Category: Company News

CYPRUS FAIRS FAVOURABLY FOR CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM

Especially in the government handling of Covid19, protection of its citizens and quick return to normalcy.

Never has there been so much emphasis placed on the importance of global mobility, further to the initial shock and disruption of Covid19, and the political and financial aftermath that has left us all searching for the  return to normalcy.  Most of us have waited anxiously to see the response by our government policy, and the steps taken to protect its citizens from the pandemic, during such unchartered territory. We have quickly come to realize, the importance of what  we perhaps once took for granted, the stability of our country’s infrastructure, health system,  and social security,  as a means of protecting its’ citizens and preserving business, wealth and  the economy.

Although there has been no formal global response policy to Covid19, it has swiftly become apparent that some countries governments have taken quick action to protect their citizens, whilst others have failed miserably.  Such unprecedented times have also seen us highly dependent on media, for validity of government information and guidelines, so we now know how living in a country that allows for freedom of speech and a trusting government is paramount.

With countries like the USA now enforcing martial law where Black Americans and other immigrants are made feel unsafe, losing their human rights and liberties, and Hong Kong citizens feeling suffocated by the newly proposed controversial national security legislation announced by Beijing to tighten Chinese rule, completely overriding Hong Kong’s own legislative process, threatening their human freedoms and civil liberties. Also with other countries such as Russia enforcing public surveillance, with prominence of facial recognition fast expanding, where government authority is stamping down on public freedoms and monitoring social media, the threat of losing our freedoms seems to have become a greater fear than the fear of COVID19 itself, resulting in many HNWIs placing global mobility and citizenship by investment on the top of their agenda, with view to protecting their families, safeguarding their wealth and preserving it for future generations to come.

So why has Cyprus, such a small gem in the Mediterranean sea, received so much praise and attention during the pandemic, by those searching for dual citizenship or looking to relocate their family and wealth?

Cyprus is the 3rd. largest island in the Med, and is located at the eastern end of Europe, at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Cyprus is known to have one of the lowest crime rates in the world and is considered to be one of the most attractive onshore tax regimes in the world, ranking 37th best country for business by Forbes in 2018, and 5th best relocation destination in the world, by Knight Frank. Having joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2008, Cyprus is deemed one of Europe’s rising stars, with a steady increase in GDP since the bank crisis of 2013, with its robust legal system based on English common law and transparent regulatory framework, with Cyprus’ banking system, now fully compliant with EU AML Directives.  Cyprus is also OECD compliant, and has one of the most attractive corporation tax rates worldwide, of only 12.5% and many non-dom zero tax benefits, and has attracted many UHNWIs and HNWIs alike.

With the highest tertiary education % in the EU, and a highly educated

professional workforce, where English is the main business language, as well as other widely spoken languages including Greek and Turkish, Cyprus has received much interest from international firms and investors worldwide.

Cyprus also has a strong infrastructure with a free, efficient national health service (YESI), and some of the best ranking universities and private schools, with languages taught as part of the curriculum including Chinese and Russian.

Cyprus’ main industries include financial services, banking, shipping, tourism, R&D and telecoms, as well as emerging industries such as energy and natural gas exploration. The real estate sector has also accelerated over the last ten years, seeing a steady increase in house prices to their pre 2013 high levels.

All this combined with a high quality of life, some of the best blue flag beaches of the world,  sunny  weather all year-round and friendly people with diversity and inclusion of all religions, makes  Cyprus a top Citizenship by Investment choice for many HNWIs and favourable relocation destination for many. With Europe having established itself as the most sought after region for high net worth investor immigration, Cyprus is now deemed the best Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) in the world.

Cyprus’ quick quarantine response to Covid19 and astute decisive action by economists, scientists and the Cyprus democratic government, has resulted in the island having one of the lowest fatality rates in Europe. Cyprus began lifting restrictions and returning back to normalcy in May, with the opening of the construction sector and public sector, with some schools resuming by mid-May, as well as private and public hospitals, and all citizen restrictions having been lifted by the end of May. From 1st June Cyprus hotels were open for business and Cyprus airports are to follow, with the reopening of international flights as from the 9 June, from selected low risk countries. Cyprus is proving an exemplary model country in pandemic management, taking successful measures resulting in quick returning back to normalcy, and has been praised for its quick recovery strategy, and shows optimism in its economic recovery.

Cyprus’ strong ethics in the importance family, education, wellbeing, business and innovation has held the country in good stead with amazing results. Therefore is a serious contender for someone evaluating their alternative citizenship application, dual passport, or a relocation destination.

