Issue 24 Summer 2017
Alexandra Phillips is appointed your new President See p.6
ALSO: • Solicitor of the year 2017 Award Winner • Dressing for success • It’s not just GOOD to talk, it’s GREAT to talk! • and more...
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This edition... Issue 24 Summer 2017
4 Committee Members and Member Firms 5 President’s Introduction 6 News 10 Profile : Clare Emery 10 Dressing for success 11 Five New partners at HCR 11 Recognising Worcestershire’s young stars 12 It’s GREAT to talkl! 13 Experts in 21st Century 14 Avista: Moving searches forward with better property decisions 16 University of Worcester
18 20 20 22 23 23 24 26 28 29 30
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Visit our website: www.worcestershirelawsociety.com or follow us on Twitter: @worcslawsociety
Alex Phillips President MFG Solicitors LLP email@example.com
Priya Tromans Secretary Harrison Clark Rickerbys tel: 01905 746469 firstname.lastname@example.org
James Sommerville Thomas Horton LLP Tel: 01527 839418 email@example.com
Kevin Joynes Treasurer Bovis Homes Limited Telephone: +44 (0)1242 662437 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Hughes Painters Solicitors NAH@painters-solicitors.co.uk
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Patricia Beeching Family Law Consultant, Hallmark Hulme Solicitors. Law Society Council Member for the Welsh Marches. Pat.Beeching@hallmarkhulme.co.uk
John Aldis Pupil Barrister St Phillips Chambers firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Evans Editor MFG Solicitors LLP Telephone: 01432 349707 email@example.com
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Nerys Thomas Secretary email@example.com
Priya Ohri Social Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org
Hailey Nip Vice Chair email@example.com
Rachael Wheeler National JLD rep firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Williams Charity email@example.com
Lara Wilkinson Treasurer firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Perry Social Secretary email@example.com
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President’s Introduction T
his is my first issue of the Pears as President and I would like to say what a tremendous privilege it is to be given the opportunity to represent solicitors across Worcestershire.
Worcestershire Law Society is a historic group and has supported and promoted local lawyers since 1841. The society is keen to continue this proud tradition with your support and we have many exciting events in the pipeline beginning with the ‘End of Summer Party’ which is to be held on Friday 08 September 2017 in association with the WJLD. This event is always well attended and allows us to showcase future events and provides great networking opportunities for both lawyers and business professionals with all levels of experience. Invitations will be sent out shortly via email. For Worcestershire Law Society to thrive it is essential that we are responsive to our member’s needs. We therefore welcome all feedback and any ideas or suggestions for future events, social or educational. We will shortly be circulating a questionnaire to enable you to easily provide this feedback and I encourage every member firm to please provide us with your thoughts. I would be delighted to discuss this with you directly, so please do not hesitate to contact me. I would like to extend my thanks to all those that attended the AGM on 14 June 2017 along with the dinner afterwards. I would particularly like to thank James Brindley from TLO Risk Services Limited who supported the event and gave us a very interesting talk on succession planning within law firms. S t o r a g e • S h r e d d i n g • S c a n n i n g • B o xe s • O ff i c e L o g i s t i c s
The AGM was also the last event that James Sommerville attended after serving on the Worcestershire Law Society committee in various roles for more than 20 years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank James on behalf of the committee and all our members for his service to Worcestershire Law Society. I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce our charity for this year. Worcestershire Royal Hospital has recently launched an appeal to raise funds for a new maternity Bereavement Suite at the hospital. The suite is designed to provide a much needed private space for parents who have experienced the tragedy of a stillbirth or the loss of their baby post-birth, where they can begin to grieve the loss of their baby. No doubt you will join the committee in agreeing that this is an extremely worthwhile cause. We will let you have more information in respect of fundraising shortly. As always, if you have feedback for the committee, please feel free to get in touch with me or any of the other committee members. Many thanks and I look forward to meeting many of you throughout the year. Alexandra Phillips President
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News News News News News News mfg Race the Dragon
Alexandra Phillips is appointed Worcestershire Law Society President
On Sunday 2nd July with family and friends supporting from the riverbanks, mfg team Power Paddlers “Raced the Dragon” on the River Severn.
Alexandra Phillips is appointed Worcestershire Law Society President Alexandra Phillips, an Associate and farming specialist mfg Solicitors has been appointed Worcestershire Law Society President. The 35 year-old has set out her vision for the year ahead following her appointment - pledging to give more support to Worcestershire’s next generation of lawyers and
forging ‘meaningful’ links with local schools. Alexandra said: “To become the Worcestershire Law Society’s new president is a tremendous privilege and I will do all I can to represent my firm and solicitors across the county in a positive way. “It is a wonderful opportunity and gives me the chance to give something back after qualifying four years ago. Alongside the committee, I am putting together a clear plan for the next 12 months during which I want us to keep supporting local charities and offer a wider variety of training, events and seminars for our members”.
News News News News News News Stourport Works Fours
“mfg Oarsome Foursome” were pleased to take part in this year’s Stourport Works Fours which took place on Saturday 17th June. Pictured: (L-R) Jessica McSorley, James Hayes, Liam Duckhouse and Alexandra Phillips.
Promotion for Rupinder and Janna
mfg’s Family law expert Rupinder Nandra and Private Client specialist Janna Vigar have been promoted to Associates.
Green fingers at Worcester school backed by city law firm
Children at Riversides School in Worcester are getting ready to dig in, with a £500 donation to help them create new garden areas for the school from Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ charitable trust (HCRCT). The school, which has two sites in the city, on Thornloe Road and at Spring Garden, has 60 pupils aged 7-16, and wants to develop its garden areas and its own allotment so that the children can be involved in planting, growing and looking after flowers and vegetables. Paul Yeomans, the school’s headteacher, said: “It’s marvellous that the trust could help us out in this way – we want the children to be able to get out into the garden and onto our allotment to learn about growing and nurturing plants. If it means they are ready to try eating a few new vegetables, that will be an added bonus!” Mat Waddington, chair of the HCRCT, said: “I am delighted that we could help Riversides School to develop their garden and allotment – we are always keen to support young people. Since it was founded 10 years ago, the trust has given more than £150,000 to good causes across the Three Counties and young people often benefit.” The trust donates money to good causes across the Three Counties several times a year.
at Clark and Co, which merged with Col Roy Harrison’s firm in 1965 to create Harrison Clark. He was well-known throughout the Three Counties for his love of classical music and for his commitment to the local community. As vice chair of the Elgar Foundation and the Elgar Birthplace Trust, chair of the Museum of Royal Worcester Porcelain, and trustee of the Elmley Foundation, the Worcestershire and Dudley Historic Churches Trust, the Dyson Perrins Museum Trust and the Harrison Clark Rickerbys Charitable Trust, he was active in supporting the arts in many arenas, including a lengthy involvement with the Three Choirs Festival. He was also supportive of local schools, including Malvern St James and its predecessors, and of Worcester Cathedral, as well of the business community and of his own profession through the Worcestershire Law Society. Additionally, he was a member of The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. He leaves behind his wife Christine, his two daughters, Miranda and Laura and granddaughters Blossom and Mimi. The service of thanksgiving will be followed by refreshments in the Chapter House. Donations can be made in Sam’s memory to St Richard’s Hospice.
mfg Solicitors LLP are delighted to announce the appointment of Thomas Evans as an Associate within their Private Client Division, based at their Kidderminster office. Thomas specialises in the preparation of wills, with particular focus on wealth and succession planning with niche expertise in literary estates and the gifting of intellectual property rights.
Memorial service for Sam Driver White A memorial service for Sam Driver White, who was actively involved in many arts organisations across the county and the former senior partner of Harrison Clark, will be held at Worcester Cathedral on Monday May 22 at 12.30pm. Sam, who died in February aged 78, started his career in Worcester
mfg wins football match against Chartered Accountants mfg solicitors LLP played 5-a-side football against Chartered Accountants Ballard Dale Syree Watson. The teams played at newly renovated Perdiswell Leisure Centre and saw mfg win 12-9.
