THE CITY OF WESTMINSTER AND HOLBORN LAW SOCIETY
Visit to Milan (see page 16)
Inside this issue:
■ International ■ Property ■ Conveyancing ■ Local News
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Introduction 4 5-8
Westminster & Holborn Events Westminster & Holborn Events
Sub-Committees 9 10-11 12
ADVERTISING AND FEATURES EDITOR Anna Woodhams
Profile:Julian Aylmer Profile: Arthur Weir Report of the Professional Matters Sub-Committee Law Reform Sub-Committee: Response to Re-invigorating Commonhold - the alternative to leasehold ownership
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ACCOUNTS DIRECTOR Joanne Casey
International Conferences 14
MEDIA No. 1640
London Legal Walk Gamlen Prize General Congress of the FBE in Barcelona Warsaw (Modern Bar Association Conference II)
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15 16 17
Update on Commercial Property for 2019 Committee Members’ Visit to Milan The Travels of Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon)
Members’ Forum 18
The Law Society is a sleeping beauty
Junior Lawyers Division
Imposter syndrome Junior Lawyers Division annual conference
DISCLAIMER 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 members and should not be relied upon as an accurate statement of the law, are of a general nature and do not constitute advice in any particular case or circumstance.
Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified Legal Advice.
Unoccupied Property Insurance – We include all of the Covers Required, as Standard
All change (again!) for the SRA Accounts Rules
COVER INFORMATION Duomo di Milano, the Cathedral is the cathedral church of Milan, Lombardy, Italy.
Networking should be made easy and effortless - Law Whiz - The Lawyers’ Tool! Developments in Digital Conveyancing
Time to Embrace Transparency and go further?
Office Equipment 27
The M-Press Difference
The Art of Fire Investigation
Conveyancing 31 32 33
Copy Deadlines Autumn Winter Spring
13th July 2019 16th October 2019 29th January 2020
Members wishing to submit material please send to
It’s not you... it’s me too.
Wills and Probate 35 36
When is an asset search needed? A call to all Will Writers
Professional Deputies Forum 37
firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Ivan Ho Editorial Board: Coral Hill, Rowan Cope & Suzanna Eames
Flood searches more important than ever due to climate change “Save Time with GCS Online” How Millennials are reshaping the conveyancing sector
Professional Deputies come together to create a representative body, launching The Professional Deputies Forum
Book Review 38
EUROPEAN ENERGY LAW REPORT VOLUME XII
Anyone else wishing to advertise or submit editorial for publication in Central London please contact Anna Woodhams before copy deadline.
Westminister & Holborn Law Society is focussing on improving its presence on Social Media Please follow us on Twitter @CWHLawSociety
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And LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12087037
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 3
It is a delight to see our magazine packed with the activities of our members and committees – so much so that it is hard to know where to start when summarising all of our work over the past three months!
iven current events, we have continued to increase our international focus during the beginning of this year. A summary of our annual Brexit lecture from David Greene can be found on page 7, and details of the European Bars Federation bi-annual congress in Barcelona in late May as well as an invite from a Warsaw Bar Association to a conference in June are on page 14. I am really excited that our Sub-Committee numbers are growing so quickly and it was an honour to officially launch our Pro Bono & Corporate Responsibility Sub-Committee in early April (see page 8). As you would expect, our re-launched Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has also been particularly active – their quarterly column is on page 19. The Vice Chair of our JLD, Suzanna Eames, also represented the Society at the annual national junior lawyers conference in early April and her report is also on page 19. There is no end to the number of consultations and legal developments that affect the Society’s members and we continue to take the lead in responding to these. In March our Law Reform SubCommittee submitted a response to the Law Commission’s consultation on reinvigorating commonhold which is summarized by Adam Maberly. In addition, the work of the Professional Matters Sub-Committee is detailed by Julian Aylmer. These can be found on our sub-committees page along with profiles of the chairs of these two committees. There remains room on most of our SubCommittees for new members, so please do get in touch for more information about these. In particular, there are a number of vacancies on our Conveyancing & Land Law, Litigation and Membership Sub-Committees. The next quarter for the Society is set to be as eventful (if not more so!) than the first – please do review our list of seminars, events and networking opportunities on page 6 or
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look at the full schedule on our website (www.cwhls.org.uk). All our activities are publicised through our social media pages and I would encourage you to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up to date with everything that we are doing. I must extend enormous thanks on behalf of the Society to Coral Hill, Ivan Ho, Rowan Cope and Suzanna Eames who form our Editorial Committee and ensure that this quarterly magazine is full of news and materials of interest to our whole membership. I am also very grateful to all of the speakers at our events, the firms and organisations that host our activities, the members of our Main Committee and Sub-Committees who work tirelessly for the Society and our sponsors, in particular Legal Network London and Lloyds Bank. As always, please do get in touch if you have any comments or suggestions and I look forward to seeing you at one of our next events. ■
Laura Uberoi President
Westminster & Holborn Events
EPE Reynell Providing notice advertising services for over 200 years
Contributions to the magazine Following its rebrand, Central London Lawyer is hoping to increase the number of submissions it receives from its membership. We would like to encourage any member who wishes to submit material for the magazine to contact Ivan Ho and the editorial board by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact us as early as possible to discuss ideas.
e welcome articles which focus on either a specific area of law or a more general issue facing the legal profession. We aim to have a range of authors, regardless of their age or experience. If you are unsure about the content of your talk, or you would like to write but don’t have an idea for a topic, please do get in touch with Ivan Ho/Coral Hill. We would be happy to discuss various ideas with you and are always looking to encourage more people to get involved, at any level! ■
In 1812 George Reynell, previously an officer at The London Gazette, established an advertising agency in Chancery Lane. George had realised that lawyers were increasingly seeking his advice and support to arrange for legal notices to be published in the Gazette and newspapers. Reynell & Son remained a family business for six generations. Reynell is now part of EPE Administration, a global fund administration firm and part of EPIC Private Equity (EPE), a London-based investment and financial services group. EPE Reynell continue to be at the forefront of their field. Their comprehensive services are built on deep insight into all the latest changes in legislation. In recent years, Reynell has handled large scale legal notice advertising campaigns on behalf of law and accountancy firms based in the UK and overseas as well as routine notice advertising such as insolvency and trustee notices in the London Gazette and local, national and international press. Procedures requiring publication of legal notices include: • Administration of Estates - Trustee Act notices • Premises Licence Applications • Insolvencies (including Winding-Up petitions) • Insurance/Banking Business Transfers (Part VII FSMA) • Schemes of Arrangement • Share Capital Reductions / Purchases You can count on Reynell to have a solution to your legal notice advertising needs – whatever and wherever you need to advertise it is likely that they will have dealt with similar requirements before. Notices are set to the specifications of each publication, keeping the size and hence cost of each notice to a minimum. If advertising overseas is required translation of the notice into the requisite language can be arranged. In the Gazettes (London, Edinburgh or Belfast) notices are published on the following working day. If it is urgent, same day publication is possible at no extra cost. Following publication, EPE Reynell supply their customers with Certificates of Insertion and copies of the pages where each notice has been published.
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Westminster & Holborn Events
Booking is essential for all events due to restrictions of space
Thursday 27 June
Newly Qualified Solicitor Award
The Law Society –
The Society will shortly be issuing the details of how to enter for the newly qualified solicitor’s award and the criteria. This will be presented on 19 September at the House of Commons. Please keep an eye on our social media and the messages from the President to alert you.
meet your council members
Thursday 23 May
SQE Update Breakfast Seminar
An opportunity to hear about the work of The Law Society from staff, network with members of other local law societies and ask questions of your local council members for Holborn (Jonathan Wright and Fraser Whitehead) and Westminster (Beth Forrester, Jeffrey Forrest and Edward Macey-Dare). We will start with a Q&A with council members at 5.30pm, followed by a series of speakers from The Law Society, including Simon Davis (Vice President) on the plans for his presidential year and members of the policy, international, public affairs and campaigns teams on the latest updates from their work. A reception with refreshments and an opportunity to meet members of other local London law societies and staff from The Law Society will follow at 7pm. Further details to follow.
The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is a new system of exams that will be introduced in 2021, replacing the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course. All solicitors will have to pass the SQE in order to qualify. This breakfast seminar will cover the latest updates in the roll out of the SQE following further developments from the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Standards Board. Jill Howell-Williams, Dean of the Thursday 19 September University of Law London Moorgate Campus and Ben Campbell, Newly Qualifieds’ Celebration: Business Development Account Manager will lead the discussions. The session is kindly hosted by Macfarlanes, starts at 8.15am and will be House of Commons Reception a great opportunity for firms and law schools to discuss how the changes We are delighted that Keir Starmer MP will kindly host our annual are being implemented. Newly Qualifieds’ Celebration in the House of Commons and where we will present our inaugural Newly Qualified Award. You can reserve your space here: https://tinyurl.com/whlssqe2019 It will also be an opportunity to meet our visiting delegation from the Thursday 23 May Barcelona Bar and to hear from our keynote speaker Pat Treacy, Deputy JLD Speed Networking High Court Judge and Senior Partner at Bristows. Our Junior Lawyers Division are hosting a speed networking event, with This event is kindly supported by Lloyds Bank, NQ Solicitors and refreshments, for all members and guests who are law students, trainees Chadwick Nott. As last year, there will be some free tickets for newly or pupils, paralegals and solicitors and barristers up to five years’ qualified solicitors and tickets will available for all others on Eventbrite. PQE/call. Thursday and Friday 19 and 20 September This event is kindly sponsored by Legal Network, London, and hosted by Visit from the Barcelona Bar The City Law School. The Barcelona Bar Association will be visiting us in London. Thursday will Places can be reserved here: https://tinyurl.com/whlsspeed2019 consist of a number of presentations from firms and the House of Tuesday 4 June Commons reception. Friday will involve a tour of Legal London (the Supreme Court, RCJ, Inns of Court) followed by an informal dinner. We How to Session - Judicial Appointments welcome assistance from any members to participate in any aspect of the We are delighted to host a panel of eminent speakers, including Lucy Scott-Moncrieff CBE (former member of the QC Appointments Panel and day or evening events. Please contact Coral Hill email@example.com President of The Law Society), Sarah Lee (Solicitor Commissioner of the October Judicial Appointments Commission and Head of the Dispute Resolution Junior Lawyers Division Drinks at Davy’s Group at Slaughter & May) and Tan Ikram (Deputy Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate)), who will lead this workshop on judicial appointments. Wine Bar (the Bunghole) This event is kindly hosted by Radcliffe Chambers and supported by The JLD are hosting an informal networking event at Davy’s Wine Bar, Legal Network London. It starts at 6 pm and will be followed with a Holborn from 6pm for members and non-members. Further details to follow. reception with refreshments. There are only 22 spaces, so early booking Wednesday 2 October is essential.
