Monday, 9 December 2019

Counting the cost of debt recovery

Businesses don’t need to be out of pocket when it comes to chasing up bad-payers according to a Shropshire solicitor.

Andrew Oranjuik, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, said: “It’s annoying enough when customers don’t pay invoices, but the fact that it will cost your business even more money to pursue them is even worse.

“It’s true that in most types of legal claim, legal costs can’t be recovered if the claim is resolved before it gets to court.

“And you won’t be able to claim costs either if court action has started but the case is allocated to the small claims track which is usually if the claim is below £10,000 in value. But when it comes to business-to-business debts, there are special rules that apply and many companies may be unaware of their rights.”

Mr Oranjuik said under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, a business is entitled to between £40 and £100 depending on the value of the debt itself.

“If that amount does not cover the actual costs that have been incurred, your business would be entitled to the reasonable costs you have paid out in order to recover the debt. And this will be the case whether or not court proceedings have been started, or if the case has gone to the small claims court.”

Mr Oranjuik said the rules could prove invaluable if a business had spent substantial amounts in chasing up a debt.

“Many businesses could be missing out on reclaiming costs because these rules are not widely used. But they mean that the reasonable costs you have run up collecting in bad debts can be added to the debt itself, so your business does not have to be out of pocket.

“If you’re unsure whether the rules are applicable for your business, it’s best to seek out expert advice before you spend any more time and money chasing up a debt that could have serious implications for your company’s finances.”

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Is your company website breaking the law?

Company bosses could be breaking the law when it comes to their corporate websites, according to a Shropshire solicitor.

Andrew Oranjuik, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, said there were strict rules about the information that companies were obliged to disclose.

“The rules themselves are very clear and quite simple, but they can often be overlooked in the bigger picture of running a business, which can be bad news for company bosses,” said Mr Oranjuik.

“Trading disclosures as they are called, ensure a company’s identity and location are easy to find – this means it can be easily tracked down at Companies House, and it’s easier to take legal action against, and easier to inspect its statutory records.

“It also protects your management team by clearly stating your limited liability status so third parties will know the directors and shareholders cannot be sued personally.”

Mr Oranjuik said a company website needed to include the full registered name of the business, the company’s limited status, where it is registered in the UK, the company registration number, and the full registered office address.

“It’s important to ensure this information is easy to find, so include it on your website homepage – it doesn’t need to appear on every page.

“And it’s not just your website you need to think about as you will need to include the same information on all letters and other documents you produce, whether it’s sent out as a hard copy or by email. To make it easy to comply with this rule, include it in your standard pre-printed letterhead and email templates.”

Mr Oranjuik said sole traders who used a business name that was not their surname, or a partnership that used a name that didn’t include all the names of its partners, would also need to make similar trading disclosures.

“If you breach the rules, you could face a fine of up to £1,000, with a daily fine of up to an additional £100 if the breach continues, and both your company and your directors can be prosecuted. So it may seem trivial, but it’s a situation that’s easy to fix and you’ll be saving yourself and your business from time-consuming legal proceedings.”

Friday, 15 November 2019

Telford event will reveal Top Ten employment blunders

Businesses from across Shropshire will get the chance to hear about the most common employment law blunders from experts on their very doorstep.

The team from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, are renowned for taking their interactive Top Ten employment blunders seminar on the road right across the UK.

And now, they’re hoping businesses closer to home will take advantage of the opportunity to hear their advice at a workshop at their head office in Euston Way on November 28.

“We’ve shared our advice with companies all over the country, and it’s great to be hosting a seminar right here in Telford,” said John Mehtam, who leads the employment law team.

“It’s a brisk 60-minute session where we reveal the top ten blunders made by businesses time and time again, and where our delegates hear about the mistakes, mishaps and common errors which have led to employment tribunal claims.

“Our aim is to help business owners develop techniques to address recurring problems in the workplace too such as long-term sickness absence and poor performance.

“We also equip our delegates with the best methods to avoid the most common blunders, and audience numbers at each of our seminars are purposely restricted to ensure that everyone gets the chance to ask questions and take part in lively discussions.”

Mr Mehtam said during the event he would be sharing advice to help businesses navigate through the increasingly-complicated minefield of employment law, and to help them avoid the most common pitfalls.

“With employers short on time, it’s almost impossible to keep up-to-date with ever-changing legislation, so our seminars offer clear, concise information in a time frame that suits our busy delegates.”

The event begins at 11.45am, and businesses who would like to attend should contact June Noto on 01952 525951 or email junenoto@martinkaye.co.uk 

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Employment experts on the road

Employment law experts from Martin-Kaye Solicitors have been on the road with their latest Top 10 blunders seminar.

They visited the home of Leicester Tigers to share their knowledge with a wide range of businesses including care homes, manufacturers, insurance brokers and retailers.

The feedback from the event was excellent with extremely positive and interactive discussions on the top ten employment law mistakes that employers make - and the best way to avoid them.

To find out more about our seminars and how to get involved, contact June Noto on 01952 525951 or email junenoto@martinkaye.co.uk 

Friday, 1 November 2019

Simple mistakes have consequences

Company directors have been warned they could face disqualification for even the simplest of mistakes.

