Bad news on the injury claims front for Kilkenny Solicitors

If Kilkenny solicitors were hoping to earn an income from injury compensation claims, then they would be best move to another county !!

 

According to the Injuries Board’s latest report for 2014, Kilkenny has yet again come out as the county with the lowest claims for compensation per capita in the country. Like the All-Ireland hurling titles, Kilkenny dominates for the last decade holding the gold spot every year.

Overall, €281.21 million was granted in personal injury awards last year, a 16 per cent increase on 2013. The average sum awarded was €22,642, which is down a couple of per cent from 2013.

The board’s annual report showed that 50 awards per 10,000 people were made in Limerick last year, 24 above the state average. The gap has widened between Limerick and all other counties over the past five years.

Awards in Kilkenny were just 50 per cent of the national average for 2014, with a rate of 13 per 10,000 people. Awards within the county rose by three per 10,000 over the past five years, the lowest of any county.

In Longford which had the largest single year increase, the number of awards jumped by 44 per cent last year after a minor decrease in 2013.

Posted in Accident + Injury Claims - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Health of solicitors ??

In the UK, solicitors continue to be in better health than the general population and the average number of sick days they take has fallen. However, most solicitors continue to work under moderate stress. The UK Law Society has published research on the health and wellbeing of solicitors.

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said:

‘Law can be a demanding career. Many of us are drawn to the intellectual challenge and thrive on the high pressure the work entails, but we should also consider our own health and wellbeing.

‘The number of solicitors going to work when they should be taking sick leave to get better has fallen, but many still go to work when they are unwell.

‘Solicitors experiencing stress or other sickness at work should speak to colleagues or their line manager about it. The Law Society has a free helpline that offers confidential support for all our members. We also provide a range of resources to support good practice management.’

The main findings of the survey are:

Good health: 85 per cent of solicitors reported being in good health, a slight fall from 88 per cent in 2013 but still four percentage points above figures for the working population nationally.

Sick days: On average, those taking time off due to ill-health or injury took 5.7 days, a fall from 6.6 days in 2013.

Work ethic: 39 per cent of solicitors reported going to work when sick leave should have been taken, a fall from 45 per cent in 2013.

Stress levels: 96 per cent of solicitors said they experienced negative stress, with 19 per cent at ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ levels, a slight increase from 16 per cent in 2013. Workload and client expectations were identified as the most common causes of stress in the Law Society’s 2013 research.

LawCare chief executive Elizabeth Rimmer said:

‘LawCare is here to help anyone working in the legal community who may be finding the demands of law tough. Our website offers a range of practical information about wellbeing and we provide a free and completely confidential helpline for anyone who needs a listening ear about personal or professional problems. Everyone answering the phone has worked in the law and understands the day-to-day pressures lawyers face.

‘Lawyers are used to solving other people’s problems and often find it hard to admit that they are not coping with the demands of work and may be worried that not coping may be seen as a weakness by colleagues. This shouldn’t be the case. It can be very cathartic to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Many people who call our helpline say that the chat on the helpline has really helped them to feel better and put things in perspective.’

Posted in Office News - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Agricultural Relief on inheritances and gifts

Revenue have published an interesting guide on the above, which we re-print as follows =

Capital Acquisitions Tax

3. Agricultural Relief (Section 89 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003)

3.1 Capital Acquisitions Tax relief is available in respect of gifts and inheritances of agricultural property, as defined in Section 89(1), subject to certain conditions being satisfied. This relief has been amended in Finance Act 2014 to take account of recommendations of the Agri-Taxation Review, designed to ensure productive use of agricultural property.

