Land Registry figures show further fall in house prices

The Land Registry has  announced that house prices are now just 1.5% higher than a year ago. As regards prices the news is no better with house prices falling by 0.2% in December compared with November, putting the average cost of a home at £163,814 in England and Wales. Some regions are however doing better than others. The highest price change is in London, which has experienced an annual increase of 6.2% and a monthly gain of 1%.

The picture for the immediate future looks gloomy with the  downward trend in prices looking to continue due the uncertainty regarding the economy and the Government’s spending cuts.

Mortgage approvals and house sales continue to fall and the housing market is expected to remain subdued throughout 2011 as a result.

Morgan Jones and Pett are solicitors who provide legal advice and services to clients based in England and Wales and who can be contacted on 01603877000 or via email at davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

US Housing Market still failing to make a marked recovery


The latest Chief Economist's Weekly Brief form National Westminster Bank suggests that the large supply of housing stock, compared with falling demand, will continue to ‘weigh the market down’ and  cause a ‘drag’ on  the general economic recovery happening within the US.  This is evidenced  by US house prices falling by 0.5% m/m in November (1.6%y/y) bringing them down to 2003 levels. This is 30% below the peak and only 3% above the 2009 trough. 


Morgan Jones and Pett are solicitors who provide legal advice and services to clients based in England and Wales and who can be contacted on 01603877000 or via email at davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

What is Astroturfing?


Astroturfing according to Wikipedia  ‘denotes political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but are disguised as spontaneous, popular "grassroots" behavior’.

The idea behind such campaigns is to give the impression that the efforts of an entity, such as a company, have not come from the company but have been launched independently by members of the public.

A good example of this can be found in the efforts of a Montreal based marketing company, Morrow Communications, who were engaged to help prepare for the launch of a new public bike system, and who acknowledged creating a dummy blog falsely pretending to be managed by 3 individuals to promote the use of bicycles in Montreal. They also created videos for the Blog and a Facebook webpage. 

The use of Astroturfing in modern day marketing is wide spread and is often used to ‘hype’ a product and as mentioned above the impression that the product has a benefit that is already being talked about by the market at which it is aimed.  Another example is where fictitious testimonials are created to support a product or service so as to give the impression it is popular.  The downside of this is that one now must be very careful when relying on reviews. 

Written by David Pett 

The changing face of Housing


Unlike the Continent we are a land where the majority of us aspire to owning our own home. In fact according to the Housing and Planning Statistics 2009 there are 22 million dwellings of which 68% are owner occupied.   There are only according to these statistics around 3 million properties which are privately rented.  Contrast this with Germany where half of the housing stock is occupied by tenants.

So why are we so obsessed with ownership?  For many of us it is how we have been brought up, to do well at school, to find a job and to then look to buy a property, normally as part of settling down and starting a family.  It’s part of our make up as well as being regarded by some as a symbol of success.  For others home ownership is about financial security at a time when pensions and other investments are constantly at risk form economic downturn.  

The tide may however be changing or about to change and there are many reasons for this, the main one of which are the austerity measures taken by the Government and the impact these will begin to have on how we live our lives in the future.

There are of course other factors such as affordability. The National Housing Federation reported an eight per cent rise in house prices and the continuing squeeze on lending means that would-be buyers in Cornwall now need to earn more than £54,000 a year to set foot on the property ladder.

The Government’s housing policy however is the main cause for change in the way we look at housing and could well see the end of the Country’s property owning democracy. The Government has as part of its recent Spending Review slashed the building budget for affordable homes by 60 per cent, and given only 140,000 new private houses will be built in the UK this year, we will soon be facing a major shortage of new housing stock.

The shortage of new housing combined with limited mortgage lending, insecurity about jobs and the worry of making long term lending commitments, and in some areas the high cost of getting onto the property market, can only lead to large property institutions seizing the opportunity this presents to invest in the building of property designed only for rental.

‘Build to let’ is the latest buzz phrase and we have already seen the likes of Legal & General, Aviva and ING making overtures in this direction.

Some private investors have already begun to purchase land in London with a view of creating ‘no thrill’ three bedroom family flats in complexes where heating and other services are shared.  Rents would be set at around £300 a week – surprisingly, just below the £340 housing benefit limit to be introduced next year for three-bedroom accommodation.  To me this all sounds similar to the Council Estates which exploded onto the scene in the 60’s and 70’s.

