March 2019 - MLP Law

5 important reasons to get specialist legal advice when administering an estate

The Ministry of Justice has recently announced a new online Probate application system and declared that ‘for most people, a visit to a Probate Registry or solicitor’s office is no longer needed’.  We address why this declaration by the Ministry of Justice is so troubling:

  • Executors and administrators of estates are personally liable for their actions. Therefore, any mistakes (even if honestly made) when administering an estate can be costly;
  • Modern family relationships can be complicated. Whilst an application for a Grant of Probate can seem straightforward, the distribution of the estate may not be so simple.  Arguments amongst family members after a death can spiral out of control and become matters for litigation;
  • Taxable estates, estates which include business assets or estates which include agricultural property can be complex to administer. A solicitor will be able to advise on practical issues, as well as all available Inheritance Tax reliefs, exemptions and nil rate bands to ensure that as much money as possible is reserved for the estate.  Obtaining specialist advice may, therefore, lead to substantial tax savings;
  • If a Will contains a trust, not only will the estate need to be administered, but there will be ongoing requirements for administering the trust once the estate is finalised. Trustees are also personally liable for errors made in administering a trust and the trustees of a Will trust will often be the executors of the estate; and
  • Estates including charitable beneficiaries often require additional administrative processes, which a solicitor will be familiar with and can advise on appropriately.

It is important for the executors or administrators of an estate to avoid these, and other, pitfalls.

MLP Law Ltd offer free 30 minute, no-obligation appointments to executors and administrators of estates.  If you have been appointed as an executor or administrator for someone who has passed away and you have concerns about your duties, or want information or advice on what to do next, please call Rachel Eley, who is an Associate Solicitor in our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team on 0161 926 1527 .


Virgin Atlantic Removes Cabin Crew Make-Up Policy

Virgin Atlantic recently announced that it is changing its dress code, so that for female employees, makeup will no longer be mandatory and trousers will be issued automatically.

Dress-code rules which apply solely to female members of staff seem somewhat outdated in 2019. This is especially true of those rules which are stereotypically associated with females, such as compulsory makeup or high heeled shoes.

However, such rules are still common place in many longer-established airlines. While the move by Virgin may simply reflect its desire to be seen as a more progressive company – we consider whether a uniform policy which has different rules for women and men can be legal regardless of whether it seems fair or not.

Gender specific dress codes in the workplace

Many employers have some sort of dress code, whether it is stated in the contract or has become accepted by practice. The current general legal position is that a dress code policy can be gender specific as long as it is applied in an even-handed and non-discriminatory way. Accordingly, for discrimination to be established, it is not necessary to show that genders are treated differently, but that the treatment afforded to one gender is less favorable than the treatment accorded to the other. The courts have described at some length that asking men to wear makeup could therefore be discriminatory as it would require them to act in a way seen as ‘unconventional’. In other words, there can be a requirement for all members of staff to present a ‘smart’ image, and if this means that women must wear makeup, then the stance of the law is that this is not discrimination, because women wearing makeup doesn’t go against ‘the norm.’

Obviously where there are gender specific dress code requirements there is always a risk of discrimination as each legal decision is determined on its own set of facts.

What this means in practice

What the law states and how a company may wish to present itself to its staff or the public, are growing increasingly different in this area. Arguably, societal attitudes have come a long way over even the last few years. Virgin Atlantic’s decision is a perfect example of this. While compulsory makeup for women may not (yet) be discriminatory in the eyes of the law, as a business, it may be increasingly difficult to argue that mandatory makeup for women is a requirement of a ‘professional’ image. Indeed, while Virgin Atlantic has drummed up some positive publicity with the relaxation of its dress-code, the opposite could be a real possibility for a company wishing to make its dress-code more gender specific or continue with its existing requirements for skirts, high heels and make up.

We are sure that other companies will follow Virgin Atlantic’s decision. We are also sure that it won’t be long before there’s a high profile legal case brought by an employee who feels discriminated against due his/her employer’s gender specific dress code.


For more information, please contact our Employment team on 0161 926 9969 

 

Is your business Brexit ready? 8 key areas to be looking at if you haven’t already.

We’ve been advising our clients for some months on various, specific, aspects of Brexit and the likely practical, legal and commercial, implications it will have for our clients.  This note sets out 8 of the key areas that are common areas of concern.

Import / Export Tariffs and WTO terms

If we leave without a deal, we may still deal with the EU on tariff free terms, though we would also have to offer the same tariff free terms to non EU Countries.  This could affect the competition and pricing in a particular market or the imposition of tariffs on exports from the UK.  If we want to impose tariffs, we have to impose the same rate of tariff on the same class of import regardless of the country of origin.

Contracts, Franchise, Agency, Distribution other commercial agreements

  • Competition law will remain the same in the immediate period after 29 March 2019 though we expect to see UK law diverge from EU law over time.
  • Contracts will remain valid though you should be checking your jurisdiction, choice of law and dispute resolution clauses.  Also can your existing contracts or forwards orders include provisions to protect you (and your customers) if your supplies or ability to deliver to agreed timescales are disrupted or proves impossible for a short (or prolonged) period?
  • Do your contracts provide for a proportional supply form your suppliers in the event of a shortage?  These provisions could provide some comfort to ensure your suppliers treat you fairly if there is a raw material shortage or shortage of supply to you.  The idea is that you get a proportion of the supply available rather than wait in line for your whole order to be fulfilled.  Supermarkets in particular impose ‘priority supply’ provisions in their supply agreements.

