Welcome to 2018. I hope that you all had an enjoyable festive break and I wish you all a happy New Year. I hope that you all managed to spend some valuable time away from the office and resting from the constant flow of emails and various other reminders that our break is perhaps just a little too short!
Sue Aggett with Stephen Mahoney at theSomerset Dinner
I certainly welcomed the break as November was a particularly busy month. On 3rd November I attended our Society’s dinner at the Somerset County Cricket ground. This was attended by over 100 of our members. We also welcomed guests from the judiciary and our all-important sponsors. We were joined by representatives from Devon and Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance trusts and raised an amazing figure in excess of £800 to be shared between the two. There was a “surprise” star prize donated by Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance – many congratulations to the winner of the bespoke electric guitar. Special thanks go to Past Presidents Rebecca Parkman and Tony Mason for donating prizes for the draw and helping to raise such a significant amount of money for such a worthwhile cause. Special thanks also go to Richard Adams for the excellent Toastmaster role he performed.
L-R: Jon Pitt (Kent Law Society), Tony Steiner, MarkHarrison (Newcastle Law Society) , Sue Aggett,Stephen Mahoney, James Scozzi (Surrey Law Society),Chris Hart at the County Societies Group Meeting,November 2017
Towards the middle of November, together with VP Stephen Mahoney, Hon Sec Chris Hart and Tony Steiner we found ourselves in the hallowed environment of Westminster & Holborn Law Society (literally right next door to the Houses of Parliament) who kindly provided a venue for our County Societies meeting. We spent valuable time with colleagues from Kent, Newcastle and Surrey Law Societies. Support for the CSG (which also includes Cheshire and North Wales, and Leicestershire) from both the SRA and The Law Society ...
One of my favourite principles from the current cache we have at our disposal is Principle 8. By way of reminder:
“You must run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles”
I describe it as the management principle. It says it all as far as what managers, and compliance professionals must achieve. It gives us the foundation stone with which to build our compliance structure and it makes everyone a builder of the culture with its catch-all phraseology and inclusivity.
It’s a reminder to all managers/owners of what’s expected of them as the proprietors of the business with its tone from the top message. It delivers the entity regulation message; ‘hey guys, we are all in this together”. It’s an important day one induction message to all people joining the firm.
Principle 8 also provides us with clues about the need for continual contemplation of the nature of the firm’s practice. The key thoughts to reflect on are these: what’s risky about what we do and is what we described as proper governance and risk management in 2011 still relevant in 2017?
Compliance topics are dynamic and a firm which demonstrates a sophisticated response will be constantly revaluating what measures are needed to ensure that a good business environment, in which clients receive a safe legal service, is facilitated. So much has changed since 2011, that I would challenge any firm which has not reviewed its risk assessments and management responses since then. After all, we are currently working with version 19 of the 2011 Handbook, cybercrime is becoming one of the most virulent external threats we are facing, and we are in the spotlight like never before in terms of our response to data protection and anti-money laundering legislation. None of this was the case when the Handbook was launched. No firm should be resting on its corporate laurels...
After reading various articles about the likelihood of compulsory mediation and observing the costs decisions that are made when mediation has not been taken up, what has become apparent is: mediation is something that is often thought about or embarked upon in the process when it is too late.
We, as Mediators have something to learn in persuading other lawyers of the positive benefits of the mediation process. I will try and assist with that below.
Mediation is not about giving up control over the outcome of your case, or compromising your client’s position. Mediation is about taking control and determining the outcome. Exploring, without fear, stances or positions that the opponent is taking, and obtaining a better understanding of where they are coming from – all prove to be invaluable if the case does not settle at mediation.
I introduce the idea of mediation at the very outset of most new client appointments. Firstly, to make them aware of the process available and also to help clients to understand what the Courts expect of them should the matter end up at trial.
Whilst I do understand the need sometimes for expert’s reports to be obtained and evidence to be gathered; sometimes you do not need all of this for mediation to have prospects of success.
