LAWYER MAY 2020
Getting to grips with Covid-19
Inside this issue: ■ Covid-19 ■ Remote Working
Pick ‘n’ mix Quill’s software & services legal accounts software | practice & document management software smartphone apps | form packs | court bundling | outsourced cashiering outsourced typing | outsourced payroll | plus much much more!
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Contents PUBLISHER Benham Publishing Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440 Email: email@example.com Web: www.benhampublishing.com
05 President’s Foreword 07 WHLS Events 10 Confidence:
ADVERTISING & FEATURES EDITOR Anna Woodhams
How confident is Goldilocks?
DESIGN & PRODUCTION MANAGER Lee Finney ACCOUNTS DIRECTOR Joanne Casey
MEDIA No. 1706 PUBLISHED MAY 2020 © Benham Publishing Ltd.
11 Krakow twinning 12 Movers & Shakers
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16 Interview with David Morgan
19 Remote working 24 Landlords and
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.
Tenants: Maintaining relationships during lockdown
26 An employer’s
guide to navigating Covid-19 workforce issues in key jurisdictions in Europe
COVER INFORMATION Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay.
29 Response of the
WHLS to the SRA Consultation
Copy Deadlines Summer Autumn Winter
32 Qualification: till
retirement do us part
3rd August 2020 16th October 2020 29th January 2021
Members wishing to submit material please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor in Chief: Ivan Ho Guest Editor: Matthew Allan Editorial Board: Coral Hill, Suzanna Eames & Sarah Bradd. Anyone else wishing to advertise or submit editorial for publication in Central London please contact Anna Woodhams before copy deadline. Email: email@example.com Tel: 0151 236 4141
46 Working from home
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CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 3
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The President’s Foreword May 2020
t is clear that the disruption created by COVID-19 is unlike anything we could have imagined or prepared for. Our lives, our families, our work, plans, hopes; everything feels different. It is daunting, but with perseverance and innovation we will come out the other side. The Society continues to operate remotely under the limitations of the lockdown, but effectively. It has been especially challenging for the editorial team to put this work together and we are all grateful for their effort. I hope you enjoy reading about the activities and events that we have held in recent months. One event I recall fondly was our annual dinner when I had the privilege to hand out the Society’s first Lifetime Achievement Award to Mike Tomlinson at the National Liberal Club. Paula Piquer has also written about the successful launch of the Forum for International lawyers. This part of our community needed their space and visibility and we hope we can assist with this and will continue to work for them in this direction. We also recall fondly our twinning ceremony with the Krakow Bar Association, signed at the beautiful Resident House of the President of The Law Society on 11 March 2020. Unfortunately the second leg of the signing, due for 18 April 2020 in Krakow, has been postponed, but the aims and objectives of the twinning are in motion. I want to share my special gratitude to William Longrigg, former President of the International Academy of family Lawyers, for his talk on European Law and Brexit to the representatives of other European Bar Associations, and the President of the Federation of the Bar Association of Europe, Silvia Gimenez-Salinas, who travelled to join us on this occasion.
This edition of our magazine however is dominated by the effects of the pandemic on our profession and working lives. You might agree that the word ‘Brexit’ has been replaced at the top of the podium of most used words by ‘furlough’. Phillip Henson, Chair of the Law Reform Committee, has written a helpful piece on the Government Employment Retention Scheme and more information will be shared on our website. Following the new trend we have an interesting interview with David Morgan which you should not miss together with other articles covering topics such as the experience of working from home for junior solicitors and investigations conducted on behalf of solicitors. We have also included the SRA consultation on Compensation Funds submitted by our Professional Matters Committee. I hope you all stay well and connected. I look forward to us being together soon. ■
Carolina Marín Pedreño President
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Carolina Marín Pedreño President
Carolina is a Spanish Abogado, who cross-qualified as a Solicitor in 2006. She specialises in international cases particularly child abduction, registration and enforcement of foreign contact orders, leave to remove, residence, contact and public law cases. Carolina is a Fellow and elected Governor of the European Chapter of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, Counsellor of the Union International des Avocats Human Rights Commission, member of the International Committee of Resolution, elected Executive member for international affairs of the Bar Association of Murcia, Founder and Secretary of the Spanish Association of Collaborative Lawyers and co-chair of the European Family Justice Observatory. Carolina is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Child Abduction and Children Law – disputes between parents or relatives. Carolina’s full profile can be found at https://dawsoncornwell.com/en/the-team/partners/carolina-marín-pedreño.html
Anthony Seymour Treasurer
Anthony is a Solicitor in the Property Department of Pothecary Witham Weld. He acts for Charities, Company and Private Clients and deals with Commercial property, Landlord and Tenant and Residential Conveyancing. He also specialises in Leasehold Enfranchisement. He has worked at established City Firms and was for many years a Partner in the Property Department of a Central London Law Firm. He is a member of the University of Bristol Alumni Association London Branch Committee and holds a Masters Degree in Law from Kings College, University of London.
Paul Sharma Deputy Vice President
Paul is the founder and managing partner of Sharma Solicitors. Sharma Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice acting for both claimants and respondents, small and multinational firms. Paul worked as a trade union official, before qualifying in a firm that acts exclusively for the large trade unions for their members. Paul went on to head the employment law departments of an outer London commercial firm before doing the same for a large city practice.
Matthew Allan Junior Vice President
Matthew is a commercial litigator with Sherrards Solicitors, focusing on domestic and international dispute resolution. He also puts his Canadian roots to work as a member of CWHLS’s International Committee. Matt is a former Council Member of the Law Society and sat on its Regulatory Affairs Board, alongside positions with the Junior Lawyers Division national executive committee. He enjoys writing and often adds his two cents to legal debates.
Anisha Birk Honorary Secretary
Anisha is a second year trainee at Farrer & Co LLP. Anisha previously sat as Secretary of the WHLS International Sub-Committee before becoming Honorary Secretary this year. She was awarded the 2017 Gamlen Prize by WHLS for outstanding performance on the LPC. Prior to joining Farrer & Co, Anisha worked for the British Museum as a trainee curator. Anisha worked across various aspects of the British Museum’s collections, chiefly completing an online documentation project of the Museum’s vast Sasanian seal collection. In 2014 she was awarded a Sackler Scholarship to complete this project and a Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grant from the Art Fund to visit Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq, to study their Sasanian collections.
Ivan Ho Editor in Chief
Ivan has been a member of the main committee since November 2008. He began his training with Hunters in 2004. On qualification, he joined the Property Department of Hunters and specialises in residential and commercial work. He became an Associate at Hunters in April 2010.
Laura Uberoi Immediate Past President
Laura is a real estate finance solicitor at Macfarlanes LLP and was previously with Farrer & Co LLP, where she qualified. Prior to her election as President of WHLS, Laura sat on the International Committee and served as Honorary Secretary. In 2017 Laura was also elected as a Council Member at the national Law Society, where she represents junior lawyers up to five years qualified. Before becoming a solicitor, she worked with young people in detention facilities across the UK and separately on capital punishment cases for the Texas Defender Service in the USA. Laura is passionate about social mobility and access to justice – she mentors students to encourage participation in the profession and assists with local free legal advice centres. Laura has also lectured on human rights and war crimes in The Hague and taught a variety of legal subjects, including taxation law, corporate law and international law in the UK and abroad.
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Westminster & Holborn Events
Forum for International Lawyers in London F
orum for International Lawyers in London [FILL], has been created in response to the increasing numbers of lawyers, who are qualified in jurisdictions, other than England and Wales, and decide to overcome all potential challenges and embark on the adventure of practicing law in another country. This Forum will provide lawyers from all jurisdictions, worldwide, with the space they need to find support and share their experiences. Perhaps you find yourself needing guidance on how to cross- qualify in England and Wales or want to discuss the market opportunities and discover what are realistic expectations for you? This group provides the opportunity for lawyers qualified abroad and English qualified lawyers to connect, create a network of legal professionals with expertise in other jurisdictions, and to develop personal and professional relations between them.
FILL launched on Tuesday 25 February 2020 with a drinks reception kindly hosted by Farrer & Co. We encouraged all international lawyers to join us and we had a very successful event with over 60 attendees. Carolina Marín Pedreño, the Chair of WHLS and Paula Piquer Ruz, a committee member responsible for this group, both dual qualified lawyers, gave a short speech about their initial experiences when relocating to London to practice English law as European lawyers and the progression in their careers, and recognised the value that international lawyers add to the legal profession in the UK. There was a very positive interaction between lawyers qualified in European jurisdictions and worldwide and a lot of interest shown in participating in future events. The Forum was aiming to meet regularly throughout the year, and we were already planning events for 2020. Sadly, as a consequence of the present circumstances with Covid-19 face to face events have had to be postponed. However, we remain available to assist remotely to continue facilitating support to our members. ■
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Westminster & Holborn Events
Booking is essential for all events due to restrictions of space
Due to Government advice all events are cancelled until further notice. However, if the situation changes, we will notify our members. April/May SQE Update Breakfast Seminar
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. Following the success of the session last year, 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.
April/May Developing an International Strategy
Our International Sub-Committee is hosting a seminar on how firms of all sizes can develop an international strategy. This session will draw on the Society’s international networks and experience twinning with large and small overseas bar associations.
May Spring Litigation Update
The first of our annual litigation updates will start at 6.30pm and be following by a networking reception. Further details to follow.
May Meet your council members
This is a great opportunity to hear about the work of The Law Society and ask questions of your local council members for Holborn (Jonathan Wright and Fraser Whitehead) and Westminster (Beth Forrester, Jeffrey Forrest and Edward MaceyDare). A reception with refreshments will follow.
May/June How to Session – Judicial Appointments
Following the success of our session last year, we are hoping to host eminent panellists to lead another workshop on judicial appointments. Further details will follow.
June Summer Property Law Update
The third of our annual property law updates is kindly hosted by Index Property Information, starts at 6pm and will be followed by a networking reception. Further details will follow.
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June/July Summer Garden Party
We are looking forward to bringing our members together for a summer gathering, with refreshments and entertainment. Further details will follow.
9-12 July Visit to Cluj-Napoco, Romania
Members are invited to join a delegation visiting the Cluj-Napoco Bar Association in Romania. If you would like to get involved, please email Katjana.Cleasby@Farrer.co.uk
23 September Newly Qualifieds’ Celebration – House of Lords Reception (TBC)
We are hoping to host our annual Newly Qualifieds Celebration in the House of Lords, where we will also present our Newly Qualified Rising Star Award. It will also be an opportunity to meet our visiting delegation for the UIA London Conference (more details below).
24-25 September UIA London Conference
The Union Internationale des Avocats (International Lawyers Association) are hosting their conference in London jointly with the WHLS. There will be a series of seminars hosted by members during the conference and several networking opportunities to meet with delegates. Further details will follow and please get in touch if you would like to participate in the visit.
Tuesday 27 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 and new Officers will be elected. Do come along to see familiar and new faces – refreshments will follow the meeting.
Westminster & Holborn Events
Annual Dinner T
hank you to everyone who joined us for our annual President’s Dinner on 11 March 2020, which we organised together with the South London Law Society. We were delighted to welcome not only guests from a wide range of firms within the Westminster and Holborn and South London areas, but also our distinguished international guests from countries including Spain, Poland and Romania. Our guests included Aleksander Gut of the Krakow Bar Association, Kinga Konopka of the Krakow Law Society, Silvia Gimenez, President of FBE, Sergio Marco and Kataryzna Wasowicz of the Murcia Bar Association and Izaskun Azpitar and Aitzol Asla of the Bilbao Bar Association and Calin Iuga of the Cluj Bar. We were grateful that this event took place when it did. Only a week later the circumstances relating to COVID-19 had worsened and we would not have been able to welcome our overseas friends. The event took place at the National Liberal Club, which occupies a beautiful French renaissance style building in the heart of Westminster, overlooking the Thames. This club was established for Liberal Party campaigners following the Third Reform Act in 1884 and has been a space for Liberal values ever since. We were delighted to welcome our engaging key note speaker Stephanie Boyce. Stephanie talked to us about diversity in the legal profession and how taking into account the necessity of this can ensure that our profession goes from strength to strength. Stephanie’s words were inspiring we were so pleased that she could join us for the evening. It was also a pleasure to hear our President, Carolina Marin Pedreño, present our prestigious lifetime achievement award. This was awarded to Michael Tomlinson, the chairman of the Islington Legal Advice Centre (ILAC) in London. Michael has worked tirelessly at the ILAC over his career, providing legal advice to countless people in their times of need. We wish Michael many congratulations on this award and for the contributions he has made over his career. We would like to extend a massive thank you to our brilliant sponsors, Interpreting Direct translation services and Kutter Walters, legal costs draftsmen, for helping to make our annual President’s dinner possible. ■
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Confidence: How confident is Goldilocks? Helen Broadbridge, a Trainee Solicitor at Macfarlanes LLP and member of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee will explore some of the qualities often suggested as lying at the root of women’s lack of progress, in this second of three articles.
s part of their seminal article The Confidence Gap, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman asked the All-Star WNBA player Monique Currie whether her wellspring of confidence was as deep as that of a male athlete. She rolled her eyes. “For guys,” she said, “I think they have maybe 13- or 15-player rosters, but all the way down to the last player on the bench, who doesn’t get to play a single minute, I feel like his confidence is just as big as the superstar of the team. For women, it’s not like that.”1 Attitudes towards women are gradually changing, but research still suggests that women pay a heavier price if their confidence is viewed as excessive. If a woman strolls into her boss’s office to give unsolicited opinions, if she speaks first in meetings, or if she gives advice above her seniority level, she risks being disliked. It is not only her competence that is called into question; it is her character. Thus, confident women find themselves in a Goldilocks conundrum - they need their confidence levels to be just right. “Women do seem to toot their horns less than their male colleagues,” notes Hannah Riley Bowles, an expert in women’s leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. “The problem is when you stop there and say, ‘Okay, well, women just need to be more like men.’ The story of why women are more modest than men is much more complicated than that.”2 Unless women can moderate their assertiveness with stereotypically feminine traits such as empathy or altruism, confidence will do little for their career progression.3 Analysing data from a global technology company, researchers found that the outward self-confidence of men and women was not rewarded equally. “The more confident male engineers in our sample appeared to be, the more influence they had in the organization,” the researchers found. “Women were able to translate their self-confident image into influence only when they
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also displayed high pro-social orientation, or the motivation to benefit others.”4 While men received a straightforward benefit from their confidence, women had to master the appearance of both confidence and humility. Too modest and women’s achievements are overlooked. Too confident and women face the ‘backlash effect’ – a professional and social penalty for failing to adhere to gender norms. For example, confident women were found often to be perceived as less likable and less hireable.5 It can therefore be a fear of this backlash, and not a simple lack of confidence, that holds many women back from self-promoting.6 “The focus on the confidence gap is troubling as it suggests something is wrong with women, and that we need to ‘fix’ them and have them act more like men,” says Jessi L. Smith, a psychology professor at the University of Colorado. “This misplaces the responsibility and the burden.”7 The next edition will explore assertiveness and how women might walk the tightrope between confidence and backlash. ■ 1. Kay, K & Shipman, C, 2014, ‘The Confidence Gap’, The Atlantic. 2. Thomson, S, 2018, ‘A Lack of Confidence Isn’t What’s Holding Back Working Women’, The Atlantic. 3. Guillen, L, 2018, ‘Is the Confidence Gap Between Men and Women a Myth?’ Harvard Business Review. 4. Guillen, L, 2019, ‘Appearing self-confident and getting credit for it: Why it may be easier for men than women to gain influence at work,’ Human Resource Management. 5. Rudman, L.A, 2001, ‘Prescriptive Gender Stereotypes and Backlash Toward Agentic Women’, Journal of Social Issues. 6. Lindeman, M. I. H., 2018, ‘Women and Self-Promotion: A Test of Three Theories’, Psychological Reports. 7. Thomson, S, 2018, ‘A Lack of Confidence Isn’t What’s Holding Back Working Women’, The Atlantic.
