NEWLY QUALIFIED SOLICITORS’ CELEBRATION (see pages 8-11)
Inside this issue:
■ Conveyancing ■ Software ■ NQ Celebration ■ News
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Introduction 4 5
Obituary Joyce Arram
Westminster & Holborn Events 6-7 8-11
Westminster & Holborn Events 2020 NQ Celebration
Law Reform Sub-Committee 12
ADVERTISING AND FEATURES EDITOR Anna Woodhams
Q&A on Government Consultation on Proposed Neonatal Leave & Pay Philip Henson: Law Reform Sub-Committee
Junior Lawyers Division
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MEDIA No. 1642
NOVEMBER 2019 © Benham Publishing Ltd.
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Mental Health In The Magistrates’ Court
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Westminster & Holborn News
Barcelona Bar Association Twinning with Krakow, Visit to Cluj-Napoco, Human Rights Oratory Competition Berlin 2019
Articles 16 Access to Justice - the current state of 17 18-19
criminal legal aid Outsourcing: Work smarter and make more profits The STALKER in the office? Navigating the new regime under the Stalking Protection Act 2019 Why do solicitors need a charity? Completing an expert witness healthcheck
20 21 Events 22 LegalEx 2020 Insurance 23 Unoccupied Property Insurance - Prepare
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.
Your Home for When the Weather Turns
Finance 25 Financial Modelling –
Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified Legal Advice.
COVER INFORMATION Cynthia Jakes and Joseph Morgan, awarded the inaugural Newly Qualified Rising Star Award at the Newly Qualified Rising Solicitors’ Celebration. Photo © Ben Wilkin @ benkin.co.uk
is it a benefit for clients? Not having a firm-wide process for referrals for financial advice is NOT an option
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GCS Title Insurance – Comprehensively Simple How digitisation is changing the future of home-buying Building Damage, Fire and Land Contamination: Our Capital’s Painful Legacy poweredbypie Launches Document Portal to Enable Secure Exchange of Sensitive Client Data Does Fracking Pose a Risk to Your Commercial Property Interests?
Residual Client Balances: Why you should never ignore them!
Family Law 38
Breaking up is hard to do
Westminister & Holborn Law Society is focussing on improving its presence on Social Media Please follow us on Twitter @CWHLawSociety And LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/mwlite/company/westminster-holborn-law-society
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Welcome to the autumn edition of The Central London Lawyer.
he start to the new legal year is always a time to celebrate our wonderful profession with colleagues and I was delighted to represent the Society at the Opening of the Legal Year at the beginning of October. It has been a busy time of celebrations within the Society too, as you will see from the front where senior members of the profession joined us in the Houses of Parliament to welcome our newly qualified solicitors. It was a fantastic event, where we also presented our inaugural Rising Star Award.
The Society’s Annual General Meeting is on Tuesday 29 October and marks the end of my presidential year. It has been an honour to serve the Society in this prestigious role and I extend my warmest gratitude to my fellow Officers, the Main Committee and the SubCommittees for all their hard work this year. I also extend thanks to our sponsors and all of you as members, who make our Society such an interesting and vibrant community. A special thank you must go to Coral, Steve and Marcus, for their endless enthusiasm and support this year.
I was delighted that many of our international colleagues joined us at the Newly Qualified Celebration, including friends from Bilbao, Barcelona, Krakow, Berlin and Amsterdam. We are continuing to strengthen our international networks with reciprocal visits and more twinning arrangements, so do look at all our trips planned for next year and contact me if you want to join any of the delegations.
When I was appointed, I made my key priorities expanding the variety of events on offer for all members, increasing member interactions with our Sub-Committees and raising the profile of the Society locally, nationally and internationally. It is exciting to look back over the past year and review everything that we have achieved and I hope that you are able to join me, and the President of The Law Society, Simon Davis, at the AGM to hear my full report.
It is certainly the season for prizes and awards - The Human Rights Commission of the Federation of Bars of Europe hosted its annual human rights oratory competition again this year in Berlin in September. The candidates representing the Society did us proud again this year and my congratulations go to Sophie Lucas who came in second place and Ben Pass who also made it to the semi-finals. Our Sub-Committees continue to work tirelessly. I am pleased to welcome Philip Henson as Chair of the Law Reform SubCommittee. Our Sub-Committees are a fantastic way to meet members, raise your profile and immerse yourself in the work of the Society, so do get in touch if you would like more information about them. SPONSORS
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In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you at one of our next events. ■
Laura Uberoi President
Westminster & Holborn News
Joyce Arram 24 March 1935 - 11 November 2018
Photo: Joyce Arram (far left) protesting outside the National Liberal Club, 1976.
Joyce Arram was a very longstanding and active member of Westminster & Holborn Law Society. We are delighted to have the kind permission of Judge Welchman, to reproduce the obituary written for the National Liberal Club.
oyce Arram born in London of Jewish heritage, during WW2 was evacuated to Wales and after the war returned to London, but retained a strong Welsh link. Joyce epitomised liberal values to her core. If Joyce supported a cause she gace it her very best.Her devotion to the Liberal Party/ LibDems and the Liberal Democratic Friends of Israel was total. She also cared about other issues and causes and cared about her neighbours in Summerlee Gardens, Finchley and and in Carmarthen where she had a cottage. Her professional work was as a lawyer and was still a consultant with Alexander JLO until her death. Joyce was a director, and latterly a Honorary VicePresident, of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. Back in the 1070s we were fellow PPCs and also Members on the Committee of the Association of Liberal Lawyers. Bernard Budd QC was the chairman and Tim ClementJones was the energetic and resourceful Secretary. Joyce contested a number of Parliamentary and local elections and I believe she last stood in the London council elections in 2018. Joyce attended and was an enthusiastic contributor to meetings of Liberal Candidates Association and its residential weekends which were often held at Trinity College Oxford. Joyce was a generous friend, colleague and host with invitations to her home in Finchley.
In 1976 Joyce and six other notable membership. Their protest was successful and was captured in the splendid photograph of “The Magnificent Seven” above. How different things would have been if they had been elected to Parliament! Joyce was all too well aware that the legal system was extremely daunting for the unrepresented and particularly so in view of the draconian legal aid cuts. She was closely involved with the Personal Support (PSU), which does an invaluable job of providing support for unrepresented litigants. I lost contact with Joyce after 1983 and when I ceased to be politically active and was concentrating on my legal career, but caught up with her again years later when she was on a stall promoting the PSU at a legal event held at Mansion House in the City of London. Subsequently following my retirement from the bench I met Joyce frequently at events at the National Liberal Club and Rights-LibertiesJustice (of which she was Deputy VicePresident) with her enthusiasm undaunted. Many of us will miss her greatly including her friends and neighbours in Finchley and Carmarthen as well as those connected with different aspects of the Liberal cause to which she was so dedicated. ■
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Westminster & Holborn Events
EVENTS 2020 Booking is essential for all events due to restrictions of space
Thursday 23 January
President’s New Year and Welcome Event:
Brexit Implications for Lawyers,
Edwin Coe LLP
Our New Year and President’s Welcome Event will be hosted in the new offices of Dawson Cornwell. We will also be presenting our prestigious Gamlen Prize to our most promising trainee solicitor. Please note that the main entrance to Dawson Cornwell will close at 7pm. If you arrive after this time, please enter through Tooks Court.
Following the success of our Brexit event last year, we are hoping to host another Brexit session in March/April with David Greene, Vice President of the Law Society, Senior Partner at Edwin Coe LLP and Chair of the Law Society's Brexit Task Force.
Dreamvar – an update Following on from the Dreamvar case, this update will be led by Peter Cousins QC and Peter Dodge.
International Lawyers’ Forum Launch We are excited to launch our International Lawyers’ Forum, for all international lawyers practising in the area. Further details will follow.
Latest Developments in Contract Law For ten years Richard Stephens has been providing an annual update on the latest developments in contract law and his talks are attended by hundreds of lawyers every year, very often selling out: http://www.the-lors.co.uk/ Normally the full session lasts two hours but, in this session, Richard will take an hour looking at the latest and greatest cases that have appeared in the last 12 months, talking about their implications for drafting as well as for those handling disputes.
Taking on the Tech Giants We are jointly hosting a session with the University of Law with guest speaker Ravi Naik. Further details will follow.
Pro Bono & CSR Committee Event Our Pro Bono & CSR Sub-Committee are hoping to host another annual reception, following the success of our previous events run with JUSTICE during an evening filled with refreshments and nibbles. Further details will follow.
Junior Lawyers Division Event February
Winter 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.
The JLD will host informal networking and socialising for members and non-members. Further details to follow.
Property Law Spring Update February/March
Winter Property Law Update The first of our annual property law updates is kindly hosted by Index Property Information, starts at 6pm and will be followed by a networking reception.
The second of our annual updates is kindly hosted by Index Property Information, starts at 6pm and will be followed by a networking reception. Further details will follow.
SQE Update Breakfast Seminar
We are hosting a delegation from the Krakow Bar Association and will sign a twinning agreement over lunch. Our guests will then join us at the annual dinner (see below). Members have been invited to attend a reciprocal visit to Krakow in April.
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.
Wednesday 11 March
Wednesday 11 March
Krakow Bar Association Twinning Ceremony
Annual Dinner, National Liberal Club This year’s annual dinner will be hosted jointly with South London Law Society at the National Liberal Club.
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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.
Westminster & Holborn Events
EVENTS 2020 Booking is essential for all events due to restrictions of space
Newly Qualifiedsâ€™ Celebration -
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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 â€“ refreshments will follow the meeting.
Summer Garden Party We are looking forward to bringing our members together for a summer gathering, with refreshments and entertainment. Further details will follow.
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
SAVE THE DATE: ANNUAL DINNER Wednesday 11 March 2020 WHLS and South London Law Society will hold a joint event at the National Liberal Club (no political affiliation) Additional events are under discussion. If you have suggestions or would like to host an event, please contact the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org The website calendar also shows our events www.cwhls.org.uk
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Westminster & Holborn Events
NQ Celebration On 19 September 2019, the Westminster and Holborn Law Society hosted their annual NQ Celebration. This event was free to attend for all trainee solicitors qualifying in 2019 and was a wonderful evening celebrating the long journey and hard work of trainee solicitors.
