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MIDDLESEX The BILL of

The Official Journal of THE MIDDLESEX LAW SOCIETY

AUTUMN 2019

Priya Dhokia Women in the law: leadership and equality (see page 15)

Inside this issue:

■ Conveyancing ■ Legacies

www.middlesex-law.co.uk

■ Property Insurance ■ News


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INTRODUCTION PUBLISHER Benham Publishing Limited Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park Liverpool L9 5AQ Tel: 0151 236 4141 Facsimile: 0151 236 0440 email: admin@benhampublishing.com web: www.benhampublishing.com

Contents Introduction

5

4 5

Middlesex Events – Professional Issues

ADVERTISING AND FEATURES EDITOR Anna Woodhams

6

STUDIO MANAGER John Barry

7

ACCOUNTS

CAN THIS REALLY BE HAPPENING? MY PERSONAL VIEW Spotlight on: I. Stephanie Boyce –

Legal News

Joanne Casey

MEDIA No. 1651

7

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Miles Sriharan Maralyn Hutchinson Professor Malcolm Davies Zulfiqar Ali Meerza

8-9 10 11 12

Council Member Report The mandate of social value InfoTrack’s ‘Take me to Austrailia’ promotion returns for a fourth year What is it like to be BAME and LGBT+ at work?

Law Society

PUBLISHED

13 14

October 2019 © The Middlesex Law Society - 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.

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12

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Priya Dhokia – Women in the law: leadership and equality Section 2 CJA ‘Tipping Off’ Offence A proposal for Potential Reform Residual Client Balances: Why you should never ignore them!

Software

DISCLAIMER

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The Middlesex Law Society welcomes all persons eligible for membership regardless of Sex, Race, Religion, Age or Sexual Orientation.

Fridays at Quill

Legacies 20

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.

Angus...

Conveyancing 23

15 25

Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified Legal Advice.

COVER INFORMATION

26

The cover image: Priya Dhokia - Women in the law: leadership and equality

27 28

Copy Deadlines 22nd March 30th September

The Law Society Symposium: PEOPLE, PARLIAMENT, EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIARY

Articles 15

Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us.

Spring 2020 Issue Autumn 2020 Issue

List of Officers President’s Review

25

poweredbypie launches Document Portal to Enable Secure Exchange of Sensitive Client Data Building Damage, Fire and Land Contamination: Our Capital’s Painful Legacy GCS Title Insurance – Comprehensively Simple Does Fracking Pose a Risk to Your Commercial Property Interests? How digitisation is changing the future of home-buying

Property Insurance 30

Unoccupied Property Insurance – Prepare Your Home for When the Weather Turns

Auctions

Anyone wishing to advertise or submit editorial for publication in The Bill of Middlesex please contact Anna Woodhams before copy deadline.

33

Email:

anna@benhampublishing.com

34

Tel:

0151 236 4141

Investments of passion

Book Review The Rise and Fall of Legal Aid

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 3


OFFICERS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

PAST PRESIDENTS R Garrod, J A S Nicholls, R C Politeyan, J Aylett, K Goodacre,

OFFICERS FOR 2018/19

Past President

H J B Cockshutt, W Gillham, L Lane Heardman, D Grove,

ARIYA SRIHARAN

L A Darke, C Beety, L E Vickers, H Hodge, E G B Taylor,

Sriharans Solicitors

A A M Wheatley, A H Kurtz, M J S Doran, H B Matthissen,

223 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1ND

G Parkinson, HHJ R D Connor, A Bates, J J Copeman-Hill,

(020 8843 9974) (DX 119583 Southall 3) President:

e-mail: info@sriharanssolicitors.co.uk

D B Kennett-Brown, S B Hammett, 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,

ALBERTA TEVIE

D D P Debidin, R E J Hansom, E H Lock, A Taylor, N Desor, Sriharans Solicitors

Professor Malcolm Davies

223 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1ND

Retired Professor, University of West London Law School

M Fernandes, A Darlington, S Chhokar, M Crowley,

(020 8843 9974) (DX 119583 Southall 3)

c/o Oxford and Cambridge Club

M Davies, S Hobbs, R Sriharan, S Scott Hunt, D Webb,

e-mail: info@sriharanssolicitors.co.uk

71 Pall Mall, SW1 5HD

G Kharaud, A Sriharan

M Hutchinson, M Guyer, R S Drepaul, A Sriharan,

(020 7930 5151) e-mail: profmjd1@gmail.com Vice President:

PARLIAMENTARY LIAISON

MILES SRIHARAN

Aneeqa Ali

Sriharans Solicitors

Lecturer in Law/ Legal Practice, University of West London

223 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1ND

St Mary’s Road, Ealing W5 5RF

(020 8843 9974) (DX 119583 Southall 3)

(020 8231 2403)

e-mail: miles.sriharan@sriharanssolicitors.co.uk

e-mail: aneeqa.ali@uwl.ac.uk

Honorary Secretary

Maralyn Hutchinson of Kagan Moss

MAURICE GUYER Vickers & Co. 183 Uxbridge Road, Ealing W13 9AA

Michael Garson

22 The Causeway, Teddington, Middx TW11 0HF (020 8977 6633) (DX 35250 Teddington) e-mail: maralyn.hutchinson@kaganmoss.co.uk

(020 8579 2559) (DX 5104 Ealing) e-mail: mguyer@vickers-solicitors.co.uk

Renuka Sriharan of Sriharans 223 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1ND

Honorary Treasurer:

ELISABETH VAN DER WEIT

(020 8843 9974) (DX 119583 Southall 3) e-mail: info@sriharanssolicitors.co.uk

Hameed & Co.

Susan Scott-Hunt 4 Grand Parade, Forty Avenue, Wembley Park, HA9 9JS Principal Lecturer in Law, Middlesex University (020 8904 4900) The Burroughs, Hendon NW4 4BT e-mail: hameed@hameed.plus.com

(020 8411 6019) Email: s.scott-hunt@mdx.ac.uk

Council Members for the Middlesex Area: Central & South Middlesex

Michael Garson of Kagan Moss 22 The Causeway, Teddington TW11 0HF

Zulfiqar Ali Meerza of Serious Fraud Office (SFO) 2 – 4 Cockspur Street, London SW17 5BS (020 7084 4890) e-mail: zulfiqar.meerza@sfo.gsi.gov.uk

(020 8977 6633) (DX 35250 Teddington) e-mail: michael.garson@kaganmoss.co.uk

Zahra Asghar of Asghar & Co 112-114 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1QT

Central & South Middlesex

(020 8843 0010) (DX 119576)

Sundeep Bhatia of

email: zasghar@asgharandco.com

Beaumonde Law Practice Pentax House, South Hill Avenue, Northolt Road,

Caroline Golden of Goldens Solicitors

Harrow HA2 0DU

343 Rayners Lane, Pinner HA5 5EN

(020 8868 1614)

(020 8429 8282) (DX 48006 Rayners Lane)

email: sundeep.bhatia@beaumonde-law.co.uk

email: c.golden@goldenslaw.com

www.middlesex-law.co.uk 4 The BILL of MIDDLESEX


INTRODUCTION

President’s Review

Four months into my second term as President of the Middlesex Law Society is a good point to briefly look at some of the events that have taken place but more importantly to look at the plans for the future.

O

ne of my primary objectives at the outset of my Presidency was to lift the profile of the Society and to ensure everything we did was relevant to our members. I believe we have achieved this as we have substantially increased the number of members.

The autumn of 2018 saw us stage our highly successful breakfast seminars on the new SRA transparency regulations. There has been consistent interest amongst our members for more. We are continuing the work to keep our members both informed and updated by staging further seminars including the seminar arranged for Tuesday 22 October 2019 on Compliance and CQS. To accommodate members who cannot attend early morning seminars we have also arranged seminars in the evening. We expect to roll out our seminar programme with provisional future topics to include co-hosting with the Land Registry, Unexplained Wealth orders, cyber-crime, anti-money laundering and the essential compliance updates, professional conduct – current issues and risks, the points and tiers system in relation to business immigration, a general immigration update, unbundling for family lawyers and data protection regulation updates. If any of our readers have a specific topic which is not covered, please contact us. As a new membership resource, we intend to create a list of locums. Looking ahead, we have a full calendar of upcoming social events. We are planning a cocktail event at the House of Commons which will include a tour of the Palace of Westminster. Our flagship bi-annual dinner and dance will take place in the Spring of 2020. This highly successful event provides an opportunity not only enjoy the good food and drink that is on offer, but also to network and simply have a really good time in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Involving the up-and-coming lawyers has been and continues to be a stated aim of MLS and to that end we are planning a moot in conjunction with the University of West London which is within our constituency. We hope this will be as much fun for the students as it has historically been for the solicitors who take part. As always I strongly encourage members to get in touch with us to give us their views, comments and ideas and to make the most of the benefits of membership of the MLS such as promotion of solicitors firms in Middlesex through business and social networks, peer support and mentoring, access to Law Society Members and Council, directing enquiries from members of the public with legal problems, help with regulation and signposting posting to Chancery Lane and much more. ■

Alberta Tevie President, Middlesex Law Society

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 5


MIDDLESEX EVENTS – PROFESSIONAL ISSUES

CAN THIS REALLY BE HAPPENING? MY PERSONAL VIEW I would have preferred not to have to write an article on Brexit but in light of the shambolic way in which our parliament as a whole has so far dealt with the issue of Brexit, I feel it would be remiss of me not to express some of my personal frustration.

B

y the time this article is published, we will know if the majority of parliament has been able to put the interests of the nation before their own self-interests and stopped us crashing out of the EU on 31 October without a deal governing the future trade and political relationship between the UK and the EU - a situation which will not only seriously and detrimentally threaten the livelihoods of the majority of UK citizens but will, in my view, almost inevitably lead to the breakup of the UK. The services of a litigation lawyer are usually required when a client has a problem. This need is placed into particularly sharp focus in my area of family law. I am of an age and have practiced long enough to recall the difficulties that existed dealing with families where there were international family issues, such as property and finance, spousal/child maintenance or child abduction arose. What ever your views on the EU, as a family practitioner I am clear that the current arrangements in place for cross-border recognition and enforcement have primarily benefited clients both emotionally and financially. We now have to take stock of the areas of family law that could be affected by Brexit, catastrophically in the event of a ‘no deal’ exit or hopefully in a more planned manner if a deal is reached. Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, reciprocal laws between the UK and EU will come to an end.

