Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Excess paperwork could be destroyed

Lawyers who produce excess paperwork could risk being named and shamed by the courts and face strict financial penalties.

And a Shropshire solicitor has welcomed the warning saying over-sized files slowed down legal proceedings costing valuable time and money.

Nadia Davis leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and said court proceedings involving family issues were always stressful and could be a protracted and difficult experience.

“I’m very pleased to hear that the Family Division of the High Court has warned lawyers they could face having their fees withheld if they refuse to keep paperwork to a minimum – it’s no good the courts complaining about the difficulties it causes unless they are prepared to take action.

“And now, the threat is that bundles of files in family law cases will be destroyed without warning if they exceed prescribed limits, so lawyers will need to tread extremely carefully.”

But Nadia said it was also important that divorcing couples did not automatically head straight for the courts rather than consider the alternatives available.

“I was one of the very first solicitors in Shropshire to qualify as a collaborative lawyer, and my advice to clients is to talk their case through very carefully before resorting to court action. I work with couples going through a divorce on an agreement that shows they are committed to finding the best solutions through negotiation, rather than the courts.

“The agreement also prevents lawyers involved in the initiative from representing their client in court if the collaborative process breaks down. So this means everyone involved is absolutely committed to making it work,” said Nadia.

But this approach has not been adopted by everyone and national research has shown that only 51 per cent of those surveyed would consider a non-court based solution.

“The warning from the High Court shows that the legal system is ready to clamp down on lawyers who continuously flout the rules, and I am very pleased that decisive action is now being taken,” said Nadia.

Friday, 17 April 2015

George finds his fighting spirit

A Telford legal support assistant is hoping for a knockout performance when he takes on an ultimate fitness challenge.

George Heron works for Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and he has signed up for the latest season of Zero to Hero boxing.

He now faces ten weeks of gruelling training as part of the unique amateur boxing programme aimed at all kinds of people, whether they’re “white collar” workers, plumbers or IT consultants.

The initiative is designed to ensure each person taking part is both physically and mentally prepared for the final goal, to be a hero in the boxing ring.

“I’ve always been a boxing fan but I’ve never thought about getting into the ring before. So I saw this as a new challenge and decided to go for it,” said George, who will be raising cash for Hope House Hospice.

“At Martin-Kaye we have strong links with the hospice, so I’m very aware of the fantastic work they do there for the children, and I wanted to give something back. I’m also hoping I’ll be fitter than I’ve ever been before by the end of the training, and in peak condition.”

To prepare himself for the challenge ahead, George has already run the Stafford half marathon and he will now receive coaching from professional combat athletes with guest sessions from boxers, mixed martial artists and nutritionists.

Martin-Kaye senior partner Graham Davies said: “We’re all extremely proud of George and very impressed with his dedication he has already shown in preparing for the Zero to Hero challenge.

“We’re backing his efforts to raise cash for Hope House, and we’re hoping as many people as possible will support him during the programme.”

George will be posting video links of his training in the build-up to his big fight, and anyone who would like to donate should visit https://www.justgiving.com/HitmanHeron/

To find out more about the Zero to Hero project go to www.zerotoheroboxing.com

Pic:    George Heron from Martin-Kaye Solicitors prepares for the Zero to Hero challenge

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Fair pay for a fair day's work

Employees should not be deterred from fighting their corner when it comes to their right for equal pay.

John Mehtam is the employment law expert at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said secrecy surrounding the amount male and female colleagues were paid was often at the root of problems in the workplace.

“The Equality Act 2010, and before that, the Equal Pay Act 1970, back the principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. And despite the fact that over the years some employers have tried to discourage staff from discussing these matters, it is actually against the law to victimise anyone who reveals their rate of pay, or anyone who asks the question.

“Employers cannot punish or dismiss anyone who submits an equal pay claim, and in some instances, failing to pay staff equally may even amount to sex discrimination. So if you suspect you’re not receiving the same pay rate as a colleague of the opposite sex, it’s vital that you take legal advice and force your employer to reveal exactly what the figures are.

“Although this may seem like a daunting prospect, and you may be worried about being labelled as a trouble-maker, don’t be put off – the law is on your side and you’re entitled to a fair rate of pay.”

John said equal pay claims were usually brought in an employment tribunal, but in some circumstances, a claim can also be made through the civil courts. “You can instigate an equal pay claim at any time during employment it relates to, or if the employment has ended, any time before the end of the qualifying period.

“This means differences in pay could date back up to six years before the date the claim was lodged, which could be extremely expensive for any employer found guilty of discriminating between male and female staff.”

John said new regulations introduced in 2014 had also brought in compulsory equal pay audits which must be carried out by larger employers.

“Any employer who fails to carry out an audit when they are required to, may face a fine of up to £5,000 – so not only could the bill for arrears be costly, but substantial fines could prove extremely damaging.”

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

HELPing hand pays off

Employment law experts from a Telford legal firm have hailed a new approach to delivering their message as a great success.

The specialists from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, held one of their highly-renowned HELP seminars at Maesmawr Hall, in Caersws, and the response has been overwhelming.

Although the team has hosted similar events in Telford, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, and the wider West Midlands, this was the first time they had taken their roadshow across the border into Wales.

John Mehtam, who led the seminar, said: “We were delighted with the response to our event and the session was very lively with plenty of questions and answers – a really interactive and positive experience for everyone who took part.

“Thanks to the reaction we’ve received, and the interest this event has generated, we are already planning a similar seminar for later in the year to allow even more delegates to join us.”
The aim of the event was to help local employers learn more about the UK’s top ten employment law blunders.

“Over many years of dealing with employment and human resources problems for all kinds of companies, we have drawn up a ‘top ten’ list of common mistakes that it’s vital that employers can identify,” said John.

