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HampshireLegal THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE HAMPSHIRE LAW SOCIETY

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AUTUMN 2020

The effect of COVID-19 on law firms Plus ■ The culture and practice of law ■ Professional practices and the future of the office


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PUBLISHER Benham Publishing Aintree Building, Aintree Way, Aintree Business Park, Liverpool L9 5AQ Tel: 0151 236 4141 Fax: 0151 236 0440 Email: admin@benhampublishing.com Web: www.benhampublishing.com

Contents

ell us about your 05

President’s Review

LIFE IN THE LAW 06 ACCOUNTS DIRECTOR Joanne Casey SALES DIRECTOR Karen Hall

Annual Dinner

STUDIO MANAGER Lee Finney

& Awards 2021

einthelaw.org.uk MEDIA No. 1704

PUBLISHED Autumn 2020 © Benham Publishing Ltd. LEGAL NOTICE © Benham Publishing. None of the editorial or photographs may be reproduced without prior written permission from the publishers. Benham Publishing would like to point out that all editorial comment and articles are the responsibility of the originators and may or may not reflect the opinions of Benham Media. No responsibility can be accepted for any inaccuracies that may occur, correct at time of going to press. Benham Publishing cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies in web or email links supplied to us. DISCLAIMER The Hampshire Incorporated Law Society welcomes all persons eligible for membership regardless of sex, race, religion, age or sexual orientation. All views expressed in this publication are the views of the individual writers and not the society unless specifically stated to be otherwise. All statements as to the law are for discussion between 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.

07 HLS Contacts

08

08 Happenings in

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Hampshire

10 HLS CPD Programme 12 HLS Membership 19

13 The effect of COVID-19 on law firms

14 Professional

practices and the future of the office

Members of the public should not seek to rely on anything published in this magazine in court but seek qualified Legal Advice. COVER INFORMATION Photo by Adam Niescioruk on Unsplash.

Copy Deadlines 21st February 2021 For the March 2021 edition

Advertising Anyone wishing to advertise in Hampshire Legal please contact Catherine McCarthy before the copy deadline. 0151 236 4141 catherine@benhampublishing.com

17 HLS AGM 2020 19 LawCare: The culture and practice of law

20 Digital Identity Checks – is now the time?

Take part in our ground-breaking 22 22 Auctions research study and help us find out Update Editorial how legal practice and workplace Anyone wishing to submit editorial for Follow us on social media publication in Hampshire Legal please affect wellbeing contact Alison Plenderleithculture before @hampshirelawsoc

elaw the copy deadline. bdo@hampshirelawsociety.co.uk andpractice

https://www.linkedin.com/company/hampshireincorporated-law-society/

For emotional support contact LawCare in

HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 3


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INTRODUCTION

President’s Review AUTUMN 2020

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s we come towards the end of 2020, I am not sure that 12 months ago anyone would have quite envisaged how this year would go. Best laid plans could not have been prepared for what 2020 has thrown at us both as people but also as firms and lawyers.

No-one knows what 2021 will bring and I do not think anyone dare guess after what this year has thrown at us. What I do know however is that the local profession will continue to tackle all that is thrown at it and will fight to come out of the other side. We will be here to support the profession every step of the way.

Whilst some will have struggled undoubtedly, it seems that for the most part everyone has come through this tough time one way or another, and plans have likely been made to be able to deal with this on-going pandemic to ensure that not only firms survive, but that the profession can continue to be strong. I have no doubt that we will all be stronger once it is over with, whenever that may be. It is with this that I have to commend everyone in the profession locally for dealing with things the way they have and remaining positive through these uncertain times.

Thank you for supporting Hampshire Incorporated Law Society throughout 2020 and we look forward to seeing you all, hopefully in person, in 2021. â–

James Gleisner

President Hampshire Law Society

As a society we have had to cut back on certain events this year, the annual dinner for instance had to be cancelled with over 200 people normally in attendance. The quiz was also cancelled, although attempts were made for this to be held virtually, I think everyone felt that the networking aspect would be lost and it just would not be the same. We have adapted also to be able to hold our education programme online and at a reduced fee, to ensure that we continue to provide an offering to our members and we have created links with the local universities to help the next generation of lawyers in Hampshire to come through. HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 5


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HLS CONTACTS

Hampshire Law Society Contacts The following is an up-to-date list of committee members’ names and addresses and the sub committees to which they belong:

President James Gleisner Trethowans Botleigh Grange Business Park, Hedge End, Southampton SO30 2AF DX 154120 Southampton 48 Tel: 02380 820465 Email: james.gleisner@trethowans.com Deputy President Mo Aldridge Jasper Vincent 44 Queensway, Southampton SO14 3GT Tel: 023 8063 3225 Email: maldridge@jaspervincent.com Deputy Vice President Tom Mitchell Trethowans Botleigh Grange Business Park, Hedge End, Southampton SO30 2AF DX 154120 Southampton 48 Tel: 02380 820465 Email: tom.mitchell@trethowans.com Honorary Secretary Ian Robinson Churchers Solicitors 13-18 Kings Terrace, Portsmouth PO5 3AL DX 2205 Portsmouth Tel: 0239 288 2001 Fax: 0239 286 2831 Email: irobinson@churchers.co.uk Honorary Treasurer Tom Mitchell Trethowans Botleigh Grange Business Park, Hedge End, Southampton SO30 2AF DX 154120 Southampton 48 Tel: 02380 820465 Email: tom.mitchell@trethowans.com Immediate Past President Joe Robertson Email: jrobertson2006@hotmail.co.uk

Business Development Officer Alison Plenderleith Tel: 07429 523183 Email: bdo@hampshirelawsociety.co.uk Law Society Council Members Nick Gurney-Champion (Hampshire & Isle of Wight) Biscoes 67 Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight PO33 2LN Tel: 01983 615615 Email: ngc@biscoes-law.co.uk Razi Shah (North Hampshire) Appleby Shaw Trinity House, 15a Trinity Place, Windsor SL4 3AS DX 3830 Windsor Tel: 01753 860606 Fax: 01753 860620 Email: rshah@applebyshaw.com Administrator Nicola Jennings Tel: 023 8044 7022 Fax: 023 8044 7022 Email: administration@ hampshirelawsociety.co.uk Complaints Mo Aldridge maldridge@jaspervincent.com

Contentious Russell Evans russell.david@yahoo.co.uk Kevin Richardson Joe Robertson Non Contentious Matthew Robbins Nick Gurney-Champion Alex O’Sullivan PR (inc Social) Mo Aldridge (Chair) maldridge@jaspervincent.com Jonathan Rees Kristina Colmer Sarah Hallett Regulatory Adrienne Edgerley Harris (Chair) Adrienneedgerleyharris@gmail.com Ian Robinson Roderick Hursthouse

Follow us on Twitter @hampshirelawsoc Follow us on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/ company/hampshireincorporated-law-society/

Education & Training Anthony Harris (Chair) ajharris@clara.co.uk Anastasia Ttofis David Ankcorn Tom Mitchell Membership Sarah Coates James Gleisner Sarah Huck

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HAPPENINGS IN HAMPSHIRE

Partner of Winchester firm Shentons Solicitors and Mediators awarded top legal prize

P

artner Chloe Jay has been awarded the top prize at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards – the highest accolade for law firms in England and Wales.