6 The BILL of MIDDLESEX

An overview of a few areas of practice leads me to echoes of the grim and distant past where the stress, distress and emotional turmoil of families was compounded and protracted by the then legal system. This arose quite simply because International orders obtained in the UK had no automatic recognition in EU countries and so a second set of proceedings had to be issued to enable a case to be dealt with under the national laws of one of the EU member

states. This was equally applicable in reverse to orders made in the EU countries not being automatically recognised in the UK. As a current example, a civil divorce obtained in one EU member state will be recognised throughout the EU. In the event of a no deal Brexit, unless an EU state is party to the Hague Convention on divorce, cross-border recognition of divorce orders will not be automatic. Even if a deal is reached we cannot be certain that the relatively seamless process that has subsisted for decades will be fully replicated. Similarly, in the area of enforcement, Brussels II bis is a regulatory framework the purpose of which is to provide a procedural structure to assist international families to resolve disputes relating to divorce and care of children where more than one EU state is involved. It enables a quick decision to be made as to which court will be responsible for dealing with the matrimonial or parental responsibility dispute and provides a system for recognition and enforcement of judgements or decisions. There is also a procedure covering the area of child abduction. Judgements and decisions are automatically recognised between EU member states and there are limited grounds on which recognition can be refused. In the area of maintenance, the Maintenance Regulation facilitates the payment of maintenance where more than one European member state is involved. ■

By Alberta Tevie President, Middlesex Law Society


SPOTLIGHT ON

Spotlight on:

I. Stephanie

Boyce –

Deputy Vice President of the Law Society

S

tephanie, admitted in 2002, is an experienced general counsel and has worked in-house at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

I. Stephanie Boyce took office as deputy vice-president of the Law Society of England and Wales this July, becoming vice-president in 2020 and president in 2021.

Stephanie is first generation British, the first in her family to go to university and the first to qualify as a solicitor. Her background was not one of privilege, and she was raised by a single parent in an Afro-Caribbean working-class home. As a child, Stephanie had always nursed a dream to one day become a lawyer but was repeatedly told that she would never make it in the legal profession due to her socioeconomic background. On this, Stephanie said ‘it is amazing what you can achieve when you are determined and resilient’. Although her dream was initially to become a barrister, she quickly realised she would be unable to support herself through pupillage and instead set her sights on becoming a solicitor. Stephanie qualified in a small practice, steeped in hundreds of years of local history, in the town in which she still lives. On being elected as deputy vice-president of the Law Society, she said: ‘it will be my honour to lead our independent, strong and diverse legal profession- supporting the work of solicitors and all of the positive contributions they make to our society. The legal sector is going through a period of unprecedented challenge: there is a crisis in access to justice, widespread uncertainty with Brexit and the pressure of regulatory reform. We must guide our members through the storm, whilst continuing to lobby government.’

‘Our role as solicitors in achieving a fairer justice system has never been as important as it is today. We must stress the contribution solicitors make to the economy and wider society, as we press government to properly fund our justice system so it is equitable, accessible and affordable. In society today, it simply cannot be right that access to justice is only available to those who can self-fund’. ‘I bring a unique perspective to this role with my skills and experience. I do not and will not underestimate the significance of my election as an office holder. I will work to continue to raise awareness of the solicitor profession and the extraordinary work we do. I intend to be visible and collaborative, seek to renew old acquaintances and forge new alliances’. Stephanie currently sits on the Law Society Council holding a seat for the Women Lawyers Division and chairs the Conduct Committee. On her appointment, immediate pastpresident of the Law Society, Christina Blacklaws, said: ‘I want to give my heartfelt congratulations to Stephanie. I am sure her tenure will prove to be a great success’. Boyce said: ‘I want to continue to be part of a forward-looking body that advocates and promotes change, challenges and influences whatever the future may hold. It is my intention to leave this profession more diverse and inclusive than the one I entered’.

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 7


LEGAL NEWS

Council Member Report September 2019 Council Member Michael Garson writes:

W

The next few months will bring farreaching change on a number of fronts.

8 The BILL of MIDDLESEX

hilst Brexit indecision and stagnation continues to affect many firms it has induced an increase in work for some sectors in the profession. This situation could change rapidly if some of the uncertainty is resolved by a budget and the start of a new legislative programme. From November, the SRA are set to replace the 2011 Handbook and commence the Standards and Regulations (STARS) with new ways for handling many services that solicitors provide to the general public. These allow ‘non reserved activities‘ such services as Will writing, pre litigation advice, employment disputes and company work to be carried out by unregulated bodies and those organisations will be able to employ solicitors with practising certificates to carry out work and advertise themselves as solicitors. Whilst there are some constraints and consumer protections are fewer, it is possible that new work will leak away from established firms and to other new or existing businesses. In addition, solicitors will be able to operate their own personal account outside of the framework for regulated firms by offering as ‘freelancers’. If they have been qualified for more than three years and carry ‘adequate and appropriate’ indemnity insurance they would be able to carry out work which is reserved activity such as litigation, probate and conveyancing. The SRA has now issued guidance which sets out helpfully the consideration that must be given as to the level of cover that any solicitor maintains in any year. It is important to bear in mind that a ‘claims made’ basis applies and therefore past work matters are a relevant consideration. The SRA guidance is at www.sra.gov.uk/guidance/ethicsguidance/adequate-and-appropriate-indemnityinsurance The impact of these changes in the market may be slow to emerge but could reduce market shares rather than swell the market for legal services as promised by the SRA. Of greater concern will be the impact on the public image of the brand of solicitors and reputational damage that may result where services are not delivered well or to a high standard. The current Code of Conduct is replaced with two codes containing the new standards and

regulations. They carry forward familiar rules concerning early notification of complaints and client care information. Fundamental principles including conflicts of interest and confidentiality are included albeit in shorter terms. Much reliance will be placed for enforcement on the seven fundamental principles plus the statutory matters that are within the codes though not expressly set out and reproduced in the codes, including anti money laundering and data protection regulations. Some SRA Guidance is now published and more is expected The Codes expect high professional standards but maintaining those outside the environment of a structured law firm will be hard. How issues are dealt with by individual solicitors operating in their own environment or in a commercial structure created and run by nonsolicitor directors and shareholders remains to be seen. Ethical issues over conflicts of interest seem more likely within the parts of the profession which are not regulated under the code for recognised bodies. They will have COLPs and COFAs where others will not. The new simplified accounts rules afford new freedoms but abuses may continue to arise. Where there are complaints and these are not resolved internally references to the Legal Ombudsman can be expected to rise. With choices for solicitors in the future being widened, competition for market share will also increase. The basic skills required to do the job alter as technology assumes more importance and new and different soft skills are needed but traditional skills and expertise of analysis, drafting and advocacy will remain at the heart of the profession. The SRA project to introduce a new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) from 2021 is progressing and Kaplan, the SRA chosen operator of the central exam assessment, has carried out and reported on part 1 of a pilot on the new final examination. The first part was set to test knowledge and legal skills and whilst ‘knowledge’ was tested in 3 tests of 120 multiple choice questions and this was deemed satisfactory, the test of writing skills has led reviewers to suggest a rethink. The pilot for testing part 2 of the final is now in early stages of preparation. The pilot results suggest that


LEGAL NEWS multiple choice questions or at least a large number of them can test legal knowledge but that some candidates did not do particularly well on the legal skills section. Until the part 2 tests are set and analysed it may be too early to come to a final view to whether the reforms are going to be fit for purpose to permit admission at suitable level of competence. Traditionally legal skills are often acquired later in the education and training process and are not apparent to be at a standard for admission until shortly before or after the end of a two-year training contract. It is a concern that under the SQE, the training contract is to be replaced by qualifying training experience signed off by a suitable person. The Practice Skills training and fitness to supervise qualifications will no longer be required. There are no requirements for close supervision or a minimum number of training seats proposed in the new training regulations. It seems likely that practical training will be less effective and a significant number of trainees who currently enjoy well supervised training contracts will find it harder to find those opportunities in the future. At this time of year, many firms will have experienced their indemnity insurance renewal and may have been surprised to find that market conditions have tightened considerably. The reasons for this are not always clear until the brokers’ noise of the sales season is over but indications are that insurers prepared to continue in the market now wish to reduce market share increase premiums and have better insulation from cybercrime losses and high-risk work. Leasehold reform is expected during the next 12 months and much will depend upon how existing leases are treated when the legislation creates a new regime for the future. At that stage claims may come forward that insufficient advice has been given in the past. Post 6-year run-off. This is a reminder that the SRA decision to close the Solicitors Indemnity Fund Ltd from September 2020 will impact anyone whose firms closed after professional indemnity insurance moved to the open market on 1 September 2000. Solicitors’ Indemnity Insurance is on a ‘claims-made’ basis which means you need current insurance cover for the claims made during the policy period and not after the policy period is over. When a firm closed, it was obliged to pay for 6 years run off cover, to meet any claims made in the first 6 years after closure. The premium was and is payable to your indemnity insurer. Cover after that time was provided free by utilising monies still held by the Solicitors Indemnity Fund. There has been a misconception that claims do not arise after a firm has been closed a few years. However data produced by the SRA in 2016 revealed that 24% of claims were brought between three and six years after the event, and 10% took place between six and 15 years after the event, with 1% of claims brought more than 25 years after the event. Lobbying by the Law Society has not persuaded the SRA to continue to offer indemnity cover post 6 years and there has been little interest by insurers in offering a product to cover post 6 year run off cover. Those who were partners in firms that are closing or have closed (and possibly fee-earners who were contractually obliged to personally cover any uninsured losses) need to be aware of their risk exposure. The Law Society continues to attempt to find solutions to these problems and I will be attending a roundtable with insurers and brokers looking at this and other PII related matters in November. Council will resume in October with an intake of new council members. Work continues on to focus internally on two major fronts one being the IT programme for the modernisation of the organisation; this will also see the consolidation of the Society’s operations into 113 Chancery Lane making 114 surplus to current requirements as the SRA have their own premises in Birmingham. The other important element is to improve communications and engagement of the Society with its members. The board has oversight on this programme and I would observe as a sitting member of the Board that with management changes having been put in place, the next 12 month phase is critical to success. Relevance to member interests and effective engagement requires the development of more effective communications and much will depend upon a new website will shortly be launched and learning channels to follow. The creation of a new board was part of a reform process that abolished the four boards that previously existed dealing with

Management, Regulation, Legal Policy and Membership. The new single board has now operated for over a year and two committees report to it. One deals with member communication and relationships with local law societies and the Gazette is part of its work. The other deals with policy and regulation. Responsibility for finance and developing corporate income streams rests with the board. The ongoing question which has not been resolved is the composition of Council and a council membership committee has been working on this and produced a number of proposals over the last 18 months. Council members have been encouraged to consult on the latest version. I am making a copy available. This is a much changed proposal from what went before but in my view still confuses the purpose of Council with a desire to simply replicate the profession in Council and be representative of it in that limited sense. Council is the governing body of the Society and needs to make decisions as to the strategy, plan and direction for the organisation having regard to the best interests for the future of the profession as well as current practitioners. This requires time, knowledge and experience of the profession in all its work. The balance of voices and seats within Council is important but should not be obtained at the expense of skills and wide experience of the profession, its markets and the ways in which solicitors work within our legal system. We all recognise that each year the profession is injected with a new vibrant and enthusiastic intake from a wide range of backgrounds wishing to serve our diverse multicultural society. The pathways for good able solicitors to be able to progress need to be created by those most capable and not by doctrinaire belief that good representation can only come from a selection system where certain interests have preference. This topic raises a wide range of views and I will be pleased to hear from those who feel that the current system of representation lets them down. Research suggests that Council is well in tune with the needs, requirements and wants of the profession. The much greater risk that we currently face is in delivering a flexible responsive and efficient organisation capable of meeting those needs.

