Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 18th, Aug

This week finally resulted in the most pressing trade issue surrounding Brexit coming to the fore – membership of the Customs Union and the implications for trade, specifically the movement of goods across borders.

There is no doubt that Chambers of Commerce have identified the issue as one of considerable concern and consternation. The rhetoric concerning the UK’s negotiating position during the initial Brexit discussions had failed to identify the key fundamental principles under which the UK envisaged such trade being undertaken. Several of our members who export their goods to – or import raw materials from the EU - had already identified fundamental concerns regarding the anticipated costs they will incur without a favourable customs arrangement.

This week it was announced that there are fundamentally two options envisaged by the UK government for the post Brexit customs arrangements:

1. A highly streamlined customs arrangement with a simplified system – using technology – to speed up the passing of goods through ports
2. Establishment of a new customs partnership with the EU that would remove any customs border and essentially enable the maintenance of UK customs union membership benefits whilst independently negotiating trade deals with non-EU countries.

The movement towards understanding a longer term operating model is welcome news but it remains true that it is only a negotiating position at this stage. Also, there are fundamental differences between the practical applications of both options that will need to be addressed.

The potential of a transitional deal muddies the water further. Though eminently sensible in principle, the potential for a ‘hard Brexit’ with the technology-driven ‘light touch’ customs arrangement would be massively complex to manage given the investment required for the development of such technology and the affordability for organisations using it to transport their goods, particularly smaller companies. A transitional deal could cause the adjustment costs of such development to be prohibitive for all concerned.

The further announcements this week confirming the maintenance of an open border arrangement between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland “at the heart” of the UK’s exit negotiations is undoubtedly welcome but again, from a movement of trade perspective, adds further questions regarding the trade status of Northern Ireland and its access to the mainland UK.

All of this context comes as the British Chambers of Commerce/DHL trade confidence index results were issued yesterday revealing the maintenance of a strong performance in the most recent quarter but an increasing level of concern regarding exchange rates, access to skilled workers and price pressures.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) International Trade Summit on Thursday 12th October will address several of these issues and provide businesses with some clarity regarding the implications of Brexit. BCC are also seeking first hand experiences of member companies in this negotiating period and their expectations regarding a post-Brexit trade impact to enable the use of qualitative evidence to be provided to government with the existing quantitative data.

Contact membership@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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Posted by Bagnall & Morris

Thu 17th, Aug

A more efficient waste management strategy could be the key to saving your business money. Rather than viewing waste as costly but necessary problem, taking a step back and looking at potential improvements could enhance your organisation’s environmental and financial performance.

Here are some of B&M’s top tips to help you achieve this –

Know what waste you produce

It’s easy to assume that your business will produce ‘general’ and ‘recyclable’ waste, but to tailor the right solution, at the right cost, you need to understand the actual type, quantity and source of waste generated at your business premises.

Whatever the size of your business, take the time to look at the waste going into your general waste containers. You might be surprised at how much recyclable material is mixed in there.

Embed practical recycling processes

By seeing what areas of your business produce what waste, you can modify the waste storage provisions to segregate more recyclate and reduce the more costly general waste collections.

Are the bins situated in a practical location? Are they clearly signposted? Is your recyclable waste being cross-contaminated with other substances? Does everyone have a desk bin that makes it too easy to mix the contents?

You need to have the right storage facilities available and ensure that all members of staff buy-in to their obligations.      

Minimise the amount of waste you generate

Once you have assessed the type, volume and source of the waste streams, you can also find ways to minimise waste. This may involve rolling out a company-wide waste minimisation campaign, for example by encouraging people to print less paper, reuse their coffee cups, and wash out containers to remove food residue.

Speak to an expert

Now that you have garnered a better understanding of your waste, speak to a commercial waste management company who can advise on an effective strategy that is bespoke to your requirements.

Perhaps you have enough of a particular commodity to bale the material and generate revenue, or could use a compactor to reduce general waste transport and disposal costs. We can use the data you have collated to help determine if this is the case.

Contact B&M today to arrange a free waste audit so that one of our experts can put forward a custom-made no obligation proposal.

0330 1234 100  |  www.bagnallandmorris.com

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Posted by Claudia Font

Gunnercooke

Wed 16th, Aug

Have you lost your deposit money on an Off-Plan Property in Spain?

