introduction PUBLISHER Ian Fletcher Benham Publishing Limited 3tc House, 16 Crosby Rd, Crosby, Liverpool L22 0NY Tel: 0151 236 4141 Facsimile: 0151 236 0440 email: email@example.com web: www.benhampublishing.com
Officers for 2013-2014
local issues Annual General Meeting Notice
In memoriam - His Honour Judge Copley
CILEX inspires women of the future
Review of Copyright Collecting Societies launched
Law firms optimistic despite increased competition
Retirement of LawCare CEO
Prevention is protection
Flood-hit Richard Griffiths & Co kept afloat by Quill
CILEx criticises Judicial Review proposals as ‘unjustified’
property PSG Hillingdon – The Local Face of a National Success
professional issues Weather forecast for the year ahead...
ADVERTISING AND FEATURES EDITOR Anna Woodhams DESIGN AND PRODUCTION MANAGER Fern Badman ACCOUNTS DIRECTOR Joanne Casey MEDIA No. 1311 EDITOR Darrell Webb PUBLISHED February 2014 – © Bill of Middlesex - Benham Publishing LEGAL NOTICE © Benham Publishing. None of the editorial or photographs may be reproduced without prior written permission from the publishers. Benham Publishing would like to point out that all editorial comment and articles are the responsibility of the originators and may or may not reflect the opinions of Benham Publishing. No responsibility can be accepted for any inaccuracies that may occur, correct at time of going to press. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us. DISCLAIMER The Middlesex Law Society welcomes all persons eligible for membership regardless of Sex, Race, Religion, Age or Sexual Orientation. All views expressed in this publication are the views of the individual writers and not the society unless specifically stated to be otherwise. All statements as to the law are for discussion between member and should not be relied upon as an accurate statement of the law, are of a general nature and do not constitute advice in any particular case or circumstance. Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified Legal Advice.
Copy Deadlines 2014 May Issue August Issue November Issue February Issue
18th April 18th July 17th October 24rd January
Why we should all consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney
Iconic Dogs Trust slogan marks landmark anniversary
“It’s the economy, stupid!” Or is it?
New Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) PwC comments
ymg The New Young Members Group of the Middlesex Law Society
mediation Focus on Mediation
Anyone wishing to advertise or submit editorial for publication in the Bill of Middlesex please contact Anna Woodhams, before copy deadline.
film FILM AND THE LAW No 22: Lawyer-Less Law – A peek into the Future
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0151 236 4141
book review MILLINGTON & SUTHERLAND WILLIAMS ON THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME
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officers COMMITTEE MEMBERS
OFFICERS FOR 2013/2014 President: DARRELL WEBB Bolt Burdon Solicitors Providence House, Providence Place, Islington N1 0NT (020 7288 4795) (DX 122237 Upper Islington) e-mail: email@example.com Vice Presidents: GURMEET KHARAUD Fort & Co. Solicitors Saunders House, 52-53 The Mall, Ealing W5 3TA (020 170 8433) (DX 5119 Ealing) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ELISABETH VAN DER WEIT Hameed & Co. 4 Grand Parade, Forty Avenue, Wembley Park, HA9 9JS (020 8904 4900) e-mail: email@example.com Honorary Secretary MAURICE GUYER Vickers & Co. 183 Uxbridge Road, Ealing W13 9AA (020 8579 2559) (DX 5104 Ealing) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Honorary Treasurer: NIRMALA CHANDRESENA Chands Solicitors 145 Cannonbury Avenue, Pinner, Middx HA5 1TR (020 8933 8332) (DX 48001 Rayners Lane) e-mail: email@example.com Honorary Social Secretary: ROBERT DREPAUL Vickers & Co 183 Uxbridge Road, Ealing W13 9AA (020 82801095) (DX 5104 Ealing) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Honorary Membership Secretary: SUSAN SCOTT-HUNT Principal Lecturer in Law, Middlesex University The Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BT (020 8411 6019) e-mail: email@example.com Council Members for the Middlesex Area: Central & South Middlesex Michael Garson Kagan Moss 22 The Causeway, Teddington TW11 0HF (020 8977 6633) (DX 35250 Teddington) e-mail: Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org North Middlesex Michael Singleton Singletons Austin Ryder 2 Crossfield Chambers, Gladbeck Way, Enfield EN2 7HT (020 8367 0387) (DX 90604 Enfield) e-mail: Michael.email@example.com The Law Society Greater London Regional Office, The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL (020 7316 5554) (DX 56 London/Chancery Lane) Regional Manager: Morag Goldfinch e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Immediate Past President: SUSAN SCOTT-HUNT Principal Lecturer in Law, Middlesex University The Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BT (020 8411 6019) e-mail: email@example.com
PAST PRESIDENTS R Garrod, J A S Nicholls, R C Politeyan, J Aylett, K Goodacre, H J B Cockshutt, W Gillham, L Lane Heardman, D Grove, L A Darke, C Beety, Mrs L E Vickers, H Hodge, E G B Taylor, A A M Wheatley, A H Kurtz, M J S Doran, H B Matthissen, G Parkinson, HHJ R D Connor, A Bates, J J Copeman-Hill, D B Kennett-Brown,
Alexis Ash of Iliffes Booth Bennett Solicitors Capital Court, 30 Windsor Street, Uxbridge UB8 1AB (08456 381 381) (DX 45105 Uxbridge) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Dr Rebecca Bates of Brunel Law School, Brunel University Kingston Lane, Uxbridge UB8 3PH (01895 67909) e-mail: Rebecca.email@example.com
S B Hammett, Miss F A Shakespear, HHJ P E Copley, A M Harvey, H R Hodge, G R Stephenson, B S Regler, W J C Berry, AS Atchison, L M Oliver, S W Booth, D D P Debidin, R E J Hansom, E H Lock, Mrs A Taylor, Mrs N Desor, Ms M Hutchinson, M Guyer, R S Drepaul, A Sriharan, Ms M Fernandes A Darlington, S Chhokar, Ms M Crowley, Professor M Davies, S Hobbs, Mrs R Sriharan, Mrs S Scott Hunt.
Robert Borwick of ABV Solicitors Kingshott Business Centre, 23 Clayton Road, Hayes UB3 1AN (0844 587 9996) (DX 44650 Hayes (Middlesex) e-mail: Robert.Borwick@ABVSolicitors.co.uk Professor Malcolm Davies Head of Ealing Law School University of West London St. Marys Road, Ealing W 5RF (020 8231 2226) e-mail: Malcolm.Davies@tvu.ac.uk Hardeep Dhillon of Desor & Co, 768 Uxbridge Road, Hayes, UB4 0RU (020 8569 0708) (DX 44657 Hayes 1 Middlesex) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDUCATION & TRAINING PROGRAMME 2013 – 2014 2 April
Compliance Forum (MU)
UWL is University of West London, - St Mary’s Road, Ealing campus MU is Middlesex University, - Hendon campus BU is Brunel University – Uxbridge campus
Maralyn Hutchinson of Kagan Moss 22 The Causeway, Teddington, Middx TW11 0HF (020 8977 6633) (DX 35250 Teddington) e-mail: email@example.com Andrew Lee of Hoffman-Bokaei Lithos House, 307 Finchley Road, London NW3 6EH (020 7433 2380) (DX38863 Swiss Cottage) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Vincent McGrath of Vickers & Co 183 Uxbridge Road, Ealing W13 9AA (020 8280 1098) (DX 5104 Ealing) e-mail: email@example.com Fahmy Mohamed of Vincent Solicitors 11-13 South Road, Southall, UB1 1SU (020 8574 0666) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Anthony Seymour of Rae Nemazec LLP 2 Barons Gate, 33-35 Rothchild Road Chiswick, London W4 5HT (020 8747 0055) (DX 80313 Chiswick) e-mail: email@example.com Chris Shearwood of Lovell Chohan Solicitors Tudor House, 44-50 Bath Road, Hounslow TW3 3EB (020 8570 6661) (DX 3537 Hounslow 1) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Ariya Sriharan of Sriharans 223 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1ND (020 8843 9974) (DX 119583 Southall 3) e-mail: email@example.com Renuka Sriharan of Sriharans 223 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1ND (020 8843 9974) (DX 119583 Southall 3) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Others To Be Announced Contact the Administrator or visit our website for details.