3.2 Conditions
In addition to the existing conditions, including the requirement that a farmer’s agricultural property must comprise 80% by value of the farmer’s total property at the valuation date, the following conditions also apply to gifts or inheritances taken on or after 1 January 2015 where the valuation date also arises on or after 1 January 2015.
The beneficiary must:
• Farm the agricultural property for a period of not less than 6 years commencing on the valuation date or
• Lease the agricultural property for a period of not less than 6 years commencing on the valuation date. The agricultural property may be leased to a number of lessees as long as each lease and lessee
satisfies the conditions of the relief. Revenue will accept that a lease may be to another individual, to a partnership or to a company whose main shareholder and working director farms the agricultural property on behalf of the company. [Where land is leased to a company that is owned equally by an individual and that individual’s spouse or civil partner, and at least one of them satisfies the working director and the farming requirements, the relief will apply.].
In addition, the beneficiary (or the lessee, where relevant) must
• Have an agricultural qualification (a qualification of the kind listed in Schedule 2, 2A or 2B of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999) or
• Farm the agricultural property for not less than 50% of his or her normal working time.
The agricultural property must also be farmed on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profits – thus confining the relief to genuine farmers.
If during the 6 year period a beneficiary farms the agricultural property and then decides to lease it, relief will not be withdrawn, provided the lease and the lessee satisfy the conditions of the relief (for the remaining period of the 6 years). Similarly, if a beneficiary initially leases the agricultural property and decides, within the 6 year period, to end the lease (provided the lessee agrees) and to personally farm the agricultural property, relief will not be withdrawn.

3.3 “Normal Working Time” Test. Revenue will accept, for the purposes of this relief, that “normal working time” (including on-farm and off-farm working time) approximates to 40 hours per week. This will enable farmers with off-farm employment to qualify for the relief provided they spend a minimum of 20 hours working per week, averaged over a year, on the farm. If a farmer can show that his or her “normal working time” is somewhat less than 40 hours a week, then the 50% requirement will be applied to the actual hours worked –
subject to being able to show that the farm is farmed on a commercial basis and with a view to the realization of profits.
It is expected that in the majority of situations it should be clear from the level of farming activity being carried on that the normal working time requirement is satisfied. If there is any doubt Revenue will consider all information (including farming records) provided by a farmer in relation to his or her normal working time and farming activities.
If in exceptional situations if it can be shown that, on an on-going basis, certain farming activities, e.g. farming involving the occupation of woodlands on a commercial basis, are carried out on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profits, but do not require 50% of normal working time / 20 hours per week to be spent on such farming activities, Revenue will take this into consideration in deciding whether the relief is due.

3.4 Farming on a Commercial Basis
Whether a person is farming on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profit can only be determined by reference to the facts in each case. It is expected that based on the facts, it will normally be clear whether this requirement is satisfied.
The fact that a farmer may make a loss in any year will not in itself result in relief being refused or withdrawn. Clearly, if a farmer continuously makes losses year on year, the circumstances would have to be examined carefully to see whether that person is farming on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profit.
Single farm payments will be included as farming income in the computation of profits or losses in the normal way.

3.5 Withdrawal of Relief Agricultural relief is subject to withdrawal if the agricultural property is disposed of within 6 years from the date of the inheritance or gift and the proceeds of disposal are not reinvested as required within Section 89(4)(a).
In relation to gifts and inheritances taken on or after 1 January 2015, the relief is also subject to withdrawal if, within a period of 6 years from the valuation date, any of the conditions governing the relief introduced in Finance Act 2014 cease to be satisfied.
In this regard, if a beneficiary who inherits or is gifted agricultural property disposes of it within 6 years but reinvests the proceeds in other farmland used by him or her for farming or leases it in the qualifying manner, the beneficiary will not be regarded as having ceased to use the agricultural property for the purposes of the relief. In effect Section 89(4), CATCA 2003, which provides for the replacement of agricultural property with other agricultural property within 6 years of the inheritance or gift, will be regarded as applying.
It should be noted, in relation to gifts and inheritances taken on or after 1 January 2015, that the 6 year period of the use of agricultural property for farming by the beneficiary or by a lessee runs from the valuation date. Accordingly, if any of the following events occurs within 6 years of the valuation date agricultural relief may be withdrawn:
• Cessation of farming by the beneficiary without leasing the land to a lessee who farms the land for the remainder of the 6 year period
• Disposal of the agricultural property without reinvestment in further agricultural property that is farmed by the beneficiary or by a lessee for the remainder of the 6 year period.
Where a taxable gift or a taxable inheritance is taken by a beneficiary subject to the condition that the whole or part of that taxable gift or taxable inheritance will be invested in agricultural property and such condition is complied with within 2 years after the date of the gift or the date of the inheritance, then the gift or inheritance is deemed to have consisted at the date of the gift or at the date of the inheritance and at the valuation date of agricultural property to the extent to which the gift or inheritance is subject to such condition and has been so invested.
The 6 year period of the lease/use of farming by the beneficiary will run from the date of the investment by the beneficiary in the agricultural property.
In accordance with self assessment principles it is the taxpayer’s duty to make any necessary amendment to returns / self assessments to ensure relief is withdrawn where appropriate.

