Monday, 18 December 2017

Data rules are a hot topic

Around 50 delegates were among the first in Shropshire to hear what new data protection rules will mean for their companies.

They attended a presentation from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, on the new General Data Protection Regulation rules that will come into force in May 2018.

The event took place at Martin-Kaye’s offices in Euston Way, and delegates heard from Jane Sarginson, a specialist barrister from Birmingham who is an accredited EU General Data Protection Regulation Practitioner.

Martin-Kaye Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “We were delighted to welcome Jane to our presentation and she was well-qualified to deliver the seminar as her skills have been recognised by the International Board for IT Governance.

“This was one of the earliest opportunities for companies in this area to learn from an expert in the field what the new rules will mean to the way they run their business.

“As this subject was so current, and because many companies are unclear of what their responsibilities will be, we had an excellent response to our invitations, and I’m sure it’s not the last event of this kind that we’ll be running.”

The GDPR will come into effect on May 25, 2018, and it places much greater responsibility on businesses that process personal data.

Directors and officers will shoulder more liability than ever before, and some industry experts believe they may soon be held personally liable for cyber-breaches or neglecting to prioritise cyber risk management.

Mr Davies said: “It will be crucial for organisations to review the methods they use to collect clients’ consent, and whatever process that might be, it will have to be an active opt-in approach where they individually agree to you holding their information.

“Some companies are so worried about falling foul of GDPR that they are already scrapping their entire email marketing lists, so it’s clear that accurate and relevant information is the key to navigating this minefield.

“Thanks to our topical and concise presentation, our delegates received an overview of how they will be affected by the changes, and as ever, we delivered the event in a short sharp lunchtime window so that it didn’t impact adversely on their working day.”

Pic: Martin-Kaye Solicitors hosted a GDPR presentation at their Telford offices – from left, Graham Davies, Jane Sarginson, and John Mehtam

Friday, 15 December 2017

Amy kick starts her career with Martin-Kaye

An apprentice who joined a Midlands law firm has proved such a success that she now has a full-time job at the practice.

Amy Potts joined Martin-Kaye Solicitors at their Wolverhampton office to work in the administration team after completing the first year of her A Level studies.

“During my time as an apprentice, I learned some extremely useful skills and also gained a year’s worth of experience in the world of law.

“Completing my apprenticeship meant I achieved a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration, and I was delighted when Martin-Kaye offered me a permanent job.”

Amy is now working in the domestic conveyancing department, and the management team have been so impressed with her commitment and dedication that she has also been given the opportunity to work with one of the practice partners in an admin role.

“I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made so far in such a short time, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience of learning more about how a busy legal firm operates,” said Amy, who is now based at the company’s Telford office.

Practice Partner Simon Wagner said: “We’ve been incredibly pleased with the work that Amy has been doing for us, and it’s clear she has a very bright future ahead of her.

“This is a great chance for her to build the foundations of a strong career and to learn from our experienced team who are always happy to share their knowledge with their colleagues.”

Pic: Amy Potts now has a full-time role at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Emma joins an award-winning team

A solicitor who specialises in domestic property conveyancing has joined a Telford firm after being impressed by the team’s performance.

Emma Jones is the latest new face to join Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Euston Way, and she will deal with a wide variety of transactions involving leasehold and new build properties.

“Martin-Kaye is a well-established and well-respected law firm, and after working with the team on the other side of many property transactions in the past, I was keen to join them when an opportunity came up,” said Emma.

“My new role will include dealing with sales, purchases and re-mortgaging of residential properties, and in particular dealing with leasehold and new build transactions.

“After working in a busy firm in Birmingham City Centre, I’m looking forward to putting my experience to good use and to tackling the challenges that this new step brings.”

Emma graduated from Staffordshire University and qualified as a solicitor in 2015 after completing a training contract at another local Shropshire law firm.

“I’m delighted to have the chance to work with my new colleagues at Martin-Kaye – they have mastered the art of adapting to modern conveyancing without losing the traditional values of client care and customer service which can often be overlooked.”

Nita Patel who leads the property team said Emma’s experience made her an invaluable addition to the department.

“We’re always keen to work with ambitious and committed lawyers, and Emma fits that criteria very well.

“She has already settled in to our busy conveyancing department and we’re looking forward to seeing her working closely with new and existing clients to ensure they receive the very best customer service and support at all times.”

Pic: Emma Jones has joined the conveyancing team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Jane joins the family team

Lawyers at a Telford legal firm have welcomed a new face to their growing family law team.

Jane Tinsley has joined the family department at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, after a parental career break.

She had previously worked for many years at a large law firm in Shropshire and the wider Midlands, and she is delighted to be returning to the legal world.

“I specialise exclusively in family law, and have extensive experience in all areas of the sector including divorce, separation, resolution of finances, disputes concerning children, and cohabitation disputes and agreements.

“This is a great opportunity for me to join a forward-thinking and progressive law firm that has a good reputation for the high-quality advice it delivers, and I’m looking forward to working with such a close-knit team and helping clients to resolve the issues they are facing.

“I’m committed to resolving matters efficiently and amicably for clients, and I’m confident my experience will help me to find practical solutions that make a positive difference.”

Jane qualified as a legal executive in 1998 and as a solicitor in 2003, and her appointment makes her the latest addition to a family law team that’s constantly growing.

Gemma Himsworth, who is Martin-Kaye’s head of family law, said she was very pleased to welcome Jane to the firm, as her wide-ranging experience would be a real asset.

“We’re a growing team that has worked hard to develop the reputation we now have, and it’s always a pleasure to see new lawyers fitting in so well – Jane is already a valued member of our department.”

Martin-Kaye’s family law team are members of Resolution – a national organisation of family lawyers who are committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation, and other family problems.

“Our aim is to avoid court disputes wherever possible, particularly where children are involved, and we encourage a conciliatory approach so everyone can move forward with their lives,” said Mrs Himsworth.

