Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas drinks event is a success

Thanks to everyone who attended our annual Christmas drinks and nibbles event! It was a great evening with over 80 people joining us at The Foundry, in Euston Way, Telford.

Here's a gallery of images from the night - lots of happy smiling faces and a lovely atmosphere! Did we catch you on camera?

Cllr Mak Singh, John Mehtam, Saroj Jakhu, Rakesh Saini, Gulshan Jakhu

Rakesh Saini, Cllr Mak Singh, Graham Davies
John Shepherd of Sport Mobile and Eliot Hibbert

Bill Dunphy of Signs Now UK, Heather Tweddle of Phillips & Co, Therese Dunphy of Signs Now UK
Matt and Charlotte Baker, Daniel and Kim Breeze, and Mohammed Ahsan 
Gary Matthews of Matrix Capital, Andrew Mason, Trevor Hirst of Quorum Logistics Support Limited 
Rob Orchard of Cyril Orchard Partnership, Graham Wynn of TTC Group

Ruling could change the face of the law

Relatives who believe they’ve been unfairly left out of a will could soon find it easier to challenge the decision.

Mohammed Ahsan, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said the Supreme Court was currently hearing a case that could change the face of the law.

“The case should clarify the law on challenging wills on the grounds that they don’t make reasonable provision for the relatives left behind, and potentially this will make it much easier for adult children to make a claim on the inheritance they believe is rightfully theirs.” Mr Ahsan said the case was an appeal by a group of animal charities who wanted to overturn a Court of Appeal decision.

“The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a daughter who had been excluded from her mother’s will, after she left him with a boyfriend as a 17-year-old. The mother had initially left her £500,000 estate to charities including the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the RSPCA.

“On appeal, the daughter who is now in her 50s, was awarded £143,000 to buy the rented home she was living in and an extra £20,000 for additional income.

“But now the charities have asked the court to consider whether the appeal court was wrong to overturn the decision and to allow the daughter to keep her state benefits.

“This case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to relatives who feel they have been unfairly treated – and we have seen a real increase in enquiries from people who feel they haven’t received what they’re entitled to.

“Whatever decision the court makes, at least their judgement will give us some clarity on how to interpret the Inheritance Act 1975 and it will set out some guidelines for when challenges are, or are not, appropriate.

“It should also set out the criteria you need to meet in order to disinherit your adult children to make sure your wishes are followed and to ensure your will is executed effectively.

“Losing a loved one is always a stressful and emotional time, and so disputes over a will are likely to make things even worse. Taking expert advice is crucial before you decide whether challenging a person’s wishes is the right approach, so don’t be hasty, and talk to a professional adviser to find out where you stand.”

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Paying the price for festive fun

Staff Christmas parties can be a nightmare with the fallout creating more than just a bad atmosphere in the workplace, a Telford lawyer has warned.

John Mehtam from Martin-Kaye Solicitors said when things go wrong during a festive celebration, many people believed the employer would be held responsible as they had organised the event.

But John has welcomed a new High Court ruling that cleared a company of any responsibility when an employee launched a violent assault on a colleague at a heavy drinking session straight after the firm’s Christmas party.

“Employers are usually held vicariously liable for any misdemeanours their staff commit ‘in the course of their employment’, but this latest case is a clear indication that liability can be different in every individual case.

“The incident occurred after the company party when half the guests decided to go on to a hotel where some were staying to continue drinking. The court decided that the drinks were separate from the Christmas party itself and at a separate location, with employees’ partners and other guests there as well as staff.

“The conversation had mainly been about non-work-related topics, but the attack was triggered by a work-related discussion when the managing director felt his authority was being challenged.

“Following the incident, the victim made a claim for damages against the company saying it was vicariously liable for the managing director’s conduct.

“Now even though the company had paid the taxi fares for the guests to return to the hotel – and indeed, was paying for some or all of the drinks – the court ruled that the attack was outside the managing director’s course of employment.

“They said the incident happened as a result of entirely voluntary and personal choices by the staff who had decided to take part in the heavy drinking session, and so the company could not be held responsible.

“A key point of their decision was that the attack happened during an impromptu drink which was not a part of the official work Christmas party.

“So just because the evening had begun as a work event, the decision by the employees to continue drinking afterwards was critical to the court’s decision as it was clearly a separate situation.

“Employees should remember that although Christmas parties are a great time to enjoy themselves while the company foots the bill, the onus is on them to behave in an appropriate and acceptable manner.”

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Do your staff have the right to work here?

A Telford solicitor has welcomed a tribunal ruling that backed an employer’s decision to sack a worker who could not prove he had the right to work in the UK.

John Mehtam leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and he said the worker’s status had been uncovered when the employer ran a series of checks.

“The employee was Jamaican and the tribunal ruled that neither his passport or his birth certificate was sufficient evidence that he was legally entitled to work in the UK.

“There was no dispute about his entitlement to live here, it was purely a question of whether he had the right to work in this country. And the employer was absolutely right to take the decision to sack him, because if they were unable to obtain proof of his working status, they could have been fined up to £20,000 themselves and faced criminal action too.”

