Howard Colman attends IR Global ‘On the Road’ conference in Bangkok

Howard Colman attends IR Global ‘On the Road’ conference in Bangkok

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Howard Colman, a Founding Partner of Colman Coyle, and IR Global Member of the Year 2022, has recently returned from a productive and successful IR Global conference in Bangkok.

Howard is the exclusive IR member for Commercial Litigation & Commercial Arbitration in England and a long standing member of the IR Dispute Resolution Committee.

This was the first IR Global conference in Asia for four years following the pandemic and provided a good opportunity to meet with professionals from around the world but particularly Asia and to learn about different cultural approaches to business and legal issues.

New business contacts made at the conference will add to the existing Colman Coyle portfolio of international network of professionals from around the world, which in turn will strengthen our global outreach and ability to advise clients on matters concerning other jurisdictions.

Howard is looking forward to attending the next IR Global conference in San Diego and will be joined by Oksana Howard, the exclusive IR Global member for Capital Markets in England and a member of M&A Committee at IR.

Please see below a selection of photos from Bangkok:

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The Budget and Inheritance Tax 

The Budget and Inheritance Tax 

The Chancellor unveiled his budget on 15th March but from the point of view of inheritance tax and estate planning there was no new announcements.

It had been announced in the 2022 Autumn Statement that the inheritance tax thresholds would remain at their current levels until April 2028 and so this gives some clarity as to the position over the next few years.

On that basis it is worth summarising some key points.

For a married couple or those in a civil partnership, they have inheritance tax allowances of up to £1,000,000 between them available on death.  With this in mind, it would be important to ensure that your wills are up to date so as to maximise the use of these allowances.  This is particularly the case where one member of the couple had a previous marriage or civil partnership that ended on death.  If that is the case, there is the possibility of bringing in the deceased’s allowances too and so if this may be relevant to you, it would be important to take advice.

There are still steps that can be taken during someone’s lifetime to mitigate a potential inheritance tax liability.  Gifts can be made during someone’s lifetime to take into account their annual inheritance tax exemption.  Another exemption that tends to get overlooked is gifts out of surplus income, whereby, an individual can make a gift for inheritance tax purposes of any amount from their surplus income, but it is important to take advice on making this type of gift to ensure that it is recorded properly.

Various other lifetime exemptions are also available, including gifts in consideration of marriage or civil partnership, which again is an exemption which is often overlooked.  You can make a gift to either or both parties to the marriage/civil partnership which is exempt from inheritance tax, with the actual amount that is exempt depending on your relationship to the couple.

Again, it would be sensible to take advice on this and it should be noted that these exemptions can all be combined with each other so that relatively significant tax savings can be made over the course of time if gifts are properly planned.

Colman Coyle has considerable experience in advising in relation to lifetime tax planning and the preparation of wills and related issues and if you would like to discuss the issues raised here, please contact Patrick Green on 0044 0207 354 3000 or Patrick.green@colmancoyle.com.

Patrick Green

Patrick Green

Senior Associate

Q&A: Five minutes with David Bowers

Q&A: Five minutes with David Bowers

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David qualified as a solicitor in 2015 and joined Colman Coyle as an Associate Solicitor in 2022. We sit down with him to hear his insight and ask a series of questions on his career to date.

Tell us about your journey to becoming an Associate Solicitor at Colman Coyle

My journey was anything but traditional. After ‘A levels,’ I worked full time for a year, before going to study law at university. As part of this degree, I took the opportunity to study abroad at one of the oldest universities in Europe.

This meant that I graduated in 2009, just when the financial crash meant that jobs, and in particular training contracts were scarce. I was luckily able to secure a paralegal role in a high street firm, before switching to (at the time) one of the biggest non-city firms in the country.

With jobs and training contracts still scarce, I decided to study the legal practice course on a weekend basis. This meant two years spending every other weekend in Guildford, on top of my full-time paralegal role. I was able to secure a training contract in a large regional firm, qualifying in 2015 as a litigation solicitor. I stayed at the same firm and obtained a promotion to associate a few years later.