Paris Smith continues to invest in its people

P

aris Smith is delighted to announce the appointment of four new trainees, together with a number of other promotions and new hires across the firm. Trainees Sian McKernon, Louis Iveson, Henry Goodchild and Minaz Rahman started with the firm on 1 October, following a virtual assessment day back in the summer. Since lockdown in March, the firm has appointed five new solicitors and two paralegals, as well as adding to its data and compliance team. Sue Murphy has also joined the firm in the new position of head of business development and digital marketing. These appointments emphasise the firm’s commitment to investing in its people, across all departments. Peter Taylor, Managing Partner; “We are committed to helping all members of Paris Smith reach their full potential, to be the best versions of themselves, in an inspiring and safe working environment. The pandemic has not altered that sense of purpose. Indeed, we have expanded our team during the pandemic such has been the interest in the solutions and experience we are able to offer our clients and our communities. We are particularly delighted to welcome our 2020 cohort of prospective solicitors as they start their practical training after many years of academic focus. They join at an exciting time as we pivot the business to a more flexible way of working, maintaining our culture and ongoing commitment to enabling our clients to thrive through responsive, reliable and relevant expert advice.” ■

Chloe was announced as winner of the Solicitor of the Year in England and Wales. The judges noted that her social impact was “truly inspiring” – from speaking to students about legal careers to campaigning for legal funding, she is an exceptional example of a criminal defence solicitor who is dedicated to her work. The event – held virtually for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic – shines a spotlight on the achievements of solicitors in England and Wales. Professionals and their firms are recognised across a range of categories covering all areas of legal practice and business. Chloe said: ‘I am completely honoured to receive this award and am immensely proud to be a solicitor working in criminal justice.’ Shaun Underhill, Senior Partner, Shentons: ‘I am immensely proud of Chloe and her achievements which Chloe Jay are a credit to her and her determination, ability, empathy, compassion and humility whilst making hard yards in criminal defence; we are delighted for her and equally so that she is a partner in Shentons.’ Law Society of England and Wales President David Greene said: ‘2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the profession and the public. Solicitors have gone above and beyond in order to keep individual and business clients out of trouble, often at risk to their own mental, physical and financial health. At the Law Society Excellence Awards, we come together to celebrate outstanding success. There are more than 9,000 firms and 190,000 solicitors in England and Wales, so to win an Excellence Award is an extraordinary achievement. Congratulations to all the winners and those shortlisted.’ ■

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HAPPENINGS IN HAMPSHIRE

Portsmouth solicitors completes merger to open a second Isle of Wight office in Newport

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legal firm with offices across the region has completed a merger to open its second office on the Isle of Wight, expanding the firm’s clientele and allowing people on the island to access more legal services. Biscoes Solicitors, one of the region’s leading law firms, with offices in Gosport, Petersfield, Portchester, Waterlooville, Wickham and Ryde, merged with Newport-based firm Wheelers Solicitors on October 1. The merger gives business clients, individual clients and members of the Armed Forces in and around Newport access to a complete range of legal services. As well as this, it adds an eighth office to Biscoes branches and its second office on the Island. In 2018, it successfully merged with Heyes Samuel and Co in Ryde and Gurney-Champion and Co in Portsmouth.

strong corporate social responsibility policy, working with the local community. Retirement and recent recruit After 63 years in the law, John Cobbett who was based at Biscoes’ North End office has retired to enjoy his hobbies which include DIY, photography and gardening. He served the community with his extensive knowledge of commercial, probate and trust matters and latterly he acted solely as an executor and trustee and as a notary public.

He qualified in 1957, spent time at King & Franckeiss in Portsmouth, who merged with Biscoes in 2004 and officially retired from the firm on October 30.

This merger marks another important strategic development for Biscoes Solicitors. Latest in widening its reach on the Isle of Wight, Nicholas GurneyChampion, formerly of Gurney-Champion and Co, will jointly head the new Newport office with previous principal, Paul Wheeler. Nicholas was born on the Island and has a family tree which can be traced back more than 400 years of Island inhabitants. Biscoes’ managing director, Alison Lee said: ‘We’re delighted to welcome our colleagues at Wheelers as part of the Biscoes team. ‘As well as bringing fresh talent and new expertise into our organisation, this merger will allow us to work with businesses and individuals in and around Newport on the Isle of Wight who may have previously been outside our network of local offices. ‘This move will bring real benefits to existing clients of both firms. We are especially pleased to have, as part of the Biscoes offering, a second office on the Isle of Wight that will be staffed by people who live on and love the Island. ‘We can now offer to the residents of Newport not only property, Wills and estate administration advice but also a greater range of legal services, including civil litigation, personal injury, Immigration, mental health and family and fertility law advice to the residents of Newport.’ In 2018, Biscoes, which has been running since 1964, was named Family Law Firm of the Year at the Family Law Awards and has, twice in the past four years, been named the Hampshire Law Society Law Firm of the Year in the Under 20 Partners Category. In 2019, the firm won the LawNetUK National Enterprise Award for progress and engagement. In the same year, it was awarded the Gold Employer Recognition Award in the Armed Forces Recognition Scheme – and was then only one of 150 businesses in the country to hold the award. The new merger gives the firm a more modern outlook and very

John Cobbett

Luke Brown

In 2018, John and recommended the law-graduate grandson of a family friend, Luke Brown, for work experience at the firm. Luke impressed the partners with his enthusiasm and was subsequently offered a training contract. Luke studied at the University of Portsmouth for his LPC alongside his training contract in the residential conveyancing department.

Sadly, due to COVID-19, the firm were unable to celebrate John’s contribution as they would have liked, but instead lined the car park for his final departure from the office and sent him off with a clap and a wave. ■

New divorce and family lawyer

Aggie Rudy

J

asper Vincent is very pleased to have recruited and engaged Aggie Rudy an experienced Divorce and Family Lawyer. Aggie, has practiced law in South Africa for the last number of years and she will Head our Family Department and be based at our Segensworth office. Aggie considers herself an ethical practitioner who understands that the breakdown of a marriage is one of the most distressing times in one’s life and insists on fairness especially when children and financial division of assets are involved. Aggie is always looking for a positive outcome for all parties involved in such matters. She will be responsible for building the firm’s profile and reputation within the field of Family Law and we are excited at the possibilities that lie ahead Aggie lives in Southsea and is very family orientated, she is an avid reader and runner. Like all members of Jasper Vincent Solicitors, Aggie has strong family and community ties. Jasper Vincent would like to pass on their Congratulations to Aggie on this new role and we look forward to working with her as we move in to 2021. ■ HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 9


CPD – TRAINING

Hampshire Law Society CPD Programme 2021 JANUARY

MARCH

Monday 11 January 2021 1500-1630 Dealing with joint property ventures Ian Quayle, lecturer for 16 years for CLT amongst others and will be presenting the following:

Tuesday 2 March 2021 1500-1630 SDLT – Part 2 Paul Clark has been a commercial property solicitor for over 40 years. He is an expert on many aspects of commercial property law and is a popular and engaging speaker. Bullet points tba.

