Friday, 27 September 2013

VIPs toast law firm's new offices


Around 100 guests attended a VIP reception to launch our brand new office in Wolverhampton.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors has its headquarters in Telford, but an increase in business from across the West Midlands has led to us opening new premises in the city.

Guests included the Mayor Councillor Milkinder Jaspal and Mayoress Jasbir Jaspal, and representatives from a wide range of businesses across the West Midlands region.

Martin-Kaye senior partner, Graham Davies, welcomed the audience and said his team were very keen to play an active role in the local business community.

“Wolverhampton has a proud history and a brilliant future, and we want to be very much a part of that future. Our VIP launch gave guests the opportunity to meet the lawyers who will be working in the city in a relaxed and sociable environment, and to find out more about our refreshingly different approach to doing business.”

Mayor Councillor Jaspal said: “We’d like to thank Martin-Kaye Solicitors for moving into Wolverhampton – working in partnership is very important as you can’t be successful on your own. If companies and organisations work with the council and each other, together we will prosper.”

Martin-Kaye’s new office at Bredon House, on Tettenhall Road, is now ready for business, and there has already been a great deal of client interest even before the doors opened.

Graham said: “Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of enquiries coming from businesses in Wolverhampton and the Black Country. Our research shows there is a growing demand in the city for specialised legal services and we believe our range of skills will provide local businesses with greater choice.”

He said the firm was also keen to expand into the Wolverhampton area as it was developing into a vibrant area for business, particularly given the multi-million pound i54 development.

“It’s a natural expansion for our business as there is an even greater concentration of the size and types of businesses we act for, and in fact, many of our lawyers actually live or originate from the West Midlands, which makes the new office the obvious choice for us.”

Pic:    At the VIP launch of the new Martin-Kaye Solicitors office in Wolverhampton are, from left, John Mehtam (employment law specialist), Mayor Councillor Milkinder Jaspal and Mayoress Jasbir Jaspal, and senior partner Graham Davies

Thursday, 26 September 2013

IT shortcuts can cause headaches


A growing number of companies are allowing staff to connect their own IT devices to the company’s network in a bid to save costs and improve efficiency.

But the move could also be costing businesses lost time, and increasing their risk of penalties, according to our employment law expert John Mehtam.

“Depending on which report you read, the idea of bringing your own device to work is either hailed as a time and cost-saving breakthrough, or a risky waste of effort,” said John.

“Our view is that encouraging staff to use their own IT equipment at work is fine until something goes wrong. If your network crashes, you’ll lose productive time and suffer a great deal of stress, especially if you are the director of IT.”

John said: “But there’s more to worry about than that. If there is a breach of data protection rules, it is usually the company directors who are liable, and this could include tough penalties. So if you allow staff to use their own devices and your firm is registered under the Data Protection Act, you must take steps to ensure that any data stored on their devices is secure.”

He said the decision to allow staff to use their own hardware boiled down to three main questions; will it reduce the IT investment bill, will it improve and encourage more productive use of time, or will time be wasted transferring apps and data between company and non-company machines?

“If, after considering the pros and cons, you are happy to allow staff to use their own IT equipment, make sure you issue a firm policy on how this will work.

“The director in charge of IT should be consulted over every tablet, phone or laptop an employee wants to connect to the company’s network. And the business should emphasise that it will not pay either the running costs, or repair bills, for personal devices which are also used for work purposes.”

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Think twice about making that link


Office workers may need to reconsider how they use their LinkedIn social media accounts following a significant new court ruling.

The High Court has decided that a former employer is within its rights to continue exerting some control on a person’s LinkedIn account, if it is done to protect its business interests. This is despite the account being set up in the name of the employee, rather than the company concerned.

Employment law expert John Mehtam, a partner at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said: “It is clear, following this ruling, that employers who encourage the use of LinkedIn need to have the appropriate guidance and policies in place. It is also wise to review employment contracts to ensure that any restrictions imposed on staff after termination of their employment are fit for purpose.”

His claims follow a case involving former staff members from Whitmar Publications Limited in Tunbridge Wells, who left to set up a new publishing company called Earth Island. The court heard how LinkedIn accounts set up during their time at Whitmar had been used as a source of email  addresses for a news release about the new company.

John said: “This was clearly a breach of good faith, and in the High Court of Justice, Mr Peter Leaver granted an interim mandatory injunction in favour of Whitmar. The issue has since been concluded by an out of court financial settlement, with Earth Island having to cover a substantial part of Whitmar’s legal costs.

“The case underlines the importance of imposing clear, express duties on employees and agents to promote the employer’s business on LinkedIn.

“It may also be worth considering including other clauses in a contract requiring staff to provide access to LinkedIn accounts, after termination, because although they appear to contradict LinkedIn’s user agreement, it would seem they have the law of the land on their side.”

Friday, 20 September 2013

New approach for Nadia


Our family law partner, Nadia Davis, has become one of the first solicitors in the county to qualify under a new scheme that takes a different approach to divorce.

She has now also qualified as a collaborative lawyer, and under the new initiative, couples going through a divorce and their solicitors sign an agreement to show they are committed to finding the best solutions through negotiation, rather than through court proceedings.

The agreement prevents the lawyers involved from representing their client in court if the collaborative process breaks down, so everyone involved is absolutely committed to making it work.

“I am very pleased to have qualified under this new scheme, and it means we can now offer an alternative approach for some couples that will mean court action is unnecessary,” said Nadia.

“At Martin-Kaye Solicitors, we’re committed to delivering the very best advice to our clients at all times and to continuously developing the services we can provide. So I believe it’s vital that our team regularly updates their skills and embraces new approaches to the ever-changing world of family law that could make a real difference to our clients.”

Nadia said one of the benefits of the collaborative process was that it was not driven by a timetable imposed by a court.

