Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Wills and probate experts extend their services

Wills and probate experts from a Shropshire law firm are extending their services to cover a much wider area.

The specialists from Martin-Kaye Solicitors will now be offering appointments at the firm’s newest office in Bellstone Court, in Shrewsbury.

Fiona Mainwaring, who is the probate department manager, said the move was as a direct result of an increase in enquiries from clients in and around the county town.

“Because of the nature of our work, we are dealing with clients who may be elderly and more vulnerable, and we decided that offering appointments at the Shrewsbury office would make it easier for them to access our services.

“We’ve seen a real demand for flexible and sensitive support for clients who are facing some of the most difficult times in life, and our team is dedicated to helping people through the complicated process of dealing with the death of a loved one in a caring and approachable way.”

Fiona and her team focus on the administration of people’s estates after they have died involving general probate and intestacy work (where someone hasn’t left a will). They also deal with the preparation of wills, Inheritance Tax planning, powers of attorney, and generally assisting elderly clients.

Martin-Kaye Partner Simon Wagner, who runs the firm’s Shrewsbury office, said introducing the wills and probate service in the town had encouraged many more new clients to ask about the support.

“We’ve been inundated with people who are very pleased to see us and who have been keen to learn more about how we can help them.

“Given our location, it’s easy and convenient for clients to call in for face-to-face appointments while they’re in town, and we’re also seeing existing clients turn to us for wills and probate issues who may have been previously unaware that we offered such a service.”

Pic: Fiona Mainwaring – Martin-Kaye’s probate department manager at the new Shrewsbury office

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Employment lawyers share their advice

Employers in the Worcester area are set to find out how to protect their business from escalating tribunal claims thanks to a Telford law firm.

Experts from the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors will be hosting an interactive seminar on July 25, at the Sixways Stadium in Warriors Way, Worcester, at 12noon.

The free event will help employers to recognise the top ten employment law blunders that companies commit, and identify the best way to avoid them.

John Mehtam, who is Martin-Kaye’s employment law specialist, will lead the seminar and it’s the first time the team have taken their presentation to the Worcester area.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming employers from a wide range of business sectors, and it’s a good time for businesses to attend because since the Government abolished tribunal fees, there has been an avalanche of employment tribunal claims. This is because some employees are bringing claims that stand little chance of succeeding, but employers have to take them all seriously and you need to be sure you’re complying with all the relevant legislation.”

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

“We will include suggestions on how to tackle some of the most common workplace and HR issues including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance – and perhaps more importantly, we will look at how to avoid these situations and how to protect your business.

“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.

“Our presentations are always extremely popular wherever we hold them across Shropshire, Wales and the wider West Midlands, and it’s great to now be taking our advice into the Worcester area to reach even more businesses.”

Businesses who would like to attend the seminar should contact June Noto on 01952 525951 or email junenoto@martinkaye.co.uk 

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Trio relocate to Wolverhampton office

A Midlands law firm is extending its reach by transferring three key members of staff to its Wolverhampton office.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors has its head office in Telford, and now a trio of residential conveyancers are relocating to the Tettenhall Road branch as a direct result of increased business in the area.

Partner Simon Wagner said the move was part of the firm’s ongoing expansion plans which have also seen them open another satellite office in Shrewsbury.

“We’re keen to continue to grow our business in a structured and targeted way, and we’ve seen a real rise in the number of conveyancing clients in the wider Wolverhampton area, so it makes absolute sense for some of our property team to operate from there.

Partner and head of department Nita Patel said: “Our residential property division is renowned for its excellent customer service and for its efficient and effective advice, and it’s exciting to see our team building new strong links with clients all over the region.”

The conveyancers who will be relocating are Wendy Pullar (licensed conveyancer), Amandeep Siddoo (solicitor), and Ellesse Wilson (legal assistant). Partner and head of department, Nita Patel, will be dividing her time between the Wolverhampton and Telford offices.

Wendy has worked for Martin-Kaye for almost nine years and specialises in buying and selling properties, transfers of equity, and re-mortgages.

“I’m looking forward to working in Wolverhampton as it’s a great opportunity to build the business, and it’s a new challenge that will give me the chance to meet our clients in that area face-to-face thanks to our more convenient location.”

Amandeep has been a solicitor for over 15 years working for another legal firm in Shropshire  as well as running her own business for a time. “I really enjoy conveyancing and have predominantly specialised in this area throughout my career – it’s always lovely to help people move into their new home.”

Ellesse is currently studying for her postgraduate diploma in legal practice after completing a law degree. “I can’t wait to get started at the Wolverhampton office and I’m looking forward to having more direct contact with the clients as they will be able to drop in rather than having to travel so far.”

Pic: From left, Ellesse Wilson, Nita Patel, Wendy Pullar and Amandeep Siddoo prepare for the transfer to Martin-Kaye’s Wolverhampton office

Monday, 3 June 2019

Emma leads the employment team

A long-serving employee at a Shropshire law firm has been promoted to lead its employment department. Emma Palmer has worked for Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford for 20 years, and she is now managing the employment team.

“I am absolutely delighted to be stepping up to my new role, and it’s great to have the opportunity to play a key part in developing the strategy to take the department forward,” said Emma.

As well as the overall management of the department, Emma works closely with John Mehtam who is the firm’s employment law specialist and also a partner in the practice. They were instrumental in setting up the Alpha service that Martin-Kaye delivers to businesses all over the UK, which has now celebrated its 10th anniversary.

“Alpha gives our clients the security of an employment and HR package that can offer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we are reaching clients further and further afield.

“There are Alpha members all over the country, with the vast majority renewing year on year, and continuing relationships with them give us the chance to learn exactly what makes their companies tick so that we can tailor our support to their individual requirements.”