■ Vehicles for the JV – companies, partnerships, and equity sharing leases ■ Structuring the JV – what should the documentation deal with ■ Due diligence issues and the JV Vehicle What can go wrong – an examination of case law. Tuesday 26 January 2021 1100-1200 Land Registry Ian Quayle has been a lecturer for 16 years for CLT amongst others. FEBRUARY Tuesday 2 February 2021 1500-1630 SDLT – Part 1 Paul Clark has been a commercial property solicitor for over 40 years. He is an expert on many aspects of commercial property law and is a popular and engaging speaker. Bullet points to follow. Tuesday 23 February 2021 1500-1630 Private client Professor Lesley King is Private Client Practice Head at the College of Law, Bloomsbury. Bullet points to follow.

Tuesday 16 March 2021 1500-1630 Conveyancing Update Richard Snape is a consultant with Davitt Jones Bould. He is a renowned speaker on all aspects of Real Estate Law. As a specialist speaker to property lawyers and property professionals, Richard has a reputation for delivering practical advice in an entertaining and engaging way. Conveyancing continues to undergo major changes and the course will aim to look at the most important changes and their effect on the conveyancer. Tuesday 23 March 2021 1100-1200 Searches – Commercial Property Ian Quayle has been a lecturer for 16 years for CLT amongst others. Tuesday 30 March 1500-1630 Family Law Update – Part 1 HHJ Simmonds former solicitor and member of the children panel – appointed as a DJ in 2010 as a DJ of the principal registry of the family division and transferred to the western circuit in November 2015. At the PRFD he undertook all forms of family work to include complex children and money. APRIL Tuesday 20 April 2021 1500-1630 Probate Update – Part 1 Kerry Morgan-Gould Kerry is a Partner and Head of the Trusts & Estates Team at Ashfords LLP. Kerry has been qualified for 12 years. She advises private individuals, charities and trustees in relation to all matters arising out of contentious Wills, Trusts and Estates. In addition, Kerry also advises clients in relation to contentious Court of Protection matters. Bullet points to follow.

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CPD – TRAINING

MAY

FREE CPD WEBINARS

Tuesday 11 May 2021 1500-1630 Trust matters Professor Lesley King is Private Client Practice Head at the College of Law, Bloomsbury. Bullet points to follow.

Watch this space for free webinars coming in 2021. These are available to members only and will include:

Tuesday 18 May 2021 1500-1630 Family Law update – Part 2 HHJ Simmonds former solicitor and member of the children panel – appointed as a DJ in 2010 as a DJ of the principal registry of the family division and transferred to the western circuit in November 2015. At the PRFD he undertook all forms of family work to include complex children and money.

If you would like to offer a free webinar to members of Hampshire Law Society please get in touch with Alison at bdo@hampshirelawsociety.co.uk. Full details will be emailed out in due course.

JUNE Tuesday 15 June 2021 1500-1630 Conveyancing Update Richard Snape is a consultant with Davitt Jones Bould. He is a renowned speaker on all aspects of Real Estate Law and he lectures nationwide to a wide audience. Richard has a reputation for delivering practical advice in an entertaining and engaging way. Conveyancing continues to undergo major changes and the course will aim to look at the most important changes and their effect on the conveyancer. Tuesday 22 June 2021 1500-1630 Property Lecture Edward Denehan is recommended by Chambers and Partners (2015 Ed.) for Real Estate Litigation. “He is a very robust advocate, who has a good way of speaking in layman’s terms and is able to get his message across.” “He is pretty impressive when he is on his feet.” He is also recommended for Property Litigation in the Legal 500 and has been for many years…’. Tuesday 29 June 1500-1630 Probate – Part 2 Kerry Morgan-Gould Kerry is a Partner and Head of the Trusts & Estates Team at Ashfords LLP. Kerry has been qualified for 12 years. She advises private individuals, charities and trustees in relation to all matters arising out of contentious Wills, Trusts and Estates. In addition, Kerry also advises clients in relation to contentious Court of Protection matters. Bullet points to follow.

■ SRA account rules ■ Property Auctions

■ Insolvency ■ Flood risk

FURTHER INFORMATION Unless otherwise notified all lectures take place on Zoom from 1500-1630. The programme will be updated once additional information received distributed via email and in the quarterly magazine. You can find more detail on each lecture on our website:

www.hampshirelawsociety.co.uk Pricing 1.5 hour lecture: £35.00 (Non Member £50.00) All lectures will take place via Zoom for the foreseeable future. The link will be provided in the days prior to the event. Handouts will be emailed prior to each lecture TERMS & CONDITIONS ■ All applications will receive a written confirmation of booking ■ Payment can be made securely online or is required with the registration form. No places can be reserved without payment ■ Booking is subject to availability of places ■ Delegates may be substituted at any time with an appropriate additional payment for any non-members ■ HILS accepts no responsibility for the views or opinions as expressed by the speakers, chairman or any other persons at the event ■ HILS reserves the right to alter the venue, programme and the speakers at any time ■ Claiming member rates remains the responsibility of the claimant however HILS will ensure that you are charged the appropriate fee once membership status checked Your membership entitles you to attend online seminars run by some of our neighbouring law societies. ■ HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 11


MEMBERSHIP

Membership 2021 Renew now at our special 2021 discounted rates

W

e recognise that 2020 has been a difficult year for many of us and the profession as a whole. We would therefore like to make remaining a member with Hampshire Law Society in 2021 that little bit easier. We are cutting our membership fees by 25% on all membership for 2021. To take advantage of this, membership fees will need to be paid in full within 3 months of the new membership year. This will mean:

CORPORATE MEMBERSHIP

INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP

REDUCED TO

REDUCED TO

£600 – THAT’S 25% OFF!

£60 – THAT’S 25% OFF!

