Friday, 28 February 2014

Recruitment headaches can be avoided

 Employers must protect themselves from unnecessary costs if a recruitment campaign goes wrong.

John Mehtam is our employment law expert and he said many companies turned to recruitment agencies to find key personnel for high profile positions.

“Recruitment agencies usually work on a commission basis, with their fee payable once the ideal candidate takes up their post. The fees are calculated on a percentage of the successful applicant’s overall remuneration package, not just their salary, and although these costs have reduced lately, you could still face a hefty bill.

“But the problem comes if the person who appeared to be the perfect fit for your company doesn’t work out. What if they resign in the first year for personal reasons? Or they take up another offer or you find they’ve lied about their qualifications and experience? You could find you’ve spent all that money and yet your vacancy is once again left empty and you’ve been left high and dry.”

John said there were steps companies could take to protect themselves before the process even began.

“Check your recruitment agency agreement allows for a refund of fees if the new staff member’s employment ends in the first year – if it doesn’t, make sure you insist on this point being included.”

John said most agencies would agree to refund their fees on a sliding scale, but employers should demand 100% be repaid if it turns out that the agency didn’t carry out sufficient pre-employment checks.

“You should be able to claim recruitment agency fees directly from the employee involved, but not if the agency has already reimbursed you. Set out the arrangement in their appointment letter, but make it clear that the clause will run out on the first anniversary of their employment.

“It’s difficult enough to find the right staff to ensure your business runs smoothly and efficiently, without being left out of pocket if things don’t work out, so employers must look out for themselves and protect their interests.”

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Know your rights over property ownership

Couples who choose to live together without getting married should be aware of their rights when it comes to owning a property.

The advice comes from Nikki Pickering and Mohammed Ahsan at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford. Nikki specialises in family law and Ahsan is a litigation expert, and they said they have seen a real increase in the number of cases involving unmarried couples who were dealing with the breakdown of their relationship.

“The cases start with the unmarried couple seeking advice on what to do about the property they have shared and because it involves the breakdown of a relationship, they assume they need a family lawyer just as a married couple would,” said Nikki.

“But in fact this just isn’t the case – unmarried couples have far fewer rights over property and any disputes that cannot be resolved have to be dealt with by the civil courts rather than the matrimonial courts.

“I can offer general advice on the situation, but if court action becomes necessary, then I hand the case over to Ahsan as the court rules are completely different to the kind of courts I deal with.”

Ahsan said with the number of people choosing to live together on the rise, there had almost inevitably been an increase in the number of cases of relationships breaking down.

“We have seen a growing number of cases where Nikki has initially started them off, giving general advice and trying to negotiate a settlement, but court proceedings have become necessary. This is usually because the couple are unable to agree on how their shared property should be dealt with, and the only remaining option is to take the case to court.

“When an unmarried relationship breaks down, it is not as straightforward to deal with as a divorce, and civil proceedings can be extremely costly. But if a couple takes professional advice before they purchase a property together, court proceedings can be avoided if the relationship comes to an end.”

Both Nikki and Ahsan offer free interviews to couples whose relationships have broken down – Nikki deals with any issues involving children from the relationship and gives general advice, and Ahsan deals with any dispute over the family property.

“No-one wants to think about a relationship breaking down when they first get together, but by taking sensible steps at the start and putting proper agreements in place, if the worst does happen then things will be easier to deal with,” said Nikki.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Start early to secure your investment

Leaseholders of flats across Shropshire have been warned they need to secure their future by negotiating the very best deal on the duration of their lease.

Andrew Oranjuik from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, said it was never too early to be thinking about the length of a lease.

“Almost all flats have long leasehold agreements on them which can typically be 99 or even 125 years, which of course sounds like a lifetime away. But what happens when the lease comes to an end? The short answer is that the flat has to be handed back to the owner of the building.

“To ensure tenants are protected though, they have a legal right to extend the period of their leases by up to 90 years, as long as they pay a premium. And even though you may think the end of the lease is light years away, it’s in your best interest to renegotiate at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Andrew said early discussions were advisable as the premium payable to the owner of the building increases as the time left on the lease decreases.

“Mortgage lenders are often reluctant to lend against leases where there is only a short term left on the lease too, and buyers are also unlikely to want to buy a leasehold flat with just a few years left on the agreement.”

He said the premium payable to the owner of the building in order to extend a lease is calculated using a complex formula linked to the value of the flat itself.

“You’ll find that the premium increases significantly once the lease term drops below 80 years, so the sooner you start negotiating, the better. So check the small print and act as soon as possible, ideally while there is at least 80 years still left on your deal, as this will preserve or even improve the value of the property.

