Frequently Asked Questions

We have answered our most frequently asked questions below. If you don’t find the information you need please feel free to get in touch and one of our Personal Injury experts will get back to you as soon as we can.

Immigration Law FAQs

If your spouse is not a British citizen or a national of a European Economic Area country, then they will need a visa in order to come to the UK to live. Most people in this situation will apply under the Immigration Rules for family members, although it is always worth considering whether other immigration categories might be better. For example, they may prefer to be sponsored by a UK employer under the Tier 2 (General) category.

If applying under the Rules for family members, you will need to meet requirements relating to the genuineness of your relationship, your good character (including criminal convictions), English language and your finances.

The financial requirements look at your recent earnings, anticipated future earnings and specify a minimum salary amount based on whether you have any children who also need to apply for visas. The minimum income you need to show is £18,600 where no children are applying with you. You then need to demonstrate an additional £3,800 for the first child and an additional £2,400 for each child after that. The Immigration Rules contain very strict requirements as to the documents which will be accepted as confirmation of earnings. If you are unable to satisfy the financial requirement through your earnings then you may be able to satisfy it by showing that you have held cash savings totalling at least £62,500 for at least six months before applying.

The family member Rules are very complicated and are interpreted very strictly by the Home Office and Entry Clearance Officers overseas. Please contact us if you would like a quote for us to assist with an application in this category.

Spouse visas (granted under the Immigration Rules for family members) are granted for an initial period of two years and nine months where the initial application is made overseas, or two years and six months if that initial application is made from within the UK. Once the holder of the visa is within 28 days of completing two years and six months in the UK, with this visa they can submit an application to extend their stay for a further two years and six months (demonstrating that they continue to meet the requirements for this category). Upon completion of a period of five years in the UK in this category you can apply for indefinite leave to remain provided you meet the relevant requirements.

In the overwhelming majority of cases visitors will not be permitted to switch their status or extend their stay in the UK. The Immigration Rules do not allow someone in this situation to switch their status. The only situations in which that might be possible are where there are exceptional circumstances which mean you are unable to return to your home country to make the application from overseas. The Home Office will approve such applications only very rarely so you should seek legal advice before making such an application.

In most cases, the sum required is £200,000. The funds can be held by you as the applicant or a third party who is making the funds available to you. Alternatively, you can also rely on £200,000 that has been invested into a UK business within the 12-month period before you apply. It is also possible to apply if you have access to £50,000, but only if those funds come from:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by the Department for International Trade
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
  • a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority

The Rules relating to applications made in this category are very complicated and interpreted strictly by the Home Office. Please contact us for further information if you are interested in making an application in this category.

There is no requirement to use a solicitor or other legal representative when making any immigration application. However, the Immigration Rules can be very complicated and the Home Office tend to interpret those Rules very strictly so it is important that you know what requirements need to be satisfied and what documents need to be submitted to demonstrate that you meet those requirements. We are experienced in dealing with immigration applications in all categories and will use that experience in ensuring that your application is as strong as it can be.

Please contact us for a quote if you would like us to assist with your application.

Tier 2 migrants are subject to a ‘cooling off’ period of 12 months if they leave the UK and their Tier 2 leave lapses. During this 12-month period they will not be permitted to return to the UK on another Tier 2 visa unless:

  • their previous Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was assigned for a period of 3 months or less
  • their new CoS shows that the salary they will be paid in the UK exceeds £155,300
  • they are applying in the Long-Term staff subcategory of Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and their previous CoS was issued in the Short Term staff, Graduate Trainee or Skills Transfer subcategories of Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

You can still return to the UK in another immigration category, such as visitor, during the cooling off period.

If you intend to live in the UK together after your marriage then you can apply for a fiancée visa. That visa will be valid for six months (so you must intend to marry within that timeframe) and will allow you to switch into the spouse category after you are married. If you do not intend to live together in the UK but want to be married here, then you can apply for a marriage visit visa. Visitors to the UK must not intend to marry here, so if you are planning on marrying in the UK you must apply for a marriage visit visa to allow you to do that.

The Immigration Rules permit an application to change status from fiancée to spouse to be made from within the UK.

If you were born before 1st January 1983 and unless your father was a foreign diplomat then you will be a British citizen by birth.

If you were born on or after 1 January 1983 then you might be a British citizen if either of your parents were British citizens or held indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence under EU law at the time of your birth. If your parents were not British and did not hold indefinite leave to remain but either of them subsequently acquired that status then you can apply to register as a British citizen, but only if you are not yet 18. If you have turned 18 or your parents are not British and do not hold indefinite leave to remain then you may be able to register as a British citizen by demonstrating that you lived in the UK for the first 10 years of your life and did not spend more than 90 days outside the UK during each of those years.

Questions of whether someone is already a British citizen or meets the requirements to be registered or naturalised as a British citizen are complicated. Please contact us for a quote for us to advise on these issues.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is a statutory fee which must be paid by all foreign nationals applying for a visa from overseas or for leave to remain in the UK which will be granted for longer than six months. The amount of the Surcharge is currently £200 for each applicant for each year that their visa or leave to remain will be valid (£150 for applicants under the Tier 4 or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) categories).

The Surcharge must be paid in full by credit or debit card when you make your immigration application and at the same time as paying the other fees associated with your application. If your application is refused then the Surcharge should be refunded.

Applications submitted at the Premium Service Centre attract a fee of £500 per person in addition to the standard application fees, so often the answer to this question comes down to a personal preference and budget. In most cases, applications submitted at the Premium Service Centre are decided on the same day, with documents returned after the application has been considered, so many people use the Premium Service Centre either because they want the certainty of a decision on the same day, or because they travel regularly and need their passport back. Do bear in mind though that even if a decision is made on the day of your appointment and your passport returned to you, it can take around one to two weeks for the Home Office to issue your new Biometric Residence Permit confirming your new status.

If an application is complicated or requires additional and more detailed consideration by the Home Office, it may be retained by the caseworkers and could take weeks to be decided. In such situations the Home Office will not normally refund any part of the application fee. Additionally, some types of application (e.g. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), citizenship and travel document applications) will not be considered at Premium Service Centres.

Please contact us if you would like a quote for our fees to assist with an application to be submitted at a Premium Service Centre.

If you are over the age of 18 then in order to become a British citizen you must apply to the Home Office to be naturalised. One of the requirements for naturalisation is that you are free from immigration time restrictions, which as an EEA national means that you must have acquired permanent residence. In most cases permanent residence is acquired after five years exercising EU Treaty rights in the UK in one or more of the following categories: worker, self-employed person, student or self-sufficient person.

The legislation which governs how naturalisation applications are to be submitted now requires you to have been issued documentation by the Home Office confirming that you have acquired permanent residence (for EEA nationals this is known as a “document certifying permanent residence“). Usually, applicants will need to have held permanent residence for at least 12 months before being eligible for naturalisation. You will also need to satisfy other requirements including an English language requirement, passing the Life in the UK Test, being of good character and residential requirements relating to your absences from the UK.

The result of the UK’s referendum on EU membership held on 23 June 2016 has created a great deal of uncertainty.

Please contact us if you would like a quote for our fees to assist with an application either to confirm that you have acquired permanent residence or for British citizenship.

Your options will depend on the category in which you made your application. If you applied under a ‘Points-Based System’ category such as Tier 4 (General) student or Tier 2 (General) migrant, then you can request an administrative review of the decision. The decision will be looked at by another Entry Clearance Officer who will review the application and refusal to determine whether it was correct under the Immigration Rules.

If your application was for a visit visa then there will be no right of appeal and your only option is to apply again.

If you applied under the Rules for family members then you can appeal against the refusal if you believe that the refusal breaches your or your family’s human rights, such as the right to a private and family life. However, as appeals can take many months to be heard, it may be better for you to apply again although whether this is the best course of action will depend on your particular circumstances.

Unfortunately not – the Immigration Rules do not permit someone with leave as a dependent spouse to be granted leave to remain as a Tier 2 (General) migrant from within the UK. You will need to return to your home country (or any other country where you have a right of residence) in order to apply for a visa in this category.

Sponsorship (CoS) your new employer will have indicated a date on which your employment with them is due to start. If your application for leave to remain is approved before that start date then ordinarily you cannot start work before then. However, if your new employer changes their mind and wants you to start earlier, they can file a report with the Home Office varying the start of your employment with them.

The initial confirmation that your application has been approved will be contained in a letter from the Home Office, however, this letter is not the grant of leave itself – that will come in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit which will be issued around one to two weeks after your application is approved. If the work start date on your CoS has already passed then the approval of your application means that you now have permission to start your new job. However, unlike the Biometric Residence Permit, the approval letter is not a document listed as acceptable for the Right to Work checks your employer should be conducting on all employees before they start work. Therefore, your employer may insist on waiting until you have received your Biometric Residence Permit before allowing you to start work so that they can carry out the appropriate checks.

If any of your children were born in the UK then the fact that you are British by descent will not prevent those children from being British citizens by birth. However, for any children born outside of the UK you are not able to pass on your British citizenship as you yourself are a British citizen by descent. However, there are provisions which allow the children of British citizens by descent to register as British if either the parent or the child and their parent can demonstrate additional ties to the United Kingdom.

Questions of whether a child is already a British citizen or meets requirements to be registered as British are complicated. Please contact us for a quote for us to advise on these issues.

To be issued with a British passport you need to be a British citizen. If you are not a British citizen yourself then even if you are married to a British citizen this does not automatically make you British. To become a British citizen you need to apply to the Home Office to be ‘naturalised’. The requirements for the spouses of British citizens to be naturalised are as follows:

    • aged 18 or over
    • of sound mind
    • meet a good character requirement
    • speak and understand English to a satisfactory standard
    • pass the Life in the UK Test
    • have been granted indefinite leave to remain or acquired permanent residence under EU law
    • meet the residency requirements, which in most cases require you to have:
      • lived in the UK for at least the three years before your application is received
      • spent no more than 270 days outside the UK in those three years
      • spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
      • not broken any immigration laws while in the UK

Family Law FAQs

Court should be viewed as the last resort. Few people attend Court for a divorce. You may have to attend Court in relation to children or financial matters but we will discuss making any application with you before doing so and will only issue proceedings if you instruct us to do so. Mediation should be attempted first in most cases.

You can make contact with us either by way of phone, email, website enquiry or call into one of our offices.

A divorce usually takes between 4 and 6 months to conclude. However if financial issues are not resolved during this period, you may be advised to finalise financial matters before applying for Decree Absolute.

Whilst the business is likely to be a matrimonial asset, it may be the case that you cannot easily sell your business, or shares in it, or if you do you will lose your income. Your wife may be compensated for any interest she has in the business from other assets.

There is no easy answer to this. The Court will consider a checklist of criteria which includes your respective incomes, earning and borrowing capacity, housing needs, number of children and the value of assets. First consideration goes to providing any children of the family with a home.

Mediation has been established for many years as an alternative process to the Court as an effective way of resolving disputes about children or financial issues. Before an application to the Court is made about a child or financial issue, the Protocol directs that a case should first be assessed by a mediator. This assessment is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). You cannot be compelled to mediate. Mediation is a voluntary process and both you and your ex-partner/spouse must agree to mediate.

Mediation is an alternative process to going to Court. This is an effective way of resolving disputes about children or financial issues. Before an application to the Court is made about a child or financial issue, the Family Proceedings Rules directs that a case should first be assessed by a mediator. This assessment is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

A divorce typically involves three written applications being submitted to the Court. Generally speaking, you will not be required to attend Court for any hearing in connection with a divorce or any allegations that you make. If the person seeking a divorce asks a Judge for a Court Order, asking the person responding to the divorce to pay the legal costs, and this is disputed, you may be asked to attend Court.

You will deal with the solicitor who initially took your query or met with you. In some circumstances, e.g. annual leave or sickness, your case may be covered by another solicitor. We also work with a paralegal in the family team who carries out routine administration and research type work at a lower hourly rate than our solicitors as it is more cost effective to manage your case in this way.

A solicitor will set out your options and your position in law. This knowledge and information can then form the basis either for further discussions with your ex-partner/spouse or mediation or negotiation through solicitors. Most solicitors will offer a free initial appointment without charge and many people make appointments on this basis to find out information before they decide the best way forward.

We will set out your options for funding your case in writing when you contact us. We can refer you to litigation loans’ companies, you can pay us monthly by way of instalments, or you can settle our fees in full.

In most family cases, costs orders are not made. This means that you are responsible for payment of our fees.  There are one or two exceptions to this and we will discuss this with you at our initial appointment.

You can pay your legal fees on the basis of ‘time taken’, i.e. an hourly rate, or you can ask us for a fixed fee. To help with your budget, we can arrange for fees to be paid by way of monthly instalments. We also offer ‘pay as you go’ and payment at the end of your case if you are financially eligible for a divorce or litigation loan. We will talk you through our full range of payment options.

You can obtain an emergency Court order to prevent your wife from relocating abroad until the Court makes a final decision about whether or not she can leave with your children. The Court will consider many factors which will include your existing relationship with your children and how this is likely to be affected if they move, as well as practical arrangements that your wife has put in place abroad relating to housing and schooling.

To personally help with your case depends on what type of case it is. If you have a financial case, it is a good idea to gather together as much financial information as you can before we meet with you e.g. value of property, mortgage outstanding, value of any investments. If you have a children issue, it is helpful if you can provide us with a reasonably accurate chronology in terms of dates that events have happened and arrangements have been put in place.

An initial appointment for advice and information about divorce, separation, civil partnership, protecting wealth and assets prior to entering into a relationship, children issues and financial issues is free of charge. We don’t limit the time of the first appointment. We can discuss your options with you at this initial appointment. We confirm our charges and advice in writing and ask you to sign and agree to this before we undertake any work. You can pay us in monthly instalments and our charges can often be on a fixed fee basis, or if you would prefer, a time taken basis.

