Thursday 10 December 2015

Inheritance Tax: the basics

When you pass away, your estate may be required to pay Inheritance Tax. This is a tax on the money, possessions and other property you own when you die and also other assets including certain gifts made during your lifetime.

Garden House Solicitors, Solicitors specialising in trusts and estatesEveryone has an allowance that they can leave tax free. This is known as the ‘Nil Rate Band’ which is currently fixed at three hundred and twenty five thousand pounds (£325, 000).

Generally speaking, if your net estate is worth less than £325,000 at the time of your death, usually no tax will be payable. If your net estate is worth more than £325,000 at the time of your death then normally tax is paid on the surplus at the rate of 40%.

This is subject to various exemptions and reliefs. For example if you have a spouse or civil partner, inheritance tax would not be paid on anything they inherit from your estate. Your spouse or civil partner could then use the percentage of any remaining allowance from your estate that may not have been used when they pass away. In simple terms, this generally means that if you are a married couple or in a civil partnership with a combined estate worth less than £650,000 and you leave everything to each other on the first death, Inheritance Tax will not be an issue.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Have you had an accident because of high winds?

Storm Barney unleashes hell on Britain with 80mph gusts and crippling floods.  Strong winds can cause damage to buildings, trees and roads which can increase the chance of accidents occurring resulting in injury to individuals.

Trees are frequently blown down during high winds, they often fall onto the highway or the pavement. Large trees falling on cars and/or pedestrians cause injuries and they are often life threatening.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Contract for live music event

Music contract solicitors in HertfordCalling all musicians, agents, bar, club and music venue owners! 

With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate! If you work in the music industry or if you are interested in hiring a live music performer to perform at your venue, it can be a very busy time of year and a fantastic opportunity to bring in members of the local community, new customers and new fans! But how do you know that you are getting what you are bargained for?

Lucy Walpole of Garden House Solicitors in Hertford
Article by Lucy Walpole
If you are interested in holding a live music event, or if you are a musician interested in doing some extra performances this festive season, you will want to ensure that the event runs as smoothly as possible and the fans and customers get the event that they are looking for. To make this happen it is important to have in place a legally binding agreement which can protect any and all interests most important for a successful event and to establish a future business relationship between the parties. 

So what happens if something does go wrong? In the absence of a legally binding agreement it can often be very difficult to prove the existence of a legal relationship and duty based on an informal agreement or email correspondence. By entering into a formal agreement, it protects your position and means that you may be able to bring a claim against the other party for any losses suffered as a result of any ancillary or fundamental breach. 

Garden House Solicitors specialising in music contracts HertfordshireFrom 12 November 2015 – 11 December 2015, Garden House Solicitors are offering to draft a live music performance contract for the reduced fixed fee of £300.00 plus VAT. This agreement can cover basic information such as the time, date and venue of the performance, payment terms, fee, even any special requests made by either party. This will make it undeniable by either party as to what their duties and responsibilities are and it ensures that all interests most important to the parties are protected.

So don’t miss any opportunity this festive season and make sure that you are prepared for some amazing music events to top off 2015! To arrange an appointment telephone me on 01992 422128 or email 

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Garden House Solicitors in Hertfordshire

Tel: 01992 422 128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Consumer Rights Act 2015 explained

The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015 and it applies to purchases for physical and digital products and services made by consumers from that date on.

With regards to any physical items that you have bought, the goods must be of: 
  1. Satisfactory quality
  2. Fit for purpose
  3. Match their description at the time of purchase.
If you have purchased something that is faulty or does not fit the criteria then you can make a claim against the retailer under the Consumer Rights Act. The outcome of your claim will depend on the item that you have purchased and how much time has passed since you made the purchase.

You can reject goods and get a full refund if they are not delivered within a period of 30 days, unless you had pre-agreed to a specific delivery time.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Fundraising Event for Syrian refugees 11 October 2015

Garden House Solicitors, in conjunction with Jungle Bar Hertford, are hosting a fundraising event on Sunday 11th October 2015 from 3pm to raise vital funds for AcornCamps. The Acorn volunteers are helping the refugees fleeing the civil war.

