Why did you join Devon & Somerset Law Society?
Sue Aggett - DASLS Past President and my training principal, gently persuaded me to.
What is your dream job?
I am fascinated by anything medical and love the theory of medicine, however I would never be able to deal with the reality as I have got more squeamish as I get older.
Which sort of work gives you the most job satisfaction?
Any occasion on which I have worked closely with a client department, as a team and have gone on to achieve a satisfactory outcome for the Council. As an in house lawyer I really enjoy having the relationship that I have with my client officers, you get to know each other and understand each other’s ways of working. Often even when the pressure is on, the case is complicated and time isn’t on your side, because of the familiarity you find time to laugh.
What gets you up in the morning?
It used to be my alarm but now I wake up most days at the same time without one.
What do you do in your spare time?
I swim, I have swam competitively all my life and train with the DT’s Master Swimming Club.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I have just finished, Becoming, by Michelle Obama. She is so passionate about looking after the Youth, has been involved in the promotion of successful health campaigns and also in encouraging young women reach their full potential. It was a good read, especially having an inside peep into life inside the White House.
What is the most recent film you have seen?
A Star Is Born, although I remember the Barbara Streisand version of the film, although I must have watched it years after it first came out.
What are your favourite food / restaurant?
Probably Italian, However I love “good food” of any variety. I dislike fish and seafood.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Florida, is my favourite and I have travelled to many parts of the USA. I love to travel. I have just returned from Rome and thought it was an amazing place.
What is your favourite pet?
My Cat “Belle”.
What is your passion?
To travel and experience as many different locations as possible.
Which famous person, dead or alive, would you most like to spend a day with?
Barack Obama. I think that he is immensely skilled in public speaking and enjoy listening to him.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I am a fully qualified Chef.
I started my law career later in life and prior to entering the profession I worked as a chef for many years.
What’s your favourite lawyer joke?
A rabbi, a Hindu, and a lawyer are in a car that breaks down in the countryside one evening. They walk to a nearby farm and the farmer tells them it’s too late for a tow truck but he has only two extra beds and one of them will have to sleep in the barn. The Hindu says, “I’m humble, I’ll sleep in the barn.” But minutes later he returns and knocks on the door and says, “There is a cow in the barn. It’s against my beliefs to sleep in the same building as a cow.” So the rabbi says, “It’s okay, I’ll sleep in the barn.” But soon, he is back knocking on the door as well, saying, “There is a pig in the barn, and I cannot shelter in a building with a pig.” So the lawyer is forced to sleep in the barn. Shortly, there is another knock on the door and the farmer sighs and answers it. It’s the pig and the cow.
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After a truly magnificent dinner at Exeter Cathedral on the 4th April Stephen Mahoney has passed the reins over to me. I was very proud to accept Chris Hart’s kind invitation two years ago to be nominated as Deputy Vice President of this Society. As a past President of Plymouth Law Society I knew the strength in depth this Society has. After a personal career move that took me up the A38 from Plymouth to Exeter I have practised now in Devon’s county town for almost 5 years. Over the last 2 years, since I accepted this honour to be your President, I have been immersing myself in the ways of this Society. I must thank Monique Bertoni and Tony Steiner, ably assisted by Harry Martin, for all their help at Aston Court. The figureheads of this Society, Honorary Secretary Chris Hart and Honorary Treasurer Richard Adams, have also made me most welcome. I am sure I speak for the Society en masse in saying how glad we are to see Chris fit and well again and back in harness. It is also reassuring to know that there are the members of the main Committee diligently working to represent the interests of the wide variety of specialisms of the membership and maintain links with our associated twin bars around Europe. If only this Society had handled the Brexit negotiations all would be settled by now I am sure. Also, in the case of the Social Sub-Committee, considerable work has taken place to ensure that there are opportunities for us all to keep in touch and have fun at the same time. I am pleased to have been able to work with Paul Kelly this past year after he became the incoming Vice President. A warm welcome to Adrian Richards, Practice Director at Boyce Hatton, who takes over as the Society’s Deputy Vice President. I am pleased to see that the future of our Society going forward will be in good hands. Returning to the recent Annual Dinner, I would like to congratulate Stephen on a magnificent year in office. He has gathered a few air miles I understand and has spread the word about our Society to many parts of this country and beyond. With Brexit in full swing, more than ever, the professionalism and skill of our members will be called upon to assist in the legal representation of our south west clients in all the developments that lie ahead. But enough of the B word…. As a busy practitioner I know how difficult it is to mix business with the pleasure of supporting the law society both locally and nationally. My principal in my articles, Sir Anthony Holland (himself a Past President of the National Law Society), first encouraged me to participate in local Law Society matters. In times of crisis (I well remember past legal aid cuts) it is incumbent upon the profession to have the ability to speak as one and have the influence so as its voice is heard on a national level. That is why I do ask senior partners and management boards to allow their young lawyers the work time to continue to maintain a strong local law society. All work and no play makes a dull lawyer. I contend that by allowing our lawyers time to come to Society meetings and to express their views to their peers that is in fact a form of real marketing for employers. Whilst that time may be seen by some as lost chargeable hours I believe, in the long run, it can make a vital contribution to an individual’s development and their own firm’s future. Like Stephen I plan to spend some time travelling to meet colleagues here and abroad. There is a full calendar of events to come in the year ahead and I hope you and your firms will participate in events where that is at all possible. This Society is only as strong as its membership and having met some 480 people at the Annual Dinner I have every confidence that being a member of our Society is as valid as it ever was. For those firms who did not participate please come along next year, you will meet businesses who can be seen as “target clients” and who knows you may g...
