The Director’s Friend and a Statutory Demand – a testimonial received:

Directors Desk

The Director’s Friend

This blog post features a testimonial from a director client who was served with a Statutory Demand by two purported creditors. The client was recommended to the Director’s Friend by their business adviser.

A Statutory Demand:

A Statutory Demand is served by a creditor. It demands that the person pay a sum of money within 21 days or apply to set aside the Statutory Demand within 18 days.  Otherwise that person could be served with a bankruptcy petition.  If they are made bankrupt their property and goods are taken away from them.  Therefore, it is a very serious matter for the person in that it is a very real threat of being made bankrupt.

A Statutory Demand can also be served upon a company.  How the company can respond is different as a company cannot apply to set aside a Statutory Demand.  Amongst the options a company has is to apply to court to restrain presentation of a winding up petition.  This should also be made within 21 days of service.

Details of the Statutory Demand:

The Statutory Demand was attempting to make the director client personally liable for debts of his company.

The Director’s Friend was able to help:

This is the testimonial for the advice of the Director’s Friend:

“I instructed Richard Cole (the Director’s Friend) in respect of a Statutory Demand that had been served upon me. I was extremely concerned and worried by receiving the Statutory Demand particularly as my first language is not English.  I was referred to Richard Cole who was able to take my instructions.  Richard Cole was able to file my application to set aside the Statutory Demand at court within 48 hours of receiving my initial instructions.

Negotiations were entered into with my purported creditors. The Statutory Demand was successfully set aside at Court on the basis that I disputed the same.  With Richard Cole’s timely advice, the Deputy Registrar awarded me 90% of my legal costs for making the application.

I was very pleased and impressed with the service that Richard Cole as the Director’s Friend provided to me and the result that he achieved for me. Richard Cole certainly is the Director’s Friend!  I would have no hesitation in recommending Richard Cole to you for insolvency / directors’ advice.”

RL – Oxfordshire.

The Statutory Demand was dismissed with costs awarded.

If you, someone you know or a company is served with a Statutory Demand then bearing in mind the short timescales to respond please contact the Director’s Friend for help.

As the Director’s Friend, I was very grateful to receive this testimonial. It demonstrates the approach (and speed) that the Director’s Friend takes with the experience and knowledge that the Director’s Friend can bring to bear for you in your corner.

My name is Richard Cole. I am an insolvency solicitor who formerly worked in the Insolvency Service carrying out director disqualification investigations.  I am now the Director’s Friend.  Why not contact me to discuss on +44(0) 1992 558 411.  The earlier that you speak with me the more that I can likely help.

Until the next time …

The Director’s Friend

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Reports suggest Judge Rinder & Seth Cummings Split…

Recent media reports suggest Judge Rinder has separated from his husband, Seth Cummings after 11 years together.

Following changes in the law allowing same sex marriages, divorce is treated in the same way for same sex couples as for couples of the opposite sex. When issuing divorce proceedings in both cases, the petitioner must show the marriage has irretrievably broken down and must rely upon one of five facts; Adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, 2 years separation with the other party’s consent, 5 years separation or desertion. It should be noted however, that the law remains the same in respect of Adultery; the petition must show the Respondent has had intercourse with another person of the opposite sex; it cannot be relied upon if the Respondent has had intercourse with a person of the same sex. It remains to be seen whether the law will be changed in that respect.  

Here at Breeze and Wyles Ltd we offer expert advice on divorce whether it is a same sex marriage or couples of the opposite sex. We also offer advice in respect of the dissolution of a civil partnership or separation advice. Our lawyers are highly trained in all aspects of divorce and separation including advice on finances and matters relating to children.

Call us to discuss further on 01992 558411

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Does a periodic tenancy count as being repeatedly renewed/granted?

