Our news

The latest news from Devonshires.

Welcome to our news page. Here you will find out what we’re up to and what we think about recent events and future possibilities.

Experienced in judicial review work

At Devonshires, our experienced Litigation Department is extremely well equipped to represent our clients in a judicial review situation and this is an area we are continually developing.

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Exiting joint ventures – how to manage from the outset

Joint ventures are playing a vital role in boosting housing supply but like venturing into any relationship, bear the risk of reaching a premature end.

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Is it possible to vary your divorce settlement?

This week the Court of Appeal ordered that a divorced wife should receive additional money from her former husband, despite agreeing a settlement almost 15 years ago.

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Devonshires advise Trafford Housing Trust on £275m financing package

Devonshires recently acted for A2Dominion Housing Group Limited in establishing its £1bn Euro Medium Term Note programme and subsequent issue of a £250m 3.50% unsecured sterling bond due 2028.

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D Day is coming – 6 April 2017

The HCA has this week published two explanatory documents relating to the implementation of the deregulation measures set out in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 which will come into force on 6th April 2017 (D Day).

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Further Regulations about Rent Reduction!

The Social Housing Rents (Exceptions & Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 come into force between 1 March and 6 April 2017.

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Hounslow London Borough Council v Waaler – Service charges and Improvements

On 2nd February 2017 the Court of Appeal considered the approach to be taken when determining whether costs had been reasonably incurred when considering the amount of service charge payable under section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Importantly they gave particular consideration to the approach to be taken when considering costs relating to improvements as opposed to repairs.

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2017 Housing White Paper: This is It, or ……. But Really, is This It?

Introduced as ‘a bold, radical vision for housing in this country’, the Housing White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ was published earlier today.

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Construction Contracts: Payment Disputes and Adjudication Seminar Leeds – Thursday 2 March 2017

Construction Contracts: Payment Disputes and Adjudication Seminar Leeds – 2 March 2017
Cash is ‘king’ to contractors and sub-contractors and the English courts have recognised cash flow to be the ‘life blood’ of the construction industry.
This seminar will provide an overview of construction adjudication together with the mandatory payment provisions of the ‘Construction Act’ and will provide an insight into recent guidance provided by the Technology & Construction Court and the rise of ‘smash and grab’ adjudications.

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Devonshires advises on £505m L&Q deal

Devonshires and Clifford Chance have advised London & Quadrant (L&Q) on its acquisition of Gallagher Estates, in a deal worth approximately £505m.

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Landmark ruling by the court denying a transgender parent direct contact to children

In the case of J v B (Ultra-Orthodox Judaism: Transgender) Mr Justice Peter Jackson has controversially ruled that a Jewish transgender parent will lose the right to see her children in order to protect the children’s standing within the ultra-orthodox Jewish community.

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Developers should consider the WELL Building Standard to maximise investments

The WELL Building Standard may be a relatively new concept in the UK, but developers should move it up the agenda to help maximise their investments.

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Timing of Interim Payment Application and “Smash and grab” adjudications

In this update we look at the recent decision in Kersfield Developments (Bridge Road) Ltd v Bray and Slaughter Ltd [2017] EWHC 15 (TCC), in which the Technology and Construction Court (the “TCC”) further clarified the implications for failures to serve valid payment or pay less notices and whether adjudicator’s power to “openup, revise and review” extended to payments notices.

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Devonshires advises Your Housing Group on £2.5 bn joint venture

Devonshires has advised Your Housing Group (YHG) on a £2.5 bn joint venture, which aims to deliver 25,000 low-carbon modular homes by 2022.

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Inadequacies on NHS maternity ward result in tragic death

The news this week that serious “failures, inadequate diagnosis and treatment” resulted in a woman’s death after childbirth underlines the tragic impact of some of the challenges faced by the NHS.

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Devonshires acted for Wellingborough Homes in negotiating and completing a Development Agreement for 84 Affordable Housing Units.

Wellingborough Homes, a not-for-profit housing association serving Wellingborough and the wider community, has entered into a Development Agreement with BDW Trading Limited for the development and acquisition of 84 Affordable Housing Units. This new development will help Wellingborough Homes fulfil its mission of creating neighbourhoods that are desirable, well integrated, environmentally friendly, safe and well managed.

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2017: A Year of Legacy Claims?

Over the next week or so, three words – “Happy New Year !“ – shall be uttered to colleagues as normal business resumes following the Yuletide break. It seems like it was only yesterday that the same words were used as we waved goodbye to 2015 and said hello 2016.

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Women: It is better to be prepared

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) have prepared a report into the risks facing contemporary women which has produced some interesting findings.

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Rise in celebrity break-ups but what about the children?

One of the biggest news stories of 2016 was the unmissable news that Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie, better known as Brangelina, have decided to divorce. And although all eyes are on the ex-couple’s next move, it must be remembered that there are six children involved in the mix up.

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Anti-social behaviour, Subletting & Holiday Lets

Landlords and ASB practitioners face an additional hurdle when the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour are not their direct tenants or leaseholders but unauthorised occupiers either subletting or staying under licence or verbal agreement. The difficulty is that there is no direct relationship with the subtenant or unauthorised occupier so the usual remedies available for breach of contract are not available.

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Devonshires | Altair 5th Annual Welsh seminar – Time for transformational change? 17 January 2017

Who would have thought that the economic and political landscape would have changed as much as it has since this time last year? With a new Welsh Programme for Government, legislative and regulatory changes, and the implications of Brexit, it’s a time of transformational change for housing organisations.
This year’s annual Altair and Devonshires seminar will provide insights from expert speakers as well as giving you the opportunity to join the debate on how to achieve transformational change.

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Personal injury reform is unfair and will have negative consequences

The Government’s proposal to increase the current small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 will reduce many people’s access to legal representation resulting in negative consequences.

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The Big Housing Debate 2016 – the social housing sector should focus on the positives

The Autumn Statement revealed five key themes for the social housing sector and while uncertainty inevitably remains, registered providers (RPs) must take advantage of the potential opportunities.

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The magic behind the decrease in divorce rates

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published on 5 December 2016 have revealed that there has been a reduction in divorce rates. How can this be explained and what does this mean for you?

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Annual Report 2016

Our Corporate Social Responsibility activities

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Devonshires complete Clarion merger

Devonshires are delighted to have completed the Clarion merger.

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Immigration Act 2016 provisions and new prescribed form of Section 8 Notice of Seeking Possession into force from 1st December 2016

As of 1st December 2016, the Immigration Act 2014 will be amended by Sections 39 to 41 of the Immigration Act 2016. The provisions apply to private sector landlords and to social landlords.

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Negotiating Joint Ventures: Views from “the Coal Face” seminar – Manchester

On Thursday 12 January 2017 we will be hosting our Negotiating Joint Ventures: Views from “the Coal Face” seminar in Manchester

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Inquiry call over deaths in childbirth underlines challenges faced by NHS

Midwifery and obstetric errors can have a devastating impact on the families involved. We deal with many cases where serious mistakes have been made as a result of a lack of resources and training.

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Devonshires expanding into the North

We are delighted to announce that Devonshires will be expanding into the North following the hire of Chris Drabble, Legal Director at Addleshaw Goddard, who will head a new Leeds office opening in February 2017.

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Devonshires advises A2Dominion in Bond Issue

Devonshires recently acted for A2Dominion Housing Group Limited in establishing its £1bn Euro Medium Term Note programme and subsequent issue of a £250m 3.50% unsecured sterling bond due 2028.

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The ‘Devs Singers’ Christmas Carol Concert – Thursday 8 December

The Devonshires Choir (Devs Singers) would like to invite you to the Devonshires Christmas Carols on 8 December from 6.00pm at All Hallows-on-the-Wall, 83 London Wall, London EC2M 5ND.

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Complaining in care homes should be encouraged not dismissed

News that hundreds of care homes are banning relatives from visiting elderly residents over complaints about quality of care highlights a growing need for sector reform.

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Devonshires Iran Evening

On Thursday 10 November we hosted Devonshires Iran Evening, an event to celebrate Iranian culture for all of our Iranian clients and those working with Iran.

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Supreme Court Decision on the Bedroom Tax Challenges

On the 9 November 2016 the Supreme Court announced its judgment to the bedroom tax challenges made against the government.

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Reducing Pre-Action Costs? New Construction and Engineering Pre-action protocol released tomorrow.

The new Construction and Engineering Protocol will come into effect on 9 November 2016 following a joint collaboration between TecBar and TecSA with the assistance of Mr Justice Coulson. The focus of the changes seems to be to reduce pre-action costs and speed up the pre-action procedure.

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Competitive Dialogue – Contracting authorities should eye all the options

Since 2006, contracting authorities have been able to use the competitive dialogue (CD) procedure to procure contracts that cannot be awarded without prior dialogue with bidders due to the complex nature of the contract.

