Monday, 17 December 2012

Law firm takes a new approach

Families denied legal support during tricky divorce proceedings have been offered a lifeline.

From next year, Legal Aid will no longer be available for divorce and family law cases due to Government cuts. But our family law expert, Nadia Davis, said the move would cause misery for many families at probably the most stressful time of their lives.

"The decision will deprive thousands of families from legal advice and assistance during a painful and difficult period. There will be lots of people on limited incomes who will be floundering, worried and upset following the break-up of their relationship and when conflicts over the children arise.

"People who would have previously qualified for Legal Aid will be left to fend for themselves, which is a horrendous position to be in."

Our firm has decided we can't leave families struggling with such a difficult situation alone, and so we've taken action to step in to help.

"We felt a real responsibility to find a way of meeting what we believe will be a considerable demand, and have set up a new fees structure that could prove invaluable for many families."

Our team of family law specialists will take on cases involving disputes over children at heavily discounted rates which will be broadly in line with the previous public funding rates.

"By using our lawyers and systems more efficiently, I believe we can help these families at very competitive rates and we are also introducing an opetion where families can consult us on an 'as and when' basis.

"We have already pioneered a fixed fees structure for family and divorce work to ensure there are no surprises for our clients and this latest service is very much an extension of that approach. In such difficult financial times, families need all the support they can get, and at Martin-Kaye we are dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to offer advice that suits each client's individual needs and circumstances."

Friday, 7 December 2012

Hairy moments for legal team

Four of our solicitors have faced a few hairy moments all in the name of charity. They pledged their support for this year's Movember campaign and spent the last month growing some pretty impressive facial hair.

The aim of the campaign is to raise vital funds and awareness for men's health, in particular prostate cancer and testicular cancer, and the Martin-Kaye MoBros have raised over £700 through their efforts so far.

Mohammed Ahsan, who took part in the challenge, said: "There was much trimming, grooming and moustache stroking throughout the month, and we've had some gentle ribbing from our colleagues over the weeks. But in the end, it has all been extremely worthwhile and we're so grateful to everyone who has supported our efforts - we never thought we'd have raised such a great amount of money, and the donations are still coming in."

Mohammed was joined in the Movember campaign by colleagues David Jones, Jason Round and Giorgio Iaconi.

Movember raised over £79 million last year across the UK and around the world, and organisers are hoping to beat that with this year's efforts.

Pic: Sporting their impressive Movember moustaches are, from left, Mohammed Ahsan, David Jones, Jason Round and Giorgio Iaconi

Friday, 30 November 2012

Half and half is a long way off

Stay-at-home spouses are still not getting their fair share in assets from a divorce - despite a decade passing since a landmark legal ruling - that's the warning from Nadia Davis, who leads our family team.

She said ten years ago the principle that divorcing wives could expect to receive half the assets of a marriage was introduced.

"It was generally introduced for wives who gave up their own careers to support their husband, look after the home and children, and who sacrificed their own salary for the sake of the family. But despite there being several high-profile multi-million pound payouts for divorcing wives lately, it would appear that the same equality does not always apply when it comes to dividing the assets.

"It's not an actual rule that each partner should have an equal share of the assets, and courts always have the flexibility to make individual decisions in exceptional circumstances. But it had been generally accepted in most cases that the wife would receive a 50 per cent share.

"Historically it was felt that the breadwinner's contribution to a marriage weighed more heavily than the homemaker, but in these relationships, both partners make significant but different contributions to the partnership.

"And before the ruling, financial equality would have been unheard of - a wife would usually have been assessed on her needs and receive maintenance and a home for her and the children, rather than an amount based on her contributions to the marriage.

"So in ten years since the ruling, there has only been one recognised case where a stay-at-home wife has actually received a true half-share of the assets - it's clear there is still some way to go until things really are equal."

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

"Cheat's charter" is bad news

Our family law expert has hit out at a ruling that could help wealthy husbands to hide their assets during a divorce.

Nadia Davis leads our family law team and said the ruling by the Court of Appeal that an oil baron's companies did not have to hand over their assets to his ex-wife was a dangerous development.