3.6 As the additional requirements applied to this relief by Finance Act 2014 relate to carrying on of farming activities – intended to ensure productive use of the agricultural property – they apply from the valuation date. In the case of a gift of agricultural property, the date of gift is the “valuation date”, whereas in the case of an inheritance the valuation date can be as early as the date of inheritance – where for example the person inheriting farms the agricultural property from the date of death of the deceased – or in other situations from the date of grant of probate or administration.
The focus of the amendments to Section 89, Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 is to give the relief to active farmers. As farmers cannot actively farm the agricultural property until they are in a position to commence farming, the reference in Section 89(4B) to “valuation date” is to give individuals who inherit land an opportunity to commence farming or, where relevant, to make arrangements for the agricultural property to be leased under the amended wider relief – as it can take time for a person to do so from the date of inheritance. The existing 80% asset “farmer” test applies at the valuation date and not at the date of inheritance and as such gives a window of opportunity, time wise, for a beneficiary to arrange his or her affairs so as to meet that 80% test. A similar window of opportunity, time wise, will be allowed to a beneficiary to meet the new active farmer test.
Where farming commences between the date of the gift or inheritance and the valuation date, Revenue will accept that the 6 year period will commence from the earliest time that the agricultural property is first farmed, whether by the person who inherits or is gifted the farm or by a lessee.

3.7 Where a beneficiary inherits agricultural property and intends to farm it, but is genuinely unable to do so immediately from the valuation date because of existing work commitments or other personal circumstances, the relief will not be refused where the beneficiary otherwise fulfils the requirements of the relief on taking up farming i.e. where the conditions of farming continue for 6 years from the date the farming is taken up. Examples of such situations include:
• The beneficiary may have existing work commitments that may take time to complete.
• The beneficiary may be living and working abroad, such that it may take time to organise a return to Ireland – including completion of existing work commitments.
• The beneficiary may be a full-time student whose studies are not completed.

3.8 Where a beneficiary who takes a gift or inheritance of agricultural property, that includes agricultural land and a farm house, leases the land to an individual, a partnership or a company (that will farm the land for the minimum requisite 6 year period and will satisfy the farming conditions outlined above) but retains the farm house and resides in it as his or her only or main residence, Revenue will not seek to restrict any part of the agricultural relief, granted to the beneficiary on the gift or inheritance, referable to the farmhouse itself in those circumstances.
Similarly, if the agricultural property includes plant and machinery or livestock, but a lessee only requires the land, agricultural relief will not be restricted where the land comprises substantially the whole of the agricultural property.

Posted in General Areas of Law - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Compensation for shock on hearing of child’s death

Damages awarded for depression caused by shock of hearing of child’s death in road traffic accident

Purcell vs Long [2015]IEHC 385 (High Court, Barr J, May 15th, 2015)

High Court awards €225,150 to a mother who suffered severe depression triggered by an acute stress reaction upon hearing of her son’s death in a road traffic accident. The mother had suffered previous psychiatric illness and depression, but this did not exempt the wrongdoer.