A divorce involves a set of three written applications to Court.  There may be more than this if your case is more complicated than first envisaged e.g. problems with your husband/wife acknowledging receipt of the papers or defending the divorce. It is unusual to attend any Court hearing in relation to divorce unless there is a dispute about who should pay the legal costs of the divorce.

The lawyers in our family team have been accredited by recognised legal organisations as being experts in their field. Our lawyers have many years’ experience in family law.

You will meet or speak with one of our solicitors initially for a free appointment. Many of our clients have been specifically recommended to one of our solicitors and if this is the case, you will of course deal with that solicitor. You will have one solicitor deal with your case and we will confirm this in writing to you, with the exception that another solicitor may cover your case in the event of sickness or holiday. The Family Law team work with a paralegal who may work on your case from time to time.

If you want us to issue Court proceedings, we will always ask for any Court fees to be paid up-front.

Personal Injury FAQs

Do you believe you have been injured as a result of the negligence of another person or organisation?  Have you been injured as a result of an accident that was not your fault? If so , you might be entitled to compensation.

We will be able to advise you on whether the other party is likely to be found responsible and therefore whether you have a reasonable case.

We deal with cases on a no win no fee basis.  Put simply, this means that if your claim is not successful then you should not be charged anything.

If your case is successful ordinarily most of your fees will be paid by your opponent.  Some legal fees might have to be deducted from your compensation at the end of the case.  This might depend, for example, on whether you are a member of a union or if you have legal expense insurance.

If we think you have a good case and if you want to proceed then we can consider the best way forward for you in terms of how your claim is ‘funded’.

How much compensation you will get very much depends upon what injuries you have suffered from, how they have affected you and how they might affect you in the future.

Our specialist personal injury solicitors will ensure that you claim everything that you are entitled to claim.

We will give you advice about how claims are valued and how much your claim is worth.

We have accumulated an enormous amount of experience over the years and we will use this to your advantage in terms of getting as much compensation for you as possible.

A claim can be made so long as that treatment was necessary and linked to the accident. It is important to keep an accurate record of all expenses that have been incurred such as receipts for treatments you have paid for along with details of where and when treatment was provided.

It depends on the circumstances of your case, however most defendants prefer to settle out of court. Less than 5% of our cases end up before a trial judge.

You have 3 years from the date of your accident.

One of the common things we get asked is “how do I finance my injury claim?”. Firstly, we operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis which means you have nothing to pay if your case is lost. If we win your case, we take our fee in part from the losing party (usually the insurance company) and partly from you. The part payable by you is paid for from the compensation you receive.

Yes, but if your injury was so minor as to mean you did not need medical help or advice, this may be a problem.

Yes, but if they do, it becomes an unfair dismissal for which you should seek further legal advice. We are happy to put you in contact with an employment law expert who can answer any queries you may have.

Yes, you can still make a claim. It is useful to keep a note of the exact date and time that your accident occurred together with any other information which may assist, for example, the weather, traffic or workplace conditions (dependent on the type of accident you have had).

In addition, entries within your medical records can be used as supportive evidence, particularly where treatment was sought immediately after your accident from your GP or at hospital.

When making a personal injury claim for an accident, you will be required to attend a medical appointment as part of the claims process. An independent medical report is needed to provide evidence of the injuries sustained.

Your lawyer will organise the appointment for you. When attending the examination it is extremely important that you advise the medical expert of any pre-existing illness and symptoms and any previous accidents, no matter how long ago

We only take on cases where we are confident that we can win the case. We succeed in approximately 85% of cases we take on.

If you have had an accident then the usual rule is that unless your claim has settled, court proceedings have to be commenced within three years of the date of the accident.

If the injured person was a child at the time of the accident then usually the child has three years from their 18th birthday to have commenced court proceedings.

The time limit is not always three years – for example if the accident happened at sea.

More complex rules apply to industrial disease cases.

If you think you might have a claim then the best thing to do is to call us straight away. Our specialist personal injury solicitors can advise you about the time limit that applies to your case.

Generally speaking, you can claim for two things.

First, you can claim for your actual injuries, the pain and suffering that you have experienced, and how your injuries have affected different aspects of your life, such as your working life and social life.  How your injuries might affect you in the future is also considered.  In most cases we obtain specialist medical reports regarding your injuries.

Secondly, you can also claim for past and future financial losses and expenses.  For example, loss of earnings and the cost of treatment.

Very few cases end up in a court room.

If the Defendant admits liability then the overwhelming majority of cases settle without the need to go to court.

In the unlikely event that your case actually goes to court, our specialist personal injury solicitors will support you and explain what will happen.

As part of the Personal Injury process your solicitor will obtain medical records from your doctor or treating hospital to confirm the injuries that you have sustained. We will then instruct an independent medical professional to examine you with a view to providing a report summarising the circumstances of your accident, the injuries you sustained and treatment received together with any ongoing symptoms and a likely timescale for recovery (where they are ongoing).

We will review this report in full and then advise whether any further medical evidence or treatment is required. A valuation will be provided at the earliest possible opportunity.

Yes, we will advise you of our requirements specific to your claim.

We usually settle a straightforward road traffic accident case within 6-9 months, but workplace accidents and highway slips and trips can take longer. Complex and serious injury cases can take up to several years to settle due to the complexity of the issues involved and the time required to assess the true impact of the injuries. The time frames are also dependent on whether the other side admits or denies liability.

Compensation can range from approximately £1,000 for a straightforward road traffic accident claim to a seven-figure sum for life-changing and extensive injuries. We treat each case on an individual basis and can only advise on how much we think your case is worth once we have seen all of your evidence regarding your injury and losses.

No, not unless your injuries and out of pocket expense claims are identical in nature and effect, which is unusual.

No, your employer is responsible for the acts of the other employees.

Yes, you can still make an injury claim against an employer who no longer exists.

Your claim will be submitted to the Defendant who will have a specific timescale to either admit or deny liability. If they admit liability, we simply press on to obtain medical evidence and detail your out of pocket expenses so that a full valuation can be placed with the aim of settling your case.

If they deny liability, we will obtain full disclosure documentation from the Defendant so that we are able to assess your claim and we will then issue court proceedings.

Once issued through Court, the case is given a specific timetable by a Judge leading up to an eventual trial.

Wills & Probate FAQs

A will is a legal document that expresses a person’s wishes for what should be done with his or her property after he or she dies. You can also use a will to appoint an executor, name a guardian for your children, set up property management for young beneficiaries, or forgive debts.

You can make a will yourself, or you can have an attorney draft one for you. If you make your own will, use a high-quality do-it-yourself product that keeps up to date with state-specific laws.

Yes. A will is the best place to indicate who should be your child’s guardian. Keep in mind however, that courts will not automatically appoint the person you name. A court will always consider your choice, but it will also assess the situation and then appoint the person it thinks will do the best job for your child. Also, if your child has another living parent, that parent will care for the child the court will not name a guardian unless that other parent is found to be unfit.

You can use joint tenancy to transfer property to a cotenant without probate, but using this method to transfer property is not a substitute for having a will. Using joint tenancy raises significant tax and ownership issues that are very different from the issues raised by passing property through a will.

Also, while joint tenancy will keep the property out of probate, it won’t allow you to appoint an executor, name guardians for your children, or create property management for young beneficiaries—all things you can do in a will.

During your lifetime, you can change your will as long as you retain your remain “of sound mind.”

To change your will, do not just mark up the hard copy your current will. Markings added after the original will can indicate foul play and it could cause problems. Instead, for small, simple changes like changing the amount of a cash gift or changing the name of your executor you can make a will codicil, which is an add-on amendment to a will. If you want to make more significant changes, make a new will instead of amending your old one.

A personal representative is the person who wraps up the estate of a person who has died. The person who does this job is called the “executor.” When a personal representative is appointed by the court (rather than named in a will), he or she may be called the estate’s “administrator.”

Yes. You may appoint co-representatives to wrap up your estate. However, doing so isn’t always a wise choice.

Having more than one represetative can create problems if they are not able to work well together.

A better idea is to name one representative and then one or two alternates, who can serve if the first choice is not able or available to serve.

Most people should have a will. Even if you don’t think you need a will to distribute your property, you may need to make a will to name an executor or guardians for your children.

If you die without a will, state law will determine who will get your property. Usually, this will be your “closest” relatives, like a spouse, parents, children, or siblings. Each state has its own formula for determining the portion these close relatives receive. If no relative can be found, the property goes to the state but this rarely happens.

There are only a few requirements for making a legal will. These laws are set in state law. Here are the essentials:

    1. A will must be in writing.
    2. The will maker must be at least age 18.
    3. The will maker must have “testamentary capacity.“
    4. The will must be signed by the testator.
    5. The will must be signed by at least two witnesses who will not receive anything under the will.

A will does not need to be notarized, however in many states, you can also make a “self-proving affidavit” which helps the will go through probate and the affidavit must be notarized.

A “holographic” will one in the will maker’s own handwriting does not need to be witnessed. But holographic wills are problematic and should only be used when making a formal will is not an option.

Yes, for the most part you can give your property away however you wish, but there are a few exceptions. Your spouse may have a right to some of your property, and your children may be able to claim some of your property unless you expressly disinherit. Also, your estate will have to pay any debts that you die owing, and those debts will be paid before any property is passed to your named beneficiaries.

No. The representative of an estate normally must provide notice of probate to all interested parties, but this notice is usually made by mail. A family can choose to read the will as a group, but doing so not required it is rarely desired. Also, there is nothing private about a will that would require it to be controlled or read by an attorney or other representative. In fact, when a will goes through probate, it becomes a public document so literally anyone can read it or have a reading of it.

To contest a will, you will have to file papers with the court explaining why the will shouldn’t be upheld as-is. You must have valid grounds for contesting a will those include incapacity, fraud, undue influence and duress. If you want to contest a will, get help from an attorney.

A personal representative must follow state law to wrap up the decedent’s affairs. The main duties include:

    1. Giving the proper notices to the proper parties
    2. Collecting all the decedent’s property
    3. Receiving claims against the estate
    4. Paying just claims and disputing others
    5. Selling estate property, as needed
    6. Distributing the estate property according to the will or state law

Probate is the court process of wrapping up a deceased person’s estate. It’s the state’s way of making sure that the estate pays its debts and tax obligations and that estate property goes to the correct recipients. Probate is often time-consuming and expensive. It can be useful for some estates especially those that are heavily in debt, because it manages communications with creditors. But for most simple, straight-forward estates, probate is a waste of time and money.

By default, your estate will go through probate after you die. But with some planning you can minimize your estate’s time in probate, or you may be able to avoid probate all together. To keep property out of probate, instead of using a will, you can use other ways to transfer property–like living trusts, property ownership with rights of survivor-ship, and transfer-on-death deeds or designations. Property transferred through these types of devices do not go through probate.

In any case, if you want to avoid probate, you have many options, but you’ll need to learn more about probate in your state or see an attorney for help.

Landlord & Tenants FAQs

Yes. Your mortgage lender needs to give you permission before you can let your property, and they may impose special conditions. If you are buying a property with the intention of letting it out, you may be able to obtain a buy to let mortgage.

This really depends on how much support you need. At Your Move we offer three main service levels: Tenant Find, Rent Collect and Fully Managed. Each involves a different degree of service from Your Move and the fees we charge reflect this. Be sure you understand an agent’s fees and exactly what you receive for your money when you ask them to conduct a lettings valuation.

Landlords and letting agents are required to register tenants’ deposits with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. At Your Move, we register deposits with a scheme such as My Deposits. The deposit is then either held by the landlord, the agent or the deposit scheme itself. The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is there to protect the tenant’s money and help to resolve any disputes at the end of the tenancy.

An Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC for short, is a report detailing the energy efficiency of a property. It gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.

All landlords are required to purchase an EPC for a property before they let it and, from 1st April 2018, the property must have a minimum rating of E on its EPC. It will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches this requirement with a penalty of up to £4,000.

You are required to ensure that any electrical devices within the property are safe for use. We recommend an Installation Survey or Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) so you can be sure you are compliant.

If you choose a Rent Collect or Fully Managed service, we will organise for the tenant to pay the rent via standing order or direct debit. We will then transfer the money to your account minus our commission and any outgoings or fees (such as maintenance work fees). You will receive a statement every month.

All landlords could be liable to pay tax on their rental income, whether they live in the UK or are based overseas.

The tenant is responsible for the council tax (unless you decide to include this in the rent) but this needs to be clearly stated in the tenancy agreement. If the property is standing empty, it is the landlord’s responsibility to pay.

The landlord or the letting agent gives the tenant notice that they will be visiting the property to check it is being looked after, and to check for any potential maintenance issues.

It is sensible to insure yourself against non payment of rent. Your rent protection insurance pays 100% of your rent for up to 12 months if your tenant is unable to pay for any reason.

The Right to Rent scheme, which helps to make sure that people renting property in the UK have a legal right to be here, was rolled out across England in February 2016. At Your Move we’ve been doing this as part of our referencing process for many years, but if a landlord carries out their own checks they will now need to get an acceptable proof of residency or risk a fine. If we don’t currently handle tenant checks for you, we’d be very happy to discuss how we can help you with this.

The Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme provides compensation for landlords, tenants and other clients when agents misuse or misappropriate their rent, deposit or any other client funds.

We strongly recommend that you take the option of a professional inventory. It helps you protect your property and forms part of the contract between you and your tenant. It will detail the condition of the property when a tenant moves in and at the end of their tenancy. Vital to ensure there is no deposit disputes at the end of tenancies.

If you haven’t already, make sure you go and view the property. If it’s a house-share, meet all the people you’ll be moving in with. The letting agent will ask you to sign a Tenancy Fee Declaration form which lists the services they will provide and the Permitted Payments expected from you, in line with the Tenant Fees Act 2019. The agent will then begin the referencing process to ensure you’re in a position to rent the property.