"It's clear that this ruling could encourage wealthy businessmen to shelter their assets in companies and trusts that are beyond the reach of their wives, which is just unfair.

"I believe this should be looked at again as soon as possible, in order to protect wives in high value divorce cases who may otherwise not get the payout they are really entitled to."

The Court of Appeal said that the "corporate veil" could not be lifted unless there were exceptional circumstances, and said the oil baron's companies could not be considered as his own property.

"In many instances this ruling has been referred to as a 'cheat's charter' and gives unscrupulous husbands all the opportunity they need to protect their assets," said Nadia.

"This decision by the Court of Appeal, which was not unanimous, means family law judges can no longer ensure that justice is done on both sides in a divorce.

"For me, this is an extremely dangerous route to have taken and it will create real uncertainty in any forthcoming cases.

"Surely the wisest move would be to reconsider the ruling and to introduce legislation that safeguards a wife's right to receive a fair payout and that prevents assets being hidden away.

"Divorce is a difficult enough experience at the best of times for anyone involved, and to have introduced a method where precious assets can be taken out of the equation is only adding to the stress."

Monday, 26 November 2012

Hand it back - it's not yours!

Senior employees dismissed for gross misconduct have no rights to continue using their company car or equipment - no matter how inconvenient it may be.

Our employment law specialist, John Mehtam, said many senior employees would have access to all kinds of company property as part of their job.

"They may well have a company car, a laptop, and a mobile phone, which you have given them so they can carry out their work. But even if they use these items every day, perhaps even for personal reasons, they don't own them. And everything belongs to your company at all times.

"So if you need to fire them for gross misconduct, they may well begin to complain about the inconvenience and refuse to hand the items back until they've bought their own.

"Legally though, their last day of employment is the day on which you give them the news, and at that point, your directors can take back any company property they have.

"If you've dismissed them in a face-to-face meeting, you can ask them to leave all the company property behind when they leave your offices on that very day.

"If you're feeling charitable and they live some distance from your premises, you could arrange alternative transport or ask someone else to drive them home.

"But there is absolutely no way they should be permitted to drive away in the company car - if they did, they could well be committing an offence anyway as your company insurance policy will probably only cover current staff and not ex-employees."

John said if the dismissal had been by letter, their employment ended as soon as they read the letter itself.

"You should ask them to arrange to return all company property immediately, and you could even send someone to their home address to collect the items.

"If you don't get an immediate response, say by the next working day, and they don't have a reasonable explanation, you should tell them you intend to contact the police."

John said company directors should include a clause in company literature that says it's the employee's responsibility to return all company items if their employment ends.

"You can also ask your employees to sign a company equipment policy which states that you will take the value of any outstanding items from their salary if they fail to return them."

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Payout plans welcomed

Plans to reduce the compensation payouts that workers can claim for unfair dismissal have been warmly welcomed by our employment law specialist.

John Mehtam leads our employment team and said the proposals from Business Secretary Vince Cable should be a real help particularly to smaller companies.

"The proposals suggest the limit on compensation would be a maximum of 12 months' salary, and Mr Cable also wants to bring in settlement agreements. These new agreements would mean staff would agree to leave without being able to take their employer to a tribunal, but they would get a pay-off in return.

"This is great news for businesses in the small and growth sectors, as reducing the burden on smaller employers is always a welcome suggestion," said John.

"And settlement agreements would be a very positive move as they would bring a less confrontational approach to resolving any dispute."

John said restricting the possible payout through a tribunal to one year's salary was also a bold move.

"It means each compensation payout would be assessed according to the employee's individual finance package - so this removes the misleading incentive for employees to claim in the unrealistic hope of securing tens of thousands of pounds in compensation."

He also said that 12 months represented a very reasonable period for the employee to have secured suitable alternative employment.

"I think the settlement agreements are an excellent idea as currently dismissals often involve accusations of fault, liability and guilt.

"But by introducing the settlement agreement, which would provide the employee with a reference too, both the employer and employee can draw a line under the working relationship and move on.