In light of COVID-19, our educational seminars had to switch to a virtual environment, but continue to bring relevant and current topics across a multitude of disciplines within the industry. We hope that a number of these seminars may return to being held in person over the course of next year, but for the present time our seminars remain virtual. This has had the added benefit of making the overall cost of delivering educational content more economical for the Society and therefore allowed us to return this saving to you in the form of reduced membership. Members will continue to receive a discounted cost for participation in our seminars and we also have the opportunity to provide some seminars free of charge. Additional benefits include: ■ Members can advertise all vacancies within their firm including any work placement schemes and training contract application deadlines. ■ Member Firms can also be added to the “find a solicitor” service, ■ Opportunity for Members to contribute to respond to consultations through the committee ■ Free editorial placed in Hampshire Legal, our quarterly magazine which is distributed to over 1500 individuals/businesses

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ARTICLE

The effect of COVID-19 on law firms By James Robins (Partner, Insurance) & Ivan Roots (Associate, Professional Risks) at Womble Bond Dickinson

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OVID-19 has had a huge impact on law firms, changing much of the way the legal industry operates. In this article, James Robins and Ivan Roots of Womble Bond Dickinson, who are specialists in defending professional negligence claims, discuss some of the main effects of the pandemic on law firms. Business Resilience The pandemic has been a real test of law firms’ business resilience, resulting in operational challenges common to all firms. Some of these challenges include a change in supervision regimes and collaboration amongst staff. The pandemic has resulted in widespread homeworking across the legal industry, with the government’s advice to work from home unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Looking ahead, many firms are reported to be considering adopting a hybrid model of part-remote working and part-office working on a permanent basis. Regardless of whether the current homeworking model continues once/if an effective vaccine is found, the increased use of communications technology across the legal industry will certainly permanently affect the industry going forward. Business Continuity Law firms’ focus and approach to their business continuity plans will likely have changed as a result of COVID-19, with insufficiently developed business continuity plans leaving some firms exposed to claims during the pandemic. For example, deadlines can be missed for any number of reasons but the pandemic has presented some unique circumstances which law firms have had to adapt to, particularly for those firms without appropriate back-up systems in place. This has resulted in firms adapting their internal processes. The approach to physical files has also changed in the legal industry, with most solicitors now working completely electronically where possible. Where used, the management of physical files has also changed, with most firms now keeping a record of where these are being scanned, sent and stored. The pandemic has also resulted in staff absences, with many firms using the government’s furlough scheme and operating with skeleton staff, at least in the early parts of lockdown. This has resulted in law firms pooling resources and restructuring work flows and staff structures. Work streams COVID-19 has had varying impacts on law firms’ work streams as a result of rapid changes to legislation and innovation in a number of practice areas. We consider a few of these below: CONVEYANCING Conveyancers saw much of their work grind to a halt when the lockdown restrictions came into place. People could not move home and new instructions dried up. Many transactions stalled or fell through as buyer confidence diminished and we heard reports of solicitors failing to communicate and to progress matters amongst the uncertainty.

However, once the housing market re-opened, there were reports of pent-up demand which was further buoyed by the “stamp duty holiday”. The stamp duty holiday means that nearly nine out of 10 transactions are no longer subject to stamp duty until 31 March 2021 and the average stamp duty bill has dropped by £4,500. It is likely that conveyancers will be under immense pressure in the months ahead to get transactions completed by 31 March 2021. WILLS Private client solicitors dealing with wills have also had to respond rapidly to an evolving situation. At the start of the lockdown, there was a huge surge in demand for wills. We saw some creative solutions (such as “wills through the window”) but not all firms were agile enough to adapt quickly to these practical challenges and some may have used untested solutions and increased their risk exposure as a result. More recently, the government has pushed through an SI to allow video witnessed wills. These measures will help alleviate some of the practical difficulties that individuals have had making wills during the pandemic but sadly we anticipate that they may also add further fuel to the trend we have seen in recent years of a growth in claims by disappointed beneficiaries. For example, questions may be asked such as “who was behind the camera?”, “did they exert undue influence?” and “did the testator have capacity?” etc. LITIGATION Litigators were among the first practitioners to see real practical change as a result of the lockdown with an almost wholesale move to remote hearings very quickly back in April as well as new rules and practice directions dealing with extensions of time and remote hearings. Litigators may also have noticed an increase in parties’ willingness to settle, with the commercial court recording a 15% increase in settlements of claims. Claimants may be more responsive to early settlements if cash flow is an issue. It is important for solicitors to ensure that clients make fully informed decisions around settlement in order to avoid under-settlement type claims in the future. GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL SCHEMES With this year bringing unprecedented government support for businesses, many firms will have found themselves advising clients on the various new Coronavirus business support grant schemes. In particular, the government’s furlough leave scheme resulted in an increase in work for employment solicitors, with many clients seeking advice and clarification on the scheme and the impact on their business. COMMERCIAL & CORPORATE These practice areas were some of the worst hit during COVID-19, largely due to future uncertainty. Many firms reported a drop in new work and the pausing of current matters. Looking further ahead, there is likely to be an increase in insolvency work and M&A work as some businesses falter and others pursue restructuring options. ■

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ARTICLE

Professional practices and the future of the office E

arlier this year we published two surveys in conjunction with Saffery Champness. This third survey focuses on how the pandemic is shaping firms’ views on working practices and the impact these changes are having on their businesses and the employees. We asked participants for their view on the issues that have affected them on an individual level, as well as on the firm as a whole and the results suggest that there will not be a ‘one size fits all’ solution that will work for everybody. The physical office – cost vs benefit A large proportion of most professional service firms’ income is earmarked for ongoing property costs including rent, rates, buildings insurance and utilities.

Respondents also noted the requirements of regional Legal Aid contracts (law firms) as being a driving factor, while others felt location was a more organic decision based on normal business expansion. Fewer than 2% or respondents noted the basic need for more space as being a key determining factor. City living We asked respondents to consider the value and opportunities to the firm, as well as the associated challenges, of operating from a major city. Fig 3: Greatest barrier to opening an office in a major city

Fig 1: Property costs as % of annual turnover

46% of firms spend between 5% and 10% of their annual income on property running costs, and 29% of firms pay more than this, and so for many firms this is the largest annual cost other than staffing. Fig 2: Main reason for maintaining branch offices in different locations

Aside from the barriers presented by the high cost of rent and rates associated with being in the city centre, 20% of firms see the local threat from competitors as being the largest barrier. Arguably, although this is clearly a direct threat, it could also be seen as an opportunity and firms that choose to stay away from the city purely based on the perceived threat of not being able to tap into the work stream may be making way for another firm which is willing to take the risk. With physical interaction and networking events sitting at an unprecedented low, does this leave the door open for firms to make a name for themselves by offering something new? These considerations are consistent with how participants responded when we asked them for their view on the primary threat of not having an office in a major city. Two thirds of firms stated that losing market share to their peers and the negative perception of not having a flagship office.

