Northamptonshire Law Society Bulletin www.northamptonshirelawsociety.co.uk Summer 2018
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The President Writes
Constituency Council Member’s report
Summer 2018 Northamptonshire Law Society
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Northamptonshire Law Society Officers & Council Members 2018 Oliver Spicer
Immediate-Past President Ika Castka
Honorary Secretary Ruth Taylor
Honorary Treasurer Lisa Garley Evans
Constituency Member & Past President Linda Lee
Chair of Education and Training & Past President Rhona Rowland
Council Members:David Browne
Sharine Burgess Laura Carter Caroline McGann – Past President Jabeer Miah Michael Orton Jones Karen Shakespeare Edward St. John Smyth – Past President Euan Temple – Past President
Co-opted Members: Afua Akom
Aimee Johns Amy Leech Lynsey Ward
Welcome to the late summer edition of the Bulletin!
I start my presidency and the Bulletin with notes of thanks.
First, I must thank Ika Castka for her invaluable leadership and guidance over her 2 year presidency. I am assured that Ika will remain an active player in the Society and that is really encouraging; she has been a cornerstone of the Society council for some time and a great representative of Wilson Browne Solicitors. Secondly, but no less important, I must thank Law Society Manager, Phil Smith.
For those of you who may not be aware; Phil is another cornerstone of the Society. Without his commitment and persistence the Society would simply not have functioned. Phil has decided to step down from his role this year. However, in testament to his commitment, he has found a worthy replacement; Look out for more details and an announcement which will be made shortly. To Phil I say a very grateful ‘thank you’. And so to the year ahead…
The Law Society encourages involvement and unity between all legal practitioners. Northamptonshire has always seemed to me, to be made up of individual firms and individual practitioners.
This year I would love to see an increased synergy between firms, practitioners and individuals. It would be superb to found a better community spirit in Northamptonshire with the law society as its hub. Isn’t that vital to a work life balance? A community within which to meet, socialise, network and perhaps showcase achievements? To that end your council have put together initiatives reported in this bulletin: To show the breadth of knowledge on Council you will find a ‘who’s who’ section. Here you will find your council representatives and information on their backgrounds. It might be useful for networking and reaching out for joint resources and/or knowledge. If you have extra skills, why not consider appointment to the council? We are always pleased to report the memberships’ achievements in the Bulletin– extracurricular or otherwise.
You will hear in this Bulletin of people running, raising money for charity racing dragon boats and much more. If you or your firm want to showcase your achievements, especially if they are for a good cause or community based, why not send in your story along with some pictures? It’s all about raising profiles and casting a wide net – especially if you are raising money. We are more than happy to publish reports by individuals as well as firms. If you are aware of others that have achieved something great, let us know.
Finally, I want to bring to your attention to a particularly interesting development linked to the Society; the start of a successful running club at The Lakes Northampton. The club is open all members of the Northamptonshire Law Society. The mixed club is for runners of all abilities and is looking to become a British Athletics affiliate. Members of the club take part in fun and serious events alike. Look out for more information and reports in the pages that follow and get involved!
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I wish you all every success and best wishes for the season.
Society Manager Phil Smith
Northamptonshire Law Society Ashtrees Cottage Duston
Tel. 01604 585653
Email: email@example.com All Council members should in the first instance be contacted through the Society Manager.
Northamptonshire Law Society
The President writes...
For now, enjoy your Bulletin and please make it what you want it to be!
President Northamptonshire Law Society
Northamptonshire Law Society
Constituency Council Member’s Report September 2018 Prior to the Act, solicitors could only practice as sole traders or in partnerships (or incorporated practices) with other solicitors. Solicitors could be employed inhouse but only to offer advice and legal services to their employers - something that was not permitted universally to all lawyers with many jurisdictions frowning on the perceived lack of independence of in-house lawyers. The overall strength of the regulatory arrangements was that all solicitors’ firms were regulated as were all the business owners and managers. The Solicitors Act 1974 and Codes of Conduct demanded high standards of behaviour in both business and personal life. The LSA introduced a new business model, an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). This permitted up to a 100% ownership by non-lawyers. This had been preceded by a half-way house in 2009 by legal disciplinary practices (LDPs) which allowed other ‘authorised persons’ (e.g. Chartered Legal Executives, Licensed Conveyancers and Barristers) and also non-lawyers, to become managers of a firm. The business owners could be regulated by the SRA in respect of activities within the ABS but not in respect of their personal life or outside interests. In a recent case the SRA has admitted “some uncertainty” as to whether non-lawyer partners of ABSs can be banned from working in the profession no matter what the conduct complained of . Take up of ABSs has been relatively modest, there are currently in the region of 9,488 firms regulated by the SRA of which in the region of 600 are still ABSs. Many are traditional firms who have taken non-lawyers into partnership and there are several larger corporates such as the Co-op. Further rule changes removing the requirement to offer reserved legal activities saw an entry into the market of former claims farmers who thought that the regulatory regime may be less stringent than otherwise. There may have been a sense of frustration from some at the SRA who appeared to feel that change was not quick enough or radical enough and in 2014 the separate business rule was removed and Multi-Disciplinary Practices (MDPs) a type of alternative business structure that could provide a mixture of legal and nonlegal services were introduced. The rules however were complex, requiring the non-legal aspects to be regulated by ‘suitable external regulation’ and there was much uncertainty as to what would and would not be permitted to be undertaken by solicitors. Anecdotally there was little take up other than by some global accountancy firms, many of whom were already operating ABSs. The SRA have not published the number or type of MDPs currently operating. Then in June 2018 the SRA launched a new policy on waivers, ‘to help encourage innovation, but also ensure that there is real transparency about the waivers we grant’ . Essentially the SRA can waive the requirement of any firm or individual to comply with rules or regulations other than those required by statute. This new transparency reveals that eight firms had been granted waivers allowing their employed solicitors to provide legal services direct to the public without being in either a firm or an ABS - and
essentially without the use of a regulated structure. These include the consumer group Which? The only requirements were, that they could not deliver reserved legal activities, must have professional indemnity insurance ‘reasonably equivalent’ to that of a regulated practice and must tell clients how the services provided by their solicitors are regulated and the protections available to them. As the entity is not regulated, there can be no protection of any client monies which would be held in the same way as in any business. These waivers appeared to jump the gun on the new structures that the SRA intends to introduce in April of 2019 under rule changes currently awaiting approval by the Legal Services Board (LSB). There will be two new Codes of Conduct one for individuals and one for regulated firms. They will introduce a new Code of Conduct which will be only in the region 7 pages long but underpinned by guidance-details of which have yet to be revealed. The guidance will enable changes to be introduced more swiftly and without the need for revisions to the Code. This has already attracted criticism for the uncertainty and increased regulatory cost this will introduce. Most controversial of all will be the two new methods of delivering legal services. The first is to permit solicitors to offer legal services direct to the public from an entity that is not regulated provided that it only offers unreserved activities. The six reserved activities are defined in schedule 2 of the LSA as: 1. the exercise of a right of audience - the right to appear before and address a court, including the right to call and examine witnesses 2. the conduct of litigation - the issuing of proceedings before any court in England and Wales, the commencing, prosecuting and defending of those proceedings and the performing of any ancillary functions in relation to those proceedings (such as entering appearances to action) 3. reserved instrument activities - preparing any instrument of transfer or charge for the purposes of the Land Registration Act 2002, making an application or lodging a document for registration under that Act; and preparing any other instrument relating to real or personal estate for the purposes of the law of England and Wales or instrument relating to court proceedings in England and Wales. “Instrument” includes a contract for the sale or other disposition of land (save for a contract to grant a short lease) but excludes: Wills or other testamentary instruments; an agreement not intended to be executed as a deed, other than a contract that is included by virtue of [the preceding provisions of this subparagraph]; A letter or power of attorney; or a transfer of stock containing no trust or limitation of the transfer 4. probate activities - preparing any probate papers for the purposes of the law of England and Wales or in relation to any proceedings in England and Wales “probate papers” are those on which to found or oppose a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration.
5. notarial activities - activities which immediately before the day the relevant section of the LSA came into force, were customarily carried on by notaries under the Public Notaries Act 1801)
Much of the work carried out by solicitors is not reserved, so for example, any work carried out in a Tribunal such as an Employment Tribunal is not reserved. Advice could be given to enable clients to conduct their own conveyance or probate provided that the actual preparation of probate papers or instrument of transfer was carried out by the client themselves or by a regulated firm. There could be no guarantees of protection of client money or documents or privilege. There would be no right to client protections and it is not even clear if the clients of such firms would be able to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO). The client of the organisation would be relying on employee solicitors to ensure that they were fully informed of the differences in the services and protections they would receive. As the firms employing solicitors offering these services would not be regulated, the SRA would have no power to impose conditions on or investigate the firm or the business owners but would have the limited power to require production of documents relative to its regulatory ambit. It is hard to see how having the power to regulate employee solicitors would guarantee that these rules were kept up. The second concept is that of ‘freelance solicitors’. The SRA has conceded that its initial proposals to allow newly qualified solicitors to operate in this way would be inappropriate and ‘freelancers’ would need to have been qualified for a minimum of three years before they can offer reserved legal services. Freelancers will be permitted to offer services - both reserved and unreserved - direct to the public outside regulated law firms. It is likely that professional indemnity insurance requirements will be relaxed although the details have not been provided and the currently stated requirement is for an appropriate level of cover. They will not be able to hold client money but will be able to control it through use of a third-party escrow service. The very first such service, Barco, the Bar Council’s has shut down after “suitable” commercial providers entered the market. The Bar Council stated that Barco has been largely subsidised by funds from training and events surplus and business partnerships, “as the income from fees and charges has not matched the costs and expenditure incurred in delivering the service” . The stability of such services has not yet been established for the longer long term.
