Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Solicitors hit out at shock proposals

Personal injury experts at a Telford law firm are calling on clients to back a petition that opposes new compensation rules.

The team from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, have hit out at what they call the Government’s “shock proposals” to ban payouts for certain types of injuries.

Alison Carter, who leads the team, said the changes would also increase the small claims limit for personal injury cases from £1,000 to £5,000 in a bid to limit legal costs.

“Such a move would reduce the ability of thousands of people to claim compensation which is just not acceptable.

“Increasing the small claims limit will mean that genuine victims of injury will be unable to afford the legal help they need to bring genuine claims, as the insurers are only obliged to pay legal costs over the small claims limit.

“It’s the National Health Service and the benefits system that will be left to pick up the bills that are presently met by insurers.

“We believe this will have an adverse effect on victims’ ability to access justice as they will lose their right to independent advice about their claim.”

So the Personal Injury team at Martin-Kaye are urging clients to oppose the campaign and to sign the petition on the Government website: click here

“We are encouraging all our clients to actively participate in opposing these plans and all it takes is a couple of clicks on the petition link to show support for the campaign against the new rules,” said Alison.

The proposed changes include a ban on general damages for “minor” soft-tissue injuries and a general increase in the small claims limit to £5,000 for all personal injury claims.

They are due to come into effect from April 2017, and will prevent people from seeking legal advice for all claims below the £5,000 limit.

“People will also be prevented from claiming for often debilitating injuries received in road traffic accidents if the injuries are considered ‘minor’, so it’s clear that action needs to be taken now before the rules come into force.”

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Property experts join the team

Two property specialists have been appointed by an award-winning law firm in Telford.

Nick Gee and Asif Ahmed are the latest additions to the Martin-Kaye Solicitors team and will be based at the company’s head office in Euston Way.

Nick is a commercial property solicitor with over three decades of experience in the industry, and has handled all kinds of commercial property transactions for institutions, retailers, developers, investors, public companies, private companies and individuals.

He was a senior partner for many years in large law practices in Manchester, Birmingham, and Stoke-on-Trent, and his most recent transactions have included: the establishment of a wind farm; the acquisition of a heliport; and advice on the provision of search and rescue helicopter services at a private airport.

Nick said: “I joined Martin-Kaye because of the firm’s ambition to become one of the leading commercial property legal providers in the region, and I believe my skills and experience will help the firm to achieve that aim.”

As well as his UK property experience, Nick also has experience of the Middle East property market having been based in Dubai for three years as a consultant for an international legal firm.

In comparison, Asif is new to the industry and is keen to develop his knowledge and skills as part of Martin-Kaye’s hugely successful residential property team, after qualifying at a high street law firm in Birmingham.

“During my training contract, I found conveyancing a very interesting area of the law – but working at a high street law firm meant my experience was limited to straight-forward freehold property transactions, and I wanted to move to a larger firm like Martin-Kaye to broaden my knowledge and to experience other aspects of property law,” he said.

Senior Partner Graham Davies said: “Nick brings with him a wealth of experience that we’re sure will be invaluable, and Asif is just starting out in his career, so it will be exciting to watch as he develops his skills.”

Pic: Senior Partner Graham Davies (centre) welcomes Nick Gee and Asif Ahmed to Martin-Kaye

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Breaking up is hard to do...

Businesses who sign up for a commercial lease have been warned to check the small print before they sign on the dotted line.

Andrew Oranjuik from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said it was vital that commercial tenants should negotiate the terms and conditions of their lease before signing up as otherwise it could cost them dearly.

“The issue has been brought into sharp focus following a case in the Supreme Court between Marks & Spencer and BNP Paribas, when M&S triggered a break clause in their lease. Their yearly rent on a store in Paddington was £919, 800, and it was payable in quarterly instalments in advance.

“They gave notice that they wanted to end their lease early, as they were permitted to do, but had made a rent payment that covered a period of time after they no longer occupied the premises – so they claimed a refund.

“But there was no provision in the lease that meant the landlord was obliged to give them back the overpayment, even though it would have seemed to be the most ethical thing to do.

“And the Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the landlord was entitled to keep all the rent.”

Andrew said if there had been a clause included in the lease that required a refund, it was likely that the case would never have even gone to court.

“This ruling shows that if tenants want to protect themselves and their business, they need to negotiate their rights at the very start of a lease before they sign.

“Ultimately, without this provision being made in the initial paperwork, it’s very unlikely that the courts will rule in the tenant’s favour, and the business could also find itself severely out of pocket.”

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Christmas party woes don't need to be a nightmare

Staff Christmas parties can be an employer’s nightmare – but not if experts from a Midlands law firm have their way.

The team from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Wolverhampton and Telford, is urging local employers to sign up to an interactive seminar that could help them avoid the dreaded personnel hangover this year.

John Mehtam, who leads the team, said: “Christmas parties are well-known for causing a festive headache – and not just for any staff who have one too many to drink either.

“Statistics show that staff parties at this time of year can be a minefield – half of all parties end with work colleagues fighting; one in three parties brings allegations of sexual harassment; and one in five parties ends with an accident involving employees.

"And although traditionally parties take place away from the office and out of hours, as an employer you could well be held liable, particularly if alcohol has been provided.”

But John and his team are hosting a presentation on Thursday, December 3, at the Ramada Hotel, in Wolverhampton, at 6pm, which they believe is the perfect antidote to party-time stress.

“Our Christmas HR Sins presentation is designed specifically for employers and we’ll be sharing our expertise on the pitfalls you may face and, more importantly, the ways you can avoid them. We’d be very pleased to welcome employers from all over the region to our event, but anyone interested in attending will need to register in advance.

“It’s clear that employers really do need to be sensitive when it comes to handling the fallout from any staff Christmas party – in fact, three out of four bosses have admitted an employee has threatened to take them to an employment tribunal following bad behaviour at a festive gathering.

“And with almost two thirds of employees admitting to a one-night wonder that made the atmosphere at work awkward afterwards, it’s a situation that employers will find very difficult to ignore.”

To register for the event, email junenoto@martinkaye.co.uk or call 01952 525951


Monday, 9 November 2015

Families making a wise choice when it comes to wills

A growing number of people are choosing solicitors to draft their wills – amid fears that many ‘DIY’ options might not be worth the paper they are written on.

Fiona Mainwaring, probate department manager at Shropshire law firm Martin-Kaye Solicitors, said a series of recent high-profile court cases had highlighted the dangers.

Solicitors have increased their share in the will writing market over the past four years, despite growing concerns of an increase in poorly drafted wills by unregulated will writers.

Fiona, based at Martin-Kaye’s headquarters in Euston Way, Telford, said: “There has been a spate of cases recently involving wills drafted by unregulated providers which have caused serious problems.

“For example, Barclays has this year been sued by Tinuola Aregbesola, who claims that a botched will deprived her of a stake in her late father's London home. It was drawn up using the bank’s £90 will writing service, which is unregulated.”

Latest figures show the use of will writing services provided by banks and other organisations has declined from 8.7 per cent in 2009 to 5.9 per cent in 2015, and is continuing to fall.

