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Summerfield Browne Solicitors
Competitive Rates & Fixed Fees
Competitive Rates & Fixed Fees


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Can adult children bring a litigation claim against you - Read our latest blog
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Read our latest article about Misrepresentation and Breach of Contract published on the Law Plain and Simple website
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There is an adage that “an Englishman’s home is his castle”. Boundary disputes between neighbours can often become highly charged as they involve perceived violations of personal space. At Summerfield Browne Solicitors, we have the experience to deal with the most troublesome of neighbours and have years of experience in advising clients on their rights as property owners (be that as freehold or leasehold property owners).

Boundary disputes between neighbours can arise because a physical boundary (a fence or hedge) does not match the boundary that is officially recorded at the Land Registry and can also arise when a property is bought or sold as the new owner may not understand where a boundary lies.

The first port of call in determining where a boundary lies will be in the Title Deeds. We frequently contact the Land Registry on behalf of clients to retrieve the deeds that show where the location of a disputed boundary. The Title Deeds will usually also include a plan that will allow the person reviewing the deeds to understand what land is being conveyed to the purchaser.

A common dispute that we have advised upon is where the Property being transferred includes a right of way over another person’s land. The other property may be a garden or a driveway (for example to enable vehicular access). If the right of way is blocked or your land is not accessible due to a neighbour blocking your right and you cannot resolve the matter amicably you may wish to consider seeking legal advice.

We find that clients prefer to have written advice on their Property rights “in black and white” but face-to-face consultations can also be arranged at any one of our offices (by appointment only).

We frequently advise clients on alternative dispute resolution which can save time, money and stress.
If court proceedings are necessary we will advise on the potential costs. A common remedy that is sought in relation to boundary disputes is an injunction to prevent the party in breach from performing a certain action (for example preventing trespass).

Going to court can be a daunting experience and as well as preparing the necessary application Summerfield Browne Solicitors can arrange for you to be legal represented at the hearing. Representation at the hearing can often be arranged on a fixed fee which can help minimise legal costs.

If you require assistance in relation to any of the above matters please do not hesitate to call our office on 01858414284. Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford and Market Harborough, Leicester
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Should every Company have a Corporate Shareholder’s Agreement?

A shareholder’s agreement is a legally binding agreement between the shareholders of a company, the company itself can also be a party to the shareholder’s agreement if it so chooses. The shareholder’s agreement can govern the way in which the company is run, specifically it can contain key provisions about how the shareholders will vote on various matters and any rights of veto.

Some companies misguidedly believe that their company articles govern all necessary aspects in terms of corporate governance and that they do not require a shareholder’s agreement, however ordinarily, the company articles will operate concurrently with the shareholder’s agreement. A shareholder’s agreement can be of great benefit to those small companies who have more than one shareholder and can act as a vital piece of governance which can be relied upon. The agreement itself can contain key provisions, including;

- Defining different classes of shares.
- Drag along & tag along rights.
- Pre-emption rights.
- Allocation of shares

There are many advantages of shareholder’s agreements, one being that they are not open to inspection by the general public, unlike the company’s articles, which are easily accessible from Companies House. Another advantage of a shareholder’s agreement is that in the scenario that the company only has one class of share, all shareholders are treated alike, which can be problematic, and the shareholder’s agreement provides scope to define and include different classes of share.

Under the Companies Act 2006, shareholders have a legal right to remove a director from office, a shareholder’s agreement can be drafted to include a provision which restricts the removal of directors and can provide a certain amount of protection for a founding director. Another advantage of a shareholder’s agreement is that it can include a right to veto for a named shareholder in certain defined scenarios. The shareholder’s agreement will also define the quorum for meetings, and can contain clauses regarding compulsory transfers of a shareholder’s shares in certain scenarios, such as death or bankruptcy.
Shareholders agreements are highly advisable for those wanting to protect their own shareholding in relation to possible dilution of shares. Dilution can occur in relation to an existing shareholding, when new shares are issued in a company and the same amount of shares are not issued to that existing shareholding, thus diluting it.

Dependent on the terms of the shareholder’s agreement, a shareholder may utilise a shareholder’s agreement to allow them to withdraw from the company and to realise their capital.

There does however exist limitations with what can be included in a shareholder’s agreement and they do not always overrule the company’s articles. Firstly, the shareholder’s agreement cannot overrule the statutory power to alter the company’s articles by special resolution. Secondly, the directors of a company have a fiduciary duty to the company, and a shareholder’s agreement cannot lawfully permit the directors to breach said fiduciary duty.

A shareholder’s agreement is a legal contract and can be enforced similar to any other legal contract, breach of a shareholder’s agreement can also be enforced by a legal injunction.

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LIABLE FOR LIBEL - Implications of Twitter and Facebook posts in claims of defamation

The internet provides a platform for individuals to express opinions and although the expression ‘free speech’ is thrown around, it does not permit libellous comments to be posted on the internet, a fact which is all too often forgotten for some when sat behind a screen. The term slander is commonly used in today’s society; however, the legality of the term is seldom understood by the public. Defamation covers both the offences of libel and slander. Libel is any written or published defamatory statement, whereas slander is the spoken defamatory words or gestures of an individual. Any legal entity can be subject to defamation, this includes companies, individuals and partnerships.