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Airbnb and subletting in social housing – a guide for registered providers

From low level noise through to full blown party houses, Airbnb and subletting is creating a broad range of issues for registered providers (RPs). That was the message that came through loud and clear at a recent event we held to discuss the impact of the room-letting website on the social housing sector.

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The launch of Devonshires’ In Laws initiative

On Thursday 3 November we held the launch of Devonshires’ In Laws initiative, with our Meet the In Laws Networking Drinks Reception at the Table Café in Southwark.

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Article 8: long residence unlikely to give rise to a defence

On the 1 November 2016 the Court of Appeal considered the case of Holley v Hillingdon LBC. Mr Holley continued to occupy a property owned by the local authority following the death of the tenant, his grandfather, who had previously succeeded to the tenancy.

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Investment in the care sector is essential to avoid mistakes being made

The care sector is back in the spotlight this month with two reports that highlight the ever growing number of challenges it faces.

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Permission needed before issuing warrant for possession

It is common practice for a landlord to enforce a suspended possession order following a breach of the terms of that order simply by sending a Form N325 Warrant Request to court with the appropriate fee. However, the procedure for applying for a warrant for possession has come under scrutiny from the Court of Appeal.

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Claimant ordered to pay full legal costs of Merlin Housing Society Ltd.

Devonshires acted for Merlin on a race discrimination claim issued in the Bristol Employment Tribunal by an ex-employee. The Judge dismissed all allegations of discrimination and made a finding of fact that the Claimant had lied whilst giving evidence. Devonshires made an application for costs based on the ex-employees unreasonable conduct and he was ordered to pay £17,204.16.

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L&Q completes acquisition of 29 Affordable Housing Units at Beaulieu Park

We acted for L&Q in the acquisition of 29 Affordable Housing Units from Countryside Zest (Beaulieu Park) LLP on the Neighbourhood Centre and Zone B of the Beaulieu Park development in Chelmsford, Essex.

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Nemcova v Fairfield Rents – the private residence test

The only reported Airbnb case so far has attracted media attention and a small flurry of articles and opinion pieces.

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Devonshires completes new loan for bpha

bpha has secured a new £75 million loan facility with Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi.

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Devonshires second year trainees qualify

We are pleased to announce that following a 2 year training contract we see the following Trainees qualify.

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Devonshires welcomes 8 new trainees

We are pleased to announce the arrival of 8 new trainees to our team at Devonshires.

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Devonshires help celebrate Bangla Housing Association’s 25th Anniversary

Bangla Housing Association celebrated their 25th Anniversary year on the 21st September 2016.

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Leaseholders of Foundling Court v (1) Camden LBC (2) Allied London (Brunswick) Ltd – Who should consult? Head landlord or intermediate leaseholder?

The recent decision of Upper Tribunal in Various Occupational Leaseholders of Foundling Court and O’Donnell Court, Brunswick Centre, London v (1) Camden LBC; (2) Allied London (Brunswick) Ltd and others provided helpful guidance in dealing with the consultation process under S.20 where there is an intermediate landlord and occupational leaseholders.

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Raja v Aviram – Breach of covenant by leaseholder

This case involved the leaseholder, Mr Aviram, carrying out works to his flat, in particular replacing his boiler. The new boiler required a new vent and waste pipe to be installed. The lease prohibited works to the external walls without consent of the freeholder.

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Moorjani v Durban – Court of Appeal Decision – Absent Leaseholder’s claim for damages arising out of disrepair

This case was considered by the Court of Appeal on 4 December 2015 and concerned a claim by the leaseholder for damages for disrepair when the leaseholder was not occupying the flat concerned for reasons unconnected to the disrepair.

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Cain v Islington – Limits on leaseholder challenges

This case was considered by the Upper Tribunal on 25 September 2015 and concerned Mr Cain’s challenge to reasonableness of service charges over the previous 12 years. This is an important case as it provides scope for limiting the leaseholders ability to challenge the reasonableness of the service charges where the leaseholder has repeatedly paid the service charges in the past. Therefore, landlords should be aware of this case, particularly with a view to limiting the scope of challenges to the service charges by their leaseholders.

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Deregulation and taking charge of your future

The deregulation measures relating to social housing in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 are going to have a more significant effect on the sector’s ethos and operation than any piece of housing legislation in the last 20 years.

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IT’S THE LAW: Commercial Leases – Rent Review

Leases of commercial premises are complex documents. They govern the relationship between a landlord and a tenant, which can extend to 25 years or more.

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IT’S THE LAW: EU Public Procurement Regulations

EU Public Procurement Regulations: ‘what?’, ‘when?’ and ‘oh dear God, why?’

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Devonshires recognised again by Legal 500 for our expertise

The latest Legal 500 guide has been published and we are delighted to have been recognised again for our excellent work in a number of our core practice areas.

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Best practice: supporting witnesses to give evidence at Court

Any strong antisocial behaviour (“ASB”) case, whether the remedy sought be an Injunction or possession, rests on the presentation of detailed and compelling witness evidence at Court of both the incidents of ASB behaviour and the impact upon residents.

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IT’S THE LAW: Restrictive Covenants

A what, when, where, why and how guide to restrictive covenants.

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Devonshires to work with Association of British Commuters to start legal action against the Department of Transport over Southern rail network

Devonshires Solicitors LLP is working with the Association of British Commuters Limited, which is a not for profit company set up to give a voice to rail users suffering on the Southern Rail network.

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IT’S THE LAW: Collateral Warranties

This edition of IT’S THE LAW looks at the position where an Employer enters into a Building Contract with a Contractor and the Contractor enters into a Sub-Contract with a Sub-Contractor.

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Devonshires strengthens corporate team with new partner

Devonshires has further strengthened its corporate team with the appointment of James Lyons as a partner.

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IT’S THE LAW: Tenants’ Right of First Refusal

This edition of IT’S THE LAW looks at Tenants’ Right of First Refusal.

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Devonshires is acting for Cantref on its proposed merger with Wales & West Housing Association.

Devonshires is acting for Cantref on its proposed merger with Wales & West Housing Association. The shareholders of Cantref have now approved the proposed merger.

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IT’S THE LAW: Stock Rationalisation

This edition of IT’S THE LAW looks at stock rationalisation.

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Devonshires appointed to the CHIC Legal Panel

Following a tendering process, we are delighted to announce that we have been appointed to the CHIC Legal Panel.

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Devonshires Solicitors act on behalf of Greenwich Leisure Limited on Bath and North East Somerset Council Leisure Project.

The Hyde Group and Sovereign Housing Association have completed a stock swap involving more than 1,400 homes.

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It’s Only a Game

Forget Brexit, the real shock of this year came when Leicester City Football Club were crowned the premier league champions. So what legacy will their success leave?

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IT’S THE LAW: Best endeavours

This edition of IT’S THE LAW looks at all reasonable endeavours.

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IT’S THE LAW: Conveyancing Searches

This edition of IT’S THE LAW looks at some of the searches we frequently carry out on a development site. Property development is tricky enough as it is without last minute surprises that could have been avoided – or at least spotted sooner.

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Merger code could help small providers show their worth

The last 12 months has seen unprecedented change in the social housing sector. In addition to the implications of last year’s summer Budget, the VRTB settlement and ONS reclassification, the government has shone the spotlight on housing associations for not using their public subsidy to build new homes.

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IT’S THE LAW: Japanese Knotweed

This edition of IT’S THE LAW looks at Japanese Knotweed and the problems it can cause. In the time it takes you to read this edition, a Knotweed plant may have grown by up to 0.6mm. And that’s one of the biggest problems.

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IT’S THE LAW: Commercial Property

When landowners are looking to document the short term occupation of their commercial properties they have three options to choose from. Firstly, a lease (also sometimes referred to as a tenancy), secondly a licence and thirdly a tenancy at will (a special type of lease/tenancy).

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Hyde Group and Sovereign HA complete stock swap

The Hyde Group and Sovereign Housing Association have completed a stock swap involving more than 1,400 homes.

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IT’S THE LAW: Rights to Light

Light travels at a whopping 299,792,458 metres per second. It takes just over 8 minutes to get from the sun to the earth. So light being emitted from the sun now will be arriving just after you’ve finished reading this edition of It’s the Law.

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Hey(gate) Good Looking

Congratulations are in order for L&Q. It has been announced that Trafalgar Place has won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) National Award.

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IT’S THE LAW: Boundaries

The Chinese Government says that the Great Wall of China is probably about 8,850km long – but that they’re not entirely certain about that. That’s not that dissimilar to the Land Registry’s attitude to the precise location of the boundary wall at the end of your garden.

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Is Brexit the Construction Industry’s most widespread termination?