Posted in Accident + Injury Claims - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Companies Act, 2014 – an update

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has published a Table of Origins and a Table of Destinations for the Companies Act 2014 (the ‘Act’).

It is essential to read the guidelines provided with the Tables in order to fully understand and use them correctly.  

The Companies Registration Office (“CRO”) has prepared three new CRO Forms with respect to directors’ declarations under the Summary Approval Procedure in sections 203, 204 and 205 of the Act. The use of these forms for directors’ declarations is not compulsory.

The CRO have indicated that these are administrative forms, which were prepared in order to make it easier for CRO staff to process directors’ declarations, and also to assist directors in making such declarations. There is therefore no requirement to use the forms.

Provided a directors’ declaration contains all of the information required by the Act, it should not be rejected by the CRO.

 

Posted in General Areas of Law - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Making provisions for your pet in your will

There are a few options to consider such as leaving the pet and a sum of money to:

  • an animal charity and asking the charity to find the pet an appropriate home
  • the executors with instructions as to the testators’ request as to whom they would like to look after the pet
  • a legatee with the condition that the legatee is required to look after the pet in order to receive the money, or
  • creating a trust limited to 21 years leaving funds to trustees to be used for the care of the animal with a gift over for when the pet dies.

The RSPCA has confirmed that it comes across problems involving pets and legacies quite regularly and that in every case where it has been left a pet to re-home, it has so far been successful. Anyone wanting advice on drawing up specific clauses involving the RSPCA undertaking care of an animal can contact the RSPCA’s for more information.

The Dogs Trust and some dog shelters will also take on the responsibility for the pets of someone who dies.

Further options would be to include a purpose trust for pets or humane euthanasia clause in the will.

Posted in Wills + Administration of Estates - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Bogus Solicitors

The Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority (SRA) in England have issued many alerts regarding people pretending to be solicitors. The objective, in the main, is to rob people and/or legal firms of money. The SRA revealed that it is happening with increasingly regularity in recent times.

In Ireland this is happening to a lesser degree. Thankfully!

An example of a recent alert in England is =

“18 June 2015

The SRA has received information that “Peters and Oliver LLP” has provided a member of the public with an “authorization & retainer” letter and is operating the website www.petersandoliver.com.

What is the scam?

The SRA understands that a member of the public has been contacted in Qatar by an individual claiming to be from a law firm called “Peters and Oliver LLP”. An “authorization & retainer” letter has been sent to the member of the public in the name of “Peters and Oliver LLP”, with fees appearing to be requested for proposed immigration services. The contact address shown on the “authorization & retainer” letter is 15 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1BW, UK and the telephone number is given as 020 7822 7777.

In addition, the SRA is aware that the website www.petersandoliver.com is operating and claiming that “Peters and Oliver LLP” are based in the UK and Qatar. The website has:

  • cloned some information from the website of a genuine firm of solicitors, including narrative and the names and photographs of some genuine solicitors, without the permission of the genuine firm or individuals (see below).
  • provided contact information that includes: reference to a UK office at 15 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1BW, United Kingdom, the telephone numbers 020 7822 2222 and 0097 444 527976 and the email address info@petersandoliver.com.

The SRA does not authorise or regulate a firm called “Peters and Oliver LLP”. Therefore, any business or transactions through “Peters and Oliver LLP” are not undertaken by a solicitor’s practice authorised or regulated by the SRA.

Is there a genuine firm or person?

Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP is a genuine firm of solicitors that is authorised and regulated by the SRA. Parts of its genuine website have been cloned by the bogus website referred to above. The genuine firm has confirmed that neither it nor its genuine solicitors have any connection to the letter and/or website referred to above.