Michael Garson Council Member

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 9


LEGAL NEWS

The mandate of social value Demonstrating a commitment to CSR is now an integral part of legal life. Social impact is often generated by law firms funding charitable projects, launching a foundation, organising volunteering projects and introducing sustainability initiatives. Chris Farrell, managing director of Impact Reporting, a bespoke CSR and sustainability reporting tool, discusses the importance of reporting on CSR in the legal sector. Social investment Legal firms are looking at practical ways to tackle issues such as reducing emissions through energy initiatives and people-focused outreach programmes like staff training. However, there is still an underlying perception that considers CSR as ‘low priority’ in the business space, traditionally resulting in small budgets, unambitious actions, and a general lack of strategic decision making.

Understanding value in CSR The frameworks and methodologies associated with CSR measurement may differ between organisations and sectors, yet some key themes are pertinent across all industries. For example, analysing common inputs - money invested in charities, time spent volunteering, or trees planted is often balanced with common outputs - jobs created, lives saved, and a reduction in carbon emissions. One attractive approach, particularly in corporate circles, is calculating social value as a 'Social Return-on-Investment’ (sROI). This relates to the perceived monetised value of an organisation's social impact and is a very specific, granular methodological way of understanding the monetised impact of a CSR project. It is important to be aware of the qualitative data - the narratives and experiences - that also exist. These are often overlooked but are an effective way of contextualising your impact and humanising your corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting.

Capturing accurate data Legal firms are looking at practical ways to tackle issues such as reducing emissions through energy initiatives and people-focused outreach programmes like staff training. However, there is still an underlying perception that considers CSR as ‘low priority’ in the business space, traditionally resulting in small budgets, unambitious actions, and a general lack of strategic decision making.

Reaching the right goals Quantifying social value in an accurate and consistent way is key for all law firms. Aligning to and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 global goals set by the UN in 2015 – is a straightforward and ethical way of benchmarking the impact of many value-based businesses. These are a blueprint to achieve a more sustainable future and address global challenges related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

The power of social investment Demonstrating a social impact is not a legal obligation for all sectors but that doesn’t mean legal firms shouldn’t celebrate the good work they do. We’re at the beginning of monitoring and truly understanding the value of social impact but with the ease of access, and cost-

10 The BILL of MIDDLESEX

effectiveness of digital media, this behaviour is becoming commonplace across almost all legal firms regardless of size. CSR aids law firms by making them more efficient and leads to higher engagement amongst employees. It is also a key variable that attracts top talent and converts new business. Firms who are successful at doing this, have benefited from more investment, better strategic decision making, and increased sustainable growth.

Ten top tips to create social value buy-in: 1. Letting employees choose charities – Allow staff to vote from a list and partner with the winning charity - this will help with engagement 2. Developing employee initiatives – Organise lunchtime cycling, weekend volunteering and recycling projects for all to get involved. 3. Building social value into client contracts – Insist that partner organisations prioritise social value too. 4. Leading from the top – To show how dedicated a business is to the cause, encourage the CEO/MD to get involved so they become an example for all staff. 5. Adopting a framework – Set real objectives with fixed timeframes, and work towards those. 6. Aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Benchmark achievements against 17 global goals set by the UN in 2015 to achieve a more sustainable future and address global challenges related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. 7. Gamifying the creation of social value – Inspire employees to do more and get competitive about it. For example, set up a leader board and offer prizes as incentives. 8. Starting with the basics – Transforming a business’s attitude to social value won’t be an over-night process. It’s OK to start small and scale up. Get rid of plastics, put recycling bins in place, ditch cars, use public transport or walk into work. 9. Listening to stakeholders – Align with the organisation’s mission, vision or values. 10. Working with pro-social companies – Be open to partnering with social enterprises, charities, or other ‘good’ companies at all stages of negotiating contracts.


LEGAL NEWS

InfoTrack’s ‘Take me to Australia’ promotion returns for a fourth year InfoTrack have announced the return of their ‘Take me to Australia’ promotion a prize draw to win a two week holiday in Australia for two.

I

nfoTrack customers are automatically entered into the draw and receive an entry each time they perform a legal task using InfoTrack. The more they submit an eCOS, Indemnity, SDLT, AP1 or Corporate service through InfoTrack, the more entries they will receive. Adam Bullion, General Manager of Marketing at InfoTrack comments, “Previous winners absolutely love the prize and clients regularly ask when it will return. Last year, we had almost 60,000 entries due to the simple mechanics of the competition. All you require to enter the competition is an account with InfoTrack!”

Mark Stocker of Stephen Rimmer LLP, winner of the 2018 promotion, says, “It’s truly is a fantastic prize offered by InfoTrack and everything from the hotels to the trips were fantastic and well organised. My favourite part, if I had to choose one, would be the day at the Blue Mountains as the views were spectacular. I can’t wait to return!” For more information and to find out how the promotion works, just visit http://www.infotrack.co.uk/takemetoaustralia. ■

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 11


LEGAL NEWS

What is it like to be BAME and LGBT+ at work? Photo: Netanya Clixby

Netanya Clixby is co-founder and co-chair of the London Bisexual Network. She is an associate at Latham & Watkins and is on the Law Society’s LGBT+ Division Committee.

12 The BILL of MIDDLESEX

M

y experiences in the workplace and as co-chair of the London Bisexual Network have highlighted some unexpected benefits of being both BAME and LGBT+. It can be challenging to integrate into traditionally non-BAME working environments. However, the sense of community offered by the often-flourishing LGBT+ networks within these organisations can be a great way to build contacts and find mentors to help overcome perceptions of feeling out of place. A challenge I have noticed for some BAME LGBT+ people is that their cultural background is sometimes not as accepting of being LGBT+. This can pose issues for BAME LGBT+ people choosing to be open at work, which may deprive them of both a useful internal network and create the additional stress of needing to hide their sexual orientation. A way to overcome this is to ensure that BAME networks and LGBT+ networks within organisations collaborate, for example by hosting joint networking and awareness events. This helps educate members of LGBT+ networks of the issues faced by BAME people and encourages BAME LGBT+ people to feel comfortable being out at work. Being unable to bring your ‘whole self’ to work goes further than sexual orientation. If an environment is monocultural, BAME people are made to feel that acting in a way that is different from the majority is wrong or inappropriate in a working environment. We may worry about our communication style, for example, or we may hide our tastes in music or sports. The key to ensuring that a workplace is inclusive is for the corporate culture to be one that celebrates different experiences and backgrounds, rather than focusing on creating or recruiting a ‘type’ of employee. I grew up in a working class, single-parent family and attended a state school. Although

I am from a mixed race, Jewish/AfricanAmerican background, my school was predominantly Muslim. Growing up in this environment allowed me to understand the importance of appreciating diversity of all types. As a result, I have been heavily involved in initiatives that promote social inclusion. I graduated from the University of St Andrews with a degree in Philosophy and Biblical Studies in 2011, after which I attended law school. I completed my legal training at an English firm and joined the global law firm Latham & Watkins in 2017. My practice area is Derivatives and Structured Finance. Both my previous firm and my current firm have been incredibly supportive of LGBT+ individuals. Senior members of my previous firm supported me in the co-founding of the London Bisexual Network (the LBN). The LBN is a professional network for bi people working in the legal, insurance, banking and professional services industries, and provides bi education and bi visibility training to organisations. By Netanya

Clixby


LAW SOCIETY

The Law Society Symposium: The power of gender equality to transform the business of law

Photo: Christina Blacklaws

B

‘Gender equality is good for everyone’ was the core message of an international symposium hosted by the Law Society on ‘The power of gender equality to transform the business of law’. At the event, senior leaders of the profession, politicians, activists and clients debated how to close the gender gap in the top echelons of the legal profession.

ut the symposium- the flagship event of Christina Blacklaws’ presidency- included contributions from speakers who acknowledged the many obstacles that remain. In her opening remarks, Christina noted that ‘progress has been painfully slow. Change is not inevitable- we have to work relentlessly to make it possible’. Prior to the symposium, the Law Society had set out to better understand the key issues that affect women working in law. In collaboration with the International Bar Association Women Lawyers’ Interest Group and LexisNexis, the Law Society conducted the largest survey on Women in Law, reaching 7,781 respondents globally, both male and female, to identify perceived barriers to progression. Main findings showed that although women have made up over half of practising solicitors since 2018, the profession continues to be led predominantly by men. Around the globe, the senior levels of law firms do not truly reflect the reality of a profession with a significant female majority at the point of entry. Christina echoed this sentiment at the Symposium women are still ‘by no means the dominant force’. Using key findings from the survey, the Law Society hosted over 250 roundtable discussions in England and Wales and across thirteen jurisdictions, with an estimated 4,000 attendees in total. These roundtables provided the opportunity to gather lived experiences and catalyse meaningful action to address barriers to progression. The findings from these roundtables have been published in three separate reports: The need for gender equality in the legal profession: findings from the women’s roundtables; Male champions for change roundtable report; and the International women in law report. The Law Society has also published an academic literature review and a blueprint for gender balance, which sets out the main recommendations and practical steps for inhouse practitioners and private practice firms, of differing sizes, to develop strategies for gender equality.