COMMITTEE MEETINGS 2014 20 January 17 February 17 March 21 April 19 May 16 June 21 July 15 September 20 October 17 November
AGM Wednesday 26 March 2014
PARLIAMENTARY LIAISON Robert Drepaul
Laura Vircan of Desor & Co. 768 Uxbridge Road, Hayes, UB4 0RU (020 8569 0708) (DX 44657 Hayes 1 Middlesex) e-mail: email@example.com Alan Williams 59 St Marys Road, Ealing W5 5RG (07973 622312) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
www.middlesex-law.co.uk The Bill of Middlesex
President’s Page Dear Members, As my presidential year draws to an end, it is time to look to the year ahead. It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but your local law society needs you! The Middlesex Law Society Mission Statement is to promote the interests of member solicitors, young members and trainees in the Middlesex area. The Committee works hard to serve the needs of our members and to provide training and support that is tailored to their specific requirements and needs. We are constantly adapting and reviewing the way we do things and would welcome your comments and views on what you think we do well and what we could do better. If you are a current member do you feel your membership represents good value for money? Did you attend any of our education and training events this year and if so would you recommend them to a friend or colleague? If not, why not? We are always looking for new topics or areas of interest that we can include in our education and training programme, so if there is anything that would be of particular interest to you or your firm please let us know. Similarly, what social events would be of interest to you in the forthcoming year? In previous years our social events calendar has included a Summer Garden Party, Dinner and Dance evening, Past Presidents dinner, Charity Quiz Night, 5-A-side Football Tournament and much more besides. Would you be interested in attending any of these events or is there something else you would like to suggest? If you are not a member – why not? What can we do to make you join? What’s holding you back? The Society will only ever be as good as its members, so more than ever we need your support to help build a bigger and better local law society. Please feel free to email me personally with your views to email@example.com and I will make sure they are considered at our next committee meeting. Alternatively, why not join the committee and make a real difference to the way the Society is run and the work we do for our members. The Middlesex Law Society AGM will take place on Wednesday 26 March 2014 at the Drayton Court Hotel, 2 The Avenue, Ealing, London, W13 8PH at 6.30pm (1 CPD hour). One of the main purposes of the AGM is to vote in the new committee for the year ahead. The MLS committee is made up of 10 officers and 16 members that meet on the third Monday of each month to discuss committee business. The MLS officers are listed below: • President • Vice President • Junior Vice President • Honorary Secretary • Honorary Treasurer • Honorary Social Secretary • Honorary Membership Secretary • Council Member for Middlesex Area • North Middlesex Representative • Law Society Representative Notice of the AGM and voting forms for next year’s committee will be sent out to all members in the next few days. If you would like to attend, please email our Society Secretary, Maurice Guyer firstname.lastname@example.org, to confirm your attendance. If you would like to join or nominate someone for a position on the committee, please complete the voting forms and ensure they are return to our Social Secretary by no later than Monday 24 March 2014.
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Darrell Webb President, Middlesex Law Society e-mail: email@example.com
It is also time to renew your membership and pay your subscription fees. The annual subscription rates are as follows: Full individual membership less than 3 years admission more than 3 years admission Firm Membership 2 – 5 Partners/Solicitors 6 – 10 Partners/Solicitors 10 or more Partners/Solicitors Academic Law Department Associate Member (Trainees/ILEX/Paralegals) Students (YMG membership)
£30.00 £50.00 £125.00 £250.00 £500.00 £200.00 £15.00 £5.00
There is a membership application form at page six of this edition of the Bill of Middlesex, please return your completed form and payment to our Membership Secretary, Susan Scott-Hunt firstname.lastname@example.org, by no later than 31 March 2014 to ensure you continue to receive your copy of the Bill. As this will be my last ‘President’s Page’ for the Bill of Middlesex I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Committee for all their support and hard work in my presidential year. It is a hugely time consuming role and the Society simply could not operate without the dedication and commitment of the Committee. Lastly, and it goes without saying, I would also like to thank all our members for their continuing support of the Middlesex Law Society and everything we do. Without our members there is no Society, so I hope we can continue being mutually beneficial for each other for many years to come. I look forward to seeing you at the AGM.
Middlesex Law Society (est. 1959)
APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP Surname _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Mr / Mrs / Miss / Ms Forenames _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name of Firm or Organisation ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Postal Address or DX no: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Telephone ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Email ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Status & Area of Work _______________________________________________ Date of Admission _____________________________________________________ Would you be interested in joining the Committee?
I wish to apply for FULL/FIRM/ACADEMIC/ASSOCIATE/STUDENT (YMG) membership of the Society (see below for details) I enclose herewith my cheque for £ _________ for the current year, made payable to "Middlesex Law Society" Signature ____________________________________________________________ Date _______________________________________________________________ Subscription Rates: Full Individual Membership:
£50.00 per annum (more than 3 years admission) £30.00 per annum (less than 3 years admission)
Partners/Solicitors 2-5 £125 per annum 6-10 £250 per annum more than 10 £500 per annum
Academic Law Departments:
£200 per annum
£15.00 per annum (Trainee Solicitors, ILEX members, Paralegals)
£5 per annum (Young Members Group)
Please return completed form and remittance to: The Membership Secretary, Middlesex Law Society, Susan Scott-Hunt, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BT Tel: 020 8411 6019 e-mail: email@example.com
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Compliance Corner It is now more than a year since compliance officers took up their positions and for those who combine their role with fee earning the initial period may have involved a pretty steep learning curve. There will always be some for whom the role is new and possibly arisen unexpectedly and without time to prepare. Whether the work involved is now familiar or new there are always surprises and experiences worth sharing. Our compliance evenings have been a great success. At our last meeting we shared common experiences of client behaviours in some cases involving ethical problems and discussed reporting of breaches. Just as when complaints handling procedures were first introduced there is a period of adjustment and the realisation that much time and cost can be wasted if all aspects of the function are not properly managed.
We now look forward to our next session on 3 April at Middlesex University, Hendon. We hope this will be accessible to our members in the north of the constituency. Questions in advance or at the evening are welcome. The topics will include an update on SRA expectations in relation to financial stability which is the hot topic of the moment, together with various IT issues brought into prominence By Michael Garson
by the recently updated Risk Outlook. Also more about some of the less recognised duties of COFA’s.
firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to seeing members at the next event.
Middlesex Law Society Compliance Forum: Managing regulatory risks A workshop with Michael Garson
Thursday 3 April 2014 from 5 pm Workshop 5.30 – 7.30 p.m. 2 CPD points
Michael is member of the Law Society Regulatory Affairs Board and our constituency Law Society Council Member
• • • •
The topics covered will include Update on recent SRA guidance Compliance officer experience Everyday risks for COLPs and COFAs, Post recession issues
Registration and Refreshments from 5pm at Middlesex University Hendon, London NW4
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In memoriam His Honour Judge Copley The first anniversary of the retirement of the late His Honour Judge Peter Edward Copley, Circuit Judge at Willesden County Court and former President of the Society, will fall on 15 February this year. Most sadly, HHJ Copley died suddenly only a few months after his retirement, aged 70 years old, on 8 August 2013.
I was privileged to be asked to say a few words on behalf of the Solicitors profession, of which he was a brother solicitor, at his retirement party which, as expected, was an extremely well attended and lively affair – the photograph shows the more formal part of the occasion when the various speeches were given in Court One. HHJ Copley had the most unenviable task at Willesden County Court of succeeding HHJ Leonard Krikler as resident Judge. It is a testament to his intellect, personality and dedication that he was able to lead the Court in difficult and challenging times and was as popular and held in high esteem by everyone who worked with and appeared before him. In his judicial capacity he dealt with cases both fairly and firmly, giving the opportunity to all parties, whether legally represented or not, to put their cases forward and to have their day in court. He was never one for, as he put it, ‘soppy
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directions’, preferring to try and resolve cases rather than delaying justice and clogging up the Court. He often remarked that he had introduced his own civil procedure rules to Willesden long before the CPR 1998. He had a fabulous sense of humour and fun and my abiding memory of appearing before him will be the numerous times he reduced me, and often the court staff, to helpless laughter. I recall on many occasions having to clutch my chest in pain and turn away in order to compose myself. He was a particular fan of the long running Radio 4 comedy quiz show, ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue!’, and never missed an opportunity to make reference to that programme often to the utter bewilderment of those who were not party to its catchphrases or characters. He was also a very accomplished and fanatical musician. He and his wife, Janice, to the delight of those present,
performed a number of Everley Brothers songs outside Court One at his retirement party. In my closing remarks last February I wished him a very long and happy retirement and sincerely, on behalf of everyone, told him how much we would all miss him. Little did I know how true and fateful those words would be, when less than 6 months later he unexpectedly and prematurely passed away in his sleep, leaving Janice and his three children. His local church was unsurprisingly packed to the rafters for his funeral, the congregation spilling out of the entrance. It was an honour to have known Peter and I will, like many others, always treasure my memories of him. He was a truly great man and the world is a lesser place for his passing. By JAMES TOMPKINS Solicitor and Director Hodders Law
CILEX inspires women of the future The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) attended the national Inspiring Women campaign event which was supported by Miriam González Durántez, Partner at Dechert LLP at Basildon Upper Academy in London on Wednesday, 22 January. The ‘career speed dating’ event brought together 100 girls and ten highly successful women and was followed by a careers fair hosted by 175 women from a wide range of industries. Jennifer Egginton, Chartered Legal Executive and Regional Development Officer for CILEx attended the fair, representing women working in law. Jennifer said: “The event was fantastic, there were so many role models and industries represented that the girls could really be inspired and motivated. Seventy four per cent of CILEx members are women and we are champions of social mobility. The CILEx route to qualifying as a lawyer is a testament to this as it allows school leavers, paralegals and career changers, from any background, a flexible and affordable pathway to progress in the law.” Miriam González Durántez, Partner at Derchert LLP said: “Girls need to feel free to make their own choices. The main purpose of the Inspiring Women campaign is to reassure them that there
are many female role models out there willing to help and that any option they take in life is valid if it is what they really want.”
