UK’s Supreme Court: Uber drivers must be treated as workers

The decision could mean thousands of Uber drivers are entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay. The ruling could leave the ride-hailing app facing a hefty compensation bill, and have wider consequences for the gig economy. Uber said the ruling centred on a small number of drivers and it had since made changes to its business. In a long-running legal battle, Uber had finally appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three earlier rounds. Uber’s share price dipped as US trading began on Friday as investors grappled with what impact the London ruling could have on the firm’s business model. It is being challenged by its drivers in multiple countries over whether they should be classed as workers or self-employed. Last week the Supreme Court ordered that Uber drivers are not self-employed, rather they are workers.

This will have implications not only for Uber, but for the wider gig economy, which accounts for millions of people.

By being classed as a worker, rather than someone who is self-employed, an Uber driver will now be entitled to certain legal protections such as protection from discrimination and rights to rest periods.

The court also highlighted that in determining someone’s status, a tribunal should examine what is actually happening in the relationship and not just what is stated in any documentation.

So, calling someone self-employed in an agreement will not help if,  in reality, that person is a worker.

It is important, that employers review their contracts to ensure that they are accurate.

The law in this article is correct as of 23 February 2021.

If you have any employment law queries, please do not hesitate to contact David Nathan at dnathan@gscsolicitors.com or on 020 7822 2247.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

 

Advising a family

Advising a family on their governance and succession planning is a skill that private client solicitors need, and, fortunately, many have.  Individuals now, more than ever, recognise the need to enhance and protect family wealth for current and subsequent generations, and avoid the erosion of the wealth (and family harmony) caused by costly disputes along the way.  Many families are developing a family governance structure as a pre-emptive strike, in order to provide practical core guidance as to how the family should operate their succession and business matters through the generations.

Succession issues within a family structure may be relatively straightforward, but equally can be emotive and complex.  These issues can be complicated by the existence of certain rules, based upon an individual’s domicile or religion, which restrict that individual’s right to leave his entire estate as s/he wishes on death.  An added layer of complexity arises where a key family member has built up a business by him or herself and is now concerned with business succession planning as well as the wider aspects of the family’s global estate and succession.  This is particularly important where some (if not all) of the core family members, or different strands of the family, are involved in the running of the business.  Different family members may have competing interests within the business, and will often have different expectations regarding the inheritance of the business.  Where a family business exists, the succession issues for the family and the business are often linked.  Ideally, these two issues should be reviewed together, with the more complex decisions regarding the management of the family business being made in light of the overall succession strategy for the family as a whole.  A balance must often be struck between ensuring the continuity of the business, preservation of the business and family assets, and protection of the family members, particularly if any are vulnerable.

Potential conflicts between siblings must also be managed – a son might expect to inherit a greater share than his sister, or a daughter might have greater business skills than her brother who may wish to simply “cut and run” with his ‘share’ of the company.  Further problems arise when a child is unwilling to join the family business when expected to do so, when family members wish to leave the business, or when children of the family marry and there is an expectation that the new spouse (who might have greater business skills than the patriarch’s own bloodline) might join the business.  What is that spouses’ interest to be, pure remuneration or an equity stake?  What happens when a child of the family leaves the jurisdiction?  What happens when there is a relationship breakdown, e.g. as a result of divorce or family dispute, or where a child of the family becomes vulnerable to third party creditors, or is simply a frivolous spendthrift by nature and needs protection from him or herself?

Solutions to any possible problems must be bespoke and relevant to the family.  No assumptions should be made.  There should be no discussion of solutions until all the issues have been identified.  It is tempting for a lawyer, when meeting with a family for the first time, to roll out a whole raft of documents designed to deal with all possible scenarios (often from a prescribed set of precedents).  Nothing is more important than the facilitation of an open forum for discussion between the family members, with a platform for each of the key family members to raise their own particular concerns and issues.

Some families may not require any formal documentation whatsoever.  The process of discussion, facilitated by the independent lawyer, might be enough to set in place that family’s unwritten, but nevertheless effective family governance structure.  Other families might simply want a basic ‘Heads of Terms’ on one page.  Alternatively a family might want a full bible of documents to deal with every eventuality that might be envisaged.  At first glance, this seems like the ideal solution, but in practice could be dangerous if the family then places too much reliance on prescriptive documentation and is then unequipped to deal with an unforeseen eventuality.  The ideal solution is often somewhere in the middle, i.e. a governance structure that is both detailed enough to provide clear and concise guidance, but wide and fluid enough to enable flexibility and change within the family unit and dynamics of the often complex family relationships.