On 23 June 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) in an historic vote. The legal implications of ‘Brexit’ are potentially significant but hinge on the specific mechanics of the exit, and the future model Britain’s relationship with the EU may take.

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On the Economic Consequences of Brexit

It is not the place of this blog to prognosticate on the full impact of Britain exiting the European Union (‘Brexit’) on UK society, Family law or its practitioners, particularly as our elected leaders do not seem to know themselves!

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Could Brexit be an opportunity for the social housing sector?

Last week we attended the CIH Housing 2016 conference which had a very significant addition to its agenda – Brexit.

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Brexit – the impact on employers in the UK

On 23 June 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) in an historic vote. The legal implications of ‘Brexit’ are potentially significant but hinge on the specific mechanics of the exit, and the future model Britain’s relationship with the EU may take.

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Brexit – Looking for the silver lining

So this last week, we found ourselves back at the Devonshires’ annual BBQ at the CIH Conference in Manchester. An opportunity for clients to join us for good food, a lot of drinks and to unwind after a day on the conference floor. However, this year was a little different, it was a little bit…

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IT’S THE LAW: Plans for the Land Registry

Plans have come a long way since ‘X marked the spot’ in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. In fact, if the pirate treasure map had been Land Registry compliant and appropriately lodged, the book would have been much shorter. It would probably have taken no longer to read than this edition of ‘It’s the Law’. That’s about 4 minutes and 58 seconds.

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Brexit: The Implications for Public Procurement in the UK

All public procurement procedures applied in member states are governed by EU procurement laws and principles which aim to promote fair competition between EU businesses in securing public sector contracts in EU countries.

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IT’S THE LAW: s106 Agreements

This will take you approximately 5 minutes and 36 seconds to read and will give you an overview of s106 Agreements.

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RP Status secured for local authority controlled company

Loddon Homes Limited has recently received confirmation from the HCA of its registration as a for-profit Registered Provider

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Devonshires advises two RPs on their loans from Affordable Housing Finance Plc (AHF)

Last week, AHF issued £161 million of bonds for seven RPs, at 35 basis points over gilts. The all in cost of the bonds was 2.61 per cent.

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Prisoner Segregation

Devonshires Solicitors LLP has successfully defended a Judicial Review application to allow a prisoner to share a cell with her civil partner.

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Hyde and Mount Green Tenanted Stock Swap

Two Housing associations based in the South of England, The Hyde Group and Mount Green Housing Association, have swapped ownership of over 300 tenanted homes. We acted for The Hyde Group in this matter.

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Hyde buys 283 homes from Town & Country

We acted for The Hyde Group in connection with the purchase of 283 homes from Town & Country.

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Divorcing at an Older Age

There is much to be said for marrying later in life: couples often have greater job security, an established career and a modicum of financial stability.

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Devonshires appoints specialist company secretarial consultant

Devonshires Solicitors has bolstered its banking, governance and corporate team with the appointment of Martin Lewis as a consultant.

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Successful consortium bid

We advised The Hyde Group in connection with a successful consortium bid, with Mount Anvil, to be a member of a TfL panel to develop TfL sites.

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Joint Venture to build 600 homes on site of former Erith Quarry

We advised L&Q New Homes on a joint venture with the Anderson Group to build 600 homes on the site of the former Erith Quarry, in Bexley.

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Joint Venture to develop former Barking Power Station Site

We advised L&Q New Homes on the acquisition of a 51% interest, from Bellway Homes, in a joint venture to develop the 179 hectare former Barking power station.

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Social Impact Bond

We advised an international housing charity on issue of a social impact bond to fund community development in Africa.

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Advising several Registered Providers on FCA registration

We have advised over 20 registered housing provider groups on their registration with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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Devonshires Solicitors LLP retained by Community Housing Cymru

Devonshires are delighted to have been retained by Community Housing Cymru, the representative body for housing associations in Wales to advise on the implications of the decision by the Office for National Statistics in England to reclassify housing associations in England as public bodies.

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MIAMs hit new low

The number of mediation information and assessment meetings, or MIAMs as they are more commonly known, has fallen to a new low.

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Devonshires adds two new partners

We are delighted to announce that Saghar Roya, a Solicitor in our Securitisation Team and Tom Keya, a Solicitor in our Commercial Litigation team have been made up to partner.

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Devonshires wins high court trial for insolvency practitioner

Liquidator not liable to pay solicitor’s fees

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Big Money Divorces Trigger Secrecy Row

Big money divorce cases have been known to attract large-scale media attention in recent years, leading judges to rethink whether the press ought to be restricted from publishing the details of such cases in the future.

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How enforceable are prenuptial agreements under English law?

Ever since the well-publicised case of Radmacher v Granatino (2010), public enquiries into prenuptial agreements have been on the rise.

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Working with the National Housing Federation

Devonshires has acted for the National Housing Federation on the new Voluntary Right to Buy Proposal and the reclassification by the Office for National Statistics of housing associations as public bodies.

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Saudi Billionaire’s diplomatic immunity claim fails in divorce proceedings

The High Court recently rejected a Saudi Arabian billionaire’s claim that he holds diplomatic immunity from his wife’s maintenance bid.

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Supreme Court judgment provides new legal remedy for parents without parental responsibility

Parents without parental responsibility – who are often unmarried fathers and non-biological parents – will have easier recourse to justice if their child is removed from the UK following a judgment from the Supreme Court.

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Is the law on cohabitants ripe for reform?

The Office for National Statistics this week released figures that show that in 2014 around 1 in 8 adults in England and Wales were living in a couple but not currently married or civil partnered.

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Leonardo DiCaprio speaks of Oscar nomination and views on family life

There seems to be a hot topic amongst film buffs on social media at the moment with the annual Academy Awards fast approaching at the end of February 2016.

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Housing associations urged to fight Environmental Protection Act claims

Housing associations are being urged to take a stand against the rising number of prosecutions being brought by tenants under the Environmental Protection Act, following a successful legal case.

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Is gay marriage conversion unpopular amongst same-sex couples?

New research has revealed that only an eighth of gay couples in England and Wales have converted their civil partnership into a marriage.

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Financial worries could break divorce day trend

The first Monday in January is dubbed divorce day, but a new study reveals that money worries are prompting people to buck this trend.

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No Fault Divorce – Update

What would be the impact of No Fault Divorce? Does it spell the end of true romance and the idealist concept of soul mates, or is it merely a step towards modernisation of our all too often antiquated laws?

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Reporting in the family court

The previous Government made a pledge to increase transparency in the court system. Traditionally family proceedings are held in private and the identity of children and parties are usually kept secret.

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New EU Procurement Thresholds for 2016

The European Commission has published new EU public procurement thresholds.

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The cost of divorce?

In July 2015, the Ministry of Justice announced that it was consulting on the enhancement of fees in civil proceedings. The rhetoric used suggested that the Government was seeking to modernise HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and improve its efficiency.

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Surrogacy

The law on surrogacy is an extremely complex and intricate area of family law. Recent cases demonstrated the complexity of surrogacy and led many commentators to believe that it is time for reform.

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Devonshires Solicitors Launch The Debt Collection Centre

On Friday 20 November 2015 Devonshires Solicitors launched a debt-recovery service called The Debt Collection Centre in response to growing demand for debt recovery as the economy recovers and businesses get tougher with late payers.

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Modern Slavery Act 2015: preparing a slavery and human-trafficking statement

Earlier this year, we reported[1] on how the Modern Slavery Act 2015 had introduced an obligation on organisations to produce an annual statement of the measures they had taken to ensure there was no modern slavery (including human trafficking) in their own businesses or supply chains. A Practical Guide on how to ensure compliance with Section 54 has now been published by the Home Office.

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Domestic Violence

According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 1.4 million females and 700,000 males were victims of domestic abuse in 2013/14.

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Labour Costs: National Minimum Wage and Proposed Enforcement Measures

On 1 October 2015, over one million workers received a pay rise with the increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

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Devonshires Solicitors Launch Devonshires Basements

Devonshires Solicitors have launched a new professional services brand, Devonshires Basements, at an event at the unique and exclusive Home House private members club in Portman Square.

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Extending Shared Parental Leave to Grandparents

They say it takes a village to raise a child. George Osborne appears to agree with this proverb in some respects with a proposed extension of Shared Parental Leave to grandparents.

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Court of Appeal restricts pension benefits for surviving spouses in same sex partnerships

The Court of Appeal has dismissed Walker v Innospec, an appeal concerning equality of pension entitlements for same sex couples.

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The Role of Human Resources in Disciplinary Proceedings – The risks of crossing the line

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision has provided a reminder of the role of Human Resources in disciplinary proceedings.