The campaign, run by the Education and Employment Taskforce, aims to get 15,000 women volunteering to give up an hour a year and go into a schools or colleges near where they live or work to collectively chat with 250,000 young women about their career and their experiences in life.
The ten successful women who attended the ‘career speed dating’ event were: • Dr Margaret Aderin-Pocok MBE, Space Scientist • Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN
• • • • •
Clare Balding, Presenter, Writer and Broadcaster Gail Bojarski, General Manager, Benefit Cosmetics Samantha Cameron, Creative Consultant, Smythson Miriam González Durántez, Partner, Dechert LLP Mandy Hickson, former Royal Air Force fast jet pilot Dame Tessa Jowell DBE, Politician Chrissie Rucker, Founder, The White Company Jennifer Taylor, Chief Operating Officer EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Find out more about CILEx courses at: www.cilexcareers.org.uk.
Review of Copyright Collecting Societies launched • Is there music playing in your local pub or restaurant? • Is an article you wrote being photocopied for college students? • Do you need to get blanket clearance to reproduce text and images for your company website? These are just some of the issues dealt with by the 12 UK copyright collecting societies that are subject to an independent review launched today. The societies exist to enable people who want to use copyright material to pay for a licence, distributing that money to those who have created the work that is being re-used. Walter Merricks CBE who is conducting the review is asking for the views about how the system is working. The societies are private bodies but should they be more transparent and accountable? Two years ago the societies decided to be more open and to put in place codes of conduct detailing how they operate. The Government has also set out standards and is taking powers to ensure societies have adopted satisfactory codes and to discipline societies where necessary.
Now the societies – through the British Copyright Council, have asked Walter Merricks, the former financial ombudsman, to carry out an independent review of how their codes are working. Walter Merricks said: “The creative industries and the rights they generate form a significant contribution to the UK economy, and the internet has changed many of the business models that used to make copyright protection simpler. In the digital age the work of the societies is more complex and it is vital that they are seen to operate to the highest standards. There are many different rights interests involved from individual artists and writers to huge music
labels and book publishers, and among licensees there are small high street businesses, schools and colleges as well as massive corporations and government departments. So it’s not surprising that people have different views on how well things are working. I’ll be looking to see whether the codes form a self-regulatory framework in which not only rights holders and licensees, but also the public, the government, and other copyright bodies, can have justifiable confidence.” To help my Review I want to hear from anyone with experience of or views about the collective management of rights and how well the societies’ codes are working.
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Law firms optimistic despite increased competition Law firms are finding the business environment increasingly competitive with pressure on fees a major issue, even though optimism is at its highest since 2007. Tax changes need urgent attention Rapidly approaching is a major overhaul in the tax rules to hit partnerships from 6 April 2014. This will potentially add significantly to costs for firms and individuals alike. Angela explained: “We expect that many partnerships will be affected by the rule changes, particularly larger partnerships providing professional services and especially those which include a service company, corporate member or salaried partners. Although the full details of the new rules have yet to be announced, firms must consider their options and work out a plan. The new legislation will affect each firm differently. This matter is now very urgent as it is just weeks before the new rules apply.” “Even smaller partnerships need to check that they are not caught as the penalties could be severe if they are affected but take no action.” Smith & Williamson is running a seminar on ‘The changing world of Professional Partnerships’ in Guildford at 8am on Thursday 13 March which will qualify for 1½ hours of CPD points. For further information please A survey of over 100 law firms by Smith & Williamson, the accountancy and investment management group, reveals that eight in ten firms are confident about the year ahead, compared to just six in ten last year. Firms with 25 partners or less appear the most upbeat, according to the research.
contact Janice Clay: email@example.com or telephone 01483 407113. Further details about the survey is included in our recent Professional Practices publication which can be found at the following link:
“Signs of renewed growth in the South East economy and UK generally look to be the primary factors behind these results, fuelling hopes that a more solid recovery is on the way,” said Angela Kellock, tax partner at the Guildford office of Smith & Williamson.
However, the environment has become more competitive in the last 12 months and pressure on fees is cited as the greatest challenge. Furthermore, almost nine in every 10 respondents expect to see greater competition as a result of the Legal Services Act. In response, firms are adopting a range of strategies: many firms (39%) have set up a new service line in the last year, while 24% expect to do so in the next 12 months. These approaches, in addition to the high number of lateral hires, suggests a focus on cross-selling services to existing clients and a need for an increasing level of diversification. Among other measures taken by respondent firms in the past year, 18% have sub-let office space, 15% have de-equitised partners, 14% have opened a new office in the UK, 12% have opened an overseas office and 11% have centralised functions.
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Retirement of LawCare CEO
Prevention is protection Major UK wide provider of legal software Intelliworks joins forces with Lawyer Checker in the war against conveyancer fraud. Major UK player, OchreSoft Technologies Ltd, have engaged the services of Lawyer Checker in order to provide the ultimate in best practice to all Conveyancers using their Intelliworks workflow solutions. Used by 160 UK law firms, the software offers effective and low-cost case management for today’s modern law firm.
LawCare wishes to announce the retirement of its Chief Executive, Hilary Tilby. Hilary has indicated her intention to retire and hopes to leave at the end of June 2014.The board of trustees have sadly accepted her resignation and wish her a long and happy retirement. Hilary joined LawCare in April 2001 and was appointed Chief Executive on 1st January 2003. Under her stewardship, LawCare has become a leading provider of pastoral care and health support for all branches of the legal professions, their families and staff. Hilary has overseen its successful extension of its’ remit beyond England and Wales to Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man. The Legal Professions and their families throughout these jurisdictions owe Hilary an enormous debt of gratitude for all she has achieved on their behalf in the last decade. Her considerable achievements in leading LawCare are testament to her unfaltering hard work, commitment and dedication as Chief Executive.
The message being shouted out from the rooftops by Lawyer Checker is that ‘prevention is protection’. Users of the Intelliworks software now have access to the comprehensive set of checks that Lawyer Checker carries out; with its Account and Entity check system giving enhanced due diligence to any law firm who employs its use. Built in the wake of vendor conveyancer fraud, where a growing number of cases have had purchase funds lost to sophisticated criminals, the Lawyer Checker database has been created to demonstrate whether or not an account has had a track record of successful use within conveyancing. The need to perform such a check is becoming increasingly relevant given the changing landscape of the legal sector. In 2012 the SRA issued a warning not to rely on its own list of solicitors “as verification that the firm is genuine” when criminals managed to register themselves on this list in order to gain a further badge of legitimacy in a fake transaction. Thanks to the integration of Lawyer Checker a firm and its conveyancers will now be able to perform a Lawyer Checker check at the click of a button. Pauline Freegard, Business Development Director of OchreSoft explains why Lawyer Checker was such a good fit with their Intelliworks legal workflow product for Conveyancing and Private Client:
“Law firms are increasingly concerned about risk; OchreSoft has always built compliance and risk-management into everything we do. Intelliworks makes best practice part of everyday process, to reduce risk and increase compliance. We know that fraud detection and prevention is a high priority for our customers, including the ability to prove compliance through full audit trails. Lawyer Checker is an important part of that integrated approach so we build it into our comprehensive Conveyancing and Private Client legal workflows. “ With the ammunition of the risk management capabilities Lawyer Checker provides in this battle against fraudsters, law firms and conveyancers can be assured Lawyer Checker will further mitigate the potential risk for a firm’s clients. Prevention is protection in the commercial sense too; it helps reduce the risk of possible professional negligence claims thus limiting the potential for increased PI insurance premiums as well as reputation damage to the individual law firm. Due diligence requires all solicitors and conveyancers to check the firm that they are sending monies to. Checking the roll of solicitors is no longer enough. OchreSoft have recognised this and the need to both reassure the conveyancer themselves and the purchaser who they represent. Lawyer Checker offers peace of mind to both the legal practitioner and the client, whether borrower or lender. Its introduction has been developed to reduce uncertainty in an uncertain era for conveyancers and purchasers alike.
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Flood-hit Richard Griffiths & Co kept afloat by Quill The continued domination of the news headlines by extensive flood water devastation in southern England is a distressing observation of our vulnerabilities to extreme weather conditions. As reports convey chaotic scenes of destruction caused by rising flood waters, our transport infrastructure is disrupted because of rail signal failures and blocked roads. Mass evacuation has taken place across the Thames Valley and further afield, assisted by military deployment, so that homes and corporate premises alike are abandoned by owners forced to seek refuge elsewhere to avoid the life-threatening water levels. For many companies, there’s no other option than to close for business entirely until the rain ceases and waters recede. However, weather forecasts are predicting continued widespread heavy rain, coupled with winds of up to 70 miles per hour, so there are dozens of severe weather
warnings in place and the Environment Agency expects water levels to rise perilously higher as a result. Even when the worst of the weather has subsided, the ensuing recovery operation will take months and, as yet, many businesses are uncertain about when their doors will reopen and staff will be able to journey to the office. Joseph Cooke, Solicitor at Wiltshire-based family-run law firm, Richard Griffiths & Co, explains how “the flooding in the south west is so bad that virtually all trains were cancelled on 7 February”. In Wiltshire, both ground water and river water
levels have risen dangerously high. Despite being directly affected by flooding, thankfully, as a user of the cloud-based Quill Interactive legal accounts and practice management software, the firm could continue operating as normal with staff working remotely from home. “In the past, the floods would have been a real problem because, without having taken any files home the night before, I would have found it very difficult to do any work”, continues Joseph. “However, Quill solves this problem because everything – documents, letters, attendance notes – is saved to case history and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. So that meant it was still possible to do a day’s work in spite of being unable to travel”.
