Blog Archives

Spring Is The Best Time to Sell Your Home, Heres Why

Buying & Selling Property Solihull, The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Amanda Holden, Residential Conveyancing

Spring is in the air!

And did you know this is the best time of year to sell your home? Amanda Holden Senior Associate at The Wilkes Partnership Solihull explains why.

Firstly, your house looks so much better with the sun shining and the garden coming into bloom. The interior is light and you can have windows open to freshen the air.

Secondly, buyers often time their move to coincide with the end of the school year and so are looking in earnest in the spring. This in turn leads to more buyers looking at the same time which increases competition for the houses available pushing up the prices.

And this year looks like being better than ever for those selling as the Midlands sees the biggest rise in house prices over the previous year ended November 2017. Property values grew by 7.2% in the West Midlands compared with London which saw a growth of only 2.3% according to the Office for National Statistics.

At The Wilkes Partnership one of the biggest changes we are seeing in conveyancing is the growth of online firms acting for buyers or sellers. Online firms are process driven which is fine if the transaction is completely straightforward but can make the sale or purchase more problematic, particularly in more complex transactions such as leasehold purchases which are often the case with first time buyers.

We pride ourselves on providing a reliable and friendly service with a strong knowledge of the local market. This means we are able to push sales and purchases through far more efficiently and can answer the myriad of questions that first time buyers inevitably have. Included in our service is one face to face meeting which is invaluable in cutting straight to the heart of the issues and saving lots of to-ing and fro-ing that an email conversation would inevitably have.

We build a relationship with our clients and often act for people in relation to their wills, power of attorney and divorce and we often act for the children of our clients when purchasing their first property.

If you would like any advice on property conveyancing you can contact Amanda Holden at The Wilkes Partnership to discuss in person –

NPPF & Developer Contribution Consultations Update

NPPF Planning, Stuart Tym, The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Birmingham, Solihull

The long-awaited and much talked about NPPF consultation has arrived!

As always with many of these consultations, slipped in amongst the long awaited NPPF is a consultation on a Housing Delivery test, practice guidance on viability and the consultation on developer contributions mentioned in the last Budget.

Keep an eye out for a detailed analysis of the draft NPPF over the coming days.

If you would like to discuss it’s contents, and the likely implications for any particular scheme, please do get in touch with Stuart Tym, Head of Planning here at Wilkes.

Stuart can be reached on  0121 710 5891 or via email at You can also get all of the latest planning news straight to your inbox by signing up here.

To read the draft NPPF Click here.

Justice Secretary’s Decision to Review Divorce Laws Welcomed

Aaron Keene - The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Divorce, Family Law, Solihull, Birmingham

In a continuation of a piece written in early January on the Redknapp divorce Aaron Keene, Partner in the Family department at Wilkes examines how it appears the courts are finally beginning to listen to calls for a change in the law.

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Mr David Gauke MP, a former solicitor, has agreed to examine the case for reforming the divorce laws and the present need, in many cases, to rely upon fault based divorce, i.e. adultery or unreasonable behaviour, if the parties have not been separated for 2 years.

In cases which are undefended at the present time the Court do not undertake a detailed enquiry into the reason for the breakdown, save that one party has satisfied one of the facts pleaded under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, simply accepting a statement by the Petitioner, but if the other party defends the proceedings the Court have to reach a decision based upon both parties’ evidence.

At present, if you wish to petition a Court for divorce, you have to prove the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage by showing one of five facts. These include adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion for 2 years as well as separation for 2 years, with the other party’s consent, and separation for 5 years.

The Family Law Act 1996 provided at that time new proposals to move towards a no-fault divorce process based upon people attending an information meeting and then having a period of reflection and consideration of whether the marriage could be saved before proceeding with the divorce, but it was never implemented and has now been repealed. MPs at that time were persuaded to abandon that approach.

It now looks as though the time may be right to reform the present divorce laws, presently enshrined in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

It also remains to be seen whether the divorce process itself will be looked at. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice for the third quarter of 2016 from July to September 2016, showed that there were 27,546 petitions filed for divorce during that period and it took 47.3 weeks on average for the petition to reach Decree Absolute, although 23.8 weeks to reach the Decree Nisi stage.

There is often a delay between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute while parties obtain an order in respect of their finances before making the divorce final by way of the Decree Absolute.