The Government’s agenda hidden in part behind the Spending Review is quite clear; it wishes to reduce the role of the State in housing and to open the door for the private sector to fill the gap.  The challenge for the private sector is to decide where demographically it will pitch its investment.  The risk is that those who were at one time looking to get on the housing ladder and who may be looking for rental property could be overlooked with the focus being on those eligible for housing benefit given the financial security and guaranteed return this presents.  Those who fall in between low income and the level of wage needed to purchase a home could find themselves even further out in the cold.

For this reason there must be stricter controls exercised through planning restrictions to ensure we do not end up as we did in the past with parts of the country where all those occupying property are from the same social background.  We must strive for a fairer distribution of our ever shrinking housing stock otherwise we face the risk of creating even deeper cracks in the social fabric of our country.

David Pett is a partner with Morgan Jones and Pett and can be contacted  HERE: CLICK TO E-MAIL












Moving Home Tips


Moving home can be stressful.  Our conveyancing service  (www. mjpconveyancing.co.uk ) is designed to make moving home a more relaxing experience and our home moving consultants are always on hand to help you with any queries.  

For starters here are some tips to help:

Redirect your mail

Don’t forget to have your mail redirected to your new home. Just take two forms of ID to the Post Office and ask for a mail redirection form. Find out more at http://www.royalmail.com/ . Don’t forget to forward mail to previous residents costs nothing, write ‘Not known at this address’ and their new details on the envelope or package then repost it.

Tell your doctor, dentists and health providers that you’ve moved

Make sure you tell your doctor and dentist your new address and contact details. Do the same for any other health clinic or hospital you attend regularly. Don’t be surprised if you have to register with a new GP.

Inform your insurance policies and pension providers

Take time to make sure your bank, building society, insurance and pension providers know your new address and contact details – remember to update any online registration details too.

Notify TV Licensing of your new address.

Your TV licence doesn't automatically move with you when you move house. If you don't notify TV Licensing of you new address, you could end up being unlicensed in your new home, even if you paid for a licence at your old address. Anyone who watches TV without a licence risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1000, so make sure you're covered: http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/


Update your driving licence and vehicle registration documents

It’s an offence to hold a driving licence or vehicle registration that does not carry your current address – ask you post office for the appropriate form and let the DVLA know you’re moving as soon as possible: http://www.taxdisc.direct.gov.uk

Cancel the milkman and other home services

Let the milkman know you're moving – and the window cleaner too. Cancel or update any magazine subscriptions too.

Get to know your new neighborhood.

Check out local services and transport at http://www.upmystreet.com

Compensation of £3,500 for accident on bus


Simon Bransby of MJP Solicitors has recently settled a case for a 56 year old lady recovering compensation of just over £3,500.00 for an accident on a bus when the driver braked sharply causing her to fall off her seat.

If you have been in a similar accident or wish for further information please contact Simon Bransby on  01603 877000 or by e-mail at simonbransby@m-j-p.co.uk

MJP Solicitors have a specialist team of personal injury and clinical negligence injury claim experts who offer free legal advice about taking a claim, if you, a friend or relative have been in an accident or suffered from medical negligence please get in touch with MJP Solicitors to find out what to do next on 01603 877000

Compensation of £12,000 for RTA Injury


Simon Bransby of MJP Solicitors has recently settled a case for a 39 year old man recovering compensation of £12,000.00 for an accident at work when his vehicle became unstable due to a generator having been poorly attached, and left the M6 Motorway. The Defendants fought the case for a long time but perseverance paid off as they settled shortly before the trial.

