Mediation over Co-habitants share in a property-TOLATA

When in London this last week I was asked by Solicitors to mediate in what is known in the trade as “TOLATA” standing for “Trusts of Land etc”.
This involves dealing with tricky Chancery proceedings when former co-habitants cannot settle on who owns what share.
Such proceedings are not for the faint hearted. They cost a fortune and take years.
In my case the parties difference came to about £80,000 when we drilled down the figures, contributions, valuations, Declaration of Trust of part and so on.
By concentrating on a “Win Win” we agreed the £80,000 could be put into a Trust for the parties daughter(aged 3) and then lent, interest free, to the Mother (the more vulnerable party with whom Daughter lived).
Not ideal but certainly better than going through Tolata.
Just wanted to share with you that by using my experience I can always find a solution using my knowledge and qualifications in law and Mediation.
I can achieve a good settlement in private over just 3 hrs. If no settlement you can even have a refund!
Call me now to book in a Mediation that will save you a fortune in legal fees.
T.(+44) 208 133 0154-Richard Buxton LLB FMA

Family Mediation-an update

In 2014, the government introduced the compulsory Mediation Intake Assessment Meeting, which had to be undertaken prior to issuing court proceedings for ALL applicants to the family courts. MIAMs are intended to help separating families hear how they can resolve their arrangements in mediation before applying to court. Many people then choose to mediate.
The purpose of MIAMs (to help people avoid the stress, costs and delays of litigation), is being eroded by MIAMs being bypassed wholesale. The courts are failing to enforce the requirement for the MIAM, even though many people attending a MIAM will mediate. Now MIAMs are being subverted into token online processes that do little to fulfil their original purpose of a very worthwhile pre-issue safety net.
The market bias towards court proceedings is faltering and more disputants are coming direct to mediation. They realise that fighting may feel best but it rarely is best. For those who still think they will get a better result at court. The fact is that the reverse is mostly true because:
In property and financial cases couples often spend more than the value of the difference between them in costs. If the net assets are worth £500,000 and there is a starting point of equal division – and you are likely to spend £20-25,000 each getting to trial – so a tenth of your joint assets on litigation, when only a tenth might be at issue! Money you need to house your family has gone. Mediation fees are likely to be under a tenth of legal costs and mediation is FAST.
In children cases, litigation turns parents into opponents in an adversarial process which damages their ability to co-parent effectively
• In civil cases people routinely spend more than their cases is worth on costs, e.g. £300,000 costs over a £4,000 dispute over drains in a garden! There is no pre-proceedings requirement to see a mediator in civil litigation, consequently a tiny number of civil cases mediate an agreement, despite costs and time savings
I am trained, accredited, experienced and mediation is what I do – day in day out. There are different types of mediation and different ways of working, because one size does not fit all cases. Come and meet me and help me understand your situation and dispute thoroughly – then we can consider together potential routes, timing and options to help you settle matters.It will save you a fortune in Solicitors fees…I guarantee it!

Top tax planning tips for Grandparents

“The world needs grandparents as those grandkids aren’t going to spoil themselves!”

Grandparents like to do everything they can for their grandkids, and often this will involve monetary assistance, whether this is funding private school fees, or putting money aside for their future. In addition, with the high costs of childcare, it is becoming increasingly common for grandparents to assist with childcare for working parents.
Here are some tax efficient tips grandparents should be aware of!
1. School fee planning
Grandparents may wish to assist with the costs of private school education for their grandchildren. This is often funded from income, which will have been taxed on receipt at the grandparent’s marginal rate, which could be up to 45%.
However, if the grandparent no longer requires the income producing asset, whether it be shares in the family company or an investment portfolio, it may be possible to use a trust in order to fund the school fees in a more efficient way.
This would allow for utilisation of the grandchild’s personal allowance and basic rate band, reducing the tax payable on the income, potentially to nil.
If set up correctly, this can also have a number of other benefits, including retention of control over the asset (especially useful in the case of shares in the family company), reducing your estate for IHT purposes and protection of assets for your family members.
2. State pension entitlement if caring for grandchildren
The amount of “qualifying years” required in order to receive the maximum state pension has recently increased from 30 to 35. Where a parent is registered for child benefit, they automatically receive a qualifying year where the child is under 12. If the parents are working and receive a qualifying year from their national insurance deductions, and a grandparent or other family member is assisting with childcare it is possible for the child benefit credit to be transferred to the grandparent (provided they are under state pension age).
This means that if a grandparent has taken early retirement in order to look after their grandchildren, this does not have to affect their entitlement to the full state pension. A joint application will need to be made to transfer the state pension credit after the October following the relevant tax year.
3.Inheritance tax exemptions for gifts
Grandparents love to spoil their grandkids! It is important to be aware that gifts will not fall out of your estate for inheritance tax purposes for 7 years after the date of gift. However, there are various exemptions available.
A gift can be made of up to £250 per child per year which will be exempt under the small gifts exemption. In addition, larger gifts may be covered by the £3,000 annual exemption per grandparent. There is also an exemption for wedding gifts – for grandparents this is up to £2,500 per grandparent.
4. Gifts out of excess income
A very useful but often overlooked inheritance tax exemption relates to gifts out of excess income. This applies to regular gifts of excess income, which can be made either directly or into a trust.
To be able to claim the exemption requires detailed records to be kept as these will need to be entered on the inheritance tax forms. However, once the initial review has been done this can be kept up to date fairly easily. Should you have a large amount of excess income it is certainly worth seeking advice as the savings available using this exemption can be substantial.
5. Have you reviewed your Will recently?
It is recommended that you review your will at least every 5 years, not only to ensure that it still meets your wishes, but also to ensure that it is drafted to be as tax efficient as possible.  For example, it is worth checking that the terms of your will do not prevent the newly implemented main residence nil rate band from being available against the value of the family home.
In addition, it is always worth considering the circumstances of the potential recipients of your estate when reviewing or drafting your will. It may be worth considering placing assets into a trust or passing directly to grandchildren if you children will not require them. This will not affect the inheritance tax on your estate but may help prevent a further 40% deduction before they are ultimately passed to your grandchildren.
To find out more about how we can help you implement any of the above, or for a full inheritance tax review, call us on 0208 487 8803 or