The Cyprus Investment program offers the quickest route to a European passport obtained in approximately only 180 days. It is the only citizenship program offering such a simple and efficient way of obtaining dual citizenship.

Since 2013, the Cyprus Investment Program has attracted an investment of €6.6 billion. The Cyprus government has now lifted the 700 application cap, imposed earlier in the year, and is now more than ever committed to processing the CIP applications as quickly and efficiently as possible, providing they meet the eligibility guidelines and are fully compliant, as a means of boosting the country’s economy.

Eligibility requirements for the CIP include:

  • The main applicant must be 18 years of age or above
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Have no frozen assets within the EU, as a result of sanctions
  • All applicants must have a Schengen visa
  • The applicant must not have had a citizen application previously rejected by any other EU member state
  • Politically Exposed Persons entrusted with a prominent public function in the last five years are not eligible to apply, even if they do not hold such function at the time of the CIP application;
  • Adult applicants must visit Cyprus in order to provide biometrics for the permanent residency permit, which must be held for a minimum of 180 days, prior to citizenship been granted.

The main advantages of the CIP are as follows:

  • Freedom to live, work and study anywhere in the 28 EU member states including over 172 countries worldwide, including Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  • A quick route to acquiring EU citizenship, as a means to relocate to the UK
  • An easy process, with no language or medical testing
  • All family members are eligible including spouse, children including adult dependants  up to age 28 (prior to 29 birthday), and parents, even if over the age of 65
  • No physical residency requirements to live in Cyprus, other than holding of the Residency permit for 180 days prior to citizenship being issued
  • A better quality of life for the family, including excellent healthcare and  education for children, access to top-rated universities
  • Increased personal security and safety and enjoyment of freedoms with excellent lifestyle for all the family
  • Attractive tax regime with zero tax for non-domiciled individuals, no dividend tax and no inheritance tax
  • Citizenship is valid for life and can be passed on to your descendants
  • The acquired assets can be sold after 5 years, other than the €500,000 primary residence which must be held for life, and the €150,000 government donation which is non-refundable
  • Property investment can be rented and may yield between 3-5%. Real estate investment may also provide a guaranteed buy back option, at the end of the five year term (this may be available by some real estate firms)

The investment criteria starts from €2,150,000. The applicant may choose to invest in residential real estate or a combination of real estate and other investment investments as well as a non-refundable contribution.

The €2,000,000 investment option, must be made in residential real estate investment (plus VAT if applicable), as well as a non- refundable government donation of €150,000.

Or

An investment of €2,500,000 can be made, in a combination of real estate and/or other investment instruments such as AIFs, or investment in Cyprus companies as well as a non-refundable government donation of €150,000.

The government donation involves a non-refundable contribution of €75,000 to the Government Research and Development fund and €75,000 to the Land Development Organisation, in both options.

The investor may choose to sell the primary residence to the value of €500,000 and replace with another at any time, and should they wish their parents to be added to the application they can do so without any additional investment other than the purchase of their own primary residence to the value of €500,000 plus VAT.

Jenny Tryfonos Consultancy can assist you with Cyprus investor immigration services. Being of Cyprus descent, living in the UK and speaking the Greek language fluently, Jenny works with trusted local Cyprus lawyers and partners to protect the interest of her clients, ensuring that their needs are met every step of the way, keeping them informed throughout the application process and giving clients peace of mind, from start to successful acquisition of their Cyprus passport. Through her trusted advisory network, other HNWIs services offered include relocation, property acquisition, tax structuring, banking, trusts, and Cyprus company formation services, making your Cyprus experience complete and hassle free.

For a better visual idea on what Cyprus has to offer, check out the video Cyprus-The real return on investment

For further information on the Cyprus Investment Program, feel free to email contact@sterling-law.co.uk or send a WhatsApp or Telegram request to Jenny Tryfonos, so you can discuss your requirements further, in strictest confidence, or call +44 7 305 966 531.

Electronic signature validity

How do electronic signature platforms work?

There are simple platforms that allow you to sign documents and deeds. All the signatories will access the documents via a link. After the parties sign a document, the platform will receive core information such as the signatory’s email address, IP address, date and time of access. When all the signatures are complete, the document is saved as a read-only PDF. Even if any changes to it are made, later on, there will be highlights to them.