If you have been in a similar accident or wish for further information please contact Simon Bransby on  01603 877000 or by e-mail at simonbransby@m-j-p.co.uk

MJP Solicitors have a specialist team of personal injury and clinical negligence injury claim experts who offer free legal advice about taking a claim, if you, a friend or relative have been in an accident or suffered from medical negligence please get in touch with MJP Solicitors to find out what to do next on 01603 877000

Inquiries about pleural plaques


Simon Bransby of MJP Solicitors has recently been assisting clients with regard to pleural plaques under the Government Compensation Scheme (http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/pleural-plaques-compensation-scheme.htm)

If you have been the victim of asbestos exposure or wish for further information please contact Simon Bransby on  01603 877000 or by e-mail at simonbransby@m-j-p.co.uk

MJP Solicitors have a specialist team of personal injury and clinical negligence injury claim experts who offer free legal advice about taking a claim, if you, a friend or relative have been in an accident or suffered from medical negligence please get in touch with MJP Solicitors to find out what to do next on 01603 877000

Government proposals for employment law changes can only serve to restrict access to justice


Prime Minister David Cameron and Business Secretary Vince Cable have today announced proposed reforms to our employment legislation that includes:

• A fee to lodge a claim 

• Compulsory mediation in all Tribunal claims
• An increase in the level of continuous employment for claims of unfair dismissal from one to two years

The Government considers this will encourage employers to hire more employees and to in doing so help to reduce unemployment.  Those who represent employees consider this to be nonsense saying employment legislation has never deterred employees from engaging new staff.

The Government estimates this will lead to 3,700 - 4,700 fewer claims. Also, the potential introduction of a fee, provided employers are not subjected to a similar burden, could help to guard against spurious claims, which inevitably cost employers time and money.

These changes will have no affect on discrimination law and the ability to claim protection from day one.

Although employers will clearly welcome these changes once must question whether the who original objective behind Employment Tribunals of making remedies easily accessible and ‘litigant in person’ friendly has now become rather lost.

There seems to be no rationale for change and the propose reforms seem to serve little purpose other than to restrict and frustrate access to justice. 

£11,500 compensation for failed toe surgery


Sara Westwood and partner and clinical negligence expert with MJP Solicitors has recently settled a case for a 57 year old lady recovering compensation of £11,500.00 for complications suffered as a result of negligent surgery to her toe.

If you have a similar concern or wish for further information please contact Sara Westwood on  01603 877000 or by e-mail at sarawestwood@m-j-p.co.uk

MJP Solicitors have a specialist team of clinical negligence injury claim experts who offer free legal advice about taking a claim, if you, a friend or relative have been the victim of medical negligence please get in touch with MJP Solicitors to find out what to do next on 01603 877000

Ground Rent Disputes


MJP solicitors are currently assisting 23 clients who are seeking to recover damages from their former solicitors for professional negligence for failing to properly advise as to the consequences of a ground Rent revision in their lease which will considerably increase the ground rent payable at the 25 year review period.

If you have a similar concern or wish for further information please contact David Jones on  01603877000 or by e-mail at davidjones@m-j-p.co.uk

£50,000 compensation award for injured Skier


David Jones, a specialist Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Lawyer, and partner of Morgan Jones and Pett Solicitors, and who acts for clients based nationwide, has recently negotiated a £50,400 award for a female client aged 60 who was injured whilst skiing in Austria. The client suffered multiple injuries to her left shoulder, left wrist and pelvis.

David enjoys a special interest in Skiing related accidents and has acted for many Skiers over the years. He can be contacted on 01603877000 or by e-mail at davidjones@m-j-p.co.uk

DePuy ASR system compensation claims


MJP Solicitors (www.m-j-p.co.uk) are helping clients with claims for compensation for personal injury caused by defective hip prostheses relating to metal on metal hip joints including the “DePuy ASR” system.

These claims are in respect of patients with metal on metal articulated joints who have developed problems post surgery potentially due to metallic wear which is inconsistent with the outcome of the expected following hip joint replacement causing pain and reduced mobility.

For further information please call David Jones on 01603 877000 or e-mail davidjones@m-j-p.co.uk 

£15,000 compensation award for failed hip revision procedure


David Jones, a specialist Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Lawyer, and partner of Morgan Jones and Pett Solicitors, and who acts for clients based nationwide, has recently negotiated a a settlement on behalf of an elderly female patient of £15,000, who suffered a failed hip revision procedure.

David is a member of the Law Society's Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Panels and a Senior Litigator with APIL. He is also the founder member of the Norfolk and Norwich Medico-Legal Society as both Secretary and Chairman. He now specialises in Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury cases.. He can be contacted on 01603877000 or by e-mail at davidjones@m-j-p.co.uk

How to find a good and reliable personal injury solicitor


Choosing a solicitor to instruct on a personal injury case is not easy and can often be scary. No knowing how much it will cost and whether the solicitor is good or not are often factors that put people off from investigating the possibility of pursuing a compensation claim. We recognise it's all quite daunting.