Wednesday 12 June
Property Law Update - What leaseholders say about services from lawyers At this seminar Nicholas Kissen, senior adviser at The Leasehold Advisory Service will cover what leaseholders say about services from lawyers and the conveyancing experience from a leaseholder perspective. This event is kindly hosted by Index Property Information, will start at 6pm and a reception with refreshments will follow. The session is kindly sponsored by Legal Network, London and you can book your place here: http://tinyurl.com/lease2019
Monday 17 June
London Legal Walk Join us as we walk 10km around central London for the London Legal Support Trust, raising funds for free legal advice charities in London and the South East. Details about the event can be found at (http://www.londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk/our-events/londonlegal-walk-2019/) and you can join our team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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How to make your firm more profitable
Come a long for a series of short workshops on how to make your firm more profitable, including innovative working and billing practices and outsourcing. Workshop leaders including Jeff Gosling of ActionCOACH and Leanne Bentley of Bluebird. The event will start at 6pm, will be followed by a reception with refreshments and further details to follow.
Tuesday 29 October
AGM Farrer & Co Our Annual General Meeting will be held at 6pm at the offices of Farrer & Co LLP. At the meeting the President will present her annual report, new Officers will be elected and we will be presenting the prestigious Gamlen Prize to our most promising trainee solicitor. Do come along to see familiar and new faces – refreshments will follow the meeting.
2020 Events We are already planning 2020 so please do contact the committee if you have suggestions or would like to host an event: email@example.com The Annual Dinner is being planned as an early 2020 event and we are actively considering a suitable venue for a joint dinner with the South London Law Society, following the success of last year’s. If anyone would like to be involved in organisation please contact the committee. The website calendar also shows our events www.cwhls.org.uk
Westminster & Holborn Events
Brexit Implications for Lawyers On 14 March 2019, David Greene, Deputy Vice President of the Law Society, Chair of their Brexit Task Force, and Senior Partner of Edwin Coe LLP, delivered a seminar to a full house of lawyers wanting to know what they could expect in the run up to Brexit Day (then slated for 29 March 2019).
t was a timely event, and the fact that during the seminar Brexit Day was voted to be delayed by the House of Commons showed just how uncertain many aspects of it remained. Nevertheless, David soldiered on and provided practical (and often little-known) information which stood to impact the legal profession whenever Brexit Day may come to pass. Beginning with a nuanced summary of Article 50 and the process for extending or revoking it, David considered the ongoing ‘battle between Government and Parliamentary authority’ which has seemingly plagued the negotiations. At the time of the seminar, there was also a vast amount of work required to ensure an orderly departure from the EU, reflected in the fact that of about 700 pieces of secondary legislation expected to be passed by departure, 485 had been laid before Parliament and only 240 had been passed. This includes The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which will amend the CPR to ensure compatibility with new provisions required on, for example, foreign service and enforcement rules, as well as other procedural changes which will impact lawyers. David also considered the thorny issue of practice rights for UK lawyers and the reciprocal arrangements under discussion with EU-counterparts. Although British lawyers now enjoy equal practice rights in EU jurisdictions, unless a deal is agreed on this issue amongst the 27 remaining EU member states, equal practice rights are far from guaranteed. This is further compounded by the fact that, like the UK, some countries have more than one bar, and there are both internal and external political pressures which come to the fore when negotiating rights with them. For example, in Belgium, there is both a Flemish and French bar which do not always see eye-to-eye. Similarly, there are current restrictions on ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (‘FIFO’) arrangements for lawyers, which although pragmatically unenforced today, may become highly politicised enforcement tools post-Brexit Day. That’s not to mention the rules which will need to be negotiated with other non-EU states in which practice rights will be required. A further blow for some UK lawyers was a recent decision by the Irish bar which restricted practicing certificates to those with PII, practicing in Ireland, thus removing any doubt that dual qualification would be the ‘panacea we thought it would be’, according to one City lawyer.
Civil justice co-operation based on the prevailing treaties and conventions (think: Hague Convention, Brussels and Lugano), as well as various consumer rights directives (e.g. Health Insurance (E111), Motor Insurance and Package Holidays) are also potential flash points for UK lawyers as these may fall away without specific UK legislation to replace them. Additionally, just when firms thought they had got to grips with their GDPR obligations, post-exit, the UK will become a ‘third party’ under the regulations, brining increased data restrictions and potential policing issues, which David highlighted, most firms have not considered yet. At the time of writing, the Brexit deadlock continues. What is clear, however, is that lawyers cannot afford to ignore these lesser-known implications for their businesses nor the practical impact they will have on clients at home and abroad.■
Matthew Allan Solicitor, Sherrards Solicitors LLP
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 7
Westminster & Holborn Events
The Launch of the new Pro Bono and CSR Sub-Committee in association with JUSTICE
The Westminster and Holborn Law Society held the launch of their new Pro Bono & CSR Sub-Committee on 2 April 2018 in association with JUSTICE. The event was kindly hosted by Farrer & Co and sponsored by Lloyds Bank Plc. WHLS enjoyed a brilliant turn out to celebrate the launch and hear the key note speaker Kate Cheetam, Council Member of JUSTICE and Group General Counsel of Lloyds Banking Group Plc, whose speech championed the wisdom that we can all achieve more change in the CSR and Pro Bono sphere if we do it together. The guests were also lucky enough to hear from Shaila Pal, the chair of the new sub-committee and Director of King’s Legal Clinic at King’s College London, who explained its aims and objectives. The sub-committee’s key aim is to have a positive impact in Holborn & Westminster and the wider London community. It will achieve this by:
• supporting and facilitating local CSR and Pro Bono initiatives through training and consolidation of the wider CSR and pro bono network in the area; and • proactively building links between local third sector advice agencies and local legal practitioners for the purposes of delivering pro bono advice.
The Pro Bono and CSR Sub-Committee would like to welcome members who may be interested in the work of the committee or require its assistance to contact the chair of the committee, Shaila Pal (firstname.lastname@example.org). Members are also welcome to contribute to • encouraging local law firms and legal associations to engage with and/or observe a committee meeting and should contact the Chair if they wish to do so. ■ CSR and pro bono projects through championing its benefits not just for the wider community but also for themselves;
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Profile: Julian Aylmer T
Julian Aylmer was educated at Westminster School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1976. He spent most of his career in the Holborn area, being articled to Payne Hicks Beach 1974 -1976, and then an assistant solicitor at Vizards 1976-1979. He joined Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) in 1980 and was a partner there for 27 years from 1982-2009.
hroughout his career Julian was a contentious lawyer with extensive experience of litigation. During his 29 years at RPC he specialised in in all matters relating to professional indemnity, including insurance, reinsurance and professional liability. In the latter context, he had extensive experience of handling claims against accountants, solicitors and insurance brokers. In the latter part of his career at RPC he continued to handle claims against solicitors but branched out into also handling insurance and reinsurance policy disputes as well as dealing with financial services professional liability disputes (including Ombudsman disputes), with a particular concentration on pensions. Currently Julian acts as an independent reviewer of complaints of misconduct against members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and for the Insolvency Practitioners Association, He has had a long association with the Holborn and then City of Westminster and Holborn Law Societies and in particular with their Professional Matter Committee. Julian is married with a son and daughter. His outside interests include history, genealogy, architecture and all things Italian.■
Profile: Arthur Weir I
have been closely involved with the Society for a great many years. I was originally with AF & RW Tweedie, a small family firm in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and handled civil litigation in all divisions of the High Court. I was a founder member of Holborn Law Society in 1962. Later I became a member of its main committee and that of its successor Westminster and Holborn Law Society, from 1972 to 2016. I was President in 1999-2000. My main interest throughout was law reform, and I have been a member of the Society’s Law Reform committee almost continuously since 1972. I was also a founder member of the London Solicitors’ Litigation Association, in the sense of being a member of the old London Agents Association when we refounded ourselves in 1971 to become a society of civil litigation solicitors. I was its honorary secretary from 1975 to 1985.
In 1982 I was in a small group of half a dozen solicitors who invented the Solicitors’ Family Law Association – now Resolution. I became a founder member and a member of its original committee, and prepared the first draft of its original Code of Practice. I left mainstream practice some years before I finally retired, and was a deputy Chancery Master for eighteen years. I live in a village in South Oxfordshire. Besides chairing the Law Reform Committee I’m also busy as a trustee of a little known London charity with an investment portfolio of commercial properties. Much of my time nowadays is spent in choral activities, in which I sing tenor with the Henley Choral Society. ■
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 9
Report of the Professional Matters Sub-Committee of Westminster and Holborn Law Society
e continue to consider consultations from the Legal Services Board (LSB), Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and others together with related issues.
We continue to consider consultations from the Legal Services Board (LSB), Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and others together with related issues.