News News News News News News Male employee succeeds in sex discrimination claim Mr Ali was employed by Capita Customer Management Ltd (Capita). Female employees were entitled to maternity pay comprising 14 weeks’ basic pay followed by 25 weeks’ SMP. Male employees were entitled to two weeks’ paid ordinary paternity leave and up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave which “may or may not be paid”. Mr Ali took two weeks’ paid leave immediately upon the birth of his daughter. His wife was diagnosed with postnatal depression and was advised to return to work. Mr Ali accordingly wished to take further leave to look after his daughter. He asked Capita about his rights and they informed him that he was eligible for shared parental leave, but that they only paid statutory shared parental leave. Mr Ali asserted that he should receive the same entitlements as a female employee taking maternity leave. When his grievance to this effect was rejected, he issued proceedings in the Employment Tribunal alleging sex discrimination. The Tribunal upheld the sex discrimination claim holding that Mr Ali could compare himself with a hypothetical female colleague. The denial of full pay amounted to less favourable treatment and the reason for this was Mr Ali’s sex. It is likely that Capita will appeal the decision. The problem of sex discrimination in the workplace is typically the problem of employers discriminating against women. This is especially true around the issue of pregnancy and maternity. This case is important because it is a male employee, not a female, who claims they were discriminated against on the basis of their sex because his employer refused to match the enhanced maternity pay given to women when he wanted to take shared parental leave. Employers should remember that this decision is in an Employment Tribunal and is therefore not binding on future cases. At present there is no binding case law that specifically requires employers to enhance shared parental pay if they enhance maternity pay. It is not required by legislation either. Given the uncertainty for employers on this point,
the sooner the Employment Appeals Tribunal sorts out this area, the better, as Companies want assurance on whether their shared parental leave schemes for male employees are discriminatory or not. If the decision is upheld on appeal, it will have a profound effect on how employers approach maternity and shared parental leave. Employers who have queries regarding the above should contact Sally Morris at sally.morris@ mfgsolicitors.com or on 01905 734032. Sally Morris
The heat is on - what happens if it gets too hot at work? With temperatures hitting new highs, employees could legitimately ask whether they can be kept at work as things get uncomfortable. When the workplace gets too hot, it is more than just an issue about comfort. If the temperature goes too high then it can become a health and safety issue. People might feel dizzy, start to faint, as well as an increased risk of heat stroke or collapse. The TUC wants to make it illegal to keep people at work indoors if the temperature is above 30°C as well as protection for people working outside or driving too. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state the temperature in the workplace needs to be reasonable. However, there is no maximum temperature.
rises will in part depend on the role they perform. In the case of customer-facing roles, certain standards of presentation may need to be maintained. Equally, for health and safety reasons, it may be necessary for employees to continue to wear protective clothing irrespective of summer heat. One way or the other, organisations should ensure the dress code is reasonable, appropriate to the needs of the particular business and does not discriminate between groups of employees. If a significant number of your employees are complaining about thermal discomfort, you should carry out a risk assessment, and act on the results of that assessment. If however your employees are more vulnerable, for example they have a thyroid imbalance or are undergoing the menopause, or need to wear protective equipment at work so cannot take of layers, that also has to be taken into account. So the answer is simple, if your enough of your employees state they are uncomfortable, the Company will have to act. For further information, please get in touch with Sally Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01905 734032. Chris Amys
Thursfields promote three great ambassadors
What is reasonable will depend on the nature of the workplace and the work being carried out by employees. Factors such as whether or not the work is strenuous or physical will need to be taken into account. Employers also have to provide clean, fresh air as well as keep temperatures at a comfortable level. Therefore because there is no official limit, employees could take action whatever the temperature as long as people think it is uncomfortable. One potential solution would be adopting a more relaxed dress code during the summer months, however, the extent to which an employee may be allowed to dress down when the temperature
Thursfields has announced three staff promotions – all linked to their success in raising the firm’s profile in the Midlands. Jayne Holliday, a chartered legal executive with more than 20 years’ experience in HR and Employment Law, has been promoted to senior associate. She has been instrumental in developing Thursfields’ profile in the Black Country from the company’s Halesowen office.
News News News News News News Lisa Kemp, an employment solicitor who joined Thursfields in January last year, has been appointed as an associate. Lisa is a well-known and respected employment lawyer in the Worcestershire marketplace and has developed a successful HR seminar programme for business owners and HR professionals in the county. And Zoe Perry, a solicitor specializing in trusts and estates’ work at Thursfields’ Kidderminster offices has also been appointed as an associate. Zoe is highly regarded in her field specialising in the creation and administration of trusts. Nick O’Hara, managing director, at the Worcester-based law firm, which has around 140 staff in eight offices across Worcestershire and the West Midlands, said: “All three are a great example of what the firm is looking for as the future of the business. “I have always found them very willing to go that extra mile for the clients and also for the firm and their work colleagues. They are great ambassadors for Thursfields.”
Winners of Excellence in Professional Services Chamber Award
The winners of the Chamber’s awards were announced at a glamorous, ”Best of British” themed, black-tie dinner on Thursday 15 June 2017, at the Worcester Arena. Thursfields managing director Nick O’Hara said: “This is a remarkable achievement that reflects on the efforts of our entire team and we are very pleased to have won.”
Thursfields Solicitors has won the Excellence in Professional Services award at the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
Commercial director Michelle Chamberlain said: “Our vision is to be known as one of the best legal firms across Worcestershire and the wider West Midlands. We have a strong reputation in Herefordshire and Worcestershire leading to much repeat business from clients and other professionals, such as accountancy firms”.
Alison Avery of the Chamber of Commerce highlighted that Thursfields ”stood out due to the breadth and depth of service offering they have to their customers and was clear that they are committed to delivering that excellence in professional services”.
Ms Chamberlain said: “We have the entrepreneurial passion of a start-up business which when combined with the quality reputation of our long established practice is a winning formula. Always striving to deliver excellence in our service is key to what we do.”
Profile: Solicitor of the year 2017 Award Winner Clare Emery
Dressing for success
sector, whilst being given the ability to work flexibly to enable me to bring up my three young children. I genuinely believe that the opportunities that I have been given over the last 20 years to change, adapt and develop my career as my personal circumstances have changed would not have been available to me without the vision of my Worcestershire colleagues throughout that time.
y legal career was made in Worcestershire - it all started with a week’s work experience at Morton Fisher when I was 15, and where ultimately I worked as a paralegal, trained and qualified as a solicitor. After 6 years in Birmingham, I moved back to work for Harrison Clark Rickerbys in 2007; meaning that I have been a Worcestershire lawyer (and member of the Worcestershire Law Society) for 2/3 of my professional life. I started my career as a family law solicitor; but was given the opportunity by MFG to change disciplines after I had qualified and I subsequently became a corporate/commercial solicitor. After spending 6 years working in Birmingham; I was offered the opportunity to return to my Worcestershire roots by joining the Harrison Clark Rickerbys corporate team. During this role, built upon some pre-existing experience advising professionals within the dental sector to develop a role as a specialist dental transactional solicitor; advising dentists on buying and selling their practices. As the number of specialists professional advisers within the dental sector is limited, it has given me a fantastic opportunity to build strong and rewarding professional relationships nationally with other solicitors, accountants, brokers and agents. During the last 10 years I have been fortunate enough to both have been supported by HCR both in my professional ambitions to build and develop my own specialist work
It has been especially rewarding to be recognised by Worcestershire Law Society, as I have spent almost all of my professional life as a member. Once you are settled in to your professional career, I think it is less usual to expect awards and so it was a real thrill to be nominated; and an even greater thrill (and huge surprise!) to win. In a profession which historically valued solicitors by the fees that they bill (which often correlates to the amount of time spent in the office); I think that it sends out a hugely positive message to part time staff and working parents that you can still be recognised by your peers as an excellent professional even if you do not work a 12 hour day. Finally, I really underestimated the impact that winning the award would have upon me professionally. After I won the award, I posted on Linked In to say how delighted I was to have won; and that post was viewed over 1,000 times. Even my sister (who used to work for LinkedIn) was impressed by the amount of traffic that it had generated! When I went to a dental industry trade show the following month, all of the other professionals that I was introduced to (even those that I hadn’t previously worked with) were aware of the award and I was congratulated upon it. It really impressed upon me how widely valued these awards are; that they are seen as a genuine testimonial to your abilities by your fellow professional colleagues. Finally, I think it is a measure of the esteem by which the award is held that even now, 3 months later the award is continuing to generate interest and opening the possibility of new professional contacts for me; both within Worcestershire but also further afield. Next year, I would encourage anyone to nominate a colleague for this award; not only will it be good for their self-esteem, but it could also really boost their wider professional standing. Clare Emery Harrison Clark Rickerbys email@example.com
irst impressions count, and leading law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys have taken practical action to make sure people looking for work have the clothes they need for that crucial interview. The Suited for Success initiative collects good quality ‘gently-worn’ work clothes and accessories for men and women, so that they have the right clothing for job interviews – the charity also gives advice on interview techniques at its Hockley headquarters in Birmingham. Harpreet Kaur, trainee solicitor at Harrison Clark Rickerbys who organised the firm’s collections along with colleagues including Rachael Wheeler (pictured), said: “Having the right clothes to wear for a job interview is not just about making the right impression; it is also a matter of confidence – if you are dressed for work, you feel more professional and that affects your approach to the interview.” “We were very pleased with the response. We collected six boxes and bags of work clothes, and have passed them on to Suited for Success, where they will make a real difference to people’s chances of employment.” Patricia White from the charity said: “The fantastic donations will really help – the kind support from Harrison Clark Rickerbys is really valuable to us; without it, our work would not be possible.”
