I hope you have all had a good summer break, and were successful in seeking out some warm, sunny weather either on our shores or further afield.
Whilst a little quieter than the previous couple of months, we have continued with our work to represent, promote and support our membership through the main Committee, Sub-Committees, training opportunities and a number of other meetings and engagements.
The conversation we started at our inaugural meeting with the Law Societies for the Counties of Kent, Leicestershire, Newcastle, Surrey and Cheshire and North Wales will shortly be promoted as we seek to develop, collectively, strong representation at a local and national level. The group plan to meet three times a year and will liaise on an ongoing basis sharing knowledge, expertise and best practice. Our next meeting is planned to take place at the Local Law Societies Conference in London in November.
At the beginning of July, I attended the Garden Party of the Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University, Sir Steve Smith, at Redcot. It was particularly pleasing to receive this invitation as I understand it was a “first” for DASLS to be invited. It was a spectacular setting and the sun shone, as the band played and the Pimms flowed. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon meeting colleagues from the Devon business world, alumni/ae and staff past and present.
I was delighted to have been invited to attend the Monmouthshire Incorporated Law Society Summer Ball as a guest of its President Andrew Twomlow. I had a fabulous evening, sharing a table with the Presidents of Bristol and Plymouth Law Societies.
Having travelled to Derby for the County Societies Group meeting I travelled to London for the final dinner of The Law Society President Robert Bourns, the evening before he handed over the reins to our new President Joe Egan. I was privileged to be sitting next to Joe at the dinner and we shared some thoughts over dinner around the challenges that lay ahead for the legal profession as a whole. I would like to thank Robert for the hard work he put into his year as President in promoting, representing and supporting our profession. We had a number of opportunities to engage with Robert during this time both in London and through his attendance at meetings and events in Somerset and Devon. I wish Joe every success in his Presidential year and am confident that the level of engagement that we have recently enjoyed will continue.
Nominations are now open for our 2018 Legal Awards with an official launch event planned for 21st September 2017 at the Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton. It takes time to put together a good nomination which will withstand the scrutiny of the judges. I urge you to start preparing your submissions early as the close of nominations on 20th October will come around all too soon. Don’t under estimate the positive impact on those nominated – one nominee said to me “I felt honoured to be nominated for an area of work which I feel passionate about and the nomination gave me a real confidence boost”. With SOS software on board again this year as our headline sponsor, and a number of other high profile sponsors already committed, we hope our launch event will boost entries, sponsorship and the media coverage already given by our awards partners Trinity Mirror.
Our Sub-Committees continue to meet regularly and there are a number of meetings taking place this month including Social Events and International Relations. Of particular note is the Non-Contentious Business Sub-Committee which will be considering a response to the Government’s consultation on unfair practices in the leasehold market which has been much highlighted in the news recently.
Our next committee meeting on 12th September at Hartnoll Hotel will start with an open meeting with the Legal Ombudsman – full details are on DASLS website. All are welcome to attend but please ring Monique at DASLS office to reserve your place.
The Annual Somerset Dinner is fast approaching. This will be held at the County Cricket Club, Taunton on Friday 3rd November and I hope that this date is already in your diaries. We are extremely fortunate to have Damien Boyd as our guest speaker. Many of you will have known Damien as a solicitor before he turned to crime fiction writing. Drawing on extensive experience of criminal law as well as a spell in the Crown Prosecution Service, Damien writes fast paced crime thrillers featuring Detective Inspector Nick Dixon. His books feature Somerset and many locations and landmarks within it and I am confident that Damien will contribute towards a fascinating and entertaining evening. I very much hope that you will support the evening.
A number of representative engagements are in my diary for the forthcoming months both locally, nationally and internationally. A particularly enjoyable event is our DASLS Admissions Ceremony during which we welcome newly qualified solicitors to our profession in the presence of DASLS members, District and High Court Judges. We know that those who attend thoroughly enjoy this formal event in the stunning setting of Exeter Guildhall with an opportunity to meet each other and those longer serving members of the profession. This year the ceremony will take place on 9th October.