“It will be money well spent and you will have safeguarded your position, putting your mind at rest that you’ll be able to live in the property for many years to come.”

Friday, 21 February 2014

Commercial property expert joins the team

We've welcomed a new commercial property specialist to our growing team - Madelene Schofield-Whittingham who will lead our commercial property department.

She has a wealth of commercial property experience spending several years working in London and the west country, before relocating to Shropshire.

“I’m delighted to be here at Martin-Kaye as it is a well-established firm with a thoroughly modern and innovative approach. I’ve been extremely impressed with the high standards of legal expertise right across the practice in all departments. This quality of service throughout the entire firm will mean my team can deliver a complete service to our commercial clients.”

Madelene said she was now looking forward to using her experience to develop the commercial property department further. “We’ll be working hard to build on Martin-Kaye’s strengths of excellent client care and strong commercially-based legal advice.”

Senior partner Graham Davies said: “Madelene is a valuable addition to our team and her experience makes her a real asset when it comes to leading our commercial property department. We’re looking forward to working closely with Madelene and to hearing her ideas on how the department should move forward in the future.”

Martin-Kaye’s commercial property team deals with all aspects of commercial property including purchases, sales and leases for business owners and commercial landlords. They can also help throughout the entire development process from buying potential sites, to taking them through the complex legal and planning process to the stage where they can be sold as “development ready” sites to the building trade.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

HELPing hand is welcome

Experts from our award-winning law firm have hailed the launch of our latest advice seminar programme a great success.

We have unveiled a brand new programme of seminars designed to help companies chart a course through the minefield of employment law. And our first event at The Ramada Hall Hotel, in Wolverhampton, attracted an audience of around 40 employers.

Senior Partner Graham Davies said: “We have run our popular HELP presentations all over the country, and now we have introduced them to the Wolverhampton area where we have just opened a new office.

“HELP stands for HR and Employment Law in Practice, and our events offer a unique opportunity for business leaders to hear from the very best when it comes to tackling topical issues.”

The first Wolverhampton event gave delegates advice on how to deal with short and long-term sickness absence and how to avoid “open wallet surgery” dealing with claims at a tribunal.

“Our delegates heard from our employment law specialist, John Mehtam, who shared his expert knowledge, and the event was not just an informative session but an opportunity for business owners and senior managers to meet and share their experiences and ideas. We deliberately restrict the number of places available at these events to ensure that everyone who attends gets the chance to be directly involved and that delegates also have the option to ask as many questions as they like.

“The Ramada proved to be an excellent venue for the seminar too, and we’re looking forward to hosting more HELP sessions in the coming months. In the longer term, we’re hoping to extend our programme of events to the wider West Midlands area too as we’ve seen a real demand from customers in that region for our expertise.

“The feedback to our launch event has proved that our HELP presentations are extremely effective in helping businesses to pro-actively understand and apply the relevant legislation rather than just dealing with the outcomes if things don’t go so well.”

The next HELP presentation is planned for Thursday, March 27, at 5.30pm, also at The Ramada Park Hall Hotel in Wolverhampton.

Pic:    Martin-Kaye Employment Law expert John Mehtam (left) and Barrister Bruce Frew, from St Philips Chambers in Birmingham

Monday, 10 February 2014

Award success for litigation team

We're celebrating after our litigation team scooped a high profile national award.

Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford and Wolverhampton, have been named as Midlands Litigators of the Year in Acquisition International Magazine’s annual awards.

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have taken another national title in such a prestigious competition, particularly as the winners are chosen through votes cast by a combination of clients, other professionals and our peers.

“It’s particularly pleasing as we are one of the very few law firms outside major cities to develop a specialist commercial litigation team, and this award proves our efforts are paying off.”

Graham said the commercial litigation team had dealt with a wide range of claims in the last year, including partnership and shareholder disputes, disputes over intellectual property, professional negligence, and disputes in property, contract, construction and IT cases.

“We have always maintained that businesses don’t need to resort to city-centre firms to find professional, commercial advice at the right price, and our success has proved that a firm our size based in a county like Shropshire can compete at the very highest level.”

The AI Awards celebrate excellence, innovation and performance in the legal industry and are designed to reward the most deserving practices in today’s current global and very challenging environment. They give a comprehensive analysis of the industry and a complete run-through of the best of the best in terms of industry experts.

Martin-Kaye’s success in the AI Awards follows hot on the heels of the company receiving impressive recognition in the independent UK Legal Directory Legal 500.

Pic:    Celebrating their award win are, from left, Jason Round, Mohammed Ahsan, Graham Davies and Andrew Oranjuik