Monday, 9 November 2020

Further Extension of the Furlough Scheme - How we can help!


The government has recently announced a further extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, confirming that the scheme will now run until the end of March 2021.


John Mehtam who leads the employment team at Martin Kaye states that under this scheme it is imperative that employers have written agreements in place documenting the terms of the furlough arrangements. 


In most cases, the previous arrangements will have been assumed to end on 31 October 2020 or amended to cover the initial 4 week extension up to 2 December 2020, so new agreements should be put in place as a matter of priority to reflect the latest extension.


If you require comprehensive guidance on the furlough scheme and would like us to produce bespoke furlough agreements for you or if you would just like some advice and assistance during these unprecedented times then please do not hesitate to contact our Employment Team at or on 01952 566920 and we will provide you with a no-obligation fixed fee quote.



Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Advice for Commercial Landlords with defaulting tenants due to Covid 19.

Since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK earlier in the year, the economic fallout from the ‘lockdown’ has been well-publicised.

One particular area where we have seen difficulties is with tenants of business premises running into financial issues and defaulting on rent payable to the landlord. Landlords and tenants have often adopted a pragmatic approach to the problem, for example by agreeing to defer payment of rent or a temporary reduction in what is payable. But not all difficulties are resolved in this way and landlords need to know the legal options available to them.

Below appears a summary of the options available to landlords. These options have always been available but since the onset of the pandemic, various pieces of legislation have been passed that significantly restrict landlords’ options.

Forfeiture of lease

Forfeiture is the landlord taking the unilateral step – permitted in the lease - of terminating the lease and taking the property back from the tenant. This can usually be done by peaceable re-entry (physically gaining entry to the property, securing it and excluding the tenant) or by obtaining an order from the court requiring the tenant to give up possession.

However, at present, forfeiture is not available as a result of the Coronavirus Act 2020. There is a ban on forfeiture for non-payment of rent until 31 December 2020 at the earliest, whether by peaceable re-entry or by court proceedings.

Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR)

This is a procedure that allows the landlord to take possession of the tenant’s goods which can then be sold to discharge rent arrears.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, restrictions have been placed on this remedy. At present, there must be not less than 276 days’ worth of rent outstanding before CRAR can take place. Rent is typically payable quarterly under most leases, and this represents about 3 quarters of unpaid rent. If CRAR is to take place on or after 25 December 2020, there must be at least 366 days’ worth of rent outstanding.

If the outstanding rent is less than these amounts, the procedure is not available to the landlord.

Statutory demand and insolvency proceedings

Non-payment of debts (including rent) when they fall due will, in the eyes of the law, amount to insolvency. A step often taken by landlords was to serve a ‘statutory demand’ on the tenant, which is a formal demand for arrears to be paid within 21 days, failing which the landlord had the option of presenting a winding up petition to the court which, unless the arrears are paid, would see the tenant going into liquidation. Rather than face liquidation, tenants would often pay the debt.

Again, there have been changes to the law. The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 now prohibits a landlord form presenting a winding up petition based on a statutory demand served on a tenant between the dates of 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Furthermore, no winding up petition can be presented in any event on the ground of non-payment of rent before 1 January 2021 unless the landlord has reasonable grounds for believing that coronavirus has not had an effect on the tenant’s business, or the issue of the unpaid rent would have arisen despite coronavirus having an effect on the business.

The rules set out above apply only to companies. There are no restrictions on serving statutory demands and presenting bankruptcy petitions in respect of individuals unable to pay their debts.

Drawing down on a rent deposit

If a rent deposit has been taken, there is no restriction on the landlord being able to draw down on that deposit (provided that the landlord complies with the terms on which the deposit is held). This area has been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Court proceedings

Non-payment of rent is a breach of the lease, and it has always been possible for landlords to begin proceedings in the county court, eventually leading to a county court judgment (CCJ) for the amount of the arrears. Once there is a CCJ, the landlord will have various enforcement options available to them.

This procedure has been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic and the option remains available to landlords. However, it would be reasonable to assume that there may be delays in the court processing claims as we understand there is a backlog of cases form earlier in the year.

