What Is a Farmer? Landowner's Heirs Triumph in Inheritance Tax Appeal

What exactly is a 'farmer'? and what exactly is a 'farmhouse'? In answering those questions, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) gave important guidance to the agricultural community and delivered a substantial Inheritance Tax (IHT) saving to the heirs of a deceased landowner.

On his death, aged 79, the man was the freeholder of 11 plots of land and lived in a house set in the heart of his holdings.…

Promises, Promises – Always Get a Lawyer to Put Them in Writing!

The trouble with informally agreeing with your loved ones what is to happen to your assets after you are gone is that you may not have considered all eventualities, and disputes can arise as to what has and has not been promised. Exactly that lay at the root of a bitter property dispute between a man and his stepmother.

The man's father and stepmother each had two children from previous…

Off-Plan Flat Buyer Wins Full CGT Relief in Test Case

Can a purchaser of a property be said to 'own' it after contracts are exchanged but before the transaction is completed? The Court of Appeal's answer to that fundamental question delivered a substantial Capital Gains Tax (CGT) saving to an off-plan flat buyer.

In 2006, the buyer entered into a contract to take a 125-year lease of a flat at a price of £575,000, paying a 10 per cent deposit.…

Fraudster Warning From HMRC as Self-Assessment Deadline Looms

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are warning self-assessment customers to be on alert for potential scams, as the 31 January tax return deadline approaches.

HMRC's dedicated Customer Protection team is tasked with identifying and shutting down scams but the tax authority wants customers to recognise the tell-tale signs themselves to avoid becoming victims.

Nearly 900,000 reports about…

Cryptoassets Are Property – Judicial Authority

The legal position of 'cryptoassets' – those which exist in electronic form and are held on distributed ledgers, bitcoins being the best-known example – has not been certain in the past. However, a recent legal statement by the Chancellor of the England and Wales High Court has confirmed that they are to be treated like all other property.

This has important implications for the estates…

Vulnerable Mother Accused of Harming Her Baby Denied a Fair Hearing

Witnesses in family proceedings are frequently vulnerable and the normal routines of the justice system sometimes have to be adapted to take account of their particular needs. In a case on point, the Court of Appeal ruled that a mother accused of harming her baby daughter was denied her human right to a fair hearing.

Following a fact-finding hearing, a judge found that either the mother…

Trouble With the Neighbours? See a Lawyer Before It Gets Out of Hand!

One secret of a happy life is to get on well with your neighbours and taking legal advice is often the best way of defusing rows before they get out of hand. The point was resoundingly made by a case in which escalating boundary and right of way disputes between homeowners took on the proportions almost of a state trial.

The case concerned a house and a cottage which were both accessed…

High Court Sanctions DNA Paternity Testing of Dementia Sufferer

The law is the ultimate guardian of vulnerable people who lack the capacity to make important decisions for themselves. The High Court performed that role in ruling that it was in a dementia sufferer's best interests to undergo DNA paternity testing.

The man, aged 76, was resident in a nursing home where he had been placed on an end of life pathway. Although his physical condition was stable,…

Forfeiture of Vehicles Used in People Smuggling Is Not Automatic

A major weapon in the UK Border Force's armoury in tackling the modern scourge of people smuggling is that vehicles used for that purpose are subject to forfeiture. As a ruling of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) showed, however, solid evidence of conscious wrongdoing is required before the law will countenance such a draconian step against private property.

The case concerned a lorry which…

Family Judge Blocks Attempt at Divorce Tourism in Big Money Case

English judges are respected around the world – but they are not the sole arbiters of fairness and the decisions of foreign courts must be respected. A family judge made that point in shutting the door on divorce tourism and refusing a Russian ex-wife the opportunity to seek a greater share of her husband's enormous wealth.

During the couple's marriage, which lasted over 30 years, they…