At the next small firms meeting - to which all members are welcome to attend regardless of the size of their practice, we will look at some of these questions and the answers! Northamptonshire Law Society
6. the administration of oaths - exercising powers conferred on a commissioner for oaths under the Commissioners for Oaths Act 1889; the Commissioners for Oaths Act 1891; and section 24 of the Stamp Duties Management Act 1891
At a local law society level should such new unregulated firms be permitted corporate membership? Undoubtedly many will seek it to enhance their reputation.
i Application 11573-2016 Scully, Brown and Narcolo ii Law Society research Annual Statistics Report 2017 published June 2018 iii Law Society research Annual Statistics Report 2017 published June 2018 iv Paul Philips CEO of the SRA June 2018 v https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/which-among-eight-unregulatedbusinesses-granted-sra-waivers vi https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/barco-shuts-as-commercial- escrow-providers-emerge vii https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/stories/law-society-opposes-sra- handbook-changes
Linda Lee September 2018. Linda Lee is a regulatory lawyer with Radcliffes LeBrasseur and the Law Society Council Member for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland. As a Council Member she is also the Chair of the Regulatory Processes Committee and a member of the Audit Committee, Regulatory Affairs Board and the Access to Justice Committee. Her pro bono work also extends to the Solicitors Assistance Scheme as Chair.
The difficulties for the SRA in regulating these new structures is obvious and immense but the SRA say that proposals to tackle these difficulties - yet to be revealed - will easily address any such problems. How the obvious confusion arising for consumers is less easily resolved. This has been highlighted by the LSB’s own consumer panel, LeO and the Citizens Advice Bureau and others. The Law Society continues to oppose such changes and has recently written to the LSB asking it not to permit the rule changes to take place. There are a number of questions for solicitors and firms. Should they consider restructuring into such an entity? How will they compete with the new structures currently being established to take advantage of this rule change? How will they differentiate themselves so that the public understand the different protections available and protect themselves from reputational damage that may emerge? What policies will you and your conveyancing department have in place for handling transactions with freelancers? www.northamptonshirelawsociety.co.uk
Record levels of reports of misconduct, connected to financial crime, is impacting the legal services sector It has led the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to call for firms to better protect themselves from dubious investment schemes, money laundering and rising cybercrime as outlined in its annual Risk Outlook 2018/19, which sets out what the regulator thinks are the risks and the challenges faced by solicitors and law firms. The risks recently highlighted by the SRA are not new threats to law firms says Phil Edwards, Managing Director of QPI, specialist professional indemnity insurance broker to the legal profession. However, he warns firms against becoming too complacent and that escalating risks and resulting claims are forcing some firms to close.
Edwards said: “It’s interesting the SRA’s come up with a separate report on risk following last year’s instructional note to firms talking about investor led building projects and the problems associated with them.
“Much of what the SRA said in their warning notice in 2017 has come true.We’ve witnessed is numerous claims involving investors both from this country and abroad. They’ve put money into development schemes that have collapsed with investors, some of whom thought they were buying properties, being left with no asset, no home and their money having disappeared. This is the strongest warning so far from the SRA linking three key areas where we are still seeing a growth in claims: money laundering, cybercrime and dubious investment schemes.
“The problem’s become particularly prevalent in the last 12 months and was the topic of a recent Panorama programme, which focused on the Northern Powerhouse. This government backed initiative was launched to attract investment and improve infrastructure, aimed at bringing money into the north particularly from the Far East with promises of good returns on investments on these developments, which have either been partially completed or not even started.
The SRA’s Risk Outlook 20/19 states that “The financial losses for people can be high. If solicitors are involved in such schemes they risk
harming public trust in the profession. We are likely to take action including making a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). In March 2018 we were investigating 51 reports of investment fraud. There had also been 106 applications made to the Compensation Fund relating to investment schemes, totalling £47.4m since 2015.” With some building sites in the north deserted, millions lost by investors and commercial confidence in the region damaged, Edwards warned firms operating in all areas, to treat these investor led developments with caution. This starts with ensuring all the necessary vetting processes are conducted on clients, developers and investors.
“Firms should make sure they’re advising clients properly of all of the risks associated with these types of schemes and are documenting those risks. Some firms we’ve come across, have even told longstanding clients that if they are not prepared to listen to their advice then they are not prepared to act for them. “Firms need to be extra vigilant in the work they carry out just to make sure that if something does go wrong, that it doesn’t fall back on them. If people lose their money they will want to test out the advice they have been given and merely defencing a claim could be almost as expensive as paying the claim itself.
“Firms have to be cautious about whether they want to take on this type of work and more importantly consider whether they are experienced and knowledgeable enough to mitigate any risks. “The sector is seeing a rise in investor scams, including incidences in the north due to the Northern Powerhouse project pushing for increased investment within the region. Furthermore there is an abundance of opportunities for people to commit money to in growing sectors including the development of student accommodation, nursing homes, care homes and even hotels. However some of these so called investments end up being scams orchestrated by financial criminals. “All we can do is share our experience of why and how problems are caused together with the impact of that experience when it has gone
wrong, identify with firms the conditions under which risks are created and the profile of those schemes, which are likely to raise, or should raise, alarm bells.
“It is not just Investments in the north where firms need to be vigilant, it is any area that is being regenerated. So being risk aware is equally relevant in, for example, London, where there are large developments going on with money coming in from abroad including the Middle East, the Far East, alongside individual investors in the UK.
“Schemes can appear as ‘normal off-plan purchases’ that turn out to actually be high risk investments where the purchaser is effectively funding the development pre-completion. The potential for a purchaser to be left with no property, no money and the developer having gone bust is high.” With the continued spectre of cybercrime with the repeat of similar attacks witnessed over the last three or four years continuing, Edwards stressed the implication is that lessons are not being learnt. He added, with the advent of GDPR, cybercrime also needs to include the theft of data, which though not as prevalent as the theft of funds, is very much a growing threat.
He concluded: “Firms need to be making sure that the cyber risks are identified and dealt with or continuously assessed, rather than thinking that they have dealt with it once and that is an end to it. With all of these rising risks comes the spectre of reputational damage, which is the unknown quantity that can hit hard as well. “Ultimately we are seeing insurers take decisions where they’ve dealt with claims from each of these areas the consequence of which being that they are in affect being the arbiter in whether a firm stays open or not. This can affect firms of any size; nobody is immune to these risks because they can impact anyone and everyone. Firms need to heed the latest SRA warnings and take their risk mitigation advice into account. It is all about continuous internal monitoring and control and not being complacent.”
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Northampton Dragon Boat Festival 2018
By Luke Thomas & Nathan Turley
Clad in Shoosmiths’ black and Access Legal Solicitors’ pink, two teams of the firm’s finest jointly took to the water at Northampton’s Billing Aquadrome on Sunday 15 July 2018 for the local Rotary Club’s Dragon Boat Festival. The annual event raises money for Northamptonshire and Warwickshire Air Ambulance The event involves teams of 10 synchronised rowers and 1 drummer racing the length of a lake to set the fastest times with the best teams progressing to the final rounds. The event was graced with the continuing heatwave but the cool air over the water provided a welcome respite for the rowers. Although it may have been tempting, no one entertained us by capsizing their boat this year. Both teams performed admirably, nonetheless, the Access Legal crew had an edge on the day winning 2 heats, pipped
at the line in the third. This gave them the final 8th seed into the semi-finals. True to recent national form the semis were the end of the journey. It was the ‘Dig Deeper’ team of Hewlett and Sons won the event for a second year running, congratulations to them. The Shoosmiths boat put in times of 61.43, 55.63 and 56.54 seconds, the Access Legal boat recorded 51.98, 53.44 and 51.79 seconds before a 54.69 with all teams slowing in the final rounds. A huge thank you is given to all those who participated, helped to organise the event and contributed to the fundraising this year a total of £1596.00 was raised. We very much look forward to next year’s race and our teams going one step further!
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The 2018 National Planning Policy Framework On Tuesday 24th July, the Government published its updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) immediately replacing the previous NPPF from March 2012. The aim of the update is to set out the Government’s planning policy as to how sustainable development across the board should be planned, and how planning applications proposing development of all kinds should be determined. Effective from the day of publication, it is important that the contents of the new framework are taken into account now, to ensure any planning applications or transactions that are taking place take into account any details contained in the new NPPF to be consistent with the new policies.
With a focus on a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” – this revision now provides greater clarity on the detail behind this statement.
This 73-page NPPF provides greater detail on plan-making, decision-making and building a strong economy that takes into consideration the vitality of our town centres, whilst also protecting our Green Belt. There is enhanced protection for ancient woodland and greater protection for local wildlife sites, National Parks, the Broads and AONBs have been given “the highest status of protection” with development limited in these areas.
Here, I explore a few of the revisions that were published, firstly looking at the emphasis on ‘Pre-Application Engagement’ and the consideration for due-diligence planning at the front-end of developments.
Pre-Application Engagement The NPPF contains a section dedicated to ‘pre-application engagement and front-loading’. It states that “Early engagement has significant potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system for all parties.”
It recommends that informed conversation and assessments at the outset will deliver improved outcomes for all. In particular, the NPPF suggests that the “more issues that can be resolved at pre-application stage, including the need to deliver improvements in infrastructure and affordable housing, the greater the benefits.”
It also suggests that statutory planning consultees should take the same early, pro-active approach, and provide advice in a timely manner throughout the process, in order for the system to be more effective; therefore assisting planning authorities in issuing timely decisions without creating unnecessary delays for the applicants. It also suggests that formal assessments, such as Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s), Habitats Regulations assessments (HRA’s) and Flood Risk Assessments (FRA’s) should be carried out at the outset to help avoid unnecessary delays.