Ideas for tackling the profession’s enduring gender problem were set out in discussions, presentations and workshops over the two-day Symposium in June, which was attended by over 300 people. Ideas were predicated on two principles: first, a clear conviction that people in positions of power and influence should act to remove obstacles to equality and use their influence to achieve equal outcomes; and second, a close focus on the leadership skills needed to achieve promotion should be fostered in all organisations. The Symposium was used to launch a ‘Women in Law Pledge’, supported by the Law Society, Bar Council and CILEx, to tackle gender equality in the legal profession. Signatories should: have a named senior leader with accountability for gender diversity and inclusion in the organisation; set specific gender targets for leadership-level appointments; and commit to tackling discrimination and harassment. Targets and an action plan should be published and ‘specific aspects of pay, reward and recognition of the senior leadership team’ should be linked to achieving those targets. The Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion team are also working on revising the Diversity & Inclusion Charter and a future project focusing on ethnic minority members in the profession. Following the Symposium, the work around gender equality will continue with international Women in Law roundtables which will take place around the world under the umbrella of the International Women in Law (IWiL) programme. This will include Male Champions for Change roundtables and support of the Women in Law Pledge internationally. To find out more about the Law Society’s work on gender equality and to get involved please email London&SouthEastTeam@lawsociety.org.uk

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 13


LAW SOCIETY

PEOPLE, PARLIAMENT, EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIARY As a lawyer, when I think of the Supreme Court ruling with regard to the lawfulness of the Prime Minister’s actions, it makes me feel proud that the Supreme Court is Supreme and has exercised powers over the Parliament and the Executive/Cabinet. Everyone in the legal profession may be proud that they belong to this profession, which produces the Supreme Power.

I

It is a fundamental principle of the sovereignty and democracy that the Parliament, Executive and Judiciary should remain independent and distant. An unusual situation has arisen in British democracy. Britain is proud of Magna Carta, the whole world admires our system and follows as well. Westminster Parliament is known in the world as the mother of Parliaments. The judicial decisions are being followed all the over the world. However, in this scenario I am beginning to wonder whether the Parliament has used or abused the judicial arm of the democracy to fulfil its agenda and motives. This judgement and the events preceding to the judgement can create various problems to taint our system in the years to come. Parliamentarians and other instructed parties instructed outside Parliament can time and again make applications in the Court to curtail the actions of the Executive. In the event of a war situation, a serious threat from an enemy which is imminent, the anti-war lobbies and eccentric Parliamentarians can go to Courts to argue and curtail/delay/frustrate the Executive/Cabinet from protecting our Nation. By the time a final decision of the

Supreme Court comes, the enemy would have executed the threat. Another dangerous precedence open by this Supreme Court Judgement is that the independence of Judiciary can be interfered with. Such an important Judgement curtailing the Executive, the people who delegated the sovereignty to the Parliament and through the Parliament to the Executive is being frustrated to carry out their decisions. This will open the Judiciary and the Judges to be subjected to scrutiny. Questions are going to be raised in the people’s minds, whether these 11 Lord Justices are more inclined to remain or leave! It can even be extended to question whether Lord Justices from Scotland will overrule the judgments from the Scottish Courts! Will the Lord Justices from Wales be absolutely independent against the will of the people of Wales who overwhelmingly voted to remain! Investigative journalists would like to probe into the Judge’s background and also to take statistics of Judgements of these individual judges who delivered Judgements for or against the Government in past. We should not lose sight of the fact that Judges are also human however independent they try to be. When I think about the consequences of the Supreme Court Judgement, I am wondering whether it was a worthwhile exercise of this Supreme Court action and what have we achieved and at what cost? We have achieved another four weeks of Parliament sitting, an excitement and enjoyment of the opposition supporters and the antiBoris Johnson lobby and nothing else. The honourable independent Judges of Great Britain have been put into a risky position to be subjected to anxious scrutiny from the Public and the media. The noble traditions and the pride of having an unwritten Constitution has been exposed to create doubt. Previous Prime Ministers never openly and personally criticized the then current Prime Minister. It is a noble tradition. When a Prime Minister is abroad, opposition leaders not attacking the Prime Minister locally is a noble tradition. A previous Prime Minister not filing a case and becoming a claimant against the current Prime Minister is a noble tradition. All these traditions have been broken. Are our Politicians and traditions still Noble? By the present actions of the Parliament, Executive, and the Supreme Court interfering and expressing opinion on an act of a sitting Prime Minister, has kick-started the question whether the unwritten Constitution should be abandoned and a proper strict written Constitution be given birth? Our great Nation Britain, has survived great two Wars and terrorist attacks and still surviving as a great nation in the world. I am a strong believer that this is a blessed country because thousands of Christian missionaries had gone all over the world and carried out charity work, education and also spread the word of God. This nation is still prospering from that blessing of God.■ May God bless our great United Kingdom. By A.

14 The BILL of MIDDLESEX

Sriharan


ARTICLE

Priya Dhokia -

Women in the law: leadership and equality Women currently represent just over half of the practising solicitors in England and Wales*. Yet according to data** collected by the SRA in 2017, only 37% of partners in mid-size law firms are female (and only 21% of all lawyers are from BAME backgrounds).

S

o why is it that the profession continues to be dominated by men in leadership roles? There are in my view two main issues which I would label NATURE and CULTURE. Looking at NATURE first, many women take a career break to have children at which point they either decide to return to work after maternity leave with the requirement of flexible working (which is not always granted) or they decide to leave the profession altogether. These days many women are very career orientated, often having children later in life, because they wish to establish a level of seniority prior to having any childcare responsibilities. But in doing so they also run the risk of limiting their career prospects, by being overly cautious about when they become partners, routinely delaying taking on additional responsibility until after they have children – which is of course, entirely understandable. Which leads to the issue of CULTURE, where I see three main challenges faced by female lawyers:

1) Flexibility Partnership is often seen as an “all or nothing” situation. Many lawyers still think that partners should work constantly from the office, thus sacrificing any real chance of a home or family life. This is particularly troubling for female lawyers who are trying to juggle motherhood with work, especially if they do no not have the appropriate support at home. Despite flexible working hours becoming increasingly popular, there is still the belief that clients want their lawyers to be in the office all day, every day. However, this is not necessarily the case. There needs to be a shift in approach and an acceptance that clients are in favour of agile working. These days, with the assistance of technology, much of our work can be done remotely, by telephone, email and even video conference calls, save for those occasions where it is necessary to be client facing or in court. Having said that, “flexible hours” for Civil cases are currently being piloted at Brentford County Court (and Family cases in Manchester) which means that one could sit from as early as 8am or until as late as 7pm. If the pilot scheme is rolled out nationwide, it will be even more difficult for those with childcare commitments, whether you are male or female, bearing in mind that the likely result is longer working days once you take into account travel time, the pre hearing client conference or indeed the debrief afterwards.

2) Harassment In 2018, the International Bar Association (IBA) and market research company Acritas conducted the largest-ever global survey on bullying and sexual harassment in the profession. Nearly 40% cent of women in the UK legal profession told researchers that they had been sexually harassed at work***. There is a clear gender imbalance which still exists. Junior lawyers tend to work closely with their superiors, who are predominantly male, and are reliant on them for career progression. Often, female lawyers who have experienced some form of harassment, are reluctant to report it for fear of either losing their job or being denied a promotion.

A combination of feelings of inferiority and victimisation as a result of harassment, and the misconception that women are unworthy and incapable of making it to partnership are reasons for there being fewer female lawyers at partner level.

3) Masculine values As mentioned above, the culture of those already in the profession needs to change. According to a Law Society survey, many women are put off by the “masculine shape of the law”. Sports evenings and socials that extend late into the night tend to be less appealing to female lawyers than their male counterparts. In fact, the survey also showed that there are a number of women who admitted having progressed in their career by becoming “men-shaped women”. This way of living is only sustainable for so long, leading many women to turn their back on a career in law altogether. So, what is the way forward to encourage women to develop fulfilling careers in the legal profession? Firstly, I believe that young, female lawyers need to see women in positions of seniority who can become role models. It is important for them to see that it is possible to be a mother at the same time as having a successful career. Senior female lawyers, particularly those in existing leadership roles, should take an active role in the career development and in mentoring those more junior. Such schemes should be encouraged within law firms. Where mentoring schemes do not currently exist within your firm, then either push to create one or seek out your own private arrangement. With good mentoring, female lawyers can learn how to take more seats at the partnership table (if that is what they want). Of course, once you become a partner, you should have more flexibility as far as your working hours are concerned, allowing you to facilitate your childcare commitments. This makes the prospect of coming back to work post children, more manageable and consequently may assist with the retention of talented lawyers within the profession. Secondly, not all women may want to become partners, so it is important that firms harness their talent and develop alternative career paths, with rewarding schemes encouraging specialist expertise and supporting agile working. Finding the right fit as far as your firm is concerned is therefore key. Lastly, women should consider the option of taking their fate and careers in their own hands by setting their own legal consultancies and working outside the traditionally rigid law firm structure. That being said, the onus is on all members of the legal profession – men and women – to redress the balance and create a more inclusive and diversified environment where all talent will be able to flourish. ■

By Priya

Dhokia The BILL of MIDDLESEX 15

Source: *https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/press-releases/historic-shift-as-women-outnumber-men-practising-as-solicitors/ **https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/equality-diversity/key-findings/law-firms-2017/ https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/equality-diversity/key-findings/law-firms-2017/ *** https://www.ibanet.org/bullying-and-sexual-harassment.aspx


ARTICLE

Section 2 CJA ‘Tipping Off’ Offence A Proposal for Potential Reform Summary of Issues

Evidence

Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (CJA) gives the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) the power to compel the production of documents and the provision of information. These powers are exercisable only once the Director has ‘reasonable grounds to suspect’ that an offence of serious or complex fraud has been committed.

It is quite common for complex fraud/bribery cases to involve a large circle of people close to a conspiracy where decisions have to be made by the investigating authority about who to pursue as suspects and who to approach as witnesses. This often results in a group of individuals who could supply useful evidence because of their proximity to the main conspirators, yet on the other hand may prove to be tainted and unreliable. When making such decisions, one of the key risks is deciding whether this group of people would tip off other suspects and this therefore plays a key role in the process.