I hope my own summer break will stand me in good stead for the busy months ahead and I look forward to sharing more news with you in November.
A very sunny Exeter University Garden Party
President Sue Aggett at Exeter University's Garden Party
MILS President Andrew Twomlow speaking
at his summer ball
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Taunton law firm Clarke Willmott LLP was named Law Firm of the Year (11+ Partners) at the Devon and Somerset Law Society Legal Awards earlier this year. The awards recognised a total of 12 firms and individuals for their outstanding services to clients in the region. Other categories included the Innovation Award, Team of the Year and the Client Service Award. Clarke Willmott, with offices at Blackbrook Gate, Taunton, provides legal services on a number of specialist areas including agriculture, private client, debt recovery, clinical negligence, family law, commercial property, banking and finance, corporate, employment and HR. The glittering ceremony was held at Sandy Park in Exeter and was the second annual Devon & Somerset Law Society Legal Awards, following on from a successful first year in 2016. Kate Gardner, head of the Taunton office, commented: “We are delighted to have won Law Firm of the Year at these prestigious awards. This is a wonderful acknowledgment of the brilliant service provided by the great people in our office so I’d like to say thank you to every one of them.” “As a firm we are totally committed to the South West and it’s great to be recognised for this continuing investment in the region. Since January, the office has experienced a high increase in staff in response to growing demand for our services and a return of confidence in the economy.” “Winning the awards has not only supported us with our recent expansion, but has helped assist with the growth within our corporate and commercial services across the county as well as raising staff morale”. The office decided to enter the awards following the success of the first awards ceremony, and is extremely pleased they did. Kate Gardner continued, “We decided to enter the ‘Law Firm of the Year Award’ as we felt that category best defined a lot of the work we do as a firm. We have grown a strong reputation within Somerset by working closely with our clients and business partners, and thought that by entering the awards, it would give us the opportunity to show how far we have come over the past few years.” “We were delighted to hear that we had been shortlisted out of all the applicants, and then to be named Law Firm of the year (11+ Partners) at the awards evening was brilliant.” “Winning the awards has also given us the incentive to raise our profile further in the region. In particular this summer, we have put together teams for local and regional charity events such as the Dragon Boat Race in Taunton in support of Headway Somerset, cycling for the St Margaret’s Hospice and as well as continuing with our own charity ball and golf days in support of our two office charities, Teenage Cancer Trust and Reminiscence Learning. These events have been both highly enjoyable and enhanced employee engagement in the firm.” “Our HR Breakfast and Lunch Clubs now see 80 plus clients and referrers regularly attending our office for Employment Law updates and networking and we are looking forward to our next breakfast on Thursday 28 September.” For more information on Clarke Willmott’s legal services please visit their website www.clarkewillmott.com or for more information about the events please contact Kate Gardner by emailing email@example.com. ...