Despite the scale of this cost, firms derive a real tangible benefit from their offices and, of those 2/3 of participating firms with more than one office, almost 70% cite the need to attract clients in a particular area as being the primary reason for operating from multiple locations. Very few respondents see staff attraction as being a key factor to the location of their offices. 14 | HAMPSHIRELEGAL


ARTICLE

Fig 4: Greatest threat of not having an office in a major city

The latter of these points is particularly important for firms where the culture and ‘brand’ of the firm are deeply rooted in their local identity, as this is seen as an attraction for both clients and staff. Although there will be staff members who will happily set foot in the city office as infrequently as possible, there will be many firms that have sold their brand to staff through their flagship office and those members of staff have thrived in the modern, exciting collaboration spaces that these offices provide.

Fig 6: The greatest opportunities from increased remote working

The benefits of a happier workforce was the clear leader when firms considered the opportunities, and clearly a happier workforce should equal a more productive workforce, but this also comes with a warning. Fig 7: The greatest threats from increased remote working

Time for a change? Looking ahead, we asked firms for their views on how they think their existing office space will change over the next few years. We found that more than 15% – predict an increase in office space, while the majority predict a relatively modest reduction in office space. Of those firms that are considering a reduction in office space, or looking at closing offices altogether, almost one third are considering closing their head office. Fig 5: Predicted changes to office space over the next 1-5 years

While freedom from the daily commute and the ability to spend more time with families is an obvious work/life balance improvement, this doesn’t apply to everybody, and 17% of respondents cited a demotivated workforce as being a major firmwide threat. The greatest single challenge to the business was around the risk to productivity, depending on individuals’ preferred working styles. Although a lack of structure and supervision for some might prove to be a challenge, the lack of the daily commute and other distractions may prove to be a real boost.

It seems that the majority of firms are opting for now to see how things change over the coming months before committing to any more drastic decisions. Assuming that many firms are tied into leases that they can’t quickly or easily extract themselves from, then we may see the changing shape and size of the physical office being something that evolves slowly over time. Remote working – the view from the business We asked firms what they thought the greatest opportunities and threats were to them in increasing the availability of remote working to staff.

Other challenges included barriers around knowledge and information sharing, as well as the negative impact on the sense of team and being part of a firm’s culture. It was also noted that this lack of cohesion could result in an increase in ‘silo’ working. It is natural to focus on the fee earning implications of remote working when looking at this in the context of a professional services firm, but we also considered where the major challenges lie with the non-fee earning aspects of the business. Continued on next page

HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 15


ARTICLE

Continued from previous page Fig 8: The non-fee earning operations most likely to be negatively affected by increased remote working

Remote working – the view from the individual Finally, we were keen to get thoughts from individuals around what they felt are the greatest benefits and challenges to them personally when working at home. Whilst the loss of regular one to one communication with team members is also seen as a challenge to the individual, not only to the firms as a whole, the beneficial impacts of an improved work / life balance was also clear. A number of respondents cited the absence of the daily commute as being a positive factor on not only their personal wellbeing, but also on their productivity as they were able to devote more time to their day job with fewer interruptions. Fig 11: Biggest day-to-day challenge when working from home

A consistency between most is around their pre and post Coronavirus remote working policies. Prior to the pandemic, an overwhelming 89% of firms adopted a policy where staff worked no more than one day per week at home, with 67% only allowing home working in exceptional circumstances. Compare that to now and only a third of firms now feel that a similar policy will be needed, of which only 20% of firms anticipate sticking to a policy of only allowing home working when absolutely necessary. Fig 9: Remote working policy before the crisis and estimated policy after the crisis

It is encouraging to see that the general consensus among firms appears to be one that supports adapting deeply rooted legacy work practices to best suit the needs of the organisation as a whole, including those of its employees. Fig 10: Who will benefit the most from changes to remote working policies

Fig 12: Biggest positive when working from home

While the last few months have been characterised by everybody rolling up their sleeves and doing whatever was required to push through the early stages of the crisis, the challenge to firms going forward will be balancing the needs of the individual with the needs of the business and making sure that every individual is listened to when shaping future policies. Support for businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic Further information on the various government support measures, together with other Coronavirus resources for individuals and businesses, can be found at www.saffery.com/our-services/coronavirus. Stay informed To receive relevant future email communications, you can sign up on our website here: www.saffery.com/stayinformed. â–

Ian Johnson

Director Saffery Champness LLP

16 | HAMPSHIRELEGAL


ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Hampshire Law Society AGM 2020 Please support your local law society and book your place to attend the AGM The AGM will take place virtually on Zoom

Tuesday 1 December at 5.30pm Please book your place below on the website (under Events and AGM) and you will be sent the joining link the day before. The AGM is free to attend. A copy of the Annual Report of the Committee with Statement of Accounts and Minutes of 127th AGM has been emailed to all members but can be accessed from the website as above. There will be a speaker from LawCare who have contributed hugely to the profession this year. AGENDA

1. Apologies 2. Minutes of the 127th Annual General Meeting 3. Matters Arising 4. Annual Report of Committee 5. Approval of Annual Accounts of the Society and approval of the amount (if any) to be contributed to charities. 6. Budget and Subscriptions for 2021 7. President’s Remarks 8. Election of Officers 9. Election of Committee Members 10. Report from Council Member 11. Any other Business Nominations for Office 2020/2021 The following nominations for Office have been received: President Mr James Gleisner Vice President Mrs Mo Aldridge Deputy Vice President Mr Tom Mitchell Hon Treasurer Mr Tom Mitchell Hon Secretary Mr Ian Robinson

HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 17


Tell us about your

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LIFE IN THE LAW lifeinthelaw.org.uk

#lifeinthelaw #cultureandpractice

Take part in our ground-breaking research study and help us find out how legal practice and workplace culture affect wellbeing

For emotional support contact LawCare in confidence on 0800 279 6888 or visit www.lawcare.org.uk 18 | HAMPSHIRELEGAL