Mr Mehtam said the employee had been born in Jamaica and had lived in the UK since childhood, but his Jamaican passport had expired and he had no other evidence to prove he had the right to work here.

“The employer lent the worker the money to cover the cost of obtaining a valid Jamaican passport and the cost of an endorsement in the document confirming his employment status. But the worker failed to apply for the endorsement and the Home Office said the passport alone was not enough evidence – so after he failed to turn up to meetings arranged to discuss the situation, the employer dismissed him.

“He claimed he had been unfairly dismissed, but while the tribunal expressed its sympathy for him, it ruled that the employer was right to demand evidence of his status and that they had no option but to sack him.

“This ruling is a clear demonstration that employers need to ensure they are fully informed about the background of everyone on their books, and that they make the safety and reputation of their company a priority. Simply taking someone’s word for it when they claim to be entitled to work in the UK legally is just not an option.

“Companies must be aware that they will be the ones to face the fines and legal action if they fail to check the small print, and the onus is on the employer to take responsibility by asking the right questions.”

Thursday, 24 November 2016

What's in a name?

We’re often asked where the name Martin-Kaye Solicitors comes from – here our Senior Partner Graham Davies explains more…

"We’ve been in business now for over 30 years, and as we approach the end of another year, we’re looking ahead to the coming 12 months and the challenges they will bring.

"The end of another year can also be a time of reflection, and after three decades of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, I’d like to share the story behind our name.

"The simple answer is that it is the name of the most senior of the three founding partners of the firm – Andrew Green, me, and Niel Martin-Kaye.

"We started the practice from scratch in 1985 and quickly realised that Niel was ahead of his time with his positive approach and forward-thinking style.

"His vision put us ahead of many of our competitors both in terms of the way we use systems and technology, and in our management style.

"And we still continue to benefit from this innovative approach to business today – I’d very much like to think that the culture created in those early days has now been adopted by the younger Partners of the firm.

"Apart from being an original thinker and a man with passion and energy, Niel had the most outrageous and mischievous sense of humour, often providing much-needed inspiration in times of stress and difficulty.

"Sadly Niel died in September 2001 – within around a year of his retirement from the firm – there were few like him, and the name and spirit he gave us all those years ago is the legacy that continues to this very day."

Monday, 21 November 2016

What's your business really worth?

Entrepreneurs considering selling their business need to be realistic about its true value before they put it on the market.

Eliot Hibbert from the Martin-Kaye Corporate Commercial Team said in reality, a business was only worth what someone was willing to pay for it.

“Many small business owners grow attached to their business as they’ve put in so much hard work to develop it – but this can lead to them valuing their companies at a higher level than is sensible. Anyone seriously considering selling their business will need to have realistic expectations about its value before they even think about selling.”

Eliot said there was no single formula that could be used to precisely value every private business – sellers would want to drive the price up and potential buyers would want the opposite.

“Although there are relatively easy ways to value certain parts of the business – such as stock; assets like land, machinery and equipment – there will also be elements of the business that are much more difficult to put a price on.

“These intangible elements include goodwill such as trademarks, branding, key people, the size and quality of the customer base, and the reputation of the company, which are notoriously difficult to value. In many cases, it will come down to how keen a potential buyer is to acquire your business.”

When looking at the overall value of a business, there are a number of different valuation methods that are commonly used from using earnings multiples, to calculating how much it would cost to create a similar business.

“There are outside factors to consider too such as the economic climate as clearly a buyer may be more cautious when buying a business during an economic downturn.

“And on the other hand, when times are good, more companies tend to want to grow by buying other firms and finance is more freely available to help them achieve their aims.

“With more potential buyers in the market, you’re more likely to get a higher price when the economy is booming. So entrepreneurs who are serious about selling their business need to think carefully about the timing and the honesty of the value they’ve put on their company before they take the plunge.”

Friday, 18 November 2016

Honesty is the best policy

Partners must be completely honest about their finances when a relationship ends as the courts will not tolerate anything less.

That’s the warning from Nadia Davis who leads the Martin-Kaye family law team, who welcomed the outcome of a court case involving two women who disagreed over a financial settlement.

One of the women accepted £200,000 when the couple split up, but the case will now be reanalysed by the High Court after she claimed her ex-partner had ‘misrepresented’ the size of her fortune.

“The case confirms that same sex couples have the same rights under family law as heterosexual couples, and the woman will now have the opportunity to open discussions on a fair settlement based on her ex-partner’s true assets,” said Nadia.

“This has got to be the right outcome of a case like this – both parties need to give full and transparent financial information during the proceedings in order to achieve a fair result.

“Honesty about the financial situation of a couple is the bedrock of matrimonial cases and if one partner flouts that, they should expect that the court will punish them by overturning any original payout decision to get to the truth.

“For the court to do otherwise would encourage dishonesty and could create a cheat’s charter that would enable partners to hide their true wealth.

“This ruling clearly sets out the way the courts feel about such a dishonest approach and the steps they’re prepared to take to ensure the truth comes out.”