Thursday, 28 July 2011

Employers flock to law seminar

Our latest advice seminar was so popular it was booked up within hours of being announced.

We organised the presentation at our offices in Euston Way, in Telford, for employers struggling to cope with staff taking time off sick. And employment law specialist, John Mehtam, who leads our Alpha business team, said delegates who attended were very impressed with the advice they received.

"We had an excellent response to the presentation and feedback forms completed by employers who attended rated the seminar as probably the best we've ever done."

The session looked at the legal rules and implications involved in the correct management of both short term and long term sickness absence.

Our Alpha team were also joined on the day by leading barrister, David Maxwell, from St Philips Chambers in Birmingham, who is a specialist employment lawyer, a part-time employment judge, and who is recommended by the Legal 500.

This was the latest in a series of seminars run by our Alpha team who specialise in effective and robust advice for businesses in all aspects of human resources and employment law.

Pic: At the Alpha presentation are, from left, Tony Conlon from Henshalls, Barbara Morris from Salop Leisure, and John Mehtam from Martin-Kaye Solicitors

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Accident victims will miss out

New rules will mean victims injured in accidents that aren't their fault will face drastically reduced compensation payouts - that's the warning from Alison Carter who leads our personal injury team.

"Once the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill comes into force, anyone injured because someone else has been negligent will be considerably worse off. The proposed legislation will make it more difficult for victims to get justice and will also reduce the amount of compensation available because it restricts 'no win no fee' agreements."

In the last five years, almost 3 million people have used "no win no fee" agreements to fund their legal claims, and 80% said they were satisfied with the current system.

Under the current system, the victim keeps 100% of their compensation if they are successful in a personal injury claim, and they can take out insurance to protect them from having to pay the other side's costs if they lose. They can also recover the cost of the insurance from the person who is to blame, and if the case is a success, the victim's solicitor can recover their fee from the other side too.

"But under the new proposals, neither the insurance premium or the success fee can be recovered and the victim will have to foot the bill," said Alison.

"This means victims will face hefty reductions in the amount of compensation they receive, and that funding will be a stumbling block for anyone considering putting in a claim, as many people won't be able to afford to pay for the insurance and so won't be able to risk losing.

"Anyone who has been injured in an accident that was not their fault should make a claim sooner rather than later, so they can use the current system which is much fairer."

Friday, 15 July 2011

Look for cash closer to home

Shropshire businesses who need a vital cash injection could find the answer is closer to home than they think.

Stuart Haynes, from our commercial team, said despite the banks relaxing their rules, borrowing was still not an easy option for many companies. "So if you need to expand your business or need cash to invest in new equipment, you may find you have to consider alternative options."

Stuart said one possibility could be setting up a pension known as a Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS).

"They are designed specifically for small to medium-sized companies with a small number of director/shareholders - or even just one if you're a sole trader. This kind of scheme is allowed to lend to businesses where the pension fund holder is a director/shareholder, which is different from other types of pension fund."

Stuart said there was no specific limit on how much an SSAS could lend your company, but it couldn't lend more than 50% of its net assets. "Your company would have to pay a commercial rate of interest on the loan, but of course the money will go straight from your business into your own pension account, so it's effectively costing you nothing."

He said an existing pension fund could be transferred into an SSAS and your company could immediately access a loan worth up to 50% of what the fund was worth.

"There are many companies who can set up a fund like this for you, but it's vital to take professional advice in order to avoid any pitfalls and mistakes."