The Specialist 2024

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Penny Black: The mother stamp Rough diamonds: Diary of a bush buyer
George Scott: An infectiously enthusiastic trainer
In this issue:
Ben Stack and the River Laxford, Sutherland

Welcome to the 2024 Specialist

Thank you to all our contributors for providing such excellent articles. They cover a broad spread of topics, all connected in some way with what we do, and we very much hope you will enjoy them.

The insurance market has not been an easy place for the last few years. Hopefully, with inflation back to more normal levels, we have crested the cycle and can now look forward to a more settled market environment.

As ever, if there is anything that you would like to discuss please do get in touch with either of us.

Alec Moore
Richard Chugg

Building Works - take ownership

Relying solely on a contractor’s insurance policy for works on your property can be risky and leave you vulnerable to potential gaps in coverage.

While contractors are typically required to carry insurance to protect themselves and their business, their policy may not extend cover adequately to protect you as the homeowner. We know from experience that contractors are often quick to tell clients that they are ‘fully insured’ and ‘you don’t need to worry about anything’. Regrettably, this is not always the case.

Contractors' insurance policies are primarily designed to safeguard the contractor's interests, focusing on liabilities specific to their own business operations. This does not necessarily mean that the coverage fully addresses all the potential risks to the homeowner associated with a building project, leaving you potentially exposed to financial liability if there is damage or unforeseen consequences for the existing structure. Also of course, if the contractor leaves the job for some reason before the contract is completed, they take the policy with them and can leave you uninsured. Replacing cover midterm is not always possible.

If you rely on your contractor's insurance policy and it has limitations, exclusions, or gaps in cover, you may find yourself facing unexpected costs which are not adequately addressed by it. In the event of subsequent disputes or issues, navigating the claims process can be complex and time-consuming as the insurer will be dealing with the contractor as its client and not you. This can lead to delay in resolution with all the potential for stress and financial cost. Always check the contract at the outset as this should make clear the insurance responsibilities. It usually recommends that when

there is an alteration to an existing structure, the client (homeowner) should insure the works and it is our advice that they should do so.

Before starting a building project, it is most important to advise your household insurer and the Statement of Fact which accompanies each renewal will specifically ask you to confirm whether you intend to carry out any works in the ensuing 12 months. Subject to prior notification, some of the highnet-worth insurers will provide an element of Contractor’s All Risk cover (CAR) within their household

policies but only up to a specified amount. This limit varies from policy to policy and if it is not for a sufficient value for the planned works, it is advisable to secure your own CAR policy. This will provide tailored ‘All Risk’ coverage for both the existing structure and the contract work itself and will ensure that you have the necessary protection in place throughout the construction process.

By taking ownership of the contract and controlling your own insurance cover, you can have far more peace of mind and confidence in the event of a problem.

Penny Blackthe mother stamp

In simpler times there was many a child who had an interest in collecting stamps and there must be plenty of old albums packed away in cupboards or attics which will assuredly contain a hidden gem. The schoolboy chatter then was all about Penny Blacks and Penny Reds and there is no less interest in these iconic stamps today.

The Penny Black was the world’s first stamp. It is undoubtedly the most famous of all and one which every collector wants to have in their collection. In addition to an intriguing philatelic history, this stamp is exquisitely engraved and has a timeless simplicity.

The origins of the Penny Black lie in the 1830s when British postal rates were high and the charges were complex to understand. The addressee customarily paid for postage upon delivery of a letter, with the charge determined by weight and distance travelled. This inefficient and socially divisive system, coupled with its capacity for fraud and loss of revenue, inspired Sir Rowland Hill, a teacher and social reformer, to address the problem. The needs of a rapidly expanding commercial and industrial nation

in the 19th century were not being met and Hill proposed the new idea of an adhesive stamp to indicate postage had been pre-paid and at a rate which would be affordable to all. He first put this forward in 1837 but it was not until three years later, on 1 May 1840, that the Penny Black was first issued in Great Britain –becoming valid for use on 6 May that year.

Featuring a profile of Queen Victoria at the age of 14, which was used on all stamps for the entirety of her reign, the Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp to be used in a public postal system. This stamp allowed people to send letters weighing up to half an ounce (14g) for delivery at the flat rate of one penny, regardless of the distance travelled. To this day the UK remains the only country

in the world to omit its name from postage stamps; the monarch's image alone signifying that the UK is the country of origin.

With more than 68 million stamps produced from 11 plates in a print run of only one year, the Penny Black is not exactly a rare stamp. Most stamp collectors are aware of this, but it is still surprising to the uninitiated. A total of 286,700 sheets – containing 68,808,000 stamps – were made available and around 1.3 million are estimated still to be in existence today.

