Monday, 9 November 2020

Further Extension of the Furlough Scheme - How we can help!



 

The government has recently announced a further extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, confirming that the scheme will now run until the end of March 2021.

 

John Mehtam who leads the employment team at Martin Kaye states that under this scheme it is imperative that employers have written agreements in place documenting the terms of the furlough arrangements. 

 

In most cases, the previous arrangements will have been assumed to end on 31 October 2020 or amended to cover the initial 4 week extension up to 2 December 2020, so new agreements should be put in place as a matter of priority to reflect the latest extension.

 

If you require comprehensive guidance on the furlough scheme and would like us to produce bespoke furlough agreements for you or if you would just like some advice and assistance during these unprecedented times then please do not hesitate to contact our Employment Team at employment@martinkaye.co.uk or on 01952 566920 and we will provide you with a no-obligation fixed fee quote.

 

 

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Advice for Commercial Landlords with defaulting tenants due to Covid 19.


Since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK earlier in the year, the economic fallout from the ‘lockdown’ has been well-publicised.

One particular area where we have seen difficulties is with tenants of business premises running into financial issues and defaulting on rent payable to the landlord. Landlords and tenants have often adopted a pragmatic approach to the problem, for example by agreeing to defer payment of rent or a temporary reduction in what is payable. But not all difficulties are resolved in this way and landlords need to know the legal options available to them.

Below appears a summary of the options available to landlords. These options have always been available but since the onset of the pandemic, various pieces of legislation have been passed that significantly restrict landlords’ options.

Forfeiture of lease

Forfeiture is the landlord taking the unilateral step – permitted in the lease - of terminating the lease and taking the property back from the tenant. This can usually be done by peaceable re-entry (physically gaining entry to the property, securing it and excluding the tenant) or by obtaining an order from the court requiring the tenant to give up possession.

However, at present, forfeiture is not available as a result of the Coronavirus Act 2020. There is a ban on forfeiture for non-payment of rent until 31 December 2020 at the earliest, whether by peaceable re-entry or by court proceedings.

Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR)

This is a procedure that allows the landlord to take possession of the tenant’s goods which can then be sold to discharge rent arrears.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, restrictions have been placed on this remedy. At present, there must be not less than 276 days’ worth of rent outstanding before CRAR can take place. Rent is typically payable quarterly under most leases, and this represents about 3 quarters of unpaid rent. If CRAR is to take place on or after 25 December 2020, there must be at least 366 days’ worth of rent outstanding.

If the outstanding rent is less than these amounts, the procedure is not available to the landlord.

Statutory demand and insolvency proceedings

Non-payment of debts (including rent) when they fall due will, in the eyes of the law, amount to insolvency. A step often taken by landlords was to serve a ‘statutory demand’ on the tenant, which is a formal demand for arrears to be paid within 21 days, failing which the landlord had the option of presenting a winding up petition to the court which, unless the arrears are paid, would see the tenant going into liquidation. Rather than face liquidation, tenants would often pay the debt.

Again, there have been changes to the law. The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 now prohibits a landlord form presenting a winding up petition based on a statutory demand served on a tenant between the dates of 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Furthermore, no winding up petition can be presented in any event on the ground of non-payment of rent before 1 January 2021 unless the landlord has reasonable grounds for believing that coronavirus has not had an effect on the tenant’s business, or the issue of the unpaid rent would have arisen despite coronavirus having an effect on the business.

The rules set out above apply only to companies. There are no restrictions on serving statutory demands and presenting bankruptcy petitions in respect of individuals unable to pay their debts.

Drawing down on a rent deposit

If a rent deposit has been taken, there is no restriction on the landlord being able to draw down on that deposit (provided that the landlord complies with the terms on which the deposit is held). This area has been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Court proceedings

Non-payment of rent is a breach of the lease, and it has always been possible for landlords to begin proceedings in the county court, eventually leading to a county court judgment (CCJ) for the amount of the arrears. Once there is a CCJ, the landlord will have various enforcement options available to them.

This procedure has been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic and the option remains available to landlords. However, it would be reasonable to assume that there may be delays in the court processing claims as we understand there is a backlog of cases form earlier in the year.

It is also worth pointing out that the landlord may not only have this remedy against the tenant, but also against guarantors of the tenant’s obligations. There are, however, and always have been limitations on what can be recovered from guarantors. A notice must be served on the guarantor before any court proceedings are started and only rent accruing due in the 6 months prior to the notice can be recovered.



Lockdown Update

As we go back into lockdown on Thursday, we wanted to update you on how our offices in Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton will be operating up to and including December 2nd 2020.

The reception area will be closed until further notice and unfortunately we will be unable to see clients face to face.  If you are required to drop off documents or have ID checked/copied this will be carried out through controlled measures.  Your solicitor will advise how this will happen, if necessary. 