Intellectual Property

UK IPO have said that EU Trade Marks will continue to be enforceable in the UK (guidance note published on 17 January 2019). Similarly, Patents which take effect in the UK will remain in force whether or not the UK leaves with a deal in place.

Employment Law

Whilst harmonised with the EU we don’t expect anything other than minor changes in the period after 29 March 2019.

Data Protection and GDPR

Will still apply and anyone doing business in the EU will need to comply with DPA and GDPR – unless and until the UK’s domestic law changes.

Investment

Don’t foresee any immediate impact on EIS and SEIS schemes. UK is likely to want to encourage and support investment in small and medium sized businesses post Brexit.

Exchange rates

Forward buy or fix if you’re able to and in a business susceptible to negative movements in exchange rates.

Practical

Check your supply and customer contracts and all aspects of your business for any areas that may suffer from disrupted supply lines or threats from delayed delivery to customers.


For further information please contact our Commercial Team or Head of Department  Stephen Attree on 0161 926 9969 and commercial@mlplaw.co.uk 

Women in MLP

We are so proud of our team and how we work at MLP:

4 of the 5 Board members are women

67% of the MLP lawyers are women

 Overall 80% of the MLP family are women

Everyone at MLP benefits from our “flexi time” arrangements, we also have full time employees, part time employees, consultants and fee share lawyers.

We work hard to recruit and retain the very best talent – we can make it work for you!

”A niche law firm for businesses and business people offering quality, excellent service by looking after our clients for the long term, utilising and exemplifying our MLP DNA”.

What is Probate all about? – 10 Key Points

1. The Probate or Administration Process deals with sorting out someone’s affairs after they have died.

2. This includes getting information about the assets, preparing tax account forms, applying to the Probate Registry and collecting in the assets to distribute in accordance with a Will or Intestacy.

3. A Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration are similar documents.

4. If there is a Will, then Executors will apply for a Grant of Probate.

5. If there isn’t a Will, then Administrators will apply for Letters of Administration

6. Who will act as the Administrators is determined by law and it is usually the nearest living next of kin.

7. The Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration are both legal documents that are issued by the Probate Registry to give the Executors or the Administrators the legal authority to sell or transfer assets

8. You’ll need a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration if the estate includes any land, property, shares, investments or bank accounts held in the sole name of the person who has died.

9. Executors and Administrators should think about Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax arising in the Estate – even if there aren’t many assets to deal with, then you still need to account for this to HMRC.

10. A Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration will also trigger a specific time limit to make certain claims against the Estate – useful if there are disappointed beneficiaries.  


For more information, please contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Associate Laura Willis on 0161 926 1538

Liquidation & Administration – Top 7 Tips

Liquidation & Administration – Top 7 Tips

Purchasing from a company in Administration or Liquidation

When a company goes into liquidation or administration a liquidator or administrator is appointed.

The liquidator/administrator will sell all of the company’s assets ie. premises, stock, customer base and turn this into cash with any surplus being used to pay the creditors.

As a buyer, you can pick and choose the parts of the business and assets you want to buy – to some this is seen as an advantage.

So what are the top 7 tips when purchasing from a company in administration or liquidation:

 

1. Are you buying from the insolvency Practitioner (IP)?

 Make sure you are dealing with the IP/IPs. Buying from a company director where they are moving/selling assets before an IP is appointed could be seen as wrongful trading. Where wrongful trading is suspected it is very likely that a formal investigation will be carried out. The result might be that the transaction could be reversed and the assets taken back.

 

2. Find out what is included in the sale.

It is not always clear what is included in the sale so you will need to find out.

For example: –

  • If you are purchasing the premises and it is leasehold, is the landlord prepared to offer you a new lease and on what terms? Will you have to put down a deposit, pay any arrears, and any liability for repairs?
  • If you are purchasing items such as machinery, equipment or software licences are they subject to any agreements? Are these suppliers happy to carry on supplying you? Some lenders may have security over certain assets which need to b released.
  • Does the business come with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): – website addresses, Facebook pages etc.? Get the admin rights to all the IPR.

3. Do your Homework!

Find out what went wrong with the business.  Have a walk around the business and ask as many questions as you can

If buying premises/property you must do the investigating of title to make sure everything is fine and the property is ok.

It is on YOUR due diligence that you should make your offer to buy.

Note that you can only see the books once your offer to buy have been unconditionally accepted.

 

4. Be aware of the Law.

TUPE

If you are retaining staff from the liquidated business you may have to honour all

the employment contracts.

Past service pension liabilities will normally remain with the insolvent seller but some early retirement pensions will not be excluded. The buyer will need to establish what rights (if any) are transferred.

 

5. Liabilities and Warranties

“Caveat Emptor” – Buyer Beware

IPs are very unlikely to give you any kind of representations or warranties to the business and assets being sold. They most probably don’t know much about the insolvent business and will want to avoid continuing liability.

So if the commercial risk is borne by the buyer make sure it is reflected in the price.

 

6. Post completion matters

  • VAT

Is VAT payable on the assets that you are buying?

  • Stamp Duty and Stamp Duty Land Tax

Important if you are buying stock, shares, land or buildings

  • Assignment of leases/licences/contracts with customers and suppliers

These all relate to “find out what is included”. You will need know what paperwork needs to be completed after purchasing

  • Apportionment of outgoings and accruals between the seller and the purchaser for period spanning completion

Who is going to pay for the bills that are accrued whilst you are purchasing the assets?

 

7. Always get Legal Advice

If in doubt get legal advice from a professional before purchasing any assets.


For further information, please contact our Corporate and Commercial Paralegal Ella Coverley on 0161 926 1512