Provenance is critical in arriving at value and determining from which plate the stamp originated can be a challenge, with some plates scarcer than others. A stamp from Plate 11 –the last plate from which the Penny Black was printed – is very scarce

Sir Rowland Hill

with only 168,000 stamps, equivalent to 700 sheets, printed and maybe only 2% surviving. However, an envelope bearing a Penny Black used on the inaugural 6th May 1840 will always be the subject of a bidding war at the big auction houses, with a good example likely to fetch several thousand pounds.

The Penny Red, issued in early 1841, was the third British postage stamp, following the Penny Black and the Twopenny Blue which had both been introduced in 1840. The Penny Red then continued as the main postage stamp in the United Kingdom until 1879, with only minor changes to its design during that time.

When the Penny Red replaced the Penny Black at the beginning of 1841 it was initially printed from the same plates from which the

Blacks were created. Why the change? The reason was simple. The cancellation ink, for cost and consistency reasons, was changed to black in late 1840 and whereas the black cancellation mark was difficult to see on a Penny Black, it was obviously much easier to see on a red stamp.

Like the Penny Black, The Penny Red of 1841 was imperforate. Until 1854 it was produced from just 7 of the 11 Penny Black printing plates and the adhesive sheets with 20 x 12 rows of stamps on each had to be cut by hand with scissors. The original plates quickly wore out, necessitating the creation of a further 164 plates in 1854 when perforations were formally introduced. Printings from these new plates had letters engraved in their bottom left and right corners so that a stamp’s position on a plate could be

identified precisely and the font used was termed as Alphabet 1. The later plates 132 to 175 can be identified by the use of a different font, Alphabet 11, for these corner letters.

Post Office regulations at the time of the introduction of the Penny adhesives were many and varied. When the Penny Black was introduced, so to were regulations governing its use, where it should be placed on the letter and so on. A wooden handled device known as the Obliterator, with a design in the form of a Maltese Cross, was introduced for stamping the adhesives to indicate when they had been accepted and were no longer valid and this was issued to all Post Offices in the UK. However, a number of Post Offices did not receive an Obliterator, or the device broke and a replacement was manufactured locally. This quite often created ‘distinctive’ crosses which make them rare and very collectable.

Postage stamps provide a fascinating chronicle of a country’s history and for that reason will continue to attract the interest of collectors, even as their current usage is inexorably usurped by the internet. In the 19th century Great Britain led the world with her many far-reaching inventions and the Penny Black, the matriarch of postage stamps, certainly deserves to take its place with the rest of them. Any enquiries welcome at

Tony Peers Stamp collector

Rough Diamondsdiary of a bush buyer

From its founding in 1888 by Cecil Rhodes until the start of the 21st century, De Beers controlled 80% to 85% of rough diamond distribution in the world. Dominated by the Oppenheimer family after Ernest’s appointment to the Board in 1926 until the sale of the family’s 40% stake to Anglo American for £3.2bn some 80 years later, this colossus has been synonymous with every stage of production in the diamond industry, from mining to marketing, and coined one of the greatest advertising slogans of all time: a diamond is forever.

From the 1950s to the 1990s De Beers augmented its supply of rough diamonds with purchases of alluvial diamonds in the open market. It was Monty Charles, director and proponent of De Beers’ first buying operation, who declared that we had to get out of our “glass house” in Charterhouse Street, EC1 and go out into the world and learn to trade in competition with the toughest operators in the business. This was not an instruction to be ignored lightly. The survivor of appalling privations as a Japanese prisoner of war, Charles made a huge contribution to De Beers’ success in the post-war era through his modernisation of sorting technology and the recruitment of a new generation of executives and buyers. His penetrating gaze instilled fear, even among the most seasoned traders, and a hush would descend when he entered the company’s sorting floors.

It was on these floors in Charterhouse Street that as a raw recruit I learnt how to sort Russian

and Angolan diamonds, based on size, shape, quality and colour and this process mirrored how polished diamonds are graded.

Next, I spent a year in South Africa sorting diamond mine production and on occasion observing diamond buyers and their clients in action.

I will never forget a weatherbeaten Afrikaner woman selling us her diamonds, with the exception of the two polished ones she had set in her front teeth.

However, it was Antwerp that provided me with my first experience of buying rough diamonds on the open market, mostly from West African intermediaries.

Buying is based on trust. Clients would leave their diamonds with us to be valued and then return at an appointed time to negotiate the sale. If a client did not agree to sell, it was imperative not to fail by

letting them leave with too weak an offer, but also not to ‘burn’ the price by offering well over the odds just for them to accept the deal. Your word was your bond and your reputation depended upon it. Once you agreed ‘Mazal’ (the Hebrew word for good luck and a blessing) and shook hands, there was no going back.