Up to 100,000 UK investors who lost money when buying off plan in Spain could be entitled to claim their money back (plus interests and Court fess) based on a Spanish Supreme Court Decision.

In accordance with Spanish Law -Act. 57/1968-, builders and property developers that received deposit money for off-plan properties in Spain were legally obliged to pay this money into a specific bank account and provide their clients with a bank guarantee.

The purpose of the bank guarantee was to protect those deposits in the event of non-completion or liquidation- but this obligation was frequently breached by builders and property developers and up to 100.000 UK investors lost their money.

During the Spanish property bubble, most of new developments were sold off-plan and with the financial crisis that started in 2008, many developers went bust without finishing their developments and without returning the buyers’ deposits.

However, the aforementioned Act 57/1968 also seems to state that the bank which received the payment could also be held liable if it knew that the account was set up for the purpose of receiving deposit for off-plan properties.

This interpretation of the law was then confirmed on the 21st of December 2015 by the Spanish Supreme Court who made a Decision that gives some new hopes to buyers who have lost their money, saying that banks are obliged to pay investors back for the deposits they paid for their future houses off-plan.

In accordance to the said Decision, which now constitutes case law, banks are responsible, together with the Spanish property developers, for the loss of the deposits paid by Spanish property buyers. And this responsibility is regardless of the solvency status of the developer.

Obviously, it is not a “one-size fits all” approach. Each case needs to be studied separately as there are other factors that need to be considered such as whether the property has been legally finished or not, etc but it is encouraging news for those who invested in off-plan properties in Spain and lost their deposits.

It should be noted that the future off-plan buyers will not have the same protection because a new rule approved by the Spanish Parliament (on the 1st of January of 2016) has revoked Act.57/1968 reducing the bank´s obligations and liabilities to certain case scenarios.

However, this only applies to future purchases. Those who have lost their deposits for purchases made in the last 10-15 years are still entitled to file a claim against the bank. If you had made payments for your off-plan property in Spain before that date, you will be covered by the old, and more protective, rule.

Obviously, there are some requirements that need to be checked to confirm that you have the right to claim your money back. Gunnercooke’s Spanish desk can advise solicitors or their clients as to whether they may have a case against a Spanish bank.

There are many law firms who have been recently approaching prospective clients out of the blue or cold-calling them offering their services on a no win-no fee basis. Those who lost their deposits need to be careful when engaging law firms or companies that are cold-calling them, as those presumably attractive packages and fees may make them jump into instructing a firm or a company that does not have the real expertise to deal with this type of matters.

Also, those sort of fee offers usually come with hidden costs that can prove a burden if the case is not won. As usual, make your own research and comparisons before you instruct a law firm for a litigation case, specially if the matter involves foreign law, and then take an informed decision.

Claudia Font & Antonio Guillen Spanish desk gunnercooke llp claudia.font@gunnercooke.com www.gunnercooke.com 1 Cornhill / London / EC3V 3ND 53 King Street / Manchester / M2 4LQ

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 11th, Aug

This week marked the unofficial tenth anniversary of the financial crisis.

I doubt there were too many celebratory parties across the business community but it is perhaps a good time to reflect on the prevailing wake of those mid summer days of 2007 when the collapse of Northern Rock precipitated the subsequent demise of the banking system as we knew it. 

We grew accustomed to periods of profound booms and busts throughout the twentieth century, yet it is telling that this particular collapse continues to resonate so fully today. A decade, it is worth remembering, is a long time and whilst the upheaval in the geo-political world has been monumental, the credit crunch and global financial crisis has remained a tether in people’s conscience and collective memory. “Where were you when Northern Rock went bust?” feels like our equivalent to JFK being shot, such is the ongoing narrative coverage of this epochal moment.

Politicians, economists, journalists, business people continue to speak of the crisis as today’s news, no doubt accentuated by ongoing austerity programmes and a consistent political discourse citing caution over the previous recklessness.

“Events, dear boy, events” was Harold Macmillan’s articulation of a Prime Minister’s principal fear. The 2007 crash was pre-empted by a multitude of factors across multiple continents, including a lax culture of banking regulation, financial institution’s exposure to toxic debt and the insufficient insulation between such institutions which led to the inevitable domino effect.