With an increasing focus on property litigation from day one, since 2019, I have focused solely on property litigation.

In 2022, I joined the leading property litigation team at Colman Coyle.

What does a typical working day include for you?

One of the most interesting aspects of property litigation is that there is no such thing as a typical day. Property litigation includes a spectrum of issues. All of which require different considerations and different approaches.

Each client is unique and building a relationship with clients is key. For this reason, much of the day is spent communicating with clients. I always prefer to speak over the phone if possible.

Alternative dispute resolution can often be used to secure the most advantageous and cost-effective resolution of the dispute.  Quite often I am involved in different methods to resolve a dispute.

Property litigation is focused on meeting deadlines. The court sets the timetable towards trial. The timetable will commonly include exchanging witness statements or expert reports.  Each step usually requires analysing documents, liaising with various parties and drafting court documents.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in your working life?

Working as a solicitor is about gaining knowledge, experience, constantly learning new skills and improving old skills. This never stops and continues throughout a legal career. I take a critical approach, reflecting at every opportunity and considering what I have learnt, how can I adapt and change in future.

A critical approach ensures that I maintain up to date skills and knowledge. This allows me continuously to achieve the ultimate objective for a property litigation solicitor, to understand the client’s objective and achieve the most advantageous result possible.

What do you do to relax?

I like to be active and enjoy the outdoors. On a Saturday morning I can usually be found at my local parkrun. On a Sunday afternoon, I enjoy hiking or cycling, usually through the Kent countryside.

What advice would you give to any aspiring solicitors?

A career in the legal profession can be challenging, initially to gain the experience required to enter the profession, and then after qualification with different demands. However, it is overcoming these challenges that makes working as a solicitor so interesting.

There will always be setbacks. Try and see these as learning experiences and consider what you can learn from them.

Make as many connections as you can. Attend training events, open days, speak to as many solicitors as possible. After connecting, develop a professional relationship.  This allows you to build your own network.

What are the issues facing property litigation today?

2022 was another turbulent year for property litigation. 2023 looks to be just as turbulent.

The emergency legislation introduced during the covid pandemic has slowly come to an end. However, flexible hybrid working remains more widespread.

Inflation is running at a 40 year high, there are rising interest rates, and warnings of a recession.

The cost of occupying commercial premises is likely to be a significant overhead for most businesses. Therefore, tenants may start evaluating their property portfolios, to identify where savings can be made. This may see a rise in tenant’s exercising break clauses.

The commercial property market has already proven to be resilient and capable of change. Landlords may need to consider the type of properties within their portfolios. Will there be a rise in converting commercial buildings to residential purposes, or will the trend for flex space letting for commercial tenants gain more traction?

With a recession, rent arrears are likely to increase. Without government interference as seen in recent years, there is likely to be an increase in forfeiture claims.

What are does the future hold for property litigation?

Commercial

From the 1st of April 2023, the next stage of the Minimum Energy Efficient Standard (MEES) comes into effect. This means that subject to certain exceptions, landlords of commercial properties must not continue to let a property with an EPC rating below an E. By 2030, the bar for MEES will be raised to an EPC B rating.

Both commercial landlord and tenants will need to consider the EPC rating of their property and the terms of the lease. This will involve considering what improvements to the property are necessary to meet the raising MEES requirements, and a careful analysis of the terms of the lease to confirm who will fund these works.

It is likely that environmental issues will become a more frequent issue in dilapidations claims and 1954 Act renewals.

Residential

Leasehold reform continues to be on the government’s agenda. The process has already started, most recently the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022, prohibited new ground rents.

More reforms are expected; however, the extent of these reforms is currently unknown.  The complete abolition of leasehold has been reported in several newspapers after Michael Gove vowed to “scrap the feudal leasehold system.” The reforms are perhaps unlikely to go this far.

Instead, reforms are likely to focus on reducing the cost of extending leases and making it easier for leaseholders to take over their buildings.