• We responded to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) “Consultation on the Making of Procedural Rules in Relation to Applications to the Tribunal”. The principal issue was whether to move from the current criminal standard of proof to the civil standard at hearings before the SDT. We took the view that the case for the move was not made out and that no evidence had been provided that the application of the criminal standard had in practice caused any real difficulties to the SRA in prosecuting rogue solicitors. The application of the civil standard would also cut both ways in that it would mean that matters put in defence (e.g. medical evidence) would also have to be judged on the civil standard, which might result in respondent solicitors having their defences accepted more readily than at present. Our response emphasised two points: (1) it was the SRA which was in the front line of protection of the public, not the SDT, and (2) the solicitors’ profession was the only one which made a finding of any form of dishonesty an absolute bar to re-admission to the profession. That may be appropriate where the dishonesty is for personal gain. It is arguable that it is less so where for instance the dishonesty is essentially a misjudgement by an inexperienced solicitor which is unlikely to be repeated. • The unrelenting approach taken by the SRA on this latter issue can be shown by two recent cases:1. Sovani James was an employee of a firm which had been instructed in a
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claim over treatment at an NHS trust. She had conduct of the case from May 2012 until she left the firm. She was suffering from anxiety and stress largely caused by the appalling conditions in which she had worked at the particular firm. She failed to serve particulars of claims, schedule of loss and a medical report by a July 2013 deadline, then made a series of misleading statements on nine occasions to the client and firm. After offering her resignation in November 2014 she created four letters which she backdated to September to give the impression work on the file was progressing. The SDT showed some mercy and opted against striking her off, concluding that her primary motivation was ‘fear’ of the consequences from the firm’s management of the discovery of her wrongdoing. The firm at which she worked was a ‘challenging place’ to work, passing pressure on to junior staff with monthly publication of league table to create competition between feeearners. One email sent from the senior partner to James in April 2013 said she would be required to work evenings, weekends and bank holidays to make up a shortfall in chargeable hours. The SRA appealed the SDT’s decision, and the High Court struck her off. In his judgment in November 2018, Lord Justice Flaux ruled that a ‘toxic and uncaring’ culture in the firm was an explanation for her dishonesty - but not an excuse. It could not amount to exceptional circumstances justifying a lesser sanction than a strike-off. Few would fail to have some sympathy for Ms James, and many will prefer the approach of the SDT to that of the SRA and Court and question why the SRA thought it necessary to appeal the SDT’s decision. As John Hyde wrote in the Law Society Gazette: “The SRA regulates in
the interests of the public, first and foremost. Without making this into a sympathy contest, I would guess the majority of the public would see this ruling as unduly harsh…James had moved on, physically and mentally. She had worked in another firm without a hint of trouble. She had a long list of people willing to vouch for her, and a self-professed determination to prove them right. This was, by all accounts, out of character… Years on from an horrific episode in her life, she poses little or no further risk to the public. That, for me, should be the abiding factor in all of this. A career has ended when it doesn’t need to be.” 2. At least in the James case it can at least be said that the dishonest acts were initiated by the solicitor in question. That cannot be said in the case of Emily Scott, who was struck off in January this year. Whilst a trainee in a firm and under instructions from her principals she had raised bills for work not carried out; falsified and backdated letters forming part of a file to be sent to the Legal Ombudsman after a client had complained; and failed to initially report the misconduct. She told the tribunal she acted ‘under duress and under the instruction of [her principal] and not through choice’. She feared for her job if she made a report as it would have been obvious who had done it. When she left the firm in November 2014 she blew the whistle on the firm’s dishonesty. Her reward was the end of her career and a considerable costs liability. The SDT no doubt felt bound by case law, including that in the recent James case (although that case was clearly distinguishable). However the SRA was under no compulsion to prosecute her case, and one suspects that many will take the view that it is open to serious criticism for having done so. It is the sort of decision that serves no obvious public interest (probably the reverse in the message it sends to prospective whistle-blowers), and damages the reputation of the regulator more than that of the unfortunate respondent.
a solicitor at Allen & Overy for drawing up an NDA concerning Harvey Weinstein (apparently one of 13 NDA related investigations). Whilst we cannot comment on the facts of the particular case, we are concerned that the SRA may be adopting a fashionable cause without proper consideration. NDAs are often insisted upon by government departments. They have a useful part to play in settling disputes and are usual in semployment disputes (where ACAS regularly imposes them). Solicitors should not be inhibited from advising clients as to them just because of currently fashionable criticism of them. If the party signing the NDA did so on legal advice it was not clear why the solicitor acting for the other side should be guilty of misconduct for drawing one up. • We have also was also noted that solicitors in criminal proceedings in which their client makes a late guilty plea are being asked to stay behind after the trial to explain this to the court. The proper response will usually be that the solicitor is not at liberty to disclose the reasons because of client confidentiality. In that case the procedure is pointless but could seem like court bullying. If anyone would like to comment on these or related issues, please contact me on email@example.com. Our committee is looking for new members and if any reader would like to be considered, please contact me. ■
Julian Aylmer Chair of the Professional Matters Sub-Committee
• We have also considered (but not responded to) the LSB “Consultation on the LSB’s Draft Business Plan 2019/20”. This raised some potentially interesting issues. (i) Public Legal Education. The LSB wants “to see higher levels of legal capability in the whole population, and particularly in vulnerable groups disproportionately represented in the legal system. More individuals and small businesses should be able to recognise when their problem is a legal one and know how to get help – and this should ultimately lead to less ‘unintentional’ unmet legal need.” This seems aspirational but difficult to implement in practice. (ii) Continuing Assurance of Professional Competence. Although CPD was not mentioned in the Consultation, an article in Law Society Gazette had suggested that this might well involve going back to requiring solicitors to earn CDP points. Our profession is out of line with other professions in not currently requiring this. Self-certification did not seem an adequate substitute for a requirement to earn CPD points. (iii) Non-Disclosure Agreements (“NDAs”). The Consultation refers to the Me Too Movement and says: “We recognise the ongoing debate around the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in relation to allegations of harassment and other similar conduct, and the impact on public trust in the profession. We will consider the LSB’s role, as an oversight regulator, in addressing these concerns.” Whilst NDAs should clearly not exclude a solicitor’s duty to report clear misconduct to the SRA, or prevent the reporting of a crime, in our view regulators should tread warily. • The SRA does not seem to accept the need for caution in this area. It has been reported that it is prosecuting a case against
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 11
Law Reform Sub-Committee: Response to Re-invigorating Commonhold - the alternative to leasehold ownership Under the aegis of the Law Reform Sub-Committee, chaired by Arthur Weir, the Society submitted a response to the Law Commission’s Consultation Paper “Re-invigorating Commonhold-the alternative to leasehold ownership”.
ommonhold was introduced in 2002 under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (“the Act”) as a new way of owning property enabling a person to own the freehold of a unit such as a flat in a building and become a member of a company known as the Commonhold Association (“the Association”) which owns and manages the shared areas. The concept is comparable with strata title in Australia and condominium ownership in the United States. Statutory regulations require the creation of the Association and provide a structure for the operation of the commonhold. Since 2002 fewer than twenty commonholds have been created and reflecting this and the recent criticism of leasehold structures associated with rising ground rents and onerous covenants the Law Commission was prompted to consider reforms with the principal purpose of encouraging the conversion of existing leaseholds to commonhold and the creation of new commonholds. The paper dealt comprehensively with many minor regulatory aspects applicable to commonhold and suggested reforms of a technical nature which we supported. On the more important issues: 1. We favoured simplifying the requirements for conversion of existing leasehold structures to commonhold by inter alia enabling at least fifty per cent, currently one hundred per cent, of qualifying leaseholders, i.e. those owning leases granted for terms exceeding twenty one years, to approve the conversion with the safeguard for non-consenting leaseholders who would be entitled to retain their leases. 2. We supported the recommendation that developers should enjoy a wide range of development rights comparable to those reserved to freeholders in leases without time limits but subject to safeguards. This inter alia might encourage developers to consider the creation of new commonholds. 3. Reflecting lender’s concerns that their security might be prejudiced following the liquidation of the Association the paper suggested simplifying the process enabling unit holders to apply for the restoration of the Association and providing the court with powers to appoint a successor Association which we supported. 4. Currently it is not compulsory for the Association to provide for a reserve fund. Again to assuage lender’s concerns regarding their security in that the absence of such a fund might increase the risk of liquidation as the Association might have insufficient funds to maintain the building and replace expensive infrastructure items such as lifts we supported the suggestion that the provision of a reserve fund should be made compulsory. 5. Leases commonly provide for service charge proportions to be variable depending on the extent to which individual tenants benefit from the services provided. This is not permitted in commonholds under current regulations and it is suggested that appropriate variations should be permitted.
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6. The paper suggested various reforms to facilitate the creation of new commonholds of mixed use developments. While supporting many as being of practical implication we considered that the disadvantages of leaseholds as compared with commonholds were exaggerated particularly when applied to commercial units. If a potential commonhold development included commercial operations such as retail outlets or offices there would be limited support from prospective occupiers of those units to acquire a commonhold interest which would involve their becoming a member of the Association and the holder of effectively a freehold interest in the unit at a capital cost. They would prefer a lease which would limit their liabilities to a fixed term and provide them with a landlord to whom to approach to enforce covenants as compared with having to do so by reference to the directors of the Association. We suggested that such issues might militate against the creation of mixed use commonholds. 7. We considered (and expressed such a view when the initial proposals for commonhold were promulgated prior to the passing of the Act) that the absence of certain powers of enforcement available to the Association were of principal concern and the reason why developers and leaseholders have been so reluctant to initiate (or process conversions to) commonhold. The problem is that in contrast with leaseholds under which non-payment of service charges could lead to forfeiture normally avoided by payment by either the lender to protect its security or by a buyer to protect its property interests the Association’s current rights are no more than those of an ordinary creditor so that the only method available to the Association to obtain security for unpaid contributions is by obtaining a money judgement and a charging order but an existing mortgage would have priority. If it should be necessary to incur major expenditure and contributions cannot be recovered either the other unit holders would have to make up the shortfall or necessary repairs to a building might have to be delayed. Accordingly we welcome the proposal in the paper of a statutory charge which consists of a charge on the unit and has priority over all other charges and we suggested that the amount secured by the statutory charge should constitute a debt owing to the Association and that a unit-holder on whom the contributions were originally assessed should remain liable to the Association notwithstanding that he/she may have ceased to own the unit. The implementation of the proposals in this respect in the paper would go a long way in resolving this specific problem which had contributed to the limited creation of commonholds. We shall await the Law Commission’s summary of the responses with interest. ■
Adam Maberly Member of the Law Reform Sub-Committee
The London Legal Walk returns on June 17th The London Legal Support Trust is holding its 15th annual London Legal Walk, and is calling for teams from the legal sector to sign up and participate in the event.