Alex Brazier’s recent visit to Liverpool enabled him to share his thoughts about the Bank of England’s principal concerns about the current status of the UK economy. Particularly notable was the contention that there are signs that the institutional knowledge about the circumstances surrounding the crash within banks and financial institutions has shown signs of being eroded.

Alex specifically stated that “Lenders have been the lucky beneficiaries of the benign way the economy has evolved. In expanding the supply of credit, they may be placing undue weight on the recent performance of credit cards and loans in benign conditions.” Complacency is creeping in.

The UK economy’s current dependency upon consumer spending (and associated debt) should not fall victim to the ostrich approach. Maintaining a level of incentive to keep us spending on goods is key amid the uncertainty of the Brexit state of flux, but the efforts of government must be to create the conditions within which the wider economy can lessen such dependency upon our personal wallets, particularly as the historic low levels of inflation show signs of increasing.

“Build it and they will come” may not be an economically sound basis to run a sustainable economy, but whilst control measures need to be reasserted within the personal lending markets, a greater commitment to delivering an infrastructure plan – particularly in the North – must be a priority upon the resumption of Parliament in the Autumn. Failure to invest soundly will maintain a flat-lining of economic growth external to the consumer bubble. Chamber members responding to the most recent quarterly economic survey in Liverpool reported a reticence to invest in training or machinery amid the current trading conditions.

Ten years on from the financial crisis, the maintenance of our understanding of its causes remains critical. However, such tacit knowledge and associated safeguards must not suffocate the wider ability of our country and city to grow our economic strength. The prolonged austerity measures pre-empted by the crash remain prevalent, in thought, word and deed. Such a psychosis is inherent to the challenge facing us and is a warning to us that a spiral of underinvestment will ultimately lead to a spiral of economic decline.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Thu 03rd, Aug

The past fortnight has been an extraordinary period of time in the political and economic life of the country. The traditionally quiet end of term tranquillity of July/August in Westminster has borne witness to a remarkable demonstration of text book political squabbling, back-stabbing and general disquiet within the Conservative Government cabinet.

Such schisms are normal within Government, albeit usually kept more private than the very public spat dominating the media in the past week. However, these are deeply concerning times for business and the inability of the Cabinet (let alone Government or the opposition party) to agree and articulate a basic set of principles for Brexit is accentuating the uncertainties for business.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan had called on the Bank of England to provide details of how prepared banks and insurance firms are for Brexit.

Alex Brazier from the Bank of England addressed this very topic at Chamber of Commerce roundtable session last week. Alex confirmed that Brexit is one of four key concerns facing the UK economy and the Bank is undertaking stress testing for all eventualities, with particular focus upon the impact upon financial services in the wake of a ‘hard Brexit’.

Yet in all honesty, it appears nigh on impossible to adequately stress test circumstances that we cannot fully anticipate. One year on from the referendum, there is perhaps even less clarity now than there was then. “Brexit means Brexit” was the soundtrack of winter, yet even the commencement of negotiations between the UK and the European Union has done little to create clarity nor quell key business concerns around access to migrant workers, status of EU citizens living in the UK and favourable access to overseas markets.

Our latest quarterly economic survey results for Liverpool (pre-dating the general election) suggest that investment intentions for the next 12 months are substantially reduced. Resultant growth will be stagnant without the clarity of a way forward.

There is no doubt that businesses will adapt to whatever environment emerges; whether Brexit continues according to the original schedule (or – whisper it – even happens at all), or takes a different form to a hard/soft/slightly spongey texture. Fundamentally, it will be the list of casualties that emerge from the journey that determines how ready businesses are for whatever is coming.

A splintered Cabinet, a fractured political environment, a population that remains largely split over the Brexit process and an economy that remains largely dependent upon the continuation of consumer spending and debt amid a threat of increasing inflation. These are not the traditional factors one associates with periods of economic stability and growth.

Yet in a world where the White House Communications Director can be fired before he has officially begun, perhaps chaos is a perpetual state to which we should become accustomed.

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Posted by Andrew McGregor

Brabners

Tue 01st, Aug

As the transfer window activity intensifies, we want to provide you with an insight into the transactional process which sees a player move from one club to another and highlight some of the main commercial and legal issues for the parties to consider.