At the very least, all of the adult family members should have a Will in place.  Trust structures are still commonly used for succession planning (and particularly where an individual wishes to segregate funds for clarity), and carefully worded letters of wishes should sit alongside these documents.  Instead of, or in addition to any trusts, a family might wish to consider other vehicles for planning, such as a family investment company with a careful division of share rights.  For unmarried couples, a cohabitation agreement might be useful.  For married couples there is an increasing use of prenuptial agreements (and often post-nuptial agreements for couples moving in and out of new jurisdictions, or who are already married when the planning takes place).  Where a family business structure is in place, there may be a number of business documents that would be useful, such as partnership or shareholders agreements etc.  It is important that these documents are not seen as stand-alone documents, but are integral to the overall family planning structure in order to avoid potential conflict and contradiction between them.

It is not uncommon for an individual to prefer that the spouse and children ‘sort it out amongst themselves’ after his or her death, and this approach keeps our dispute resolution colleagues busy, but it is without doubt best avoided.  A carefully configured bespoke governance structure, achieved as a result of continuing collaboration by the family, should be the favoured choice.

For further question in relation to  Private Client Partner Amanda Chapman on achapman@gscsolicitors.com or 020 7822 2254.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

 

What is Islamic Finance?

Islamic finance is a financial system that keeps within the moral and ethical principles of Islamic law (known as Sharia) and is therefore Sharia compliant.

Islamic financial principles have been around since the advent of Islam in the 7th century CE. However, the formal establishment of a fully-fledged system was introduced in the 1960s in Egypt, with Islamic finance entering the UK markets in the 1980s.

Whilst Islamic financial institutions are able to offer many similar products to those offered by other finance institutions, the main difference lies within the practices and principles that are used. Most banks offer lending and borrowing based on interest, whereas Islamic financial institutes are not lending institutes, instead they work as trading/investment houses.

Islamic law aims to promote social justice in the economy through a number of prohibitions and requirements. The main prohibitions in Islamic finance include a ban on interest, prohibiting investments in forbidden (haram) items/activities, prohibiting speculation (maisir) and uncertainty and risk (gharar). Islam requires all Muslims to pay a mandatory almsgiving (zakat) which is a compulsory donation to charity once an individual meets the minimum threshold for payment.

Islamic law prohibits interest (riba) as in Islam, money itself has no intrinsic value and instead is seen as a measure of value, and not valuable in itself. It is a medium of exchange or a unit of measurement, but not an asset. Each unit is equal in value to another unit in the same denomination and it is therefore not permissible for a profit to be made by exchanging these units (money) with another person/entity.

Instead of promoting transactions that favour one party over the other, Islam encourages partnership. This means that, where possible, both profit and risk are shared between the parties.

There are many forms of partnership agreements, including mudarabah which is a profit and loss sharing partnership offered by most Islamic financial institutions. This form of partnership is one where one partner provides all the capital (silent partner/financer) and the other partner (working partner) provides expertise and is responsible for the management and investment of the capital. The profits are then shared between the parties according to a pre-agreed ratio. The losses (if any) unless caused by negligence or breach of contract are borne by the financer/Islamic bank.

Islamic finance products and services are available to all and not just Muslims.

If you wish to discuss Islamic finance products and the options available to you, please contact Leila Mustafa on lmustafa@gscsolicitors.com or 020 7822 2243.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended

It was announced on 26 January that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as furlough) is to be extended once again. This time it is to be extended from 31 March 2021 to 30 April 2021.

The amount that an employer can claim under the scheme will remain the same (being 80% of an employee’s salary, capped at £2,500 per month, in respect of hours not worked), it is just the length of the scheme that has changed.

Given that the UK economy is still in lockdown, the extending of the scheme is to be welcomed. However, the reality may be that, for some employees, all the extension is doing is kicking the harsh can of redundancy further down the line.

The law in this article is current as of 1 February 2021.

If you have any employment law queries, please do not hesitate to contact David Nathan at dnathan@gscsolicitors.com or on 020 7822 2247.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

Digital Assets & Wills

In our modern world which increasingly relies on technology, digital assets are something that people who use a computer, tablet or smartphone certainly have. While digital assets may not necessarily have a monetary value, they definitely have sentimental value. For example, photographs and videos create memories which makes them irreplaceable and priceless. This is why it is so important for people to understand what will happen to their digital assets and include them in their wills.