he after work walk has two routes, both starting on Carey Street, next to the iconic Royal Courts of Justice. Choose either the Parks Route, or the River route, and start the walk anytime between 4pm and 7pm on the day itself. The walk finishes with a lively street party back on Carey Street, where there will be food vendors, fire jugglers and musicians waiting to celebrate your arrival! Each walker will also receive a free drinks token. The London Legal Walk is the biggest event of the legal calendar; as such, it is a busy and exciting event to spend with co-workers and friends! Last year 13,000 people across 750 teams walked to raise funds for this extremely worthwhile cause, raising a record breaking £830,000. In 2019, the London Legal Support Trust hope to break this record again with the support of those working in the legal sector in and around London. There are already thousands of walkers from across the City signed up to take part. Will you join the Lord Chief Justice, Lady Hale, and thousands of
others from chambers, courts, firms, and advice agencies, and walk on June 17th. There is no sign up fee, and no minimum fundraising target, so it couldn’t be easier to take part. Join in with your firm and enjoy a great summer walk, all to raise money for a meaningful cause. Simply sign up your team at: tinyurl.com/LLSTLLW19. ■
The President's New Year Drinks Dawson Cornwell hosted the President's New Year Drinks. We heard from Ivy Wong of Lexoo about legal tech with a glimpse of how things might develop and the Gamlen Prize was presented by Michael Gillman . Forsters' trainee solicitor Timothy Evans won first prize and Alexandra Treacy was second. By coincidence, Alexandra is due to start her training contract with Forsters in September 2019. The Gamlen Prize was set up in 1991 under the Gamlen Charitable Trust in memory of St John Gamlen, the last of five generations of solicitors, and the Gamlen family. ■
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 13
Thursday 30 May – Sunday 2 June 2019
General Congress of the FBE in Barcelona
he General Congress of the FBE will be held in Barcelona and as its key theme will address: The separation of powers, a fundamental aspect of the rule of law. The Barcelona Bar Association is inviting a discussion in the light of the digital revolution which has substantially altered the ways in which citizens relate to power. The panel discussions will reflect on the extent to which the system envisaged by Montesquieu remains valid in today’s society. The challenge from the Congress is to rethink our own convictions and the accepted traditions with which many of us will have studied the law. To what extent are the
concepts of equality and political sovereignty in evidence today and how can power be legitimized? For this reason, this congress will bring in changes to the traditional format. Each of the panels will be introduced by a speaker who has been asked to provide the attendees with more questions than answers. The Congress is initiating an open debate between the legal profession and the broader society. For full particulars of the programme (legal and social) please refer to the website. If anyone wants information or wishes to join those attending, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday 13 June – Friday 14 June
Warsaw (Modern Bar Association Conference II)
he Warsaw Bar Association have invited members of Westminster & Holborn Law Society to attend its summer conference in Warsaw, dedicated to issues concerning the legal professions and Bar Associations. The conference will be attended by lawyers from a wide number of jurisdictions to ensure the benefits of gaining different international perspectives. The whole conference will be conducted in English and the full list of topics and speakers can be found at http://www.mbac.oirpwarszawa.pl The Conference will take place on Thursday and Friday 13th – 14th June, 2019. On the Friday evening there will be a very large party for attorneys at law in a very nice and historical location. All participants of the Modern Bar Association Conference will be invited as guests of the Bar. It is also intended to set up an
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optional programme for the Saturday for those that wish to stay. Warsaw is particularly beautiful in June, with large parks and the added attraction of an open air concert on many weekends by renowned pianists, in honour of Chopin’s birthplace. If you have not been to Warsaw before, a short film about the city is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZOhgIrPH4s). WHLS international committee is developing a co-ordination group with the Warsaw Bar Association to facilitate the ease of communication over legal issues arising from Brexit in relation to Polish nationals. If anyone is interested in becoming involved with the coordination group or in attending the conference and would like to discuss this further please contact email@example.com
Update on Commercial Property for 2019 With Parliament somewhat distracted for most of 2019 so far, recent developments in property law have arisen mainly outside of legislation (with the exception of the long-awaited change to SDLT). Set out below are a few examples which may be of interest to practitioners in England and Wales. 1. SDLT Deadlines For any transactions with an effective date on or after 1 March 2019, the deadline for filing a land transaction return and paying the relevant stamp duty land tax has been reduced from 30 to 14 days. Forms SDLT 3 and 4 have been amended, reducing the information required. The existing versions of the forms will remain valid if delivered prior to 1 June 2019. 2. Completion by Post The Law Society has published an updated version of the Code for Completion by Post following the combined appeals in P&P Property Ltd v Owen White & Catlin LLP and Dreamvar (UK) Ltd v Mishcon de Reya (a firm)  EWCA Civ 1082. Readers may recall that in Dreamvar, both the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors were held liable for breach of trust for parting with the completion monies when the seller turned out to be a fraudster, despite not having been dishonest themselves. The Code is now stated to apply to both residential and commercial conveyancing transactions (where adopted) and changes have been made to give buyers greater security and reestablish faith in the conveyancing process. The new Code does not itself change the position at law, but rather reflects the recent cases. The new Code will become effective on 1 May 2019, and includes the following key changes: • Paragraph 2: it is made clear that references to the “Seller” are to the genuine seller, being the person entitled to convey the title to the property. However, sub-paragraph (ii), which defines the “Seller’s Solicitor”, does so by reference to the solicitor purporting to act for the “party named as the seller”, rather than the “Seller”. The difference in these definitions is intended to ensure that the seller’s solicitor remains bound by its undertakings, even if the person they are acting for is not the genuine seller. • Paragraph 4(ii): it is now overtly clear that a seller’s solicitor will hold any purchase money received on trust for the buyer and is under a duty to either pay it out in respect of a genuine (i.e. not fraudulent) completion or to return it. • Paragraph 8(i): the Code’s guidance now states that this existing undertaking (to have the seller’s authority to receive the purchase money on completion) refers to the authority of the true owner. 3. Rights of Way The Court of Appeal has recently handed down its judgement in the case of Parker and another v Roberts  EWCA Civ 121 which covered issues relating to implied easements and rights of way. The facts of this case were key to the ruling. The claimant’s (C) predecessor had bought a house (the House), adjoining a plot of land already owned by them (the Plot). The predecessor covenanted on behalf of himself and his successors in title not to build on the Plot and to pay towards the cost of maintaining a private road. The conveyance of the House to C granted an
express right of way over a private road, which provided access to the House “for all purposes connected with the present and every future use of the land hereby transferred”. C later obtained planning permission to build a house on the Plot. In order to access the Plot, he needed to use the private road. The owners of the private road argued that although C had a right of way in respect of the House, it did not extend to the Plot. The Court held that: • The “land hereby transferred” in the conveyance to C did not include the Plot, so the right of way over the private road could not be used for its benefit. • There was no implied easement over the private road on the basis of reasonable necessity, despite the plans to build on the Plot. Where there was an express right, an implied right would only arise in exceptional circumstances. • A right of way did not arise simply because the person claiming the benefit of it was subject to the burden of contributing to the cost of maintaining the road. This was an attempt by C to flip the benefit and burden principle, i.e. that a party cannot take the benefit of an easement without also accepting the burden. This case does not itself establish new law, but rather consolidates existing principles. It is an interesting example of the Court refusing to grant an implied easement on a number of separate grounds and serves as a useful illustration to practitioners to ensure that all necessary rights are set out clearly and in full in transfer documents to avoid future disagreements. 4. Adverse Possession In the recent case of Thorpe v Frank and another  EWCA Civ 150 the Court of Appeal held that the repaving of a forecourt was sufficient to amount to adverse possession of land. The applicant had in 1986 repaved an area of forecourt forming part of the neighbouring property without objection. The area was made to appear as though it formed part of the applicant’s property and was eventually fenced off in 2013. The applicant then subsequently applied to be registered as the proprietor of the paved land. The neighbour argued that the repaving of the land was not sufficient to amount to possession. The Court was of the view that repaving the area constituted possession, and that the applicant also had the necessary intention to possess. It was further held that what amounts to a sufficient degree of “exclusive physical control” depends on the nature of the property and the way in which property of that type was normally used. Enclosure of the relevant property was not an absolute requirement in order to prove adverse possession, and it did not matter that the neighbouring owner could continue to pass and repass over the area as before. ■
Megan Johnson Associate (in Commercial Property), Farrer & Co. CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 15
Committee Members’ Visit to Milan
Westminster and Holborn Law Society once again had the privilege of being invited to the Milan Bar Association’s ceremony to celebrate the Opening of the Legal Year in January 2019.
eing based in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, dominated by the Duomo and foot steps from Leonardo Di Vinci’s The Last Supper, the topic of the education programme could not be more appropriate than Art Law. In particular, the return of cultural objects under the 1996 UNIDROIT Convention as well as the protection of cultural property under the 1970 UNESCO Convention. The Bar Association of Milan organised two International Round Tables to discuss the International Circulation of Artworks prior to their welcoming dinner. Sara Chandler QC (Hon) and Jeffrey Forrest participated in the panel discussing modern art and mentioning the legal challenges that street art work poses, talking about our very own Banksy. At the welcoming dinner, I had the pleasure of meeting dual-qualified lawyers from Poland and Romania who were very interested in knowing what position we would take regarding cross- qualification from other EU member states post Brexit. Brexit and Law were part of the conversations at the Palaces that we visited that evening. The evening cocktail before dinner was hosted at Palazzo Marino where the international delegation was welcomed to Milan by the Mayor of the city. Dinner was offered by the International Relations Committee of the Bar Association of Milan, known as CRINT, at the magnificent Palazzo Reale.
Women in Law The Law Society is hosting an International Symposium on Gender Equality and the Business of Law on 20 and 21 June. Anyone wanting to attend can sign up on The Law Society events page https://events.lawsociety.org.uk/ . Discounts are available: student rate £50 using code Student50, junior lawyer rate £95 using code JLD100. A discounted rate of £195 + VAT is available for academics. Please email InternationalSymposium@lawsociety.org.uk to request this rate. ■
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CRINT gave special recognition to all the Past Presidents of their Committee and gave a review of all their activities over the last year, highlighting their visit to W & H Law Society last October 2018 when their Choir sang at Temple Church. Robes were worn on Saturday for the opening ceremony at the Court of Appeal where we were greeted by the President of the Court of Appeal, Dott.ssa Maria Tavassi. From WHLS committee, we want to give special thanks to Avv. Remo Donavi, President of the Milan Bar Association, avv. Mario Dusi and avv. Pietro Traini, CRINT delegate Chairmen, International Relationship Committee of the Milan Bar Association and to all the lawyers from Milan, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Belgium, the USA, Spain and other countries who formed part of the International Delegation. ■
Carolina Marin Pedreño Partner at Dawson Cornwell Solicitors Vice President CWHLC
The Travels of Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon) Westminster & Holborn members are indeed fortunate to have international connections. In the last three months, members of the International Committee have been to Brussels, Milan, Barcelona and Hammamet. I write about the final two destinations and a brief note on the Colombia Caravana. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is a Bar which has twinning arrangements with over 40 bars, and we are lucky to be the only local Law Society in England & Wales to be twinned with Barcelona. I attended the Festivities of San Raimon de Penyafort in mid-February. The first day was full of meetings including with some of the 40 other bars twinned with Barcelona. It was interesting to hear from the other lawyers present of the events they had organised in their own jurisdictions, with lawyers not only from Barcelona but also from other bars in the twinning network with Barcelona. There are also quite a few bi-lateral relations, without there being a formal memorandum of understanding. The lawyers attend each other’s seminars, symposiums and conferences. The Barcelona Bar recognises its lawyers who have completed 25 and 50 years at the Bar with medals in a ceremony where the international delegates share the auditorium with the families of these dedicated, longstanding lawyers. It was noticeable that in the group of 50 years’ practice there was only one woman, a pioneer in her day. The Barcelona Bar are also excellent hosts when it comes to the social side. This year the gala dinner was held in the Olympic village, a real treat for us. One of the FBE workshops was Gender Equality in the Legal Profession. The President of The Law Society of England & Wales, Christina Blacklaws, was present and spoke as a world bar leader.
