Friday, 26 October 2018

Cyber security is top notch

A Shropshire law firm has received nationally-recognised accreditation for the security of its cyber systems.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors has been accredited with Cyber Essentials by Falanx Cyber Defence – a Government-backed scheme supported by the National Cyber Security Centre.

The initiative encourages companies and organisations to adopt good practice in the way they use technology, and it protects them against a whole range of the most common cyber-attacks.

Martin-Kaye’s Systems and Administration Department Manager, Samantha Azzopardi-Tudor, said: “We’re very proud to have achieved this accreditation and it is a clear indication to our clients and employees that we are committed to preventing cyber-attacks and protecting their personal data.

“As part of the criteria, we are required to show we are committed to using a secure internet connection in all our offices in Telford, Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, and to ensure that all our devices and software are also secure.

“It requires us to control who has access to our data and services, and for us to protect our systems from viruses and other malware, as well as making sure all our devices and software are regularly updated.”

Mrs Azzopardi-Tudor said thanks to the accreditation, Martin-Kaye Solicitors would now be listed in the recognised Government directory of organisations who have been awarded Cyber Essentials status.

“Many companies are now solely working with advisors and professional service providers who have been accredited, so anyone specifically looking to appoint a law firm that meets the very highest standards of cyber security will find us on the list,” she said.

“This recognition assures our clients that we take cyber security seriously, and that we’re continually updating our systems to protect their data at all times.”

Cyber Essentials is a simple but effective scheme that helps to protect companies and organisations against the most common attacks – and it’s particularly important as vulnerability to simple attacks can mark a company out as a target for more in-depth unwanted attention from cyber criminals.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

New office opens in county town

Lawyers at a Shropshire firm have opened a brand-new office in the heart of Shrewsbury.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors has its head office in Euston Way, in Telford, as well as another division in Wolverhampton. And now they’ve expanded their network of branches to open another in Bellstone Court, in the county town.

Partner Simon Wagner said: “We have seen an increase in enquiries from the Shrewsbury, west Shropshire and mid Wales areas, so it makes perfect sense for us to open a branch that’s more convenient for clients in those locations.”

The staff based in the new office will primarily concentrate on property matters and conveyancing, but clients will also be able to access legal advice for commercial, employment, wills and probate, and family law matters too.

Martin-Kaye’s specialist domestic property team is experienced and knowledgeable, and last year had its busiest year to date working with clients from all over the UK. The team is also accredited under the Conveyancing Quality Scheme – the quality mark for legal experts in buying or selling property.

“We’ve been looking for the right location for several months, and we believe we’ve now found exactly what we were searching for in Bellstone Court,” said Mr Wagner.

“We’ve already held the first in a series of employment law presentations at Shrewsbury Town FC as part of our expansion into the Shrewsbury area, and it was extremely well-received. In fact, the response was so good that around a dozen of the delegates who attended that seminar have asked specifically for a visit from our team with a view to signing up to our HR and employment scheme, Alpha.

“We’re off to a great start to our life in Shrewsbury and we’re looking forward to welcoming new and existing clients to our brand-new office.”

Pic: At the new Martin-Kaye office in Shrewsbury are, from left, Graham Davies, Emma Jones and Simon Wagner

Friday, 28 September 2018

Law seminar will reach a wider audience

A team of Shropshire employment law experts are set to share their knowledge with an even wider audience thanks to their latest event.

The lawyers from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, are hosting an interactive employment advice seminar that will see them share invaluable information to help employers protect their business from escalating employment tribunal claims.

The Top 10 Blunders seminar will take place at Shrewsbury Town FC on Thursday, October 4, at 12pm, and will be hosted by the firm’s employment law specialist, John Mehtam.

“Our presentations are always extremely popular wherever we hold them across Shropshire, Wales and the wider West Midlands, and as we are in the process of opening a new Shrewsbury office, this event is an opportunity for local companies to find out just how we may be able to help them.

