Category Archives: Adam Fletcher

Ridley & Hall Re-accredited Lexcel and Conveyancing Quality Scheme

September proved to be a successful month as Ridley & Hall were re-accredited with both Lexcel and the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS).

Adam Fletcher, Managing Partner, said, “I am delighted to announce that we have been successfully reaccredited Lexcel status. Although Lexcel is well established within the firm, our continued success is as the result of all the staff’s hard work throughout the year, from the office administration staff through to the Senior Partners.

“The Property team has also today been re-accredited for a fourth year under the Conveyancing Quality Scheme. This will ensure that we will remain on all mortgage company panels when acting for our conveyancing clients.”

In 2011, Ridley & Hall became one of the first law firms in the country to receive the CQS accreditation.

 

Ridley & Hall Listed in Legal 500 for 4th Successive Year

Ridley & Hall is delighted to announce that we have been listed in the Legal 500 in three separate areas; contentious probate, family and private client work.

The Legal 500 is a trusted directory providing comprehensive information on the UK’s recommended leading law firms.

Our Contentious Probate team, headed by partner Sarah Young has been listed as a third tier specialist department and highlights Sarah’s work in missing people.

Sarah commented; “I am delighted that the hard work and dedication of my team, and the work of our family and private client teams has been recognised by the Legal 500.”

In addition to her specialist knowledge and experience of dealing with complex contentious probate claims, Sarah is one of leading experts in missing people and has acted for many relatives who are seeking orders in relation to missing relatives.

Our expert Family team have been listed in the Legal 500 for a fourth consecutive year, which team leader and qualified mediator Vicky Medd is extremely proud of.

“When legal aid was abolished for the majority of private family law cases, many thought this would mean the end of family departments,” commented Vicky, “however with our range of fixed fee packages which we can tailor to an individual’s needs and financial circumstances, we are able to continue to grow as a department.”

Finally, the Private Client department which specialises in a range of services including Wills, probate and Lasting Powers of Attorney has also been re-listed for a fourth time. The head of department, Jill Waddington and her team have extensive experience in complex probate and inheritance tax matters.

Managing Partner, Adam Fletcher, commented, “The recognition from Legal 500 reiterates our commitment to delivering a high standard of service to our clients. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the practice provides, not only the usual services you would expect from a high street firm, but we are also leading the way in niche areas such as kinship care, court of protection and missing people.”

How Do You / Should You Hold Your Jointly Owned Property – As Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common?

When you purchase a property jointly, the co-owners should always be asked how they wish to hold the property as joint owners and generally there are two options;

  1. Joint Tenants – this means that the parties are presumed to hold the property in equal shares.  If, on the death of one owner, the method of ownership has not changed then, despite any terms written in a Will, ownership of the property will automatically pass to the survivor named on the title deeds.
  2. Tenants in Common – joint owners of a property can choose to hold in this way and the shares will usually be specific, either equal shares, or percentage shares as the parties may agree.  On the death of one owner where property is held in this way, the deceased’s share will not automatically pass to the surviving co-owner of the property but will pass under the terms of a Will or under the Intestacy Rules if there is no Will.  For this reason we would always advise that parties choosing to purchase as Tenants in Common make a Will as soon as convenient following a purchase although irrespective of how you hold a property it would always be beneficial and advisable to have a Will.

The reasoning behind joint buyers choosing tenants in common over joint tenants can be dictated by personal circumstance, for example, one party wishing someone other than their co-owner to benefit by their share in the property, or by financial input, for example, one party putting in the deposit and wishing to ‘ring-fence’ that in the event of a fall out or subsequent sale.  In this event, a conveyancer may recommend a deed of trust be prepared specifically stating each owner’s percentage or monetary share in the property but in any case where property is held as tenants in common, those owners should make a Will to determine who will benefit by their share on death.

The option reached by joint buyers will ultimately be reflected on the title registers at registration of the purchase with the Land Registry.

A choice initially to hold property as joint tenants is capable of being reverted to tenants in common should circumstances and wishes change, generally termed a ‘severance of the joint tenancy’.