Pic: Jane Tinsley is the new family lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford

Monday, 6 November 2017

Business tips on the agenda

Businesses in Staffordshire will get the chance to take part in an interactive employment advice seminar thanks to a leading Midlands law firm.

Experts from the Employment Law team from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford and Wolverhampton, are bringing their renowned Top Ten Employment Blunders seminar to The Moat House, at Acton Trussell, near Stafford.

The event will take place on Thursday, November 30th, at 12pm, and it’s the first time the team have hosted an event in the area.

Employment Law Specialist, John Mehtam, who will lead the presentation, said the idea of an event in this location was a direct result of customer demand.

“Our presentations have always proved extremely successful in Shropshire, Wales, and the West Midlands, and we’ve received an increasing number of requests from businesses in and around Stafford to bring our seminar to the area."

During the event, Mr Mehtam will share his advice to help businesses navigate through the increasingly-complicated minefield of employment law, and to help them avoid the most common pitfalls.

“We will include suggestions on how to tackle some of the most common workplace and HR issues including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance – and perhaps more importantly, we will look at how to avoid these situations and protect your business.

“At Martin-Kaye, we’re committed to delivering effective and appropriate advice that really does make a difference to employers, and our short sharp seminars are designed to get right to the point.”

John said keeping up-to-date with ever-changing legislation was practically impossible for employers who were already battling with a packed schedule.

“That’s why our seminars are proving so popular right across the Midlands as we deliver clear, concise information in a time frame that suits our delegates.”

Businesses who would like to attend the seminar should contact June Noto on 01952 272222, or email 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Expert joins the Martin-Kaye team

A Telford law firm has welcomed a new solicitor with over 14 years’ experience who specialises in commercial litigation.

Sara Brumwell is the latest new face to join the team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and she has extensive experience in handling probate disputes, property and consumer claims, and professional negligence cases against solicitors, surveyors and other professionals.

“I’m absolutely delighted to take the next step of my career with Martin-Kaye as it’s a great opportunity to develop my skills still further, and to work with such a knowledgeable and dynamic team.”

Mrs Brumwell has previously worked in a High Street practice in Staffordshire before moving to Telford, and she is committed to delivering client-focussed, approachable, and realistic practical advice.

“I am a strong believer in the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution, even in the most difficult cases, and my preferred approach is to try to achieve a settlement with court action as a last resort.”

She has also completed the University of Law’s Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) course, and is now an Associate member of the organisation.

“The main issues I handle include probate disputes, property disputes, debt recovery, landlord and tenant issues, and professional negligence cases, and I’m looking forward to working with Martin-Kaye’s existing and future clients.”

Head of Commercial Litigation Andrew Oranjuik said Sara’s appointment was good news for Martin-Kaye and for the firm’s clients, as her experience was extremely varied.

“Sara has already made an excellent start to her career with us, and she has fitted in seamlessly with our forward-thinking and ever-growing team.

“Her attitude to encouraging clients to seek out alternative dispute resolution rather than taking a case to court is a positive and refreshing approach, and one which we are sure our clients will appreciate.”

Martin-Kaye Solicitors belongs to the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association and their team is experienced in handling claims against a wide range of professionals including: accountants, solicitors, financial advisers, valuers, barristers, architects, veterinary surgeons, and surveyors.

Pic: Sara Brumwell is the latest lawyer to join the team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Employment lawyer takes top award

An employment law specialist from a Midlands firm has been named as a winner in this year’s Black Country Asian Business Association awards.

John Mehtam leads the employment team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Wolverhampton and Telford, and he has won the coveted Business Professional of the Year title.

“I am absolutely delighted to receive this award and it’s a great honour to be recognised in such a high-profile way,” said Mr Mehtam.

“At Martin-Kaye Solicitors we are committed to expanding our legal services still further into the Black Country area, and we are working very closely with BCABA to ensure we deliver the very highest levels of service to local businesses.”

Mr Mehtam received his award at the BCABA Network annual dinner at Wolverhampton Racecourse, and the event raised over £3000 for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity.

Hosted by ITV Central’s Sameena Ali-Khan, the evening heard from key representatives from the network who emphasised the importance of collaborating with stakeholders to achieve business success.

Martin-Kaye’s Rakesh Saini also gave a brief overview of BCABA’s roots and future plans, and he also shared a poignant message for younger professionals on the endless benefits of being the very best in their chosen industries.

Other award winners on the night included: Angela Bir of the Ramada Park Hall Hotel who won both the Business of the Year and Businesswoman of the Year categories; Amerjit Singh from Nationwide Electrical and Security Wholesalers, who took the Retailer of the Year award; and Manjinder Sangha from Kapture8 which was named as Learning Business of the Year.

The Black Country Asian Business Association was established in 2001 and its aim is to provide a strong voice for lobbying and a platform for Asian businesses. The network is going from strength to strength with over 2750 businesses benefiting from the variety of services it provides, and it’s a diverse group which supports a socially aware, responsible, cohesive and healthy sustainable community in the West Midlands.

Pic: John Mehtam from Martin-Kaye Solicitors (centre) receives his award at the ceremony with, from left, Jas Mandair (KTV), Arran Mehtam, Amrik Singh Gill (KTV), Jagit Singh Bassi (KTV), and Sameena Ali-Khan (Central TV)

Monday, 16 October 2017

Raising funds for a worthy cause

Martin-Kaye colleagues George Heron and Gemma Himsworth put themselves to the ultimate test to raise money for charity.

Together with Gemma's friend, Laura, they successfully completed the Birmingham Marathon and they have now raised almost £1,000 for Tommy's, the baby charity.

It was Gemma's first marathon, and she ran it just 12 months after giving birth to baby Elsie - not to be outdone, George decided he'd run the entire 26.2 miles wearing a rucksack that weighed the same as Elsie's weight on race day!

George said: "For those who (like I used to) thought Birmingham is flat, it certainly isn't! Thank you so much to those who have already donated, it was such a boost during the race and makes all the aches and pains worthwhile.

