Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Wills and probate specialist Fiona Mainwaring, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said people should make certain their final wishes are heeded by using a firm of solicitors.
Changes to will-writing rules have just come into effect, but the Ministry of Justice has made it clear that it is not in favour of any form of regulation for will-writing.
The Legal Ombudsman had called for a voluntary complaints scheme to cover the growing number of unregulated wills and probate providers.
But the Ministry said “other options should be explored first, including better guidance for professionals and making better use of existing consumer information and protection”.
Fiona said: “The Law Society has been expressing concern for some time about the absence of regulation for will-writing and the damage this could have on the public. Anyone can set themselves up as a will writer, so it is important to distinguish between those who are unregulated, uninsured and untrained, and solicitors who are highly trained in this area.”
She added: “Anyone of any age who has assets, such as a house, savings or a business – or people they want to ensure are looked after – should make writing a will a priority.
“Not making a will can cause many months of grief for your loved ones. Talking about death and planning for the worst can feel uncomfortable, but you need to consider how much worse the situation would be if you died, or became too incapacitated to put your wishes down on paper.
“The latest law changes include amendments to the definition of a person’s individual personal belongings, and alterations to the rules over who can make a claim against a person’s estate. It is vital that your will writer is on top of all these issues.
“Anyone in doubt about a will writer’s qualifications can check out the Law Society’s ‘find a solicitor’ website, which lists 140,000 solicitors, by practice name, and location.”
Friday, 10 October 2014
The firm, which has offices in Telford and Wolverhampton, held the latest seminar in its long-running series at The Ramada Park Hall Hotel in Goldthorn Park.
The event was led by the company’s employment law specialist, John Metham, who said: “It was another hugely successful evening, where every seat was taken. This latest chapter in our HELP series – standing for HR and Employment Law in Practice – was designed to equip companies with the tools to deal with even the most stressful of situations.
“Our speakers covered issues around staff under-performance and discipline, as well as grievance procedures, which can be a minefield given the ever-changing legislation. No matter how well a business is run, problems with discipline and under-performance arise from time to time, so we were delighted that so many local companies came out to take advantage of some one-to-one time with experts.
“Our HELP presentations, covering a wide range of topics, continue to be warmly received by local businesses, and we will be announcing more dates and venues soon.”
We deliberately restrict the number of delegates at each of our 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,” John said. “This is why we believe companies feel they get so much out of attending.”
Pic: At the seminar are, from left John Mehtam (Martin-Kaye Solicitors), James Jagpal (Operations Manager at The Ramada Park Hall Hotel) and Graham Davies (Martin-Kaye Solicitors)
Monday, 22 September 2014
We're hosting our latest seminar in a long-running series at The Ramada Park Hall Hotel, Goldthorn Park, Wolverhampton, on Thursday, September 25, at 6pm.
Led by our employment law specialist, John Mehtam, the event is the most recent HELP presentation to be unveiled which is designed to help local employers get to grips with even the most stressful of situations.
“HELP stands for HR and Employment Law in Practice, and our aim is to equip employers with all the skills and knowledge they will need to tackle the trickiest of dilemmas in the workplace,” said John.
“This latest seminar will not only cover under performance and discipline, but also grievance procedures which can be a minefield, particularly given the ever-changing legislation.
“We’ll share our expertise and prepare employers so that if they face such a situation, they will be able to put their new skills into action and manage any issues effectively and appropriately.”
John said the HELP presentations had been warmly received by the local business community and had covered a wide range of topics.
“We’ve also deliberately restricted the number of delegates at each session, so that everyone who attends gets 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.
“No matter how well-run your business is, problems with discipline, grievances and under performance will arise from time to time, and it’s vital that employers are well prepared in advance.”
To register their attendance at the event or to find out more about HELP seminars, employers should email email@example.com, or call 01952 525951
Thursday, 18 September 2014
Leading commercial law barristers, Mohammed Zaman QC and Shakil Najib, were the guest speakers at the presentation hosted by local law firm, Martin-Kaye Solicitors, at their offices in Euston Way.
The event was called: “Directors – Do You Know Your Duties?”, and the aim was to help anyone taking a seat at the boardroom table fully understand the responsibility they were being given.
Martin-Kaye commercial lawyer Andrew Oranjuik said feedback from the delegates who took part had been incredibly positive, and they had already asked the firm to deliver more events in the future.
“Our speakers certainly created a lively and vibrant atmosphere on the day, and delegates were impressed by their wide ranging knowledge and expertise. Many people take on the mantle of ‘company director’ without appreciating fully what the title involved, and they underestimate the need to keep up with ever-changing legislation.
“Our guests were certainly left in no doubt about what they were letting themselves in for, and heard that failing to comply with the rules could ultimately bring some very serious consequences.”
