Providing Legal Advice & Guidance

Lady Justice
‘Lady Justice’ by Jenny Rainbow

Following my graduation and entry into legal writing, I noted that one of the obstacles plaguing law firms and high street practices is the rapid provision of clear and detailed answers to pressing legal concerns across numerous disciplines.

While it must be understood that I do not believe this comes from apathy to a client’s needs, the unavoidable need to prioritise workloads and demanding matters often prevents those businesses from delivering swift outcomes to urgent demands. Well, the good news is that there is now help available through my personal law research and consultancy service.

By tackling any legal query or imposition, I am personally able to provide one-to-one support via specially tailored research that can then be delivered electronically as a comprehensive document that will expediently address the problem and immediately prove less costly than tying up a lawyer or solicitor who’s desk is already overspilling with a backlog of matters too complex to simply ‘set aside’. By way of example, shown below are three matters that I worked on during my time at a local law practice, and while not all of them were seen through to completion, they easily demonstrate the clarity and speed at which I work.


Case Example #1

Overage Agreement

Naturally certain details have been omitted for the sake of confidentiality, however the legal essence remains true to the client’s concerns at the time I was able to assist in their decision making. From recollection, the first example was received, researched, written up and returned to the solicitor managing the enquiry within around two hours.

Dear Mr and Mrs ____

The land under discussion contains a restriction on the land register which invokes the application of an overage agreement when triggered.

For clarity, an overage agreement is a right of interest held by the original land owner, and one which provides how any use of the land that falls within the terms set out in the agreement will result in a determinable cost liability on the part of the new land owner.

The trigger for this particular agreement (as is the case in many) comes from a change in use of the land.

The covenant dated ____ defines the change in use as any form of development that:

(i) Requires planning permission and;

(ii) Increases the value of the affected part (that is the area to be built upon) by more than five percent of its current value.

There are exceptions to this, however none of those exceptions allow for commercial use of any kind, yet for further clarification, the overage allows for expansion of the existing residential property by means of extension, or the construction of a separate property, but not those designed to charge rents or from which to derive a profit from private tenancy (which would itself constitute a commercial arrangement).

Again, the focus here is increased personal enjoyment, say from storage of vehicles or provision of sheltered accommodation for extended family or staff, but not from direct financial gain.

The emphasis upon commercial or profit-making changes provides immediate opposition to your plans to convert the use of the land from that of a residential nature to a commercial one (as one would typically expect to receive profits from).

This type of overage is also repeating which means that any applications for planning permission that might follow the first (up to the period of ____) each become triggers for the same payments to the original vendor as described above.

What determines the weight of your payments is naturally the size of each development (or building) that you might choose to erect, while also of importance is whether the commercial use of the land leads to an immediate or even long-term increase in its value (although preliminary research suggests that it does not). 

On this occasion the client indirectly took receipt of my work and was able to effectively calculate the value and associated risk attached to their potential use of the land under title, all of which left them both happy and satisfied with the speed in which their problems were resolved, so as is hopefully obvious to the reader, my ability to help tackle and overcome a complex legal problem demonstrates my effectiveness as an optional legal resource, regardless of the field to which it may relate.


Case Example #2

Easement 

Here was a property issue that many find convoluted and thus difficult to resolve, however I was able to not only advise the client of their options, but also help to explain the limitations of his legal rights against the superiority of statute, both of which removed any potential doubts and fears around how best to enforce private property rights within a multi-party dispute, and giving the client a clear and navigable path should relations have later run aground.

Dear Mr xxxxx

Please find first, the necessary background to your current legal concern as below:

Background

A grant of easement has been issued to ____ (a corporate subsidiary) whom we shall name N in the year ____ with specific restrictions in place as below:

(1) Erection and reasonable maintenance of a lockable gate as per s. _

(2) Reasonable upkeep of the easement including keeping it clear at all times as per s._

(3) Prevention of any general public use of the easement unless permitted by ____ whom we shall name D as per s._

On this occasion, the grantee N ignored restriction 1 before undergoing dissolution, at which point the land was acquired by H (who already owned N) and who then let the land to ____ whom we shall name T, who then allowed use of the easement by a third party ____ whom we shall name F as part of an earlier road development scheme, despite restriction (3) remaining in effect.

It is presently unclear if the easement terms were included within the tenancy agreement, hence T allowing F to use the easement and the land for soil storage.

D has since offered to erect a lockable gate and send an invoice to N, unless N complies with the terms of the easement.  

In ____ a Compulsory Acquisition Order was granted with effect as of ____ in relation to a redevelopment of the road mentioned above.

This order suspends and extinguishes all existing rights over the land until completion of the road redevelopment.

From the drawings provided it would appear that the Acquisition Order directly affects D’s ability to enforce the easement until completion of the redevelopment, which is scheduled to end sometime in the next 3-4 years.

Additional comments

D has expressed that despite the temporary suspension of land ownership rights he would like a gate erected now, therefore under these circumstances I would advise that:

(A) D erects and pays for the gate and retains the invoice until completion of the road redevelopment, after which D could contact N with a view to requesting full payment under the terms of the easement (however I am unsure as to whether the easement is enforceable by a court and so would suggest that further investigation is needed in this area).

Or:

(B) D contacts N to request a lockable gate be erected on or around the completion date of the road redevelopment, or should N refuse to comply, the matter would need to be escalated in accordance with D’s grantor rights.  

In this instance, the matter was researched and resolved within around three hours of my receipt, which is far quicker than that one might anticipate from an experienced property lawyer who would no doubt have already been swamped with numerous pending caseloads prior to the initial enquiry.