The nominations for the DASLS Legal Awards 2018 are now open! If you’re not sure whether to apply, read how winning a DASLS Legal Award can benefit your firm. Free Marketing and Publicity We have all heard the phrase, ‘any publicity is good publicity’ – but one of the best kinds of publicity for your firm is surely winning or being shortlisted for a legal award! As you’ll have seen from previous years, shortlisted applicants have huge media coverage through our partnership with DC Media, including when applicants are first shortlisted, as well as again after the awards evening across printed and digital media such as the Western Morning News, Devon Live and Somerset Live. This free coverage and publicity means that potential clients can see your successes and opens up your firm to new audiences. Reputational Benefit With a DASLS legal award sitting on your desk, proudly on display in reception or even on your email signature, it reminds people of what you have achieved from your hard work and dedication. The Family Law Company, winners of Team of the Year in 2016 and Solicitor of the Year, Leader/Law Manager of the Year and Support Team Member of the Year in 2017, said how “The feedback has been tremendous, with clients coming into our offices to congratulate us on our success. Everyone in the company was thrilled with the success, and our awards are proudly on display”. Employee Motivation Happy staff means happy clients! Recognition for hard work will have a massive boost in staff morale, motivation and improves staff retention. Beviss & Beckingsale, winners of Law Firm of the Year (1-10 Partners) in 2017, claimed that “Our staff have said how proud they feel to have won the award and how pleased they are that our firm has been recognised for its good work”. On top of this, it will attract new talent to your firm as it will be seen as a successful and rewarding place to work. Evaluation of your firm DASLS’s Legal Awards are about celebrating successful firms and lawyers who are working hard and achieving brilliant things. By analysing what is great when writing an application form can highlight what needs to be worked on and therefore shows what you can focus on in the future to make your firm even better. Beviss & Beckingsale said how “It was a rewarding process in that it made us objectively evaluate our firm and also enabled us to focus on the good things which we were doing. The more that we started to note down, the more things we thought of which were relevant to the criteria that had been provided. It also provided an opportunity to take stock of some of the things that we had not perhaps concentrated as much on in the past and therefore which we could look to explore in the future”. Visit www.daslslegalawards.co.uk to enter now! ...
new user | 06th October 2017 | September 2017
The Language of Compliance and Ethics Tracey Calvert Oakalls Consultancy Limited firstname.lastname@example.org www.oakallsconsultancy.co.uk 17 August 2017 I am learning to sail. It’s complicated and – if I’m being honest – a little bit of a mystery. There is unfamiliar language; ropes are described as sheets (sometimes), sails have unusual names like genoa, and there is a constant need to trim and reef. It requires teamwork; the yacht needs a competent crew who must pull together (sometimes literally) and understand the part they play in keeping the boat afloat. Knowing that the boat can tilt at peculiar angles without capsizing takes a lot of trust. It’s interesting but scary at the same time. Many of you will know this and probably wonder why I am making such a fuss. Here’s the point. Experiencing this new world makes me think about law firms and how strange this must seem to someone joining a legal business for the first time. Whether that person is a trainee or newly qualified solicitor, a paralegal, or someone joining the business to provide non-legal skills such as marketing or IT services, they must quickly acquire the language of the industry if they want to be part of the team and they want that team to be successful. I have often thought that the regulatory and legal acronyms we use would provide enough materials for a pub quiz round. We have in our legal language such abbreviations as SRA, TLS, OFR, RBR, COLP, COFA, NCA, SARs….. The list is endless. We expect everyone to understand these but, quite honestly, why should they if they are new to our world? The same is true of regulatory and ethical standards. Most employees will want to be good colleagues but will non-lawyers understand that in a law firm this includes the need to sign up to and demonstrate professional behaviours. Actually, why should we assume that they would understand this? Why should we expect non-lawyers to appreciate the enormous burdens of the duty of confidentiality or the fact that if they promise to do something then this may be regarded as an undertaking? Law firm managers and compliance professionals must have confidence that all colleagues are team players, neither being fair weather sailors nor sailing so close to the wind that they stop. Safety messages are vital, both to give confidence to the individuals and to ensure that they are effective team players and safe pairs of hands. Vital when you consider that a law firm’s right to open its doors every day is singularly dependent on its continuing authorisation. In other words, not upsetting the regulator is essential. My view is that everyone must hear the same messages when they join the law firm and that these messages must be communicated and understood from day one. Too often, the induction process is regarded as the responsibility of the human resources team and connected with employment matters. This misses the point that the individual is being inducted into the ways of a regulated business with professional standards and other duties which must be understood. From day one, the regulatory and ethical messages should include the following: You are working in a regulated business. That’s a different experience from working in an advertising company or department store or wherever you last worked The SRA is interested in everyone in the law firm and anyone could find themselves having to explain their actions to the regulator Even solicitors do not have unlimited rights; these individuals only get a certificate and the right to practise for a year at a time Clients must have confidence in law firms. We keep their secrets (ok, most of the time and we do need to explain the legal exceptions to this concept), we put client interests first, our word is our bond, we don’t allow anything or anyone to cloud our judgement. We are expected to behave professionally ...