"It was Gemma's first marathon, so she was entering uncharted territory and I was in awe of the way she kept on going. It's a huge distance to cover on foot, so a time of 6 hours 7 minutes is incredible just 12 months after giving birth. It was a very tough day, but the feeling crossing the finishing line is just indescribable."

Laura is an accomplished marathoner and she is on target for 18 marathons in 18 months!

Pic: George, Gemma and Laura after their marathon challenge

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Two new Associates at law firm

Two long-serving employees at a Telford law firm have been named as Associates as a reward for their commitment and dedication.

Alison Thornton and Emma Palmer have been with Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Euston Way for many years, and both have worked hard during that time to build and develop the departments they work in.

Martin-Kaye Partner and Head of HR Alison Carter said: “Over the years both Alison and Emma have provided a stable and calm presence within their departments, and this has been combined with consistent quality work recognised time and time again by clients in excellent feedback questionnaires.

“They have also demonstrated flair and enterprise in the face of challenging conditions, and for these reasons, the Partners believe they thoroughly deserve this recognition.”

Emma is the firm’s Employment Team Manager, and she has played a key role in developing, setting up and running Martin-Kaye’s HR support scheme, Alpha.

She has since overseen the successful development of the service which attracts a wide range of employers from across the UK, as well as providing employment law and HR advice to Alpha client.
Emma is also an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

Alison worked for a number of large regional and national firms before joining Martin-Kaye’s personal injury team as a solicitor in 2003.

She has successfully handled many different types of claims including fast track and multi-track cases including road traffic, industrial injury and public liability.

Alison has also been involved in the development of the firm’s inheritance disputes team answering enquiries through Martin-Kaye’s contest-a-will website.

Pic: Alison Thornton (left) and Emma Palmer who have been named as Associates at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford

Friday, 8 September 2017

Gemma steps up to lead the Family Team

A law firm’s Family Team has a new face at the helm – but she’s already well-known in the local area.

Gemma Himsworth has stepped up to lead the team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Euston Way, Telford, having worked in the sector for over 12 years, with the past three years spent working for the local firm.

“I’m absolutely delighted to take up this promotion and I’m so proud to have been given the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and effective department,” said Mrs Himsworth.

“Between us we have a great deal of experience and you’d be hard pressed to find a situation that we have not encountered before, so we’re perfectly placed to help families through the most difficult and stressful of times.”

Mrs Himsworth specialises in divorce and financial issues surrounding separation, particularly those involving businesses or pensions. She also deals with complex matters involving children, including issues of residence and contact, as well as disputes about parentage.

“As a team, we are always striving to achieve the very best possible outcome for our clients and we give sensible, grounded advice that is both practical and pragmatic. We’re also leading the way when it comes to fees too as we offer comprehensive fixed fee packages for a lot of the work we do, and we were one of the first local firms to introduce such a policy.

“This means there are no nasty surprises for clients once a case begins, and they have a clear picture of exactly what the advice we offer will cost.”

Mrs Himsworth said the team had wide-ranging experience of dealing with clients from all backgrounds, and they also work closely with the firm’s other departments – such as corporate commercial – if clients have business interests that need to be protected during divorce or separation proceedings.

Senior Partner Graham Davies said: “We’re very pleased to see Gemma stepping into a leading role with the Family team, and her promotion is a direct result of the dedication and commitment she has shown during her time with us at Martin-Kaye.”

Pic: Gemma Himsworth is the new Head of Family Law at Martin-Kaye

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

New face joins the Martin-Kaye team

A Telford law firm has appointed a new conveyancing solicitor to its residential property department.

Sharanjit Dhoot is the latest new face to join Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and she is already enjoying being part of the forward-thinking and close-knit team.

“I joined Martin-Kaye to have the opportunity to take a more hands-on approach and to work in a supportive and welcoming environment where I will have the chance to develop my skills even further,” she said.

Before joining Martin-Kaye, Sharanjit worked in a firm dealing purely with residential conveyancing where she built up her knowledge of the sector, and progressed to handling increasingly complex cases.

She has also worked for a High Street firm in Birmingham, and a legal firm in Cardiff where she gained experience in dealing with a wider range of residential conveyancing deals.

“My role at Martin-Kaye involves dealing with both sale and purchase residential conveyancing cases, right through from the very first enquiry to the completion of the process. It’s been a real change for me as Martin-Kaye has so many different divisions dealing with wide ranging legal matters, rather than purely conveyancing which my previous firm handled, so it’s great to join a team with so much varied and extensive experience.”

Senior Partner Graham Davies said: “We’re very pleased to welcome Sharanjit to Martin-Kaye and her skills are a valuable addition to our ever-growing team. Our property department is renowned for its high quality and effective customer service, and Sharanjit is joining a team that has an excellent reputation all over the UK.”

Martin-Kaye’s residential property division is also accredited under the Conveyancing Quality Scheme, the quality mark for legal experts in buying or selling property.

Pic: Sharanjit Dhoot is the new conveyancing solicitor at Martin-Kaye in Telford

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Minority shares are just as valuable

Minority shareholders should not be bullied by fellow directors when it comes to board room disputes, a Telford solicitor has warned.

Graham Davies, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Euston Way, said directors’ disputes could be extremely stressful, but minority shareholders had every right to be protected just as much as other directors.

“Company law gives greater rights to majority shareholders, which on the face of it puts minority shareholders at a disadvantage if a dispute occurs. This could lead to their wishes being ignored, and even to them losing their seat on the board, which would devalue their shares even further.”

But Mr Davies said if the majority of the board’s actions were seen by the courts to be unreasonable, the minority shareholder may be able to claim “unfair prejudice”.

“If the person at the centre of the dispute feels the other shareholders have been persecuting them, they can ask the courts to force the majority to buy them out at a higher than normal share price. The court could even order that the entire company should be wound up if it’s the only way the shareholder can get their money.”

Mr Davies said to protect their position, it was important for majority shareholders to show they had not acted unfairly and that they had not prejudiced the minority stake owner’s position.