There are, however, circumstances where the joint tenancy can become severed by third parties, changing a joint tenancy to a tenancy in common.  Where there has been borrowing by one party secured on property owned jointly with another and that borrowing is then secured against the property by a legal charge registered on the title, any joint tenancy is automatically severed and ownership reverts to the position where the proprietors then hold the property as tenants in common in equal shares.

Similarly where one of two property owners declares himself or herself bankrupt, the joint tenancy is converted to a tenancy in common and that bankrupt party’s share in the property is held for the trustee in bankruptcy.

If you wish to review the way in which you hold property owned with another and/or are conscious that you hold a property with your co-owner as tenants in common and never got around to making the Will to support that choice, please telephone us on 01484 538421 and ask to speak to Liz Wallis, Alison Mason or Adam Fletcher for your property enquiries.  For Wills, please ask to speak to a member of the Wills & Probate team.

La Grande Cycling Soiree Tonight!

The Tour de France is literally around the corner and the final preparations for our Grande Cycling Soiree are underway. The yellow bike and bunting have been hoisted up to show our support for this weekend of cycling entertainment.

Ridley & Hall Solicitors are hosting a soiree where attendees can enjoy food and drinks with a French-Yorkshire fusion and watch the Huddersfield Criterium Cycle Race as it takes place right outside our office. All proceeds will be going to the Hollybank Trust and Brake (the accident charity).

We have been overwhelmed by the number of attendees but there are still a handful of tickets available which can be purchased via the eventbrite website.

With rain forecasted this afternoon, why not enjoy the spetacle with food, drink and a roof over your head. Formidable!

For more information, please visit our Grande Cycling Soiree webpage.

A Knotty Issue!

Is Your Garden Harboring Japanese Knotweed? Know the Issues

The effects of the plant known as Japanese Knotweed on property are becoming a well known issue amongst conveyancers and surveyors and now the question as to whether the same is apparent at a property is a standard question on the Law Society’s Seller’s Property Information Form, being a form completed by all sellers of residential property.

If you are affected it can impact on the saleability of your property and its presence can influence a lender’s decision even if the plant is seemingly well away from the boundary.  It is difficult to eradicate and its complicated root structures can reach far beyond what is visible to the naked eye.

Japanese Knotweed is a highly invasive plant which has long been recognised for its notorious ability to grow through concrete and tarmac, exploiting weaknesses in structures and potentially growing through walls, floors and even roads.  Brought to the UK by the Victorians it was able to thrive away from its natural predators in native Japan and now, according to official records, there is not a single 6 mile scare patch of the country where it is not present.

This extremely destructive plant is classed as “controlled waste” in Part 2 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and it can only be disposed of at licensed landfill sites as even small cuttings can grow into new root systems.  Japanese Knotweed can have dramatic impacts on property asset values and suitability as lending security.  It can be successfully treated with herbicides but to completely eradicate a crop can take many years and is costly.

The only comprehensive method is for a surveyor, with specialist Japanese Knotweed expertise, to undertake a site inspection.

Liz Wallis at Ridley & Hall comments “In recent weeks I have experienced issues with lenders wishing to identify suspect plants in gardens of property being purchased prior to the issue of Mortgage Offers and whilst this might be seen to be a delay and inconvenience to buyers, clearly the lenders’ caution appears well-founded.”

For further information, please speak to a member of Ridley & Hall’s Residential Property team on 01484 538421.

Ridley & Hall Work with the National Business College on the Apprenticeship Scheme

The challenges of job searching for one young man did not stop Jack Robinson from overcoming each and every obstacle before him. Despite applying for numerous vacancies, he received limited responses that he did not have the required experience or right qualifications. This resulted in low self esteem and a lack of confidence in himself and his perception of what the future held for him.

It was only when Ridley & Hall Solicitors gave Jack a rolling monthly contract that things changed. Jack says, “I was surprised at my successful completion of all tasks within the deadlines asked of me.”

Jack was later asked if he was prepared to undertake an apprenticeship at the National Business College, at which point he was unsure saying, “College life was an unknown for me and not something I felt confident about doing.”

Jack always thought his career would end up within the sports industry having come from a sporting background with both his parents; Dad as a professional footballer and Mum who played for the Yorkshire netball team.