Five new partners rise to the top at leading law firm
ive new partners have been promoted at leading law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys, offering clients a new breadth of experience and talent across the firm’s top team. The new partners enhance the construction, employment, HR, commercial property and litigation teams in Cheltenham, Worcester and the Thames Valley, and their moves are accompanied by promotions to senior associate and associate for other colleagues. The promotions give new authority to: • Construction and engineering expert Lucinda Baker, whose practical and good-humoured advice helps a wide range of clients from banks and developers to construction businesses, schools, universities and colleges • Cheltenham-based employment and educa-
tion specialist Emilie Darwin, who works with independent schools UK-wide advising on employment issues, giving advice specifically tailored to each client’s challenges. She speaks for national schools’ associations such as the Independent Schools Bursars Association (ISBA) and writes for specialist education publications • Elaine Fisher, director of Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ sister company Eagle HR, based in Worcester, whose clients benefit from her expertise in pay structures, job evaluation and equal pay and from her humour and warmth • Commercial property expert Claire Leyshon, based in the Thames Valley, whose experience has benefited the NHS and other public bodies, as well as helping to bring to fruition the commercial vision of developers, retailers and investment companies. • Jenny Raymond, based in Cheltenham, whose concise, precise and timely advice on commercial litigation, with a particular focus on financial services, banking and insurance disputes, has benefited both multinationals and individuals. Rod Thomas, the firm’s managing partner, said: “We deliberately cast our net wide when we recruit into the firm, because we know that our clients benefit from the breadth of experience, enthusiasm and skills which our key people offer
them; our people are our greatest strength and we want our staff to know that promotion is open to all within the firm - our newest partners will, I know, continue to flourish. They bring passion and care, as well as outstanding legal knowledge, to their work, and our clients benefit from that powerful combination.” Commercial property lawyer Annabel Hull, based in Cheltenham, was promoted to senior associate, along with Jemma Price, based in Hereford; residential conveyancing solicitors Jane Mayglothling and Kate Potter, based in Hereford, and technology and media specialist Orlando Wells, based in the Cheltenham corporate team, were promoted to associate. Harrison Clark Rickerbys has 450 staff and partners based at offices in Worcester, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Hereford, the Wye Valley, and the Thames Valley, who provide a complete spectrum of legal services to both business and private clients, regionally and nationwide. The firm also has a number of highly successful teams specialising in individual market sectors, including health and social care, education, agricultural and rural affairs, defence, security and the forces, advanced manufacturing and construction.
Recognising Worcestershire’s young stars C
aring for and supporting family and friends, while dealing with their own difficulties, brought three Worcestershire youngsters in the spotlight at the Tryangle Awards in Worcester, when they stepped up to receive Good Friends and Carers awards from Jonathan Brew (senior partner) and Charlotte Thornton-Smith (head of health and social care) of Harrison Clark Rickerbys. Aleshia Layton Cooper’s care for her mother who is wheelchair-bound because she has advanced MS won her the award – she was nominated because “she always has a smile on her face and copes amazingly well with the extra responsibilities” – Aleshia, aged 14, from Evesham, makes sure the housework is done, meals are made and her mum’s care needs are met. She was joined on stage by 17 year old Edward Edkins, also from Evesham, who helps to care for his younger brother who has multiple disabilities – he himself has been diagnosed with Asperger’s. As well as helping his brother, he supports other
young carers in the county and also attends college. Having additional needs herself has not deterred the third recipient, Alisha Jeffcoat, aged 18, from Worcester, doing all she can to support her mum after they lost her sister Chantelle to congenital myotonic dystrophy (CMD). After her sister’s death, she set out to raise money for research into the disease, using social media to encourage people to take part.
Harrison Clark Rickerbys has 420 staff and partners based at offices in Worcester, Hereford, Cheltenham, the Wye Valley, Birmingham and the Thames Valley, who provide a complete spectrum of legal services to both business and private clients, regionally and nationwide. The firm also has a number of highly successful teams specialising in individual market sectors, including health and social care, education, agricultural and rural affairs, defence, security and the forces, advanced manufacturing and construction.
The awards were managed and delivered by Worcestershire youth charity, Young Solutions, which is based in Droitwich. The firm sponsored the awards category through its own charitable trust – Jonathan said afterwards: “It was a marvellous evening –we were very happy to be able to support the young people in this way. The fact that the awards acknowledge the effort they make to overcome difficulties in their own lives to help others makes this a really inspiring event.”
It’s not just GOOD to talk, it’s GREAT to talk! Helen Hanson of Hallmark Hulme Solicitors looks at the importance of talking for the survival of the family unit.
n a world obsessed with technology and social media it is all too easy to forget to talk. The dinner table was once the place for family discussion and interaction but it has now been invaded by mobile devices, a coffee or a pint down the pub rarely occurs without a smartphone being present and it has become totally acceptable to interrupt direct conversation with someone sitting in front of you for the benefit of social media. It is easy to hear what people are saying at the same time as using mobile devices but it is much harder to listen. When considering the impact of social media upon married couples, Mail Online reported in April 2015 that one in seven married individuals have considered divorce because of
their spouse’s postings on Facebook or other online sites. A similar proportion admit that they search online for evidence of their partner’s infidelity, while nearly one in five say they have daily rows because of the way their husband or wife uses social media. A survey carried out by Censuswide among 2,011 husbands and wives, found the most common reasons for checking their spouse’s social media accounts was to discover who they were talking to, who they were meeting and where they were going. No doubt, in the majority of cases, the suspicions that either a husband or a wife may have in relation to their spouse’s social media activity are unfounded but the damage has potentially been done by the fact that social media is taking a precedence over conversation. “Pillow Talk” has been replaced with “Likes and Shares” on Social Media and whilst this boosts ones social status it is detriment to their marital status The same can be said about “Car Conversation” with children. There is something about getting in a car that makes many kids talk incessantly. From the moment they sit down, their lips don’t
stop moving. However, this can be irritating for parents who just want some peace and quiet on a long journey ahead or after a busy day at work. It is all too easy to occupy the children with the latest games console or tablet to achieve the desired effect of peace and quiet but this has to be fundamentally damaging to the parent/child relationship. For many, family life is chaotic and fast paced with not much time for engaging in conversation, “Car Conversation” may be the only opportunity for children to really open up to their parents about their thoughts and feelings. The stark reality is that the time will come when that back seat is empty and any opportunity for conversation will then be lost. Talking without the interference of social media can only result in couples actually listening; understanding and appreciating each other better thus removing the paranoia of infidelity and building a stronger relationship... won’t it? Allowing the time to engage with children in an environment where they can express themselves freely has to be beneficial to the parent/child relationship... Doesn’t it?