Referencing is nothing to worry about. Tenants applying to rent need to give details of their employer and income, their previous address, and some bank account details. These will be checked to ensure they are able to commit to monthly rental payments.

In some circumstances, a tenant may not be approved immediately via referencing. Obvious examples are students without a regular income, or someone leaving their family home for the first time with no renting history. This is not uncommon, and there are still options for tenants in this position. They could pay the rent for the full term up front, or seek out a guarantor.

A guarantor needs to go through the same referencing process as a tenant. The normal requirement is that they are employed and a UK resident, with sufficient earnings to cover the tenant’s rental commitment.

In the case of a house-share, the tenancy agreement makes all tenants jointly responsible for all rents and responsibilities. There is no individual ‘share’ of the rent written into the agreement. The guarantor therefore has the same responsibility.

The landlord trusts the tenant to keep the property in a good condition and in good order. The deposit is held to ensure that any damages (over and above fair wear and tear) can be corrected at the end of the tenancy.

Landlords and letting agents are required to register your deposit with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The deposit is then either held by the landlord, the agent or the deposit scheme itself. You should receive details of the scheme, explaining where the deposit is held.

A Tenancy Deposit Scheme like My Deposits will protect the money for you and can offer assistance should there be a dispute about the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

A tenancy agreement is a contract signed by both the tenant and the landlord. It outlines all the rules to which both parties must comply.

Your landlord or letting agent will regularly schedule visits to the property. They want to make sure that the property is being looked after and maintained in a good condition, and they’ll be looking for any maintenance issues.

Ask a letting agent to value your home. We’re experts in the market, so we can tell you how other rental properties are doing in the area, and what kind of yield you can hope to expect.

Choosing a fully managed service allows you to completely relax. You never have to worry about the let. It creates a professional distance between you and the tenancy, and means you can avoid having to deal with all the bad bits like rent arrears and deposit disputes.

An inventory is a detailed list of the contents and condition of your property taken before the tenant moves in. It is important that if there is a dispute over damage at the end of the tenancy, you have proof of the original condition of the property and its contents.

A Gas Safety Record (GSR) is in place to ensure that all gas appliances, pipes and flues are in safe working order. It must be carried out by a qualified Gas Safe Register engineer. This needs to be checked every 12 months.

You must ensure that all furnishings comply with furniture and furnishing regulations. All compliant furniture must display standard labels in a prominent position. This is to reduce the risk of fire within the property

If you have chosen a regulated agent, then your money will be protected through the Protection Bonding Scheme. Not all agents are regulated.

You need to give the tenant appropriate notice before you enter the property.

Usually the tenant, though this should be stated in the tenancy agreement. However, if the landlord furnishes the property with a TV, they would be expected to pay the licence.

Either the tenant pays to fix the damage, or the cost for fixing the damage is removed from the tenant’s security deposit at the end of the tenancy. However, fair wear and tear should be allowed for.

If your tenant refuses to leave the property then legal action will be necessary. Your rent protection insurance covers legal fees up including any legal costs arising from regaining possession of your property from a tenant (providing there are rent arrears or the tenant has failed to vacate the premises at the end of a tenancy agreement).

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is an independent body to which landlords can refer any complaint should the agent fail to address it to their satisfaction.

There are a few easy and cheap ways to improve your property’s EPC rating. Ensuring all your lightbulbs are energy savers is a simple change. Check your loft insulation is at least 270mm too, and if you have cavity walls ensure these are filled with insulation.

More expensive ways to improve your property’s EPC rating include replacing an old, inefficient boiler; adding modern controls like room thermostats; or adding renewable technologies like solar panels to the property.

For a periodic tenancy (rolling on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis) you can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year, unless you seek the tenant’s agreement. For a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period of time) you can only increase the rent if your tenant agrees.

Before you start searching for your new home it’s a good idea to write down a budget. What are your current outgoings and what money do you have left each month to spend on rent? Take into account that, when you first move in, you will need to front a security deposit as well as the first month’s rent and a refundable holding deposit.

The landlord needs to be sure that that their tenant won’t have any problems paying the rent on a monthly basis and that the tenant will take good care of their property.

As part of the referencing process we need to be sure a tenant is who they say they are. We will require a proof of residency (such as a utility or council tax bill from the last 3 months) and proof of ID (such as a passport or driving licence).

If a tenant is not fully approved by the referencing process, they can ask a guarantor to support them. A guarantor (usually a parent or guardian) will agree to take joint responsibility for the rent for the property if the tenant fails to. Guarantors are required to pay any rent arrears (if the tenant does not pay) and for any damages costing more than the deposit.

The landlord is responsible for maintaining the property in a good state of repair. They will either take care of this directly, or do so via a letting agent – make sure you know who to go to when there’s a fault at the beginning of the tenancy. Check your ‘Welcome letter’ to find out what service level your landlord has. If it is Tenant Find or Rent Collect, then you will need to talk to your landlord directly. It it is Fully Managed then the agent will help. If you do damage to the property you are expected to cover the cost of putting this right.

In most cases, a tenant can only decorate or make changes to the property with the express permission of the landlord. We recommend receiving this permission in writing.

Don’t worry – accidents happen. Tell whoever is responsible for the property maintenance (either the landlord or letting agent) as soon as possible. You will be expected to cover the cost of putting it right. Don’t try to ignore or hide damage because it could get worse, and it will only come out of your deposit at the end of the tenancy.

If a tenant believes the landlord is not keeping to their side of the agreement – for instance, not maintaining the property in a fit state of repair – then the first thing the tenant should do is speak to their letting agent. The letting agent has a duty of care to the tenant, and may be able to help to resolve issues depending on the service type the landlord has with the agent. Look at your ‘Welcome letter’ to find out the service level of your landlord.

A landlord has to give the tenant notice before entering the property, unless it’s an emergency.

If you are tied into a fixed term contract, you will be liable for the rent until the fixed term is finished. If you are no longer in a fixed term contract (ie. a rolling contract) your tenancy agreement will define the notice you need to give.

It is always your responsibility to pay the rent, but circumstances change. What happens if you become unemployed or are unable to work due to sickness? The most important thing is not to let arrears pile up until they’re unmanageable. Speak to your landlord or letting agent and see if you can reschedule your payments. And don’t forget, you can get insured against sickness and unemployment to keep yourself protected.

Commercial Property FAQs

Be very careful about buying a property at auction, because as soon as the hammer goes down and the property is knocked down to you, you have an absolute contractual obligation to buy that property, in most cases, 28 days after the auction. That is the case even if there are problems with title, planning issues or anything related to the physical condition of the property. It is vital therefore to have a solicitor examine the auction pack produced by the seller’s solicitors and to advise you. in most cases it will also be highly advisable to instruct a surveyor to inspect the premises

Selling a property by auction is often a good way to sell a more unusual property, or one with particular issues. The advantages are certainty of sale, once the hammer has fallen, and hopefully, a good price achieved. You will however need to put together an auction pack with your solicitor to make sure all relevant matters are disclosed so that you cannot be sued for mis-description. To make sure that the property is not sold at a price lower than you are prepared to sell, you will need to agree a reserve price with the auctioneer.

An option gives the party with the benefit of the option the right to buy your property at either a fixed price, or a price fixed in accordance with a formula. The option period is fixed and will typically be for a period between 1 and 5 years. It is not the same as a conditional contract whereby the buyer is obliged to buy the premises upon the satisfaction of a condition or conditions. With an option the buyer is never obliged to buy. As a landowner, you should therefore be able to recover a price for the granting of the option which reflects the time period during which you will be unable to sell your land. At the very least the buyer ought to be obliged to pay your legal fees. An option is a complex document and legal advice is essential on its terms and their commercial significance

That will depend what the notice says. If you are in occupation of business premises and your lease has not been excluded from the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, then the notice will be under section 25 of that Act. The notice will state whether or not the landlord is prepared to grant you a new lease, and so, what the proposed terms are. Alternatively the landlord may state one of the number of specified grounds for not renewing the lease. In any case, this is an area where legal advice is essential and should be sought as soon as you receive the notice so that time limits for response are adhered to

The most important message here is that under no circumstances should you try to deal with the notice to break yourself. The lease will provide very specific provisions as to how the lease is to be brought to an end, the nature of the notice, when it is to be served and the pre-conditions to ending the lease. It is unlikely that the landlord will be pleased that it is losing its tenant and on that basis it will seek to challenge any errors in service of the notice. Time limits have to be strictly observed. So, instruct us as early as possible

Some businesses do rent business premises without legal advice, particularly when they are agreeing a flexible property licence with a reputable landlord such as a local authority. But you need to be very clear about what obligations and potential liabilities you are taking on. For example, you could find that you are liable for expensive repairs, trapped in an inflexible arrangement, or renting from a less accommodating landlord if the property is sold on by its owner.

Having a lawyer check a simple rental agreement will be inexpensive, while getting it wrong can be disastrous. So it is always wise to take professional advice.

It depends on the terms of the lease. Most leases will impose some repair and maintenance responsibilities on the tenant. Your responsibilities might be as limited as updating internal decoration from time to time, or include full responsibility for internal, external and structural repairs and maintenance.

Unless you have completely fulfilled your repair and maintenance obligations, the landlord will usually be entitled to serve you a schedule of dilapidations detailing the work that is needed and the estimated costs. This can include requiring you to reinstate the premises to its original condition if you have made alterations even if the landlord consented to the alterations.

If you fail to carry out the required work before the end of the lease, the landlord is likely to claim damages from you to cover the cost of putting things right. In some cases, however, these damages could be lower than the cost of doing the work for example, if the landlord is planning to redevelop the premises anyway.

In most cases, the landlord and tenant will agree a payment to cover any dilapidation. If you are approaching the end of your lease term, or have been sent a schedule of dilapidation, you should take advice. Your lawyer can work with a local chartered surveyor to negotiate a fair outcome for you.

The first step is to check what rights the lease gives you. For example, you may have the right to assign the lease to another business (so that they take over the tenancy), sublet the premises, or give notice to bring the lease to an end.

Failing that, you can attempt to negotiate the surrender of the lease with the landlord. Typically the landlord will expect payment for agreeing to this.

You should be aware that subletting or assigning the lease does not usually completely remove your responsibilities and potential liabilities:

    • If you sublet the premises, you continue to be the tenant under the original lease, and your existing responsibilities continue to be the same. In turn, your subtenant has a sublease requiring them to pay you rent, look after the premises and so on.
    • If you assign the lease, the new tenant takes over the tenancy responsibilities. But you may continue to be liable if the new tenant fails to pay the rent.

To start with, you should be clear about what your priorities are. Price is not the only issue, particularly if you are taking on a leasehold property. Possible negotiation objectives might include an initial rent-free period while you fit out the premises, a break clause allowing you to end the lease early, and minimising any security you are required to give (such as a deposit or personal guarantee).

It helps if you know as much as possible about what the seller or landlord’s position: for example, whether they are in a hurry to do a deal and whether they have already had other offers.

You should make sure that you know as much as possible about the local property market and what prices or rents are being achieved for similar properties. A local chartered surveyor can help with this. A survey of the premises will identify faults that you can use in the negotiations.

You may want to ask your professional advisers to negotiate on your behalf. They will be less emotionally involved and have the right expertise and experience.

The first step is to decide what business premises you are looking for.  Draw up a property specification with details such as:

    1. Whether you are looking for freehold commercial property, leasehold property or a flexible, short-term business premises rental
    2. What type of premises you want (for example, office, shop or retail)
    3. How much space you need and any particular requirements (for example, high ceilings or parking spaces)
    4. Where you want the premises to be.

Business premises will be a considerable expense, whether you rent or buy.  Buying can be cheaper than renting on a month to month expense basis, but a commercial mortgage can be difficult to obtain, and you’ll probably need at least 15% of the premises’ value as a deposit.  Commercial leases can often run for 15 years; so that’s quite a commitment, particularly if you choose unsuitable premises.

There’s a well-known estate agent’s saying that the three most important things to consider about any kind of property are; location, location and location.  And then many business people claim that the most important thing to consider about ‘location’, particularly for retail premises, is the amount of ‘passing trade’, ‘traffic’ or ‘footfall’; literally the number of people that naturally travel past the premises entrance.

But not everyone can afford business premises on the most popular High Streets in town, and in any case for some types of business this will prove to be a waste of money, impractical, or not allowed (local councils employ strict guidelines that can restrict the types of business that can operate in certain premises or certain areas).

So as well as location you’ll need to think about your budget, and what trade-offs you are prepared to make: for example, whether you would be prepared to consider business premises further away from your ideal location if they are substantially cheaper.

However if you look at somewhere more remote think about; is there any car parking space for your employees and customers, are the premises well served by public transport (how will your employees get to work?), and is there enough space to stock everything you need?  Are the premises accessible to wheelchair users?  Is there enough power, water and drainage?

Think about the space you’ll require, the layout you’ll require, and the space and layout you may need if your business grows.

Once you know what you are looking for, check commercial property websites and contact local commercial estate agents. It’s also worth contacting the local council and local business support organisations (such as enterprise agencies) as there may be grants to help you.

After that, a good solicitor will check leases for hidden costs, help protect you against any penalty clauses that appear in there, and can even use their local knowledge to negotiate a better deal for you.

Contact today to discuss your needs.  We can have a short chat for free in the first instance just to check that we will be able to help.  We call this Free Initial Assessment, and it’s a five-minute chat with a legal representative to reassure you that what is right for your needs.

The break clause in a lease sets out what rights you have to bring the lease to an early end. You can only exercise the break option at the specified date or dates.

If you do want to break the lease, it is vital to make sure that you comply with any conditions in the lease. The details will depend on the particular lease, but typically:

    1. You need to give written notice to the landlord by a specified date perhaps six months prior to the break date.
    2. The landlord will have the right to refuse the break under certain circumstances. Commonly this will be the case if you are behind with your rental payments; in some leases, even trivial breaches of the lease can be grounds for refusal.
    3. You will need to provide vacant possession of the premises on the break date, making sure you have moved out and returned the keys.

