquarters in one of London’s premium locations, 33 Belgrave Square. SAGB had purchased a long lease in the property back in 1955. The association found the running costs of the property were (in their view) “becoming onerous”. SAGB sold the property in 2010 for £6 Million - significantly less than its market value. The property was then quickly re-sold for £21 Million. The Charity Commission raised an inquiry after media reports arose surrounding the sale, which was found to be slightly complicated by a “particularly restrictive clause” concerning the use of the property. SAGB’s lease stated that the property had to be used as a “non-profit, learned or charitable or cultural association or society use or as an embassy”. However, tenants with leases of more than 40 years, with 25 years already expired, can be brought to the Lands Tribunal to seek modification of such covenants.

The Charity Commission report stated the trustees of SAGB had failed to:

  1. Conduct proper due diligence on the prospective purchaser (a BVI “Brass-Plate” Company);
  2. Obtain specialist and independent advice on how to achieve a maximum return on property disposal; and
  3. Obtain, follow, or take proper account of, appropriate professional advice.

The trustees had been advised about a potential change of use, but they believed that it was too speculative. The buyer acquired the property, secured a change of use and sold it for a £15 Million profit. 

The report stated the sale amounted to “a basic mismanagement by [SAGB’s] trustees.” Whilst no evidence was found that the trustees had received any personal benefit from the sale, as trustees owe fiduciary duties to the charitable trust, this left them open to a claim for SAGB’s losses.

Greene & Greene is able to assist in the acquisition or disposal (which includes letting) of properties on behalf of charities, or trusts. For further advice please contact Helen Hendry by e-mail – helenhendry@greene-greene.com or by phone on 01284 717451.

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

Wednesday
Apr192017

The hidden cost of Divorce

If you are separating, issues about tax may not be high on your list of concerns.  Your priority may be whether you can keep your home or, if your home is to be sold, whether you will have enough money to buy somewhere else. However, tax issues could have a significant effect upon your assets and should not be ignored.

Capital Gains Tax

This can be an issue, particularly if you have a number of properties.  We frequently see couples who wish to wait until they have been separated for two years before divorcing.  That can of course be an amicable way of dissolving the marriage, but you need to be aware of potential tax pitfalls.

Transfers between husbands and wives in the tax year of separation can happen on a “no gain no loss” basis, meaning there will be no Capital Gains Tax payable.  This may be difficult to achieve if your separation occurs close to the end of the tax year. 

If transfers of properties, other than the former matrimonial home, do not take place within the tax year of separation then Capital Gains Tax may be payable by the person disposing of their interest to their spouse.  This could lead to a considerable reduction in the assets available to be divided between you.

In relation to the matrimonial home, Main Residence Relief may be available if one party transfers their share to the other, but the disposal must take place within 18 months of the property ceasing to be the other party’s main residence. After that time there are further restrictions if the transfer is to avoid a charge to Capital Gains Tax.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Once again, there can be issues that you may not have considered, particularly if you intend to wait for a period of time before divorcing.

For example, a couple may separate and the wife may remain living in the matrimonial home, perhaps with the children.  The husband may be in a position to buy his own property and want to do so, rather than paying rent until the time that financial matters are finally resolved.

The husband needs to be aware that he would be acquiring a second property and the purchase of that property is likely to be subject to an additional 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax charge.  On the purchase of a property for £500,000 this would result in Stamp Duty Land Tax of £30,000 rather than £15,000 that would have been payable if the additional charge had not arisen.

It may be possible to reclaim that additional tax payment if that property then becomes the buyer’s main residence within a 3 year period.  However, as can be seen, it will cause a significant increase to the up-front costs involved.

You also need to be aware that a Stamp Duty Land Tax charge applies to owning more than one property whether those properties are located in the UK or worldwide.  Any holiday home owned by you may also cause difficulties.

If you require any further advice regarding divorce or separation please contact Stuart Hughes (stuarthughes@greene-greene.com or call direct on 01284-717493)

The Family Law Department has considerable experience in dealing with cases involving tax issues and are assisted by specialist tax Solicitor Natalie Stoter (nataliestoter@greene-greene.com 01284- 717462)

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

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