Tuesday, 22 July 2008

International Justice for some

The news that Radovan Karadzic has been arrested and, one hopes, will face justice, is a welcome sign that Europe's most restless area is perhaps settling down. But what justice will he face? The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (http://www.un.org/icty/) was established in 1993 to deal with war crimes committed within the territory of the former Yugoslavia. As such Mr Karadzic's actions, if proven to be crimes, will be punished.

Following the Tribunal's establishment, the International Criminal Court was established in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after 30 June 2002. However, despite the ratification of the Rome Statute by 106 countries, the United States of America has failed to take part and has indeed been campaigning against the Court.

It is alleged that the reason for this is that the USA wishes to afford immunity to its citizens in relation to what it euphemistically refers to peacekeeping operations. One has to ask by what perversion of logic can a nation seek to be excused from responsibility for actions which since Nuremberg have been regarded as worthy of condemnation and sanction? Justice should be multilateral, and not just for the "other people".

If Mr Karadzic is not just to be subject to judicial proceedings, but if convicted to be the recipient of a message from the entire world that his actions were unacceptable; a message which needs to be heard in many other places: then the processes of international justice must not be tainted with the notion that they are organs of "victors' justice". To that end the USA, and other refuseniks must take part.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Apocalypse Soon?

Is the world coming to an end? Economy in recession, house prices through the floor, and rain in the week after Wimbledon. Something has clearly gone wrong, and this may lead you to ask whether a deity of one sort of another has it in for Streatham. Of course most people won't care very much about that one way or another, and wouldn't turn a hair even if a lake of fiery brimstone were to appear adjacent to the Bus Garage.

However, on balance, the lack of the brimstone lake, or even a small crack in Streatham High Road leading straight to Hell, tends to militate against divine intervention in our lives.

The bottom line is though that we are in for a rough time. The recent increases in food, energy and commodity prices are not driven by temporary fluctuations in markets; they reflect a real fall in the surplus of food production globally, partly it seems caused by an increase in the area of farmland given over to biofuels; and also the inability of oil, gas and commodifties to keep up with expanding demand, especially from the Far East.

The net result is that for the first time in 50 years, we will be seeing real declines in standards of living, although it may be that some of these are balanced by a decline in housing costs.

Certainly the amount of disposable income of most people will fall, and with them the capacity for spending on new homes or secondary investments. In the light of this, the chance of a rapid recovery for the housing market seems remote.

So selling, even at a discount, may well be a sensible option, particularly if in the next three years, you will need to refinance.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Is everyone showing their HIPs?

The HIP has been with us for several months now, and the expected great excitement of the public about it has been manifested in a number of spontaneous demonstrations throughout the land. We were caught up in one of these in error at Clapham Junction Railway Station as we made our way home recently. Although none of the crowd was chanting: "What do we want? HIPs! When do we want them? Now!", their intention was clear as they made their way to the various platforms.

Several people have remarked to us over the last few weeks how the HIP has transformed their lives. Accolades such as "waste of money", and "pain in the neck" have been bestowed widely, even by people who might not be expected to understand what HIPs actually are, such as mortgage brokers. On that score, we have been holding a daily: "Be Nice to Mortgage Brokers Minute", at 3.05am each day, and if you want to take part, please do. Together we can make a better world.

Going back to HIPs, we have to report that their quality varies widely. Because there is no money in creating them, sadly some of the providers clearly use staff who have a minimal grasp of property law. So you can expect the wrong title details if the property is leasehold, and also long delays whilst copy leases are obtained. It is surely only a matter of time before someone is fined for not having a HIP because the HIP they have been sold is so dodgy.

It's the delays which are the big problem. Previously, Solicitors would isolate what documents were needed and take steps to obtain them. Now, HIP providers struggle with this and Solicitors hang around waiting for the HIP to arrive, conscious that clients will not wish to pay twice for the same documentation to be produced.

Who suffers? Well, it is the consumer as usual. The consumer who is paying extra for the HIP and then not really getting the marketing tool which it is intended to be.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Night of the Zombie ID Cards

The Government does seem entirely obsessed with ID cards. What annoys me is not the idea of the cards, nor even the fact that they may become compulsory, but the specious justification adduced by the Government. The idea that these things will in some way protect us against terrorism is quite absurd. In all of the trials of terrorist suspects that I have seen, the accused made no attempt to conceal their identity, only their motives and actions, which cannot yet anyway be fitted on to a card. Nothing has prevented a terrorist suspect obtaining a passport or a driving licence. What they may assist in doing, and why I think they may have some value, is cracking down on multiple identities which are used for frauds of various sorts. However I have not seen any figures so far leading to the conclusion that the savings outweigh the costs. It's time we had them.

In the meantime, this is another sure-fire vote loser and suggests that perhaps a significant number of Labour MPs are actually really members of the Conservative Party. The picture reminds us that ID cards are not a new idea.

Friday, 22 February 2008


We are running a survey to see what the impact of Home Information Packs is on anyone prepared to fill it in.

As such, it is not particularly scientific, but we are always interested in your response.

Click here for our hip HIP survey.

W R Newland & Sons Block of Flats Disposition Certificate of Compliance Form


W R Newland & Sons Limited are the freeholders of a number of blocks of flats in Croydon, Bromley and North Surrey, which they built and some of which they manage.

Most of the leases provide for a formal Licence to be obtained on a sale or a mortgage. The reason for this is to ensure both that our client knows who the tenant/lender is and also to ensure that the service charges and ground rent is up to date. There are restrictions in the registers of the titles preventing disposals without a Certificate. For new developments it has been decided that a simpler way of ensuring our clients' aims would be a Certificate of Compliance based system where we, as Solicitors for our clients, issue a Certificate dealing with the Restriction. We already do this for remortgage cases. The benefit of this is that it is more straightforward and enables our costs to be lower. This note applies to those developments as well.

Please click on this link:

Certificate of Compliance Application Form

The Memorandum of Rent Review is in the following Form (just cut and paste with or without the camel):


Dated this day of 200

Name of Landlord: W R Newland & Sons Limited
Name of Tenant:
Name of Assignee:
Title Number:
Date of Lease: Date of Lease
Date: 29 September
New Rent: £

The above named Tenant and the Solicitor for the Landlord have signed this Memorandum and a Counterpart thereof respectively to record that as from the Date the Rent payable under the Lease of the property will be the New Rent.

SIGNED by the Tenant .................................................

SIGNED for and on behalf of the Landlord .................................................

About us

Streatham, London, United Kingdom
We are a small but perfectly formed firm of Solicitors in South London. Messrs A. L. Hughes & Co. Solicitors 340 Streatham High Road London SW16 6HH DX 58457 Norbury Telephone: 020 8769 7100 Fax: 020 8677 6644 A list of partners may be inspected at the above premises. We're regulated by the Solicitors' Regulation Authority.