Buying rough diamonds in Zaire (latterly Democratic Republic of the Congo) was where I cut my teeth. I began in the buying offices of Kinshasa but also ‘up country’ in Southern Zaire. In 1991 I was based in Kananga, the capital city of the Kasai Central Province. Its location did not lend itself to much passing diamond traffic and so we supplemented our business with a ‘bush buying’ operation in a small village called Lwambo, close to the Angolan border. Our market typically derived from gems produced by the smallscale operators of concessions, some more formal than others, where the rough diamonds had been dug by hand from riverbeds and the bare earth.

Permission was sought and given by the Governor of the region and representatives of the Government’s Mines Department and the Centre of National (Diamond) Expertise accompanied us on our visits to

John Wenham Formerly of De Beers
Rough diamonds

record purchases. In addition, a Garde de Corps from the local military, who despite his age was dependable and did not touch the local hashish, joined the team.

It was a gruelling nine-hour journey to Lwambo by road for the advance party led by our coaxer Kilolo. The coaxer’s role was to assist business and manage translation if a client did not speak French. The party would leave at the weekend in a vehicle crammed with supplies which included a barrel of diesel, spare filters, motor oil, bottled water and toilet paper etc. Leaving at the weekend also enabled Kilolo to drum up business in outlying villages and distribute publicity in the form of company t-shirts, hats and bags before my arrival the following Monday.

I would travel in a small light aircraft with a metal trunk full of local currency, Zaires. We would touch down on a rough grass airstrip which was maintained in the wet season by Père Tom, a Dutch priest of the local Catholic mission. Kilolo and the team would meet me and drive me directly to our rented property that we used as a buying office.

We employed three local men to maintain and guard the property. Inside were three rooms with a separate outside latrine made of bamboo over an open pit. However, as the property had no running water or generator, I was accommodated at the Mission which had cloistered bedrooms. The Garde de Corps would remain immediately outside my door

overnight, sitting on the trunk of money with rifle in hand, though if I needed to use the toilet during the night, this would invariably wake him up! Outside was an external shower with a bucket of ice-cold water attached to a rope atop a concrete structure.

Each visit lasted four days. Père Tom was a genial man and as his guest I enjoyed his company, joining him for meals, sharing our stories and experiences. It was a reciprocal relationship. I would pay for lodging, the maintenance of the airstrip and bring in mail and hardto-get supplies, such as flour. We also purchased all our furniture from the mission’s carpentry school and on occasion I would bring a video to watch in the evening which always drew a large audience, often spilling over outside and peering in through the windows.

On each trip it was good protocol to visit the authorities. They were usually helpful and would grant us permission to send our vehicle to other villages to bring clients to the buying office. The head of the local community told me that the village of Lwambo felt very neglected by the government, and he was desperate to see it prosper again. He hoped we would remain a permanent fixture, as there was no other commerce in the locality.

Business was unpredictable. There would be prolonged periods spent waiting for the vehicle to arrive with clients, and sometimes only one or two made the journey. Negotiations were usually good humoured even

if they did not end in a sale. I always enjoyed a client’s response to being asked ‘Comment ça va?’, which many would reply with ‘Bien, merci, mais pas plus que vous’.

The sense of expectation when opening a client’s paper parcel of diamonds never left me.

Experience had taught me to recognise at first glance the value in front of me, especially if there was a stone (known as a swimmer) which would help the sale. I used a battery-operated scale to weigh the goods and a set of small sieves to determine their size. Larger gemstones of higher value were weighed individually. I used a pair of tweezers, a head and hand loupe to sort the different shapes and qualities. My naked eye determined the colour, which could be tricky depending on the light and the fact that the diamonds had a covering of the red earth.

The clients were happy that they were able to sell their diamonds in Lwambo, rather than incur the additional expense of travelling to one of the major diamond towns. Business was small but profitable. However, it was these bush buying trips and our interaction with the communities and authorities that were priceless in enhancing our knowledge and De Beers’ reputation as competitive diamond buyers. Mr Charles would doubtless have been reassured that his earlier clarion call still resonated loud and clear.

George Scott - an infectiously enthusiastic trainer

It has been almost a decade since George Scott was issued with his licence to train in Newmarket. His base at Eve Lodge Stables was where the legendary jockey Lester Piggott launched his short-lived training career, and from where he sent out Cutting Blade to win the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1986.

Horse racing is synonymous with the Suffolk town which has a centuries-old history as both a racing and training centre. Gone, though, are the days when Newmarket’s predominantly Flat trainers spent their winters breaking in yearlings and sending out the older horses for miles of road work while awaiting the opening of the turf gallops on Warren Hill in February. Nowadays, with a thriving all-weather programme throughout the winter, not to mention increasing international opportunities for Flat horses, a trainer’s life is markedly different and just as likely to include plenty of road work of a different kind, driving to and from the races, along with clocking up the airmiles.