The initial process:
After the preliminary conversations setting the scene, a representative of the Buyer Club will often submit a formal offer to the Seller Club for the transfer of the Player's registration from Seller to Buyer. The formal offer is an important piece in the deal process. Whilst the opening offer, and the subsequent counter proposals, should be 'without prejudice and subject to contract' (meaning the preliminary offers and counter offers are only outline terms to be incorporated into a formal transfer agreement), they set the structure for the deal and, often the tone for the negotiation. The preliminary negotiations will cover terms like: guaranteed transfer fee (including any staged payments); and contingent payments (for example: player appearance, player performance, team performance related trigger events and sell on provisions). Clearly, there is a lot to consider in a very limited space of time.

Once the parties have agreed the outline terms of the deal, one party will produce a draft transfer agreement for the other party to consider. The most efficient clubs will always want to be the party to produce the initial draft transfer agreement to allow them to be the party that is negotiating on their own standard terms. Here is where the true value of the preliminary negotiations and offer and acceptance correspondence is realised. If the parties have negotiated carefully, considered and addressed all issues and recorded a clearly written record of the terms agreed in principle, then the formalities of negotiating the content of the transfer document will be a smooth experience. However, if the parties have simply outlined the 'Heads of Terms' in a short email exchange (or even a few scribbles on the back page of a match day programme - which is often the case given the time pressures and irregularity of the times at which parties negotiate) finalising the terms of the transfer document can turn into a stressful and complicated experience.

Negotiation issues:
It is at the point that one party presents its draft transfer document to the other that the parties often find out that they are further apart on the deal than they first thought. Some of the following issues often require further negotiation, agreement and drafting before the transfer agreement can be concluded and executed:

  • How much of the guaranteed transfer fee is to be paid immediately?
  • Is payment of the transfer fee conditional on the Player agreeing personal terms and passing a medical?
  • Is the transfer fee agreed net of any regulatory imposed deductions, expenses, costs and/or levies?
  • Are any player appearance related contingent payments based on 'starts' or 'appearances' and are there any further criteria to satisfy (minutes on the pitch, teams or competitions) which qualify a performance related event by a player as a start or an appearance?
  • Are any team performance related contingent payments based on the player's contribution in a particular season and are those trigger events capable of being repeated during the time that the player is at the club?
  • Is any future sell-on fee payment entitlement attached to the gross amount received by the Subsequent Seller Club (in the subsequent transfer) or is it a net fee related to the excess 'profit' made by the Subsequent Seller Club relevant to the monies it has paid to the Seller Club in the current deal?
  • Are the terms of the deal confidential?
  • Do the parties want to retain a right to approve the other party's press release?

The above is certainly not an exhaustive list of issues to consider and address by the parties to the transaction, however, it might represent some of the common themes in a relatively basic domestic transfer.  Now try to imagine the issues, and potential 'deal breakers' in a complicated international transfer, where respective national regulations and laws need to be factored in, as well as FIFA regulations.

Now you have an understanding of the process, imagine you are a busy Chief Executive of a professional club and the closing of the transfer window is a few days away, primary targets have been missed, players have requested to leave the club and agents are attempting to force through last minute moves for their clients. Moreover the team has lost its last 3 games and supporters are reacting negatively, and you also have the business of a football club to oversee. Even with the best will in the world, the most efficient and prudent club representative might be excused for failing to address a particular issue during the deal making process and, in light of the above, it is easy to see how these relatively small issues might evolve into something that might protract the deal and, potentially, derail it.

We hope you have found this blog interesting. If you are a club representative, player or intermediary wanting to find out more about the transfer process, and how Brabners dedicated sports law team can help you, then please do not hesitate to contact Andrew McGregor

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We should all be managing fire risk all the time - but how do we know how to?

Posted by Liam Jones

randr Safety Systems Ltd

Tue 01st, Aug

We all know that dealing with the risk of fire in the workplace (and at home) is an important health and safety issue. Because of the terrible events at Grenfell Tower and the updates of the repercussions we're seeing regularly on the news, we're finding that our clients are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the process of managing the fire risk within their workplace.

If you have no experience of managing fire risk, how are you supposed to do so regularly within your business??

Let's start from the top. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that those in control of a non-domestic premises (or part of a premises) must have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment completed by a competent person, and keep it up to date.