Garden House Solicitors of Hertford
Article by Julie Retallick
We are charging £10 per person for entry to the Jungle Bar which includes a welcome drink.  Tickets for children are £5 each which includes a photo with an exotic animal. Children are welcome until 7pm.  We are also providing an afternoon of reggae music and entertainment. For an extra £5 per head, we will be serving a Caribbean curried goat and rice dish with a Jamaican Patty and an equally delicious vegetarian option.
There is a live auction of Promises starting at 5pm and the lots you can bid on are as follows:

Friday 2 October 2015

How old do you have to be to make a will?

Since 1 January 1970 it has been possible for anyone aged 18 or over to make a Will.

Before that date, a Will made by someone younger than 21 years of age was not valid, unless it was a 'privileged Will' - i.e. one made by a soldier in actual military service or mariners or seamen at sea.
Solicitor specialising in wills, Hertofrd
Article by
Sharon Brown

However, many people do not make a Will until later in life.  In the event that they died without a Will their estate would be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.

It is becoming increasingly common for family members to explain the importance of having a Will to younger generations, especially if they are intending to leave them money in their own Wills!

Two of the most common triggers for younger people to make wills is when they buy their first home or when they have their first child. For many people their home is their largest asset, and it is important to specify who that should be passed on to. Once a child is born people often want to ensure that in the event of their death the 'correct' person would be able to step in as guardian. Not everyone wants their parents to take on the role, or more commonly, they do not want their in-laws to take on the role! 

If you or someone you know need to discuss a Will please call me on 01992 422128 or email 

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Solicitor specialising in Wills, Hertford

Tel: 01992 422 128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Bombarded with nuisance telephone calls?

Everyone at one time or another has experienced the frustration of cold calling. The majority of people will experience this and in the event that it is a one off, or from various different companies, this may be easily ignored. So what is the position where you experience relentless calls which can be considered to be aggressive in nature? The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 states that a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment. So what is harassment? Harassment is deliberate conduct directly against another person or other people which attains a certain level of severity or if it is of such gravity to justify the sanctions of criminal law.

Dispute Resolution Solicitors of Hertford
Article by Lucy Walpole
These cases are not uncommon and the courts have recognised in Majrowski v Guy’s and Thomas’s NHS Trust [2006] that a case for harassment, the boundary between ‘conduct which is unattractive, even unreasonable, and conduct which is oppressive and unacceptable’ needs to be recognised. The important point to consider with any civil claim is whether the court is likely to take the view that the level of contact was reasonable in the circumstances. Take for instance a client of a bank who owes money. The judgment in the key case of Roberts v Bank of Scotland PLC [2013] provided that the bank was entitled to contact their client to ‘seek a mutually acceptable resolution of the problem’ but that the mere existence of a debt ‘does not give the creditor the right to bombard the debtor with endless and repeated telephone calls’. In this case, Ms Roberts was awarded a sum of £7,500.00 in damages for the harassment caused as a result of repeated phone calls. 

Thursday 17 September 2015

Refugee Crisis

It has been impossible to miss seeing the harrowing photographs in the News of Syrian refugees, many of whom have died fleeing into neighbouring countries. The most harrowing image for me was that of the three year old Aylan Kurdi’s body, which was washed up on a beach in Turkey. That image urged me to do something to help these people.

Garden House Solicitors of Hertfordshire
Article by Patricia Ling
I have found that people do not know how to help and I was not sure what to do for the best myself, so I contacted a local friend, Charles Ledsam, who was able to put me in touch with Acorn Camps in Hungary. Acorn Hungary Trust (known as AcornCamps) was founded in 2001 and is based at Bicske, not far from Budapest. It is now led by Anglican priest Andy Oatridge and his wife Zsofi. They moved to Hungary in Summer 2013 with their three young children.
The Trust’s original aim was to provide summer camps with Hungarian churches for teenagers in Hungary. However, in the last few weeks things have taken a rather different turn.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Remember a charity in your will week, 7 – 13 September 2015

Garden House Solicitors of HertfordshireChris and I were very pleased to support this year’s ‘Remember a charity in your will week’. The week aimed to increase awareness of the importance of charitable legacies, and encouraged more people to think about including a good cause in their Will.

Many of our clients like to include a gift to charity once they have looked after their loved ones. For some it is a chance to give back, perhaps to a medical charity who have supported them through their final years. For others, it is remembering a charity who helped look after a close relative during a difficult time, or simply a charity they believe to be a particularly good cause.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

No Win No Fee – What does that mean?

