Withy King Directors’ Briefing

September 4, 2015

Solicitors from Withy King’s corporate commercial and private client teams based in Bath highlight a few recent developments for business owners to be aware of in their professional and personal lives.

Company directors must be ‘natural persons’

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 introduces some of the biggest changes in company law since the Companies Act 2006 came into force. One important change is a requirement for all private company directors to be natural persons (i.e. no more corporate directors). From October, all new directors appointed must be natural persons (or fall into one of the exempt categories) and, after a transitional period (likely to be one year), all existing corporate directors will be deemed removed (subject to the exemptions).

For advice on the exemptions and timescales required for removing corporate directors, please contact James Worrall at james.worrall@withyking.co.uk

Dividend tax credits to be abolished

Dividend tax credits will be abolished and replaced with a tax-free £5,000 dividend allowance, with effect from April 6, 2016. Dividend income over the allowance will be taxed at 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

It is possible that further changes will be made to the regime in the Finance Act 2016. For those with higher dividend incomes, it may be worth starting to think about the timing of future dividend payments as well as their remuneration strategies more generally.

For advice on personal estate planning, please contact Christine Wonnacott at christine.wonnacott@withyking.co.uk

Proactive approach needed to tackle late payments

The Government estimates that SMEs in the UK are owed more than £26bn in late payments. Although there are laws in place to protect companies against late payers, it is still important that businesses’ terms and conditions are in shape and that they have adequate credit control procedures in place to minimise the need to take legal action to recover money owed to them. Having a clear credit control strategy and an automated approach to cashflow is crucial and can achieve noticeable results quickly. 

For help with any debt recovery queries please contact Nicola Cutler at nicola.cutler@withyking.co.uk

Consultation on new gender pay gap laws

The Government recently confirmed its intention to legislate under the Equality Act to require companies with 250 or more employees to publish gender pay gap information. Its consultation paper ‘Closing the Gender Pay Gap’ details the regulations to be made and asks for businesses’ views on the level of gender pay information that should be required and the frequency of publication.

Gender pay gaps are different to equal pay claims. Equal pay focuses on employers treating men and women equally when they carry out broadly similar work. Whereas the gender pay gap is the difference between men and women’s average hourly earnings. On average men in the UK earn more than women, and there continues to be debate as to whether discrimination is the cause of the gap.

If you are concerned about discrimination in the workplace or have any employment law related query please contact Richard White at richard.white@withyking.co.uk

Buying business premises? Always get a survey

A recent High Court decision has emphasised the importance of obtaining a survey before exchange of contracts, due to the principle of ‘buyer beware’ in property transactions. In this case, the buyer chose not to undertake a survey, only realising the extent of the damage at the property after exchange of contracts. The buyer tried to pull out before completion and reclaim their deposit. The Judge disagreed and awarded the full deposit to the seller. This serves as a reminder to buyers that a small initial outlay for a survey can prevent a much larger cost down the line.

For advice on commercial property transactions please contact Paul Daniels at paul.daniels@withyking.co.uk.

Guard against financial claims after divorce

The recent divorce case of Vince v Wyatt provides a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that obtaining a Decree Absolute (the final divorce decree) will also deal with any financial claims between a husband and wife. In this case the former wife has been given permission to proceed with financial claims 18 years after the divorce itself. At the time of the divorce in 1992, the couple were travellers with no significant financial means. Mr Vince is now the sole shareholder of a renewable energy company worth more than £57mn.

The moral of the story is to take advice about obtaining a financial consent order to deal with and dismiss any future financial claims, in addition to concluding the divorce itself.

For a confidential discussion on any family issue, please contact Sharon MacDonald at sharon.macdonald@withyking.co.uk


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