Friday, 13 July 2018

Partnership approach pays dividends

Lawyers from a Telford firm have joined forces with a network of city-based barristers to offer a fresh approach to family disputes.

The family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, is working with experts in Birmingham, to develop an arbitration scheme that could speed up difficult cases.

Gemma Himsworth, who leads the Martin-Kaye family division, said she and her colleague Jane Tinsley were in talks with some of the city’s top barristers.

“Arbitration is a little-known option for family disputes, but it’s something that we believe could be increasingly useful – particularly in the current climate when the court system is struggling and creating huge delays.

“There is of course no such thing as a quickie divorce, but the arbitration option is definitely something that could help ease the pressure on the legal system and help resolve family issues in a shorter time.”

Mrs Himsworth said divorce itself was a relatively straightforward process, as long as those involved had someone to assist with the correct paperwork.

“But the divorce doesn’t deal with the finances such as dividing up the house, business, income, and other assets – this is the part that often takes the longest time and costs the most money.

“We already regularly refer clients to mediation, but if the case can’t be resolved that way, traditionally the only other option has been for both parties to go to court.

“Now, thanks to our discussions with Birmingham-based barristers, we can suggest arbitration where both sides jointly appoint a fair and impartial family arbitrator to resolve the dispute.

“It’s a flexible and completely confidential process, but the huge advantage over something like mediation is that it results in a final decision – if both sides still can’t agree after arbitration, the arbitrator will make a decision for you.”

Mrs Himsworth said the arbitration process did come at a cost as the arbitrator had to be paid, but it often still led to cost savings because it led to a faster decision, potentially cutting down on the amount of time people had to maintain two households and two mortgages.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Plan ahead for later years

A Telford solicitor has backed a campaign urging families to prepare for their later years to help avoid a possible dementia crisis.

Fiona Mainwaring, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Euston Way, said a report published by the Solicitors for the Elderly organisation warned that the UK was “sleep-walking” towards a dementia disaster.

“Around 12 million people in the UK who are at high risk of losing mental capacity have made no provision whatsoever for their future. This means millions of people have not planned ahead to ensure their wishes are followed and yet it’s very simple to do – you need to take professional advice and make a lasting power of attorney (LPA).

“The person you appoint will ensure that your wishes are followed if you cannot make decisions for yourself about your health, your financial affairs and about any ongoing care needs you may have.”

Mrs Mainwaring said a coalition of partners including AgeUK and the Alzheimer’s Society had been set up amid warnings of a looming “incapacity crisis”.

The Solicitors for the Elderly report, which was published in conjunction with the Centre for Future Studies, said research showed that 12.8 million people over the age of 65 run the risk of developing dementia.

“And yet, there are only 928,000 LPAs currently registered – by 2025, around 13.2 million people will be at risk but only 2.2 million LPAs are expected to be in place. It’s clear that the situation is untenable and it’s vital that more people plan ahead because otherwise, the UK care system will be overwhelmed and millions of people will lose their chance to shape their own future.

“Start a positive conversation with your family and friends about your future welfare, and seek out a family law solicitor to find out how to put a plan in place. This will make the decision-making process much easier for everyone.”

Charity director at AgeUK, Caroline Abrahams, agreed saying it was advisable to set up an LPA well in advance.

“You can specify what decisions you are happy for your attorney to make on your behalf, and you can also choose more than one attorney who could be a family member, a friend, spouse, partner or civil partner, or a professional adviser such as a solicitor.”

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Maria joins Martin-Kaye

A Telford law firm has appointed a new marketing specialist as part of its campaign to reach new clients across the UK.

Maria Smallcombe has joined Martin-Kaye Solicitors at their head office, in Euston Way, and she will be working closely with senior partner Graham Davies and his team to boost the firm’s profile.

She said: “I’m really looking forward to applying my marketing skills to a professional services environment as that’s a first for me, and it’s very interesting to see how the legal profession operates.

“I have worked in marketing for 20 years in a variety of areas including manufacturing, education, the arts, healthcare and IT, in both the public and private sectors. Now I’m enjoying the challenge of using my knowledge and experience to help Martin-Kaye to build on the strong reputation they already have, and being part of the team that develops strategies to attract new clients.”

Maria graduated from the University of Wolverhampton and initially worked in the travel sector before choosing to make marketing her career.

Graham Davies said: “At Martin-Kaye, we are always keen to continuously develop our strategies and to fine-tune our approach when it comes to finding new clients both close to home and further afield.

“It’s great to see Maria’s skills from her previous roles being used in a legal setting, and we’re keen to explore the fresh and innovative ideas she has to maximise our opportunities for new business.”

As well as offering general marketing support, Maria will also be involved in the organisation and administration of seminars, workshops and presentations – in particular, the popular Top 10 Tips and Blunders sessions presented by the firm’s employment law team to audiences all over the UK.

Pic: Maria Smallcombe joins the Martin-Kaye team in Telford 


Friday, 22 June 2018

Employers need to take action over avalanche of claims




Employers are facing an avalanche of claims following the Government’s decision to abolish tribunal fees – but a Shropshire law firm has the answers company bosses need.

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

The Top 10 Blunders seminar will take place at Martin-Kaye’s offices on Thursday, July 12, 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 this event is an opportunity for local companies to find out just how valuable the right advice can be.

“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 fees that employees needed to pay to bring a claim were abolished.

“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.