Fiona added: “It is evident from national research that the public prefer to use a solicitor to write their will, wherever possible.

“They are aware that, with a solicitor such as Martin-Kaye where we have a dedicated probate department, you can be assured of a valid will and if anything does go wrong, there is proper insurance and redress.

“This may not be the case with an unregulated provider and certainly isn't the case if you take the DIY option, and decide to write your own will. It may save you money in the short term, but with the average estate in the UK now standing at £160,000, it could be hugely costly if you only find out too late that the paperwork is flawed.”

“An off-the-shelf will may seem very attractive, but it can be a risky approach - if errors are made, or if the strict witnessing rules are not followed correctly, the document could be invalid.

“And the implications can be serious. Not only might you risk leaving your family with a financial and emotional mess, but your legacy could be eaten away by legal bills or unnecessary tax.”

Friday, 6 November 2015

Rogue landlords beware - you're being watched

Rogue property landlords who fail to act in the best interests of their tenants have been warned – the authorities are watching you closer than ever.

Solicitor Mohammed Ahsan, from Martin-Kaye in Telford, said: “Irresponsible landlords are giving the rental industry a bad name, and the Government is clamping down hard.

“More and more people are renting homes privately these days, instead of buying, and officials are determined to help make sure they have decent homes to live in. Most landlords act lawfully, but when rogue landlords break the rules, the message is clear – the authorities, and the courts, will go after them.

“Local authorities can issue penalties of up to £5,000 for non-compliance with rules, so it is more important than ever for landlords to ensure their paperwork meets with legal requirements.”

His comments come as a new survey of British tenants showed that both landlords and tenants were unclear what needed to be done both before and during a tenancy agreement. One in four tenants said their landlord had not provided them with any kind of written rental agreement, in the survey carried out by EasyRoommate.

“The survey also showed that 25 per cent of tenants said their landlord did not provide them with a satisfactory service for dealing with urgent house repairs. The Government says it is determined to crack down on rogue landlords, and has warned them they will be heavily fined for committing housing-related offences.

“These include providing a local authority with false or misleading information, permitting or causing a property to be overcrowded, illegally evicting or harassing a tenant, or letting a property to an immigrant who cannot provide the paperwork to prove they are in the country legally.”

It has also become a legal requirement this year for a landlord to fit at least one smoke alarm on every storey of a property, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance.

“Ignorance of the rules is no excuse, so any landlord unsure about the new regulations should seek specialist legal advice – it’s far less expensive than the potential fines which are now being imposed on law-breakers.”

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Experts need to keep their distance

Human resources experts must remain impartial when it comes to disciplinary procedures and not attempt to influence the final outcome, a Telford solicitor has warned.

John Mehtam, who leads the employment team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, said HR staff were essential when it came to supporting any management team dealing with employment issues.

“But there is a real difference between supporting a fair and balanced process, and influencing the final decision in a case, and it’s vital that HR experts maintain an objective and clear-headed approach.”

John’s warning follows a disciplinary case where an employee was investigated after possible misconduct over his expenses and using hire cars inappropriately.

“The employee’s manager received initial advice from the company’s HR department that led him to draft a report including a number of favourable findings about the employee’s behaviour. He said he was satisfied that the misuse was not deliberate and that the employee’s explanations were plausible and consistent.

“But after speaking to the HR team further, his final report was much more critical of the employee who was eventually sacked – an employment tribunal rejected his claim of unfair dismissal, but the employee appealed.

“And at this point, the appeal committee backed his claim, as it was clear that the favourable comments had been completely removed and replaced with criticisms.

“They said that HR had appeared to try to persuade the manager to take a more critical view of the employee’s conduct and to reject his explanation that he had simply made mistakes – a reason which the manager had previously appeared to believe.”

John said the committee ruled that anyone facing disciplinary charges and possible dismissal was entitled to expect the appropriate manager to take the decision.

“They should not be lobbied by other teams or departments on how they should view the employee’s actions, and the employee should be given adequate notice of any changes in the evidence so they can deal with them accordingly.

“The case showed that the HR team had been directly involved in the decision-making process which was outside their remit, and it’s a warning to other experts to keep their professional distance.”

Friday, 16 October 2015

Six of the best for Martin-Kaye

A Telford law firm has scored six of the best in a worldwide ranking scheme that recognises the industry’s best performers.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, has been named in six sections of the Legal 500 listings which is a guide to help clients choose the legal advisers who are the cream of the crop.

Teams from the firm’s commercial litigation, commercial property, company corporate, family, personal injury and employment departments have all made the list.

Senior Partner Graham Davies said: “We’re extremely proud of our staff who have worked so hard to achieve this national recognition, and it’s a great coup for a regional firm to have been recognised in so many areas of our business.

“We believe we are one of a very small number of law firms in the Midlands to have been listed in so many categories, and it’s testimony to the commitment and dedication of our staff.”

The Legal 500 assessors said Martin-Kaye was “very well respected and regularly involved in good quality litigation”. In particular they also praised the firm for achieving a six-figure settlement in a multi-party negligence claim against a national firm of solicitors and a firm of surveyors.

Commercial Litigation expert Andrew Oranjuik was named specifically in the assessment with the assessors praising him as “authoritative”.

The Legal 500 listings have been published for more than 20 years and give a comprehensive overview of legal services worldwide.

They are compiled every year through independent researchers contacting thousands of UK law firm clients across the UK and referencing their feedback against the opinions of other commercial lawyers. The Legal 500 team also gathers information about client lists and the transactions handled by individual law firms.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Stark warning for divorcing couples

Spouses who attempt to hide their true wealth when it comes to divorce proceedings have been given a stark warning by a landmark ruling.

And the decision to allow the appeals by two women who said they were duped into accepting “unfair” settlements from their former husbands has been welcomed by a Telford family law expert.

Nadia Davis, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, said the decision had set a strong precedent that should deter any spouse from ever making a false claim during a divorce.

“The two women claimed their husbands had deliberately misled them and the court by providing false information as to the true extent of their wealth during the original hearings. Their lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to set aside the original divorce settlements as a matter of principle and justice, and the judges agreed to allow their appeal.

“Now the existing settlements will be set aside and the cases will have to return to the Family Courts to be reviewed and re-assessed. This clearly opens the door to former spouses who may have already agreed settlements but who feel they may not be fair and that there may be cause to believe that someone has failed to be completely honest about their wealth.

“It’s a stark warning that couples should always declare their assets and income at every stage of divorce proceedings, otherwise they could find the original decision overturned if more evidence comes to light.

“There will no doubt be implications for a huge number of divorce cases which may already have gone through the courts, and the Supreme Court’s decision really is a clear indication that dishonesty won’t be tolerated.”

Nadia said there had been some concern that the decision would open the floodgates to overturn divorce proceedings by greedy ex-spouses.

“But it’s more likely that the case will have a greater impact on couples in the kind of smaller money cases that are heard by the courts every day, and it’s a vital step towards giving spouses access to shared assets to ensure they have enough to live on.”

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Tribunal fees causing trouble

Employees could be missing out on a fair hearing as a rise in tribunal fees may mean they can’t afford to make a claim, a Telford solicitor has warned.