In a High Court ruling on the 10th March this year, a Claimant was successful in their claim against Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins. The result of said claim was damages to the amount of £24,000. The case itself appeared centred on a case of mistaken identity with serious implications. After a memorial dedicated to the women of WWII was vandalised, the Daily Mail columnist sent a tweet to the Claimant in which it suggested that the Claimant was responsible for the vandalism. The Claimant quickly denied the accusation and sought regress through the Court. The amount of damages awarded in this case could be seen as unsatisfactory to some, given that the Claimant in question is a public figure and their reputation being arguably more significant than others. The damages in this case were calculated by Mr Justice Warby who stated that they were fair and reasonable.

A public figure at the centre of a defamation case will undoubtedly attract an increased amount of press coverage and with the press so to an increased pressure is placed on the judiciary to award a satisfactory compensatory award. Ironically, in the Claimant originally made an offer to settle for £5,000 via twitter. If the Defendant had accepted the Claimant’s first offer, then this could have spared both time and costs for the Defendant.
This is not the first time in which the Daily Mail columnist has been at the forefront of press headlines regarding defamatory remarks. In December 2016, the Daily Mail agreed to pay £150,000 in damages to Claimants who were the subject of a column written by the controversial journalist for the Daily Mail for libellous comments.

The above cases highlight the significance of defamatory comments and the implications that they can have. To bring a successful claim for defamation the Claimant must prove that;

The defamatory comment has been published to more than one person;
The Claimant is easily identifiable in the defamatory comment;
The defamation has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the Claimant’s reputation.

The Defamation Act 2013 is the governing piece of legislation on this offence and provides an absolute defence to the offence. The defences are;

Honest Opinion;
Publication on a matter of public interest;
Operators of a website;
Peer-reviewed statement in scientific or academic journal etc;
Reports etc. protected by privilege.

The first three are the most commonly relied upon in cases of libel on the internet. Claims for defamation should be taken seriously as the damages awarded can be costly. Any claim for defamation will be heavily reliant upon the evidence which can be adduced by the Claimant.

The majority of society now have the capability to be an author, editor and publisher through their social media with an unlimited audience and the law has to adapt to this. The law although often criticised for being slow-moving appears to have sufficed on this particular issue and has adapted to defamation on online platforms in this particular case.

Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Northampton, Oxford and Market Harborough, Leicester.
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Confused about Default Judgments? This article should add some clarity.

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) are the backbone of the civil litigation process, restrictive to some and advantageous to others. They were introduced in 1998 and govern the entire civil litigation procedure from start to finish. Used in the Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice and the County Courts, they are incorporated in every civil litigation claim.

If you have commenced a civil litigation dispute, and are in anticipation of the trial, then part 12 of the CPR may be of use. Part 12 establishes the default judgement rule, which may allow an individual to bypass a trial scenario entirely.

To succeed on an application for a default judgement the court must be satisfied that the following conditions have been attained:

the particulars of claim have been served.
no acknowledgement of service or defence has been filed, and the time for doing so has expired. It should be noted that a defendant will not be able to oppose an application for default of judgement during the litigation procedure, by serving an acknowledgement of services after the specified time period.
the defendant has filed an acknowledgement of service, but has not filed a defence and 28 days has expired since service of the particulars of claim.
There are certain exemptions as to when a default judgement cannot be applied for, which are detailed Part 12(2) and these include:

When the claim relates to delivery of goods subject to an agreement regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
Where an individual uses the procedure set out in Part 8 (alternative procedure for claims); or in any other case where a practice direction provides that the claimant may not obtain default judgment.
The part 12 rule is useful, although the fact remains that it is reliant on the defendant having received the particulars of claim. If the defendant is not in receipt of these documents during the litigation process, then this would be a genuine reason for not filing an acknowledgement of service, or a defence, and could be used as a ground to oppose an application for default judgement. The law on service of court documents is rigid, and states that if the court sends the defendant a claim form at his usual or last known address, and it is subsequently returned to the court as un-delivered, then it will be held that the claim form has still been validly served, and the claimant is entitled to a regular default judgment.

An application for default judgement in a civil litigation claim is considered by the judge, who has a somewhat wide discretion in determining whether the application is successful, and if it is the remedies available to the claimant. The judge can either enter a judgement for money, or a judgement based upon the specific facts and nature of the case. Both these judgements would differ in regards to the time frame of their effect. For example, a judgment for something other than money is effective immediately. Whereas, if the litigation judgement is for money then there exists variants within the category. Under CPR 12.5(2), if the amount claimed is a specified sum then this will be payable immediately. However, if it is for an unspecified sum, and a default judgement is entered without a hearing, then the sum to be paid will normally be determined at a later date usually at a disposal hearing.

If a default judgement is granted then the defendant has no right to appeal and it can be enforced through the usual means.

Summerfield Browne Solicitors have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Northampton and Market Harborough, Leicester.

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