As I write this, my last review, I am also reflecting on my year in preparation for my report for the AGM. It has been a busy, stimulating and enriching year which has literally flown by! After a relatively quiet start to the year in terms of engagements, February was pretty full on and March looks set to continue that trend.
I attended a very enjoyable lunch with many Past Presidents of the Society at which consideration was given to the nomination of our next Deputy Vice President. This is the day on which I can take a deep breath and hand over to our next President at the AGM in April. I was recently asked what I would do with my “spare” time when my year comes to an end. I have been disappointed that I haven’t had as much time as I had hoped to devote to fundraising for my nominated charity, the Air Ambulance. Vice President, Stephen Mahoney and I wanted to choose charities which covered the whole of Devon and Somerset and agreed that our fundraising for our respective years would be split between Devon; and Somerset & Dorset Air Ambulance Trusts. Fundraising is crucial - each rescue “mission” costs upwards of £2,500 and between them the two trusts have flown around 36,000 missions. These fantastic charities save lives and we never know when it might be ours or someone we care deeply about. I therefore intend to devote some more time fundraising to swell the coffers of those two very worthy causes.
Arrangements for our Annual Awards and Dinner are continuing to secure a new date** as soon as possible following the decision to postpone the event due to the adverse weather at the beginning of March. I am sure that the renewed preparations will ensure a spectacular evening with plenty of celebrations for the worthy winners. Thank you to all who have been involved, in particular our media partners for the third year running, Trinity Mirror. Trinity Mirror have been through significant strategic change during this year and it ...
What have been the highlights of your involvement with DASLS to date?
One of the undoubted highlights was taking part in the Exeter Legal Sunday Service last June and hosting the dinner for our International guests the night before. There were lawyers from Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy and Poland. Some had taken part in the service several times before while, for others, it was the first time, but they all loved the ceremony and the history of the occasion. The fact we processed for the first time from Exeter Castle to the Cathedral and back for the High Sheriff’s Reception just added the crowning touch.
This year the service is taking place on Sunday 10th June and it would be great to see more DASLS Members taking part and making what could prove to be useful connections with other European lawyers.Another really memorable event was my first experience of a Twin Bars Meeting, also in June, hosted by the Bilbao Bar. Their hospitality was fantastic and it was a great opportunity to mix with representatives from all our Twin Bars. Talking to lawyers from other European countries, you learn they all face similar if not worse challenges to us, such as cuts to publicly funded legal services and increasing political pressure on the independence of the profession.
Has your year as Vice President been all about hosting or attending social events?
I wish! On the first day of the Twin Bars Meeting in Bilbao, all the Bars had to make presentations on the impact of the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges in their jurisdictions, a subject about which I knew precisely zero. A few anxious days were spent pulling information together from various sources and colleagues before International Relations Sub-Committee Chair Emma Mitcham and I faced the international audience with our offering. My next Twin Bars Meeting is at Leuven in Belgium. I am hoping their topic for presentation is one I know more about.
Of more i...
I was recently asked to speak at a national risk and compliance conference and asked to share my experiences of managing regulatory relationships. Whilst planning what to say, I reflected on my experience of good management and the fact that most lawyers and compliance professionals I meet are striving to achieve a common goal; to stay regulated and to be part of a well-run business. With time to reflect on how this can be
achieved, I thought I would share with you – as I did with the Conference delegates – my thoughts on how to stay regulated.
Effective management of the regulatory relationship creates a situation which is unsurprising for both you and your regulator. It’s good to be dull in regulatory terms! It’s good to be low maintenance and work in an environment where events are anticipated and actively planned. It’s a situation where fire-fighting and chaos is avoided and regulatory reactions are well-rehearsed. It’s timely, you are not caught unawares, it’s supported by effective communication (internally and externally), and you have the means of being able to prove you do what you say.
It seems to me that there are five components to rolling out an effective compliance strategy:
Step 1 – understanding and agreeing to the concept of regulation
Of course, I hear negative views about how we are regulated and I do understand why there are frustrations. However, my starting point is this: do we support the reasons why the law is heavily regulated and do we want to be part of this industry?