Congratulations to Arnold Harding who elevated me to ‘Master of the Rolls’ in the last edition’s caption competition. It is of course a tissue of lies. Arnold was not the only entrant to suggest this caption and so a prize draw was initiated for the fizz. There were several good entries including one from our Honorary Secretary; “No, no Tony, I said we need 144 chocolate rolls, not toilet rolls …….”. We look forward to your entries from this month’s photo of the Dean of Exeter Cathedral; I gather he is keen to see the suggestions! So, what’s happening at DASLS I hear you ask – well even if you didn’t I shall tell you anyway. Our Environmental Sustainability working group have met recently and following their survey of firms have produced an infographic illustrating the results (shown below). It appears there is an ambition in the profession to do more to reduce our impact on the environment, but it is proving more difficult to translate this into action. We will help you; if you have someone in your organisation that is keen to drive this then please make sure we are in touch with them. Planning for our autumn Conferences is underway. Last year’s Family Law Conference was addressed by Sir Nicholas Mostyn and his speech to us about Spousal Maintenance was reported in Family Law Week - https://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed199496. Our Practice Management Conference will be on Wednesday 20 November; we already have some exciting speakers for this year’s event. Speakers for our In-House Lawyers’ Conference are being lined up to cover a diverse range of topics from the new SRA Handbook to Crisis Management. We will shortly start work on the 2020 Legal Awards and it will be a challenge to exceed the spectacle of 2019. However, we will be working hard to deliver another stunning programme that showcases the excellent legal services that are offered in our two counties. The Joint Professions’ Networking Group also met recently and had a debate around the practical implications of Brexit. The purpose of the event was to discuss how organisations in our region are responding to this challenge. I am proud to report that the whole event was good natured and constructive demonstrating the goodwill and resilience within the professional sector. Finally may I remind you that our extensive programme of training continues as well as our recruitment services. Please use us when you can. ...
Goodbye Handbook, hello SRA Standards and Regulations! The SRA has finally set a launch date for the SRA Standards and Regulations. On 25 November 2019, the Standards and Regulations will replace the current SRA Handbook. We will be expected to hit the ground running, so time is of the essence in terms of preparing for what lies ahead. In this article, I’d like to share with you some personal observations of the changes which are likely to have an impact on your work with some suggestions as to how to introduce them into your workplace. In some ways, the new Standards and Regulations are introducing quite radical and/or revolutionary regulatory concepts. For example, SRA-authorised law firms will co-exist with freelance solicitors and solicitors providing certain legal services from within unauthorised businesses. This has the potential to increase competition in the market place with consumers having more variety of legal services providers to choose from. It also, insofar as the right to provide certain services from unauthorised businesses, begs the question as to whether this is a freedom that your business should be considering. Some questions you should be asking: Would you want to hive off legal services into an unauthorised entity? Even, perhaps, and this very much depends on what types of services you offer, do you need to be authorised at all? What do you need to consider where you find yourself with a freelancer or an unauthorised provider on the other side of a transaction? In other ways, the regulatory content is less revolutionary and more fundamental. My reading of the SRA Standards and Regulations is that there is a reconfiguration of regulatory priorities, so that basic ethical duties are given back their rightful centre-stage place. This was not the case with the SRA Handbook; when this was launched in 2011 there was an urgent need to emphasise the change of regulatory style and the way in which law firms would be expected to interact with the regulator. Now that the SRA has established this way of working with us, we can focus our minds on our professionalism again. The SRA Principles were used in 2011 to clarify our duty to cooperate with the SRA and LeO (Principle 7) and to run orderly businesses (Principle 8). We needed to make it crystal clear to our stakeholders that we understood our duties to consumers; to deliver proper service standards (Principle 5) and to protect client money and assets (Principle 10). Move forward to 2019, these messages are understood and these Principles have been displaced (not erased, but moved to other sections of the Standards and Regulations). The new set of Principles harks back to yesteryear and promotes our core professional values (trust, integrity etc.), together with a new Principle that requires you act with honesty. The two new Codes of Conduct provide useful subliminal messages. Why do we need a separate Code of Conduct for Solicitors, Registered European Lawyers and Registered Foreign Lawyers? My interpretation is that the freedom to practise in different ways brings with it the need to ensure that the individual has their own personal behavioural framework; this Code provides the “factory setting” for the individual and whatever they may be asked to do because of their particular style of practice, failure to comply with this Code will blow a personal fuse. The Code contains duties which the individual must observe; do I know who my client is? Am I upholding duties of confidentiality? Am I observing prescribed standards when providing legal services to clients? Also, and significantly, am I confident that those I manage and/or supervise are competent? In other words, every individual solicitor who practises will be expected to comply with this Code and, in so doing, uphold the collective professional reputation. The Code of Conduct for Firms has a more practical slant; it’s taken the redundant Princ...
We are inviting members to contribute to a series of articles about a day in the life of a Solicitor. You may be a Family Practitioner, Residential Conveyancer, Private Client Lawyer or Commercial Solicitor. The purpose of the articles is to demonstrate the value and work that solicitors provide. It is not necessary for all the experiences and activity to actually occur in one day, just that they are the type of things that do occur in a working day and can be presented in a thought provoking but light and entertaining manner. Each article should be concise not exceeding 500 words. We plan to publish the best articles through social media and our website to promote the image of the profession by giving an understanding of what solicitors do. We will offer a bottle of fizz to each author that we publish. Submit your article to DASLS office - firstname.lastname@example.org THANK YOU....
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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