Lubna Laheria from the employment team at Martin-Kaye, said rising tribunal fees had also given employers less of a reason to consider early conciliation.

“It’s clear that employers believe the fees will discourage employees from going to tribunal, and so it’s far less likely that they’ll feel the need to agree to conciliatory talks.

“The new fees mean that for financial reasons, employers are tempted not to engage in the early conciliation process, in the hope that employees won’t be prepared to pay the tribunal fee that’s required to bring a claim, or the hearing fee either.”

Lubna was speaking after a House of Lords committee held an enquiry into the way the Equality Act 2010 was being implemented.

“Many leading barristers and discrimination law specialists have given evidence to the committee, and the Law Society has also called for radical changes to the employment tribunal structure too.”

Lubna said since May 2014, it was compulsory for employees to use the early conciliation procedures run by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) before they could lodge a tribunal claim.

“With employers facing fewer claims because fewer are being brought, the temptation is to take a more rigorous approach and avoid conciliation because they feel there is less pressure to settle matters.

“If tribunal fees are restricting an employee’s ability to bring a genuine claim, then it’s vital that action is taken so that unlawful practices in the workplace are rightly punished.”


Friday, 25 September 2015

Tackle your staff head on

Japan’s victory over South Africa may have created some early excitement in the Rugby World Cup – but workers could find themselves being tackled by bosses if they are caught watching games during office hours.

Workplace relations organisation ACAS has issued guidelines to employers over how to handle the impact caused by mid-afternoon kick-off times during the competition, which runs until October 31.

And employment law experts at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, say it is important for companies to have policies in place which regulate the use of social media and the internet during the working day.

Head of Employment Law, John Mehtam, said: “Introducing an element of flexibility into working patterns could be in everyone’s interests – but it is important not to show any perceived favouritism towards those with sporting interests.

“Remember, for every person who is keen to keep in touch with the Rugby World Cup, there will no doubt be a colleague who isn’t the remotest bit interested. Above all, our advice to employers is to be fair and consistent when allowing time off.

“Whether or not you currently have flexible working in your business, it may be something to consider, even as a short-term measure. One option that may be agreeable would be to have a more flexible working day, when employees may come in a little later or finish earlier, and then agree when this time can be made up.

“Allowing staff to listen to or watch some events may be another possible option. It may also be possible to allow staff to take a break during popular events – these are all suggestions which ACAS supports.

“There may be problems though around staff watching lengthy coverage via their computers. Why not plan for popular sporting events in advance - perhaps giving staff access to a TV during agreed times?

“There may be an increase in the use of sporting websites and social media during key games, and employers should have a clear policy regarding the use of the internet in the workplace, which is clearly communicated to all staff.

“If you can prove that people are taking unauthorised time off just to watch a match, you could instigate disciplinary proceedings, but a more sensible approach may be to take the initiative, and be flexible, which will lead to more harmony in the workplace – no matter which team your staff are supporting!”

Friday, 18 September 2015

Graham joins a business road safety campaign

Our senior partner Graham Davies has been working with organisers of a road safety campaign that's attracting national attention.

The initiative from TTC Group, in Telford, aims to encourage business leaders to take action to cut road deaths and injuries among their employees.

Graham joined Lord Digby Jones at the launch where the industry stalwart said implementing workplace road safety was "the right thing to do".

As part of the event, 515 black balloons were released to represent the number of people who died in just one year as a result of driving at work.

Lord Jones said: "People are dying on the road every day. Five people will die today, tomorrow another five and every day after that. A third are driving in a car on business - businesses can be a force for good, and we can change things."

At the launch, TTC Group unveiled a new product, TTC DriverProtect which is a management practice system that Lord Jones said ticked all the boxes for health and safety compliance.

Graham Davies said: "The figures we've heard today are staggering and with the number of vehicles on the road increasing, the risk to employers is also on the rise.

"My role at the launch was to give an overview of the obligations employers face every day, and to advise them of the best way to stay within the law and reduce the risk to their company and their employees."

TTC Group Road Safety Director Alan Prosser said many companies were still oblivious to the potential cost, impact and legal risks they faced.

"More than one in four fatal collisions involves someone who is on a work journey and the financial cost is enormous - £14 billion a year, with each death costing just under £2 million. On top of that, the personal and human costs are immeasurable."

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Business road safety campaign launch

Lord Digby Jones will launch 515 balloons at a business road safety event to show the number of people who died in the UK in just one year as a result of work-related journeys.

The event will take place at the Shropshire HQ of road safety organisation, the TTC Group, on September 17 at 10.30am, as part of a campaign to encourage the business world to help cut workplace road deaths and injuries.

And Martin-Kaye's senior partner Graham Davies is set to play a key role in the launch offering specialist advice to employers and spelling out their obligations.
"I'm very pleased to be joining TTC at their event to explain to employers what their obligations are, the legal framework that surrounds the issues, and the penalties you'll face if you flout the rules," said Graham.

The aim of the launch is to show businesses how they must change in the 21st century, and Lord Digby Jones - international businessman and former UK Trade Minister - will talk about how company bosses can protect "the bottom line" while helping to save lives at the same time.

Business leaders will hear how they can minimise the risks to staff by managing workplace road safety online with the launch of TTC DriverProtect software.

In 2013, a total of 515 motorists, passengers and riders died driving on work-related business - 111 of them going to and home from work. There were 5,052 serious injuries and 42,035 slight injuries, and road crashes cost an estimated £14.7 billion each year.

At the Telford launch, firefighters will showcase the skills they use to rescue hundreds of people each year by cutting a business manager free from a wrecked car.

Alan Prosser, director of the TTC Group which educates 320,000 road users each year to reduce casualties, said they were launching the campaign to show the business world how they can easily adopt measures to minimise the dangers on the road for their staff while cutting costs at the same time.

"Every year there are more than 500 deaths and thousands of people injured driving at work. Nearly all these casualties are preventable and it's costing companies millions. The human cost is incalculable," said Alan.

To find out more about the launch email contactus@ttc-uk.com or visit www.ttcgroup-uk.com



Thursday, 20 August 2015

Stewing over tea break dilemmas

British workers are renowned for their love of a tea break, but a Shropshire solicitor has warned they are not a given right.

John Mehtam is the employment law expert at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, and he said research had shown the average British worker enjoyed four cups of tea during every working day.

“But contrary to what your staff may believe, as an employer, you’re not required to provide staff with hot drinks or the facilities to make them.

“You might decide you want to provide milk, teabags and coffee – and given the emotional attachment many workers have to their beloved cuppa, it could be a sound business proposition!

“But it’s not something you’re required to do by law, and indeed, the cost of providing such refreshments over a year could add up significantly, particularly if you have a large workforce.”

John said providing a kitchen, kettle and fridge could also create potential health and safety issues which an employer may choose not to take on.

“Burns, electric shocks, or even food poisoning could all crop up, but if you have a sensible kitchen policy in place, that should go a long way to reducing the risks, so make sure it’s clearly set out in your staff handbook.

