Our Legal Apprentice enters the next stage of her training

It can be a long hard road to qualification as a solicitor, and our Legal Apprentice, Sophie Maddox has now entered the next stage of her training to become a solicitor. On Sophie’s performance, our Managing Director, Zoe Tranter said “I am delighted with Sophie’s performance. She is grateful for the opportunity which reflects in everything that she does. She is already demonstrating a use of initiative far beyond her years”.

On her time at Tranter Mills, Sophie commented “I have learned so much working closely with Zoe. The skills I have developed in practice have given me confidence out of the office too. It can be stressful, but we do have a laugh”.

Community Infrastructure Levy review: report to government

On 7 February 2017, the government published an independent report on the effectiveness of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

The report states that CIL is not achieving its original objective of providing a faster, fairer and more transparent way of collecting contributions towards the infrastructure necessitated by the impact of development.

The key recommendations are that:

  • CIL should be replaced with a hybrid system of a Local Infrastructure Tariff and section 106 agreements (for larger development).
  • Combined authorities should be enabled to set up an additional Mayor-type Strategic Infrastructure Tariff (SIT).

Restrictive covenant modified to allow development which was knowingly carried out in breach by a developer (Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber))

In Millgate Developments Limited and another v Smith and another, Re: Exchange House, Woodlands Park Avenue, Maidenhead [2016] UKUT 515 (LC), the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) a developer knowingly breached a covenant by building properties intended for social housing on the land in question. The houses overlooked the benefitting land, which was being developed as a hospice for terminally ill children. In exercising its discretion, the Upper Tribunal found that the loss of privacy to the owners of the benefitting land was outweighed by the public interest in housing families in need of affordable housing accommodation. It was decided that money was adequate compensation for the loss of the private rights enjoyed by the benefitting land. The Upper Tribunal therefore allowed the application by the developer to modify restrictive covenants that prohibited development of the land. What is interesting about this decision is the use of the land in question which was the subject of the application. It does beg the question as to what the decision may have been had the development comprised of private sector housing as well.

Autumn Statement – Impact on Property

The following came out of the Autumn statement yesterday:

  • The ban on upfront fees imposed on tenants by letting agents in England and Wales. Scotland has already banned these fees.
  • The announcement that the Land Registry is to remain in the public sector.
  • The announcement that the government is to publish a Housing White Paper setting out its plans for reforms to increase housing supply and halt the decline in housing affordability.
  • £1.4 billion to assist delivery of 40,000 new affordable homes in England and Wales and a further £3.15 million to the Greater London Authority to deliver 90,000 affordable homes in London.
  • £2.3 billion for a housing infrastructure fund to support the building of 100,000 new homes in high demand areas.
  • The creation of a National Productivity Investment Fund to provide major investment in, amongst other things, transport and housing.

The announcement of the ban on fees charged by letting agents in England and Wales is seen by many as another blow to estate agents and landlords. Whilst making landlords responsible for such fees may improve competition, there is concern that it will merely result in a rent increase for tenants as landlords seek to recover the cost.

Contact me for more details should you wish to discuss any of the above issues.

Source: Practical Law

Football agent successfully sues for loss of chance

The Court of Appeal has reversed a decision dismissing a claim against the defendant football agents for want of proof of causation. The claimant, also a football agent, had issued proceedings against the defendants for, among other things, inducing a professional football player to breach his oral contract with the claimant.

The claimant alleged that the defendants had excluded him from a transfer deal that he had arranged for the player and had deprived the claimant from the opportunity to receive a transfer fee. The court held that, properly analysed, the claim was for loss of a chance. The claimant was entitled to an award of damages against the defendants for loss of a chance to earn a fee under a written agency agreement with the player. The court decided not to interfere with the judge’s finding that, on the facts, the player would not have entered into a written contract with the claimant at the end of the transfer process. In the circumstances, the effect of the loss of chance approach was that the chance of the player signing a contract with the claimant fell to be evaluated as no higher than 50%.

The court remitted the matter to the judge for the purpose of assessing the relevant percentage likelihood. It also held that a settlement which the claimant had reached with the player relating to the player’s breach of contract did not prevent the claimant from pursuing the defendants. Although the settlement agreement had been drafted in wide terms, it did not make “absolutely clear” that in settling with the player, the claimant was foregoing his right to recover his remaining loss.

The decision provides a good example of the application of the complex loss of a chance principle. It would appear that at first instance issues of causation and assessment were confused. The finding that the player would not have entered into a written contract with the claimant was only relevant to the assessment of damages and not to the issue of liability. The practical significance of this being that although ultimately the claimant may only receive nominal damages from the defendants’ tort, he is unlikely to be liable for their costs, which in this case may be substantial. (McGill v The Sports and Entertainment Media Group and others [2016] EWCA Civ 1063.)