Jack explains more about Business College, “I was unsure about working in an office environment as it wasn’t where I expected to go and it did present some minor setbacks and challenges. I was nervous to talk to anybody and didn’t think I fited in well with the situation that was in front of me. However, with the support, trust and confidence in my ability that I received from the National Business College, management staff and colleagues at Ridley & Hall I was made me feel very welcome and it gave me the confidence I have in myself today so that I continuously make an impact on the job role I hold as an administrator.
“I didn’t have the best qualifications from school, therefore I had to retake a Maths and English test. Although it sounded hard, I found it wasn’t as daunting as I expected! By the time the last exam came round, dare I say I was really looking forward to it. In the middle of both these exams I also had to take an Information Communication Technology exam which is included in the apprenticeship and complete a porfolio of coursework. After taking all these exams I am now proud to say I have passed everything and achieved my intermediate apprenticeship framework.”

Left to right; top – Managing Partner Adam Fletcher and Practice Manager Ruky Mahboob; bottom – National Business College’s Managing Director and Assessor Christine Hoyland congratulates Jack Robinson on passing his intermediate apprenticeship framework

Jack is now progressing to the advanced framework alongside mentoring Ridley & Hall’s second apprentice, Jessica Johnson, who joined us from the National Business College at the end of April. This is an ideal opportunity for Jack to share his learning to support and encourage Jess through her apprenticeship, having been there himself not too long ago.

Ridley & Hall Supports Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance Launch Event on 21st May 2014

Adam Fletcher, Managing Partner at Ridley & Hall and chair of Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance (KDAA) would like to invite you to the launch of the new Dementia Action Alliance for Kirklees.

Whether you are an organisation dealing directly with those living with dementia and their carers or a sympathetic employer who is keen to support your staff who may well be caring for a loved one living with dementia and want to better understand dementia, then this event is for you.

Please further information, please see the formal invitation.

To book your place online, please follow this link to Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, please contact Elaine Bostock by e-mail.

The Help to Buy Warning – Don’t Get Unwittingly Trapped!!

Mortgage brokers have warned that first time buyers who have purchased a home through a shared equity scheme could be left trapped on an uncompetitive mortgage rate in the future due to little known rules of some of the country’s biggest lenders.

Brokers warn that a handful of banks that are still offering shared equity mortgage deals lend only to either new buyers or their own customers.  As a result, existing home owners have only a limited choice of rates when their current or variable rate deal ends.

Thousands of borrowers who bought their first home with the government backed FirstBuy shared equity scheme between 2011 and 2013 along with similar builder schemes could be affected and, if rules don’t change, first time buyers who have signed up to Help to Buy equity loan deals since the scheme launched could also be hit.

Some of the country’s biggest lenders provide mortgages to new buyers using popular government backed shared equity schemes under which buyers can put down a 5% deposit, take 20% equity loan from the government or builder and then arrange a mortgage for the remaining 75%.  However, lenders can refuse to allow homeowners in shared equity arrangements to remortgage, potentially blocking them from accessing the most competitive mortgage rates available.  Some lenders will only offer mortgages to existing homeowners if they first clear the 20% equity loan.  Unfortunately the loan to value may not be sufficient to provide the funding to clear the equity loan.

Most borrowers expect to simply clear the loan only when they sell their properties and find at a point that they wish to refinance for a more competitive mortgage deal they have become trapped.

The issue is thought to become an increasing problem next year when the early Help to Buy mortgages on two year fixes come to an end.  For many the choice will be staying with current lenders and taking a product transfer unless other lenders change their criteria.

Liz Wallis comments, “I wonder how many participants of the Help to Buy scheme have considered their position going forward in light of the above particularly at a time when the threat of an increase in mortgage rates is on the horizon.  Even if that doesn’t come until 2015 or beyond, how many Mortgage deals on similar schemes will end to coincide with that rate rise and the resultant homeowners find themselves with limited choice on re-finance options?  After all, it is not just about getting onto the property ladder but staying there!”

For more advice about help to buy mortgages, please contact us on 01484 538421 and ask to speak to a member of the Residential Property team.

How Do You Choose Your Conveyancer?

What follows is the findings of a consumer survey, details of which appear on Today’s Conveyancer, aimed at the conveyancing profession:-

“A recent survey has revealed that most home buyers rely on recommendations from their estate agents when looking for a conveyancer.