Krakow twinning O
n the 11th March 2020, shortly before we were all asked to self-isolate and all trips were cancelled, we had an important event which marked the twinning between the Westminster and Holborn Law Society and the Krakow Bar Association. This important ceremony took place in the official residence of the President of the Law Society of England and Wales, which is a beautiful early 18th Century house just off Chancery Lane.
Konopka of the Krakow Law Society for representing the Krakow Bar Association at this event. We also wish to extend our thanks to Silvia Gimenez, President of FBE, Sergio Marco and Kataryzna Wasowicz of the Murcia Bar Association and Izaskun Azpitar, of the Bilbao Bar Association for attending. We were indeed lucky that this event took place when it did; only a week later and we would not have been able to welcome these colleagues and friends.
We were delighted to have distinguished visitors from Krakow, Murcia and Bilbao join us. We extend our thanks to Aleksander Gut of the Krakow Bar Association, who attended in place of Pawel Gieras, Dean of the Krakow Bar Association and to Kinga
The WHLS has twinned with various law societies and bar associations within Europe, such as Berlin and and this was an important opportunity to strengthen and emphasize the connections we have in Europe, which are more important than ever, particularly following Brexit. We heard William Longrigg, the key note speaker, speak about the importance of such relationships. He emphasized how these connections mean so much to all legal associations throughout the world. As the former President of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, he was able to emphasize the value that lawyers all over the world place on their relationships with one another. Because the event took place only shortly before a lockdown was announced, guests were not able to shake hands or embrace one another – even after the symbolic signing of the twinning agreement, where the traditional handshake was replaced with an ‘elbow-shake’. It was nevertheless a very enjoyable event, which included a delicious lunch at Middle Temple. We wish to extend our thanks to our foreign guests for attending this event and for sharing with us their enthusiasm for this important event. ■
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Movers & Shakers
Ed Whittington & Helen Goatley
Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins to merge Combination creates new Top 100 regional powerhouse with significant specialisms including private client, property and personal injury
eading UK law firms Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins have agreed to merge, creating a new regional powerhouse firm with a significant geographic footprint across the South East. The merger has been approved unanimously by the two firms’ respective partnerships.
The firm combined will have offices in Southampton, Guildford, Woking and Lymington, as well as two locations in London (Richmond and the City). It will also be the sole UK legal advisor within Ecovis, an international network of more than 7,500 lawyers, accountants and consultants with capability around the globe.
Set to begin trading as Moore Barlow from 1 May, the new firm will comprise 70 partners, 272 lawyers and legal professionals, and a total staff of nearly 500 across six UK offices. Moore Barlow will have a combined turnover of almost £40 million, putting it well within the roster of the UK’s top 100 law firms. In terms of clients, Moore Barlow will be focused primarily on meeting the needs of private individuals & families, owners and managers of fast-moving organisations and businesses, and people whose lives have been affected by serious accidents or negligence. Each of these groups require relationship-oriented legal advisors who are dedicated to helping them find the best path through complex, difficult or stressful situations, a focus and approach which will set Moore Barlow apart in the marketplace. At the heart of the firm’s proposition will be a singular focus on people, both when it comes to clients and the firm’s 500-strong workforce across the UK.
Ed Whittington, managing partner of Moore Blatch, commented: “There is a unique opportunity to bring together the absolute best of our two organisations – both outstanding firms with deep regional roots, strong areas of specialism, and dedicated teams of exceptional talent. By combining our respective and highly complementary areas of expertise within a culture of excellence and support, we will be one of very few firms with the breadth, depth and resources to meet all the needs of our core client groups. Moving forward with a clear vision and building on a shared set of values, Moore Barlow is poised to become a national leader in our chosen fields.”
Bringing together both firms’ respective and highly complementary areas of expertise, Moore Barlow will boast some of the largest and most comprehensive teams of legal advisors in areas such as private client, clinical negligence and residential property, among others.
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Helen Goatley, chairman of Barlow Robbins, added: “We feel strongly that the focus on people which lies at the heart of Moore Barlow will truly set us apart in the marketplace. For clients looking for a relationship-led service, we offer a strong commitment to achieving better outcomes for people, whether they are individuals, families, managers, leaders or entrepreneurs, and particularly those encountering opportunity, challenge or life-altering circumstances. Today’s top talent also want the right mix of a stimulating, rewarding career alongside a fulfilling work-life balance, an experience which we feel Moore Barlow will be uniquely suited to offer, and from which our clients can only benefit.” ■
Movers & Shakers
Good luck Hannah WHLS
sends very best wishes to our previous Junior Vice President, Hannah McCrindle. While working as an officer, Hannah developed and approved the new designs for our website and logo, organised our banners, acted as our IT adviser and much more. Enormous thanks are due for Hannah’s invaluable contribution and it’s great news that she and family are well-settled in their new home in Clitheroe. Hannah also has had a gorgeous baby girl and is starting work at Stewarts solicitors in Leeds. Good luck with the new job and the challenges of starting a new position from home. ■
Moore Barlow. Even more together… In May 2020, Barlow Robbins and Moore Blatch joined forces to become Moore Barlow. Bringing together the legacy of our past, but looking to the future — our new law firm offers you more. More expertise & knowledge. More solutions & outcomes. More locations & coverage. Visit moorebarlow.com for further information.
Guildford London Lymington Richmond Southampton Woking
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Movers & Shakers
Sinclair Gibson establishes a Family Office Services Group
arlier this year Sinclair Gibson established a dedicated Family Office Services Group, to provide a range of personalised services to families, their offices, trustees and other advisers that complement the firm’s specialist private client work. The Family Office Whilst family offices are nothing new, their popularity has grown significantly within the last ten years; a trend that is likely to continue. It has been estimated that there are now more than 10,000 family offices worldwide, with the vast majority in Europe. With the legal, regulatory and tax environment continuously changing, the management of a family’s affairs requires a considerable amount of effort and expertise, often involving multiple jurisdictions and professional advisers. Naturally, families are increasingly looking for all of their affairs to be managed under one roof. Family offices can now be found in a range of settings, including law, accountancy and investment firms. The term itself denotes many meanings and typically extends beyond the traditional wealth management of a single family. The Services To balance the safeguarding and growth of wealth for future generations with the immediate needs of current generations, requires an in-depth understanding of, and close relationship with, each family. Family offices are said to have a “helicopterview” of the family’s situation as well as a deep personal knowledge of their historic affairs. The role of the family office is extremely varied, ranging from dayto-day administrative tasks to sophisticated succession and tax planning. The services offered by our group, although principally driven by the needs of the family, fall into the following categories. Trust Administration and Governance The administration of family and charitable trusts can be onerous. Our trust administration and governance work includes conducting trustee meetings and implementing trust distributions and other decisions, as well as all aspects of HMRC tax compliance work, including the preparation of income, capital gains and inheritance tax returns. Probate and Estate Administration Executors and administrators of a deceased’s estate undertake significant responsibilities in their role. Our group deals with the administration of estates comprising both domestic and foreign assets and provides advice relating to trusts in the UK and overseas in order to obtain the relevant grant of representation. We have the capability and expertise to deal with estate accounting and the tax affairs for the period of administration. Working closely with the private client team also provides seamless post-death planning where opportunities exist of which the group has extensive experience in its implementation and dealing with any allied reporting requirements.
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Our litigation department assists the group in relation to any disputes arising in the context of estate administration. Accounting services Effective tax planning often involves the establishment and maintenance of complex structures which have specific accounting requirements. In addition to the accounting services described above, there is a significant network of both onshore and offshore accountants and fiduciaries with whom we work to ensure that where required and appropriate, the preparation of accounts and submission of relevant documentation to HMRC and Companies House, as well as the relevant authorities in other jurisdictions, is identified and dealt with. Investment Management and Strategy Liaison Our group has a strong referral network which enables us to assist with the selection of investment consultants and managers, and liaise with them as necessary in relation to ongoing strategy, monitoring and review. Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (‘LPAs’) Well-drafted testamentary documents ensure the correct succession plan is implemented and may enable substantial tax savings through the careful use of relevant reliefs and exemptions on death, and/or the creation of flexible ongoing trusts. LPAs are also an important part of family planning that can reduce family conflict at critical times. The Group The Family Office Services Group at Sinclair Gibson is headed by Angela White, who has over 25 years of experience in trust management for wealthy families as well as probate and estate administration. The group works hand-in-hand with the private client team, but also liaises with the firm’s family and litigation departments in order to deliver services across a broad spectrum. Managing partner Lucy Gibson says: “We pride ourselves on our particular approach to private client law. We are known for our highly personal and discreet service based upon long and close client relationships developed over many years. The formal establishment of the family office services group continues this culture. Our role in relation to particular clients whom we have advised through generations places us in a unique position to assess their continuing day-to-day wealth planning needs and the best means of ensuring the long-term stability and protection of their assets.” ■
Lily Hurley Solicitor
Sinclair Gibson LLP
Director of the Family Office Services Group Sinclair Gibson LLP
Movers & Shakers
Nicola Wainwright joins JMW Solicitors LLP, London
icola Wainwright is a specialist clinical negligence solicitor with more than 20 years’ experience. She joined JMW Solicitors LLP in April 2020 as the first partner in the clinical negligence department to be based out of their London Office, which opened in May 2019. Nicola had previously spent 20 years at Leigh Day in London, the last 14 of which she was a Partner. Nicola specialises exclusively in clinical negligence claims for patients arising from medical treatment that has gone wrong, or from a failure to provide medical treatment. She has expertise in a wide range of claims, but particularly those that are complex or that result in severe, life changing injuries. Nicola has acted in many high value cases for clients who have suffered brain injuries, including children injured at birth or due to infections, such as meningitis, and adults who have suffered neurological injuries during surgery or as a result of a delay in diagnosis of disease, such as encephalitis. Nicola also acts for clients who have suffered other types of injury, including gynaecological injuries and those arising from delays in diagnosis of diseases and sepsis. Nicola acts for the families of those who have died. She regularly assists bereaved families with inquests, including Article 2 inquests, into their loved ones’ deaths. Most recently, Nicola successfully settled a claim for a 9-yearold-girl who had suffered permanent brain damage due to the misuse of forceps during her delivery at West Middlesex Hospital. She also secured a six figure sum of compensation for a 75-year old man who suffered brain damage during sinus surgery and successfully concluded a claim for a lady who suffered spinal injuries as a result of poor mental health care which left her unnecessarily suffering symptoms of psychosis and depression.
Kutter Walters K
utter Walters Legal Costs Limited is based on an approachable structure and aims to be considered as an extension of your firm, rather than simply an outsourced service. The company started in 2012 with just 2 local clients and has steadily grown since, with a large client base which spans the UK. Our experienced team provides ongoing advice throughout a case and guidance to help manage your costs from the outset. We specialise in a number of areas of Costs, including; Inter Partes, Legal Aid, Solicitor Client, Court of Protection, Advocacy and Mediation. Kutter Walters strongly believes in the ongoing provision of Legal Aid. We have a team of dedicated Legal Aid costs experts who are ready to advise you on how to maximise profitability from your cases. CCMS has changed the way in which legal aid costs are claimed and our team is at the forefront of changes to the evolving system. We have structured fee plans to ensure continuity across your cases and billing processes. We keep our charges transparent and competitive, and include our charges for consideration. In light of the ongoing Coronavirus emergency we remain accessible and are fully prepared to continue our provision of our services and are happy to discuss your needs. To speak directly to our team, please call 01273 569 650. The Head Office is based in Brighton and Hove and we provide our services to firms across the UK. You can also visit our website www.kutterwalters.co.uk for more information. We at Kutter Walters Legal Costs Limited are proud sponsors of the President’s Dinner. ■
Nicola is described in Chambers & Partners legal directory as a ‘highly experienced lawyer who achieves great results’ for clients. Clients describe her as ‘incredibly empathetic and understanding’ and as ‘having great communication skills’. Nicola qualified as a solicitor in 1997 after training with Pictons. She specialised in personal injury and clinical negligence at Davies & Partners, Birmingham before joining Leigh Day in 2000, since when she has specialised exclusively in clinical negligence. Nicola is a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Accreditation Panel and an Association of Personal Injury (APIL) Senior Litigator. She is currently the Co-ordinator of Apil’s Special Interest Group on Procedure. Nicola is a member of FOCIS (Forum of Complex Injury Solicitors), the Westminster & Holborn Law Society and the Association of Women Solicitors, London (AWSL). She sits on the CSR and Pro-Bono Committee of Westminster & Holborn Law Society. Through these organisations Nicola helps fight for access to justice for all and for equality and diversity. ■
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 15
Interview with David Morgan D
avid Morgan has had a long and varied career, which started before he even dreamed of entering the legal profession. At nineteen his first job was in Austria where he volunteered to work with refugees for two and a half years. David looked after displaced boys aged six to twenty years old. He worked during the daytime in the HQ of the refugee project in Innsbruck. His evenings after work were spent volunteering in the hostel for Hungarian refugees. David's decision to go to Austria to work with the refugee children came about through his early encounter with politics in 1956. He’d heard about the Hungarian revolution against communism while recuperating from an emergency appendicitis operation in the infirmary at Winchester College. Years later, David joined the refugee project located in Innsbruck which was funded by the Norwegian and Austrian governments. David had a number of extraordinary experiences while in Austria including dinner with world leaders John F. Kennedy, US President and Nikita Khruschev, Soviet Premier in Vienna 1961. David was an overnight guest at the British Ambassador’s residence. He had such an enjoyable time at the dinner, where the drink flowed generously, that the following day he was arrested on his way back to the refugee hostel in Innsbruck and thrown into a police cell. He was surprised to be greeted next morning with the words “It’s the mad English tram driver!”. Thereby hangs another tale. When David travelled by tram in Austria, he enjoyed standing alongside the driver. Eventually he was asked if he would like to train to drive a tram, and he volunteered immediately. His daytime involved administrative work in the refugee project’s office, and in the evening volunteering at the hostel. In his spare time David drove the tram, having qualified as a driver. He‘d been driving for about five weeks when he found the street blocked by a communist party demonstration. Instinctively he shouted “brakes gone” and let the tram drive forward scattering demonstrators and driving over the banner in the process. David’s extracurricular tram activities came to the attention of his employer, hence the remark about the mad tram driver. When asked by his employer why the tram did not stop, David answered that he had not applied the brakes. He lost his job, but his employer found him another job as Austrian guide with Wallace Arnold Tours. During his time with the refugee project, David crossed the border into Hungary four times to visit the families of the boys, no mean feat at that time given oppressive restrictions. On his return to England, David joined Slaughter & May for his articles, on advice from his father. He did articles in the long form of five years, as he did not have a law degree. He became the in-house lawyer to Union International, owned by the Vestey Family and became interested in employment law. Under Prime Minister Ted Heath the industrial tribunals were set up, and a new tort of unfair dismissal promulgated. David has the distinction of taking the first case to the House of Lords (W.Devis and Sons v Atkins) with the issue being – can the employer use information acquired after an employee has been dismissed. The facts revolved around bribery. After the dismissal, farmers came to pay
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their “dues” to the successor manager, such payments having nothing to do with the company. The company now sought to justify his dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct. The dismissed manager took his case to the tribunal, and there the post dismissal evidence was presented.1 While working with the Vesteys, David met many trades unionists and became particular friends with Lou Lloyd, who represented the dockers in Liverpool. After ten years working for the Vestey family, David joined the litigation department of Wright Son & Pepper, where he also represented at Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunals and Employment Tribunals. He also conducted appeals at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, having been encouraged by the President of the EAT, who at the time was Lord Phillips. He intended to retire at the age of sixty-five but was invited to join Radcliffes Le Brasseur as a Consultant, where he worked for the next six years. David had more time to contribute to Law Society activities by this stage. One of the founder members of Holborn Law Society was the father of Anthony and Nicholas Wright (of WSP). David was asked to join Holborn Law Society and eventually became President before Holborn merged with City of Westminster Law Society. The society was always active in the Federation of European Bar Associations, and in 2002 David became President of the FBE, one of only four English solicitors to become President in its twenty-eight year history. On one memorable occasion, David attended a meeting of the International Criminal Bar Association in Berlin, convened by Jeroen Brouwer, President of the day of the Dutch Bar. As a visiting office holder and bar leader, David was asked to preside over the elections. He was surprised to be handed a resolution condemning the US/UK invasion of Iraq. He refused to accept it as not being an appropriate matter and it was put to the vote as to whether the resolution could be put to the meeting. There were only six votes in favour and five hundred and forty-seven voted against the resolution becoming the business of the meeting. Nevertheless, that was not the only controversy of the ICBA meeting. There was also a disputed election. David presented his report on the election to a meeting of the ninety-four state parties who had signed up to the Treaty of Rome, which established the International Criminal Court at the United Nations in New York. His report was published widely subsequently. In 2005, David became a Council Member representing Holborn on the Law Society of England & Wales. He was a member of the Legal Affairs and Policy Board, and the European Union Committee and represented our members on many issues. He also served as a member of the UK delegation to the Council of European Bars (CCBE). He has been an extremely active member of WHLS International Committee and was Chair of the committee for a number of years. I first attended the International Committee meetings when the committee was hosted by David in the offices of Radcliffes Le Brasseur. He encouraged our endeavours to support human rights in Colombia, and under his chairmanship a representative of Peace Brigades International attended the committee meetings to keep us updated on the situation of human rights lawyers in Colombia. Our involvement resulted in the setting up of the Colombia Caravana, and the first
Caravana international delegation of lawyers took place in 2008, with several WHLS members on the delegation. The Caravana has continued to visit Colombia every two years and to report on the human rights situation2.