“Tea breaks may seem like an unassuming element of the working day, but throughout history, they have become an iconic symbol of British working patterns, and you may decide that failing to provide the equipment or the materials to make a hot drink would be a step too far.

“Our Alpha employment experts have wide ranging experience in creating bespoke, legally compliant policies for any business, and we can help you draw up a strategy that will keep your workplace kitchen – and your staff – safe, while maintaining a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.”

Friday, 14 August 2015

Social media - which side are you on?

Social media is changing the face of employment law – and employers need to stay one step ahead of the game. But what if an employee’s personal social media accounts start to conflict with your company’s business interests?

Employment law expert, Lubna Laheria, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said: “Social media is a fairly controversial aspect of employment law, and as technology evolves, it’s a sector that’s constantly changing.

“It has opened up great opportunities for companies when it comes to marketing and connecting with potential customers, clients or suppliers, but given that the vast majority of your staff are probably using social media in their personal lives too, what happens if conflicts arise?”

Lubna’s warning is particularly topical given a recent court case involving the retailer, Game. One of their managers, who was responsible for around 100 stores, was guilty of posting a number of offensive tweets.

He followed many of the company’s stores on Twitter from his personal account, mainly to monitor their activity, and 65 of the stores also followed him back, which meant they could see his personal tweets.

A fellow manager raised concerns over the tweets he posted, which insulted several community groups, and following a company investigation, the manager responsible was dismissed for gross misconduct.

“The Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that this was a reasonable dismissal, and they agreed that the tweets could not be considered private, particularly as the manager had followed 100 stores on Twitter ‘for a work purpose’,” said Lubna.

“Employers should make sure they have a detailed policy in place which clearly explains to staff what is expected of them when it comes to social media postings, and emphasise that personal and work-related accounts should be kept separate.

“Our employment law experts have wide ranging experience in tailoring social media policies that will meet the specific needs of your business, and it’s vital that employers protect their company’s reputation and brand by ensuring that staff follow the rules.”

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Extra HELP is on its way

Experts from a Midlands law firm were so inundated with bookings from local employers for their latest seminar that they’re planning a repeat event.

Lawyers from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Wolverhampton, organised the advice session at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel to help employers tackle staff sickness absence.

And it seems their choice of topic really touched a nerve with employers from across the region.

Speakers on the night were employment law specialists John Mehtam and Lubna Laheria, who shared their top ten tips on how to deal with the problem of staff taking a sneaky day off claiming to be ill.

Martin-Kaye Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “We were absolutely amazed at the number of employers who wanted to join us at the seminar, and it’s clear that staff sickness absence is an issue that affects companies of all shapes and sizes.

“To cope with the demand, we are now planning a re-run of the event so that we can accommodate another capacity audience and share our expertise.”

John Mehtam said the seminar was targeted specifically at business owners, leaders and human resources managers.

“Our aim was to explain how companies can tackle sickness absence but most importantly, how they can do it and still stay within the law. And although it’s frustrating for employers who hear lame excuses about why their staff can’t make it into work, it’s equally vital that those employers are able to recognise the difference when staff may actually be genuinely ill.”

John said employers must also handle the situation appropriately, knowing what their legal rights were, and take the action that best suited the individual employee’s circumstances.

The presentation was the latest in a series of HELP seminars run by Martin-Kaye which are designed to help employers learn how to deal with common situations they may face every day in their business.

HELP stands for HR and Employment Law in Practice and the events offer businesses a unique opportunity to hear from the experts when it comes to tackling topical issues.

Pic: At the Martin-Kaye seminar are, from left, John Mehtam, Lubna Laheria and Graham Davies


Monday, 3 August 2015

Bad advice costs victims dearly

Victims of professional negligence now have direct access to expert support thanks to a new website created by a Shropshire law firm.

The team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, has launched www.mknegligence.co.uk to deal specifically with cases where clients have lost out financially after receiving bad advice.

Andrew Oranjuik, the firm’s Head of Dispute Resolution, said: “We have created the website as a direct result of a surge in negligence claims against professional advisers, and the service is already attracting a lot of attention.

“Our aim is to help clients to recover any financial losses they have suffered as a result of mistakes made by their advisers, and our wide-ranging experience in this area of law will prove invaluable in taking the project forward.”

Martin-Kaye are members of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association, and the law firm has been recognised by the Legal 500 as being particularly active in cases of this type.

Andrew has personally handled many claims against professionals including one case where the claimed losses were around £10 million. His team is also made up of Mohammed Ahsan and Jason Round.

The professional negligence claims service can be used to bring claims against all kinds of professionals including: solicitors, barristers, accountants, financial advisers, brokers, and surveyors.

“Most professionals are required by law to have indemnity insurance in place, which means if your claim is successful, the adviser’s insurer should pay the compensation,” said Andrew. “We recognise too that legal action can be expensive, so we have many different options when it comes to fees, such as ‘no win, no fee’ in suitable cases, legal expenses insurance, fixed fees, or ongoing payments as the case progresses.

“The thought of taking action against someone you once appointed as a trusted adviser can be daunting, but our aim is to take you through the process with a clear and strategic approach. Our experts have handled cases involving all sorts of professional advisers, so we’re extremely well prepared and ready to make your voice heard.”

Pic: Launching the new website are, from left, Mohammed Ahsan, Andrew Oranjuik and Jason Round at Martin-Kaye Solicitors


Friday, 31 July 2015

Customers have new rights - are you prepared?

Businesses who deal with the public on a daily basis should think about reviewing their terms and conditions in plenty of time before new rules come into force.

That’s the warning from Andrew Oranjuik, the head of dispute resolution at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, who said companies should be acting now before the rule change on October 1st.

“It’s about time that new customer service rules were introduced as the existing set are disjointed and outdated, so I’m very pleased to see the new Consumer Rights Act coming into force,” said Andrew.

“The difficulty is that many of the existing rules were introduced before the digital age came into being, and they are no longer fit for purpose.

“But now, customers will have the protection of a whole new raft of rules that are appropriate for the fast-moving technical world we now live in, and that cover the hi-tech digital processes that seem to have taken over our everyday lives.”

Andrew said the changes would bring in different levels of remedies depending on how defective the goods received were.

“They will consider whether the goods are defective, or whether they don’t meet the description the customer was given, and customers will have the right to reject the goods and claim a refund within 30 days. In fact, even after 30 days, the customer would still be entitled to have defective goods repaired or replaced.”

Andrew said one of the biggest changes was the introduction of new rules covering the quality of digital content such as music and film downloads, which demanded the files should be of a good enough quality and fit for purpose.

“Businesses will also have to make sure they adopt fair contract terms, and clearly set out the actions they will take over faulty goods and digital content in their terms and conditions.

“Of course, many businesses already operate fair practices and so they won’t really be greatly affected by the new rules. But even so, it’s a perfect opportunity to review both the company’s terms and conditions, and the sales process generally, to make sure everything meets the strict new criteria.”

Thursday, 30 July 2015

On the spot sackings are never a good idea

Sacking an employee on the spot may seem like a good idea, but Shropshire employers could face costly consequences - that's the message from Martin-Kaye's employment law specialist John Mehtam.

