Call for action as firm hit by big VAT demand for electronic property searches

11 June 2018

The risk of solicitors being landed with hefty VAT bills for electronic property searches has become a reality for at least one law firm, which has now received a demand from HM Revenue & Customs for tens of thousands of pounds. It has heightened the call for the tax treatment of postal and electronic searches to be made consistent.

Payment processor replaces conveyancers in “UK’s first fully digital mortgage settlement”

31 May 2018

A payment processor has taken the place of conveyancers in handling the finances on completion day in what has been claimed to be the UK’s first fully digital mortgage settlement. It could spell the end to clients waiting with the removal van in the afternoon for money to be transferred between lawyers.

Law firm finances creaking as falls in PI and conveyancing work take their toll

16 May 2018

Small and mid-sized law firms need to accept that lower levels of profitability are becoming the “new normal”, it was claimed yesterday. Their income is also falling, with firms of 11-25 partners recording the biggest drop last year – 11% – compared to only 1% for sole practitioners.

Investigation of law firm accounts reports “tripled in two years”, impact report shows

11 May 2018

The number of qualified accountants’ reports due to rule breaches has fallen by two-thirds since the rules were changed in 2015, but the amount then being investigated for possible rule breaches has tripled, it has emerged. A handful of them have led to regulatory action as a result.

Fees up but profits down as firms struggle with productivity, says report

8 May 2018

Profit per equity partner is down by 10%, although other performance indicators are up, according to an influential benchmarking report of SME law firms, published today. However, although PEP was down – from £120,000 last year to £108,000 – median fees per equity partner were up by an inflation-busting 5.4% to £539,000 last year.

Large London firms embracing agile working and AI could cut collective £495m rent

26 April 2018

Twice as many large City law firms had adopted ‘agile working’ policies by the start of 2018 as had a year earlier, and have been quicker than non-law businesses to embrace artificial intelligence technology, according to a survey about office use. Between them, the top 100 firms – when ranked by office floorspace in London – spend a total of £495m per annum on rent.

City solicitor loses argument with taxman over £215k payment made to ex-firm’s bank

5 February 2018

A City law firm partner who had to pay £215,000 to settle his debt to the bank of his former firm, which had gone bust, was not able to deduct it from his earnings at his new firm for tax purposes, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Law firm faces £68,000 VAT bill after tribunal rules electronic property search fees are not disbursements

18 September 2017

A leading north-west law firm has been ordered to pay £68,000 in VAT for electronic local authority property searches it procured from an agency, after a tribunal ruled that they should not have been treated as disbursements. The case, in which the Law Society unsuccessfully intervened, could have significant repercussions for many conveyancing firms.

Solicitor who used office account “as personal account” is struck off

21 July 2017

A sole practitioner who did not have a client account and admitted using his office account “at times as a personal account” has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The tribunal heard that Michael Healey, based in Liverpool, misappropriated over £31,000 of client money before going bankrupt.

Personal injury firm loses £4.5m claim that work referrer did not deliver cases it promised

28 June 2017

A personal injury law firm has lost a £4.5m claim against a legal expenses insurance underwriting agency that the expected number of referrals did not materialise. The firm failed to convince the High Court that there was a contractually binding oral promise in place from 2006 to 2011, when referral fees were lawful.

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