Finally, all clients are concerned about costs. The earlier that mediation is considered, the fewer costs they have incurred. What that then means is that it is less likely that costs are going to stop parties from being sensible and attempting to reach a solution when only one of them will be a “winner” if they continue to Court. So my view is it’s never too early to consider mediation as a real alternative to Court.
I hope I have helped you understand the benefits of mediation. However, if I or any other of your Devon and Somerset Panel of Mediators can assist please do not hesitate to call us.
Chair Mediation Sub-Committee...
Over the last ten years technology has advanced massively. It was not so long ago that mobile phones were the size of a brick. Now emails and the internet can be accessed on the move. However, whilst technology has moved on, travelling has become more and more difficult. Homeworking has become the answer for many but how have the tax rules kept up with these changes?
Your status is important
The tax rules differ considerably depending on whether you are self-employed, working as a sole trader or partner, or whether you are an employee, even if that is as an employee of your own company. One way or the other though, if you want to maximise the tax position, it is essential to keep good records. If not, HMRC may seek to rectify the tax position several years down the line. This can lead to unexpected bills, including several years’ worth of tax, interest and penalties.
Generally, any costs paid on behalf of, or reimbursed to, an employee by their employer will be taxable. The employee will then have to claim the personal tax relief themselves and prove that they incurred those costs ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ in carrying out their job. The word ‘necessarily’ creates a much tighter test than that for the self-employed.
In addition, the way in which the services are provided can sometimes make a substantial difference to that tax cost. For example, if the employer provides something for the employee, the rules are often much more generous than if the employee bought it themselves and attempted to claim the tax relief. A bit of advice and forward planning can often prove to be fruitful.
The rules for employees in relation to ‘use of home as office’ contains a specific
exemption from a tax charge. They allow payments made by employers to employees for additional household expenses to be tax free, where the employee incurs those costs in carrying out the duties of the employment under ...
Thank you to everyone who responded to the stakeholder survey that I circulated before Christmas in preparation for the DASLS strategic review. Congratulations to Deborah Baker, Toller Beattie who won the prize draw of a case of wine.
The review working party meet in February and so it is not too late to give us feedback about DASLS, what we do and how we do it. The survey is still available for returns (email me for a link) or you may wish to simply drop me a line with any thoughts you have.
Have you ever considered becoming more involved with DASLS? Our Sub-Committees are the lifeblood of what we do and they always welcome new members. They offer a great development opportunity for members to exchange ideas and thoughts about legal practice and get to know others across the region. Generally they meet around 3 or 4 times a year so the commitment is not huge but can be very rewarding. The Sub-Committees are: Contentious Business, Education & Training, In-house, International Relations, Mediation, Non-Contentious Business, Practice Management and Social. If this interests you please speak to me or Monique – 01392 366333.
You may have seen a new name at DASLS in the last month, Beth Adams. Beth has been doing an excellent job standing in as our Team Secretary whilst we seek a permanent recruit. I am pleased to report that we have just made an appointment and all being well they will start towards the end of January.
2018 promises to be as interesting as 2017 with continuing changes to practice, GDPR, artificial intelligence, client expectations and of course Brexit. DASLS will continue to represent you at a regional and national level bolstered by our recently formed County Societies Group. We will keep you up to date with developments as we hear about them through this Newsletter, Buzz and our programme of training events, meetings and conferences.
The next social event will be the Challenge Cup Quiz on Thursday 1st February. Please ...
Devon Air Ambulance (DAA) would like to extend a huge heartfelt thank you to Devon & Somerset Law Society (DASLS) for their support throughout 2017. As the president’s chosen charity, alongside Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance, DAA were presented with over £400 at DASLS’ annual dinner in November.
In 2017 DAA celebrated two significant milestones; 25 years of service in August and 1 year of night flying in November. The night flying has enabled DAA to extend their service to fly until midnight, meaning they can help even more people. Reaching these milestones has only been made possible due to the fantastic and generous support the Charity receives from the friends of Devon, including local businesses such as DASLS. Every penny raised is making a real difference.