His message follows the case of a crop worker who was spotted by a passer-by  “watering the crops” rather than using a nearby portable toilet. The passer-by complained to the farm managers and reports said the worker had been ‘sacked with immediate effect’.

“The truth though is that well-worn phrase doesn’t actually add up as instant dismissal should never be seen as an option.

“If an employee has acted irresponsibly or caused an incident that cannot be ignored, then on the face of it, sacking them there and then may seem like a quick and easy resolution. But instant dismissal is never a good idea even if the sacking is for an obviously fair reason.

“Employers must always follow a fair and reasonable procedure in all disciplinary cases, because otherwise an employment tribunal could find in your employee’s favour, and you could face a fine of up to £5,000 for not following the rules.

“Employees who have only been with you for a short time who don’t ordinarily have a right to claim unfair dismissal may be able to bring a claim against you too if you sack them on the spot.”

John said employers needed to take care when dealing with dismissals and should follow the agreed procedures step by step.

“Instant dismissal puts an employer in a potentially vulnerable situation that could end up being extremely costly, so it’s important you don’t allow yourself to be caught out.

“Our Alpha experts can help with all aspects of the disciplinary process, and we specialise is helping employers work their way through the minefield of employment law avoiding the most common pitfalls on the way.”

Alpha is a business protection scheme created by Martin-Kaye that offers employment law advice and human resources support to UK companies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Where there's a will...

Children who are ‘cut out’ of their parents’ wills could find it easier to claim part of their estate after a landmark legal ruling, a Shropshire lawyer has said.

Andrew Oranjuik claimed this week’s ruling by the Court of Appeal could pave the way for other wills to be overturned or changed by the courts, if they were deemed to be ‘unfair’.

Mr Oranjuik, head of commercial litigation at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, was commenting after the end of a 10-year legal battle by Heather Ilott, who went to court after her mother Melita Jackson left her entire £486,000 estate to animal charities.
Mrs Ilott, who has been estranged from her mother for 26 years and was claiming benefits, has now been granted a third of her late mother’s estate – a total of £164,000.
Mr Oranjuik based at Martin-Kaye’s Euston Way head office in Telford, said the decision could significantly weaken people's right to leave money to those they want to inherit it.

“In light of this decision, it is arguably now easier for an adult child to make out a claim for maintenance in the right circumstances,” he said.
 
“The case emphasises the long-established principle that the terms of a deceased person’s will do not always prevail.”

He added: “There has long been the ability for children of deceased people to claim reasonable financial provision for maintenance. That often involves the child having relied on maintenance provided by the parent or being dependent. 

“What is unusual about this case is that Mrs Ilott had been estranged from her mother for 26 years, and was not in any way dependent on her. 
“The court was however influenced by other factors. Mrs Ilott had a very small income and received tax credits and she had no pension. The fact that the named charities were unable to establish a need for the entire estate was also a factor, as was the fact that Mrs Jackson had no previous connection with them.”
Mr Oranjuik said: “Essentially this ruling means you can still disinherit your children, but if you want it to stand up in court, you will have to explain why, as well as explaining what connects you to those you do leave money to.
“That'll make it easier for adult disinherited children to challenge wills and claim greater sums by way of what the courts would deem a ‘reasonable provision’.”


Monday, 20 July 2015

Staff sickies advice for local businesses

Employers who are sick and tired of staff claiming to be ill so they can take a sneaky day off can hear from the experts about how to tackle the problem.

Lawyers from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Wolverhampton, are hosting a seminar on Thursday, July 30, at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel in the city, at 6pm.

Speakers on the night will be employment law specialists John Mehtam and Lubna Laheria, and they will share their top ten tips on how to deal with sickness absence in the workplace.

“Our seminar is targeted specifically at business owners, leaders, and human resources managers, and we’ll be explaining how they can tackle sickness absence but most importantly, how to stay within the law,” said John.

“It’s so frustrating for employers who hear lame excuses about why their staff can’t make it into work, but equally it’s vital that those employers are able to recognise the difference when staff may actually be ill.

“And it’s also important for employers to handle the situation appropriately, knowing what their legal rights are, and taking the action that best suits the individual employee’s circumstances.”

The presentation is the latest in a series of HELP seminars run by Martin-Kaye which are designed to help employers learn how to deal with common situations they may face every day in their business. HELP stands for HR and Employment Law in Practice and the events offer businesses a unique opportunity to hear from the experts when it comes to tackling topical issues.

“We’ve run our HELP events all over the Midlands and the aim is to take delegates through the minefield of employment pitfalls and all the latest topical workplace issues,” said Lubna.

“And there has been such a positive response from customers across the region that we are now hoping to extend our programme of events beyond the wider West Midlands area.”


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Terms and conditions apply

Companies are being reminded to spell out their terms and conditions on every single order – even when they are dealing with long-time clients.

Andrew Oranjuik, from the commercial team at Martin-Kaye solicitors in Telford, said there could be dangers in becoming comfortable and less formal with established customers.

“No matter how informal your arrangement may be, terms and conditions will only apply if they are confirmed in writing and clear for all to see.

“If you have developed a close working relationship with another company, you may receive orders placed in a variety of ways – and not always in the most traditional of situations.

“Some might be sent by email, others by fax or over the telephone, and some may be given during face-to-face meetings or in more relaxed conversations.

“There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but a recent High Court case has shown that you can’t automatically rely on standard terms and conditions – they need to be included in your agreements for every single deal.

“It’s not enough for them to be printed on the flip-side of a purchase order either. They must be referred to on the front too – and if you’re sending orders by email, you’ll need to attach them as a PDF document.”

Andrew said the message was that, if companies do not make it clear they will be relying on their own standard terms and conditions for each individual order, they cannot be relied on.

“The fact that your companies may have been doing business for years makes absolutely no difference in the eyes of the law,” he said.

“And if the business relationship dates back many years, you may even find that you’ve never actually sent the other company a copy of your standard terms and conditions, so they can’t possibly be expected to know what they are.”

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Award-winning lawyers celebrate title

Lawyers from a Telford legal firm have won yet another national award for their commercial litigation expertise.

Experts from Martin-Kaye Solicitors have been recognised in the International M&A Awards run by Acquisition International Magazine.

And their success follows hot on the heels of their Midlands Litigators of the Year award just 12 months ago.

This year they’ve been awarded the Excellence in Contract Focused Commercial Litigation UK title, which is a real coup for the team.

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “This latest title is confirmation that we really do punch about our weight when it comes to the competition, and that the very best legal advice is available outside the major cities in the UK thanks to practices like Martin-Kaye.

“We’re extremely proud to have received the award and our specialist commercial litigation team is developing a strong reputation nationwide for delivering appropriate and cost-effective legal support.”

Organisers of the International M&A Awards said only the most deserving firms received the prestigious awards and this year had seen particularly strong competition in every category.

The awards celebrate the outstanding efforts and amazing achievements of all those involved, and are handed out solely on merit to those companies that have delivered exceptional service over the last 12 months.