Looking for free legal representation in a personal injury claim? When it comes to litigation cases like personal injury, solicitors cannot act for free but they can act under agreements that are commonly known as No Win No Fee agreements.
Personal Injury Solicitors of Hertford

But what does No Win No Fee mean?  It means that we agree to take on your case and do not charge you for our time and expenses until you win your claim. When you do win we take the benefit of the general costs rule in litigation which is that the losing party pays the winner’s costs. We therefore submit our bill of costs that would otherwise be payable by our client, to the opposition party to pay.  The opposition party generally only have to pay our ‘reasonable costs’ which means that they will do their best to reduce our costs to what they consider to be reasonable. If we cannot reach an agreement on what costs are reasonably incurred then the matter is taken to court and before a judge to make that decision.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Personal injury – Why you should not feel bad about making a claim

Making a personal injury claim can be a daunting and confusing experience, especially if you have suffered a life-changing or otherwise serious injury.

If you are injured as a result of an accident that was somebody else’s fault, you will usually be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Inheritance Tax: Additional tax free allowance for homeowners from April 2017

It was announced in the Summer Budget last month that an additional nil-rate band will be available from April 2017.

Garden House Solicitors of Hertfordshire
The extra allowance will be exclusively available to estates where the deceased dies on or after 6 April 2017 and their residence is passed to one or more direct descendants. In other words, if your children, stepchildren or grandchildren inherit your home on your death, your estate will benefit from the additional allowance.

The additional allowance will be £100,000 in 2017/2018 and this amount will increase by £25,000 each tax year until 2020/21 when the additional allowance will be £175,000.

The current position is that when you pass away, the net value of your estate is calculated and everything over the value of the nil-rate band (currently £325,000) is taxed at the rate of 40%. This is subject to various exemptions and reliefs, for example anything left to a spouse or civil partner will pass tax free.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Accident on holiday

More than half of the people in the UK are expected to travel abroad this year and figures show that package holidays are often a first choice for friends and family alike when considering value for money and the types of activities, excursions and facilities available.
Personal Injury Solicitors of Hertford

Whether your holiday is a family holiday, for relaxation or sporting activities, suffering an illness or an injury while abroad will often result in the long awaited holiday being brought to a grinding halt. Accidents abroad can often be difficult as the law relating to personal injury differs from country to country but if the holiday is booked as a package holiday, that is to say to include a combination of either flights, accommodation, transport and transfers and other tourist services, then there is a level of protection implied which may entitle you to bring a claim for personal injury and/or death. This protection encompasses a number of different circumstances, albeit whether the accident occurs on the aeroplane, in the hotel, on an excursion, or even food poisoning, whereby you may be entitled to bring a claim.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

How do we value a claim for personal injury?

Despite the best medical developments it is highly unlikely that a sum of money can put one back to their pre-accident state, free of injuries. So how do we decide what you should accept in compensation for the injury that you have suffered?

Garden House Solicitors in Hertfordshire
Article by Nidhi Chopra
The law provides for compensation to an injured claimant for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity that has been caused as a result of the accident. How do we know what pain suffering and loss of amenity that has been caused to the Claimant following an accident? We do this by obtaining independent reports that are accepted by the Court from appropriate medical expert witnesses. The experts provide their opinions as to what the Claimant has suffered as a result of the incident, what further treatment they could need to get them in a better state and what their long term prognosis is likely to be.

What are the implications of leaving somebody out of your will?

Garden House Solicitors of Hertfordshire
Article by Chris Lucas
In England and Wales, we enjoy the right of testamentary freedom, which is the right to make a will and leave your estate to whomever you wish. 

There is however an important law to consider before you decide to write somebody out of your will. This is the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 which will apply if you die domiciled in England and Wales. This law will enable certain categories of people to bring a claim against your estate if you do not ‘reasonably provide’ for them in your will. 

A recent ruling hit the headlines just this week, whereby a woman who was cut out of her mother’s will successfully claimed £164,000 from the estate, despite the fact that the will left the whole estate worth £486,000 to animal charities and the deceased had clearly expressed previously that she did not want her daughter to receive a penny of her estate.

Monday 13 July 2015

Thank you!

Garden House solicitors in Hertford
Our annual Garden Party to raise funds for, and awareness of, the Alzheimer’s Society was held Friday, 3rd July, and was a huge success.  A total of £1,500 was raised for the Charity.  This would not have been possible without the generosity of local people and businesses who were kind enough to donate raffle prizes.  We would like to say a big thank you on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society to the following for their kind support:

Wednesday 1 July 2015

What is a general power of attorney?