It is also worth pointing out that the landlord may not only have this remedy against the tenant, but also against guarantors of the tenant’s obligations. There are, however, and always have been limitations on what can be recovered from guarantors. A notice must be served on the guarantor before any court proceedings are started and only rent accruing due in the 6 months prior to the notice can be recovered.

Lockdown Update

As we go back into lockdown on Thursday, we wanted to update you on how our offices in Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton will be operating up to and including December 2nd 2020.

The reception area will be closed until further notice and unfortunately we will be unable to see clients face to face.  If you are required to drop off documents or have ID checked/copied this will be carried out through controlled measures.  Your solicitor will advise how this will happen, if necessary. 

These measures will of course be reviewed in line with any guidance or changes made by the Government.

Our staff will continue to be available to assist you with any legal matters remotely and you can still speak with us by calling 01952 272222 or visit the website on

Our aim is to protect our staff and clients during these difficult times, and to ensure we can deliver our services as near normal as usual.










Monday, 5 October 2020

Settlement Agreements Explained

The past few months has seen the term “settlement agreement” used more and more. So what exactly is it? John Mehtam – Head of Commercial Services explains.

A Settlement Agreement is a legally binding contract between an employee and an employer and is often used to terminate a term of employment usually to resolve a problem or a dispute. 

If as an employee you agree to a settlement agreement, you will automatically lose your right to take any potential claim you might have to an Employment Tribunal. Therefore obtaining legal advice from an independent advisor or an Employment Solicitor is an essential part of the Settlement Agreement process. 

Your legal advisor or Solicitor will need to sign the agreement to say that you’ve received advice and your employer usually pays for you to get that advice. 

If you have received a settlement agreement from your employer and want to achieve the best outcome possible from your Settlement Agreement with detailed and comprehensive legal advice, then please contact our Employment Team at or on 01952 525984.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Helpline launched for Coronavirus worries

Legal experts at a Telford firm have launched a free helpline after a surge in enquiries about Coronavirus and employer obligations.

The team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, have been deluged with calls from employers right across the region with queries over the pandemic and its effects in the workplace, including the recently launched ‘Furlough’ scheme.

Employment law specialist, John Mehtam, who leads the team, said: “There has been an incredible rise in the number of calls as this challenging situation progresses and employers try to navigate their way through it.

“As a firm, we provide HR support to businesses across the UK who sign up to our Alpha service. But we wanted to show our support for local companies during these difficult times, and so we have launched the new free helpline to offer advice specifically about Coronavirus and the issues it is causing.”

The helpline – 01952 566920 – will be run by Martin-Kaye’s Alpha team and will be available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

“During these unsettling times and with such a fast-moving situation, professional advice could be key in helping businesses to survive in the longer term.

“We’re sure our new helpline will be extremely busy in the coming weeks while we all try to adjust to the ever-changing world around us, and businesses can rest assured that our team is ready to help wherever we can.”

Pic: Gemma Workman from Martin-Kaye Solicitors answers the new Coronavirus helpline

Monday, 16 March 2020

Coronavirus - a message from Martin-Kaye Solicitors

At this time, we are all facing the very real health and commercial challenges of dealing with Covid-19.

As matters stand, we remain open for business and will continue until it is no longer feasible or safe to do so.

Some of our staff are working remotely and the numbers working away from our offices may increase over the coming weeks.

If any of the solicitors with whom you normally deal are working remotely, we will contact you and provide details of how you will be able to contact the solicitor in question by email/mobile phone.

We are minimising all client meetings and, where possible, we will be conducting meetings by telephone.

We will keep the position monitored and under observation, and will update you as soon as there are any further developments.

Our priority is to protect the health and well-being of our staff, their families and, of course, our clients, while at the same time continuing to maintain a normal level of service.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Support for Knife Angel's visit to Telford

Lawyers from a Telford firm have signed up to support the high-profile Knife Angel sculpture during its month-long visit to the town.

The 27ft high statue is made of more than 100,000 blades and it has been on a nationwide tour to raise awareness of knife crime.