As such, the NPPF is recommending that local planning authorities publish a list of their information requirements for applications for planning permission, so applicants know exactly what is required of them at the outset. In all, the NPPF is gearing the pre-application stage towards due-diligence, information gathering and assessment to make the process as streamlined and transparent as possible for all involved. 12
Article from Tony Rollason, Regional Manager Legal, Landmark Information Group
Flood Risk From a flood due diligence perspective, there is a greater emphasis on river catchment areas and basin management plans in the new NPPF (para 170 & 171). This reflects the increasing acceptance of the importance of managing flood risk at the catchment level.
New to the NPPF is the following paragraph (165); “Major developments should only be allowed in areas of flood risk where it can be demonstrated that it incorporates sustainable drainage systems or SuDS, unless there is clear evidence that it is inappropriate.” This is likely to result in more SuDS being required as part of the planning in addition to a Flood Risk Assessment and evacuation plans for safe escape from flooded areas.
In these changing times, pre-application advice from a local planning authority is invaluable to identify constraints early. Likewise there are development screening reports that will immediately identify constraints before planning, which will support the development, design or promotion of a site in the most appropriate way.
Air Quality The focus on Air Quality has been expanded in the revised NPPF. Developments now need to specifically identify opportunities to improve air quality or mitigate impacts, such as through traffic and travel management, green infrastructure provision and enhancement (para 181). By including this, it places greater responsibility (and most likely, the cost) on to the developer to adequately manage air quality.
Increasingly we are seeing greater numbers of conditions on planning applications for travel plans and transport statements in an attempt to reduce air pollution and adhere to the principles of sustainable development. It’s certainly a topic we are monitoring with great interest, as air quality becomes a greater concern for communities and those that live there.
Land-Based Risks The NPPF contains a section in relation to the development of contaminated land, mining areas or brownfield sites. Here there is very little change; the responsibility for securing a safe development continues to rest with the developer and/or landowner.
A report prepared by a competent person that includes appropriate and up to date data will be required by a planning authority to assess the suitability of any development. This could anything from a desktop report to a Phase 2 intrusive investigation and subsequent remediation. From a conveyancing perspective, desktop reports are available that assess whether an address has the potential to be ‘at risk’ from land contamination, and so factoring a search into the process will ensure the purchaser is aware of any such risks from the outset.
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Disabled or just diﬀerently able? Northamptonshire Law Society
Some observations from a Sailability Northampton volunteer by Peter Windatt, RYA Assistant Instructor, Sailability Northampton
Recently retired criminal lawyer, Jonathan Weaver is a member of the Boothville Community Choir in Northampton – the choir kindly put on a show for the benefit of Sailability and raised almost £600 having fun entertaining others and singing a selection of sailing related tunes. We thank them for their generosity and would encourage them, and anyone reading this, to come along and see what fun can be had bringing freedom and pleasure, respite and care to others. What follows is a little piece about the charity and its Northampton branch whose volunteers include local Law Society President, Oliver Spicer. Imagine the scene. I was booked onto an RYA dinghy sailing course at Pitsford reservoir. I was sitting at a picnic table with my tutor and his two other students under the shade on the clubhouse veranda after our first session on a bright Monday morning. A blind lady, white stick sweeping the floor left and right in front of her, confidently strides past, down the slipway, onto the pontoon and onto a boat like the one we’d just been using – a capsizeable dinghy. Giving instructions regarding an audible beeper used to help her return to the pontoon, she cast off and sailed away beautifully making us all look wholly inadequate and incompetent.
“...The aim of Northampton Sailability is simply to enable people of all abilities to experience the joys of sailing in a safe, friendly environment...” That was my introduction to Sailability. I’ve since sailed, with that lady and others, around the Solent and on the Norfolk Broads. She is one of the best sailors I have ever met and she has been blind from birth. She is also one of the bravest I know too. And not just for going on holiday with me.
Having had to do many capsize drills over the years, and several capsizes that were never intended, I can only imagine how terrifying capsizing must be without sight. There are masts to hit, shrouds too and all sorts of bits of rope, though we call them sheets; there is cold shock when you hit the water and where might you end up, under the boat, far away from it as it gets blown away from you? Sighted people get terrified enough - what an extraordinarily brave thing to do with no sight to help you. Sailability’s mission is to promote and co-ordinate active participation by people with disabilities in the sailing community. It is a national organisation and membership is open to anyone who shares its aims.
The aim of Northampton Sailability is simply to enable people of all abilities to experience the joys of sailing in a safe, friendly environment. We have facilities for disabled people which enable
them to enjoy a wide variety of sailing activities, ranging from joy-rides around Pitsford reservoir to offering instruction to RYA qualifications in dinghy and keelboat sailing.
We can be found at the Northampton Sailing Club at Pitsford Reservoir, Brixworth, a few miles north of Northampton. We can also be found on the internet at https://www.northamptonsailability. org.uk/ .
We have a variety of boats, some specially designed for people with limited mobility, which, together with our supply of experienced volunteers, safety equipment and appropriate clothing, allows members and visitors to just “turn up and go sailing!” We have three hoists, and associated slings, which can be used to help us transfer sailors from a wheelchair to boat if required.
Volunteers range from qualified RYA Senior Instructors to helpers with no sailing experience but with a desire to assist whilst themselves having a fun and rewarding day. If any reader is interested in volunteering, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Or just turn up on one of our sailing days. We sail, weather permitting, on most Mondays and Fridays (except Bank Holidays) and on the first and third Saturday of each month between April and October. Feel free to come along and see for yourself how we operate and how you, or someone you know, might be able to contribute. We have several training events during the year and encourage our volunteers to gain sailing, power boat, first aid and other relevant qualifications through the club. Several Day Centres who care for the disabled bring groups along for joy-rides and a picnic and they have a great time. Speaking with some helpers recently they said that Sailability is the best event they bring their charges too – they always eat better and sleep better after a day with us out on the water. For the carers we are also offering a little respite – the carers need care too!
We have some seven Hansa 303 Access Keel Boats which are a bit like sailing in a deckchair built for two. All the ropes, called sheets don’t forget, are within easy reach and there is a joystick to control the rudder. Being a keel-boat they have a very heavy keel which helps it stay upright and these bomb-proof vessels are a great aid to those wanting to gain confidence and “learn the ropes” (sheets). For those wanting a trip around the reservoir with less participation, we have two Drascombe Longboats, in which we can take up to 10 people (with bean bags for those needing them). We have a number of other boats available too. Northampton Sailability is funded by members’ subscriptions and donations from organisations and individuals.
We rely upon support from a number of organisations because, while the wind powering us along may be free, most everything else costs money. The joy that is given, the confidence, independence and for some, sense of mobility, is reward enough for the time it takes us.
From all of us at Sailability Northampton, many thanks for reading this far and we hope to welcome you to the shores at Pitsford soon. www.northamptonshirelawsociety.co.uk
Legal sector joins forces to celebrate Rember A Charity Week Northamptonshire Law Society
This September, the legal profession is joining forces with over 200 charities to raise awareness of gifts in Wills and making clients aware that they have the option of doing so. Although only around 6% of estates currently include a charity in their Will, legacy donations generate over £2.8 billion for good causes annually, funding vital services across the country. Remember A Charity in Your Will Week (10-16 September 2018) celebrates the impact of legacy giving and highlights the critical role of the legal profession in making clients aware of the opportunity of leaving a donation in their Will, after taking care of their family and friends. Solicitors and Will-writers within Remember A Charity’s network of 1,400 legal supporters will promote the concept of legacy giving to clients, displaying campaign materials in their offices. According to Remember A Charity’s latest solicitor and will-writer benchmark study , six in ten advisers sometimes or always mention the option of including a charitable gift to will-writing clients, but the potential is far greater. The campaign describes these conversations as ‘critical’ with research from the Behavioural Insights Team showing
that the legacy giving donation rate doubles when solicitors ask clients if they would like to consider leaving a charitable gift.
Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, says: “Charitable bequests have shaped much of the world around us, with education programmes to medical research, schools and emergency services all having been funded directly by gifts in wills. Simply by including charitable donations in will-writing discussions, this can have a critical impact on donations, while enabling the public to ensure their final wishes are met. “As it stands, not all legal advisers are completely comfortable talking about legacies with their clients and that’s something that we’re hoping to change. Unless solicitors – those who are at the frontline when it comes to speaking to the public about their final wishes – feel confident raising the issue, the risk is that good causes can be forgotten. He continues: “Remember A Charity Week is a chance to celebrate the huge impact of charitable bequests and ensure all clients are aware that they have the opportunity of leaving a gift in their Will, no matter how large or small.” Solicitors and Will-writers are encouraged to help raise awareness of charitable bequests,
informing relevant clients about how they can include a charity in their will.
2018 marks the ninth year of Remember A Charity Week, during which charities, government and stakeholders will all come together to highlight the importance of legacy giving. The campaign’s consumer awareness drive features the launch of a new ‘charity-powered’ search engine, called ‘Human’. Combining charities’ unique knowledge and expertise, the search engine enables the public to select from over 100 of life’s biggest questions and to hear directly from charities, supporters and beneficiaries what they are doing in response. Questions include ‘How can we cure the deadliest common cancers?’ and ‘How do we ensure no one has to sleep rough?’ Cope adds: “This campaign has been designed to showcase just how vital charities are in responding to many of the world’s biggest problems and how legacies can help combat those issues. We hope that it will encourage the public to think about their deepest concerns for the world we live in and to consider leaving a gift in their will.”
To find out more or join the existing network of 1,400 campaign supporters visit www.rememberacharity.org.uk.