New members may not know that Westminster & Holborn Law Society has been supporting human rights defenders in Colombia since 2006, and in 2008 established the Colombia Caravana, and international delegation of jurists which visits Colombia and monitors the situation of lawyers who are threatened, attacked and killed for doing their work as lawyers. In September 2018, the Caravana completed its sixth Visit to Colombia and the report of that visit was launched recently at the Law Society. Jeffrey Forrest and Sara Chandler, both Past Presidents of Westminster & Holborn, were members of the most recent delegation. The report can be accessed here: www.colombiancaravana.org.uk/our-work
Hammamet, Tunisia I attended the FBE Assizes of the Mediterranean at the end of March, where bar leaders discussed the role of Mediterranean lawyers in the jurisdictions surrounding the Mediterranean. There was a good attendance of Arab lawyers and a useful exchange and comparison of different practices and shared values. The venue was Hammamet, and the Assizes was held in a famous beach hotel from the 1960s which had been recently revived after being abandoned for many years. There was a delightful breeze wafting through the palm trees while the sun warmed the winter chill out of our bones. A highlight of the social events was a visit to the Medina, where the fort was built in the 9th Century. There were tremendous views to the sea, and down to the market where small lanes and alleyways led us round to the residential area and mosque, all housed in tiny buildings.
In Medellin, a 20 year process is coming to its final hearing. It is a trial called ‘The 12 Apostles’ and it concerns the organisation of para military groups, so called in this case after the biblical characters. On trial is Santiago Uribe Velez who is accused of co-founding the paramilitary group called the Twelve Apostles which is alleged to have been behind murders and disappearances in Colombia in the 1990s. Mr Uribe Velez is the brother of the former President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe Velez, who was President from 2002-2010. There will be an international delegation of lawyers who will be observing the trial, an independent and neutral group who will report in June on the trial. The trial observation is there to ensure that justice is done and due process is followed. The International legal community is very interested in the Twelve Apostles case, which is an emblematic prosecution, reflecting the period of conflict which lasted over 50 years before peace talks attempted to bring an end to the killings. The Colombian justice system has investigated allegations of serious human rights violations. There is never a dull moment in the International Committee of Westminster & Holborn Law Society. If you are interested, please join. ■
Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon) is Past President of the FBE, and Past Chair of the Colombia Caravana UK Lawyers Group.
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 17
The Law Society is a sleeping beauty
Fraser Whitehead’s well sourced article, published in the November 2018 issue of London Central, said it like it is. He examined how the Law Society fails to reflect the make up of the profession. He highlighted the need for real changes in the Society. He tactfully did not say that this is a fish rotten from the head down.
decision by the government actually illustrates the failures of the Society in stark reality. In July 2013 the decision to impose fees on employees seeking justice in the Employment Tribunal, hurt hundreds of thousands of employees and thousands of solicitors who lost clients. By April to June in 2014, claims had reduced by 81% compared to the year before. What was the response of the Law Society? Did it mount a campaign for access to justice extolling the expertise of its members? No. Instead, it vacated the floor to the trade unions. Unison mounted a legal campaign and eventually won a case in the Supreme Court to overturn fees. Staggering, given that lawyers are the single biggest grouping in the House of Commons. Yet, even a small trade union like the RMT is able muster its MP trade union sympathizers to greater effect. The Law Society did not adequately represent employment lawyers and didn’t know its mission. Fraser identified its structural problems but there is an issue with the leadership. Democratic deficit The President isn’t voted in by the membership. He (usually he) emerges from a magic circle of grand elders like the Conservative Party of old. They are from the large firms who hog the places on the Council. So, upon selection, the President in waiting is put into a two-year quarantine until his time for elevation. Each year a Deputy Vice President is selected by the Law Society Council and the previous office holder is elevated to Vice President and that years’ Vice President to President. Not once do the members vote for any of these participants in this game of musical chairs. This means that the President is not accountable to its membership – there is a democratic deficit. The Society is set up so that its President is an amateur. His law firm is his real job and he is on a gap year as President of the Law Society. Members are presented with a Lady Bountiful who does his presidency bit with ‘compensation’ paid to his firm. If the Society does not have a representative leadership, it cannot develop an advocacy role. Yesterday, this did not matter because the Society’s main function was enforcing its regulations. Today, in more austere times, the Society has lost its role and has not found its mission. To gain leadership and purpose, it needs a full-time President, elected by the whole membership for a term of five years. To have a mission it must reflect its membership and its memberships’ needs. Only democratic elections can achieve that. The Society is a sleeping beauty that needs to wake up or the members need to start acting up. ■
Paul Sharma Members are welcome to send us their personal views or comments on Council Reform or other professional matters.
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JLD (Junior Lawyers Division)
Imposter syndrome “I am afraid I will be found out for being a fraud.” This is a feeling which many successful lawyers will recognise, regardless of their seniority or age. It is the feeling that you do not deserve your accomplishments, or the worry that you will be rejected for not being at the same standard as your peers.
eople with imposter syndrome may incorrectly attribute their success to luck or think that they have ‘deceived’ others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. For example, they may consider that they had a lucky interview because they were asked questions on which they were prepared, instead of acknowledging that they were ready for the interview because of the preparation that they had previously undertaken. Imposter syndrome is felt by many working professionals, but lawyers in particular suffer from this anxiety. This is because many of the traits which lead to imposter syndrome are disproportionately present amongst lawyers. For example, perfectionists often gravitate towards the law as their eye for detail serves them well in detailed drafting tasks, but this can have negative consequences when they feel the need to spend a disproportionate number of hours proof-reading a short document to make sure it is perfect. This feeling can be particularly challenging for junior solicitors, who have recently qualified and have no frame of reference as to what a good standard of work is. They are unlikely to have heard of the term ‘imposter syndrome’ and may not have spoken to any other solicitors who share this feeling, compounding the problem and adding to their isolation. So, if you feel like an imposter, what can you do? Firstly, acknowledge that you feel like an imposter. Speak to co-workers, mentors, friends; it is highly likely that they have felt the same at some point in their career. Hearing that someone else has felt like you can lift a weight off your mind.
Secondly, try to rewrite your mental response to feeling like an imposter. The underlying principle is to focus on the positives and the opportunities, rather than the negatives and the mistakes that have been made. • If a colleague praises a piece of work, take a moment to consider what it was which they appreciated. Many people naturally remember criticism and dismiss positive feedback, which devalues the positive messages which praise confers. • Failure is universal, and by acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes, you allow yourself to learn what you can from the mistake and to move on. • Instead of worrying about what you don’t know, think about the skills you have and how you can apply them to increase what you do know. You will find that you obsess less over the mistakes and increase your belief in your own ability. And lastly- fake it ‘til you make it! Don’t wait until you feel naturally confident. Instead, focus on your positives, take risks and put yourself out there. You’ll find that, as your skills build, your confidence will naturally follow. Suzanna Eames is the Vice-Chair of the Junior Lawyers Division, Westminster Holborn Law Society. The WHLS JLD is writing a regular column about issues which face the legal profession, with a particular focus on issues facing junior lawyers. ■
Suzanne Eames Vice-Chair, Junior Lawyers Division.
Junior Lawyers Division annual conference: 6th April 2019 To any junior lawyers starting out in their career, who are keen to meet other lawyers and learn about the most pressing issues facing the junior end of our profession, I cannot recommend the JLD annual conference highly enough.
his year, the JLD have focused on supporting wellbeing and mental health initiatives, alongside promoting diversity and equality in the profession. Firstly, the keynote address from Dana Denis-Smith, the founder of the First 100 Years project, celebrated the past efforts of women to obtain equality, and the steps that are still yet to come. Many junior lawyers have read about the cases of Sovani James and Emily Scott. Both were junior lawyers who were working in difficult conditions and were struck off the record for dishonesty, regardless of any mitigating factors. Paul Bennett gave a helpful talk to help junior lawyers understand the pressures they may face during their practice and gave practical advice on how to act ethically on an everyday basis. Elizabeth George and Kieran Pender both spoke about how to manage bullying and harassment in the workplace; they considered the depth of the problem, and what to do if you find yourself in a toxic work environment. A real highlight of the conference was Laura Willis’ talk about maintaining wellbeing in 24/7 connected world. This talk emphasised the importance of creating boundaries to maintain a work life balance and being aware of
the amount of time we spend with technology and the impact it has on our life. This problem has crept up on our profession, and many people do not currently have any techniques to protect their mental health from the stress of being permanently connected. There were a number of breakout sessions later in the day, which allowed delegates to hear a more specific talk which was tailored to their interests. The conference then finished with speeches from Griff Ferris and Jacob Turner, both covering the impact which AI may have in the legal profession, specifically considered in the context of policing and regulation. Finally, no conference would be complete without the Black Tie dinner and ball, which went on well into the night! It was lovely to spend the evening with the people I had met during the conference in a more relaxed setting, and I met many lawyers from across the country who I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to meet. Thank you to the JLD committee who clearly put a lot of effort into such a lovely event, and I look forward to seeing you again next year! ■
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 19
Unoccupied Property Insurance â€“ We Include all of the Covers Required, as Standard
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e work with law firms and private client solicitors, as well as organisations such as STEP, SFE, Professional Conferences and various regional Law Societies, to make sure our product works perfectly for those who use it, and provides the best cover available for unoccupied properties. Due to our involvement with our legal contacts, weâ€™re aware of what makes things easier for solicitors when it comes to protecting their clientsâ€™ assets. As the home is often the most valuable part of the estate, it makes sense to be sure that itâ€™s as protected as possible, especially in the period of unoccupancy during probate and estate administration. We include a wide range of covers for unoccupied properties in all of our standard premiums. This means thereâ€™s no need for adding optional extras for covers that may increase the premium, and the client isnâ€™t paying for covers that donâ€™t apply to an unoccupied property. Some of our covers that are particularly notable include; Theft, Malicious Damage, Storm, Flood and Subsidence, as well as Falling Trees, Lampposts or Telephone Poles. We include all of these most commonly claimed for risks, including Escape of Water and Full Accidental Damage cover.
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20 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
All change (again!) for the SRA Accounts Rules Where the SRA Accounts Rules are concerned, law firms are no strangers to change. The past few years have brought several phased changes including to the format of accountants’ reports, role of the reporting accountant and exemptions for firms requiring an accountant.
n a continued concerted effort to simplify and modernise the legal system, the SRA is once again making changes to the rules with the current draft being just 7 pages long and containing only 13 rules. This is a significant departure from the existing 52 rules, several appendices and 80 pages. With 25th November 2019 as the implementation date, there’s no time to lose in getting prepared for the new rules. That’s why here we’re going to cover the why, when, what and how…
Why the need for change? As already intimated, it’s all about simplification but retaining an essential emphasis on protecting client monies. The SRA’s intention is to allow legal practices greater flexibility over how they operate, the ability to judge independently and make legal services more accessible to the public. To quote Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive: “Our reforms focus on what matters: the high professional standards that offer real public protection rather than unnecessary bureaucracy that generates costs, constrains firms and hinders access to legal services. We believe that the changes will make it easier for firms and solicitors to do business and to meet the needs of those who need their services.”