Experts in 21st Century By Phillip Taylor MBE, Reviews Editor of “The Barrister” and Head of Richmond Green Chambers
he Expert Witness Institute (EWI) has a new chairman - Martin Spencer QC (pictured). In one of his first comments, he says that “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 absolutely correct! Use of expert evidence in legal proceedings has been a long-standing tradition, with the first recorded use of an expert witness in the UK courts being recorded in 1782 and now subject to stringent procedural rules which all experts should have a working knowledge of. In the litigation cycle expert witnesses play a vital role across civil, criminal and family proceedings in the administration of justice. An expert witness is someone who, by his/her training, education, skill, or experience, is known to have specialised expertise or knowledge so that other people may rely on their opinion. “In providing independent assistance to the court by way of objective, unbiased opinion in relation to matters within their expertise, they make complex issues understandable to lawyers, judges and juries” declares Spencer.
The Procedure Rules for court work are quite clear – the expert performs his or her duty to the court. That duty overrides any obligation to a party from whom the expert is receiving instructions. The ‘knock-on’ effect with modern litigation is that the number and types of experts are increasing. “They have become an integral part of the court process” declares Spencer. Many lawyers use experts in criminal proceedings in areas as diverse as accident investigations, forensic linguistics and the increased use of DNA evidence. In civil and family courts, experts cover areas such as forensic accounting, civil engineering, medical, and many more. It is recognized that, with litigation entering increasingly complex areas, the effective use of a good expert witness is increasingly important. “There is no doubt that high quality expert evidence will continue to play an important role in all court proceedings” says Spencer. He adds that “there will always be a need for expert opinion about questions that are outside the knowledge, skill and experience of the court”. To meet this challenge, instructing lawyers need to ensure they work only with experts who understand their duties within the latest procedure rules, and experts need to take responsibility for their development and training to ensure they meet the highest standards which the EWI oversees so effectively as the importance of experts grows with the changing face of litigation in 21st century.
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Avista: moving searches forward with better property decisions – INDEX can show you how A
vista is the most comprehensive environmental search report available with seven key searches. Alongside an intuitive design and plain English explanations, the results are intelligently filtered to clarify risks and next steps quickly and clearly. The data is gathered, analysed and filtered from over 100 million environmental data points, and clearly and concisely presented in a report that is normally less than 20 pages long. Until Avista, combination reports on the market have been over 60 pages long, making it a lengthy and difficult process for homebuyers and conveyancers to identify risks, and to make truly informed property purchases. The now straightforward language and omission of confusing jargon means homebuyers can easily understand the findings. By filtering these environmental datasets, using Land Registry polygons, only relevant results are returned. Plus, Groundsure have worked hard to ensure that no-one is overwhelmed by confusing jargon and intuitive design makes it easy to locate vital information and next steps.
A UK-wide search provider with locally-managed offices, Index offers unparalleled access to all relevant flood and environmental risk searches from rivers, coastal, surface and ground water. Its local offices are headed by Kate Bould, who points out that Worcestershire’s many beautiful rivers have historically made the county very susceptible to property damage from flooding.
“The Severn, Teme and Avon have all caused major problems for Worcestershire properties in my lifetime,” Kate Bould said. “With Avista, client feedback has been positive with the reduced pages and concise risk data, in plain English – everyone understands the results – it provides solutions, not problems”
Furthermore, the Avista Action Alert on the front page of every report provides simple signposting for next steps based on the report outcomes. The advanced alert system grades report findings from one to five based on the likelihood of identified risks causing a delay to the purchase completing swiftly. This also allows conveyancers to quickly prioritise cases at a glance, improving their case management processes. - 90% of Avista reports are less than 20 pages long making information more accessible - Minimises the risk of missed issues - Fewer delays caused by ordering further reports - Structure and plain English make it easy for homebuyers and professionals alike to understand A new level of clarity Avista Action Alert The unique and intelligent Avista Action Alert presents easy to follow ‘next step’ strategies, whatever the outcome of your report. Designed with conveyancers in mind, our advanced alert improves case management, helping prioritise work at a glance.
Avista Action Alert
Minimal Actions identified 14
Homebuyers in many areas of the county will be more aware of the need to account for risk factors when buying a new home. With the help of Index Property Information, conveyancers can provide timely, accurate and comprehensive information, giving clients the vital knowledge to proceed with their transaction. With Index’s personal assistance and hands on approach, you receive the right report for the right property. Kate adds that “We are passionate about providing the right solution and search for the right property, our bespoke hands on service allows us to offer this service and our conveyancers appreciate the transparency and assistance with properties out of the ordinary. We work with all property types, residential, land, agricultural and commercial and save our clients time and money with the right searches for the property type.” Index Property Information can be contacted by email email@example.com or on 0121 546 0377
The Worcester School of Law
year ago, the University of Worcester launched its new School of Law, and has already made a huge impact on the local legal scene. With first class facilities, and a team of expert staff, the School of Law is providing excellent, accredited training for a new generation of lawyers, as well as a free drop-in advice centre for local residents. The School of Law was formally opened by Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lord Justice of Appeal, earlier this year, who heaped praise upon the university and called upon the local legal community to embrace its arrival. The University’s LLB (Hons) Law programme is a Qualifying Law Degree recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board as covering the academic stage of qualification to be a Solicitor or Barrister. From September 2017 students will also be able to study on the LLB (Hons) Law with Criminology and LLB (Hons) Law with Forensic Psychology. Students have access to a purpose built, fully accessible mock courtroom or ‘moot room’, with benches for judges, barristers, defendants, witnesses and the public including members of the press, plus a separate jury room to simulate the real court experience. Students also benefit from excellent seminar rooms and lecture rooms which have been created in the fully refurbished Jenny Lind House, the former headquarters of Worcester City Council, in the heart of the City. The teaching team is made up of barristers, solicitors and legal academics
with a range of research interests and professional experience. All the team are highly experienced lecturers and active researchers in their areas. All students study the Foundations of Legal Knowledge subjects - Contract, Public, Criminal, Tort, EU, Land and Equity & Trusts and choose specialised options such as Disability Law, Family Law, Employment Law, Company Law, Law of Evidence and Human Rights. Students with a particular interest in the Criminal Justice System may well opt to study Law with Criminology or Law with Forensic Psychology, both of which are designed to enhance students’ legal knowledge of criminal law by contextualising their studies in a wider theoretical focus on contested social scientific explanations for crime, victimisation and deviance. Throughout all the law degrees at Worcester there is an emphasis on teaching the law in context and developing important employability skills such as commercial awareness. These skills are embedded within the curriculum and also developed in activities such as moots, mock trials and client interviewing. All students have the opportunity to volunteer in the School of Law’s Legal Advice Centre where they can assist Solicitors in providing advice to real life clients about Employment Law issues. Students in the Centre are supervised by members of the law staff and also Solicitors acting pro bono. The School of Law has developed excellent links with many Worcestershire firms and legal professionals and these links have enabled students to benefit from vacation work placement and other work experience schemes.
If you would like to find out more about working with the University of Worcester School of Law, please contact the School of Law office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01905 542781. If you are interested in studying, visit us at an Open Day – details can be found on our website www.worcester.ac.uk
University. of Worcester. School of Law.
. . .
LLB (Hons) Law LLB (Hons) Law with Criminology LLB (Hons) Law with Forensic Psychology Masters by Research (MRes)
Creating employable, commercially aware graduates who make a meaningful contribution to society.
Mapping Environmental and Planning Risks planning applications may have an impact, enabling the client to determine whether this is an issue for them or not. Clients can quickly see where any environmental risks may be present within 250m of the property, in addition to active/ pending/approved residential and commercial planning applications up to a 750m radius via the mapped viewer.
rospective home buyers take the time to find the home that ticks as many boxes on their wish list as possible; right location, number of bedrooms, outside space and in the right price bracket, to name just a few. They may have also undertaken their own research into areas such as school catchments, nearby shopping or leisure facilities, or to check the locality for local parks, pubs or other places that are important to them.
potentially its future value. Importantly, if a homebuyer doesn’t believe vital information was made available or explained to them as part of the conveyancing process and they later come to have an issue, they may be in a position to pursue a legal negligence case against the conveyancer. From a solicitor’s perspective, it is therefore vital to demonstrate that full and proper due diligence has been undertaken. What’s the answer?