“ I want to help provide a safety net for future seafarers and their families.” As an island nation, we rely on seafarers who risk their lives, put food on our plates and carry vital supplies to and from our shores.
Leave a lasting legacy to our seafarers FIND OUT MORE… To find out more about our work or to request our legacy pack, please call 020 7932 0000 or email email@example.com
By leaving a gift to Seafarers UK in your will, you will help to support seafarers and their families who find themselves in need of essential support at difficult times. Last year Seafarers UK gave £3.2m in funding
to more than 60 maritime charities and organisations. Seafarers UK receives no government funding and is heavily dependent on public donations and legacies to maintain its grant-making programme.
Seafarers UK (King George’s Fund for Sailors) is a registered charity, number 226446, in England and Wales, incorporated under Royal Charter. Registered in Scotland under number SC038191.
Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for the millions of people affected by mental Illness. For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other through our services, groups and campaign. Rethink Mental Illness Registered Office 89 Albert Embankment London SE1 7TP United Kingdom email: firstname.lastname@example.org Registered in England Number 1227970. Registered Charity Number 271028
Northamptonshire Law Society
A different kind of search provider
Our clients tell us that we truly understand their challenges and needs, thatâ€™s because we have local offices run by local people using local knowledge and expertise to provide the level of service that other providers simply cannot. Our approach is practical and straight forward in that we agree more local knowledge leads to improved levels ofservice. This is enforced by an example of our recruitment policy so that our reports are proof read by an ex head of conveyancing with over thirty yearsâ€™ experience. Believe us when we say we know what makes the difference. Index East Central Unit 9 The Metro Centre Welbeck Way Peterborough, PE2 7UH
T: 01733 368600 E: email@example.com
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Running with Wolves
Team Coach of the Lakes Running Club, Hannah Warnes, reports on the Summer Wolf Run Completed by Members of the Northamptonshire Law Society. In January, several colleagues based at The Lakes, Northampton signed up for the grueling and notoriously muddy 10km obstacle run known as the Wolf Run. Taken seriously, the Wolf Run presents a real challenge. Participants’ fitness and nerve are tested with climbing sections, swims, scrambles, pitch-black crawling, mud pits and slides.
As a running coach, new to the legal industry, preparing a team for the event was the ideal opportunity to offer training guidance and get to know fellow professionals.
In preparation and under my supervision, the team met at least once a week to complete runs of 5km or more in the vicinity of The Lakes.
The mixed ability team collectively walked, jogged and ran to an increased level of fitness and self-confidence. Every runner improved individually and I am really glad to say that they took equal pride in their teammates’ running accomplishments.
At 11am on Saturday 2nd June 2018 myself and the team successfully completed every one of the 25 obstacles located throughout the 10km off-road course. Each of us tackled the climbing walls, river swims, water slides and tunnel-crawls. A particular highlight of the course was the ‘Mud Sucker’; a winding channel of chest-deep, unrelenting mud that provided endless laughs. Built into the existing woodland, the obstacle saw us push, pull and drag our fellow team-mates (with varying degrees of success and dignity) through the swamp. The positive effects of team-building activities are well documented; developing self-confidence and increasing productivity. Whilst those factors were not intrinsically the aim of taking part, the Wolf Run unquestionably did just that. Participating in the event as a group did more than more than invoke a sense of moral obligation to attend; it created a support network that broke down both professional and
by Mateusz Minuczyc and Gabriel Rodriguez-Cleary personal barriers. It opened lines of communication, boosted morale and forged a great sense of team spirit between previously unfamiliar colleagues.
I am delighted to report that the Summer Wolf Run proved to be more than a fun athletic event. For several colleagues it has proven to be both the drive to, and the reward for, adopting a healthier and more active lifestyle. If you are interested in running, having fun and / or taking part in events like the Wolf Run, the running club is open to all Northamptonshire Law Society members.
The Lakes Running Club The Lakes Running Club is a road and cross-country running club suitable for individuals of all abilities. The club exists to support likeminded individuals looking to improve their health and fitness, aid their wellbeing and open the social and competitive opportunities that running has to offer. Training sessions are structured so that members run as a single unit under the guidance of a coach. Each session lasts approximately one hour and is designed to accommodate runners, joggers and walkers alike. In addition to the club runs, there are also opportunities to participate in group events. The running club is open to all Northamptonshire Law Society members. Sessions are held every Tuesday at 6pm meeting outside Shoosmiths, The Lakes, Northampton, NN4 7SH For further information please contact club coach Hannah Warnes at: firstname.lastname@example.org www.northamptonshirelawsociety.co.uk
Northamptonshire Law Society
An ever changing risk landscape… The risk landscape law firms are faced with today continues to grow and evolve, and the regulatory regime along with new legislation play their part too. Like many modern businesses, law firms are becoming increasingly more reliant upon technology, whether to improve connectivity with clients, to improve processes and efficiency, to help mitigate risk through the use of case management systems, or to access things on the go. This means the cyber risk to the legal profession is on the rise. Only banks or financial institutions have greater sums of money passing through them than the legal sector. When you also factor in the amount of highly confidential information passing through law firms, it is no wonder that the Legal profession is a target for cyber criminals. While the SRA requires law firms to carry an appropriate level of coverage to protect their clients, there is no consideration as to what coverage will protect the law firm itself. The Legal Profession of England and Wales have one of the broadest policy wordings in the professional indemnity marketplace, yet despite this breadth of cover it is important to appreciate that PII cover provides third parties (generally a law firm’s clients) with protection in the event of an error act of omission. PII is not designed to provide first-party coverage e.g. business protection. Whilst Professional Indemnity Insurance should respond to a “Friday Afternoon Fraud”, “Phishing”, and other types of social engineering to put your clients back into the position they were previously, PII will not respond to all of the cyber risks that the legal profession is faced with today. Some of these risks include but are not limited to: • Denial of access to your systems – A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack prevents any connection to the internet and is increasingly combined with malware that corrupts the corporate network data. This is where the criminals have scanned the vulnerabilities remotely and found many weak points. They identify that the business relies on always being connected to the internet. The then use ‘exploit kit’ to bypass off-the-shelf firewalls and anti-virus protection. The cost to the criminal is modest compared to the prize of the ransom that people will pay to get their business up and running again. 20
• Loss of client data - Could result in fines or penalties being imposed by regulators such as the SRA or ICO, which given the new powers of the ICO could cripple a firm but if the financial impact of the fine did not, the reputational harm could be irreparable. • Impersonation - An average-level criminal will be able to manipulate your clients or member of staff quite easily because it is brutally effective for their aims and it really undermines the trust they place in you. This may happen because you do not have encrypted communications, or a protected website that has security certificates or email controls e.g. DMARC, or perhaps you allow private emails on home computers. There are many examples of these and most remain unreported in the public domain. You need to be available to your clients, but it’s worth noting this can encourage them to trust nonsecure interaction. • Reputational harm following the spread of a virus. A law firm may be liable if found to be the cause of transmitting malicious code to others. It is important to appreciate there is always a human being at the other end of a cyberincident. The level of sophistication adopted increases along with the ability of the malware that they may use. This is now a big business and it shares many characteristics with established commercial ecosystems – there are sales pipelines, money transfer services or “money mules” and some markets on the dark web looks like Craigs List or Ebay style shopping sites to cater for all types of nefarious intent. The patience that these criminals are willing to show means that we need to be on our guard at all times. The level of success that they can achieve is largely down to the core security controls you put in place. A number of controls will not be too difficult or expensive to put into place either. It is however imperative that you do not rest on your laurels and you evaluate your security control with some level of frequency. It is important to understand that outsourcing IT functions does not mean you outsource your responsibility. You are still a data controller and there is no system available, however robust it may be that will be 100% secure, as the cyber incident at the Pentagon revealed. If you do outsource your IT function, it is important to understand how much support can and will they provide to you in your hour of need, after all response times are key to mitigate the damage
but also as there is only a finite window to meet your regulatory obligations. You cannot expect clients and staff to identify all of the fake emails during the course of daily business, and trying to understand how the hackers were able to monitor and intercept the email traffic is, at this point, of secondary concern. The single most powerful way to combat this is to create a unique link between the index numbers and the plain text name of your email domain (what appears after the @ sign in an email) to prevent such impersonation. This type of authentication is already available with the free to use DMARC control, therefore we encourage every law firm in the UK to engage their IT team or service provider in discussing this topic further after which I think it is prudent to explore what insurance is available to support your business. Also, as a fairly recent development, some banks are now requiring DMARC controls across their entire supply-chain and some insurance companies are asking for it too. There are many cyber products available, which vary quite considerably in the scope and quality of cover they can offer. Lockton is an independent broker and has access to the wider insurance market but we also have a suite of products that have been designed specifically for the Legal Profession of England and Wales. This includes a product called Inter Lock which is the only fullyintegrated solution combining your SRA-approved PII policy with regulatory defence cost, cyber and first-party crime coverage. There is no regulatory requirement to do so, so why should you look into this? If you were going on a driving holiday or expedition would you do so without break down cover in place? If not why would you run your business without appropriate business owner’s protection in place that can protect your cash-flow and reputation? A good Cyber policy provides you with access to the appropriate experts to minimise the damage, help you identify and rectify the problem but perhaps most importantly getting your business operational swiftly. What is clear is that risks are guaranteed. Protection, however, is optional and you can’t assume a cyber attack will never happen to you. by Brian Boehmer If you’d like to learn more about Inter Lock or speak to a member of our team please email email@example.com or phone 0330 123 3870. Visit www.locktonsolicitors.co.uk for more information.
GUIDANCE WHEN YOU NEED ITâ€Ś
BEFORE YOU NEED IT. We understand how complex and expensive regulatory issues can become and we do not want our insured businesses to stand alone. We support our firms by paying defence costs and providing access to our wider experience and relevant experts, ensuring you are given the right support.
