Home Information Packs (HIPs) abolished

May 21, 2010

Bell & Buxton Solicitors SheffieldCommunities Secretary Eric Pickles and Housing Minister Grant Shapps yesterday announced that, with immediate effect, the Government is suspending the requirement for homeowners to provide a Home Information Pack (HIP) when selling their homes.

Their announcement sends a clear message of encouragement to people thinking of selling their home that they can put it on the market with less cost and hassle.

Suspending HIPs will reduce the cost of selling a home, remove a layer of regulation from the process and provide a welcome help to the housing market during the recovery. It will also mean a saving for consumers to the tune of £870m over ten years, giving sellers more money in their pocket to spend in the wider economy.

Bell & Buxton Solicitors have been providing HIPs for clients since 2007, when they were first introduced. They welcome the decision to abolish them, as will many of their clients. Matthew Rodgers, Partner and Head of Property at Bell & Buxton solicitors, comments “I am pleased that the Coalition Government has announced the immediate suspension of Home Information Packs and clients are already making similar comments.
The conveyancing process has not been significantly improved by the introduction of the Home Information Pack and their abolition may serve to increase the speed in which new properties come to the market.”

Eric Pickles said: “This swift and decisive action will send a strong message to the fragile housing market and prevent uncertainty for both home sellers and buyers.”

For further information or if you are considering putting your house on the market please contact Nick Tudor (direct dial 0114 220 2176) email: n.tudor@bellbuxton.co.uk or John Green (direct dial 0114 220 2188) email: j.green@bellbuxton.co.uk in our Conveyancing Department at Bell & Buxton Solicitors 0114 2495969


Planning expert takes up permanent residence in Sheffield

April 27, 2010

Michael Pocock - DLA PiperDLA Piper has further strengthened its real estate offering with the appointment of planning lawyer Michael Pocock to its Sheffield office.

Michael, who has been working between the Manchester and Sheffield offices of the local law firm for the last two years is now permanently based in Sheffield in response to a continuing demand for specialist planning advice to service the firm’s Sheffield clients, which include Sheffield City Council, Lafarge, Corus UK Limited, National Express Group and J F Finnegan Limited.

Working for both public and private sector clients on issues including; complex planning applications and appeals, compulsory purchase orders, highways issues and judicial reviews, Michael has developed a strong reputation in the region, advising on high profile regeneration schemes including the planning agreements for the £300 million redevelopment at Chesterfield Waterside.

Michael believes his permanent appointment to the Sheffield office reflects demand in the city for high quality planning advice from a locally based specialist. He comments; “I have been working with the real estate team in Sheffield for a number of years now, so have seen a variety of trends in the local economy and understand the dynamics of the real estate market.

“Despite the economic downturn there has been an increased demand for planning advice over the last six months in particular, which suggests that developers are now focussing on progressing schemes that were previously shelved due to lack of funding, or focussing on new projects entirely.

“The challenge for developers now, is that despite the recession the Government has continued to make changes to the planning system which means that aspects of the planning regime will be unfamiliar to those reentering the market. For instance, as recently as two weeks ago the Government introduced the Community Infrastructure Regulations 2010, which permit local authorities to introduce a new community infrastructure levy on developments. Whilst indications are that there is unlikely to be a high take up of the new levy by local authorities – at least in the foreseeable future – its implications will still need to be fully understood and taken into account in contract negotiations.

Now more so than ever good quality planning expertise at the beginning of any project can make the difference to the final viability and success of development schemes. I am looking forward to working with the firm’s clients to overcome the challenges that a constantly changing planning regime brings.”

For further information, contact DLA Piper on 08700 111111 or visit www.dlapiper.com  

Companies at risk of £500,000 bill for failing to protect data

April 13, 2010

DLA PiperA new law introduced last week will see companies fined up to £500,000 if they fail to protect the information they hold about individuals including their customers and employees.

After a series of high profile incidents of personal information being lost or exploited, including a recent allegation that T Mobile sold its client database to a competitor, the body charged with protecting personal data – the Information Commission (ICO) – has taken steps to strengthen its powers to enforce the Data Protection Act with new sanctions that will allow fines, or even jail terms, to be imposed on those who knowingly break the rules.

Cameron Craig, partner at the Sheffield office of DLA Piper, who specialises in advising companies on data protection, explains: “Although the Data Protection Act has been cited in various arguments about lost laptops and missing CDs of data for many years, it has actually been very difficult to enforce penalties on those who knowingly flout the rules.

“These new sanctions are essentially about the Information Commission giving their rules some teeth and once they are in place, it’s likely the ICO will be much more stringent in applying them at all levels. Worryingly, however, a large number of companies still seem unaware of the regulations, and their responsibilities under them. Although it will only be the most serious and flagrant breaches of the Data Protection Act that will result in half million pound fines or jail terms, the new rules could show up major holes in companies strategies for protecting data and thus put them at risk.”