This was the subject of a decision in Walcott v Jones & Jones. Central London County Court, 15 November 2017

The tenants, who commenced a tenancy in 2007, argued that the Section 21 served was invalid because the Landlord had failed to adhere to the requirements of the Deregulation Act 2015. They argued that the oral monthly tenancy was a re-grant of the tenancy every month that each periodic tenancy was a re-grant of the tenancy and therefore the Landlord failed to comply with the Deregulation Act 2015 when serving the s21. The DDJ agreed in the first instance and the claim for possession was struck out.  Not surprisingly the Landlord appealed and the Appeal Judge held that a periodic tenancy for the purposes of Housing Act 1988 (as amended) did not amount to a ‘grant’ of a new tenancy . The tenancy merely continued. Parliament did not intend a ‘grant’ in such circumstances. The DDJ had erred in law and appeal allowed.

Whilst this is great news for Landlords it is important to note that from October 2018 the Deregulation Act will apply to all assured shorthold tenancies no matter when and how they commenced.

Should you be facing a similar situation, feel free to contact our Landlord and Tenant team on 01992 558411 and they would be more than happy to assist you.

Signing Document

Signing Document

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8th January 2018 AKA “DIVORCE DAY”

The beginning of the year always brings with it an increase in instructions as couples make the decision to separate. For some the stress over the festive period was simply too much for the relationship to bear; for others perhaps the decision was made towards the end of the last year but put on hold to allow for “one last Christmas”. Additionally, the New Year is generally a time when we are expected to take stock of our lives and make changes to tackle things that we are not happy with and it stands to reason that this applies just as much to problems with a relationship as with the other areas of our lives such as health or fitness.

A decision to separate is not one to be taken lightly. It has significant consequences for all concerned and especially children. Consideration should always be given to whether the relationship can be saved and in this respect marriage counselling can be of significant benefit. If however the breakdown is irretrievable, early advice from a specialist family solicitor will ensure that you are aware of your options going forward so that you know where you stand in relation to a divorce, the financial arrangements resulting from the separation and also the arrangements for the children.

Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd are specialist family solicitors in Hertford, Enfield and Bishops Stortford, able to offer advice and support in relation to divorce and other family law matters. We are also one of only a few solicitors able to offer the full range of process options including mediation, collaborative law and Arbitration . More information of the services we are able to offer is available on our website , including details of our fixed fee services or alternatively call 01992 558411.

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THE DIRECTOR’S FRIEND BLOG – Breaches of Directors’ duties for health and safety offences can be costly!

Directors Desk

The Director’s Friend

Breaches of Directors’ duties for health and safety offences can be costly!

 This is the next in the series of blogs for the Director’s Friend Blog.

 Introduction:

One area of law that impacts upon the duties of directors that appears overlooked is that of the personal liability and potential loss of liberty suffered by directors of companies in breach of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (the “Act”).

The national regulator for work place health and safety is the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”). Investigations and prosecutions of individuals for safety related breaches are increasing.  The fines imposed upon companies and individuals can be expensive.

Who can be prosecuted?

A wide range of entities and individuals can be prosecuted to include limited companies, individuals and directors or senior managers. Section 37 of the Act states:

“Offences by Bodies Corporate

(1) here an offence under any relevant statutory provisions committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director (emphasis added), manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or a person who is purporting to act in such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly”

Case Summary of a prosecution by the HSE:

In a recent press release the HSE confirmed that a Rochdale based car repair company and its director were fined after failing to comply with Improvement Notices (“IN”) issued by the HSE.

Rochdale MOT Centre Limited (the “Company”) and its director a Nazar Hussain (the “Director”) failed to comply with three INs.  The INs required the thorough examination of three two-post vehicle lifts by specified dates in the IN.  These offences were considered by Manchester Magistrates Court on 10 June 2016.            

Section 33(1)(g) of the Act makes it an offence for a person:

…to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or a prohibition notice…

The Company and the Director of the Company pleaded guilty to breaching this section of the Act. They were ordered to pay fines of £1,500.00 and £3,000.00 respectively. In addition, both defendants were ordered to pay the full prosecution costs in the sum of £15,609.14.

Comment by the HSE Inspector:

The HSE Inspector, Sarah Taylor said that:

This case highlights the impact of HSE’s work, ensuring duty holders are held to account for their failings and taking the appropriate action to ensure workers are safe.