Court Mediation is back to stay? Jeremy Ferguson Many will recall that in 2002 we were involved in running a small claims mediation scheme for the Exeter Group of Courts that then expanded to include a main court mediation scheme carrying fees for the mediators. The main court scheme ran for about 18 months and the Society’s mediators achieved settlement rates in excess of 75% for the main court scheme and 60% for the small claims scheme. Lord Justice Briggs has now recommended in his final report that our scheme should be reinstated on a private basis. The Exeter Judges have responded enthusiastically and the new schemes will start mid July in Exeter and Barnstaple. Why should we care? The small claims scheme is a particularly specialised form of mediation and is not likely to involve work that our members do deal with (in the small claims court anyway) but it does actually provide the mediators with very effective time management issues and bring us up to speed. Main Court Scheme This is something in which practitioners may well find themselves being asked to participate for clients who have been directed by the court to mediation, (but it will be an opt out rather than an opt in scheme) this being vigorously supported by the judiciary so all of us involved in litigation are likely to come across this scheme from time to time. Mediation as everyone knows is the management by a third party of a dispute with a view to trying to guide the parties into finding a suitable settlement. Those who are trained mediators can be expected to know the rules, those of us who are not trained mediators will be doing an extra service to their clients if they gain some practical knowledge as to the process of mediation and some guidance as to how to make the best result for your respective clients. Question: How long will mediation take? Answer: Three or four hours. Question: How much will it cost? Answer: Size of Claim Length of mediation Cost per Party £10k-£15k 3 Hours £360 inc. VAT £15k-£50k 4 Hours £540 inc. VAT £50k-£80k 4 Hours £660 inc. VAT Question: What sort of settlement rate can we expect? Answer: 75% or better Question: Is it necessary for a solicitor or representative for others to attend? Answer: No but it can be very helpful. If there is enough enthusiasm I suggest we should hold a half day seminar for those who are interested in learning about the process and how to take best advantage of it for your clients. I realise that some members will be acquainted with the “traditional” 8 hour mediation model where £1,800 per party seems to be the starting point for the mediator’s fee, this new scheme is very time restricted and different techniques apply but the principle is the same and the cost per party far less expensive without, I would argue from personal experience, any loss in likely settlements. Please don’t judge probable results by reference to other time limited schemes which have in the past been far less effective. The point is that our techniques fit a 3/4 hour model very well and this is based on personal experience and the results of mediations taken by DASLS mediators. I strongly expect the judiciary at Exeter and Barnstaple will try to guide a lot of cases through mediation so it is up to us to participate where possible even if we are doubtful of a successful outcome as, at the very least, having attended a mediation with your client will give you a better idea of the oppositions case and thus shorten any subsequent trial if the mediation doesn’t succeed. Watch this space....
Dear All, This year really is flying by. I have just had my birthday. After updating you previously on the excellent catch up I had with the Law Society CEO Paul Tennant on his visit to the south west last November, I had not expected to be back in touch with him quite so soon. Sadly, this time it was in less happy circumstances. I was, like many of you, shocked and saddened in January to hear the news and see the pictures of the substantial fire at Chancery Lane in London. I have emailed Paul Tennant and James Shepherd, our Law Society Relationship Management Executive, to send our best wishes and we are hoping that the building will be back to full use very soon. As I write this report, preparations are in full swing for the 2020 DASLS Legal Awards & Dinner. As you know the Annual Dinner is being held again this year at Exeter Cathedral. The event is to take place on the 30th April 2020. After the success of last year, we are hoping that once again the event is sold out which would mean we will have around 480 people attending. If you have not done so already, please contact Llew Nicholls and the team at our Awards partners ‘Grow Marketing’ who have worked very hard alongside our very own Tony and Monique to achieve full sponsorship of this event. You can contact Llew to book the remaining places by emailing Llew directly at Llew@growmarketinguk.com. There have been more nominations than ever before with more entries making the short list. Please do not miss this dazzling occasion. You will all have received DASLS latest 2020 training courses programme. Tony Steiner and the team have worked hard to arrange these events. You will see that as members you get preferential rates and if appropriate reduced rates for multiple attendees from your firms. Please take advantage of these services as a proportion of the monies do go to support our Society’s broad continuing education offering. If I do not see you individually before I look forward to catching up with you at the 2020 DASLS Legal Awards and Annual Dinner in April. With very best wishes Nigel Lyons President 2019-2020...