"This is a very sensible solution and a welcome alternative to an employment tribunal which can be costly and time-consuming.

"These new proposals, combined with the change in the rules that employees must have completed two years' service before they can claim unfair dismissal, are certainly turning the tide in favour of the employer, which in the current climate is a very promising move."

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Henry VIII property law hits homeowners

Families could face large bills to repair their local church after parishes were ordered to enforce a law passed after the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII.

The Land Registry will be sending out warnings to the owners of many houses sited near historic churches and they could be in for a real shock.

Nita Patel, who leads our property team, said the rules came about because of the way the land was distributed after the dissolution of the monasteries.

"It means the owners of such properties have a legal obligation to contribute to church repairs, even if they have never attended a service."

Across 5,000 parishes in England, people are subject to the rules known as Chancel Repair Liabilities, as they live in properties built on land formerly owned by the monasteries.

"Many homeowners take out insurance against their liabilities, but many more are completely unaware of their legal obligations as the law is very rarely enforced," said Nita.

But a high profile court case in 2003 led to the last Government trying to tidy up the difficult situation.

"The court case came about after a parish church billed a couple for almost £100,000 in repairs, and it went on for years leading to considerable additional court costs," said Nita. "As a result, parishes were ordered to go back through land records dating back centuries to clarify exactly who may be liable for costs, and to register all the properties concerned before October 13, 2013.

"The ten-year deadline is fast approaching, and local parishes will find they could be legally responsible if they don't complete the registration process in time.

"This law could have a dramatic effect on many properties across Shropshire and it's vital that homeowners find out whether they are affected. No-one wants to be faced with an unexpected bill that could run into thousands of pounds, and if homeowners know in advance they can take steps to protect themselves with the right insurance cover."

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Looking forward to a bright future

Shaping future legal careers was the topic of a seminar which attracted professionals from across the Midlands.

The event was organised by the Shropshire and Mid Wales Branch of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and was open to anyone training for a future in the legal profession.

It was held at our offices in Euston Way, Telford, and around 45 delegates attended.

Branch vice-chairman Sophie Davies, who works for Martin-Kaye, said: "We were extremely pleased with the turnout and we had a good mix of delegates - from students just starting out, to part-qualified and many fully-qualified chartered legal executives.

"Our aim was to give them an insight into how becoming a member of CILEx could help develop their career and to explain that the training programme was a really viable alternative to a university degree."

Delegates on the day heard from guest speakers Nick Hanning (president of CILEx) and Hugh Anton-Stephens - a public notary and a mental health tribunal judge.

Presentations were also given by Lynne Squires who explained the CILEx training route, and Kelly Davies of Fodens Solicitors who shared her experiences of the CILEx scheme and how she became one of the first legal executives to be made a partner in a law firm.

Delegates were given advice on CVs and interview techniques too, and enjoyed a buffet thanks to sponsor Adrian Mason, from Advance CPD in Shrewsbury.

Our senior partner, Graham Davies, said: "The conference was a great success and the atmosphere was buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm. At Martin-Kaye we're always keen to encourage our staff to continue to develop their skills and the CILEx training programme has proved extremely popular with many of our legal executives.

"We're very happy to support the local branch of CILEx and to see so many professionals taking such an interest in their approach to training."

The conference was a free Continuing Professional Development event and feedback from the delegates showed it was a huge success.

Pic: At the CILEx event at Martin-Kaye Solicitors are, from left, Jamie Molloy, Nicola Pearce, Lynne Squires, Nick Hanning (CILEx president), Sophie Davies and Sarah Mears

Monday, 22 October 2012

Health and safety on trial

One of our lawyers has been helping construction industry firms experience the harsh reality of ignoring health and safety rules.

Tina Chander is working with the Health and Safety Executive, and the Working Well Together initiative to help improve awareness of the guidelines.

And now she has taken part in mock trials at Telford Magistrates Court and Stoke-on-Trent Magistrates Court acting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive.

"We're very pleased to have been involved in such an interactive experience and hope the construction firms who attended took away some sound advice that could change their opinions," said Tina.