So what can you do to check on the competency of the solicitor?


To begin with you should start by talking with some friends and family. Ask them what they have heard about solicitors in the area and if they know anyone that has had to work with a personal injury lawyer in the past. If you are successful in finding such a person always ask about the good and bad points they experienced with that solicitor.


You may have different expectations of your Solicitor and you have to make sure that you recognize and understand these expectations. If you cannot find anyone that has a recommendation you may want to start looking into the background of the Solicitor.

This is an important step even if you have a recommendation for a lawyer. Look to see whether the solicitor is accredited to any professional organisation specialising in personal injury. Look to see in particular is the lawyer is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. Look at the website and read the bio on the solicitor. Check on how long the solicitor has been in practice. Check also to see whether the solicitor firm has an up to date website and one that has a blog and or information on cases it has dealt with.


In short always do your homework as there are both good and poor solicitors.


Our firm (www.m-j-p.co.uk) offer a FREE initial consultation and a true 'no win, no fee' funding option. We have lawyers who are very experienced in this area and who are ready to help you. For further details please call David Pett on 01603877004 or e-mail davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

 


 

Free Conveyancing


The concept of FREE conveyancing can be a reality and is likely to become one in the very near future. 




As with most things in life nothing is ever completely FREE, there is always a catch or a set of conditions.    This is no different in the case of a FREE conveyancing service.  For this to happen the insular approach to conveyancing and the distrust in referral fees has to change.


The profession can no longer continue to believe that a competitive service can be built and developed solely on the back of diminishing conveyancing fees.


From October there will be increased competition and this can lead only to even lower pricing and possibly a falling in the quality of service to the end user. If those providing a conveyancing service believe they will still be able to compete I am afraid they are in for a big surprise.

The time to think outside the box is here and now. 

There are many solicitors who have steered away from referral fees because of the horror stories that have over the years emerged on failed partnerships with non-lawyer entities. I have sympathy for this line of thinking. However we live in a very competitive world where marketing costs remain high and profitability is becoming more and more difficult to sustain.  For businesses to survive and flourish business relationships within and outside the legal sector are essential.

We should not feel ashamed about charging a fee for an introduction providing of course all the necessary conduct rules are followed.  We have spent money and time in securing the client; the client has developed confidence in our service and if at the client’s behest the client is looking for other services why not charge a fee.

At MJP we have gone a stage further and as part of the transparent approach we take to referral fees we offer the client a share of the fee if they make use of one of the services offered by an external supplier.   This helps to get around the uneasiness there often is with referral fee accountability and also serves as a means for the client to receive money back that is often well in excess of the modest fee we charge for conveyancing (www.mjpconveyancing.co.uk).

We also operate a FREE web based system for other legal firms to make inter-firm referrals of cases such as clinical negligence in return for a share of the end profit earned on that case.  It has proved very popular. Further details can be found at www.mjpconnect.com


The creation of local networks of local professionals is nothing new, however with the Legal Services Act just around the corner it has, at least for us, taken on a new and essential meaning.  

If you wish to become part of our network or find out how you reduce the cost of your home move please e-mail: davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk or call 01603877004

David Pett who is a partner with Morgan Jones and Pett wrote this Blog Entry.  His role involves the supervision of the firm’s Residential Conveyancing Team.  He also runs the Business Development and IT Team.

Your feedback would be appreciated – davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

Free, conveyancing, solicitors, property, homes. Moving home, clinical negligence, housing, legal services act, referral fees, mortgages

How can I help my solicitor make my home move less stressful and quicker?


 Solicitors despite the image some may give through poor client relations do understand that moving home is stressful and for the client is one of the most important lifetime experiences.   We know that you are worried about the transaction falling through before contracts are exchanged; we also know that making arrangements to move in to a home are fraught with complexity and expense.      We recogonise that you expect given this anxiety to be regularly informed about what is happening. This is understandable.

So what can you do to help?