This means that you are responsible for organising the assessment and ensuring that it is suitable. To do this you must complete your own due diligence when appointing a Fire Risk Assessor. I'm not going to focus too much on this point in this post but I have to stress that for an Assessor to be competent, they must be able to demonstrate a combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge.

There is more information about Fire Risk Assessment on our website at www.randrsafetysystems.com/fire-safety/

 

Once you have appointed your Assessor and they have completed the assessment, you should be provided with a thorough document which outlines the findings. This should include the hazards found, those at risk, and discuss control measures and remedial actions.

Problem 1 - Once you have this document which is instructing you to make a serious of changes at your site and with your Assessor long gone, how are you supposed to implement them effectively with no experience? How do you know if you have reduced the residual risk of fire at all?

Problem 2 - Looking further forward we know that the assessment needs to be reviewed, but this can sometimes be up to three years in between! How are you supposed to manage the risk of fire in that time with no knowledge of how to do so?

 

Risk can never be fully eradicated, no matter what you put in place there'll always be some risk to deal with at the end of it - including fire risk. Our job in the health and safety industry is to help you to reduce and manage the residual risk as best as possible.

One of randr Safety Systems' solution to the above problems surrounding fire risk is a course we will begin delivering from October (2nd - 4th). We have called the course 'Fire Risk Assessor' and it's aims are simple:

Over three days we will provide you with a broad and thorough understanding of how to assess fire risk, decide upon and implement remedial actions and create an assessment review plan which you can carry out in between your full comprehensive assessment (carried out by a competent Fire Risk Assessor).

 

In short, the skills and knowledge gained on the course will place you in a much better position to ensure the safety of your people and your property as a regular part of your business operations and not just as a mandatory task every one, two or three years.

For a full course outline including learning objectives visit www.randrsafetysystems.com/fire-safety/

 

Liam Jones

randr Safety Systems

0151 427 1678 / 07979 193 798

info@randrsafetysystems.com

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Posted by Moore & Smalley

Mon 31st, Jul

Data protection has always been considered a key concern for big business. High profile data breaches in recent years highlight the scale on which data is now gathered and the risks inherent with collection of data en masse.

It has been almost two decades since the UK Data Protection Act was introduced in 1998. Since then, the internet has become critical to the success of most, if not all, organisations. Furthermore, the rise of social media and cloud storage have dramatically changed how an organisation markets its products and services.

However, data protection may not have been at the top of the small business owner’s ever-growing list of priorities. With the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018, this will need to change.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the new EU privacy directive designed to harmonise data protection practice across Europe. The new legislation will offer more protection to citizens and their data. Individuals will be required to give explicit consent for their data to be collected and organisations will need to be clear as to their intended use of the information; gathering data without any purpose will no longer be possible.

GDPR will also enable the existing right of individuals under the UK Data Protection Act to request access to their private information, giving individuals the right to have their information removed from any record where their personal data is held with no compelling reason.

This means that all businesses will have new obligations and responsibilities and consideration needs to be given now as to how they will comply before GDPR comes into force next year.

But won’t Brexit mean my business doesn’t need to comply?

The Government has confirmed that the decision to leave the EU will not affect the introduction of GDPR; significantly, the legislation will apply to any organisation supplying goods and services to EU citizens and so any UK business exporting to the EU will need to comply irrespective of Brexit (‘hard’, ‘soft’ or otherwise).

For businesses whose activities are limited to the UK, following Brexit, the position is less clear but the Government has suggested that even after Brexit, equivalent legislation will be brought into effect.

The regulations will also apply irrespective of size, meaning listed companies and SMEs will be subject to the same rules.

What will my business need to do?

In order to ensure the regulations are adhered to, some business will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO). The DPO will need to be external to the IT function and will normally be a director or other individual in a position of significant influence. The appointment of a DPO is specifically required for certain types of organisation (see website of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for more details https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/). The need to appoint a DPO should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

A key business activity affected by GDPR is sales and marketing. Businesses that regularly run email marketing campaigns will need to be able to demonstrate that recipients have explicitly opted in to receive your marketing electronically by keeping a formal record of when, where and how the opt in was made.

GDPR also means that robust processes must be established for detecting and responding to data breaches. Any breaches will need to be reported to the ICO within 72 hours.

We would therefore recommend conducting a review of how your business would respond in the event of a data breach and start formulating a plan for implementing any improvements.