Homebuyers do however tend to rely on their legal professional to be their final ‘eyes and ears’ when it comes to understanding any potential ‘risks’ that may not be immediately apparent when undertaking their own research. For example, is the property at risk of flooding? It may have been a sunny day when viewing the property, but what happens in times of bad weather? Is the property connected to mains drainage or does it have its own sceptic tank? Or, perhaps there is a new development planned in the field next door, which could impact not only the enjoyment or views from the property, but
In recent months, legal search reports have taken a great leap forward to provide solicitors and their clients with extremely user-friendly options that provide clarity relating to a wide range of areas. Today, ‘digital bundles’ are available that provide not only environmental and local planning due diligence via an electronic PDF report but also offer the opportunity to assess the findings via an online mapping viewer. By accessing the mapping tool, users can easily ‘drill in or out’
of the map, to see exactly what risks are present, and where, in an instant. This makes it extremely easy to see the results being presented and identify where further investigation is needed, prior to the sale completing. Mapping Environmental & Planning Intelligence Landmark’s RiskView Residential is one such option. It presents the findings previously provided in four separate environmental reports in one order. Now, flood risk, contaminated land, ground hazards, and ‘Energy & Infrastructure’ are assessed and provided to the homebuyer in one report.
Plus, with everything visible on an Ordnance Survey map, it’s extremely easy to see where the risks are. As such, clients can be confident that a rigorous assessment has been undertaken, creating peace of mind, and demonstrating compliance (and best practice) from each conveyancer’s perspective. By accessing an all-in-one search report, it not only speeds up transaction processing thanks to the concise delivery of information, but saves even more time and closes a compliance gap by removing the need to identify a different suite of search reports for each and every transaction.
This is further supplemented with advice and recommendations from expert environmental consultants, Argyll Environmental. On top of this, local planning applications, land use designations, rights of way, housing and neighbourhood demographics are also provided via Landmark’s Plansearch Plus report, meaning it takes seconds to identify whether any
Angela Gordon-Lennox Landmark Information www.landmark.co.uk 0844 844 9966
Cybercrime: how do you protect your law firm from ransomware threats?
ansomware threats to law firms have increased at an alarming rate over the last eighteen months. As a leading supplier of practice management software, at LawWare we occasionally hear apocryphal stories about firms who have paid the ransom rather than risk downtime and data loss.
The more often you backup your data, the less you will lose. It’s worth thinking about your backup frequency and just how much data your practice can afford to lose without affecting its performance.
What is ransomware? Ransomware is computer malware that installs itself covertly on a victim’s computer or network. It then executes a cryptovirology attack that adversely affects it and demands a ransom payment to decrypt it.
Keep your software up-to-date. Ransomware often relies on the victim running outdated software where vulnerabilities are known. To combat this, the best approach is to create protocols for ensuring updates are performed when necessary. Keeping common third-party software such as Java and Flash up-to-date will eliminate a large number of threats.
Simple ransomware may lock the system and display a message requesting payment to unlock it. More advanced malware encrypts the victim’s files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them.
Educate your staff. Your staff are the weakest link in the security chain. If they allow themselves to fall victim to a phishing scam or other email generated approach, they can compromise the security of your entire business.
Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan that is disguised as a legitimate file. The ransom is almost always demanded to be paid in the digital currency, Bitcoin.
Teach fee earners and staff to recognise potential threats and to treat unrecognised or unsolicited mails with extreme caution. Train them to ask these key questions about emails:
Here are a few simple tips that can be put in place to mitigate the risk.
• Do I know the sender? • Do I really need to open that file or go to that link?
By blocking access to malicious websites, emails and attachments you can protect your network and avoid problems. Use high quality antivirus software. There really is no excuse for being lax in this matter. Making use of a good quality antivirus solution throughout your entire system is a must. Ensure all laptops and portable devices that interact with your network have the same levels of protection as the network itself. Know the enemy. Intelligence about the latest threats provides you and your IT staff with advance warning about cyber-crime activity in your area and industry. You can keep up to speed with the latest reports from cyber intelligence organisations such as Talos. Talos publicly shares information about emerging threats and provides forums and instructional videos to help you keep ahead of the game. Finally, say no to ransom demands. You may be tempted to pay up and recover access to your data to avoid both inconvenience and real operational problems. This should be the last thing you think about!
• Did I really order something from this company? Backup all your data. By far the most important weapon in your arsenal is a regularly scheduled backup. If you are subject to an attack you can simply wipe your system to eliminate the ransomware and re-install the backup.
Avoid being infiltrated. Occasionally your staff may unwarily visit compromised websites or open emails that contain malvertising. These are the usual sources from which the infiltration and malicious downloads will come.
Conveyancing training revisited after competition tribunal ruling
he Law Society of England and Wales today announced it will look again at the training elements of its Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) in response
to a ruling by the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The tribunal found that for a short period - from April 2015 - the Law Society should have permitted third party trainers to offer some of the modules for the scheme. CQS has been running since 2010. Only one of the modules that concerned the tribunal was still provided - the Financial Crime module - and that has now been withdrawn. Law Society president Robert Bourns said: “For the vast bulk of the time CQS training has been available it has been compliant with competition rules. I am certain that in setting CQS up, the Law Society acted in good faith and in the public interest. “The purpose of CQS - and its effect - was to ensure greater consumer choice in terms of practitioners available to undertake this important work. “We note the decision and have and will take steps to avoid similar issues in the future. Purchasing a house is the biggest investment most people make, and they need to feel confidence in the process, as do lenders. That was always our motivation - CQS has never been about profit. “We are grateful to the tribunal for their guidance on changes to CQS that they make in their ruling and we will be looking at their comments as a matter of priority in the coming days.”
Make sure you notify the authorities and remember, succumbing to the demands will only encourage the criminals to make further attacks. Mike O’Donnell, LawWare Limited.
The Importance of Industry Regulation in the Probate Research Industry R
ecently, the genealogy and probate research industry established a new regulatory body – the Association of Probate Researchers (APR). The APR was formed to bring regulation and transparency to the professional probate research industry. Prior to the creation of the APR, the provision of probate research was unregulated, with many amateur companies and hobby genealogists with very little legal experience emerging over the last five years, as awareness of the industry has grown through media exposure and commercial broadcasting shows. This growth has also unfortunately attracted fraudulent and dishonest individuals and ultimately it is the beneficiaries who suffer. The APR was created in light of this, to safeguard our legal clients and beneficiaries by ensuring that those handling these sensitive matters have the knowledge, experience and capability to do so. The
objectives are: 1. To protect the consumer (Beneficiaries) from unregulated probate research firms or individuals. 2. To ensure that the services provided by its members are delivered in a professional, competent and compliant manner. 3. To promote the advancement of ethical standards within probate research through education. The Association has been approved by the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) as a recognised body for Probate Research. Eligible APR members become a member of the PPR. APR members who meet the PPR’s Practical Experience Requirement qualify to apply for the Paralegal Practicing Certificate and become regulated by the PPR. To qualify as an APR member the applicant must have a minimum
of four years’ experience within the genealogy and probate research industry and show evidence of having worked on 100 cases or estates. Through the Association, anybody approached as a beneficiary regarding an unclaimed estate has the ability to verify the status of the probate researcher by referring to the PPR’s register. Further information can be found at www.ap-r.org and www.ppr.org.uk. Fraser and Fraser is a Corporate Member of the APR and all of our Case Managers are members of the APR and PPR. We are a firm of Genealogist and Probate Researchers who provide specialist research and support services to the legal professions by tracing missing beneficiaries to unclaimed estates worldwide. To find out more about our services please contact us 020 7832 1400, email email@example.com or visit our website www.fraserandfraser.co.uk.
Law Commission consultation on wills a welcome step towards modernisation
public consultation by the Law Commission is a welcome step towards updating our will-making laws to keep them fit for purpose in the 21st century, the Law Society of England and Wales said today. The Law Commission consultation paper seeks feedback from the public on a range of issues around how wills are made and how the law protects will-makers from fraud. “Making arrangements for after we pass away is something we all have to do, and something solicitors assist their clients with every day,” said Law Society president Joe Egan. “While the basics of how we make wills have stood the test of time, other aspects are in urgent need of updating to reflect modern life, and this will be a welcome opportunity for solicitors to help shape a new, fit for purpose wills law. “Our Wills and Equity expert committee has been working closely with the Law Commission throughout this project, and will continue to do so through the consultation process.” Key issues raised in the consultation paper the Law Society will be focusing on include: • Giving the court greater flexibility to uphold wills that do not meet legal requirements • Using the Mental Capacity Act test to establish capacity to write a will • Introducing a statutory presumption of capacity to write a will • Reducing the age at which someone can make a will from 18 to 16 • The possibility of online or electronic will writing in the future.
