About Elizabeth Baker

Elizabeth is our Business Development Manager. She has a degree in both English Literature and Law from Glasgow University. After graduating in 1983 she served her traineeship as a solicitor in Oban. When she was admitted as a solicitor her first job was at Mitchells Roberton in 1985 so she is a well known face. She spread her wings and joined other firms along the way and had a successful law practice under her own name for some years. She returned to Mitchells Roberton in 2011 and works primarily to enhance the marketing of our firm. With her excellent links with small business and the media in the greater Glasgow area, she is well placed in the role and generates a good deal of referrals and new business. Elizabeth is a people person and naturally connects with both staff and clients. Elizabeth has two grown up children and loves walking her dog, travelling and reading literature.

The Problem with Plastic

According to The Independent “Humans have produced about 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic since 1950”.Researchers writing in the journal , Science Advances ,warned that if current trends continued some 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste would be in landfill sites or the natural environment by 2050.

Campaign groups suggest that the average person throws away the equivalent of 1,212 Coca Cola bottles or 4,600 plastic forks each year. Scientists from a number of Universities in a paper published in Science Advances state that “The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material”.

“The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications – durability and resistance to degradation-make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate.”

“Thus , without a well-designed and tailor- made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.”

In October 2014 shops in Scotland began charging 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags. In the first year the number of plastic bags handed out in stores was slashed by 80%- the equivalent of 650million carriers. Scottish government research concludes that a reduction of 650 million bags means a net saving of more than 4000 tonnes of plastic and other materials each year.

MPs are now considering a 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups to reduce waste. Apparently the UK throws away 2.5 billion paper cups every year with less than 1% being recycled. The rest are incinerated or buried in landfill sites because they have an inner-lining made of plastic which paper mills struggle to remove.  The Environment Audit Committee is calling on the Government to introduce a minimum 25p charge on disposable coffee cups to cut waste in the same way as the plastic bag levy.  It seems that MPs are open to the idea but want to ensure that any levy would trigger a change in behaviour not merely an increase in price.

In our office we do our best to recycle as much as possible but these figures suggest we should be doing considerably more to protect our environment.

Christmas Closing

Please note that our office will be closed from 5pm on Friday 22 December until 9am on Wednesday 3 January.

If you require urgent assistance, an emergency out of hours number 0141 552 3422 will be in operation between 9am-5pm, Wednesday 27 December to Friday 29 December.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Housing Market Confidence is Still Fragile

The Building Societies Association (BSA) has revealed that consumer confidence in the housing market hasn’t fully recovered since June’s General Election.

Their recent research found that over a quarter of respondents (27%) do not agree that now is a good time to  buy a property compared to just 23% who do.

Although the political environment has stabilised a bit since June, confidence in the property market continues to be affected by a number of factors. 68% of those interviewed said that raising a deposit remained the biggest barrier to purchasing a property with 45% saying that being able to afford the mortgage repayments was a problem. Another particular concern for home movers is stamp duty costs which prevent those who want to move up the property ladder from doing so thus limiting the stock of housing for those looking to make their first purchase.

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage policy at the BSA commented:

“Consumers were faced with political uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU and unexpected General Election results, and now the rising cost of living is their latest challenge.”

“It is evident that home- movers are facing the same affordability pressures as first time buyers, meaning some homeowners are unable to sell their property-further reducing choice and pushing up prices for those just getting on to the housing ladder” he added.

If you are looking to buy or sell a property please contact me Elizabeth Baker on 0141 552 3422 or by email eb@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Parkers Take Note

I was chatting to someone the other day who said they had received a parking ticket for parking their van in a Morrison’s car park for four hour. The gentleman said he was just going to throw it away because it was unenforceable.

With my solicitor’s hat on I told him that this unfortunately was a common myth and that recently motorist ,Carly Mackie, received the largest ever parking fine in Britain amounting to £24,500. Ms Mackie had been issued with multiple parking charges by Vehicle Control Services Limited who were employed by the factors of her parents’ housing estate to provide a parking scheme. In the estate there were visible signs , eight in all,  advising that a permit was required to park in the area and the consequences of a fine if the terms and conditions were breached.

Despite this Ms Mackie parked her car outside her mother’s home and ignored the almost daily parking charge notices on her windscreen. She wrongly believed she was entitled to park her mini without a permit within the private parking area and that the tickets were unenforceable. Ms Mackie had been offered a parking permit but declined on principle.

However the private firm Vehicle Control Services Limited took her to court last year when she had racked up an £18,500 bill for ignoring more than 200 penalty notices. The action raised at Dundee Sheriff Court was defended by Ms Mackie on the basis that Vehicle Control Services Limited had no right to issue the parking charges and therefore she was under no obligation to pay them.