To begin with you should at the outset receive a ‘pack’ of information from your solicitor containing documents of various description for you to read and in some instances complete.      I bet some of you think that we do this on purpose, that we send what may seem to be hundreds of documents in the hope that this will impress you and justify our modest fee!     The true answer however is that we are obliged to send some of these documents because of obligations placed upon us by the organization that regulates our profession.  Other documents are necessary as part of the home moving process.   Most forward thinking solicitors like us believe that the system for moving home is antiquated and requires reform. Unfortunately until a progressive looking Government changes the system we have to work within the constraints of a system that was designed when far fewer land transactions were taking place.  So this brings me to the first tip – please read the papers we send and do your best to complete the forms etc fully and ensure they are returned promptly.   Time is often lost having to chase for information and documents that are requested at the outset.  The more you can supply the quicker the process will be.


The other advantage of reading the ‘pack’ in full is that it will contain an explanation of the process and should answer a number of the questions you have about timings and the stages of the procedure.


The second tip relates to trust and understanding.  Although your move is the most important thing to you, it must be kept in mind that for a solicitor to be able to quote a competitive price for the job, he is obliged to take on and process a number of other transactions.  It is not uncommon for a busy practitioner to handle at any one time around 80 live transactions.  Though an equal amount of time is devoted to all of the cases, as far as that can be achieved, it is inevitable that there will be times when you case does not receive daily attention.  If a practitioner were only to handle say 5 to 20 cases at any one time, he would probably have to charge around £800 to £1000 for each transaction to make it pay. Many of you would not sadly be prepared to pay a premium of that level for personal attention of this type.   So an understanding of the practicalities of a modern day conveyancing firm does I am sure help.  As does the fact that where there is a ‘chain’ of transaction taking place it is more often the case that the process of you case is hampered by the slowness of someone else within the chain.   This is frustrating as it often gives the impression that your solicitor is slow.  So as for my second tip please can you show some understanding by trusting your solicitor to do the best he can for you and to allow him to get on with the work he is undertaking for you.   I know from personal experience that having to take phone calls during the day can prove very disruptive and cause delay.  I am not advocating that you should never call your solicitor; all I am saying is that before picking up the phone just ask yourself whether the call is necessary.   Many solicitors prefer and find e-mail communication less disruptive.


This brings me to my final tip and one that I consider would help tremendously if followed.  One of the largest groups of callers into conveyancing departments is that of estate agents.  I recogonise that they are keen to see a transaction completed quickly for obvious reason, but I simply do not understand why some persist in calling every day to find out about progress.  I can perhaps understand an agent calling on behalf of a client of that agent but when we get as we do calls from the agent of the other party it is, at least in my view, unacceptable and very disruptive.  So if you could speak to you agent and make sure they do not call without your approval this would be very helpful.

At the end of the day the client comes first and the need to keep the client updated is paramount.  We have to work in a system that is inherently slow and which is akin to an age when telegrams and manual type writers were prevalent.  Clients expect a professional and quick service but at an affordable price.  The question whether the high street lawyer can continue to meet this demand is a question for debate on another day.

David Pett who is a partner with Morgan Jones and Pett wrote this Blog Entry.  His role involves the supervision of the firm’s Residential Conveyancing Team.  He also runs the Business Development and IT Team. He can be contacted at davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

Your feedback would be appreciated – davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk



Why the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme is the final nail in the coffin for the high street conveyancing solicitor


 Buying a home can be stressful and often leads to anxiety.    Those like myself who work in the industry understand this and though we work hard to take steps to ensure the stress is kept to its minimum, we are often left feeling equally frustrated. 

Most solicitors working in this sector are working 70 hour weeks plus if not longer trying to make some money out of what has fast become a very competitive and in the main profit losing area of legal work.

Those who understand conveyancing will know that given the antiquated system for conveying property in which we are forced to operate the only way to stand any chance of making some money is to commoditize the product, keep the price low and have in place good technology.    At the same time quality and client relations must be maintained.

The constant battle between competiveness and quality often makes it difficult for the solicitor to deliver the type of service that one would expect from a supplier of professional services. Whether the client is paying £600 or £200 the level of expectation is the same as are the demands of the client. 

Given the client is expecting high standards of service but at a low price the future for the solicitor as a provider of this service looks grim unless something is done to make the process more slim line and less cumbersome. The Law Society that purports to be an organization that exists to promote solicitors interests seems more preoccupied in bringing in more stringent quality standards for conveyancers than putting pressure on the Government to modify the home moving system.

The Labour Government introduced Home Information Packs, and although they were not well received, they did go someway towards speeding up the process and making it less stressful.  The Law Society was presented with a golden opportunity to build on this initiative but failed to respond positively. Unfortunately our current government lacks the insight (and indeed the motivation) to bring in measures to improve the system and the signs are that we will not be emerging from the dark ages for sometime.

David Pett who is a partner with Morgan Jones and Pett wrote this Blog Entry.  His role involves the supervision of the firm’s Residential Conveyancing Team.  He also runs the Business Development and IT Team. He can be contacted at davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

Your feedback would be appreciated – davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

Cut NHS compensation payments for clinical negligence by encouraging the delivery of an early apology

There is no doubt that those working in the NHS are committed to their work and we have some of the most skilled and hard working doctors and nurses in the world. 

However as in most sectors even the most trained and skilled employee can make mistakes/omissions particularly under pressure.  Not all mistakes or failures lead to unnecessary death or injury.   Sometimes we may not even beware that an oversight, mistake or omission has occurred.

On those occasions when something does go wrong however we often left feeling aggrieved and lost.    In the main there is very little information given about the situation, we are often left for months not knowing what has happened and who was to blame.    Unfortunately not all doctors and nurses are versed in the skills of PR and general communication.  In fact, another of complaints and claims for compensation would never appear if communication with a patient was given the priority it deserves.

When something goes wrong the first thing we need to know that a problem has occurred, the consequences of that problem, and what the hospital or GP intends to do next.  On top of this, and perhaps as equally important, if not more, is the communication of an early apology.

The number of clients we see who say they would never have dreamt of consulting with us if the Hospital or GP had held up their arms admitted they had made a mistake and apologized.  In all walks of life an apology can go a long way.

Will the situation improve? Sadly no as with the austerity measures there is unlikely to more money pumped into the NHS and therefore the level of communication is likely to decrease rather than improve.

So the next time you hear about the money lawyers are taking out of the NHS with compensation payments and fees, please remember this article and make it known to you local MP that there would be less compensation payouts if more money was invested in the improvement of doctor/administrator/client communication.

Sara Westwood and David Jones are members of MJP Clinical Negligence Team and between them have over 30 years of experience in the sensitive and professional handling of compensation claims arising out of Hospital and GP mishaps.  They can be contacted on 01603877000 or by e-mail at davidjones@m-j-p.co.uk

David Pett who is a partner with Morgan Jones and Pett wrote this Blog Entry.  His role involves the supervision of the firm’s Residential Conveyancing Team.  He also runs the Business Development and IT Team. He can be contacted at davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

Your feedback would be appreciated – davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

Does the Andy Gray's dismissal mark an end to office 'banter'

Andy Gray made inappropriate remarks in the work place and has been punished for his conduct. Some may say the punishment was too harsh and disproportionate.  Others including myself are asking the question – has this incident marked the end of what has become a common characteristic of the work place that is, ‘office banter’.  Is this PC gone too far, particular at a time when we have a Government that is looking to reduce the level of red tape? 

I accept there is a fine line between respect for fellow workers and what some would call innocent banter. However in all of these cases each situation must be considered on its own facts and more importantly on how the banter is received. 

I am sure there will a lot of workers out there racking their brains to think whether they may find themselves in a similar position on the basis of remarks made in office conversations over the past month or so.  Re- living conversations at last year’s Christmas party must be happening in a number of offices throughout the country.

There is no excuse for offensive remarks but should we all be asking ourselves whether Mr. Gray’s dismissal has now sent out a signal that any form of office banter should now be restricted. The question of whether this is good or not is one that should be viewed against a background of low office moral due to risk of redundancy and wages that are being eroded by inflation.

Surely it must be best to leave it to the adult to decide what is appropriate banter given the audience and circumstances prevailing.  We should all know how remarks will be received and whether they may be unwelcome.

Time will tell as to whether Mr. Gray is deterred from challenging the decision through an offer of a secret severance payment or whether the appropriateness of the sanction will be aired in an Employment Tribunal.  One thing is for certain these circumstances have placed a big question mark over the future of unguarded office banter.  

Make the right choice when instructing a lawyer to handle your home sale or purchase

Choosing a solicitor to handle the legal aspects of your home move can be difficult.  There are now so many different routes available to find a solicitor, it can often be confusing.  Where do you start? How do you know you are engaging a competent solicitor, and more importantly one who is prepared to communicate in language you understand?

