Advice on English law

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Advice on English law

Real estate transactions

Investing in commercial properties issues

Disputes with landlord or management company

Disputes between business partners

Intellectual property

Consumer protection

Employment disputes

Family law

Inheritance in england, inheritance tax

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Alternative citizenship

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Apostilles, documents certification

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REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS
We advise on the whole spectrum of real estate transactions, both residential and commercial (purchase, sale, inheritance, gift, purchase of freehold (collective enfranchisement), renewal of the lease), registering the transfer of ownership in the Land Registry.

We will:
- Conduct due diligence of the real estate
- Examine title deeds / epitome of title
- Draw up or review the contract for the transfer of real estate
- Obtain a landlord’s / management company’s consent to the transfer of the real estate
- Advise on taxes arising from the purchase and sale of the property
INVESTING IN COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES ISSUES
Have you invested in commercial property in England (hotel, student hostel, parking spaces, storage cells) aiming to have rental income from your property, but management company does not pay you? 

We will check the terms of the deal, the structure of promised rental payments, and negotiate with the management company and landlord.

If your purchase was conducted through lawyers or brokers, we will examine the advice you received from them on the purchase and the terms of profitability to which you agreed. If we find the lawyers' / brokers’ mistakes or their lack of advice reasonably expected on the key issues of the transaction, we will file a complaint against the lawyers' / brokers and obtain compensation from their insurance companies in your favor for the losses you incurred as a result of incorrect or missing legal advice.
DISPUTES WITH LANDLORD OR MANAGEMENT COMPANY
Sometimes it happens that the landlord/management company issues an excessive service charge bill or fails to meet their obligation to repair the premises. Commercial real estate investors do not always receive their promised rent payments.   

We specialize in negotiating with landlords/management companies in such cases and obtaining compensation for investors. 

If the matter relates to residential properties long-term leases, we can help transfer the rights of the management company to the tenants (Right-To-Manage).
DISPUTES BETWEEN BUSINESS PARTNERS
When starting a joint business, hiring company directors, the partners do not always execute an agreement between themselves, do not formalize service agreements with company directors, do not formulate in the company's articles the rules of mutual contribution into the company running and other business affairs. 

Such omissions often lead to conflicts between partners / shareholders and causes situations when one partner / shareholder forces the other out of the business, fires the existing director who is also a shareholder or does not allow him to manage the company. 

How to solve these issues?

- Negotiate between the conflicting parties and enter into a partners / shareholders agreement 
- If negotiations are not successful and a partner / shareholder wants to leave the business, offer to the remaining partners / shareholders to buy out the leaving party’s shares at market price
- Submit an unfair prejudice claim to the court
- File for liquidation of business and sale of assets
- Obtain a fair compensation to the fired director due to him/her under the employment law
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Have you developed a new computer program, created a work or invention, and your competitor has copied it and is profiting from it, or even managed to be the first person to register a trademark similar to yours? Is your employee claiming rights to an intellectual product he or she created on your company's behalf? 
We will provide a full range of services for the protection of intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, brands):
- Register your trademark
- Resolve disputes about the authorship and usage of intellectual property
- Draw up contracts with your employees so that the products of their work are under the copyright protection for the benefit of your company
- Draft confidentiality contracts for business purposes
- Create agreements on the copyright transfer
CONSUMER PROTECTION
Are you unhappy with the quality of goods or services and have complained to the seller or service provider, but they refused to replace the goods, complete the work or refund your money? In the case of unfair behavior of the seller or service provider, we will help to defend your interests:
- Examine the case and offer a plan of action;
- Submit a letter before claim to the provider of services or seller of goods;
- Arrange an independent expertise of the quality of services or goods;
- File on your behalf a claim to the court to obtain a compensation for you.
EMPLOYMENT DISPUTES
Issues arising in the course of employment not always can be resolved through negotiation. An aggrieved employee may claim salary underpayment or poor working conditions or unfair dismissal. Employers also needs protection, for example, when recovering of material damages caused by an employee's actions.