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one number to call: 0345 050 1471
PII Response Summary 2018
In this edition of the Bulletin, we are focussing on the work of the Council of Northamptonshire Law Society undertaken on behalf of the membership.
Northamptonshire Law Society
In addition to organising training, events and social activities, the Council also responds to consultations which impact on the membership to ensure that the concerns of Northamptonshire solicitors are considered by decision-makers.
In 2018 it responded to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) consultation which again looked at reforming Professional Indemnity Insurance- ‘Protecting the users of legal services: balancing cost and access to legal services’. The SRAs proposals were intended to meet in part the Legal Service Board’s objective of reducing the cost of legal services to the public. Similar proposals were rejected by the Legal Services Board 4 years ago after it found a lack of evidence to support the claims made by the SRA.
The Council considered that the proposals in this consultation (which closed on the 15th of June) would impact adversely on many firms in the area-particularly smaller firms and would in fact increase the overall cost of insurance for the majority of firms. The Council also felt that reducing the availability of compensation to members of the public who had suffered loss where a solicitor was not covered by insurance -for example when a solicitor had been dishonest- would not only be grossly unfair to the person affected but also reduce the public’s trust in solicitors and impact adversely on the ability of solicitors to attract clients in a market where there are an increasing number of competitors -many of whom are not regulated. The SRAs response is awaited.
You can read the consultation on the SRA website under closed consultations. Our response in full is set out below:
‘Protecting the users of legal services: balancing cost and access to legal services’ response 2018. On behalf of the Council of Northamptonshire Law Society.
The Council of Northamptonshire Law Society is opposed to the planned changes to the Minimum Terms and Conditions (MTC) for Professional Indemnity Insurance and changes to the Compensation Fund. It believes that very few of its members will see any financial benefit and the majority will actually find professional indemnity insurance (PII) more expensive as they will be forced to seek top up cover which relatively few do at the present time. This is based on the size of firms in Northamptonshire and that approximately 12% currently seek top up cover.
There is inequality of bargaining power between small firms and insurers. The MTC address that inequality and ensure that certain key terms cannot not be excluded by insurers. We note that paragraph 50 22
of the impact assessment accompanying the consultation paper acknowledges that ‘small firms find it difficult to get competitive quotes for cover’. Top up cover is not necessarily available on the terms of the MTC.
The planned changes may well prevent existing firms remaining in certain markets and working for certain clients – new and existing. They may also present a barrier to entry for certain types of work and clients for existing firms and for new entrants. It is inconceivable that institutions and large business clients will do business without the benefit of PII. The proposals to exclude cover for financial institutions and other large business clients from MTC will impact disproportionately on small firms and BAME firms of which there are a significant number in Northamptonshire. It will force them to seek top up cover with all the disadvantages already expressed, it may not be available. This will have a similar impact on opportunity for start-up firms.
Since the closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund, the open market has at times worked well. There has for the past 4 years been a soft market and the market is currently stable. Change of this type will disrupt the market and the outcome will be uncertain – more particularly when the market conditions change.
Although we do not know the precise figures, the vast majority of firms in Northamptonshire carry out some conveyancing work either as a service in its own right or as a subsidiary service for probate and family work. It was reported that asking prices for homes in Northamptonshire increased by 9.1% over 2017, the biggest increase in England and Wales, as London’s unaffordable property market caused people to buy further away and commute. It seems unlikely that lenders in the region would be content with cover of only £1 million per transaction. This will force many firms to seek top up cover and it may not be available to them at a reasonable price or at all. Given that this is a ‘claims made’ market, firms who no longer do conveyancing work will still require the higher level of MTC to ensure they can meet any historic claims and may also require top-up to retain the £2 million cover they offered to the client at the time of the transaction. Such firms and their clients may be exposed if top-up cover is not available. Firms who do not do conveyancing work and have never done so already benefit from reduced premiums which reflect this. Although the consultation estimates that 98% of claims will be covered this figure must be regarded as unreliable. The data
does not include the figures for insurers which became insolvent in recent years, such as Quinn and Balva. It seems reasonable to suggest that such insurers attracted a higher percentage of poorly performing firms who could not find cover elsewhere and in addition many small firms obtained cover from them. The data does not analyse the incidence of defence costs and this does affect the percentage of the total cost of claims which will not attract full coverage. Claims rarely settle at the level at which they were brought and there has been no analysis of the level at which claims were brought and the percentage of claims which fell within these levels. Even if claims settle within the suggested limits for MTC many firms will require top up to avoid being underinsured for claims that would eventually settle within the proposed MTC.
There are many disadvantages for clients in the new proposals. For example, there is currently a requirement that the existence of MTC must be disclosed to would be claimants. The converse is usually true of top up cover in that there is a requirement not to disclose its existence. Clients would be uncertain of the level of cover available to meet any claims. In conveyancing with chains, however, the need for disclosure would create a new requirement and potential for cost and delay. At present there is a requirement that firms cannot limit their liability to less than the level of MTC, this requirement does not seem to survive the new Code, or if it were to do so, the limit would not provide sufficient cover for many. The greatest concern is that clients may well be caught out and confused by the changes and may find themselves in a position where they unexpectedly find themselves exposed to significant loss.
The planned change to a cap for run-off cover could leave many clients without cover or uncertainty and a perceived race to settle, or perhaps under settling to avoid there being nothing left in the pot. If the cover has already been exhausted, clients will find little comfort from the Compensation Fund where their claims will be limited to £500,000.
Even more disturbing is the suggestion that consumers with assets means tested at over £250,000 could not claim on the compensation fund. This will be of particular concern to the elderly who have savings for the costs of retirement and nursing care. This combined with the decision to remove the safety net for post 6-year run-off claims after 2020 could cause genuine hardship and undermine the reputation of the profession and the regulator.
As at January 2018, there were 352 solicitors in Northamptonshire. 75% of solicitors were white/european, 14% BAME and 11% were of unknown ethnicity. Women made up 54% of solicitors in the county. Of the 55 firms in Northamptonshire, only one firm had 26-80 partners, 2 firms had 11-25 partners, 7 firms had 5 -10 partners, 19 firms 2-4 partners and the remaining 26 firms were sole practitioners.
Question 1: To what extent do you think the proposed changes to our PII requirements provide an appropriate minimum level of cover for a regulated law firm? Strongly disagree
In response to question 1, as indicated above we believe that the SRA’s own consultation paper indicates that the proposed changes do not provide an appropriate minimum level of cover for a regulated law firm. The data relied on is incomplete. The consultation contains data from only 74% of insurers in the market from 2004 to 2014. It does not have any data from the insurers who left the market in that period and as indicated, in all probability, had a greater percentage of firms who encountered difficulties and faced claims.
It does not contain data relating to claims which have yet to settle - such claims are likely to be the more complex and expensive claims. It has not included defence costs which will take a greater % of cases outside the proposed new levels.
It ignores the need for firms to have cover in place to meet the value of the claim at the level at which it is made, not just the level at which it settles. When the level of MTC was raised from £1 million to £2 million or £3 million in 2005, one of the drivers was to address the potential shortfall in cover where claims relating to similar errors were aggregated. There has been no analysis of the risk of an increase in aggregated claims as a result of the proposed changes. It is difficult to understand why if the profession felt that client protection demanded the minimum level of cover to be set at £2-3 million 13 years ago, the current regulator is prepared to expose clients by
This risk is justified by a projected saving of 10% on a premium that currently costs an average 5.5% of turnover. Even if this saving is justified it ignores the likely increase in cost to firms of the cost of top up premiums, increased administration costs in sourcing such premiums and the impact on small firms and their clients and start-ups who may be excluded from work types by the lack of reasonably priced insurance. Question 2: To what extent do you agree that our minimum PII requirements do not need to include cover for financial institutions and other large business clients? Strongly disagree
It is inconceivable that institutions and large business clients will do business without the benefit of PII. Businesses with a turnover exceeding £2 million regularly instruct smaller firms to do some if not all of their legal work.
Removing such cover from MTC will impact disproportionately on small firms and BAME firms of which there are a significant number in Northamptonshire. If they wish to do commercial work they will be forced to seek top up cover. Currently only 12% of firms obtain top up cover. This figure will increase. As stated above, such cover may not be available to small firms or available at reasonable price. Smaller firms have less bargaining power in such negotiations as is recognised in the consultation paper. It will be an additional burden to new entrants in the market who will also be compelled to obtain top up cover. This could prevent new entrants in some work types and stifle innovation
Uncertainty will be increased for clients as there is no requirement to disclose the availability of top up cover indeed many insurers make it a term of top up cover that its availability is not disclosed to clients. Question 3: Do you think our definition for excluding large financial institutions corporations and business client is appropriate? No
The definition of a ‘large business’ is set at a relatively low level and is unlikely at the lower end to include businesses that have in-house legal teams or are sophisticated purchasers of legal services.
Any definition creates an artificial and what is likely to be an inappropriate barrier on occasions. The situation could arise where during the course of a transaction or course of dealings in a single year where a business could move to a turnover which takes them outside the MTC. Question 4: To what extent do you agree that we should introduce a separate component in our PII arrangements meaning only firms that need to have cover for conveyancing services are
required to buy this cover?
For reasons above, this reduction in the level of cover for conveyancing work will disadvantage small firms and BAME firms. Although MTC cover for firms carrying out conveyancing will be at a higher level than for other work types, it will still be a reduction of £1 million of cover from the present MTC level and will require most conveyancers to go the open market for top up. Lenders are likely to insist on a minimum of £2 million cover for transactions in any event.