Regulation ensures that both we and our clients are protected from those who may try to undermine what we can do with our knowledge and skills. A good reference point for this is always the wise words of Sir Thomas Bingham who, in the landmark regulatory case of Bolton v Law Society, expressed it by saying that lawyers should act with “integrity, probity and complete trustworthiness” before adding “a profess...
My turn to write an article for the DASLS Newsletter soon comes around and I am always on the lookout for some thought provoking mediation content to share with you.
Some years ago I attended a course on Restorative Justice based on the model being used in the USA and I could see the benefits, where victims of crime and/or their families requested it, of criminals having to meet and face their victims to atone for what they had done and for both parties to try and come to terms with what more often than not was a totally senseless act.
At the time I felt that we were many years behind the States, where even civil mediation was receiving little press coverage or time afforded to the education of its benefits within the English legal system.
It was with great interest then that I came across an article in Saturday’s edition of The Guardian about how mediation is being utilised within prisons and in one of our Devon Prisons no less.
Under the direction of Maria Arpa, one of the country’s leading Mediators, prisoners are being introduced to the benefits and skills of mediation and as a direct consequence are able to consider alternative ways of settling conflict in their confined surroundings without resorting to physical remedy.
Maria kindly agreed to discuss this further with me:
L Maria, thank you for taking time out to talk with me for the purposes of putting together some further information on the work you do into our DASLS Newsletter.
Prior to introducing mediation skills in Prison environments, what other types of Mediation did you undertake?
M I started out many years ago as a Voluntary Community Mediator in London, dealing with neighbour disputes in the main. I have carried out over 1,000 community mediations which I refer to as being ‘at the coal face’ and since then I have worked in Civil, Family, Workplace and threat to life.
L What inspi...
"World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it", was the opening line of the Schuman Declaration in 1950. This is the origin of what we now call the European Union. So, having spent the last year acting as a JLD observer at the many IRSC meetings and events, it is an opportune time to share some reflection of the experiences, insights and knowledge that comes with the IRSC.
Of particular note is DASLS membership of the Fédération des Barreaux d’Europe / Federation of European Bars (FBE), which is led by the IRSC. The IRSC represents all DASLS members abroad and raises the DASLS profile across some 250 members bars and approximately 800,000 lawyers within the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.
On my first trip with the IRSC last June, we headed to the FBE General Assembly in The Hague, with particular focus on the role of the International Criminal Court (pictured below).
The core themes being the role of ethics, complex cases and courtroom conduct, the management of legal aid, managing e-file trials and the role of local and national bars in ensuring transparency, professionalism and best practice. If you are wondering how this all fits in practice, it is something that only a few months later would be tested in the very same building during the infamous ruling and aftermath involving Slobodan Praljak at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
There was also much more to the General Assembly in The Hague. A significant amount of time, and hard work, went into raising greater international awareness and dialogue of current legal issues which affect us nationally and internationally. The ongoing erosion of the independence of judiciary, lawyers and the administration of justice in fellow EU countries, such as Poland and Romania, was passionately debated between attendees.
Having had some time out to ...
John Close, who was President of the Somerset Law Society in 1990 and a former senior partner of Clarke Willmott & Clarke (as it then was) died on 1 January 2018 aged 90.
He was born in Bristol and obtained a scholarship to Colstons School. He was offered a place at Oxford to read history but chose instead to read law at Bristol University.
He was a keen sportsman, playing rugby for Bristol and being a member of the Westbury Harriers under-19 4 x one mile relay team which broke the world record in 1946. His interest in sport continued into his retirement and he was often seen watching his grandsons play rugby and offering advice to referees.
After obtaining honours in his Law Society finals and doing his national service, he was articled to a firm in Bristol. A chance meeting with Freddie Willmott led to a job offer on qualification with CWC and he joined them in 1952.
He became the seventh partner in 1957. By the mid-1980s CWC had become, in the number of partners, the largest firm outside of London with 11 offices in Somerset as well as offices in Bristol and London. His vision, drive and enthusiasm were major contributing factors to that expansion.