A competent employment lawyer can help you solve these problems.

- Individual employment disputes
- Collective employment disputes
- Damage to health at the workplace
- Unfair dismissal
- Employer's defense
- Recovery of damages from an employee
- Other cases arising from employment relationships
FAMILY LAW
We are sympathetic to clients whose family life was, unfortunately, not so happy. Family arguments, turning into conflicts, sometimes escalate to litigation. 
- We will draft a prenuptial / postnuptial agreement for you
- Solve family disputes, negotiate child contact arrangement order for you
- Advise on the division of marriage property 
- Conduct divorce proceedings
INHERITANCE IN ENGLAND, INHERITANCE TAX
England is known for high inheritance taxes, the rate is up to 40%, and, in addition, the testator’s overseas assets can also be taxed, so clients often want to know more about a possibility to minimize the inheritance tax and a probate procedure to follow.

When planning an estate, it is important to know the size and value of your assets, your residency status in the country, your family structure, and whether you have any other dependents. 

There are tax exemptions and reliefs for business and business-related property transfers.

We can advise you on inheritance tax planning and help you draft a will.
ALTERNATIVE CITIZENSHIP
In an unstable and changing world, acquiring alternative citizenship is the right decision and a valuable investment for the future.
Alternative citizenship helps providing protection in times of political disturbances, enabling tax optimization, creating effective tax planning and bank transaction confidentiality, expanding investments and business opportunities, and providing visa-free entry to more than 150 countries around the world.
You receive a second citizenship for life, and if you wish, you can also include your spouse, children, parents, siblings, providing the whole family with the widest range of living, education, and business opportunities. 
The most inexpensive and popular destinations among our customers are the Caribbean Islands: St. Lucia (the cheapest option for a single applicant), St. Kitts and Nevis (the cheapest option for families), Dominica, Grenada, Vanuatu. Investments start from $100,000, no residency or knowledge of a foreign language is required. The application is submitted and reviewed remotely within 2-3 months.
Wealthy clients are interested in more expensive destinations, mostly Europe: Malta, Cyprus, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Monaco. Investments required start from 1 million Euros. Investor visa to the United Kingdom is in particular demand among high-net-worth individuals. 
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Your lawyer

Solicitor in England and Wales, attorney in Russia

Julia Ustinovskaya

London, United Kingdom

20 years' experience in civil cases

legal support for business, commercial property investments, litigation, real estate transactions, tax and property law

I help clients find solutions in the most complex and challenging legal situations

2020 – To present
2017 – 2020
2013 – 2014
SOLICITOR, SMART PROPERTY LEGAL (LONDON)
LEGAL CASE MANAGER, LEGAL CASE MANAGEMENT (LONDON)
LEGAL ASSISTANT, CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU (LONDON)
1998 – 2013
ADVOCATE, INIURCOLLEGUIA, ATTORNEYS AT LAW (MOSCOW, RUSSIA)
EDUCATION
2017 - 2020
Legal Practice course (LPC), The CITY LAW SCHOOL, LONDON
Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme

2003 - 2005
Bachelor’s in Finance, financial university under the government of the Russian federation

1992 - 1997
Bachelor’s in jurisprudence, Moscow state social university
WORK EXPERIENCE

2020 – TO PRESENT
SOLICITOR, SMART PROPERTY LEGAL (LONDON)
  • Advised clients as a privately practicing lawyer on real estate transaction, taxes, inheritance matter, business set up and legal support, handled commercial and employment contracts, produced shareholders’ agreements, resolved partnership disputes, managed administration and liquidation of companies, negotiated creditors voluntary arrangements, worked in several creditors’ committees;

  • Managed full cycles of real estate conveyancing, commercial and residential, related to purchase, sale, gift, lease extension (from the pre-exchange stage to post-completion); resolved disputes with landlords; registered titles in the Land Registry;

  • Handled financial cases, assisted clients at each step of investing in commercial and residential properties in the UK and other countries, gave general advice about mortgages and procedure, insurance, calculated investments profitability, supported bank transactions over the world, collected and reviewed anti-money laundering documents, carried out legal and financial due diligence;