Scott, 35, has been quick to capitalise on the enduring interest in British racing from owners and breeders around the world. Since the involvement of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum and his brothers from the early 1980s, along with the significant participation and investment from the late Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the sport in this country has seen constantly increasing participation from Arab owners. Over the last decade or so, Qatar’s royal Al Thani family has also played a significant role in racing across Europe, and now members of Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifa family are increasingly active participants, while also developing the racing programme within their own island nation.

Shaikh Nasser Al Khalifa’s Victorious Racing has been a loyal patron of Scott’s stable and he repaid the owner’s faith by winning Bahrain’s unofficial Triple Crown with Isle Of Jura last winter. This has now been trumped by a memorable first Royal Ascot win for the trainer with the progressive four year old in the Hardwicke Stakes,

not to mention taking the major sprint race during Newmarket’s Guineas Festival, the Group 3 Palace House Stakes, with the three-year-old Seven Questions.

“It's been fantastic,” Scott says. “Isle Of Jura was bought with an idea that if he wasn't good enough here, he would be part of Shaikh Nasser’s string in Bahrain. And really since then it has just been a dream. To win the three flagship races with the same horse, I don't think they expected that ever really to be done, and now the Hardwicke Stakes. It’s been six months we'll never forget.”

Shaikh Nasser is far from the sole big-spending owner supporting Scott’s stable. He also trains for the Iranian-born football agent Kia Joorabchian, whose Amo Racing is another growing force in Europe and America. “Kia's enthusiasm is extraordinary, and his understanding of the game as well is equal to that,” Scott says. “He’s a very personable guy, his whole career is built around people, relationships, and we spend a lot of time talking about family and football and other things.”

It is not hard to see how Scott forms such relationships with people from all corners of the globe.

He has an easy charm and obvious sense of fun, as his Off The Bridle podcast interaction with fellow trainer and good friend Charlie Fellowes exemplifies. The two men started training at around the same

George Scott at Eve Lodge Stables

time and went as far as each naming a horse after the other. Scott claimed bragging rights when training the equine Charlie Fellowes to win three races in 2020. His own namesake retired winless after 12 starts.

But despite his increasingly cosmopolitan life as a trainer, Scott had very much the traditional English country upbringing. “My father's a farmer in Shropshire, and so I always grew up with horses and an outdoor life. My mum rode and we always had ponies around, but I wasn't madly into it until I found myself around racehorses and realised the speed and the athleticism of them,” he says. “I love being around horses, but I also love competing. And that's why today I’m excited getting up in the morning and knowing that we're going to compete in the afternoon.

I would like to have runners every day if I could, because that's what I really enjoy.

He learned his trade alongside some of the best in the business, including starting out as a pupil assistant at the yard of multiple champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls. “The fire burns so brightly in him. He’s always looking to improve his facilities and to getting bigger owners. He's always looking to be champion trainer,” Scott says with obvious admiration.

He also spent three years with Classic-winning trainer Michael Bell to hone his experience with Flat horses. “Michael, again, is an amazing people

person,” he says. “He doesn’t train in the context of systems, he just trains on feel. I think he's an incredibly natural horseman.”

Scott could then have been ‘lost’ to America. He fell in love with racing there while working for Eddie Kenneally, before receiving an offer which called him home and acted as a significant springboard for his own training career. “I had moved to California for the second year of my two-year period and within eight weeks, David Loder had rung me and said, ‘Jane Cecil would like you to come back to England and be her assistant’.”

Lady Cecil had taken over the training at the historic Warren Place following the death of her husband, Sir Henry Cecil, in June 2013. With Scott at her side, she admirably upheld the good name of the stable, training 13 stakes winners in just over two years, including three Group 1 victories for Noble Mission, a brother of the mighty Frankel.

“I had actually asked Henry one day if I could go and work for him and he said no, that it was just too late in his career. I never imagined myself working at Warren Place,” Scott recalls. “When I came back from California, they still had the majority of the horses that were there when Henry was alive. But within a six-week period, every single day, horses were leaving the yard. It took time to refine itself, but then it did to a core of about 70 horses, including from the Niarchos family and Juddmonte, a really amazing, supportive group of people and a special group of horses. It was an amazing two years. I felt in a sense that I'd probably not get access to that type of horse again.”

