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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Entries in Family Businesses (6)

Monday
Jan162017

Top Tips on Separation

The breakdown of a relationship is never easy, especially from a legal point of view. If you are thinking about separating from your partner, our “top tips” can help make the process a little less stressful…

Sort out your finances

Money can cause all sorts of problems during a relationship, let alone after separation. Get your finances in order early on to avoid unnecessary angst.  

If you have joint bank accounts or credit cards consider whether these should be closed or cancelled. If you intend to keep using them you will need to agree how much money can be spent and who will be responsible for paying any debt. You should also consider restricting any overdraft facilities.

If you have a more complicated financial situation it may be sensible to seek advice from an accountant. They can provide advice on tax consequences following the transfer of property or company assets.

Consider the needs of the children

Arrangements for child care including when and where the children will spend time with each parent should be discussed and agreed particularly if you are about to separate..

You will need to consider how joint decisions about children will be made in the future. A parenting plan could be drawn up (see www.splittingup-putkidsfirst.org.uk).   This can be as detailed as required and can also include issues such as how and when the children would be introduced to any new partners. 

Ideally the amount and frequency of Child Support payments should be agreed as in default an application to the CMS for a Child Maintenance Service assessment may be necessary.  If there are no children or if Child Support payments are insufficient to cover one party’s financial needs then thought should be given to any additional support that may be needed by way of Interim Spousal Maintenance. 

Think about getting help

A lot of people are reluctant to consider getting help, but counselling can often be very helpful in coping with the stress of relationship breakdown.

If you think it could help to try and get the relationship back on track thought should be given seeing a marriage counsellor. If the relationship is at an end then a family therapist, family consultant or counsellor could help work through issues surrounding the separation and communication.

Work out sensible living arrangements

Will both parties still be living in the house together?  Sometimes this will be a necessity.  Consider any practical steps that can be taken to make this easier.  Alternatively, if one person intends to leave then who will that be and where will they go?  Importantly, consider how two households would be funded.

Update your Wills

Consider whether the terms of your will are still applicable post-separation. You may want to remove certain beneficiaries. You should also consider whether any death in service benefits under any pension provision need to be amended.

Seek legal advice early on

We deal with things like this every day and have considerable experience in these matters. We are committed to providing constructive dispute resolution options and sensible advice. Seeking legal advice early on can help avoid problems down the line.

If you require any advice about separation contact Melanie Pilmer (melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com, telephone 01284 717418) or another member of the Family Team at Greene & Greene for an initial discussion.   For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Friday
Nov042016

Divorce and the Farming Family

 

 The damaging effects of divorce are often felt more acutely in cases involving farming families: especially so where the farm has been held within one family for generations.

Often farming businesses will involve Partnership or Corporate Structures, land may be co-owned with extended family, land ownership may be within or outside of business structures and various land or property assets may also be held in Trust.  These can all complicate matters.

Typical questions that arise are:

  • How can the assets be divided fairly where a farm has been passed dynastically to one spouse through the generations?
  • What weight will the court apply to the financial and non-financial contributions of the non-owning spouse?
  • Will the court force a sale or transfer of land and property?  

The court’s approach can be unlike other cases and present unique challenges.

The court is tasked with arriving at a fair outcome and must meet the parties’ (and any dependent children’s) reasonable needs. In doing so the court will consider whether the farming family intended that the farm should be passed down through the generations. The court will have to consider whether the farming family can and should retain the farm (in so as far as that is possible) even if that means an overall unequal division of assets. Numerous other factors including the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage can also be taken into account. 

Funding a settlement may require finance to be raised against the retained farm. Land may need to be sold in order to retain the majority of the farm to pass on to future generations.  Many farming businesses experience cash flow and liquidity issues which can make it difficult (or impossible) for income generated from the farm to satisfactorily meet the needs of two separate households following separation.  

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.

Divorces involving family farms are often complex and it is important that if you find yourself in this position you seek the assistance of a lawyer experienced in this area. 

If you require any further advice regarding a divorce involving farm assets then please contact Stuart Hughes (stuarthughes@greene-greene.com or 01284-717493) or Melanie Pilmer (melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com or 01284-717418) who will be pleased to assist you.  For more information on Greene & Greene please visit www.greene-greene.com or follow @greenegreenelaw on Twitter.

 

(Editorial first published in East Anglian Daily Times Rural Review, September 2016)

 

Thursday
Jun182015

Farming Daughter Sues Parents for £1.3million

The High Court in Cardiff recently awarded £1.3 million to Eirian Davies to settle her "proprietary estoppel" claim on her parents' farm.  Proprietary estoppel is a legal claim used to assert rights, often to land but also to other assets, and usually in the absence of proper documentary evidence.

Miss Davies worked for the farming business for little or no payment for many years, on the understanding that the whole enterprise would eventually pass to her.  She has two sisters, but both had moved away to follow other careers.

By 2008, Miss Davies' parents, Tegwyn and Mary Davies, had agreed to hand over almost half of the business to her.  Documents were prepared to implement the agreement but were never signed.  Instead, the parents agreed to prepare Wills leaving Miss Davies the land and buildings, and a share in the company.