 All workers have the right to return home from work safe and healthy, but the Company and Director (emphasis added) in this case placed employees at risk of harm by failing to address concerns raised by HSE Inspectors.

A Director Disqualification?

The Magistrates Court would likely have had a jurisdiction under Section 2 of the Company Director Disqualification Act 1986 to disqualify the Director upon conviction of the offence under the Act which may have resulted in a maximum period of director disqualification of up to 5 years.

It would appear fortunate for the Director that he was not also disqualified as a company director and therefore possibly barred from continuing to trade his business. Although there are other options available.

Comment:

It can be seen that the duties of directors can extend in to areas that directors of companies wouldn’t necessarily consider such as health and safety law at issue here. The Director’s Friend says that the well-advised director would be wise to consider their duties and obligations under the Act bearing in mind the potential personal liability and possible director disqualification action that can arise following a prosecution and conviction of that individual director personally.

A final thought:

Sometimes directors may have insurance policies that will likely cover defence legal costs for these kinds of actions. However, the Director’s Friend says that any fine imposed upon a company following a conviction certainly will not be.  As a general principle, it is against public policy to be able to insure against a criminal act.  Similarly, where a Court orders the defendant to pay the prosecution’s reasonable costs in bringing a case, these costs are rarely covered by business insurance and may have to be funded by the business/individual themselves.

So, it is even the case that if you have protected yourself by way of taking out an insurance policy that is not a panacea to pay off all or any liability that the company or you as a director may face under the Act.

What to do now:

If you are faced with:

  • Potential personal liability in your capacity as a director under the Act;
  • Director disqualification; and / or
  • All other forms of personal liability in your capacity as a director

then talk to me today on +44(0) 01992 558411.

 That is in order to protect your position without delay. The earlier that you speak with me the more than a can likely help.

I am a Hertfordshire/London based solicitor and a full member of both The Insolvency Lawyer’s Association and The Association of Business Recovery Professionals.

Until the next time …

THE DIRECTOR’S FRIEND

 

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Testimonial for the Wills and Probate team

“Finally may I thank you and your colleague Donna for the efficient and professional way you have dealt with my requirements. It’s not the easiest process to go through and you have reduced any stress that would normally come with this to zero. So thank you.”

B. Longley

01/12/2017

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Stamp Duty relief for First time Buyers

Piggy Bank Budget savingsThe budget is out, with £15.3 billion new financial support for house building over the next five years and with the Government setting aside £1.2 billion to buy land and £2.7 billion for related infrastructure.  The Government announced plans to create five new so-called ‘garden’ towns, and there was a headline-grabbing cut in stamp duty for first time buyers.

Stamp duty is currently paid on property purchases over £125,000, with a ‘slice’ tax where buyers pay at the relevant rate for each band, rather than a flat rate across the whole amount.  With immediate effect, stamp duty is abolished for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £300,000, or on the first £300,000 of a property worth up to £500,000.

Property law expert and Solicitor Johanna Withams based in our Bishop’s Stortford office said: “The change in stamp duty has caught most of the attention.  It’s certainly a move that will be welcomed by first time buyers, but does add yet more complexity to the application of this particular tax, where we already have different rates for second home owners and landlords.

“Buyers need to read the small print before rushing out to make an offer, as there are clear distinctions on who is eligible. It will not apply if any property has been owned at any previous time, whether here or anywhere else in the world, and it must be the only or main home for the buyer.  In a joint purchase, everyone would need to qualify as a first-time buyer.  Buyers will need to check out the detail with their solicitor, and the benefit must be claimed when the Stamp Duty Land Tax return is made to HMRC during the purchase process.”

If you have any questions, or wish to discuss your potential purchase through with us, please give us a call at any of our offices based in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertford and Enfield. 01279 715555, 01992 558411 or 0208 366 6411

Web site content note: 

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Reference:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/autumn-budget-2017-philip-hammonds-speech

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/autumn-budget-2017-documents

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Beware the Expiring Lease

Signing Document

Lease Extension

I have noticed a huge increase in enquiries for lease extensions as Mortgage companies are becoming increasingly nervous about lending on shorter leases.  The less years to run on your lease the more expensive the premium to extend. Delaying could end up costing you thousands of pounds more.