“Statistically the number of claims now being lodged through employment tribunals is increasing at an unprecedented rate – in fact there has been a 500% rise since the Government abolished the fees that employees needed to pay to bring a claim.

“And with the avalanche of claims we’re seeing, some employees are bringing claims that stand little chance of succeeding, but employers have to take them all seriously and you need to be sure you’re complying with all the relevant legislation.”

Mr Mehtam said he would be sharing his advice to help businesses navigate through the increasingly-complicated minefield of employment law, and to help them avoid the most common pitfalls.

“We will include suggestions on how to tackle some of the most common workplace and HR issues including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance – and perhaps more importantly, we will look at how to avoid these situations and how to protect your business.

“With employers short on time, it’s almost impossible to keep up-to-date with ever-changing legislation, so our seminars offer clear, concise information in a time frame that suits our busy delegates.”

Businesses who would like to attend the seminar should contact Maria Smallcombe on 01952 272222 or email 

Pic: Martin-Kaye’s Employment Law Specialist John Mehtam who will be presenting the Top 10 Blunders seminar at Shrewsbury Town FC

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Late payment doesn't need to be an issue

Shropshire firms who are struggling with late payments should consider changing their terms and conditions to avoid the issue.

Andrew Oranjuik from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said a survey of 3000 SMEs in eleven countries had revealed that UK firms are the worst affected by late payments.

“The survey showed that almost one in five of all invoices paid to small companies are late, and around 10% of the invoices become bad debts. To make matters worse, not only are small firms battling with late payment but they also spend an average of 15 days a year chasing up the money they are owed.”

Mr Oranjuik said another survey had shown that SMEs in the UK were paid on average 18 days late, compared to nine days in the rest of Europe.

“It’s a very difficult situation because some SMEs may feel awkward about chasing up outstanding accounts – maybe you don’t want to jeopardise your relationship with the client, or maybe you simply don’t have the time or capacity to do it. But there are steps you can take that could help resolve the issue without the need to resort to tough tactics.”

Mr Oranjuik said some companies offered incentives to encourage customers to pay quickly.

“You could donate a small percentage of the balance to charity, or offer discounts to customers who settle their bill within seven days rather than the recognised term of 30 days. But this is a risk of course because clients who pay on time may find out and could demand discounts too. And why should you take a financial hit because your clients can’t pay on time?

“So think logically about how to make it easier for customers to pay on time – start by making it as simple as possible for them to make a payment, and ensure you send your invoice to the right person.

“And have you considered reducing your terms of payment? 30 days has been the accepted timeframe for a long time, but given that invoices and banking are now often electronic, it’s possible to speed up the process.

“Try reducing your terms to 14 days – the customers who tend to pay later than 30 days may still pay late, but if they pay their bill before 30 days then at least your cash flow will have improved.”

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Don't believe the urban myth

Cohabiting couples in Shropshire must not believe in the urban myth that by living together they will receive the same status as married couples.

Gemma Himsworth, who leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, is backing a national campaign to ask the government to change the law on cohabitation to bring it into the 21st century.

"As the law stands right now, there is no such thing as a common-law husband or wife, and couples who live together do not automatically have the same rights as a married couple or those in a civil partnership. But it’s time for change – and a coalition of legal organisations is calling on the government to take action.”

Mrs Himsworth is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers and other professionals who promote a non-confrontational approach to family problems.

“As an organisation, Resolution has joined forces with a wide range of other legal groups from across the UK to urge the government to review and change the rules on cohabiting to give couples – at the very least – basic legal protection.

“In England and Wales, currently one in eight adults is cohabiting, and that figure has steadily increased since 2002. But surveys have shown as many as two in three cohabiting couples are unaware there is no such thing as common law marriage in England and Wales.

“These couples think they have the same legal and financial rights and protections as married couples, but it’s just not the case.”

Mrs Himsworth said this lack of understanding could lead to significant problems if the relationship ends, or if one of the partners dies.

