Archive for March, 2011

Tweet, Tweet, You’ve Been Defamed!

A recent case shows how dangerous it can be to think that because ‘tweets’ on the social networking site Twitter are short, they can’t do much harm.

 
In the case, a councillor from South Wales was sued for defamation because of a reckless tweet – he had wrongly alleged another councillor had been removed from a polling station by the Police.
 
The error cost him more than £50,000 in damages and legal costs...more than £350 per character of the tweet.
 
The case has obvious implications for social networkers and, potentially, businesses that do not have a robust internet use policy.

Trustees’ Tax Error Not Rectifiable – Court Says ‘Sue Advisers’

Trustees who ‘get it wrong’ have traditionally been able to go to the court to rectify a mistake they have made if they failed to take account of something which turned out to be significant. When this occurs, a beneficiary can go to court and ask for the transaction to be voided. Technically, this depends on the trustees having breached their duty of trust to the beneficiaries (through ignorance of the relevant issue).
 
Recently the Court of Appeal had to consider to applications brought where the trustees of trusts had made errors in carrying out transaction which led to avoidable tax liabilities. In these cases, professional advice had been sought by the trustees. The consequence of this was that the claims to make the transactions void were rejected.
 
The trustees had not breached their duty of care. They had acted on negligent advice.  
 
In the words of Lord Justice Lloyd, “Where matters of tax were relevant… it was likely to be part of the duties of the trustees, under their duty of skill and care, to take proper advice as to those matters. However, if the trustees, aware of the need to consider relevant matters, sought advice as to the position while considering what, if anything, to do under their discretionary powers, then …the trustees could not be said to be in breach of their duty if they proceeded to address the exercise of their discretionary power on the basis of the advice given to them as to, for example, tax consequences. Accordingly, in a case where the trustees’ act was within their powers, but was said to be vitiated by a breach of trust so as to be voidable, if the breach of trust asserted was that the trustees failed to have regard to a relevant matter, and if the reason that they did not have regard to it was that they had obtained and acted on advice from apparently competent advisers, which turned out to be incorrect, then the charge of breach of trust could not be made out.”
 
The only path open to the trustees now is to consider suing the tax advisers for negligence.
 
If you have received negligent tax or investment advice, we may be able to help you obtain redress.

Royal Wedding Boozy Weekend in Store

The House of Lords has approved regulations allowing pubs to stay open late on 29 and 30 April to mark the Royal wedding.

                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They will enjoy an extension until 1 am on the night of Friday 29/ Saturday 30 April and the night of Saturday 30 April/ Sunday 1 May.

Government Signals Reform to No Win, No Fee

The Government has announced it is to reform the ‘no win, no fee’ system, which allows claimants to pursue legal disputes and only pay legal fees if they win the case. Under the English legal system, the ‘loser pays’ principle applies, which means that the loser of the case pays their fees plus those of the winner.

 
Lawyers taking cases on a no win no fee basis charge a ‘success fee’ which broadly varies with the risks atta Stafford Courtched to the outcome of the litigation, but which typically runs from 10 to 100 per cent. In a recent libel case, a claim valued at £5,000 was accompanied by a bill for legal costs from the claimant of nearly 10 times that amount.
 
It is the potential cost to the loser when success fees are involved that was highlighted on Radio 4 this morning by Justice Minister Ken Clarke as a principal reason for the need to reform the system, which was only introduced in 1999 and which has been subject to much tinkering since. For example, a new system for dealing with small-value motor accident claims, involving fixed scales of legal fees, was introduced only last year. The intention behind no-win, no fee, was to widen the access to justice for those least able to pay legal fees.
 
Citing a ‘cost explosion’, particularly as regards claims against the NHS, Clarke claimed that in many cases the legal fees involved were many times the value of the claim.

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