Due to the sensitive nature and reputational impact surrounding the work of the SFO, there is always a risk that a potential suspect may be ‘tipped off’ as to the existence of an SFO investigation or intelligence enquiry. This can be done by a number of people (witnesses, victims, lawyers, third persons) and, in many instances, may be done innocuously. Nevertheless, any such disclosure or ‘tipping off’ could have a heavy operational impact on the SFO. This could potentially be remedied by the introduction of a Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) style ‘tipping off’ offence in relation to section 2 of the CJA, which would make it an offence to prejudice or disclose the existence of an SFO investigation. Existing Regulatory and Prosecution Framework direct mention of ‘tipping off’ within the regulated sector under section 333A of POCA, which makes it an offence to disclose to any person that a report has been made to the NCA, the police or HMRC, or that an investigation is taking place into allegations of money laundering, if such disclosure is (as a matter of fact) likely to prejudice an investigation which is being or might be conducted (i.e. whether or not you know or suspect that the disclosure is likely to cause such prejudice).

It is also important to remember that even though UK banks are usually co-operative and maintain confidentiality surrounding SFO investigations, they have no legal obligation, at present, to do so. Thus, a section 2 ‘tipping off’ type offence could go some way to solving this problem in respect of individuals and corporations. Conclusion The seriousness and complexity of SFO investigations means that they should be viewed in a similar category to other criminal investigations where a 'tipping off' offence is already catered for within legislation. This would require a wider offence of ‘tipping off’ being potentially introduced into the CJA, which could act as a deterrent for people who are questioned during an investigation and therefore lead to future SFO investigations progressing more efficiently. ■

By Zulfiqar

Ali Meerza

However, the legislation that has a greater impact for the purposes of an SFO investigation lies within section 342 of POCA, Lawyer at the Serious Fraud Office which makes it an offence to “make a disclosure which is likely to prejudice” a confiscation/civil recovery/money laundering NB - This Article has been written by the author in a personal investigation. This seems to go much further than section 2(16) of capacity and has not been written for or on behalf of the SFO the CJA and creates an explicit ‘tipping off’ offence. The current wording within section 2(16) of the CJA legislates for an offence of falsifying, concealing, destroying or disposing of documents but does not create a specific ‘tipping off’ type offence. Therefore, the current recourse would be to prosecute an offender for a much narrower offence of perverting the course of justice. It is also important to note that there are similar offences concerning drug trafficking investigations (s.58 of the Drug Trafficking Act 1994) and terrorism investigations (s.39 of the Terrorism Act 2000).

16 The BILL of MIDDLESEX


ARTICLE

Residual Client Balances: Why you should never ignore them! It is surprisingly easy for residual client balances to appear on a practice’s matter listing if the right controls are not put in place by the accounts department.

R

esidual client balances can appear on the accounts for several reasons:

• Returned funds cheques not being cashed by clients. • Funds due back to the client not being sent. • Office monies being left in client account and not transferred over. • Miscalculations on statements of accounts such as completion statements and estate accounts causing small balances to remain. • Mis-postings on the accounts not being remedied. The above causes of residual balances show a lack of strict controls, heightening the risk to client monies. It is for this reason that the SRA will deem systematic residual client balances a qualifying breach of the SRA Accounts Rules. It is therefore crucial to review the reports provided to the COFA each month to spot any aging credit balances in client account and look to remedy them. If the above is followed, it will keep the residuals to a minimum as they are being actioned on an ongoing basis. It is also important to have strict controls placed in practice to ensure that the causes of residuals are avoided. Simple solutions are quite often the best. For example: • Taking bank details upon ID check and file opening will mean that any funds needing returning to the client can be done so without the need for the client to cash a cheque in at a local branch. • Adding key dates/review dates to the case management to ensure that staff are prompted to review and send funds. • Ensuring that the cashier runs regular costs transfer reports which are distributed to the fee-earners so that they can move office monies over regularly. • Using Excel/spreadsheet formulae or the case management system to calculate statements of account and avoid discrepancies. • Reviewing client ledgers which have erroneous balances from the monthly matter balance listing and rectifying issues upon discovery.

If a firm already has residual credit balances on client account, the key is to deal with those first, then put the process in place to handle new ones on a monthly basis. The process for handling the balances is all about communication and transparency. • Identification: Review any balance which has not moved for an abnormal amount of time. Review the ledger and identify the root cause for the monies remaining. • Action: Attempt to send the money to its intended beneficiary, whether it is the client, office account (if applicable) or a third party who is owed. • Schedule: Keep a log of attempts to send the monies out and a record of the correspondence between the firm and the beneficiary. • Charity: This should be used if all else fails. If adequate attempts have been made to return/pay funds and they have been scheduled in a log, then they can be sent to a charity. If the individual balance is under £500.00 it can be sent with a note kept in the log. If it is over £500.00 the firm must contact the SRA for approval to send. It is also best practice to have the charity indemnify the funds so that they return to the firm any monies that a client may return for. Keeping a clean matter listing is very important. The new SRA Accounts Rules state that client monies should only be used for their original, intended purpose meaning that a firm should know exactly what the monies held across client account are for. Keeping a close eye on the processes and controls within the firm will help ensure that causes of residual balances are avoided. It is always worth reviewing the controls and processes regularly because they need to be relevant and fit for purpose. ■

Alex Simons The Law Factory The BILL of MIDDLESEX 17


SOFTWARE

Fridays at Quill Nothing slows down on Fridays at Quill – or indeed in many places within the legal profession. We all know that Friday busyness is typified in the conveyancing sector when exchanges take place, dictated by most house buyers’ preference to move home at the end of the week.

A

nd in other areas of law, legal cases don’t stop, court hearings or trials aren’t cancelled, and contracts don’t change their completion date just because it’s Friday. For anyone operating in law, Friday is as hectic as any other week day. For Quill, the last day every week has an even greater focus on compliance. Of course, our Interactive legal accounts software warns users of potential breaches at any time with exclamation marks denoting missing e-chit information, confirmation notifications for tasks that cannot be later undone and other system prompts for incorrect entries. However, on Fridays, our Pinpoint outsourced legal accounting service cashiers ensure any compliance issues are highlighted, reported and resolved. When you consider the plethora of problems that fall into the non-compliance category – from data loss and delayed payment processing to incorrect allocation of client monies into the wrong account and missed deadlines, plus everything in between – and bear in mind the volume of clients we currently service – 8,000 users altogether – you could be forgiven for thinking this an impossible task. In actual fact, by having robust systems in place and applying a disciplined approach, we’re able to address our clients’ compliance obligations successfully every Friday, without fail. As already intimated, for clients using Interactive, there are all manner of easy-to-use features to support fee earners progressing matters, for cashiers to efficiently manage finances according to the stringent demands of the SRA’s legal accounts rules and HMRC’s Making Tax Digital legislation, and for compliance officers to generate compliance exception reports for rectification or reporting to the relevant regulatory body. Interactive is subject to an extensive software development roadmap with a strong focus on legal accounting enhancements. We notify clients of these new and improved tools via our monthly e-newsletters and ‘What’s new’ button located in our software’s top toolbar. In the past few months alone, we’ve upgraded functionality for associated ledgers for cases, e-chit/bank integration, MTD input and output screens, batch accounts postings, ‘keep’ options to avoid data input repetition, authorise and maintain screen additions, and multiple developments to both detail and summary accounts-specific reports. All of these software improvements are designed to simplify and strengthen your compliance procedures thereby making your Friday tasks that much more manageable. For clients using Pinpoint, we send a weekly batch of reports showing ledger balances for client and office accounts, unpaid bills and breaches. These reports act as a prompt for clients to tie up any loose ends by authorising payments and correcting breaches which are still outstanding. Our reports also streamline

18 The BILL of MIDDLESEX

the process of recording failures and preparing reports on material breaches in the right format for the SRA, CLC or Law Society of Scotland. These important checks are actioned by our Pinpoint cashiers each Friday. As our cashiers work in teams of six, headed up by a supervisor, it’s then our supervisors’ role to oversee the accurate production and prompt delivery of these reports, and act as an escalation point for any ensuing queries. We take our responsibilities very seriously because it’s all part-and-parcel of providing a regulatory-compliance-guaranteed service. Aside from these typically Friday reporting jobs, a normal day for our cashiers comprises liaising with clients, completing bank reconciliations, processing day-to-day transactions, gathering information for month end and subsequently completing month end closures as well as posting legal aid submissions and sending VAT returns at quarter end to HMRC via MTD. By acting in the cashier role on behalf of our clients, the only requirement for Pinpoint users is to log daily e-chits of inbound and outbound monies, and record fee earning activity and disbursements. We do all the rest. By lessening your workload, your Fridays are certain to be stress-free, at least from an accounting and compliance perspective anyway. Because of our unique provision of both Interactive and Pinpoint in tandem, our portfolio is superior quality in relation to other legal accounts software and cashiering service suppliers. That’s because it’s a common platform used by our cashiers and there’s a plethora of management information intelligence drawn from this one central software platform by our supervisors. And, as noted earlier, we’re also constantly researching new ways to improve our products further still. It’s these ongoing software enhancements, defined in our aforementioned roadmap, which go a long way to streamlining clients’ and Quill’s processes. Late Friday afternoon, to salute another successful week fulfilling our compliance requirements, the beer fridge is opened so everyone can have a quick drink before heading home for the weekend. This is one of the many employment perks at Quill. It’s a nice way to mingle with our colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere, celebrate a job well done with some paid-for-byQuill refreshments, and look forward to two days of rest and recuperation by starting the weekend an hour early. After a typical Friday, it’s well deserved. To discover more about Quill, please visit www.quill.co.uk, email info@quill.co.uk or call 0161 236 2910.■ By Julian Bryan Managing Director, Quill


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LEGACIES

Angus... At 16 years old, Angus the Jack Russell Terrier was the oldest resident at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe when he arrived after his owner sadly passed away. Thankfully his owner had signed up to Dog’s Trust's Canine Care Card, a free service that aims to give owners peace of mind, knowing that Dogs Trust will look after their dog if the worst should happen. He has now been rehomed to the perfect family where he will spend his golden years! Elise Watson, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe, said: "Many dog owners worry what might happen to their dog if they were to pass away first, leaving their beloved four-legged friend without an owner. However, the Canine Care Card scheme offers reassurance to dog owners, and also helps to ease the minds of friends and family during what is already a distressing time. But it means you can rest in the knowledge that your dog will be cared for after you die and just like Angus, will go on to find loving homes that are right for them.”