If you do intend to use a break clause, you should take legal advice and plan ahead. A small error such as giving notice in the wrong form or missing a deadline could be very costly.

Buying the freehold of your own commercial property represents a significant capital investment. Many businesses will not have the financial resources to make this a realistic option.

Many businesses that do choose to buy commercial property outright do this as an investment. For example, you might buy a commercial property in order to develop it, or as an asset that you hope will increase in value over time.

A far more common choice is to lease your business premises. Leasehold property is available in most areas to suit most businesses, and often requires little or no initial capital investment.

A relatively short lease, or a lease that offers you the option to get out of the lease early, gives you flexibility if your needs and circumstances change. Conversely, you might prefer a longer lease if you will be spending money to adapt the business premises to your particular requirements, or expect to build a local reputation. In either case, you should be aware that taking on leasehold property usually means that you will be responsible for maintenance and repairs.

The easiest option, with the lowest initial costs, is to rent business premises that are available on a short-term licence. This sort of flexible arrangement allows you to occupy business premises without taking on a substantial longer-term commitment. Typically, both you and the landlord have the right to end the rental at a month’s notice. Serviced offices and small workshops are often offered with a flexible licence.

Whether you are charged VAT on rental payments depends on the particular property. If the landlord has ‘opted to tax’ for VAT purposes, then the rental payments will be subject to VAT; otherwise, rental payments are exempt from VAT.

If your business is VAT-registered, your costs will not normally be any higher whether the landlord has opted to tax or not. You can reclaim any VAT you pay, in the same way as you do for other business purchases.

However, if your business is not VAT-registered, or if you make VAT-exempt supplies, any VAT charged on rental payments will increase your costs.

Once you have exchanged contracts to buy or lease business premises, the deal is binding. If you fail to complete the deal, you could be liable for any losses the seller or landlord suffers.

If you want to cancel the deal, you will need to negotiate an agreement to limit your potential costs. You should take legal advice.

Speak to a solicitor. An initial free enquiry will help you decide what course of action to take. A negotiated resolution is often the best option but if necessary you may want to take legal action.

Once you have found a buyer for your business, you will need to approach your landlord to obtain their consent to assign the lease to the buyer. An assignment of a lease involves transferring the lease so that the buyer becomes the tenant. Your landlord will want certain information from the tenant so that it can form a view whether the buyer is a suitable tenant and can afford the rent. You will need to be comfortable about this as well because, if the rent does not get paid you will probably end up paying it because the landlord will look to you to pay the rent under the “authorised guarantee agreement” that the landlord will more than likely require from you. the icing on the cakes is that you are likely to have to pay the landlord’s solicitors legal and maybe surveyors fees of up to £1000, so you need legal advice to help you through

Only if the contract/transfer to the builder/buyer provides that further monies are payable. It is increasingly popular for sellers to require that buyers are obliged to include claw back or Overage Provisions in sale documentation when they are selling land that may be developable at some time is the relatively near future. However, because an obligation to pay money is a positive covenant which does not run with the land, there is a need for the drafting of mechanisms to make the obligation “run with the land”. It is essential that parties agree as much details as they can as to the circumstances when money is payable; and that they are prepared to pay their solicitors a fee appropriate for the nature of the arrangements!

Lease are basically about the rent payable; other payments payable (service charge, rates, insurance premiums); repair obligations; permitted use; term (length) of the lease; and whether the lease can be assigned (transferred) or underlet to a third party. For a new start-up, knowing the extent of the financial obligation in the lease for the whole term is a good guide as to whether it is worth committing to a lease. It is however essential to take legal advice on a lease because a landlord may seek to incorporate terms that are not as agreed, and not fair to the tenant

This is a regular request. We are more than happy to review a lease on behalf of a tenant. However it is a proper job which needs to be dealt with as any other transactional work. It is also a two way process. You will have to tell us what you have agreed with the landlord and we can then tell you how the lease compares to the deal you believe you have. We will also advise you on what may be gained from carrying out searches, and what advantage there may be in appointing a surveyor.

The terms of the lease will govern what you can do. We can advise you on what your rights are. It may be that you can refuse consent quite properly under the terms of the lease, or it may be that you will be happy to grant consent subject either to the current tenant guaranteeing the obligations of the assignee under an authorised guarantee agreement (an AGA) or the new tenant giving a rent deposit to you under a rent deposit agreement. So long as the tenant is occupying under a properly drawn-up lease, you will be able to require the tenant to pay your costs for our work.

Your rights depend on the lease.

Many leases, particularly older leases, give you the right to renew the lease in most circumstances. However, the landlord may be able to refuse to renew the lease if:

    1. You agreed to give up your right of renewal when you originally took on the lease.
    2. The original agreement was for a fixed term tenancy lasting less than six months.
    3. The landlord wants to use the premises themselves or to redevelop them.
    4. The landlord has offered suitable alternative premises.
    5. You have sublet the premises and are no longer occupying them yourself.
    6. You are in substantial breach of the terms of the lease — for example, by failing to pay the rent or fulfil your maintenance obligations.
    7. The original agreement was in fact drawn up as a licence rather than a lease. This sort of rental agreement is typically used for short-term, flexible rentals such as serviced offices.

If your landlord is refusing to renew your lease, you should take legal advice. You may be able to negotiate an agreement, or if necessary take legal action.

You need to confirm that the equipment is owned outright by the seller (rather than being covered by a hire purchase agreement, for example). Your solicitor will do this for you.

You will also want to check the condition of the equipment. You may want to ask for servicing records or arrange for electrical or mechanical equipment to be independently tested.

More broadly, you should think about whether the equipment meets your needs and how much the equipment is adding to your costs. Would you be better off getting business premises without this equipment and then buying (or leasing) the equipment you really want?

The lease for your business premises should state when the rent will be reviewed and on what basis the new rent will be established. Typically rent reviews are based on ‘open market rents’ the rent that the landlord could expect if the lease was offered on the open market — though alternatives include indexing the rent to inflation.

A rent review based on open market rents may justify a sizeable increase in the rent, particularly if the general level of rents in an improving neighbourhood rises significantly. Improvements to the premises can also lead to a higher rental value — in some cases, even if you have paid for the improvements yourself.

If you think the proposed rent is too high, you should appoint a local surveyor to advise you and negotiate on your behalf.

Your initial costs typically include:

    1. Professional fees for your lawyer and surveyor.
    2. You will also need to pay the landlord’s legal fees if you have agreed to do so.
    3. Incidental legal costs such as the costs of searches and Land Registry fees.
    4. The price of the premises (for a freehold purchase) or any initial lease premium (for leasehold property).
    5. Any stamp duty land tax (depending on the price and/or the rent payable).
    6. The costs of any alterations, fitting out etc.

Your continuing costs typically include:

    1. Rent and service charges (for leasehold property).
    2. Insurance, utilities and so on.
    3. Non-domestic rates (business rates).
    4. Maintenance and repair costs.

Key terms in a lease include:

    1. How long the lease is, and what flexibility you will have if you want to leave the premises before the lease comes to an end.
    2. What the costs will be, including rent and any service charge.
    3. What your responsibilities are for repairing and maintaining the premises, and what restrictions there are on making alterations.
    4. What types of business the premises can be used for.

A full lease agreement can be very lengthy and detailed. It’s important to get professional lease advice to make sure that you understand exactly what you would be agreeing to. For example, you could be required to maintain the premises in good condition even if repairs are already needed when the lease starts.

It’s worth carrying out your own informal checks first. Take a look at the property to get an idea of its condition and check that it matches all your requirements. Have a look around the neighbourhood for any potential problems, such as noisy or disruptive neighbours.

You need to confirm that the premises have the right category of planning permission to allow them to be used for your kind of business. Your solicitor will check this as part of the routine searches involved in buying or leasing commercial property.

If you will be responsible for repairs — on either a leasehold property or business premises that you buy outright — get a professional survey carried out by a qualified surveyor.

You should take advice on what consents you are likely to need and how best to get agreement to your plans.

Whether you lease your business premises or own them outright, any significant alteration (such as structural alterations) is likely to require building control approval. Additional consents may be required for properties in conservation areas and listed buildings.

If you want to change the use of premises from one ‘use class’ to another for example, from a shop to an office you may require planning permission.

If you are occupying leasehold property, additional restrictions are likely to be included in the lease. Typically, the lease might contain clauses prohibiting significant alterations or a change of use, or these may require the landlord’s consent.

Start by checking the terms of your lease. The lease may prohibit subletting altogether or may contain restrictions: for example, only allowing you to sublet the premises as a whole.

Where subletting is allowed, the lease will generally state that the landlord’s consent is required (and you will usually be required to pay your landlord’s legal costs). You should take legal advice on the best way to approach the landlord.

You will also need to ask your lawyer to prepare a sublease covering the agreement between yourself and the new subtenant.

You are likely to share various responsibilities with the landlord, depending on the terms of the lease and who has the most control over different areas.

As an employer, you have a general duty to ensure that you are providing a healthy and safe working environment. As part of this you need to carry out a health and safety risk assessment. You are also responsible for fire safety.

Other responsibilities may include:

    1. Making sure that electrical or gas installations and equipment are safe.
    2. Managing asbestos, particularly if you are responsible for maintaining the premises.
    3. Ensuring that any building works are carried out safely.
    4. Making reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled employees and customers.

Your responsibilities depend on the lease.

For a short-term rental such as serviced offices, you might only be responsible for internal decoration, with other maintenance and repairs being the landlord’s responsibility.

With a typical commercial property lease, your obligations can be much more extensive. With a ‘full repairing and insuring’ lease, you are generally responsible for internal, external and structural repairs and maintenance. Or you may only be responsible for internal repairs and maintenance, while the landlord maintains the structure.

Corporate Law FAQs

The short answer is ‘No’. A business does not have to be a limited company. Someone setting up in business on their own has the choice of setting up as a self-employed person (a ‘sole trader’), or of having a limited company. If there are two or more people involved in the business then they have the choice of trading as a partnership or of forming a limited company or a limited liability partnership (LLP). For further information see our company choice page.

A limited company is registered at Companies House. It must operate within the Companies Acts and is governed by its own articles of association. There are different types of limited company but they all have these things in common. Once registered, a company has corporate personality. It is a legal entity (or legal person) with its own rights and obligations, separate and distinct from those of its members. The company’s property is its own and is not treated as belonging to the company’s shareholders and directors. The company itself can enter into contracts, employ people, sue and be sued and can be liable if it commits criminal offences. When the company incurs debts, the company itself is liable for them and the directors and shareholders are not (see below).
There are different types of companies used for different purposes, but for a trading business the only real options are the private company limited by shares and the LLP.

The basis of limited liability is that all debts incurred by a company are the company’s own liabilities and not directly the legal liability of the shareholders or of the directors. The company is a separate legal person from the shareholders and the directors. The company incurs debts in the course of its business and only the company is liable for those.
The shareholders’ obligation is to pay the company for the shares they have taken in it. Once the shares are fully paid for (and this would usually be the case with a private limited company) no further money is payable by the shareholders. So, if two people set up a company and take, say, one £1 share in it each, their only liability as shareholders is to pay £1 each to the company for their shares.
The directors incur no personal liability as all their acts are undertaken as agents for the company. However, there are certain circumstances where liability may be imposed by the court, particularly in respect of wrongful or fraudulent trading.

We register all our standard companies by electronic registration by arrangement with Companies House. This ensures the quickest possible registration time, usually within a few hours. It is also possible to register by sending forms and documents to Companies House. This has to be done for Community Interest Companies, as there is no electronic registration facility at Companies House, and is sometimes done in other, specialised circumstances.

Companies House is the government body responsible for registering companies in the UK. There are separate branches in Cardiff (for England and Wales), Scotland and Northern Ireland. We can register companies in all three. When a company is registered, documents and forms (and the registration fee) is sent to Companies House which, if everything is in order, will issue the company’s certificate of incorporation. Most registrations are now done electronically.

On first registration
The information varies according whether the company is a private company limited by shares, public company (PLC), limited liability partnership (LLP), company limited by guarantee, property management company, or right to manage company.

Annual return
Each year the company must send its annual return to Companies House. The annual return is a standard form sent out by Companies House, which must be updated and returned with the registration fee. Most annual returns are now sent electronically, when the fee is £13. The annual return states much of the information currently on file at Companies House (registered office, directors, shareholders, industry classification).

Annual accounts
All limited companies also have to register their annual accounts. Bigger companies have to file full accounts comprising a balance sheet, profit and loss account, directors’ report and auditors’ report. Small and medium sized companies can send ‘modified accounts’, containing less detail. There are exemptions from audit for smaller companies.

Notification of changes
If the company does any of a long list of things, the right form must be sent to Companies House. Common examples are changes to the directors or company secretary, or the registered office, or when shares are allotted. Some of these changes are quite straightforward. In other cases they are more technical than people realise. All official forms are available from Companies House website, and many simpler matters can be registered electronically.

Public record
All information registered at Companies House is available for public inspection and registering this information is the price of being granted the privilege of corporate personality and limited liability. Part of our business is obtaining information about companies (doing a ‘company search’), so if you need information about another company, let us know. Copies of forms and documents registered by every company at Companies House can be accessed from the Companies House website. Some information is free, in other cases a fee is payable.

All companies must maintain a set of statutory registers which are public documents and may be inspected by any member of the public. They must be kept at the registered office or some other address notified to Companies House. Most companies keep the statutory registers in a single bound book or loose-leaf binder, but they may be kept in any form, e.g. as a computer record. Our standard company formation package contains completed registers in a loose-leaf file with a slip case (a ‘company kit’). In outline, the registers comprise:

The register of members shows the names and addresses of the shareholders and the number of shares held by each member. The register of members is an important public document and the main evidence of who the shareholders are and how many shares they own. It is very important to the shareholders of a company that they are registered in this statutory register to be able to assert their rights on their shares.
Although not strictly required, most companies also keep separate registers of share allotments and transfers.