Initially employed as a court advocate, he subsequently established a reputation as one of the leading planning and land development lawyers in the South West and chaired the Somerset Rent Tribunal for many years.
His reputation and his ambition were instrumental in changing CW from a very successful High Street practice to a national law firm.
He is remembered with affection by his former partners and his many professional contacts....
DASLS is twinned with the Bars of Bilbao, Erlangen, Gdańsk, Leuven, Rennes and Verona. This year’s annual meeting will be hosted by the Young Bar of Leuven. They have issued the open invitation reproduced below.
Members are invited to put their names forward if they wish to be included in DASLS delegation by 31 March.
Please register your interest with Monique at DASLS office - firstname.lastname@example.org - to receive details of the full programme, case study and other practical information.
They may not be universally welcomed by fee earners, but the COLP in a well-managed practice knows that effective matter acceptance procedures are essential. They ensure that clients are properly vetted and that only work within the firm’s expertise is taken on. A sound approach protects the firm from the hassle faced by firms whose procedures are less rigorous and goes a long way towards preventing the claims that can arise from sloppy procedures. Even the best take-on procedures, however, won’t always keep you on the straight and narrow. This is due to the risks that arise during the retainer.
The risks are many and varied although some, such as missing a critical time limit, are now better managed than in the past. Accordingly, this article will focus on ongoing risks in two key areas, the retainer and communication.
Clarity around your retainer is essential. All too often, the client care letter has become a lengthy compliance document, produced by the firm with more than half an eye on its compliance obligations and little thought about meeting the client’s needs.
Next time you audit one of your firm’s files, before you do anything else, try to put yourself in the client’s shoes. Then read the client care letter and draw your own conclusions. As research published last year revealed, the client care letter tends to have very limited value to most clients. Particularly if they give up part way down page two because it is seen as largely irrelevant. In some firms, fee earners only become involved once the client care letter has been sent out by the admin team.
If your client care letter barely touches on the detail of the retainer, perhaps covering it superficially in just one or two sentences, then fee earners must ensure that the retainer is clarified. The work covered by it should be clearly set out. One of the matters arising from the spate of property fraud cases in 2016 was the lack of clarity in the retainer about all of the...
There is often scope to obtain significant tax relief for fixtures in commercial buildings. Recent key changes with regard to fixtures impact on the sale or purchase of property. This highlights the significance of ensuring that information on fixtures is available and that you enter into the transaction well-advised. We are able to review your position to ensure these valuable reliefs are claimed.
If you own a commercial property and have not claimed capital allowances on all relevant fixtures then it may be possible to make a substantial claim.
Purchasers of commercial property need to ensure that:
The vendor has allocated the fixtures expenditure to capital allowance pool, and
Both parties agree the value attributable to fixtures is to pass on sale.
If the above requirements are not met then the ability to claim capital allowances on these fixtures will be lost to the purchaser and any future owners.
Vendors also need to take advice to ensure they are not exposed to an unexpected tax charge.
It is possible to claim capital allowances on fixtures within a building. This includes plant and machinery (e.g. fitted kitchens, sanitary ware, alarm systems and data cabling), as well as integral features (e.g. hot and cold water systems, lighting, electrical systems and air conditioning).
If the previous owners of a building were unable to make a claim on capital allowances then an opportunity may exist for you to claim based on the unrestricted market value of plant and machinery. We can undertake a review, in conjunction with qualified surveyors, to identify qualifying expenditure and reduce your tax liability or obtain a tax refund.
Is it applicable to me?
Properties where capital allowances have the greatest potential to add value include hotels, holiday parks, furnished holiday lets, nursing homes, medical premises, pubs and modern offices.
The value of fixtures is often in the region of 10%...
Request your free copy of Your Conveyancer’s Guide to the CON29DW Drainage and Water Enquiry Second Edition
At Wessex Searches, we know that the results of their drainage and water search is unlikely to be at the forefront of your client’s mind when they instruct you to carry out the conveyancing on their dream home.
Nevertheless, the Law Society’s CON29DW Drainage and Water Enquiry is an essential part of the residential conveyancing process.