6. There’s no definition of office money. This means it’s either client monies or not client monies. 7. There’s no distinction between professional and nonprofessional disbursements. Plus, fees and disbursements can only be paid when a bill is raised. 8. Monies incoming from the Legal Aid Agency are no longer covered in the rules. This money can be held in the office account in future. 9. Bank accounts must still be reconciled every 5 weeks. This requirement has been extended to client’s own accounts or “passbooks”. 10. Although the exemption limits for accountants’ reports are unchanged, definitions of statements or passbook balances has changed and includes joint or client’s own accounts. As a result, firms currently exempt may not be exempt.
How can you prepare for change? Ahead of implementation, the SRA has provided much-needed clarification on these important changes to empower legal practices to prepare accordingly.
In simple terms, if you’re compliant with the current rules, complying with the new rules will be relatively easy. It could be a straightforward case of stating the new rules in your policies. An Can’t say fairer than that. So, while the short term may cause you internal audit is advisable too. A few minor tweaks to procedures some pain as you begin to adopt the new rules, unless your here and there may be all that’s needed. At this review stage, existing set up already meets the new requirements, in the long define “promptly”, document your systems and controls, and term you’ll be able to manage your accounts and run your ensure everyone is aware of your processes – your cashiers, business in a less prescriptive way. COFA, new starters and reporting accountants.
When do the new rules come into force?
Guidance notes are likely to be circulated before the rules become mandatory. These notes will act as a toolkit. No official date has been set for the former – guidance notes – but 25th November has been confirmed for the latter – accounts rules.
What are the main changes? At a glance, the 10 primary points of difference from the old to new rules are:1. Its much-abridged format means each of the remaining 13 rules are considerably condensed. 2. With no time deadlines, you’ve got the freedom to decide your own timeframes. 3. Following on from #1 and #2, the new rules are principle based rather than prescriptive and contain less definitions. Interpret how you wish and do what’s reasonable. 4. A notable addition is the ability to use a third-party managed account as an alternative to the traditional client account. 5. Guidance notes, if made available, will be separate, not attached to the rules, and released any time.
If you’ve been considering outsourcing your cashiering, these new rules are the ideal time to do so. By outsourcing your accounts function to specialists in the field, such as Quill, your supplier keeps abreast of ever-changing solicitors’ accounts rules so you don’t have to. Become a Quill client and we’ll manage your accounts in a compliant and timely manner, while you focus on other pressing business matters. To find out more on Quill, please visit www.quill.co.uk/outsourced-legal-cashiering, email email@example.com or call 0161 236 2910. For further details on the SRA’s new regulatory model, go to www.sra.org.uk/sra/news/press/standards-regulationsstart-date-2019.page. By Julian Bryan Managing Director, Quill CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 21
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Networking should be made easy and effortless - Law-Whiz – The Lawyers’ Tool! Technology is often perceived as a foe, but when it comes to effective networking, it should instead be an invaluable resource, according to a Melbourne-based lawyer and business owner.
rslan Lawyers owner and Law-Whiz founder and Managing Director April Arslan, said people in the legal profession ‘engage’ using different interactive methods, just to reach out. How one chooses to go about it, and the methodology they employ, is what makes all the difference, she said. “If barristers are unable to reach out in ways that appeal or are in sync with an intended recipient (such as a solicitor), then it renders the whole exercise wasteful,” she argued. “Often, I hear senior barristers at the bar saying that the new, younger partners of firms no longer contact them or reach out to brief them anymore, and that the dynamics have changed in law firms. It begs the question: why?” The answer really lies in the methods used to form the connection by barristers, she explained. If barristers want to remain fixed and rigid in their style of interaction and social presence without making any changes to their style of interactions with solicitors coming through the ranks, it will inevitably result in briefs being dried up. That is not rocket science,” she said. Lawyers are not taught how to market or network in law schools. In fact, 95% would lack the knowledge, method and engagement methods required under the current modern interactive styles to survive– it requires
a high degree of “social” engagement which invokes the necessity for EQ skills not just IQ. Having a brilliant legal brain no longer has a self serving purpose. It is not enough to just want to focus on the law without worrying about how and when the next brief or matter is coming. Recognising the importance of networking through technology in the legal industry, Ms Arslan crated a platform with lawyers in mind to relieve them of the marketing and networking stress completely so that they could go back to doing what they do best – advise, represent and appear. Utilising Law-Whiz allows the incumbents in the legal profession and professionals to find each other instantly for the right job with the required expertise, at the right time in the right jurisdiction. Law-Whiz was specifically designed to relieve professionals who are sceptical of or fear networking, she said, further supporting the idea that technology is to be embraced, rather than dismissed, by those who want or need to build their profile, save time and increase their bottom line. Law-Whiz is currently running a FREE promotion for new users for 3 months which ends in July 2019 and Ms Arslan encourages everyone in the profession to take advantage of this offer. ■ firstname.lastname@example.org
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 23
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Developments in Digital Conveyancing Many forwardthinking legal firms are looking to expedite the conveyancing process by removing ‘print and post’ from the workflow as far as possible.
conveyancing, the relevant UK statute, the Electronic Communications Act 2000, does not expressly allow electronic signatures. Neither does the law of Cyber security remains one of the most England and Wales comprehensively serious threats facing the legal community confirm anywhere the validity of electronic and is a constant reminder for all firms to execution in the context of deeds. take a more secure approach to the However, Land Registry’s new e-mortgage protection of sensitive client data. system relies on the use of “Qualified” According to the SRA Risk Outlook electronic signatures using their Gov verify 2018/19, in the first quarter of 2018 over solution. Essentially the system provides 70% of all cybersecurity reports were the “Trust” element and is in effect the directly attributed to email modification witness in that it certifies the identity of the fraud, a sophisticated method of person signing. Docu-sign is also a interception designed to capture client Qualified certificate solution. bank details and personal information. Poweredbypie has recently launched he introduction of new technology has the potential to facilitate online communication, however, what do conveyancers need to consider?
The use of electronic signatures is also an area of debate. Electronic signatures are binding so long as they can be authenticated. One way to ensure the authentication process is to use an electronic signature company such as DocuSign, since courts have already ruled a signature using DocuSign is presumptively valid. However, on a practical level there are a number of issues that are preventing widespread take up.
Brighter Portal which is a new solution for solicitors which provides secure two-factor authentication to share legal documents.
With Brighter Portal, the law firm creates the 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 environment for client data, it also streamlines the conveyancing process and helps avoid delays to the Contracts for the sale of property and land transaction. must be in writing, contain all agreed terms For further information please contact: and be signed by all parties; and transfers, firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ charges and some leases must be made by deed (which involves signing, By Carole Marsden, witnessing and attesting). While EU legislation (The electronic Group Chief Commercial Officer, identification and trust services eIDAS) and poweredbypie the UK courts accept electronic signatures as valid; and while HM Land Registry is, as a matter of policy, moving towards digital CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 25
Time to embrace Transparency and go further? We are now over four months into the SRA’s new Transparency regime and early indications are that many solicitors have not truly embraced the compulsory display of fixed prices and what is included in those prices for the prescribed legal services.
he regulator is conducting random website sweeps, in February published its enforcement guide so solicitors should be in no doubt that transparency, and fixed pricing needs to be taken seriously.
The research revealed, unsurprisingly to me, that consumers want to be able to assess providers in advance and to narrow down the field. We do this in other areas so why would we not want to do our own due diligence, when deciding which solicitor to use when we find ourselves in need to a legal service? The SRA’s research of over 5000 consumers has informed them that potential clients have found this difficult, overall with solicitors’ websites, with only 15% of those surveyed able to find a potential price. Indeed, 71% actually spend over an hour on research and 61% with more than 1 potential provider.
As an interested observer, I am struggling to understand the reticence to embrace the new regime, given the reasons for its introduction. Consumer research, initially, by The Competition and Markets Authority and subsequently by the SRA themselves has made it abundantly clear that consumers are not approaching solicitors for legal services as much as they might, opting for other providers, perhaps even non regulated ones or even choosing a Sadly, the potential customer’s inability to find the information they ‘DIY’ solution. want on solicitor websites leads to mistrust and a belief, perhaps wrongly that the services are expensive. Whilst it is also clear that the consumer appreciate fixed pricing it is not and should not be only about price but about the value and the comprehensive nature of the service. Therefore, the winners in the new regime will be those who see the new rules as an opportunity and embrace it. The more information on each service (and why not include this for all services, not just the compulsory ones,) you can display, the more confidence you will offer to the researching consumer. This should include not only the potential price, all the stages and possible time scales for the service but ideally background on the individuals in your firm who will deliver the service. Biographies of the staff, including their qualifications and credentials will give confidence and help personalise the process. Adding in the firm’s quality kite marks, awards and of course previous customer testimonials and a superb way of reassuring the potential client. Your website is your shop window so dress it well!
Business development for solicito ors & ÄUHUJPHSHK]PZLYZ
Visit sifa-directory y.info for more information. 26 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
At SIFA Professional, we work with financial advisory firms that are keen to build partnerships with solicitors and we believe passionately in greater collaboration between the professions for the mutual client benefit. As a wise man once said to me (Ex SRA Executive Director, Crispin Passmore,) ‘clients don’t think in silos so we do we offer them solutions in silos.’ Perhaps therefore when you look to revamp your website take the opportunity that where appropriate and when it is their best interests you work with and refer them to financial advisers when the legal work undertaken gives rise to a need for complementary financial advice. ■
David Seager Development Director, SIFA
The M-Press Difference With regard to your various office machines and office equipment, I’m sure that you simply want it to function, with ‘up-time’ at an absolute maximum.
hen you have an issue you don’t really want to be dialling a help line only to be greeted by a recording inviting you to listen to the options and then dial ‘1’ for this and ‘2’ for that or whatever. Oh, and you are certainly not enjoying that tiresome ‘music on hold’!. When you call us for help or support you speak directly to technical staff – people who will understand the problem and offer the quickest solution. At MPress we don’t just aim to meet our targets and commitments – we exceed them! It’s our ‘can do’ attitude and friendly manner that makes us different. We close over 90% of help calls over the phone! If necessary we will remote onto your system while you show us exactly what the problem is. Meanwhile, our lumbering competitors will put you through to a help desk who then books an engineer call and then you wait…and you now put an ‘Out of Order’ sign on the offending piece of equipment. Keeping to the same theme, you often won’t even need to report a fault. Your machine will alert us if it has a problem. It lets us know when it’s getting low on toner for example. It will also alert us if any of the other consumables are nearing their ‘end of life’, or even if you get a paper jam! We can also obtain meter readings remotely which means we don’t have to pester you for them. But if you are now thinking you might never see an engineer… we will see you from time to time while we carry out preventative maintenance on your
equipment. Meanwhile, on the occasions that you do require an on-sight engineer, we will be with you in less than four working hours – we operate an AM/PM PM/AM system. But of course the M-Press benefits don’t stop there; we deliver replacement toners for free, i.e. no courier charges; we will give you IT support over the phone at no cost; we will also deliver, setup, install and then train your staff on new your machine for free! On a different note, M-Press has recently teamed up with its existing telephone supplier. Having used their phone system for the last two years, we have been totally impressed by their service and the fact that we more than halved our BT phone bills. So we not only save a small fortune but have a much better system, with more lines and far better facilities. We are currently installing a new document management system. As and when we are happy with the setup, we will take the system to market. We don’t believe in supplying and supporting anything that we are not both 100% familiar with and happy about. We firmly believe that the sale is just the beginning of our relationship – with our existing clients systematically upgrading their equipment with us over many happy years! ■
Larry Gordon Director, M-Press Imaging Systems Ltd
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 27
The Art of Fire Investigation Photo: Ian Peck
The examination of fires is perceived to be a difficult area of forensic science as fire destroys potential evidence which can determine how, when and where the fire started and by whom.