    1. The register of directors and secretaries records their names, addresses, etc.
    2. The register of charges shows mortgages or charges on the company’s property.

Most company’s statutory registers also include a minute book (a company must keep minutes of all board and general meetings) and share certificates. Share certificates are the documents held by the shareholders to show that they own shares in the company and are important documents that must be kept safely.

Completing the statutory registers is one of the first tasks required of a new company, and part of our full company package (but not the cheaper ‘basic’ package). Once this work is done there are no further routine Companies Acts requirements until the first annual return has to be completed when the company is a year old.

Every company must have a registered office to which all communications and notices may be sent. It is part of the information required when registering a company (with the postcode). The address of the registered office must appear on all business letters, emails, websites, etc.
The registered office must be in the country in which the company is registered: a Scottish company may not have its registered office in England or vice versa. The same applies to Companies registered in Northern Ireland. There is, of course, nothing to stop a Scottish company having a place of business in England (or an English company having one in Scotland) etc., but it must maintain a registered office within the country of its registration.
The address may be changed from time to time, but Companies House must always be notified on the correct form or by web filing.

A company’s objects are a statement of what the company is set up to do. before the Companies Act 2006 came fully into effect, all companies had a statement of objects in their memorandum of association. This has now been abolished as a requirement for companies registered from 1st. October 2009, so most companies registered from that date do not have a statement of objects. Companies that are charities or Community Interest Companies, and some other specialist companies, will still have an objects clause in their articles.

A company limited by shares must have a share capital divided into shares of a fixed amount (usually £1). Shares are issued to the owners of the company. To protect the creditors, share capital is locked into the company and can be returned to the shareholders only subject to strict rules. The shareholders own the company in proportion to the number of shares they hold.

A typical example might be that A, B and C set up a company and decide that they will each put in £10,000 as capital. The company would issue 10,000 £1 ordinary shares to each of the three shareholders. The company’s issued share capital will be £30,000 divided into 30,000 shares of £1 each. Each shareholder owns one-third of the company, has one-third of the votes and is entitled to one-third of the profits (if any!).

This will depend on a range of factors. This will include the size of the business, its assets, its is staff, the services it provides, whether its held by an individual or a company and what is happening with the business premises. We’ll tell you about all the associated costs, such as search fees, land tax or stamp duty. We do offer fixed fees for business sales and purchases, so you’ll know what costs are involved right from the start.

It can take anywhere between 4 and 12 months. This really depends on how complex the transaction is. The speed of the transaction also depends on the response timescales of others involved in the transaction including lenders or landlords. We are usually able to provide you with an indication of the anticipated timescale for the transaction on our first consultation. We try hard to push deals through as soon as we can.

Heads of Terms or Letter of Intent essentially set out the main terms of a corporate deal. The Heads of Terms will include, for example, sale price, what assets are included, who the seller and the purchaser are, and any other key terms. They may be drawn up by the selling agent, or one of the parties’ solicitors. Heads of Terms are commonly agreed and signed by both parties and can be legally binding. It is strongly advisable to seek legal advice before signing. Clauses with regard to exclusivity, legal costs etc. need to be very carefully considered and consulting one of our expert lawyers will ensure you get the best deal possible.

There are several different types of business structures available. Sole trader, limited company, an ordinary partnership, a limited partnership, a limited liability partnership or an unincorporated organisation. The different business structures will define your legal responsibilities in terms of the paperwork that must be completed (including accounts and Companies House forms), what types of taxes the business will be required to pay and determine how profits and losses will be shared.  The form that we will advise your new business to take will depend on how you intend to run the business, what you are seeking to achieve and your preferences with regard to your legal responsibilities. We can advise you as to each of the options and assist you with setting up your business according to your choice. Spending some time at this stage making sure the business structure is right can often save time and money as the business develops.  We will make it clear from the start what the cost will be so that you know how much to budget for legal advice

The requirement for authorised share capital was abolished on 1st. October 2009.
Before that, when a company was set up the amount of the ‘authorised’ share capital had to be stated in the memorandum (which has also been abolished). The authorised capital was an upper limit to the amount of shares the company could issue. There was no requirement for the company to issue all its authorised capital and the figure has no implication for the liability of the members. Companies registered before 1st. October 2009 will still be restricted to the amount of authorised capital stated in their memorandum, but that can be removed by adopting new articles.

There is not a simple answer to this. It depends on the circumstances.
A company set up to run a business will usually have money (and perhaps other assets) put into it by the shareholders in return for shares.

Take the example above, where A, B and C set up a company and decide that they will each put in £10,000 as starting capital, and they each take 10,000 £1 shares. Putting all the money in as share capital is not the only way. An alternative would be for the three shareholders to take one share each and to lend the money to the company. In this case the company will have an issued share capital of £3, divided into three shares of £1 each.

In many cases, either solution would be appropriate. Either way, each shareholder is an equal one-third owner of the business. They have one-third of the votes each, will receive one-third of any dividends and are entitled to one-third of any net assets remaining if the company winds up. There are, however, striking legal, taxation and practical differences between the two approaches.

If the £30,000 is put is as share capital, it is effectively locked into the company and cannot easily be returned to the shareholders. Companies can buy back their shares but only in quite restricted circumstances and subject to quite strict procedures.
Money loaned to the company can be repaid to the lenders at any time. If the company fails, the shareholders, as lenders, may claim in the liquidation for the return of their money as creditors of the company. If the loans have been secured by the company issuing debentures to the three shareholder/directors, they may rank as secured creditors, which will put them in a more advantageous position than the ordinary creditors.
There may also be a tax advantage in putting the money in as loans. When the company starts to make money, the loans can be repaid without there being any tax payable by the lender on receiving the repayment. Further, interest may be paid to the lender whether or not the company has made profits.
For all these reasons, money put into a company as capital is often put in as loans rather than share capital.

There may, however, be good reasons for committing the money as share capital.
A company capitalised at £30,000 is clearly more substantial than one with a nominal £3 share capital. The amount of share capital appears on the public record at Companies House and it may be important to display the substance of the company to potential creditors and other business contacts. In some cases, banks or investors may want to see capital committed as share capital simply because it is then ‘locked in’.

There may also be good reasons as between the three shareholders why they should want to see that the money committed by the others is in the form of share capital.
At a more sophisticated level, where substantial investment is being put into a company, the investors may well want a package of loans and shares, perhaps requiring different classes of shares to protect different aspects of their investment and to give them an appropriate package of rights in the company.

The decision as to the capitalisation of a substantial company should usually be taken only with appropriate legal and accountancy advice.

A company can create different classes of shares by giving them different rights. If a company has only one class of shares they will be ordinary shares and will carry equal rights. Because in recent years there have been tax advantages in companies paying profits out as dividends, many companies now have different classes of shares.
Different classes are typically created by varying the voting, dividend and capital rights attached to the shares. The rights attached to shares will usually be set out in the company’s articles. This can be done when a company is first registered, or later, by passing resolutions to alter the articles.
We have many years of experience of drafting company articles and can advise as to appropriate classes of shares to meet individual circumstances. Contact us if you want advice on this area.

There is no statutory provision prohibiting a child from owning shares. In many family owned companies, shares are allotted to children as a means of providing them with capital assets which may be expected to increase in value as part of longer term inheritance and capital gains tax planning. Paying dividends on such shares can also be useful ways of using children’s personal allowances for income tax (and can be useful when supporting older children through university, etc.) Professional advice should always be taken when using any such schemes.

As from 1st. October 2008 a child under 16 cannot be a director of a UK registered company.

A company has to have both shareholders and directors. The shareholders (also called ‘members’) own the company and the directors manage it. Unless the articles say so (which is very unusual) a director does not need to be a shareholder and a shareholder has no right to be a director.
The separation in law between directors and shareholders can sometimes be confusing. If two or three people set up a company together they will usually all be both directors and shareholders. The problem with this is that company law requires some decisions to be made by the directors and others to be made by the shareholders and, in either case, there are formalities to comply with. To complicate matters further, some decisions have to be made by the directors, but only with the shareholders’ consent. Having said that, directors can make most decisions for the day to day running of the company, and only certain important decisions need to be authorised by the shareholders. Contact us for advice on any problem of this sort.

There is also a difference with regard to remuneration. Directors can be paid wages or salaries by the company for the work they do, just like any other employee. The shareholders, on the other hand, can receive a share of the profits the company makes by being paid a dividend. When the directors and the shareholders are the same people, they may receive some of their money as wages or salary (as directors) and some of it as dividends (as shareholders). There are tax differences between salaries and dividends which can make a substantial difference to the tax paid, so advice should be taken.

When it comes to voting, the usual arrangement is that each director has one vote (at a board meeting – a meeting of the directors), but the shareholders have one vote for each share they own. So a shareholder with lots of shares has lots of votes, but only at general meetings, i.e. meetings of the shareholders. Most decisions are made at board meetings, not general meetings.

This is a new term which came into effect on 1st. October 2009. Until that date, directors were required to state their usual residential addresses on the forms at Companies House. Now they may state a service address, which may be the company’s registered office or some other address where they may be contacted. A director must still notify Companies House of his or her residential address, but this is not put on the public record, though it will be available to public authorities and credit reference agencies. So, when registering a company, the director must state both their service address and their usual residential address (though they may be the same address.

In outline, the process is for the new company to be registered and then for the sole trader’s or partnership business to be sold to the company at an appropriate value, the consideration for which is the issue of shares in the company. There are many legal, taxation and practical considerations to take into account and your accountant’s advice is essential

A typical process would be the following. An existing partnership business worth, say, £30,000 is to be incorporated. The company is registered and a date chosen for the new company to take over the business. There are three partners and they own the business as equal partners.
A contract is drawn up between the partners (as vendors) and the company (as purchaser), under which the partners sell the business assets to the company for £30,000, to be paid by the company issuing 30,000 £1 ordinary shares to the partners. As they own the business equally, they get 10,000 shares each.

From the company’s point of view, this will be an allotment of shares for non-cash assets, and care must be taken to ensure that all the company law procedures are complied with. We can prepare a contract of transfer and the documentation to allot the shares.

A ready-made company is one that has already been registered for re-sale when required. Many years ago, when registration times were long, it was a useful device, enabling a new project to be incorporated very quickly or a contract entered into in a company’s name, etc. without waiting for the company to be registered. Now that electronic registration allows a new company to be registered very quickly, ready-made companies are very little used and we (like most others) no longer stock them.

A shareholder’s agreement is a contract between the shareholders of a company in which they agree how the company will be run. They all agree that they will use their voting power in the company to ensure that the terms of the agreement are complied with for as long as they are all shareholders. 

Essentially this is a “fact finding” exercise about the business; its accounts, its employees, its clients, its assets and liabilities and any appropriate insurances in place. When we act for a buyer, we submit relevant and comprehensive enquiries requesting copies of all the necessary documentation, reviewing these and identifying any gaps or issues, raising further enquiries as appropriate.  When we act for a seller we advise on completion of all the enquiries received from the purchaser and assist in organising and indexing the documentation which will then be referred to throughout the transaction.

Most purchasers want to avoid the risk that the seller immediately opens a competing business nearby after the sale has completed. Usually there will be some provision in the agreement, restricting the seller from opening or working for a competing business within a certain geographical area around the business. An agreement will also commonly contain provisions that the seller agrees not to contact existing clients or customers or poach staff for the benefit of another business. These terms are negotiated as part of the agreement for sale.

Warranties are designed to obtain the formal disclosure by the seller to the buyer as to the accuracy of the information provided during the due diligence process. Indemnities are promises by the seller to make good any potential losses that may be incurred by the buyer in certain circumstances.  Warranties and indemnities are negotiated as terms of the Agreement. The greater amount of warranties and indemnities there are, the more the buyer will feel confident about the business they are buying and this can mean that a higher price can be negotiated.

On exchange of contracts, the parties become legally bound to complete the deal. A deposit towards the purchase price is usually paid to the seller’s solicitors, and this can be forfeited if the purchaser then withdraws from the transaction. On completion, legal title to the new business passes to the purchaser. The current owners of the business will resign from their positions as directors or secretaries of the business as required. The seller is entitled to receive payment for the business; this can be payment in full, or part payment where a retention is made or there is deferred payment for a commercial reason. Usually some money will be held back pending production of final accounts for the company.

A joint venture is when two or more business entities or individuals combine to access or grow a particular market or set up a new undertaking or project. Entities such as partnerships, consortiums and trade alliances all fall under the Joint Venture term.   A Joint Venture agreement will be drawn up to deal with terms such as the business’ objectives, how they will be achieved, financing, management and how profits will be shared. 

Road Traffic Offences FAQs

Yes, put simply, the police have wide powers to stop anyone at any time. They do not need to give you a reason and if you fail to stop that is an offence.

You may be asked to produce your:

    1. driving licence
    2. insurance certificate
    3. vehicle registration

If you don’t have these with you, you’ll be given seven days to produce them at a police station.

The police may breathalyse you if they reasonably suspect you have been drinking or that you have committed an offence while your vehicle was moving.

If you’ve committed a traffic offence, they may issue you with a:

    1. fixed penalty notice
    2. vehicle defect rectification notice

The police can arrest you for any offence in certain circumstances. Serious road offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving, may result in imprisonment.

There are extensive rules about how and when the police can and should use all these powers.

If you’ve committed a minor traffic offence, like not wearing a seatbelt or not following traffic signs, the police may issue you with a one-off fine called a fixed penalty notice.