WELLBEING

The culture and practice of law By Elizabeth Rimmer, Chief Executive, LawCare

L

ife in the law can be fantastic, and many thrive in this fast-paced, high pressure industry and are very successful and happy. However that is the not the case for everyone. Lawyers and support staff regularly contact us at LawCare to talk about feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and burnt out. We hear about long hours, demanding bosses, incivility from clients, a feeling of never being good enough or getting things done, the constant dread of making a mistake. Although there has been research done in other countries, notably America and Australia, we have little data from the British Isles on how the culture and practice of law affects wellbeing. Are lawyers more at risk of poor mental health than other professions? And how will the issues created by a global pandemic; a lack of routine and support structure, no separation between home and work, too much time or not enough time alone, a lack of supervision; feed into this? To this end, LawCare set up a research committee last year made up of academics and experts with the aim of launching the biggest ever research study into the wellbeing of legal professionals in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. This is a cross-profession, cross-jurisdiction piece of research that seeks to understand the day to day realities of life in the law and includes three academic research scales for burn-out, psychological safety and autonomy. All three are issues we believe to have a significant impact on the wellbeing of lawyers. Burn out Burn out is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an occupational phenomenon rather than a medical condition, and results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

their opinions and giving feedback, able to admit a mistake, to ask for help and to be their true self at work. Often legal workplaces are very hierarchical and many junior members of the professions find it very hard to put their head above the parapet – and this is where problems can start to grow. Autonomy Autonomy in the workplace means how much freedom people have at work. An autonomous workplace is based on trust, respect, dependability and integrity. Can people regulate their own hours and workload for example? Are they able to make decisions without running it past managers? Do they feel in control of their own working life and career? Often the traditional structures in the law and the long hours culture make it difficult for legal professionals to feel autonomous which can reduce engagement at work and job satisfaction. We need you to tell us about your life in the law Anyone working in the legal industry in any capacity, including support staff, can complete the online questionnaire, which launches today ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10th October. The results will form the basis of an academic paper and will help us to improve the support available to legal professionals and drive long lasting change in legal workplaces so that people working in the law can thrive. We urge you to take part and share your experiences at lifeinthelaw.org.uk. If you are finding things difficult and need to talk, LawCare can help. We provide emotional support to all legal professionals and support staff. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at support@lawcare.org.uk or access webchat and resources at www.lawcare.org.uk. ■

Those who are experiencing burn out are likely to feel: ■ Low energy or exhaustion ■ Increased mental distance from their job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to their job; ■ Reduced professional efficacy Legal professionals with burn out may feel angry or irritated by colleagues or feel misunderstood. They will feel under a lot of pressure to do well at work but will feel like they aren’t really getting anywhere as they find it impossible to focus, feel overwhelmed by the amount of the work they have to do and procrastinate. They will often become forgetful – perhaps missing deadlines or meetings. Their judgement may be affected and they will often think of leaving their job or even the law profession entirely. We hear from many individuals like this at LawCare, our research will show how common this is in the legal profession and which specific issues may be causing it. Psychological safety Psychological safety at work means “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career”. Legal professionals who feel psychologically safe at work will feel comfortable expressing HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 19


ARTICLE

Digital Identity Checks – is now the time? T

he Law Society, the Chartered Institute for Legal Executives and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers have been investigating the potential for digital identity verification tools. The COVID-19 crisis as well as the advancements generally in technology has fast-tracked the mechanisms for a more secure, efficient and convenient means of identifying parties to a transaction. Although techniques for facial recognition against a passport are available in many areas including through smart phones now, they are not available for conveyancers. Ensuring you ‘Know your Client’ and who you are dealing within an increasingly digital era is essential. The expectation that your client would be locally based and able to come in and see you is very much outdated and it is to be expected that a large proportion of clients will not be within sensible travelling distance of the conveyancer they engage. The verification of the client is vitally important to the trust and confidence in the registration of land at HM Land Registry and in the conveyancing process in general. A series of events with conveyancers, identity service providers and others through the summer months has led to a draft set of requirements being produced which are aimed at encouraging digital identity checks. The virtual events brought together conveyancers and technology suppliers to collect data as to what solutions would be achievable and what barriers may be in place which need to be overcome. It was apparent that the technology already exists to meet the needs and give the security that is required to the conveyancer, the business sector and the consumer. The conclusion was that the pandemic has provided a very strong catalyst for the development of this arena and that the conveyancing market would benefit from it and welcome it. The draft set of requirements is: Encouraging the use of digital technology in identity verification There is widespread demand across the conveyancing market for more resilient, straightforward and convenient identity verification solutions. We believe that there is scope for an alternative higher standard of identity check – one that uses biometric and cryptographic technology, is defined and gives clarity and certainty to the conveyancer that they have discharged their duty on identity verification in connection with land registration applications. The guidance below does not deal with identity checks required by regulatory or representative bodies, or required by law, such as under the money laundering legislation. The Safe Harbour Standard The enhanced level of check is defined by reference to a set of requirements, collectively known as the “Safe Harbour Standard”. The Safe Harbour Standard is founded on the

20 | HAMPSHIRELEGAL

principles within the Government’s Good Practice Guide GPG45. The requirements involve biometric and cryptographic checking of identity and verification that the individual or individuals signing of behalf of corporations are the owner of the property or otherwise a genuine party to a registrable transaction. The Safe Harbour Standard when followed, constitutes what is regarded by HM Land Registry as a discharge of the duty to verify the identity of a party to a registrable transaction. A conveyancer who adopts this approach will have fulfilled their obligation to take reasonable steps in relation to the requirement to verify their client’s identity and will reach the “Safe Harbour”. This means that if a conveyancer carries out the steps described in the Standard, HM Land Registry will not pursue any recourse claim against the conveyancer resulting from the registration of a fraudulent transaction on the grounds that identity checks were inadequate. The conditions for meeting the Safe Harbour Standard are set out below. Requirements 1 to 3 must be carried out by all conveyancers acting for a party to the transaction. Requirement 4 is an additional check to be carried out by the conveyancer who represents a transferor, lessor or borrower in the transaction. Requirement 1 – Obtain evidence You must find out if the person you are representing is who they say they are. To meet this requirement, they must hold a form of evidence that can be checked by interrogating cryptographic security features within that evidence. The security features must include an electronically held photo of the identity against which biometric facial recognition checks may be made. Acceptable forms of evidence that meet these requirements are: ■ biometric passports that meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) specifications for e-passports; ■ identity cards from an EU or EEA (European Economic Area) country that follow the Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 standards and contain biometric information; and ■ a UK biometric residence permit. Requirement 2 – Check the evidence You must check that the evidence that meets the first requirement is genuine to ensure it has not been forged and is still current. You can do this by using an identity check provider to verify for you that the documentary and cryptographic security features of the evidence are genuine. The identity check provider’s system must read the chip within the evidence using Near Field Communication by providing any