DAA own 2 Eurocopter EC135 helicopters and are incredibly proud to be independent of Government and National Lottery funding, meaning they rely solely on generous donations to raise the £5.5million needed every year to keep DAA’s helicopters flying.
Fundraising Director Caroline Creer stated “Business support greatly contributes to our annual fundraising and we are extremely grateful to DASLS for choosing us as their chosen Charity, alongside Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, for the period 2017-19. We look forward to continuing to maintain and build on this fantastic relationship into 2018.”
DAA are looking forward to another successful year of fundraising in 2018. As well as a whole array of community fundraising events happening throughout Devon, DAA will be hosting their annual Motorbike Ride Out, Dragon Boat Festival and Commando Challenge in July, September and October respectively. Full details of all these events can be found on the DAA website at www.daat.org/our-events.
For further information please contact:
Peggie Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01392 466666 ext123
Our mission is to relieve sickness and injury in the cou...
John David Coulson, ex senior partner of Scott Richards solicitors, died on 7th November, aged 74. John was born in Leicester and, in 1962, attended the College of Law, Lancaster Gate, London, where he passed his law exams at the first attempt. He was articled to a firm in Leicester where he met his wife, Diana, who was then working as a temporary secretary at the firm. They married in 1966 and moved to Dawlish, where John joined Scott Richards and Hunt.
John became an equity partner, eventually becoming senior partner until his retirement in 1999. He practised a number of areas of law throughout his career but specialised in property and family law by the time he retired. His two children by then having grown up and long since left home, he and Diana moved to live in the Dordogne in France, where they ran a holiday property letting business. They returned to Dawlish in 2013, where they continued to enjoy their retirement.
John always had a lot of time for his immediate family, all of whom lived nearby. He was a very kind man, with a keen sense of fun. He was very active in and Chairman of Round Table, 41 Club and Rotary in Dawlish and also of Rotary in France. He was always very supportive of Dawlish and, in his retirement, worked for the newspaper for the blind reading the Dawlish Gazette and was one of the station’s gardeners.
John was a wine connoisseur and was very knowledgeable on the subject. He was an entertaining raconteur and fantastic host and he thoroughly enjoyed any social event. He was also an avid listener of The Archers.
John is survived by his wife, Diana, two sons and two granddaughters.
Paul Dyson – Senior Partner of Scott Richards and Past President of DASLS
Any business planning for the future needs clear objectives and an understanding of the obstacles that may prevent those objectives being achieved. Rarely do those threats, or risks, stand still. Even though they may have been identified when the objectives were agreed, and even entered in a risk register, it is important to keep risks under review.
An annual risk management review is an essential part of any risk management strategy but it is often overlooked or is paid only lip service. Done well, it enables you to assess your firm’s risk profile and to benchmark whether your performance is improving or deteriorating. Identifying whether those changes are in one particular team, department or office is particularly valuable. The effectiveness of your review is dependent on performance data.
The review makes sound business sense but it is worth reflecting on the regulatory context. The SRA does not impose any specific requirements but Principle 8 requires you to run your business in accordance with sound financial and risk management principles. Drilling down into its Handbook, the guidance note to Rule 8.2 of the Authorisation Rules, says that it would expect firms to have “a system for monitoring, reviewing and managing risks.” Lexcel, the Law Society’s practice management standard, is more prescriptive, with your obligations set out in the risk management section.
Section 5.16 of Lexcel, version 6, lists 8 types of data that must be included in the review which is quite helpful as some firms struggle to see beyond claims and complaints when it comes to reviewing risk. The matters listed do, of course, include claims and complaints, plus file review data, all compliance breaches, conflict of interest data and steps taken to address all risks identified in these areas, although there is no reason why other data should not be included.
Your complaints data can provide really useful intelligence. These client...