It plays a critical role in helping you to ensure that you identify any drainage and water matters that may impact on your client’s costs or future liabilities. It also helps you identify any drainage and water constraints that could restrict or impact your client’s freedom to extend or alter their property.
The results of a CON29DW could elicit potentially deal-breaking information.
In our work with property professionals, we have been repeatedly told of a desire to be better equipped in the understanding and interpretation of the CON29DW.
You want to understand how and why the questions and answers in the CON29DW Enquiry are important to you and your clients.
That’s why we’ve created this Conveyancer’s Guide to the CON29DW.
Our guide will:
Help you understand and interpret the CON29DW Drainage and Water Enquiry questions
Illustrate where helpful the context and reasoning behind the questions
Explain the implications of answers you may receive
Provide examples of important details to look out for
Highlight certain risk areas
Provide a guide to commonly used water and sewerage industry terminology.
In our opinion, the CON29DW is the most comprehensive and reliable way for conveyancing professionals to protect homebuyers from a range of drainage and water risks, which could impact on the value, title and future maintenance costs of a property. It offers a clear trail of responsibility back to the water company and gives you and your client ...
Unusually for IT, the title is actually self-explanatory! To rephrase though, it’s the process a company goes through to get into a position where they can come back from a catastrophe, in a reasonable period of time, having suffered no major data loss as a result of the event.
Disaster Recovery Planning, or DRP, is the first step towards achieving this highly desirable state of system robustness. The Business Continuity (or BC, for those in the know) refers to a firm’s ability to keep running, to some degree or another, during a disaster.
The Basics – Data Backups
As you might expect, the cornerstone of any sort of DRP will be backups. These can take many forms depending on data type, volume of data, and the speed with which restoration might be necessary. The absolute most important thing about backups though, is that they are;
performed on a regular basis
periodically checked to ensure that you are actually backing up what you need to back up (and nothing else)
subject to test restores, to ensure that backed up data can be brought back following a failure
located securely on-site and also, off-site, so that they are not at risk in the event of fire / flood or similar
versioned, so that there are multiple backup sets to choose from. This is key when recovering from ransomware attacks, as the particularly nasty ones can encrypt backups too.
The Basics – Prevention is still better than Cure
Aside from taking backups of data, there are a number of other steps that can be taken to mitigate risk and to maximise up-time;
RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks)
If you have a server, ensure it’s running a RAID-1 or RAID-5 Array, which provides some protection against physical drive failure.
Previous Versions Are Cool
Windows 7, 10 and Server 2008 / 2012 / 2016 have a feature called “Previous Versions”. It’s basically a snapshot service that Windows runs to enable you to quick...
Barclays Professional Services 2018 Outlook
Paul Jarrett, Relationship Director Professional Services at Barclays Corporate shares his thoughts on what will be the key trends and issues affecting professional services in 2018. Paul highlights the key challenges and opportunities on what the focus will be in developing people and practices.
Reflecting on 2017, it was a good but tough year for the professional services sector. A lot of practices delivered headline growth turnover, but when you look at this, much of the turnover was inflated by foreign exchange movements and not a lot came to the bottom-line in terms of underlying profit. Brexit was also key a focus as many firms found it difficult to navigate their way through this and firms also had general concerns on the health of the UK economy.
2018 has seen many firms start to re-think how they attract and serve clients with technology factors such as, automation and AI and the client experience being a key area of focus. We are already seeing some firms well advanced in using technology and others not and this needs to be on the forefront of all firms’ minds to improve the speed and efficiency of their operations, and to create a more convenient interface for customers and clients.
Another challenge firms need to be mindful of is increasing levels of cyber-crime which is having a greater financial impact on firms and clients alike. Focusing on this will allow professional firms reduce attacks that can result in major financial losses and data breaches.
The professional services market will continue to face challenges. The market will still be over-crowded, firms will still be navigating their way through Brexit and there will be continued pressure on firms to retain their top talent.
Looking ahead into 2018, there will be a number of opportunities professional firms can maximise their growth on.
Invest in technology from a cost-based p...
