New Case Law on Limitation of Liability 1

This case involves a Project Manager who tried to limit his liability on a Construction Project

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/TCC/2012/2137.html

The Trustees of Ampleforth Abbey Trust v Turner & Townsend Project Management Ltd [2012] EWHC 2137 (TCC)

In summary the dispute was between the Project Manager and the employer over the building of new boarding accomodation the quality of work was not disputed but there were delays.

The Employer claimed that if the Project Manager had acted with care and skill, it would have ensured the Contractor execute the building contract (rather than letters of intent) and that would have produced a more advantageous outcome in the dispute with the Contractor for delay, as the Contractor would have been liable for liquidated damages.

When submitting its fee proposal for this project, the Project Manager attached its standard terms and conditions, including a limitation of liability which had not formed part of the Project Manager’s appointment on two earlier projects at the college.  A limitation on liability incorporated into the Project Manager’s retainer, on this third project was found to be unenforceable as it did not meet the requirement of “reasonableness” as set out in the Unfair Contract Terms Act (UCTA) 1977.

Had the limitation been enforceable, the Project Manager’s liability would have been limited to the amount of its fee, which totalled £111,321. The Employer was instead awarded damages of £226,667.

The case has been circulate and written up by Law Now

http://www.law-now.com/DirectMail/%7B2E6BA698-284E-44D6-B906-CBA2DE28F3C8%7D_profapptmpfsept12.htm

Well worth a read
steve@bicknells.net

Finding a new Retail Unit Tenant Reply

The Salvation Army have been running a charity shop from 695-697 Christchurch Road Boscombe since the 1970’s but earlier this year they decided to end their lease and moved out in August. Its a double shop unit, lots of space, toilets and an office. The Salvation Army have been an absolutely brilliant tenant always helpful and excellent payers.

We are using Nettleship Sawyer (Steve Chiari) steve@nettsawyer.co.uk to market the property, we are are happy to give a short lease or a long lease, on a long lease we would agree to a rent free period and break clauses or to refit the unit.

What would you do to market a Retail Unit like this? Do you know any one that would like a shop?

steve@bicknells.net

Funding for Lending Scheme will reduce the cost of borrowing 2

NatWest has set aside £2.5Bn of funds to be provided as loans to customers. That money will be lent with a 1% discount on interest charge and NO ARRANGEMENT FEE.

Any commercial loans to help trading will qualify. That will include asset purchase, buying factories and trading premises. Trade finance, possible buy-outs.

Nat West are also seeking to allow re-drawing of loans, say lending back the last three years repayments, plus terming out hard core OD’s.

I am sure that all the other High Street Banks will have similar schemes so its worth contacting you bank manager to see if the Funding for Lending Scheme can be applied to your loans.
steve@bicknells.net

Crowdfunding – How Social Media is helping businesses to get funding 2

I read with interest in the August edition of Accountancy Magazine (article by Guy Rigby) how Crowdfunding is gaining popularity, here are some examples:

  • In 1997 British rock group, Marillion, raised £38,000 from its fans to pay for its US tour. They then went on to use the same method to fund several albums
  • In 2010 Hotel Chocolat offered 3 year, FSA approved ‘chocolate bonds’ to its 100,000 tasting club members. Customers were invited to invest £2,000 for a gross annual return of 6.72%, or £4,000 for a return of 7.29% which were paid in regular deliveries of chocolate. The Bonds raised an incredible £3.7m for the company.
  • In 2011 Caxtonfx (foreign exchange) raised £4m from its bond issue
  • In 2012 Mr & Mrs Smith (travel website) are in the process of raising £4m from a 4 year bond with cash interest of 7.5%, or 9.5% if the ‘Smith loyalty money’ option is taken
  • In 2012 Pebble Technology, a Palo Alto based smart watch company used Kickstarter.com to raise $10m against forward sales of its Pebble watch

According to the article, quoting Simon Dixon, to be successful in crowdfunding there is a simple formula £££ = R + SC + E

Where the money raised depend on the strength of the rewards your offer (R), how much social capital you have (SC) and the emotion attached to your story (E)

Its early days, but could this be the future for some businesses, using their fans and contacts to access funding. Social Media and the internet are definitely playing a part in moving this forward.

steve@bicknells.net

How to avoid 55% Pension Death Tax Reply

‘Worrying’ numbers of people are not using their pension savings efficiently leaving potential inheritors liable to a hefty tax, according to Skandia.

Adrian Walker, Skandia’s pension expert said: “The number of people currently in drawdown and not taking an income highlights just how many people could benefit from further financial planning.”

Skandia data shows 59% of customers in capped drawdown are not taking an income. In these cases customers have taken the maximum tax-free lump sum and have left the rest of their fund invested.

The remaining pension fund is technically in ‘drawdown’, even though the customer is not taking an income. This means the remaining pension fund is subject to a 55% tax charge if paid as a lump sum to a beneficiary on the member’s death.

For those who die below age 75, this tax charge was increased from 35% to 55% in April 2011. Skandia has said many people will be unaware of this.

So what action do you need to take to stop this happening once you have retired:
If you are under 75:
  • Phase the amount you move into drawdown, many SIPP’s are structured with this in mind and you can use the tax free cash to help with immediate income needs
  • Consider reinvesting income in drawdown back into the pension to get tax relief, this reinvestment will not be deemed to be in drawdown
  • If you receive £20000 or more guaranteed pension per year, you qualify for flexible drawdown which helps you move money out of the 55% tax charge faster than capped drawdowns

If you are over 75:

  • Work with your advisor to access as much of your pension as possible and move it out of the 55% tax charge

steve@bicknells.net

Rent a Room and earn up to £4,250 tax free 2

You can receive up to £4,250 a year tax-free (£2,125 if letting jointly) by letting furnished rooms in your home. This is known as the Rent a Room scheme.

It doesn’t matter how much you earn from other sources – you still get the full tax-free amount.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/Taxes/TaxOnPropertyAndRentalIncome/DG_4017804

In the current economic climate renting a room is becoming an increasing popular method for boosting income and there has been an increase of 52% in the number of new homeowners taking in lodgers in the past two years.

On average UK room Rent is £406 per month rising to £717 in London.

Accroding to www.spareroom.co.uk

So this could well be worth considering if you need extra cash.

steve@bicknells.net

 

What is the minimum Pension Fund you will need to retire? £400k? 2

Most of us know we should be saving more for retirement and the government knows that we need to save more too. That’s why they give pensions tax breaks and employers are being forced to auto enrole staff into pension schemes and make payments.

But how many of us stand a chance of saving £400k into our pensions? it’s a huge amount of money and yet it only buys a modest pension.

And it doesn’t sound like you can rely a on state pension or credit either, article below from Investors Chronicle…

A pensioner couple needs a weekly budget of £231 to meet a minimum income standard (£12,000 a year) that allows them to participate fully in society, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. That £12,000 will enable them to eat out once a month and holiday away from home once a year on a half-board coach-tour package.

This may seem quite a modest amount. In fact, the income level guaranteed for pensioners by Pension Credit in 2012 is just over what is needed to meet the minimum income standard, and the proposed universal pension will be more. But don’t let that lull you into complacency.

The universal pension is just a proposal at the moment, and if you have investments, you are unlikely to qualify for the current Pension Credit, meaning £12,000 becomes a significant ball-park figure on which to base your investment plans.

http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/2012/07/12/comment/smart-money/the-price-of-a-decent-retirement-MAnT9XzYoD1yOO5Xg4wr2N/article.html

Breakdown of minimum income standard for pensioner couple

 

Item £ per week
Food £60.46
Alcohol £8.67
Tobacco 0
Clothing £12.09
Water rates £6.44
Household insurances £1.82
Fuel £13.72
Other housing costs £4
Household goods £13.56
Household services £8.23
Personal goods and services £20.33
Other travel costs £13.51
Social and cultural participation £49.53
Total £213.48

Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, July 2012

 

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

 

BBC questioned about the employment status of celebrities 5

This Monday (18th July), the BBC’s CFO, Zarin Patel and its head of employment tax, David Smith, were quizzed about the use of personal service companies (PSC’s) within the corporation by the Commons Public Accounts Committee. It emerged that out of the Beeb’s 467 presenters, 148 broadcasters, i.e. nearly a third, were being paid via PSC’s. These 148 are not unique, however, as the BBC engages 25,000 freelancers.

http://www.contractorweekly.com/contractor-news/tax-a-ir35-news/512-bbc-ir35-witch-hunt

This has been under discussion for a while and back in 2010 Accountingweb reported

Amongst those appearing as freelancers are: Jeremy Paxman (earning about £1m a year); Fiona Bruce (with annual earnings of around £500,000); and Fearne Cotton (who rakes in around £200,000 per annum)*.