The first big social event of the year was the annual DASLS Quiz which is the grand finale of the Challenge Cup. It is an event I thoroughly enjoy and I make no apology for making it a bit challenging. This year did not disappoint there being just ½ point between first and second place and resulting in joint winners of the Challenge Cup. Congratulations to Ashfords and Michelmores both of whom knew that the study of birds’ eggs is Oology. The next Challenge Cup kicks off with the usual Skittles match in Dawlish when the magnificent Skittles Cup will be contested. The latest meeting of the County Societies Group took place in February when we were guests of the SRA in Birmingham. DASLS Deputy Vice-President Adrian Richards and I attended. We were welcomed by their Chief Executive Paul Philip who set out some key messages around SRA activity emphasising their desire for light touch engagement with solicitors and good channels of communication. He said that the SRA was working well with The Law Society and was focused on creating an environment where solicitors could be innovative and use the latest in technology. AML is a key area of activity and following the appointment of the new Chair, Anna Bradley, they are working to provide better customer care. He also explained that until now the SRA had not taken any position on issues such as Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Advice Deserts. They were considering looking at, and taking a position on, one or two of these issues each year. There followed several presentations by senior staff at the SRA dealing with Enforcement Strategy and reporting concerns; Customer information – Transparency Rules and clickable logo.; the SQE and Anti-Money Laundering. Comprehensive slides were produced to accompany each presentation which I will forward together with my notes to any member who wishes to see them. Just email me —email@example.com. There followed an interesting tour of the building. SRA have around 600 staff members with the majority based over three floors at the Cube. The next meeting of the County Societies Group will be in the summer and we also plan a Parliamentary Liaison event at Westminster later in the year. I am pleased to announce that DASLS has two new Partners; Moneypenny who look after your telephone calls when you are not available and Dictate Now who offer Dictation Systems and outsourced document preparation. They join our current Partners: Alchemy; PKF Francis Clark; Landmark; Lockton; Unoccupied Direct; WebBoss and Wessex Searches. We are thankful for the support our partners give us and encourage you to use them where you can. Depending when you read this our joint event with the Legal Sustainability Alliance on 5th March will be about to take place or will have passed. Regular readers will know that the Society has formed a small working party to encourage and identify how firms can improve their sustainability. The main Committee have suggested that this forms a Sub-Committee. We will arrange a meeting of the working party after the event on the 5th March with a view to progressing this. Anyone who is interested in this please let me know. Tony Steiner, Executive Director DASLS....