five year qualified solicitor all those years ago in Barcelona in the year 2000. Thank you David for your encouragement, and congratulations on your remarkable career in the law. ■
David’s passion for steam trains is known to many of us in WHLS. I asked him how this had come about. When David was ten years old, David was introduced to his first steam engine, a very slow journey of one hour to travel seven and a half miles. He was in Devon, and his benefactor of this life-long hobby, was his Grandfather’s butler, who bribed David with more journeys after David had surprised him in a household professional indiscretion, which demonstrated dishonesty. In his life time David has achieved many honours from all over the world, and has presided over the Heritage Railway Association, which represents two hundred and seven steam railways, for over twenty-two years as the Chair. He is President of the North Norfolk Railway plc and of European Maritime Heritage, an umbrella organisation representing the owners and operators of traditional vessels in eleven countries. He is also PresidentEmeritus of the World Alliance of Tourist Trams & Trains, and the European Federation of Museums and Tourist Trains. David travels the world as guest of many organisations, delivering speeches to the members.
By Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon)
Past President of Westminster and Holborn Law Society Past President of the Federation of European Bars 1. W Devis and Sons Ltd v Atkins: HL 6 Jul 1977 – www.swarb. co.uk. The 'just and equitable' test warranted the reduction or extinction of compensation for an employee who has been unfairly dismissed and then found to have been liable to summary dismissal. 2. Please see reports at www.colombiancaravana.org.uk.
I would like to pay personal tribute to David because when I met him in 2000 in Barcelona, he introduced me to the Federation of European Bars (FBE). In 2015 he nominated me for the Presidency and I was elected, and in 2017 I became the fourth English solicitor to be FBE President, and the first woman ever to take up the baton, which he passed to me, when I was a
COVID-19 Support Hub for Solicitors
he coronavirus outbreak has created a challenging time for our profession. To support colleagues, The Solicitors Charity has set up a dedicated COVID-19 Support Hub.
Your search for the right financial planning partner starts here.
Here you can find and access all the information you might need, from support and advice to funding and financial aid. This includes links to advice for individuals and businesses, and crucially how The Solicitors' Charity and its partners can help those in the legal profession during these testing times. www.sba.org.uk/covid-19 The charity is currently working on additional support for solicitors suffering hardship during this challenging time. Stay tuned for further announcements on this. ■
Visit sifa-directory.info for more information. CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 17
Because you’ve got enough to deal with right now.
You’ve got enough on your plate right now, with being on lockdown, dealing with the kids, worrying about family members and how your firm is going to cope during the pandemic. So the last thing you want to worry about is how you’re going to work from home. Well, with DPS Spitfire it couldn’t be easier. Just open your browser, log in and get to work. Simple as that. Your firm will be more agile, more flexible and more secure. Give us a call to see for yourself.
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OVID-19 is bringing a host of different challenges to junior law professionals, both in terms of their work and their mental well-being. Particularly as a trainee or newly qualified solicitor, working at home feels alien. A lot of junior lawyers live in a shared flats, which can add further pressure to the working day, particularly if you have 4 people sharing the already weak Wi-Fi.
updates on legal issues, perhaps with regard to remote hearings or the law surrounding pandemics or unexpected events. This is a great way for junior people to use their skills to help to support their department, if they have the capacity to do so. Junior lawyers also shouldn’t be afraid to keep up regular contact with those supervising them, which is fortunately easy over the telephone and also over video, via Zoom or Skype.
A common issue amongst fellow junior lawyers is that they are expected to learn from colleagues, particularly senior colleagues, at work. We absorb knowledge, experience and skills from working with these colleagues in an office environment.
Another common issue amongst fellow junior lawyers is that it they miss their friendships and the camaraderie of the office and feel isolated working from home. There are plenty of ways to keep connected with others in your team. Great ideas are organising quiz nights for the team, perhaps on Friday evening, as well as having regular team meetings. Even meeting up for a coffee break with a colleague over Zoom can help to make you feel more connected to your work-place.
Most firms arrange for trainees and junior lawyers to sit with or in proximity to more senior people and there is a good reason for that: there needs to be direct interaction between individuals for the training process to work at its best. That is not to say that remote working makes such interaction not possible, but it certainly makes it more difficult. Picture a trainee solicitor, new to a department, who is asked to work from home after only one week in his or her department or team. They might be glad to have interesting work to do, and might have regular communication with several lawyers with whom they are working. They are, however, already at a big disadvantage from not knowing the individuals within the team, not having had an opportunity to chat to them in the kitchen, or to be asked to attend meetings with the people they are working with (perhaps at the last minute). There are many examples which make it clear that this is very far from an ideal scenario. There is a big difference between the trainee and/or the newly qualified solicitor, and the junior lawyer who has been with the team for a little while. The latter already has the rapport with his or her peers. The former is at a significant disadvantage in that they are trying to make a good impression from a distance, despite the virtual meetings.
It can also be more difficult to wind down after working at home. When working in a high pressure job, it is natural to want to unwind by, for example, going to meet friends, which we are currently unable to do. Developing a routine, eating healthily and taking regular exercise can really help with this. Although it is easy to carry on working past the time you normally would if you were at work when working from home, doing this can affect your sleep pattern and your energy and attention span the following day. If you are feeling nervous about COVID-19, you are not alone. There are people and organisations available to talk to. If you feel as though you need some emotional support, you can contact charities such as Mind, Samaritans or SBA, Solicitors’ Charity (please see their advert in this edition). For further information on how the Junior Lawyers’ Division are supporting junior solicitors during the COVID-19 outbreak, please see our website. ■
Olivia Longrigg Solicitor Dawson Cornwell
So, what can we do about it? It is the responsibility of everyone in the team to ensure that the junior lawyers feel properly integrated, including the other fellow junior lawyers in the team. Anecdotally, the sort of things that can really help to keep junior lawyers integrated are the following: regular team meetings within a department, talks or training/ team-building sessions and offers for or from junior people to provide, for example,
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Taking software integration from zero to hero When it comes to software, attempting to be ‘all things to everyone’ is a naïve goal necessitating a never-ending journey. You’re going to have a number of software applications, from business intelligence and case management to document management and legal accounting, plus everything in between. Central to any law firm is, of course, your clients and matters: ■ It’s your clients you need to undertake checks for money laundering ■ It’s your clients for whom you need to complete statutory forms and e-submissions ■ It’s your clients for whom you need to present evidence for court ■ It’s your clients with whom and about whom you need to correspond ■ It’s your clients you need to service as best you can At Quill, we focus software development on integration relating to managing clients and matters. With our complete practice management software, pick ‘n’ mix solutions and third-party integrators, you get the right systems for optimum client and matter management. Whether you select Quill-only or Quill-and-other-suppliers, it’s best-of-breed IT with full and seamless integration. Compared to running standalone systems with data stored disparately, integration streamlines processes, enhances efficiencies, simplifies administration, reduces costs, provides analytical insights, strengthens security, improves collaboration and more. These benefits add up to superior customer service provision. Happy clients who bring repeat instructions and recommend your legal services to others are good for business. Let’s take a moment to think how you do your daily work. Your desktop is central, right? The majority of us begin, return to and end the working day on our desktop. It’s the central area behind the windows in our graphical user interface where we host shortcuts to our most-used systems and documents. That’s why we’ve made integration with the desktop environment the focus of recent software development efforts. Integration between your desktop and our Interactive application keeps getting cleverer. You can easily hop between a client’s matter in Interactive and Word or Outlook, and vice versa. With our new qSync application, you can send any documentation from your desktop to Interactive’s Document Hub with a right click allowing you to save the correct documents against the correct matter ready for reviewing or bundling (more on this later!) on another day. Essentially, qSync empowers local working and global sharing. To all intents and purposes, you work locally on your desktop. In actuality, your desktop’s connected to the cloud so you work collaboratively as a team. We also cater for the trend of spending each day working in Microsoft Word and Outlook with our MS Office add-ins. Add-ins create deep integration between your Microsoft systems and Interactive database and matter files, affording productivity enhancing features such as auto-detected-and-stored caserelated emails, auto-saved documentation and appointment calendaring. A comprehensive library of all Word-and-Outlook-
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generated correspondence is then readily accessible from your Document Hub. On the subject of correspondence, Interactive Forms is our latest integration addition. Comprising an extensive catalogue of legal forms, you sign in singly to Interactive, edit popular and template forms from the customisable control panel, enter data once which is populated from your database to merge fields, and assign part or fully completed forms to the relevant matter in your Document Hub. There’s a whole lot more to Interactive Forms than this, not least e-submissions to government agencies, document bundling for court packs, and sharing of forms with clients, peers and counsel. Even better, choose outsourced typing for dictation via our Type App with typed-up forms saved straight back into your Document Hub. The bonus being that our pay-as-you-go outsourcing model can lead to 40% overheads reduction compared to in-house costs and you’ve got more time for servicing clients. Taking into account the growing demand for remote working, due to court attendance and other off-site commitments, Interactive has its own smartphone app. This is another example of smooth integration in play. With an internet connection and using the same secure log-in, you can perform all manner of tasks to progress matters on the go. Functionality has pretty much the same capabilities as the standard version of Interactive. At the outset of this client-centric activity is the requirement to execute due diligence with anti-money laundering and credit checks. Doing so ensures your customers’ identities are legitimate and they have sufficient funds. Our integrated AML tool gives protection against financial crime by enabling AML or AML-plus-credit checks during client set-up, with instant pass or fail status, and lifetime storage of results. So far, we’ve covered only Quill products on their own and demonstrated how Interactive is more than just a legal accounts system. There’s Quill-and-other-suppliers as well. Our API with third-party vendors facilitates auto-transfer of data between the two systems. Whatever’s entered into the third-party system is auto-populated to ours. They operate as one. We have integrations in place with various case management, legal forms, document bundling, compliance management and workflow automation software suppliers. And we’re dedicated to continued third-party integrations. We offer these integration options on a pick ‘n’ mix basis. You’re in control. We sort out the integration accordingly. Every bespoke package is surprisingly affordable and comes with awardwinning support. ■
Managing Director, Quill
The only constant that the Legal sector faces now is change
he only constant that the Legal sector faces now is change. Enforced change. Big Change. For sure, things will never go back to what they were. Many disciplines may flourish, such as Family, Dispute Resolution, Litigation, Insurance, Wills & Probate. Many may flounder, such as Residential & Commercial Property, M&A, Legal Aid, or Criminal. Remote working is now taken as a given, staff reductions are now a given, huge pressure on cash flow a given. Some firms are seeing growth and upturn, while others are fighting for survival the longer this pandemic continues. Competitive advantage has never been so important in the legal services market. Whichever side of this curve your firm finds itself in, there’s a common denominator. Technology is your solution, your opportunity and your future. Whether your case volumes surge and you rely on improved processes, automation and collaboration, or your case volumes diminish, and you rely on efficiency, agility and overhead reduction. The legal tech community has been thirsty for law firm shake up for many a year. We however never wanted that thirst to potentially be quenched by such circumstances as those which have prevailed. Many a virtual Partner Committee Meeting, will have thrown up questions around ‘is now the time to sit tight and survey the landscape, or is now the time to be bold, progressive and invest in the right tech?’ Nothing changes if nothing changes. Then there’s data to consider. It powers the commercial world and your law firm has no choice but to embrace it. In 2018, International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated the global datasphere reached 33 zettabytes. This is expected to reach 175 zettabytes by 2025. If one Zettabyte equates to a thousand Exabytes, a billion Terabytes, or a trillion Gigabytes, the summary remains the same. There’s BIG data out there. Harnessed appropriately by your firm, data provides knowledge, strategy, synergy, process delivery, decision making, automation and commercial opportunity. Conversely, mismanaged, it provides waste, threat, risk, cost, pain and resource saturation. In a recent law firm tech survey by TR, a few technologies did bubble to the top. One of the solutions perceived as most valuable included interoperability. Firms running, and paying for, many applications, each housing mass data, in disparate locations, in disparate formats, isolated in different departments of your firm, utilised independently. Agonising. It’s there, it’s rich, but not accessible. How do you unify this and harness the value it holds? HyperLaw devours case documentation and provides agile tools for lawyers easily build, structure, file manage, analyse, crossexamine, internally collaborate, share, output and electronically bundle case material. All through a streamlined, compliant, digital journey.