Aaron Keene considers this move as being long overdue and states that it should lead to more amicable separations by divorcing spouses. Should suitable amendments be passed it would allow people to concentrate on the important issues in respect of the arrangements for their children and financial matters arising from the divorce, rather than concentrating on the reasons why the marriage may have broken down.

If you would like assistance in relation to a family matter, call Aaron Keene at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 785 4400 for further information or email

What Happened In The World Of Planning in January?

Planning Law Update, The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors,Birmingham, Solihull

January was an interesting month for Planning, with some key movements and legislative changes.  Our aim for these short bulletins is to provide you with up-to-date information on the key goings on in and around the world of Planning.

If you don’t already receive our email updates and event invites you can sign up to our mailing list here

The Agent of Change principle

GDPR – What Should You Be Doing Now?

GDPR - What to do now Jeremy Parkin, Helen Smart, The Wilkes Partnership Birmingham, Solihull, Shirley

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is coming into force on 25th May 2018 and will overhaul data protection laws in the UK.  In this article Jeremy Parkin, Partner in the Corporate department here at Wilkes, examines what actions you should begin taking now ahead of the impending GDPR deadline.

1) Establish the personal data which you hold

Conduct an audit/assessment of the data you currently hold and document this, including what data is held; how it is stored;  where you obtained the data from; identifying the purposes for which the data is used; establishing the lawful basis for using the data and identifying who that data is shared with (if anyone).  An audit/assessment will help to demonstrate compliance with the new ‘accountability’ requirement under the GDPR (that is you must show how you comply with the data protection principles under the GDPR).

2) Review your privacy notices

Review your privacy notices and prepare for changes (if necessary) to ensure that they are GDPR compliant.  The GDPR will require privacy notices to be transparent, concise, clear, easy to understand and to include details of the lawful basis for processing personal data, data retention periods and an explanation of individuals rights under GDPR.

3) Review your consents

If you rely on consent as the legal basis for processing then you will need to review how you gain, record and manage those consents.  If any existing consents do not meet the GDPR standard then you will need to refresh them.  Consents should be freely given with positive action (freely given can be difficult to establish where there is an imbalance in the relationship, such as between employee and employer); consents should be specific and people must be able to easily withdraw their consent. Positive action will require an opt-in instead of relying on pre-ticked or opt-out boxes.  In addition to the GDPR, you also need to consider specific rules under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations in relation to direct marketing.

4) Sharing with third party organisations within the EEA

If you share data with other organisations, you should review the contracts which you have in place with such organisations to ensure that they are GDPR compliant.  If you use data processors for all or any processing of data for which you are a controller, then you must have a written contract in place and ensure that such contracts are GDPR compliant.

5) Review of Procedures and Policies

Conduct a review of your internal procedures and policies to ensure that they are GDPR compliant which may also help you to demonstrate compliance with the accountability requirement.  Such reviews should include reviews of internal data protection policies (including staff training on GDPR) and ensuring that you implement measures that meet the principles of data protection by design and data protection by default (including data minimisation and having data protection at the heart of new products or new processing).   You should also ensure that policies cover how you would address the rights of individuals (for instance, how you would delete data if requested to do so).

If your organisation has more than 250 employees, you will be required to maintain internal records of your processing activities.  If you have less than 250 employees you are required to maintain records relating to higher risk processing activities.  However, this would be a good exercise and record to have in place whatever your size.

6) Data Breaches

You should review your policies in respect of data breaches to ensure that that you have procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a data breach. If there is a breach, then under the GDPR you may be required to notify the ICO of this, as well as any individuals concerned.

7) Subject Access Requests

The GDPR has reduced the time period in which you must respond to subject access requests to within a month. You should therefore update your procedures and plan how you will handle requests, including how to handle requests more quickly.

If you have any queries or need further advice please contact Jeremy Parkin on 0121 710 5931 or or Helen Smart on 0121 710 5804 or

LPA For Care Decisions Could Have Alleviated 22 Months Of Suffering For Elderly Lady

Lasting Power of Attorney, The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Birmingham, Solihull, Shirley

The sad story of Brenda Grant from Nuneaton, Warwickshire was reported last month. Brenda suffered a stroke in October 2012 which left her unable to walk, talk or feed herself.

She was admitted to hospital for treatment but what doctors failed to discover in her medical notes was an Advance Decision or Living Will which Brenda had previously signed.

A Living Will is an instruction, made whilst you enjoy full mental capacity, refusing future medical treatment for certain medical conditions should you lack mental capacity at that future time. If life-sustaining treatment is being refused, the instruction needs to be in writing and independently witnessed.

