Thursday, 16 January 2020

Cyber experts in date warning

Cyber experts at a Shropshire law firm are warning that shortening the date for the year 2020 on legal documents could have serious consequences.

Samantha Azzopardi-Tudor is the Office Manager at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and she has called on anyone completing official paperwork to be vigilant and take extra care.

“If you fail to write out the date in full, because of the way the numbers fall in 2020, you could be risking real difficulties. It’s vital that you write it in the format dd/mm/yyyy rather than just dd/mm/yy because otherwise it gives unscrupulous fraudsters a simple opportunity to add another two digits that could completely alter the status of the documents.

“So, for example, remember that you need to write out 31/01/2020 rather than 31/1/20 because anyone could easily modify the year to affect the timing of the paperwork. This is particularly important if you’re involved in legal negotiations or a legal dispute where timing could be an issue, and where you need to prove you’ve completed the paperwork at a certain time.”

Mrs Azzopardi-Tudor said Martin-Kaye Solicitors was committed to ensuring the security of its clients both online and off-line.

“We have once again been recognised for the security of our cyber systems for the second year running and have been accredited with Cyber Essentials by Falanx Cyber Defence – a Government-backed scheme supported by the National Cyber Security Centre.

“The initiative encourages companies and organisations to adopt good practice in the way they use technology, and it protects them against a whole range of the most common cyber-attacks. We’ve worked very hard to retain our accreditation and it’s very pleasing to have our status confirmed for the second year in a row.

“Our commitment to this scheme and the recognition we have received is a clear indication to our clients and employees that we are constantly working to prevent cyber-attacks and protecting their personal data.

“The advice on filling in the date in full is just the latest step in our ongoing programme of advice to our clients to help prevent them becoming victims of the increasing risk of cyber-attacks.”

Cyber Essentials protects companies and organisations against the most common attacks – and it’s particularly important as vulnerability to simple attacks can mark a company out as a target for more in-depth unwanted attention from cyber criminals.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Family law experts expand into county town

Shropshire couples facing the breakdown of a relationship have been urged not to rush into formal divorce proceedings.

Gemma Himsworth leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and the firm has now widened its services to offer advice from its town-centre offices in Shrewsbury too.

“January is one of the peak times of the year for divorce, particularly after families who would not usually spend a lot of time together have been in close quarters for the intensive Christmas and New Year period.

“In fact, Christmas is becoming an increasingly busy time for divorce applications, with more and more online proceedings launched on Christmas Day itself. And as well as online divorce applications peaking at this time of year, this month we’ve seen the usual annual spike in enquiries in person at both our Telford and Shrewsbury offices.”

Mrs Himsworth urged couples to steer clear of quick-fix divorce proceedings online, as the process would not suit everyone’s circumstances.

“The online process only deals with the marriage, and not with financial matters or issues relating to children. It’s all well and good filling in an application online, uploading documents and paying fees over the internet, but this kind of fully digital divorce will not be appropriate for everyone.

“You won’t receive advice online about the legal implications of divorce, and you won’t be able to make sure that any necessary paperwork is completed correctly. So although it may seem tempting to try to do everything online in order to speed up the process and make things less complicated, you may actually be creating a situation that causes real problems as the divorce moves forward.”

Mrs Himsworth urged couples to seek professional advice to sort out the finer details of divorce in order to protect themselves from future legal action.

“For instance, if a couple gets divorced but doesn’t deal with their finances in a recognised legal agreement, they could be storing up trouble – it means they will still have claims against one another, including on any assets they acquire after the marriage is over or on any inheritance they may receive. And in an extreme case where maybe one of them wins the lottery, then arguably their former spouse could still make a claim.

“The online divorce system does not replace existing paper-based applications, but for some people it provides a quicker and easier service – couples though should be careful and should not hesitate to seek out expert advice if they’re unsure of how to proceed.”

Pic: Martin-Kaye’s family law team now offering advice in Shrewsbury too – from left, Jane Tinsley, Gemma Himsworth and Emma Parker

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Directors must count the cost of disqualification

Company directors who are disqualified could now find they face the extra penalty of paying compensation to creditors.

That’s the warning from Andrew Oranjuik, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, who said changes in the law meant tougher judgements could be handed out.

“The law on the disqualification of company directors was changed in October 2016, and now we have seen the first ruling by the High Court under the new law which is a real wake-up call for bosses all over the UK.”

Mr Oranjuik said a compensation order could not be made unless the company where the person was a director was formally insolvent, usually through administration or liquidation.

“The director must either have been disqualified by the court or agreed to be disqualified, and this will only have taken place where the director has been involved in misconduct, committed an unlawful act, or has been found unfit to manage a company. And now, thanks to the change in the law, directors in this situation will be exposed to the extra risk of a compensation order if their conduct has caused a loss for the company’s creditors.”

Mr Oranjuik said the first case of its kind had involved a company director who had arranged for his company – prior to liquidation – to pay almost £560,000 to another company he owned, without any justification.

The court ruled that his actions had caused loss to the company’s creditors, and he had not taken any steps to try to repay the money. The liquidator did not have any funds to try to recoup any of the money from him either. So the court disqualified him for 15 years and ordered him to pay the entire amount back to the creditors.

“Before the change in the law, the director may not have faced action, but this case makes it clear that directors who act unlawfully at the expense of their creditors are now increasingly likely to face the risk of being held personally liable.

“Now that the courts can assess the loss to the creditors as part of disqualification cases, we expect to see a significant rise in the number of compensation orders being made, so it’s vital that directors are fully aware of their responsibilities and comply with the duties they are required to carry out.”

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Law firm recognised for cyber security

A Shropshire law firm has been recognised for the security of its cyber systems for the second year running.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors has once again been accredited with Cyber Essentials by Falanx Cyber Defence – a Government-backed scheme supported by the National Cyber Security Centre.

The initiative encourages companies and organisations to adopt good practice in the way they use technology, and it protects them against a whole range of the most common cyber-attacks.

Martin-Kaye’s Office Manager, Samantha Azzopardi-Tudor, said: “We’ve worked very hard to retain our accreditation and it’s very pleasing to have our status confirmed for the second year in a row.

“Our commitment to this scheme and the recognition we have received is a clear indication to our clients and employees that we are constantly working to prevent cyber-attacks and protecting their personal data.

“As part of the criteria, we are required to show we are committed to using a secure internet connection in our offices, and to ensure that all our devices and software are also secure. It requires us to control who has access to our data and services, and for us to protect our systems from viruses and other malware, as well as making sure all our devices and software are regularly updated.”

Mrs Azzopardi-Tudor said the accreditation meant that Martin-Kaye Solicitors would again be listed in the recognised Government directory of organisations who have been awarded Cyber Essentials status.

“With the rising risk of cyber-attacks and the threat of increasingly sophisticated cyber-crime, many companies are now choosing to work only with advisors and professional service providers who have been accredited.

“So anyone specifically looking to appoint a law firm that meets the very highest standards of cyber security will find us on the list. This recognition assures our clients that we take cyber security seriously, and that we’re continually updating our systems to protect their data at all times.”

Cyber Essentials protects companies and organisations against the most common attacks – and it’s particularly important as vulnerability to simple attacks can mark a company out as a target for more in-depth unwanted attention from cyber criminals.

Pic: Martin-Kaye’s Office Manager Samantha Azzopardi-Tudor

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