Andrew said Martin-Kaye Solicitors had deliberately restricted the number of places at the seminar so that everyone taking part had the chance to play an interactive part.
“It’s important for us that delegates are able to interact directly with our guest speakers, in order to learn as much as they possibly can while they’re with us – too many delegates sometimes means it is difficult to make your voice heard.”
The law firm is now planning a schedule of future events based on topics requested by delegates including corporate manslaughter and health and safety issues.
Tuesday, 16 September 2014
New rules mean every employer must enrol workers into a workplace pension scheme if they are aged between 22 and state pension age, and earn more than £10,000 a year.
And employment law expert John Mehtam, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said there were some hefty fines being lined up for companies which were failing to comply.
“Fines of £400, plus a further £50 per day, can apply to a company which is not complying with its auto-enrolment duties,” he said. “For now, the regulator will probably forego them if you prove you are acting quickly – but the honeymoon period is not going to last forever.
“Last year, household goods chain Dunelm found itself on the wrong end of the pensions regulator’s enforcement action after a report said it had failed in its auto-enrolment duties.
“It could have landed the company with hefty fines, and action could have also been taken against directors. But Dunelm acted swiftly to put matters right and the company and its directors walked away red-faced, but scot-free. It goes to show, though, that no company is too big, or too small, to be targeted.”
John said: “The regulator wants to see businesses beginning the planning process a year ahead of when they legally need to register. If your company is late starting the process, the most important thing is not to stick your head in the sand. Contact a pensions professional – or the regulator – to find out the most efficient way of getting on track.
“Remember, directors can be held personally responsible for any failures to comply with the rules, if it can be shown that they were aware of the situation. And in the most serious of cases, that can mean criminal proceedings.”
The automatic enrolment system began at the beginning of October 2012 with staff who work for the biggest businesses, with others being signed up over the following six years. It means millions of workers in the UK will see a slice of their pay packet being automatically diverted to a savings pot for their retirement.
Employers are obliged to pay into the fund as well, with the government adding a little extra through tax relief. Workers who already save in an existing pension scheme, or are self-employed, will not be signed up.
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Rules introduced seven years ago to ban the smoking of tobacco in company cars does not cover inhalation of vapour in fast-growing electronic cigarettes, explained Tina Chander, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford.
“The legislation relating to smoking in vehicles, introduced in 2007, stated that smoking was banned in all vehicles used primarily for business purposes by more than one person.
“There are various penalties for this, but employers who flout the rules could face a fine of up to £2,500. But these regulations refer specifically to the act of smoking tobacco, rather than the inhalation of vapour, which is created by an e-cigarette. And that means it is possible, under the 2007 legislation, to use them legally in a company-owned vehicle.”
Tina added: “However, if your employee is one of the estimated 2.1 million e-cigarette users in the UK, a company’s hands are not completely tied.
“If your company’s no smoking policy does not cover the use of e-cigarettes, you can still warn the driver that such behaviour will not be tolerated in future, then make amendments to your rules. You can justify this change on the basis that holding an e-cigarette while driving is a potential distraction and therefore a serious health and safety issue.
“The number of e-cigarette users is growing fast, so if you are unhappy with the idea of company car users smoking them, it is worth checking out your small print as soon as possible.
“While the law of the land is clear on the smoking of products with tobacco or tar, creating carbon monoxide in the process, it is less black and white for people who are not puffing on the real thing.”
Friday, 29 August 2014
He said: “When it is done well, outsourcing can save you money on things such as physical overheads and payroll costs, and allow you to focus more carefully on offering a higher quality core product or service.
“It can also, sometimes, give you access to new technology or working systems without the need to invest heavily in the equipment yourselves. But there are some major pitfalls too, which companies must consider carefully before heading off down the outsourcing path.”
Graham explained: “Firstly, if the process is not managed properly, it could harm your company’s reputation. If the goods or services being provided on your behalf are not up to your usual standards, or are arriving late, then it is your image which will suffer, and not that of your supplier.
“It could lead to a rise in complaints, and ultimately end up costing you money through lost business or a tarnished reputation. It is always wise to insist on a test period with any chosen provider, retaining the right to cancel the agreement with immediate effect.
“Thorough research and a smooth handover period is essential. Don’t take at face value what the firms pitching for your business tell you – if they claim to have well trained and experienced staff, find out how they can prove it. I always think it is sensible to see their operation in full swing before putting pen to paper, and you should also ask for client testimonials.”
Graham said it was also important for businesses to remember that, although they may be outsourcing services, they remained legally responsible for the security of any personal data involved.
“Always enter into a written contract with the outsource company which specifies that they may act only on your instructions, and will take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful or unauthorised processing of personal data.”