Modern media and the rise, in particular, of price comparison websites have, regrettably, forced many sellers and buyers down the route of searching high and low for the cheapest supplier. Selecting a solicitor on the basis of how cheap the service may or may not be is not always sensible and can at the end of the day prove to be disastrous.

So what should you be looking for? Although it may be obvious, the clear goal must be to secure a competent lawyer at a competitive price and one who will do all he or she can to make sure you move home quickly and with the minimum of stress.  Though it may seem a tall order, this goal is not as difficult to fulfil as you may first think.

The first tip is to always make sure before committing to the engagement of the lawyer that you have in writing a full and final figure quote for both sale and if necessary, purchase.  Do not get drawn into the trick used by some whereby the headline fee for the service is kept low only to find that the incidental expenditure,  such a property search fees, bank transfer fees when added make the total cost of the service a lot higher than first thought.

You need to ensure that all of the cost of moving, such as stamp duty, Land Registry fees, are included in the estimate.  You will need to know this to work out how much you will need to move home.  Some sellers are not fully checking the total cost of the move, such as these fees and also the cost of clearing any existing mortgage, and this has unfortunately, led to a number of transactions failing.  

So once you have a quote and are sure it includes everything, the next question is to ask whether you know very much about the solicitor. Just because you are happy with the figure quoted should not be enough. You need to do some research, ask around to see if anybody you know has previously dealt with the lawyer, go onto the website and look at the firm and its personnel.  Perhaps also ask to speak with the person who will be dealing with the case. Ask how long it might take to deal with the instructions.  You need to make sure you are using somebody who can communicate clearly, is easy to get hold off, and more importantly knows what he or she is talking about!

Though it does not always follow, it often the case that those offering discounted fees are more likely to be part of a larger practice where lawyers both trained and untrained undertake the work, and where the level of client service may not be as good as elsewhere.

Look also at firms that offer added value to their service. For example in my legal practice we offer all our clients who use us to move home the services of a one of our home moving consultants who will hold the hand of the seller or buyer from the moment of engagement all the way through to completion.  The consultant is there to answer any questions and to help with any aspect of moving whether it is in relation to the legal parts or removals, surveys and finance.

Consider also when the solicitor intends to start work.   My view, and one we apply within my practice, is that work on the sale should start as soon as the property is marketed. There is plenty that can be sorted whilst you sit and wait for an offer.  The questionnaires about your home and what you intend to leave can be completed.  The documents to prove you are the legal owner can also be sought.  The more that can be done in the early stages the quicker the solicitor will be in getting the contract for sale out of the door within hours of the receipt of an offer.  This is very important in the current climate where buyers are hard to come by and often give up on an offer if they are kept waiting too long.

Some may ask what happens about the cost of this work if the sale falls through. This is a good question and brings me to my final tip.  Before engaging a solicitor always check and get it put in writing that if for any reason the sale falls through or does not proceed, there will not be any fee raised for the work.  In other words always insist on ‘No sale, No fee’.

David Pett is a solicitor and partner of Morgan Jones and Pett and can be contacted at davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk or on 01603 877004. Morgan Jones and Pett offer legal services in connection with home sale and purchase and Re-mortgaging.  The price for the legal work involved with the sale of property starts at £299 plus VAT.  All work is offered on a ‘No sale, No fee basis’. 

100Mbps Broadband for Cheshunt, Hatfield, Pentwyn, Southport and Treforest


Cheshunt, Hatfield, Pentwyn, Southport and Treforest are now benefiting from 100Mbps broadband thanks to Virgin Media’s on-going improvement to its broadband service. It is reported in techradar.com that Virgin has now rolled out to 350,000 homes across the UK.

Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media said: "From establishing the UK's first ever broadband service to the launch of 100Mb just ten years later, Virgin Media has led the greatest developments in digital Britain.

"We've invested many billions of private money in order to build a growing network that already passes approximately 13 million homes across the UK.

"We're racing to get these ultrafast speeds across this entire area as fast as we can to meet demand."