The genuine address of Peters & Peters LLP is 15 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1BW and its genuine telephone number is 020 7822 7777. However, its genuine email address and website are law@petersandpeters.com and www.petersandpeters.com respectively.

What should I do?

When a firm’s or individual’s identity has been copied exactly (or cloned), due diligence is necessary. If you receive correspondence claiming to be from the above firm(s) or individual(s), or information of a similar nature to that described, you should conduct your own due diligence by checking the authenticity of the correspondence by contacting the law firm directly by reliable and established means. You can contact the SRA to find out if individuals or firms are regulated and authorised by the SRA and verify an individual’s or firm’s practising details. Other verification methods, such as checking public records (e.g. telephone directories and company records) may be required in other circumstances.

 

A note of caution when using solicitors via the internet.

Posted in Office News - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Shopping around for a solicitor

Recently, Conor Pope in the Irish Times wrote an article on how to hire a solicitor. He spoke to 20 solicitors in his research – http://www.irishtimes.com/news/consumer/how-to-hire-a-solicitor-a-consumer-guide-1.2255692

It’s an interesting article with some good points, but not great ones! Firstly, I think speaking to solicitors about how you go about hiring them is silly. Talk to consumers about their advice on how to pick a solicitor not to the service provider.

How would I go about picking a mechanic, plumber, doctor or dentist etc. It’s the same process. Here’s my contribution to your decision :-

  • Get recommendations from friends and family
  • Check the internet and the solicitors website.
  • Find out how long they have been in business.
  • Have a short telephone call to see if you are going to get on – its a relationship after all
  • Ask the solicitor what expertise they have
  • Visit the solicitor’s premises – does it impress you.
  • If you want to know how much it will cost (and who doesn’t), then, chat to the solicitor on this at the beginning. If he/she avoids the subject then I’d be nervous using them.

Happy hunting !

Posted in Office News - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Magna Carta 800 years old this week

Magna Carta = The great charter

The Magna Carta’s symbolic role as the touchstone for human rights and modern democracy was celebrated on Monday 15th June by one of Britain’s leading judges as the country marked the 800th anniversary of the accord.

The master of the rolls and chairman of the Magna Carta Trust, spoke on the site at Runnymede where, eight centuries to the day, King John accepted the feudal barons’ document that limited the power of the crown.

Joined by the Queen, prime minister Mr.cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury, senior royals and an audience of thousands – including senior American lawyers – Lord Dyson described the ground-breaking accord as “a symbol of democracy, justice, human rights and perhaps above all the rule of law for the whole world”.

The prime minister said its principle was “as relevant today as it was then” and remains “sewn into the fabric of our nation, so deep we barely even question it” but complained that the notion of human rights in Britain eight centuries on had been “distorted and devalued”.

Lord Dyson said about King John and the barons: “They would surely have been astonished to learn that over time Magna Carta came to be regarded as one of the most important constitutional documents in our history and that it continues to be so regarded 800 years after it was sealed on this very spot.

“They would not have believed that the barons’ list of demands would become a symbol of democracy, justice, human rights and perhaps above all the rule of law for the whole world. But that is exactly what has happened.”

Although the Magna Carta remained binding on King John for only a number of weeks, it set a precedent, and its influence spread not just domestically but also abroad, having an impact on the US constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the post-second World War UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Magna Carta’s fame has spread across the globe, but the first country outside England to receive Magna Carta was Ireland, when in February 1217 Magna Carta was sent to Ireland, where it became the cornerstone of the English common law tradition in Ireland that still survives.

For centuries, not everyone in Ireland benefited from Magna Carta. The legal protections conferred by the charter were primarily for the English settlers and were not normally extended to the Irish population.

essentially, the Magna Carta is credited with being the first effective check in writing on arbitrary, oppressive and unjust rule – in a word, on tyranny.