CILEx criticises Judicial Review proposals as ‘unjustified’ The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) is pleased to note the Government’s commitment in protecting Judicial Review as a check on unlawful executive action. The creation of a planning Court to speed up consideration of planning and related judicial reviews, and the concession to the rule on Standing are both welcome. All members of our society have an interest in the proper administration of executive power and it is for this reason that access to Judicial Review should be not restricted to those directly affected by the matter at hand. However, CILEx is not convinced with the
price claimants out on bringing a claim by
being abused. Judicial Review is an economic
continuing Government mantra of significant
increasing the potential costs if unsuccessful. To
and effective branch of litigation, performing a
growth in Judicial Review Applications, as this is
limit access to judicial review when sufficient
constitutionally critical role in keeping the
now historic with the removal of asylum and
checks are already in place, for example the
immigration cases from the ambit of Judicial
merits test, the test on standing and being a
remedy of last resort, will undermine the ability for citizens to hold the Government to account.
exercise of public power within the law. Maintaining the rule of law should be the most important principle rather economic growth or budgetary concern. I urge the Government to
CILEx is also not wholly convinced there is a sound evidence base for further reform. CILEx is
CILEx CEO Diane Burleigh OBE said: “There is
think again on its unjustified proposals to restrict
concerned, for example, the financial reforms will
no compelling evidence that judicial review is
access to this remedy.”
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PSG Hillingdon –
The Local Face of a National Success Since 1997, PSG has been a leading provider of residential and commercial searches for legal and conveyancing professionals in England and Wales. Through their national network of local offices, they are involved in 1 in 4 residential property transactions every year.
For the past 7 years local businesswoman Sharon Whitney has been an integral part of the team at the Hounslow branch of PSG. Sharon’s dedication to providing exceptional customer service has allowed her to work together with local firms, building strong business connections that have seen the company go from strength to
strength. This commitment was recognised by PSG’s head office when she was awarded the title of Employee of the Year in 2012.
the London area. PSG are well known for their ‘complete search service’ and that is exactly what drives Sharon and her colleagues to achieve.
Ready for a new challenge, and when the opportunity arose in October 2013, Sharon opened the doors on her own PSG business, expanding the national conveyancing search provider’s offering into the Hillingdon area and bringing the total number of PSG offices to 50 throughout the country. Still relatively new, Sharon would like to build on the enviable reputation of PSG as a whole and establish new working relationships within the area to demonstrate exactly what is it that makes PSG such a success.
As part of this commitment, PSG Hillingdon are currently planning a series of CPD events looking at a variety of topical issues affecting the conveyancing community. Featuring expert speakers, these events are always popular and places get booked up quickly. For more information call 0208 638 0573 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PSG Hillingdon is part of a thriving network of offices across England and Wales and one of a number of branches supporting businesses in
To find your local PSG and see what events are happening in your area, visit www.psgconnect.co.uk/events.
For those that are further afield, the PSG local office network provide CPD sessions throughout the year at venues up and down the country.
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Weather forecast for the year ahead... Michael Garson, Council Member for Middlesex looks at the disruptive effect of changes brought to bear on the legal profession and looks forward to the likely changes for the coming year and their impact on solicitors in Middlesex. The stormy weather at New Year is apt reflection of turmoil in the legal profession. Strikes and protest votes against legal aid cuts, close down of a hundred firms and a looming tax clamp down on LLPs, are signs of yet more pressure on the profession. Closeted indoors I expect some may have given more time than usual to reflecting on the experience of the last year with its changes to personal injury, family work and the Jackson civil litigation reforms. Enforcement in relation to the ban on referral fees may yet have further to go and after the SRA’s initial enquiries into financial stability it is now to be expected that the burdens and responsibilities of both COLPs and COFAs will be ‘clarified’ in coming months. Of course, the regulators point to the Legal Services Act 2007 as requiring all the changes; personally I doubt that Uncontroversial regulatory principles have been used as tool of disruption to the profession. Modifications to regulation that might have been incremental and of benefit to the legal services market have instead spawned outcomes focused and riskbased regulation with an array of new and highly artificial barriers to business as usual.
Bureaucratic mazes have been created around the concepts of authorisation for first LDP’s and then ABS. Regulating the profession through badly understood online technologies has brought its own nightmares. It is uncontroversial to suggest that regulators should be able to publish on a daily basis who and who is not authorised to practice and yet that basic need is not met. Enforcement is now being brought more to the fore and with it the deployment of disciplinary procedures that are in some cases complex and uncertain. Increased powers are reserved to the SRA under the 2007 Act, and even where not exercised their existence is threat enough to deter challenges to conduct which too often is reported as overbearing and target driven. The SRA changes were sold to the profession initially as bringing the prize of ‘freedom’ from restrictive hard line rules and as incentive to innovate but the reality is somewhat different. Change of any kind brings uncertainty – but without easily understood and hard edged guidance, safe harbour or consistency of enforcement, the profession’s confidence in its regulator has long since disappeared. This is a sad state of affairs when open cooperation with the SRA is such an important requirement. This lack of certainty strikes at the credibility of the regulator and can drive unacceptable behaviours underground. Meanwhile the LSB continues to attack and attempt to undermine the character of the profession. That character has held up, is strong but is changing; it is not too late for the essentials of our profession to be saved. The recent SGM at the Law Society highlighted the shabby treatment dished out by government to a small section of dedicated and skilled experts whose forum of practice is to be arbitrarily reduced making it impossible for many to continue to practise. The reason? Allegedly so o that a sum of money be saved from one government budget irrespective of impact elsewhere. The policy decision reflects badly on the rule of law and undermines those committed to the constitutional balance that keeps our democracy in place. The government respond that if qualified lawyers do not want the work then others can fill their place. That is an important proposition to understand. Does it mean that our tradition for professional qualification is now irrelevant? Is there no longer purpose to the education and training of a profession equipped to understand and practice law for the benefit of all members of society? Protection by monopoly has all but gone and we face increased competition from legal executives, licensed conveyancers, barristers and accountants who will all be willing to do our work. - We need our professional qualification to be as strong as ever but in addition we must adapt quickly to learn as solicitors how best to compete in an open and often unregulated market that may favours others. It must be the primary focus of the Law Society to support solicitors and those twin objectives. And that for me means representing only solicitors and that objective should not be diluted whatever the manoeuvrings to press for more entity representation and opening up of membership of the Society to non-solicitors. ABS are free to form their own associations and lobby for their interests but for individual solicitors the interests of an independent profession must surely remain paramount.
By Michael Garson Council Member for Central and South Middlesex and chair of Law Society Regulatory Affairs Board email@example.com
Contrary to popular myth solicitors did not create the market for solicitors. We exist to serve the needs of society. While it is for government to legislate to meet the needs of citizens organisations and institutions; the legal profession will need to continue to evolve to uphold the rule of law and remain committed to making the law work in practice. The crucial question is how solicitors might best equip themselves in the new market place created by government led change. It was not an inevitable consequence of the Legal Services Act that solicitors would be disenfranchised but that is how the LSB chooses to exercise its power.
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Today every solicitor, even those employed within a large multinational organisation is a member of an endangered species. Do clients no longer need the advice and representation on offer from solicitors? I suggest that is not the case, that need has not gone away. We must not allow the many constraints however burdensome and costly to prevent us from meeting client needs. The burden of overregulation and compromised ethical values serve only to destabilise the marketplace making it important that the solicitorâ€™s purpose is distinct and clear and differentiated from the confusion of the marketplace. As trained and qualified solicitors practising with skill and expertise we need to retain the essence of our education and training system and fight for a place in the new markets created by government. Solicitors will not be the employees of choice in some new ABS organisation - multiple retailers and insurance companies approach the business of the law as an investment to generate profit. Those profits can be created by either forcing others out of the market through predatory pricing and loss leaders or customers can be captured from cross selling to boost profits in other parts of the business. This displaces the purpose and independence of lawyers unless the ethics of the law and practice are fully embodied within the organisation. A threat may come in the shape of any proposal that seeks to change the constitution of the Law Society. Its Royal Charter establishes that the solicitors are members - not entities, not paralegals, barristers or accountants or investors. If we believe in the rule of law in order to maintain basic human rights then we must be free to operate independent of government and need an organisation that effectively represents and supports our collective needs. Any change to that would consign solicitors to history. You may regard that as an interesting proposition but my observations suggest that the subversion of our own professional body would be swiftly followed by reincarnation some years later in a new organisation but without influence and in a much weaker position to make our voice heard.