These measures will of course be reviewed in line with any guidance or changes made by the Government.

Our staff will continue to be available to assist you with any legal matters remotely and you can still speak with us by calling 01952 272222 or visit the website on www.martinkaye.co.uk

Our aim is to protect our staff and clients during these difficult times, and to ensure we can deliver our services as near normal as usual.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 5 October 2020

Settlement Agreements Explained

The past few months has seen the term “settlement agreement” used more and more. So what exactly is it? John Mehtam – Head of Commercial Services explains.

A Settlement Agreement is a legally binding contract between an employee and an employer and is often used to terminate a term of employment usually to resolve a problem or a dispute. 

If as an employee you agree to a settlement agreement, you will automatically lose your right to take any potential claim you might have to an Employment Tribunal. Therefore obtaining legal advice from an independent advisor or an Employment Solicitor is an essential part of the Settlement Agreement process. 

Your legal advisor or Solicitor will need to sign the agreement to say that you’ve received advice and your employer usually pays for you to get that advice. 

If you have received a settlement agreement from your employer and want to achieve the best outcome possible from your Settlement Agreement with detailed and comprehensive legal advice, then please contact our Employment Team at employment@martinkaye.co.uk or on 01952 525984.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Helpline launched for Coronavirus worries

Legal experts at a Telford firm have launched a free helpline after a surge in enquiries about Coronavirus and employer obligations.

The team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, have been deluged with calls from employers right across the region with queries over the pandemic and its effects in the workplace, including the recently launched ‘Furlough’ scheme.

Employment law specialist, John Mehtam, who leads the team, said: “There has been an incredible rise in the number of calls as this challenging situation progresses and employers try to navigate their way through it.

“As a firm, we provide HR support to businesses across the UK who sign up to our Alpha service. But we wanted to show our support for local companies during these difficult times, and so we have launched the new free helpline to offer advice specifically about Coronavirus and the issues it is causing.”

The helpline – 01952 566920 – will be run by Martin-Kaye’s Alpha team and will be available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

“During these unsettling times and with such a fast-moving situation, professional advice could be key in helping businesses to survive in the longer term.

“We’re sure our new helpline will be extremely busy in the coming weeks while we all try to adjust to the ever-changing world around us, and businesses can rest assured that our team is ready to help wherever we can.”

Pic: Gemma Workman from Martin-Kaye Solicitors answers the new Coronavirus helpline

Monday, 16 March 2020

Coronavirus - a message from Martin-Kaye Solicitors


At this time, we are all facing the very real health and commercial challenges of dealing with Covid-19.

As matters stand, we remain open for business and will continue until it is no longer feasible or safe to do so.

Some of our staff are working remotely and the numbers working away from our offices may increase over the coming weeks.

If any of the solicitors with whom you normally deal are working remotely, we will contact you and provide details of how you will be able to contact the solicitor in question by email/mobile phone.

We are minimising all client meetings and, where possible, we will be conducting meetings by telephone.

We will keep the position monitored and under observation, and will update you as soon as there are any further developments.

Our priority is to protect the health and well-being of our staff, their families and, of course, our clients, while at the same time continuing to maintain a normal level of service.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Support for Knife Angel's visit to Telford

Lawyers from a Telford firm have signed up to support the high-profile Knife Angel sculpture during its month-long visit to the town.

The 27ft high statue is made of more than 100,000 blades and it has been on a nationwide tour to raise awareness of knife crime.

It has now taken up its latest temporary home in Southwater, and Martin-Kaye Solicitors – who have their head office in Telford – are one of the official corporate sponsors.

Maria Smallcombe, for the legal firm, said: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to support this iconic sculpture during its visit to the town, and its prime location will mean everyone who visits Southwater will be able to see it clearly and learn more about the important message it represents.

“To secure its presence in Telford is a real coup, and its imposing appearance really does drive home the stark reality of knife crime and the pain and suffering it causes.”

The sculpture was created by artist Alfie Bradley at the British Ironwork Centre, near Oswestry, from knife blades collected in amnesties organised by police forces across the country. The blades included flick knives, pen knives, machetes, samurai swords and kitchen knives, and some are engraved with the names of knife crime victims.

The Knife Angel was brought to Telford by Telford & Wrekin Council and West Mercia Police in association with local community groups and organisations who want to help raise awareness of knife crime.

It will be in Southwater until March 29, and school children from across the borough will visit the sculpture to learn more about the issue, with local police officers attending school assemblies to promote the project too.

Pic: From left, Maria Smallcombe (Martin-Kaye Solicitors), artist Alfie Bradley, and Clive Knowles (British Ironwork Centre) with the Knife Angel in Telford