While social media accounts, emails and online account details may be treasured even more than physical possessions, very few people understand the importance of access to such information, and digital assets are very often overlooked in wills. The most obvious examples of digital assets are:

  • Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
  • Share Trading Accounts
  • Email Accounts
  • Bank Accounts including PayPal
  • Online Gambling Sites
  • Virtual Currency
  • Cloud Storage
  • Content Holders – eBooks, Spotify, iTunes, etc.
  • Online Auction Sites – eBay, Gumtree, etc.
  • Domain Names.

According to the Law Society, the number of people making or updating their wills has skyrocketed during the pandemic. However, in spite of all these efforts, the majority of people still do not have their affairs in order.

The research conducted by the Law Society has found that 93% of those who have a will in place have not included any digital assets in it, and three quarters of people do not know what will happen to their digital assets at all.

Considering your digital assets when making a Will is more important than ever and in the event of death you need to consider putting in place a Will that makes provisions for the management of digital assets and to maintain a log of the digital assets you have.

At GSC Solicitors LLP we are able to advise people on the best way to include both their physical and digital assets in their wills. This is crucial to ensure that people’s estates will be inherited according to their wishes, and their family members will not face any unnecessary difficulties that will cause additional stress to their already grieving families.

To have a quick chat with about adding digital assets to your existing will or even if you do not have one in place, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on jcohen@gscsolicitors.com or 0207 822 2257.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Hong Kong BN(O) visa policy

Hong Kong BN(O) visa policy

The Secretary of State for the Home Department has announced that the UK will create a bespoke immigration route for British Nationals (Overseas) from Hong Kong (“BN(O)”).  This new Hong Kong BN(O) visa policy is a very generous one without imposing skills tests or minimum income requirements, economic needs tests or caps on numbers and will allow BN(O) holders to reside and work or study in the UK, with a pathway to settlement and then citizenship.

The visa will be valid for up to 5 years, and thereafter, provided that the visa holders have stayed free of criminality, have supported themselves financially and otherwise complied with the terms of the visa, they will be able to apply for settled status; and they may apply for UK citizenship after a further year of stay.

Private Client – Pre-Migration Planning

If you are considering coming to the UK under the new Hong Kong BN(O) visa, it is important that you understand the personal tax and legal implications that apply prior to, on and after your arrival in the UK.

Our Private Client team is adept at advising on the full suite of private client services (including tax planning) and when combined with our firm’s well-established corporate and property departments, we are able to provide you with holistic, tailored advice to make sure that you have the best strategy to relocate to the UK. Our advice may include, for example:

  • How best to structure purchase of UK real estate
  • Setting up onshore and offshore trusts for wealth preservation
  • Succession planning to help ensure assets in various jurisdictions are dealt with in the most efficient way
  • Residence and remittance planning for Income tax and Capital Gain tax purpose
  • How to structure investments into the UK
  • Multiple jurisdictional Wills and Powers of Attorney
Property investment in the UK – commercial or residential

The UK is a long-established favourite for property investors all over the world. Whether you are thinking of purchasing UK properties for yourself or for investment purpose, our Real Estate lawyers will be able to assist you. We are a firm that takes a modern and commercial approach to property law but retains traditional values.  We ensure that your matter will always be dealt with in a cost-effective way by a fee earner at the most appropriate level with appropriate seniority to make sure you receive the service you deserve.

Commercial Property

Our clients range from leading property owners and institutional and private investors to developers and builders, banks and financial institutions, hoteliers, private landlords, entrepreneurs, franchisees, blue chip tenants with complex occupational leases, leisure and healthcare property owners, start-up businesses, established business occupiers and high net-worth individuals, UK-based or off-shore.

Each of them values our significant market reputation and experience in dealing with all types of real estate transaction.

We provide advice on property matters at all levels and have acted on some of the most high profile and cutting edge landlord and tenant cases of the last 10 years including the ground-breaking decision of Daejan Investments Limited v Benson and others and, possibly the most important landlord and tenant case in front of the courts in recent years, EMI Group Ltd v O & H Q1 Ltd.

Talk to GSC’s Real Estate team about:

Residential Property

GSC’s residential property lawyers deal with high value conveyancing throughout England and Wales, including Crown property and other historical estates.  We understand the complex issues that can arise when dealing with such properties and we know that your best interests are only best served when your conveyancing is managed in a way that fits seamlessly with your tax, family and private wealth management.

That is why residential conveyancing with GSC is never carried out in isolation.  Talk to us and you will find your property lawyers working alongside our Private Client team to ensure all your interests are carefully considered and protected.

Our property lawyers can assist in all aspects of residential property law including the disposal or acquisition of freeholds and leaseholds, lease extensions, enfranchisement and rights of first refusal.

Carey Xu, Associate Solicitor

Carey is an Associate Solicitor in the Private Wealth Team.

She has an extensive experience in dealing with High Net Worth individuals with complex immigration and wealth planning matters. She also acted for start-ups and corporate businesses for business immigration and employment issues. Carey has 100% success rate of all the immigration applications represented to date.

She is also the Head of China Desk looking after Chinese speaking clients on a range of immigration, private client, company commercial, property and intellectual property matters.  She is fluent in Chinese and English.

If you and/or your business is thinking to relocate to the U.K., please ensure to make Carey as your first port of call.

GSC Solicitors LLP

T: +44(020) 7822 222

E: cxu@gscsolicitors.com

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Online court hearings – How to prepare yourself?

As we all know, courts also had to move to online platforms allowing hearings to still take place in the time of the pandemic.

However, as it is a new way for both, courts and those attending hearings in any other relevant capacity, how does one prepare themselves for an online hearing?

In today’s video under The GSC Academy digital series, GSC’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution expert Mark Richardson provides you with a step-by-step guide how to prepare yourself in the best way, should you find yourself in the situation when you’d need to attend an online court hearing:

 

For further questions please contact Mark Richardson directly on mrichardson@gscsolicitors.com or 0207 822 2240.

© 2020 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Capital Gains Tax Review: Clawback Proposals

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), an independent adviser to the Government, has been asked by Chancellor, Rishi Sunak to review Capital Gains Tax (CGT) to identify any potential administrative and technical issues and need for reform.

It is inevitable that taxes will have to rise to meet the cost of supporting the British economy through the COVID-19 pandemic, and this review is likely to use CGT as a way of increasing revenue for the Government.

We expect the report, to be released in early 2021, to make the following recommendations:

  1. to change the CGT rates to align them with Income Tax rates
  2. to reduce the number of CGT rates, and the extent to which liabilities depend on the level of income of the taxpayers
  3. to consider reducing the Annual Exempt Amount
  4. to remove the capital gains uplift on death if a relief or exemption from Inheritance Tax is applicable, and to treat the recipient as acquiring the deceased’s assets at the historic base cost
  5. to replace the Business Asset Disposal Relief with a relief more focused on retirement
  6. to remove relief for investors selling shares in unlisted companies if they have owned them for a minimum of three years.

Whilst the Government has commissioned the report, it is not obligated to accept its findings but, at some point, it will have to turn its attention to how to cover the cost of the pandemic.

We expect that clients will be considering accelerating their restructuring or exit strategy in preparation of the increase in tax rates in the near future.

If you have a question, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on jcohen@gscsolicitors.com or 0207 822 2257.

© 2020 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

We continue supporting you

Following the UK Government’s announcement on Saturday evening regarding the planned national lockdown in England, that came into force today, Thursday 5th November 2020, we would like to take this opportunity to provide reassurance to all our clients of our continued support during this difficult time.

As was the case during the initial lockdown back in March, we can confirm that it is very much business as usual for GSC Solicitors LLP.  Our team will continue to be available to support you with your enquiries either by phone 0207 822 2222 or email: hello@gscsolicitors.com

Our priority remains the best interests of our clients and in particular the concerns that clients will understandably have regarding their staff and businesses. As per usual we are available to speak to clients about the challenges they are facing as well as to provide pragmatic advice on any specific concerns whether it is in relation to managing staff, dealing with cancelled contracts, managing supplier distress, dealing with tax concerns or cybersecurity issues.

We will continue to comply with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 to ensure the safety of our staff. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me personally or any of your usual contacts here at GSC.

On behalf of all of us at GSC we are wishing you and your loved ones to stay well.

Kind regards,

GSC Solicitors LLP

Legal guidance for you and our business – GSC Newsletter Autumn 2020

Here is our Autumn edition 2020 of GSC Newsletter that offers a number of useful and practical guidance to businesses and individuals to enable them operate successfully in the current climate.

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletters please send a confirmation email to: contact@gscsolicitors.com

© 2020 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.