"The trials were a great opportunity for them to learn more about health and safety in the construction industry through a practical session that really brought home the consequences of ignoring important rules."

In each mock trial, the case involved a worker who had been injured by an underground electricity cable, and a prosecution against his employers.

"As directors or senior managers, our delegates need to make sure things go right for their business every day. Our mock trial explained what can happen when things go wrong and a worker is injured.

"HSE prosecuted not only the employer but also the managing director and delegates experienced the whole criminal trial procedure.

"In reality, the magistrates would judge the case on the facts and arguments presented to them by prosecution and defence lawyers, but at our events, the audience decided the verdict for themselves. We ended with a discussion of the verdict and its implications, and the legal team also took questions from delegates about the process."

The mock trials were run as part of the Working Well Together project - a construction industry initiative to improve health adn safety in the sector, particularly for small and micro-sized businesses.

The project runs through a network of regional groups who stage events designed to provide information on a wide range of construction industry topics and issues with support from the Health and Safety Executive.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Charity gets a boost

Staff from our personal injury team have helped to raise vital cash for the Midlands Air Ambulance.

They sponsored an AFC Telford home match at the Buck's Head ground, and received a signed team shirt.

So they decided to donate the shirt to the Midlands Air Ambulance charity to help them raise money at a fund-raising event.

Martin-Kaye partner Alison Carter, who leads the personal injury team, said: "The charity auctioned the shirt at a James Bond themed evening at The Shropshire, in Muxton, and their efforts have raised over £450 from the evening so far.

"At Martin-Kaye we're very keen to support local organisations and it was excellent to see the signed shirt boost the total for such a worthy cause."

And it's not the first time the personal injury team has supported the Midlands Air Ambulance.

Every year they volunteer to help the charity with a gift wrapping service which takes place in Telford Shopping Centre.

"Once again this year we'll be wrapping presents in our own time in return for donations to the charity as we believe it's an organisation that deserves all the support we can offer," said Alison.

Midlands Air Ambulance is the only charity responsible for funding and operating three air ambulances serving Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands.

Since 1991, the charity has responded to more than 37,000 missions averaging 3,000 per year or nearly 10 each day, making it one of the longest established and busiest air ambulance organisations in the UK.

Pic: Alison Carter from Martin-Kaye Solicitors (left) hands over the signed AFC Telford shirt to Maria Jones from Midlands Air Ambulance

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Social media proves a hot topic

Employers from as far afield as Birmingham snapped up places at our latest social media workshop within hours of its launch.

Over 50 businesses attended the breakfast event which aimed to help employers get to grips with managing the new forms of communication.

And the event was so successful that we're already planning more seminars as we have a waiting list for places.

Our senior partner, Graham Davies, said: "We have been astounded at the response to this presentation, and it was incredible to see all the places filled within just a few hours of advertising it. We have clearly hit on a topic that business owners are concerned about and that is particularly relevant, so we are already planning a series of events to pursue the topic in more detail."

The seminar was hosted by our Head of Employment, John Mehtam, who gave employers an insight into the current risks associated with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube - and advice on how to avoid the pitfalls.

"Hardly a week goes by without a controversial comment on a social media network making news, and we wanted to ensure employers had a clear idea of just what their staff were saying and how to handle it," said John.

"We have already dealt with many cases involving this new media, and the aim of the seminar was to help employers work out a policy of how to manage it and deal with any consequences. We also gave our delegates an example of a social media strategy that they were able to take away with them and put into practice in their own business."

The seminar covered a wide range of topics including: an overview of the latest cases and their impact on employers; monitoring and investigating; discipline and dismissals; media management and protection of reputation; social media and policy and content.

Pic: At the social media seminar are, from left, John Mehtam and Graham Davies

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Tasty treats at legal firm

Staff from Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors took a tasty break for elevenses to raise vital charity cash as part of this year's World's Biggest Coffee Morning.

Organiser June Noto, who co-ordinated the efforts of everyone involved to bake the cakes for the legal practice's event, said: "We wanted to encourage as many people to donate to Macmillan Cancer Support as possible, so we created a whole host of treats for people to try.