ARTICLE

required cryptographic keys and then: ■ check the digital signature is correct for the organisation that issued the evidence; ■ check the signing key belongs to the organisation and hasn’t been revoked; and ■ extract the biometric information needed for requirement 3. Requirement 3 – Match the evidence to the identity You must check that the person presenting the information matches the photo in the evidence provided. You must do this by using an identity check provider to make sure that the biometric information captured from a ‘liveness check’ (explained below) matches biometric information in the chip within the genuine evidence you have obtained. To meet this requirement the identity check provider must: ■ use photographs or video (that are captured live as part of the checking process) of the person presenting the information performing tasks to confirm the person presenting the information is real (known as an enhanced ‘liveness’ test); ■ ensure the person’s biometric information is captured under controlled conditions that do not reduce the accuracy of the type of biometric check being used (light, noise, and humidity impact the success rates for face biometrics and should be adjusted if needed); ■ use a biometric algorithm that’s been proven to be effective against a recognised benchmark, like the National Institute of Standard and Technology’s (NIST’s) face recognition vendor test guidance; and ■ have a false match (where the system has incorrectly identified the individual) of a maximum rate of 0.01%. Requirement 4 – Obtain evidence to ensure the transferor, borrower or lessor is the same person as the owner This requirement needs to be met by the conveyancer representing a transferor, borrower or lessor. You must connect the client to the property by obtaining two examples from the following list of evidence types and checking that the name and address of the person claiming the identity match those on the evidence provided: ■ Utility bill, bank or building society statement, dated within the last three months ■ Local authority council tax bill for the current financial year ■ Original mortgage statement from a recognised lender for the last full year ■ Current UK or EEA photocard driving licence ■ HMRC self-assessment letters or tax demands dated within the current financial year ■ Insurance policy schedule for the property ■ Current firearm or shotgun certificate ■ Credit card bearing the Mastercard or Visa logo, an American Express or Diners Club card, or a debit or multi-function card bearing the Maestro or Visa logo which was issued in the United Kingdom and is supported by an account statement less than three months old. ■ Copy of the agreement for purchase of the property ■ Lettings agent agreement on headed paper ■ Local authority buildings regulations sign off for works undertaken to the property addressed to the client ■ Management company service charge demands for the property addressed to the client.

or online statements. Reliance can be placed on an online statement provided it is evident that it has been received or downloaded by the client and refers to the subject property. Screenshots of online statements will not satisfy the Standard. Achieving the Safe Harbour Standard Schedule 8 to the Land Registration Act 2002 (“the Act”) provides for compensation to be paid to a person who can show that they have suffered loss as a result of a mistake in the register on an indemnity basis. This includes where a fraudulent transaction is registered. Under paragraph 10 of Schedule 8 to the Act, HM Land Registry has a statutory right to recover from conveyancers compensation paid by it in certain circumstances. This includes cases where compensation has been paid as a result of fraud. A conveyancer who carries out the requirements set out above to achieve the Safe Harbour Standard should remain vigilant during the remaining course of the transaction. If, at any time prior to the completion of the transaction, the conveyancer has (1) reasonable doubt about the checks they have conducted, or (2) has reason to believe the characteristics of the transaction itself indicate the parties they represent may not be genuine, then they should make further enquiries and seek further evidence, as appropriate, to ensure those doubts are removed. They must make a record of the results of those further checks and enquiries. Where there is reasonable doubt and it is not positively resolved, the Safe Harbour Standard will not be achieved. It is acknowledged that it may not always be possible to conduct all the steps set out in the Safe Harbour Standard in every transaction. Where it is not practicable to carry out these enhanced checks, or resolve any doubts around the checks, the conveyancer will not reach the Safe Harbour Standard. In these circumstances, the conveyancer may remain at some risk of HM Land Registry seeking recourse if it turns out the transaction was indeed fraudulent and the conveyancer has been either negligent or fraudulent in relation to the checking of identity. HM Land Registry gave an assurance to Parliament in 2001 that it would not use the right of recourse against those who are neither fraudulent nor negligent. HM Land Registry must satisfy itself that there has indeed been fraud or negligence before seeking recourse against a conveyancer. Land Registry are requesting feedback from conveyancers by close of business on Friday 11 December 2020 at the following location: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=qAljI0soV06ns_x2dzb2ndmYqM40Z99Ml3iBQgNHCwtUMEpKMVFYQlc0T1BBTUpBSllFVTFKMTJCNCQlQCN0PWcu ■

The statements referred to in the list above can be postal HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 21


ARTICLE

Auctions Update

By Robert Marchant FNAVA Auctioneer, Clive Emson Land & Property Auctioneers

T

hey say time stands still for no-one. That’s certainly the picture in the world of property auctions as we near the end of what has been a very different year for us all! Back in mid-March when the first lock-down was started, the land and property auction industry, like so many others was faced with a great deal of uncertainty as to what the immediate future may hold. For an industry that has traditionally had as one of its prerequisites, a room full of keen and eager bidders, the prospect of no longer being able to gather sellers and potential buyers together in a sale room was a daunting one. Had the COVID crisis hit even five years ago the prospects would indeed have been bleak, but fortunately, many of the same technologies that have enabled so many of us to continue to work remotely through the lockdowns came to the rescue and enabled business to continue. On-line auctions had been quietly developing a presence over the last five years, with those auction houses such as ours that had invested in the technology being able to offer what was considered something of a niche product, for those sellers that had particular time-scale requirements that perhaps didn’t fit with the traditional cycle of ballroom sales, or who perhaps preferred the on-line method of sale. As a result, Clive Emson Auctioneers and others have continued to hold auctions all through both of the lockdowns and that “niche” product of on-line sales has in the space of a few short months, become the new normal for land and property auctions. Hard copy catalogues, which had remained remarkably popular over recent years as the print media generally had been shrinking, have been replaced entirely, certainly for the time being, with on-line catalogues. During the first lockdown physical viewings of almost all Lots were dealt with almost exclusively by virtual video tours, but

this didn’t seem to deter would be buyers and bidding was as keen as ever and the success rates both for the percentage of Lots sold and the sale prices achieved both held up remarkably well. After the first lock-down, physical viewings, following government guidelines, were again on the agenda, though interestingly, many prospective buyers have continued to rely on video and pictures, rather than inspecting in person. One of my concerns at the outset of the first lock-down had been over bidding and the prospect that potential buyers, may not get so competitive as I have witnessed so many times over the years from the rostrum in a live auction setting. I needn’t have been concerned, indeed I could certainly make a case that in many instances potential bidders have got even more determined in the virtual world, than they may have done in a live auction setting increasing the eventual sale price for our clients. The way the technology works is that unlike for example an eBay auction, there is no guillotine end to the bidding at a set time. There is a provisional finishing time for each Lot, but if anybody bids in the last five minutes of the allotted time, the bidding window is automatically extended back to five minutes, giving other interested parties an opportunity to consider and submit a counter bid. As a result, many Lots have continued, well past their provisional end times, with several running on into the evening, not that the sellers or indeed the auctioneers have been complaining! With money laundering ID and deposit arrangements in place for potential purchasers ahead of bidding, sellers have had the same security and benefit of a speedy and defined timescale as was the case pre-lockdown. As a result, Sellers have continued to entrust their land and property with us and bidders/buyers have adapted seamlessly to the online auctions, with many appreciating the extra lengths we have gone too to make the whole process as easy as possible, while they have also still had the re-assurance of an exchange at the fall of the ‘virtual’ gavel. Even self-confessed dinosaurs and luddites among our audience of purchasers have adapted to online and we have even had one auction regular, who swore he never would, get into tech, buying himself a lap-top and joining the 21st Century! While the above may seem difficult to believe by some, our statistics endorse this. Since the beginning of the year we have secured sales of £110 million of land and property on behalf of our clients, with a success rate of over 75%. Additionally, there have been 24,500 requests for the legal packs, over half a million visitors to our own website and approaching five millionpage views! So, what of the future? It seems impossible to believe that we will not at some stage return to traditional ballroom auctions, but it is certain that on-line sales are also here to stay, and they will certainly not return to the pre-lockdown status of a niche offering. ■