“Keep strict and thorough records of any serious director-shareholder disputes, and don’t act hastily, no matter how you may really feel about the awkwardness of your position. Try to work with all your fellow directors – despite how difficult the situation may be – to either resolve the problem or find a way for the minority shareholder to leave on the best possible terms.

“Rather than punishing the minority shareholder to force their hand and get them to leave, it’s far better to negotiate a settlement or you could face a very expensive court case just to regain the shares in your own business.”

Mr Davies said disputes involving minority shareholders often occurred as a direct result of a family fall-out, and even if there was a clear shareholders’ agreement in place, problems could still arise.

“In private companies where management and decision making is shared on a one person one vote basis, even if you own different proportions of the company, then think very carefully about your actions before a minor disagreement escalates into something much larger.”

Monday, 21 August 2017

Employers could face legal action

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace could take action against their employer if they fail to protect them during working hours.

The warning comes from Gemma Workman, an employment lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, who was speaking out after the latest unwanted crisis at technology firm Uber.

“Uber has faced a lot of negative publicity over cases of the status of their workers in the gig economy, and now there have been various allegations of sexual harassment too.

“A former engineer wrote a blog that described a culture of sexism and sexual harassment within the company, including the HR department failing to take her seriously and being propositioned by her manager.

“And with the blog being read widely and publicised online thousands of times, it’s a perfect example of what a huge impact such allegations can have on the financial status and the reputation of a company.

“This situation is a stark reminder to employers that they need to have effective and clear steps in place to prevent harassment in the workplace from the very start. As well as robust policies in place, you should provide adequate training to relevant employees so that they are well prepared if they need to deal with a complaint like this.

“All complaints should be treated sensitively by an appropriate person as soon as possible, so that you can try and resolve the problem before it escalates into a more serious issue.”

Miss Workman said in the UK, protection against sexual harassment at work was covered by the Equality Act 2010. It defines sexual harassment as ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them’.

“As an employer, you have a responsibility to create a safe work environment for your employees, and if you fail to take that responsibility seriously, potential victims could bring a claim against you too.

“Don’t get yourself and your business into a case which could bring significant legal costs – if you can show that you’ve taken reasonable steps to prevent the harassment occurring, you may be able to defend a claim, but it’s better to avoid the situation happening in the first place.”

Friday, 28 July 2017

Review of will-making rules is long overdue

Solicitors at a Telford law firm have said a proposed review of will-making laws is good news and is long overdue.

Fiona Mainwaring is the wills specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and she has welcomed a public consultation by the Law Commission as a positive step towards keeping the rules relevant and effective.

The consultation paper will ask the public about a range of issues around how wills are made and how the law protects will-makers from possible fraud.

“This review is excellent news and it’s a great step forward for the sector as the rules have not been updated for many years,” said Mrs Mainwaring.

“Now the public will get the chance to have their say on how they want the rules to adapt to meet their needs in the 21st Century, and as lawyers dealing with wills on a day-to-day basis, we believe it’s not before time.”

The Law Society says although the basics of how people make wills have essentially stood the test of time, other aspects needed to be urgently updated to reflect modern life. They said the consultation was a chance for solicitors to help shape a new, fit-for-purpose wills law.

Law Society President, Joe Egan, said: “We congratulate the Law Commission on tackling this important law reform task and thank them for the open and constructive way they have been working with our experts. We look forward to working with them as it continues.”

Key issues raised in the consultation paper include:
* Giving the court greater flexibility to uphold wills that don’t meet legal requirements
* Using the Mental Capacity Act test to establish someone’s capacity to write a will
* Reducing the age that someone can make a will from 18 to 16
* The possibility of online or electronic will writing in the future

But Mrs Mainwaring said there were some careful considerations to be made about the way wills may be put together in the future.

“The question of making wills electronically is a brave but inevitable step, but of course the review will need to consider closely how safe electronic wills would be from fraud or unfair influence against vulnerable people.

“We applaud the Law Commission for its refreshing and forward-thinking approach, and we look forward to hearing the results of their research.”

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Seminar success for Telford law firm

Over 40 delegates joined lawyers from a Telford firm to learn about how to avoid the common pitfalls in the world of employment law.

The team from Martin-Kaye Solicitors held their latest Top Ten Employment Blunders seminar at their offices in Euston Way, and the event has been hailed as a great success.

Employment Law Specialist, John Mehtam, who led the event, said the latest seminar had been organised specifically to support HR Managers and Managing Directors from the local Telford area.

“Our aim – as always with this kind of seminar – was to give our delegates an insight into the ever-changing UK employment legislation and share our experience of the most common pitfalls.

“We then share our advice to help businesses navigate through the increasingly-complicated minefield of law, to help them learn from other people’s mistakes, and so avoid drawn-out negotiations and expensive errors.

“We covered suggestions on how to tackle some of the most common workplace and HR issues including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance – and perhaps more importantly, we looked at how to avoid these situations and protect your business.

“At Martin-Kaye, we’re committed to delivering effective and appropriate advice that really does make a difference to employers, and our short sharp seminars are designed to get right to the point.”

Mr Mehtam said similar presentations had also proved extremely successful across the wider Shropshire area, Wales, and the West Midlands, and more events were planned for the coming months.

“We were very pleased to see so many new faces at our latest seminar, and it was an excellent opportunity for delegates to meet solicitors from our other departments including commercial litigation, commercial property and corporate law too.

“Thanks to their knowledge and experience, we can deliver support in a whole host of situations that businesses may face, no matter how difficult the circumstances may seem.”

Pic: At the Top 10 Tips seminar are, from left, Martin-Kaye Senior Partner Graham Davies, with Alison Yeomans and Tracy Hinton from Dechra

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Alpha celebrates a 10-year milestone

Legal experts at a Telford firm are celebrating 10 successful years of an initiative that’s reaching clients right across the UK.

The team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, initially launched their ALPHA service – a bespoke employment law and human resources package – after months of intensive research and surveys involving all kinds of businesses.

