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News review: bishop criticises prenups, tax-mitigating marriages, LegalZoom sold

Marital agreements sends out wrong message to couples

17 February 2014

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Failure message: Proposals to introduce prenuptial agreements into English law would send out a negative message that couples are setting out to fail, according to the bishop of Shrewsbury in The Telegraph. The Law Commission is expected to publish proposals next week that would make prenups enforceable.


Marriage agenda: Property prices and an unfavourable inheritance tax threshold are among the reasons why more young couples are choosing to marry, according to a report in The Telegraph. The average price for a home in London is now £430,000, well over the £325,000 IHT threshold, which the government has frozen for five years.


LegalZoom sale: Private equity house Permira has completed the purchase of online legal platform LegalZoom for an estimated US$200m. The move, announced last month, sees Permira, which owns brands such as and Hugo Boss, become the majority shareholder in LegalZoom. See Business View.


Legal currency: Media specialist Sheridans has become what is believed to be the first law firm to accept Bitcoin in payment for its services, according to Legal Futures. Associate solicitor Eitan Jankelewitz is quoted saying the firm uses a payments processing company that converts the digital currency into sterling and makes a cash payment at the end of each day.


Permissive mother: The High Court has ordered that the children of divorced parents should live with their father after findings that the mother's "permissive parenting in this case has caused the children harm", according to The Times and The Telegraph. The paper quotes Judge Laura Harris saying that "there is a failure to provide proper guidance and boundaries essential for the social and emotional development of these pre-adolescent and adolescent boys" and she has "real concerns about her as a role model".


3ft strip: Four neighbours in the village of Wheaton Aston, Staffs, are getting embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of a strip of land only 3ft-wide. Lawyers for former lorry driver Tom Naylor, who won £15.5m on the lottery in 2001, wrote to the other three claiming the land is his, according to The Telegraph. Judges are regularly reminding neighbours to keep property disputes of this nature out of court, as in the 2012 Cameron v Boggiano case.


'Increasing concerns': The Legal Services Board has expressed "increasing concerns" over the drop in the number of applications for alternative business structures, according to the minutes of its latest board meeting in November 2013 published last week, the Law Society Gazette says. A total of 217 ABS applications have been authorised so far, with 128 between January and October 2013. In the same period, 62 applications were withdrawn. Reasons range from change in the applicant's circumstances to change in business strategy, an SRA spokesman is quoted saying.


Walking in: A joint survey of 113 law firms by Searchflow and the Law Society Gazette suggests conveyancing business has grown by at least 10 per cent in the past year, with 23 per cent reporting a rise of at least 25 per cent. Growth appears to be driven by clients "walking through the door". Only 6 per cent of firms reported growth from lender panel instructions but links with local estate agents generated growth for nearly a third of firms. See Law Society Gazette.


Commercial courts: A new IT system will be rolled out across the Chancery Division - including the Rolls Building - by late 2015, which will allow litigants to file claims online, according to the Law Society Gazette.


Magic Circle: A survey of 380 law graduates suggests Magic Circle firms are failing to attract applicants from non-Oxbridge universities because they are perceived to favour candidates from Britain's top universities. Only 10 per cent of students have applied to the UK's five largest law firms for their first jobs, with more than a third turning to regional or niche firms. See Managing Partner and Recruitment International.

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Marriage & Civil partnership