Archive for December, 2013

Courtroom Violence Father Receives Mercy

A father who attacked his ex-wife and an usher in a courtroom explosion of rage as his decade-long battle for custody of his son collapsed has been shown mercy by the country’s most senior family judge – who, in declining to jail him, found that he had ‘suffered enough’. The father had repeatedly punched his ex-wife and hit the usher who tried to restrain him in the midst of a family court hearing. He was subsequently jailed for 20 months at the Crown Court after he admitted inflicting actual bodily harm and assault. He was also brought before the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, to face two allegations of contempt. His lawyers argued that the violent outburst was entirely out of character and had been triggered by his acute emotional distress at learning that a residence order had ... Read more

Legal Aid Ruling Signals Straitened Times

In what will be viewed as another signal of straitened times in the legal profession, the High Court was not convinced by claims that a leading law firm should be paid double the normal legal aid rate after being instructed to give ‘expert’ advice on the immigration status of a mother embroiled in cross-border family proceedings. The mother was resident in Pakistan but her children were cared for by their father in Britain. After he fell ill, an issue arose as to the mother’s capacity to care for the children herself. She needed to come to the UK for an assessment of her parenting skills but that gave rise to an issue in respect of her immigration status. A judge dealing with the management of the case gave leave for the mother’s solicitors to instruct an expert to give advice on ... Read more

Church Social Club Penalised for Late VAT Payments

In a case which emphasised the importance of promptness, and that unfamiliarity with the law is no excuse, a church social club which lodged appeals against penalties imposed for its ‘entrenched’ late payment of VAT has had its hopes of getting its money back dashed by the First-tier Tribunal. The club had for many years been engaged in lengthy correspondence with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in respect of repeated delays in paying its VAT. It challenged no less than 23 default notices, the earliest of which dated back to 1988, after a new broom had finally brought order to its affairs. The club argued that it deserved credit for paying off its tax arrears and that it had in the past been badly hit by recession and unexpected events that damaged its cash flow. As a small, non-profit making, organisation ... Read more

Patriarch’s Succession Planning Triggers Ruinous Family War

In a thought-provoking example of the best laid succession plans leading to grave and unforeseen consequences, a landowner’s lifelong obsession with avoiding ‘ruinous taxation’ was the root cause of a venomous dispute that tore apart his family after his death. John Vincent Sheffield had been left with the ‘mental scars’ of seeing his family’s fortune severely depleted by death duties when he was a young man and was determined to avoid the same happening again. His efforts to rebuild the family holdings saw him rise to become Chairman of a public limited company and establish a 1,000-acre farming estate in a prime corner of Hampshire. Mr Sheffield’s fervent wish was that the estate should pass to his heirs intact. He died, aged 95, in 2008, unaware that his attempts to minimise the tax authorities’ share of his fortune would ultimately lead ... Read more
Next Page »