    1. Non-endorsable offences (meaning those which don’t result in points on your licence) usually incur a fine of £50.
    2. Fines for endorsable offences like speeding are usually £100. From 1 March 2017, using a hand held mobile phone while driving can result in a £200 fine and 6 penalty points
    3. More serious offences, such as driving without insurance, can incur fines up to £300.
    4. Police in the UK do not have the power to make you pay fines on the spot.

You have 28 days to pay the fixed penalty or request a hearing, otherwise the fine will increase by 50% and you will be reported for prosecution.

If you feel a penalty notice is unjust, you can choose not to pay the fine and argue your case in court.

If your vehicle is defective, for example, one of its indicators is broken, you may be issued with a vehicle defect rectification notice. This means you have to fix the fault and provide proof, such as a receipt from a mechanic saying the fault has been fixed, at a police station within a given time period.

If you commit an endorsable office, penalty points are applied to your driving licence. If you accumulate 12 or more penalty points during a three-year period, you will be liable for a ‘totting up’ disqualification. The relevant dates for working out the three-year period are the dates of the offence, not the dates of conviction.

You can also be disqualified for many offences themselves, regardless of the totting up system.

A totting up disqualification is usually for a minimum of six months, but can be a minimum of up to two years if certain previous disqualifications exist. It is sometimes possible to avoid a totting up disqualification if you can show that this would cause ‘exceptional hardship’.

There is no statutory definition of exceptional hardship and it is up to the court to decide on the circumstances of each case.

The key word is ‘exceptional’. For example, the courts take the view that losing your job does not of itself amount to exceptional hardship, as anyone losing their job would suffer hardship. But this does not mean that loss of your job would not be regarded as exceptional hardship, as it all depends on the particular facts of the case.

One factor that the court will consider is how the disqualification will affect other people who are dependent on the driver being able to drive. For example, family members or work colleagues.

This is relevant only to certain offences, the main ones being dangerous driving, driving without due care and attention, inconsiderate driving, speeding, failure to comply with traffic directions and signs, and leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position.

For these offences, generally speaking you must either be warned at the time of the offence of the possibility that you will be prosecuted for it, or either you or the registered keeper of the vehicle must be served with a notice of intended prosecution, or with a summons, within 14 days of the offence.

This obligation arises where you, as registered keeper of the vehicle, have received a notice requiring you to identify the driver who is alleged to be guilty of an offence. The notice is often combined with a notice of intended prosecution.

You are required to provide this information even if it incriminates you.

If you genuinely do not know who the driver was, you might be free of the obligation, provided you can show that you could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver was.

Yes, although this is not without difficulty and can be expensive, particularly if you need to call expert evidence to support your challenge.

The speed camera in question must have been approved by the Secretary of State. The record of its use has to be signed by the police and you have to be given notice at least seven days before the court hearing of the intended use of the signed record in evidence.

You can have the record examined in order to ascertain whether there has been any defect in, for example, calibration of the device, or in its correct use. The court will usually assume that the evidence produced by the record is correct unless there is persuasive evidence to the contrary.

It depends on the speed limit and the speed that you are proved to have been driving at. Generally, the courts will consider a disqualification if you were driving at speeds that are over a particular threshold of the speed limit in question, but this is only a matter of guidance for the courts and you can be disqualified for any degree of speeding.

Factors that will weigh in favour a disqualification, apart from the actual speed in question, include poor road or weather conditions, driving a large or heavy goods vehicle or a public service vehicle, towing a trailer or caravan, carrying passengers or a heavy load, driving for hire or reward, or evidence of an unacceptable standard of driving apart from speed.

In the UK, this is 80mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, which can also be measured as 35 µg (microgrammes) of alcohol in 100 ml of breath or 107 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine. Different thresholds apply abroad.

There is no hard and fast rule as to how much alcohol would provide these readings, as much will depend on body mass, rate of metabolism, whether food was consumed at the same time as drinking and what time elapsed between drinking and driving. The only safe way to avoid falling foul of the drink-drive laws is to not consume any alcohol if driving

In the case of blood or urine tests, you are required to be told before leaving the police station of your entitlement to one of the two samples taken in order to have your own tests carried out by an expert.

If a breath sample was taken at the police station, they you must be given the print-out of the result. Again, you can appoint an expert to consider the reading against evidence of the alcohol you consumed and to ensure that the correct procedures were followed.

Challenges of this kind are not easy. But the law concerning excess alcohol is highly technical and there can sometimes be room for investigation into the correctness of the prosecution process.

The minimum period of disqualification for driving with excess alcohol is 12 months, but that minimum is increased to three years if you have a relevant drink-drive related offence in the previous 10 years.

These minimum periods can be reduced by not less than three months and not more than a quarter of the original period if you agree to attend an approved course – if the court offers it to you.

The court can impose longer bans, particularly where there are aggravating factors.

In limited circumstances, it is possible to persuade the court not to disqualify you if ‘special reasons’ exist. These reasons relate to the offence itself and not to the effect on you of disqualification. An example of a special reason is the driving of an extremely short distance.

You are likely to be convicted for being ‘in charge’ of the car, while either being unfit to drive through drink, or being in excess of the alcohol limits for driving. This could result in a disqualification from driving for any period, depending on the circumstances.

The best chance of avoiding this outcome is to prove that you could not have driven the car, for example by giving the keys to someone else (not in the car) to look after.

An endorsement stays on your driving licence for four years from the date of conviction, with the exception of these three types of offence which remain on your record for 11 years:

  • drinking, or drugs, and driving (offence codes DR10, DR20, DR30, DR80)
  • causing death by carelesss driving while under the influence of drink or drugs (offence codes CD40, CD50, CD60)
  • causing death by carelesss driving, then failing to provide a specimen (offence codes CD70)

The four year period contrasts with the ‘totting up’ rules, where the penalty points no longer count after just three years in most cases.

Government data for 2016 shows that there was a 13% increase in the number of people found guilty of speeding since 2014 – up to 167,976. Of those found guilty, 167,615 received a fine and 4,163 were disqualified from driving.

Prosecutions for using a hand-held phone whilst driving have fallen year on year. In 2016, 11,961 drivers were found guilty for using or causing someone to use a mobile phone whilst driving, compared to 16,093 found guilty in 2015 and 16,025 found guilty in 2014.

There are different speed limits for cars, vans, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and towing vehicles on different types of roads and you must not drive faster than the speed limit for the road and your type of vehicle.

Details of the national speed limits can be viewed here.

It should be noted that local councils may set their own speed limits in areas where there is a particular need. For example, there could be a 20 mph zone in a built-up area near a school or a 50 mph (rather than 60 mph) speed limit on a stretch of road with sharp bends. Local limits must be clearly signed.

In 2018, 46 per cent of cars and 47 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit (70 mph) on motorways in free flow conditions. 11 per cent of cars and 12 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit by 10 mph or more in free flow conditions. Compliance with the speed limit on motorways by articulated HGVs in 2018 was very high, with only 1 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit.

Across all road types and in free flow conditions, national speed limit single carriageways had the highest level of speed limit compliance for cars in 2018 with only 10 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit (60 mph). For other classes of vehicles, compliance with speed limits on this type of road is lower with 36 per cent of short buses (under 12m), 36 per cent of rigid HGVs and 20 per cent of articulated HGVs exceeding the speed limit.

52 per cent of cars and 53 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit on 30 mph roads in free flow conditions. For the larger-sized vehicle types, there were also high levels of speed limit exceedance, with 46 per cent of rigid HGVs, 42 per cent of articulated HGVs and 36 per cent of short buses exceeding the speed limit in free flow conditions.

Vehicle speeds on 20 mph roads in the sample reflect patterns seen on other roads types for each vehicle class – HGVs and buses saw greater speed compliance than cars, vans and motorcycles. Under free flow conditions, 87 per cent of cars exceeded the speed limit at the 20 mph sites; 22 per cent exceeded the speed limit by more than 10 mph.

Source: Vehicle Speed Compliance Statistics: Great Britain 2018

The law is the law and police forces have the right to penalise anyone who is breaking the speed limit. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) previously quoted the following guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) (now superseded by The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC)), though that guidance is no longer available either on the CPS website nor is it on the NPCC website.

The revised speed enforcement policy guidance issued by ACPO in 2013 suggests that enforcement will normally occur when a driver exceeds the speed limit by a particular margin. The particular margin is normally 10 per cent over the speed limit plus 2 mph. The guidance sets guidelines for when it would be appropriate to issue a fixed penalty notice or for the driver to attend a speed awareness course, and when it becomes appropriate to issue a summons. These are guidelines only and a police officer has discretion to act outside of them providing he acts fairly, consistently and proportionately.

In summary the guidelines are:

Speed limit: 20 mph

ACPO threshold for:

    • a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 24 mph
    • summoning: 35 mph

Speed limit: 30 mph

ACPO threshold for:

    • a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 35 mph
    • summoning: 50 mph

Speed limit: 40 mph

ACPO threshold for:

    • a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 46 mph
    • summoning: 66 mph

Speed limit: 50 mph

ACPO threshold for:

    • a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 57 mph
    • summoning: 76 mph

Speed limit: 60 mph

ACPO threshold for:

    • a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 68 mph
    • summoning: 86 mph

Speed limit: 70 mph

ACPO threshold for:

    • a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 79 mph
    • summoning: 96 mph

Yes. Analysis of Home Office figures has revealed large differences between the police forces of England and Wales in the way they enforce speed limits and dispose of speeding cases, with the number of drivers being detected for speeding more than 160 times higher in some parts of England and Wales than others.

The figures show that 2,292,536 speeding offences were detected across England and Wales in 2017-18, a 4% rise on the 2,213,257 figure for the previous year (2016-17). However, the data also shows that while Avon and Somerset constabulary detected 199,337 speeding offences, neighbouring Wiltshire – which according to press reports has no active speed cameras – detected just 1,191.

There were also large variations in the way offenders were punished, with the proportion of speeding offenders sent on a speed awareness course showing widespread regional variation. For example, in Derbyshire just 1 per cent of offenders were sent on a speed awareness course whereas at the other end of the scale 60 per cent of offenders detected in Durham were sent on a course.

The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme allows Chief Constables to offer eligible offenders who admit the offence of speeding an opportunity to attend a speed awareness course on the effects and dangers of speeding as an alternative to a speeding fine and penalty points.

The courses aims to influence the attitudes and behaviour of drivers by directly challenging attitudes towards speeding, offering motorists insight, awareness and understanding about their speed choices, and helps equip participants to change their behaviour.

 In 2018, the number of drivers that opted for a National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme speed awareness course rather than accept penalty points on their driving licence was 1,186,536.

Attendance increased yearly from 2010 to 2015, due to increasing numbers of police forces joining the scheme over this time and not solely to trends in offences being committed. Since 2016, the number of people attending a course has been largely unchanged.

Source: National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme: Trends and Statistics

No. There are big differences in what drivers can expect to pay for speed awareness courses depending on where they live.

In 2017, analysis by the Press Association of data from the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme showed that speeding motorists attending courses in Northamptonshire paid £75, while those attending in Essex paid 32 per cent more (£99).

The average across the country was £88.90.

The Press Association study also showed that the amount police forces receive from each course increased from £35 to £45 in 2017. This money is described as a cost-recovery fee and goes towards paying for fees associated with administering the courses.

In a study commissioned by the Department for Transport and carried out by Ipsos MORI, it was found that targeting the behaviour of motorists through these courses reduced the likelihood of re-offending within six months by up to 23 per cent. The report also concluded that over a period of three years, taking part in the course was more effective at reducing speed re-offending than a fine and penalty points.

Yes. There are a range of courses run under the auspices of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme.

These include Safe and Considerate Driving Courses aimed at drivers who have been involved in a collision without serious consequences, where their driving has amounted to a lapse of concentration or an error of judgement and a National Motorway Awareness Course for motorists driving on motorways, who have been detected exceeding the active variable speed limit or who have passed through a mandatory Red X lane closure signal or committed infringements occurring on hard shoulders and emergency refuge areas.

Analysis shows that the number of road users who have completed a driver retraining course since their introduction in 2010 topped ten million in 2018.

In 2018, 1.45 million people accepted a place on one of the eight courses sometimes offered by police as an alternative to a fine and points for more minor offences.

This data suggests that, astonishingly, as many as one in four drivers has now been sent back to the classroom for breaking road traffic law

More than 250 miles of roads in Great Britain are now being regularly monitored by average speed cameras.

Average speed cameras are also often used on a temporary basis to manage traffic through roadworks but these are not included in this study.

The 50 stretches range in length from just a quarter of a mile over Tower Bridge in London to 99 miles on the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness in Scotland.

The use of average speed cameras has been found, on average, to cut the number of crashes resulting in death or serious injury by more than a third.

The average reduction in personal injury collisions of all severities was found to be 16 per cent

 In November 2010 there published a report – The Effectiveness of Speed Cameras: A review of evidence – into the effectiveness of speed cameras by Professor Richard Allsop of University College London. Amongst the main findings were that national decommissioning of speed cameras could result in about 800 extra people across Britain being killed or seriously injured each year at that time.

In 2011, government instructed that speed camera data going back to 1990, detailing accident statistics before and after fixed speed cameras were installed, should be made publicly available. Overall, this new work – Guidance on Use of Speed Camera Transparency Data – reinforces the conclusions in the earlier report but also identifies a number of camera sites in the vicinity of which collisions seem to have risen markedly.

Analysis of the data in this work for 551 fixed speed cameras in 9 areas shows that on average the number of fatal and serious collisions in their vicinity fell by more than a quarter (27%) after their installation.

There was also an average reduction of 15% in personal injury collisions in the vicinity of the 551 cameras.

The estimates for collision reduction were made allowing for the more general downward trend in the number of collisions in the 9 areas in recent years, and for the effect of regression to the mean at sites where collision numbers were unusually high in the period before the cameras were installed.

