Richard's January Reflections
22 Jan 2018 |
Sophie Roberts |
Even though it’s a New Year, 2018 and all that and we should be looking forward, I would like to refer back to the Brabners LLP v HMRC tribunal back in September last year. You know the one, it’s the “Local Searches are not a disbursement and are therefore VAT’able” case.
Now I’m a mere bystander (with an obvious interest) but it strikes me that the ruling is pretty sound in that “The appellants are not simply a conduit or post-box for search results.” And “The payment is part of the overall consideration which the client pays for the service supplied by the solicitor.” (Judge McNall). Fair enough! And yes, before you start; it’s more complex than that, I know!
At the time the Law Society, who had supported Brabners’ case commented that “We are considering the implications of this decision for our practice note on VAT and disbursements.” Consequently it was comforting to read the Law Society’s release last week that, whilst they recognise the uncertainty caused, they have (in the intervening 4 or 5 months) decided to establish a working group…………………
I have heard that the release was later withdrawn.
Anyway, December is a strange time for search/purchase volumes. Most of the “I must be in by Christmas” deals are done in October/November and it’s just a case of holding the chains together for the completions that are ‘live’, it’s certainly not a traditional house-hunting period and the numbers drop as soon as people start disappearing off on holiday etc. So you would expect an improvement in TATs, but this is often counter-acted by staff shortages in the councils. However this year there was a really good half-day plus reduction in the overall PLAS (Personal) average TAT whilst the OLAS (Official) TAT held steady.
So here are the slowest TATs overall:
OLAS (Official) PLAS (Personal)
North Wiltshire District Council 42 Mid Suffolk District Council 29
West Dorset District Council 30 Babergh District Council 27
Mid Suffolk District Council 29 Hackney London Borough Council 24
North Shropshire District Council 24 West Dorset District Council 24
East Lindsey District Council 22 Neath Porth Talbot County Borough Council 23
Bridgend County Borough Council (Residential) 21 Cannock Chase District Council 22
Derby City Council/Res 20 Mendip District Council 22
Epping Forest District Council 19 South Derbyshire District Council 22
North Tyneside Borough Council/Res 19 Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council 21
West Wiltshire DC 19 Havant Borough Council 21
Blaby District Council/Res 18 Harlow District Council 20
East Northamptonshire Dist Cncl 17 Rochford District Council 20
East Staffordshire Bor Cncl/Res 17 Torbay Borough Council 20
Harlow District Council 17 Epping Forest District Council 19
Pembrokeshire County Council 17 East Cambridgeshire District Council 18
Gloucester City Council 16 Fenland District Council 18
High Peak Bor Cnc/Res 16 Gwynedd Council 18
Hounslow London Bor Cnc/Res 16 Harrogate Borough Council 18
Torfaen County BC 15 North Dorset District Council 18
Bolsover District Council/Res 14 North East Derbyshire District Council 18
Who knows what we’ll have to talk about next month?
Will one of the new cabinet have already messed up? I don’t know, but one thing I do know (as do those clients of ours that came to our October evening with him when he was Housing Minister), is that Brandon Lewis is a clever and approachable chap and a very sound choice as Chairman of the Tories.