22 | HAMPSHIRELEGAL


Locum available for Family / Matrimonial Work Miss Vivien Manfield, Solicitor, admitted 1981, Resolution Accredited Family Specialist January 2006 – January 2011, based in Winchester, has been doing locum assignments since 1993 and is available for short term assignments. Tel: 01962 853930 or email vivienmanfield@yahoo.co.uk for more information and CV. â–

Missing Wills Michael Christopher Roberts 4 Meadowbank, Stockbridge Road, Sutton Scotney, SO21 3JP. DOB 22/12/1943. DOD 24/10/2020. Yolanda Regina Maria Silvester (or surnames of Comyn and Venosi) Carters Farmhouse, Norleywood, Lymington SO41 5RR. DOB 06/04/1929. DOD 03/08/2020. Kenneth Gerald Bull 50 Highlands Way, Dibden Purlieu, SO45 4HX. DOB 04/04/1953. DOD 22/08/2020. Mary Josephine Winslade 4 Hordle Mews, Ashley Lane, Hordle, Lymington SO41 0FS. DOB 09/08/1934. DOD 12/08/2020.

The Leading Independent Regional Land & Property Auctioneers Covering Southern England

Selling land and property with skill, speed and efficiency Our upcoming land and property auctions will be held online on:> November 2020 - Catalogue available online now > December 2020 - Catalogue available online from 27th November. Entries close 24th November > February 2021 - Catalogue available online from 15th January. Entries close 11th January

ENTRIES CONTINUALLY INVITED FOR OUR UPCOMING SALES

SUITABLE LOTS INCLUDE: Vacant Residential for Improvement; Residential and Commercial Investments; Vacant Commercial; All Types of Land; Development Sites & Conversion Projects; Garages (lock-up & compounds); Freehold Ground Rents and the Unique and Unusual.

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Join us on: 23/10/20 15:24:23 HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 23


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CONVEYANCING

Making the most of a buoyant property market

A

s the property market resumes following the gradual lifting of lockdown measures, figures from HM Revenue and Customs have shown that property sales rose by an incredible 15.6% in August accompanied by a significant increase in house prices1. Although experts are predicting that the boom is not sustainable, current sales are also being boosted by the Stamp Duty holiday introduced by the Chancellor in July. This sees the stamp duty threshold increased to £500,000 until the end of March 2021. First time buyers were already exempt from SDLT on property purchases up to £300,000, so this additional reduction, has definitely been designed to stimulate the overall market. And there’s certainly evidence that it’s playing a role in supporting house sales. Recent data has revealed that 13% of residential properties sold for above the initial asking price2. Speeding up your SDLT and AP1 returns As a conveyancing search provider, Geodesys offers an Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) solution, that is fully-integrated with the HMRC and HMLR. As part of our search ordering platform, the service allows you to quickly and securely submit SDLT returns from within the case file created when placing the original order for property searches. But, perhaps more importantly, our SDLT service provides complete peace of mind, as the online returns process is fullycompliant with the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and Core Practice Management Standards, providing automatic validation, review and full audit trail. Benefits of using an integrated SDLT service: ■ SDLT and SP1 forms are pre-populated based on the information already stored in the Geodesys case file, alleviating the need for duplication when completing the AP1 form ■ Information is validated before submission to HMRC and HMLR. This allows you to correct any human errors which would result in rejection

■ The solution meets the Law Society CQS CPMS 1.2 requirement for an audit trail and third-party review process ■ Instant SDLT5 certification – no long turnaround times ■ Has a comprehensive GDPR toolkit allowing you to search, edit, export and mark to delete your client’s personal data. ■ Drafts can be saved at any time – no need to complete in one go ■ No training is required, and the submission can be made directly and securely from the Geodesys platform. To help support our conveyancing customers, we are currently offering our simple and efficient SDLT service FREE OF CHARGE until 31 March 20213. Johnny Davey, our Conveyancing Product Manager comments: “We are delighted that the property market is seeing considerable growth at the moment, following the substantial pause during lockdown. Thanks to our technology-based service, we as an organisation have been able to continue with business as usual throughout and we have a full customer services team in place to support clients. Now that the market bouncing back so rapidly, we are delighted to offer a little something back to our dedicated customers by offering our efficient SDLT service free of charge. Our ordering process is very straightforward, so why not sign up and give it a go.” The SDLT service is just one of a number of tools Geodesys offers to provide a seamless and compliant ordering process for property searches. To find out more about our SDLT and our full range of conveyancing services, please visit www.geodesys.com or email Kay Toon, our Key Account Manager at kay.toon@geodesys.com. ■ 1. The Times, 23 September 2020 2. NAEA Property 28 September 2020 3. Free of charge SDLT offer ends 31/03/2021

HAMPSHIRELEGAL | 25


LEGACIES

Angus A

t 16 years old, Angus the Jack Russell Terrier was the oldest resident at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe when he arrived after his owner sadly passed away. Thankfully his owner had signed up to Dog’s Trust’s Canine Care Card, a free service that aims to give owners peace of mind, knowing that Dogs Trust will look after their dog if the worst should happen. He has now been rehomed to the perfect family where he will spend his golden years! Elise Watson, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe, said: “Many dog owners worry what might happen to their dog if they were to pass away first, leaving their beloved four-legged friend without an owner. However, the Canine Care Card scheme offers reassurance to dog owners, and also helps to ease the minds of friends and family during what is already a distressing time. But it means you can rest in the knowledge that your dog will be cared for after you die and just like Angus, will go on to find loving homes that are right for them.”

Canine Care Card holders receive a wallet-sized card which acts in a similar way to an organ donor card and notifies people of their wishes for their dogs, should anything happen to them. Dogs Trust works hard to match every dog with a responsible, loving home. If for any reason a dog takes a while to be rehomed, owners can rest assured that Dogs Trust never puts a healthy dog to sleep and will care for them for the rest of their lives. If you would like to request Canine Care Card forms that you can give out to your clients please call 020 7837 0006 or email ccc@dogstrust.org.uk and quote code 334582. ■

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.

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020 7837 0006

Or e-mail

today

ccc@dogstrust.org.uk

Or write to: Freepost RTJA-SRXG-AZUL, Dogs Trust, Clarissa Baldwin House, 17 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7RQ (no stamp required) Please quote “334362”. 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

26 | HAMPSHIRELEGAL


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Hampshire Legal Autumn 2020