Our application was built by design, through walking every step of a lawyer’s case lifecycle and engineering precise tech driven solutions. ■ Drag and drop an email with attachments also containing nested attachments in long threads of correspondence, whether PDF’s, Word, Plain Text, Images, Spreadsheets, PowerPoint and let it go. Receive a de-duplicated, individually broken-down string of your documents, auto-rotated, fully searchable and ready to analyse. ■ Pull in entire folders with thousands of files, or single documents from Desktop. Build at your leisure. Build at scale, without being charged for data usage. ■ Structure, sub-folder, document manage, providing simple access to quickly source case files. ■ Rename, re-order, remove pages, break documents with ease. Cleanse your documents ready for analysis. ■ Utilise our OCR capability & advanced filters to search documents down to granular text level, whether keyword, phrase or bullion. Find key evidence instantly from your entire case repository. ■ Scribble, redact, sticky note, annotate, link documents, arguments, evidence, through simple digital tools. ■ Review case workings and filter by colleague, viewing when, who & what, in regard to content and manoeuvring as needed. ■ Output workings through 1 click, providing draft advice to client, third party or counsel. ■ Electronically bundle with court ready bookmarks, pagination, indexing and hyperlinks. ■ Generate clean bundles for judge / opponent, but a fully annotated version detailing all your case workings to present directly from. ■ Add, remove, re-engineer, edit, manipulate any case content at any time. ■ Store, archive, audit, export as required. One centralised, cloud-based platform, immediately deployable and accessible at a very favourable price point per user, per month. No hidden fees, just transparent, tangible value. Technology has never moved as fast as it has today, but never again will it move so slow. Welcome to HyperLaw. ■
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William Sturges LLP protect business from disruption with hosted solution W
illiam Sturges LLP is a 40-user firm based in the heart of London, just a stone’s throw from St James’ Park. With a heritage going back more than two centuries, the firm is steeped in tradition and as Office Manager Alex Bennett admits, their IT infrastructure was crying out for modernisation. “We are a friendly, modern, forward-thinking firm. However, we felt frustrated with our IT set up as it no longer matched our ambition.” Alex said. “We needed to start afresh and look to the market to find the Legal Software and company that would relaunch our IT infrastructure allowing us as a firm to provide a modern, slick service in line with our increasing client expectations”. Choosing a case management system Alex was instrumental in the selection process, “I have been with William Sturges for nearly 25 years and was well placed to understand the needs of my colleagues. Over time I have got to know the nuts and bolts of the business and understood the expectations related to IT”. Alex knew what the firm wanted and sought expert advice on the most efficient way to reach the firm’s goal of becoming more efficient, agile, paperless and supported every step of the way. In November 2019 after a long selection process, William Sturges went live with the fully hosted DPS system. Making use of Outlook Office and Spitfire for their practice and case management, with Financial Director for their legal accounts and enriched by DPS Mobile and MyLegalSpace. Support every step of the way “We wanted to outsource our IT but knew that we’d still have local issues and having the support and guidance of the DPS Tech Team and Engineers as we went live with the system was invaluable.” Alex added, “One of the things that has really set DPS apart is the level of support DPS have provided since going live. The data migration was a success, but like any system, the odd issue crops up after go-live. DPS have been fantastic at dealing with issues reported. It is not unusual to log a request, and have it dealt with immediately by the Tech Team. Every email and call is followed up, whether by the Tech Team, Engineers or Client Services.” “All initial issues since “go live” have been resolved and the support provided has been second to none. This has given William Sturges LLP great confidence with our new IT infrastructure provided by DPS.” “Before DPS, we had an on-premise solution. What a fortunate moment for us to decide to go fully hosted.”
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Perfect Time to Go Hosted Indeed, the timing of William Sturges LLP going live with the hosted system couldn’t have been better. Just a few months later, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak hit and businesses across the globe were thrown into disarray. Staff at companies both in the UK and worldwide were told to stay at home to avoid the risk of spreading the deadly virus. William Sturges LLP were no exception. However, being hosted meant that business was able to continue seamlessly. “Pretty much everyone is now working from home, with just the one person in the office each day. We were lucky that we had a few months before Coronavirus hit, so the majority of our staff were already trained and using the system comfortably at home or elsewhere.” “That being said, some of our staff had not worked from home before and their devices had not been configured ready for Citrix. DPS Helpdesk were on the ball and did whatever was needed to get our users up and running within days.” “During this crisis we have been able to provide our clients with the levels of service expected and we are taking full advantage of the “post office” function enabling our staff to see their incoming post within their home office environment”. Staying secure when working from home Something that firms also need to prepare for with staff working from home is data security. However, this is not an issue for William Sturges LLP. “We have MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) enabled, which is very helpful. Users are fully aware of their responsibilities as we are handling company data and workstations MUST be locked when unattended. Security is of the utmost importance and William Sturges LLP uphold this through regular training sessions across all departments. In the cyber world we live in today investment in this area is imperative.” William Sturges LLP have managed to thrive using the DPS Hosted Solution, ensuring that when disaster struck the business could continue. They ensured that staff could continue to work from home just as efficiently and effectively as they would in the office. To find out more about being hosted by DPS, visit www.dpssoftware.co.uk ■
Getting set up on social media Why is social media so important In today’s online world, a successful and engaging social media presence is crucial to any business. It is now a key marketing tactic for lead generation and, just like a website, social media sites are frequently visited by prospective customers to gather information before making contact. What are the main social media platforms The answer to this question lies in who your target audiences are. If you are targeting the general public then platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are perfect forums for the type of lively, interactive and ‘human’ engagement required. If your focus, however, is business to business (B2B), then social media marketing should be focussed on cultivating professional relationships and promoting yourself or your practice as ‘subject experts’ in your chosen field. LinkedIn is the most effective B2B social media marketing platform, providing professionals with an opportunity to connect and communicate peer to peer with other professionals in their industry. It also allows members to share articles, engage with professional groups, and recruit talent. Twitter is another platform that offers a powerful opportunity for businesses to reach a wider audience and build meaningful relationships by posting links to valued content. What are the best types of content Social media marketing is all about getting people to engage with your content. It is easy to mistake social media ‘activity’ for productivity and to think that just by making regular updates you will see an increase in sales or awareness. For your social media marketing to be a success you need to be posting engaging, media rich content that people want to like and share. Posts with videos and photos are much more likely to be engaged with as they naturally catch the eye and are easy to digest. However, many businesses fall into the trap of just posting content on their pages without engaging. If your goal is to increase your following and spread awareness amongst a wider audience, you need interact by asking for comments and replying to questions. Another easy mistake to make is the use of scheduling software and the posting of the same content across all social media sites without appropriate tailoring. Each social media platform has its own language and etiquette and ensuring that you understand and abide by this style is crucial. How to go about getting set up on social media If you don’t have much social media experience, the first tip is to not jump in too deep. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to adopt every feature that requires advanced skills and special apps. Stick to the basics and do them well, such as well written posts with quality photos.
A good place to start is to think about your branding. Each social media platform will require a cover photo and profile picture. Whilst the sizing varies for each, they all follow the same basic layout so make this look consistent and professional. Your cover image and profile picture might well be the first thing a prospect customer sees when they come into contact with you or your firm, and therefore it is vital to make this first impression a good one. Content generation Posting the right content at the right time, is paramount to successful social media marketing and is a balancing act. Social media posts need a fun, human element, but also need to come across as professional for B2B marketing. Engaging with prospects and customers via social media channels is less about selling, and more about building and nurturing relationships, through the provision of informative and relevant content. By regularly publishing content, participating in groups and re-publishing the information of others you will quickly build a following and generate leads. Top Tips There are some general tips for posting across all the platforms, for maximum exposure and engagement. ■ Use hashtags ■ Tag connections in your content ■ Engage with other pages by liking and commenting as your page ■ Be regular – a little-but-often is more effective than all-atonce or nothing-at-all ■ Invite engagement ■ Join industry groups related to your business Social media as part of an integrated marketing campaign For most companies, the best way to use social media is as part of an integrated marketing campaign. By linking your social media followers to your email marketing and content posted on your website, you will not only engage with a new audience, but boost your website search engine rankings, enjoy more traffic, and generate more leads. The two really do go hand in hand. If you would like any help with setting up or managing your social media marketing the Waypoint Marketing team would love to help. Based in Winchester, we specialise in marketing strategy, social media and lead generation. Please do get in touch by calling Winchester 01962 862760 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. ■
Waypoint Digital Marketing
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Landlords and Tenants:
Maintaining relationships during lockdown
hen the government first announced the closure of public entertainment venues we published a comprehensive article on the impact of Covid-19 on commercial property (focusing on the closure of the leisure and retail industries). To read the full article please visit our website www.farrer.co.uk and search “COVID-19: Impact on Landlords and Tenants”1. In the few short weeks since the government’s announcement things have changed drastically, so this is an update on how commercial tenants and landlords might approach the current crisis. With full lockdown to last at least another two weeks and no real indication of an exit strategy or timeline, all non-essential businesses are now affected by closures. Since lockdown came into effect, we have been discussing with our clients the impact of landlords closing, or restricting access to, buildings or paring back services in multi-let properties. The decision to close or restrict access to a property for the lockdown period may be considered by landlords as a reasonable (or even their only) option in the current climate. There are, of course, a host of valid reasons for landlords to consider doing so including: security, health risks to staff required to remain on site (i.e. security personnel, reception staff etc) and the difficulties of calling out contractors to fix issues with utilities and infrastructure. Indeed, this may be considered to be mutually prudent, as tenants too will benefit from the reduction in the cost of services that will lead to a smaller service charge bill (albeit a close look at the terms of the lease will be needed to ensure that any savings are passed on). There is also the practical consideration that most tenants and their employees will be working from home and will not need regular access to premises for the foreseeable future. However, where a tenant is faced with the closure of premises inevitably it will wonder what rights it has. From a legal perspective, if a landlord prevents or severely restricts (i.e. by only allowing access on certain days) access to a property,
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this could amount to “frustration” of a lease. This is known as “derogation from grant” and gives rise to a tenant’s right to seek relief from the court. Such relief is typically achieved through either: (i) specific performance (i.e. forcing the landlord to reopen), or (ii) damages. For the latter, the tenant needs to show they have suffered a loss as a result of being prevented access (which may be difficult to prove against the backdrop of mandatory lockdown and the public policy decision to stay home to save lives) and/or the cost of rent for premises that they have been unable to access. Given the difficulties the court system is currently facing, and the legal costs associated with court proceedings, it is perhaps unlikely that a tenant would be able or willing to make such a claim in a sensible time frame. This option is therefore unlikely to be realistic for most. That is not the end of the road, though. Another option for tenants could be to exercise break rights or look for other ways to “get out” of their lease obligations early. Again, this will require a close reading of the lease terms and a full consideration of any conditions attached to a break right (e.g. the full payment of rent up to the break date and the need to return the premises with vacant possession). Landlords should be mindful of pushing tenants to the point of choosing to exercise break rights, or otherwise look to bring leases to an early end. This would leave landlords with empty buildings at a time when perhaps agreeing to receive a lower level of rental income, or the promise of future income, is a better position to be in than having to deal with the additional liabilities that would arise upon the premises becoming vacant. Alternatively, tenants may decide to try to withhold rent. As we know from the media, it seems that this is now a common choice for tenants. However, tenants should be alive to the reality that rent unpaid during this period without a formal agreement constitutes a breach of the lease, which is capable of enforcement by the landlord (albeit using more limited options) so, this is not a long-term solution. Whilst the remedy of forfeiture of a lease is prohibited until at least 30 June, other ways a landlord can look to enforce rent recovery include issuing
proceedings to recover the “debt” or serving a Statutory Demand as the first step towards winding up proceedings. This may seem an extreme option, but it is one to which some landlords have already resorted. All of these are quite extreme, potentially nuclear, options. What mutually beneficial or collaborative options are available? Our advice is that now more than ever is the time to keep the lines of communication open between landlord and tenant. As we are continually reminded these are unprecedented times, and we will require unprecedented approaches to see us through. The government is encouraging landlords to be understanding of the needs of their tenants, and yet it is often the case that landlords have little choice but to act if they need to service their own debt or otherwise discharge their liabilities. It is essential in our experience, however, that parties work together to reach the best way forward.
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Before agreeing any concessions, parties should look closely at the availability of business interruption or loss of rent insurance to help meet the rent liability. Insurers have been reluctant to accept liability to date, but increasingly they are coming under pressure from the government to do so. If an insurance claim is not an option, common alternatives are arrangements to pay rent monthly rather than quarterly, or for a period of rent deferral (with the rent being repaid over the course of several months in the near future). Full rent waivers or rent-free periods are less common, although they are occurring. Any concession agreements should be properly documented, to avoid any future uncertainty (e.g. for the exercise of a break right which is conditional on the full payment of rent) or unintended consequences (including taxation for landlords).
Interpreting Direct combines and enhances the knowledge and experience of its specialists in order to offer complete and comprehensive service. Thanks to their young and dynamic team and the consistent innovations, they have been able to continually offer clients new possibilities and improved forms of communication.
Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to landlords, being flexible and innovative in their approach to the weeks ahead may be just enough to help tenants keep their businesses afloat, and therefore keep them in occupation. Equally, tenants are well advised to be aware of the liabilities that their landlord may have which will be relevant in any negotiations. Cooperation and communication will hopefully lead to fewer empty buildings, and a lot more goodwill between landlords and tenants, when we eventually come out the other side. ■
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1. https://www.farrer.co.uk/news-and-insights/ covid-19-impact-on-landlords-and-tenants/?utm_ source=vuture&utm_medium=email&utm_ campaign=%7bvx:campaign%20name%7d_%7bdate%7d
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An employer’s guide to navigating COVID-19 workforce issues in key jurisdictions in Europe By Philip Henson
– Emergency Legislation expected in England Coronvirus (COVID-19).
A: UK moves from “contain” to “delay” phase The Government has announced that the UK is moving from the “contain” phase to using new tactics to “delay” the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The UK’s Chief Medical Officer has now raised the risk to the UK from “moderate” to “high”. As such, changes to existing legislation or implementing new emergency legislation – both referred to in this note – are inevitable. What emergency legislation can we expect? The Press has speculated that the UK Government will soon introduce emergency legislation to allow for the compulsory isolation of individuals including those over 70 years old; the detention and quarantine of infected people; the prohibition of mass gatherings. The Government will also have the power to shut pubs, bars, cinemas, restaurants and nightclubs etc., and the Police will be able to hand out hefty fines to those who contravene these restrictions. Further details were announced by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in a press conference following the COBRA meeting on 16 March 2020, in which he announced new measures which are currently advisory. However, it is widely anticipated that the new measures will, eventually, become compulsory, as they are underpinned by legislation. In this summary Q & A document we consider the little known regulations which are already in place, and review how their use may be rolled out, and some of the other legislative powers which the Government may consider using, and/or modifying. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 With little fanfare the Government introduced the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (the Regulations) at 6.50am on 10 February 2020. They came into force immediately after they were made. The regulations apply to England only. The Regulations were made without a draft having been laid and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament to enable emergency public health measures to be taken to quickly respond to the threat to human health from the new strain of Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019- nCoV) “and to reduce the risk of it becoming more widespread in the community”. What is the legal basis for introducing the Regulations? The Regulations were made under the emergency procedure set out in section 45R of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. Part 2A of that Act, provides a legal basis to protect the public from threats arising from infectious disease or contamination from chemicals or radiation, and includes powers to impose restrictions or requirements on people, and in relation to things and premises, for use in rare circumstances where voluntary cooperation cannot be obtained [our highlighting].