However, not all presenters have fled the broadcaster’s payroll, with the likes of Huw Edwards (Ten O’Clock News presenter); Nick Robinson (political editor) and Evan Davis (presenter of the Today programme) still prepared to suffer good old fashioned PAYE.

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/topic/tax/ir35-and-celebrities-big-bucks-contracting/428140

It is hard to see on the face of it why a TV presenter would not be an employee based on:

  • Control
  • Personal Service/Subsititution
  • Mutuality of Obligation
  • Financial Risk

A BBC spokesman stated that the corporation provides HMRC with a detailed annual report of all payments made to PSC’s.

In response HMRC has now announced that it will increase its investigations into PSC’s. After admitting that HMRC had only enquired into 23 PSC’s, the department’s chief, Lin Homer, vowed to increase such investigations ‘ten-fold’ over the next year.

steve@bicknells.net

Did you hear about the case of the lap dancer and the night club? employment status 2

Miss Quashie, who has a daughter, began work as a stripper at Stringfellows in June 2007. She earned thousands of pounds to provide for her child.

But she was dismissed from the Central London nightspot in December 2008 following allegations of drug use, which were changed to an allegation of dealing after she took a test. She denied both allegations.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1319609/Face-lapdancer-used-womens-rights-campaigner-suing-sacking.html#ixzz20aX6oMIj

At Tribunal the the judge ruled she was an employee, but now the contract could be rendered illegal because of Miss Q’s dealings with HMRC.

Stringfellows argue that even if Miss Q was employed she acted illegally by representing to HMRC that she was self employed.

A key point in the case now is that ‘ any illegal act by a worker in the context of the job they do for you might invalidate the contract’ this could include misleading HMRC. [Indicator Tips&Advice Tax 28-06-12]

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/stringfellows-stripper-goes-back-tribunal/527059

Employment status is complicated area that seems to continue to become more complicated.

steve@bicknells.net

What are the differences between a Ltd Co and a Plc? 6

Well over 95% of limited companies in the UK are “private” – it is by far the most common form of limited company.

The main advantages of a being public limited company are:

  • Better access to capital – i.e. raising share capital from existing and new investors
  • Liquidity – shareholders are able to buy and sell their shares (if they are quoted on a stock exchange)
  • Value of shares – the value of the firm is shown by the market capitalisation (based on the share price)
  • The opportunity to more easily make acquisitions – e.g. by offering shares to the shareholders of the target firm
  • To give a company a more prestigious profile

As always there are some disadvantages to being a PLC (as opposed to remaining as a private company).  The main downsides are:

  • Once listed on a stock exchange, the company is likely to have a much larger number of external shareholders, to whom company directors will be accountable
  • Financial markets will govern the value of the company through the trading of the company’s shares, and will represent the market’s view of the company’s performance over time
  • Greater public scrutiny of the company’s financial performance and actions

These are the main differences in summary:

  1. You must use the description ‘PLC’
  2. A public company must have issued share capital to a nominal value of £50,000 of which 25% must be paid up.
  3. Only public companies can offer their shares to the public
  4. There are strict rules that shares must be issued for full value
  5. PLCs must file their accounts within 6 months from their year ends
  6. PLCs must have two directors
  7. PLCs must have a suitably qualified company secretary
  8. PLCs must hold AGMs when the accounts can be received
  9. PLCs cannot approve written resolutions unless authorised by the articles
  10. There are strict regulations on PLCs purchasing or providing financial assistance to purchase their own shares
  11. Traded PLCs cannot place restrictions on transfers of its shares. Otherwise such restrictions in the articles are permitted
  12. Election of directors at general meetings must be in separate resolutions
  13. PLCs cannot take advantage of the abbreviated accounts regime (but nor can larger Ltd Co’s)
  14. Listed PLCs can hold shares in treasury (with limits)
  15. Listed PLCs must have their remuneration report approved at the AGM
  16. PLC directors can only have authority to issue shares for five years
  17. A PLC articles cannot exclude pre-emption rights on the issue of new shares
  18. PLC financial results must use International Accounting Standards if listed but unlisted Plc’s can use UK GAAP
  19. Nominees of PLC shareholders where the PLC is listed on a regulated market can nominate information rights for the shareholders
  20. The articles of PLCs must have a specific authority to enable the board to authorise a transaction where the director has a conflict of interest

steve@bicknells.net