According to Cameron, the main areas Yorkshire companies should be considering is what data is collected, how and where the data is used and stored, and who has access to it. Inadequate policies, procedures and security systems and a failure to ensure staff are aware of their responsibilities if they have access to personal data could lead to action from the ICO.

He adds; “Information is key to companies, of all sizes, but many seem to be unaware of the requirements of the regulations”.

“I come across many companies that have unwittingly failed to comply with the Data Protection Act simply because they didn’t consider the basic protection and controls that need to be applied to records of personal information.

Companies are often unaware of the basic data security requirements such as the need to control access to the information, and to ensure that laptops containing sensitive personal information are properly encrypted if staff are allowed to take them out and about.

“Implementing proper policies and security systems may seem too costly to consider in the current market, but these new rules mean the cost of non-compliance could be much greater.”

For further information, contact DLA Piper on 08700 111111 or visit www.dlapiper.com 

The tragic consequences of dangerous driving

March 11, 2010

Earlier this year, the parents of Megan and Sophie Hennessey listened to the four year jail sentence handed down by Sheffield Combined Court on the man whose dangerous driving killed one of their two daughters leaving the other fighting for her life.

Andrew and Amanda Hennessey of Owston Ferry near Doncaster said that although nothing can compensate them for the loss of Megan, they were relieved that Nathan Hennessey had been brought to task for “his callous disregard of human life and the devastation he has wreaked upon us.”

Nathan Hennessey, now 19, knocked down Megan and Sophie on the afternoon of 27 November 2008 as he drove dangerously and at speed along King Edward Road in Thorne.

Both Megan, 12, and Sophie who was 16 at the time were crossing the road on their way home from Trinity Academy School when Nathan Hennessey, who had been recklessly ‘leapfrogging’ traffic in his Peugeot 306 immediately before the accident, collided with them. Megan died at the scene from severe head and internal injuries while Sophie was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital with severe head injuries.

The sense of tragedy surrounding the incident has only been heightened by the fact that Nathan Hennessey, who has never declared any remorse for his actions, was a cousin of the two girls. As a result the Hennessey family has, in the words of Andrew Hennessey, “been ripped apart.”

“Our two precious girls were the heart and soul of our family,” added Andrew. “It was important from our point of view to make sure that justice was done on their behalves.

“Nothing can ever replace Megan but perhaps now we are finally free to try and rebuild our lives. We owe that not just to Megan but also Sophie who has been so courageous throughout all of this and continues to struggle with the physical and mental effects of what happened that dreadful day.”

Nathan Hennessey had already admitted causing death by dangerous driving at a previous hearing at Doncaster Crown Court on 7 December 2009.

The sentencing was welcomed by Ashton Morton Slack, the Sheffield legal firm which has helped guide Andrew and Amanda Hennessey through the fall-out from the incident while co-ordinating a separate civil case to secure damages on Sophie Hennessey’s behalf.

Besides successfully obtaining interim payments from Nathan Hennessey’s insurers to cope with the effects of her injuries, Ashton Morton Slack has also provided a rehabilitation team to support Sophie and her family both at home and school.

“Sophie was just 16 when she was seriously injured which is a critical time in anyone’s life, and as a result her development as a person has been affected,” says Ashton Morton Slack consultant Lesley Graves, a solicitor with over 15 years experience dealing with catastrophic injury legal work.

“Our job is to look at what we can do to improve Sophie’s quality of life, together with that of her immediate family, compiling all the requisite medical evidence to make sure her needs are met.

“A civil case of this nature is a lengthy process as it will take many years to assess the long term effects of Sophie’s injuries, negotiating hard with the defendant’s insurance company to ensure we get the very best rehabilitation and compensation for her. We will continue to fight on Sophie’s behalf for as long as it takes.”

Andrew and Amanda Hennessey, father and mother of Megan and Sophie Hennessey issued the following statement:

It is hard to put into words how traumatic the past 13 months have been for the two of us, not to mention our precious and courageous daughter, Sophie.  As parents we lived for our two wonderful girls. They were the heart and soul of an extremely happy and loving family. We will never fully come to terms with what happened on 27 November 2008, the day Megan was so cruelly taken from us and Sophie’s life changed forever. The fact that Nathan Hennessey has shown absolutely no remorse whatsoever for what he did, continuing with his life in the months afterwards as though nothing had happened, only adds to our pain. 

All we can do now is remember Megan the way she was and strive to make sure Sophie receives the best possible care and attention for the injuries she received that day. We must also find the inner strength and courage to represent Megan and Sophie during and after the trial, as we hope to get some kind of justice on behalf of our beautiful girls.