So what next?

In the short term, we recommend taking the following steps:

• Designate someone within your business to take responsibility for compliance with GDPR and ensure they’re properly trained.

• Establish what personal data your business is storing and how.

• Assess how your business would respond in the event of a breach – could any improvements be made?

• Make sure you understand the regulations – the ICO website provides a wealth of information on GDPR, including a 12-step guide on how to prepare for the new legislation. https://ico.org.uk/media/1624219/preparing-for-the-gdpr-12-steps.pdf.

 

This article originally appeared on the blog of MHA member firm, Larking Gowen.

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Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 28th, Jul

The announcement of the Government’s £30bn investment into Crossrail quite rightly provoked indignation across the North this week, coming mere days after the postponement and cancellation of critical electrification schemes across the wider UK network.

Deeply concerning to businesses in Liverpool City Region is the current state of infrastructure in the North West which is essentially having to run to stand still. A lack of additional capacity on the West Coast Main Line has inhibited freight transport for many years – the arrival of HS2 (eventually) will only partially alleviate this pinch point, particularly from a start-end point of Liverpool. Until then, the speed of freight mobility along the line will be glacial at best.

The Government has previously talked a very good game in its various iterations since 2010, proclaiming the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ with its commitment to improving connectivity, as an essential requirement to “rebalance the economy” (which remains the key, fundamental argument for the HS2 business case). There had been some progress, following substantial lobbying from local authorities and business groups, with the real prospect of East-West connectivity improvements from Liverpool to Hull/Newcastle. The creation of Transport for the North was also a vitally important statement of intent and Northern Powerhouse Rail (“Crossrail for the North”) began to seem possible. And now this.

This isn’t about the North v the South. There is no doubt that Crossrail 2 is an important piece of infrastructure for London. However the figures quoted, in proportion to the level of investment outside the South East, make dismal reading and simply serve to undermine the commitments previously made as part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

The cancellation of the electrification of the Great Western Railway also has a knock on effect on the rest of the network as rolling stock earmarked for the North will now not be available – this surely puts some of the infrastructure work scheduled for the Transpennine route in danger of either not happening, or not being worth the effort. 

It is encouraging that our politicians appear to be saying “enough is enough”, as reflected in the statements issued by Mayors Burnham and Rotheram in response to Chris Grayling’s announcement. Our Chamber members share that sentiment.

It is now time for Chambers and other business groups in the North to reinforce our commitment and determination to ensure that the region not only has the investment in infrastructure we need to enable a positive future for our economy but also to make sure that the government fully understands the impact that future investment decisions will have on businesses across North.

Anything less and we have failed in our responsibility.

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Posted by Emma Agamian

Brabners

Thu 27th, Jul

Everyone knows there are certain archaic formalities to be complied with in order to execute a valid Will (although not everyone knows exactly what they are), but all that could soon be changed under radical changes to the law currently being proposed by the Law Commission. The consultation will run until November 2017 and will cover matters such as lowering the age at which a person can make a Will from 18 to 16, introducing a new mental capacity test to take account of improved understanding of conditions like dementia and suggesting that people will be able to use voicemail and text messages to make their Wills.

Under the proposals, the law would be relaxed to allow electronic communications to be recognised as a valid Will where the person’s intentions regarding the distribution of his/her estate were clear.  The Courts would have the power to rule on whether the person’s wishes were accurately recorded, without needing to consider whether the strict rules of Will making had been adhered to.

With online systems for creating Lasting Powers of Attorney and the Probate Service also introducing a new online application process, it is tempting to panic about shortly being replaced by a robot.  However, there will clearly always be a need for careful planning both for tax mitigation and for asset protection over the longer term.

Although an overhaul of what can be considered to be an “outdated” system may be welcome, care will need to be taken to avoid people putting in place valid Wills without appreciating the implications.  There is an instinctive concern that this may open the door to coercion of vulnerable people and claims from dissatisfied beneficiaries who produce passing comments recorded in messages as evidence of intention, but the proposals will cover various technical issues and hope to address these concerns.

It will be interesting to see the responses to the consultation but, without adequate safeguarding, the result of such radical changes may be simply much more litigation after the event….

To find out more on the subject please contact Emma Agamian or a member of our Private Client Department.

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