“At Martin-Kaye, we’re committed to delivering effective and appropriate advice that really does make a difference to our employers, and our short sharp seminars are designed to get right to the point.

“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 mariasmallcombe@martinkaye.co.uk  

Pic: Martin-Kaye’s Employment Law Specialist John Mehtam who will be presenting the Top 10 Blunders seminar at the firm’s Telford office

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

World Cup woes for businesses

Companies could benefit from a huge boost in business thanks to the upcoming World Cup – but failing to get their workplace policies in order could see them scoring an own goal.

That’s the warning from John Mehtam, the Employment Law specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford.

“According to the British Retail Consortium, the arrival of a World Cup can generate up to £1.25 billion in extra spending across the retail sector in Britain. But away from the High Street, it can also have a damaging impact on company productivity as staff seek to book extra holiday, or call in sick, so they can watch the big games – or recover from a late night of celebrations.”

Mr Mehtam said as the competition was being held in Russia this year, the time difference meant that many of the matches would be kicking off in the middle of the working day.

“This could be a real issue for many businesses, and with England’s group matches in the evenings and at weekends, shift workers could be affected too, so it’s important for managers to make sure they have rigorous policies in place, and that they are communicated clearly to all staff.

“Flexibility on the part of both employers, and their employees is key to maintaining a productive business, and a happy, motivated workforce. To achieve this, it is important for Shropshire managers to have agreements in place regarding issues like time off, sickness absence, or even time spent watching TV and monitoring social media.

“A more flexible approach is not always possible for some businesses – if England do well, momentum for merchandise will undoubtedly build in the shops and pubs, and employers will need all the staff they can muster. In these instances, it is vital that all requests for time off are dealt with fairly, and consistently.

“It’s also important to remember that not everyone likes football – there could be resentment from non-fans if they feel staff are being given special treatment which is not afforded to workers during other sporting events.”

Mr Mehtam said employers needed to make the right decisions for their own individual business.

“Being flexible will help to motivate and engage workers, but you still need to keep your customers happy. The vast majority of workers will understand this, but they must also be reminded that any unauthorised absence, suspicious working patterns, or evidence of turning up worse for wear after the previous evening’s excesses, could result in more than just a yellow card. It could lead to formal disciplinary proceedings.”

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

New face joins the Martin-Kaye team

Martin-Kaye Solicitors have welcomed a new commercial property solicitor to their team.

Jas Khela is the latest new face to join the law firm, in Euston Way, Telford, and he has wide-ranging experience after completing his training with a city centre legal practice in Birmingham, followed by a move to another Shropshire firm.

“I’m delighted to have joined such a forward-thinking and progressive practice, and everyone has already made me feel very welcome,” said Jas. "This is a great opportunity for me to develop my skills and to build a career as part of a dynamic and effective team.”

Jas will specialise in a wide variety of commercial property cases including: landlord and tenant issues such as new leases, surrenders, licences, and rent reviews; sales and purchases; and land development including conditional contracts and option agreements.

Martin-Kaye Senior Partner Graham Davies said Jas was an excellent addition to the commercial property department, and he was already building strong contacts with new and existing clients.

“We’re always looking for keen and ambitious lawyers to join us here at Martin-Kaye, and Jas fits the bill perfectly. His commercial property skills are excellent, and he’s working very well alongside colleagues who are keen to share their knowledge and experience with him.

“We believe the working environment we can offer is a great setting for lawyers who are looking to develop their skills and learn from our team, and we’re very pleased to see Jas fitting in so well.”

Martin-Kaye’s specialist partner-led commercial property team acts for both sellers and purchasers in all kinds of deals ranging from the property aspects of large restructuring deals, to the sale or purchase of the premises of a small business.

The team acts for both landlords and tenants in leasehold matters too, including rent reviews, security of tenure, new short or long-term leases, lease assignments, sublets and occupational licences.

Pic: Jas Khela is the new commercial property lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Fake reviews can be fatal

Business owners must take action over fake website reviews or risk their company’s reputation, and even its entire future.

Graham Davies, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said with competition for business so fierce, some companies and individuals had resorted to posting fake negative reviews on company websites.

“Research has shown that in 2017, 85% of hotels had been subjected to fake reviews – and that’s an increase from 65% just two years earlier.

“The hospitality industry has been a popular target, but many other industries and small businesses have also been affected. Of course, in business you’re never going to please all of your customers all of the time, but fake reviews left on your website can be extremely damaging.”

Mr Davies said firstly you should check whether the review came from an actual customer or not.

“If you believe it’s not a genuine customer, flag the review up with Google or whichever platform it has been posted on, although they won’t always agree to remove it and this process can take some time. If they won’t take the review down, you should post a reply – don’t be tempted to lose your temper as it will only reflect badly on your company and so help your competitor.

“Compose a dignified and polite reply that explains you have checked your records and that they don’t appear to be listed as a customer, but if they’d like to call you then you’ll deal with their concerns.”

Mr Davies said business owners should not be tempted to bring in a marketing firm that promised to fix their online reputation either.

“The Competition and Markets Authority has recently stepped up its campaign to root out companies who are employed to post fake positive reviews in a bid to redress the balance, so you could still be breaking the law.

“Most importantly, make sure you deal with the review one way or another – if it is a negative comment from a genuine customer, dealing with it constructively and (if it’s appropriate) on a public forum shows you appreciate their concerns and take them on board.

“It’s too dangerous to simply ignore negative comments online as they won’t simply disappear, and they could put the very future of your business at risk in the long term.”