Article by
Sharon Brown
There are three main types of power of attorney you may come across:
  • General or ordinary powers of attorney;
  • Enduring powers of attorney (EPA); and
  • Lasting powers of attorney (LPA).
You can find out more about the latter two types on our website, where you can also download our FAQ guide on powers of attorney.
A general power of attorney is a legal document allowing you to authorise someone else to carry out matters on your behalf. For example, if you are going on holiday for a length of time or having an operation that means you will not be able to sign things easily for a few weeks. It is also quite common for people who are going travelling for 6 months or a year.
A general power of attorney can be used for one specific purpose; for example if your car was being sold whilst you were away or if your house insurance policy was due for renewal or it can be to cover all of your property and financial affairs. Whilst they can be very useful, they are only for a set period of time. If you need something more permanent you really should consider setting up an LPA. One of the major advantages of an LPA is that it can still be used if you lack mental capacity, for example if you are in a coma.
Another time general powers of attorney can be useful is if you have prepared a property and financial affairs LPA and are waiting for it to be registered by the Office of the Public Guardian. We can set up a general power of attorney for you to enable to your chosen attorneys to start acting straight away. This type of general power of attorney is usually limited in time so that it ceases to be valid when your LPA is registered.
If you have queries or questions on any type of LPA please feel free to contact me by telephone on 01992 422128 or by email to

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Power of attorney solicitor in Hertford

Tel: 01992 422 128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Annual Garden Party 2015

An exciting date in the Garden House calendar is nearly here!  Our annual Garden Party to raise funds for and awareness of the Alzheimer's Society will be held at Garden House on 3rd July 2015 between 1pm and 5pm.

Garden House Solicitors
Article by Julie Retallick
Drinks and luncheon will be served from 1pm.   Fingers crossed, the sun will shine for us as it has done every year so far!  
If you fancy a glass of Pimms or a chilled Prosecco and the chance to buy raffle tickets to help raise funds for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and their families, please join us. 
Personal Injury Solicitors
We are delighted to announce that the Deputy Mayor, Peter Ruffles and Patricia Moore, the Head of East Herts will be joining us as will the local press.   The Garden Party will be a fabulous chance to meet old and new friends and catch up as well as being a great networking opportunity.

Garden House Solicitors in Hertford
Garden Party 2013

The team at Garden House are personally calling into local businesses asking them to donate raffle prizes and, as usual, they are being very generous.  

Last year we raised over £1,144.00 for the charity and we aim to better that this year with your help.

Garden House Solicitors in Hertford
Garden Party 2013

We look forward to seeing you but if you are unable to attend and would like to donate a raffle prize please call into the office or phone 01992 422128 and ask to speak to Julie who will arrange collection of the prize from you. 

If you would like to attend the Garden Party please call Julie on 01992 422128 or email her at and ask her to add your name to the guest list; when emailing please remember to advise if you have any special dietary requirements.
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Garden House Solicitors based in Hertford

Tel: 01992 422 128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Friday 19 June 2015

Making substantial gifts to children: How this might affect their inheritance

Private Client Solicitors in Hertford
Article by Chris Lucas
You may be interested to know that if you make a particular type of gift to one or more of your children during your lifetime, this could affect your children’s inheritance under the terms of your will.

The type of gift referred to here is known as a ‘portion’. A portion can be described as a substantial gift (usually of money) from a parent to a child which is made with the intention of establishing the child in life or making permanent provision for them.

A typical example of a portion would be giving one of your children a sum of money to be used as a deposit towards buying their first home. Whatever the gift might be, the key requirements for it to be considered a portion are as follows:
  1. The gift must be from a parent (or a person acting in loco parentis i.e. someone who has assumed parental responsibility) to a child.
  2. The gift must be substantial in value - what ‘substantial’ means will depend on the circumstances and can be open to interpretation, but generally speaking, any gift of £20,000 or more is most likely to be considered substantial.
  3. The gift must have the effect of establishing the child in life or making permanent provision for them e.g. deposit for a first home or sum of money to enable the child to start up their own business.
If you have already made a will, then it is important to be aware of the potential effect of portions when you subsequently pass away. Essentially, any portions made during your lifetime after you have made your will can have the effect of ‘satisfying’ legacies left to your children under the terms of your will. This is known as the presumption against double portions.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Accident at work

Following an accident in the workplace, it is understandable that some individuals are apprehensive about coming forward to make a claim against an employer. Here at Garden House Solicitors, we help support you through the process every step of the way.