Canine Care Card holders receive a wallet-sized card which acts in a similar way to an organ donor card and notifies people of their wishes for their dogs, should anything happen to them. Dogs Trust works hard to match every dog with a responsible, loving home. If for any reason a dog takes a while to be rehomed, owners can rest assured that Dogs Trust never puts a healthy dog to sleep and will care for them for the rest of their lives. If you would like to request Canine Care Card forms that you can give out to your clients please call 020 7837 0006 or email ccc@dogstrust.org.uk and quote code 334279

Who’ll keep him happy when your client’s gone? We will – as long as your client has a Canine Care Card. It’s a FREE service from Dogs Trust that guarantees a bereaved dog a home for life. At Dogs Trust, we never put down a healthy dog. We’ll care for them at one of our 20 rehoming centres, located around the UK. One in every four of your clients has a canine companion. Naturally they’ll want to make provision for their faithful friend. And now you can help them at absolutely no cost. So contact us today for your FREE pack of Canine Care Card leaflets - and make a dog-lover happy.

Call

020 7837 0006

Or e-mail

today

ccc@dogstrust.org.uk

Or write to: Freepost RTJA-SRXG-AZUL, Dogs Trust, Clarissa Baldwin House, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ (no stamp required) Please quote “334279”. All information will be treated as strictly confidential. This service is currently only available for residents of the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands & the Isle of Man

www.dogstrust.org.uk Registered Charity Numbers: 227523 & SC037843

20 The BILL of MIDDLESEX


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CONVEYANCING

poweredbypie Launches Document Portal to Enable Secure Exchange of Sensitive Client Data

12 September 2019: Search and software provider poweredbypie has announced the launch of Document Portal, a new solution for solicitors to enable the secure electronic exchange of all documentation within the conveyancing process.

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y removing the need to ‘print and post’, Document Portal offers a simple, secure solution to speed-up the exchange of documentation between solicitors and clients.

providing secure 2 Factor Authentication to store and share legal documents which are accessible only to those with authorised access.”

Carole Ankers, chief product & technology officer, poweredbypie explains: “Document Portal is part of our Brighter Law suite of products. For many years, Brighter Law has allowed solicitors to streamline communication online, by managing new client interaction and providing instant quotations with the aim of increasing conversion rates.

Document Portal now enables law firms to create a document portfolio which includes intuitive, editable forms and digital signature facility provided by the leading eSignature brand DocuSign. Not only does this provide a secure, streamlined environment for client data, it also highlights to the client exactly what information needs to be filled-in, first time, every time. “

“Following many months of research and development we have taken the time to understand the needs of solicitors and the challenges they face in the conveyancing process,” continues Ankers. “The result of this insight is Document Portal, which allows client documents to be stored, accessed and shared safely online, negating the need for physical copies. It is both simple to use and set-up and takes care of the technology needed to supply a secure 2 Factor Authentication for electronic document exchange, removing the delays associated with paper-based legal forms and mitigating the risks posed by email communications.

On 4 September 2019 the Law Commission set out a statement to end uncertainty and increase confidence in the use of electronic signatures https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/electronicexecution-of-documents/. Commercial and Common Law Commissioner, Stephen Lewis said: “Our report aims to provide an accessible statement of the law which makes it clear that an electronic signature can generally be used in place of a handwritten signature as long as the usual rules on signatures are met.” Carole Ankers continues, “As a technical solutions provider and partner to law firms up and down the country, it’s our job to look at the issues that affect our clients and come up with solutions. We are very excited to launch our secure portal that enables solicitors to exchange sensitive documentation giving the law firm a real point of difference while inspiring confidence and trust.”

“As Cybersecurity continues to be one of the most serious threats facing the legal community, it is essential for firms to take a secure approach to the protection of sensitive client data. According to the SRA Risk Outlook 2018/19, in the first quarter of 2018 over 70% of all cybersecurity reports were directly For further information attributed to email modification fraud, a www.poweredbypie.co.uk sophisticated method of interception designed to capture client bank details and personal information. Document Portal removes this risk,

please

see:

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 23


Premium Residential <0.25Ha

Environmental | Flood | Ground Stability | Energy & Infrastructure

 Report Details

 Subject Site

Address:

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Grid Reference: E: 123456 | N: 123456

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Report Reference:

R Repo rt ID:

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No further recommendations

PASS

2.FLOOD

PASS

3.GROUND STABILITY

PASS

4.ENERGY & INFRASTRUCTUR TURE

PASS

No further recommendations

No further recommendations

Consideration(s):

4.20 Power Stations

uted Areas Air Quality Index: Some Pollut (See 1.25)

This page should always be read in conjunction with the full report. The Professional Opinion indicates the potential risks and any other potential issues associated d with the property. The results should be disclosed to client and/or lender and/or insurer as appropriate.  A ‘Pass’ is g given if no p potential p property p y speci p ific risk has been identified.  A ‘Pass with Considerations’ is given where there are potential hazards in the locality to bear in mind, d, or if there are features nearby which some clients might consider could affect them.  A ‘Further Action’ is given if there is a potential property specific risk and a further action is advised.

In the event of a request to review the Professio ional Opinion based on additional information, or if there are e any technical queries, the professional advisor who ordered the report should contact us at info@futureclimateinfo.co om, or call us on 01732 755 180.

Regulated by RICS If you rre equire assistance, please contact your Search Provider or alternatively contact FCI directly with your Report ID. Tel: 01732 755 180 | Email: info@futureclimateinfo einfo.com | Web: www.futureclimateinfo.com

AFFILIATE MEMBER


CONVEYANCING

Building Damage, Fire and Land Contamination: Our Capital’s Painful Legacy London’s soil bears a poisonous legacy from a combination of blitz bombing and pockets of damage from fire affected buildings and derelict sites. Chris Taylor, Commercial Director at Future Climate Info believes these are important considerations for commercial property lawyers undertaking environmental due diligence on redevelopment land.

R

esearchers from the British Geological Survey (BGS) have found concentrations of high levels of calcium, lead and zinc in some parts of London. These have been caused by the distribution of building dust and debris following the large-scale destruction of historic housing stock. These elements were widely used in paints, piping and mortar during the construction boom of the 19th century. The presence of large quantities of calcium, the main ingredient of lime, in central London soil had been previously observed but its cause not directly attributed to conflict or demolition before. Traditional mortar contains a lot of lime, so it follows that if a building is demolished, such as from World War 2 bomb damage, then the spike in toxic chemicals could be linked to this.

Heavy metal hotspots from bombing The BGS team compared data on soil pollution with a map of the 31,373 sites bombed by the Luftwaffe, Nazi Germany’s air force, between October 1940 and June 1941. During this period, more than 1 million properties were destroyed or strategically damaged. Areas bombarded in the 1940s had levels of calcium, lead and zinc that were up to 1.75 times higher than in areas built-up after the war or those that escaped the bombing. Their paper identifies that elevated lead in the pre-1940 urban areas may be partly derived from leaded paint and lead pipes. Heavy metal pollution is dangerous to human health, especially children who might ingest lead or zinc while playing on polluted land. Vegetables grown on such soil, for example in urban gardens, can also have enriched levels of toxic metals. There are a number of resources that illustrate the distribution of bomb sites in London that help inform where potential hotspots for this contamination could be. Websites like Bombsight show heavy concentrations in expected places like the East End and docklands, but also some surprising suburban locations like Bromley to the south East and parts of Chiswick, Sheen and Hayes out to the west.

Building Fires and Foams Buildings partially or completely destroyed whether through arson or by accident present a major toxicity hazard today. As the Guardian reported earlier this year, after the tragic events at the Grenfell Tower, consultants AECOM found that within a 140 metre radius elevated levels of hydrocarbons and phosphorus up to 160 times that of the wider vicinity. Polychlorinated dibenzodioxin (PCDDs) were 70 times higher, while benzene levels were between 25 and 40 times that of the reference soil. These toxins can be derived from wiring, plastic pipes and building materials. On some early post-war builds, material that bonded asbestos sheets or insulation can also burn, releasing toxins and allowing fibres to become friable.

In an urban fire, contaminants all risk mobilising carcinogens into the water supply following rain. Hard surfaces will accelerate transfer into storm drains or reach groundwater courses dependent on the degree of soil infiltration. Ironically, fire-fighting foam has been one of the biggest toxicity contributors in the recent past. The foam used to contain Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (or PFOS) which has been shown to be a persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic pollutant that can attack the immune system. It was banned in the EU in May 2009 and subsequently elsewhere in the world shortly after. PFOS foams had widespread use in the UK until the ban. The Buncefield oil depot fire of December 2005 was the largest "singleseat" fire in the world ever to be fought by a fire brigade, and foam supplies from sites all over the UK were drawn upon. At its peak, 32,000 litres per minute of foam was directed against the fire. The following May, Three Valleys Water detected PFOS in a ground water borehole close to the oil depot site. While no water from this well entered the public water supply, it proved how highly water soluble they are. They are prone to leaching into groundwater and can travel large distances. Studies have shown them to be present in groundwater for anywhere from 5 to 15 years following the end of firefighting activities. Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFOSs are incredibly persistent and immune to degradation, regardless of environmental conditions. Natural breakdown over time is virtually nonexistent.

Forensic Site Review Needed The dangers of unexploded bombs in redevelopment construction are obvious, but the legacy beyond them can remain locked in the soil. Derelict sites can be frequent targets for arson and add new toxins from the remaining buildings’ destruction. Commercial property lawyers need to understand not only the past site usage but also whether there had been any prior fire damage that may have remaining toxins transmitting off site. Our Commercial Environmental Risk Report provides clear, forensic insight on the site history and its proximity to potentially contaminated land. Follow-on solutions for complex cases, such as fixed fee further reviews , insurance and remediation solutions can also be tailored based on the site’s unique situation. Chris Taylor is Commercial Director at Future Climate Info. He is also a Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) able to advise commercial property lawyers on a wide range of re-development schemes on brownfield land. For more information, visit www.futureclimateinfo.com, call 01732 750180 email info@futureclimateinfo.com. ■ The BILL of MIDDLESEX 25


CONVEYANCING

GCS Title Insurance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Comprehensively Simple

Guaranteed Conveyancing Solutions (GCS) is recognised as a market leading provider of legal indemnity insurance (otherwise known as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;title insuranceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;), for both â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Residentialâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Commercialâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; properties.