he event was held in the grand setting of the Houses of Parliament, and was attended by a large range of members of the society; from those beginning their journey as a solicitor to those who wanted to show their support for the junior end of the profession. We were also joined by members of various European Bar Associations, making this an international celebration of our shared values as legal professionals. We were lucky enough to have Pat Treacy, a deputy High Court Judge, give an engaging and poignant speech about the rule of law and the importance of proper access to law, which was particularly striking given recent high profile judicial decisions. Finally, we were proud to present the inaugural Newly Qualified Rising Star Award to two very impressive and capable candidates. Cynthia Jakes and Joseph Morgan demonstrated exceptional quality throughout their training contracts, but were also able to show that they had gone above and beyond in supporting the legal profession as a whole. Thank you to everyone who helped to organise this very memorable evening. â– EVENT SPONSORS
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Westminster & Holborn Events
NQ Celebration 2019
Photography Â© Ben Wilkin @ benkin.co.uk
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Westminster & Holborn Events
NQ Celebration 2019
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Photography Â© Ben Wilkin @ benkin.co.uk
Westminster & Holborn Events
NQ Celebration 2019
Photography Â© Ben Wilkin @ benkin.co.uk
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 11
Law Reform Sub-Committee
Q&A on UK Government Consultation on Proposed Neonatal Leave & Pay 1
The UK Government has launched a new consultation which sets out proposals to support the parents of children who require neonatal care following birth. Background An estimated 100,000 babies are admitted to neonatal care every year following their birth. Bliss (the charity for premature and sick babies) estimates that of the 60,000 babies a year who are born prematurely (before 37 weeks’ gestation), around two thirds require neonatal care; and a further 60,000 babies who are born full-term (at 37 or more weeks’ gestation) are admitted each year to neonatal intensive care. The consultation cites an academic study which puts this figure into context that this represents 2 around 10% of the annual birth rate of full-term babies . What is neonatal care? Neonatal means ‘new born’ and neonatal units specialise in the care of babies born early, with low weight or who have a medical condition that requires specialised treatment. What is the UK government proposing? The consultation highlights that where the baby has been in neonatal care for a prolonged period, fathers and partners often rely on annual leave entitlements or unpaid leave in order to be with the mother and baby in hospital after their statutory Paternity Leave has elapsed. The proposed Neonatal leave would be an entitlement to be absent from work to care for the baby, so that, as far as possible, parents have additional time at home with their child to compensate for the time their child was in hospital after birth. How many weeks of Neonatal Leave would be available? The government propose that parents receive one week of Neonatal Leave and Pay for every week that their baby is in neonatal care, up to a maximum number [currently undefined] of weeks. How long does the baby have to be in neonatal care for parents to qualify? The proposal is that this would apply to parents of babies who had spent a minimum of two continuous weeks in neonatal care immediately after birth. Philip Henson Head of Employment at ebl miller rosenfalck says that: This may seem like a long period of time for the baby to be neonatal care in order
to qualify, and it is. The consultation itself cites that the majority (54%) of babies admitted to neonatal care spend one week or less in hospital before being discharged home, and a smaller proportion (19%) of babies spend between one and two weeks. So, the proposed new law, in its current form, and using the statistics from the consultation is offering support to just 27% of those parents whose children are admitted into neonatal care. The UK government considers that the higher threshold could enable Neonatal Leave and Pay to target parents who are most in need – those with the most seriously ill children or likely to spend an extended period of time in neonatal care. What can employers do to help? Philip Henson Head of Employment at ebl miller rosenfalck says: Carry out research so you understand the key issues – The charity Bliss has a detailed website with a lot of practical suggestions and guidance, and is a helpful starting point. Establish a contact point - I would suggest that your employee is provided with a direct phone number, or mobile number, of a HR professional, or Partner, that they can call/text or email - to discuss their needs. Be aware that situations may change – The consultation acknowledges that as the baby’s prognosis is likely to change over time, and the exact length of stay in neonatal care cannot be known in advance. How can your firm be flexible? If the parents need to travel long distances to the hospital – especially if they are sleep deprived - then consider offering to book taxis for them. If they need to stay in temporary accommodation near a hospital where their baby is seeking care then perhaps offer to help look for accommodation, and go a step further to see if you can negotiate a discount for them. Are they covered on your Firm’s insurance plan? If so, can you email them the details, so that they have it to hand? ■
Philip Henson Head of Employment law at ebl miller rosenfalck
Philip Henson: Law Reform Sub-Committee To say that Philip likes to keep busy is an understatement.
e is a Partner and Head of the cross employment team at ebl miller rosenfalck in Clerkenwell, which specialises in cross border work. He also heads up the firm’s growing Chinese desk. The China desk works with Chinese businesses, entrepreneurs and state owned entities who are established in the UK, or expanding to the UK, and/or Europe via ebl offices in France, Germany and Belgium. He is looking forward to starting an immersion course in Mandarin. He advises employers (from start-ups to global listed corporations and embassies) on a full range of employment related issues as well as a buoyant employment tribunal litigation practice. He also represent senior directors (usually at FTSE 250/AIM companies and well known figures in the financial services industry) in complex and high-value boardroom disputes and he supports talented women in the City, and in law firms, in high-value discrimination claims. Outside of his busy legal practice Philip’s priority is to spend all the time he can with his young family, with his two very active children under the age of 6. He likes to get involved in the local and business community, and he is often called upon to provide commentary in the legal press, or television. One of
his passions is considering proposed new laws – he admits that he does not get out very often! He is a trustee of Deen City Farm and Riding School in South West London, and loves to spend time there helping the team with governance and also fundraising. In an unashamedly obvious plug law firms are welcomed at the farm as corporate donors, and for staff training days. Philip has strong links with the City of London, and he is an active member of the City of London charity committee (which, among other areas, provides funding and support to some of London’s law centres) and he is also the editor of City Solicitor magazine. Film making is another passion. He has written various short films, some of which have been in the official selection of international film festivals. He was an executive producer of the short film Anonymous, which tells the story of the gentrification of Soho told by Mimi, who is played by the talented British actor Enzo Cilenti (Luther, The Last Tycoon, Game of Thrones, Jonathan Strange & Dr Norrell). Anonymous was in the official selection of the Austin Film Festival and has an 8/10 ranking on ImDb. ■
1 Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families Consultation https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/819041/good-work-family-support-consultation.pdf 2 Available at: www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/deptmedicine/infectious-diseases/neonatology/NDAU-2016-Report-v1.1-(002).pd
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JLD - Junior Lawyers Division
Mental Health In The Magistrates’ Court A Failing System? Those of us who have regular professional contact with the criminal courts are all too aware of the fact that many involved in the criminal justice system are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. This includes children, those who suffer with mental health conditions or developmental disorders, or a combination of all three.
here has been a sea change in the way that vulnerable people are treated by the criminal courts - for victims of crime and witnesses giving evidence in court, we are seeing the increasing use of intermediaries, pre-recorded evidence and other special measures, allowing vulnerable witnesses to participate and give their best evidence. On the other hand, however, vulnerable defendants are often still being let down. Whilst the Crown Court is well equipped for defendants with such vulnerabilities, with a proper statutory regime for ‘fitness to plead’, the same cannot be said of the Magistrates’ Court. The unfortunate reality, in my experience, suggests that procedures break down and mentally ill defendants fall through the gaps. This is of course compounded by other shortcomings, caused by court closures and chronic underfunding of the creaky criminal justice system. The problems begin from the point of the decision to prosecute. Quite often we see children in care being criminalised and brought to court for relatively minor offences such as criminal damage taking place in a care setting, where a child living at home with parents would almost certainly be diverted away from the criminal courts. People in secure hospital units who are already sectioned under the Mental Health Act are often charged with assaults committed within that setting, dragging them into a cycle of ever-increasing criminalisation - even when they are already being treated and deprived of their liberty by virtue of their condition. When the eventual outcome of criminal proceedings is likely to be a ‘hospital order’ remitting them back into the care of the medical services, it often seems that very little is added in bringing criminal proceedings against those already sectioned. The CPS does have a protocol for making these decisions and offers guidance to prosecution lawyers. Due to the limited resources and strain under which the CPS is operating, these full reviews cannot always be completed in time for the first hearing before the magistrates’ courts. This means that vulnerable defendants are brought to court (usually via the cells if they are not granted bail) time and time again, before their cases are reviewed and a decision to divert them
away from the criminal courts can be made. Sometimes this means months later – on the day of trial. Once these cases do get to court, the defendants often face complete uncertainty as to how their cases will be dealt with. Unlike the Crown Court, there is no statutory framework for deciding whether someone is ‘fit to plead’ in the Magistrates’ court. Some do have diversion teams and mental health liaison officers, who work tirelessly with doctors from the local NHS in order to interview mentally disordered defendants and ensure that they are dealt with appropriately. This remains a patchy framework and many courts have no such facility. To give an example of this sad reality, I represented a homeless man who was in the midst of a mental health crisis. He had been taken to the Magistrates’ court and assessed by the NHS liaison team. I asked the court to release him into the custody of a secure hospital so that his welfare could be assessed, only to find that no beds were available. Various NHS trusts were refusing to take responsibility for his care as, being street homeless, he had ‘no community ties’. The court adjourned his case overnight for a bed to be made available. After another night in the cells, he was produced once again only to find that no bed could be found in a hospital. The court remanded him into custody in a normal prison whilst it awaited a decision in his case. He would eventually be transferred to hospital from prison under the Mental Health Act, a process which can take weeks or months. In my opinion, the key to tackling this issue is twofold. The first is early intervention and identification of defendants most in need of diversion away from the criminal justice system. Was it in the public interest to prosecute this man, or would a form of diversion have been more suitable? There is also an increasing need for a national protocol for Magistrates’ courts for defendants with mental health problems – not just in communicating and meeting their needs, but in dealing with their cases justly and swiftly. The clarity of the Crown Court ‘fitness to plead’ framework needs to be replicated in the lower courts. ■
Sebastian Cox 187 Fleet Street
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Barcelona Bar Association
e had an excellent visit from the Barcelona Bar Association in September. It involved seminars hosted by Macfarlanes, Farrer and Co and Dawson Cornwell. Many thanks also to Danielle Reece-Greenhalgh from Corker Binning and Raymond Shaw from Shaw, Graham, Kersh for meeting to discuss criminal law. The delegation also visited the Foreign Office, the Supreme Court and a tour of The Law Society. We ended with a wonderfully social evening hosted by Laura Devine Immigration. â–
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Header WHLS International
Twinning with Krakow W
HLS has agreed to sign a co-operation agreement with Krakow. This will take place at lunchtime on Wednesday 11 March 2020. All members are welcome and precise details will be circulated. The members from the Krakow Bar Association will then attend our Annual Dinner that evening as our guests. A return visit is planned to Krakow with a twinning ceremony on 17 April 2020. Any members wishing to join the President, please contact Katjana Cleasby, secretary to the international Committee. ■
Visit to Cluj-Napoco
HLS was pleased to host Calin Iuga for a meeting on comparative law and independence of the judiciary with The University of Law in Bloomsbury. Don’t forget the WHLS trip to Cluj- Napoco will take place on 16-18 July. ■
Human Rights Oratory Competition Berlin 2019
e had passion, we had logic, we had statute and precedent, and we had ancient history and philosophy from Greece and Rome. The Young Lawyers Human Rights Oratory Competition of the FBE demonstrated how strong the commitment of young Europeans is to human rights. The topic for the competition was Freedom of Speech with candidates from 12 Bar associations. The semi-finalists presented well prepared speeches which were varied in their approach to the legal argument as well in their oratory style. It was a hard task for the panel to choose four to be the finalists on Day Two. The topic for day two “The criminalisation of those who facilitate the travel of refugees is against human rights” was treated in debate style, with two for and two against. In each team one candidate presented and the second speaker rebutted. The candidates had only 2 hours to research and prepare their debate speeches. The judges put a question to all of them to test their spontaneous responses, and heard from the four candidates what each would do to draft legislation in respect of human trafficking. The result was: 1st: Fatima Oraibi from Antwerp; 2nd: Sophie Lucas from Westminster & Holborn; 3rd: Ronald Elek, from Cluj; 4th: Julide Hancer from Istanbul. President of the FBE Human Rights Commission, Artur Wierzbicki presided over the panel as President, and Monique Stengel, from Paris and FBE Treasurer represented the Presidency of the FBE, Marc Wesser, Vice President of the Commission and member of the Berlin Bar, from Bedia Ayşegül Tansenof the Istanbul Bar and Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon) Past president of the FBE joined Mr Wierzbicki on the panel. ■ CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 15
Access to Justice – the current state of criminal legal aid What is wrong with the criminal justice system?