It has now taken up its latest temporary home in Southwater, and Martin-Kaye Solicitors – who have their head office in Telford – are one of the official corporate sponsors.

Maria Smallcombe, for the legal firm, said: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to support this iconic sculpture during its visit to the town, and its prime location will mean everyone who visits Southwater will be able to see it clearly and learn more about the important message it represents.

“To secure its presence in Telford is a real coup, and its imposing appearance really does drive home the stark reality of knife crime and the pain and suffering it causes.”

The sculpture was created by artist Alfie Bradley at the British Ironwork Centre, near Oswestry, from knife blades collected in amnesties organised by police forces across the country. The blades included flick knives, pen knives, machetes, samurai swords and kitchen knives, and some are engraved with the names of knife crime victims.

The Knife Angel was brought to Telford by Telford & Wrekin Council and West Mercia Police in association with local community groups and organisations who want to help raise awareness of knife crime.

It will be in Southwater until March 29, and school children from across the borough will visit the sculpture to learn more about the issue, with local police officers attending school assemblies to promote the project too.

Pic: From left, Maria Smallcombe (Martin-Kaye Solicitors), artist Alfie Bradley, and Clive Knowles (British Ironwork Centre) with the Knife Angel in Telford

Thursday, 27 February 2020

New assistant joins growing law firm

A Shropshire law firm has welcomed a new legal assistant to its ever-growing employment team.

Dimple Mistry has joined Martin-Kaye Solicitors at their head office in Euston Way, Telford, after completing her university studies at Keele. She is working with the employment law team to develop her skills and build a career in the legal industry.

“I studied law with criminology at university and was lucky enough to be employed by Martin-Kaye almost instantly after I qualified,” said Dimple, who has also previously worked in hospitality and Human Resources roles.

“To prepare for my new career, I also gained work experience by volunteering at criminal courts and it’s great to now be working in a legal environment on a day-to-day basis.”

Dimple said she had received a warm welcome at Martin-Kaye, with more experienced colleagues readily sharing their knowledge and advice from the very start.

“They have very kindly given me the opportunity to shadow them in the workplace, and I have already gained a wealth of experience of not only employment law and its processes, but also of the varied and wide-ranging aspects of the legal world.”

Partner and head of the employment law team, John Mehtam, said Dimple had made an impressive start to her legal career.

“We’re very pleased with Dimple’s commitment and dedication to her new role, and our team has been keen to help her settle in and learn more about the career path she’s chosen. It’s always a pleasure to see keen and dynamic employees join our growing firm, and to help them establish themselves on the first steps of a successful future in the industry.”

As well as it’s Telford office, Martin-Kaye Solicitors has offices in Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, and it has one of the largest specialist employment law teams in the Midlands.

The firm’s client base is spread right across the UK and its lawyers advise owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses as well as human resources managers and directors of multi-national companies.

Pic: Dimple Mistry joins the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors

Friday, 21 February 2020

Amna sets foot on the career ladder

A Shropshire law firm has taken on a new apprentice and given her the opportunity to take her first steps on the career ladder.

Amna Fiaz has joined Martin-Kaye Solicitors at their head office in Euston Way, Telford, as a Level 3 business administration apprentice working alongside her studies at Telford College.

“I’m really pleased to have been given the chance to work at Martin-Kaye, and I’m enjoying working with departments right across the firm as it’s an active role so every day is interesting,” said Amna.

“I’ve learned how to be more independent and confident as I’ve been given responsibilities and tasks that require a lot of trust and reliability, and everyone has been so supportive and helpful. Thanks to the support I’ve received, I’m also developing my communication skills still further as well as learning more about data input and receiving training on document coding.”

Amna, who lives in Wellington, studied for her GCSEs at Ercall Wood Academy, and also studied at ASAS International school and college in Pakistan.

Martin-Kaye’s office manager Sam Azzopardi-Tudor said she was pleased with Amna’s progress so far in her first ever job.