Source: Practical Law.

EPC Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2016 make minor amendments

The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/888) were made on 7 September 2016 and come into force on 1 October 2016. The Regulations make minor changes to the energy performance certificate (EPC) regime in England and Wales by amending the principal regulations, the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3118), to:

  • Update certain references overlooked in earlier amendments.
  • Allow disclosure, from the EPC register, of data used to prepare EPCs to specified persons (notably relating to the Green Deal) to assist government energy efficiency policy.
  • Amend the lists of data items from the register that may be published on a website.

The Regulations follow the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/284), made in March 2016, which included substantive changes to the EPC regime.

Source: Practical Law

The Home Loss Payments Regulations 2016

The Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/789) have been made and come into force on 1 October 2016

The Regulations increase the amount of compensation payable in England under the Land Compensation Act 1973 (LCA 1973) to a person whose home is acquired by compulsory purchase. They revoke the Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1514) in relation to any displacement occurring on or after 1 October 2016.

Compensation is payable to a person who is displaced from a dwelling by a compulsory purchase order (section 29, Land Compensation Act 1973 (LCA 1973)). This type of compensation is known as a “home loss payment”. The LCA 1973 provides two alternatives for establishing the amount of a home loss payment:

The home loss payment for someone who occupies a dwelling under an “owner’s interest” is calculated in accordance with section 30(1) of the LCA 1973. The payment will be 10% of the market value of the interest, but subject to both maximum and minimum limits. An “owner’s interest” is effectively an interest in the freehold of the dwelling, or in a lease with more than three years left to run.

If the home loss payment does not fall within section 30(1) of the LCA 1973, then the compensation payable will be the amount specified in section 30(2).

The Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/789) (Regulations) have been made and come into force in England on 1 October 2016. The Regulations revoke the Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1514) in relation to any displacement occurring on or after 1 October 2016.

Under regulation 2(2) of the Regulations:

  • The maximum home loss payment under section 30(1) of the LCA 1973 is increased from £53,000 to £58,000.
  • The minimum home loss payment under section 30(1) of the LCA 1973 is increased from £5,300 to £5,800.
  • The prescribed amount of home loss payment under section 30(2) of the LCA 1973 is increased from £5,300 to £5,800.

The increases have been calculated by reference to the Office of National Statistics’ mix-adjusted house price index and reflect an increase in line with house price inflation.

Source: Practical Law / Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/789).

JCT announces new features of 2016 editions

The JCT has revealed some of the changes that will feature in its 2016 edition contracts. As expected, the 2016 edition will incorporate previous updates to the 2011 edition, such as those included in the JCT’s Public Sector Supplement, its CDM amendment sheets and its named specialist update. Other changes include:

  • Altering the payment provisions to reflect fair payment principles and to simplify the payment regime.
  • Catering for the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/102).
  • Extending Insurance Option C so that it allows alternative solutions to the problem of obtaining existing structure insurance for a contractor.

In terms of ancillary documents, the 2016 editions will provide for a performance bond, a parent company guarantee and for sub-contractors granting third party rights under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.

Do you welcome these changes to your own set of bespoke amendments?

If you have any further questions or queries and wish to discuss these changes in more detail, then please contact  Zoe Tranter.

Whether bank discriminated against borrower in seeking possession order (County Court)

The County Court considered whether a lender’s refusal to agree to change a borrower’s mortgage from a repayment mortgage to an interest only mortgage was discriminatory. The borrower claimed that the lender’s blanket policy of not allowing a switch to an interest only mortgage breached the legislation on disability discrimination and human rights. The court dismissed the borrower’s defence in possession proceedings and held that:

Even if it was difficult for the borrower to access the service, it was not reasonable or proportionate for the lender to have allowed the borrower to switch.

Various guidance had been issued to lenders on responsible lending and switching mortgages to interest only. Although the guidance was mainly published after the lender reached its decision, it contained good practice and it was not good practice to lend on an interest only basis except in certain circumstances.

In light of the Court of Appeal’s decision in McDonald v McDonald [2014] EWCA Civ 1049 (on whether there is a defence under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights for possession claims by a private landlord), the borrower could not rely on Article 8 as a defence.

The court granted an order for possession. However, noting that the Supreme Court had allowed permission to appeal in McDonald v McDonald, the court ordered a stay of the order and an extension of time for filing an appeal by either party until 28 days after the Supreme Court’s judgment. (Southern Pacific Mortgage Ltd v Green [2015] EW Misc B42 (CC).)