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ll our policies are comprehensively worded and the process of obtaining cover is fast and simple. There are 3 options when it comes to issuing legal indemnity insurance with GCS: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Onlineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Packâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; or â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Bespokeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. 1) â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;GCS Onlineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; provides users with 24/7 access to their account where they can obtain quotes in seconds and issue policies in minutes. All documentations are sent out electronically and immediately. 2) GCS Insurance â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Packâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is just as easy to use as our Online system. The main difference is that documentation is not sent out electronically but instead, policies are in paper format and contained in logical order within the Pack itself. 3) Our â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Bespokeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; service is available if you are unable to issue directly from our â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Onlineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; or â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Packâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; because the risk does not meet the relevant criteria or if the policy cover your client requires is not listed Online or in the Pack. Simply contact us for a quote â&#x20AC;&#x201C; an experienced and friendly underwriter is always there to help. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t worry â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the choice is yours! We understand that not all conveyancing professionals work the same way and that some prefer certain methods of obtaining legal indemnity cover for their clients over other methods.

At GCS, we have over 20,000 conveyancers that rely on our policies with every individual having the option to choose Online, Pack, Bespoke or ALL three methods in combination. All services are FREE to use and non-obligatory â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Online registration takes minutes and we post the insurance Pack first class the day itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s requested. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just take our word for it â&#x20AC;&#x201C; hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what our customers have to say: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I (personally) think GCS are brilliant. The self-issue packs are fabulous.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The online service is simple, cost comparable to other insurers and very user friendly.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pack and bespoke arrangements always come back quickly and will provide reply within hours to enable matters to be dealt with efficientlyâ&#x20AC;? Like what you hear? Join the thousands who come to us for their clientsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; legal indemnity needs and find out why weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trusted by over 20,000 conveyancing professionals. Register for â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;GCS Onlineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; account today by visiting www.gcsonline.gcs-title.co.uk. Request a GCS insurance â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Packâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; today by visiting www.gcs-title.co.uk/orderpack. For a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Bespokeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; quote, send an email to underwriters@gcs-title.co.uk. â&#x2013;

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a

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CONVEYANCING

Does Fracking Pose a Risk to Your Commercial Property Interests? Hydraulic fracturing (also known as ‘fracking’) is nothing new in the UK; indeed, it has been used actively in North Sea oil and gas wells since the 1970s. The more recent phenomenon and one that has garnered a great deal of negative press and controversy is the extraction of shale gas using fracking techniques, which could adversely impact surrounding land and properties.

F

racking is a method used by oil and gas extraction companies whereby a borehole is drilled into rock deep beneath the ground and then injected with a high-pressure liquid (water mixed with chemicals and sand) to cause small fractures through which oil or gas can escape. How widespread is fracking in the UK? Onshore shale rock fracking in the UK is still in its infancy, especially when compared to the activity underway in the United States. At present, there is only one active high-volume hydraulic fracturing operation located at Preston New Road in Lancashire. The site, run by oil and gas company, Cuadrilla, was opened in 2016 and has, despite several setbacks including minor earthquakes assumed to be caused by the fracking process, been successful in recovering shale gas. The current programme of appraisal extraction by Cuadrilla from a wellknown as ‘PNR2’, has government permission (in the form of a hydraulic fracture plan) to continue to November 2019. In addition to the site in Preston, a small number of grants for fracking exploration have been issued in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and West Sussex. Despite fracking activity to date, recent research by the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey on new ways to estimate the amount of gas and oil contained within shale, suggests that UK shale reserves may be smaller than expected. Instead of 50 years of gas, surveys show there may be more like five to seven years at the current rate of consumption. Whether this insight will limit the extent of ongoing fracking activity in the UK remains to be seen. What are the risks of fracking? There are recognised potential environmental and economic concerns raised in relation to fracking which may have connotations for local communities, landowners, and developers. From an environmental standpoint, specific concerns include possible seismic activity, pollution of groundwater reserves, reduced air quality, and increased noise and traffic due to fracking operations. Earth tremors Earth tremors near the Cuadrilla site in Preston New Road, of which there have been over 120 in 2019 alone, have featured heavily in the media, with the largest measuring 2.9 ML (on the Richter scale) on 26 August 2019. This was not an insubstantial tremor given the government’s current limit on seismic activity is set at 0.5ML (at which point fracking must be stopped for 18 hours). Furthermore, this threshold may be raised in the future).

Groundwater pollution While geologists and exploration companies endeavour to mitigate the contamination of groundwater supplies with fracking water, a risk remains. Holes drilled closely to underground aquifers (water-bearing rocks) which are ruptured and left unsealed can lead to contamination of groundwater. It is also possible fracking water may rise, causing surface water contamination. According to Dr Rob Ward at the British Geological Society, the risk to ground and surface water is well known; hence, there are strict regulations and control measures in the UK to prevent this occurrence. Radiation in fracking flow-back water The high-pressure fluid used in fracking dissolves organic matter within rock, leading to the resurfacing of flow-back water. This dissolved flowback water contains naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), including potassium (K) and radium (Ra). Because of these risks, water must be monitored for radiation and harmful substances to reduce any impact on human and environmental health (although according to research by Durham University, the risk to humans is minute). Protecting your commercial interests Areas such as the Bowland Basin in the North of England (mainly Lancashire and Yorkshire) and Wales, are believed to hold vast reserves of shale oil and gas and are therefore ripe for further fracking projects. Understandably commercial developers, landowners, and tenants in the vicinity of potential fracking sites may be concerned about the impact on their investment and employee health. While we are yet to see to what extent fracking gains a hold in the UK, and the real impacts of this form of energy extraction on nearby commercial land or property, it remains vital to undertake proper fracking-related due diligence. To this end, searches can be carried out on existing ground risks (i.e. mining, radon and fracking), in addition to the precariousness associated with existing or proposed energy extraction, large-scale infrastructure, and contaminated land. Ultimately, while the risks are likely low, it is best to thoroughly research any planned or current fracking-related activity which may have an impact on your commercial property venture. At Thames Water Property Searches we call ourselves “the property search experts” for good reason. We are not only a search supplier, but we also are a search producer of the CON29DW and a partner of NLIS. Working closely with leading suppliers we ensure that we not only sell the searches but fully understand the detail within them. Visit https://www.thameswater-propertysearches.co.uk/BOM to find out more. ■

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 27


If you’re using any Drainage and Water report other than the CON29DW…

Goo od lucck The CON29DW is the only drainaage and water report that gives your clients all the information they need. No inferring, no ig gnoring, no insuring. When it’s your reputation on the line, do you really want to leave it to luck? It’s your call…

Call 0800 085 8050 Email customer.services@geodesys.com www.geodesys.com/con29dw-goodluck


CONVEYANCING

How digitisation is changing the future of home-buying Data in the 21st century has been described as the oil of the 18th century – an incredibly valuable resource with potential for immense rewards for those who learn how to extract and use it.

L

iving in a connected, digital economy means that we are increasingly reliant on data in order to function and evolve, so businesses and consumers alike have a part to play in shaping the role of digital information in our society.

conditions taking weeks if not months to be returned. It has therefore been prioritised for digitisation with a pilot scheme being launched across five Local Authorities as a first wave in 2018. The plan is that this will be rolled out across all Local Authorities in time.

The commercial value of data has already been recognised by the automotive industry, where mobile phone signals and GPS positioning have been used to reveal important information about driver behaviours. Monitoring of parking locations, destinations, mileage and speed, even the frequency of sudden braking feeds huge back-end systems that collate that data and package it to be resold.

The digital Local Land Charges Registry scheme aims to provide 24/7 access to data, which is free to view or access for reference. As with the automotive industry, there is scope for monetisation, such as the £15 fee already in place for official copies that can be saved, printed, and rerun for six months, a service that is particularly useful when checking whether any information has changed following a delayed or drawn-out transaction.

While that data can ostensibly help by keeping costs down for careful drivers, it remains to be seen whether it’s good news for all from a financial perspective. Where it should benefit everyone is in speeding up the insurance claims process for those involved in a road incident. Similarly, house-buying is ripe with data and there is always appetite to streamline the process. Current estimates indicate that half of all UK house sales fall through before completion , so there is a clear need to improve the home-buying process and make the data that we have work for rather than against us.

The scheme has been universally acclaimed by those that are already participating and is due to roll out across a further 18 Local Authorities over the next 18 months. It’s hoped that all 326 Local Authorities within England will be offering digital LLC within 5 - 7 years. The Land Registry’s initiative is a great showcase for the power of data and how it can be used to streamline processes, so how can we expand this across other areas of the market?

Could we imagine a future when holders of flood data, contaminated land data, or drainage and water information make these Information collected along the way details accessible through an online portal, includes personal data about buyers and attributed to every registered address and sellers as well as surveyor reports, summarised instantly for potential buyers significant property improvements and environmental data. While these records are (and their legal representatives) at the touch of a button and for a set fee? useful, managing the sheer volume of repetitive data associated with the houseIn other words, each property would come buying process is often cited as a major complete with its own set of data at the point cause of delay in transactions going of being offered for sale. Sound familiar? It’s through and even leading to ultimate failure. not entirely different to the abandoned Home Stakeholders from all quarters are keen to improve the process, and HM Land Registry is leading the charge with a wholesale review launched in 2017 to make home-buying simpler, faster and cheaper.

Information Packs of the mid-noughties, in fact. With the advances in digital technology and data management since then, perhaps it’s time to revisit the concept. ■

Local Authority data is often considered as one of the most troublesome areas, with searches into planning permissions, conservation areas, TPOs, smoke control zone conditions or light obstruction notice

By

Jonny Davey

Product Manager at Geodesys

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 29


PROPERTY INSURANCE

Unoccupied Property Insurance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Prepare Your

Home for When the Weather Turns

At this time of year, we like to remind our clients that the colder months are approaching, and so they should be making preparations for their unoccupied property. This is in their best interests, as it will be going without the keen eye of a resident to pick up on anything out of place.