“Some of the proposals, such as allowing the court more flexibility when there are harmless errors in a will but the deceased person’s wishes are clear, show immediate promise and are likely to get a positive response from solicitors,” said Joe Egan.
LEAP provides outsourced cashier services to law firms LEAP announces partnership with The Cashroom
EAP, the leading cloud-based practice management software provider, today announces a partnership with The Cashroom to provide outsourced cashier, management accounting and payroll services. The Cashroom will provide these services to LEAP client firms to increase efficiency, reduce costs and ensure full compliance with all Solicitors Accounts Rules The services will include all books and records, paying suppliers, reconciling bank accounts, day/month end routines, submitting VAT returns etc. Management accounts and information can be provided together with budgets and cash flow projections to keep a firm fully informed. It will also include payroll services, with statutory payments, pensions and other deductions, and can administer ‘auto-enrolment’ and workplace pensions in accordance with the regulations. Peter Baverstock CEO of LEAP comments: “An increasing number of our clients are looking to maximise the potential of flexible working that cloud technology offers. Through our partnership with The Cashroom they can now offer law firms using the LEAP solution the option to outsource the accounting function of their practice. This removes a traditional and substantial cost by providing our clients with day to day processing of accounts by trained professionals. We are delighted to be working with The Cashroom and with this affiliation we are adding further value to our clients within the LEAP offering.” Alex Holt, The Cashroom Director of Business Development, comments: “The Cashroom can work with any practice management system, and having worked with a number of LEAP clients we are excited to work with LEAP to provide accounting management that few firms could provide themselves inhouse. We share a common goal with LEAP, enabling solicitors to work more efficiently by freeing up time for them to focus on their clients.” About LEAP UK LEAP is the cloud legal software solution for small law firms wishing to become more efficient, more flexible and profitable. It allows everyone in a small law firm to work naturally using a single integrated system that enables them to do more work with the same number of people. The smartphone app allows lawyers to work whilst on the move, and includes innovative features such as time recording mobile phone calls directly into a matter. LEAP is a global company, originating in Australia where it is the dominant provider of legal software for small law firms. The firm is the largest privately owned small law firm software provider in the world and there are more than 6,000 firms using LEAP software. In the UK LEAP has offices in London, Manchester, Belfast, Bridgend and Edinburgh.
“Others, such as enabling wills to be made electronically in the future, raise important but challenging questions, especially on how safe electronic wills would be from fraud or undue influence against vulnerable people. We will need to examine these issues carefully to help the Law Commission avoid unintended consequences such changes might create.
“We congratulate the Law Commission on tackling this important law reform task and thank them for the open and constructive way they have been working with our experts throughout this project. We look forward to working with them as it continues.”
LEAP contact details: Tel: 0845 683 2517 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://leap.co.uk
LEAP media contact details: Alison Scarrott / Chaz Brooks, brookscomm Tel: 01483 537890 Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
The biggest change to AML in a decade V
ery soon after the election, we expect the “Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 to be enacted.
As yet, they are still in draft form and subject to change. Much of the 2007 regulations remain intact, however, there are considerable amendments and additions and below are highlighted those most relevant to lawyers. Risk Assessment Each firm will have to prepare a risk assessment. This will involve taking reasonable steps to identify and assess the risks your firm faces, and keeping a written and up to date record of those steps you have taken. When compiling your risk assessment, you should consider: • Who your clients are • Where your clients, or their funds are coming from • The services you are providing to your clients • How you provide services to your clients • Size and nature of your business Whilst it is not possible to prevent entirely the risk of being targeted by criminals, having a robust risk assessment will justify the steps you took. Policies, controls and procedures You must establish and maintain policies, controls and procedures to mitigate and manage the risks which you have identified in your risk assessment. They need to be proportionate to the size and nature of your business. Your policies must provide for the scrutiny of complex and unusually large transactions. This means each matter will need to be risk assessed. You should consider the due diligence information which has been obtained, and the nature of the instructions. The main question that lawyers need to ask themselves is does the transaction make sense? Internal Controls The internal controls which you must implement will depend on your assessment of the size and nature of your business. You may need to • Appoint an individual who is on the board, or equivalent as the officer who is responsible for compliance with the regulation • Carry out screening of relevant employees and agents. • Establish an independent audit function to examine the effectiveness of the policies Training The training you provide must now also
include training on Data Protection and the obligation to train extends to agents. Customer Due Diligence (CDD) CDD is not just required at the beginning of a relationship with the client, but also must be applied when you become aware of changes in the circumstances of an existing customer. There are some important additions to the 2007 regulations in relation to a body corporate, namely • The memorandum of association. • Where the client is beneficially owned by another person you must now also to verify the identity of the beneficial owner. • Where the beneficial owner is a legal person, you also need to understand the ownership and control structure of the beneficial owner. • These requirements will not be satisfied by relying only on the register of people with significant control. • If the person instructing you is acting on behalf of a client, you must verify that person It is also important to note that the definition of beneficial owner of a trust has been extended to now include settlor, the trustees, the beneficiaries or class of beneficiaries and any individual who has control of the trust. Enhanced Customer Due Diligence (EDD) The Regulations are more prescriptive as to when EDD measures need to be applied. You must apply EDD when the case is high risk.
whose behalf monies are held in the PCA are available on request and within 2 working days You will need to ensure that you have explained to the client that, if the bank requests information about who you hold funds for, you will be required to provide that information. The client needs to consent to that. Data Protection You must provide new clients with a statement that any personal data received will only be processed for AML and CTF purposes. Data must be retained for 5 years following the end of the business relationship but then deleted unless you are required to keep it by law, or the data subject has given express consent for its retention. You will need to ensure that you have the client’s express consent to keeping the data for longer than 5 years. ‘The Biggest Change to AML in a Decade’ is a series of short succinct articles which looks at some of the main issues directly affecting solicitors. Whilst the final regulations are yet to be finalised, it is clear, that in a relatively short period of time, solicitors firms will need to make a number of changes to their policies and procedures to comply. To stay up to do date with the latest developments and to receive the latest articles in this series, email email@example.com or visit www.locktonsolicitors.co.uk About Amy Bell
When assessing whether a matter is high risk, you must consider regulation 33(6) including amongst others, customer, service and geographical risk factors. EDD means examining the purpose of the transactions and increasing the frequency of monitoring. You may also seek further independent verification of the information you have been provided, take more steps to understand the ownership and financial situation or to ensure the instructions fit the client’s business. PEP definition This has changed to include domestic PEPs and widened to include members of governing bodies of political parties and on the board of international organisations.
Amy Bell is Risk Management Consultant for Lockton, award winning providers of effective risk management solutions. With over 12 years’ experience advising law practices across the UK and globally, Amy helps firms to adapt to the changing legal landscape and how to adopt best practice in implementing compliance procedures. Through consultancy with partners, Amy provides training and support for everyone in the firm to help understand compliance and how to apply risk management principles to improve client service and deliver maximum efficiency.
Simplified Due Diligence (SDD) and Pooled Client Accounts.
She is the Chair of the Law Society’s Money Laundering Task Force, where she represents the Solicitors profession at Government and in Europe. She is also the author of the Law Society’s Anti-Bribery Toolkit.