“Amna has been a welcome addition to our team and to the firm as a whole, and she has settled into her role with great ease. It’s always great to see apprentices take their first steps into the world of work and at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, we are committed to helping keen and dynamic candidates build their careers and make the most of the opportunities they are given.”

Telford College’s employer engagement manager, Beckie Bosworth, said: “We are delighted to be working with Martin-Kaye Solicitors helping to train their apprentices in their offices in both Telford and Wolverhampton.”

Pic: Amna Fiaz – Level 3 business administration apprentice at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Employment expert is appointed

A Shropshire legal firm has appointed a new employment law expert as part of its ambitious expansion plans.

Sonia Gaddu has joined the employment team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors and will be based at their head office in Euston Way, Telford.

“I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to join a busy and forward-thinking firm like Martin-Kaye, and it’s a very exciting time to be part of the company that is growing all the time,” said Sonia. “In my new role, I’ll be working with both employers and employees and I’m looking forward to meeting existing and new clients from right across the UK.”

Sonia will be working closely with John Mehtam, who leads the employment team, concentrating in particular on advising clients who subscribe to the firm’s Alpha service.

The Alpha employment and HR package offers support to companies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the subscription is tailored to suit each individual business whatever its shape, size or budget. Areas covered by the service include employee dismissals, sickness absence, performance management, redundancy, and employee disciplinary and grievance issues.

Mr Mehtam said: “Our aim is to deliver effective and robust advice that minimises the risk of tribunal claims, and we have Alpha clients all over the UK, so Sonia will play a key role as part of the team that handles this extremely busy area of our work.

“We’re very pleased to have her on board and I’m sure she will find her new role varied and wide-ranging dealing with a broad spectrum of clients in all kinds of areas of business.”

Sonia completed her law degree at Derby University and studied legal practice at the University of Birmingham. She has previously worked in law firms across the West Midlands, and is very experienced in advising and dealing with employment matters on behalf of employers and employees.

Based mainly at the Telford office, Sonia will also support clients from Martin-Kaye’s Wolverhampton office and their newly-opened branch in the centre of Shrewsbury.

Pic: Sonia Gaddu – the new employment lawyer at Martin-Kaye Solicitors

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Winter workplace warning for employers

Shropshire bosses must take extra care to keep staff and visitors safe and warm when wintery conditions strike.

That’s the message from John Mehtam, who leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford and Shrewsbury.

“Freezing temperatures bring a whole new raft of challenges in the workplace – whether it’s staff or visitors slipping on icy surfaces, or staff working outside in the cold, or even arguments over changing the heating settings in your building. And it’s vital that company bosses are as prepared as possible to avoid any difficulties when the colder weather hits.”

Mr Mehtam said companies should keep any eye on weather forecasts, and ensure they had plentiful supplies of salt, shovels and grit on site.

“If icy conditions are predicted, take action in your workplace by making sure key areas are gritted the night before – it’s important that the employees who will be doing the gritting are well-prepared and that they are wearing appropriate protective clothing while they carry out the work. And if snow does fall or icy conditions occur, it’s likely that there will be some clearance work needed on site too.

“Don’t worry about clearing every single corner of your premises – that’s likely to prove almost impossible anyway, and it will be expensive too. Concentrate instead on the key routes across and around the site, and cordon off any really dangerous areas altogether.”

Mr Mehtam said staff working outside would need careful consideration in wintery conditions, and employers had a duty of care to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety.

“Ask yourself whether the work actually needs to be carried out while the weather is so bad or whether it could be done at a later date. But if there is no option to leave it for another day, make sure staff have access to extra equipment including thermal liners for hard hats, body warmers, gloves and non-slip covers for boots.”

And it’s not just staff working outside who will be feeling the cold – staff inside the workplace will probably be keen to turn up the heating.

“This of course though costs money, and your heating bill will increase by 8% to 10% each time you increase the temperature by just one degree. You are required though to keep the temperature at a ‘reasonable’ level and guidance suggests a minimum of 16 degrees, or 13 degrees if employees are doing physical work.

“Taking extra care to prepare your workplace ahead of wintery conditions could well save you money and also help you to avoid the difficulties of an unhappy workforce.”