M

aintenance issues can arise, especially if the building is left vacant for a long period, without inspections taking place. There are no inspection requirements with Unoccupied Direct, so this is perfectly fine with us, but visiting after a drastic change in weather, such as heavy rain or snow, can be worthwhile for peace of mind. Our product has been developed with the client in mind, so many common requirements have been stripped back to a minimum. Reducing such tasks allows them to focus on more important matters with the knowledge that the property is financially protected. Certain clauses do exist within our policy to ensure that our clients have done all they can to prevent the cold weather from causing avoidable damage to the property. For example, during the period 1st November to 31st March each year, you must comply with one of the following: - If the entire main structure at the premises has the benefit of gas or oil fired central heating then this must be set to operate continuously (not timed) for 24 hours each day at no less then 12°C or 54°F

or - All water supplies in the main structure at the premises are to be turned off at the mains stopcock and the water system drained of all water Failing to do so could affect a claim if it leads to the pipes freezing and potentially bursting. Our insurance would no longer provide cover for loss or damage due to escape of water if you fail to comply. However, if the terms of cover are met and a valid claim arises, remember that at Unoccupied Direct we have no excess for any type of claim. We have put together a handy guide, which is free for all of our clients. It details information and tips for looking after an unoccupied home. Feel free to get in touch if you would like us to send some to your office - contact our team by calling 0800 015 2211 or email: enquiries@unoccupieddirect.co.uk. All of our policy documents and more information regarding our product and services are available to view online at www.unoccupieddirect.co.uk. â&#x2013;

Unoccupied Property Insurance

Protection for homes em mpty due to proba ate or the owner go oing into care Visit

:HGRQRWUHTXLUHSROLF\KROGHUV to inspect the prope erty whilst on FRYHUZLWKXVHYHQGXULQJWKH colder months.

www.unoccu upieddirect.co.uk

Unoccupied Direct is a trading name of Unoccupied Direct Limited. Unoccupied Direct Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm 5HIHUHQFH1XPEHU5HJLVWHUHG2IĂ&#x20AC;FH7KH:DOEURRN%XLOGLQJ:DOEURRN/RQGRQ(&1$: :5HJLVWHUHGLQ(QJODQG :DOHV&RPSDQ\1XPEHU Unoccupied Direct Limited is part of the Gallagher group of companies.

30 The BILL of MIDDLESEX

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**Email a picture of your completed crosssword to competition@legal-contingency ency.co.uk before 5.30pm 30th November 2019 to be entered into a prize draw for a £100 0 M&S Gift Card in December - onee entry allowed per person. Competition terms and conditions can be found on our website: dxd.conveyancinginsurance.co.uk/ccicrossword

Ci Self-Issue Insurancee provides cover for a broad range of risks at competitiv c e premiums. Our residentiaal and commercial policies cover property owners andd fulfil lender requirements.. Both are conveniently available online or as a self-issue pack to help you com mplete property transactions on time. You can view oour policies on our websitee at any time, or alternativelyy call or email us: Website: www.con c veyancinginsurance.co.ukk Email: enquiries@conveyanccinginsurance.co.uk Phone: +44 + (0)20 7397 4363

Legal & Contingency Limited is aauthorised and regulated by the Financial cial Conduct Authority, Reference No. 3123 3 76 Registered Office: 60 Fenchurch Streeet, London, United Kingdom, EC3M 4AD 4 - Registered in England & W Wales, ales, No N . 3511606


Bringing together all your commercial requirements

Conveyancing can be complex and even more so when looking at commercial transactions. Thames Water Property Searches endeavour to make this process as seamless as possible, whether it’s: • Acquisitions • Commercial leases, or • Development We aim to keep you informed along the way, assisting you in solving the problems as they may appearr..

www.thameswater-propertysearches.co.uk/BOM


AUCTIONS

Investments of passion In the past two years, a string of blockbuster auctions has pushed the price of the most valuable jewels to new highs. But the volatile, and often opaque, nature of the jewellery market means that while gems can be a good source of value, as with wine, watches and handbags, careful selection for investment can be rewarding.

O

ver the previous decade, performance of jewellery assets outstripped that of New York real estate, gold and US equities, according to Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index. The most obvious jewellery item to invest in would be diamonds and other gemstones as they can hold large value in a relatively small package. However, the market is changing rapidly, with consumers increasingly keen on buying rare, colourful “fancy” diamonds rather than traditional white stones. Fancy diamonds come in every colour including the rarest and most sought after: red, green, pink and blue. Exceptional coloured diamonds have seen an especially pronounced growth trend in the last five to eight years. Outside of diamonds, coloured gemstones are experiencing a boom in popularity. The finest examples of rubies, emeralds and sapphires have enjoyed strong price rises over the past decade. At auction we’ve seen a 970% price increase for Kashmir sapphires in the 10 years to July 2018 and a 1,100% rise for certain examples of Burmese rubies. We offered a fine example of an untreated Burmese ruby in our September sale, which sold for 18 times its low estimate. Over the same timeframe, auction houses have seen a 1,900% price

increase for the most valuable Colombian emeralds. Such stones have also experienced record-breaking auction sales recently. Fine quality gemstones can be more valuable than diamonds of the same size. Small and fine is always preferable to large and opaque. You might have a 50-carat emerald, but if it’s full of inclusions, what you want is a 10-carat gem — worth $50,000 a carat — rather than a 50-carat stone that’s worth $10,000 a carat. Only invest in ones that are accompanied by certificates from trusted laboratories, confirming that they have not been heated, or in the case of emeralds, received only very little treatment. There’s one key ingredient to investing in any of these luxury goods Passion. Investing in any of these items can be financially rewarding but remember that an uplift in the item’s value can take time. As, of course, can the research needed to select the right items at the right prices. So you need to be passionate about your investments and love the luxury goods you buy. And with our knowledge and expertise at Chiswick Auctions you could be on to a winner. ■ By Charlotte Peel Jewellery specialist at Chiswick Auctions

Probate, Insurance & Estate Valuation Service Providing a professional and discreet service to executors, trust companies, legal representatives and private individuals ˆ • • • •

8EMPSVIHWIVZMGIXSQIIX]SYVWTIGM½GRIIHW All valuations are handled by a Director or Senior Valuer A competitive and clear fee structure Complete house clearance if required All-encompassing service with a breadth of expertise including antiques, paintings, jewellery, decorative arts, luxury accessories and more

Enquiries probate@chiswickauctions.co.uk Visit chiswickauctions.co.uk +44 (0)20 8992 4442 1 Colville Road, London W3 8BL

The BILL of MIDDLESEX 33


BOOK REVIEW

Twenty Fourth & Twenty Fifth chapters in the series of extracts from the...

The Rise and Fall of Legal Aid By Alured Darlington “I truly hope this book is published - there was a time when everybody was entitled to be represented and put forward their defence, innocent until proved guilty. Without legal aid to give clients the representation everyone deserves, what will become of our society? I honestly dread to think. This book will be a reminder of the ‘good old days’ and an insight to young ones into the legal aid system as it was and how it should remain” Foreward by Jean Brathwaite, Legal Secretary

Chapter Twenty Four

R v Boakye and R v Fascina

S

Such a recent case was R v Fascina 2012 EWCA Crim 2473 which unsuccessfully challenged the decision in R v Boakye 2012 EWCA as being fundamentally unjust. I was instructing solicitor in Boakye a consolidated appeal of six appeals which challenged the assumption that the new Sentencing Drug Guideline could not apply to those sentenced before the new guideline came into effect on 27 February 2012 but was dismissed. It is submitted that Boakye was unjust because it was not necessary for the Court of Appeal to draw a line as on the day of the new guideline which it did. It was perfectly open to the Court to make the sentencing guideline retrospective for any drug courier who was still in custody. The Court need not have considered itself bound by the precedent of Graham which could with imagination easily have been distinguished. Those who were still in custody, but could have been due for release if they had been sentenced under the new guidelines, were clearly a special case and the Court of Appeal should not have allowed itself to be enslaved by precedent. Sometime after the decision in Boakye I was asked to represent the defendant in R Fascina 2012 EWCA Crim 2473, who I had not represented earlier. She had pleaded guilty to the importation of

cocaine in Uxbridge Magistrates court on the 11 November 2011, the earliest day she could do so, and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment on 12 January 2012. Had she delayed her plea she would have been sentenced under the new guideline. But under the decision in Boakye she would not qualify to be sentenced under the new guidelines. It would appear that she had a limited role within the meaning of the new guideline and therefore if she had been sentenced under it she could have expected a sentence in the region of four years. It was accepted that the Court was bound by Boakye but it was also submitted it was open to the Court to convene a Court of five judges to depart from the decision of a court of three judges. In R v Newsom and R v Brown Lord Chief Justice Widgery said that in matters relating to the principles governing the exercising of the sentencing discretion a court of five judges should have liberty to depart from a decision of three in certain defined circumstances which applied in Ms Fascina’s case. Moreover in criminal matters it should do so. This was the solution adopted by Lord Denning in D v J (Chapter seven) when the earlier decisions were clearly wrong. The Court of Appeal in Fascina was invited to take that course.

Chapter Twenty Five

Early Compassionate release

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uch hardship could be mitigated if the Ministry of Justice was more prepared to permit early compassionate release in appropriate cases pursuant to section 248 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. In R v K, unreported, the applicant had three children, again in Ghana, with no one willing or able to take financial responsibility for them, homeless and begging on the street. The two youngest were found to be suffering from malaria, a killer disease in Ghana, and the eldest from severe boils all over her body attributed to malnutrition. A doctor gave a risk assessment and stated that ‘all three children were at risk to severe damage to their health or death.’ Ms K had been supporting all three children, together with her grandmother who had suffered from a stroke, before her arrest. Ms K had been sentenced in 2011 so again, because of the decision in Boakye, she could not rely on the sole or primary care provision for

dependants in the new guideline. However she did seek leave to appeal her sentence out of time and also made a formal application to her prison governor for early compassionate release pursuant to section 248 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The Court of Appeal dismissed her application for leave to appeal but did direct that the prison should consider her application for early compassionate release. The grandmother died in the interim period. Despite the intervention of the Court of Appeal it took seven weeks, and a judicial review application, before the prison responded to Ms K’s application. When it did so it supported the application for early compassionate release but the Ministry of Justice opposed it and the children were only rehoused because of the charitable intervention of a church in the UK.

...other pages will be published in the forthcoming Bill of Middlesex or if you can’t wait, go online: http://issuu.com/benham/docs/the-rise-and-fall-of-legal-aid

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Bill of Middlesex Autumn 2019  

The Bill of Middlesex, Legal Business Magazine with the Latest Legal Business News, for the Middlesex Law Society News and Updates, Local Pa...

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The Bill of Middlesex, Legal Business Magazine with the Latest Legal Business News, for the Middlesex Law Society News and Updates, Local Pa...

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