In relation to the client account, banks can apply SDD provided that • The firm presents a low degree of risk, and • Information on the identity of the person on
To learn out more about Lockton’s Risk Management Training and Consultancy services please visit www.locktonsolicitors. co.uk
Top tips on combatting fraud T
he well-publicised Mishcon de Reya £1 million fraud case, when its client was duped into buying a London property from a seller dishonestly posing as the owner, has sent ripples of alarm throughout the legal community. Although conveyancers are an obvious target for the increasing threat of rogue house owners and buyer deposit redirection fraud, it’s not just conveyancing practices that need to be on their guard. As a legal practice, you’re tempting prey for cyber criminals, not only because you hold large sums of money, but also vast volumes of valuable client information. The number, variety and sophistication of cybercrime grows daily, ranging from distributed denial of service attacks and phishing scams to hacking and ransomware. To qualify my argument, here are some recently quoted cybercrime statistics:-
responsibilities. The Data Protection Act 1998, Money Laundering Regulations 2007, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, Terrorism Act 2000 and new EU General Data Protection Regulation applicable from May 2018 to name a few. The stakes are high but there’s much you can do to mitigate risk by creating a robust, reliable and secure cyber environment. Access our previously published ‘Desktop security: 10 top tips’ article for more indepth advice on how best to manage risks within your IT infrastructure. We cover topics such as operating systems, email attachments, file transfers, data back-ups, passwords and more. Visit www.quill.co.uk/ desktop-security. Because cyber security is such a serious business risk, we’re extending our earlier guidance here with some top tips on combatting fraud so that you can take proactive steps to tighten your defences:Beware of outside-of-the-norm behaviour and requests for monies
• National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s 2016 figures show 159 recorded losses of buyer deposits which is an 85% year-on-year increase • Office of National Statistics quotes 5.8 million cybercrime incidents which equated to 40% of all recorded criminal activity in 2016 • Action Fraud estimates the cost of cybercrime is currently £193 billion per year • BIS Information Security Breaches Survey revealed that 81% of large organisations have experienced a security breach with the cost per company being, on average, between £600,000 and £1.5 million
According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), 75% of cybercrime reports are so called ‘Friday afternoon frauds’. These cases involve criminals intercepting and altering emails being sent between two parties (solicitor and client), mostly bank details in order to redirect funds.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Under-reporting is a big issue. Many cybercrimes go unreported for fear of criticism and disciplinary action. You have a professional responsibility, enforceable by industry regulators, to identify, contain and remediate breaches, cyberattacks included.
Review your new client intake procedures
Aside from your regulatory obligations under the SRA Code of Conduct, you face new pressures from indemnity insurers who’ll want to see plans in place to thwart criminals when renewing policies and setting premium rates including run-off cover. There’s a plausible case for the need for a separate cyber insurance policy, over and above PII, to address the risks posed by cyber criminals and assist the recovery of potential losses incurred. Not forgetting your other compliance
If you’re suspicious, raise queries, several times if needs be, and ideally via a known telephone number. As part of this, you could set up a dummy run with a £1 transfer. Once receipt’s been confirmed, you’re ready for the real McCoy. If it turns out to be completely legitimate, those concerned will appreciate your stringent questioning and testing.
When new clients instruct your firm for their legal matters, what checks do you carry out on them? A cursory glance at someone’s passport, driving licence or utility bills is no longer sufficient for purpose. Seek out as much detail as possible on both identity and credit history so that you’re confident your clients are who they say they are, have the means to pay for your services and that your hard-earned profits aren’t ending up in the greedy hands of racketeers. Also, tell clients upfront – both face-to-face and within your client care documentation – that you’ll never ask them to send money to a different account than that already provided. That way, they can be on the lookout too and immediately contact you should they receive any communications of this nature.
Define your processes
Money is of course the biggest incentive and the SRA’s referred to £7 million of client money being lost to cybercrime in the last year. With the SRA Accounts Rules at the forefront of your mind, make a clear distinction between client and office monies, assign duties to your cashiering team members, designate reporting lines and outline timescales throughout. For example, you may specify only appointed staff should transfer money and make it a habit to take deposits as late as practicable so there’s less money on account at any given time. As well as giving your clients a higher level of service, you’ll lessen the risk of financial theft. Create disaster continuity plans
To form an adequate series of responses to unexpected emergencies, attempted crime amongst them, produce carefully written disaster recovery and business continuity plans. These will contain information on the types of crises which could befall you, how you should act if they do, roles of primary staff members, phases of recovery, emergency contact numbers, anticipated outcomes and records of test or genuine disaster situations. The ultimate objective is to put your firm in the strongest position to deal with critical incidents with minimum disruption to the running of your business. This is yet another area we’ve written about extensively before. Read our ‘Top ten disaster recovery and business continuity planning tips’ for further details. Visit www. quill.co.uk/disaster-recovery-planning. Develop a risk management policy and monitor activity Prevention is always better than cure so set out your preventative and detective measures within a risk management policy. These may comprise IT-based solutions such as SSL encryption and anti-virus software to physical security devices such as CCTV surveillance and burglar alarms. Your policy will address how to classify, deal with and communicate risks. Analyse your business closely for signs of unusual activity that could indicate the beginnings of an attack. The sooner you’re able to counteract possible violations, the better, to effectively stop criminals in their tracks.
Report every failed and successful attack There’s an onus on you to do so, and the legal profession can only clamp down on cybercrime if we truly know the extent of unlawful activity and methodologies employed. With more two-way conversations, trends can be recognised, scams identified at an earlier stage, alarms raised to others and appropriate responses carried out. Notify the SRA, Action Fraud, Information Commissioner’s Office and / or your insurers. Consider your employees’ role in your business and engage your workforce in best-practice risk management Restrict certain tasks in your business, for example software installation, to assigned personnel. Small steps such as these can go a long way to minimising exposure to risk. One weak link is all it takes to open your business to intrusion. Similarly, if you employ home and remote
workers, you’ll want to restrain use of unapproved devices and removable media, both of which carry their own security risks and can uncover your entire network to vulnerabilities. Set up some safe parameters for your staff to adhere to then educate your personnel in IT best practice. Evaluate your IT systems and suppliers We’ve already briefly mentioned the importance of running the latest operating systems, performing automated back-ups, installing firewalls, and using dedicated anti-virus and anti-spyware software for protection against hackers. There’s readily available software to reduce risk even more. Anti-money laundering checks, credit screens, conflict of interest searches, proof of identity document capture and breach warnings will preserve your matters and their associated finances. Or, you can go a step further and enlist extra back office services such as fully outsourced cashiering and payroll. Your outsourcing provider’s keen attention to detail will immediately highlight anomalies
and alert you to dubious goings-on. Remember the SRA Code of Conduct here. Ensure outsourcing agreements – be it for cloud software or outsourced services – allow you to comply with your client protection duties. And ask about ISO certifications for reassurance that your supplier conforms to international security standards. Julian Bryan, Managing Director, Quill Pinpoint
Julian Bryan joined Quill Pinpoint as Managing Director in 2012 and is also the Chair of the Legal Software Suppliers Association. Quill is the UK’s largest outsourced legal cashiering provider with 40 years’ experience supplying outsourced services, legal accounts and practice management software to the legal profession. To contact the Quill team, call 0161 236 2910 or email info@ quill.co.uk.
Paternity Fraud, a blow to the stomach… I
n a world obsessed with technology and social media it is all too easy to forget to talk. The dinner table was once the place for family discussion and interaction but it has now been invaded by mobile devices, a coffee or a pint down the pub rarely occurs without a smartphone being present and it has become totally acceptable to interrupt direct conversation with someone sitting in front of you for the benefit of social media. Paternity fraud is a subset of “mis-attributed paternity”, where a child has been fathered by one man, but is actually the child of another and that mis-attribution is deliberate rather than accidental. In other cases the male may have agreed to bring up the child of another (e.g. from a previous relationship or adoption), but in others, the male mating tactic of cuckoldry has occurred and the male is unaware that the child he is bringing up is not his. While this metaphor can be taken a little too far (since the child is genetically linked to the mother and does not generally expunge the half siblings from the house), it is a common term in evolutionary biology, where it is applied to unwitting males who make a significant parental investment in off-spring which are not genetically related to them. The motivation for paternity fraud includes; a) false claims from either parent with the objective or avoiding or receiving child maintenance payments, b) mothers who wish to hold their family together rather than discourage parental investment from the incumbent male or expose her infidelities or c) males who wish to avoid responsibilities, whether these be financial or familial or indeed, cover up their own indiscretions from their spouse or partner. As to the frequency of paternity fraud, then there are no clear figures and one should be aware of often mis-quoted data from mispaternity studies where subjects had a reason to take the DNA test. These data are valid in their own right but are not applicable to paternity fraud. The emotive headlines we often see in the popular press, which potentiate the urban myth of increasing paternity fraud in UK society, does us all little service and there is no verifiable evidence that paternity fraud is on the increase. However, it does occur.