You may know that DASLS is fortunate to be twinned with Bilbao, Erlangen, Gdańsk, Leuven, Rennes and Verona. Such twinning arrangements underpin a sense that we belong to one community of values on the basis that these relationships are based on reciprocity. Each year, we meet to discuss and debate important legal issues of the day, whilst discovering the cultures and languages of our partners. 2020 is DASLS turn to host such an event, which will be rounded off with the Sunday Legal Service at Exeter Cathedral on 7 June 2020 and to which DASLS members are cordially invited! The subject of our conference (on 5 June at County Hall in Exeter) will be around the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the sphere of human rights. Rather than understanding AI in terms of a terrifying post-apocalyptic vision of a world controlled by robots, AI features in our everyday lives from Alexa and smart home devices to controversial facial recognition technologies and even Uber! AI is built by lines of code called algorithms. Put simply, an algorithm is a step by step method of solving a problem and is commonly used for data processing and calculation. However, the use of automated data processing techniques in public and private sectors, especially by internet platforms and its impact on the exercise of human rights is somewhat of a hot topic. When it comes to AI, there is a focus on the usage of huge datasets. AI bias means when an algorithm produces results that may be prejudiced due to erroneous assumptions in the machine learning process and the data used to train the algorithm by data scientists. Bias runs deep in humans and it can be unconscious in nature. AI systems are created by individuals who have their own unique experiences and blind spots all of which can lead to fundamentally biased systems. This issue is compounded by the fact that those responsible for AI (including its deployment and training) may not be representative of society. Accordingly, unfair treatment of a group can result from the use of an algorithm to support decision making whether that decision relates to criminal sentencing, loan applications or self-driving cars. The language of AI is undoubtedly complex, but it is drastically changing the way we live. Understanding AI and its implications in the context of its growth is important so that we are all better placed to push companies to develop new technologies both ethically and responsibly. If you would like to receive more information once the June 2020 programme is finalised, please contact Monique Bertoni at DASLS office – firstname.lastname@example.org . Emma Mitcham Chair, International Relations Sub-Committee...
New AML Regulations and the pursuit of the beneficial owner. Introduction The new Money Laundering & Terrorist Finance (Amendment) Regulations 2019 which came into force on 10 January have modified a number of aspects of the 2017 AML Regulations, with which we have been complying for some time. However, many firms’ procedures hark back to the earlier days of the 2007 Regulations and have not been modified or updated much over recent years. This article seeks to set out what the new Regulations in fact require, and the steps we should be taking in relevant cases. The Policy It has been true for some time that the ultimate aim of all the regulatory rules is transparency – it has always been the case that the use of artificial structures such as trusts, companies, bearer shares, foundations and charities – whilst perfectly legal – have to some extent also benefitted from the extra anonymity they offer to the true owner and recipient of the funds and services we provide. If we offer services to these types of entity, the Regulations require us to go some way to identifying the individuals who are actually benefitting from our services, and this entails uncovering the true ownership of the organisation. Whilst this would be difficult in many instances – Cayman Island companies with bearer shares, for example – we must nevertheless attempt to get some assurances from the creators of the companies, accountants or registrars as to the ownership of the shares, and have some way of being notified of any change in ownership. We also need to be aware of the PEP and Sanctions status of these individuals. Further, for UK companies, the PSC Regulations 2016 impose an exactly similar obligation on the companies themselves to identify their beneficial owners and notify Companies House of any shareholder with 25% or more of the shares or exercising control over management of the business. The Regulations The Regulations provide that we must, as part of our CDD procedures Identify the client – this means coming to know who they are, by name and some other characteristic, e.g. address, date of birth, date of incorporation Verify that identity – by means of reliable and independent data and documentation Identify the beneficial owner (if the client is an entity) – though not necessarily verifying that identity Identify and verify the identity of the person actually instructing us (if not already done). What this means for us When acting for a COMPANY (that is not a listed company) the Regulations require us to obtain Details of the company as registered (which must be proven by a copy of the register entries available from Companies House or equivalent registry) – name, number, registered office address, principal place of business the law to which it is subject details of its governing documentation (its memorandum) names of the directors. Names of any beneficial owners, and the identity of any individual owners of legal entities which own the client Names and verification of the persons instructing us on behalf of the company, and their authority to do so. Note that we cannot rely on the information provided by the company under the PSC Regulations but we must undertake our own research in order to fulfil our CDD duties. Further, if as part of that research, we discover that the Companies House data on PSC’s is incorrect, then we are now under a further obligation to notify the Registrar of Companies of this fact. We also need to establish that PEPs and Sanctions checks are also undertaken. If genuinely positive entries are revealed in response we should undertake enhanced CDD steps or cease to act, accordingly. Electronic searches are a permissible avenue to use provided the search provider can offer us the necessary assurances that the person actually claiming an identity is IN FACT that person. Check also whether ...
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