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What is the purpose of the Regulations? Lord Bethell, from the Grand Committee of the House of Lords, explained on 9 March 20201, that: “The regulations provide the power to screen, isolate and detain those at risk of spreading Covid-19 and, if necessary, to keep them isolated for a period of time. The powers are proportionate – they include a number of important safeguards to ensure that all actions are proportionate. Importantly, the regulations apply only in respect of Covid-19 and have a sunset period of two years from the date of coming into force. There is a right of appeal to the magistrates’ court against the imposition of a restriction on an individual and group of people believed to have been infected and to be at risk of infecting others. Any detention lasting more than 14 days can be reviewed “as soon as practicable” by the Secretary of State”. How can those Regulations be made without Government Scrutiny? Section 45B of the 1984 Act enables the appropriate Minister (defined in section 45T as the Secretary of State for England) to make regulations for preventing danger to public health from conveyances including planes, trains and automobiles, (or the persons or articles on those conveyances) arriving at any place or for preventing the spread of infection or contamination by conveyances leaving any place. It also provides a power for regulations to give effect to international agreements or arrangements, for example World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. Section 45C of the 1984 Act provides a power for the appropriate Minister to make regulations to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection or contamination in England and Wales [our highlighting]. The Regulations were made under section 45B and 45C to enable a number of public health measures to be taken for the purpose of reducing the public health risks arising from the virus known as Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (“Coronavirus”). As explained in the accompanying explanatory memorandum, the statutory instrument would: “enable the imposition of proportionate restrictions (which may include screening, isolation and other appropriate restrictions) on individuals where the SSHSC or a registered public health consultant have reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual is, or may be, contaminated with the Coronavirus. The regulations provide for a police constable to detain an individual and enforce those restrictions as required”. There is also a provision for police constables to: “detain individuals where they have reasonable grounds to believe an individual is, or may be, infected or contaminated with Coronavirus and are posing a risk to others. The constable is then obliged to have due regard to Public Health England guidance and consult a registered public health consultant in the exercise of their powers”.
For how long could detention powers be used? Regulation 4 of the Regulations provides that restriction or requirement to be detained [under regulation 5] until the later of: (a) the end of the period of 48 hours beginning with the time from which the person’s detention under the regulation begins; (b) such time as any screening requirements imposed on or in relation to a Person under regulation 5(1) have been complied with and the assessment referred to in that regulation carried out in relation to a Person. What does this mean? There is the power to impose “proportionate restrictions” on citizens where the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (“SSHSC”), Matt Hancock MP; or, a registered public health consultant, have reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual is, or may be, contaminated with the Coronavirus. Also, for detention of individuals where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is, or may be, infected or contaminated with Coronavirus and are posing a risk to others. What is meant by Detention? Regulation 9 of the Regulations (Detention or isolation: additional provisions) provides that the Secretary of State or registered public health consultant, must notify a Person (or, where a Person is a child, a person who is a responsible adult in relation to the Person), as soon as the Person’s detention under regulation 4 or 5 starts, or as soon as it is decided to keep Person in isolation under regulation 8, of – (a) the fact of Person’s detention or isolation; (b) the powers under which Person is detained or kept in isolation; (c) the reason for Person’s detention or isolation; (d) the next steps that may be taken and by whom; (e) the obligation to keep the need for Person’s detention or isolation under review; and (f) the penalty for – (i) absconding, or attempting to abscond, from detention or isolation under regulation 15(1)(b); (ii) providing false or misleading information intentionally or recklessly under regulation 15(2); (iii) obstructing a person carrying out a function under these Regulations under regulation 15(3).
How will this be enforced? Regulation 13 (enforcement) provides that where a requirement is imposed on a person to be detained or kept in isolation, a constable may do any of the following– (a) take the person to a suitable place, specified by the Secretary of State or a public health officer, for the person’s detention or isolation; (b) keep the person in detention or isolation. (2) Where a person absconds from detention or isolation imposed a constable may take the person into custody and return the person to the place of detention or isolation, or take the person to another suitable place specified by a public health officer. (3) A constable may use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of a power under this regulation. Could this lead to mass quarantining? The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Jo Churchill) provided some guidance to the Second Delegated Legislation Committee on 9 March 2020.2 “On enforcement, the police have powers to take individuals into custody and return them to designated places. Just as we invoked Arrowe Park and Kents Hill Park, we have other facilities around the country to ensure that people can be encouraged to complete their period of quarantine to protect others. That is the point of these powers. It is not envisaged that this would be used for a mass quarantining situation”. What is the definition of Isolation? Regulation 8 of the Regulations provides for the Isolation of persons suspected to be infected with Coronavirus. “Isolation” in relation to a person means the separation of that person from any other person in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination (with Coronavirus) ■ at a facility designated, by notice published on www.gov.uk, for the purposes of these Regulations by the Secretary of State; ■ in that person’s home; ■ in a hospital; or ■ at another suitable place Continued on next page
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Continued from previous page What is the punishment? Regulations 15 (5) provides that an offence is punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale. The maximum for a level 3 fine is £1,000. What is the appeal process? Regulation 12 states that “A person in relation to whom a restriction or requirement is imposed under these Regulations may appeal to the magistrates’ court against the decision to impose that requirement or restriction.” How long are the Regulations in place for? As per regulation 16 they expire 2 years after they came into force – so on 10 February 2022. Could the enforcement of the Regulations create a health risk? Philip Henson, partner at EBL Miller Rosenfalck says as follows: “There is the obvious risk that the enforcement of the Regulations could, of itself, create another health risk to members of the Police. Consider how it would be enforced and what facilities and resources would be required to do so. Do we really think that police constables will be carting away those citizens who break any enforced isolation? Where would they be taken – the cells of the local police station? A more likely situation may arise where a police constable issues fines to citizens where they have reasonable grounds to believe that person may be infected with Coronavirus, and are posing a risk to others. The high level of the potential fine is likely to be a huge deterrent”.
B: What other legislative options does the UK Government have? 1. Quarantine via a Part 2A order under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 There is a statutory provision to enforce a quarantine period via a Part 2A order under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, under which the relevant local authority is able to file for a Part 2A order which is then made by a Justice of the Peace. The Secretary of State currently has no powers to apply for a Part 2A order, to enforce quarantine or to place appropriate restrictions on individuals outside of this process. That is an area which the Government might seek to amend.
Section 21 of the CCA includes a provision to make emergency regulations, and sets out the sets out the three conditions which must be satisfied have been met before making emergency regulations, these are: 1. that an emergency has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur 2. it is necessary to make provision for the purpose of dealing with the emergency and 3. the need for the provision is urgent.
C: Concerns for the hospitality sector and the UK’s world leading creative industries Philip Henson, partner at EBL Miller Rosenfalck says as follows: “Hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos, pubs, creative venues, music venues, night clubs, cultural spaces, cinemas and theatres – will feel the immediate economic pressure of social distancing. Many of these businesses and organisations will have insurance cover in place to help them in the event of business interruption. They will be checking the terms of those policies very carefully – as, of course, will the insurers themselves. There is a particular problem, highlighted by Angela Hartnett, and other talented chefs, and leaders in the creative sector that without enforced closure by the Government they will not be able to receive pay outs under the terms of their business interruption insurance policies. You could compare the situation to a traveller who has booked a holiday to, say Australia. If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office prescribes that you should not travel to Australia then that traveller would contact their travel insurer and, subject to the express terms of the insurance policy, seek to reclaim the booking costs etc. If the FCO were to say: we would prefer that you don’t travel to Australia of your own volition, but we are not forcing you not to go, then it would be an altogether more challenging conversation for the traveller to have with their insurer. This is the quandary that is facing the UK hospitality and creative sector at the moment. Insurance companies will also be checking their potential exposure and will also no doubt be lobbying for support from the UK Government”. We will be publishing further updates on our website in due course: www.millerrosenfalck.com. ■
Partner and Head of Employment Law EBL Miller Rosenfalck
2. Civil Contingencies Act 2004 It is unlikely that the UK Government would seek to utilise the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA), as it is generally thought of as terrorism legislation. However, it is worth reminding ourselves of the broad definition of “emergency” in the CCA. Part 1 of the CCA created a new concept, broadly defined, of an “emergency”. It includes events which would have engaged the civil defence legislation (war or attack by a foreign power). It also includes terrorism which poses a threat of serious damage to the security of the United Kingdom. But it also extended to events which threaten serious damage to human welfare in a place in the United Kingdom or to the environment of a place in the United Kingdom. To satisfy the definition of “emergency”, the event or situation must also threaten serious damage to human welfare in, or the environment of, a place in the United Kingdom.
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1. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-03-09/ debates/F57412E9-053E-470E-99F24CB6906CDE5D/HealthProtection(Coronavirus Regulations2020?highlight=health%20protection%2 coronavirus%20regulations%202020%2 regulations#contribution-FC5BDCDD-826A-495B-99B93F180756E8AF 2. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-03-09/ debates/cc5404b2-2efc-4199-94cf018a5b3fe8f4/HealthProtection(Coronavirus Regulations2020?highlight=health%20protection%2 coronavirus%20regulations% 202020%2 regulations#contribution-AFC91960-7534-4FFD-B0B4ED2FAA37AD8A
Response of the Westminster and Holborn Law Society (“WHLS”) to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) Consultation “Protecting users of legal services – prioritising payments from the SRA Compensation Fund” About us Comprising around 10,000 admitted solicitors and many more legal professionals, the WHLS constituency stretches from the south side of Oxford Street across the old Metropolitan Borough of Holborn to the City of London boundary. Many of its members are from within this area although membership is not restricted to those within it. Its sub committees enable the Society to comment on legal developments. The Professional Matters Sub-Committee, concentrates on matters such as regulation of solicitors, matters affecting their practice, etc. Objects of the SRA Compensation Fund (“the Fund”) and the Consultation’s Proposed Changes to them Section 2.2 of the current SRA Compensation Fund Rules defines the “primary objects” of the Fund as being: 1. “to replace money which a defaulting practitioner or a defaulting practitioner's employee or manager has misappropriated or otherwise failed to account for; [‘the First Object’] and 2. to relieve losses arising from the civil liability on the part of a defaulting practitioner or a defaulting practitioner's employee or manager who in accordance with the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules should have had, but did not have, in place a policy of qualifying insurance [‘the Second Object’].” As the Law Society’s website explains, the Fund provides “a safety net for risks that professional indemnity insurance is unable to cover”. Whilst the First Object only enables grants to be made in limited circumstances (misappropriation or failure to account for money), the Second Object enables grants to be made in any case where a practitioner has incurred civil liability that
would have been covered under the Minimum Terms of an SRAapproved Professional Indemnity Insurance (“PII”) policy. That is not limited to liability to clients. The Consultation proposes to maintain the First and Second Objects but in practice amends them and largely waters both of them down in significant ways. We draw attention to the following: i. “An applicant may only apply for a grant out of the Fund if the loss referred to in rule 3.2 relates to services provided: (a) by the defaulting practitioner for the applicant; or (b) to, or as, a trustee where the applicant is a beneficiary of the estate or trust.” We refer to this as ‘the Client Restriction’. ii. “No grant will be made under rule 3.3 where due to the insolvency or cessation of the insurer the defaulting practitioner's policy of qualifying insurance has been disclaimed or otherwise ceases.” We refer to this as the ‘Insurance Failure exclusion’. Preliminary Comments We responded to the SRA’s previous consultation on proposed reform of both the solicitors’ profession’s PII and Fund arrangements. We welcome the SRA’s decision not to proceed with the substantive PII proposals (of which we had been very critical). We acknowledge that the SRA’s current proposals on the Fund are in some respects an improvement on those in its previous consultation (reflecting a welcome acknowledgment of points made in the responses it received). Nonetheless, the proposals in the current Consultation raise two fundamental issues: Continued on next page
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Continued from previous page 1. If enacted these proposals would amount to a clear and very material reduction in consumer protection. That relates not just to the headline-grabbing reduction in the maximum amount of any grant from £2m to £500,000, but also (and probably more significantly in practice) to the circumstances in which a grant may be made and to the class of persons who might receive grants (‘grantees’). At a time when the SRA is constantly stressing the importance of protecting users of legal services, that is something that is noteworthy and needs to be clearly acknowledged. 2. In the SRA’s original proposals the reduction in the cover provided by the Compensation Fund was a logical corollary of the proposed reduction in the cover provided by compulsory PII. For instance, there was a proposal to reduce the minimum compulsory PII cover to £500,000 per claim which was matched by a reduction in the maximum Compensation payment to £500,000 per claim. That is no longer the case. With the abandonment of the proposed PII reforms, the proposed reduction of the protection provided by the Fund stands alone, and needs to be justified on its own terms. We make four other preliminary points: 3. In our view the Client Restriction is an unnecessary fetter on the Fund’s discretion, which indicates a failure to understand how solicitors’ practice works. We expand on this in our answer to Question 4 below. 4. In our view it is illogical to maintain the Second Object whilst applying the Insurance Failure Exclusion. It is the sort of legalistic distinction that gives our profession a bad name. Perversely, in such cases the clients of dishonest or reckless solicitors would fare better than those of solicitors who have complied with their regulatory requirements but (through no fault of their own) find themselves without the cover they contracted for. That does not seem to be a logical or principled approach. The SRA says that it wishes to concentrate on “ethical failures”. The Fund was never set up solely for that purpose and in any event the First Object refers to failures to account for money, which do not necessarily involve an ethical failure. 5. It is regrettable that the SRA does not propose to address at this stage the issue of paying intervention costs from the Fund. This is an important issue of principle. When the Fund was set up the issue would not have arisen. Interventions are a clear regulatory function. Administration of a purely discretionary Fund is not. Some interventions are clearly justified. It cannot however be said that all the SRA’s interventions to date have been free from controversy. There needs to be openness about interventions and their cost, and this will not be fully achieved so long as the SRA can “bury” the cost by raiding the Fund. That reduces the sums available to compensate potential grantees. 6. We also propose that the Fund should be administered by a separate body to preserve its integrity and independence. That might be a body with Trustees or Directors nominated 50% each by the SRA and the Law Society. Response of WHLS to Questions raised in this Consultation 1. Do you agree that the proposed purpose statement will help people understand the circumstances when a claim is likely to be paid?