Brenda executed such a document and passed it to her doctor so it was amongst her medical records. However, she did not inform her family of what she had done.

After suffering the stroke, Brenda was kept alive for 22 months, having to be fed through a tube for some of that time. This made her agitated causing her to suffer indignity as she tried to pull the tubes out. To prevent her doing this, she was made to wear mittens.

It was later discovered by her then GP that Brenda had a Living Will in place which was found to be a valid and applicable instruction to Brenda’s future medical team. On discovery, Brenda’s wishes were eventually honoured and her life-sustaining treatment was removed. Brenda died on 4 August 2014.

A living will is one way of dealing with your wishes should disaster strike and you suffer a sudden or gradual decline in physical and/or mental health.

If you lose mental capacity and can’t communicate your wishes, as Brenda couldn’t, the Living Will can make people aware of what your wishes would be in such a situation.

However, the danger is that Living Wills can become out of date, particularly with advances in medical treatment or be inadvertently revoked by contrary decisions taken by the maker after making the living will.

A Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions can overcome some of the drawbacks with a Living Will. A properly appointed attorney or attorneys who are aware of your wishes and feelings in any given situation, but who can consider the up to date medical information, may be a better choice of empowering oneself if in a situation like Brenda’s.

There is also less chance that the decision could get overlooked as the attorneys would be aware of their appointment to make such decisions.

For further advice or discussion on Living Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney for health and care decisions or property and finance decisions please contact Ann-Marie Aston of the Wilkes Partnership on 0121 733 8000 or email on

“3 Year Supply” Lives To Fight Another Day As Written Ministerial Statement Upheld

WMS, Royal Courts Of Justice, Stuart Tym, Planning Law, Birmingham Solihull © Copyright N Chadwick

Stuart Tym, Head of Planning at Wilkes examines the recent judgment given by Dove J on 12 January 2018 in Richborough Estates Ltd v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities And Local Government [2018] EWHC 33 (Admin) (12 January 2018).

The Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) dated 12 December 2016 introduced the concept of a 3 year Housing Land Supply in areas with up-to-date Neighbourhood Plans as follows: –

Relevant policies for the supply of housing in a neighbourhood plan, that is part of the development plan, should not be deemed to be ‘out-of-date’ under paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework where all of the following circumstances arise at the time the decision is made:

  • This written ministerial statement is less than 2 years old, or the neighbourhood plan has been part of the development plan for 2 years or less;
  • the neighbourhood plan allocates sites for housing; and
  • the local planning authority can demonstrate a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

There were 6 grounds of appeal and through the court process they were condensed down into the five points below:

  1. The WMS is illogical and irrational compared to its stated intention. It is also “Wednesbury unreasonable”.
  2. The WMS is based and evidenced on mistaken facts which are misleading. It is irrational and “Wednesbury unreasonable” to rely on such evidence to formulate government policy.
  3. The WMS is invalid for uncertainty and confused.
  4. WMS is irrational, perverse and “Wednesbury unreasonable” when set against the government’s clearly stated policy to significantly boost the supply of housing.
  5. Legitimate expectation of consultation.

The consortium had an early victory in relation to Ground 2, which specifically relied upon “recent analysis” which claims to show that NDPs have planned for 10% more homes than planned for by the relevant local planning authority.

In October 2017 Mr Justice Gilbart accepted the claim that it was not true that the average neighbourhood plan made provision for 10 per cent more housing.  It was based on a selection of plans and not all plans which had been made.  The judge’s ruling over the 10% claim was sought to secure the disclosure of the information (excluding legal advice) that informed the secretary of state’s decision to issue the written ministerial statement.

That victory was short lived and Dove J found in favour of the Secretary of State on all five grounds as detailed below: 

1) I am satisfied that at the time when the WMS was made, it faithfully reflected the interpretation of paragraphs 14 and 49 provided by the Court of Appeal in Hopkins Homes, and that the emergence of a different interpretation in the judgments of the Supreme Court did not render the policy unlawful and liable to be quashed…  First and foremost, the difficulty of establishing that the policy is one which no reasonable minister in the position of the defendant could promulgate is manifest: the proposition raises a very high hurdle for a claimant to surmount, given the breadth of the operational considerations for the defendant and the degree of respect which the court must afford the defendant in making policy to guide the exercise of his executive functions.

2) In relation to the evidential basis for the government “suggesting” that NDPs are helping to boost housing supply. That kind of forensic dissection of a document of this nature is in my view wholly unnecessary and inappropriate.