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Why we should all consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney As the member country holding the 2013 G8 presidency, the UK hosted the first G8 Dementia Summit as an international effort in tackling the condition.
Health ministers from G8 countries were invited to the Summit in London on 11 December 2013 to discuss how efforts to combat dementia could be coordinated effectively. The aim of the summit was to identify and agree a new approach to dementia research, so that greater progress could be made through international cooperation.
Many people prefer a solicitor to assist them with the forms, but it is possible to obtain these directly from the OPG and make the application yourself. The OPG launched an online tool in July 2013, which is designed to take users through the application and ensure that it has been completed correctly, or applications can be made on paper.
The Summit led to various commitments being declared, including a pledge by the UK to appoint a global Dementia Innovation Envoy to draw together international expertise to stimulate innovation and to coordinate international efforts to attract new sources of finance.
You have to decide who you would like to appoint as your attorney or attorneys, how you would like them to be appointed (jointly, or jointly and severally), and what powers or guidance you would like to give them. You also have to choose a certificate provider (such as your GP, or a solicitor), who must confirm that you have the necessary capacity to create the LPA. Furthermore, you must nominate someone to be informed of the registration of the LPA. If you do not have anyone you wish to nominate, then two certificate providers are required.
It is estimated that in the UK alone, there are likely to be almost one million people with dementia by the end of 2020. The Alzheimer’s Society has said that “dementia is fast becoming the biggest health and social care challenge of this generation.”
Lasting Powers of Attorney The increase in the number of people suffering from dementia means that more and more people are managing the property and financial affairs of those who are losing, or have lost, the necessary capacity to manage their own affairs. No family remains untouched by dementia; we all know, and many care for, relatives or friends with the condition. In England and Wales, solicitors are instructed daily by donors wishing to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), so that the appropriate arrangements are in place should they go on to lose capacity to manage their own financial affairs. LPAs must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before they can be used by an attorney. There are two types of LPA you can make; one for Property and Financial Affairs and another for Health and Welfare. LPAs for Property and Financial Affairs can be used following registration, unless you have entered a restriction on the form which says it cannot be used until you have lost the required capacity. However, LPAs for Health and Welfare can only be used when you have lost capacity to make those decisions. LPAs replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs), which could be made before 2007. EPAs can still be used following their creation, though must be registered when the donor of the power is becoming, or has become, mentally incapable of handling his or her own affairs. With LPAs now having been available for over 6 years, the number of registered LPAs is continuing to increase, with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) estimating they will deal with the registration of approximately 300,000 LPAs in the financial year 2013/14, which is over 50,000 more than in 2012/131.
Creating a Lasting Powers of Attorney Making an LPA is fairly straightforward, though it involves completing several forms, one to: • create the LPA • inform certain parties of your intention to register it • apply for registration
Although some people may find all the paperwork a little bewildering, advice can be obtained. Making an LPA now gives you the opportunity to choose your attorneys and discuss your wishes with them. If you wish to appoint 1 or 2 children and not appoint others, it gives you the opportunity to discuss this with them and explain your reasons. This may help prevent any future dispute, which can lead to significant expense being incurred.
The Duties of an Attorney If you choose to appoint an attorney under a LPA, they must have regard to the Code of Practice published for their guidance. Attorneys have a duty of care in relation to their role, cannot delegate their role, must act in good faith, must keep your affairs confidential, must keep an account of their dealings with your finances, and should keep your money and property separate from their own. Anyone appointing an attorney should ensure that the attorney has read the guidance available to them from the OPG and more importantly, understood it. Acting as an attorney is an important role, which should be treated accordingly. The Senior Judge of the Court of Protection recently said that ignorance of the law was no excuse for an attorney who has acted outside their powers. Some people express concerns about giving powers to others in relation to their finances. However, your attorneys cannot simply do what they like with your money or property. They must comply with their duties and act in your best interests. For example, attorneys have a limited authority to make gifts on your behalf, but are restricted in terms of the size of these and must have regard to your previous gift-giving. Gifts can be made to charities (to which you might have been expected to make such gifts) and to persons related or connected to you on customary occasions (such as birthdays, marriages etc).
The Implications of not Appointing an Attorney Many people lose the capacity to manage their property and financial affairs without having appointed an attorney to assist them. This may mean
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that an application has to be made to the Court of Protection, for a Deputy to be appointed by the Court. A Deputy has similar powers and duties as an attorney. The Deputy may be a relative or friend, or the Court may appoint a professional Deputy, such as a solicitor. However, it does rely on there being someone willing to take on the responsibility. In the absence of a Deputyship, isolated, vulnerable adults could be missed out and left open to abuse. An application for Deputyship requires the completion of a number of forms, along with an assessment of mental capacity from an appropriate expert. The application can take several months to be approved, even if noone contests the application. In the interim, no-one has the authority to manage the affairs of the individual lacking capacity, which can mean bills are unpaid, benefits unclaimed and transfers of property are put on hold. The fee for a Deputyship application is £400, which is much more than the registration fee for an LPA, of £110 (though the fees can be waived if you are on low income). The current registration time for LPAs with the OPG is 9 weeks, which makes it a much quicker, as well as less expensive process. Although disputes can arise at the time of registration of an LPA, for example, whether the attorney is an appropriate person to be appointed, these disputes are generally easier to resolve than Deputyship disputes. If the registration of the LPA is made when you still have capacity, then you will be able to explain your reasoning for appointing your chosen attorneys. However, with a Deputyship application you may no longer be capable of expressing your wishes of who should act as your Deputy (though if they are able to, the Court will take such wishes into account). You could end up with your affairs being managed by a relative you do not like, or do not trust, or by a professional Deputy who charges for their services. Such charges will be deducted from your funds.
Disputes If a dispute arises in relation to a Deputy appointment, the dispute can go on for several months, if not longer, and substantial legal costs can be incurred. These costs may ultimately be paid from the assets of the individual lacking capacity.
Changes in society and the increase in more complex family structures may also be creating a growth in family disputes. Disputes between second (or third) spouses and children from former marriages are common, and can involve a power struggle between the parties, who are each concerned about the actions of the other. It is often said that, more generally, society is becoming more litigious, and this may also increase the likelihood of disputes in the Court of Protection. It is important to remember that it is not only the elderly that may need an LPA. We are all vulnerable to becoming ill or experiencing an accident which may prevent us from managing our own financial affairs, even if temporarily. Those of us with dependents reliant on us to provide for them do not want to be left in a position where the mortgage, rent or bills cannot be paid, as no-one has the necessary authority to manage our finances. Making an LPA now can prevent unnecessary problems, stress and expense later on. For further information please contact Rita Bhargava (email: Rita.Bhargava@russell-cooke.co.uk) or visit our website on: www.russell-cooke.co.uk. Emma Saunders Associate Solicitor +44 (0)20 8394 6571 Emma.Saunders@russell-cooke.co.uk
This material does not give a full statement of the law. It is intended for guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be accepted by Russell-Cooke LLP. © RussellCooke LLP. January 2014
Furthermore, if two relatives cannot agree on who can be appointed as a Deputy, the Court will often order the appointment of an independent Deputy, from the Court’s panel of Deputies. Again, the independent Deputy will charge for their services in managing the individual’s financial affairs. As many disputes in the Court of Protection involve family members (often siblings), sadly, time and expense can be wasted on the parties using the dispute to settle other scores. This can divert valuable Court time away from determining what would be in the best interests of the individual lacking capacity, which is the aim of the process.
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Presentation by Allan Eccles, the Public Guardian, to the Four Jurisdictions Conference on 24 October 2013.
Iconic Dogs Trust slogan marks landmark anniversary ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®’ honours 35 years of relevance Last autumn, the nation’s largest dog welfare Charity, Dogs Trust, commemorated thirty five years of its iconic slogan – ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®’. The impactful slogan is one of the UK’s most memorable phrases of all time and is now firmly cemented in the public consciousness - perfectly delivering the powerful message of responsible dog ownership to the masses and continuing to significantly reduce the number of abandoned dogs after the festive period. In 1978 the Charity estimated that 20 per cent of dogs were given as gifts, which has since reduced to less than 2 per cent today. Although the figure has dropped significantly, it means that around 16,000 dogs are still being purchased as gifts every year. Sadly, with the rapid increase in dogs being bought on impulse online, it is clear that the slogan remains as relevant today as it did 35 years ago. The slogan was created in 1978 by Dogs Trust current CEO Clarissa Baldwin OBE unlike most other iconic slogans which are created by advertising agencies. One evening, Clarissa was sat at the kitchen table chatting to her husband about the urgent need for a campaign to stop puppies being gifted at any time of the year but specifically at Christmas when she had a light-bulb moment and the slogan was born - proving that charity really does begin at home! Clarissa has since been awarded an OBE in 2003 for her work in animal welfare. Her success with Dogs Trust, coupled with the longevity and popularity of the slogan, has meant a ‘paws-itive’ improvement in dog welfare across the nation.