Get in touch
To find out more about how we can help you or your business,
call us on 0208 487 8803 and speak to Richard Buxton,any time that suits you! Alternatively use our contact form to send us a message or arrange a callback.
CALL 0208 487 8803


I am proud to let readers know that one of my Nigerian gentleman clients has succeeded against the odds with some help from me!
Initially it looked a very difficult case indeed. This is because my client’s daughter was in Nigeria for around a year.The daughter had been taken there by her mother telling the father based in the UK that they were going for 2 weeks holiday.
Every week my client the father begged the mother to return to the UK but to no avail. One can imagine his anguish and upset. It seemed little I could do directly apart from give him some contacts such as the British Embassy in Nigeria and the Home Office.
A few days later my client phoned me having discovered that the mother and his daughter had returned to England some 6 months ago! The client arranged to meet me last Monday 27th February. We completed the necessary court application and our client attended the High Court on Tuesday 28th February. Our client managed to get an ex parte hearing before the judge and a hearing date has been set for next week. Even better the judge ordered the police to confiscate all the passports held by the mother so she could not disappear with the daughter back to Nigeria! The daughter is a ward of court from the time the summons has been issued. This is part of the High Court inherent jurisdiction to safeguard children who are UK citizens. Such jurisdiction goes back centuries. The case continues…..

Can a full time working ex-wife get Maintenance for herself ?

The answer is “Yes” following a Court of Appeal decision this week.

Cambridge University lecturer, 40, won £34,000 divorce battle with her Macedonian minister ex-husband who said she was so hardworking she didn’t need his money
• When couple split, court ordered that husband pay £723-a-month maintenance
• Academic mother then increased her hours to ‘help her survive financially’
• Ex-husband claimed the extra pay meant she didn’t need his money anymore
• Judges backed ex-wife after court congratulated her for getting back to work

A Cambridge don has won a divorce battle with her Macedonian minister ex-husband who claimed he shouldn’t have to pay her maintenance now she is working full-time.
Despite having children to care for, university lecturer Kathleen Liddell moved from part time to full time hours after her break-up from Goran Mickovski, saying she needed to work ‘as hard as she could’ to ‘survive financially’.
But her ex used her increased pay as a reason to go back to court, saying he should not have to pay £723-a-month maintenance due to her increased earnings.
Two senior judges have now thrown out his claims that his wife doesn’t need the money and backed an order that he pay a £34,000 lump sum to cover four years’ worth of maintenance.
Judges have backed the maintenance received by Kathleen Liddell (left) from her husband Goran Mickovski (right), despite her having since increased her hours at work
The court heard that the former couple – who were married for 11 years – lived in an £800,000 home in north London, which made up the bulk of their £1.2million wealth.
As well as the maintenance payments, Mrs Liddell received a £555,000 lump sum when the marriage broke down and, in return, signed her half of the house over to her ex, who still lives there.
She used the money to buy a five-bedroom property in Cambridgeshire near her £53,000-a-year job at the University’s law faculty. She now lives with her new partner, a chartered accountant.
Mr Mickovski, who is also required to pay child support, has re-married to a businesswoman working for British-American Tobacco.
Mr Mickovski worked as a consultant solicitor in London but has also been Minister of Foreign Investments for the Macedonian government.
Mr Mickovski kept the family’s London home after the pair split, paying his ex-wife a lumpsum
Mr Mickovski later took his ex-wife to court, asking Judge Markanza Cudby to stop the £723-a-month maintenance he had been paying her because his ex-wife’s wages had increased.
Mrs Liddell, however, was ‘congratulated’ by the divorce judge for her strong work ethic.
The judge commented: ‘I’m satisfied that she works hard… I understand and accept her decision to work full time… she is earning 53,000-a-year and I accept she is working as hard as she can and she can’t earn any more.’
The judge also branded Mr Mickovski ‘belligerent, unhelpful and dictatorial’ over his handling of the case.
Two more judges at London’s Appeal Court have now heard Mr Mickovski challenge that order, arguing that his ex-wife had been left in a financial position that ‘exceeded her needs.’
His barrister, Stephen Lyon, told the Court of Appeal that Judge Cudby’s decision not to end the maintenance payments had left his ex more comfortable than she needed to be, when by now she should be financially ‘independent.’
The wife’s five-bedroom home ‘arguably exceeded her needs,’ he argued, adding: ‘There was no consideration of need.’
But Lady Justice Macur dismissed Mrs Mickovski’s challenge to Judge Cudby’s order, saying: ‘The wife says; “I need to work in order to survive financially”. She was struggling. Each month her outgoings exceeded her income.
‘That is why she needs maintenance going forward and why the judge made the findings that she did.’