Senior partner, Graham Davies, said: “We wanted to measure how satisfied local firms were with their HR advisors, as companies were telling us they were becoming increasingly frustrated with the services they were receiving.

“And our survey work showed the support was patchy at best, with the so-called advice delivered over the phone by ‘consultants’. They also felt the advice was tailored to meet insurance company requirements and wasn’t robust enough – they found they were tied into restrictive deals for three to five years too.

“We knew we could do much better than that and identified a real gap in the market, so we spent a year putting together the ALPHA service which is now celebrating its tenth anniversary.” 

Mr Davies said the firm had been continually surprised by the ongoing success of the service which was still growing today.

“From a standing start, hundreds of businesses have signed up to become members, with many here in Shropshire, but an increasing number from further afield and we now have clients from all over the UK. It’s even more satisfying to see that many clients who have been with us from the start of Alpha sign up year on year for an ongoing service as they’ve been so impressed with the support we deliver.”

The ALPHA service is led by John Mehtam, who is Martin-Kaye’s employment law specialist, and he is supported by a team of qualified lawyers who deliver the most appropriate advice in each situation.

“Not only do we provide employment law advice, we provide employment law solutions, and we’re not afraid to make tough and difficult decisions when required,” said Mr Mehtam.

“We work closely with each business to achieve the very best results for their individual circumstances, and we can offer a wide range of support – from a relatively inexpensive package, to setting up a sophisticated virtual HR team, and all without the lengthy tie-in agreements.”

Mr Mehtam said ALPHA members also had the option to take up advice from the wider range of commercial services provided by Martin-Kaye including corporate advice, litigation, and commercial property services.

Pic: Graham Davies, Emma Palmer, and John Mehtam celebrate the 10th anniversary of the ALPHA scheme at Martin-Kaye Solicitors

Friday, 9 June 2017

New nationwide service helps retirement plans

Homeowners looking to boost their finances in readiness for their retirement can now find professional and effective advice right here in Shropshire.

Experts at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, have launched their own nationwide service – – to offer advice on equity release to help property owners raise much-needed capital.

Simon Wagner is a Partner at Martin-Kaye and has been instrumental in creating and setting up the new service.

“Many ‘baby boomers’ who are now approaching retirement are finding their pension plans are not what they had hoped for. But they are at the time in their lives where they will also probably have a significant amount of equity in their home which can be released to provide additional cash and income.

“Equity release has deservedly had some bad press in the past, but the introduction of a code of conduct – combined with more competitive interest rates and innovative mortgage products – has made it a far more attractive, mainstream product which is growing increasingly popular.

“We have worked with carefully-selected regional firms of solicitors to create a new national network – every firm has agreed to subscribe to the new code of conduct, and they all have vast experience and knowledge of this specialised subject.”

Mr Wagner said: “Retirement should be something to look forward to, but more and more people are retiring with debts they are struggling to repay, or a pension that won’t allow them to maintain their living standards.

“If all other options have been exhausted, equity release can help homeowners to reduce their monthly outgoings by taking out a loan against their property – they then have the option to repay the interest or allow it to roll up and only be repaid when the house is sold.

"But equity release is not the answer for everyone, and homeowners need to be sure it’s right for their individual circumstances – that’s where our Equishield service comes in.”

Mr Wagner said equity release was a specialised area and anyone considering taking this option should seek professional financial advice and independent legal support.

“Through Equishield, we have specialists here at Martin-Kaye who deal purely with equity release cases, so our clients can be assured they will always be seen by an in-house expert and their claim will not be passed on to an agency or sub-contracted out.

“Making the decision to free up finances from the value of your home is a big decision that should not be taken lightly as property owners will need to consider how it will affect the estate they leave behind. But with the right support and expert knowledge, it can be a real solution to making retirement a little more comfortable.”

Pic: Simon Wagner launches the new Equishield service at Martin-Kaye Solicitors

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Call for divorcing parents to take a new approach

Divorcing parents are being urged to put their children first to help them adapt to a new-look family structure.

Nadia Davis is the family law partner at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, and she is a qualified collaborative lawyer – a legal expert taking a different approach to divorce.

“Previous cases have shown that children do better when their parents are able to remain emotionally strong and supportive during divorce cases. And parents who co-parent in a respectful manner help their children to cope better with this stressful time in a family’s life.”

Ms Davis said the collaborative divorce process encouraged couples and their solicitors to sign an agreement so show they were committed to finding the best solutions through negotiation, rather than through court proceedings.

The agreement prevents the lawyers involved from representing their client in court if the collaborative process breaks down, so everyone is absolutely committed to making it work.

“In a divorce that’s full of conflict, children become increasingly anxious, and the stress can actually lead to depression or troubled behaviour. And taking each other to court can make the process worse, rather than reducing the conflict.

“It’s the same for parents who stay in a turbulent marriage for the sake of the children – you could be creating more stress for the children than if you had a healthy divorce. To help children deal with a dramatic life transition, it’s important that they feel supported and emotionally secure through the difficult times.”

Ms Davis said the collaborative approach gave families the chance to instigate a kinder, gentler and healthier divorce which would be less complicated for everyone involved.

“And because the collaborative process is not driven by a timetable imposed by a court, the whole situation can be built around each family’s individual timetable and priorities. Sometimes only a handful of meeting may be required to resolve the case, so it’s often a much quicker route to take.

“At such a troubling time, it’s understandable that emotions are running high, but as parents, if you can take a sensible and conciliatory tone in your negotiations, your children will benefit all the more.”

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Voting rights are not automatic

Employees don’t have an automatic right to take time out of their working day to vote in the General Election.

That’s the warning from George Heron at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, who said employees should ensure they make the most of the extended opening hours at local polling stations – from 7am to 10pm.

“With such long opening hours, it’s highly unlikely that staff will be unable to attend at some point during the day – so there really is no need for them to be disrupting their working hours.