Ministry of Justice Review
In recent years complaints about the state of the criminal justice system in England and Wales have become increasingly loud. From the Secret Barrister to the Justice Select Committee , there seems to be a general consensus that due to many years of underinvestment our criminal justice system is crumbling.
Largely as a result of persistent lobbying by the Law Society and other practitioner groups, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) embarked in March 2019 on a root and branch review of criminal legal aid (‘the Review’). The review covers all aspects of the various criminal legal aid schemes, from the police station to the Crown Court, and it is hoped will at least go some way to addressing the current crisis in Criminal Legal Aid.
Our justice system – admired all around the world - is underpinned by the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty, yet people’s lives can be ruined before their case even reaches trial. Imagine a person arrested today for a crime they didn’t commit. Their journey through the justice system could be plagued with shortages of lawyers and experts due to low legal aid rates, delays due to cases being double booked, long journeys to a distant court due to the closure of their local court, and being required to pay legal aid contributions they can’t afford because the means test is too stringent.
The Society, the Bar Council, CBA and the other main crime practitioner representative groups are engaged with the review and we have representatives on each of the groups feeding into the Review.
Innocent people may be held on remand far longer than necessary because of inefficiencies in the system – and be crippled by large debts as a result of their arrest, even if found innocent. This also impacts on victims and witnesses of crime who suffer avoidable inconvenience, cost and stress because of all these problems.
The review is expected to report at the end of 2020. In the meantime the Law Society and other practitioner representative groups have been successful in persuading the MoJ to invest in specific reforms earlier than this, as a recognition of the crisis in the criminal justice system, and to help build confidence in the review process. Among other things we hope that this will result in some form of payment for the consideration of unused material and early disclosure. The MoJ anticipates proposals from this early work to be published around the end of this year.
Worse still, problems with the disclosure of relevant documentation mean that innocent defendants risk being wrongly prosecuted, or even convicted, because evidence proving their innocence has not been identified and properly considered by the police and prosecutors.
The Law Society delivered a number of roadshows around the country earlier this year – including Birmingham – in order to provide updates to our members on the crime Review and other developments in criminal legal aid. You can listen to a podcast here that summarises the topics covered in the roadshows.
More resource is sorely needed across the system to address these issues, not least in relation to criminal legal aid fees. Criminal legal aid lawyers ensure that anyone accused of wrongdoing has a fair trial. A stable pipeline of defence lawyers is essential to ensure that justice is served both now and in the future. Yet rates for criminal legal aid work are now so low, young lawyers no longer see a viable career in this specialism.
Practitioners can get involved in the Review in a number of ways;
Last year the Law Society published an interactive ‘Heat Map’ illustrating the impending crisis among duty solicitors. The map shows that the mean average age of a criminal duty solicitor across the whole of England and Wales is now 47, and some counties have no lawyers under 35 doing this work. Law Society campaign It was out of these concerns that the Law Society’s criminal justice campaign was born earlier this year . The campaign calls for the Government to invest more in the system and to implement key reforms to ensure the system does not fall apart. Among the campaign tools available are an online petition; a video illustrating the damaging impact on clients of the overly stringent means test; a report – ‘Justice on Trial’ - on the crisis that makes 11 key policy recommendations to government , and a letter-writing campaign encouraging practitioners to write to the new Lord Chancellor urging him to prioritise access to justice.
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• You can host an MoJ employee in your firm for 1-3 days, in order to demonstrate first-hand some of the problems facing you in your day-to-day work. • You can volunteer to take part in a Focus Group. These are in the process of being organised and will take place in several different locations around the country. • You can also contact the Law Society directly with your ideas and suggestions for improvements to criminal legal aid. If you wish to participate in any of the above, please contact:
Alice Mutasa – Policy Adviser, Criminal Legal Aid, the Law Society.
Vicki Butler Campaigns Manager, the Law Society.
Work smarter and make more profits Outsourcing: Work smarter and make more profits
Outsourcing as the solution
Here’s a stat. In a recent Thomson Reuters white paper1 :
Using an outsourced team of Word experts is by far the most costeffective way of managing Word documents.
72% of small law firms said that time spent on admin tasks was a moderate challenge. 83% of those firms said that they had done nothing to address that challenge. This reflects the conversations I have with every law firm I meet. But if firms do not address efficiency issues, they will lose clients who are no longer willing to accept poor quality. One way to address efficiency – quite easily and with immediate results – is outsourcing. Secretarial overload Law firms are hiring more lawyers than secretaries because lawyers earn fees, and secretaries are a cost to the business. So secretaries end up working for a lot of lawyers. If there is a 5:1 secretarial ratio in your office, and your secretary goes on holiday, what happens? Someone else is working for 10. And if someone is off sick at the same time, the pressure continues to build. Just the effort in managing this resourcing gap is time-consuming.
You will receive a correctly formatted, on-brand document, with intact numbering and cross-referencing, in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of a lawyer hour, returned on time and in perfect condition. So what have we learned here? A quality outsourcing service provides an experienced team, that slots into your set-up, and provides backup for your lawyers and secretaries, saving time and money on recruitment, office space and lawyer time. Is your firm doing it? ■
Leanne Bentley Operations Director Bluebird Support Services Limited
Secretaries don’t have the time to work on large Word documents or type long attendance notes. So the typing either gets left until tomorrow or the next day… or the lawyers do it themselves. Any typing task can be undertaken by an outsourced service while the secretary is busy doing other things, or while she is on holiday. A quality transcript can be produced in an hour while secretaries are getting on with helping lawyers run their caseload. The dreaded word - Word Probably the most dreaded words in a lawyer’s daily life are Word numbering and formatting. The cost in time and money is significant. If a lawyer on £500 per hour spends four hours a day working on a document, that’s £2,000 per day. Multiply that by a week, and by 20 other lawyers. And that’s four hours not spent working on servicing the client. Capped fees mean most of this time will be written off and not be included in a lawyer’s targets, so they must work even harder to bill the requisite chargeable hours. And over a year, it amounts to millions in lost profits and a lot of wasted hours. Although the numbers should speak for themselves, bizarrely they don’t. Mental health and burnout are more openly talked about now as a significant problem among lawyers. Imagine the stress involved when it’s 2 a.m. and all your numbering has disappeared. Some of you don’t have to imagine it; you’ve lived it. So why do SO many lawyers do it? And more to the point why are they EXPECTED to do it by their firms? 1 https://legal.thomsonreuters.com/en/forms/is-inefficiency-hurting-your-firms-profits-whitepaper?cid=9012000&sfdccampaignid=7011B000002hKgkQAE&chl=na&utm_source=hs_email &utm_medium=email&utm_content=77569197&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-3_LJef9E9g9wyTsinWFN9pQLe2ZBlHN-FjWHCoHaPm6H2sQ6XbloaSFxdeRJBfBGq0i6ZyY7Zaq3QsJgSCBt5NfQDQ&_hsmi=77569197
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 17
The STALKER in the office?
Navigating the new regime under the Stalking Protection Act 2019 It is chilling situation to be stalked. Anxiety levels can reach heights never imagined. It is a fear which never goes away, and can often continue in the virtual world via email and social media.
f not addressed it can create crippling anxiety – often with victims left feeling helpless and powerless. In more severe cases, victims of stalking may be subjected to physical violence by their stalkers. HR teams will be well versed in harassment law deriving from the civil and criminal1 aspects of the Protection from Harassment Act 19972 (as amended), the high level of compensation awarded in case law3, and the provisions regarding harassment on the grounds of a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. But have you heard of the Stalking Protection Act 20194, which extends to England and Wales, that received Royal Assent in March 2019? The new law started as a private members bill, and soon garnered cross party support. In the second reading of the Stalking Protection Bill in the House of Lords, Baroness Bertin and Baroness Royall outlined the following, frankly terrifying, statistics: • One in five women and nearly one in 10 men will be the victims of stalking behaviour in their adult lifetime5. • It is estimated that 94% of femicide cases are preceded by some level of stalking in the year leading up to the murder. • Well over 90% of stalking victims have known their stalker in some context, albeit sometimes tenuously. • It takes about 100 episodes of stalking for victims to come forward and, when they do, too often they are not taken seriously, so the stalking becomes murder in slow motion. • 55 women who had reported an abusive partner, ex-partner or stalker were killed in the three years between 2015 and 2017. • At least 10 women a week commit suicide because of abuse, and some of them are victims of stalking who have reported many incidents to the police. • In the 2017-18 crime survey for England and Wales, there were more than 10,000 recorded offences of stalking, almost double the previous number of 5,313. • The national stalking helpline [details at the end of this article] has responded to almost 14,000 calls since it was established in 2010. The Parliamentary debate acknowledged that there was a defined period where a complaint of stalking has been made, but the evidence was still being gathered and it is at that point that the person who has raised concerns is particularly vulnerable. The new regime seeks to close that gap, and provide a mechanism to provide more protection. The main purpose of the Stalking Protection Bill is to give police an additional tool to protect the victims of this crime and deter perpetrators at the earliest opportunity. The new civil stalking protection order regime So how is stalking defined in the new law? The short answer is that it isn’t; although Clause 1(4)(b) of the Act states that a risk associated with stalking “may arise from acts which the defendant knows or ought to know are unwelcome to the other person if, in other circumstances, the acts would appear harmless in themselves”. The new regime includes “stalking protection orders”. These are civil orders available on application by a chief officer of police to the magistrate’s court. They are bespoke orders, which can be positive (requirements) or negative (prohibitions) in nature, and they are designed 1: 2: 3: 4: 5:
to give that much-needed protection – especially where there is the risk of the stalking escalating - by allowing police and the courts to step in at an earlier stage. If the civil order is breached it would be a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in prison. A magistrates’ court may make a stalking protection order if satisfied that: (a) the defendant has carried out acts associated with stalking, (b) the defendant poses a risk associated with stalking to another person, and (c) the proposed order is necessary to protect another person from such a risk. A magistrates’ court may include a prohibition or requirement in a stalking protection order only (our emphasis) if satisfied that the prohibition or requirement is necessary to protect the other person from a risk associated with stalking. Prohibitions or requirements must, so far as practicable, be such as to avoid (our emphasis): (a) conflict with the defendant’s religious beliefs, and (b) interference with any times at which the defendant normally works or attends an educational establishment. An order can prohibit a defendant from: • entering certain locations or defined areas where the victim resides or frequently visits (such as the victim’s workplace); • contacting the victim by any means, including via telephone, post, email, SMS text message or social media; or • physically approaching the victim, at all or within a specified distance. An order can also require the defendant to do something, such as: • attending a perpetrator intervention programme; • attending a mental health assessment; or • participating in a restorative justice process. How would you react? In an HR context, the new regime could create unique challenges, as it provides a legal mechanism through which police can identify a need to protect victims and apply to the court for an order, even if the perpetrator has not been prosecuted. So, you could have a situation where a member of your staff is subject to a civil order, which you, as the employer, may not know about. Employees do not strictly have an obligation to inform you of such things (unless set out in their contracts of employment/or a HR policy), although you could argue that failure to do so breaches the implied term of mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee. There will be added complications for those working in regulated sectors such as financial services or the legal profession. In such cases, the regulator may well have to be informed [either by the employee directly or by the company/firm once they are on notice of it], which could impact the individual’s status with the regulator, and have a knock-on effect on the ability to carry out their role. So, how would you react if you discovered that you had a bona fide stalker in the office? What support would you provide to the person being stalked if they were an employee? What action would you take against an employee who was subject to a civil stalking order?