Andrew Oranjuik, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, said it would be easy to assume that directors would only be disqualified for major failings like corporate fraud.

“But in fact, you could face disqualification in circumstances that are far less dramatic – even down to mishandling the paperwork you’re required to keep.”

Mr Oranjuik said there was a wide range of issues that could lead to a director being disqualified, from failing to keep proper accounting records to employing illegal workers and being involved in banking scams.

“Often the possibility of disqualification comes to light if a company is being investigated in an insolvency case, but it can also come from other investigations and court proceedings, including a breach of directors’ duties enquiry or competition law.”

Mr Oranjuik said surprisingly the most common reason for disqualification was failing to keep accounting records, with the situation often discovered when insolvency experts investigate why a company had gone bust.

“If a director’s actions are deemed to have been inappropriate leading up to their company’s insolvency, they can be disqualified – this covers a whole host of actions including allowing the company to trade while insolvent, using its money or assets for your own benefit, and failing to keep proper records.

“You can also be disqualified if you cause your company to break the law whether the company is insolvent or not, for occasions like data breaches and consumer scams.”

Mr Oranjuik said if disqualified, a director is banned from being a company director and from taking part in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

“This means you could be employed by a company, but you must be careful not to get involved in management – so no hiring of staff or making financial decisions.

“In some cases, the court can grant a director permission to act despite being disqualified, but this will be tightly controlled and usually only to allow a director to stay on just to wind their company up.

“It’s easy to think that small issues will not lead to serious consequences, but that’s just not the case – as a director you have responsibilities on all levels and it’s important to realise how seriously you need to take them.”

Monday, 28 October 2019

Mediation isn't always the answer

A Shropshire solicitor says mediation is not always the right way for businesses to resolve commercial disputes.

Andrew Oranjuik, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said currently anyone involved in a dispute was expected to consider mediation to try to resolve the issue.

“For a long time, it has rightly been recognised that mediation was usually preferable to taking a case through the courts.

“The process has a high success rate as both sides are brought together to reach a settlement with the aid of a skilled and neutral third party – and if a settlement is reached, it will certainly be less expensive than a court case. But mediation is not right in every case and sometimes it can cynically be used as a tactic by one of the parties involved.”

Mr Oranjuik’s advice follows a case where he and his team acted for a defendant in a commercial dispute over the ownership of industrial equipment.

“The other side’s case appeared to be weak, and despite offers and counter-offers being made, it was clear they were not interested in anything other than total victory, and they were pressing for us to take it to mediation.

“But we advised our client not to agree to mediation as it’s not an inexpensive process and we believed the chances of achieving a settlement were very slim given the other party’s approach.”

The case resulted in a two-day trial in the county court where the claim against Mr Oranjuik’s client was dismissed.

“There was then an argument over costs – the claimant said our client should not recover costs because we had refused to mediate. But after reviewing the offers that had been made, the court ruled our client had acted reasonably and so costs were awarded.

“Refusing to mediate will often be unreasonable, and if that’s the case, the refusing party can expect to be criticised by the court and face the consequences. But it’s not a universal rule and clients involved in a dispute should be wary of the other side trying to bounce them into mediation to get a settlement.

“Each proposal for mediation should be considered on its own merits, and depending on the case, allowing the courts to decide may turn out to be a better approach.”

Monday, 14 October 2019

Personal injury experts in the county town

A Shropshire law firm is extending the reach of its personal injury team by offering support from its newly-opened Shrewsbury office.

Experts from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, which also has offices in Telford and Wolverhampton, will now be available at the office in the county town to deal with clients and their claims.

Partner and Head of the Personal Injury Department, Alison Carter, said the move would make it more convenient for clients from the Shrewsbury area with advice available in the heart of the town in Bellstone Court.

“There are three of us who handle personal injury claims and we work with clients who have suffered personal injury as a result of a road traffic incident, an accident at work or in a public place, or other accidental injuries that may be eligible for compensation – we don’t however handle medical negligence claims.”

Mrs Carter specialises in claimant personal injury work and has managed Martin-Kaye’s team of specialist lawyers since for over 20 years. She is a member of APIL – the organisation that promotes full and fair compensation for all types of personal injury claimants – and she is a member of the specialist Law Society Personal Injury Panel.

The other members of the personal injury team at Martin-Kaye are Chartered Legal Executive Sarah Mears and Associate Solicitor Alison Thornton.

Mrs Mears has worked for Martin-Kaye for 20 years and she vets new claims within the department. She is also a member of the Shropshire and Mid-Wales CILEX branch.

Mrs Thornton, who is an Associate Solicitor, worked for a number of large regional and national firms before joining Martin-Kaye in 2003, and she has successfully negotiated many different types of claims including fast-track and multi-track cases featuring road traffic injuries, industrial injuries and public liability.

“Our team has over 20 years’ experience in dealing with personal injury claims and we have won millions of pounds in compensation for thousands of clients,” said Mrs Carter.

“We’re looking forward to working more closely with clients in the Shrewsbury area and to delivering similarly impressive results to those we’ve achieved for our Telford-based claimants.”

Pictured: From left, Alison Carter, Alison Thornton and Sarah Mears at the Martin-Kaye office in Shrewsbury