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28 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
his perception is mirrored in the most recent statistics which indicate that deliberate fires are increasing yet the number of convictions are falling, currently the conviction rate is around 5%. There are a variety of reasons for this but part of the issue must lie with the way arsons are investigated both at the scene and away from it. If you are asked to work on an arson case it is always worth checking the credentials of the person that is reporting the evidence to determine whether they are a reliable witness and if their conclusions can be substantiated. Many criminal investigations are subject to cognitive bias and this is an area of particular weakness in fire investigation therefore alternative hypotheses should be fully explored and perhaps independently reviewed. There are a number of things to look for at fire scenes: • The worst area of burning normally denotes where the fire has started. • A short time delay between a person leaving a premises and a fire being discovered could indicate a deliberate act. • It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between a fire started by a flame and a smouldering ignition source, such as a cigarette, without timings information as the resultant damage could be the same. • Ignitable liquids such as petrol and white spirit can be used to ‘accelerate’ a fire, but it is their vapours not the liquid that is ignited. The differing chemical composition of these liquids give them differing properties and burning characteristics. • Hand rolled cigarettes tend to self-extinguish if they are not actively smoked. One of the major areas of discussion within the cause and origin determination of a fire is around the timings of a fire and what that means in terms of potential ignition sources. Flame sources such as dropped or applied matches and lighters coming into contact with combustible items can produce flaming fires within a matter of minutes. Fires started by lit manufactured cigarettes can progress to flaming but first they will smoulder, a glowing flameless fire, for at least 20 minutes and more usually several hours producing increasing amounts of smoke. Information from smoke detectors can assist as they will give an early warning to any type of fire. Therefore, if a flaming fire is seen within minutes of a smoke detector sounding then it is likely that the fire was started by a flame. Fire scenes are challenging and the remaining evidence can be interpreted in a number of ways, however not always accurately. If you would like some assistance from experts that specialise in fire investigation then please contact us.
Ian Peck Forensic Scientist
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Flood searches more important than ever due to climate change In these days of digitised property information, conveyancers have a wide choice of search reports at their fingertips when considering how to best identify risk for their client’s chosen property.
hat is surprising, however, is that only about 29% of orders placed with Geodesys include a full flood assessment, meaning a large proportion of homebuyers are unaware of potential flood risk. With a growing population, increased demand for housing, ageing infrastructure and severe impacts on climate change, flooding is a significant problem which will inevitably threaten more communities across the UK. Ranging in impact from minor inconvenience to major disruption, every year millions of UK homes, businesses and people are affected by floods. According to the latest information from the Environment Agency, the UK currently has 5.9 million properties at risk of flooding, equating to one in six homes being at risk – an increase of 400,000 properties since 2013. Put into monetary figures, the statistics are even more startling with the effects of flooding and managing flood risk costing the UK approximately £2.2bn a year. Conveyancers have a vital role in informing their clients about the possibility of flooding to ensure they understand the potential risks and are armed with the right information to take steps to mitigate them ahead of the transaction. Home buyers need to be aware that flooding can happen anywhere, even if a property is not next to the sea or a river. There are many different types which property purchasers should be made aware of, including surface water flooding, river flooding, drain and sewer flooding, coastal flooding and
flash floods. All have potential to wreak havoc on a homebuyer’s property and life. In recent years, floods have made the headlines on several occasions. Statistics from the Met Office revealed December 2015 as the wettest month ever recorded in the UK, with almost double the average rain fall due to temperatures 4.1c higher than normal. Amazingly, although homeowners tend to have both insurance and warning systems in place to protect themselves against fire and burglary, very few take steps to reduce the chances of their property being flooded. This is rather concerning given that the average cost to rectify flood damage stands at £28,000 compared to the average £7,200 to fix fire damage, and £1,000 on resolving damage after a burglary. When advising clients conveyancers should look for a residential property search that provides a full assessment on the different types of flooding, plus information on insurability. For information on sewer flooding conveyancers should refer to the CON29DW Drainage and Water report, which is also an essential part of the conveyancing process. Geodesys offers a number of flood searches and the CON29DW, providing conveyancers with sound knowledge of any flood risks to their client, enabling them to make better, informed decisions about their purchase before proceeding further. To find out more visit: http://www.geodesys.com. By Jonny Davey Product Manager at Geodesys
*29% quoted is based on an analysis of Geodesys orders for search reports January 2018 – December 2018
The Report CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER31 31
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Users of GCS Online have 24/7 access to their personal account whereby they can browse and issue policies and / or save quotes for later use. All policy documentation, including IPIDs, key facts and confirmation of orders are electronically sent straightaway. Whether you decide to use our ‘Pack’ or ‘GCS Online’ system, you can be assured that all GCS policies are comprehensively worded and supported by highly experienced and friendly underwriters who are keen to help all conveyancers to help their clients. To find out more about GCS Online and to set up your FREE, no-obligation account, please visit www.gcsonline.gcs-title.co.uk. Alternatively, visit https://gcs-title.co.uk/orderpack to order your own personal GCS Insurance Pack. ■
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How Millennials are reshaping the conveyancing sector There’s a wave of change happening within the conveyancing sector at present. From regulatory changes and technological advancements to a new generation of home movers and conveyancers, things are looking a little different in the industry.
recently read an article from Valerie Holmes reflecting on the conveyancing sector. One point she made really resonated, and that was the industry heading toward a skills shortage, specifically a shortage of conveyancers. We are on the cusp of a major shift for the industry attributed primarily to a new age workforce, and the habits of the clients they are servicing, but firms need to employ the right tools to appeal to a new generation of conveyancer. By 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce, and these numbers are also reflected by the modern home mover. The Financial Times reported first-time buyers made up 51% of the market in 2018, and the average first-time buyer is now 31. This very generation, synonymous with taking technology and rapid advancement in their stride, will be influential in evolving both the consumer and business sides. So, how do firms address this new era? It begins with what millennials expect in employment. Despite the ideals Silicon Valley start-ups have made us believe, they aren’t only looking for free breakfast, slides in the office and yoga retreats. As digital natives, millennials are early adopters of new technologies and implement these daily to make menial tasks more efficient. Whether that’s booking appointments with their doctor via an app or preparing for the day by asking their voice assistant for the weather forecast, they’ve come to expect solutions facilitated by technology. These expectations have carried into their working lives and the focus from firms must be on providing products and solutions that meet these expectations, both for their millennial employees and customers. Particularly in a procedure heavy industry like conveyancing, great technology can mitigate many of the frustrations that arise from inefficient processes and can make the industry more attractive to a new generation of conveyancers, while retaining them for years to come. A recent report from the SRA has recognised that artificial intelligence will
not replace staff in firms, but instead free up solicitors’ time to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of their role; guiding people through the biggest, and often most stressful, purchase of their lives. The enjoyment of using said technologies doesn’t end with the solicitor, the benefits can also be experienced by the end user; the home mover. Providing access to complete compulsory home-moving forms via an online portal will exponentially improve the client experience. When everything else they do is accessible online, they don’t want to wait to action elements of their home moving process by post. And that is just one example, there are many areas of conveyancing that can be improved by the introduction of technology, I am sure you can think of a few immediately. Millennials are already the majority of firsttime buyers, and soon they will be the majority of our workforce and the next generation will be even more digitally lead. They will utilise technology to their advantage to better communicate and build relationships with their customers. There will always be a place for human-tohuman service, it’s just about harnessing technology to better facilitate more time to achieve it. Providing this generation with the right tools to generate positive user and customer experiences will ensure the skill of conveyancing is not a lost art and overall align the home moving process with the digital age. ■
Adam Bullion General Manager of Marketing, InfoTrack
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 33
It’s not you… it’s me too. Adrienne Donneky, the Head of Family Law at Hugh James, considers the proposed introduction of no-fault divorce. Photo: Adrienne Donneky
n their wedding day, very few people’s minds are on divorce. However, for around 20% of couples, that is the sad reality, and the process of divorce only exacerbates the emotional stress. At present if separating couples want to divorce without waiting two years (or five if the other does not consent) they must submit a petition to the Court detailing that the other party is at fault. This position is out of step with legislation governing other family proceedings, which place an emphasis upon conciliation and mediation. As the law currently stands, family law practitioners are in a peculiar difficulty; ensuring that allegations of unreasonable behaviour (upon which the vast majority of petitions are made) are strong enough to allow the petition to proceed, but not so strong as to spark conflict between the parties. The recent case of Owens v Owens, where the Court ruled a woman must remain married to a husband she wished to divorce, showed only too well that this balance is challenging to strike. Following years of diligent campaigning by groups such as Resolution, reform is finally on the horizon. The Justice Secretary confirmed in April that legislation for no-fault divorce will be
34 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
introduced as soon as parliamentary time becomes available. Following the proposed reform, a couple would only need to notify the Court that their marriage has broken down. Couples could give notice jointly, and one person would no longer have the ability to contest the divorce. This change should be fairly easy for solicitors to implement. No fault divorce will allow a spouse to end their marriage without any person being at fault. The hope is that when spouses do not have to apportion blame, the acrimony of divorce is removed and agreements regarding finances and children are easier to reach. At Hugh James, we wholeheartedly welcome this change. The law should not entrap an individual in a marriage, and the law should not unnecessarily worsen what is by its very nature a sad occasion. Clients often struggle to comprehend why the Court cares about Mr Jones’ habit of drinking too much, or that Mrs Jones’ has had an affair at the stage of divorce, but consider these factors irrelevant when it comes to finances. This change should allow clients to keep their grievances to themselves, and behave respectfully and kindly towards each other, whilst working towards building their respective lives. ■
Wills and Probate
When is an asset search needed? Is there a situation in which it is justified not to do an Asset Search on a probate matter? If there is a will, you need to be sure that all assets have been identified and distributed; but this is also true where there is no will to be found.
