Changes to fixed fees in Clinical Negligence

Changes to Fixed Fees in Clinical Negligence

The government has proposed a new scheme to the changes of fixed fees in Clinical Negligence to allow claimants and defendants to achieve faster resolutions in lower value clinical negligence claims. This is for claims valued up to and including £25,000. This would only limit the amount of legal costs which can be recovered by the claimant’s lawyer and not the amount of compensation a claimant would be able to receive.

The current procedure is that where a medical negligence claim succeeds, the defendant will pay the legal costs of the claimant, and there is no limit on how much these costs will be. Although, these are to be kept reasonable and proportionate.

It was stated by Maria Caulfield, health minister, that “In 2020/21, the average legal costs recovered from the NHS by claimant lawyers was twice the average amount paid out in damages to claimants, for lower value clinical negligence claims.”

These changes are reported to have taken into consideration access to justice for claimants and have ensured this is not affected.

This change is being put in place to minimise claims going to court and promote reaching resolution beforehand, however if agreement cannot be reached this does not stop parties from going to court.

There would be two resolution stages which would be built in - a ‘stocktake’ meeting (between the parties) and also neutral evaluation by a barrister to help resolve as many of the cases as possible. This would reduce the number of cases having to go to court and incurring the higher legal fees.

These changes have been introduced to enable costs to be more proportionate than they currently are. The gap between the compensation paid to claimants and the legal fees was constantly widening, and as noted, had reached almost double.

The suggested change would mean that the claims are split into either standard track or light track cases. In a standard track claim the costs will be limited to £6,000 plus 20% of the agreed damages. Whereas in the light track, it is proposed that recoverable costs would be up to £1,500 plus 10% of damages. Claims where more than 2 liability experts are required and those with genuine multiple defendants or those where limitation is raised by the defendant as an issue, are all excluded from the new changes.

It is important for claimants and defendants to remember that this new proposal will only limit the amount of legal costs that can be recovered by the claimants’ lawyers for lower value clinical negligence cases, not the amount of compensation that can be received.

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 24th April 2022.

If you have a any queries regarding Clinical Negligence please contact our team on 0800 988 7756 or info@levisolicitors.co.uk

 


Increase to HM Land Registry fees

The Land Registry are increasing their application fees for first registrations and the registration of transfers, leases and mortgages of properties for the first time since 2009.

There is an 11% increase for all electronic applications and a 21% increase for postal submissions.

The aim is for this to help the Land Registry become digitalised quicker.

For example, all new applications for a new entry on the register will cost £20 if done electronically, or £40 when done via the post.

This new price increase will affect all applications lodged after 31st January 2022, therefore if you complete on or after this date you will be affected by this new price increase. Below is an example of the fee changes for the transfers or surrenders which affect the whole of a registered title:

It is important to note that although you may exchange prior to this date, you may still have to pay on the new fee scale as completion may take place after the cut off date for the price change.


Buying a second home

Buying a second home - Q&A

Shareen Ahmed, a trainee solicitor in our Conveyancing department took part in the Q&A on buying a second home with the Solicitor Chat on Twitter.

| How does the process of buying a second home differ to buying a main residence?

The process of buying a second home is generally the same as buying your main residence home. However, there are a few differences you will need to consider.

Firstly, you will be liable to pay higher stamp duty rates as this is your second home. This is generally 3% higher than the standard rates. In addition to this, you will be liable to additional taxes, such as Capital Gains Tax, when you come to sell your second home. You will also need to consider whether you will be renting your second home and if so will you require a tenancy agreement to be put in place?

| Is this the same process for buy-to-let properties?

Most of the process will be the same for buy-to-let properties as it is for normal residential properties. However, there are a few differences. Firstly, ensure your mortgage offer is a buy-to-let, and not a residential offer, as there may be restriction in the condition on letting the property. Buy-to-let mortgages tend to have more conditions on the offer and include a higher interest rate. You should always speak to your mortgage advisor to discuss the different options you may have.

You may need an Assured Shorthold tenancy agreement and Deed of Trust. If this is required, you will need to inform your solicitor from the outset, so they are able to prepare this for you. In some cases, you may not need to redraft the whole agreement if the property is being sold with the tenancy agreements. Stamp duty will be submitted in the same process; however you will be subject to higher stamp duty rates. Therefore, it is always best to check these using the stamp duty calculator in advance.

| What are the tax implications of buying a second home?

There are several tax implications when buying a second home. You will have to pay more stamp duty on your second home if it is worth more than £40,000. Always check the government stamp duty calculator to see the amount of stamp duty you are liable to pay. Your second home will be liable to capital gains tax when you come to sell it. If the value of the property increases beyond the capital gains allowance (£12,000 per person). You will need to pay up to 18% (or 28% if you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer) of the increase. Council tax will also be payable on your second home when you come to sell it. This must be payable within 60 days of selling your home.

| How does the process of buying a second home abroad differ?

Lenders in the UK now tend not to offer mortgages on properties abroad so you may need to look at options with overseas lenders. It is always important to consider the exchange rates when looking at mortgages with lenders abroad. The amount of deposit will also vary with each country and lender. Some countries will make it obligatory to have a will and so you may need to prepare this at the same time. This will be in addition to the standard conveyancing process, also leading to additional costs that you will need factor in when making this decision of buying a second home abroad. You may be liable to extra taxes depending on the country and their requirements.

It is important to bear in mind that most solicitors in England and Wales will not be qualified to deal with a house purchase abroad. It is important, therefore, to find a conveyancing lawyer local to your second home.

| What are the key factors you should be aware of when buying a second home?

There are several factors to be aware of, including:

  • Higher interest rates for mortgages and requirements for higher deposits. Lenders will generally want a deposit of 25% to be available.
  • Higher stamp duty rates will apply on second homes. You will need to typically pay 3% above the standard SDLT rates.
  • Capital gains tax will apply when you come to sell your second home, the amount you pay will depend on your tax bracket.

These are all additional costs you will need to consider when preparing your finances for purchase of a second home.

If you would like some more information about buying a second home, we can help. Call us on 0800 988 7756 for a FREE initial chat.