Unfortunately a family dispute arose.  In 2009 Mr and Mrs Davies decided to amend their Wills putting the farm into a trust with the rest of their estate split between the three daughters equally.  Family relations continued to deteriorate, leading to Miss Davies' departure from the business in 2012.  She then sued.

In 2013 the High Court upheld Miss Davies’ claim.  Her parents appealed, but the Court of Appeal rejected their appeal, except on one relatively minor point.  The court directed that Miss Davies' recompense could be settled either by granting her a share in the farm or by a cash payment.

The Court of Appeal then invited the parties to negotiate a settlement as to the amount of Miss Davies' interest without further litigation, but this proved impossible.  Miss Davies therefore returned to the Cardiff High Court, which, it is reported, granted her £1.3 million in compensation – around one-third of the business.  The amount was described as sufficient for her to start a new farming business of her own.

Proprietary estoppel is an unusual but potentially very useful basis for making a claim.  It is however a difficult and expensive action to mount. 

Farming families are particular vulnerable to such claims because of the huge increase in land values.  The Davies’ case has so far spent five years going through the court systems and involved thousands of pounds of legal fees.  Unfortunately family disputes do occur.  Properly drafted documents setting out the intentions and wishes of the parties at the outset could well have prevented this.

For further information or advice please contact Wayne Perrin at Greene & Greene on 01284 717454 or email wayneperrin@greene-greene.com.  For more details about Greene & Greene solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow us on Twitter @greenegreenelaw.

This article was originally published in the East Anglian Daily Times Rural Review Feature on 28 March 2015.

Tuesday
Jun102014

New consumer contract rules come into force

On 13th June 2014 the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 will come into force and will apply to all businesses who sell goods or services to consumers. Any businesses that fail to comply with these regulations could face significant consequences.

The new rules predominantly affect businesses which sell their goods or services to consumers remotely (such as though websites, or by email, telephone or post) and/or who agree to sell goods or services during meetings with consumers away from the business’ premises. This last category catches not only the traditional door-to-door salesman, but also all other businesses which meet with their customers in their homes or places of work, such as tradesmen and professional advisors.

Businesses to whom the regulations will apply are required to provide certain information to their consumer customers before, and after, entering a contract or agreement with them. Consumers are also given a 14 day cooling-off period, which has been extended from seven days under the current rules. Businesses which do not provide the necessary information could find that their consumer customers can return goods for a full refund over 12 months after they were originally supplied, or refuse to pay for services that the business has already provided (even if there is nothing wrong with them). The business may also commit a criminal offence and be liable to a fine.

Please contact Andrew Cooper (details below) for a more detailed briefing note on this new legislation and its effect on your business. All businesses which deal with consumers should review their websites, practices and terms and conditions in light of these new rules to ensure that they do not get caught out. Greene & Greene are happy to assist with this process.

If you require further information about this topic, please contact Andrew Cooper on andrewcooper@greene-greene.com or 01284 717511.

Tuesday
Nov202012

Accident or stroke – a business catastrophe?

While Lasting Powers of Attorney are commonly on the radar for families to manage the financial affairs of loved ones who lose mental capacity through Alzheimers disease, or other age related infirmity, there is often a blind spot in relation to what should happen if a breadwinner suddenly loses capacity, for example through accident or stroke.

If an employee or business owner becomes suddenly incapacitated, operational disruption is inevitable. When the individual is also a company shareholder, director or business partner, the additional problems caused by loss of strategic thinking and contractual authority, together with loss of capital tax relief are potentially catastrophic.

Company shareholders can delegate decisions to an attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney thus preventing asset freezing and preserving Business Property Relief from Inheritance Tax.  By contrast, directors of companies cannot delegate their duties to an attorney unless authorised.  The governing articles may require removal, either automatically or with the prior determination from the court, meaning delay and cost.

Partnership law does not address incapacity at all.  Incapacity might be covered by the partnership agreement, but the agreement could be out of date or silent.  Automatic expulsion could spring a partnership dissolution and cessation of trade, with consequential sale of assets and loss of business property relief from Inheritance Tax – a disaster for the family if the partner then dies.

Sole traders and partners should consider appointing an attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney.  Great care should be taken that the attorney is capable of managing the business and that the partnership agreement permits the appointment.

For further information contact Wayne Perrin on 01284 717454 wayneperrin@greene-greene.com

Article Published: East Anglian Daily Times, Business East Monthly, 20 November 2012

Wednesday
May302012

Sale of family run business gets go-ahead

Simon Ratcliffe recently sold Colchester based Hedingham & District Omnibuses Limited on behalf of Robert and Claire MacGregor, to leading passenger transport provider Go-Ahead Group plc, as part of its strategic move into East Anglia.

The family run business, formed in 1960, has 6 depots and operates 86 buses in North Essex and Suffolk.  The bus operator principally runs a mix of school and local bus contracts and commercial routes.  The existing management team, led by Managing Director Robert MacGregor, will continue to run the business under the existing company name and brand.