The validity of  a contract that has been signed electronically

 For the contract to be valid in common law there is a need to establish offer, acceptance, consideration and intention to be bound. The question arises whether an electronic signature can actually represent an intention to be bound. The platforms usually indicate that in order to agree to contact, a person needs to apply their signature into a special box. Therefore, the signature from the platform, if used together with other supporting documents, is sufficient evidence of an intention to be bound by the contact.

The validity of a deed that has been signed electronically

 For the deed to be valid in common law it must be in writing, expressed to be a deed, delivered a deed (usually electronic delivery suffices) and executed as a deed. The deed has to be witnesses in order to be executed. Although there is no statutory law that would shed a light on the issue, the Law Commission has issued a report into electronic signatures. The first finding is that the combination of different legal instruments shows that electronic signature usually meets all the statutory requirements. Second, an electronic signature can actually be witnessed. Witnesses can see the signature of the other person and add their signature as well. However, there is still a requirement of the physical presence of the witness.

Where electronic signature will not be valid

  • Documents that need to be registered at Land Registry (electronic signatures do not meet statutory requirements)
  • Documents executed by foreign companies

 

The validity of an electronic signature

 There is a body of case law that establishes that the contract is valid if entered into by the exchange of e-mail. Therefore, it can be assumed that if a typewritten signature was sufficient then the court will not find an electronic signature through a platform to be invalid.

Conclusion

We, therefore, conclude that the contact and a deed that otherwise fulfil all the criteria but were signed digitally would fulfil the criteria for validity. Especially, the Courts are likely to take into account the fact that at the moment physical signatures do not seem to be feasible since most of the organisations are closed. However, as there is no case law or statutory law, electronic signatures for deeds will always entail an amount of risk. Therefore, if it is possible then we advise using physical signatures for deeds.

The information above is provided for reference only. Please consult with our specialists prior to taking any actions, as every situation is different.

 

You can contact us on:

contact@sterling-law.co.uk

07 305 966 531

 

COVID-19: Lay-off and redundacy

Businesses are looking to reduce their bills in response to more people self-isolating at home.
While some send their employees to work from home maintaining their wages, others take advantage of lay-offs and reduced working hours.

Although there is general guidance available to employers, we suggest you seek legal advice before taking any actions and changing employees’ terms. Otherwise, you may face fines and costly tribunal hearings.

What about 0-hours workers?

0-hour workers cannot be suspended from work without a mutual agreement. If you decide to do so, you are opening up your company to claims. Otherwise, the right to suspend should be clearly stated in the contract.

Can I make employees stay home for a period of time on a reduced pay?

As an employer, you require a contractual right to do so and will need to follow the contract change process. You must also seek agreement from employees. Be transparent about why you have to do so and what employees can expect in the future, including redundancies.

What is lay-off?

Lay-off is when you as an employer take an employee off work at least for one working day due to lack of work.
Lay-off can trigger redundancy if it lasts for 4 weeks in a row, is more than 6 weeks within a 13-week period. In this case, an employee may opt for redundancy, and therefore, will be eligible for a redundancy payment.
Statutory lay-off pay: up to £29 a day for five days in any three-month period – so a maximum of £145.

If you have to make your workers redundant, you have to follow the redundancy procedure.

Find out more about your rights by contacting us.

020 7822 8535

07 305 966 531 for messengers

CLAIMING SICK PAY – WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

According to the Acas advice, every employee or worker is eligible for any SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) in they need to self-isolate and thus stay home due to: having coronavirus or its symptoms, if someone in their household has coronavirus or its symptoms, or if they have been told to self-isolate by NHS 111.

However, as an employee you must tell your employer you are unable to work as soon as you can, provide with the reason why, and also let them know for how many days you are likely to be absent. Your employer should be flexible about you providing evidence from doctors, as you may not be able to get a sick note while you are self-isolating.

«By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness. After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. This does not need to be fit note (Med 3 form) issued by a GP or other doctor» –
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19#what-to-do-if-an-employee-or-a-member-of-the-public-becomes-unwell-and-believe-they-have-been-exposed-to-covid-19

Agency, casual and zero-hours workers can get SSP if they meet the eligibility conditions, namely:

  • they earn on average at least £118 per week before tax;
  • they’ve told their employer about their condition within any deadline the employer has set or within 7 days.

Recently the UK government has decided that everyone with taking sick leave/self-isolating due to coronavirus or its symptoms is eligible for a sick pay from day 1 If you are, however, self-employed, or earn less than £118/week, according to the Budget, you can “more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance”: “For the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the Universal Credit Minimum Income Floor will be temporarily relaxed for those who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating according to government advice, ensuring self-employed claimants will receive support”, you will be able to claim Universal Credit  “without the current requirement to attend a job centre if they are advised to self-isolate”.