Posted in General Areas of Law - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment

Why we ask for money laundering documents and need to keep an eye on suspicious transactions

Under Irish and EU law solicitors are legally obliged, like banks, to be aware of the above. recently, a plenary session of the European parliament voted the 4th Money Laundering Directive into law in Strasbourg on Wednesday 20 May, 2015. Ireland will have to transpose this update into our existing laws over the next short while.

The Law Society or England and Wales has just published recent examples of money laundering :-

Gang members found guilty of money laundering in diamond network scam (Enfield)

Two gang members have been found guilty of money laundering after being involved in a criminal network that sold diamonds for 30 times their value. A 30-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man were convicted for helping to con £1.5m from at least 50 people across the UK. Much of the monies taken from victims was funnelled off by the gang to accounts held overseas, with tens of thousands of pounds also being spent on luxury items in stores such as Harrods and Selfridges.
Gang jailed for fraud and money laundering (Lincolnshire)

A gang based in Lincolnshire who made more than £10 million selling fake Viagra through a bogus mail order business has been sentenced. The gang collected the monies in more than 100 bank accounts in the UK and abroad. The 47-year-old woman in day-to-day control of the operation was sentenced to three years and 10 months for money laundering, two and a half years on another count of money laundering and 15 months for conspiracy to supply.
Father and son convicted of laundering £20 million (Surrey)

A father and son have been convicted of laundering millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money in offshore bank accounts. The pair laundered some of the money gained from an operation orchestrated by a couple of Kent fraudsters who set up fraudulent companies to buy and sell carbon credits, and kept the VAT charged to their clients. The father and son pair disguised the money obtained through the scam in the sum of £20m.
Drug dealer jailed after struggling to keep up payments on his mortgage (Greater Manchester)

A man from Altrincham is beginning a 16 year jail sentence after admitting supplying class A and B drugs between 2012 and 2014, plus money laundering, fraud and benefit fraud offences dating back to 2004. The 56-year-old struggled to meet the £3,000 a month repayments on the mortgage of his £820,000 house, which he obtained through mortgage fraud. He was first arrested in 2013 for laundering £450,000 of cash and lying to loan companies to buy a BMW.
Waiter charged with fraud and money laundering (Sussex)

A 34-year-old waiter has been charged with two counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. It is alleged that he conspired with others to trick victims into transferring large sums of money to bank accounts under his control then quickly withdrawing the money and purchasing high value jewellery, gold bars and electrical goods. He is due to appear in court later this month.
Money laundering wife of drugs baron spared jail (Wolverhampton)

The wife of a major drugs dealer has been spared jail but has been sentenced to a suspended 2 year jail sentence and 240 hours of unpaid work. The mother of three had been given £40,000 by her husband before he left the country. She also admitted to being in contempt of court by selling a Mercedes SL320 in contravention of a restraining order.

 

There are consequences for solicitors when they disregard their money laundering obligations, as the following UK solicitor discovered :-

SRA v Andrew Donald Varley

Decision number: 10763-2011
Decision date: 24 April 2015

Summary: The Respondent failed to identify the indicators of property/mortgage fraud/money laundering further to the documented link between the buyer introducer and mortgage broker, and the payment of money on the introducer’s instructions to unknown and unidentified third parties.

The SRA argued that the Respondent showed a reckless disregard for his money laundering obligations in paying over £1m to third parties on instructions from the buyer introducer who he never met.

The Respondent also accepted validations of identity from the mortgage broker without any further enquiry, despite the documents showing that there was a link between the broker and the buyer introducer.

Sanction: The Tribunal found that the Respondent had failed to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations by ignoring clear indicators of suspicious behaviour and carrying out no due diligence investigations regarding third parties.

The Tribunal agreed that this showed a reckless disregard of the money laundering obligations whether or not the Respondent was truly unaware of the classic indicators of mortgage fraud and money laundering.

The Respondent was struck off the Roll of Solicitors and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.

** Appeals may have been lodged subsequent to publication.

 

 

Posted in General Areas of Law - Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny | Leave a comment