Pic:    Back, from left, Martin-Kaye’s Graham Davies and Andrew Oranjuik, and front, from left, Mohammed Ahsan and Jason Round celebrate their latest award

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Share and share alike...

Shareholders must always have a back-up plan to protect the business in case a major player is taken ill, a Shropshire legal expert has warned.

Eliot Hibbert is the head of the Corporate Commercial Team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said the serious illness or even death of a shareholder who is also the head of the business would undoubtedly cause problems.

“There have been cases where such circumstances have led to the break-up of a company, so even though it may sound obvious, having a plan in place will help your business to cope either temporarily, or permanently.”

Eliot said the plan would need to address the death or illness of a controlling director shareholder.
“In both situations, the aim is the same – to decide who takes their place and when. Maybe you’d prefer to rotate the position between directors, perhaps every three months, until a permanent change is made?”

But Eliot said it was ultimately the voting rights attached to the shares that were the most important element.

“If a key person is ill, then they still own the shares and the voting rights – unless they become mentally unwell. But if the shareholder dies, the power will shift, so your plan will need to cover both eventualities.”

The first point to check would be your company’s articles of association as they usually contain rules which authorise the executors of the shareholder’s will to register as the share owners until they’re transferred to the beneficiaries.

“But this may not suit your company’s plans – or the beneficiaries either – and you don’t want to end up in a complicated and expensive legal situation trying to sort it out.

“Draw up a shareholders’ agreement which sets out what will happen to the shares, and the shareholders should also amend their wills so they are consistent with the plan. This way you can avoid any disputes over ownership and voting rights, and secure the future of the business.”

Pic:    Eliot Hibbert from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

New faces join the Martin-Kaye team

Staff at a leading Telford law firm have welcomed two new faces to their growing town centre team.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors are based at The Foundry, in Euston Way, and they have appointed two new lawyers.

Kam Sodhi is the firm’s  new Property Lawyer who will be dealing with referral-based and private client property transactions.  She was raised in Derby and graduated with a law degree, before beginning her career in local government.

After gaining valuable experience in a wide number of areas including litigation, planning and property, and qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive, Kam will now be part of Martin-Kaye’s record-breaking property team.

The firm’s other newest recruit is Anneka Sohal who has joined the commercial team as a newly-qualified solicitor.

Anneka has always had a passion for corporate/commercial law and commercial property issues, and has previously spent four years working for a leading national firm. During her time there she worked in various areas of law including employment and personal injury, and completed her final training.

Senior Partner Graham Davies said: “We’re delighted to welcome two new faces to our team, and both Kam and Anneka have already settled in extremely well.

“Their appointments are part of our expansion plans for the future, and now in our 30th year, we believe it’s vital to continue to build on the strong foundations we already have in place in order to move our business forward into the future.”



Thursday, 21 May 2015

Award-winning lawyers celebrate title

Lawyers at a Shropshire firm have won yet another national award for their commercial litigation expertise.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, have been recognised in the International M&A Awards run by Acquisition International Magazine.

They’ve been awarded the Excellence in Contract Focused Commercial Litigation UK title and it follows hot on the heels of their Midlands Litigators of the Year award just 12 months ago.

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “This latest title is confirmation that we really do punch above our weight when it comes to the competition, and that the very best legal advice is available outside the major cities in the UK thanks to practices like Martin-Kaye.

“We’re extremely proud to have received the award and our specialist commercial litigation team is developing a strong reputation nationwide for delivering appropriate and cost-effective legal support.”

Organisers of the International M&A Awards said only the most deserving firms received the prestigious awards and this year had seen particularly strong competition in every category.

“For the past four years, through good times and bad, our global M&A Awards have charted the successes, stellar results and second-to-none client service of some of the worldwide M&A industry’s leading players.

“Our awards celebrate the outstanding efforts and amazing achievements of all those involved in identifying, coordination and seeing through to completion those important deals that could make a huge difference to a business, a local economy, or even an entire country.

“The awards recognise the dedicated and experienced investors, advisers, financiers and service providers who have been selected for their expertise in their specialised field and, most crucially, nominated by their clients and peers.

“Now in their fourth year, the awards are handed out solely on merit and are given to those companies that have delivers exceptional service over the last 12 months.”

Pic:    Martin-Kaye’s Jason Round, Mohammed Ahsan, Graham Davies and Andrew     Oranjuik celebrate their latest award

Friday, 15 May 2015

Lubna steps up at Martin-Kaye

More than 30 delegates attended an employment law seminar to hear from a Telford solicitor who was hosting an event for the very first time.

Employment law specialist Lubna Laheria stepped up to lead the event at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, after the firm’s usual host, John Mehtam, was unable to attend due to ill health.

And her presentation has received excellent feedback from the wide range of companies who took part, with many taking to social media to praise her efforts.

“It was a great opportunity for me to step up on the day, and I was very keen to share our knowledge on the top ten blunders that employers make and the way to avoid the pitfalls,” said Lubna.

“With such a mixed audience, it was important to make sure our message was applicable to all kinds of industries, and I’m delighted that our delegates took away some valuable advice from such a lively and interactive event.”

Lubna was supported on the day by fellow Martin-Kaye employment team member, Emma Palmer, who took part in the question and answer session with delegates.

Senior partner, Graham Davies, said: “I was incredibly impressed with the way the team pulled together to deliver the seminar, and in particular, with Lubna’s performance, which really was outstanding. Our delegates praised her knowledge and presence, and it was excellent to receive such great feedback on social media sites in the immediate aftermath of the event.”

The seminar was the latest in a series of HELP presentations that Martin-Kaye Solicitors has run all over the Midlands and beyond. The aim is to take delegates through the minefield of employment pitfalls and all the latest topical workplace issues.

“HELP stands for HR and Employment Law in Practice, and our events offer a unique opportunity for business leaders to hear from the very best when it comes to tackling topical issues,” said Graham. 

“We’re looking forward to hosting more HELP sessions in the coming months. In the longer term, we’re hoping to extend our programme of events beyond the wider West Midlands area too as we’ve seen such a positive response from customers in the region.”

Pic:    Lubna Laheria and Graham Davies from Martin-Kaye Solicitors at the latest HELP presentation in Telford

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Excess paperwork could be destroyed

Lawyers who produce excess paperwork could risk being named and shamed by the courts and face strict financial penalties.

And a Shropshire solicitor has welcomed the warning saying over-sized files slowed down legal proceedings costing valuable time and money.

Nadia Davis leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and said court proceedings involving family issues were always stressful and could be a protracted and difficult experience.

“I’m very pleased to hear that the Family Division of the High Court has warned lawyers they could face having their fees withheld if they refuse to keep paperwork to a minimum – it’s no good the courts complaining about the difficulties it causes unless they are prepared to take action.

“And now, the threat is that bundles of files in family law cases will be destroyed without warning if they exceed prescribed limits, so lawyers will need to tread extremely carefully.”

But Nadia said it was also important that divorcing couples did not automatically head straight for the courts rather than consider the alternatives available.

“I was one of the very first solicitors in Shropshire to qualify as a collaborative lawyer, and my advice to clients is to talk their case through very carefully before resorting to court action. I work with couples going through a divorce on an agreement that shows they are committed to finding the best solutions through negotiation, rather than the courts.

