Archive for September, 2016

The Public Has a Right to Expect Officials to Answer the Phone Promptly

Officials work under pressure but members of the public who they serve have the right to expect that they will answer the phone promptly. A tribunal made that point as it upheld a company’s challenge to a surcharge levied for late payment of VAT. The company had experienced unexpected cash flow problems and its agent had made several attempts to contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to request extra time to pay its quarterly VAT bill. However, the phone line kept going dead and contact was not made until after the due date had passed. In those circumstances, HMRC levied a penalty surcharge of 10 per cent of the VAT bill. In upholding the company’s appeal against the surcharge, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found that it had a reasonable excuse for the late payment. It was reasonable to expect telephone calls ... Read more

Inheritance Disputes – A Good Lawyer Can Help to Defuse Emotions

Inheritance disputes are often about more than money and can sadly be intractable due to the heightened emotions involved. One case, involving a pub that was left in trust to three children, showed exactly why professional legal advice is needed to defuse feelings and provide clarity. The pub, which had been valued at up to £2.1 million, had been put in trust for the children by the will of their deceased mother. However, difficulties arose because one of them (the son) had been in long-term occupation of the pub, from which he ran a successful business in which he had invested heavily, and had no desire to leave. Acting with the authority of the High Court at every stage, the trustees of the will obtained a possession order in respect of the pub, and the son and companies that he controlled ... Read more

Inheritance Tax Charity Exemption Does Not Extend to Overseas Trusts

In a decision of importance to charities and to any British citizen who is domiciled abroad, but who has assets in the UK, the Court of Appeal has ruled that £600,000 in Inheritance Tax (IHT) was properly charged on a woman’s bequest of over £1.8 million for the benefit of elderly Jersey residents. The woman was domiciled in Jersey and, at the date of her death, held assets in the UK valued at £1,818,000. By her will, she left those assets on trust for the purpose of constructing homes for elderly people living in a particular parish on the island. If that gift failed for any reason, the trust’s capital was to be applied for the assistance of a Jersey-based hospice care organisation. The executors of the woman’s estate argued that no IHT was payable on the transfer of the assets’ ... Read more

Father’s Binding Promises Entitle His Son to £10 Million Farm

Promises that are freely made and relied upon have the force of contract and can be enforced in court. Exactly that happened in one case in which a son was repeatedly assured by his father that he would inherit the £10 million family farm and worked long hours, for low pay, in the belief that the promises would be honoured. The father had several times told his son that the farm would one day be his. On the strength of his father’s word, the son threw himself into working on the 650-acre farm from an early age. He took no expensive holidays, lived a frugal lifestyle with his family in a bungalow on the farm and earned less than £300 a week. The father, by then stricken by Alzheimer’s disease, had made a change to his will, disinheriting his son of ... Read more
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