Northamptonshire Law Society
Northamptonshire Law Society was established on 8th June 1879. It has 2 corporate members (one of which is the largest firm in Northamptonshire) and has 259 full members and 58 associate members (which includes trainees). It has close links with the University of Northampton which is one of its patrons and engages with those seeking to enter the profession. The majority of its members are in private practice and it is striving to increase its engagement with in-house solicitors in the county-a former President and current Council Member of the Society was head of the largest in-house legal team in Northampton.
reducing the level of cover to £500,000 and to £1 million now. Particularly when this set against a back drop of rising house prices over that period.
Given the increasing level of house prices, there is an argument for increasing the level of cover not lowering it. Firms who do not do conveyancing work may have to purchase cover to avoid transgressing in any cross over work.
Firms who no longer do conveyancing work but did in the past will have to purchase this cover given this is a ‘claims made’ market. The definition would also include firms who do family and divorce work, wills, trust and probate as well as residential and commercial property. It is difficult to see who will benefit from these proposals.
Premiums reflect the lower level of risk for those who do not do conveyancing work therefore the price advantage to nonconveyancing firms will be modest if at all. If firms do carry out conveyancing work without appropriate cover, it will be small consolation to consumers who are affected that the firms will be disciplined. Particularly given the plans to reduce the cover available to them from the Compensation Fund to £500,000, even if they are in any event eligible. Question 5: Do you think our proposed definition of conveyancing services is appropriate? No
This definition would impact on a large proportion of work carried out by high street solicitors. The definition seeks to create an artificial barrier which will impact on most firms offering a range of services for individuals and commercial entities. Question 6: Do you think there are changes we should be making to our successor practice rules? Yes
Successor practice rules should maintain cover without gaps for the benefit of clients, former partners, managers and employees. If these reforms are introduced, there will be uncertainty as to the level of cover to be maintained by the successor practice and what types of claims will be covered. This could leave individuals exposed to claims many years after they have ceased having any involvement with a business - an exposure they have no prospect of covering with top-up insurance. Clients reliant on the level of cover they were promised at the time they signed the letter of engagement may find such cover nonexistent if they bring a claim. Post 6 year run off cover should be reinstated. www.northamptonshirelawsociety.co.uk
Question 7: Do you agree with the approach we are taking to bring the MTCs and the PIA up to date? Strongly disagree
Northamptonshire Law Society
These proposals will create uncertainty in the market and increase the level of risk and potentially cost for the client and the firm for no real benefit. If brought up to date, consideration should be given to the impact of increased property prices and increased risk from cybercrime. Question 8: To what extent do you agree that the changes to our PII requirements provide law firms with more flexible options to potentially lower insurance costs? Strongly disagree
These proposals will increase the cost of obtaining insurance as many will be forced to seek top up cover, with less advantageous terms than MTC, at higher cost and greater administrative burden. The few niche firms that may obtain an advantage are unlikely to see a significant benefit as their premiums already reflect the less risky work they currently undertake. Question 9: Do you agree the proposed level for the cap on cover in run-off provides adequate protection for the users of legal services whilst balancing the need for premiums to be more affordable? Strongly disagree
This exposes clients to risk in addition to the post 6 year run off risk from 2020 when claims made more than 6 years after a firm closes will not be protected by insurance cover.
Whilst a capped figure may be appropriate for some, clients of poorly performing firms or where one mistake has been repeated on work carried out for several clients will be severely disadvantaged. Clients may embark on costly litigation without having any idea as to whether or not the cover will be available to meet their claim. It could lead to a race to issue proceedings or settle for very low figures rather than risk someone ahead of them snatching what is left in the pot. The cost of run-off would be much reduced if the regulator took swift action against defaulters of run-off premiums. The regulator could look at structuring payments so that the payment for run off cover is effectively paid upfront long before closure is considered.
Question 10: To what extent do you agree that the changes to our PII requirements could encourage new firms to enter the legal services market increasing choice for users of legal services? Strongly Disagree
For the reasons given above the proposals will disadvantage some new entrants. There is no evidence to suggest that new entrants will be encouraged by these proposals. Start-up firms may be forced to go to open market far earlier than they would normally 24
expect. They may lack the expertise to negotiate a good deal to enable them to carry out some work types for example conveyancing or acting for larger commercial entities. MTC premium cost tend to be very low in the first year or two years for new firms as it is less likely claims will be made at this stage. Question 11: Are there any positive or negative EDI impacts from the proposed changes to our PII requirements that you think we have not identified? Yes
We believe small firms will be disadvantaged by these proposals for the reasons we have set out. Small firms are more likely to have young new entrants, women returners and BAME solicitors.
Question 12: Are there any options for changes to our PII requirements that we are not proposing or have not identified that we should consider further? N/A
Question 13: To what extent do you agree that the proposed changes to the Compensation Fund would clarify its purpose as a targeted hardship fund protecting the vulnerable that need and deserve it those in most?
Its purpose was to ensure that no client of a solicitor should suffer financial loss where a defaulting practitioner or a defaulting practitioners employee or manager has misappropriated or otherwise failed to account for client monies. It is a discretionary fund and in the past that discretion has been exercised to pay beyond the £2 million limit.
Lowering the level of compensation to £500,000 will impact on the reputation of the profession and the regulator alike. It is abhorrent that in such circumstances the client is not properly compensated at the level many of them believed they would be covered at the time the transaction took place. The limits proposed are too arbitrary to ensure that only the vulnerable are compensated, all clients in such situation are deserving. Question 14: Are there any options for changes to how we manage the Compensation Fund that we have not identified that we should consider further?
There should be greater transparency to the profession and the public as to the amount of monies applied to compensate clients and the monies used for other regulatory purposes, such as interventions. Question 15: To what extent do you agree that we should exclude applications from people living in wealthy households? Strongly disagree
Limiting the ability to claim on the compensation fund to those with assets of £250,000 is inappropriate. It will impact disproportionately on the elderly who will
have monies to finance their retirement and care home fees. It will undoubtedly lead to injustice and tarnish the reputation of the profession and the regulator. Question 16: Do you think our proposed measure of wealth and threshold for excluding these applications is appropriate? No, arbitrary limits such as these will always lead to unfair outcomes in individual cases.
Question 17: Do you think we should be making any other changes to eligibility and/or the circumstances where we would make a payment? No
Question 18: Do you think we have set out the right approach for assessing when a maximum payment has been reached? Neither yes nor no.
Difficult to assess on the information provided. Question 19: Do you think the current formula remains a fair way to apportion the costs of maintaining the Compensation Fund? As indicated the use of the fund to finance interventions distort the annual payments required to maintain the fund.
Question 20: What steps do you think might be reasonable for someone to take to investigate a scheme/transaction before committing money to it and that it is genuine
It is not possible to answer this question without further information being provided as to the current processes employed. Question 21: Do you think setting out clear Guiding Principles in the rules or as guidance could make the purpose and scope of the Fund and how we make decisions clearer to users of legal services and their advisors? Yes
Question 22: Are there any positive or negative EDI impacts from the proposed changes to the Compensation Fund that you do not think we have identified?
Yes, if these proposals are implemented, they will impact on professional reputation and this will be most heavily felt by small high street firms, whose clients may perceive they will be adversely affected and in truth they may well be the group most affected by the proposals. The proposals place the elderly at most risk and they may fear using solicitors as a consequence. Question 23: Can you suggest any other approaches or strategies that the SRA might adopt to prevent firms being victims of cybercrime attacks?
The SRA could take action to persuade Action Fraud, the local police and the banks to investigate low level fraud and ‘near misses’ as these may prevent more successful frauds occurring. There is no deterrent where fraudsters know that action by the banks and by enforcement agencies is limited.
Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Policy Now Available Whilst the presence of a garden is often something that buyers look for, not all plants are friendly to home owners. Buyers and especially lenders will always be rightly concerned when a seller’s replies to a Property Information Form indicate that there is a risk that Japanese Knotweed (“Knotweed”) may be present on a property. This previously ornamental plant has been reported to grow up to 10cm a day in summer and be powerful enough to break through concrete and undermine foundations. Consequently many lenders will refuse to lend or will impose strict conditions when there is a danger that Knotweed might raise its ugly head in a property. Stewart Title’s new Residential Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Policy now gives lenders and buyers the confidence they need to proceed with a purchase. Covering residential properties for a period of 5 years for buyers and the term of a loan for lenders, this new policy provides up to £20,000 of cover against remediation costs necessary to comply with a remediation notice. The Residential Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Policy is available where the sellers are not aware if Knotweed is present and even where it has previously been treated. Policies can be ordered via Stewart Title’s online ordering platform at www.stewartsolution.com and Bespoke Policies via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Northamptonshire Law Society
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Northamptonshire Law Society
Your September solicitors’ PI checklist If your law ﬁrm still hasn’t found professional indemnity insurance then you shouldn’t worry – providing you act soon. Here’s what you should do. Those firms that still haven’t got insurance by now will broadly fall into two categories: those who expect to renew their cover easily, and those who are already encountering issues. If you haven’t started looking for cover
Some of you simply might not have got round to doing it yet. That’s understandable, but although the 1 October renewal deadline might look a long way off you do need to start the process now otherwise you might not get the best deal.
The PI market continues to be competitive, so if your law firm hasn’t suffered claims recently and isn’t deemed to be a higher risk then you should find a new policy relatively simply.