However the research also highlights 21 camera sites (in these areas) at which, or near which, the number of collisions appears to have risen enough to make the cameras worthy of investigation in case they have contributed to the increases.

According to information published by the Press Association in November 2017, only around half of the fixed speed cameras on British roads are switched on. In Scotland, less than 29% of fixed cameras are switched on.

The Press Association sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to all 45 police forces in the UK and their speed camera partnership. The 36 forces which responded with data had a total 2,838 cameras, of which 1,486 were active. Nine refused to disclose the information or failed to respond.

All of the police forces that responded to the FoI request said they regularly sent out mobile speed cameras across their jurisdictions. Figures from these cameras were not included in the disclosures.

Yes. The number of traffic police officers in England and Wales declined from 5,635 in March 2010 to 4,356 in March 2014.

Since 2015, data has been completed under a different framework, with different definitions. In particular, reclassification of roles within a force can lead to fluctuations in the number of officers in a particular role. This is particularly apparent for the Metropolitan Police Service (where figures have risen markedly). Latest figures for 2016 show there were 4,934 traffic police officers but these figures are not directly comparable with earlier data.

 The latest estimates from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau are that there are around 1 million uninsured drivers on the UK roads.

You must have motor insurance to drive your vehicle on a UK road and a wide range of measures are in place to prevent and enforce against uninsured drivers.

In 2011, the Government introduced the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) rules. These rules require all vehicles to either have valid motor insurance, or if a vehicle is not being used, to be registered with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) at the DVLA. Under the CIE scheme, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and DVLA work in partnership to continuously identify uninsured vehicles by systematically comparing DVLA vehicle records against motor insurance policies held on the Motor Insurance Database (MID).

The registered keeper of a vehicle that appears to be uninsured will be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL). This letter will advise them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and that unless they take action, they will receive a penalty from the DVLA. If, after receiving an IAL, a registered keeper fails to comply with the advice set out in the letter they can face:

  • A fixed penalty notice of £100
  • Their vehicle being clamped, seized and disposed of
  • A court prosecution and a maximum fine of £1000.

In addition, the police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to identify vehicles that appear to be uninsured. If a member of the public denies that their vehicle is uninsured, a police offer can liaise with Police Helpline Agents at the MIB to confirm whether a valid insurance policy is in place. The police have the power to seize any uninsured vehicle being used on a public road. There is a £150 removal charge for cars and light vans and a £20 per day storage charge. Vehicles not reclaimed after 14 days are disposed of by the police.

The police will also give drivers a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if they are caught driving a vehicle they are not insured to drive. Alternatively, if the case goes to court, an uninsured driver could also get an unlimited fine or be disqualified from driving and receive up to 8 points on their licence.

The number of uninsured vehicles seized across the UK in 2018 was 132,804.

Up to twelve million driving licence holders receive a penalty notice each year – the equivalent of one every 2.5 seconds.

This means as many as a third (30 per cent) of Britain’s 40 million drivers now receive a penalty notice annually.

The 12 million total is broken down broadly as follows:

  • 8 million local authority parking penalties
  • 2.5 million local authority bus lane and box junction penalties, etc.
  • 500,000 late licensing and insurance penalties, etc.
  • 1 million speeding and red-light penalties, etc.

The total of 12 million does not include the annual figure of 1.2 million drivers now undertaking a speed awareness course instead of receiving a penalty and points on their licences.

A further 200,000 drivers a year attend other types of courses having committed other types of offences.

Nor do the figures include the five million parking penalties issued to drivers on private land or fines imposed for not paying the charge at the Dartford Crossing.

A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is a prescribed financial penalty issued to a motorist as an alternative to prosecution. They can be issued for a limited range of motoring offences, such as speeding offences and using a handheld mobile phone while driving. An FPN can be endorsable (accompanied by points on a driving licence) or non-endorsable (not accompanied by points on a driving licence).

In 2017, 2,395,895 FPNs (excluding those subsequently cancelled) were issued for motoring offences by the police in England and Wales (including police employed traffic wardens). This represents an increase of 0.2 per cent compared with the previous year. (Please note that this figure includes cases where a driver retraining course, such as a speed awareness course, was attended by the individual, as well as cases where an individual faced court action).

Of the 2.4 million motoring offences recorded in 2017 which resulted in an FPN or another outcome:-

  • 853,153 cases resulted in the driver receiving an endorsable FPN (36 per cent);
  • 115,824 cases resulted in a non-endorsable FPN (5 per cent);
  • A driver attended a driver retraining course in 1,085,180 cases (45 per cent); and,
  • 341,738 cases resulted in court action (14 per cent).

The number of endorsable FPNs issued has remained fairly stable in recent years whilst the number of non-endorsable FPNs has fallen year-on-year.

Over four-fifths (84 per cent) of the motoring offences recorded were for speed limit offences (2,018,408), up 2 percentage points on the previous year (1,970,207). The number of speed limit offences has increased gradually year-on-year since 2011, and now stand at the highest level recorded. The majority (96 per cent) of speed limit offences were camera-detected in 2017, up one percentage point on the previous year.

Offences of “work record or employment offences” saw the largest increase (in percentage terms), of 7 per cent in 2017 compared with the previous year (from 5,179 to 5,522). “Licence, insurance and recordkeeping” offences saw a 6 per cent increase and “speed limit” offences saw a 2 per cent increase. All other offence types saw a decrease.

Careless driving (‘driving without due care and attention’) is established if the driving fell below what would be expected of a careful and competent driver.

It becomes dangerous driving if it fell far below that standard, for example:

    1. racing on the roads
    2. aggressive driving
    3. being avoidably and dangerously distracted by your passenger
    4. driving with an arm or leg in plaster or impaired eyesight
    5. driving a vehicle that has a dangerous defect

Inconsiderate driving includes:

    1. flashing lights to force other drivers to give way unnecessarily
    2. staying in the overtaking lane
    3. failure to dip headlights
    4. actions such as driving through a puddle to splash pedestrians

In addition to a fine, disqualification for any period will be considered. If you did have insurance but failed to renew, the court might well not disqualify, particularly if it is satisfied that failure to renew was an oversight. However, if there was an accident, the court may lean towards disqualification and can also order compensation to be paid to the victim.

The offence also carries an obligatory endorsement of 6-8 penalty points (but no points if you are disqualified for this offence)

Yes, you and your employer can both be prosecuted.

Your company is responsible for insuring its vehicles. If they fail to renew insurance on a vehicle you are required to drive for them, they can be prosecuted.

But you, too, can be prosecuted for driving without insurance.

There is a defence against such a prosecution where you were driving in the course of your employment in ignorance of the lack of cover.

You have to adequately prove that you neither knew nor had reason to believe that insurance was not in place. The court will then decide whether, on the ‘balance of probabilities’, you were unaware of the insurance cover.

This is a serious offence and can result in imprisonment for up to six months, but this is more likely to be imposed where the disqualification was recent.

The period of imprisonment is likely to range between 12 and 26 weeks, depending on how recent the disqualification was.

A community order could be imposed, but is likely only if the full period of the disqualification has not already been served and if a prison sentence is not imposed.

You can face another discretionary disqualification for any period, likely to be between 12-18 months beyond the period of the current disqualification if that disqualification was ordered recently, and between 6-12 months beyond the current period if most of the current period has already been served. If the full period had been served but a retest had not yet been taken, any additional period of disqualification is likely to be between three and six months.

The offence also carries an obligatory endorsement of six penalty points, but these would not be imposed if you are further disqualified.

Only if the cyclist (or any other slow-moving object) is travelling at no more than 10 miles per hour, which will often be difficult to judge.

If the sign itself is the correct size and is in order, and the road markings were once compliant with the regulations covering how they are to appear, then the court is likely to conclude that you do not have a defence.

Yes. The knocked-over bollard is ‘damage to property’ and later it might also have caused an accident or injury. You have a legal duty to report it to the police as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event within 24 hours. Otherwise you can be prosecuted for failure to report.

Put simply, a tyre is defective if:

    1. it is unsuitable for the use to which it is put
    2. it is unsuitable to use with the other tyres
    3. it is not suitably inflated
    4. there is a break in the fabric of the tyre
    5. the ply or cord is exposed
    6. the tyre tread does not have a continuous depth of at least 1 millimetre
    7. it has a defect that might damage the road surface or cause danger

If all four tyres are defective, you will have committed four offences.

There does not have to be a yellow line or a ‘No Parking’ sign for this offence to be committed. The key issue is whether you caused danger or injury to other persons using the road. For example, leaving a vehicle just around a blind corner, or leaving a vehicle without applying the handbrake properly, can both cause danger.

The offence arises not only for the opening of the door, but also where this has been ’caused or permitted’. For example, if you parked somewhere unsuitable in the first place, or if you told a child passenger to open the door, then you could be guilty of the offence.

The offence is committed if you were driving on a road while using a hand-held mobile phone. If convicted, the penalty includes endorsement of your licence with six penalty points and a £200 fine. You could also be taken to court and face a driving ban and a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you were driving a lorry or bus).

The phone is hand-held if it is actually held at some point during the course of using it. If you do use your phone, hands-free, you must be in full control of your vehicle.

You may use a hand-held phone if there is a ‘genuine’ emergency. In practice this means that you were calling the police, fire or emergency service on 112 or 999 and it was not sensible to stop in the circumstances.

Only if you are doing so by pre-arrangement with the garage. It is not enough to drive to a garage that advertises MOT tests if you have not at least first phoned ahead to confirm arrangements for the test.

The driver must wear a seat belt where one is fitted. He or she is also responsible for ensuring that all children (aged under 14) wear seat belts or child restraints (depending on the age and height of child). Passengers aged 14 or over are themselves guilty of an offence if they do not wear seat belts where fitted; the driver is not responsible for adult passengers.

In all cases, the penalty is a fine and the court has no power to order penalty points or a disqualification.

Yes. From 16 August 2013, careless drivers who put other road users at risk by committing offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline face on-the-spot penalties.

Over the two year period from August 2013 – when this measure was introduced – until August 2015, 17,468 people have been convicted of careless driving offences. (The figures come from a Freedom of Information request by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) to every police force in England and Wales. Some 33 out of 43 police forces responded to the IAM’s request).

 The number of defendants prosecuted for motoring offences in England and Wales increased from 670,000 in 2017 to 691,000 in 2018, with convictions and sentences increasing from 600,000 to 619,000. Just over half (52 per cent) of defendants prosecuted for motoring offences in 2018 were prosecuted for speed limit and vehicle insurance offences. The conviction ratio for all motoring offences was 90 per cent in 2018 and has been increasing year-on-year since 2013, when the conviction ratio was 85 per cent.

The offences with the largest increase in the number of defendants prosecuted was seen in ‘Speed limit offences’ (a 7 per cent increase, from 176,000 in 2017 to 189,000 in 2018, the highest in a decade and following an upward trend since 2011). There was also an increase seen in ‘Vehicle registration and excise licence offences’ (an 8 per cent increase, from 92,300 in 2017 to 100,000 in 2018, and increasing since 2014).

The offence with the largest decrease in the number of defendants prosecuted was ‘Careless driving offences (excluding mobile phone offences) (an 8 per cent decrease, from 13,300 in 2017 to 12,300 in 2018).

Sentencing trends for motoring offences have remained broadly stable, with an overall custody rate of 1 per cent (down from 2 per cent in 2008). Where an offender was sentenced to immediate custody in 2018, the average custodial sentence length was similar to 2017 at 8.1 months. The majority of offenders sentenced for ‘Causing death by dangerous driving’ and ‘Causing death by careless driving under influence of drink or drugs’ received immediate custody (a custody rate of 94 per cent and 95 per cent respectively in 2018).

The use of fines as the main sentence for motoring offences remained stable between 2017 and 2018, at between 94 per cent and 95 per cent, an increase of 5 percentage points over the last decade. The average fine amount has increased year on year, from £196 to £334 since 2008. The total number of offenders directly disqualified from driving increased 9 per cent in the latest year; from 58,100 in 2017 to 63,300. The total number of offenders endorsed without direct disqualification (i.e. receiving points on their licence only), increased by 1 per cent from 348,400 in 2017 to 351,000.

 In March 2019, 2,713,458 people had penalty points on the licences recorded at DVLA (out of a total number of 48,992,312 licences recorded at DVLA).

Endorsements stay on a driving record for 4 or 11 years depending on the offence. This can start from either the date a person is convicted or the date of the offence.

The endorsement is ‘valid’ for the first:-

    • 3 years, for a 4-year endorsement
    • 10 years, for an 11-year endorsement

 According to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live from the DVLA, around 14,500 people were caught driving whilst already banned in 2016.

The annual Blue Badge survey, completed by local authorities in England, collates data on whether authorities have a policy for prosecuting misuse of the Blue Badge scheme and the number of prosecutions that occurred between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. 59 per cent of local authorities had a policy to prosecute misuse of the Blue Badge scheme in 2017/18

In England, there were a total of 1,215 individuals prosecuted in 2017/18, slightly up on the 1,131 people prosecuted in the previous year. Similar to last year, the majority of prosecutions (99 per cent) in England were targeted at a non-badge holder using another persons’ badge.

The Department for Transport’s Statutory Guidance to local authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions can be viewed here.

 A map and list of the local authorities outside London who have civil parking enforcement powers can be viewed here.

In 2016/17, the total number of parking Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by local authorities in England and Wales (excluding London) was 4,737,306. This is a 6 per cent increase over 2015/16 when 4,472,108 parking PCNs were issued.

The number of Bus Lane PCNs issued in 2016/17 was 1,423,764. This is an increase of around 22.5 per cent compared to the 1,162,011 PCNs issued in the previous year.

In addition, Welsh local authorities also issued 30,830 PCNs for moving traffic offences in 2016/17.