“The process can be built around each family’s individual timetable and priorities, and sometimes only a handful of meetings may be required to resolve the case, so it’s often a much quicker route to take.”

Martin-Kaye Solicitors also takes a different approach to many other law practices when it comes to the cost of legal advice. For a long time now, we have promoted fixed fees and pricing for a case even when the circumstances are unpredictable, and we have a fixed fee scale specifically for divorce cases.

“One of the biggest fears for anyone who is going through a family breakdown is the potential costs they may face, and our fee structure combined with the new collaborative approach gives our clients a much clearer picture of how things are likely to proceed.”

Thursday, 12 September 2013

We're spreading our wings!


Martin-Kaye Solicitors is branching out and we're opening a brand new office in Wolverhampton to meet an increase in demand from clients.

We'll still have our headquarters in Euston Way, in Telford, but an increase in business from across the West Midlands now means we need premises in the city too. The office at Bredon House, on Tettenhall Road, will open at the end of September.

Our senior partner Graham Davies said: “Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of enquiries coming from businesses in Wolverhampton and the Black Country. And now we feel the time is right to develop an office in the area to meet the needs of all kinds of companies in the region.

“Our research shows there is a growing demand in the city for specialised legal services and we believe our range of skills will provide local businesses with greater choice. As a firm, we handle high value and complex deals, heavyweight commercial litigation, complex employment law issues and commercial property transactions – all the topics that today’s business world creates.”

Graham said the firm was also keen to expand into the Wolverhampton area as it was developing into a vibrant area for business, particularly given the multi-million pound i54 development.

“It’s a natural expansion for our business as there is an even greater concentration of the size and types of businesses we act for, and in fact, many of our lawyers actually live or originate from the West Midlands, which makes the new office the obvious choice for us. There is also a high percentage of start-up businesses in the region, and our commercial experience could prove invaluable in helping them to get started.

“Our well-established international links help us to stand out from our competitors too, and after nearly 30 years successfully delivering specialised services to businesses across Shropshire, it’s time to reach out to an even wider audience.”

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Payment scam warning


Companies are being warned to be on their guard against a new overpayment scam.

Our senior partner Graham Davies said: “The ‘target’ receives a letter with an enclosed cheque which says it is in settlement of an invoice. The scammer then quickly calls up claiming to have made a mistake, and politely requests that you return the money by an online banking transfer.

“And this is where the danger arises. The scammers are hoping that you will return the money before discovering that the cheque they sent to you is fake, and no money is in your account. Typically, this would be for a few thousand pounds, and the scammers often prey on more inexperienced members of staff.”

Graham said: “There are some fairly straightforward processes which companies can put in place to protect themselves from this. Firstly, warn your accounts department and make all refunds subject to the approval of a director, or second senior signatory.

“And secondly, if your company accepts cheques, encourage your accounts team to tick off those received against outstanding invoices, rather than paying them into the bank and reconciling your accounts later.

“In such tough economic times, no-one can afford to lose valuable income so it’s vital that you protect your company finances at all costs. Scammers are becoming increasingly creative in order to come up with new ways to target their victims, and it’s important to try to keep one step ahead of them by putting strict procedures in place.”

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Is your company website legal?


Regulators are to start examining company websites to ensure that their privacy policies don’t breach data protection laws. So, do businesses need to be worried?

Stuart Haynes, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said: “The Information Commissioner’s Office, responsible for enforcing data protection laws in the UK, hasn’t really concerned itself with activities on the internet so far.

“But that is starting to change. It intends to start scrutinising companies’ online privacy policies, and naming and shaming those which do not comply with the rules.”

He said: “Not only are many website privacy policies shamefully flouting data protection laws, they are sometimes being used to try to protect businesses from legal liability, and not properly informing visitors about the processing of their personal data.

“At the moment, the ICO is only scrutinising a small number of websites, and your chance of falling under its spotlight is pretty remote. But this is probably the trigger which companies need to review their privacy policies, making sure you tell visitors to your website in clear terms exactly what their personal data will be used for.

“Businesses also have to provide details of their data controller, and name any third parties which may be given access to the website’s data.”

Stuart said: “The ICO has produced an easy-to-read three-page checklist, which explains how firms can set out some of the required information. And if you’re unsure of just what you need to do to comply with the rules, seek expert advice at the earliest opportunity. Don’t leave things until the eleventh hour or you could risk serious consequences in the longer-term.”










Monday, 9 September 2013

Who owns your company logo?


Businesses are being advised to make sure they don’t fall foul of copyright laws by checking that they actually own their company logos and artwork.

Graham Davies, our senior partner, said: “It is a common misconception that the rights for company artwork automatically transfers to them when a designer is paid for their work. But the designer remains the legal owner of the copyright unless they have officially assigned it to the company, and confirmed this in writing.

“Sometimes, it can be many years before a potential problem arises. And in this time the company’s logo would be well recognised, established, and a highly valuable asset.”

One of the UK’s top smoothie brands, Innocent, lost its distinctive logo some months ago when a court ruled it did not own the copyright – even though it had registered the artwork as a trademark.

Graham said: “To avoid costly disputes over who owns a company’s logo, make sure the designer expressly assigns the rights to their work and its copyright over to your company on completion of the contract. If a company doesn’t have this in writing, the designer still owns the copyright.”

Graham said the ‘in writing’ requirement applied not only to logos, but anything created by a third party such as brochures, websites, business cards and leaflets.

“Don’t assume something belongs to you, just because it has been produced for you, to your own specifications, and you have paid for it,” he added.  "This can be a minefield for companies who have worked hard to raise their profile and then find their image which has become so recognisable actually belongs to someone else. Make sure you resolve these issues at the very start and don’t let things drift or problems will almost certainly occur.”