Stamp Duty ‘Hike’ in April causes rush for higher value property

The rate of stamp duty is set to rise from four to five per cent on April 6, meaning that a day could make a difference on high value properties of over £10,000 in tax. It is reported today that this has brought about an increase in buyers looking to purchase homes worth in excess of 1 million. The figures published show 'properties for sale in the £1 million-plus bracket has already undergone a 39 per cent boom this month - and there are 46 per cent more in the above-£5 million category'. The expectation however is that could following April create a vacuum in the market.

At MJP Solicitors we are able to put purchasers in touch with Tax Planners to explore options on possible Stamp Duty reductions. Email Davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk for further details.


 

 
 

What do a bottle of lager and two packets of crisps have in common with moving home?


The days of popping down to your local solicitor and sorting out your Will or the legal work in connection with moving home may be numbered, if as is anticipated large national corporations, which are more readily associated with the provision of groceries, such as the likes of Tesco and Marks and Spencer, decide to take advantage of the change in law that will happen in the latter part of next year.
Unless there is any change between now, and then, October 2011 will see the full introduction of the Legal Services Act. This will allow non-lawyer type organisations to offer and compete with legal practices in the provision of certain legal services such as conveyancing and possibly Wills. In other words the platform will be present for well-established national brands to broaden the spectrum of their current offerings and to enter the market and to offer commoditised and, as is likely low cost, legal products and services.
The model already exists with the Co-Op which is very strong in the North of the Country. They already offer legal services to their members. Indeed if you pay for your groceries by debit or credit card the machine you use to pay actually asks at the point of payment whether you have any legal matters which they can help you with.
It was also recently reported that the CPP Group is in talks with Irwin Mitchell, a large northern based legal practice, about being able to offer legal services for the price of a pair of shoes! In addition the AA and SAGA have said they will offer legal services to not only their members but also to non-members.
The belief is that by opening the market to competition you, the consumer, will have greater choice, and due to the increased competition the option to 'purchase' these services at a lower cost. This was highlighted the following extract from the Office of Fair Trading's Report 2001 entitled "Competition in the Profession':

 
.Restrictions on supply in the case of professional services, just as with other goods and services, will tend to drive up costs and prices, limit access of choice and cause customers to receive poorer value for money than they would under properly competitive conditions. Such restrictions will tend also to inhibit innovation in the supply of services, again to the ultimate detriment to the public."
So what does this mean for the local solicitor and for you, the consumer?
For the solicitor offering services that can be commoditised and marketed on a low fixed cost basis, the future does not look too good. The only hope for these firms is to promote and emphasise the fact that 'cheap' is not always best.
This can be demonstrated by the fact that not all people, for example, purchase items from the 'basic' product line that Tesco and other supermarkets offer. The price of these products may appeal to certain parts of the community, but are not everybody's cup of tea. There will always remain a place for a legal practice that can offer a competitively priced service but one that is based on good and sound principles of service and reliability.
My only reservation is that even though your local solicitor may very well provide a good and reliable service, unless the solicitor has the marketing clout of Tesco or similar national corporates (which is most unlikely), it may prove difficult to compete and ensure the message is heard.
As for you, the consumer, the cost of moving home and making a will could become cheaper and more convenient to arrange, though the downside will probably mean that your work is undertaken out of the area and the access that you may currently enjoy with your local solicitor might no longer be available.
Hopefully our profession can rely on playing the 'local and service driven' card though given the increasing pressure on personal finances this could very well prove to be an uphill struggle.
Follow MJP on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mjpconveyancing and Facebook at www.facebook.com/mjpsolicitors

Doom and Gloom remains within the Housing Market

We are still witnessing a continuation of the trend of falling house prices, although the fall in supply of housing stock did go some way towards supporting prices in December. The biggest problem at present is a fall in transaction levels made worse before Christmas due to poor weather conditions. The increase in some areas of the country of demand over supply has helped to raise levels of optimism amongst certain professionals. The biggest rise in confidence levels has been in London and the South East whereas prices continue to fall within Scotland, Northern Ireland and North of England.

The lack of credit and rising unemployment seem to be the main cause of a fall in demand. Although the unemployment rate remained at 7.9%, the number of people out of work rose by 49K to almost 2.5m over the three months to the end of November. Job insecurity and with the announcement today of a fall in growth suggests that unless we see a sudden change in Government Policy it is unlikely that this snapshot of the Housing Market is unlikely to change in the immediate future.