Generally speaking the public accepts that Local Authorities are able to issue parking tickets known as a fixed penalty. But car parking operators are able to issue parking charges for private car parks provided they display signs in the parking area setting out the terms and conditions of use.  If a motorist parks a car within a private parking area  which has clear signage setting out terms and conditions of using the car park then the driver is taken to have accepted the terms and has entered into a contract which if breached can lead to charges being applied.

In a written judgement of the case Sheriff George Way said Ms Mackie had “entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractual chain in this case” and ordered her to pay £24,500.

So be warned!

A Recent Study Predicts Greater Demand for Inheritance Tax Advice

Prudential have carried out new research showing that financial advisers are forecasting a sharp rise in demand for Inheritance Tax advice. It was found that 7 out of 10 advisers interviewed expect demand for IHT planning to grow over the next 12 months. However 17% of advisers feel that due to regulatory changes, they are not sufficiently confident in advising on IHT issues and are looking to develop links with legal firms.

The study shows that part of the increase in demand for IHT is due to the new IHT rules that came into effect in April this year. These rules are complex and comprise an additional £100,000 per person residence nil-rate band. This limit will increase each year and complements the standard nil rate band to provide a potential £1million IHT allowance for a couple in 2020/21

Increased access to pension savings as a result of Pension Freedoms and the ability to leave pension wealth to family as well as rising property prices are other major factors.

Paul Harrison, Head of Business Consultancy at Prudential commented “Rising property and pension wealth are making it increasingly important for advisers to be able to help clients with specialist advice on IHT planning and demand for advice is booming.”

“One specialist area that is driving demand for IHT advice is enquiries about using trusts”

If you would like advice on inheritance tax planning then please contact a member of our Private Client Department who will be happy to help you. Please find out more at http://www.mitchells-roberton.co.uk

A new Bill to tackle psychological domestic abuse has been published

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill aims to strengthen the law against people who psychologically abuse their partners using coercive and controlling behaviour.

For the first time, the Bill will create a statutory offence of domestic abuse by recognising the damage which non- physical abuse can cause. Such behaviour could include subordination, humiliation, isolating a partner from friends, relatives and sources of support and controlling or monitoring their day to day activity.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met survivors of abuse at the Glasgow Young Women’s Movement (YWCA) as the Bill was introduced to Parliament.

Ms Sturgeon said: “ I am proud that as a society, we’ve come a long way from believing that domestic abuse is only a physical act. The truth is that the psychological scars left by emotional abuse can have devastating effects on victims and this government will work hard to make sure perpetrators face the justice they deserve.”

“This Bill will help our police and prosecutors hold abusers to account- but importantly, it also shows those who have suffered abuse that we stand with them and will take the steps needed to help them.”

Kara Brown, Director of YWCA Scotland added “The Young Women’s Movement is proud to be part of a country breaking ground through new progressive legislation.”

“We welcome this legislation as a critical tool to reduce stigma, raise understanding and encourage survivors of mental, financial and physical abuse to come forward.”

Should you consider a postnuptial agreement?

Marriage or civil partnership is a relationship that most of us will enter into at some point in our lives. Pre and post-nuptial agreements can be an effective and simple way of protecting the interests of both parties within such partnerships. Generally both types of agreement will determine the division of assets if a marriage or civil partnership breaks down.

In fact there is a growing interest in postnuptial agreements -similar to a prenuptial agreement but made after a marriage or civil partnership has already been entered into.

Postnuptial agreements are most appropriate in certain circumstances:

  • Where someone is to receive (family) wealth during the marriage or partnership and wants certainty about what would happen to the capital if the relationship failed:
  • Where one spouse or partner intends to take time out of work and wants financial security during that period or subsequently: or
  • The parties considered a prenuptial agreement but did not get round to it and there may have been unequal wealth coming into the relationship, it may be a second marriage with  the divorce process the first time around being harrowing or there may be children of a previous marriage.
  • There could be a family business to think about so that control of the business is preserved within the family in the event of a relationship floundering.

There are, however, some common misconceptions that often deter people from giving postnuptial agreements serious consideration namely:

  • They are only for the rich. This is not true.
  • They are not legally enforceable. In Scotland prenuptial and now postnuptial agreements have been a legal norm for quite some time and enforceability should not be an issue if the agreement is correctly drawn up.
  • That such agreements undermine a relationship. Many believe that the modern reality is that a well-made pre or postnuptial agreement can be viewed as a solid foundation for a marriage or civil partnership by introducing clarity and transparency. That said there will be many who believe that a marriage or civil partnership should be based on trust and will remain reluctant to enter into such a formal agreement their vows remaining more paramount to considerations of avoidance of future disputes.

To have and to hold from this day forward
For better for worse
For richer for poorer
In sickness and in health
To love and to cherish to the exclusion of all others
For as long as we both shall live.

What do you think?