Jubilant scenes after Isle Of Jura’s win at Royal Ascot

Now, the quality of Scott’s own stable of 75 horses is on the rise. His leading contenders in 2024 include the aforementioned Isle Of Jura and Seven Questions, as well as the improving stayer Prydwen and the Spring Cup winner Watch My Tracer. In Newmarket, home to around 80 trainers, he is surrounded by his competitors, but he insists that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“They genuinely are some of my best friends,” Scott says. “That part's easy. I am a people person. I thrive with people. I'm not good by myself. But like everything, it's always difficult being beaten. It's just part of life in this town.”

He also relishes his frequent trips to the Gulf and, with the racing in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi and Dubai now expanding to fill the months of November through to March, Scott will be making the most of those lucrative opportunities. He says, “It's a bit of a cliché, but the world's become a very small place, and these horses travel so well on the whole. And it's a cold, wet winter here so it offers a huge amount of enjoyment to the staff and to the team, to travel horses, see new places, experience new things.

“And much more significantly, owners like to win on their home turf. We'll always look to continue to travel horses, and we'll really look to strengthen in Bahrain this winter as well. The prize money is good, but it's going to get more and more competitive as everyone realises what fun it is.”

Newmarket, though, with its thousands of acres of gallops of every variety, and home of Europe’s leading bloodstock auctioneers Tattersalls, remains his first love.

Scott says, “I love it here. I'm a real Newmarket enthusiast. I love the people in Newmarket and I love the passing trade, being able to go to every sale. I work the sales incredibly hard with Billy Jackson Stops. I never want to leave here.”

Mortgages -

There are no historical records of the first mortgage, although mortgages in some form or another are thought to have been around since the 12th century. In the year 1190, English common law afforded mortgage protection to a lender by giving him a share of the borrower’s property. Even though the title of the property remained held by the borrower, the lender could sell the property if he wanted to recover the debt.

The University of Nottingham has a record of a 500-year mortgage deed signed in the 17th century. Such a long mortgage term would clearly bring unwanted complexities and perhaps suggests why mortgages were not common until the latter part of the 19th century.

The first Building Society was established in 1775 at the Golden Cross Inn in Birmingham by its enterprising landlord Richard Ketley. The city was a powerhouse of economic and physical growth at the time, largely fuelled by its highly successful metal working industry, and the beneficiaries were enthusiastic investors in property. Members of Ketley's Building Society paid a monthly subscription to a central pool of funds which was used to finance the building of houses for its members, which in turn acted as the collateral to attract further funding to the society, enabling still more construction. By the middle of the 19th century there were literally hundreds of such societies operating on the same principle, with seemingly every town of consequence in the country having a Building Society carrying its name. In the 20th and 21st centuries the market continued to evolve to the sophisticated banks and specialist lenders we know now, fuelled by an increasingly affluent population’s continuing desire to own their own homes, and at the end of 2023 the outstanding value of all residential mortgage loans in the UK stood at a massive £1.6576 trillion.

The most significant change of the last 10 years has been the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) of 2014, with income and affordability criteria now becoming key factors in the mortgage application process. Applied after the 2008 credit crunch and financial crash that followed, the government-instituted review concluded that mortgages were too readily available and that too many high-risk mortgages had been approved. This meant that borrowers were at risk of not being able to make their repayments.

Watch My Tracer winning the 2024 Spring Cup at Lingfield

800 years and counting

To guard against this happening again, the government decided to tighten lending requirements. It was one of the most significant moments in the history of the UK mortgage market and has had a considerable impact on both lenders and borrowers. The consequences of the MMR are that all lenders are required to carry out stress tests to make sure a borrower can meet their mortgage repayments even if interest rates rise. As part of this stress test borrowers need to provide evidence of their ability to repay, with the need to have stable and sufficient sources of income and sustainable debt elsewhere.

At the end of 2023, 48% of homeowners in the UK had a mortgage, which equates to 7.8 million people. Private house purchases represent the largest share of mortgage lending and in 2024 borrowing by homeowners is projected to reach £122 billion.

As housing is a staple requirement, with everyone needing a home in some form or another, the mortgage market is always likely to be an attractive area for lenders and to stimulate healthy competition. Despite economic fluctuations, consumer behaviour and regulatory adjustments, the UK mortgage market remains reassuringly resilient. Product innovation is a key factor in this resilience and a recent example is the ‘Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor’ mortgage.

This type of mortgage allows a parent or family member who already owns a home to provide security without having a legal interest in the property. A declaration of nil beneficial interest means that they are exempt from paying the current additional Stamp Duty rate of 3% if they are an existing property owner

and does mean that their child can qualify for the first-time buyer Stamp Duty exemption if appropriate. By removing the barrier of the 3% duty, this type of product innovation helps first time buyers to get on the property ladder, whilst enabling parents to assist without having to participate in ownership.