 

What are your options?

You can extend your lease on a voluntary basis with your landlord or alternatively if your Landlord is unwilling to agree to a lease extension you can make a claim under the Leasehold Reform Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 (“the statutory route”)

If your landlord is willing you will need to agree a price and the terms which could include  an increased ground rent or other terms for agreeing to extend the lease.

If you use the statutory route, 90 years will be added to the remaining term and ground rent will be reduced to zero.  However in order to use the statutory route you have to satisfy certain criteria, one of which is that you have been the registered proprietor of the property for at least two years.

It is important in both cases to obtain a lease extension valuation by an experienced Surveyor to make sure that you are not paying too much or you are agreeing to terms that may be detrimental and unattractive to a prospective buyer.

What else do I need to think about?

If you use the statutory method you are required to pay your landlord’s reasonable legal and valuation costs.  If you are agreeing a lease extension with your Landlord it is likely that they will still want their costs paid by you as part of the agreement.

If you use the statutory route and you are unable to reach an agreement with the Landlord you are able to apply to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a determination of the premium and also the Landlord costs if you think that these are unreasonable.

Need more information?

Please ring Rita Wright for further information or even a chat to discuss your options on 01992 558411 Rita.Wright@BreezeandWyles.co.uk

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The Director’s Friend and a winding up petition – a testimonial received:

 

Directors Desk

The Director’s Friend

 

This blog post features a testimonial from a director client whose company was faced with a winding up petition in a substantial sum presented by H M Revenue & Customs. The client was recommended to the Director’s Friend by their business adviser.

A winding up petition:

A winding up petition presented by a creditor asks the Court to order a company into compulsory liquidation. Part of the process pre order is that the winding up petition is advertised. The Director’s Friend says that this can be terminal for the company as its bank and the wider world becomes aware of the winding up petition. That usually means that the company bank account is frozen and suppliers cease trading with the company and/or support the winding up petition. Therefore, a winding up petition is very serious for a company.

Details of the The Director’s Friend and a winding up petition – a testimonial received::  

The client’s company was faced with a winding up petition for National Insurance Contributions, income tax PAYE, company tax, VAT as well as interest and surcharges.

The Director’s Friend was able to help:

 This is the testimonial for the advice of the Director’s Friend:

I instructed Richard Cole (the Director’s Friend) in respect of a winding up petition that had been presented against my company by H M Revenue & Customs. I was a director of that company. I was extremely concerned and worried by the winding up petition. I was referred to Richard Cole who was able to take instructions and the worry away from me.

 After negotiating with H M Revenue & Customs over a protracted period of time Richard Cole was able to negotiate to pay a lesser sum than was demanded by way of the winding up petition and importantly to me personally obtain time for payment from the sale of a property.

I was very happy and impressed with the service that Richard Cole as the Director’s Friend provided to me. Richard Cole certainly is the Director’s Friend! I would have no hesitation in recommending Richard Cole to you for insolvency / company / directors advice.

SH, Kent, United Kingdom’

The winding up petition was dismissed.

If you or someone you know is a director of a company that may be insolvent or is facing a winding up petition, contact the Directors Friend for help

As the Director’s Friend, I was very grateful to receive this testimonial. It demonstrates the approach that the Directors Friend takes with the experience and knowledge that the Director’s Friend can bring to bear for you in your corner.

My name is Richard Cole. I am an insolvency Solicitor who formerly worked at the Insolvency Service carrying out director disqualification investigations. I am now the Director’s Friend. Why not contact me to discuss on: +44(0) 1992 558 411. The earlier that you speak with me the more that I can likely help.

Until the next time…

The Director’s Friend

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THE DIRECTOR’S FRIEND BLOG – No ‘Wrongful Trading’ here

Directors Desk

The Director’s Friend

This is the next in the series of blogs for The Director’s Friend blog.

