Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Blind Dave will inspire Telford

Business leaders in Telford are set to hear from one of the most inspirational guest speakers they've ever had.

Telford Business Partnership will welcome Blind Dave Heeley to its breakfast meeting on Wednesday, July 4, at The Holiday Inn, Telford.

Dave is renowned for his phenomenal charity efforts and is the only blind person (and only the fourth man in the world) to complete the Ultimate Endurance Challenge - seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

TBP Chairman, Graham Davies, who is our senior partner, said: "We are really looking forward to welcoming Dave to our breakfast event, and to hearing his inspirational story of how he has met life's obstacles head on and overcome them.

"As well as his Ultimate Endurance Challenge, which he ran with guide Malcolm Carr to raise money for Guide Dogs UK, Dave is well-known for his determination to achieve whatever he sets his mind to.

"He has even driven a car around Brands Hatch and has ridden a motorbike, so to hear his story will be fantastic motivation for all our members."

Dave will be introduced on the day by Kevin Parr, a motivational speaker from the PGS Team. He has worked with a wide range of high performers from Olympic gold medal winners to dynamic business entrepreneurs, and is passionate about helping businesses to increase their motivation.

Telford Business Partnership (TBP) is a growing network of business and professional service companies who promote the diversity and quality of their services to local firms and those relocating to the area. TBP describes itself as "the voice of professional business services", and encourages members to work together to create the right blend of skills to meet every possible business opportunity.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ruling will stop the bullies

News that courts can step in to protect elderly and vulnerable people from their own families has been welcomed by our family law team.

Fiona Mainwaring said the decision meant elderly relatives could not be bullied.

"The news comes after the Court of Appeal ruled an elderly woman who was bullied by her son into moving into a care home had not given valid consent to the move.

"This was the first appeal since the Mental Capacity Act came into force, and it was asked to consider if a vulnerable adult could still be the victim of psychological abuse. And the appeal judges ruled that the Act had not taken away the High Court's right to intervene."

Fiona said even though the Act had been introduced to protect adults lacking mental capacity, such as those with dementia, this decision meant the court could also step in to help anyone who had been coerced or had been put under severe pressure.

The case was brought by the local authority against the woman's son, who was living with his mother at the time, following concerns that he was over-controlling in her life. He was reported to have threatened his mother, told her where in the house she could move, prevented her from going out, and tried to force her to move into a care home.

"His mother asked the local authority not to launch the case, but they applied for an injunction to stop the son interfering with his mother's decisions.

"This decision shows the courts can step in to protect anyone who is unable to give a 'true consent' to a particular aspect of their own lives - not as a result of mental incapacity but for some other reason such as pressure from someone else.

"I'm very pleased that with this ruling, the Court of Appeal has ensured everyone will receive the protection they deserve at times when they may be at their most vulnerable. This is good news, particularly at a time when the UK's elderly population is on the increase and decisions over care will become more and more frequent."

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Keep a lid on client costs

Companies who pull out all the stops to impress clients must try to curb their enthusiasm or risk falling foul of bribery legislation.

This summer's packed calendar of events brings a whole host of corporate entertainment opportunities - with Wimbledon and the Olympic Games just two of the highlights.

And our senior partner, Graham Davies, has warned corporate hospitality must be set at a "reasonable" level, or it may be contrary to the Bribery Act 2010.

"In a survey, over half the business managers interviewed thought that spending £100 per person on corporate hospitality was lavish. And the more lavish a business gift or hospitality, the more likely it is to be considered contrary to the Act.

"But of course, £100 per head doesn't go far in today's world, particularly if you're buying tickets for major sporting events."

Graham said the Act was not designed to prohibit business entertainment altogether, but at the same time, it didn't set out what acceptable limits may be.

"It just says that the amount you spend must be proportionate and reasonable based on the business that you do. But setting a low limit on hospitality expenses and so thinking the Act won't apply isn't the answer either.

"By doing this, you'll find it difficult to prove that you took adequate steps to prevent bribery if anyone should accuse your company."

Graham said companies should set out a strong anti-bribery policy and have clear guidelines on how corporate hospitality should work in their organisation.

"Set out your rules on any hospitality that's given or received, and decide on the level of costs that must be pre-approved in advance by a director before an event goes ahead, or ask that all corporate hospitality is signed off before it actually happens or is accepted by your staff.

"This way someone in a senior position will be aware of everything that's going on so they can question anything that looks like it may be against the rules - it's also a good way of checking just how much is spent on business entertainment."

Friday, 1 June 2012

Is it worth it?

Shropshire landlords could decide to cut their losses rather than chase tenants for outstanding arrears.

Louise Clowes, from our commercial property team, said chasing up outstanding rent could be a lengthy and difficult process.

"There are many options available to landlords who are concerned their tenants may be struggling to pay their rent. But sometimes it may be more sensible to just recover possession of the building while you still can, before the legal process takes over."

Louise said if the commercial landlord was determined to take an official stance, they should think carefully about what steps to take. "If your tenant paid a rent deposit when they took on the lease, you will probably be entitled to use this to cover the rent due.

"And if your tenant has someone who stands as a guarantor to the lease, you can call on them to pay the arrears."

Louise also said landlords may be entitled to seize, impound and sell any goods belonging to the tenant, or you could choose a right of re-entry and take back the tenanted property itself.

"If you decide to take court action and claim against the tenant to try to recover the debt, this is unlikely to be much use if the tenant is about to become insolvent. But if the property is sub-let, then in some circumstances the main landlord can ask an under-tenant to pay its rent directly to them and cut out the middle man."

Until your tenant is formally declared insolvent, landlords are entitled to use any of the options available to them.

"But after the declaration, some remedies will only be possible if the insolvency practitioner or the courts give their permission - this is likely to be a long and expensive process, and permission is not always guaranteed to be given.

"So think carefully about the options available to you before you even start any formal proceedings - you may decide it's not worth the stress, cost and time to pursue someone who will never be able to pay up."