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Cyber experts in date warning

Cyber experts at a Shropshire law firm are warning that shortening the date for the year 2020 on legal documents could have serious consequences.

Samantha Azzopardi-Tudor is the Office Manager at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and she has called on anyone completing official paperwork to be vigilant and take extra care.

“If you fail to write out the date in full, because of the way the numbers fall in 2020, you could be risking real difficulties. It’s vital that you write it in the format dd/mm/yyyy rather than just dd/mm/yy because otherwise it gives unscrupulous fraudsters a simple opportunity to add another two digits that could completely alter the status of the documents.

“So, for example, remember that you need to write out 31/01/2020 rather than 31/1/20 because anyone could easily modify the year to affect the timing of the paperwork. This is particularly important if you’re involved in legal negotiations or a legal dispute where timing could be an issue, and where you need to prove you’ve completed the paperwork at a certain time.”

Mrs Azzopardi-Tudor said Martin-Kaye Solicitors was committed to ensuring the security of its clients both online and off-line.

“We have once again been recognised for the security of our cyber systems for the second year running and have been accredited with Cyber Essentials by Falanx Cyber Defence – a Government-backed scheme supported by the National Cyber Security Centre.

“The initiative encourages companies and organisations to adopt good practice in the way they use technology, and it protects them against a whole range of the most common cyber-attacks. We’ve worked very hard to retain our accreditation and it’s very pleasing to have our status confirmed for the second year in a row.

“Our commitment to this scheme and the recognition we have received is a clear indication to our clients and employees that we are constantly working to prevent cyber-attacks and protecting their personal data.

“The advice on filling in the date in full is just the latest step in our ongoing programme of advice to our clients to help prevent them becoming victims of the increasing risk of cyber-attacks.”

Cyber Essentials protects companies and organisations against the most common attacks – and it’s particularly important as vulnerability to simple attacks can mark a company out as a target for more in-depth unwanted attention from cyber criminals.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Family law experts expand into county town

Shropshire couples facing the breakdown of a relationship have been urged not to rush into formal divorce proceedings.

Gemma Himsworth leads the family law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, and the firm has now widened its services to offer advice from its town-centre offices in Shrewsbury too.

“January is one of the peak times of the year for divorce, particularly after families who would not usually spend a lot of time together have been in close quarters for the intensive Christmas and New Year period.

“In fact, Christmas is becoming an increasingly busy time for divorce applications, with more and more online proceedings launched on Christmas Day itself. And as well as online divorce applications peaking at this time of year, this month we’ve seen the usual annual spike in enquiries in person at both our Telford and Shrewsbury offices.”

Mrs Himsworth urged couples to steer clear of quick-fix divorce proceedings online, as the process would not suit everyone’s circumstances.

“The online process only deals with the marriage, and not with financial matters or issues relating to children. It’s all well and good filling in an application online, uploading documents and paying fees over the internet, but this kind of fully digital divorce will not be appropriate for everyone.

“You won’t receive advice online about the legal implications of divorce, and you won’t be able to make sure that any necessary paperwork is completed correctly. So although it may seem tempting to try to do everything online in order to speed up the process and make things less complicated, you may actually be creating a situation that causes real problems as the divorce moves forward.”

Mrs Himsworth urged couples to seek professional advice to sort out the finer details of divorce in order to protect themselves from future legal action.

“For instance, if a couple gets divorced but doesn’t deal with their finances in a recognised legal agreement, they could be storing up trouble – it means they will still have claims against one another, including on any assets they acquire after the marriage is over or on any inheritance they may receive. And in an extreme case where maybe one of them wins the lottery, then arguably their former spouse could still make a claim.

“The online divorce system does not replace existing paper-based applications, but for some people it provides a quicker and easier service – couples though should be careful and should not hesitate to seek out expert advice if they’re unsure of how to proceed.”

Pic: Martin-Kaye’s family law team now offering advice in Shrewsbury too – from left, Jane Tinsley, Gemma Himsworth and Emma Parker