At the moment, we’re seeing some smaller law firms with fewer than six partners paying lower premiums than last year, while prices remain steady for larger practices. But you shouldn’t wait any longer. Here’s what you should do: Prepare and submit your proposal forms now. It’s worth taking your time over these if you want to make a good first impression. Thousands of law firms are looking for insurance right now from fewer than 20 insurers, so your proposal needs to persuade them why they should choose to cover your firm over many others. (For more tips on this request a copy of our guide to PI insurance) Get an up-to-date claims summary for the past six years. This is essential for underwriters, so if you haven’t already received one from your existing insurer then you need to get it ASAP. Test the market. You might be perfectly happy with your insurer, but it’s always good to know you’re getting the best terms available. It’s worth asking a few brokers to send your proposal to other underwriters to see how they respond. Hit the right targets, not every broker will have direct access to every insurer, so you may need speak to a broker that has a broad direct access to the insurance market to ensure it can get you a full range of quotes. Speak to a broker with a strong track record in solicitors’ PI who can advise you on which are the best insurers for your firm.
If you have started but are having problems If your law firm has already sent off its proposal forms and either hasn’t heard back from insurers or you’ve already been turned down, then you shouldn’t panic, but you do need to address the underlying issues urgently.
Here’s what you should do: Do you know why you’re having problems? It might be as simple as you’re approaching the wrong insurers or you haven’t included the right information in your proposal. Ask another broker to give you a second opinion on whether your approach is correct. Tackle your problems. If insurers have explained to you why they won’t offer you cover then you need to address their concerns. Don’t think that if you approach enough insurers then one will be bound to offer you cover. Einstein said you shouldn’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Chances are that if your proposal sets alarm bells ringing at one insurer then it will do the same elsewhere. To convince wary insurers to cover your practice you must reassure them that you’re a risk worth taking. If your firm has suffered a claim then you need to explain what happened and what you’re doing to solve that problem. Contrary to opinion, insurers do understand that mistakes happen. But they want to know you won’t keep making the same mistakes. A good broker will help explain where you’re going wrong and how to develop a strong pitch that will help change underwriters’ minds.
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Northamptonshire Law Society
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ICANN’s previous requirement for full public disclosure of a registrant’s details does not harmoniously coexist with the GDPR, and nearly all contact details have now been removed from publically available WHOIS records. WHOIS is a database that is much like a millennial version of the ‘Yellow Pages’ and provided publicly available contact information with regards to the owner of a domain name, overseen and maintained by ICANN. The requirement to conceal this data postGDPR has had immediate consequences for domain name registration companies and has had a knock-on effect for brand owners who seek to enforce their rights in respect of online IP infringement involving registered domain names.
Aside from the inconvenient and restrictive nature of limiting data that was previously freely available via the WHOIS service, the new requirement for all domains to be registered anonymously has also raised issues in relation to security on the internet. Security professionals who rely on WHOIS to query ownership about a domain, IP address or subnet have been detrimentally affected by the masking of this information which has hampered their efforts in the fight against cybercrime. Intellectual property lawyers have also expressed concerns that they can no longer find out who should be approached where there is an infringement of intellectual property rights online. Although some registrars have put in place a method for interested parties to lodge a bona fide access request to obtain a registrant’s details, it is unclear how much information will be released and in what instances a court order will be required. An interim model has been put in place by ICANN so that the WHOIS service can still function, albeit in a very limited form.
The Initial “Cookbook”
In March 2018, ICANN proposed an interim model for compliance with the GDPR called “the Cookbook”. The Cookbook provided a unified plan and approach for how ICANN and the domain name registration industry could continue to operate in accordance with the GDPR. In order to comply with the GDPR, the plan required a shift from the previous requirement for registries and registrars to provide open,
publicly available WHOIS services to an approach requiring a layered or tiered access model for WHOIS. Prior to more concrete regulations and models coming into place, the Cookbook suggested masking all contact information, thereby completely concealing who is responsible for managing or controlling the domains.
The Temporary Specification
The “Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data” was brought in by ICANN to implement the interim model suggested by the Cookbook and came into force on the enactment of the GDPR. In practice this means that very restricted WHOIS data is still made publicly available. Such data provides some limited information as to the name of the registrar, status of registration and the creation and expiry date of the domain name. Under this model the restricted WHOIS data can be made available in response to requests as an ‘emergency measure’.
A Unified Access Model for Continued Access to Full WHOIS Data
On 18 June 2018, ICANN released a working draft document to facilitate discussions about a potential unified approach to allow continued access to full WHOIS data for users with a legitimate interest. Under the proposed model, only a defined set of users, determined by governments within the EEA, would be granted reasonable access by registrars to personal data on the basis of a legitimate interest, except where such interests are overridden by the fundamental rights and freedoms of those data subjects. User groups which may be eligible to claim this exception might include intellectual property rights holders, law enforcement authorities or a member of an appropriate legal trade body, such as the Law Society.
Although ICANN has estimated that this might not be operational until December 2018, it demonstrates a move towards more open access to WHOIS than is currently in place.
Practical Steps in Obtaining Data
Northamptonshire Law Society
Following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becoming fully applicable on 25 May 2018, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has taken the decision to require domain name registries to remove public access to the contact names and details of domain name registrants, in order to protect the personal data and privacy of those registrants under the GDPR.
Euan Temple Council Member & Past President
Once implemented in December 2018, the unified access model, detailed above, will provide an option to request access to the relevant information on the basis of having a legitimate and proportionate interest in the data. However, this will be limited to those who can (a) prove that they are within an ‘eligible user group’ and (b) show they have a legitimate interest in obtaining the data. A more immediate option is to contact the registrant directly on an individual request basis via the anonymised email provided by the domain name registrar. WHOIS results still provide the name of the applicable registrar organisation that may be contacted to request consent from the registrant (the registered domain name holder) to release their details to the interested party. A less reliable but comprehensive alternative is to seek out archived WHOIS searches in order to obtain historic contact details for registrants prior to the implementation of the GDPR. However, this information will have a very short shelf-life and will grow stale over time, until a more effective solution is put in place.
The Future of WHOIS
Earlier this year, ICANN filed an injunction against German domain name registrar ‘EPAG’ to compel it to continue collection of all registrant data required under its agreement with ICANN. An underlying objective of ICANN filing the injunction was also to obtain a clear statement from the court specifying what information may be disclosed by a WHOIS search in compliance with the GDPR.
The court refused to issue the injunction, and the ruling has since been appealed to the Higher Regional Court of Cologne.
Practitioners and business owners alike are hopeful that the upcoming judgment will provide some long-awaited guidance concerning what registrant data may be permissible for domain name registrars to disclose in the GDPR era. Until then, and until the unified access model has been implemented, we shall continue to ponder the fate of the previously ubiquitous WHOIS service.
For those rights holders seeking to obtain the full registrant contact information regarding a registered domain name, there are some limited options available. www.northamptonshirelawsociety.co.uk
Northamptonshire Law Society
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One of the great draws of the EWI is their annual conference held each year in London at the beginning of the autumn. High profile key-note speakers offer a most useful insight into what is happening in the legal world as it affects experts. Attendees include a large cadre of experts together with specialist lawyers (solicitors, paralegals and barristers), judges and, of necessity, some assorted politicians.
One of the more useful aspects of the recent conferences are the lively question and answer sessions which often highlight some of the more pressing contemporary... and controversial... issues. It’s quite amazing how much information can be gleaned from these sessions as we are listening to specific experts and their legal roles (and, sometimes, worries) about what is going on. There have been some unfortunate comments recently about the use made of experts but we, as advocates, now tend to rely quite heavily on their testimony. And, probably, members of the judiciary more so. That is why an exchange of views is so helpful as the role of the EWI changes to meet demand. Their accreditation scheme is one of the new developments and of use to the courts in the determination of very detailed and complex evidence.
Northamptonshire Law Society
A comment by Phillip Taylor MBE, Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”, and Head, Richmond Green Chambers
The EWI is not confined to medical experts, either. I have been attending their conferences for some years, mainly to cover the key-note speakers and watch developments, and I have been surprised at the wide range of expert evidence now available as cases tend to have become much more complicated and intricate.
Mr Justice Spencer said, on his appointment as the new chair of the EWI: “It has never been more important to highlight the critical role expert witnesses play in supporting the proper administration of justice and to establish the highest standards of best practice”. And he is right, of course because the views of experts continue to be carefully scrutinised providing, as they do, a special relevance in all proceedings together with live witnesses.
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ITDE Quarter Page.indd 1
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Northamptonshire Law Society
Northampton’s Best Kept Secret by Gerald Couldrake, Partner and Head of Corporate at Howes Percival.
Where in Northampton town centre can you find: a travel case owned by Napoleon Bonaparte; a box owned by Catherine of Braganza; a saddle owned by Queen Victoria; an English Civil War ‘Buff’ overcoat and the Sedan Chair shown in the accompanying photograph? Give up? They (and much much more) are all exhibits in the National Leather Collection, which is located right in the heart of Northampton town centre, on the second floor of the Grovesnor Centre. I think it is the best kept secret in the County, and I was invited to see it by one of the Trustees, my friend Penny Flavell. Penny explained to me that the bulk of the collection was held in London by the Leathergoods Manufacturers Association who, failing to find anywhere to display it in London, donated it to the town of Northampton on condition that it was looked after in the heart of the country’s leather industry. For a few decades “looked after” meant stored safely by Northampton Borough Council in various locations in boxes, but not on view. Penny and some other town councillors felt that this was wrong, and eventually raised funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for a curator to put the collection on display and find a home for it. Today the National Leather Collection is housed in the Grovesnor Centre and can be found by entering the Centre from the Market Square entrance and then going immediately right (before passing the Jewellers) into an entrance to Grovesnor Chambers and ascending some stairs or going up by lift.