See the recent Criminal case of: Pendlebury v Director of Public Prosecutions  EWHC 3567 (Admin) Section 2A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 sets out examples of acts associated with stalking Helen Green and DB Group Services (UK Ltd) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2006/1898.html http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2019/9/pdfs/ukpga_20190009_en.pdf https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2019-01-18/debates/3286DB07-65EC-44AD-9B6C-2F9A9C58C64B/StalkingProtectionBill?highlight=stalking#contribution-53D8AE90-4947-4271-9D2D-C1AE044DF2D6
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Articles How would you act if the order was in place on one of your employees for 2 years? Aside from cases where the contract of employment clearly states employment is conditional on the employee holding a particular regulatory status and where such status is impacted by any civil order having been made, employers will have to tread carefully in handling these cases. As the orders are to be used specifically in the case where the criminal threshold has not been met for a prosecution, there is likely to be an evidentiary problem. If the restrictions on the order are such that the employee can no longer carry out his/her duties, the dismissal could potentially be justified on the grounds of “some other substantial reason”. This has been successfully argued in the case of a custodial sentence6, but there is no case law as of yet regarding whether this reasoning could extend to civil orders. Employers could also seek to justify any dismissal on the grounds of “conduct” – certainly if the facts leading up to the order being made have taken place in a work context (for example, the victim is a co-worker or a client, or the perpetrator was using work equipment within working time to carry out the stalking). Whichever reason employers seek to rely on, they will need to ensure they acted reasonably in treating that reason as sufficient for dismissal, and follow the processes set out in their handbook or policies. Baroness Briton specifically asked for the inclusion of additional provisions in the Act regarding stalking in the workplace, seeking reassurance from the Minister that it would not be possible to trump stalking activity by saying, “I have my right to go to my place of work”. In the House of Commons7, Chris Philp, gave the example of one of his constituents: “Most defendants in these cases are male. This defendant, Lina Tantash, aged 44, is a resident of Croydon and she was jailed yesterday for four years for stalking offences that had carried on over a period of 10 years. The conviction applied to three of those years. She had persistently harassed and stalked the victim by turning up unexpectedly at his place of
work – even turning up at his office Christmas party – by making thousands of phone calls and by offering money to his colleagues to provide his personal mobile phone number. Eventually, the victim had to leave the country”. Comments from the employment law team at ebl miller rosenfalck (London) There is the scope for HR teams to act in a positive way to educate their teams about the new law, and to encourage any member of staff to seek help and support if they are being stalked, or concerned that one of their co-workers might be. In this context, companies should consider how they could adapt. Could you ask your staff to sign a non-stalking charter, to set out acceptable behaviour? Or provide training your staff as to what may be considered to be stalking - perhaps in conjunction with training on harassment or bullying? Companies may find it useful to turn to specialised bodies for guidance – Paladin in particular is a charity providing support and guidance to victims of stalking, as well as training courses: https://paladinservice.co.uk/. ■
Philip Henson Partner and Head of Employment Team, ebl miller rosenfalck
Marguerite Perin Associate, ebl miller rosenfalck Further reading: • Living in Fear – The Police and CPS Response to Harassment and Stalking, which was published in 2017 by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and the Crown Prosecution Service. • National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300
6: Kingston v British Railways Board  ICR 176 7: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-11-23/debates/AB8D6204-3755-47A8-9CBD-81E56368D5E5/StalkingProtectionBill?highlight=stalking#contribution-7C7817F8-7B4D-4E4A-959F-971A4660A637
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 19
Why do solicitors need a charity?
ave you ever wondered why solicitors need a charity? After all, legal professionals are successful, wealthy and live a stable lifestyle, right? You're probably shaking your head at this moment thinking, this sentiment doesn't quite reflect reality. And you'd be right. The truth is, lawyers are vulnerable to life's hazards like everyone else. Simply being a lawyer doesn't shield you from illness, accidents, family breakup, job loss or bereavement and more. With this in mind, it's no wonder so many solicitors fall into financial hardship each year. Fortunately, there is hope for those in crisis.
SBA The Solicitors’ Charity When you are in financial difficulty, paying for essential day-today items can seem impossible. Imagine having to manage the stress of having little to no income, with bills rising and still having to put food on the table. Add in illnesses, struggling to find a new job or caring for dependents and it can feel like a pot boiling over. Luckily, solicitors don’t need to suffer alone. Lawyers like you have your very own charity to be there for you and colleagues when you are in financial difficulty. SBA The Solicitors' Charity supports solicitors (and their dependants) through financial assistance. This support pays for essential items most people take for granted. These include: ● Utility bills ● Groceries ● Transport ● Household repairs (leaking roofs etc)
The charity also helps with access to services for debt and welfare advice, mental health and career coaching.
How can I help? Last year, the City of Westminster and Holborn Law Society gave £565 to SBA The Solicitors' Charity. Through this this kindness, you and members helped the charity to secure a better quality of life for individuals most in need in Greater London. The quote below comes direct from an SBA beneficiary and shows the difference made by supporters like the City of Westminster and Holborn Law Society.
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“SBA has made a massive difference in my life. I cannot thank you enough for the confidence and security that your help has given me” On top of the help already provided, there are more ways for you to supported positive changes for those in crisis. These include: ● Donating money yourself or via your firm ● Donating your unclaimed client balances ● Telling your colleagues about SBA The Solicitors' Charity and how it helps solicitors
Fancy going the extra mile for your colleagues? We can together make an impact and turn the lives around for solicitors in need or crisis. Visit the SBA The Solicitors' Charity website for further details: ■
an expert witness healthcheck Instructing an expert can be a challenge. Our first glimpse into their shop window, an expert’s CV, is a visual representation of them on paper. At Carter Brown, we review many CVs; every line tells a story and it’s down to us to decipher what that means for us and our clients. Some useful questions to ask are: Photo: Lisa Crowther
Is the expert’s CV up to date?
Oriented to time and place?
Is the information within the CV current? If not, why not? Is there evidence of a commitment to Continuing Professional Development? This is usually a mandatory requirement to maintain their professional registration.
Those acting as experts in any set of proceedings should be able to demonstrate an understanding of their role as an expert and the reasons for the commissioning of their services. Without this, their recommendations can be, at best, vague or, at worst, dangerous. ■
An expert on what? The CV should clearly illustrate the breadth and depth of the expert’s experience. In which settings has this experience been gained? Do the expert’s stated specialisms tally with the
Lisa Crowther, Quality Assurance Manager at Carter Brown
experience gained through their employment? The length of an expert’s career may not marry with the depth of their experience, i.e. experts working in certain settings will gain experience at a faster rate than others.
Are they in good standing with their regulatory and professional bodies? Some professions have two separate regulatory and professional bodies, for example, all medical doctors are regulated by the General Medical Council, however, dependent on specialism, their professional bodies will differ, for example, a psychiatrist would look to the Royal College of Psychiatrists for updates within their specialty. Both the GMC and the Health and Care Professions Council have online facilities where experts can be searched by name.
Do they quality assure their own practice? When an expert assumes they know it all, stagnation is imminent; aside from formal training, evidence of reflective practice and engagement in supervision is essential.
Does the expert keep themselves safe? Do they have an up to date Disclosure and Barring Service Check? Are they registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office? Do they hold appropriate insurances? An organised expert should be able to evidence all of the above without difficulty.
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 21
LegalEx 2020 After the huge success of our last show held in March 2019, LegalEx will be back for another edition! On the 18th & 19th of March, 2020, London’s ExCeL will again play host to Europe’s most comprehensive and allencompassing trade show for legal professionals.
22 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
LegalEx 2020 is set to be the biggest & best edition to date. It will host 200 cuttingedge exhibitors and 150 educational seminars from some of the world’s top legal experts, innovators and forwardthinking speakers. In association with The Solicitors Regulation Authority and HM Courts & Tribunal Services, LegalEx 2020 is an event that anyone within the legal profession looking for business growth, professional development and cyber security can not afford to miss.
game in legal business growth and data security. The next edition of LegalEx is planned to be bigger and better and tickets are already available on its website and are completely free. The website will also be giving all the latest updates about next year's LegalEx.
With exhibitors from across the many legal sectors all coming together under one roof, it is hard to find a reason not to attend. This approach creates an efficient solution to your legal problems. Instead of spending hours looking at companies on Designed to help the business behind the the internet, speak to the people behind solicitor, attending the event is one of the the solution face to face and choose what most effective ways to increase the profit you can be sure is the best option for your of legal practices, to step up marketing specific firm and needs. As well as this, efforts, to increase client retention, and increase billable hours. With a focus on the you can learn where the trends are by innovations in Artificial Intelligence for legal getting immediate feedback, keeping your finger well and truly on the pulse and firms, how the implementation of GDPR is affecting the efficiency of solicitors, the rise further preparing you for success in the following months. in Cyber Terrorism and how the Conveyancing sectors are expanding, For full details and to register for your free there will be more than enough for the ticket to attend please visit modern law professional to benefit from. www.legalex.co.uk. ■ With the relevance and expected expansion of these topics further into the heart of the law industry, LegalEx 2020 will keep visitors well ahead of the curve. Last March 3,300 professionals within the Legal sector came together to explore the latest tools, products, services, resources and innovations that are changing the
Unoccupied Property Insurance â€“ Prepare Your
Home for When the Weather Turns
At this time of year, we like to remind our clients that the colder months are approaching, and so they should be making preparations for their unoccupied property. This is in their best interests, as it will be going without the keen eye of a resident to pick up on anything out of place.
aintenance issues can arise, especially if the building is left vacant for a long period, without inspections taking place. There are no inspection requirements with Unoccupied Direct, so this is perfectly fine with us, but visiting after a drastic change in weather, such as heavy rain or snow, can be worthwhile for peace of mind. Our product has been developed with the client in mind, so many common requirements have been stripped back to a minimum. Reducing such tasks allows them to focus on more important matters with the knowledge that the property is financially protected. Certain clauses do exist within our policy to ensure that our clients have done all they can to prevent the cold weather from causing avoidable damage to the property. For example, during the period 1st November to 31st March each year, you must comply with one of the following: - If the entire main structure at the premises has the benefit of gas or oil fired central heating then this must be set to operate continuously (not timed) for 24 hours each day at no less then 12Â°C or 54Â°F
or - All water supplies in the main structure at the premises are to be turned off at the mains stopcock and the water system drained of all water Failing to do so could affect a claim if it leads to the pipes freezing and potentially bursting. Our insurance would no longer provide cover for loss or damage due to escape of water if you fail to comply. However, if the terms of cover are met and a valid claim arises, remember that at Unoccupied Direct we have no excess for any type of claim. We have put together a handy guide, which is free for all of our clients. It details information and tips for looking after an unoccupied home. Feel free to get in touch if you would like us to send some to your office - contact our team by calling 0800 015 2211 or email: email@example.com. All of our policy documents and more information regarding our product and services are available to view online at www.unoccupieddirect.co.uk. â–
Unoccupied Property Insurance
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CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 23
ci Self-is S sue CR ROSSWO ORD a co ompetitioN N to wiN £100*
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3. A FoRM OF PROPERTY TENURE E 4. A CLASS OF TITLE
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7. iNSURER R PROVIDES TO PROTE ECT AGAINST POTENTIAL P LOSS 4.
