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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Are you able to kindly clarify whether you are selling the land or just the rights to fishing?
I don't own the land that the river flows through. I only own the fishing rights which I now wish to sell.
Thank you. Could you tell me how you own the fishing rights? i.e. do you own a formal right by deed (a profit a prendre) which is registered against the landowners title or do you have a licence to fish granted by the rights holder? If the latter is the licence capable of being assigned or is it personal to you?
Alternatively do you own a formal lease of fishing rights from the rights holder?
Is the right for exclusive use or shared use?
I own the rights through a legal deed. The land was originally owned by my grandfather. When the farm was sold he retained the fishing rights which I inherited from my father. There is a legal document with my solicitor covering this.
Thank you. This would appear to be a profit a prendre - i.e. a formal right registered against the landowners title giving you a right to fish although you do not own the land.
If you choose to sell the land the transaction is subject to capital gains tax unless you can show that you have used the rights as a business and then you may be able to claim various reliefs. I will assume that you have not used the rights as a business unless you tell be otherwise.
Only I have the right to fish. The landowner has no rights to fish. I have right of access and rights to clear the river but I have to leave the wood on the bank.
If not, then any sale will be subject to CGT assessment. CGT is assessed as you know on the difference between the value of the rights on acquisition and the value of rights on disposal. Where these were bought and sold on the open market, the price paid and the price sold is usually very good evidence of their values at the two points providing both transactions were at arms length but this will not be the case here if you inherited the rights.
In these circumstances you will need to obtain a valuation of the rights at the time they were inherited. It may be that a valuation was obtained and agreed by HMRC at the time of your fathers passing as it is necessary to obtain valuations for your fathers estate for probate. Therefore if the records are still available you may seek to ascertain whether the fishing rights were valued as part of your fathers estate as they should have been and rely on that as a valuation figure at that time.
If the records are not available or you disagree with the valuation figure and it was not formally agreed with HMRC at the time (they often aren't) you can obtain a new valuation from a surveyor that specialises in country land. They can usually be found working for or attached to the "grander" property agencies such as Savilles and Knight Frank and so on or can be sourced through RICS.
Valuations are normally based on either stock or "letting value" or a combination of the two as appropriate.
If you plan to sell the rights, providing this is a normal market transaction, this will likely be treated as the present valuation and so CGT will be assessed on the difference between the earlier valuation and the present value.
Obviously you can apply your annual allowance and if you are married you could consider transferring the right to your spouse jointly to double the allowance available if there is a CGT liability to pay and your spouse has unused allowance.
Many thanks for your reply. Can I assume that holding these rights for 40 years doesn't diminish the CGT liability?
Unfortunately not - there used to be taper relief available for long ownership but this was abolshed when they reduced CGT rates under the last government.
A pleasure. Has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?
You have given me a very clear picture of where I stand. Thanks again for your answers.
Glad I could assist. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me
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