“And even if they can’t fit in a trip to the polling station outside of work, options such as postal voting or voting by proxy mean an employee would be on shaky ground if they tried to claim their employer was depriving them of their voting rights just by asking them to do their job.”

Mr Heron said if an employee really was struggling to get to the polls, there was nothing to stop an employer coming to an agreement with their staff.

“You may decide to allow them to start their working day slightly later, or they could simply take unpaid time off while they cast their vote. As long as you are consistent, there should be no issues – but you must not allow one employee to take time off to vote and then block another.

“Employers should also be wary of imposing last-minute overtime on staff who may have planned to vote at the end of their shift.”

Mr Heron said though that where trade union elections were concerned, shop stewards and staff representatives had a right to reasonable time off for union duties and activities, but any such time off could be unpaid.

“It’s vital that employers are consistent with how they treat their staff on Election Day, but employees also have to take personal responsibility to ensure they find the time to exercise their democratic right.

“Businesses need to know they can continue to operate normally on the day, without worrying about their operation being short-staffed at crucial times.

“With a turnout of around 60% predicted, around six in ten staff from any one workplace will want to vote, so the polls are open for such a long time to make sure everyone has the opportunity to take part, no matter how busy their day is.”

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Are you sitting comfortably?

Employees need to be comfortable in the workplace but how far must their employers go to accommodate their needs?

Gemma Workman from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, said employers should tread carefully when it comes to decisions about office furniture.

“Modern office chairs can be adjusted to accommodate a wide range of shapes and sizes, and they also come in different dimensions for both extra tall and smaller staff.

“But what if an employee would prefer to bring in their own seating because they found it more comfortable? In particular, how should an employer react if the choice isn’t a traditional chair?

“If your staff work with a computer, their seating will be subject to health and safety regulations which set out certain requirements that standard chairs must have, including a height-adjustable seat and a backrest that can be adjusted for both height and tilt.

“Chairs must also be physically stable and allow for freedom of movement, but national guidance also says employers should consider the possibility of staff using unconventional chairs too.

“It says that employees suffering from back problems may benefit from a chair that comes with a fixed backrest or a seat that has no backrest at all, such as a kneeling chair. But whatever they choose, it must still be stable on the floor.

“This means employees will not be able to use exercise balls as seating for example, as although they can help strengthen core muscles, it’s too easy for an employee to fall off and hurt themselves.”

Miss Workman said before agreeing to anything, employers should find out exactly why their staff may want to bring in their own seating.

“Is their current chair uncomfortable because it’s broken or because they are not a standard size? If so, then this is easily put right by ordering them a new chair. Or maybe the employee uses non-conventional seating at home and finds it more to their liking?

“If their request is purely down to personal choice, you should think carefully before giving them the go-ahead because it will make it very difficult to refuse any requests from other staff in the future.”

Miss Workman said there may be some merit in the request if the employee has a pre-existing medical condition, or if they’re recovering from a back or hip injury.

“But you should ask for a full assessment from an occupational health advisor before you say yes, and then providing their chosen chair is suitable, you can allow them to bring it in to the workplace.”

Monday, 15 May 2017

Off the record comments can be costly

Employers have been warned that their business could be at risk if they disclose confidential information – even if they think it’s “off the record”.

John Mehtam is the employment law specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said businesses must be aware that the actual phrase ‘off the record’ had no legal status whatsoever.

“Don’t be fooled by the idea that disclosing information which is clearly confidential is nothing to worry about – you’ll be putting your business in jeopardy and it’s not a risk worth taking.”

Mr Mehtam said confidential information often included personal data that related to directors, owners, current and former employees, customers and clients.

“It may also include information about individual and or business tax affairs, legal and other professional advice that’s been received, and current and future business plans. But no matter what details you’re asked to pass on, both you and the person asking for the information will be breaching confidentiality rules, even if you both agree you’re speaking off the record.”

Mr Mehtam said it wasn’t just employers who could find themselves in trouble, and all employees should be told that the phrase is meaningless and that they should never reveal anything to a third party.

“If your staff are asked for confidential information, you should insist that they refer the request to a senior manager or director, as you as their employer could be held responsible for their actions if they pass anything on.”

And it’s not just random requests for personal information that can get an employer into trouble.

“If you’re approached for a verbal reference about a former employee, don’t say ‘yes if it’s off the record’ because it won’t be, and the employee is entitled to know what you said about them.

“A recent ruling by the Supreme Court has also confirmed that disclosing confidential information in off the record comments does not get around confidentiality obligations. They said off the record discussions gave the person making the disclosure – and the person asking for the private information – no legal protection at all.

“If someone even mentions off the record discussions, it should immediately set alarm bells ringing, and you should be on your guard from the start. Don’t put yourself and your business at risk.”

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Michelle steps up at Martin-Kaye

A Telford lawyer with almost 20 years’ experience has now been named as an Associate at a leading local law firm.

Michelle Poulton began her career as a legal assistant in the conveyancing team with Martin-Kaye Solicitors, and she is now a qualified Licensed Conveyancer at the firm’s head office in Euston Way, in Telford.

Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said Michelle’s new position was
as a direct result of her dedication and commitment.

“We’re always keen to encourage staff to continuously develop their skills and it’s always a real pleasure to be able to give employees the opportunity to make positive progress in their career. Michelle is a key member of our conveyancing team and we’re very pleased to announce that she is now an Associate with the firm – an honour that we reserve for our most talented and committed staff.”

Michelle manages a small team of legal assistants and is responsible for both panel-based business and local estate agent referrals.

She also deals with a variety of property cases including remortgaging, transfer of equity, right to buy, equity release, and sale and purchase work.

“I’m delighted to have been promoted to the role of Associate, and I’m very proud that the hard work I’ve put in has been recognised in such a way. In my new position, I’m looking forward to playing an increasing role in helping to build the business even further, and to working with my team to ensure our clients receive the very best service at all times.”

Martin-Kaye’s experienced and knowledgeable property team is accredited under the Conveyancing Quality Scheme – the quality mark for legal experts in buying or selling property.