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**Email a picture of your completed crosssword to competition@legal-contingency ency.co.uk before 5.30pm 30th November 2019 to be entered into a prize draw for a £100 0 M&S Gift Card in December - onee entry allowed per person. Competitioon terms and conditions can be found on our website: dxd.conveyancinginsurance.co.uk/ccicrossword
Ci Self-Issue Insurancee provides cover for a broad range of risks at competitiv c e premiums. Our residentiaal and commercial policies cover property owners andd fulfil lender requirements.. Both are conveniently available online or as a self-issue pack to help you com mplete property transactionns on time. You can view oour policies on our websitee at any time, or alternativelyy call or email us: Website: www.con c veyancinginsurance.co.ukk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +44 + (0)20 7397 4363
Legal & Contingency Limited is aauthorised and regulated by the Financcial Conduct Authority, Reference No. 3123 3 76 Registered Office: 60 Fenchurch Streeet, London, United Kingdom, EC3M 4AD 4 - Registered in England & W Wales, ales, No N . 3511606
Financial Modelling – is it a benefit for clients? We are often asked what the starting point in the advice process is, the answer from us is simple, Financial or Cashflow modelling is key to any client achieving a good starting point.
e have been engaged in Financial modelling since 2004. Financial modelling, not only gives advisers the ability to understand a clients’ income and expenditure requirements, but also allows clients to understand how their portfolio integrates with their income and expenditure patterns. This is particularly important when clients are looking to understand how the advice they receive affects and integrates into their plans, whether this comes from investment growth, inheritance, tax efficiency or other additional variables. Financial modelling allows clients to understand this through numerical and visual aids, it helps clients to make informed decisions on how they should proceed. Of course building a Financial Model is not a one off event, if it is truly going to be utilised to its best effect it should be updated on a regular basis. This enables clients to understand whether they are on track, when everything is combined, to fulfil their goals and allow them to make informed decisions, e.g. can I retire early, can I buy a boat or a second home, if I do this how does it affect my plans e.g., do I need work for longer. Financial modelling and monitoring provides a core tool to enrich advice and justly allows clients to mitigate the anxiety that they will run out of cash before they reach the end of their lives. With just three key variables, pension and other income, investment values and expenditure requirements, the advisor and clients are able to monitor their position and can adjust for movements in any of them. The original long-term cashflow forecast for a client should set the basic parameters for the rest of their lives. These can be reaffirmed and tweaked annually depending on how much the clients have injected into their portfolio, how their performance has been whether it is positive or negative that year. With the above said, one thing is certain from the very beginning: none of the figures will come out exactly as projected. Clients will overspend or underspend, investments will fluctuate and events such as deaths, divorce and illness will happen. Clients will also often live longer than they expect, so most projections should be long term – to at least age 100. Spending the time initially to prepare the initial expenditure plan requires facts, based on actual figures for spending, and in our experience clients who are engaged in the process of building their financial model get far more out of the whole advice process. After all it is their model which reflects their goals, which you are working to achieve. Advisers have a wealth of information and experience to draw upon which can be integrated into this process, this will help to construct realistic projections. Then, year by year, advisers can monitor clients’ expenditure against their available inflows of income and capital. If a client is spending more or less than expected, this will impact on their investment planning, and they may need to adjust their spending, more importantly a client will need to understand this. As advisers we should be in a position to have those conversations with clients, as they may not even appreciate that this is the case, let alone appreciate what affect it may have. An overspending client might not be aware of the implications this can have on their objectives. Financial modelling also helps in the process of a client establishing and understanding what level of investment risk they may need to consider. This may be very different for someone who designs a model which shows they would only need to achieve 3% investment growth, to someone who designs a
model but the only way they can achieve their desired outcome is if they achieve 8% pa investment growth. These are important considerations for a client to be aware of and if, after gaining that understanding, they decide to either accept the additional risk or change their goals at least it has come from a more informed position. In our opinion advisers need to look beyond pure investment advice to achieve full financial planning as there is so much more required to achieve a client’s desired outcome. ■
Steven Vallery S4 Financial Limited – email@example.com
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 25
Not having a firm-wide process for referrals for financial advice is NOT an option At SIFA Professional we pride ourselves in ensuring that our financial advisory members are as well-equipped and informed as they can to be the best referral partners for the solicitors they wish to work with. In the Autumn of 2019 this responsibility, as you might expect, sees us interpreting the new SRA Standards and Regulations and what the new codes mean for the passing of referrals to financial advisers.
o this end, I have regular meetings with the regulator to be certain of the information we relay and the marketing and promotional materials we create for our quality advisory members. From the outset when the consultation on the new simplified rules began, the SRA’s objectives have been clear; to make the services of solicitors more accessible, design regulation that enables its firms to compete with other providers of legal services and crucially to streamline the client experience when dealing with a firm. The latter purpose is why the introduction of a code of conduct for firms for the first time is so important and CANNOT be taken lightly by management and most importantly the firm’s Compliance Officer for Legal Practice, (COLP). Whilst the COLP role was introduced with the outcomes focussed rule book of 2012, the senior management responsibilities that were allocated to the roles were not truly supported by the rules still placing the responsibility for solicitor professionalism with individuals. November 2019 ushers in a new regime and a new reduced set of principles and a regulator expectation of adherence not solely as individual solicitors but as firms of solicitors. The SRA still respects and trusts the individual solicitor to always do the right thing by their clients, but the onus is now on the management team and the COLP
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Visit sifa-directory..info for more information. 26 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
within that team to put firm wide processes, structures and crucially, controls in place to ensure this is uniform. What the regulator seems to want is what we have had in financial services for many years. That is that when a new customer or existing client comes to see a financial services business the experience will be the same, whichever adviser they see. The same fact-find format, the same attitude to risk questionnaire, the same investment process, same fees, the same review process, reporting etc. This is not to say that the FCA or SRA want to see the end of individualism and personal service, but both wish to see this delivered within a structure. In the context of deciding which financial advisory partners are the correct ones for your business, when it comes to client referral’s this will be highly relevant. Before I elaborate however, I must stress that in my conversations with the SRA, it was clear that not having a process for this is not an option. Whilst conducting a particular legal service, a solicitor identifies a complimentary need for financial advice, to then not make a referral, would not be acting with integrity or in the client’s best interests, two of the 7 Principles governing the new rules. This is why, before the 25th of November the management and COLP should have overseen a research and due diligence exercise to establish which financial advisory firms are the correct partners, with the relevant experience, qualifications, accreditations and processes to be recipients of your firm’s referrals. Having finalised the firm or firms, you wish to work with, this undertaking should be made available and accepted by everyone within the firm who may need to refer a client for financial advice. This is so each individual is able to clearly demonstrate to their client why the referral is in their best interests and may even mean that different financial advisory partners are more suitable for different types of referral, such as trustee investment, pensions on divorce, estate planning etc. There are many areas in the new firm code that stress the importance of management (8.1) and COLP (Section 9.1/2) involvement in implementing new processes to ensure a firm wide culture of professionalism but when I asked the SRA to point to one section in the new code that emphasises this expectation the answer was instant and clear: Compliance and Business Systems 2.1 • You have effective governance structures, arrangements, systems and controls in place that ensure: • (a) you comply with all the SRA's regulatory arrangements, as well as with other regulatory and legislative requirements, which apply to you • (b) your managers and employees comply with the SRA's regulatory arrangements which apply to them; • (c) your managers and interest holders and those you employ or contract with do not cause or substantially contribute to a breach of the SRA’s regulatory arrangements by you or your managers or employees; • (d) your compliance officers are able to discharge their duties under paragraphs 9.1 and 9.2 You can see why the SRA highlighted this section – Governance structures, arrangements, systems and controls! COLPs should not be in any doubt that the introduction of firm wide processes is expected in the new regime. Clients in need of overlapping financial advice is absolutely a process you need to establish and monitor. ■
David Seager Managing Director of SIFA Professional
Offer targeted valuable content and experiences The digital revolution has radically changed the relationship between consumers and businesses by creating a world where a competitor is never more than a click away.
o consistently delivering a positive customer experience – both online and offline – is fundamental to commercial success.Content and information is the ultimate driving force behind the customer experience and customer engagement. Improving the customer experience is growing as the key objective for businesses across all sectors as they strive to improve all aspects of the customer relationship to increase their sales, revenues and profits. Given it is 6 to 7 times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, ensuring that you have the right strategy encompassing all your customer interactions is essential to delivering ongoing audience engagement and loyalty. The big challenge for organisations is to not only understand who their customers are and
what they need, but also to have the right technology in place to deliver on these expectations at the right time, in the right place and format. According to Gartner, the customer experience is defined as the “customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.” Managing the customer experience (CXM) involves understanding how your customers interact with your brand and reacting to their activities to improve the experience to nurture the customer lifecycle. The relationship between a business and its customers (or client) involves a great deal of understanding and trust. As competition for their attention continues to increase in today’s digital landscape, being able to truly understand who they are and what they want is becoming even more critical to ongoing success. Content and information is the ultimate driving force behind the customer experience. This can take several forms of media such as articles, images, graphs, audio and video files. Through interaction with content, both current and prospective clients build trust in your business and brand by understanding why engaging and working with you would benefit them. Providing a highly engaging and personalised experience relies on having the capability to deliver the right form of content to the right part of your audience at the right time.
Helping g grow commun nity engagem ment Call 020 7766 9810 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
At Abacus, our mission is to help brands and communities to grow revenues and improve engagement with personalised offers and experiences across multiple channels and product sets. Our specialist cloud platforms and services manage digital content, websites, paywalls, e-commerce, and subscriptions. We also provide sophisticated Single Customer View and membership engagement functionality for both large and small professional institutions and brands across the globe including UK, US, Australia, South America, the Middle East, and Asia. Our clients include Ascential, British Film Institute, Centaur, Christie’s, Conde Nast, EMAP, Gas World, IBC, The Law Society, New Scientist, and Royal Society of Chemistry. Webvision Cloud is an award-winning GDPR-compliant Digital Experience Platform (DXP) for organisations of all sizes that need to provide their audience with a relevant and engaging digital experience across all devices, at an affordable price. At Abacus, our mission is to help brands and communities grow revenue and engagement with personalised offers and experiences. If you are looking to upgrade your website, CMS and complement it with a fully integrated audience management database, we have a winning proposition in Webvision Cloud. For more information, please contact at email@example.com or 0207 766 9810 ■
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 27
Why Physio? Here at Six Physio our skills are in problem solving, the thrill of the job is in keeping people going and seeing their success: getting people better and not just feeling better.
28 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Would you see a Physio for a bruise?
t seems that everyone knows the best person in the world to treat low back pain - the real trick is can you find the person that’ll stop it coming back? Hardly anyone comes to see a Physio with a bruise - you (mostly) know how you did it, what it looks and feels like. Give it time, as long as you don’t keep poking this bruise you know it’ll get better. Keep thinking of your back pain pain as a bruise: not seeing what you’ve done is quite an issue - after all how many of us have even seen our own back? Don’t do things that irritate it - stop poking it and get off the no pain, no gain bandwagon. Allow your body to do what it does best, let the bruise (and pain) get better. It will take time, there is no overnight fix, there is no putting something back into place. Teach yourself to move better, without irritating the bruise. Rehab is king.
of movement. We assess your alignment on the bike and check your body’s ability to hold the correct posture. We look at the timing and recruitment of your muscles, to see if they are firing in the right pattern preventing overload in certain common injury areas.” From this very thorough investigation, an individualized prehab or rehab programme is put together. Think Pilates is only for yummy mummies? With its benefits of increased core strength, improved posture and better balance and flexibility, it should come as no surprise to learn that the number of participants taking up Pilates classes is rising.
