Archives for July 2015

Specialist Solicitor Gains STEP Qualification

Harris & Harris are delighted to announce that Joshua Eva, Partner at our Wells office who specialises in private client matters, has been admitted as a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (“STEP”).  Joshua studied for the STEP Diploma in Trusts and Estates (England and Wales) and, having passed all his exams and exceeded the STEP requirements for minimum relevant experience, was admitted as a full member on 28th July 2015.

The Diploma qualification focused on four key areas of private client practice: Administration of Estates, Administration of Trusts, Taxation of Trusts and Estates, and Trust and Estate Accounting.  Joshua commented “Studying for the diploma has been both challenging and rewarding. The best thing about it has been the immediate positive impact on my expertise, as the content covered by the qualification is highly relevant to my day to day work”.

STEP is the worldwide professional association for those advising families across generations.  STEP members can advise from drafting a will, to protecting elderly or vulnerable relatives, to advising family businesses, to helping those with interests spread across the world.  The organisation promotes best practice, professional integrity and education of its members.

Annemarie Swainson, partner and head of Wills & Probate said “Joshua has worked very hard to gain this qualification, and we are all extremely proud of his achievement”.

Joshua’s profile can be found here:-

Joshua Eva

To find out more about STEP, click here:-



Wells Aims to Become Dementia Friendly

Harris & Harris are supporting the Wells Dementia Action Alliance which aims to make Wells a dementia friendly city. Joshua Eva, Partner at our Wells office, who has joined the Alliance committee said “We are delighted at the news that the campaign, which has featured in the Wells Journal, has received a £5,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund.  This means there will be funding available for local projects to improve the experience of individuals living with dementia”.

To make the money go further the Alliance plans to match-fund projects that will benefit people with dementia and encourage further fundraising.  A number of local businesses are already involved and it is hoped that support for the initiative will grow.

Joshua Eva and also Caroline Fletcher, Associate Solicitor at our Frome office, have both trained to become ‘Dementia Friends’ with the Alzheimer’s Society.

A Dementia Friend is someone who learns more about what it’s like to live with dementia and turns that understanding into action.

Harris and Harris have also arranged to have staff in Wells who deal regularly with elderly clients trained as Dementia Friends.

Read the Contract!

English Law can be a tough beast. Some European jurisdictions have an obligation on parties to act in “good faith”. English law has a longstanding rule “caveat emptor” – until 1998 when the Civil Procedure Rules banned the use of Latin – so let’s call it “Let the Buyer beware”. If you sign a contract you are bound by the terms, even if you haven’t read them. Where judges think that innocent people have been exploited they will strive to find a way to release them, but that isn’t always possible.

The Supreme Court has dismissed (by a majority of 4:1) the tenants’ appeal on the interpretation of a service charge clause in the tenants’ 99 year leases of chalets in a holiday park. The Court held that the natural meaning of the clause requiring the tenants to pay the service charge to the landlord was clear. The reasonable reader of the clause would understand that:

  • The first part of the clause required the tenants to pay an annual charge to reimburse the landlord for providing the services.
  • The second part of the clause identified how that service charge was to be calculated and that was a fixed sum which increased at a compound rate of 10% per annum.

The fact that this meant that by 2072 each tenant would be paying a service charge of over £550,000 per annum did not justify departing from the natural meaning of the clause. Therefore the court could not apply the power it has where a clause is ambiguous to apply a meaning that it thinks accords with business sense.

Commercial common sense is not a relevant consideration where the natural meaning of the language is clear, even if this results in commercially detrimental consequences. The court will not step in to save a party from a bad bargain.

Arnold v Britton and others [2015] UKSC 36