3) So what is meant by a 3 year supply?  “The first is that the WMS and NPPG exist within the context of the Framework, which clearly measures the adequacy of current housing land supply by reference to the demonstration of a five-year supply. Thus the sense of the text is that if, in undertaking that assessment, more than three years (but less than five) can be demonstrated then the NDP will have the benefit of the WMS and NPPG policy. Secondly, and related to this, the reference to protection applying “unless there is a significant lack of land supply” points to a land supply of less than three years measured against the five-year requirement, rather than some free-standing assessment.” The criterion is a measure of at least three years supply when the LPA performs the five-year land supply exercise required by the Framework.

4) The Framework clearly promotes as a key priority a significant increase in the supply of homes, and places a national priority on this objective as a key change in National Planning Policy, that is not an objective which exists on its own and isolated from the other interests addressed by the Framework. It is not a policy objective which is to be pursued at all costs and irrespective of the other objectives of the Framework.

5) It is the claimants’ contention that on every occasion when there have been changes to national planning policy in relation to housing in the past there has been consultation with the house building industry before that policy has been confirmed. Thus, they contend that as a consequence of that practice there was a legitimate expectation that they would be consulted about the written ministerial statement before it was issued by the defendant.It is in my view important to observe that the house building industry are not the only parties with an interest in the content of national planning policy for housing. LPAs, amenity groups and the public at large will all have a potential interest or concern in relation to any change in national planning policy for housing.It follows that on the facts, even confining the enquiry to national planning policy in relation to housing (and ignoring the difficulty of justifying why housing should be isolated from other forms of development in this respect), in my view the evidence does not establish that there has been an unequivocal assurance on the basis of practice that a WMS in relation to national planning policy for housing would not be issued without prior consultation.  It is clear that on at least two occasions the defendant has issued WMS without consultation affecting national planning policy for housing.

Stuart comments – “The judgment is not necessarily a surprise and we have repeatedly seen the Planning Courts find in favour of the governments ability to make and shape planning policy”. What is particularly helpful is the provision of clarity by Dove J in relation to Ground 3.

Stuart comments that the WMS itself was not as clear on this point as Dove J has now found it and has seen appeal time taken up debating what is meant by a 3 year supply throughout the last year.

What must have been imagined by the government as a simplistic approach to take the pressure off planning by appeal in areas which have Neighbourhood Plans, led practitioners to question whether a 3 year supply really was as simple as asking what number your 5 year supply calculation gives you and if it begins with a 3 or a 4 and can comply with the rest of the WMS you are ok. As Dove J comments, it could become harder to evidence a 3 year supply than a 5 year supply in certain circumstances.

What about, for instance the LPA’s who have a carefully planned 5 year supply based on the release of large strategic sites?  The start up work on those large strategic sites is such that houses will not be delivered in any great number in potentially the first 2-3 years of the 5 year period but the volume is such that a 5 year supply can still be provided at the tail end of the 5 year period.

It seems on this analysis it is possible to have a 5 year supply and still not have a 3 year supply.  Dove J considered similar scenarios but looked to the purpose behind the Governments WMS which was to lower the bar for those defending appeals in Neighbourhod Plan areas.  Dove J put this succinctly that “the criterion is a measure of at least three years supply when the LPA performs the five-year land supply exercise required by the Framework.”

Let’s face it, if the requirement was for a free-standing assessment it would also raise a resourcing question in an area of further under-resourced and cash strapped local authority planning departments.

To find out how The Wilkes Partnership can help with a full range of planning issues contact Stuart Tym on or call 0121 710 5891.

You can also stay informed of key planning news and events by following Stuart’s dedicated Planning Twitter feed @planninglawbrum.

Redknapp Divorce Highlights Need For No-Fault Divorce

Aaron Keene - The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Divorce, Family Law, Solihull, Birmingham

There has been significant press during the Christmas period relating to the fact that Louise and Jamie Redknapp have been granted a divorce after 19 years of marriage.

Aaron Keene, Partner in the Family department at Wilkes looks at the current regulations surrounding divorce and how no-fault divorces could ease tensions between separating parties.

The beginning of the year is seen to be one of the busiest times for couples seeking a divorce in the period immediately following the Christmas vacation, specifically, the first day back after Christmas being known as D Day or Divorce Day.

Much has been written about the fact that Louise Redknapp has filed for divorce citing the unreasonable behaviour of her ex-footballer husband as the reason for the irretrievable break down of her marriage according to the court papers, in other words it is completely his fault and nothing to do with how she has behaved.