Emma said the focus of the Alpha service was pragmatic, robust advice, with the aim of minimising the risk of tribunal claims.

“As part of my new role, I’ll be working with the team to continue to develop Alpha and the services we deliver, and to increase the membership still further. It’s a pleasure to be working with colleagues who are dedicated and extremely knowledgeable, and I’m looking forward to seeing Alpha grow thanks to everyone’s commitment and hard work.”

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Employers urged to act fast over new starters

Employers are being urged to take decisive action as quickly as possible when it comes to the fate of new starters in the workplace.

John Mehtam is the employment law specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, and he has called on bosses to take a swift and direct decision over staff on probationary periods.

“Recruitment can be very expensive and there’s never any guarantee that you’ve chosen the right candidate, so it makes sense to employ new recruits on an initial probationary period until you’re sure.

“This status though has no basis in employment law and is purely contractual, so it’s important to have the right processes and contracts in place to ensure things go smoothly whether they turn out to be a success or whether you need to dismiss them.”

Mr Mehtam said despite what contracts of employment may say, management teams should be applying a two-year probationary period as that’s the time frame in which employees are ineligible to bring a claim in an employment tribunal. Contracts should also give the option of scrapping any contractual disciplinary or performance procedures for probationary or short service employees to avoid claims for wrongful dismissal.

“Most probationary periods will include a shorter notice period – some are as short as one week – which gives you the option to terminate the person’s employment quickly if things don’t work out, and this means a smaller payment in lieu of notice too.

“It’s important to take action sooner rather than later if you decide to end the person’s employment and not drag things out unnecessarily – that way you can move on and find the right person for the job, and the employee will have a clear picture of where they stand.

“You may feel that you must have seen something in them initially as you wouldn’t have employed them otherwise, and perhaps you’re dreading the time and cost involved of starting the whole recruitment process all over again.

“But don’t let that put you off – take action as soon as you feel things are not going to end well, but make sure you keep track of the employee’s performance, and keep records with dates and times, and details of what was discussed and agreed.

“This attention to detail will prove invaluable when you do decide that things aren’t working out, as you can use the information to set out the precise reasons for their contract being terminated in a dismissal letter. Remember that you will need to follow a fair and reasonable dismissal procedure, and that you’ll need to be able to show why the employee was not suitable for the role.”

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Social media warning for business owners

Shropshire business owners have been warned to tread carefully when it comes to boosting their social media profiles.

Andrew Oranjuik, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford and Shrewsbury, said many business people were already aware of the networking opportunities created by sites such as LinkedIn.

“It makes a lot of sense to boost your LinkedIn presence by accepting connection requests as it expands your network of connections and could lead to potential new business. Statistics show that at the start of this year, there were 27 million registered LinkedIn users in the UK which is a huge pool of opportunities – and while most of them are genuine, inevitably there is an increasing number of fake profiles appearing.

“These profiles can be used for a whole host of unsavoury purposes including spamming your profile about goods and services – or worse still, they may want to connect in order to steal your personal data and the data of your first level connections.”

Mr Oranjuik said the more information your LinkedIn profile contained, the greater the risk.

“If your profile contains your full name, all your previous positions, your current employer, and your entire education and contact details, the information could be harvested and sold on which could ultimately result in identity theft.

“Thankfully there are often tell-tale signs that help to identify fake profiles – take a close look at the profile picture for a start. Does it look like a stock photo image or does the person look too ‘perfect’? Scammers often use pictures of models to encourage people to accept their connection request and sometimes the work experience or job role listed doesn’t match the age of the person in the photo.

“Check whether the profile looks as though it’s been put together in a hurry – are there spelling mistakes or grammatical errors?

“A lack of personal content on a profile should also ring alarm bells. Fake profiles usually contain little or no information about the actual person such as their hobbies, group memberships or recommendations.”

Mr Oranjuik said genuine connection requests were likely to come from someone already connected to one of your current first or second level connections, so it was important to see whether you knew anyone in common.

“Check too whether there is a logical sequence of career progression in the employment section too, from entry level upwards. Fake profiles often suspiciously start from senior level.

“The main advice is to tread carefully – if the request comes from someone who isn’t known to one of your first-level connections, don’t accept it if you have any doubts at all as it’s a risk that could have serious consequences for you and your business.”

Monday, 29 April 2019

Harassment claims must be taken seriously

Workplace harassment allegations against senior staff must be taken seriously no matter how tenuous they may appear, a Shropshire solicitor has warned.

John Mehtam, who leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said harassment allegations were always difficult, but even more so now in the wake of the worldwide #MeToo campaign.

“Making an allegation against a senior colleague or a director is a brave step for any employee, and it’s vital that the company and its other directors take the accusations seriously and that the board remains impartial.

“This means you’ll need to carry out a reasonable and thorough investigation, but you shouldn’t appoint another director or senior manager or anyone else in-house to do this – it’s much more appropriate to appoint an experienced external source.”

Mr Mehtam said there were several options when it came to possible candidates for the role. “You could choose a firm of solicitors, or alternatively an employment law consultant or experienced human resources advisor could carry out the process.

“But you’ll need to make sure they are well-versed in the relevant law, and that they have carried out similar investigations before.”

He said once the investigation was completed, the investigator’s findings should be passed to the company board.

“It will be the board’s decision on whether any further action should be taken, not the investigator’s. Their role is purely to prepare the evidence for the board to consider.”

Mr Mehtam said ultimately if the accusations of harassment against a director were proven, the director could be sued personally.

“This means there’s a lot riding on the outcome of the investigation for the director concerned and for the company as a whole. So the appointment of an external investigator will ensure that everyone involved is treated in a neutral manner, and that the investigation itself is transparent, fair and impartial at all times.”