“It’s never clear from one case to the next whether the courts are going to allow a deceased person’s estate to pass on to a surviving cohabiting partner – even if they effectively lived together as husband and wife – so the situation certainly needs clarifying.

“Of course, the trauma of taking cases such as this through the courts can be easily avoided if couples who live together without being married ensure they have all the appropriate cohabitation agreements in place outlining who owns property, how bills are divided, and they prepare up-to-date wills.

“The last thing anyone wants to do, when they are dealing with the loss of a partner, is to find themselves facing what is bound to be an emotionally exhausting – and potentially expensive – legal battle.

“It’s no good assuming that just because you live with someone that they will automatically inherit after your death – for now, the system just doesn’t work like that.”

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Advice clinics for employers

Employers from all over Shropshire will have the opportunity to seek expert legal advice in their lunch hour thanks to a local law firm.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, is launching a series of Employer Clinics aimed at busy companies who are pressed for time during the working day.

The one-to-one sessions will take place through September and October, and employers and HR managers will get the chance to meet up with one of Martin-Kaye’s experienced employment law solicitors to discuss any issues their company is facing.

The Martin-Kaye employment team is offering a free first appointment (lasting around 20 minutes) where companies can explain any issues and receive advice on what to do next.

Appointments will take place between 1pm and 2pm, with the timings scheduled specifically to avoid the busiest hours of the working day.

John Mehtam, who leads the employment law team, said: “At Martin-Kaye, we’re committed to delivering effective and appropriate advice that really does make a difference to local companies.

“With employers short on time, it’s almost impossible to keep up-to-date with ever-changing legislation, so these sessions will give companies direct access to our experienced team, and we can get right to the point with some practical advice.

“It’s a similar approach to the employment law seminars that we run, where we offer clear, concise information in a time frame that suits our busy delegates. These short sharp sessions are the perfect way for busy companies to find out all about the latest developments in employment law.”

Mr Mehtam said so far, clinics had been planned for September 21, September 28, and October 5 – all at the Martin-Kaye offices in Telford.

“We’re looking for companies to sign up for the clinics and would like to hear from any business who feels they may benefit from some professional legal advice.”

The clinics are open to employers from all sectors and the topics up for discussion are likely to include some of the most common workplace and HR issues including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance.

To book an appointment call Andrea Henley at Martin-Kaye on 01952 566920 or email

Friday, 27 July 2018

Healthy approach to hygiene pays off

Shropshire employers could reduce staff sickness rates by introducing simple hygiene rules, according to a local solicitor.

Gemma Workman is an employment lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and she said surveys had revealed mixed results when it came to the number of days that employees were calling in sick.

“The Office for National Statistics has unveiled its latest data that shows approximately 137.3 million working days were lost to illness or injury in 2016.

“That’s the lowest rate since their records began over 20 years ago and it averages out at 4.3 days per worker. Yet other surveys have shown sickness rates are rising – an XpertHR poll of over 1.6 million employees showed the annual average was 6.6 days.”

Miss Workman said the ONS figures showed that one in every four days that staff stayed at home was down to a cough, cold or similar bug.

“Their survey also noted that manual workers were 17% less likely to call in sick due to colds, stomach aches and headaches than people who worked in offices. But back pain was, perhaps unsurprisingly, more common for people who had a physical job.”

Miss Workman said stepping up workplace hygiene could have a real impact on sickness rates, in particular, the use of sanitising hand gels.

“Some studies have shown that when the gels are available, the number of sick days falls – in Germany, colds and flu were 5% to 7% less in workforces where people used the gels five times a day.

“Even just making the gels available in prominent locations across your workplace will make people think more about hygiene, and you could also put up posters to encourage staff to wash their hands properly.

“It’s horrifying to think that 62% of men and 40% of women don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet, and it’s also no wonder that germs spread so easily when you look at those figures.

“Taking hygiene seriously could have a really positive effect on both the wellbeing of your staff and on the productivity and finances of your business. Reducing staff sick days will save on the expense of lost staff time, and also the cost of bringing in extra staff to cover for their absence.”