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IR35 – Changes through Consultation – Employers Take Note

Intermediaries legislation (known as IR35) is the tax and National Insurance (NI) legislation that may apply if an individual works for a client through an intermediary. This is a common arrangement for consultants and some agency workers. The IR35 regime was introduced as a way of cracking down on the use of intermediary companies to…

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Can leaseholders claim compensation if the landlord delayed or failed to carry out repairs?

​If a leaseholder reports a repair, for example a problem with the roof, then the landlord will need to consider if it is responsible for the repair works to the building or internal repairs to the leaseholder’s property and how it will be paid for.

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Law in Flux – Time Limits for Bringing Contractual Claims in the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunals Extension of Jurisdiction (England and Wales) Order 1994 (the 1994 Order) gives an Employment Tribunal jurisdiction to hear common law claims made by employees for damages arising out of breaches of contract. Claims made under the 1994 Order must be brought within three months of termination of the contract giving rise to…

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“Blatant Dishonesty” will not be tolerated by the Family Court

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 provides the court with the ability to consider ‘conduct’ when determining the financial aspect of a marital breakdown.

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Modern Slavery Act 2015: large businesses to publish slavery and human trafficking statement

In March this year, the Government introduced the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to tackle slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking in England and Wales.

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Court finds guidance on affordable housing planning obligations unlawful

The High Court has taken the unusual step of interfering with Government policy in West Berkshire District Council and another v Department for Communities and Local Government.

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Judge sets the bar extremely high for “special contribution” claims

White v White states that the “yardstick of equality” “should be departed from only if, and to the extent that there is a good reason for doing so.”

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Court Bundles – Keep it Short!

Many people will recognise the tendency to include every available document and piece of information in a court bundle. However, the Family Court has advised the profession that it will no longer tolerate long and extensive bundles.

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Special Guardianship Orders

Special Guardianship was introduced in 2005 and is designed to provide stability to children who are unable to remain in the care of their parents.

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Using the FTT’s Rules to Manage Disputes

In our last edition we set out some of the new rules which apply to the First Tier Property Tribunal (FTT), following its introduction in place of the LVT.

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Recovering the Costs of Preparing s146 Notices

Where a leaseholder has breached the terms of their lease (other than non-payment of rent) the landlord can serve a notice under s.146 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1925 giving a reasonable period of time for the leaseholder to respond regarding remedying the breach, if it is capable of being remedied.

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Reasonableness of Service Charges for Improvements

Whether works or services provided by a landlord can be recharge to leaseholders is a matter of the construction of the lease.

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Section 20 Statutory Consultation for “Dwellings”

It is well known that the consultation process for service charges, pursuant to s20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 applies to residential properties.

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Ask the Expert: Time Limits on Recovery of Service Charges

We are a Registered Provider of Housing and we are intending to recover the costs of works which were carried out to the roof to a block of flats.

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Trade Union Bill

In the wake of the recent Tube strikes, the Government plans to introduce a Trade Union Bill to ‘democratise’ industrial action. The Bill will introduce new thresholds to validate any such action; a 50 percent turnout of union members in all sectors will be required to back action. In the public sector, 40 percent of…

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Gender pay gap consultation launched

On 14 July 2015, the Government announced its aspiration to “end the gender pay gap in a generation” by implementing Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010. Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 contains a power for the Government to make regulations requiring employers with at least 250 employees to publish information relating to…

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Tribunal fees to be reviewed following freefall in employment claims

At the outset the Coalition Government committed to a review of the system and, although not stated in the Conservative manifesto, the new Government has now agreed the Ministry of Justice’s terms of reference.

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Coroners Inquests

The Coroners Inquest team sits within our litigation department

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Devonshires Advise Three of the G15 on Their Latest Capital Markets Fundraisings

The Devonshires LLP Banking and Securitisation Teams are delighted to announce the completion of the third of three of the largest capital markets transactions in the RP sector since July.

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Holiday pay – the latest

How should holiday pay be calculated? What is the relevant liability period? These are two questions that have been troubling many employers.

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Cohabitation – Update

Recently published figures revealed that there has been an increase of approximately 30% in the number of cohabiting couples over the past ten years, which makes the cohabiting couple the fastest growing family type in the UK.

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Instruction to remove employee(s) from an ‘organised group’ is not enough to prevent them transferring under TUPE

In Jakowlew v Nestor Primecare Services Ltd t/a Saga Care and another, the EAT reinforced a strict application of TUPE, ruling that, despite a contractual breach on the part of a transferor to remove an employee from a contract which was to be transferred, the employee in question remained subject to TUPE.

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Will the Conservative Government make new laws on Pre and Post-Nuptial Agreements?

In our last article on this topic, we reported that the Law Commission’s response to their January 2011 consultation regarding Marital Property Agreements (i.e. pre and post-nuptial agreements) had been postponed while they reviewed the definitions of “needs” and “matrimonial property.”

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Discriminatory dismissal of nursery assistant on grounds of religion

In Mbuyi v Newpark Childcare (Shepherds Bush) Ltd the Watford Employment Tribunal held that a Christian nursery assistant who was dismissed for expressing her belief that homosexuality is a sin was discrimination on grounds of religion.

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Devonshires Solicitors chase the sun to raise £1,400 for Action for Kids

A team of Devonshires solicitors, together with a few of our friends “chased the sun” this weekend, cycling 200 miles in 14 hours to complete a Coast to Coast challenge. Setting off at 4.39am the team cycled from Sheerness to Burnham on Sea in a single day.

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TUPE and Sub-Contracts

The EAT confirmed last week in Jinks v London Borough of Havering UKEAT/0157/14/MC that TUPE can apply to a transferor and a sub-contractor, protecting the employment of employees under a sub-contract if there is a service provision change.

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Unfair dismissal for driving while using a mobile phone

Recently employment tribunals have been asked to consider the fairness of dismissals relating to driving whilst using a hand-held phone.

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Prohibition of Exclusivity Clauses in Zero Hour Contracts

Employers should review their current zero-hours contracts in light of recent changes. In March 2015, the Coalition Government published its response to the consultation on the exclusivity ban in zero-hour contracts. Section 153 Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 inserts s.27A and s.27B into the Employment Rights Act 1996, which came into force on…

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Guidance on vacant building credit updated

We recently reported on the introduction of the vacant building credit (VBC) to incentivise brownfield development on sites containing vacant buildings.

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ECJ Clarification on ‘establishment’ for the purpose of collective redundancy consultation

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that ‘establishment’ refers to an individual workplace, as opposed to an aggregated total of workplaces.   This will be both a welcome clarification and relief for larger employers. Their obligations under the Collective Redundancies Directive 98/59 and s.188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA)…

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Devonshires advise on new £40m private placement for Estuary Housing Association

Devonshires are delighted to announce that they have advised Estuary Housing Association on a new £40m private placement with M&G Investments, which will enable Estuary to build 400 new homes by 2018.

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Voice of the Child recommends that mediation should include children

The Voice of the Child Advisory Group has long campaigned for the divorce and separation process to be more child-focused and has now published its final report regarding the involvement of children and young people in the dispute resolution process.

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Devonshires act on major housing acquisition

Devonshires acted for Muir Group Housing Association in connection with its acquisition of O.P. Building Maintenance Services Ltd, a repairs and maintenance company that has worked with Muir for several years.

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Assets of Community Value

Devonshires acted for Muir Group Housing Association in connection with its acquisition of O.P. Building Maintenance Services Ltd, a repairs and maintenance company that has worked with Muir for several years.

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Employment Law Changes in April 2015

There are a number of key changes that come into force on 5 April 2015 that employers need to be ready for. Our blog post summarises these changes.

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Diet controlled Type 2 Diabetes is not a Disability

Diet controlled Type 2 diabetes does not amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) according to a recent finding by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in Metroline Travel Ltd v Stoute.

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Akerman-Livingstone v Aster Communities Limited

On 11 March 2015, the Supreme Court handed down their judgment in the case of Akerman-Livingstone v Aster Communities Limited (formerly Flourish Homes Limited) [2015] UKSC 15.

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A2 Dominion Council Tax Exemption Case

The cases concerned whether a charitable housing association is entitled to council tax exemption for the void periods between lettings.

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Property Guardianship – A Warning

We recently obtained a Possession Order for One Housing Group.

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Disrepair Claim Dismissed

Devonshires recently acted for Industrial Dwellings Society (“IDS”) in a case brought against them for disrepair at the property.

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Ask the Expert – Pets and Social Housing

How do I know if a tenant is allowed to keep pets at their property?

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Relationship breakdowns: the ‘absent’ or ‘unnamed’ tenant

Devonshires’ Housing Management Department is often approached for advice when a landlord becomes aware that the relationship between two tenants sharing a property has broken down.

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The Care Act 2014: What Housing Providers Need to Know

Diet controlled Type 2 diabetes does not amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) according to a recent finding by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in Metroline Travel Ltd v Stoute.

