Monday, 29 January 2018

Tread carefully with online messages

Employers should tread very carefully when it comes to monitoring their employees’ emails and messages, a local solicitor has warned.

Gemma Workman, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said employers should make their staff aware of any monitoring of their communications, as they could be guilty of breaching the employee’s right to privacy.

Her warning follows a court case where the European Court of Human Rights backed an employee who was dismissed after his employer found he’d been using a company online account to send private messages.

“In this case, the employee sent personal messages to his family, but he wasn’t informed that his emails and messages would be monitored.

“The court ruled that the employee’s privacy should have been protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees respect for private and family life, so the employee won his case.”

The case involved an employee who worked in sales and who was asked to set up a Yahoo Messenger account to answer client’s enquiries. He had been warned not to use it for private matters, but was found to have been using it to exchange personal messages with family members.

“The court’s ruling is a warning to employers that they need to think very carefully about why they need to monitor an employee’s emails and what they are trying to protect,” said Miss Workman. “Usually it’s to ensure they are complying with the law and their obligations, and so that’s likely to be a legitimate reason.

“But you must warn employees in advance that you might monitor their emails and text messages, and that you reserve the right to do so. You could refer to this right in the staff handbook so it’s absolutely clear.

“Another option for employers though is to block employees’ access to personal emails on their systems altogether, rather than retaining the right to review their private communications. It’s clear that employers need to tread very carefully when it comes to online messages, and that they must ensure their staff know exactly where they stand.”

Friday, 26 January 2018

Customer data warning for businesses

Shropshire business owners could be missing out on valuable customer information if they don’t offer free Wi-Fi for customers and visitors.

But Andrew Oranjuik from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said it was vital that the information collected was handled sensitively and appropriately.

“For many businesses, there’s often a time when customers have time on their hands while they’re waiting at your offices, and it’s the perfect time for them to catch up on emails or check the latest news headlines.

“By offering free Wi-Fi, you’re not only keeping your customers happy, there are advantages for your business too – in particular, information.

“You are controlling the network connection, so you can set your website as the homepage and ask for customer data such as their name, email address, and age, which is extremely useful for future marketing campaigns.

“But make it very clear what your customers are signing up to and how the data will be used. Don’t ask for too many details either or you could put your clients off altogether.”

Mr Oranjuik said new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules which come into force later this year were also a consideration for business owners.

“Businesses will have to comply with much stricter guidelines and be far more transparent about how they process customer data.

“So collecting information while your customers are on your premises will need to be very carefully managed and you’ll need to provide an active opt-in where they individually agree to you holding their details. Of course, if they want to use your Wi-Fi network, they will probably be more than happy to let you have their personal information, so it’s a win-win situation.

“You’ll need to ensure you have business broadband with unlimited downloads, and keep the new ‘public’ network clearly separate from your business Wi-Fi network by giving it a separate name and access code. Don’t be tempted to work with an open network where no access code is required as non-customers will be able to make use of your Wi-Fi just by being in the area.

“Give your customers a user-friendly code and promote it clearly inside your building. You’ll also need to ensure you have the highest level of cyber security in place so that all data transmitted will be encrypted. Free Wi-Fi can give your business a head-start when it comes to collecting key information, but beware the new GDPR rules and make sure you’re handling the details you collect with care.”

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Don't be deceitful over divorce

Divorcing couples have been warned not to try to massage the truth on court papers to secure a better deal.

Gemma Himsworth, who leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said research had shown there was an increase in the number of divorce petitions that were actually stretching the truth.

“Most people would assume that divorce papers would be an accurate reflection of why the marriage broke down and who was to blame.

“But in fact, only three in 10 people who were surveyed said the reason for their fault-based divorce closely matched the reason why they separated.”

Mrs Himsworth said some petitions included false claims and admissions of adultery, and the tweaking of separation dates to reduce the wait times in two and five-year separation cases.

“This is a very dangerous game to play and although it may seem tempting to try to make a divorce case easier and quicker, couples should be very careful if they decide to go down this route.

“A divorce petition is a document that goes before a court, and so it needs to be true and accurate otherwise there can be serious consequences. Taking such a risk can be costly, stressful and lead to the divorce taking longer to resolve, with the even bigger risk that you may have to start all over again or amend the petition if it is found to be incorrect.”

Mrs Himsworth urged divorcing couples to seek proper advice to enable them to navigate the grounds for divorce fairly and effectively.

“The trouble with fault-based divorces is that they don’t reflect the reality of relationship breakdown for most couples, and they also do nothing to help them deal with the aftermath of the break-up.

“The family justice organisation, Resolution, has campaigned for a no-fault divorce system and to ‘make no-fault the default. This could make a stressful situation much more comfortable for both partners, and reduce the chances of any additional conflict moving forwards.

“It’s time for divorcing couples to think very carefully before they are economical with the truth, and to work towards a positive and healthier result.”

Monday, 18 December 2017

Data rules are a hot topic

Around 50 delegates were among the first in Shropshire to hear what new data protection rules will mean for their companies.

They attended a presentation from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, on the new General Data Protection Regulation rules that will come into force in May 2018.

The event took place at Martin-Kaye’s offices in Euston Way, and delegates heard from Jane Sarginson, a specialist barrister from Birmingham who is an accredited EU General Data Protection Regulation Practitioner.

Martin-Kaye Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “We were delighted to welcome Jane to our presentation and she was well-qualified to deliver the seminar as her skills have been recognised by the International Board for IT Governance.