The cost-of-living crisis may result in greater political pressure to help renters. A Renters Reform Bill may be introduced in 2023. The proposals include ending no fault evictions. This may lead to landlords considering whether they wish to continue to rent properties out.

You can read more about David’s work and profile here. If you are interested in our property litigation services and would like a quote, please contact David on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or david.bowers@colmancoyle.com

Howard Colman to attend 2023 IR Global ‘On the Road’ conference in Bangkok

Howard Colman to attend 2023 IR Global ‘On the Road’ conference in Bangkok

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Howard Colman is delighted to represent Colman Coyle at the IR Global ‘On the Road’ conference in Bangkok.

Following on from the highly successful annual conference in Barcelona, at which Howard Colman won IR Global Member of the Year, the ‘On the Road’ conference provides a great opportunity to network with the 150 delegates attending, many of whom we have met before and work closely together on cross referral work.

Howard is the exclusive IR member for Commercial Litigation & Commercial Arbitration in England and a long standing member of the IR Dispute Resolution Committee. Howard and Colman Coyle have made a substantial contribution to the development of the organisation since the firm joined the network at its inception in 2010.

Colman Coyle’s International Department works closely with the IR network in Asia, which has been particularly helpful for our clients for us to be able to introduce them to, and work with, lawyers in the region.

If you have any questions or would like to meet with Howard during the conference, please email howard.colman@colmancoyle.com.

Colman Coyle offers pro-bono legal services to the Ukrainian refugees with limited financial means wishing to set up a business in the UK

Colman Coyle offers pro-bono legal services to the Ukrainian refugees with limited financial means wishing to set up a business in the UK

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Sadly, today is the anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine. The war has resulted in many refugees fleeing the Ukraine and a significant number have set up home in the U.K.

A number of these have or are looking to set up businesses to support themselves and their families but they often have limited means.

In recognition of this, Colman Coyle has decided to offer pro bono legal help to anyone in this position to assist them in setting up their businesses and dealing with matters such as basic contracts and terms and conditions.

If you need help with setting up a business in the UK or if you have any other legal needs in the UK, please contact Oksana Howard at oksana.howard@colmancoyle.com

Oksana Howard

How Geopolitical Change Is Affecting M&A Activity in Europe

How Geopolitical Change Is Affecting M&A Activity in Europe

Article, written by Oksana Howard – Head of Corporate Department at Colman Coyle, recently published on Law 360 – a highly reputable news source for legal professionals.

Please read the article below, or through the Law 360 website here.

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How Geopolitical Change Is Affecting M&A Activity in Europe

The market in central and Eastern Europe has been growing for the past 30 years since the collapse of the USSR, becoming an ever-more attractive area for investment for Western European countries, including the U.K.

The geographical proximity, less costly salaries and membership of the single market of many central and Eastern Europe countries, altogether with a talented workforce make for an excellent investment opportunity. This is evidenced by high levels of M&A activity in the region in recent years, and a jump in the levels of private equity with a total deal value of over €10 billion ($10.7 billion).

However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the landscape has changed. Russia faces heavy sanctions from European countries and likewise European countries face sanctions from Russia.

In keeping with trends in Western Europe, central and Eastern European countries have seen rising levels of inflation and increasing interest rates from central banks to curb inflation, in part caused by these sanctions, which have had an impact on M&A activity in the central and Eastern Europe market.

Overview of the U.K. M&A Market

The U.K. is the leading destination in Europe for international deal making. In recent years, this has been as a result of a strong COVID-19 vaccination program.

However, going forward, this trend is predicted to continue for different reasons; there is likely to be an increase in distressed M&A deals, with inflation on the rise and consumer confidence falling. Coupled with the U.K.’s weak currency, international buyers will look to take advantage of lower valuations of companies struggling in the current climate.

Key Sectors for U.K. Investment in Eastern Europe

We see that the following sectors are attractive to U.K. companies for investment in central and Eastern Europe:

•IT and tech: There are well-qualified workers in central and Eastern European countries and the technology sector is on the rise.