“The agreement also prevents lawyers involved in the initiative from representing their client in court if the collaborative process breaks down. So this means everyone involved is absolutely committed to making it work,” said Nadia.

But this approach has not been adopted by everyone and national research has shown that only 51 per cent of those surveyed would consider a non-court based solution.

“The warning from the High Court shows that the legal system is ready to clamp down on lawyers who continuously flout the rules, and I am very pleased that decisive action is now being taken,” said Nadia.

Friday, 17 April 2015

George finds his fighting spirit

A Telford legal support assistant is hoping for a knockout performance when he takes on an ultimate fitness challenge.

George Heron works for Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and he has signed up for the latest season of Zero to Hero boxing.

He now faces ten weeks of gruelling training as part of the unique amateur boxing programme aimed at all kinds of people, whether they’re “white collar” workers, plumbers or IT consultants.

The initiative is designed to ensure each person taking part is both physically and mentally prepared for the final goal, to be a hero in the boxing ring.

“I’ve always been a boxing fan but I’ve never thought about getting into the ring before. So I saw this as a new challenge and decided to go for it,” said George, who will be raising cash for Hope House Hospice.

“At Martin-Kaye we have strong links with the hospice, so I’m very aware of the fantastic work they do there for the children, and I wanted to give something back. I’m also hoping I’ll be fitter than I’ve ever been before by the end of the training, and in peak condition.”

To prepare himself for the challenge ahead, George has already run the Stafford half marathon and he will now receive coaching from professional combat athletes with guest sessions from boxers, mixed martial artists and nutritionists.

Martin-Kaye senior partner Graham Davies said: “We’re all extremely proud of George and very impressed with his dedication he has already shown in preparing for the Zero to Hero challenge.

“We’re backing his efforts to raise cash for Hope House, and we’re hoping as many people as possible will support him during the programme.”

George will be posting video links of his training in the build-up to his big fight, and anyone who would like to donate should visit https://www.justgiving.com/HitmanHeron/

To find out more about the Zero to Hero project go to www.zerotoheroboxing.com

Pic:    George Heron from Martin-Kaye Solicitors prepares for the Zero to Hero challenge

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Fair pay for a fair day's work

Employees should not be deterred from fighting their corner when it comes to their right for equal pay.

John Mehtam is the employment law expert at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said secrecy surrounding the amount male and female colleagues were paid was often at the root of problems in the workplace.

“The Equality Act 2010, and before that, the Equal Pay Act 1970, back the principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. And despite the fact that over the years some employers have tried to discourage staff from discussing these matters, it is actually against the law to victimise anyone who reveals their rate of pay, or anyone who asks the question.

“Employers cannot punish or dismiss anyone who submits an equal pay claim, and in some instances, failing to pay staff equally may even amount to sex discrimination. So if you suspect you’re not receiving the same pay rate as a colleague of the opposite sex, it’s vital that you take legal advice and force your employer to reveal exactly what the figures are.

“Although this may seem like a daunting prospect, and you may be worried about being labelled as a trouble-maker, don’t be put off – the law is on your side and you’re entitled to a fair rate of pay.”

John said equal pay claims were usually brought in an employment tribunal, but in some circumstances, a claim can also be made through the civil courts. “You can instigate an equal pay claim at any time during employment it relates to, or if the employment has ended, any time before the end of the qualifying period.

“This means differences in pay could date back up to six years before the date the claim was lodged, which could be extremely expensive for any employer found guilty of discriminating between male and female staff.”

John said new regulations introduced in 2014 had also brought in compulsory equal pay audits which must be carried out by larger employers.

“Any employer who fails to carry out an audit when they are required to, may face a fine of up to £5,000 – so not only could the bill for arrears be costly, but substantial fines could prove extremely damaging.”

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

HELPing hand pays off

Employment law experts from a Telford legal firm have hailed a new approach to delivering their message as a great success.

The specialists from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, held one of their highly-renowned HELP seminars at Maesmawr Hall, in Caersws, and the response has been overwhelming.

Although the team has hosted similar events in Telford, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, and the wider West Midlands, this was the first time they had taken their roadshow across the border into Wales.

John Mehtam, who led the seminar, said: “We were delighted with the response to our event and the session was very lively with plenty of questions and answers – a really interactive and positive experience for everyone who took part.

“Thanks to the reaction we’ve received, and the interest this event has generated, we are already planning a similar seminar for later in the year to allow even more delegates to join us.”
The aim of the event was to help local employers learn more about the UK’s top ten employment law blunders.

“Over many years of dealing with employment and human resources problems for all kinds of companies, we have drawn up a ‘top ten’ list of common mistakes that it’s vital that employers can identify,” said John.

The latest event is the most recent in the firm’s HELP series – standing for HR and Employment Law in Practice – which was designed to equip companies with the tools to deal with even the most stressful of situations.

John said: “Our HELP presentations cover a wide range of topics, and they are always warmly received by local businesses, so this was a great opportunity to take our message across the border into Wales for the first time.

“We will definitely be hosting another similar event later in the year in that area as a direct result of customer demand, and we’re looking forward to sharing our expertise with even more new faces in the future.”

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Look out - there's a former spouse about...

Divorcees who make it big will need to spend their lives looking over their shoulders in case former spouses come forward to try to steal their fortune.

That’s the warning from family law expert, Nadia Davis, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, in the wake of a landmark court judgement made earlier today.

A former traveller made a claim for £1.9 million from her ex-husband who became a millionaire ten years after they split up. And even though she didn’t lodge the claim until nearly 20 years after their divorce, judges at the Supreme Court have ruled that she should receive a payout.

The exact amount will now be assessed.

“This ruling may shock many people as it’s a common misconception that once a divorce is finalised, any financial matters arising from the marriage are automatically brought to an end,” said Nadia.

“But in fact, this case is a clear indication that divorcing couples need specialist advice to ensure that any financial agreements are recorded in a binding Order of the Court. This is the only way to ensure that neither side can make any further applications for financial support in the future.

“Without such a document, both sides will run the risk of having to look over the shoulder for many years to come, especially if they go on to become particularly successful after the split as they will never know when their former spouse may stake a claim.”

Nadia said couples in the most danger were those who agreed a DIY divorce, coming to an agreement between themselves about the finances, and assuming those discussions were binding.

“It’s amazing how many people are then shocked to discover that their former spouse is still able to make a financial claim arising from the marriage, even though the divorce itself may have been finalised years before.”

The couple featured in today’s court case met as students, married in their early 20s, and lived a New Age traveller lifestyle, before separating in the mid-1980s and divorcing in 1992. In the mid-90s, the husband began a business career and became an extremely wealthy green energy tycoon. His former wife lodged her claim in 2011, and today’s landmark ruling could have huge implications for divorced couples all over the UK.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Top title for specialist team

Legal experts at a Telford law firm have achieved yet another high profile national award thanks to their exceptional performance.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, have been named as winners of the award for Excellence in Intellectual Property Disputes in Acquisition International Magazine’s annual awards.