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Wyatt v Vince – a claim for Financial Provision 18 years post-Divorce

The decision in this case has recently made headlines in England and Wales as concerns have been raised about encouraging litigation in cases settled without a final financial order in divorces concluded many years ago.

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Devonshires win another national award for sustainability

Devonshires have won the highly commended award for Resource Conservation at the national Sustainable City Awards. We were also shortlisted for the Responsible Waste Management category.

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Devonshires welcomes Insolvency Partner Jim Varley

Devonshires are welcoming Insolvency Partner Jim Varley, one of the founding partners from Locke Lord to their growing insolvency and debt recovery practice.

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Bonus linked to sickness record amounts to disability discrimination

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has recently considered whether the non-payment of a bonus due to the employees sickness absence amounted to disability discrimination in the case of Land Registry v Houghton.

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No smoke without fire – Can a smoking policy cover e-cigarettes?

According to reports there are now over two million people in the UK who use e cigarettes. So should employers expressly include the use of e-cigarettes, or “vaping”, in their no smoking policies?

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Is this the end of section 106 Agreements for small developments?

The Government announced significant changes to the National Planning Practice Guidance in November 2014 with the aim of reducing “disproportionate burdens on developer contributions.”

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HCA – Disposing of Land Guidance

“Disposing of Land” is a guidance document issued by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to help Private Registered Provider’s understand the HCA’s approach to their decision making in respect of disposals of social housing dwellings and other land under the general consent or specific consent regimes.

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Is this the end of section 106 Agreements for small developments?

The Government announced significant changes to the National Planning Practice Guidance in November 2014 with the aim of reducing “disproportionate burdens on developer contributions.”

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Court of Appeal confirms that spousal maintenance is not a ‘meal-ticket’ for life

What would be the impact of No Fault Divorce? Does it spell the end of true romance and the idealist concept of soul mates, or is it merely a step towards modernisation of our all too often antiquated laws?

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High Court permits challenge to ban on heterosexual civil partnerships

A couple who wish to challenge the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships has been given permission by the High Court to pursue their application for judicial review.

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Collective redundancy – what is an “establishment’?

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has now issued his opinion on the meaning of “establishment” for the purpose of determining when collective redundancy applies in the linked cases of Usdaw & Wilson v Woolworths and others, Lyttle v Bluebird and Cañas v Nexea. For previous blog entries in relation to…

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Holiday Pay Update – Backdating claims will be capped at two years

We reported that Unite had confirmed that it would not be appealing the Employment Appeal Tribunal judgement in Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton and Others (see here). The government has added further clarity to the situation by introducing the Deduction from Wages (Limitation) Regulations 2014, which came into force on 8 January 2015. The new…

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Age Discrimination – Changes to terms and conditions justified

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held in Braithwaite and ors v HCL Insurance BPO Services Ltd and another case, that an employer’s decision to impose new terms and conditions was not unjustified indirect age discrimination. The claimants transferred to HIBS Ltd under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). As a…

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Property Development and Regeneration

Developing an understanding with our clients

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New Procurement Regulations to come into force on 26 February

The Government has announced that the new Procurement Regulations will come into force in the UK on 26 February. The new Regulations will make some important to changes to public procurement in the UK. It will be important for all of our contracting authority clients (which include Registered Providers and Local Authorities) to understand how the current regime will change, and what these changes will mean for them in practice.

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Energy and Climate Change

Powering your green agenda

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Employment

The strength of the team is the key to its success

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A warm welcome to our new Real Estate & Projects solicitors

Devonshires are pleased to welcome Matthew Webb, Brian Hearne and Krissun Soodin to the Real Estate & Projects team.

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Seven Grandparents per day seek Court Order to see Grandchildren

Government statistics show that last year, 2,517 applications were made by grandparents seeking a Court Order to allow them contact with their grandchildren following the divorce or separation of the child’s parents.

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Navigating Judicial Review – The Regulators’ Side

The impending government reforms to judicial review (JR) are a timely reminder of the importance of the procedure to regulators. A Special Report, produced by Devonshires Solicitors demonstrates that JR is not always welcome, and for smaller regulators in particular, it can prove a costly exercise. But equally JR can confer real benefits in endorsing a regulatory approach and bringing certainty to the regulator and regulated alike.

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Right to be accompanied: Acas updates Code

In December 2013 Acas consulted on changes to its Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (the Code) to reflect the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)’s ruling in Toal v GB Oils.

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A quarter of cohabiting parents secretly consider separation or divorce

OnePlusOne, a relationship support charity, has revealed findings that a quarter of parents have secretly considered separating from or divorcing their partner.

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Devonshires act on landmark banking matter with first bond of the New Year

Devonshires’ Banking Governance and Corporate Team have acted for Paragon Community Housing Group in the first RP bond deal to be completed in 2015.

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Devonshires advise Dolphin Square Foundation on new RP

Devonshires is acting for Dolphin Square Foundation on its registration of a new registered provider with the Homes and Communities Agency. Dolphin Square is itself a registered charity and has recently acquired the New Era estate.

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Devonshires act for Spectrum on joint venture with Galliford Try to development of 1,600 new homes

As part of the trend of those operating within the housing sector looking to explore new exciting opportunities, Devonshires Solicitors has recently acted on behalf of Spectrum Housing Group in relation to a joint venture with Galliford Try in relation to a development of a 1,600 housing scheme with associated infrastructure worth a reported £400m over a period of 20 years.

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Devonshires advise on creation of new Stonewater Group

The Devonshires Banking and Governance Team acted for Jephson in connection with its complex merger with Raglan Housing. The merger has resulted in the creation of the new Stonewater organisation, one of the largest social housing providers in England, with an estimated annual turnover of around £160m.

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Obesity May Amount to a Disability

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has now confirmed that there is no general principle of EU law which prohibits discrimination on grounds of obesity. Therefore obesity can be considered a disability under EU law in the case of Kaltoft v Municipality of Bilund. For our analysis of the Advocate General’s opinion click here.

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Husband ordered to pay significant costs as a result of his non-disclosure

Highlighting the serious implications of failing to adhere to the Court’s disclosure rules, Sir Peter Singer has ordered a husband to pay to his former-wife all of her costs amounting to £465,000 – in addition to her financial award of £17million.

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Recovering public sector exit payments

In July 2014 the government launched a consultation on proposals for recovering exit payments in the public sector. It was looking to address concerns with the amount of “high earners” receiving large exit payments and then returning to work in the same “sub sector” within 12 months.

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Devonshires release their CSR annual report and video!

Once again, we’re immensely proud of the work we’ve done through our Corporate Social Responsibility Team this year. We’ve released our annual report and a video on the CSR work we do year-round.

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Overtime and Holiday Pay: the end of the debate?

Unite has confirmed that it will not appeal the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgement in Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton and Others

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Autumn Statement: Stamp Duty Reforms for Residential Property

George Osborne has announced that Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) will be cut for 98% of homebuyers in his Autumn Statement to the Commons.

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Annual Report 2014

Our Corporate Social Responsibility activities

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Completion of Oadby and Wigston Leisure Project

The Projects and Real Estate Team have just advised Everyone Active on the Oadby and Wigston Public Private Partnership Leisure Project.

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The effect of multiple deposit orders – Wright v Nipponkoa Insurance (Europe) Ltd

A Tribunal’s ability to make multiple deposit orders was recently considered by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Wright v Nipponkoa Insurance (Europe) Ltd. In this case the Employment Judge considered that 7 out of Mr Wright’s 11 allegations for race discrimination and whistleblowing had no reasonable prospect of success. Therefore, if Mr Wright wished…

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Penalty for Non-Payment

Penalty for Non-Payment: Parents who breach child maintenance orders may damage credit rating. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) new enforcement measure, subject to parliamentary approval, allows the Child Maintenance Service and Child Support Agency to share certain information regarding any parent with a liability order made against them with credit reference agencies from March 2015.

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EBOLA : AN EMPLOYER’S RESPONSIBILITIES

In light of the spread of Ebola and the daily media coverage, we thought it would be useful to provide a short briefing on what clients need to be aware of in terms of Ebola in the employment context. The issue could be live in one of two ways: employees who have travelled to affected countries, and employees who come into contact with people who have travelled from affected countries. How far does an employer’s duty of care extend?

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EAT decide on overtime and the payment of Holiday pay

The issue of how holiday pay should be calculated has been subject to much litigation and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case of Bear Scotland Ltd & Others v Fulton and Others UKEATS/0047/13/BI has gone some way to resolve many of the uncertainties.

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Devonshires recognised again for our expertise

The latest annual Chambers & Partners UK and the Legal 500 directories have been published and Devonshires are delighted to have been recognised again for our excellent work in a number of our core areas (including some new ones) and to have been singled out in the top tier for Social Housing in the Chambers Directory.