The current UK mortgage market is an extremely fast paced environment. The best piece of advice I can give someone looking to secure a mortgage today is to get their paperwork in as good order as possible and speak to a broker early in the process. For something as important as a house purchase it makes sense to get expert help; brokers have specialist knowledge in most areas, including complex income, foreign income and trust income situations, or where properties come with land, outbuildings and annexes.

And what direction for the market now? Well, innovation shows no sign of stopping.

Technological advancements have streamlined the mortgage application process significantly in the last 5 years. Digital platforms have led to quicker decisionmaking and enhanced transparency and efficiency for consumers. Lenders are increasingly offering more tailored mortgage options such as Later Life Finance options and Green Mortgages. The Financial Conduct Authority and the Law Society continue to focus strongly on consumer protection and better outcomes for them. It is a progressive, evolving industry – a far cry from the 500-year mortgage of the 17th Century!

Landed Estates - navigating a

A reflection on the major trends in banking for landed estates this year and on the opportunities that lie ahead.

Easing the burden

For the last few years uncertainty has been a significant problem for private clients, particularly landowners. Many people had become very comfortable in a seemingly neverending hyper-low-rate environment; it always appeared certain that money would cost the same tomorrow as it did today. Markets cooled, however, amid the unpredictability of where interest rates would land. When the inevitable rate hikes began, many plans were put on hold as financing large projects became increasingly expensive.

Whilst a low-rate environment makes debt financing cheaper, it is broadly true that people can plan regardless of the actual level of rates. A project with a potential return on capital of 12 per cent, makes borrowing at 5 per cent very worthwhile. What always makes planning extremely challenging is paying at one rate today, only for it to become more expensive tomorrow.

This year, sentiment over interest rates has shifted. It is widely accepted that rates have peaked, even if the debate lingers as to how far interest rates will eventually fall. The expectation that rates will at least hold steady has lifted a significant burden off many estates’ shoulders. A steady interest rate allows for planning and budgeting well into the future – the very thinking that is essential to longterm estate management.

Subsequently, we are currently receiving more requests for credit from estates, particularly overdrafts secured on residential property. Clients can request a limit for a working overdraft to provide flexibility and greater control over managing their debt burden – and, ultimately, interest costs too. Such an overdraft can be a vital tool in enabling estates to manage the peaks and troughs of agricultural costs and income.


regulations, new opportunities

The residential property market has become the modern-day workhorse for many estates and landowners. It is easy to see why. If they can get costs and tenancies right, a property can provide regular, consistent income from readily available assets, which can also help to finance other projects.

However, there have also been recent trends towards putting property assets to work in other ways, driven in part by legislative changes that have dampened the appeal of holding large property portfolios. The Renters Reform Bill, for example, has generated much chatter on the impact it will have on landlords. Arguably, its modus operandi is shifting power from landlords to tenants, by scrapping landlord powers such as Section 21 notices (more commonly known as ‘no fault’ evictions).

Such changes are causing some landowners to re-evaluate how they use their property assets. Holiday lets, for example, are becoming an

Trustee Liability in Scotlandwhat’s new following the 2024 Act?

Whilst the majority of the Trusts and Succession (Scotland) Act 2024 (the “Act”) is not yet in force, anyone who is a trustee or advises trustees should now be familiar with the changes coming in.

A fundamental principle of trust law in Scotland has always been that trustees’ liability is limited to what is in the trust fund provided that the trustee had met their duty of care – to act as an ordinary and prudent person would in the management of their affairs. If a trustee breached

that duty resulting in loss to the trust fund, remedies would be available to beneficiaries where personal liability could be sought. Much of these principles evolved through case law, and, until now, there was no statutory definition of the duty of care. The 2024 Act now establishes a legislative framework that will soon apply to all trusts.

Has the duty of care changed? s31 reflects the existing common law duty of care. However, it goes further

changing landscape

increasingly popular alternative way of generating income. Sometimes this will require conversion projects, which can demand high capital costs. But if potential rental yields are favourable against interest servicing costs, borrowing can be an attractive solution to ease cash flow. Indeed, a core functionality of property on an estate can be for securing borrowing. New regulation set for 2025 will potentially make it easier to arrange borrowing secured against residential property. More than ever, property (particularly owner-occupied property) can work to reduce overall borrowing costs for an estate.

Capitalising on sustainable initiatives

New UK sustainability legislation, which can seem a bit of a minefield, could have a positive impact on landed estates and landowners this year. Consider, for instance, one of the biggest pieces of land management legislation; the government’s new Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements, which came into force in February.

BNG projects have significant potential to be a new revenue stream for landowners. They could supply developers with the BNG credits that planning authorities will now be demanding of them in light of the new legislation. But there is a great deal of uncertainty about socalled new nature markets, and how land used for BNG might fit into the long-term planning of estates. In this sense, trusted advisers are more essential than ever, with a new realm of opportunity (and challenges) to navigate.