Pic: Michelle Poulton – the new Associate at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford – with Senior Partner Graham Davies

Monday, 20 March 2017

Employers bowled over by top advice tips

Over 40 employers joined lawyers from a Midlands firm to take part in an interactive employment advice seminar in Birmingham.

The Employment Law team from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford and Wolverhampton, teamed up with Monaco Insurance to host a Top Ten Employment Blunders seminar at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

It was the first time the law firm had taken their renowned presentation to Birmingham, and the response from delegates has been so positive that more events are planned for the future.

Employment Law Specialist, John Mehtam, who led the presentation said the decision to take the seminar to the city was as a direct result of customer demand.

“We work very closely with Monaco Insurance, who are based in Edgbaston, and they felt the advice we had to offer would be very useful for their clients and for other businesses in the wider Birmingham area.

“Our presentations have always proved extremely successful in Shropshire, Wales, and the West Midlands, and now the response from our Birmingham audience means we will definitely be returning in the coming months.”

During the event, Mr Mehtam shared his advice to help businesses navigate through the increasingly-complicated minefield of employment law, and to help them avoid the most common pitfalls.

“We covered suggestions on how to tackle some of the most common workplace and HR issues including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance – and perhaps more importantly, we looked at how to avoid these situations and protect your business.

“At Martin-Kaye, we’re committed to delivering effective and appropriate advice that really does make a difference to employers, and our short sharp seminars are designed to get right to the point.”
John said keeping up-to-date with ever-changing legislation was practically impossible for employers who were already battling with a packed schedule.

“That’s why our seminars are proving so popular right across the Midlands as we deliver clear, concise information in a time frame that suits our delegates.”

Pic: At the Edgbaston event are, from left, Graham Davies (Martin-Kaye), Kay Gill and Amrik Chote (both Monaco Insurance), John Mehtam (Martin-Kaye)

Friday, 17 March 2017

Ruling means hopes are dashed

Children unhappy with their inheritance who had hoped to find it easier to challenge a parent’s will have had their hopes dashed.

A ruling by the Court of Appeal had initially paved the way for wills to be overturned or changed by the courts if they were deemed to be ‘unfair’.

But this week, the Supreme Court has stepped in to clarify the rules, and the judges overturned the decision which had backed a woman who had been excluded from her mother’s will in favour of three animal charities.

Andrew Oranjuik, who is the head of commercial litigation at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said the latest decision had now cemented a person’s right to leave money to those they want to inherit it.

“Finally there is now a very clear direction on how the rules should be interpreted, and it underlines the importance of having a formal and legally-binding will in place.”

Mr Oranjuik said the case involved a 10-year legal battle by Heather Ilott, who went to court after her mother Melita Jackson left her entire £486,000 estate to animal charities. Mrs Ilott, who had been estranged from her mother for 26 years and was claiming benefits, had been granted a third of her late mother’s estate – a total of £164,000.

“But the Supreme Court has now overturned that result, and Mrs Ilott will only receive the original £50,000 that her mother had set out in her will. The judgement is excellent news for charities and will be a welcome relief that when a bequest is made, the person’s wishes should be respected.

“Many charities rely on legacies in wills and the three animal charities involved in this case will now receive the full amount they had been promised. The ruling also reaffirms a person’s right to have freedom of choice in what they do with their estate, meaning you can still disinherit your children in the knowledge that your wishes will be carried out.

“This case has been a 10-year battle which thankfully now is over – and although Mrs Ilott will not receive as much money as she had hoped for, at least the Supreme Court has put an end to the matter and clearly defined how the rules should be applied.”

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Headscarves ban is allowed

Employers can now ban staff from wearing headscarves and other religious symbols in the workplace – as long as they treat all religions equally.

The European Court of Justice has announced that firms can ban workers from wearing religious or political symbols in a landmark ruling that’s the first of its kind.

John Mehtam, who leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said the ruling followed after Europe’s top court heard the cases of two women who were dismissed for refusing to stop wearing Islamic headscarves.

“The two cases were very different – in the first, a Muslim woman who was working as a receptionist was asked not to wear a traditional headscarf because the company had a strict rule in place banning visible signs of political, philosophical or religious beliefs.

“The Court of Justice said her dismissal for refusing to stop wearing the headscarf was justified because it was about all political and religious symbols, and was not specifically targeting Islam. But in the second case, the employee was asked to remove her headscarf after a client complained.

“The Court said that without a formal rule covering all religious symbols, simply wanting to ‘take account of the wishes of a customer’ was not enough to ban headscarves.

“It’s clear that companies right across the UK and Europe need to take the guidance on board and update their workplace regulations accordingly.

“If your company has a clear written rule in place (which employees are fully aware of), that bans all religious, political or philosophical symbols, then everyone will understand your firm’s position. But you must apply the rule fairly and equally, otherwise employees who are affected could challenge your request to remove their headscarf or religious symbols and you could face the prospect of an employment tribunal.

“This ruling is the first case of its kind to be heard in a series of legal disputes over the right for Muslim women to wear the hijab at work, but it surely won’t be the last.

“Employers need to keep their company workplace regulations up-to-date to ensure they meet the ever-changing circumstances that every business faces on a daily basis.”

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Selling a business can be tricky

Selling your business could be difficult if minority shareholders decide to block the deal – but a Telford solicitor says there are steps you can take to ease the situation.

Andrew Oranjuik is a Partner at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, and he specialises in commercial litigation.

He said: “Sometimes an offer that’s too tempting to ignore comes in and selling your business seems like a great way forward. But if you don’t own all your company’s shares, you may need the approval of your shareholders to accept the deal.

“But shareholders can’t be forced to sell their shares and it’s unlikely a buyer will want to take on a company with minority shareholders hanging on, which means they could be a real stumbling block when it comes to sealing the deal.”

Mr Oranjuik said one solution would be for the company to sell its trade and other assets, rather than for the shareholders to sell their shares.