However, the reality is she has issued proceedings on that basis and Jamie Redknapp has allowed the divorce to proceed on that basis as a means to an end ie to simply get divorced.

Jamie Redknapp will not have defended the proceedings in order to allow the divorce to go through with the minimum of fuss and expense.

How much more civilised it would be if no fault was needed to be set out in court papers to do this ie say one ground for divorce of 6 months or 1 year separation.

At present if you have not have been separated two years the only grounds upon which you can divorce is the other person’s adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

I also read in the press over Christmas reference to the fact the divorce would go through if they can sort out the custody of their children.

The term Custody is outdated and has not been used in court orders since the introduction of the children act 1989 which created the terminology of “residence” and “contact”.

It has now been replaced by the child arrangements order as of April 2014, which provides for a single order to be made to set out the arrangements about who a child should live with and spend time with, without one parent being seen to have more importance than the other so far as parental rights are concerned.

Most parents now share parental responsibility, or the legal rights and responsibilities for their children.

The couple are not divorced yet, the decree nisi has been granted on 29 December 2017 which means that Louise Redknapp can apply for the decree absolute which will dissolve the marriage six weeks and one day following the pronouncement of the decree nisi i.e. on  or after 12th of February 2018.

If you would like assistance in relation to a family matter, call Aaron Keene at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 785 4400 for further information or email

Inheritance Tax – You Could Be Overpaying By Up To £80,000

The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors, Tax Planning, Inheritance, Solihull, Birmingham

Changes to inheritance tax (IHT) that came into place in April 2017 mean that those with an estate between £650,000 and £2million could leave their loved ones with an IHT bill of up to £80,000 more than necessary, according to Eleanor Holland, Partner in the Private Client team at our Solihull office.

As a simple example… if dad died before or after 5 April 2017 and mum died after 5 April 2017 with an estate worth between £650,000 and £2m and if your current will contains a trust you could potentially lose the additional allowance.

Putting properties into trust has long been a tax efficient way to pass them down the generations, but these new rules mean that an alteration to the will may be required in order to benefit from this tax break.

Eleanor comments – “Not everyone is entitled to it. It only comes into play when passing properties between direct descendants such as spouses, civil partners, children, step-children, adopted children or grandchildren”.

This additional Nil Rate Band (RNRB) has been introduced where a residential property is left on death to direct descendants. It is being phased in over the next four years bringing the potential tax saving up to £140,000 by 2020/21.

The tax saving can only be set against residential property, not other assets within the estate. Additionally, the property needs to have been used as a residence by the deceased at some point, although not necessarily be their residence when they died.

Only one residence can be taken into account. If there is a liability charged against the property such as a mortgage that will reduce the value of the property available for the enhancement to be set against. Unused portions of the reduced RNRB can be transferred between spouses and civil partners.

We offer our clients an efficient, friendly service where they can see somebody face-to-face who will handle their wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, and trust and probate needs from beginning to end.

If you would like any further information please contact Eleanor Holland at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 733 8000 or

What is a Deputy Application and When Might One Be Needed?

Ann-Marie Aston, The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors Solihull - Elderly Care, Power of Attorney

Lucy Cox, Solicitor in the Private Client Department of The Wilkes Partnership, Solihull, explains what a Deputyship Application is and the circumstances in which one might be required.

Lucy comments; “An individual may find themselves in a position where a relative or friend of theirs needs assistance with their affairs due to dementia or a stroke for example but does not already have a Power of Attorney in place and no longer has the understanding that would be needed to put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.”

“If this is the case, there is an alternative procedure available, which is a Deputy Application. This application enables one or more individuals to apply to the Court of Protection to become that person’s Deputy in order to manage their affairs. The Deputy can then, under the supervision of the Office of the Public Guardian, make financial decisions for them such as sell their house, collect in their pensions and pay their bills.”

“It will ultimately be a decision for the Court of Protection who should be the Deputy having considered what is in the best interests of that individual. Generally, the Court of Protection will want to appoint a relative or a friend who is already familiar with that individual’s wishes and feelings but sometimes, due to conflicts between those interested in that person’s affairs, it might be necessary for the Court of Protection to appoint an independent professional Deputy instead, such as one of our specialist solicitors.”

If you would like to know more about the Deputyship Application process or you have concerns about somebody acting as a Deputy, please contact Lucy Cox at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 733 8000.

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