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Government publishes its response to consultation on Looked-after children: Improving Permanence

The consultation sought views on proposals to improve the arrangements for looked-after children (i.e. those under the supervision and care of the local authority).

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What amounts to a deduction from salary: Ridge v Her Majesty’s Land Registry

When HMLR paid Mr Ridge at the end of each month he received a payslip which stated his gross pay and listed any specified deductions separately. Following a period of ill health Mr Ridge had exhausted his entitlement to full sick pay. When he continued to be absent his payslip was affected as follows: When HMLR…

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Devonshires’ Women in Housing discuss the art of negotiation

The female partners at Devonshires recently launched Women in Housing, a networking, training and support group for senior female executives at housing associations. Thursday 2 October saw our third meeting: an afternoon tea and training session at Fortnum & Mason’s private Drawing Room.

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Devonshires Solicitors cycles some miles and makes some noise in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young

On 9 October 2014, Suzanne Gallagher, David Kaluwahandi and Christian Barnes together with CRY’s ‘Local Champion’, Roger Maddams participated in Heart FM’s Make some Noise Cycle Challenge. The 6:30am start did not deter the team as they took part in a static bike cycle challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats on the terrace of Heart FM’s London Headquarters in Leicester Square.

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Devonshires advise A2Dominion on their bond issue

The Devonshires Banking and Governance team has advised A2Dominion Housing Group Limited (A2Dominion) on the issue of its AA- rated retail-eligible bonds, through A2D Funding II plc.

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Ask the Expert October 2014 AST

​Q: We are a Registered Provider and want to introduce a sinking fund for our leaseholders on one of our schemes to help the leaseholders pay their service charges. Can we do this?

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Ask the Expert October 2014

​Q: We are a Registered Provider and we leased a house from a private landlord which we then sub-let to our tenant on an AST. We have since obtained possession and we have just handed the empty house back to the owner. The owner has now raised concerns about the condition of the house and is asking for compensation. What can we do?

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Are You Ready for the Duty of Candour?

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Duty of Candour) Regulations 2014 (the Regulations) come into force on 1st October 2014.

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Breach of access used to refuse a new business tenancy under Landlord and Tenant Act 1954

Although Registered Providers (RPs) are obviously concerned with providing and managing residential accommodation, there are occasions when they must deal with commercial premises.

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Case Study – Anti-Social Behaviour

Devonshires secures the recovery of a property against troublesome tenant.

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Service Charge Cap

​Under the Social Landlords Mandatory Reduction of Service Charges (England) Directions 2014, made pursuant to sections 219 and 220 of the Housing Act 1996 which were issued on 12 August 2014, a cap is imposed on the amount of service charge a social landlord can recover from a lessee in respect of the costs of works of repair, maintenance or improvement.

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Case Study – Cannabis Factory

​Devonshires recently acted for the City of Westminster and obtained an anti-social behaviour injunction and Possession Order against a tenant who had been using his flat to store cannabis.

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Welfare Reform Update

Amidst allegations of cover-ups and DWP hiding bad news with a bunker mentality, here are the updates that may be of most interest to housing professionals

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Extended Discretion – Amendments to Ground 2/Ground 14

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 was given Royal assent on 13 March 2014 and will be introducing widespread changes to Injunction and Possession proceedings.

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Changes to Injunctions under the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014

​When it first became apparent that the new ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the Act”) would contain reforms to the existing Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction (“ASBI”) regime there was initially widespread concern among practitioners in the housing sector.

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Conflicts of Interest for Board Members

​Under the Social Landlords Mandatory Reduction of Service Charges (England) Directions 2014, made pursuant to sections 219 and 220 of the Housing Act 1996 which were issued on 12 August 2014, a cap is imposed on the amount of service charge a social landlord can recover from a lessee in respect of the costs of works of repair, maintenance or improvement.

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Inspections Under the New Regime

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have been busy over the last 6 months rolling out wave 1 and 2 of their Pilot scheme on inspections and several healthcare providers have already been inspected under the new regime.

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Real Estate and Projects Launch new residential conveyancing service

The Real Estate & Projects team have launched their bespoke residential conveyancing service from today. The bespoke service is aimed at city professionals who are looking to buy or sell their home as well as property investors who are looking to develop their expanding property portfolios. Please see attached link to the new brochure. As part…

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Government Funded Occupational Health Service to go live in 2015

​The Health & Work Service is a government funded occupational health service due to go live in April 2015 (with roll-out from late 2014).

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Devonshires wins landmark case against Optical Express

Devonshires Solicitors, after winning a landmark decision on ‘informed consent’ are today warning people to be aware of the risks involved with undergoing the types of laser eye surgery being offered by Optical Express and others. Devonshires made national news on Friday when, working with barrister Nicholas Yell from 1 Chancery Lane, they successfully sued Dr Joanna McGraw and Optical Express for over £550,000.

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Conduct Counts

In Re F (Children; contact, name, parental responsibility) [2014] EWFC 42, a High Court judge has permitted a mother to change the surname of her 3 year-old twin sons following what was described as ‘bizarre conduct’ on the part of the father who maintained an online blog about the family.

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Changes in Employment Law: 1 October 2014

There are a number of key changes coming into force on 1 October 2014. We have summarised these changes below.

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Adjournments: U v Butler and Wilson Limited

Whether an Employment Tribunal should briefly adjourn a hearing of its own motion for a mentally impaired litigant to recover his lucidity and obtain documents upon which he wanted to rely was considered by the EAT in the case of U v Butler and Wilson Limited.

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Congratulations to Nathan and Lily at Action for Kids!

Devonshires and Action for Kids have just had a bittersweet moment as Nathan and Lily, who have been supported by Action for Kids for many years, will be leaving their support and starting their new working lives.

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Fathers’ right to time off for ante-natal appointments

From 1 October 2014, an expectant father, or the spouse, civil partner or partner (including a same sex partner) of a pregnant woman will be entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany the woman to ante-natal appointments. This right is provided for under the Children and Families Act 2014.

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Early Conciliation: A Success?

Early Conciliation was introduced on 6 April 2014 to provide an opportunity to resolve workplace disputes without the need to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

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Concurrent Delay and Extensions of Time

​Matthew Cocklin, of the Construction & Engineering Department at Devonshires, has been asked by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to lead seminars, as part of its CPD Series, on Concurrent Delay and Extensions of Time.

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Andrew Cowan takes the ice bucket challenge

During a routine trip to Curo’s offices in (rather fittingly) Bath, Andrew Cowan was cajoled into taking part in an ice bucket challenge with their senior executive team.

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The Devonshires Solicitors’ Family drop-in clinic

Devonshires Solicitors’ Family Team will be offering a free drop-in clinic to provide expert legal advice in relation to any family law issues

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Can Workers be Paid for Sleeping?

​Sleep ins and the payment of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) has been an ongoing issue for Registered Providers and Care Providers since 2001. The issue has been litigated on numerous occasions and the case law has often been surprising and sometimes contradictory.

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Mankind lends its support to proposed changes to the law on Domestic Violence

In discussions concerning domestic violence, it is often noted with alarm that women are killed at a rate of two per week but many do not realise that as many as 38% of those who experience domestic abuse are male.

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Reinstatement after an Unfair Dismissal

Where a Tribunal upholds a complaint of unfair dismissal it is able to make an order for reinstatement or re-engagement of the Claimant employee. In practice, orders for re-instatement or re-engagement are very unusual and are made in less than 1% of cases.

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Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill Published: Employment Related Provisions

The Government published the Small Business, Employment and Enterprise Bill on the 25th June. The Bill is intended to, among other things “increase the efficiency of the employment tribunals system and further reduce its burden on small businesses”.

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Is Obesity a Disability?

According to reports, around 64% of the adult population in the UK is classed as being overweight or obese and this figure, it is anticipated, is set to rise.

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Husband held to Separation Agreement

What would be the impact of No Fault Divorce? Does it spell the end of true romance and the idealist concept of soul mates, or is it merely a step towards modernisation of our all too often antiquated laws?

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Devonshires now recycling 92% of all waste!

Since January of this year, Devonshires have recycled around 92% of all of our office waste, including food. The environment is important to us and continues to form an important part of what we do and who we are. We are continually striving towards reducing our carbon footprint and having a positive impact on the environment.

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Deduction in wages for failure to serve notice period

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld a Tribunal decision that a clause entitling an employer to deduct a month’s salary if an employee fails to work their notice period was not a penalty, despite the employee not receiving their notice pay.

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Anti-Social Behaviour Crime & Policing Act 2014

The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime & Policing Act 2014 has now been granted Royal Assent and a number of its provisions will come into force between 13 May 2014 and 14 July 2014.