Still have your questions or worried? Let us know by contacting us. Just send us a message here, or reach out to contact@sterling-law.co.uk. 07 305 966 531 is available to those who prefer messengers.

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DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT

A new case – 3 Jan 2020

On what kind of beliefs can an employee claim discrimination?

Most people are aware that it is unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender, race or nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability.

An employment tribunal within the last week re-affirmed a fundamental principle of the Equality Act 2010, namely that the concept of ‘belief’ is not confined to just the Abrahamic religions, or any other religions, as some would have us believe!

‘Belief’ includes any philosophical belief, provided it is held genuinely and seriously, and includes, as in this case decided on 3rd January 2020, veganism. The claimant here was a vegan who believed that this was the reason that he had been victimised in the course of his employment. The employee had ethical objections to the way in which his employer behaved.

Of course, vegetarianism is included as well, as is, for instance, atheism and agnosticism and paganism. No belief has any privilege over any other – which I would say is exactly what you would expect in the law in a modern civilised secular society.

Kuldeep Clair

Senior Employment Solicitor

If you need expert advice on an employment issue, contact our consultant employment solicitor:

Kuldeep Clair – 07484 614090 or kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

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EQUAL PAY DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT

Just on Friday, a prominent new case was reported in the news involving equal pay.

It is prominent because it involved a claim by a well-known BBC journalist, Samira Ahmed, against her employer, on the basis that she had been underpaid for several years, for presenting one programme, amongst others. Her equal pay ‘comparator’ or rival BBC male journalist, was Jeremy Vine. Salary figures at the BBC had been made public as a matter of policy, and these showed that Mr Vine had been paid at a rate considerably more per programme, even though they both have been similarly experienced in their fields – over 25 years or so.

Of course, the BBC attempted to offer an alternative explanation for this disparity to the employment tribunal, but it was not accepted by the tribunal on the facts before it. The programmes in question were very similar and required similar skills. If the opposite had been accepted, the case would not have succeeded. Samira Ahmed’s success means that she will receive back pay for perhaps six years amounting to a six-figure sum. Six years is the maximum period for which an employee can claim back pay in an equal pay claim.

Our senior specialist employment solicitor, Kuldeep Clair comments, “I have found that claims for equal pay commonly turn on the ability of an employer to provide an explanation for the difference in pay. This can be difficult, but sometimes an explanation may not even be necessary, because the work simply is not easily ‘comparable’ at all. So there can be potential problems in both bringing and defending claims, unless you have expert professional representation.

Kuldeep dealt with an equal pay claim last year for a claimant which was settled for a substantial five figure sum. He was opposed by a prominent City firm, defending a national hospitality company. “The defence initially put forward by the employer was essentially the same”, says Kuldeep, “namely,  that my client’s work was of a different nature and could not be compared to the dozen male managers who occupied comparable positions to her. But they had a change-of-mind two weeks before the tribunal hearing date, when they realised the strengths of my client’s claim.

Kuldeep goes on to note that this year it is exactly 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act 1970, which was a turning point in anti-discrimination legislation. “We have now moved forwards a long way since the days when women were expected to either stay at home and do the dishes, or at most possibly expect to take menial work at whatever pittance of a rate was offered to them without any argument.

For advice on any employment issue, Kuldeep Clair can be contacted on 07484 614090 or kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk

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Domestic worker successfully enforced her employment rights against her manipulative employer even after her work visa expired

The general rule is that it’s illegal to work for an employer after the employees working visa has expired. The employee will no longer be able to bring a breach of employment contract claim against his employer due to the defence of ‘illegality’ of contract.

The case of Okedina v Chikale [2019] EWCA Civ 1393 held that there are some circumstances in which an employment contract can still be enforceable despite breaching an immigration rule.

The Facts

The claimant, Ms Chikale, and the respondent, Mrs Okedina, are both Malawian nationals. The claimant was granted a 6-month visa to work as a nanny for the respondent. Little did the claimant know, her visa was granted based on false information given by the respondent. The respondent goes further by letting the claimant stay and work in the UK even after her visa expired. Few months after, the claimant is earning £200 per month. The respondent dismissed the claimant after she requested more money.