The new JLD committee held their first social on 12 December: a drinks evening with a Christmas jumper theme at Las Iguanas in Exeter. JLD members saw in the festive period with plenty of prosecco and merriment.
More recently, the JLD also held their first sporting event of the year. In a bid to get young lawyers involved in slightly alternative sports, iBounce trampoline park in Exeter was the venue for an evening of trampoline dodgeball. JLD members were given freedom of the park for the evening; allowing them to fly onto air mattresses, walk tightropes across foam shapes (which were surprisingly difficult to escape from after falling in) and enjoy a wide range of trampolines with other obstacles between them.
The highlight of the evening was the dodgeball competition. JLD members were split into mixed-firm teams which were shuffled between matches to ensure everyone had a chance to socialise with other members. Speed and reaction games added extra variety to the evening of trampoline-based might-be-sport which left most members feeling thoroughly exhausted. The JLD would like to extend its thanks to the team at iBounce for being so welcoming and helpful throughout the evening.
Our recent seminar run with DASLS looking at Commercial Acumen was very well received and we are looking forward to further educational events shortly: the next one will be in March and details will be sent out closer to the time.
26 January 2018
Ben Thomson (Chair) and Ben Butterworth (Sports Representative)
We would once again like to thank the Devon and Somerset Law Society (DASLS) for their continued support. We are delighted to have been selected as the president’s chosen charity from 2017-2019 alongside Devon Air Ambulance Trust.
The start of 2018 has already been packed full of activity for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, so we thought that we would share some recent news regarding the official naming of our aircraft, and a view from our Unit Chief Pilot, Mario Carretta who flies it.
Having announced that our AW169 helicopter was to be named ‘Pegasus’ following a competition last year, we were delighted to be able to hold an event in January, where the name of the aircraft was formally unveiled.
Kindly hosted by Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil, the event gave the Charity an opportunity to showcase the aircraft and inform guests of its vision and mission both from a clinical and aviation point of view.
Geoff Munday, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters began proceedings by welcoming the audience, before Roger Morgan, Chairman of Trustees for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance responded by thanking all those who support the Charity and have helped make it so successful.
The ‘unveiling’ was handed to the Charity’s Patrons, Annie Maw (Lord Lieutenant of Somerset) and Angus Campbell (Lord Lieutenant of Somerset). They were joined by Angela Andrews, Deborah Fear and Poppy Holt who were three of the winners of a competition which was launched to find a suitable name.
Also in attendance were the young winners of an art competition which the Charity ran alongside the naming competition. Each of them were extremely proud and excited to have their photograph taken standing next to an enlarged version of their winning entry.
Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer took to the stage and congratulated the winners before giving a review of the Charity’s...
We will all experience bereavement at some point in our lives. Very few of us are adequately prepared or understand how to cope. Often callers to the LawCare helpline will mention a bereavement in passing without fully realising that it may well be contributing to their state of mind, inability to work at full capacity or a feeling of heaviness.
Bereavement brings with it a slew of emotions, behaviours and symptoms. Compassionate leave in some law firms can just be one day off for the funeral/memorial service yet the grieving may last a lifetime. Not one of us knows how we are going to cope with the death of someone.
When we are bereaved we enter into a state of grief, which will be different for each of us. For some this may be postponed or denied as work takes precedence, for others they may get stuck in their grief unable to fully function. No-one grieves according to a set pattern and it is not a linear process. If you try to bury grief, it can return - triggered perhaps by a scent, voice, or a piece of music. So how can you try and work through grief and attempt to move on?
Professor William Worden identifies four ‘tasks’ of mourning.
The first is accepting the reality of the loss. There are many basic ways of doing this and events such as funerals and memorials naturally help us to do this. Thinking and speaking about the deceased in the past tense is another example.
The second task is working through the pain of grief. We will each have different emotions that are important for us to feel and recognise – some of these may include anger, loneliness, guilt, even relief. It is vital to acknowledge, talk about and try to understand all of these feelings in an attempt to process them.
Task three is adjusting to the environment in which the deceased is missing. This can mean a variety of different things ranging from new practical responsibilities such as paying bills, cooking, parentin...