Elite athletes have long loved it, Matt Todman explains “the preconception is about stretching gently on a mat, but if you do it correctly and it is taught well, Pilates is nothing like that,” he says. “It’s the kind of activity that doesn’t leave you on your knees Why is cycling so hard? and out of breath. But it’s deceptive, as you Any cyclist can develop poor posture in their feel it two days later, when your muscles ache daily life which unfortunately can translate into because you have worked so hard.” poor posture on the bike, “long hours at a At Six Physio we offer 3:1 machine-based desk or commuting by car or train can cause Pilates: tailored to your individual needs poor posture and our upper body to slump,” it’s suitable for all skill levels and any explains Lodewijks, “this means that when on specific needs. the bike you may not be able to actually get into the correct cycling posture or don’t have With a plethora of physiotherapists to choose from, why choose Six Physio? the endurance strength to hold the correct It’s a fair question, one which could simply be position which results in either slumping into answered by saying ‘read our testimonials’: the saddle, or putting too much weight into we are the only Physio company in the UK hands and wrists.” who send a survey to every patient who walks “At Six Physio, with 13 Clinics across London through the door… that’s over 12,000 a year and W Sussex. we work holistically to thus giving us nowhere to hide! 4.81/5 (based understand your body and lifestyle as a on 6,441) ■ whole, your body’s structure, life stressors and the cause and effect of any dysfunction,” Lodewijks elaborates, “we look at standing and sitting postures, your position on the bike both static and dynamic, spine and joint mobility, the strength, flexibility and endurance of your muscles and your control
For more infomation contact us on T. 020 7036 0286 or E. firstname.lastname@example.org
GCS Title Insurance â€“ Comprehensively Simple
Guaranteed Conveyancing Solutions (GCS) is recognised as a market leading provider of legal indemnity insurance (otherwise known as â€˜title insuranceâ€™), for both â€˜Residentialâ€™ and â€˜Commercialâ€™ properties.
ll our policies are comprehensively worded and the process of obtaining cover is fast and simple. There are 3 options when it comes to issuing legal indemnity insurance with GCS: â€˜Onlineâ€™, â€˜Packâ€™ or â€˜Bespokeâ€™. 1) â€˜GCS Onlineâ€™ provides users with 24/7 access to their account where they can obtain quotes in seconds and issue policies in minutes. All documentations are sent out electronically and immediately. 2) GCS Insurance â€˜Packâ€™ is just as easy to use as our Online system. The main difference is that documentation is not sent out electronically but instead, policies are in paper format and contained in logical order within the Pack itself. 3) Our â€˜Bespokeâ€™ service is available if you are unable to issue directly from our â€˜Onlineâ€™ or â€˜Packâ€™ because the risk does not meet the relevant criteria or if the policy cover your client requires is not listed Online or in the Pack. Simply contact us for a quote â€“ an experienced and friendly underwriter is always there to help. Donâ€™t worry â€“ the choice is yours! We understand that not all conveyancing professionals work the same way and that some prefer certain methods of obtaining legal indemnity cover for their clients over other methods.
At GCS, we have over 20,000 conveyancers that rely on our policies with every individual having the option to choose Online, Pack, Bespoke or ALL three methods in combination. All services are FREE to use and non-obligatory â€“ Online registration takes minutes and we post the insurance Pack first class the day itâ€™s requested. Donâ€™t just take our word for it â€“ hereâ€™s what our customers have to say: â€œI (personally) think GCS are brilliant. The self-issue packs are fabulous.â€? â€œThe online service is simple, cost comparable to other insurers and very user friendly.â€? â€œPack and bespoke arrangements always come back quickly and will provide reply within hours to enable matters to be dealt with efficientlyâ€? Like what you hear? Join the thousands who come to us for their clientsâ€™ legal indemnity needs and find out why weâ€™re trusted by over 20,000 conveyancing professionals. Register for â€˜GCS Onlineâ€™ account today by visiting www.gcsonline.gcs-title.co.uk. Request a GCS insurance â€˜Packâ€™ today by visiting www.gcs-title.co.uk/orderpack. For a â€˜Bespokeâ€™ quote, send an email to email@example.com. â–
We always go the extra smile Providing conveyancing professionals with the service they deserve! ;]-Ń´bm7;lmb|Â‹bmvÂ†u-m1;=ou|Â‹r;vo=ruor;uŕŚž;v-m77;Âˆ;Ń´orl;m|v &mubÂˆ-Ń´Ń´;71Â†v|ol;uv;uÂˆb1; $_;orŕŚžom|o_-Âˆ;Â‹oÂ†uoÂ‰m7;7b1-|;7Â†m7;uÂ‰ub|;u Â†b1hu;vromv;vÄˇvr;;7Â‹voŃ´Â†ŕŚžomv Â†Ń´Ń´Â‹1olru;_;mvbÂˆ;1oÂˆ;uÄˇ1olr;ŕŚžŕŚžÂˆ;ru;lbÂ†lv
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CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 29
If you’re using any Drainage and Water report other than the CON29DW…
Good luck The CON29DW is the only drainage and water report that gives your clients all the information they need. No inferring, no ignoring, no insuring. When it’s your reputation on the line, do you really want to leave it to luck? It’s your call…
Call 0800 085 8050 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
How digitisation is changing the future of home-buying Data in the 21st century has been described as the oil of the 18th century – an incredibly valuable resource with potential for immense rewards for those who learn how to extract and use it.
iving in a connected, digital economy means that we are increasingly reliant on data in order to function and evolve, so businesses and consumers alike have a part to play in shaping the role of digital information in our society.
conditions taking weeks if not months to be returned. It has therefore been prioritised for digitisation with a pilot scheme being launched across five Local Authorities as a first wave in 2018. The plan is that this will be rolled out across all Local Authorities in time.
The commercial value of data has already been recognised by the automotive industry, where mobile phone signals and GPS positioning have been used to reveal important information about driver behaviours. Monitoring of parking locations, destinations, mileage and speed, even the frequency of sudden braking feeds huge back-end systems that collate that data and package it to be resold.
The digital Local Land Charges Registry scheme aims to provide 24/7 access to data, which is free to view or access for reference. As with the automotive industry, there is scope for monetisation, such as the £15 fee already in place for official copies that can be saved, printed, and rerun for six months, a service that is particularly useful when checking whether any information has changed following a delayed or drawn-out transaction.
While that data can ostensibly help by keeping costs down for careful drivers, it remains to be seen whether it’s good news for all from a financial perspective. Where it should benefit everyone is in speeding up the insurance claims process for those involved in a road incident. Similarly, house-buying is ripe with data and there is always appetite to streamline the process. Current estimates indicate that half of all UK house sales fall through before completion , so there is a clear need to improve the home-buying process and make the data that we have work for rather than against us.
The scheme has been universally acclaimed by those that are already participating and is due to roll out across a further 18 Local Authorities over the next 18 months. It’s hoped that all 326 Local Authorities within England will be offering digital LLC within 5 - 7 years. The Land Registry’s initiative is a great showcase for the power of data and how it can be used to streamline processes, so how can we expand this across other areas of the market?
Could we imagine a future when holders of flood data, contaminated land data, or drainage and water information make these Information collected along the way details accessible through an online portal, includes personal data about buyers and attributed to every registered address and sellers as well as surveyor reports, summarised instantly for potential buyers significant property improvements and environmental data. While these records are (and their legal representatives) at the touch of a button and for a set fee? useful, managing the sheer volume of repetitive data associated with the houseIn other words, each property would come buying process is often cited as a major complete with its own set of data at the point cause of delay in transactions going of being offered for sale. Sound familiar? It’s through and even leading to ultimate failure. not entirely different to the abandoned Home Stakeholders from all quarters are keen to improve the process, and HM Land Registry is leading the charge with a wholesale review launched in 2017 to make home-buying simpler, faster and cheaper.
Information Packs of the mid-noughties, in fact. With the advances in digital technology and data management since then, perhaps it’s time to revisit the concept. ■
Local Authority data is often considered as one of the most troublesome areas, with searches into planning permissions, conservation areas, TPOs, smoke control zone conditions or light obstruction notice
Product Manager at Geodesys
The Report CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER31 31
Premium Residential <0.25Ha
Environmental | Flood | Ground Stability | Energy & Infrastructure
R uested by: Req
Grid Reference: E: 123456 | N: 123456
D te: Da
R Repo rt ID:
2 /04/2018 27 1 00085407 10
Professional Opinion on 1.ENVIRONMENTAL
No further recommendations
4.ENERGY & INFRASTRUCTUR TURE
No further recommendations
No further recommendations
4.20 Power Stations
uted Areas Air Quality Index: Some Pollut (See 1.25)
This page should always be read in conjunction with the full report. The Professional Opinion indicates the potential risks and any other potential issues associated d with the property. The results should be disclosed to client and/or lender and/or insurer as appropriate. A ‘Pass’ is g given if no p potential p property p y speci p ific risk has been identified. A ‘Pass with Considerations’ is given where there are potential hazards in the locality to bear in mind, d, or if there are features nearby which some clients might consider could affect them. A ‘Further Action’ is given if there is a potential property specific risk and a further action is advised.
In the event of a request to review the Professio ional Opinion based on additional information, or if there are e any technical queries, the professional advisor who ordered the report should contact us at email@example.com om, or call us on 01732 755 180.
Regulated by RICS If you rre equire assistance, please contact your Search Provider or alternatively contact FCI directly with your Report ID. Tel: 01732 755 180 | Email: info@futureclimateinfo einfo.com | Web: www.futureclimateinfo.com
Building Damage, Fire and Land Contamination: Our Capital’s Painful Legacy London’s soil bears a poisonous legacy from a combination of blitz bombing and pockets of damage from fire affected buildings and derelict sites. Chris Taylor, Commercial Director at Future Climate Info believes these are important considerations for commercial property lawyers undertaking environmental due diligence on redevelopment land.
esearchers from the British Geological Survey (BGS) have found concentrations of high levels of calcium, lead and zinc in some parts of London. These have been caused by the distribution of building dust and debris following the large-scale destruction of historic housing stock. These elements were widely used in paints, piping and mortar during the construction boom of the 19th century. The presence of large quantities of calcium, the main ingredient of lime, in central London soil had been previously observed but its cause not directly attributed to conflict or demolition before. Traditional mortar contains a lot of lime, so it follows that if a building is demolished, such as from World War 2 bomb damage, then the spike in toxic chemicals could be linked to this. Heavy metal hotspots from bombing The BGS team compared data on soil pollution with a map of the 31,373 sites bombed by the Luftwaffe, Nazi Germany’s air force, between October 1940 and June 1941. During this period, more than 1 million properties were destroyed or strategically damaged. Areas bombarded in the 1940s had levels of calcium, lead and zinc that were up to 1.75 times higher than in areas built-up after the war or those that escaped the bombing. Their paper identifies that elevated lead in the pre-1940 urban areas may be partly derived from leaded paint and lead pipes. Heavy metal pollution is dangerous to human health, especially children who might ingest lead or zinc while playing on polluted land. Vegetables grown on such soil, for example in urban gardens, can also have enriched levels of toxic metals. There are a number of resources that illustrate the distribution of bomb sites in London that help inform where potential hotspots for this contamination could be. Websites like Bombsight show heavy concentrations in expected places like the East End and docklands, but also some surprising suburban locations like Bromley to the south East and parts of Chiswick, Sheen and Hayes out to the west. Building Fires and Foams Buildings partially or completely destroyed whether through arson or by accident present a major toxicity hazard today. As the Guardian reported earlier this year, after the tragic events at the Grenfell Tower, consultants AECOM found that within a 140 metre radius elevated levels of hydrocarbons and phosphorus up to 160 times that of the wider vicinity. Polychlorinated dibenzodioxin (PCDDs) were 70 times higher, while benzene levels were between 25 and 40 times that of the reference soil. These toxins can be derived from wiring, plastic pipes and building materials. On some early post-war builds, material that bonded asbestos sheets or insulation can also burn, releasing toxins and allowing fibres to become friable.