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“It’s the economy, stupid!” Or is it? Chris Marston, Head of Professional Practices, SME Banking at Lloyds Bank considers the prospects for law firms in 2014
Chris Marston, Head of Professional Practices, SME Banking, Lloyds Bank www.lloydsbank.com/solicitors
You may recall the election slogan of Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992, designed to reinforce the US economy as the battleground for that election. Over the past twenty years the phrase has been hijacked by political and business commentators and businesses, including law firms, have used it in recent times to explain their poor performance. With a new year now upon us I’ve taken a look at some recent trends and economic indicators for the UK in 2014.
Sales, orders and profits likely to continue to rise Prospects for the first half of 2014 continue to look positive with expectations for total sales, orders and profits in the next six months – the three key indicators of business confidence – all increasing. The three indices remain well above their respective long-term averages and point to stronger economic growth in the first half of the year. More than half of businesses (55 per cent) said that they expect their orders to increase during the first half of the year; compared to just over one in 20 (six per cent) that think orders will fall. The resulting 49 per cent
Business confidence has hit a 20 year high
overall net balance represents a 12 point increase from July 2013.
That’s the key finding from the latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. This twice yearly report, now in its 22nd year, canvasses the views of 1,500 UK businesses and shows that firms are continuing to grow in confidence, driven by expectations of stronger profits, orders and sales over the next six months.
increase in the next six months, while just under a tenth (9 per cent) expect
The survey’s key Business Confidence Index tracks businesses’ views of expected sales, orders and profits for the coming six months and presents the overall “balance” of opinion, weighing up the percentage of firms that are positive in outlook against those that are negative.
Six out of ten businesses (60 per cent) stated that they think their sales will a drop, leading to a 51 per cent overall balance. This is a 15 point increase from the second half of last year. The balance of firms anticipating greater scope for increasing prices over the next six months has also increased by ten points to 23 per cent. This is the highest balance since 2008. Firms’ hopes of rising prices may help to underpin their expectations of stronger profits over the next six months. The net balance of firms expecting rising profits increased for the third
In this latest report, the confidence index has increased by 15 points to 45 per cent, from 30 per cent in the previous survey in July 2013. This is the fourth consecutive increase in the net balance of business confidence and is now just short of the survey high of 46 per cent recorded in January 1994.
consecutive period, to 35 per cent and came close to the survey high of 38 per cent seen in 1993.
Renewed hope for investment and recruitment Firms are also becoming more hopeful about recruitment prospects with
Companies also remain optimistic about prospects for the UK economy and the overall net balance of firms that are now more confident about the economic outlook is the highest it has been since January 2007. Just under two thirds of businesses (65 per cent) stated that they are currently more optimistic than they were six months ago, while less than a tenth (9 per cent) stated that they are less so. The overall net confidence balance of 56 per cent is a 33 point increase from July 2013, when the net balance was 23 per cent.
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the fourth consecutive rise in the balance of businesses expecting to hire more staff over the coming six months. A quarter of businesses (27 per cent) said that they will increase staff numbers during the first half of the year and one in ten (10 per cent) said they planned reductions. This results in an overall net balance of 17 per cent expecting to boost staff numbers, which is a rise of five points from July last year and stands at a six year high. Continued
At the same time, the balance of companies reporting challenges in the
Largest annual increase in first-time buyers since 2001
recruitment of skilled workers continues its post-crisis recovery with a six
First-time buyers (FTBs) are on the rise with 2013 witnessing the biggest annual increase since 2001. The recently-published annual Halifax FirstTime Buyer Review shows the number of FTBs grew by an estimated 22% in the year - the second consecutive annual increase following a 13% rise in 2012.
point increase to 32 per cent. The recent increase suggests a potential strain in the market for skilled labour which could put pressure on pay growth, although the index is still well below its 1997-2007 readings which averaged 47 per cent. Expected capital expenditure is also on an ongoing upswing. The report shows that just over a quarter of businesses (27 per cent) expect to increase their capital expenditure over the next six months while just one in
There were an estimated 265,000 FTBs in 2013, up from 218,000 in 2012. While this was the highest annual total since 2007, it was still nearly 30% lower than the annual average between 2003 and 2007 (370,800).
ten (11 per cent) are planning cutbacks. This results in a net balance of 16 per cent planning to ramp up investment in the first half of the year, which is an increase of ten points from July last year and the highest level witnessed since 1994. The net balance has been in positive territory for
Mortgage affordability has improved in recent years, aided by record low mortgage rates. There has also been an increase in the proportion of areas that are affordable for FTBs since 2007.
three consecutive survey periods, for the first time since 2006.
UK demand and cashflow are less of a concern In light of growing hopes for exports, weak UK demand is no longer such
Close to half (45%) of all FTB purchases in 2013 were below the £125,000 Stamp Duty threshold. A similar proportion of properties bought by FTBs were priced between £125,000 and £250,000.
a worry for businesses. A third of businesses (31 per cent) have concerns about domestic markets, which is a significant drop from July 2013 when nearly half (45 per cent) of businesses stated it was the biggest challenge they faced. Similarly, cashflow is now much less of concern for majority of British businesses. Eight out of ten (81 per cent) businesses stated that they are not currently experiencing cashflow problems - a twelve point increase from 69 per cent in July 2013.
All company sizes set to do well Business confidence increased particularly strongly for companies with a turnover between £1-£15m and for those turning over more than £15m. The net confidence balance for these firms is up eighteen and nineteen points respectively leaving both at 49 per cent. The overall net confidence balance for firms with a turnover below £1m is 34 per cent which is an increase of five points from the previous survey. Confidence continues to improve across all sectors in particular the retail and wholesale sector. Business confidence rose in all sectors, for the third consecutive survey. All
Martin Ellis, Housing Economist, commented: “Low interest rates, improvements in consumer confidence and Government schemes, such as Help to Buy, all appear to have contributed to the rise in the number of firsttime buyers. “However, many potential first-time buyers continue to find raising the necessary deposit a problem. The Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme should enable more buyers to get on to the property ladder with smaller deposits. Continuing pressure on household finances during the next 12 months will no doubt remain a constraint.”
SO THE ECONOMY’S FINE, IS IT? The past couple of years have seen unprecedented regulatory and competitive changes to the legal profession, and the economic backdrop has been challenging for many firms. However, the ‘new normal’ following the Legal Services Act and LASPO is now established and firms should by now be equipped for it. Time will tell whether we’re seeing the beginning of a sustainable recovery, but it does now seem that we’re seeing improvements and that a number of forward-looking indicators are favourable. Solicitors may be operating this year in a UK economy that is looking brighter than at any time since 2007.
sectors reported double digit increases, with the exception of ‘business and other services’, which saw an eight point rise. The retail and wholesale sectors reported the largest increase in confidence – a 20 point jump to 44 per cent; followed by manufacturing, up by 19 points to 57 per cent; and transport and communication which rose 18 points to 46 per cent.
Business confidence improves across the UK Business confidence increased in all regions most notably in the North and West Midlands where the balances increased by 21 and 18 points respectively. The East Midlands & East of England saw the smallest improvement of 10 points.
Success for law firms in 2014 will be determined by the way they address the business issues, and that means keeping the client at the heart of their business, managing risk effectively, embracing IT, developing an internal referrals culture and finding more efficient ways of working. Managing lockup and cashflow will be critical because experience tells us that professionals can face cashflow pressures in an economic recovery, as they get busier and invest more in WIP and debtors. Our specialist relationship managers are working with their solicitor customers to help them take the right steps in order to equip themselves to be winners over the next few years.
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New Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) PwC comments New Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) will be available to Crown prosecutors by 24 February, following the publication today of a code of practice from the Serious Fraud Office and Director of Public Prosecutions. A DPA is an agreement between an organisation and prosecutor which, if approved by a court, means a charge is made but court proceedings are suspended. By entering a DPA, an organisation agrees to comply with the requirements placed upon it by the prosecutor, for example financial penalties. The offences for which they may be used can be fraud, bribery and other economic crime.
“Some might consider holding back from reporting to the authorities but this could be a high-risk game, due to the co-ordinated way in which agencies investigating economic crimes are now working together, both in the UK and overseas. Multi-jurisdictional investigations are high-cost and we need to see how the DPA practice develops in the area of cross-border criminality. But there is no doubt that bringing together specialist skills from across the law enforcement agencies will mean offences can be handled more quickly and efficiently and will help the prosecutor in considering the merits of negotiating a DPA.
Commenting on the introduction of the DPA code of practice, Keith McCarthy, PwC director, Forensic Services, said: “One certainty is that businesses will need to scrutinise the new code of practice to see what it means for them. The code makes it plain that cooperation should be over and above mere compliance with any coercive measure.
“Businesses should welcome the new approach. Those that decide not to disclose suspects and offences might find themselves having to deal with enforcement enquiries in a disjointed, uncoordinated and ultimately expensive way. “Getting to grips with the new legislation will be a learning curve for businesses. They will be expected to admit offences, understand how the offences should be handled and what the disclosures could mean for their business and employees. There will be a lot of pain and publicity, but perhaps ultimately this will be better than constantly looking over their shoulders at what the law enforcement agencies are doing to tackle serious economic crime.”