The annual report was carried out by the Property Academy in association with the TM Group and more than 4,700 consumers across England and Wales took part.

The findings showed that 68% of home buyers would ask for advice from their estate agent when choosing a conveyancer, with 46 percent making their choice based on an estate agents recommendation, a five percent increase from last year’s survey.

Surprisingly, the results also demonstrated that home movers were less concerned with finding a firm with the cheapest fees and more tuned into how much communication a conveyancer would offer, with only 18 percent of home-movers making a choice based on low fees, whereas 38 percent wanted a conveyancer to keep in touch once a week.

Customer retention fell by four percent from last year’s survey with the data also showing that customer retention is falling, with only 31 percent of home movers returning to a previous conveyancer, down four percent from the previous year’s findings and that online searches only accounted for seven percent of conveyancer selection.

The Home Moving Trends survey did show that an overwhelming majority of 78 percent of consumers said they would return to a previous conveyancer, with positive remarks about the service they had received centering on the words professional, efficient, helpful, friendly and thorough.”

Liz Wallis of Ridley & Hall LLP comments:- “It is interesting looking at the statistics that of those surveyed the percentage of people who would not recommend their conveyancer was similar to the percentage of people whose choice was made by reference to the cheapest price and on the face of it there would appear to be a correlation between the two.

“Those in the profession who pride themselves on a good, professional and efficient service will always have stories of their conveyancing nightmares sometimes arising purely out of unqualified or inexperienced personnel acting for the other party and delays occasioned are not always necessarily arising out of title issues.  We at Ridley and Hall LLP do consider our conveyancing costs to be competitive and take into account the experience of our fee earners and the service we provide and which is expected by our clients but for those seeking to choose a conveyancer on the lowest price alone, there is sometimes truth in the statement ‘You get what you pay for’.

“As with selecting any tradesman to undertake work in your home, it is preferable if possible to choose your conveyancer on an independent recommendation perhaps of friends or family who might have moved in recent history and who might have been impressed with the service they received.  Choice of conveyancer can make a difference to how your matter progresses and a good conveyancer can certainly alleviate some of the stress associated with one of the most stressful events of your life.”

Those wishing to buy or sell property, or indeed anybody wishing to remortgage property, are invited to contact either Alison Mason, Liz Wallis or Adam Fletcher to discuss your conveyancing needs.  We do pride ourselves on repeat instructions which, in our minds, speaks for itself. Please feel free to call us on 01484 538421 and ask to speak to a member of the Conveyancing team.

Ridley & Hall’s Adam Fletcher Provides Input into Major Banks’ Benchmarking Report

The North remains the country’s second largest area for legal activity according to the latest Financial Benchmarking Report from NatWest and RBS.

The report – now in its second year – looks at the financial performance of small and medium enterprise (SME) law firms operating outside of the UK top 100.

According to the survey, commissioned by NatWest and RBS’ commercial banking division, law firms across the North East and North West achieved an 11% increase in profit from the previous year. This delivered partners profits at £20,000 above the national average – putting them second only to firms in London.

This year’s report includes financial results from over 380 firms (an increase of 12% compared to last year) as well as a survey of delegates from the banks’ 2013 Legal Conferences – attended by 400 legal professionals.

Adam Fletcher, Managing Partner at Ridley & Hall LLP in West Yorkshire, is featured in the report. He said: “With the legal market continuing to change at a rapid pace, never has it been so critical to ensure that focus is on profitability and financial stability.

“I am not aware of any other benchmarking report within the sector that has access to such a library of financial data providing a wealth of financial information.

“Last year’s report allowed us to fully understand how we were performing financially compared with other law firms. What has become apparent is that the issues identified as a result of reviewing last year’s report were often interlinked, and while only requiring small improvements have had noticeable impact on profitability.”

Peter Gray – Head of Professionals NatWest Yorkshire & North Derbyshire at Natwest, added: “Last year was another challenging one for the legal sector, however, optimism seems at an all time high with some great performances recorded across the country.

“As the largest and only free benchmarking report in this space, this report provides a truly representative picture. We hope firms will use it to help them interpret their performance compared to their peers and indentify areas where they can improve future financial performance and security.”

The full report is available to download from this link.