It is again the time of year when we invite members of the Society to help DASLS by seeking to join the main Committee and help with the Committee’s work.
The main Committee is at the heart of the work and decision making of the Society and also helps to co-ordinate the important work of the many Sub-Committees. As a result membership of the main Committee can make a real difference to the Society and to the working life of solicitors across our two counties.
The Committee is made up of the Officers of the Society together with (according to the Articles) “not less than 10 or more than 40 elected members”.
In order to continue the effective work of the Committee new members are needed, and therefore nominations are requested.
If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.
If you would like to either be nominated or nominate someone for election please complete the form below.
This form should please be returned to me by no later than 5.30pm on 31 January 2018. The election will take place at the 24th April 2018 AGM.
TO: Chris Hart
DASLS Honorary Secretary
Aston Court, Pynes Hill, Exeter EX2 5AZ [DX 8361 Exeter]
I wish to nominate
Full name ……………………………………………………………………
for election to the main Committee and I confirm that the nominee is willing for his/her name to go forward.
Year of Admission of Nominee ………………………..
Please return this form by 31 January 2018....
At Alchemy Systems, this is without doubt the question we get asked most by our clients – which is good, as it does demonstrate that security is upper most on their minds. Luckily for our clients, if they have followed our advice then our answer is always yes…although there is no such thing as 100% security (be weary of companies that promise you 100% security). Security breaches should be looked upon in terms of when rather than if, and then ensuring you have the best practices in place to mitigate any problems. The dark types as we like to call them are a clever bunch and constantly develop sophisticated ways to bypass even the most robust security.
What we always advocate is a layered approach to security and this simply meanshttps://www.alchemysys.co.uk/ employing a number of precautionary measures to tackle the problem. The central idea behind layered security is the belief that the most effective way to protect IT systems from a broad range of attacks is by employing an array of counteracting strategies. Layered security efforts attempt to address problems with different kinds of hacking or phishing, denial of service attacks and other cyber attacks, as well as worms, viruses, malware and other kinds of more passive or indirect system invasions.
Our security mantra at Alchemy Systems is Reduce, Remove, Secure. Some of the strategies we employ include:
1. Physical Security – seems like an obvious one but it is amazing how many businesses still take this for granted! Physical security is an important layer in any layered approach. Guards, gates, locks and key cards all help keep people away from systems that they shouldn’t touch or alter.
2. Network Security – A key layer, good network security measures should include firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), and general networking equipment such as switches and routers configured with their security features enabled. Establish trust domains for security access a...
As you will no doubt be aware practitioners are now expected to inform the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) with their estimated fees for the forthcoming general management year. Introduced in Spring 2016, the OPG105 provides the OPG with details of practitioner’s costs for the previous year and the estimated costs for the forthcoming deputyship year.
Regular readers of this article may recall that, back in the summer, we provided ten top tips with regard to costs estimates. We are now over eighteen months on from when these were first introduced, and whilst we had to wait a year to see what the impact of these would be, we are now some six or seven months down the line and have noted further trends and common mistakes that can be made.
We therefore have put together a further five top tips, which will hope will give you something to think about, but more importantly assist you when completing your estimate.
Five further top tips for completing the report
We would always encourage you to complete the “additional information” section on page 5 of the OPG105. This will assist your costs draftsman and the court, should your estimate be exceeded. If you are able to provide details upon which your estimate is based, should any further issue arise during the deputyship year, details of these issues can be conveyed to the court and help justify any additional costs over and above the 20% allowed by the court.
Further to the above point, it may be worthwhile putting in details of any potential issues that may arise. As covered in our top ten tips article, this will justify an “inflated” estimate, in the event matters settle down or certain issues are not progressed for whatever reason.
Do remember that you will need to lodge the previous year’s OPG105 prepared, as this will contain the estimated costs for the year for which the bill of costs has been prepared. For example, if we were preparing a bill for 2016/2017, we woul...