Conclusion

The respondent’s defence of illegality was denied by the court. Great emphasis was placed on the fact that the claimant was innocent the whole time, and she was not aware that she has been working illegally.

In many cases, the balance of power in an employment relationship often tip in favour of the employer rather than the employee hence why vicious employers exploit workers by depriving them of their rights often becoming victims of trafficking.

If you think that your employer is depriving you of your employment rights, immediately contact our lawyers in Sterling Law, a Legal 500 firm based in London.

Contact us via:

contact@sterling-law.co.uk

+44 7 305 966 531

Book a consultation here.

Read about our successful cases here.

Sterling Law is now a Legal 500 firm

We are proud to be included in the Legal 500 rating. Simply put, Legal 500 highlights the practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice.

According to Legal 500:

Sterling Law advises on all types of UK visa and sponsor licence issues for a range of corporate and individual clients. The team is adept at handling PBS applications, which includes advice on sponsored migrants, highly skilled migrants, entrepreneurs and investors.

The team also advises on human rights-related cases at initial application and appeal levels and has experience in a variety of other cases including asylum, protection and family reunion cases. Ruslan Kosarenko is praised for his abilities as a ‘dynamic problem-solver’.

TESTIMONIALS

This team is unusually responsive and extremely well organised.

The team is dedicated, hardworking and brings a positive attitude towards even the most difficult case.

Ruslan Kosarenko takes a ‘can-do’ approach to cases and gets excellent results.

WORK HIGHLIGHTS

Advised on the humanitarian protection of a Filipino national who divorced her former partner from Phillipines and faced persecution and death threats her home country due to the bigamy case filed by her former husband.

Represented a Brazilian client and protected the best interests of her child in separation case.

Advised on successful Investor visa applications after an initial refusals.

https://www.legal500.com/

Contact us to resolve your legal matter:

contact@sterling-law.co.uk

+44 020 7822 8535

+44 7 305 966 531

Or book an appointment with us here.

Read about our successful cases here.

Entrepreneur visa will no longer exist & changes to the investor route

Significant changes are happening to the Entrepreneur and Investor visa. Tier 1 Entrepreneur category will no longer exist from 29 March 2019, while Tier 1 will undergo significant changes.
 
The immigration minister says that the Entrepreneur route “has a long tail of low-quality projects which contribute little or nothing to the wider UK economy”.
 
In place of the entrepreneur comes the innovator:
 
The Innovator category is intended for more experienced business people. As well as an endorsement, applicants will need £50,000 to invest in their business from any legitimate source (reduced from £200,000 for most applicants in the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category). The funding requirement will be waived for those switching from the Start-up category who have made significant achievements against their business plans. The category may lead to a settlement in the UK.
 
Again, the new Appendix W gives the details. The three main endorsement criteria are defined as follows:
 
Innovation: the applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
Viability: The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
 
Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
 
Note that these are slightly different from the requirements for start-up visas, although the three headings are the same. The endorser must also be “reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures”.
 
Unlike with the exceptional talent visa route, there is no set list of organisations that can endorse someone for an innovator visa. Endorsing bodies must be able to satisfy the criteria in Part W6.8, though.
 
Extension applications for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will remain open until 5 April 2023, and settlement applications until 5 April 2025.
Contact us should you have any questions.
Ruslan Kosarenko
Senior Partner
info@sterling-law.co.uk

Sterling Law at Jessup competition 2019

Very important event for Sterling Law will take place on the 15-16th of February. One of our Associates Nozima Rakhimjonova will be a judging at the United Kingdom National round of Phillip C. Jessup competition – the world’s largest moot court contest.

The Jessup competition has been held every year since 1960. It is designed for law students, where participants receive a hypothetical legal dispute between countries. Teams shall prepare written and oral pleadings for the applicant and respondent. It is a simulation of a real court hearing before International Court of Justice. Evidently, judicial organ of the United Nations consists of panel of judges, one of whom will be our prominent Associates Nozima.

Ms.Rakhimjonova holds a law degree from the University of Westminster and Master’s degree in International Business, Corporate and Finance Law at the Liverpool John Moores University, both courses were completed with distinction. Nozima deals with various cases in the sphere of commercial litigation, dispute resolution and contracting matter under supervision. Being an Associate for Sterling Law, Nozima successfully represented number of cases related to civil, commercial and immigration matters. She regularly produces publications for prestigious editions.Also, Nozima is a member of the Inner Temple – professional association for barrister and judges in London.

Sterling Law is proud to be working with such prominent legal team!