Inside is a fascinating mix of historic leather goods on display, together with some examples of how various leather crafts happen. You can even ask to go round the store rooms which house many more items which are not on display because of lack of space. In the store rooms I spotted an enormous pair of black leather boots standing on a shelf. They are from the English Civil War, but look in perfect condition. The Collection also houses the national collection of fur coats, which again are not on display but which can be viewed in a separate room. Whilst I would now abhor the killing of animals solely to use their fur to make clothes, undoubtedly the collection of coats would fascinate those who are interested in the history of fashion.
workers ceased to walk into the town centre and spend money on an almost daily basis). It needs urgent regeneration and a rethink given the now fundamental shift in household’s spending habits onto more online purchasing. Put simply, there needs to be different reasons to come into the town centre and spend money. Things like a national collection of leather, a product which is part of the heart and soul of our County, should surely be supported and celebrated and ought to form part of the re-invention of our County town centre. As the UK’s centre of the leather industry, we should be proud that the national leather collection has found its home in Northampton. So I’ve given you a reason to go into the town centre. I’ve also fulfilled my promise to Penny to give the collection some publicity, as it is a hidden treasure. If you take up my invite and visit the National Leather collection, I know you will not be disappointed: just give it a go! (Please note that the collection is only open to the public on Wednesdays). My favourite was the sedan chair, although I rather think that 228 years ago, when Howes Percival was founded, I would have been the one of the poor unfortunates carrying it, not the one sitting in it! Gerald Couldrake is the Senior Partner of and Head of Corporate law at Howes Percival.
I asked Penny what her aspiration would be for the Collection, as it was obvious to me that its current location is not ideal and it is difficult to advertise its presence. Penny’s eyes lit up as she explained that her vision was to take a floor in the old County Council head offices on George Row and then link into the main museum. This will require more funding, but I could see that this would give the Collection a much better and more appropriate home, and one which its importance as our country’s national leather collection, surely deserves. I think it is common ground that Northampton’s town centre is in an abysmal state: its shops unable to compete with the twin competition of Milton Keynes and Rushden Lakes, the impact of student spend from the University’s re-location yet to happen and jobs continuing to be lost from offices (as an example Howes Percival re-located to Rushmills in 2016, meaning about 60 office 34
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And Finally… Northamptonshire Law Society
... here is a round up of the topics, events and news that were not covered in this edition from Phil Smith, Society Manager.
Welcome to the late summer edition of the Bulletin. I would like to congratulate Oliver Spicer on taking over the role of your President for the coming year. A huge thank you to Ika Castka for the time she has given and hard work she has undertaken in the role for quite a few months more than the usual 12 month tenure. It’s been a pleasure working with you! You will have read in the President’s column that I am to stand down from my role as your Society Manager in the coming months. The finer details are yet to be agreed but I will be around for a while longer and helping my replacement ease into the role and the organisation of the Annual Awards dinner next March. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with you all and am sure you will give the same support to my replacement as you have to me over the years. I mentioned in the last edition that the Awards Dinner has moved to a new date. The date for your diaries is Friday 1st March 2019. As this will be my last Awards event I do hope you will continue to give the same level of support as in previous years in terms of attendance and nominations for the awards themselves. The full details of the categories and how to nominate and book will be announced in the next edition, which is due to be published towards the end of the year. But don’t wait till then, start thinking now about who deserves recognition. As always I ask you to let me know of any suitable courses you would like the Society to host. We have Richard Snape who undertakes 4 courses a year for us on conveyancing topics and
I would like to hear from you on any other speakers who might be able to cover other areas of the law. There will be many other respected speakers out there so if you know of any that appeal to you then please advise me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We held an additional quiz in June with the chartered accountants at LANSCA. This was hosted at the Charles Bradlaugh pub in Northampton and was well attended. It is intended for this to become a regular event with the chartered accountants to add to the long established winter quiz, which this year will be on Thursday 15th November at Kettering Golf Club. Details on how to enter will be sent nearer the time. Once again I would like to acknowledge and thank our patrons for their ongoing support of the Society. The University of Northampton, Landmark Information Group, QPI Legal Ltd and Hawsons Chartered Accountants. Once again I would like to acknowledge and thank our patrons for their ongoing support of the Society. The University of Northampton, Landmark Information Group, QPI Legal Ltd and Hawsons Chartered Accountants.
Phil Smith - Society Manager email: email@example.com
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Outsourcing your cashiering ? Why choose Quill?
Northamptonshire Law Society
By Julian Bryan, Managing Director, Quill
Once you’ve decided to outsource your legal cashiering, any supplier will do, right? After all, the way these outsourcing providers manage your accounts and support your business is the same, isn’t it? Surely the only difference will be the price you pay for the service, won’t it? The answer to these conundrums is a resounding ‘no’! There are an increasing number of outsourced cashiering suppliers – legal software companies are forming partnerships with outsourcing bureaus to expand their offerings; new bureaus are being established; freelancers are setting up as virtual cashiers to work from home – so you’ve certainly got plenty of choice when it comes to outsourcing your back office accounts function. While there are some familiar threads running between these various suppliers, in comparison to Quill, they’re poles apart. We’re going to show you why…
Commonality: Shared use of Interactive
Where speed’s concerned, any law firm knows about the strictly enforced deadlines for filing month and year-end accounts, including those all-important VAT returns. Our system also holds key compliance dates specified by each firm’s designated regulator (SRA, CLC or Law Society of Scotland) to generate management alerts of overdue tasks. For example, we can identify sites not being closed quickly enough at month end which is set as the 7th of each month by the CLC and track that VAT submissions are lodged in time for the relevant quarter. Close monitoring, and intervention if needed, ensures accounts are submitted on time, every time. On the volume side of things, this behind-the-scenes management information also tells us how many e-chits are being processed by each cashier. This helps us to allocate the right mix of sites to our cashiers so everyone’s got a similar balanced workload and no one’s being overworked. For end users, you can be reassured that your assigned cashier’s got the capacity to give your accounts their proper attention. By not being stretched too thinly, we’ve got your back. There are a plethora of reports within Interactive, accessed by the Pinpoint management team, supporting the delivery of consistency across hundreds of clients. This starkly contrasts with other bureaus which lack the same control mechanisms thereby compromising consistent standards, and allowing opportunities for mistakes and bad habits to creep in.
Have a quick browse through the ILFM’s Software Guide and you’ll see the long list of legal accounts systems available in the market. This isn’t an exhaustive list either. These competitive systems contain effective tools to help legal cashiers maintain accounts in a compliant, secure, due diligent manner. But the way you perform an accounting task on one, let’s say posting your daily transactions, will vary on another.
Collaboration: It’s a team effort
Also, not all systems will contain warnings and notifications for actual and potential breaches of legal accounts rules. The range of functionality makes one system a very different beast to another.
It’s likely you’ll interact with your named cashier every working day. As such, you build a strong relationship. Pinpoint clients repeatedly tell us how their cashier feels like another employee, just someone not based in the same office. We rely on you to log all transactions. You rely on us to keep your accounts in order. By each fulfilling our side of the bargain, it’s a successful partnership.
As well as being the toolkit for in-house cashiers, these same systems are operated by outsourcing providers too. And, as any workman knows, his work is only as good as his tools. In other words, the ensuing service you receive will fluctuate pretty drastically from one supplier to the next, depending upon the legal accounts system opted for. The inconsistencies between them can be fairly extreme. In terms of our software, Interactive is backed by a dedicated software development team based in our Brighton office so new and enhanced functionality is constantly being rolled out, benefiting end users whose daily work is made easier, more efficient and categorically compliant as a result. Interactive’s also a recognised market leader, having been around for 40+ years and boasting two ILFM software awards. Not only is our software high quality, which enables us to work better than other outsourcing providers, it’s used universally by Quill cashiers. It’s a common platform, facilitating common procedures, maintaining common standards, empowering a common experience for all users of our Pinpoint outsourcing service. No deviations. No inconsistencies
Overseers: Monitoring by senior staff
As an additional guarantee of quality service provision, our cashiering operation is closely monitored by experienced, knowledgeable team members who cast a trained eye over completed tasks, checking for accuracy, speed, volume and consistency, reinforced by metrics from our powerful quality and performance management Interactive system, interpreting data processed by all the cashiers. Our cashiers work in teams of six with a supervisor heading up each group. Any anomalies or discrepancies, including items highlighted by Interactive, are 38
spotted and resolved straightaway, giving you confidence in error-free bookkeeping. No other cashiering bureau can boast access to such management information intelligence drawn from one central software platform.
Pinpoint is a close alliance between you and us. We’re connected together by Interactive. You enter daily e-chits into Interactive – which is essentially a daily record of monies in and out to your client and office accounts – and we pick up from there. We literally do everything else – billing, reporting, VAT returns, ledger and bank account management.
There’s a point to be made about team working within Pinpoint as well. You see, our cashiers don’t operate in isolation. If your assigned cashier doesn’t know how to rectify any accountsrelated problem, he/she will simply call upon the help of his/her colleagues and supervisor. As the largest outsourced cashiering bureau in the UK employing some 50 legal cashiers, they possess a combined total of approximately 300 years’ experience. And that’s a conservative guess. We’ve seen it all before. No issue is novel. You can bet your bottom dollar that we know the solution. Automatic absence cover is provided with the service too. If your cashier is off work on holiday, sickness, maternity, paternity or other leave, as everyone is from time to time, his/her designated deputy will manage your accounts instead. Obviously you don’t get these advantages with a one-man-band type bureau.
Next step: Find out more
If we’ve sharpened your appetite for more, read our earlier articles on the subject of outsourced cashiering, published on the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers website. There’s ‘Outsourced cashiering and your bottom line’, ’Ten reasons to outsource your cashiering’ and ‘How outsourced cashiering works’ for beginners.
To find out more on our Pinpoint outsourced legal cashiering service, please visit www.quill.co.uk/ Outsourced-Legal-Cashiering, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 236 2910.
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0161 236 2910 email@example.com quill.co.uk/quillit
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