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The New Young Members Group of the Middlesex Law Society I pondered on what this article should begin with and decided to conform to conventional protocol and introduce myself, regardless of the boredom that may flow from it.
My name is Laura Vircan (now happily descended into marriage and so Laura Gusatu). In the summer of 2012 I joined Desor & Co Solicitors as a Trainee Solicitor, having previously completed the LLB Law Degree at Middlesex University with a First Class Degree and the LPC course at BPP in London, where I graduated with a Distinction. Prior to my training contract, I had secured work experience placements with Desor & Co over three summers during the academic summer holiday. I am the Young Members’ Group officer, Middlesex Law Society, and I am very excited about my new role. I think that’s enough about me… When it was first suggested to me to write an article about the Young Members’ Group, I thought I was going to stare at a blank Word document for hours. I was unsure of what I could convey to students mainly because the readership of the Middlesex Law Society Bill comprises largely of Lawyers. It dawned on me that whilst that may be the case, it is a function, indeed more than that, a necessary target of the YMG to engage with you, students who are the future of our legal world and to extend the readership with articles such as these to enable students to see what the Middlesex Law Society is up to and how engaging with the society and its associated YMG can be mutually beneficial. I suppose that I should qualify what I have said already to the extent that this article is aimed not only at students but also at qualified Lawyers. Whether you, the reader of this article, are a
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lawyer or a student makes no difference because you will both benefit from reading this article. If you are a student, it means that you have realised that networking is imperative in order to meet the right people and take the first step on the career ladder. On the other hand, if you are a lawyer, you may be too busy to realise that there comes a time when you have to exercise your civic duty to pass on your skills and knowledge to the younger generation, those enthusiastic, intelligent and eager lawyers-tobe. Indeed it is important that you encourage Trainees in your firms to get involved with the YMG. The YMG aims to help law students and graduates take that first step on the career ladder. We aim to do this by way of networking at various social events organised by the Middlesex Law Society or by offering you our experience in relation to obtaining (and surviving!) a training contract or a vacation scheme placement. We also aim to help you by passing on interviewing tips or tips on how to write a good CV and, before you turn the page, yes, I imagine most of you have already done your research on this by now. However, the difference that the YMG makes is that you can get these tips from someone who receives CVs regularly and selects the people to be interviewed. The YMG is here to help you get noticed because, let’s face it, more and more bright students struggle to kick start their careers in the legal profession. In order to do that, the YMG is preparing a range of activities in which we want you, the students, to take part. In fact, we need you to! One of the activities will be a competition organised for the YMG student members, the prize of which will be two weeks work experience at a law firm in the Middlesex area. And yes, law firms want to offer you this most-wanted work experience. Trust me on this! Please watch this space. Your law society representative will shortly be provided with full details of the same and we invite you to respond confidently and take part. Another activity we hope to arrange is to provide access to experienced legal professionals including Judges, senior solicitors, paralegals and secretaries for volunteers to interview, thereby giving them an insight into the workings of a legal profession. Finally- and some might say I saved the best for last- I’d love to get to know you, eager students, and share with you my experience as a young trainee. So let’s meet up for drinks and chat about what we can do to help you and how you can be involved with the YMG. For those of you who want to get in touch, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And, to end this in the way I have been ending almost all my letters for the last year and a half, I will simply say - I look forward to hearing from you. But this time I mean it!
Focus on Mediation What is a Mediator? “People have problems Over the years Midland Bank Has very good ears And it hears Come and talk Talk to the Midland Come and talk To the listening bank” Midland Bank disappeared as a name at the end of the last century when its acquirer, HSBC, phased it out. Yet I still remember the listening bank, even though I never banked with it, just as I remember that happiness is a cigar called Hamlet, the mild cigar, long after tobacco advertising was banned, even though I never smoked one. “People have problems Over the years Mediators Have very good ears And they hear Come and talk Talk to a Mediator Come and talk To a listening bank”
If HSBC have discarded the Midland jingle, I would like to revive it. It also sums up perfectly why you should engage a mediator. People have problems, and their cry for help may not be heard by other people who are a part of those problems. They need to speak to someone who will listen and understand. Ideally, that person should also be able to help them resolve the problem. Mediation is sometimes confused with meditation. Meditation is very individual focused, and aims for such things as stillness, alignment, connection, mindfulness and presence. Mediation is about relationships, and empowering all the people who are in those relationships to choose ways forward together where problems have arisen. I am a solicitor and a mediator. People approach me far more often as a solicitor with their problems than as a mediator. There is a simple reason for this. They want to pay me to solve the problem, and to solve it in a way that works for them. The founding partner of one firm I worked for summed up the solicitor’s role as “making other people do what they do not want to do.” The mediator’s role, by contrast, is to help everyone to find something that they are willing to do, where they are no longer able to do this unaided. I can do this precisely by being a “listening bank”. If I can hear and understand all the perspectives on the problems from all those involved in the relationship or set of relationships, I can then help the parties identify their interests and the options for achieving them. I may then mediate a settlement based upon one of the options.
People have Problems The message from the banks to people with problems has moved on. Nowadays, the promise is more than just a sympathetic hearing. It is an assurance that in 80-90% of cases, a loan of money will be forthcoming if the bank is approached. In a mediation I attended recently as a solicitor representing my client, we were given a very similar message from the eminent QC my client and their opponents had paid many thousands of pounds to hire as mediator for the day. 80-90% of cases settle in mediation on the day or very soon afterwards. Statistically, we were almost certain to come away with our problems solved. Sitting there with my solicitor’s hat on, I was less than impressed to be hearing this in a first private session with the mediator after an opening joint session where the parties had been very forthright and direct with each other. The mediator was not only not interested in the detail of the dispute, he was positively dismissive of any attempt to discuss it. Mediation for him seemed to be just an earlier, and less rushed, opportunity to do the sort of horse-trading on settlement figures that he had long been familiar with at the doors of the court. The mediation failed. Nevertheless, with my mediator’s hat on, I would also want to make this claim for mediation. The next time I sit down as the mediator of a commercial dispute, I can reassure the parties that the last six commercial disputes that I have mediated have settled on the day or shortly afterwards. I would do it in the opening joint session, however, not in a private session with one of the parties, as there I would want to show I had heard and understood where they were coming from, and give them the opportunity to say the things that they were not prepared to say in front of their opponents.
Peter Webster Principal, Thea Limited
Returning to the 80-90% success rate promised by the banks, we do not need to cast our minds back to the last century to remember the economic problems attributed to banks being over eager to lend money. Any solution identified and agreed upon at mediation still has to prove its worth afterwards through voluntary implementation by the parties. The Greek tragic poet Euripides famously put in the mouth of one of his characters the line, “My tongue has sworn, my mind remains unsworn”, and his line is still quoted more than 2,400 years later because it was not just characters in ancient Greek tragedy who promised to do things they had no intention of doing in order to obtain something they wanted from someone else.
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absolute certainty of a final outcome (subject to appeals) and the chance of total victory is compensated by the removal of personal and cash flow stress, wasted management time, and the risk of an adverse outcome.
The Listening Bank Banks may listen, but they do so with a view to receiving money, or disbursing it. Mediators should listen, but they should do so in a way that they can understand the problems that the parties are grappling with, and show that they understand them.
Peter was part of the 1996 Newick Park Initiative (NPI) Conciliation in Rwanda team.
This is why it is so important to listen to the parties first before trying to get them to sign up to “solutions”. The bankers who approved sub-prime mortgages without listening in the way Midland Bank promised to do have guided some of those whose problems they “solved” to financial ruin. Mediators who assume that any “settlement” that they can guide the parties to on the day represents a success risk doing exactly the same. Mediation is a good process not just because it results in a settlement in 80-90% of cases. This figure actually compares unfavourably to the court process, which will settle every matter properly referred to it – eventually. It is also not very different from the settlement rate achieved through without prejudice negotiations before mediation became fashionable. The real virtue of the mediation process, in my experience, and what differentiates it completely from the usual alternative of going to court, is that it provides a non-judgmental hearing for the parties. That is not to say that the mediator cannot reality test each party’s case by asking searching questions. The parties though have the comfort of knowing that the neutral and impartial mediator that they are engaging with will not give judgment against them at the end of the day because of something they say in the mediation. The opportunity instead is for the parties and any advisors they have with them to sit in judgment on their own case and their opponent’s as the mediator reflects both back to them. The vast majority of the commercial cases that I have mediated have involved parties with solicitors, and some have brought barristers and expert witnesses as well. One of the obvious flaws in the litigation process, from the point of view of the parties, is that their whole team may never engage with the whole team of their opponent until the final trial, by which time substantial costs will have been incurred. Solicitors write letters to solicitors, expert witnesses produce reports and meet to produce joint statements, barristers settle pleadings and exchange skeleton arguments: everyone tangos with their counterparts and no-one may feel that they have a sufficient grasp of the case to settle the outcome. Mediation provides that same focused time that the trial brings, and can bring it a great deal sooner. The loss of
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It is the fashion in commercial mediations for there to be just one mediation meeting, which may last well into the night, at which a dispute either settles or it does not. Either way, at the end the mediator is functus officio (discharged from his role), and the dispute either disappears or rumbles on. Commercial mediation agreements typically have clauses preventing the mediator being drawn back into the dispute, unless there is a court order to that effect, and substantial further fees are paid. The approach in family mediation – another area in which I practise – is quite different. Here, the couple normally meet with the mediator in a series of sessions lasting 1-2 hours each. They are rarely accompanied by solicitors or other advisors, and they and the mediator normally stay in the same room the whole time. The aim of the mediation process is not to settle the financial affairs of the couple (including provision for any children and contact arrangements), but merely to formulate a set of proposals which the couple can then take back to their respective advisors. Obviously, as mediator, I will challenge the parties on any proposals which are likely to be vetoed by one or other set of advisors or the court because they are too much at odds with general principles of law, but if there is disagreement in this area, I will ask the parties to seek their own advice between sessions. Couples who are separating often have difficulties listening to each other. The mediator plugs that gap and ensures that both of them are heard. Parties to commercial contracts whose relationships have broken down often have similar needs.