Many sustainability-linked income streams also demand high upfront costs. Securing project financing is set to become an essential part of the diversification process and gives further weight to the trend of increased lending expected over the next year or two.

Keeping it in the family Trends come and go, but some things never fall out of fashion. Planning for the future – whether it is a generational transfer or longterm management – has always

been a key concern for estates. Traditionally, estates have used trusts to secure their assets for future generations. One pitfall of this approach is that banks can tend to have a limited appetite for trusts or other financial structures, due to a lack of understanding. Trusts used correctly can be hugely beneficial to estate planning –which is why Weatherbys is always comfortable considering a range of family trusts and other structures for its clients.

Estates and landowners are facing a new litany of challenges, from navigating complex legislation to facing difficult questions about the costs of diversification. As a family-owned business ourselves, we understand that at the heart of running any estate is the desire to pass it down to the next generation. Distinguishing the opportunities from the pitfalls will always be a challenge, but having trusted advisers on your side can help smooth the course – both for current landowners and future generations.

and imposes a higher duty of care on those who act in a professional capacity. In such cases, the duty is to “exercise such skill, care and diligence as it is reasonable to expect from a member of the profession”. This will apply to all trusts regardless of when they were created. Given the increased potential liability, a thorough review of trusts may be necessary by businesses that have trustee company appointments.

What liability can trustees now face?

The wording of s36 caused concern to several stakeholders during the legislative process. It states that “a trustee only has personal liability for any loss to a beneficiary which results from: (a) the trustee’s own acts or omissions”.

It is understood that this was intended to limit liability to one’s own actions and re-state the position from the previous legislation, but the re-wording was troublesome. It did not limit it to situations where the loss occurred due to a breach of the duties owed. In the final iteration, wording was added that this section is “subject to” the remainder of the Act. It is hoped that the Courts will follow the existing principles and that judicial authority will close any gap that remains.

s36 goes on to apply personal liability where there was a breach by a co-trustee if reasonable steps were not taken to stop such a breach occurring.

Is insurance the answer?

There are other remedies available to trustees in the Act, but s17 now provides authority that trustees may take out insurance to protect against personal liability. It also confirms that such cost can be met from the trust fund, despite some historic debate about whether that was appropriate. Given the risk in relying on one of the other remedies, insurance can provide trustees with the comfort of that protection.

What’s next?

The trust provisions of the Act need further regulations from the Scottish Ministers to bring them into force. Meantime, organisations should take this time to review their trust registers and perhaps organise appropriate insurance.

Weatherbys Bank Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Motor - why is my car insurance so expensive?

This is almost a daily conversation. Unfortunately, clients have seen premiums for all types of vehicles increase astronomically in the last year even when they haven’t made a claim. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), motor premiums are on average 25% more expensive at the end of 2023 than they were 12 months previously. So what is driving this, if you will excuse the pun?

Part of it is explained by the rising cost of repairs. Again, according to the ABI, repair costs have risen by a third since the beginning of last year. This is down to a combination of factors: the price of raw materials, wage inflation, the cost of courtesy cars and even the price of paint. Consequently, the cost of repairs to popular vehicles has risen between 12% and 21%. Inflation is now thought to be under control but of course costs aren’t going down and so premiums still remain high.

Another big contributor is the weather. Widespread flooding in recent winters has been very expensive for insurers and images of cars stranded in flood water and the staggering increase in pothole related claims has led to a record number of payouts. The insurer Admiral recorded 1,324 pothole claims in 2023, up 40% from the year before, and of course the more insurers pay out the more their premiums go up. EY have estimated that for every £1 of premium collected, motor insurers are paying out £1.14 in claims and expenses.

To add to the litany of bad news vehicle thefts are also on the rise. The DVLA reported that 64,087 cars were stolen in 2023 which shockingly equates to 1 every 8 minutes. The most stolen car is still the Ford Fiesta, but it is keyless cars which have been catching the headlines, notably Range Rovers.

The Range Rover Sport, Evoque and Land Rover Discovery all feature in the top 10 most stolen vehicles and although Jaguar Land Rover are reported to have invested more than £10 million upgrading the security of their vehicles, they are still ‘blacklisted’ by many insurers and especially if they are parked on a London street.

The Range Rover is not alone in being persona non grata with insurers. Electric vehicles (EVs) also evoke a negative reaction. Not only are they more expensive to purchase than their petrol or diesel counterparts but they are also more costly to repair. A lack of EV qualified mechanics is pushing up claim costs, they are reportedly taking 14% longer to fix, and the high cost of replacing batteries means they

are often written off. Furthermore, the EVs’ high acceleration may be appealing to their drivers but represents a greater risk factor which is compounded by the fact that insurers do not have years of historical claims data to evaluate them. These vehicles are more akin to a computer on wheels. Their advanced safety features such as cameras and sensors are fantastic, but it is making them all the more expensive to repair or replace.