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “This is the latest in a series of national titles for us, and we’re absolutely delighted to have secured another award that recognises the very high standards we set ourselves. It’s particularly satisfying to take this award as the winners are chosen through votes cast by a combination of clients, other professionals and our peers.

“At Martin-Kaye, we are one of the very few law firms outside major cities to have our own specialist commercial litigation team, and this award is evidence of the fact that our efforts are working.

“To be named as the ‘clear and deserving’ winner is a huge honour for our team, and we’re very proud that our hard work has been acknowledged at such a prestigious level.”

This year’s AI Award follows hot on the heels of another win in the same competition last year for the commercial team, when they were named as Midlands Litigators of the Year. And the firm has continued to receive impressive recognition in the independent UK Legal Director Legal 500 year-on-year too.

Organisers said the Acquisition International 2015 Dispute Resolution Awards were designed to “commend those in the dispute sector dedicated to providing exceptional services throughout the industry”.

“These prestigious global awards identify the main players in what is a fiercely competitive market,” said a spokesman. “From a combination of peer reviews and in-house research, the judges pinpoint the most feared litigators, the most creative arbitrators and the most skilled mediators across a range of industries.

“From very small niche practices to large corporations, we ensure that the winners have been selected on merit and that the results are based on the votes received, backed up by our own in-house research efforts.”

Pic:    Celebrating their award success at Martin-Kaye are, from left, Jason Round, Mohammed Ahsan, Graham Davies and Andrew Oranjuik

HELP travels over the border

Employment law experts from Martin-Kaye Solicitors are set to take their message on the road in a new move to expand their business.

Our specialists will be holding one of their highly-renowned HELP seminars at Maesmawr Hall, in Caersws, on Thursday, March 19. And although they’ve hosted similar events in Telford, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, and the wider West Midlands, this will be the first time they have taken their roadshow across the border into Wales.

John Mehtam, who leads the employment law team, said the aim of the event was to help local employers learn more about the UK’s top ten employment law blunders.

“Over many years of dealing with employment and human resources problems for all kinds of companies, we have drawn up a ‘top ten’ list of common mistakes that it’s vital employers can identify.

“These blunders can lead to employers breaking the law and so leave them facing expensive claims or settlements, so if we can help identify the potential pitfalls, we can help local companies save valuable money and time. Most of these mistakes come about through a lack of understanding, or through employers taking the wrong action – but the good news is that every one of them is avoidable.”

This latest event is the most recent in the firm’s HELP series – standing for HR and Employment Law in Practice – which was designed to equip companies with the tools to deal with even the most stressful of situations.

John said: “Our HELP presentations cover a wide range of topics, and they are always warmly received by local businesses, so it’s a great opportunity to be taking our message across the border into Wales for the first time. Our advice is designed to help employers understand how to avoid making these common mistakes in the future, and we’re looking forward to meeting a brand new group of businesses and helping them tackle these tiresome difficulties.”

Martin-Kaye deliberately restricts the number of delegates at each of its 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,” said John.

Attendance at the event is initially by invitation, but anyone interested in taking up any spare places should contact June Noto on 01952 525951.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Debt recovery steps up a gear

Businesses are taking a far more hostile approach to recovering outstanding debts, a Shropshire commercial law specialist has warned.

The risk of being served with a winding-up order by creditors is greater than ever, according to Andrew Oranjuik, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford.

He said: “The traditional way of recovering a debt always used to be bringing proceedings through the county court or High Court. But increasingly, creditors are seemingly more willing to serve a statutory demand, or winding-up petition, to claim the money they are due.

“Although this option has always been available, it has become far more prevalent as businesses step up efforts to recover outstanding debts as quickly and efficiently as possible. Court proceedings can take a considerable time to resolve, but serving either a statutory demand or a winding-up petition will bring the matter before the court much more quickly.”

Under current legislation, a company is deemed to be insolvent if it is served with a statutory demand and neglects to pay the outstanding amount, or reach agreement, within 21 days – even if it’s not actually insolvent.

Mr Oranjuik said: “If it gets to this stage, the creditor can use its demand as a basis to place the business into liquidation.

“There are measures which debtors can take to protect their position, however. If there is a legitimate dispute, they can contact the creditor at the earliest possible opportunity and ask them to confirm in writing that the demand is withdrawn. If this request is refused, then a court application can be made to prevent the creditor from either beginning or continuing winding-up proceedings.

“If a business finds itself being served with a statutory notice or winding-up order, it is important for them to take specialist legal advice immediately. Our commercial team has many years’ experience dealing with cases like this, and companies should ensure they take action as soon as they can or face serious consequences.”


Friday, 30 January 2015

Signing on the dotted line - it's a nightmare!

Be careful who you authorise to sign company documents on your behalf, if you want to avoid a Gordon Ramsay-style kitchen nightmare.

That’s the message from our senior partner Graham Davies, who has been digesting the implications of the celebrity chef’s latest court case.

The TV cook and restaurateur has been landed with an estimated £1.6 million bill after losing a court fight to free himself from a pub contract.

Ramsay accused his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson of secretly signing a deal to make the chef personally liable for the pub’s £640,000 annual lease.

Mr Hutcheson used a ‘ghostwriter’ machine to replicate the chef’s signature, but the court found that he was acting within ‘the wide general authority conferred on him by Mr Ramsay’.

Graham said the case raised important issues which ought to be acknowledged by Shropshire employers.

“It is clear from this ruling that a ghost signing machine can effectively sign a legally binding document. And so, if you give a member of staff authority to act on your behalf and use your ghost signature when a personal guarantee is required, you are likely to be bound by the terms of the guarantee.

“This case emphasises the importance of setting out exactly what an agent can and cannot do on your behalf, right from the outset. The ghost signature machines used to place Mr Ramsay’s signature on documents gave the appearance of a pen signature, with a fine nib being used.

“This judgement indicates that it would not be necessary to confirm that the person indeed made that signature with his own hand, which is a timely warning to all business people that they must take extra care over who has the right to authorise legal documents.”

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What's the deal with flexible working hours?

Can company bosses ignore a request for flexible working hours from their staff?

The answer, in almost every single case, is ‘no they can’t’, according to employment law specialist John Mehtam, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford.

He said: “The law changed last summer to remove the statutory procedure which had to be followed when considering flexible working requests. But the law still requires employers to deal with all applications in what is described as a ‘reasonable’ manner.”

So what does ‘reasonable’ actually mean?

John said: “An employer must look carefully at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the business, and weigh these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes.

“Employers must remember that they are under no statutory obligation to grant a request to work flexibly if it cannot be accommodated by the business without causing significant inconvenience.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg found himself in hot water when he said on his LBC radio show that, although record numbers of workers were granted flexible working rights, employers could “ignore such requests if they want”.

John said: “There are a number of acceptable reasons for rejecting an application, but you can’t ever simply ignore it, as Mr Clegg incorrectly suggested. Companies would risk finding themselves facing an employment tribunal, and staff could have a case for a potential discrimination claim.”

All workers have the right to request flexible hours if they have worked for a company for at least 26 continuous weeks, and have placed their request officially, in writing.