Ashton Morton Slack is committed to achieving the very best results for its clients by keeping proceedings as clear and simple as possible. The firm prides itself on its personal approach to client care and is motivated by the desire to deliver the very highest standards of legal work through its team of legal experts.

Ashton Morton Slack Solicitors Sheffield

Tel: 0114 275 2888

Sheffield solicitors Bell and Buxton raise £4,000 for WillAid charity

March 5, 2010
Charles Neal Wills & Probate Solicitor at Bell & Buxton Solicitors Sheffield

Charles Neal, Wills & Probate Solicitor, Bell & Buxton, Sheffield

Bell & Buxton Solicitors participation in the Will Aid Campaign last November has raised an incredible £4,000+ for the Charity.  With the addition of Gift Aid the overall donation is likely to be over £5,000.  “Not only are we pleased to have raised such a fantastic amount for charity but we are also pleased to have provided well over 100 Wills to people most of whom had no Will at all in place before the campaign.  The feedback we have received has generally been very positive which is a testament to our professionalism and efficiency” says Charles Neal, a Solicitor at the firm specialising in Wills & Probate.

The Will Aid Campaign is founded on the principal that everyone should have a Will.  Without a Will when somebody dies their estate is distributed according to the rules set down in legislation.  People often think that they are OK because everything will go to their “next of kin”.  However, this is not always entirely true and even when this would be the case the rules could be changed by the government at any time.  The only way to be certain that you influence what happens to your property when you die is to make a Will.  By engaging a solicitor to advise you and to prepare a draft Will you can be sure that you have considered all the possible consequences of leaving your estate in a particular way and you can be sure that the Will properly and effectively reflects your wishes.  You can contact Charles Neal on 0114 2495969 or email c.neal@bellbuxton.co.uk.

High Court success for Bell and Buxton Solicitors Contentious Probate Team

February 24, 2010


Mary Butler, Senior Partner at Bell & Buxton Solicitors

Mary Butler, Senior Partner at Bell & Buxton

Bell & Buxton Solicitors reputation as leading experts in the field of Trust and Probate litigation (also known as Contentious Probate) was further enhanced after Mary Butler and Alex Watkinson successfully represented three individuals on an application heard before the High Court in London to remove their clients as Executors of an Estate valued at approximately £3,000,000.00.

Mr Justice Newey delivered the judgment on Friday 12th February 2010 following a substantial amount of coverage of the case in the Sheffield press.

The opponent was also ordered to pay the legal costs of Bell & Buxton’s clients.

The following articles were published about the case in The Sheffield Star

Sheffield family’s dispute over mum’s estate
Published Date: 11 February 2010 

A WEALTHY Sheffield family are at war at London’s High Court over the valuation of their mother’s estate.

Lawyers for John Kershaw claim his sisters, Julia Micklethwaite and Jennifer Barlow, have significantly underestimated how much Adrienne Kershaw was worth when she died.

Barrister Andrew Child, for Mr Kershaw, told Mr Justice Newey that how Mr Kershaw gets depends on the probate value of the estate – and a lower valuation benefits his sisters.

The net probate value of Mrs Shaw’s estate has been put at £2.9m, but Mr Kershaw insists it is much higher.

He claims his mother’s farm, High Greave, in Dore, Sheffield, could go under the hammer for as much as £3m, while he says a block of flats is also worth up to £3m.

Mrs Kershaw, who was married to solicitor Frank Kershaw, the founder of law firm Kershaw Tudor, also owned a string of other properties and land, including some in Birchover, Derbyshire. She died on July 22, 2008.

Mr Kershaw, who lives in France, wants his sisters, as well as his mother’s accountant, removed as executors of the estate, and says they should be replaced by an independent professional.

Under Mrs Kershaw’s will, Mr Kershaw will receive two fifths of her fortune in cash, while former magistrate Mrs Barlow will get one fifth and Mrs Micklethwaite will get two fifths – both in property.

That, explained Mr Child, was why the valuation of the estate is so crucial.

He argued there was a “conflict of interest” in having Mrs Micklethwaite, of Whitelow Farm, Whitelow Lane, Dore, and Mrs Barlow, of Old Hay Lane, Dore, stay as executors.

Neither had acted in a way that “inspired confidence”, said Mr Child, while Mr Kershaw had been “painted” as a “troublemaker” in the hope his concerns would be “given little credence by the court”.

But Francis Barlow QC, for Mrs Micklethwaite and Mrs Barlow, insists their removal as executors would be “detrimental” to the administration of the estate.

Mr Justice Newey has now reserved his decision in the case and will give his ruling at an unspecified date.personal campaign against Mrs Micklethwaite”.