Agriculture: Although Ukraine’s grain export has been disrupted due to the war with Russia, with land in surrounding countries having similar yield potential,  exports from these countries will begin to increase.

Renewable energies: There is a general interest in green energy, with EU member states setting net zero targets and countries in south-Eastern Europe offering opportunities for energy projects.

Poland remains a popular market for U.K. companies’ investments, due to its resilient economy and cost-effective workforce, despite increasing geopolitical tensions as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

Over the past 10 years, U.K. companies have accounted for 124 deals in Poland, the second highest number of inbound acquisitions in Poland. The main target sectors are software, telecoms and financial services.

As with Poland, software companies and telecommunications remain attractive sectors for investment in the Czech Republic.

In September 2022, Zenitech, a U.K.-based transformational technology company, acquired AutSoft, a Hungarian software company. The CEO of Zenitech cited the reason for the transaction as having access to some of the best technology talent in the region.

In June 2022, U.K.-based Lucy Group Ltd. acquired an 80% shareholding in Flashnet, a Romanian internet of things tech company. The purpose of the deal was to invest in smart city technologies, another example of the growth of the tech sector in central and Eastern Europe.

Investment by Eastern European Companies in the U.K.

The U.K. remains one of Europe’s largest economies and the British market is cited by central and Eastern Europe company leaders as a key part of their international expansion strategy, as is evidenced by recent M&A activity:

•In August 2022, Wielton SA, founded in Poland, completed its acquisition of Lawrence David, a British manufacturer of parts for lorries. The CEO of Wielton stated that the U.K. is a strong market for trailers and semi-trailers. He outlined  the company’s presence in the U.K. as crucial to their overall strength in Europe.

In November 2022, Czech betting company Allwyn acquired U.K.-based Camelot Group, which runs the National Lottery.

In December 2022, as part of their extension into Western Europe, Latvian logistics group Kreiss, SIA acquired U.K. company C Neil Dowson Ltd. with the view to delivering first-class haulage solutions to U.K. customers.

Therefore, despite Brexit, inflation, high interest rates and the weakening pound, the U.K. remains an important economy for investment and influence in the rest of Europe.

M&A Trends in 2022/2023

As a result of recent market volatility caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and associated sanctions, raising fuel prices, high inflation and interest rates, we are seeing the following trends in M&A transactional activity between the U.K. and Eastern European countries:

  • Wider use of noncash consideration, paid on deferred terms, due to rising interest rates and the higher cost of borrowing;
  • Increased use of completion accounts, which allow buyers to verify company valuations;
  • •With tech deals on the rise, in central and Eastern Europe and across Europe,  earnouts are becoming more popular due to the challenges of valuing assets in a volatile market;
  • Wider use of material adverse change clauses referring to COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine. E.g., since Polish law provides uncertain levels of contract relief from force majeure events, and in order to be enforceable, material adverse change clauses are included in the acquisition agreement and refer specifically to such events;
  • •Greater use of warranties and indemnities insurance, including in smaller and midmarket deals; and
  • Inflationary pressures, meaning heavy price negotiation and comprehensive due diligence with a view to anticipating risks, which may lead to deals taking longer  to complete or potentially abort.

Outlook for 2023

As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and consequent sanctions, more and more companies are expected to divest from Russia, likely leading to Western European companies relocating their businesses to nearby central and Eastern European countries that are EU members, such as Poland, the Czech Republic or Hungary. These are lucrative targets due to their cost-effective labor and membership of the single market.

Furthermore, technology startups in central and Eastern European countries are predicted to be attractive for U.K. investment.

Due to its reputational value and transparency, the U.K. market is likely to remain attractive to central and Eastern European investors and to companies wishing to expand their business operations abroad, wanting to be seen as serious business players in the Western European market.

In addition, due to market volatility caused by high inflation, increased fuel prices, the weakening pound and the geopolitical situation, an increase in distressed M&A activity is also anticipated.


Oksana Howard is a Partner at Colman Coyle Ltd. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of their employer, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

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