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Yes on the whole. Inevitably however a wholly discretionary fund can never be entirely clear as to the circumstances in which it will pay compensation. In addition, we think that reference to “ethical failures” is regrettable, not wholly accurate and unnecessarily restrictive. As referred to in the answer to Question 4 below, the position of non-clients in our view is also not satisfactorily dealt with. 2. Do you agree with our revised proposals to remove hardship tests for all individuals, small businesses, small charities and small trusts? Yes. 3. Do you agree with the proposal that we use our residual discretion to refuse or reduce payments on rare occasions when we consider the loss will be immaterial or substantively compensated elsewhere? Yes. 4. Do you agree that the Fund should only be available to those who are the clients, or recipients, of the services of the solicitor/firm in question? No. This is a discretionary Fund and it is unnecessary and undesirable to fetter its discretion in this way. In general terms it must be right that the protection should only be applied to clients (or quasi-clients such as beneficiaries of an estate or trust) of regulated solicitors or entities. However even within these terms the definition has obvious lacunae. It would not for instance cover the next of kin of such clients or quasi-clients. That is presumably unintended and can be easily remedied. The Consultation fails to recognise that the losses covered by SRA-authorised PII Policies are not restricted to civil liability incurred by solicitors to their own clients (or quasiclients). Those with experience in the professional indemnity field can testify that in the ordinary course of their practice solicitors quite often incur civil liability to non-clients. If the Fund is to maintain the Second Object, then the SRA needs to consider these. Three (non-exhaustive) examples are given below: I. Potential beneficiaries. If say a testator instructs a solicitor to draft a Will, the testator is the client. However civil law allows a remedy to an intended beneficiary who loses out due to the solicitor’s negligence, II. The ultimate beneficiaries of solicitors’ undertakings. Solicitors’ undertakings can be properly given and relied on in a variety of circumstances. An obvious example is in a conveyancing transaction where the vendor’s solicitor undertakes to discharge all charges on the property at completion. If the vendor’s solicitor fails to do so, it will be the purchaser who loses out. The purchaser’s own solicitor is unlikely to be at fault because reliance on such undertakings is a normal and accepted part of a conveyancing transaction. The vendor’s solicitor is under a strict liability to comply with the undertaking regardless of fault (and the vendor’s solicitor may not be at fault if say the mortgagee gave a too low redemption figure but then refuses to discharge the mortgage unless a higher figure is paid). The purchaser’s obvious remedy should be against the vendor (who will often not be worth suing) or the vendor’s solicitor (of whom he is not a client). Consideration should be given to allowing the purchaser in some circumstances to qualify for a discretionary grant from the Fund if the vendor’s solicitor still defaults and no other remedy is available. There are four possible scenarios:
a) Neither the purchaser’s lawyer nor the vendor’s is regulated by the SRA. Clearly no grant from the Fund
should be made. b) The vendor’s solicitor (who gave the undertaking) is regulated by the SRA, but the purchaser’s is not. In our view no grant from the Fund should be made. The client has chosen not to instruct a regulated solicitor, and should not benefit from a Fund funded solely by regulated solicitors. c) The vendor’s solicitor is not regulated but the purchaser’s solicitor is. There is an argument that the Fund should have a residual discretion to make a grant because the client has instructed a regulated solicitor and has no control over whom the vendor instructs. However, on balance we do not think that a grant should be made. The issue of unregulated lawyers has to be faced up to. The regulated solicitor has a discretion as to whether to accept an undertaking from an unregulated lawyer. If he does so without his client’s authority, then he is potentially at fault. If the client instructs him to accept the undertaking, then the Fund should not be indemnifying the client for a risk voluntarily assumed by the client. The Fund should not be accepting liability directly or indirectly for the acts or defaults of an unregulated lawyer. d) Both the solicitors for the vendor and purchaser are regulated. In this case our view is that the Fund should clearly have a discretion to make a grant.
III. Breach of Warranty of Authority claims raise similar issues to those relating to undertakings. In general terms if a solicitor represents that he or she acts for a party to a proposed transaction or litigation the other party and its solicitors are entitled to rely on that. If the representation turns out to be incorrect, the solicitor making the misrepresentation is strictly liable for any misrepresentation even if all reasonable steps were taken to confirm the presumed client’s identity. Again, the party on the other side would probably have a claim against the misrepresenting solicitor rather than its own solicitor. 5. Do you think we should expressly include a right for the client of a solicitor whose actions have caused the loss for which they are liable to make a claim on the Fund, if no other redress is available? Yes. 6. Do you agree with the proposal to introduce a multiple application cap? Yes on the basis that this reflects the practice in many PII policies. This answer however is subject to our answer to Question 9. 7. Do you agree that we set a financial threshold of £5m? Please provide any available evidence to support your response. Yes. 8. Do you have a preference for any method of apportionment or that we retain the option to apply any of these depending on the circumstances? We think it best to keep all options open so as to retain the maximum discretion. 9. Do you have any other comments on the features of the proposal to cap multiple claims? Paragraph 19 of the Consultation emphasises (in our view correctly) that the Fund is wholly discretionary in nature and that no person has an enforceable right to a grant. It may therefore be unnecessary to seek to bind the Fund’s discretion in this way. Whilst individual proposals may make sense, there is a danger of unnecessarily fettering the discretion of the Fund. We refer to this further in answer to Question 11. 10. Do you agree with the revised approach to how we will
apply the single application limit? On balance that seems to be the best of the options given. 11. Do you have any other comments on the proposals and impacts we have set out in the consultation? Are there any impacts particularly Equality Diversity and Inclusion impacts that you think we have not identified? In our view some of the underlying assumptions behind this consultation are flawed. We have referred above to the fact that some non-clients may be worthy of consideration for a grant. We are also of the view that just as the definition of the Fund as a hardship fund is undesirable, so is the attempt to restrict it to ethical failures. We do not think it appropriate to prohibit any grant for losses arising from an insurer’s insolvency. That raises an immediate anomaly in that the Consultation still proposes that grants can be given where the solicitors have failed to obtain the required insurance. It has always been one of the problems with the Fund that in practice it tends to be relevant only to smaller firms. That will be emphasised if it is restricted to ethical failures, because PII should cover innocent partners of even dishonest solicitors and the larger the firm the less likelihood that all the partners will be tainted with the dishonesty of one. The insolvency of an insurer can however affect a firm of any size. If such events are not excluded from consideration for a grant, it would have the indirect benefit that larger firms will no longer be able to say that the Fund can be of no conceivable benefit to them or to their clients. We appreciate that the wider the class of person who could qualify for a grant, the greater the cost of the Find is likely to be. However that cannot be a conclusive argument for irrationally excluding certain classes of potential claimants from access to the Fund. There is a reputational issue and there will be real victims if the Fund’s discretion is mistakenly restricted. There is little point in having the Fund if it cannot help a substantial number of those it should. At the end of the day the fact that the Fund is wholly discretionary should be a safeguard against it being overwhelmed. ■
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JLD – Junior Lawyers Division
Qualification: till retirement do us part M
aking a decision about where to qualify can feel a lot like a shotgun wedding. You spend years deciding whether to pursue law, researching firms and attending interviews and yet only a few months ‘dating’ a department before you’re off to Vegas HR to sign on the dotted line. We all know that legal practice is vastly different from academia, so how do you decide, after a mere four to six months, whether a particular practice area is ‘the one’? If you’re still reading, you are probably asking yourself that exact question. A year after making my decision, these are the five piece of advice that I received, that might help you come to yours. 1. Trainee v Associate Whether you loved or loathed a seat, your trainee experience in a department may not be representative of what life is like as an associate in that team. Most teams will do their best to give you an idea of what is involved in working there but you are still a fee earner and usually the one with the lowest charge out rate. This might mean that you often carried out menial and unexciting tasks whilst in a seat. If the work was dull but you still found the practice area and the associates’ work fascinating, consider whether it might still be the place for you. 2. I have a dream Being a lawyer can be an all-consuming profession but whether it is travelling, becoming a parent or having a side-hustle as a successful entrepreneur, we all have plans and dreams outside of our day job. Whatever your aspirations, your decision of practice area will immeasurably impact on the time and energy you can dedicate to these goals. Don’t make your decision without considering them. 3. Why Law? After countless TC applications, the endless memorising of LPC notes and two years of being a trainee, when was the last time you asked yourself: do I want to be a lawyer? No matter how much you researched the legal profession before coming to a decision, the realities of time recording, the sometimes rigid hierarchies within firms and the painfully slow progression that comes with the job can be far from what you imagined. Now that you know what being a lawyer is really like, no matter how daunting it seems, don’t stick with it if you know it’s no longer your cup of tea. 4. There is no such thing as ‘the one’ No practice area is going to give you absolutely everything you want every day. You cannot become a litigator and never have to grind through due diligence or become a transactional lawyer and never have to do an all-nighter to close a deal. Much like in a relationship, you need to establish your deal breakers. What can you learn to live with and what can you absolutely not live without? 5. Perspective Contrary to the somewhat hyperbolic title of this article, your choice of practice area is not a cliff edge decision that will determine the course of the rest of your life. Whatever you decide, remember that many people change practice area
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and firm sometimes multiple times over the course of their working lives and lawyers often move into different professions entirely. Don’t worry too much about making the ‘right choice’your experience in the legal profession will open doors for you whatever you decide. ■
Katjana Cleasby Associate Farrer & Co.
Covid-19: Investigations, process serving and tracing agents W
e are in unprecedented times. Much of the commercial country is running on ‘limited’. It is routine business, if not busier for the legal sector particularly matrimonial, employment , fraud and litigation and come the end of the crisis, the legal sector may see a spike increase for their services. Investigators, process servers and tracing agents have seen a huge drop in enquiries and this industry will be dramatically affected, as it is predominantly made up of individuals. Individuals who sub-contract their work across the industry via an associated network model. Their margins are small, their bank balances minimal and many will struggle to turn over the enquiries. This industry is licensed and regulated. Less than 25% of investigators, tracing agents and process servers have professional indemnity insurance and even less are GDPR compliant. A warning to the legal sector is clearly you are instructing such individuals and have no control of your data and how it is disseminated amongst this unregulated industry. I present to legal firms and always advise that documentary proof of insurance and GDPR compliance and relevant qualifications should be held in a central library for protection for you and your clients. As one of the countries largest and the most proactive investigation companies (with PI and GDPR compliance) we too have seen a fall in the volume of our workload. Notwithstanding we are running a full locate trace and data research service for asset reports as the litigation sector continues. Documents are still being served for litigators and matrimonial depts (taking into account the Government’s guidelines). We have a process to protect all that are either serving the documents or being served. In the matrimonial field the volume of enquiries for proof of cohabitation or employment have ceased. Whilst we are starting to investigate some internal frauds that have been identified and working in conjunction with fraud solicitors, my view is that within six months, both ourselves and the legal sector will see an increase in enquiries regarding fraud investigations. I see the similarity between the 2007/ 2008 financial crisis where businesses were forced to look into their businesses more closely because as the ‘tide had gone out’ they identified where internal frauds had taken place with dishonest employees.
In the current climate we have still been conducting investigations into dishonest employees including proving that employees that have said they are self isolating or not capable to come to work have been involved in other businesses with other individuals. We have used the diverse skills and equipment in our armoury to gather the evidence to give to the solicitor or the client the evidence to prove their suspicion. Something as simple as an employee who stated he could not come to work because his wife was high risk and he was asthmatic and they were both self isolating was suspicious to the client for various reasons. It was known that the employee’s wife ran her own restaurant and was delivering takeaways is during the crisis. The investigation showed that she was in the restaurant with other members of staff and the employee was carrying out deliveries on her behalf. Covert investigations also proved the employee was working at other locations, cash in hand, interacting with other individuals when he had reported to his employer that he was not capable to coming to work for them due to fear of risk of contraction. The legal sector has made adjustments in working practises during the crisis and your investigators, process servers and tracing agents need to show you flexibility and diversity to fulfil your requirements. This national crisis has the opportunity to allow many businesses to show their true value and commitment to their clients. One of my mantras is ’no problem is insurmountable; you just need to work out the way to deal with it’. For more information about the industry position or any concerns contact me directly: davidkearns@ expert-investigations.co.uk 02476 630498 / 07879 482902. I will be holding a webinar on Thursday 14th May at 11.00hrs click the link. https://davidkearns736. clickmeeting.com/the-role-of-the-investigator-in-thelegal-sector?_ga=2.54835234.847597457.1587034998722243021.1581000951 or email me to book on. Take care and keep safe. ■
Managing Director Expert Investigations Ltd.
Of note professional fraudsters are attacking the business world and individuals with the continual bombardment of Covid 19 related fraud attacks and scams. Given the working restrictions, constraints and furlough, Employment Solicitors are busy. On a daily basis, prior to the Covid 19 we placed employees under surveillance that were falsely absent from work, skiving off, either to start their own business, work for someone else, or just because they did not want to go to work.
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The knowledge you need, the service you value.
For over 20 years, Geodesys has been perfecting its comprehensive suite of conveyancing search solutions to clients throughout the UK. Today our bespoke service â€“ including impartial advice, EU-compliant due diligence, secure file management and dedicated support â€“ provides total peace of mind and total compliance every time.
Geodesys. All you need to know. Call 0800 085 8050 Email firstname.lastname@example.org 34 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Change is a constant in conveyancing Law Society outlines changes to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme
he recent Geodesys CPD event saw Eleanor O’ReillyJoe, Head of Accreditation at the Law Society and Peter Rodd, CQS Chief Assessor, bring the packed room upto-speed on recent changes to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). What’s new with the CQS? First launched in January 2011, the Law Society scheme offers a recognisable standard of excellence in the provision of residential conveyancing services. In February 2019, the CQS Core Practice Management Standards were updated and expanded. All firms were required to update and embed the requirements by 1 May 2019. Since the introduction of these changes, the Law Society has increased the level of support it has in place to drive continuous improvement. From November 2019 to January 2020 it carried out an assessment pilot to monitor compliance amongst members and provide feedback. What did the pilot reveal? The pilot included both desk-based assessment, focussing on typically high areas of risk such as file reviews, SDLT and leasehold conflict, and on-site visits, which also included the assessment of policies and procedures. Both types of assessment were designed to audit the law firm against the updated Core Practice Management Standards. The assessments identified non-compliant aspects across all Core Practice Management Standards. The solution: resolving non-compliance If a conveyancing practice is found to be non-compliant, it receives a letter from the Law Society laying out any breaches and suggesting a corrective course of action. They are then given a fixed period of time to correct infractions (21 days for minor breaches and three months for major breaches,) after which they are obligated to provide evidence of the corrective action they have taken.
The assessor’s view Peter Rodd stressed that risks in conveyancing had increased enormously in recent years and those involved in conveyancing could not afford to be complacent when it came to make the necessary changes to their processes. He urged firms to be particularly vigilant when it came to the following areas of risk: ■ Fraud: Peter advised that all conveyancing teams should have a list of red flags that could be indicators of fraud. For example, is it reasonable that the buyer could have saved a significant amount of money? There are various clues which should prompt a request to the seller’s solicitor to share due diligence. ■ SDLT: Every transaction should have its SDLT calculation double-checked to make sure it is based on the right information. SDLT threatens to become the next PPI scandal as unscrupulous companies encourage dissatisfied clients to put in a claim. ■ Client care: Client expectations are usually very different to the reality so it’s important to be as upfront as possible as to how long the transaction is going to take. To avoid buyers feeling that nothing is happening, conveyancers should agree levels of communication at the outset. Conveyancing: change is a constant Peter also stressed that change would continue to be a constant theme in conveyancing so those involved in property transactions should keep an eye on the Law Society’s website for details of practice notes. Further changes to CQS will be announced in 2020 and the Law Society will be offering a number of briefing sessions to all those involved in conveyancing compliance. Over the last year Geodesys has been working with the Law Society to promote the CQS in order to help our clients. We have also introduced the Geodesys Compliance Service which can help conveyancing teams ensure they are complying to the updated CQS Core Practice Management Standards. ■
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evil bots lurk in every corner. Sending sensitive client data by email puts you in their reach. Thankfully we can make sure you are properly protected.