ealistically, you can never be certain about what assets your client actually holds until you have undertaken a thorough and comprehensive search. This applies equally whether a will already refers to multiple accounts and shareholdings, or if your client seems to be a less fortunate elderly person in a home, or in sheltered housing with no sign of any assets at all. What is to say that some of a wealthy clientâ€™s shares didnâ€™t fall by the wayside on a share conversion or when the building society became a bank? How can you tell if, whilst in sheltered housing, your clientâ€™s forgotten high yield savings account hasnâ€™t been accruing a healthy interest? Many solicitors currently approach asset tracing as an additional service to seek out in those circumstances in which there have been whispers of a particularly broad portfolio of accounts and/or shareholdings, or perhaps when there is evidence of a property having recently been disposed of prior to a clientâ€™s death, but the funds do not show in the most recent current account statement. There are many circumstances where a client may not have updated their address with the bank or closed an account upon opening a new one, and this is exactly why there is such a need to ensure that assets have not been forgotten or missed. An executorâ€™s duties, as defined by s25 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925, include a duty of care to collect all of a deceasedâ€™s assets and to pay all liabilities. However, there are few firms offering a single search bringing together dormant bank accounts, shares, the Land Registry, postal redirections and even credit searching; Fraser and Fraser claims to have
the only comprehensive service on the market. â€œIt is surprising how often we find assets which no one else â€“ the solicitor, the family or the home â€“ knew about, and with so many categories of assets possible, it is hardly news that something might go amiss to even the most organised Testator or solicitor. All you have to do is fill in one simple form with as much information as you have at your disposal and leave the rest to usâ€?, says Neil Fraser, a partner at Fraser and Fraser. â€œHaving had the contacts established already for our own work, it made sense to open this service up to all solicitors, not just those we are working with. We are confident that there is no one else on the market offering quite the same coverage â€“ and we look forward to sharing the knowledgeâ€?. At a time when beneficiaries are increasingly keen to ensure full value is extracted from their inheritance or to hold someone liable for a failure to do so, it would be reasonable to consider making commissioning a comprehensive asset trace a habitual part of the probate routine. It stands to reason that ensuring that all the assets brought together for a probate, really does mean that all of the assets have been identified and located, and this should become a standard part of administrating an estate; and in the case of a will, a quick search might ensure that all of a Testatorâ€™s property is successfully allocated, without leaving any partial intestacies or other surprises lurking later on. For further information about Asset Search, contact Fraser and Fraser on 020 7832 1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Research and E Estate Administration n Services 50 years of providing specialist research and estate administration support services. 7UDFLQJPLVVLQJEHQHČ´FLDULHVLVWKHKHDUWRIRXUEXVLQHVV7KURXJKH[SHUWNQRZOHGJHDQGZLWKLQWHUQDWLRQDOFRQQHFWLRQVZH FDQČ´QGWKHPLVVLQJQH[WRINLQDQGDVVLVWZLWKDOODVSHFWVRIHVWDWHDGPLQLVWUDWLRQZLWKVSHHGDQGDFFXUDF\ Contact us today to see how Fraser and Fraser can assist you.
fraserandfraser.co.uk or call: 0207 832 1400
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 35
Wills and Probate
A call to all Will Writers T Pic: L-R Matthew Brennan and Ken Brennan (My Paper Vault)
My Paper Vault has a way to enhance your offering to your clients. The following case study of Byrne Memorial Library highlights a few key issues that we can resolve on your behalf.
he Byrne Memorial Library was built in the 1950’s and had a capacity for 100 000 volumes of literature. By 2002 the capacity was at 171 000 books and the overflow was affecting the staff and the books were becoming damaged because the library was unable to store them in the correct manner. “Books were piled on top of each other, held at the circulation desk waiting for room, and stored on windowsills and in stairwells. Books were so tightly jammed in the stacks that some were damaged when pulling them off the shelf”, Mark Vagas described. Initially the library tried using the available space better, by replacing old prints with newer reprints, but this did not resolve the issue, it just replaced one book with another. The library could not simply remove books, because they could not decide on what should stay or go and there was pressure from the student body not to destroy any of the volumes. The library employed a new director who proposed off-site storage. The files were catalogued and barcoded to find them if needed and the volumes were packaged up for safe keeping and stored well above the standards set about by the university. The storage came with internet access so the library could access and catalogue any file they required at any time. The cost was primarily covered by making the process of storing information on microfilm redundant. This process of rethinking the way the library stored their files saved them money, reduced the damage to the files themselves, and improved morale in the workplace. My Paper Vault is a way of storing your clients’ Wills and related documents. Our online storage lets your clients access all their documents held in storage with us. To see the full service we offer, please visit www.mypapervault.co.uk or call our office on 01252 759846. The case study reference is https://journals.tdl.org/llm/index.php/llm/article/viewFile/15 12/792
The MyPaperVault Team
36 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Professional Deputies Forum
Professional Deputies come together to create a representative body, launching The Professional Deputies Forum
Photo: Russell Caller
Photo: Holly Chantler
Photo: Martin Terrell
Russell Caller is Gillhams Solicitors LLP Director of Court of Protection Services.
Holly Chantler is the Head of the Private Client department at Morrisons Solicitors.
Martin Terrell is a partner in the Court of Protection team at Warners Solicitors
For the first time, an organisation is being launched to represent the interests of professional deputies and their support staff in England and Wales.
he PDF – The Professional Deputies Forum – has been established to be just that; a forum for solicitors and legal executives who act as professional deputies and those who work alongside them to share news, views and best practice, while also providing a collective voice to act as a conduit between its members and third parties such as the Office of the Public Guardian, the Ministry of Justice, the Court of Protection and the Law Society. Its aim is to contribute to the work of professional deputies on matters concerning vulnerable adults who lack or have limited mental capacity. This is a challenging as well as a growing area of work and a shared forum aims to work for its members and most importantly, those they work for. As this area of work grows so does the need for a body that can both support and represent its practitioners. This will include those working alongside professional deputies, such as solicitors, trainees and paralegals who may be learning or highly experienced, but who are also their lifeblood and their future. The PDF is an independent, not for profit company. At present, there are three directors – Russell Caller, the Director of the Court of Protection Services at Gillhams Solicitors LLP, Holly Chantler, the Head of Private Clients at Morrisons Solicitors and Martin Terrell, a partner in the Private Client Department at Warners Solicitors. All three directors are experienced professional panel deputies. Membership is open to all Court of Protection
appointed deputies, including Associate Membership, which is available for other members of staff who assist deputies. There is also an Honorary Membership scheme, to be designated by the PDF to those persons who have special skills and/or knowledge concerning deputyship and Court of Protection matters. The PDF will host an annual conference, this year sponsored by Leeds based law firm, Clarion. Clarion has its own specialist costs team who undertake costs drafting for deputies. This year’s conference will take place at the offices of Clarion on Friday 22nd March 2019, with partner Andrew McAulay as a key speaker. Also speaking at the conference will be Alan Eccles, the Public Guardian and Joan Goulbourn of the Ministry of Justice. Russell Caller, who has led the working group in setting up the PDF, commented: “This is a very exciting moment. With nearly one million people affected by dementia or alzheimer's in our society, the role of the deputy and his or her support worker is of fundamental importance, managing the affairs of those persons living with mental incapacity and making “best interests” decisions for them requires deputies with special skills and now, for the first time, with the creation of the PDF, deputies and their support staff will be able to share experiences and be represented with one voice.” ■
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 37
EUROPEAN ENERGY LAW REPORT VOLUME XII Editors Martha M Roggenkamp and Catherine Banet ISBN: 978 1 78068 672 1 INTERSENTIA www.intersentia.com
ENERGY SUPPLIES POST BREXIT: THE NEW ‘EUROPEAN ENERGY LAW REPORT’ RINGS AT LEAST A FEW ALARM BELLS An appreciation by Elizabeth Robson Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”
hen first you switch on the lights in your home or office, it may or may not occur to you to wonder where the energy for this instant availability comes from. The awkward answer - if you live and work in the UK - is that the bulk of the UK’s electricity supply is imported, as this latest European Energy Law Report from Intersentia makes clear. UK residents, who get their electricity bills from EDF, for example, won’t need too much convincing on this point, recalling that EDF means ‘Electricite de France.’ How then and in what way will UK consumers of energy be affected by Brexit? There’s no one answer to this one as the longer-term results of Brexit will be revealed only in time. But on opening this Report, you are presented with the first of its thirteen chapters (from 17 expert contributors) which offers up a scary title: “Brexit and its Impact on the Energy Sectors. Pulling the Plug?” by author Silke Goldberg. Dr. Goldberg, a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, offers a carefully research analysis of the possible and probable impact of Brexit on the UK in respect of energy sources. The facts involved are of course, interspersed with quite a lot of speculation, as anything to do with Brexit is fraught with uncertainty. Nonetheless, certain facts speak for themselves. As we are reminded by Dr. Goldberg, ‘…the UK electricity market is highly interconnected,’ relying as it does on electricity flow from France, from where the UK imports up to 2GW. (Gigawatts). While admitting that physical disconnection of the UK and EU electricity markets is highly unlikely, Dr. Goldberg warns that
38 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
‘Brexit may still negatively impact on energy trading and therefore on UK energy security, as the UK is a net importer of electricity.’ As an overview of - in the words of the editors - ‘the most important developments in the field of international, EU, and national energy and climate law,’ this book has certainly done its job, the common thread throughout being ‘the promotion of renewable energy sources.’ Divided into five parts, then book covers such matters as, of course, EU energy law, including case law…renewable energy production, particularly cross-border issues and dispute resolution…and energy consumers and “prosumers”. (The book explains what this means). Of interest are the sections on capacity markets and mechanisms which include a chapter on capacity markets in Great Britain. Also note the final section on promoting the use of sustainable gas and security of gas supply, with reference to EU and German perspectives. Mitigating the effects of climate change also looms large as a topic of note in what is an impressive Report, which should certainly attract the attention of environmental lawyers as well as the general reader seeking authoritative commentary on energy matters and the inherent legal issues.
The publication date is cited as at 20th November 2018. ■
by Elizabeth Taylor and
Phillip Taylor MBE
of Richmond Green Chambers
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The Official Law Journal for the City of Westminster Law Society. Featuring the latest news and features on International events, property a...
Published on May 16, 2019
The Official Law Journal for the City of Westminster Law Society. Featuring the latest news and features on International events, property a...