The case:

 This is a discussion about a recent case decided in the Chancery Division of the High Court – (1) Nicholas William Nicholson and (2) Stratford Edward Hamilton (As Joint Liquidators of Main Realisations Limited) and (1) Thomas Geoffrey Fielding and others a judgment by Deputy Registrar Prentis (it would appear unreported).

Summary

 In summary, prior to Mainland Car Deliveries Limited (In Liquidation) (the ‘Company’) being placed into Administration is was alleged by the subsequently appointed joint Liquidators of the Company that the three directors of the Company had caused the Company to wrongfully trade and that they were liable to personally contribute over £2.12M to the assets of the Company. The Deputy Registrar appeared to be less than impressed with the Liquidators evidence and dismissed the application.

Section 214 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (the ‘Act’)

In the Director’s Friend earlier blog this section of the Act was explained.

In summary, the issues that the Court considers includes:

  • Whether the directors of the Company should have known or ought to have concluded that from a date that there was no reasonable prospect that the Company would avoid entering into insolvent liquidation (i.e. not that the Company is insolvent);
  • The focus is on the individual director’s conduct;
  • The maximum loss that the Court can take into account is the loss to the Company (not to creditors) as a result of the liquidation being delayed (net deficiency);
  • How far there is a sufficient connection between the increase in net deficiency and the factors which made the directors decision that the Company should trade on wrongful; then
  • What would be a fair order as between the various Respondents.

The judgment

The Deputy Registrar went through the detail of the evidence in some detail to consider whether or not there was any wrongful trading (paragraphs 54 to 96 of the judgment).

At paragraph 97 the Deputy Registrar found:

The hallmark of the Company’s correspondence with HMRC is that of ongoing detailed consideration of its position, entirely consistent with the evidence of Mr Fielding and Mr Tait that the directors were constantly monitoring and discussing the situation. They were doing so backed by exemplary management accounts prepared by Mr Tait, and they were taking tough decisions: laying off staff, laying up trucks.

 98. All this was against a background of an uncertain financial world, oscillating fuel prices, and an industry entering a significant downturn of uncertain duration. The evidence is that the directors were doing their best to take account of those, and they cannot be criticised for not predicting their full effect.

At paragraph 105 the Deputy Registrar was mindful of the fact that HMRC (a large creditor) ‘… was willing even in early 2009, after multiple failures of the Company to meet its promises, to enter into a further time to pay agreement.

The Deputy Registrar’s observations

The Deputy Registrar did not appear impressed that a deficiency account had not been prepared by the joint Liquidators (per paragraph 112) nor was an explanation provided as to why not.

In addition, he observed at paragraph 112:

I am left without any real clue as to what losses would have been incurred anyway consequent on an earlier liquidation.

The Deputy Registrar was also less than impressed (at paragraph 113):

Next, it seems to me that to rely now without qualification on the statement of affairs in the administration, prepared more than 7 years ago, is utterly inappropriate. Quantum is not an assessment of a notional figure. It is in this context assessment of the loss to the Company caused by ongoing trading.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the application was dismissed.

The Director’s Friend comments

This is another application for wrongful trading that has failed due to a lack of the required evidence being put forward by the Liquidators. The Court did not appear impressed in this case with that lack.

The Director’s Friend says that from the perspective of the directors it would appear fortunate that there was enough contemporaneous evidence in the Company’s correspondence with HMRC to explain the position. The directors were constantly monitoring and discussing the situation backed up by the exemplary management accounts prepared by one of the directors. The situation that the Company found itself in was not found to be the fault of the directors.

Finally, there is no reference to possible consequent director disqualification for participation in wrongful trading, however, with this type of claim there is always a risk of being subject to director disqualification as well. Please see the Director’s Friend earlier blog for more details.

What to do now

If you are faced with:

  • worrying insolvency issues with your company;
  • a claim against you for wrongful trading or perhaps misfeasance; and / or
  • director disqualification

then please talk to me today on +44 (0)1992 558411.  That is in order to protect your position without delay.  The earlier that you speak with me the more that I can likely help.

I am a Hertfordshire / London based solicitor and a full member both the Insolvency Lawyers Association and the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.

Until the next time…

THE DIRECTOR’S FRIEND

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