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Historic Poplar Baths Re- Development reaches Financial Close

The Projects and Real Estate Team have just advised Greenwich Leisure (“GLL”) on the Poplar Baths and Dame Colet Leisure and Housing Public Private Partnership Project.

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Our Partners cycle to France in (nearly) 24 hours

4 men. 4 bikes. 57 stone. 201 years of age. 280 virtually non-stop miles each of pedalling between lunch in Blackheath on Saturday and dejeuner in Paris 24 hours later. Philip Barden, Nick Billingham, Robert Edge and Roger Maddams undertook this challenge on the weekend of 5 July to raise money for Action for Kids, Wide Horizons and Scope.

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Tenancy Deposits – Where Are We Now?

​You may recall that the case of Superstrike Limited –v- Marino Rodrigues [2013] 1WLR3848 dealt with the scenario where a Landlord had granted a fixed term tenancy and taken a deposit before the tenancy deposit provisions of the Housing Act 2004 came into force.

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Consultation on Changes to the Regulatory Framework

It is just over a year since the HCA first published its discussion on paper on changes to its regulatory framework.

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Government announces plans to ban Exclusivity Clauses in Zero Hours Contracts

​Employees working under zero hour contracts will be free to find other employment to boost their income after the Business Secretary Vince Cable announced plans to ban exclusivity clauses.

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The future of divorce – no fault required?

At present, in England and Wales, couples who want to divorce need to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and they must also prove one of the following facts to the court: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation (if both parties consent) or five years’ separation.

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Reminder: Have you updated your LGPS Policy Statement on Discretions?

All Scheme Employers must update their Policy Statement in line with the new Regulations and send a copy of their Policy Statement to each relevant administering authority that it participates in by 1 July 2014.

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Reforms to Industrial Provident Society Law

The Government has made a number of reforms to Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) legislation, which take effect in stages between April and August 2014.

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Statutory holiday pay should include a sum in respect of commission

​Historically many employers have not accounted for commission when calculating holiday pay. A recent decision has significant implications for such employers.

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WISH London Summer Drinks

WISH London will be holding their Summer Drinks Reception on Thursday 3rd July from 6pm to 9pm at Henrietta House, Henrietta Place, London W1G 0NB. If you are interested in attending the event as our guest, please contact Aruna Sarwar for further information (aruna.sarwar@devonshires.co.uk 020 7065 1846).

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Anti-competitive clauses in land agreements

Under the Competition Act 1988, anti-competitive provisions in business agreements could be held to be void and unenforceable and penalties imposed for anti-competitive behaviour. Prior to 6 April 2011, land agreements were specifically exempt from the Act with the result that competition issues were not usually a concern in property transactions. However, the exemption has been repealed and land agreements are now subject to anti-competitive regulation.

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Builders Finance Fund: New development finance for small and medium sized developments

​One of the Government’s promising development initiatives flowing from the 2014 Budget is the Builders Finance Fund.

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Mediation – the way forward for separating couples?

Since April 2014 there has been a legal requirement for individuals to attend an initial mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before they can make an application to court – this is designed to help families resolve matters without the court’s involvement if possible.

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All Monies Guarantees

Guarantees are regularly used in contractual arrangements to support the primary obligation of one party to another. The primary obligation may be a payment obligation (such as to repay a loan) or a performance obligation (such as to take over building works under a construction contract). Either way, the guarantorÍs obligation is contingent on and limited to the underlying primary obligation of the contracting party. Where amendments are made to the underlying obligation/contract, care should t

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Balance Sheet Test for Insolvency

In BNY Corporate Trustee Services Ltd and others v Eurosail-UK 2007-3BL PLC and others [2013], the Supreme Court held that the “balance sheet test” for insolvency under section 123(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986 should not be regarded as involving a test as to whether a company had genuinely reached the point of no return. A companyÍs financial position should instead be assessed on the basis of a pragmatic and commercial assessment of its present, contingent and prospective assets and liabiliti

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Agent Banks’ Obligations Construed Narrowly

In Torre Asset Funding Limited and another -v- Royal Bank of Scotland plc [2013] EWHC 270 (Ch) the High Court considered an agentÍs disclosure duties towards other lenders in respect of events of default, financial information and negligent misstatement.

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Ageas v Kwik-Fit

This recent High Court case concerned a breach of warranty claim under a Share Purchase Agreement. The central issue was whether legal proceedings had been validly served within the contractual time limit.

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Material Adverse Change provisions considered by the Courts

In the recent decision in the case of Grupo Hotelero Urvasco S.A. v Carey Value Added S.L. & Anor (2013) the Commercial Court provided clarification on the courtsÍ approach to the interpretation and application of material adverse change (MAC) provisions and set out guidance on the relevant factors to be taken into account when interpreting concepts such as ‘financial conditionÍ.

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Component Accounting Update

Over the coming months, finance directors and treasury teams will need to become fully conversant with the new FRS102 framework and the housing SORP 2014.

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All Risk Insurance In Construction Contracts

“In this article Asif Patel looks at the most common form of insurance that Contractors are required to provide under construction contracts; namely Contractors’ All Risks Insurance. Other forms of insurance such as Public Liability Insurance, Employers’ Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance, will be covered in the next issue of the Construction Brief. The aim of this article is to provide employers with an understanding of how to best protect their interests.

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Liquidated and Ascertained Damages

In this article Susannah Davis provides guidance on Liquidated and Ascertained Damages provisions in construction contracts, making clear some of their benefits and some of the pitfalls that should be avoided by those seeking to use them.

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Overheating – The Hot Topic

In this article Kathryn Kligerman provides an overview of overheating and its causes, and considers various ways to deal with it.

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Knowing and Getting What You Want

In this article Mark London makes clear the benefits of using detailed Employer’s Requirements to get what you want out of your construction contract. This is something which all Employers and Contractors should be aware of.

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Rights to Light and a Bit of Legal Magic

In this article Neil Toner, Head of Real Estate at Devonshires, discusses some important legal developments in the area of ‘Rights to Light’ and some of the impacts these will have on the Construction Industry.

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Payment – Get it Right or Pay the Price

In this article Matthew Cocklin describes some recurring problems that construction professionals are having with the payment process under the new regime set out in the amended Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act. He also gives some practical guidance as to how these problems can be avoided.

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Changing Winds in Family Law

Along with the emerging sun, the spring of 2014 has brought changes to the Family Court. After suggestions were submitted by the independent Family Justice Review in 2011, the Children and Families Act 2014 was drafted and enacted as a major refurbishment of the system.

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Devonshires advise five Registered Providers on £208 million government backed bond issue

Devonshires are delighted to announce that they acted for Adactus, Coastline, Great Places, Hexagon and Mount Green in connection with the Affordable Housing Finance (AHF) £208m debut long term guaranteed bond, carrying an ‘AAA’ rating from Standard and Poors. In total, thirteen Registered Providers took part in the bond issue.

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Have you updated your flexible working policy yet?

On 30 June 2014 the right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service.

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Headline Cases at Devonshires

Devonshires investigates and rebuts corruption allegations

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Devonshires advise on the merger of 2 Welsh Housing Associations

In North Wales, Devonshires acted on the successful completion of a new group – Grŵp Cynefin, on the merger of Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd and Cymdeithas Tai Eryri. The new, bigger organisation is the only housing association which operates across all six counties in North Wales.

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Acas Early Conciliation

The Acas Early Conciliation Scheme (EC), which requires Claimants to notify Acas of their dispute before bringing a claim, came into force on 6April for a transitional month during which time EC was available, but not mandatory. EC compliance became mandatory for claims presented on or after 6 May 2014.

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TUPE: Employee Liability Information

As of 1 May 2014 the deadline for a Transferor or to provide Employee Liability Information to a Transferee under Regulation 11(6)(a) of TUPE has increased from 14 days to 28 days.

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Labour’s proposals for rent control in the private sector

At the launch of the Labour party’s campaign for local and European Parliament elections on 1 May 2014, David Miliband opined that “one of the biggest causes of the cost of living crisis in our country is the price of renting or buying a home”. To combat this, the next Labour government has proposed making three year tenancies standard in the private rented sector. Such tenancies would also restrict rent review to taking place once a year and limit the amount by which rents can rise.

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Auto-enrolment: Teething problems for Dunelm

The Pensions Regulator has issued its first auto-enrolment Section 89 report against Dunelm Soft Furnishing Limited (Dunelm), which failed to complete its auto-enrolment registration by the relevant deadline.

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Should overtime count when calculating holiday pay?

Two cases are due to be heard together by the EAT on 30-31 July 2014. These are Neal v Freightliner Limited and Bear Scotland Limited v Fulton.