"Everyone has been incredibly generous and we're hoping to have raised a great amount for the appeal, which makes such a difference to people's lives.

"At Martin-Kaye, we're always keen to support charities in the local area, and we felt that taking part in an event like this would be an excellent opportunity for staff to mingle and raise money for a good cause at the same time."

The World's Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan Cancer Support's biggest fund raising event and it has been held since 1991. 

At the first national event, 2,600 people registered to hold coffee mornings across the country, and since then, the project has raised over £60 million for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Last year 51,000 people signed up and raised a record £10 million. Organisers are hoping to raise even more this year, to help change the lives of people affected by cancer.

Pic:Taking part in the Martin-Kaye coffee morning are, from left, Wendy Pullar, June Noto and Clare Pitchford

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Law firm signs up for more

Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors has extended its partnership with a local IT provider to create a deal that's believed to be one of the industry's longest running contracts.

We've signed up for another five years with, taking our long-running partnership to 15 years.

Our senior partner, Graham Davies, said: "At Martin-Kaye, we were early pioneers of outsourced or fully managed IT provision, and we have now enjoyed ten years of consistent IT delivery from Their service has always been flexible and offers us cutting-edge technology, data security, a high degree of business continuity and responsive support. 

"A decade on, we're as committed as ever to the concept of IT outsourcing, as it allows us to concentrate on our core business of supplying legal services without having to worry about how those services will be delivered and supported technically.

"It's a partnership that has already brought many benefits to our practice and we're looking forward to continuing our association with in the years to come."

Nigel Redwood,'s managing director said: "We believe this may mark one of the longest, if not the longest, of this type of outsourced arrangement in the legal sector. Where Martin-Kaye led, many have now followed, but Martin-Kaye will always stand out as a pioneer.

"Our long-standing relationship has been instrumental in proving to many people the validity and efficiency of managed services as an alternative IT delivery method for legal companies.

"It has truly been a backbone to our success in the sector, so here's to the next ten years."

Pic: managing director Nigel Redwood seals the deal with our senior partner Graham Davies

Getting ahead in legal career

Young professionals from across the Midlands are being invited to attend a conference that could change the course of their career.

The event is being organised by the Shropshire and Mid Wales branch of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and is open to anyone training for a future in the legal profession.

It will be held at the offices of Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, on Wednesday October 17, from 5.15pm to 7.15pm.

Branch vice-chairman, Sophie Davies, who works for Martin-Kaye, said the aim of the conference was to give an insight into how becoming a member of CILEx could help shape a legal career.

"We have many legal executives in our firm who have gone through, or who are going through the CILEx training route, and we wanted to give other young professionals the chance to find out more about what it covers.

"The conference is a free Continuing Professional Development event and topics will include how to draft the perfect CV, interview techniques, how to become a judge, and how to become a CILEx partner or advocate."

Guest speakers on the day will include CILEx president Nick Hanning, and Hugh Anton-Stephens - a notary public and mental health tribunal judge.

Delegates will also be welcomed by Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors' senior partner, Graham Davies.

"We're very pleased to be hosting an event which is set to attract some of the most dynamic young minds who are the future of the legal world. It's a great opportunity for young professionals to find out more about the options available to them and how the right training can open up so many doors."

Anyone who would like to attend should contact Sophie Davies or Sarah Mears on 01952 525966 or email or

Commercial property lawyer leads the team

Our commercial property team is in safe hands after the appointment of a new solicitor.

Clare Tierney is our new head of commercial property and she joins us after working for a leading commercial practice in north Staffordshire.

"I was particularly impressed with Martin-Kaye's client-centred approach and the innovative way they handle commercial business so it was a simple choice to decide to join them," said Clare."I'm looking forward to developing the team still further and building on the strong reputation the firm already enjoys across the local area and beyond."

Senior partner, Graham Davies, said Clare's experience made her a great choice for the key role as the head of the commercial property team.

