Acceptance in Lieu

An 18th century portrait of the 5th Earl of Carlisle by Joshua Reynolds has been accepted by the nation in lieu of £4.7m inheritance tax.

The Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme is administered by Arts Council England and enables taxpayers to pay Inheritance Tax by transferring important works of art and heritage objects into public ownership. The taxpayer is given the full open market value of the item. The object is then allocated to a public museum, archive or library by the appropriate minister.

The Acceptance in Lieu Panel advises on whether property accepted in lieu is of suitable importance and offered at a value which is fair to both the nation and the taxpayer. In the last decade the scheme has apparently brought over £250m of cultural property into public collections.

In this case the full length portrait of the lavishly dressed aristocrat has hung at Castle Howard- made famous as the backdrop for Brideshead Revisited- for more than 200 years.  Frederick Howard  (1748-1825) became the 5th Earl of Carlisle on his father’s death in 1758. The Reynolds portrait , painted in 1769 depicts him age 20 newly returned from an indulgent European tour.  Howard was a man who liked to enjoy himself, often losing large amounts of money at gaming tables and being  the reluctant guardian of the “bad boy” poet Lord Byron.

The Reynolds painting has been passed down through the family and its offer to the AIL follows the sale last year of art works and furniture by the castle’s present custodians to help secure the estate’s long term future.

The AIL scheme was created in David Lloyd George’s people’s budget of 1910 with hundreds of outstanding objects and collections given as a way of settling tax bills.

Edward Harley, the chairman of the AIL panel said “The acceptance in lieu scheme has been enriching our heritage for over a century; I am delighted that this masterpiece by Reynolds, one of the most important painters of the day, has entered our national collection under the scheme.”

Private Landlords Should Ready Themselves For New Legislation

Major new legislation is on the horizon which will make significant changes to renting and letting residential property in Scotland. The time of arrival is as yet unknown but it is expected to be late 2017 or early 2018.

At the moment landlords let property under ‘assured tenancies’ or ‘short assured tenancies’. Under the new legislation these will be replaced by the Scottish Private Residential Tenancy (SPRT).

Currently if you let a flat for 6 months or more you are able to get it back on the ‘no fault’ ground assuming your paperwork is in order and delivered properly. Under the new SPRT landlords will no longer have this automatic right to repossess the property. Instead they will need to show grounds for repossession, such as selling the property, a family member wanting to live there, rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.

The government’s intention in introducing the SPRT is to create more stability in the private rented housing market and provide tenants with greater security of tenure.

You should note that the new legislation is not retrospective and any existing assured or short assured tenancies will continue on the old basis but you will have to use the SPRT if you enter into a new tenancy agreement after the legislation becomes effective.

Although the change is not imminent I would recommend watching out for its advent and getting advice about how the introduction of the legislation will affect you.

If I can assist please call me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or contact me by email on


LET IT – be known that letting agents can be sanctioned for failing to comply with Tenancy Deposit Scheme rules.

For the first time, a letting agent, rather than a landlord, has been penalised since the introduction of regulations imposing an obligation on a landlord to secure deposits even if that landlord has appointed a letting agent.

Largs-based agents, Colvin Houston, were fined for £750 (reduced to £500 for an early guilty plea) for failing to secure two tenancy deposits on behalf of landlord clients totalling £925.

Trading Standards had received a complaint from a landlord who argued that the letting agent had engaged in an “unfair commercial practice” in terms of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Under the 2008 regulations, a commercial practice is considered “unfair” if it fails to meet the special standard of skill and care to be expected in the trader’s field of activity.

Trading Standards successfully argued that paying a deposit into an approved scheme is the standard of care reasonably expected of a letting agent and failure to do so is an offence under consumer law.

Colvin Houston tried to argue that the landlords in question were not consumers but commercial landlords. This was not accepted by the court and a fine was levied.

If you are a letting agent and would like advice on your obligations please contact Paul Neilly on 0141 552 3422 or

Mitchells Roberton Great Solicitors Bake Off

On Thursday 29 September 2016 our firm held a bake off competition to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

There were 6 entrants Alison, Angela, Jan, Paul, Sarah and Willie. Each produced wonderful cakes.

The judges were our very own Paul Hollywood (aka Donald Reid) and Mary Berry (aka) Morag Inglis.

After much tasting and deliberation the judges came to a decision.

While complementing all the entrants on their baking skills they named the top three bakers in reverse order:

Paul was third

Jan was second


I have to say that if I had been a judge Sarah’s white chocolate and strawberry cheese cake would have been my number 1 !

The cakes were then all enjoyed by the rest of the staff.

We raised £220 and had a lot of fun.

Right To Buy Has Ended

On the 1 August 2016 the Right to Buy, which allows tenants in social housing to buy their homes came to an end in Scotland. Tenants with a right to buy had until the 31 July 2016 to submit an application.

The Right to Buy in Scotland was established by the Tenants’ Rights Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980. Subsequent legislation by the UK Parliament and indeed the Scottish Parliament made various amendments to the terms under which tenants could exercise the Right to Buy.

Between the years 1979/1980 and 2014/2015 a total of 494,580 council and housing association homes were apparently sold under Right to Buy in Scotland-homes no longer available for social renting.

The Scottish Parliament’s Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 brought the Right to Buy to an end. Commenting on this Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland said:

“It is good news that right-to-buy has finally had its day in Scotland. It has no place in Scotland’s housing system today.”

“More than half a million social homes were sold off under right-to-buy in Scotland. For every three homes sold only one was built in replacement-so no wonder we have a housing crisis in Scotland.”