From instruction to completion, protect, share and obtain signatures. Document Portal; a clever new solution, only available with Brighter Law. Find out more at poweredbypie.co.uk
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poweredbypie accelerates introduction of online communication tool: Document Portal
ith many law firms now working from home, search and software provider poweredbypie, has announced an accelerated introduction of its new online communication tool Document Portal. Document Portal enables simple and secure electronic exchange of all documentation within the conveyancing process, particularly helpful when email is not secure and meeting clients in person is not possible. Carole Ankers, chief product & technology officer, poweredbypie explains: “Working from home creates a new set of challenges when it comes to communicating with clients. Document Portal is directly integrated into poweredbypie’s Brighter Law tool kit and helps law firms stay in touch with clients by providing a safe, secure alternative to email and post for the exchange of sensitive information. It allows clients to sign and return documents, speeding up processes and keeping you on top of your workflow in this unusual situation.” Chris Thomson, partner, McKeag & Co Solicitors confirms: “As a beta client for Document Portal we recently had a homebuyer register for Document Portal for a new property transaction. They got the client care pack, opened the documents, signed and returned them securely within two hours! With this communication typically taking a week or more through the post, suddenly, we can see how to make the, often stressful, process of buying a new home much more convenient for customers, giving us as a law firm a real competitive edge and saving time throughout the workflow of the transaction. Online communication has become even more important recently and Document Portal now offers a convenient option to stay safe and communicate with our clients securely.” Carole Ankers continues: “Home networks may be even more susceptible to a cyber-attack and so a secure way
to communicate with clients has never been so essential. Document Portal removes the risk of fraud, providing secure 2 Factor Authentication to store and share legal documents which are accessible only to those with authorised access. “Document Portal is both simple to use and set-up, we try and make life easy for law firms! A document portfolio can be created which includes intuitive, editable forms and digital signature facility provided by the leading eSignature brand DocuSign. Not only does this provide a secure, streamlined environment for client data, it also highlights to the client exactly what information needs to be filled-in, first time, every time. Clients can also upload their own documents, further negating the need for post. “White label branding means that the end customer has a seamless experience of your brand: from getting a quote in our online calculator tool, to eSigning in Document Portal. The overall faster conveyancing process with real time notifications, leads to happier clients who are more likely to recommend your services in these tough market conditions. We take care of all the integration and setup, all that’s left for you to do is to use it and start to feel the benefits.” To find out more or to book an online demo with your account manager please see: https://poweredbypie.co.uk/lp/document-portal.html In response to the current situation, we have also updated our online CPD training programme with several new courses to help you while working at home. To view available sessions and book your place, please see: https://mailchi.mp/poweredbypie/training For further information please see: www.poweredbypie.co.uk ■
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GCS – Legal Indemnity Insurance options that put you in control
uaranteed Conveyancing Solutions (GCS) is a market-leading provider of legal indemnity insurance for ‘residential’ and ‘commercial’ properties and ‘developments’. As a recognised long-standing company with a great reputation for speed/service, it’s no wonder we’re trusted by over 20,000 conveyancing professionals throughout the country. The key driver of our business is to constantly evolve and develop our offerings to meet the demands of our conveyancers, whilst also ensuring that the process of obtaining legal indemnity insurance is simple and effective. GCS has three options: ‘Online’, ‘Pack’ and ‘Bespoke’. Conveyancers can use just one of these methods or use them ALL in combination – it’s entirely up to them. GCS Online Our fast, easy-to-use Online system allows users to obtain quotes in seconds and issue electronic policy documentation in minutes. GCS Online is accessible 24/7, whether it’s from the office or remotely, and users can access exclusive online-only policies, as well as having the option of an ‘Individual’ or ‘Group’ account.
If sole access to an Online account is all you need, an ‘Individual’ account is ideal. If you want the ability to create accounts for others in your firm/branch or the ability to delegate your work to colleagues (perhaps when you are away), you may want to try our ‘Group’ account.
Our ‘Group’ account also allows you to consolidate statements for multiple fee-earners, or have statements sent directly to your accounts department. Users can change from an Individual or Group account at any time, giving them total flexibility and FULL control. Insurance Pack Our legal indemnity insurance ‘Pack’ is just as easy-to-use as our Online system. The main difference is that all policy documentation is in paper format, contained in logical order within our smart ring-file folder. Bespoke Our ‘Bespoke’ service is available if you want us to issue policies directly for you or if the risk is more complex and doesn’t meet the automatic acceptance criteria of ‘Online’/’Pack’. There’s no fee for our Bespoke service, we simply quote a premium to cover the risk. Contact us for a quote today – our friendly, knowledgeable and experienced underwriters are on hand to help. To find out more about ‘GCS Online’, please visit https://gcs-title.co.uk/register. Head to https://gcs-title.co.uk/ pack to obtain a ‘Pack’. To arrange a ‘Bespoke’ quote, please email email@example.com. Any questions? Head to https://gcs-title.co.uk/FAQs for the answers. Alternatively, phone 01435 868050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. ■
Total Flexibility. FULL Control. Comprehensive legal indemnity insurance for ‘Residential’ & ‘Commercial’ properties. Have the ﬂexibility of an ‘Individual’ or ‘Group’ account. INSTANT cover in minutes – without referral
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gcs-title.co.uk 01435 868050 email@example.com
Guaranteed Conveyancing Solutions Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales no. 3623950. Registered oﬃce: GCS House, High Street, Heathﬁeld, East Sussex, TN21 8JD
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COVID-19 and the law of frustration: what is it and how can it affect your commercial contracts? As more businesses look to find ways to avoid their contractual obligations, the legal concept at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the so-called “force majeure” clause. However, we consider below, the lesser known doctrine of frustration and it may assist parties where a force majeure clause is not engaged.
Frustration The law of frustration applies where a significant change of circumstances renders a contract physically or commercially impossible to fulfil, or transforms the obligation to perform into a radically different obligation from that originally undertaken. Such a change in circumstances must be due to an outside event or change of situation that occurs without the fault of the party seeking to rely on it. If a frustrating event is deemed to have occurred, the parties will be excused from further performance and will not be liable for damages for non-performance. It is important to note that the contract will be permanently frustrated. Except as otherwise agreed between the parties, recovery of monies paid under the contract before it was discharged is permitted, subject to expenses incurred by the other party (at the court’s discretion). The impact of COVID-19 is likely to satisfy the legal test and provided the contract was entered into before word of the pandemic had spread, there is little doubt that the effects of the outbreak would be deemed outside the reasonable contemplation of the parties. However, due to the inherent
uncertainty that comes with the law of frustration, courts have historically been reluctant to find that a contract has been frustrated. It remains to be seen what approach the courts will take in present circumstances. Key points for businesses All businesses should be examining their key contracts. The implications of rightfully or wrongly invoking the law of frustration or a force majeure clause are often substantial and parties should seek urgent legal advice before doing so. ■
Partner and Head of Commercial Hugh James Aled Walters has significant experience advising on complex contracts and deals with a multi-jurisdictional dimension. Please contact Aled via Legal Network London on legalnetwork@ hughjames.com. Legal Network London is a free referral and support network for law firms operated by Hugh James. Your firm may be eligible for a fee share for referrals made via the network.
Staff retention in the era of the Millennial Millennials comprise around half of today’s workforce and are set to takeover 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. A generation often mislabelled as entitled are simply different than the generations past. In order to retain millennial talent in an unpredictable economic climate, businesses need to focus on what employees expect from their careers. What I can tell you is, it isn’t all about ping pong tables, bean bags and free drinks on a Friday.
recent study from Gallup suggests a staggering 87 percent of employees worldwide are disengaged in the workplace. That translates into an ineffective workforce with reduced productivity, increased sick leave and general negativity. However, there is good news! It isn’t too late to ensure we’re set up for the future. First, we must recognise what expectations millennials have of their careers. For many, it is purpose, fulfilment and the appropriate tools to complete that work. As digital natives they have grown with technologisation of the modern world. Born in the 80’s and 90’s, they watched televisions and radios switch from analogue to digital, cassettes transform into CD’s and then streaming services, and personal computers became a part of everyday life. Taking this rapid uptake of tech in their stride, they understand the value of the right tools at home and in the workplace. While addressing purpose and fulfilment will come from a cultural shift and a shared understanding of the ‘why’, technology still seems to be a sticking point. 67% of millennials said it was the biggest source of intergenerational conflict in the workplace,
according to research from Robert Walters. When staff, regardless of age, are bogged down by arduous administrative processes, they can struggle to find purpose in their work. Especially those who have studied to specialise in law, who are spending their days saving, uploading, printing and posting documents. They demand automated processes using the right technology to free up time to practise their chosen career more efficiently and rewardingly. The reality is, implementing this sort of valuable technology into your business model not only aids staff retention and satisfaction, but also provides rewarding customer experiences – more home movers than ever are millennials and expect the tech to match – as well as increased profitability and productivity. Embracing the evolution of workplace technology will not only keep you in stride with your employees, but also your customers. ■
General Manager of Marketing InfoTrack
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Remote Working, Outsourcing, Lockdown 2020! Immediate change for the long term?
any of us have recently heard phrases like, “we are living through unsettled times” and “this is unprecedented” during the current Lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. For many firms, the idea of working from home is almost alien, certainly for more traditional practices that have always had their office/hub to work from. Almost overnight, the UK Government made rulings for people to work from home and the UK had to adjust very quickly. A lot of the adjustments are based around a company’s IT infrastructure, including the software it uses and the IT service provider it employs. Many companies have seen major disruption in these areas because their infrastructure is either out of date, or not being utilised properly. Having deficiencies in these areas can cause serious problems when trying to access data quickly and not being able to get into the office. This inevitably has a knock-on effect to client service. The recent Government instructions have been somewhat of a “wake-up-call” for many firms to deal with their IT infrastructure deficiencies and many firms are in the process of looking into upgrades and different software options. The current situation also highlights areas for potential outsourcing too. There are many companies that can step in during a crisis like this to assist firms in areas which they are currently having difficulty with such as accounts/cashiering, typing/secretarial and reception/ call handling. The most important element through this difficult period is communication. Having regular meetings with staff is imperative especially when considering any changes like software/ outsourcing. Using platforms like MS Teams or Zoom.us becomes very useful when utilised correctly and both are a very low-cost option for remote meetings. MS Teams is especially helpful with its direct messaging element and its centralised chat for all team members. It can also be used in conjunction with Sharepoint so that active file sharing which would normally be done on a server/emailed can be achieved with very little effort. With the communications handled, it’s then time to look at software options and what suits the firm. If the software that the company currently uses is compatible with remote working where everyone can dial in with ease and see/use what they need to, then further disruption to that may not be the best course at this time. If, however the firm is struggling to view what is required, perhaps it is time to make a change. There are many options out there, and essentially a choice would be something which is very easy to access with good document handling
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properties and a solid accounts function. It’s also important to think about the processes surrounding the software choice ensuring that enough training has been done and maximising the selected package for remote working. Outsourcing is another element to consider. Firms who provide outsourced services are usually very flexible and can provide ad-hoc cover, absence/sickness cover and work for the firm on a longer term/permanent basis. Companies like this are based on remote working and are very much prepared with their own systems and processes to streamline what is required. It is worth investigating if there are any areas of the firm that could be assisted by having an outsourced company working with you. During all of this I recommend thinking not just about the current situation, but the future of the company. All the changes made during the current position can be beneficial to firms for the long term. Think about how opening the office for remote working, better software and communication through better IT infrastructure can help on an ongoing basis. Bear in mind that many of the options can be utilised on devices such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets giving the firm much better flexibility which can lead to higher productivity for the long term. Also, think about the possibility of having peace of mind, knowing that an experienced outsourced team is handling things like your accounts, typing and phone calls without interruption or disruption because they are designed to work remotely. Treat these “unsettled times” as an opportunity to do something “unprecedented” for your firm and investigate how you can invest in better communication tools, modern software, and outsourced services for the long-term benefit of the practice. ■
New Business Manager The Law Factory LLP
How to be there for your children, and a successful lawyer O
ne of the side effects of a prolonged lockdown is that lawyers are having a taste of what it is like to practise in a different way. Outside of the office. No strip lighting or aggressive air-con. From the kitchen table. Radio tuned in to the favourite station whilst crafting a lengthy advice. Taking a break to plant a herb garden with the six-year-old. Being present at home, whilst still getting stuff done. It’s not necessarily all roses (or basil). The six-year-old may have a meltdown just as you are dialling into a ten-person Zoom call. The client might expect to be able to speak to you at 6pm. You might miss the daily interactions with other adults. But ultimately, as a parent the most important thing is that you are there. Now more than ever, family time is a precious thing. All of a sudden, that one hour commute – each way! – looks even less appealing. There are probably lots of us who have tasted this new freedom and thought, ‘yes, please – more of that!’ Warren Berwick was one of those people. Back in 2013, he was a construction litigation partner for an international firm. But he craved the freedom to work on his own terms.
“Being an involved parent and a partner just ware not compatible,” Warren told me – via Zoom of course. Endless partner meetings and ‘presenteeism’ only added to Warren Berwick the pressures of being a high stakes litigator. “Being there for my son, and making quality time for us to do things together, was the priority. I like being a lawyer, but I like being a parent more, so I knew I needed an alternative way of working, without completely sacrificing my income.” So Warren started looking at other ways to practise. Before long he had set up his own boutique law firm, Berwick Law. “Luckily, I knew enough clients would want to keep using me. And I was able to keep my overheads so low that the business quickly became cash generative. It was a real light bulb moment. I could see how the traditional firms were all about feeding the corporate machine. The firm had to keep billing, just to keep the lights on. Whereas I was able to build a business doing what I love, for clients I like, but which is ultimately designed around my priorities”. What does your life look like now? “Well, I carry little stress and I get to spend a lot of time with my son. We take lots of trips and activity weekends together, I get to pick him up from school – the sorts of things you rarely get to do at a big firm unless you happen to be on annual leave.”