  • Provided legal services as an in-house commercial lawyer, drafted and reviewed services agreements, NDAs, quality agreements, dealt with corporate governance and GPDR compliance matters; managed and remediated business properties transactions, purchase and sale, leases, deeds of surrender, licences;

  • Prepared cases for trial, took witness statements, drafted statements of case (claim, defence, particulars of claim, etc.), disclosure statements, interim applications, organised trial bundles, attended tribunals, assisted with cases settlement;

  • Resolved professional negligence cases, filed claims against solicitors and financial brokers; settled disputes through ADR: mediation, negotiation, expert determination, arbitration; provided return of investments through solicitors’ insurance companies, administration or liquidation of debtors;

  • Researched law and precedents, investigated and analysed corporate filings, media records, property registers, litigation records, bankruptcy filings, judgments and liens, regulatory filings and other publicly available material; conducted investigations and worldwide assets search through open-sources, public records and source enquiries;

  • Led second citizenship investment and tax residence programmes (Cyprus, Malta, Caribbean countries); represented high valued individuals, provided extensive and detailed consultancies, coached them about the best immigration programme suitable to their needs depending on their family requirements, taxation expectations and/or investments purposes.
2017 – 2020
LEGAL CASE MANAGER, LEGAL CASE MANAGEMENT (LONDON)
  • Conducted real estate due diligence and property appraisals, reviewed deeds and titles
  • Revised documents regarding surveying, insurance and other
  • Provided legal advice to investors regarding real estate projects
2013 – 2014
LEGAL ASSISTANT, CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU (LONDON)
  • Entered data into clients' cases in computer systems
  • Coordinated communication between advisors and clients
  • Maintained database, arranged appointments
  • Sorted out correspondence, organized paperwork, answered emails
1998 – 2013
ADVOCATE, INIURCOLLEGUIA, ATTORNEYS AT LAW (MOSCOW, RUSSIA)
  • Managed Russian civil law cases, including family law and probate cases
  • Provided legal assistance in real estate deals and immigration cases in Russia, the UK and Europe
  • Produced contracts and agreements
Advice
Examples of questions and answers
Question: What taxes arise on the purchase or sale of real estate and how can one legally reduce the tax liability arising from the purchase or sale of real estate?
Answer: 1) The buyer of the property incurs Stamp Duty on Land (SDLT), which is payable within 14 days of completion of the transaction and is calculated according to the formula:

Property value, tiers,
Stamp Duty rate for a specific part of the property value

Up to £125,0000%
From £125,001 to £250,000 | 2% (on the part of the value from £125,001 to £250,000)
From £250,001 to £925,000 | 5% (on the part of the value from £250,001 to £925,000)
From £925,001 to £1.5 mln | 10% (on the part of the value from £925,001 to £1.5 mln)
More than £1,5 mln | 12% on the remainder over £1,5 mln

However, if the buyer has not lived in the UK for 183 days in 12 months preceding the property purchase, this 'non-resident' buyer will pay Stamp Duty 2% higher than indicated in the table above. 

2) A buyer of a commercial (non-residential) property may incur a VAT charge of 20% if such property has been owned by the seller for less than 3 years.

3) Capital Gains Tax (CGT) may arise on the property sale and must be paid within 60 days of transaction completion. The CGT rate varies according to the seller's income / tax band and the amount of gain (capital gain) achieved on the property sale. Capital Gains Tax on residential property can be 18% or 28% on the gain (not on the sale price).

Usually, sellers do not pay Capital Gains Tax on the sale of main residence, with some exceptions.
Question: A client, a director of a company, is concerned that his partner, who is a second director of the same company, has breached his duties as a director. The client would like to understand whether he would be liable for the actions of his partner-director.
Answer: The consequences of a director's duties breach can be very severe. A director can be held personally liable for breach of duty. While a shareholder's liability is limited to the amount, if any, that remains unpaid on that shareholder's shares, a company director's activities carry significant risk.