"Our commercial property lawyers are a dynamic and forward-thinking group who pride themselves on the customer service they deliver, and Clare's leadership is set to carry them on to the next level."

We handle a broad range of commercial property work from landlord and tenant portfolio management to complex development deals.

We're one of the very few firms in the region to have such an excellent reputation all over the Midlands and the wider UK.

Pic: Clare Tierney - our new head of commercial property

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Charity wins after legal dispute

One of our lawyers took an unusual approach that has certainly paid off for Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Mohammed Ahsan was the lead lawyer on the case which had run for almost five years and had involved hours of legal arguments and court proceedings.

"The dispute arose because the first company lodged a claim and the second lodged a counterclaim, and neither side was prepared to give way. It became a matter of principle that neither company wanted to pay any money to the other side, and it looked as though we would have no option but to go to trial,

"But in a long and intense mediation session, I made one last attempt to resolve things and suggested our client would be prepared to pay £5,000 to a charity of the other side's choice in full and final settlement of the case," said Ahsan.

In a surprise twist, both companies accepted the deal and so Telford Copper Cylinders Limited has now donated the money to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

"Both companies agreed there would be no payment of legal fees and once the charity had been paid, the case would be over. This way both parties were able to resolve the issue, and charity is the winner at the end of the day."

Ahsan worked on the case with Paul Dean from St Philips barristers' chambers representing Telford Copper Cylinders in the Birmingham Technology and Construction Court.

Pic: Mohammed Ahsan (left) and Paul Dean hand over the cheque at Birmingham Children's Hospital

Thursday, 30 August 2012

It's a jungle out there...

Employers risk being left behind if they don't keep up with their staff in today's social media jungle.

So we're offering to share our experience in a free seminar to help employers get to grips with managing the new communication tools - and how to avoid the pitfalls.

Our employment law specialist, John Mehtam, will host the event on Thursday, September 27, from 8am to 10am, at our offices in Euston Way, in Telford.

"Hardly a week goes by without a controversial comment on a social media network making news, and it's vital that employers know just what their staff are saying and how to handle it," said John.

"Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are all networks that current, prospective and former employees will be using, but many employers are not fully aware of the scale and threat posed by this fast-moving form of communication.

"What would you do if any of these employees make misleading or even derogatory comments about your business?

"We have already dealt with many cases involving this new media and can help employers work out a policy of how to manage it and deal with any consequences.

"In today's busy world, social media networks have really taken off and employers must have a policy in place that defines how their staff need to behave during working hours."

The Martin-Kaye seminar will cover a wide range of topics including: an overview of the latest cases and their impact on employers; monitoring and investigating; discipline and dismissals; media management and protection of reputation; social media and policy and content.

Places on the day are limited, so anyone who would like to attend should contact June Noto on 01952 525951 or email

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Property team bucks the trend

Property lawyers from our firm are celebrating after completing over £10 million worth of business in the first six months of the year.

The conveyancing team has been so successful that they've even recruited three new members of staff to cope with the increased levels of business.

Lead partner, Nita Patel, said: "We really have seen a remarkable half-year performance from our team and it's been a very exciting time for us. While the rest of the UK housing market remains in the doldrums, we have certainly bucked the trend with completions valued at over £10 million and over 500 completed transactions."

Nita said thanks to the team's use of the very latest technology, their client base now stretched far and wide across the UK.

"The key to our success is not just the quality and speed of service we deliver, but the personality of our team members who consistently receive high ratings for their customer service skills. This is also reflected in the number of national brokers who regularly recommend our firm to their clients too."

The three new members of staff who have joined the thriving team are Helen Dix, Giorgio Iaconi and Wendy Pullar, with another - Sarah Gill - starting next month.

"We're very pleased to welcome the new team members, and they have played a crucial role in enabling us to perform so successfully at such a busy time. With the way things are going, we are hoping to recruit even more members of staff before the end of the year, and we're looking forward to an equally busy period in the coming months."

Nita said although technology was the key to delivering a speedy transaction, it was the team's  interpersonal skills that made the real difference.