FILM AND THE LAW No: 22
Lawyer-Less Law â€“ A peek into the Future
Divorce Iranian Style (1998) UK dir Kim Longinotto & A Separation (2011) Iran dir Asghar Farhadi (2011).
By Vincent McGrath email@example.com 020 8579 5330 07877 551442
A Separation: So near. Yet so far. Divorce Iranian Style: mother & daughter in court.
16 years ago, incredible though it may sound, independent film maker Kim Longinotto, was granted complete freedom to film in an Iranian Family court, something of course which is still not possible even here in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. The result, Divorce Iranian Style, depicts couples who want to be shut of one another, and heartache disputes over children. Familiar territory to any Family Lawyer anywhere in the world with one big difference. There are no lawyers present, except for the presiding judge. The result is what appears to be chaos, with both parties speaking at the same time and without any apparent structure. Charmingly though, children are allowed a free rein, and in one sequence a little girl is depicted pretending to be the judge. Imagine! Whereas Divorce Iranian Style is a documentary, A Separation is a full length, feature, albeit dealing with similar themes, of marital breakdown and custody. Again the parties do not have legal representation, and also the proceedings appear to be on the informal side. The award winning A Separation commences with both parties addressing the camera in the Family Court. The woman, Simin, wants a divorce because her husband, Nader will neither come abroad with her and their daughter Termeh, nor give his permission for the daughter, to accompany her. His position is that he has to stay in Iran to look after his father who is suffering from dementia. We hear the judge pronounce that as Nader refuses to give permission for the daughter to leave the country, then she must remain in Iran with him.
A Separation: A Universally Acclaimed film.
A Separation: animated discourse in the Criminal Court.
The couple decide on a two week separation with father and daughter remaining in the family home and mum moving in with her parents. Nader employs a woman cleaner who upon realising she will be alone in a flat with two men phones an imam for religious advice and then promptly resigns. Nader is forced to recruit another cleaner, Razieh, who being so desperate for money omits to inform her husband that she will be working in a flat with the two men. All goes well until Nader and Termeh return to the flat to find the old man on the floor and the cleaner nowhere to be seen. Upon Raziehâ€™s return the father dismisses her and in pushing her out of the door, she incurs an injury in the stairwell. The shocked couple upon hearing that the cleaner was in hospital with a miscarriage decide to pay her a visit. They meet up with cleaner's husband who gets into an argument with Nader and fisticuffs fly. The matter quickly escalates to the Criminal court where the judge decides to charge the Nader with murder of the unborn child and remand him in custody. Fortunately Simin comes to the rescue and is able to raise the bail money to set him free.
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A Separation: Simin & Nader in the Family Court.
A Separation: Father & Son. But the film does not end there, and there are many more twists and turns in this suspenseful and intelligent drama. Of all the films I have screened at Film Nite over a period of 25 years, few have had a greater effect than this story of a painful marital breakdown as seen through the eyes of the torn but devoted daughter Termeh. The class discussion touched upon the cultural and religious differences, as illustrated by the lively exchanges in court, whilst other people were moved by the powerful emotions engendered by the break -up of a family. To achieve this the film employed an ensemble of actors who enable us the audience to identify with each character’s point of view. The result is that by the end of the film we don’t quite know what to think. That being said, it is interesting to note that no class member remarked upon the obvious absence of lawyers of either sex in the court, to say nothing of the dominance of male judges.
A Separation: An altercation in the hospital.
One thing common to both films is that the parties were able to say more or less what they wanted, whenever they wanted, without too much intervention by the judge. Which means of course no matter what the outcome the parties would be unable to complain that they were stifled in any way by the proceedings. Such a complaint of course is one of the most common made by litigants in our jurisdiction coupled with dissatisfaction over the quality of their lawyers’ performance and dare I say it, the fees – the dreaded fees! Having seen both films several times, it seems to me that whilst a lawyerless court, may well be anathema to lawyers and judges alike in our jurisdiction, to litigants in person it could well be, on the other hand, not such a bad thing after all. Maybe the Iranian Justice system could teach us a thing or two about open and accessible justice, notwithstanding the structured absences in both films of any kind of critique of Sharia law, homophobia, female discrimination, public executions etc. It is right that in Divorce Iranian Style we are able to deduce that a female litigant tells an untruth which could be rationalised as being the logical outcome of a system that is clearly loaded against women. Now back to the film and its ending in particular, which is in danger of acquiring cult status. Simin, Nader & Termeh are back in the Family court and Termeh has been asked by the judge if she has made up her mind as to who she wants to live with - her Mother or her Father? She replies she has made up her mind but wants her parents to go out of the room for a while. I shall leave you with the indelible image of the parents in a long corridor, separated by a glass partition and……………… Oscar for best foreign language film. Winner of Golden Bear, Berlin. 5 stars Daily Telegraph I don’t think I’ve ever seen acting to match it – Juliet Stephenson, Acclaimed actress A must see film for lawyers and non-lawyers alike – The Bill of Middlesex
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MILLINGTON & SUTHERLAND WILLIAMS ON THE PROCEEDS OF CRIME
THE ESSENTIAL AND INDISPENSABLE REFERENCE FOR PROCEEDS OF CRIME PRACTITIONERS To the cynical, the old adage that ‘crime doesn’t pay’ is a bit of a fiction. In times of recession especially, there are plenty of criminals, white collar and otherwise, who, with varying degrees of desperation break the law, violently or surreptitiously, in order to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Not surprisingly, legislation aimed at confiscation or recovery of the proceeds of crime is something the public would like to see more of. Quoted in the preface of this authoritative work of reference from the Oxford University Press, Baroness Scotland QC has stressed the importance not only of the ‘stripping of ill-gotten gains from the criminal classes’, but also that the recovered funds should be ‘utilised and invested back into law enforcement, schools, hospitals and other worthy causes’… thus ensuring that the role of the proceeds of crime practitioner is reinforced, now and in the future. The authors express concern, however, that ‘since the introduction of the Proceeds of Crime Act in 2002 (POCA) there does not appear to have been a marked improvement or breakthrough in terms of By Mark Sutherland Williams, Michael Hopmeier and Rupert Jones
recovery, in fact, the opposite.’ Comparing the true proceeds of crime figures being channeled through the UK economy, they note that the amounts actually recovered (£161m in 2010-11 for example) are paltry by comparison.
ISBN: 978 0 19 967291 2 OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS www.oup.com An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Despite weaknesses and shortcomings, however, the fight against acquisitive crime continues apace. Serious Fraud Office Director David Green, writing in the Foreword, states that he has made the recovery of the proceeds of crime a top priority for the SFO. ‘The basic principle behind POCA — that crime should not pay — needs to be at the forefront of all investigations and prosecutions’ he says ‘whether the individual is a burglar, a drug dealer, a money launderer, or a sophisticated fraudster.’ Statements like these are of course reassuring, both for the public and for practitioners, as well as the judiciary. And in the armoury of weaponry against crime, this book, now in this new fourth edition, is a really big gun. Heading a team of at least ten contributors, the learned authors offer their extensive expertise in what is an extremely complex area of law. Mark Sutherland Williams refers to his co-editor Michael Hopmeier as ‘the judge that teaches judges’ about this area of the law. And Rupert Jones is described as ‘one of the leading asset forfeiture practitioners at the Bar.’ This distinguished edition, however, has been launched with considerable sadness following the untimely death of Trevor Millington, who for twenty-five years played a pivotal role in the development of proceeds of crime law. This edition is therefore dedicated to his memory. Covering the full spectrum of issues relating to the recovery and confiscation of the proceeds of crime, from restraint orders to enforcement and restoration, the book provides valuable research resources, including extensive tables of legislation, European legislation and international treaties and conventions, plus no less than twenty-one appendices. To aid navigation for the busy practitioner, there are numbered paragraphs throughout, a detailed table of contents and a twenty-five page index at the back. As a clear statement of the current legislation pertaining to the confiscation and restraint of the proceeds of crime, this book is an invaluable aid to all who practice in this difficult area.
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