None of this is likely to make anyone feel better about paying their premium when their motor policy renews, but hopefully it does provide some reassurance that the insurers are not guilty of profiteering and it is unfortunately more a case of them balancing their books.


07827 297072

Cause for Alarm

the end of the land line

Telephone companies in the UK had pledged to ‘retire’ the traditional analogue phone line, also known as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), by the end of 2025. However, BT have now extended the deadline to January 2027 and other providers are expected to follow suit. Some areas of the country have already made the switch to digital, but what are the implications for those which haven’t and what do you need to know?

The analogue lines date back to the late 1800s and although they have modernised over the years to accommodate fax machines and dial up internet, the ageing infrastructure has reached the end of its serviceable life. It is being replaced with new digital technology which uses an internet connection such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Digital Voice or All-IP telephony to carry telephone calls in a similar way to Skype or Zoom.

The phone companies are tasked with contacting their customers before the switch but given that many homes in the UK still have a functioning landline, the scale is enormous. If you have an intruder alarm, phone entry system, telecare alarm (for example the ones worn around the neck), or even a fax machine, then you need to be proactive.

If you leave it too long, you will find yourself at the end of a long queue of other customers trying to do exactly the same thing.

First, speak to your phone provider, which in most cases will be BT, and find out when they intend to start work in your postcode. You may find as I did, that they have no plans yet to switch off the analogue in your area but it is worth establishing now what services in your house use the landline. From an insurance perspective, how the change to digital affects your intruder alarm is the issue at stake. Next, speak to your alarm company to discover how your alarm communicates with the monitoring centre.

If you have BT Redcare then you will need to act sooner rather than later as BT will be withdrawing BT Redcare from the 1st August 2025. BT Redcare is considered the gold standard of alarms. It has Dual Path (DP) transmission, which is preferred by insurers, but we are seeing other alarm companies offering Single Path (SP) transmission as

a quick fix solution which is not comparable or suitable from an insurance perspective. To add another variable into the mix it has just been announced that if you have BT Redcare’s Next Generation alarm system it will transition to a firm called AddSecure, but we understand that this may well not be the case for the older Redcare systems.

The bottom line is that it is important to focus on your alarm system over the coming months and make sure that your property will continue to be protected adequately as a result of any of the changes being made. It will make sense to speak to your broker and find out what alarm ‘upgrades’ will be acceptable to your insurer before agreeing to anything and incurring unnecessary expense. Please don’t leave it to the last minute!


Non-Executive Appointments

We are delighted to announce the appointment of two new non-executive members to our Board in 2024. Simon Sampson and Henry Knight have both had very successful careers in financial services and we very much look forward to being able to benefit from their advice and experience. Weatherbys Hamilton’s ambition is to be the leading independent broker in the private client sector and the quality of these appointments only reinforces that.

Simon Sampson has recently retired from the City after a near 50-year career in insurance where latterly he held senior positions with JLT and then Marsh. Simon also has a keen interest in racing and is a long-time shareholder in Thurloe Thoroughbreds.

Commenting on his appointment Simon said “I am delighted to have joined the Board and hope that my extensive experience of the London insurance market can help Weatherbys Hamilton go from strength to strength. The firm has made impressive progress since it started in 2013 and not having been involved in the retail area before I am extremely struck by the quality of service and advice which it provides to its clients.”

Henry Knight is the Managing Director of Springtide Capital which is a very successful mortgage broker based in Belgravia, London. His brothers are William and Richard, racehorse trainer and bloodstock agent respectively. Henry said “I have known Weatherbys Hamilton as a household client for the last few years and can see why Private Client is such a big growth area for them. Springtide operates in a very similar sector and I hope that my experience of running an independent mortgage broker will prove useful to the Board, as well as providing a window into what is going on in the residential market”.

Swindon – Richard Chugg 07585 948297 (Mobile) 01793 847333 (Office)

Penrith – William Johnson 07966 030832 (Mobile) 01768 877355 (Office)

Newmarket – Alec Moore 07503 671649 (Mobile) 01638 563444 (Office)

Wellingborough – Matthew Haxby 07764 153234 (Mobile) 01933 440077 (Office)

London – Hamish Hardy 07858 149007 (Mobile) 0207 292 9029 (Office)

Edinburgh – James Innes 07526 252857 (Mobile) 0131 285 5064 (Office)

Horsham – Guy Baxter 07855 626086 (Mobile) 01403 915599 (Office)

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