"We never lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with people and for many it is the most important transaction they will conduct in their lives, so we try to lighten the mood where we can and reassure our clients that everything will progress as smoothly as possible."

Pic: Lead partner Nita Patel celebrates with the conveyancing team at Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Andrew joins the Martin-Kaye team

A dispute resolution specialist with wide-ranging experience is the latest new face to join our team.

Andrew Oranjuik has joined the commercial litigation department and says he's looking forward to the new challenge.

"Martin-Kaye's commercial litigation department is one of just a handful in Shropshire to be highly rated by the national independent directory, Legal 500. It's great to be joining the team and to have the opportunity to deal with a regular flow of the work I specialise in.

"I'm really keen to build on the firm's reputation and to continue the exceptional service they provide to clients."

Andrew has previously worked at a leading commercial practice in Birmingham, and said it was an easy choice to move to Martin-Kaye.

"Apart from the firm's reputation in commercial litigation, I am impressed with its systems, ideas and forward thinking. They have a commercial client base which rivals many city firms and wide-ranging commercial expertise to match."

Our senior partner, Graham Davies, said: "We're very happy to welcome Andrew to our commercial team - his strong skills will prove invaluable and will fit perfectly with the rest of our existing staff. He has already made an excellent start to his career with us and everyone has been very impressed with his commitment and professionalism."

Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors handles both national and international disputes and is one of the very few firms in the region to specialise in this area of law.

Pic: Our new commercial lawyer, Andrew Oranjuik

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Staff could be breaking the law

Staff who step in to drive a company vehicle may be driving illegally according to one of our solicitors.

Tina Chander said driving licence rules had changed and company bosses and their staff needed to be aware of the latest guidelines.

"Over the years, changes have been made to the vehicle classes a car driving licence covers and the rules have become increasingly restrictive.

"The kind of vehicles you're covered to drive with a car licence depends not only on how old your employee is but also when they passed their test."

Tina said the latest changes affected drivers who passed their test after January 1, 1997, and more restrictions will come into force from January next year, although current licences will keep their existing rights.

"If you ask an employee to step in and drive a company vehicle on business, or even the company minibus on an outing, you need to be sure they are actually eligible. Anyone who passed their test after 1997 is restricted to just cars and cars with trailers, so driving a delivery van would not be allowed.

"And even if the employee agrees to drive your van, you must take care as encouraging someone to drive a vehicle for which they don't have a licence is actually a criminal offence."

Tina said company bosses should check with each member of staff and keep a record of what classes and categories of vehicle they were licensed to drive.

"You should also keep a note of who would be prepared to step in as a driver if needed, and make sure they are insured if they do have to drive on company business."

Tina also urged companies to check the DVLA website for details on the new changes due at the start of next year.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Fly-tippers could put your business at risk

Business owners have been warned that fly-tippers could land them in jail if company waste is dumped illegally.

The Environment Agency has stepped up its campaign in the last few months to track down anyone who breaks waste management rules.

And now, our senior partner, Graham Davies, says a court case against a Wirral-based firm which disposed of hazardous waste in Shropshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire, has brought the rules into sharp focus.

"When it comes to disposing of your company's waste, the law is very strict and the consequences of breaking it are extremely tough. In the court case involving the waste dumped in Shropshire, the managing director of the firm admitted eight offences and was sent to prison for 18 months."

And Graham said directors of companies must also take care that anyone who handles their business waste is properly licensed.

"As a director, you have a duty of care to ensure waste taken away from your company premises is collected and disposed of properly by a legitimate waste contractor. If you allow just anyone to take it away, particularly if it is hazardous waste, you could be held liable and face fines of up to £20,000."

Graham said not only must directors check how their company waste was being handled, they must also keep full records of anything taken away.

"Don't think you can take the easy option either of just setting up your own disposal area in a corner of your company yard and pile up the rubbish there. You'll need a licence from the Environment Agency which will include rules on setting up and running a site, including how much and what types of waste you can deal with.

"This court case is a clear warning that company directors must be fully aware of just how the waste their business produces is handled, and that they will be held personally responsible if things are not dealt with properly."