The latest event is the most recent in the firm’s HELP series – standing for HR and Employment Law in Practice – which was designed to equip companies with the tools to deal with even the most stressful of situations.

John said: “Our HELP presentations cover a wide range of topics, and they are always warmly received by local businesses, so this was a great opportunity to take our message across the border into Wales for the first time.

“We will definitely be hosting another similar event later in the year in that area as a direct result of customer demand, and we’re looking forward to sharing our expertise with even more new faces in the future.”

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Look out - there's a former spouse about...

Divorcees who make it big will need to spend their lives looking over their shoulders in case former spouses come forward to try to steal their fortune.

That’s the warning from family law expert, Nadia Davis, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, in the wake of a landmark court judgement made earlier today.

A former traveller made a claim for £1.9 million from her ex-husband who became a millionaire ten years after they split up. And even though she didn’t lodge the claim until nearly 20 years after their divorce, judges at the Supreme Court have ruled that she should receive a payout.

The exact amount will now be assessed.

“This ruling may shock many people as it’s a common misconception that once a divorce is finalised, any financial matters arising from the marriage are automatically brought to an end,” said Nadia.

“But in fact, this case is a clear indication that divorcing couples need specialist advice to ensure that any financial agreements are recorded in a binding Order of the Court. This is the only way to ensure that neither side can make any further applications for financial support in the future.

“Without such a document, both sides will run the risk of having to look over the shoulder for many years to come, especially if they go on to become particularly successful after the split as they will never know when their former spouse may stake a claim.”

Nadia said couples in the most danger were those who agreed a DIY divorce, coming to an agreement between themselves about the finances, and assuming those discussions were binding.

“It’s amazing how many people are then shocked to discover that their former spouse is still able to make a financial claim arising from the marriage, even though the divorce itself may have been finalised years before.”

The couple featured in today’s court case met as students, married in their early 20s, and lived a New Age traveller lifestyle, before separating in the mid-1980s and divorcing in 1992. In the mid-90s, the husband began a business career and became an extremely wealthy green energy tycoon. His former wife lodged her claim in 2011, and today’s landmark ruling could have huge implications for divorced couples all over the UK.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Top title for specialist team

Legal experts at a Telford law firm have achieved yet another high profile national award thanks to their exceptional performance.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, have been named as winners of the award for Excellence in Intellectual Property Disputes in Acquisition International Magazine’s annual awards.

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “This is the latest in a series of national titles for us, and we’re absolutely delighted to have secured another award that recognises the very high standards we set ourselves. It’s particularly satisfying to take this award as the winners are chosen through votes cast by a combination of clients, other professionals and our peers.

“At Martin-Kaye, we are one of the very few law firms outside major cities to have our own specialist commercial litigation team, and this award is evidence of the fact that our efforts are working.

“To be named as the ‘clear and deserving’ winner is a huge honour for our team, and we’re very proud that our hard work has been acknowledged at such a prestigious level.”

This year’s AI Award follows hot on the heels of another win in the same competition last year for the commercial team, when they were named as Midlands Litigators of the Year. And the firm has continued to receive impressive recognition in the independent UK Legal Director Legal 500 year-on-year too.

Organisers said the Acquisition International 2015 Dispute Resolution Awards were designed to “commend those in the dispute sector dedicated to providing exceptional services throughout the industry”.

“These prestigious global awards identify the main players in what is a fiercely competitive market,” said a spokesman. “From a combination of peer reviews and in-house research, the judges pinpoint the most feared litigators, the most creative arbitrators and the most skilled mediators across a range of industries.

“From very small niche practices to large corporations, we ensure that the winners have been selected on merit and that the results are based on the votes received, backed up by our own in-house research efforts.”

Pic:    Celebrating their award success at Martin-Kaye are, from left, Jason Round, Mohammed Ahsan, Graham Davies and Andrew Oranjuik

HELP travels over the border

Employment law experts from Martin-Kaye Solicitors are set to take their message on the road in a new move to expand their business.

Our specialists will be holding one of their highly-renowned HELP seminars at Maesmawr Hall, in Caersws, on Thursday, March 19. And although they’ve hosted similar events in Telford, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, and the wider West Midlands, this will be the first time they have taken their roadshow across the border into Wales.

John Mehtam, who leads the employment law team, said the aim of the event was to help local employers learn more about the UK’s top ten employment law blunders.

“Over many years of dealing with employment and human resources problems for all kinds of companies, we have drawn up a ‘top ten’ list of common mistakes that it’s vital employers can identify.

“These blunders can lead to employers breaking the law and so leave them facing expensive claims or settlements, so if we can help identify the potential pitfalls, we can help local companies save valuable money and time. Most of these mistakes come about through a lack of understanding, or through employers taking the wrong action – but the good news is that every one of them is avoidable.”

This latest event is the most recent in the firm’s HELP series – standing for HR and Employment Law in Practice – which was designed to equip companies with the tools to deal with even the most stressful of situations.

John said: “Our HELP presentations cover a wide range of topics, and they are always warmly received by local businesses, so it’s a great opportunity to be taking our message across the border into Wales for the first time. Our advice is designed to help employers understand how to avoid making these common mistakes in the future, and we’re looking forward to meeting a brand new group of businesses and helping them tackle these tiresome difficulties.”

Martin-Kaye deliberately restricts the number of delegates at each of its HELP sessions, so everyone who attends has the chance to play an active and purposeful role in the discussions.

“Fewer delegates means more opportunity to interact with our experts and the chance to ask direct questions particular to each company’s circumstances,” said John.

Attendance at the event is initially by invitation, but anyone interested in taking up any spare places should contact June Noto on 01952 525951.