Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cycling for charity cash

Staff from Martin-Kaye Solicitors have proved they’re on the right track when it comes to raising charity cash.

The team joined other local organisations to take part in the British Heart Foundation Indoor Cycle event - organised by Telford & Wrekin Council, the aim was to encourage as many local people and organisations to join in with a virtual indoor ride using an exercise bike to cover 850 miles – the distance from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

Their combined efforts will help to raise money for a 3-d portable echocardiogram machine for Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

Sam Azzopardi-Tudor, for our team, said: “Telford & Wrekin Council arranged for an exercise bicycle and a fitness instructor to be on site at our premises for an entire day. And we asked volunteers from across the firm to take turns on the bicycle – with 12 members of staff clocking up a total of just over 81 miles in 30-minute sessions.”

So far, the Martin-Kaye team has raised £630 towards the cost of the state-of-the-art heart machine, and donations are still coming in.

Pic: Solicitor Steph Powers takes her turn on the exercise bicycle at Martin-Kaye

Monday, 23 March 2009

Beat the bad debts

Shropshire companies are being warned to protect themselves from bad debtors by tightening up their terms and conditions.

Our Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “With the number of businesses facing insolvency in these difficult financial times, it’s clear that companies should do all they can to protect themselves against customers going bust.” He said one solution was to introduce a Retention of Title (ROT) clause in sale or supply contracts – or if companies already had one, they should make sure the details were reviewed, adjusting them if necessary.

“The aim of an ROT clause is to prevent the legal ownership passing over to the customer until the goods have been paid for in full. It is important though that the wording of the clause is correct, and the best protection is provided by an “all monies” clause.

“If you word it properly, it will ensure that the customer does not get legal ownership of the goods until they have paid for them in full; and they must also clear any other outstanding debts they have with your company too.”

Graham said the clause could be included in your general terms of business, but many clauses proved to be invalid because they were not incorporated into a company’s terms and conditions correctly.

“It may not be good enough just to include the terms on the back of your sales invoices – ideally, you ought to make sure your terms are clear to your customer before you deliver the goods, and that they are included on as many documents as possible.

“If your customer is declared insolvent, a valid ROT clause may enable you to reclaim any goods which are clearly identifiable as yours. Or it may give you some bargaining room with the insolvency practitioners who will be looking to trade the company and may need your goods for trading purposes. Make sure you protect yourself and your business by taking the time to draw up a clear and effective ROT clause, and then it can be used it to its full effect.”

Friday, 13 March 2009

Divorced couples head back to court

Divorced Shropshire couples say the credit crunch is forcing them back to court to challenge financial payouts. Nadia Davis, who leads our Family Team, said there had been a real increase in the number of couples rushing back to court.

“It seems that in light of the difficult financial times, many people are finding that they just cannot keep up with the maintenance arrangements which were made when the economy was so much stronger. And of course we all know that the state of the economy is constantly changing – so at the moment, it may well be that a couple agree on a payout, but before it’s even finalised, the market has changed again.

“This means we’re seeing husbands delaying things until the last possible moment, or asking for additional time to pay. They know that by the time they have to come up with the money, their circumstances may be even more unstable, and so they may have to pay even less.”

Nadia said if an unforeseeable event happened after a divorce, the law allowed a former spouse to go back to ask for the deal to be looked at again. “But the real question is whether the economic downturn was foreseeable, or whether these spouses are just making the most of it as an opportunity to reduce the payments they have to make.

“No-one can accurately predict how long the credit crunch will last, and it’s clear that spouses cannot be expected to pay maintenance they cannot afford. But it’s vital that couples take professional advice on how best to proceed in order to protect their financial future.”