Son fails in court bid to alter mum’s will
Published Date: 16 February 2010
A WEALTHY Sheffield woman contemplated cutting her son out of her multi-million pound estate because of a family rift, London’s High Court heard.
The revelations came as judge Mr Justice Newey refused John Kershaw’s bid to have his sisters, Julia Micklethwaite and Jennifer Barlow, removed as executors of their mother’s estate.

Adrienne Kershaw’s estate has been valued for probate at £2.9m, but her son insists the true value is more like double that. How much he gets depends on the probate value – and a lower valuation will benefit his sisters.

The day before she made her will Mrs Kershaw – who was married to solicitor Frank Kershaw – told a lawyer she felt “a bit cruel” not naming her son as an executor, but added: “I know jolly well he would rule the roost, and that’s not right.”

Mr Kershaw argued his mother’s farm – High Greave, in Dore – could go under the hammer for as much as £3m, and said a block of flats is worth the same.

They have been valued for less, and Mr Justice Newey said there was no reason to find fault with the lower valuations as they were made by professionals.

Mr Kershaw, who lives in France, wanted his sisters as well as his late mother’s accountant removed as executors, and replaced by a neutral party.

Under Mrs Kershaw’s will, he will receive two fifths of her fortune in cash, while former magistrate Mrs Barlow, of Old Hay Lane, Dore, will get one fifth and Mrs Micklethwaite, of Whitelow Farm, Whitelow Lane, Dore, will get two fifths, both in property.

But Mr Justice Newey concluded: “I have not been persuaded there is good reason for anyone to be removed as executor. The matters on which Mr Kershaw relies don’t provide any real basis to suppose the estate will not be administered properly.”

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Bell and Buxton Solicitors Sheffield Tel: 0114 2495969

Appointing Guardians for Children

December 17, 2009

Bell & Buxton, sheffield, solicitors, children law, familyOne of the most important things you must consider when becoming a parent is who might take care of your child or children, in the event of you or another parent being unable to. Whether a surviving parent is automatically responsible for a child on the death of the other parent depends on whether or not that surviving parent has parental responsibility under the Children Act 1989. As a basic rule a mother automatically has parental responsibility. If parents are married to each other both will have parental responsibility and this will continue even if those parents divorce. An unmarried father doesn’t automatically have parental responsibility but since 1 December 2003 providing a father’s name is on the child’s Birth Certificate and he is present when the Birth is registered, he will have parental responsibility. If nobody is left with parental responsibility, the question arises as to who will look after any minor children? It is possible to appoint Guardians under a Will whilst children are under the age of 18. If a person is to be appointed as Guardian it would be necessary to approach them first as clearly it is a very important role. A child’s Guardian has parental responsibility for the child throughout the duration of the appointment, that is in most cases until the child reaches 18. Again, this will only take effect if there is no one else surviving with parental responsibility.

When making a Will it is also important to consider how your children will be provided for as any capital cannot go to the children until they are 18. There would necessarily have to be a Trust with Trustees appointed. A Guardian can be a Trustee but careful consideration must be given to this. There is clearly a need for specialist advice in relation to who has parental responsibility and the careful drafting of a Will.

At Bell & Buxton we can assist with both of these matters. If you have questions regarding parental responsibility or indeed making a Will you can either contact us on 0114 249 5969 or attend one of our fortnightly free legal advice clinics at Beighton where we will be happy to discuss such issues with you.

THE CHILDS RIGHTS? Karl Beckett of Sheffield Solicitors Bell & Buxton asks the question

December 1, 2009

Bell & Buxton, Sheffield, Solicitors, Childrens RightsSeparating couples, whether married or unmarried, more often than not have a tough time sorting out difficult emotional issues and also the “business” side of a relationship such as dealing with a jointly owned home. Even more complex is a situation where children are involved.

As adults it is (or should be) relatively more straightforward to rationalise the reasons for a relationship breakdown. It is not so easy for children of course who are, by definition, ill equipped to deal with complex emotional issues involved when a family unit is disrupted. In such a situation, decisions must be taken regarding where a child will live and contact arrangements for the other parent.

As family lawyers, experience dictates this is not by any means straight forward, and we are often approached about issues regarding where children should live and contact. In each case we advise the starting point as a basic right to children to see and know both parents. Where these arrangements cannot be agreed, there are several options that we explore to try and reach a peaceful resolution. At Bell & Buxton we have many years experience of dealing with such issues, and would be happy to discuss these or any related matters on an initial free half hour basis, or at our twice weekly free legal clinic in the Beighton area.

For further information please contact Karl Beckett on 0114 220 2181 or email: karlb@bellbuxton.co.uk or visit our website www.bellbuxton.co.uk