ruled she does still need the maintenance despite working harder to support her family”
Judges at the Court of Appeal ruled she does still need the maintenance despite working harder to support her family
The appeal judges added: ‘The judge congratulated her for getting herself back to work full time with tiny children.
‘The judge found that the husband had not been accurate in his assertions…she accepted the evidence of the wife. We intend to refuse the husband permission to appeal.’
Mr Mickovski was given two months to pay the £34,000 to his ex – who represented herself in court – along with £3,543 in legal costs.
He must keep on paying her £723-a-month maintenance until he comes up with the £34,000 lump sum.
Comment by Richard Buxton
Many ex wives who work think that in this day and age they cannot get maintenance!I generally advise they can and should do so.This case supports my advice!

Living Together?

Judge backs co-habitee over wife in landmark wills ruling
A woman who lived with her partner for nearly two decades has won a court battle for a share of his home after it passed to his estranged wife in the wake of his death.
Joy Williams, 69, lived with Norman Martin, a dentist, for 18 years but he remained married to Maureen Martin and had not updated his will.
They owned their three-bedroom home in Dorchester, Dorset, as tenants in common, which meant the property did not automatically pass to Williams after her partner’s death from a heart attack in 2012.
However, earlier this year in a victory for the rights of unmarried couples, Judge Nigel Gerald said it was “quite plain” that Williams and Norman Martin had in “all material respects” lived in the same household as husband and wife in a committed and loving relationship “in which they expected to spend the rest of their lives”.
The case was contested by Martin’s wife but Judge Gerald ruled in favour of Williams, saying that she had established that she was entitled to make a claim against the estate.
Irwin Mitchell, the law firm acting for Williams, said the case demonstrated the need for “co-habitation laws to be brought into the 21st century” and also highlighted the need for couples living together to have co-habitation agreements in place and up-to-date wills.
Paula Myers, a partner at the firm, said: “There is no such thing as a common law husband or wife and couples who live together do not automatically have the same rights as a married couple or those in a civil partnership.

Unmarried couples who live together should have co-habitation agreements in place outlining who owns property and how bills are divided. People should also ensure that their wills are up to date and reflect their wishes, particularly if their circumstances or relationships change.
Call us for a co-habitation agreement that is tailored made for your situation.
We will email a draft at once.

Xmas message 2016

As we approach the end of 2016, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person I have worked with during the year.
You are my clients and I have enjoyed working with you – I look forward to continuing to do so into 2017 and beyond.

Into the new year, I will be supporting Richard Bacon’s Private Members Bill for “no fault divorce” and restoring local family courts. 27% of divorcing couples who asserted blame in their divorce petition admitted the allegation of fault wasn’t true, but was the easiest option!

Please write to your MP to support this measure and help remove blame from divorce.

Just to remind you that with over 40 years in the legal profession, I’m extremely well-placed to help anyone, even those on a reduced budget, for initial legal advice or a second opinion. With my extensive experience and research abilities, I can try to help with any legal problem or make an introduction to another lawyer with specialist expertise.

Just recently I have helped clients in the following areas:-
• Construction law dispute
• Solicitors negligence
• Property development
• Contesting a Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney
• Personal injury
• Unfair dismissal
• Compensation for airline delay.
I will of course continue to help clients in my main practice areas of Family Law and Mediation.
My very best wishes to you all and your families for a Happy Xmas and successful New Year post-Brexit and in the Trump era – interesting times are ahead!

Richard Buxton LLB FMA
Mortlake Law & Mediation
020 8487 8803

PS – you can follow me on Twitter @MortlakeLaw or find me at

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Domestic Violence

1.8 million adults said they were victims of domestic violence in last year
In last six years 598 women have been killed by current or former partners
There were in England and Wales an estimated 1.8 million adults aged 16 to 59 who said they were a victim of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2016. Women (1.2 million) were more likely to report having experienced domestic abuse than men (651,000), according to the latest release by the Office for National Statistics.

If you are at risk of domestic violence please call us for free help and advice or call the Police on 999.Its serious and it might save your life or avoid pain or injury.