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Auto-enrolment: Annual thresholds for 2014/2015 tax year

Every year the Department for Work and Pension reviews the earning thresholds used for automatic enrolment. The changes that take effect from 6 April 2014 are as follows:

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Early Conciliation: Acas Portal

Acas has launched a portal for the new early conciliation process. The portal contains information about the process for claimants, employers and their representatives. The Individual Claimant Notification Form is available on the portal and claimants will need to use this to notify Acas of their intention to bring a claim.

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Devonshires advise Festival and Worcester Housing on the refinancing of their loan facilities

Devonshires Solicitors acted for Festival Housing Limited and Worcester Community Housing Limited on the refinancing of their combined £245 million loan facilities with Barclays resulting from their partnership arrangement which saw the creation of a new housing group called Fortis Living on 1 April 2014.

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Changes in legislation

There are a number of key changes that came into force on 6 April 2014. We have summarised the main legislative changes below.

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Employment Tribunal Statistics published

The MOJ’s quarterly Employment Tribunal statistics for the period October – December 2013 have shown that the introduction of Tribunal fees has impacted on the number of claims being received by the Tribunals.

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New Minimum Wage Rates Confirmed

The national minimum wage will increase from October 2014 as the Government has announced that they will accept the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations.

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Mother who had child via surrogacy arrangement not entitled to paid maternity leave under European law

The ECJ has ruled that it was not a breach of EU law to deny a commissioning mother, who had a child via surrogacy, paid maternity leave and adoption leave despite the fact that she had been breastfeeding the child since birth.

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Devonshires investigates and rebuts allegations against an employee of One Housing Group

On 14 January, without any pre-warning, Inside Housing published allegations made in Employment Tribunal proceedings that a named employee of One Housing was engaged in awarding maintenance contracts for kickbacks.

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Devonshires recover over £1 million for victims of medical negligence

Last year, Devonshires’ growing clinical negligence team recovered well in excess of £1 million pounds for clients.

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Devonshires advise Notting Hill Housing on a £75 million loan to fund Canada Water development

Devonshires Banking team have recently advised Notting Hill Housing in connection with £75,000,000 loan facilities to two wholly owned subsidiaries. The subsidiaries have acquired a site in Canada Water, east London.

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Devonshires host regulatory round table

On Wednesday 26 March, Devonshires Partners Philip Barden and James Dunn hosted a round table discussion with key figures from a number of regulatory bodies. A broad spectrum of sectors were represented with individuals from the legal, accountancy, financial, property, and health sectors in attendance as well as one of the leading silks in Professional Discipline.

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Local Authority Charging and Trading – Every Penny Counts!

As a result of the considerable cuts in public expenditure over recent years, many local authorities are looking for new and innovative ways in which to generate income. Two ways in which authorities can do so are to charge for the provision of public services or to trade commercially.

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Devonshires sponsoring next WISH London event on 24 April 2014

Devonshires are co-sponsoring Women In Social Housing (WISH) London’s next event, “An Evening With Colour”, on 24 April 2014 from 6pm at De Vere West One, 9-11 Portland Place, London W1B 1PR. Morag Young, colour consultant and personal stylist for House of Colour will be presenting the event.  House of Colour believe that every person…

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Devonshires advises on £125 million Thrive Bond Issue

Devonshires’ Banking and Securities Teams acted for Thrive Housing Limited in connection with its £125 million bond issue, which completed on 24 March 2014. The bonds carry a fixed rate interest of 4.68 per cent and have been assigned an AA-/Stable rating by Standard & Poors. They are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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Devonshires acts for Thames Valley Housing Association on £40m loan facility

Devonshires acted for Thames Valley Housing Association Limited on its long term £40 million loan facility with Legal & General. The loan is secured against two of TVHA’s key worker schemes.

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Devonshires advise Housing 21 on £15 million contract with CarelineUK and Cirrus

Devonshires recently acted for Housing 21 in connection with the procurement and preparation of contracts for the supply, installation and maintenance of Housing 21’s warden call and door entry systems and emergency alarm monitoring services.

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Collective Redundancies – ECJ to consider removal of the ‘establishment’ requirement

In the landmark case of USDAW and anor v Ethel Austin Ltd (in administration) and ors the EAT held that employees of Woolworths and Ethel Austin, who worked in stores where less than 20 employees were being made redundant were entitled to be consulted under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TURLA).

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Devonshires trainee edits guide for Hindu Lawyers Association

Priya Thakrar, a trainee solicitor at Devonshires, has co-written and edited a communities’ guide for the Hindu Lawyers Association (HLA) UK.

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Devonshires advise on over half of housing association capital market funding transactions

Devonshires’ Banking and Capital Markets team have continued to dominate the legal market for bonds and private placements for housing associations, advising on 52% of all deals in the sector between January 2012 and February 2014. This amounts to £2.25 billion of funding into the social housing market.

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Reforms reducing the period during which offenders have to disclose convictions to potential employers due to come into force on 10 March 2014

As part of their ongoing commitment to tackling reoffending by helping offenders get back into ‘honest work,’ the Government has announced changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which reduce the period during which convictions have to be disclosed to potential employers. The changes are part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Act 2012 and are due to come into force on 10th March 2014.

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EAT held that an express summary dismissal clause did not apply to an employee’s minor breach

The recent decision of the EAT in Robert Bates Wrekin Landscapes Ltd v Knight serves as a reminder to employers that any express contractual provisions for summary termination of employment must be very clearly drafted. In this case, the EAT interpreted the termination provision against the backdrop of the general principle that a summary dismissal is not justified unless there has been gross misconduct or gross negligence.

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Devonshires acts for Derwentside on its conversion

Devonshires recently acted for Derwentside Homes Limited on its conversion from a registered charity and company limited by guarantee to a charitable industrial and provident society. The transaction should have the effect of easing Derwentside’s regulatory burden, freeing up time and money for its residents.

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New compensation limits announced

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2014 (the Order) has been published and comes into force on 6 April 2014. The Order introduces the following key changes: The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £74,200 to £76,574, subject to the limit of one year’s pay which came into force on 29 July…

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The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013

As the Government strives to drive economic growth, encourage job creation and be seen to actively support the housing sector, the spotlight has been shone on the planning system and ways in which it may be improved so as to eliminate, or at least curtail, some of the uncertainties which had previously impacted on development risk.

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Child Maintenance

As any parent knows, children are expensive. They require increasing amounts of food and clothing above and beyond a secure home. For many resident parents, child maintenance is an essential part of meeting their child’s everyday living costs.

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Respondent ordered to reimburse fee paid by successful appellant

In the case of Portnykh v Nomura International plc, for the first time since the tribunal fees were introduced last year, the EAT has made a conditional order that the respondent (NI plc) must pay the appellant’s (P) fees of £1,600 in respect of his successful appeal. The order was conditional upon P’s application for fee remission being refused.

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Unison’s claim for judicial review of tribunal fees fails

Unison has lost its case in the High Court for judicial review of the introduction of fees for claimants wanting to bring employment tribunal proceedings.

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Employment law – legislative look-ahead for 2014

As we enter the new year, Devonshires’ Employment Team has been examining the changes that lie ahead for employment legislation in 2014. The attached document provides an overview of upcoming legal developments, including the much anticipated changes to TUPE.  We outline the key dates and state of play for each piece of legislation or legal…

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Banking on affordable homes in London

The London housing bank is one of a number of ideas proposed by the Mayor of London as part of GLA’s strategy to deliver more homes for London. The Mayor’s ambition is for 42,000 new homes to be delivered every year for twenty years. Out of these new homes, 15,000 per year are to be…

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Devonshires Developing Artists

A ground breaking initiative to develop the work of young and emerging artists across the capital

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‘Without prejudice’ rule and requirement of a ‘dispute’ to be in existence

For the ‘without prejudice’ rule to apply, there must be an existing dispute.

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Concerns raised about driving in snow could amount to a ‘qualifying disclosure’

In a rather surprising decision, the EAT has held in the case of Norbrook Laboratories (GB) Ltd v Shaw that a manager raising concerns about his colleagues driving in the snow could amount to a ‘qualifying disclosure’ about health and safety for the purpose of whistleblowing protection.

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Devonshires win the Clean City Platinum award for the fifth year

Devonshires Solicitors have once again won a Clean City Award for our environmental efforts in 2014 – the fifth year in a row. We received platinum status, making us one of the top performing companies in the city.

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New rates of statutory maternity pay and sick pay from 6 April 2014

The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Order 2014 has now been published which means that from the 6 April 2014 the following changes will come into force:

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Devonshires advise the government of St Helena on housing

Devonshires are delighted to announce that have been appointed to advise the government of St Helena on the transfer of its housing stock.

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Devonshires launch It’s the Law

This January Devonshires’ Real Estate & Projects Department have launched the first edition of IT’s THE LAW. Each month, ITL will look at one legal issue relevant to those working in Development.

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