“Now that right – to- buy is consigned to history- and with a waiting list of 150,000 for a council house-what Scotland desperately needs now is a step change in the delivery of affordable housing. We need to build at least 12,000 new affordable homes a year to meaningfully tackle Scotland’s housing crisis. We also need a new national homelessness strategy to get to grips with the root causes of homelessness.”

“Only with these progressive changes will we start to address the profound damage caused to our housing system by policies like right-to-buy and the decades of underinvestment in affordable housing.”

Wales looks set to follow Scotland’s example with the Welsh Assembly expected to introduce legislation on this issue within the next 12 months.

The situation in England is however different. UK government figures show that more than 52,500 people have purchased their home through Right to Buy since the scheme was reinvigorated in 2012 which amounts to 1000 households a month.

If you are looking to buy or sell property in Scotland then please contact Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email

‘Traditional Methods’ are often the Best for Homebuyers

Today there are many apps and websites in existence to help homebuyers find their dream home but many people still find that the more ‘traditional’ methods are the best.

Which? questioned 2000 purchasers about how they found their property . 55% said they found it through a ‘traditional’ method like an estate agent, their local paper or an auction with 45% saying that they  found their property online or through an electronic alert such as a notification from an app.

Looking at the findings in more detail, they showed that:

  • 22% of first-time buyers found their new home through an estate agent
  • 10% found their property after seeing a For Sale sign outside
  • 9% found their property by word of mouth
  • 6% found their property in their local newspaper
  • 3% found their property by approaching the owner directly or by leafleting the area
  • 1% bought their property at a property auction.

“Despite the rise in online property portals, it seems many of us are still traditionalists when it comes to finding a property” said David Blake principal adviser at Which? Mortgage Advisers.

If you are looking to buy a new home and would like to talk to a property expert then please contact Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email

Also please note that we are members of GSPC and have an estate agency service within the firm. If we can help in the selling of your home please contact Bridie Gillan on 0141 552 3422 or by email

Family Law –Some Urban Myths

I have been practising family law for quite some time now and over the years it never fails to surprise me that many people still hold strongly to a number of misconceptions about family law in Scotland.

The woman will automatically get custody of the children- NO

In Scotland, the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 replaced the words “custody” or “access” with the words “residence” and “contact”. Basically when parents separate there is no legal requirement to have any orders granted in relation to children unless there is genuine dispute in which case a Sheriff or Judge will decide on the basis of what is in the best interest of the child. If it is considered that it is better for a child to stay with his/her father then residence will be awarded to the father.

Child maintenance stops when a child becomes 16- NO

A parent’s responsibility to financially maintain a child lasts until that child is 25 years of age if the child is still in full time education or vocational training. The duty is owed by both parents towards the child, so that a child over the age of 16 who is at college can seek maintenance from both parents. Normally when a child of separated parents lives at home, one parent fulfils the obligation to aliment by providing bed and board whilst the other parent pays child maintenance.

If a divorce is your fault you will be punished for that financially-NO

In Scotland the only ground of divorce is the irretrievable break-down of marriage. The breakdown may be proved in a number of ways, for example non-cohabitation for a period in excess of two years or one year if your spouse consents, or unreasonable behaviour on the part of the other spouse or adultery. A spouse’s behaviour even if unreasonable has no relevance to a financial settlement unless it can be shown that the behaviour has impacted adversely on the couple’s finances, such as a serious gambling habit.

A pension is not matrimonial property-NO

A pension has a monetary value and is counted as part of a married couple’s matrimonial property in the same way as money in the bank is treated as matrimonial property. The pension has a value based on how much is held within the fund at the date of separation. A pension can be divided on divorce by way of a pension sharing order and if such an order is implemented a portion of one spouse’s pension is removed from his or her pension fund and placed in a pension fund nominated by the other spouse. The sums are not paid out until retirement. Alternatively the value of the pension can be offset against another aspect of the matrimonial property, for example, the former matrimonial home so that one spouse receives less from the house because they have a larger pension.

My husband and I separated a couple of years ago – he has now inherited a large sum from his late father and I want half- NO

Money inherited or gifted from a third party is not matrimonial property. In addition any money or assets accumulated by a spouse after the date that the parties separated is not matrimonial property. You are therefore not entitled to any of your father in law’s estate.  Money that is inherited or gifted can be converted into matrimonial property if received during a marriage and for instance is used to buy a family car. In that event, upon divorce the money is not automatically reimbursed but account of the source of the funds can be taken account of, when negotiating how a couple’s assets are to be divided.

Unmarried couples have pretty much the same rights as married couples – NO

While many income related benefits and tax credits may not take account of the married status of a couple, this does not mean that cohabiting couples have the same rights as married couples on the breakdown of their relationship. The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 did bring in a number of changes to the law of cohabiting couples including rights to make a financial claim against your former partner if you can show that you have suffered economic disadvantage in the interests of the family. This is not the same as being able to claim a share of matrimonial property acquired during the period of the marriage. In addition it is only a capital sum that can be claimed and not maintenance, unlike married couples. On death the differences are also substantial. Married couples have an automatic right to inherit certain parts of their spouse’s estate on death, irrespective of whether there is a will or not. In the case of a cohabiting couple however, there is no automatic right and if there is a will which does not mention the surviving partner then they have no right to inherit at all. If there is no will, the surviving partner can make a claim against the estate of their deceased partner but must raise a court action to do so.

If you need advice on any family law matters I can help. Please contact me Fiona Wayman on 0141-552-3422 or by email