Friday, 13 July 2012

New listing for law firm

Property experts at Martin-Kaye LLP Solicitors are among the first in the region to be recognised under a new quality scheme.

Our property team has been accredited by the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme which is designed to give customers peace of mind that they are dealing with a law firm that meets very high standards.

We have always been proud of the excellent level of customer service delivered by our property team, and to be recognised by the Law Society is great news. It reinforces the message that our property experts will provide an effective and professional conveyancing service that will meet our clients' needs.

The Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme was developed with specialist knowledge from the insurance and lender industries.

It provides a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices and accredited firms receive a level of credibility, with clients being reassured they are dealing with practices they can rely on.

Firms are only accredited for one year and the Martin-Kaye team will then have to be re-assessed to ensure we continue to comply with the extremely strict criteria.

Our property team will also take part in ongoing training schemes to help staff boost their skills and maintain standards.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

New face at the TBP helm

A Telford business organisation has a new chairman who has ambitious plans to see the group grow even further.

Robin Melley, from Matrix Capital, is now at the helm of Telford Business Partnership and takes over from outgoing chairman, Graham Davies, who is our senior partner.

The handover took place at the partnership's quarterly breakfast meeting at The Holiday Inn, in Telford, and Robin said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"I'd like to acknowledge and thank Graham for the work he has done over the last 18 months as chairman - everyone on the board knows just how much effort he has put into the role," said Robin. "I hope I can follow on from what he's put together and continue to help move Telford Business Partnership forwards."

Graham said he'd enjoyed his time as chairman and wished Robin the very best in his new position.

"It's been a very interesting and challenging time for me as TBP chairman, particularly with the local economy going through such difficult times. But it's clear that businesses in Telford and Shropshire are committed to working together to build a strong future for the area, and I know our members will continue to support Robin and TBP as we plan our ongoing strategies."

Pic: Outgoing TBP chairman, Graham Davies, receives a gift from the new chairman, Robin Melley

Peter takes the top award

A commercial director has received a prestigious award for his contribution to the Telford business community.

Peter Ralten, of Reflex Flexible Packaging in Telford, has been named as this year's top Telford Young Professional and received the award at the quarterly breakfast meeting of Telford Business Partnership.

"I just can't believe that I've won the award, it's a real shock," said Peter. "To be shortlisted as a finalist was great news in itself, but to actually be chosen as the winner is amazing."

TBP outgoing chairman, Graham Davies, who is our senior partner, said Peter's efforts had been recognised thanks to the commitment and dedication he had shown.

"We're very proud of the young professionals in Telford and Shropshire, and their success shows there is a strong future for business in the local area. Peter is an excellent ambassador for the business community and it's clear there are exciting times ahead."

The Telford Young Professional award was open to anyone aged between 18 and 35 who was either an employee of a local company or self-employed in the Telford area.

Telford Business Partnership established the Telford Young Professionals organisation in 2006 to represent employees and business owners under 35 years old in Telford and Shropshire. The group provides its members with the opportunity to network, create business relationships and develop professional skills. Find out more at 

Pic: Peter Ralten receives his award from Geoff Parkes, Shropshire Star business editor Thom Kennedy and Kathryn Holloway from Promofix

Friday, 6 July 2012

Inspiration strikes in Telford

Business leaders in Telford say they have been truly inspired by one of the most motivational guest speakers they've ever had.

Telford Business Partnership welcomed Blind Dave Heeley and his guide dog, Seamus, to its quarterly breakfast meeting at The Holiday Inn, Telford.

Dave is renowned for his phenomenal charity efforts and is the only blind person (and only the fourth man in the world) to complete the Ultimate Endurance Challenge - seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

He told TBP members he would never have completed the challenge without the support of his family and his back-up team.

Outgoing chairman, Graham Davies, who is our senior partner, said: "It was really humbling to hear just how dedicated Dave is to making the most of every day, and there were some incredible stories which I'm sure our members will take away and learn from."

Pic: At the TBP event are, from left, Robin Melley, Graham Davies, Dave Heeley (with Seamus) and Geoff Parkes