The number of parking PCNs appealed to the tribunal dropped by around 7.7 per cent to 11,757 compared to 12,734 in 2015/16. The rate of appeal against parking PCNs was 0.25 per cent in England and 0.23 per cent in Wales. The proportion of appeals allowed by the adjudicators (including those not contested by the council) was 56 per cent in England and 57.3 per cent in Wales.

Full details relating to the various PCNs that were issued, and appeals made to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, can be seen in the Tribunal’s Annual Statistics Report.

Source: Traffic Penalty Tribunal, England & Wales: Annual Statistics Report 2016/17

In 2017/18, the total number of PCNs (across the full range of traffic and parking offences) issued by London Boroughs and Transport for London was 5,616,402. This is around a 9.5 per cent increase compared to a total of  5,132,319 PCNs issued in 2016/17.

Source: London Councils

In 2017/18, 36,218 appeals against PCNs issued by London local authorities and Transport for London were determined in the reporting period (this figure includes appeals lodged in the previous year but determined in the reporting year) by the Environment and Traffic Adjudicators. 17,584 appeals were allowed, of which 9,396 were not contested. 18,634 appeals were refused.

 In 2016/17, 2,475,152 PCNs were issued by the Secretary of State for Transport for the Dart Charge scheme. This is a decrease of 7.6 per cent from the 2,678,438 PCNs issued in the previous year.

The number of PCNs referred to the Tribunal from the Dart Charge scheme increased by 136 per cent from 8,904 to 21,017, despite a fall in the number of PCNs issued. The rate of appeal for PCNs issued from the Dart Charge scheme increased by 166.7 per cent from 0.3 per cent to 0.8 per cent.  The number of appeals allowed (including those not contested) against PCNs issued from the Dart Charge scheme increased by 188.9 per cent from 4,201 to 12,135.

According to figures obtained by the BBC in October 2017, bailiffs were employed to recover nearly 500,000 parking fines in London in the previous financial year.

Councils recovered £17.5m using bailiffs to collect debts from people with unpaid parking fines – a 22 per cent increase in two years.

Source: BBC

Data shows that in the last financial year (2018-19) 6.8 million sets of vehicle keeper records were released to car parking management companies. Almost all of these will have been used to send penalty charges to motorists who are deemed to have infringed parking rules in private car parks.

The 6.8 million figure is the highest ever supplied by DVLA and is 20 per cent higher than the 5.65 million sets of records released to parking firms in the previous financial year.

The charges levied by firms for contraventions such as overstaying can be as much as £100 suggesting that, in principle, parking firms could be demanding up to £680 million from drivers on an annual basis.

In the last 13 years more than 33 million vehicle keeper records have been obtained by parking firms from the DVLA, more than half of them in the past three years alone.

Between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018, POPLA received 67,122 appeals and decided 50,082.

Of the appeals decided, 11,447 appeals were allowed and 38,635 refused.

In addition to the appeals decided, parking operators decided not to contest 15,562 appeals. This means that of the appeals that completed the POPLA process (65,644), 27,009 resulted in cancelled parking charges – 41 per cent of all processed appeals.

Since the congestion charging scheme was introduced in London in 2003, £118,543,795 of congestion charge fines have not been paid by foreign embassies. (Figures correct at 31 March 2019).

The United States have the greatest amount of unpaid fines, owing a total of £12.598 million. They are followed by Japan (£8.631 million) and Nigeria (£7.149 million).

83 diplomatic missions owe more than £100,000 in fines and overall, 145 diplomatic missions owe fines.

Source: Transport for London

Over the course of the 2018/19 financial year, 1,664,219 car practical driving tests were conducted. This was about 3 per cent lower than the 1,718,519 practical driving tests conducted in the previous financial year.

The pass rate was 45.8 per cent, the lowest pass rate since 2008/09.

Source: Department for Transport table DRT0101

Yes. The driving test changed from Monday 4 December 2017 and now includes following directions from a sat nav and testing different manoeuvres.

The changes introduced include:-

    1. Increasing the Independent driving part of the test to 20 minutes
    2. Following directions from a sat nav
    3. Changing the reversing manoeuvres
    4. Answering a vehicle safety question while the candidate is driving

Yes. From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers can take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. This change does not extend to learner motorcylists.

Learner drivers will need to be:-

  • accompanied by an approved driving instructor
  • driving a car fitted with dual controls

Full details can be viewed here.

The legal alcohol limit for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is:-

• 80 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (80mg/100ml), or
• 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 107 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine

In March 2011 the Government announced it would not be following the advice of the North Review on Drink and Drug Driving Law and reducing the current drink/drive limit from 80mg to 50mg.

The position is different in Scotland where a new legal alcohol limit was introduced on December 5 2014. Here, the limit is:-

• 50 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (50mg/100ml), or
• 22 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 67 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine


England and Wales have one of the highest drink-drive limits in the world. Set at 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Government of Malta announced recently plans to lower the drink-drive limit to 50mg in a new National Alcohol Policy to reduce harm.

Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences in the first nine months. Northern Ireland is set to introduce before the end of 2018 a two-tier drink drive limit, with the general drink-drive limit down to 50mg/100ml, in line with Scotland, and an even lower limit for new and professional drivers.

It is estimated that had the drink drive limit been lowered from 80 to 50mg/100ml at the beginning of 2010, then in every year between 2010 and 2013 about 25 lives would have been saved and 95 people saved from serious injury.

You could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if you’re found guilty of drink-driving. The actual penalty you get is up to the magistrates who hear your case, and depends on your offence.

Drivers who drive, or attempt to drive, while over the legal alcohol limit face penalties of:-

• up to 6 months in prison
• an unlimited fine
• a minimum of 12 months’ disqualification (3 years for a second offence within 10 years)

Full details of all the penalties that could be incurred through drink-driving can be viewed here.

Civil Litigation FAQs

A pleading is a formal document in which a party to a civil lawsuit or any other legal proceeding sets forth or responds to allegations, claims, denials or defenses. Typically, the initial pleadings in a civil lawsuit are the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s answer.

The burden of proof is the legal standard that must be met by the moving party. It is the obligation to shift the accepted conclusion away from an oppositional opinion to one’s own position. The party who does not carry the burden of proof carries the benefit of assumption, meaning that no evidence is needed to support that party’s claim. Fulfilling the burden of proof effectively captures the benefit of assumption, passing the burden of proof off to another party.

Preponderance of the evidence, also known as the balance of probabilities, is the legal standard required in most civil cases, grand jury proceedings, and family court determinations involving child support and money matters. The burden is met if the proposition is more likely to be true than not. The standard is effectively satisfied if there is greater than a 50% chance that the proposition is true, meaning that it is more probable than not.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which requires that the trier of fact be close to asserting the certainty of the truth of the matter, is the burden of proof required in a criminal prosecution and is the strictest legal standard.

The Statute of Limitations is a fixed period of time that is governed by the law of the state or federal jurisdiction. Simply stated, it is the time in which you must file your case in court (that is, bring a complaint to initiate suit) or be otherwise forevermore barred from doing so. This time period can differ between each type of case and there are many different limitations periods.

 The Statute of Limitations may sometimes be extended in certain situations such as when, for example, an injured person is an infant, mentally incompetent or physically incapacitated. Always consult with an experienced lawyer for an explanation of these critical time limits as noncompliance could be fatal to your case.

Various dispute resolution alternatives are often used by parties to reduce the expense and delay associated with litigation. Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is a term used to describe a wide array of dispute resolution processes. These include mediation, negotiation, conciliation, case evaluation, mini-trials, summary jury trials, master’s proceedings and binding arbitration. ADR not only can reduce expense and delay, but can also improve results because the parties retain control, especially in mediation, and therefore have broader freedom and authority to fashion outcomes by agreement than any trial court would have to order outcomes. Although many of these dispute resolution alternatives have common features, there are significant differences and you should consult an experienced attorney before selecting any manner of proposed alternative dispute resolution.

Two of the most commonly used dispute resolution alternatives are mediation and arbitration. These terms are often confused and used interchangeably, but they have entirely different meanings. An experienced attorney will understand and weigh the advantages and pitfalls of each.

Mediation is a voluntary process in which a trained neutral (the mediator) assists the parties in reaching a negotiated settlement. The mediator is akin to a referee and illustrates both the pros and cons of the parties’ respective positions without imposing a solution to the dispute. With mediation, the parties are more in control of the outcome and are free to walk away from the negotiating table at any time. However, any agreement that is reached will be enforceable as with any contract.

Arbitration is a form of private adjudication in which a disinterested third party, the arbitrator, hears the evidence and decides the case. In some cases, there may be a panel of three arbitrators. In stark contrast to mediation, arbitration requires the parties to voluntarily relinquish control to this third party. Either before or after the dispute arose, the parties executed a contract or will execute a submission agreement to submit their differences to a binding decision that results from the arbitration hearing. The arbitrator is akin to a judge and the process is likened to a trial, except that it is usually conducted in a conference room and formal rules of evidence usually do not apply or may otherwise apply only in part.

When someone or something causes an injury to another person or thing, the legal profession calls such an act a “tort.” A tort is committed when one person is harmed because of the wrongful act of another. The purpose of tort law is to assign responsibility to the individual, group or company responsible for causing such harm.

Personal injury cases, negligence, negligent security, assault and battery, property damage claims, property disputes, economic losses, landlord-tenant disputes, evictions, debt collections, promissory note defaults, business wrongs, breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraud, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, nuisance actions, consumer actions, wrongful termination, civil rights violations, defamation, libel, slander, amongst numerous other types of actions, are all tort actions that may be the subject of civil litigation, i.e., a lawsuit. Another tort would be for a claim for unfair and deceptive acts and practices under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A.

Civil litigation is a legal dispute between two or more parties that seeks damages or specific performance, rather than criminal sanctions. A lawyer in a civil litigation is commonly referred to as a trial lawyer or litigator. Civil litigation is not necessarily confined to a trial as it can also encompass hearings, arbitrations and mediations before administrative agencies, foreign tribunals and federal and state courts. Civil litigation covers a broad range of disputes falling within many different practice areas. 

Civil litigation takes many forms depending on the type of case. In general, civil litigation is the legal process that most people think of when the word “lawsuit” is used. Civil litigation, for the most part, has seven identifiable stages, those being investigation, pleadings, discovery, settlement, pretrial, trial and appeal. Not every stage of litigation is reached in every civil action; for example, most cases settle prior to trial and many trial verdicts are not appealed. Civil litigation can last a few months or several years and, comparatively speaking, civil litigators actually spend little time in trial as most of the time is devoted to the extremely labor intensive discovery stage.

The plaintiff is the person or entity who brings a civil suit in a court of law. The defendant is the person or entity that is being sued in the civil proceeding.

The order and progress of the investigation of the potential lawsuit, as well as the initial filing of the lawsuit, should that become necessary, is a process which cannot be accomplished in a short period of time if it is to be handled properly. To best represent you, it is generally in your best interest not to hurry the process of litigation. But note, your attorney should try to resolve your situation as quickly and as diligently as possible, always keeping your best interests in mind.

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. You should inquire into the lawyer’s education, training and experience, and speak with the attorney to determine his or her qualifications and the reputation of the firm. Be sure you understand the attorney’s fee schedule before you retain an attorney. Always ask about the possible adverse consequences if your case is lost. Be sure you feel comfortable with the attorney before making a decision. Make sure you hire an attorney who has the time and interest to pursue your interests and advise you of the pertinent aspects of your case.

Commissioners for Oath FAQs

A Commissioner for Oaths is a person who is authorised to verify affidavits, statutory declarations and other legal documents. Affidavits are statements in writing and on oath, and statutory declarations are written statements of facts that the person signs and declares to be true.

A solicitor can swear your papers as long as they are a commissioner for oaths. 

 Not usually, but it is advisable to telephone in advance of attending to make sure that a solicitor will be available to administer the Oath when you attend.

 It should be no more than £5.00 per swear, plus £2.00 per exhibit (eg a will attached).

The essential functions of a Commissioner for Oaths are:

    1. To make sure that the evidence in question is in written form (the draft affidavit)
    2. To establish that the person before them has read the draft affidavit and fully understands the contents
    3. To have the person swear that the affidavit is true by raising the appropriate Testament in their right hand and repeating the words of the oath
    4. To verify that the affidavit was properly sworn by completing a “jurat” on the affidavit

A Commissioner for Oaths charges a fee for their services.

 You will be asked to sign the Oath and read from a card or repeat certain words after the solicitor to confirm the truth of your statement.  You can swear on the Bible or if you prefer, ‘affirm’ the truth of your statement. 

Usually no more than a two or three minutes.

No, you only need to attend once either at a local solicitor or at the Probate Registry.

Yes you should ask the solicitor for a copy of the oath and any exhibits for your records.

The law that deals with oaths and affirmations dates back to the 19th and early 20th century, and primarily focuses on people of the Christian or Jewish faiths. A person making an oath will be required to swear the oath by raising the New Testament. A person who is Jewish may swear the oath by raising the Old Testament.

The oath you take before the Commissioner for Oaths is:

“I swear by Almighty God that this is my name and handwriting, and that the contents of this my affidavit are true”.

A person who objects to swearing the oath on the grounds that taking an oath is against their religious belief or that they have no religious belief is permitted to make a solemn affirmation, which is phrased as follows:

“I, A.B., do solemnly and sincerely affirm that this is my name and handwriting, and that the contents of this my affidavit are true”.

You may need to provide the Commissioner with evidence of your identity, particularly if you are having an affidavit verified. So, bring a standard form of identification with you in case it’s needed, for example, a passport or driving licence.


Briton Solicitors is registered trade mark of BS Solicitors Ltd and we currently hold an exclusive right to trademark number UK00003299310.


Briton Solicitors is trading name of BS Solicitors Ltd company number 09357933 (Registered in England & Wales. Briton Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA number 621594


Address: 170 Cranbrook Rd,
Ilford, London, IG1 4LX
Phone: +44 0203 475 4545
Fax: +44 0203 475 4040

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