“But there’s a drawback as when you sell your business, the money from the sale goes to the company. For you and the other shareholders to access the money, it has to be paid out as a dividend or the company will have to be wound up, so this may mean more of the sale proceeds are lost in tax compared with a sale of shares.”

Mr Oranjuik said if the buyer was purely interested in buying the entire company, then selling shares was the only option.

“The best way to achieve this is to introduce a ‘drag along’ clause in your company’s shareholders’ agreement – this means if the majority of shareholders are keen to sell the business, then the others are required to agree.

“If you don’t already have a clause like this, then act now to add one to your agreement. It just requires a vote from all shareholders to have it added. But you may need to negotiate on the terms and conditions as minority shareholders will want assurances that they will get a decent deal if a buyer comes in.”

Mr Oranjuik said an agreement which included a drag clause would also have a tag along clause too.
“This gives minority shareholders the right to force majority shareholders to include them as part of any deal to sell their shares, ensuring their shares are not devalued as a result of a sale that goes ahead without them.

“No shareholders can be forced to sell their shares, but you can ensure clauses are in place to help smooth out the process if a tempting deal is on the table.”

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Regular rest breaks are a must

Employers must ensure staff are given the opportunity to take regular rest breaks throughout the working day – even if workers choose not to use them.

John Mehtam leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and he said the onus was firmly on employers to make sure staff had chance for a break.

“Under the Working Time Regulations, an employee who works more than six hours is entitled to an uninterrupted rest break of at least 20 minutes. The break can be either paid or unpaid, but must be taken during the working day and not at the beginning or end of it by way of a later start or earlier finish – even if this would be more convenient for the company and/or the employee.”

Mr Mehtam said a tribunal hearing had ruled that employers should provide their staff with a statutory rest break, regardless of whether or not the employee requested one.

“But even though as an employer you must allow for a rest break, it’s up to the employee whether they actually use it or not. And if they choose to work through their break, staff can’t demand extra payment either.”

If the working day exceeds 12 hours, the statutory requirement is still only for one 20-minute rest break.

“There are though additional health and safety considerations that will need to be taken into account for longer shifts like this, and you’ll need to look at each employee’s circumstances when deciding what rest breaks may be appropriate.

“It’s vital that you ensure your company’s working arrangements allow employees to take the rest breaks they are entitled to, otherwise you will be contravening their statutory rights and you could face serious consequences.”

Mr Mehtam said information on working conditions was a key part of the support offered by Martin-Kaye’s Alpha team, which has wide-ranging experience in providing practical and effective advice on human resources and employment law issues.

“We can help employers negotiate the minefield of employment law and deal with situations as they arise in the workplace, helping companies to avoid the more common pitfalls.”

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Howzat for employment law advice!

Lawyers from a Midlands firm are set to take their highly-rated employment advice seminar to Birmingham for the very first time.

The Employment Law team from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford and Wolverhampton, has joined forces with Monaco Insurance to host a Top Ten Employment Blunders seminar at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

Taking place on Thursday March 16th, from 6pm to 8pm, the event is designed to help businesses navigate through the increasingly-complicated minefield of employment law, and to help them avoid the most common pitfalls.

Employment Law Specialist, John Mehtam, will lead the presentation, and said the decision to take the seminar to Birmingham was as a direct result of customer demand.

“We work very closely with Monaco Insurance, who are based in Edgbaston, and they felt the advice we had to offer would be very useful for their clients and for other businesses in the wider Birmingham area.

“It’s the first time we’ve organised a seminar like this in this area, although our presentations have already proved extremely successful in Shropshire, Wales, and the West Midlands.”

Mr Mehtam will share his advice for employers about how to tackle some of the most common workplace and HR issues and, more importantly, how to avoid them and protect your business.

“At Martin-Kaye, we’re committed to delivering effective and appropriate advice that really does make a difference to employers, and our short sharp seminars are designed to get right to the point. We set the record straight and help employers to learn from the mistakes others have made, helping them to tackle employment law issues in the right way and helping them to understand how to avoid falling into the most common traps.”

He said keeping up-to-date with ever-changing legislation was practically impossible for employers who were already battling with a packed schedule.

“That’s why our seminars are proving so popular right across the Midlands as we deliver clear, concise information in a time frame that suits our delegates.”

The seminar will cover a variety of tricky areas including sickness absence, dismissals and poor employee performance.

To book a place contact June Noto on 01952 272222 or email

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Sexist dress codes need to go

Employers who enforce sexist dress codes could face tougher punishment according to a local solicitor.

John Mehtam, of Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said the Government was reviewing a report put together by the Women and Equalities Commission and the Petitions Commission.

“It all started with a parliamentary petition set up by receptionist Nicola Thorp which aimed to make it illegal for companies to force employees to wear high heels to work.

“She had been sent home from a job placement after being told it was her agency’s ‘grooming policy’ for women to wear two-to-four inch heels, and her petition received more than 150,000 signatures.”

Mr Mehtam said the Government was now considering the report and if it followed the recommendations set out in the document, employers could face stricter punishment and larger fines.

“The report is calling for more effective remedies such as financial penalties for employers who breach the law, and it could mean tribunals make a much tougher stance.”

The report includes medical evidence from the College of Podiatry suggesting that women who have to wear high heels for long periods of time could suffer long-term health difficulties.

“A web forum was also set up to gather evidence from women who had been forced to adhere to certain dress codes, and many said they had to wear high heels as part of a workplace policy in the retail, hospitality, airline or corporate industries,” said Mr Mehtam.

“But with the cost of employment tribunals rising, many women can’t afford to challenge these sexist policies, and so the practice has continued for much longer than it should have. Now that this report has been completed, it’s clear that employers need to act responsibly and take the findings into consideration.

“The best approach would be to stay one step ahead of the process and update your corporate dress code policies as soon as possible to reflect your commitment to protecting the health and safety of your employees.

“It seems very strange that in 2017 bosses still expect female employees to wear painful, inappropriate shoes and uniforms, and this report and the public response to the petition are a clear indication that it’s time for change.”