DNA profiling provides evidence of biological relationships and as responsible test providers, we are acutely aware that with the prospect of incontrovertible evidence, people who are contemplating or indeed, driven to, paternity fraud may attempt to obfuscate the procedure. Accordingly, procedures are in place to minimise this possibility. In fact, paternity fraud is not a new concept, it has been with us for generations and our literature and law is littered with reference to it. It is also mentioned several times by Shakespeare in his various works, where the husband of an adulterous wife, the “cuckold”, is often seething with underlying suspicion. For example, when Iago addresses Othello (III.iii.165); “That cuckold lives in bliss, who certain of his fate loves not his wronger, but O, what damned minutes he tells o’er, who dotes yet doubts, suspects yet fondly loves”.1 To which Othello replies..”Oh, misery!”. It is the “Oh misery” that is instructive, the discovery of a paternity fraud has been described as “a blow to the stomach”. The origin of paternity fraud dates from the 1576 Poor Act, when the law required mothers with illegitimate children to name the father in order to ensure that he supported her financially, thus placing a lesser burden on the Parish Poor Law Overseers. They ensured weekly payments from the named “father” by issuance of “bastardy bonds” and which thus created the first opportunity for paternity fraud, as blackmail and perjury then became rife. The law was repealed in the “New Poor Law” of 1834 in order to save poor men from unsuitable marriages and then, a woman with an illegitimate child was sent to the workhouse without financial compensation. These days paternity fraud may be pursued using the tort of deceit (on the balance of probabilities that the intention was fraudulent) and is not a criminal matter unless a false statement is knowingly made on a public document, such as on a birth certificate or perhaps in information provided to the CMA. There have been a handful of cases which have reached the courts and where damages have been awarded to the male for “indignity, mental suffering/distress, humiliation” or “emotional hurt”, though there are also cases where this approach has been unsuccessful2. It has not yet been possible however, for the male to retrieve maintenance payments, as the court takes the view that bringing up a
child confers benefits as well as costs. Paternity fraud has thus been with us for generations and is of course hard to completely eliminate, but the use of an accredited DNA testing procedure makes it difficult for this to remain undetected and also provides unequivocal evidence to support cases involving the tort of deceit. In the UK the use of the rather explosive paternity fraud accusation is relatively modest; this is largely due to the judicious use of accredited paternity testing. Dr Neil Sullivan Complement Genomics Ltd, trading as dadcheck®. www.dadcheckgold.com firstname.lastname@example.org 0191 543 6334 The modern text… The man who knows his wife is cheating on him is happy, because at least he isn’t friends with the man she’s sleeping with. But think of the unhappiness of a man who worships his wife, yet doubts her faithfulness. He suspects her, but still loves her. http://nfs.sparknotes.com/othello/page_142. html, accessed 10th May 2017. 1
P v B (Paternity: Damages for Deceit)  1 FLR 1041; A v B (Damages: Paternity)  2 FLR 1051; Webb v Chapman  EWCA Civ 55. 2
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Jackson warns of “harsh” costs sanction over mediation frustration A
party that frustrates the mediation process by “delaying and dragging its feet for no good reason” will face a potentially “harsh” costs sanction as a result, Lord Justice Jackson has warned. Thakkar and Anr v Patel and Anr  EWCA Civ 117 was decided in January but has only come to light recently. It concerned a dilapidations claim and counterclaim for rent repayment over a school in Leicester. Both parties achieved a measure of success at trial but, finding that the defendant tenants had been unenthusiastic about a mediation being pushed by the claimants earlier in the proceedings, the judge ordered the defendants to pay 75% of the claimants’ costs. On appeal by the defendants, Lord Justice Jackson, sitting with Lord Justice Briggs, found: “The defendants, while not refusing outright to mediate, dragged their feet and delayed for so long that the claimants lost confidence in the process and closed it down. The judge held that this case was suitable for mediation. He held that, if there had been a mediation, there was a real chance of achieving a settlement. Those findings were plainly correct.” Had the case settled, he continued, “the vast majority of the litigation costs would have been saved”. Jackson LJ referred to the Court of Appeal’s 2013 ruling in PGF II SA v OMFS Company. He said: “The message which this court sent out in PGF II was that to remain silent in the face of an offer to mediate is, absent exceptional circumstances, unreasonable conduct meriting a costs sanction, even in cases where mediation is unlikely to succeed. “The message which the court sends out
in this case is that, in a case where bilateral negotiations fail but mediation is obviously appropriate, it behoves both parties to get on with it. If one party frustrates the process by delaying and dragging its feet for no good reason, that will merit a costs sanction. In the present case, the costs sanction was severe but not so severe that this court should intervene.” PGF II was cited in another Court of Appeal case recently, which included a submission from the losing defendants that the trial judge had failed to make some allowance in their favour for the fact that the claimant refused to or failed to engage with their proposal that the dispute should be referred to mediation. In Gore v Naheed and Anor  EWCA Civ 369, a dispute over a right of way, Lord Justice Patten said he had “some difficulty in accepting that the desire of a party to have his rights determined by a court of law in preference to mediation can be said to be unreasonable conduct particularly when, as here, those rights are ultimately vindicated”. He recounted that, in PGF II, a failure to engage, even if unreasonable, did not automatically result in a costs penalty. It was simply a factor to be taken into account by the judge when exercising his costs discretion. Patten LJ went on: “In this case, the judge did take it into account but concluded that it was not unreasonable for Mr Gore to have declined to mediate. His solicitor considered that mediation had no realistic prospect of succeeding and would only add to the costs. “The judge said that he considered that the case raised quite complex questions of law which made it unsuitable for mediation. His refusal to make an allowance on these grounds cannot in my view be said to be wrong in principle.”
Cybersecurity issues central as experts agree firms should view them as a serious business risk W
We published a detailed report into the IT security at the end of 2016: (http://www.sra.org.uk/risk/resources/information-security-report.page )
Our roundtable involved leading agencies and experts from a range of sectors to discuss how businesses can tackle the risks of cybersecurity. As well as us, there were representatives from the Information Commissioners Office, Barclays, Advent IM, National Crime Agency, IASME & UK Cyber Forum, BGi.Cyber.Ltd., Pelican Underwriting, QBE Insurance, Cyber Strategies, PA Consulting and Microsoft.
Neil Kevan Trust & Probate Underwriter
e have brought together leading experts to discuss cybersecurity risks to coincide with our spring update to the Risk Outlook.
There was general agreement that law firms are an attractive target for criminals not only because they can hold large amounts of money but also valuable client information. Three key themes from the roundtable were that: • Too often cybersecurity is viewed as just an IT risk. It is a business risk that requires engagement and ownership at a senior management and Board level. Training staff is important, but businesses also need to develop a culture where cybersecurity is treated as a serious priority. • People and processes are as crucial as technology. Law firms should consider having rigorous and unambiguous procedures for when clients notify them of any changes to their personal information or bank details during a transaction. • The use of unsupported software increases an organisation’s vulnerability. In addition to addressing this risk, businesses should also consider the benefits of implementing Cyber Essentials - a Government-backed scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber attacks. The roundtable coincides with the publication of our spring update to its Risk Outlook, which highlights seven priority risks for the legal sector. It shows that three quarters of all cybercrimes reported to us involve email modification fraud. Half of all such reports are email modification frauds against conveyancing proceeds. It says any field of work which involves client money is at risk, with probate another common target. We are committed to taking a constructive and engaged approach with firms when they fall victim to cybercrime. However, the risk update does highlight that we will take action where firms are not proactive. For instance it has this year issued rebukes in cases where a firm has failed to report the loss of client money or been slow to remedy client losses. Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “We all benefit from information technology, but that means we are all vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. These risks evolve rapidly. Whether it is money or sensitive client information, law firms are an obvious target. It is the job of firms to take steps to protect themselves and their clients, but we want to help. “So in addition to regular updates and conversations with firms, we also want to make sure we learn from insights across all sectors. It was clear from our roundtable how similar the issues are. By working together we will be in much better place to stay cybersecure.” The update of the Risk Outlook is available here: (http://www.sra.org.uk/ risk/outlook/priority-risks.page)