Case Example #3

Boundary Dispute

Below is an uncompleted yet highly detailed draft of counsel instructions written by me whilst assisting in a civil litigation department. I had sadly been given little guidance when working on the matter, however as you will see from the reading, there was more than met the eye, and so the project itself raised far more questions that had at first been considered, all of which made my personal approach highly effective when looking to save time both inside and outside of the courts.

This was a matter between private residents that had become a protracted and largely unresolved issue prior to my involvement. As you will see from my work the heart of the matter was quickly given proper address and much of what was needed could have been attained without any need for a hearing.

I am unaware as to how the matter was resolved, but my brief contribution no doubt assisted those representing the client and hopefully the barrister advocating the matter before the appointed judge. My time was given in small chunks due to other duties, however I would estimate that the work here would have totalled no more than 3-4 hours, once again far shorter than one might expect when consulting a qualified English solicitor acting within the field of civil litigation.

Counsel is instructed in a planned proceedings between a Mr X and Mr Y in relation to a boundary dispute of land situated in the northern side of ____.

Since the land belonging to Mr X was purchased in ____ he has been of the understanding that the conveyancing plans filed and registered upon first registration were in fact the correct representation of the boundary lines associated with the title and has continued to use the land as was his assumed right until ____ whereupon it was argued that his neighbour Mr Y, who had acquired title to a small parcel of adjoining land in ____ did in fact own the area use by Mr X when widening his driveway entrance in ____, and that Mr Y’s conveyancing plans were representative of the conflict.  

This differing of opinion led Mr X to serve notice in ____ that the Land Registry rectify the existing plans to show their original dimensions, and that the plans held by Mr Y are misrepresentative and inaccurate; a notice that was subsequently objected to by Mr Y.

A Triangulated History

There appears to be historic reliance upon verbal agreements between the original estate owner Mr G and Mr Y that prior to the sale of land to Mr Y permission had been granted to Mr X by Mr G in terms of use of the driveway area, regardless of any future register of title to the adjoining plot.

This fact has never been held in contention by Mr Y which translates that the agreement had allowed Mr X continuous and uninterrupted use of the land in question for a period of almost twenty-six years, while it must also be considered that with reference to the equitable principles surrounding the Land Registry Act 2002 (more specifically the insurance principle) it is understood that any flaws found to be contained with the register provides payable compensation to those parties affected.

It is reasonable to believe that on this occasion there are discrepancies around the exact size of the plot contested, and that despite acting in good faith, Mr X has been a victim of a clerical error that has transcended into a boundary dispute in need of a clear resolution.

There has also been an instance where a newly erected fence on what Mr X perceives as his own land has been removed by Mr Y without reason or apology for causing damage to property not belonging to him. Whether this is of a criminal nature or an act of reckless intent adds only more fuel to the fire and has not shown itself as conducive to a positive outcome in an escalating civil dispute.

In ____ Mr X again requested that the title plans for Mr Y’s land be adjusted to remove the portion of land claimed to be under ownership by Mr X which was objected to by Mr Y in ____. In ____ Mr Y commissioned an independent survey of his land and it was claimed that the majority of the entranceway used by Mr X fell within the boundary lines of Mr Y’s land.

Additional issues arising from the primary dispute

Numerous questions are raised around the origins of this dispute, particularly the oversight of the Land Registry when deciding to go ahead and register the conveyance plans submitted by the appointed surveyors. One would question whether this miscalculation falls upon the surveyors as opposed to Mr X, while also asking if this error would be tantamount to a contractual breach?

Although with consideration of the letter from the district land registry, there does seem to be a tone of burdening the original claimant Mr X with the clerical error, or even ‘passing the buck’ by suggesting that he ought not to have trusted the plans provided him in good faith by a firm paid and experienced in matters of land ownership and title transfer, and of their importance to a purchaser regardless of first or subsequent registrations of title.

One would also question whether sch.4 of the Land Registry Act 2002 has been properly considered, and if so, what level of compensation might be payable to Mr X where agreement can be found regards sufferance resulting from an ill-defined plan that perhaps never warranted submission or acceptance by the Land Registry to begin with. 

I would ask if there has been any attempt to seek clarification from the original land owner Mr G regards his verbal agreements between himself and Mr X and Y accordingly, as this would help shed further light upon what was agreed in terms of possible easement rights by either prescription or implication where and if Mr G can be persuaded to confirm his position in writing.

Another question surrounds surveys as a prerequisite to first registration of land, as there are already evident errors and confusion around first registration of the land under discussion, as noted in the District Land Registry letter, and one might need to ask if such surveys are legally required?

Alteration of the land register upon grounds of mistake can rely upon Chowood Ltd v Lyall (2) and Baxter v Mannion, which both address unlawful registration of proprietary interest, while it is also worth noting that the mistake need not be made by the Land Registry to find effect. Furthermore, rectification or alteration of the title that causes loss under sch. 8 of the Land Registry Act 2002 results in indemnity payment as previously mentioned.

As you will see from just these three examples, I possess both the skills and legal insight to research and thereby alleviate any legal issue in need of redress. I have full access to an international legal and case law database and an enviable collection of legal texts covering numerous jurisdictions, while my fees are £60 per hour.

Court Assistance

It is also important to note that I am able to provide invaluable support when attending court in civil and family matters. This is achieved through the guise of a ‘McKenzie Friend’ (further information available here), and so should you wish to contact me, please use the form below or email me directly at contact@theblackletter.co.uk in order for us to discuss your needs in greater detail.