In an urban fire, contaminants all risk mobilising carcinogens into the water supply following rain. Hard surfaces will accelerate transfer into storm drains or reach groundwater courses dependent on the degree of soil infiltration. Ironically, fire-fighting foam has been one of the biggest toxicity contributors in the recent past. The foam used to contain Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (or PFOS) which has been shown to be a persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic pollutant that can attack the immune system. It was banned in the EU in May 2009 and subsequently elsewhere in the world shortly after. PFOS foams had widespread use in the UK until the ban. The Buncefield oil depot fire of December 2005 was the largest "singleseat" fire in the world ever to be fought by a fire brigade, and foam supplies from sites all over the UK were drawn upon. At its peak, 32,000 litres per minute of foam was directed against the fire. The following May, Three Valleys Water detected PFOS in a ground water borehole close to the oil depot site. While no water from this well entered the public water supply, it proved how highly water soluble they are. They are prone to leaching into groundwater and can travel large distances. Studies have shown them to be present in groundwater for anywhere from 5 to 15 years following the end of firefighting activities. Often referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFOSs are incredibly persistent and immune to degradation, regardless of environmental conditions. Natural breakdown over time is virtually nonexistent. Forensic Site Review Needed The dangers of unexploded bombs in redevelopment construction are obvious, but the legacy beyond them can remain locked in the soil. Derelict sites can be frequent targets for arson and add new toxins from the remaining buildings’ destruction. Commercial property lawyers need to understand not only the past site usage but also whether there had been any prior fire damage that may have remaining toxins transmitting off site. Our Commercial Environmental Risk Report provides clear, forensic insight on the site history and its proximity to potentially contaminated land. Follow-on solutions for complex cases, such as fixed fee further reviews , insurance and remediation solutions can also be tailored based on the site’s unique situation. Chris Taylor is Commercial Director at Future Climate Info. He is also a Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) able to advise commercial property lawyers on a wide range of re-development schemes on brownfield land. For more information, visit www.futureclimateinfo.com, call 01732 750180 email firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 33
Lo oo ok o kin ki king k ing in ing fo fo orr a safe safe afe alt al alt ltte ernati er ern ernativ e rrn nativ nati n ativ iive v ve e to p po post ost os o st st and nd ema em e mail? ai ? Yo ou’re in safe ou f hand ands with Do ocument me t Po Portal.
Document Po Por ortal. al A clever new add-on, only available e as part of Brighter Law. ǋċĚƑ¬ĚČƭƑĿƥǋĿƙîƥūƎƎƑĿūƑĿƥǋĲūƑŕîǅǛƑŞƙȡƎƑūƥĚČƥĿŠĳǋūƭƑČŕĿĚŠƥîŠēƥĺĚƑĚƎƭƥîƥĿūŠ of ǋūƭƑċƭƙĿŠĚƙƙĿƙǄĿƥîŕȦ~ƭƑŕîƥĚƙƥƙĚƑǄĿČĚƎƑūǄĿēĚƙîƙĚČƭƑĚĚŠǄĿƑūŠŞĚŠƥĲūƑƥĺĚĚǊČĺîŠĳĚ ūĲƙĚŠƙĿƥĿǄĚČŕĿĚŠƥĿŠĲūƑŞîƥĿūŠǅĺĿŕƙƥƙƥƑĚîŞŕĿŠĿŠĳǋūƭƑƎƑūČĚƙƙĚƙîŠēĺĚŕƎĿŠĳƥūîǄūĿē ēĚŕîǋƙĿŠƥĺĚƥƑîŠƙîČƥĿūŠȦFor a free, no obligation on demo email email@example.com
poweredbypie Launches Document Portal to Enable Secure Exchange of Sensitive Client Data
12 September 2019: Search and software provider poweredbypie has announced the launch of Document Portal, a new solution for solicitors to enable the secure electronic exchange of all documentation within the conveyancing process.
y removing the need to ‘print and post’, Document Portal offers a simple, secure solution to speed-up the exchange of documentation between solicitors and clients. Carole Ankers, chief product & technology officer, poweredbypie explains: “Document Portal is part of our Brighter Law suite of products. For many years, Brighter Law has allowed solicitors to streamline communication online, by managing new client interaction and providing instant quotations with the aim of increasing conversion rates. “Following many months of research and development we have taken the time to understand the needs of solicitors and the challenges they face in the conveyancing process,” continues Ankers. “The result of this insight is Document Portal, which allows client documents to be stored, accessed and shared safely online, negating the need for physical copies. It is both simple to use and set-up and takes care of the technology needed to supply a secure 2 Factor Authentication for electronic document exchange, removing the delays associated with paper-based legal forms and mitigating the risks posed by email communications.
personal information. Document Portal removes this risk, providing secure 2 Factor Authentication to store and share legal documents which are accessible only to those with authorised access.” Document Portal now enables law firms to create a document portfolio which includes intuitive, editable forms and digital signature facility provided by the leading eSignature brand DocuSign. Not only does this provide a secure, streamlined environment for client data, it also highlights to the client exactly what information needs to be filled-in, first time, every time. “ On 4 September 2019 the Law Commission set out a statement to end uncertainty and increase confidence in the use of electronic signatures https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/electronicexecution-of-documents/. Commercial and Common Law Commissioner, Stephen Lewis said: “Our report aims to provide an accessible statement of the law which makes it clear that an electronic signature can generally be used in place of a handwritten signature as long as the usual rules on signatures are met.” Carole Ankers continues, “As a technical solutions provider and partner to law firms up and down the country, it’s our job to look at the issues that affect our clients and come up with solutions. We are very excited to launch our secure portal that enables solicitors to exchange sensitive documentation giving the law firm a real point of difference while inspiring confidence and trust.”
“As Cybersecurity continues to be one of the most serious threats facing the legal community, it is essential for firms to take a secure approach to the protection of sensitive client data. According to the SRA Risk Outlook 2018/19, in the first quarter of 2018 over 70% of all cybersecurity reports were For further information directly attributed to email modification fraud, www.poweredbypie.co.uk a sophisticated method of interception designed to capture client bank details and
CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER 35
Does Fracking Pose a Risk to Your Commercial Property Interests? Hydraulic fracturing (also known as ‘fracking’) is nothing new in the UK; indeed, it has been used actively in North Sea oil and gas wells since the 1970s. The more recent phenomenon and one that has garnered a great deal of negative press and controversy is the extraction of shale gas using fracking techniques, which could adversely impact surrounding land and properties.
racking is a method used by oil and gas extraction companies whereby a borehole is drilled into rock deep beneath the ground and then injected with a high-pressure liquid (water mixed with chemicals and sand) to cause small fractures through which oil or gas can escape. How widespread is fracking in the UK? Onshore shale rock fracking in the UK is still in its infancy, especially when compared to the activity underway in the United States. At present, there is only one active high-volume hydraulic fracturing operation located at Preston New Road in Lancashire. The site, run by oil and gas company, Cuadrilla, was opened in 2016 and has, despite several setbacks including minor earthquakes assumed to be caused by the fracking process, been successful in recovering shale gas. The current programme of appraisal extraction by Cuadrilla from a wellknown as ‘PNR2’, has government permission (in the form of a hydraulic fracture plan) to continue to November 2019. In addition to the site in Preston, a small number of grants for fracking exploration have been issued in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and West Sussex. Despite fracking activity to date, recent research by the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey on new ways to estimate the amount of gas and oil contained within shale, suggests that UK shale reserves may be smaller than expected. Instead of 50 years of gas, surveys show there may be more like five to seven years at the current rate of consumption. Whether this insight will limit the extent of ongoing fracking activity in the UK remains to be seen. What are the risks of fracking? There are recognised potential environmental and economic concerns raised in relation to fracking which may have connotations for local communities, landowners, and developers. From an environmental standpoint, specific concerns include possible seismic activity, pollution of groundwater reserves, reduced air quality, and increased noise and traffic due to fracking operations. Earth tremors Earth tremors near the Cuadrilla site in Preston New Road, of which there have been over 120 in 2019 alone, have featured heavily in the media, with the largest measuring 2.9 ML (on the Richter scale) on 26 August 2019. This was not an insubstantial tremor given the government’s current limit on seismic activity is set at 0.5ML (at which point fracking must be stopped for 18 hours). Furthermore, this threshold may be raised in the future).
36 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
Groundwater pollution While geologists and exploration companies endeavour to mitigate the contamination of groundwater supplies with fracking water, a risk remains. Holes drilled closely to underground aquifers (water-bearing rocks) which are ruptured and left unsealed can lead to contamination of groundwater. It is also possible fracking water may rise, causing surface water contamination. According to Dr Rob Ward at the British Geological Society, the risk to ground and surface water is well known; hence, there are strict regulations and control measures in the UK to prevent this occurrence. Radiation in fracking flow-back water The high-pressure fluid used in fracking dissolves organic matter within rock, leading to the resurfacing of flow-back water. This dissolved flowback water contains naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), including potassium (K) and radium (Ra). Because of these risks, water must be monitored for radiation and harmful substances to reduce any impact on human and environmental health (although according to research by Durham University, the risk to humans is minute). Protecting your commercial interests Areas such as the Bowland Basin in the North of England (mainly Lancashire and Yorkshire) and Wales, are believed to hold vast reserves of shale oil and gas and are therefore ripe for further fracking projects. Understandably commercial developers, landowners, and tenants in the vicinity of potential fracking sites may be concerned about the impact on their investment and employee health. While we are yet to see to what extent fracking gains a hold in the UK, and the real impacts of this form of energy extraction on nearby commercial land or property, it remains vital to undertake proper fracking-related due diligence. To this end, searches can be carried out on existing ground risks (i.e. mining, radon and fracking), in addition to the precariousness associated with existing or proposed energy extraction, large-scale infrastructure, and contaminated land. Ultimately, while the risks are likely low, it is best to thoroughly research any planned or current fracking-related activity which may have an impact on your commercial property venture. At Thames Water Property Searches we call ourselves “the property search experts” for good reason. We are not only a search supplier, but we also are a search producer of the CON29DW and a partner of NLIS. Working closely with leading suppliers we ensure that we not only sell the searches but fully understand the detail within them. Visit https://www.thameswater-propertysearches.co.uk/BOM to find out more. ■
Residual Client Balances: Why you should never ignore them! It is surprisingly easy for residual client balances to appear on a practice’s matter listing if the right controls are not put in place by the accounts department.
esidual client balances can appear on the accounts for several reasons:
• Returned funds cheques not being cashed by clients. • Funds due back to the client not being sent. • Office monies being left in client account and not transferred over. • Miscalculations on statements of accounts such as completion statements and estate accounts causing small balances to remain. • Mis-postings on the accounts not being remedied. The above causes of residual balances show a lack of strict controls, heightening the risk to client monies. It is for this reason that the SRA will deem systematic residual client balances a qualifying breach of the SRA Accounts Rules. It is therefore crucial to review the reports provided to the COFA each month to spot any aging credit balances in client account and look to remedy them. If the above is followed, it will keep the residuals to a minimum as they are being actioned on an ongoing basis. It is also important to have strict controls placed in practice to ensure that the causes of residuals are avoided. Simple solutions are quite often the best. For example: • Taking bank details upon ID check and file opening will mean that any funds needing returning to the client can be done so without the need for the client to cash a cheque in at a local branch. • Adding key dates/review dates to the case management to ensure that staff are prompted to review and send funds. • Ensuring that the cashier runs regular costs transfer reports which are distributed to the fee-earners so that they can move office monies over regularly. • Using Excel/spreadsheet formulae or the case management system to calculate statements of account and avoid discrepancies. • Reviewing client ledgers which have erroneous balances from the monthly matter balance listing and rectifying issues upon discovery.