“This was one of the earliest opportunities for companies in this area to learn from an expert in the field what the new rules will mean to the way they run their business.

“As this subject was so current, and because many companies are unclear of what their responsibilities will be, we had an excellent response to our invitations, and I’m sure it’s not the last event of this kind that we’ll be running.”

The GDPR will come into effect on May 25, 2018, and it places much greater responsibility on businesses that process personal data.

Directors and officers will shoulder more liability than ever before, and some industry experts believe they may soon be held personally liable for cyber-breaches or neglecting to prioritise cyber risk management.

Mr Davies said: “It will be crucial for organisations to review the methods they use to collect clients’ consent, and whatever process that might be, it will have to be an active opt-in approach where they individually agree to you holding their information.

“Some companies are so worried about falling foul of GDPR that they are already scrapping their entire email marketing lists, so it’s clear that accurate and relevant information is the key to navigating this minefield.

“Thanks to our topical and concise presentation, our delegates received an overview of how they will be affected by the changes, and as ever, we delivered the event in a short sharp lunchtime window so that it didn’t impact adversely on their working day.”

Pic: Martin-Kaye Solicitors hosted a GDPR presentation at their Telford offices – from left, Graham Davies, Jane Sarginson, and John Mehtam

Friday, 15 December 2017

Amy kick starts her career with Martin-Kaye

An apprentice who joined a Midlands law firm has proved such a success that she now has a full-time job at the practice.

Amy Potts joined Martin-Kaye Solicitors at their Wolverhampton office to work in the administration team after completing the first year of her A Level studies.

“During my time as an apprentice, I learned some extremely useful skills and also gained a year’s worth of experience in the world of law.

“Completing my apprenticeship meant I achieved a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration, and I was delighted when Martin-Kaye offered me a permanent job.”

Amy is now working in the domestic conveyancing department, and the management team have been so impressed with her commitment and dedication that she has also been given the opportunity to work with one of the practice partners in an admin role.

“I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made so far in such a short time, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience of learning more about how a busy legal firm operates,” said Amy, who is now based at the company’s Telford office.

Practice Partner Simon Wagner said: “We’ve been incredibly pleased with the work that Amy has been doing for us, and it’s clear she has a very bright future ahead of her.

“This is a great chance for her to build the foundations of a strong career and to learn from our experienced team who are always happy to share their knowledge with their colleagues.”

Pic: Amy Potts now has a full-time role at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Emma joins an award-winning team

A solicitor who specialises in domestic property conveyancing has joined a Telford firm after being impressed by the team’s performance.

Emma Jones is the latest new face to join Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Euston Way, and she will deal with a wide variety of transactions involving leasehold and new build properties.

“Martin-Kaye is a well-established and well-respected law firm, and after working with the team on the other side of many property transactions in the past, I was keen to join them when an opportunity came up,” said Emma.

“My new role will include dealing with sales, purchases and re-mortgaging of residential properties, and in particular dealing with leasehold and new build transactions.

“After working in a busy firm in Birmingham City Centre, I’m looking forward to putting my experience to good use and to tackling the challenges that this new step brings.”

Emma graduated from Staffordshire University and qualified as a solicitor in 2015 after completing a training contract at another local Shropshire law firm.

“I’m delighted to have the chance to work with my new colleagues at Martin-Kaye – they have mastered the art of adapting to modern conveyancing without losing the traditional values of client care and customer service which can often be overlooked.”

Nita Patel who leads the property team said Emma’s experience made her an invaluable addition to the department.

“We’re always keen to work with ambitious and committed lawyers, and Emma fits that criteria very well.

“She has already settled in to our busy conveyancing department and we’re looking forward to seeing her working closely with new and existing clients to ensure they receive the very best customer service and support at all times.”

Pic: Emma Jones has joined the conveyancing team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Jane joins the family team

Lawyers at a Telford legal firm have welcomed a new face to their growing family law team.

Jane Tinsley has joined the family department at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, after a parental career break.

She had previously worked for many years at a large law firm in Shropshire and the wider Midlands, and she is delighted to be returning to the legal world.

“I specialise exclusively in family law, and have extensive experience in all areas of the sector including divorce, separation, resolution of finances, disputes concerning children, and cohabitation disputes and agreements.

“This is a great opportunity for me to join a forward-thinking and progressive law firm that has a good reputation for the high-quality advice it delivers, and I’m looking forward to working with such a close-knit team and helping clients to resolve the issues they are facing.

“I’m committed to resolving matters efficiently and amicably for clients, and I’m confident my experience will help me to find practical solutions that make a positive difference.”

Jane qualified as a legal executive in 1998 and as a solicitor in 2003, and her appointment makes her the latest addition to a family law team that’s constantly growing.

Gemma Himsworth, who is Martin-Kaye’s head of family law, said she was very pleased to welcome Jane to the firm, as her wide-ranging experience would be a real asset.

“We’re a growing team that has worked hard to develop the reputation we now have, and it’s always a pleasure to see new lawyers fitting in so well – Jane is already a valued member of our department.”

Martin-Kaye’s family law team are members of Resolution – a national organisation of family lawyers who are committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation, and other family problems.

“Our aim is to avoid court disputes wherever possible, particularly where children are involved, and we encourage a conciliatory approach so everyone can move forward with their lives,” said Mrs Himsworth.

Pic: Jane Tinsley is the new family lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford