Solicitor

Stamp Duty - Act Now or Pay Later?

By Solicitor at 00:00

As announced in the Autumn statement, 1st April 2016 is to bring about some radical changes in the application of Stamp Duty in residential Conveyancing transactions. In an attempt to combat the age old problem of housing stock being purchased by investors and landlords therefore preventing first time buyers from entering the property market, the changes are set to hit where it hurts...in the pocket!

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Less than eight months after it was introduced the UK Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that the infamous ‘court fee system’ will be scrapped as of the 24th December 2015.

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The beginning of December 2015 saw the launch of a new Government backed scheme aiming to help those trying to get on to the property ladder for the first time. People struggling to save for their first home are now being offered a help-to-buy ISA which will give them a cash boost towards the deposit on their first home. As with the traditional cash ISA, interest will be free of both income and Capital Gains Tax, but the really good news is that the Government will also top up the savings in these accounts.

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A recent Panorama episode on the BBC “Tough Justice in Britain: Texas Style” gave a fascinating insight into Texas’ criminal justice revolution, where the traditional “hard on crime, hard on sentencing” view is a thing of the past. It was claimed that this revolution had led to the shutting of prisons due to crime rates reducing significantly. The success is based on, in part, the development of specialist courts, zero tolerance on drugs and alcohol, provision of therapy, and a problem solving approach to sentencing, rather than punishment. We were introduced to “Judge Bobby Francis” who, in Dallas County, runs such a court. He, himself, a Conservative Republican, claims 8 out of 10 defendants that pass through his courts “graduate”. Interestingly, he also described taking a “father figure” approach towards the defendants.

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It’s the trial that’s captured the fascination of the world’s press and people since it began on 3rd March 2014 – that of Oscar Pistorius and the Valentine’s Day murder of model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in Pretoria, South Africa. Eventual sentencing on 21st October 2014 saw the Paraolympian sentenced for ‘culpable homicide’ the equivalent to that of manslaughter in UK law, a decision that was met with mixed reactions with just five years imprisonment.

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