If a firm already has residual credit balances on client account, the key is to deal with those first, then put the process in place to handle new ones on a monthly basis. The process for handling the balances is all about communication and transparency. • Identification: Review any balance which has not moved for an abnormal amount of time. Review the ledger and identify the root cause for the monies remaining. • Action: Attempt to send the money to its intended beneficiary, whether it is the client, office account (if applicable) or a third party who is owed. • Schedule: Keep a log of attempts to send the monies out and a record of the correspondence between the firm and the beneficiary. • Charity: This should be used if all else fails. If adequate attempts have been made to return/pay funds and they have been scheduled in a log, then they can be sent to a charity. If the individual balance is under £500.00 it can be sent with a note kept in the log. If it is over £500.00 the firm must contact the SRA for approval to send. It is also best practice to have the charity indemnify the funds so that they return to the firm any monies that a client may return for. Keeping a clean matter listing is very important. The new SRA Accounts Rules state that client monies should only be used for their original, intended purpose meaning that a firm should know exactly what the monies held across client account are for. Keeping a close eye on the processes and controls within the firm will help ensure that causes of residual balances are avoided. It is always worth reviewing the controls and processes regularly because they need to be relevant and fit for purpose. ■
Alex Simons The Law Factory LLP
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Breaking up is hard to do Pensions are often the largest asset, after the family home, for divorcing couples to distribute. Despite having the ability to share pensions on divorce for over two decades, there remains a considerable shortfall in the understanding of practitioners. Photo: (L-R) Adrienne Donneky, Lisa Russell
he Pension Advisory Group published the ‘Guide to the Treatment of Pensions on Divorce’. The report identified that despite the established nature of the pension sharing legislation, practitioners and the judiciary are still not comfortable with the topic. The report seeks to explain the most critical legal, actuarial and practical issues facing professionals and enable more consistent and fairer outcomes. It stands as a good practice guide in this complex area of law. In summary the report recommends; - Gathering information regarding pension assets early using Form P and Forms BR19 and BR20 online for State Pension Entitlement. - Practitioners should evaluate whether a Pensions on Divorce Expert (PODE) should be instructed. There are cases where it may be appropriate to share pensions according to the Cash Equivalent without the assistance of a PODE. - Consideration of experts to provide a pension report as a Single Joint Expert or unilaterally. A draft letter of instruction is provided; it also mentions the desirability in some cases of bringing in a Financial Adviser. - Basic issues to consider when deciding how to approach pension issues are types of pension, benefits at risk, retirement age, any benefits that will be lost on sharing and charges.
L E T ’S WOR K TOGE T HE R ǆĐůƵƐŝǀĞůǇ ĨŽƌ ůĂǁ ĮƌŵƐ͕>ĞŐĂů EĞƚǁŽƌŬ >ŽŶĚŽŶ ŝƐ Ă ĨƌĞĞ ƚŽũŽŝŶƌĞĨĞƌƌĂůĂŶĚƐƵƉƉŽƌƚƐĞƌǀŝĐĞǁŚŝĐŚĂƐƐŝƐƚƐŵĞŵďĞƌƐ ďǇŽīĞƌŝŶŐĞǆƉĞƌƚůĞŐĂůĂĚǀŝĐĞƚŽƚŚĞŝƌĐůŝĞŶƚƐŝŶĂƌĞĂƐƚŚĞǇ ĚŽ ŶŽƚ ƉƌĂĐƟĐĞŝŶ͘ KǀĞƌ ƚŚĞ ůĂƐƚ ϭϬ ǇĞĂƌƐ͕ ŽƵƌ ŶĞƚǁŽƌŬ ŚĂƐ ŚĞůƉĞĚ ŚƵŶĚƌĞĚƐ ŽĨ ůĂǁ ĮƌŵƐƚŽ ƌĞƚĂŝŶ ƚŚĞŝƌ ĐůŝĞŶƚƐ ĂŶĚ ŝŶĐƌĞĂƐĞ ƚŚĞŝƌ ƌĞǀĞŶƵĞ ĚƵĞ ƚŽ ŽƵƌ ŶŽŶͲƉŽĂĐŚŝŶŐ ĐŽŵŵŝƚŵĞŶƚĂŶĚĨĞĞƐŚĂƌŝŶŐĂƌƌĂŶŐĞŵĞŶƚƐ͘ tĞ͛ƌĞŽƉĞƌĂƚĞĚďǇ,ƵŐŚ:ĂŵĞƐ͕ĂĨƵůůͲƐĞƌǀŝĐĞ͕ƚŽƉϭϬϬh< ůĂǁĮƌŵ͘tŝƚŚŵŽƌĞƚŚĂŶϱϬǇĞĂƌƐ͛ĞǆƉĞƌŝĞŶĐĞŝŶƉƌŽǀŝĚŝŶŐ ƐƉĞĐŝĂůŝƐƚ ůĞŐĂů ĂĚǀŝĐĞ͕ ǁĞ ŚĂǀĞ ƚŚĞ ĞǆƉĞƌƟƐĞƚŽ ĚĞůŝǀĞƌ Ă ƐĞƌǀŝĐĞǇŽƵĂŶĚǇŽƵƌĐůŝĞŶƚƐĐĂŶƚƌƵƐƚ͘ dŽ ƌĞĂĚ ĂďŽƵƚ ŽŶĞ ŽĨ ŽƵƌ ƐƉĞĐŝĂůŝƐƚ ĂƌĞĂƐ ŽĨ ĞǆƉĞƌƚŝƐĞ͕ƉůĞĂƐĞƐĞĞŽƵƌĂƌƚŝĐůĞĂďŽǀĞ͘
&ŽƌĨƵƌƚŚĞƌĚĞƚĂŝůƐŽŶŚŽǁƚŽũŽŝŶ>ĞŐĂůEĞƚǁŽƌŬ>ŽŶĚŽŶ͕ ƉůĞĂƐĞĐŽŶƚĂĐƚƵƐŽŶ͗ firstname.lastname@example.org or 033 3016 4444
>ĞŐĂůEĞƚǁŽƌŬ>ŽŶĚŽŶŝƐŽƉĞƌĂƚĞĚďǇ,ƵŐŚ:ĂŵĞƐ͕ĂƚŽƉϭϬϬh<ůĂǁĮƌŵǁŚŝĐŚŝƐ ĂƵƚŚŽƌŝƐĞĚĂŶĚƌĞŐƵůĂƚĞĚďǇƚŚĞ^ŽůŝĐŝƚŽƌƐZĞŐƵůĂƟŽŶƵƚŚŽƌŝƚǇĂŶĚƚŚĞ&ŝŶĂŶĐŝĂů ŽŶĚƵĐƚƵƚŚŽƌŝƚǇ͘
38 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
- Care should be taken to consider the contrast between the treatment of pensions in ‘needs-based’ and ‘sharing’ (non-needs) cases and the complications that can arise when valuing defined benefit and public sector pension schemes. - Care should be taken in the preparation of the pension sharing annexes and consideration given to the timing of Decree Absolute and implementation issues. It also identifies the importance of a Financial Adviser in appropriate cases. As an example, if one spouse has a large pension that is nearing the lifetime allowance of £1.055m and the other has a small pension, a pension sharing order could effectively equalise pension rights and also mean that a lifetime allowance charge is unlikely to arise in the future. ■
Adrienne Donneky is the Head of the Family Department at Hugh James and an experienced family finance practitioner.
Lisa Russell is an Independent Financial Adviser at Hugh James Financial Advisers.
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Angus... At 16 years old, Angus the Jack Russell Terrier was the oldest resident at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe when he arrived after his owner sadly passed away. Thankfully his owner had signed up to Dog’s Trust's Canine Care Card, a free service that aims to give owners peace of mind, knowing that Dogs Trust will look after their dog if the worst should happen. He has now been rehomed to the perfect family where he will spend his golden years! Elise Watson, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe, said: "Many dog owners worry what might happen to their dog if they were to pass away first, leaving their beloved four-legged friend without an owner. However, the Canine Care Card scheme offers reassurance to dog owners, and also helps to ease the minds of friends and family during what is already a distressing time. But it means you can rest in the knowledge that your dog will be cared for after you die and just like Angus, will go on to find loving homes that are right for them.”
Canine Care Card holders receive a wallet-sized card which acts in a similar way to an organ donor card and notifies people of their wishes for their dogs, should anything happen to them. Dogs Trust works hard to match every dog with a responsible, loving home. If for any reason a dog takes a while to be rehomed, owners can rest assured that Dogs Trust never puts a healthy dog to sleep and will care for them for the rest of their lives. If you would like to request Canine Care Card forms that you can give out to your clients please call 020 7837 0006 or email email@example.com and quote code 334279
Who’ll keep him happy when your client’s gone? We will – as long as your client has a Canine Care Card. It’s a FREE service from Dogs Trust that guarantees a bereaved dog a home for life. At Dogs Trust, we never put down a healthy dog. We’ll care for them at one of our 20 rehoming centres, located around the UK. One in every four of your clients has a canine companion. Naturally they’ll want to make provision for their faithful friend. And now you can help them at absolutely no cost. So contact us today for your FREE pack of Canine Care Card leaflets - and make a dog-lover happy.
020 7837 0006
Or write to: Freepost RTJA-SRXG-AZUL, Dogs Trust, Clarissa Baldwin House, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ (no stamp required) Please quote “”. All information will be treated as strictly confidential. This service is currently only available for residents of the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands & the Isle of Man
www.dogstrust.org.uk Registered Charity Numbers: 227523 & SC037843
40 CENTRAL LONDON LAWYER
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The Central London Lawyer November 2019 Legal Business Magazine. The Official law journal for the Westminster and Holborn Law Society, with...
Published on Nov 11, 2019
The Central London Lawyer November 2019 Legal Business Magazine. The Official law journal for the Westminster and Holborn Law Society, with...