A director may be held personally liable, including for breach of duties, to:
- the company;
- investors or shareholders who blame the director for their losses;
- employees for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

A director is also personally liable under health and safety legislation, environmental and anti-bribery legislation and so on.

Each director must keep himself / herself informed of the affairs of the company and supervise actions of the other directors. Even if a director has not actively participated in a breach of duty committed by the other directors, each director nevertheless has an overall responsibility for the management of the company.

Of course, the extent of each individual director's responsibility will depend on all of the circumstances and on the role each director has played in the company. The consequences for individual directors may be different.
Question: Client, a director and 65% shareholder of a company, wishes to dismiss the second director, who is also a 35% shareholder of the company, because he has not participated in the management of the company for a long time. How can this be done in the absence of the second director's consent to the dismissal?
Answer: First of all, it is important to check what the process for dismissal of a director is set out in the articles of association of the company. If the articles of association are model, not tailored, and the dismissal process is not prescribed therein, it is necessary to comply with s. 168 of the Companies Act 2006 which states that a director can be dismissed by a shareholders resolution passed by a simple majority (more than 50%).

A shareholder wishing to table such a resolution at a shareholders general meeting must give a special notice to the company. The company must then send this notice immediately to the director who is proposed to be dismissed. The directors of the company must then jointly convene a general meeting of shareholders within 28 days to vote on the dismissal and send a draft resolution to the shareholders.

However, in the absence of a quorum of 2 directors, the company will not be able to follow the above route and call a shareholders general meeting. In such scenario, shareholders themselves can force the company to call the shareholders general meeting to vote on the director’s dismissal within 21 days from the date of sending a notice under s. 303 of the Companies Act.

Subsequently, even when the second director is not cooperative, the process of his dismissal is inevitable, but may be delayed by at least 7 weeks.
Question: Client, a property buyer, wants to build an extension to the house, replace windows and renovate the heating system after the purchase. He asks what consents and permissions he might need.
Answer: Usually, a local authority’s consent is required for the development or renovation of a property. There are two types of consents (building regulations consent and planning permission) and it is important to know which one to apply for. It is advisable to apply for a preliminary consent before buying the property.

If a client intends to carry out development or change of use of the existing property from commercial to residential or vice versa, both consents – a planning permission and building regulation consent is likely to be required.

However, permission is deemed to have been given for certain kinds of development mostly of minor nature. Examples include the erection of fences (up to certain height), exterior painting of property (subject to not amounting to advertising), small extensions to most buildings such as a rear kitchen extension (subject to restrictions on size and position), re-roofing a house and converting retail to restaurants.

If, on the other hand, repairs will only be carried out internally (installing or replacing doors, windows, heating, air conditioning, fuse boxes, replacing electrics, plumbing, insulating walls, repairing the drainage system), it is likely that only building regulations consent will be required. To obtain this consent, an application must be submitted to the local authority or a private building inspector.

For routine repairs and maintenance, such as replacing a sink, toilet or bathtub, replacing lighting and socket outlets, no approval is required.
Question: A customer's cohabiting partner died suddenly without leaving a Will. They had lived together for 15 years and have children together. Is the client entitled to inherit from the deceased partner?
Answer: Since the client was not married to the deceased, unfortunately, she has no automatic right to inherit the late partner’s estate as there is no Will. Nevertheless, the client can make a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act. For the claim to be successful there are two factors to be satisfied: 1) she continued to live with the testator as his wife for 2 years preceding the date of his death; 2) the client was financially dependent on the testator immediately before the date of death.

The claim for financial maintenance must be filed within 6 months from the date of grant of representation issued by the court of probate.

The court will consider the following factors to make a decision:

- financial resources and needs of the client
- testator's moral obligations and responsibilities towards the client
- size and nature of the estate
- age, medical diagnoses of the client
- client's contribution to the family's well-being, her general conduct
- what she might reasonably expect to receive if the marriage/partnership had ended with divorce/dissolution - not death
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