Wednesday 3 June 2015

The Human Rights Act

In its first Queen’s Speech recently the Government promised to ‘bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights’.  You will note the use of the word proposal – this means nothing other than an indication that the Government appears to have paused in its commitment to scrap The Human Rights Act.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Traumatic Brain Injury or Head Injury

One of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of my job is dealing with personal injury cases that involve a head injury. I have dealt with a number of non-fault accident cases where the injury has involved a blow to the head. The effects of this type of injury to a person is profound and when we come across such a claim we look into how the injury has affected the client’s family and friends, how their work and career is affected and what their future is likely to hold for them so that we can secure the best compensation for them.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Proclaim Case Management System

GHS has recently implemented the Law Society’s accredited Proclaim Case Management System which is streamlining a vast number of administrative processes, reducing turnaround times and increasing the quality of the service our clients receive.
We believe we need to stay ahead of the competitive legal market and by investing in this technology we anticipate providing an even better service to our clients. 

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Jointly owned property – The benefits of including a Property Protection Trust in your will

If you own property with somebody else, you will probably be aware that there are two ways of owning property jointly: as joint tenants or as tenants in common.

‘Joint tenants’ means that the co-owners own the whole property together. If one co-owner dies, the whole property passes to the surviving co-owner(s) by survivorship. This tends to be the most common form of co-ownership.
‘Tenants in common’ means that each co-owner owns a share of the property. This might be in equal or unequal shares. When a co-owner dies, their share will form part of their estate and therefore pass under the terms of their will (or under the rules of intestacy if the individual has not made a will).

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Security Staff

There are many different types of doorman and security staff employed within the UK. With numerous nightclubs, bars and pubs opening up every year, it is often a sensible choice for managers of such establishments to employ door staff and security personnel in order to protect the physical safety of their patrons, reputation, business and financial interests.

Within the UK today there are in excess of 200,000 nightclubs, bars and pubs who are fully licensed to serve alcohol to the general public. Where the law imposes strict laws under the Licensing Act 2003, it does not actually provide companies with any requirements as to the extent of security required. So what are the risks posed to an establishment that employs untrained or unskilled doormen?

Data Protection Act

Garden House Solicitors of Hertfordshire
Article by Patricia Ling
Do you know that under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have the right to ensure that all information held on you is factually accurate and if you can prove that is not the case you can make a formal request to the party holding the records for them to be rectified.  This includes your medical records.  You are entitled to ask your GP for a copy of your medical records and they are likely to make a small charge for provision of the same, the maximum that GP surgeries can currently charge is £50.  If you find anything in your medical records is inaccurate you are entitled to write to the NHS Trust that holds the records and request rectification.

If the Trust does not rectify your records, you can make a formal complaint under the NHS complaints system. If the Trust is unreasonable you also have the right to take the matter to court, although at present you have to show that the inaccuracy is harmful to you in some way. (The same applies if you want to challenge inaccuracies in social work records).

If the record is factually correct but you dispute a doctor's opinion, you have no legal right to get the record changed or deleted but you are entitled to have it noted on your records that you do not agree with the GP’s opinion and it will help your argument if you get a more recent medical report which agrees with you and disagrees with the doctor's opinion. Even if you do that the Trust concerned will not normally agree to delete the earlier reference but will insert a cross-reference to the later report.

For help and advice regarding data held about you please contact Patricia Ling on 01992 422128 or by email

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Garden House Solicitors of Hertfordshire

Tel: 01992 422 128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Lexcel Accreditation

There are many solicitors in England and Wales. Choosing the best one for you can be difficult, especially when they seem to offer the same services. One easy way to recognise difference is LEXCEL – the Law Society’s mark of excellence.

The LEXCEL quality mark shows that a solicitors’ firm has met high standards in the way it is managed.

A LEXCEL firm offers:
• Excellent client service
• Cost efficiency
• Minimum risks.

Garden House Solicitors have been LEXCEL accredited since 2011 in recognition of our excellent client services.

Call in or phone - 01992 422128 - if you need legal advice.

Tel: 01992 422128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.