So you pick your own hours? “When I’m working, I work hard. I still work at least 40 hours a week, but I fit work around family time. For example, if I have an after school activity with my son, I just start early in the morning and finish at 3pm. That becomes more difficult with court hearings and international client meetings. So far though, over the last six or so years, I have been able to put family first. A big part of this comes from managing client’s expectations and keeping them well informed.” Would you recommend your route to everyone looking to work more flexibly? “The starting point for me was to identify my priorities. My initial focus was to have time to play a full part in my son’s upbringing. This made the decision to set up Berwick Law relatively easy. So if the motivation is there, I would absolutely recommend this route to others. I won’t pretend though that it’s been completely plain sailing. I’ve had to learn about running a business, compliance and insurance. There is also a balance to be struck with finances. But the equation is now far more in my favour as I am not contributing to a large firm’s overhead. So if anyone is thinking about doing this, as long as they are able to generate clients, I would encourage them to give it a go.” Warren recommends looking carefully into the options. “Perhaps the first step would be to explore flexible working with your current firm. But if you want to get out on your own, the virtual law firm model is a good alternative. I’ve done this with my firm. You basically use a regulated practice as a platform through which you put your work on a self-employed basis. So long as you follow a few key compliance rules, it is really straightforward. And you can easily earn more as a virtual lawyer than a salaried lawyer for the same amount of work. “But not everyone likes the thought of sharing their hard-earned fees. If the freelance solicitor model [under the new SRA rules] had been available when I set up I would have at least considered that option.” Maybe when things get back to ‘normal’ more of us will be looking at ways we can spend more time with the family. Luckily, there are now lots of options. ■
Jonathon Bray Director
Jonathon Bray helps law firms with SRA compliance and regulatory matters, and specialises in ABS applications www.jonathonbray.com You can find out more about Berwick Law at www.berwick-law.com, or contact Warren Berwick directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Winners will be the firms who embrace Transparency and go beyond what is required
n the 5th of March the SRA issued an update reminding firms of their obligations under the ‘Transparency’ rules, that came into force in December 2018. “The aim is to help people, who currently struggle to shop around for legal services, more easily find the information they need to help them find the right legal help for them. The rules also include using our clickable logo, which became mandatory last November, which verifies that you are a law firm that we regulate and tells the public about the protections in place.” It is crucial to understand that these rules were established to serve in the solicitor firm’s best interests. The regulator wants to ensure that potential customers are better able to compare different legal services providers. Indeed, the SRA highlighted that 71% of the consumers they surveyed spent over I hour researching providers. How positively your firm responds to the principles of Transparency may define future success. This current climate where client activity is likely to be limited is an excellent time to reflect on how your website has embraced the rules and perhaps to go far beyond what is required and to differentiate yourselves from competitors who may not be recognising the opportunity. The SRA’s first website sweep exercise in the spring of 2019 showed that 17% of regulated firms, after 6 months, had not done anything in compliance of the new rules. The regulator has now completed a second similar exercise and whilst the full outcome has not been published as I write, the following sound bite from the SRA suggests firms are still not embracing rules, aimed to benefit them and assist them attract new clients: “The second of these has been completed and where we found non-compliance, we are considering potential enforcement action. More checks on firm websites will follow.” Obviously since November, in line with the new Standards and Regulations, we now have the whole picture, regarding exactly what is compulsory. This now includes prominently displaying the SRA Digital Badge, your own, the SRA’s and Legal Ombudsman complaints procedures and all the core areas when you must show costs, who is delivering the services, likely timescales and disbursements. Therefore, this article is not to cover old ground or the basic requirements of Transparency, more to look at some tips to embrace the challenge and show your business in the best possible light to potential customers, in need of legal advice or services, that are undertaking web based research. The following ideas will be included in a new marketing leaflet for our SIFA Professional financial advisory members, to reach out and support their legal colleagues. Here is an insight and I hope it gives you food for thought:
SIFA Professional Guidance on going beyond ‘Transparency’ ■ It is not always about a low price; it is about value – So include as much information as you can about the services you are describing. Be aware that SRA research, however, does show consumers are attracted to known, fixed costs. (SRA research indicates 32% of consumers see price as a key factor.) ■ Plain language is advisable – Avoid legal jargon and describe the processes and stages in easy to understand ways. ■ Why limit the exercise to the compulsory services in the rules? – To have full details on the costs and aspects of the compulsory services and not in others seems pointless. The SRA began with core, most utilised services but this was just the start of the reforms but to a consumer, having full information for some services and less for others may look odd or even suspicious. ■ Staff Biographies are strongly recommended – You are required to include details and qualifications of the individuals involved in delivering the described services but why not go further. Full biographies with pictures of the solicitor and any support staff a new client is likely to deal with in the course of the process, personalises the experience from outset. More so if you can include personal non work-related background as well. ■ Encourage your key solicitors to write blogs about how they deliver their service and work with clients and use these on your website. This is a further comfort and personalisation factor in the potential client’s research. ■ Use social media – a profile demonstrating your firms and individual solicitors’ credentials and expertise linking back to your website could be a differentiator. ■ Display your firm’s awards, consumer service standards and kite marks of quality. ■ Ensure you have a testimonial section on your website. Ideally one for each area of law/service. (Happy and satisfied clients are a crucial factor for consumers, with the SRA indicating that 42% of those surveyed seeing reputation as the key factor.) ■ Be proud to show work with other carefully selected third parties – Modern clients think holistically and require a holistic approach to their problems and needs. It is therefore beneficial if your website informs them that you operate that way and will refer them to other professionals, such as financial advisers, if a financial planning need arises from the legal service you are providing. In essence, your website is the modern-day shop window and the more enticing and welcoming it looks, the more likely new customers are to walk in. Particularly important if your window is not the only one, they are looking in! ■
Managing Director SIFA Professional
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Cash Flow Modelling – Vital for Financial Planning and particularly on divorce
key role, arguably the key role, of a financial planner is to help a client meet all of their financial objectives throughout their lifetime, and one of the most important objectives for most clients is to ensure that they have sufficient money saved to provide them with the retirement that they want. The two key questions that need to be asked, and answered, are “When do you want to retire?” and “How much income will you require to live comfortably when you do?”. Without having the answers to these two questions I do not know how any financial planner can comment or advise on a client’s pensions, yet I often speak to new clients who have come to me for various reasons, whose previous adviser had never asked them these questions. Can you imagine a pilot flying a plane without knowing the destination or time of arrival? With these two answers confirmed it is then possible to realistically create and work on a financial plan, which specifically targets the client’s objectives. Knowing when a client wishes to retire and on how much per month or year, enables me to calculate how much they need to have built up in their pension funds to enable them to generate the income that they need. From this it is then possible to calculate how much the client needs to save per month and what annual investment return is needed to achieve their retirement objectives. I have met clients who have a personal investment manager (IM) who manages their portfolio, and at a review meeting the IM compares their performance against the benchmark, against the sector, against the FTSE 100 etc, thinking they have done a good job because they have provided a slightly better return compared to those. But the key return they should be focusing on is the return that the client needs to achieve their objective. If the IM hasn’t achieved this return, then their clients are not going to achieve their goal. So, whilst it is nice to beat a benchmark, it has no real relevance to a client’s financial plans, yet so many people focus on comparative returns. A key tool that I use with clients to help calculate what annual return is needed for their portfolio is Cash Flow Planning. This involves software which takes account of a client’s current situation (assets, liabilities, income, expenditure) and then models how these factors will change up to and through retirement. This then allows me to analyse various key outcomes and make changes to the client’s financial plan to improve their situation. Areas such as minimising Inheritance Tax, calculating how much a client needs to save each month, how much can they spend in retirement, how much life cover they need, how resilient their investments are to a market crash, tax efficient decumulation, and as previously mentioned, what annual return do they need to meet all of their objectives and not run out of money.
Having input all his current information into the software, we looked at how his existing pensions were projecting to perform and whether he was on track for his desired retirement, which he was. I was then able to factor in a large loss in his pensions (in this case he was expecting to lose 40% of his pensions to his ex-wife), which allowed me to clearly illustrate how the divorce would affect his retirement plans. Unsurprisingly if Mr Stevens did lose 40% of his pension, this would have a noticeably detrimental impact on his retirement plans. Facing the prospect of running out of money midway through his retirement, or having a lot less to spend in retirement than he would like, I was then able to use the Cash Flow Planning software to calculate how much extra money he would have to save from now until retirement to ensure he had enough money accumulated to provide a suitable retirement income. Mr Stevens was then able to use this newly calculated monthly pension contribution amount when it came to his financial settlement negotiations, because one major concern for him was being faced with a significant spousal maintenance obligation. He was planning to use this figure to argue how much of his income he needed to retain to ensure he wasn’t going to suffer in retirement. In conclusion therefore I hope this article has demonstrated that without knowing what a client is trying to achieve, it is impossible to know whether their portfolio is performing well for them, and that a financial planner, using cash flow modelling, is vital to work with family solicitors to assist both divorcees and divorcers to move forward with their financial lives post-divorce. ■
Chartered Financial Planner & Chartered Wealth Manager STEP Affiliate If you would like to find out more about cash flow modelling from Quilter Private Client Advisers or be put in touch with your local office please email QPCA@quilter.com or call Jane Birchall on 07471 354933. QPCA, as SIFA Professional members are proud to be feature on the SIFA Directory of Professional Advisers: www.sifa-directory.info
Notably, Cash Flow Planning is also a hugely powerful tool when it comes to helping a client financially navigate their way through a divorce. I recently met a new client, Mr Stevens, in London who is going through divorce and he understandably wanted to discuss how any pension split would affect his retirement plans.
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The only functioning market for property 2020
had started with such optimism. There was finally closure on Brexit. We had a new prime minister with a strong majority. Buyers queued to get into our February auction. The ballroom had to be extended to accommodate the crowd. The sale raised over £45m as bidders fought more aggressively than we had seen in years. Confidence, much to the relief of many, had thankfully been restored. Nobody could have anticipated what was to come next.
Allsop has held multiple sales online, so we were immediately able to ensure that all interested parties were given full guidance on the process. Pre-registration is necessary for anti-money laundering purposes in any event but purchase and sale contracts were modified to safeguard enforceability, while physical viewings were replaced with virtual tours and internal photographs. Memoranda were signed electronically by Allsop on behalf of buyers and sellers to evidence the binding contracts formed on the fall of the virtual hammer.
I’ve experienced many challenges to keeping our auctions operating over the years - storms of biblical proportions, picketing by pressure groups, postal or transport strikes, angry protesters, even having to learn Spanish hastily to sell in Madrid. But nothing comes close to what we are now facing with the outbreak of Covid-19.
The results were better than expected. The commercial sale has raised over £31m with 78% of lots sold. The residential sale achieved over £29m with 77% sold.
In February, I was asked what we would do if Coronavirus prohibited a ballroom auction. It seemed more of a theoretical question at the time. The virus was spreading beyond China but had not reached pandemic status. If needed, livestreaming the auctioneers from the room would work. After all, we do that anyway. Bids can be made online, by phone or by proxy. And so, we set to work building our March commercial and residential catalogues. We released our 285-lot residential catalogue in the midst of the World Health Organisation declaring Coronavirus as a pandemic. We were not in lockdown but the escalation of the crisis was becoming ever more frightening. For us, this ruled out a closeddoor physical sale; an exclusively online auction was the only safe option.
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A £60m combined receipt demonstrates auctions are still working despite the stagnation now stifling the private treaty market. Estate agency branches are closed and Zoopla has reported that that the number of new property sales agreed in the UK has fallen by 70%. Yet the auction market has remained resilient in the online space. As an auctioneer, I will always prefer the atmosphere of the room and the excitement of public combat. I have no doubt that prices can be enhanced more effectively by a skilled auctioneer in a live environment. For the time being though, online is a vitally important and highly efficient substitute. ■
Gary Murphy Auctioneer Allsop
Is this a permanent change to working life? Asks Trevor Cook, MD of Go Internet, www.gointernet.co.uk. There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that many firms across the country are conducting their business. Employees who would ordinarily begin their working days in an office have begun to complete their work from home. Will COVID-19 serve as the catalyst for change within businesses with home working becoming the norm? Cloud computing has become more popular in recent years with many businesses offloading on-premise servers in favour cloud solutions like Office 365 or Googles G-Suite. Perhaps it’s also time to consider your office phone system. Traditionally, old fashioned IDSN phone systems have consisted of on-site PBX (wall mounted private exchange) offering little in the way of flexibility and mobility. It is also worth nothing that by 2025 BT are phasing out ISDN, the technology used to deliver multi-line telephony over an copper line – so the market it slowly shifting towards hosted VoIP Phone systems, so don’t leave it until the last minute to investigate alternative solutions.
internet product for most businesses considering a shift to Hosted VoIP is EoFTTC. Ethernet over FTTC is very similar to ordinary fibre broadband except it is assured for voice, and has a guaranteed fix time of 7 hours 24/7/365. What does this mean for your business? Because it is assured for VoIP the definition of a fault on this product is different. If there is excessive jitter or packet loss on the connection affecting the VoIP service we can have this looked into, whereas on an ordinary broadband connection this would not be possible. Getting the end to end solution is the most important thing. By providing the internet connectivity, a managed and monitored router and the hosted VoIP service, the journey for the user is all complete. Find out how this can transform your business working. ■ www.gointernet.co.uk
So what is VoIP and how can hosted VoIP help my business? Hosted VoIP is a service where a virtual phone system is hosted on servers based in the service providers data-centres, meaning that your business can have a fully functioning phone system without needing to purchase or pay to maintain an on-site PBX. Hosted VoIP includes all of the features that you would expect from a modern telephone system. Those benefits include Interactive Voice Response (IVR) / Auto Attendant, Ring Groups, Music on Hold, Conference Calling, Voicemail to name a few. Calls are delivered to the business over an internet connection. There are a variety of ways to connect to a hosted VoIP service, of course the most popular form is an IP desk phone – however there are alternatives. If your team work out of the office regularly, then a connected mobile app is perfect and can be used either exclusively or it can mirror your desk phone. Therefore, calls to an extension within the business can be picked up at the desk or on the move. Outbound calls from the mobile app also present your customers with your office number keeping your business calls on brand.
Remote Working Is Easier With VoIP Lower costs Complete portability Clearer voice quality Supports multitasking Higher scalability & flexibility
Hosted VoIP is perfect for businesses working out of multiple offices at different locations or where staff work from home. By putting your telephone system into the cloud, all of the phones within the business become a part of a single phone system. Calls can be answered in London and transferred to Southampton with the press of a few buttons. So what does this mean for my internet connection? By moving your phone system to the cloud, it does increase the reliance on your business internet connection so choosing the right kind of internet connection is important. Choosing a broadband product with the correct SLA (Service Level Agreement) for your business is essential. A perfect entry level
For more information visit:
www.gointernet.co.uk CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 45
Working from home
any of us will be working at home for a while which will be challenging. Being out of the office and a change in our routine combined with limited social interaction in these difficult and uncertain times might cause feelings of worry, fear and loneliness. At LawCare we don’t have an office space and all our team work remotely, so here are our tips from our own experiences to help you look after yourself when working at home. Set up your space It’s important to try and create boundaries between work life and home life, and having a dedicated area to work in can help. Not all of us will have an office or spare room to work in, but try and find a quiet area of the house where you can set up a desk area. Stick to a routine As tempting as it is to stay in your pyjamas all day or sit at your laptop at 10pm it’s important to get dressed and try and stick to a regular routine and your usual working pattern, where possible. This will help you stay focused and keep work separate from home life. Boundaries If you have to change your normal working hours or work flexibly due to childcare or other commitments set boundaries where possible. Perhaps you and your partner can do shifts, or you can work early in the morning or late at night in order to take some time off in the day. You might want to have a set time of day where you can’t be disturbed. Let other colleagues know about your routine and boundaries so you can manage their expectations. Reach out Keep in regular contact with colleagues, friends and family using phone, Skype, Facetime rather than just sending emails and texts. It can be isolating working at home and we all need to feel connected to each other. It’s especially important to look out for those who live alone, make sure you are checking in with people.
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Disable notifications Avoid constantly checking your emails, whats apps and news feeds. It’s very easy to get distracted and sometimes too much information will trigger feelings of worry. Turn off alerts and check them every few hours so you can stay focused. Take breaks Take regular breaks, including a lunch break, just as you would if you were at the office. If practical try and get out for a walk every day. Prioritise self care It’s easy to let healthy habits slip when we are at home but make sure you eat well, get to bed at a reasonable time and find time to do some exercise. You might not be able to go to the gym but you can go for a run, do some gardening or do an online exercise video. Sickness It can be harder to call in sick if you are at home anyway, and many of us will be tempted to do a few hours work even if we are unwell. If you are ill, you really should rest, follow any medical advice and not work at all to protect your future health. Be mindful Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. None of us know what the future holds so try and focus on the here and now rather than the bigger picture. Seek support We’re all in the same boat, but these difficult, uncertain times will affect some of us more than others. If you’re finding it hard to cope, just talking to someone can make you feel less worried. LawCare offers a free, confidential emotional support service to all legal professionals, their support staff and families. We’re here to listen, with helpline calls, emails and webchats answered in confidence by trained staff and volunteers who have first-hand experience of working in the law. We also have a network of peer supporters. If you need to talk call our free, independent and confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email email@example.com or visit www.lawcare.org.uk ■
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