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Category: november 2016 (12 posts)


| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
President's Charity   FREEFALL FROM 15,000FT TO HELP  LOCAL HOSPICE PATIENTS AND FAMILIES   North Devon Hospice has been named as charity of the year for the Devon & Somerset Law Society, as nominated by President Mark Roome. On Friday 10th March 2017 everyone connected with the Society is invited to take the ultimate leap and join in a skydive in aid of the President’s charity.   The 15,000ft freefall will take place at Dunkeswell Airfield near Honiton and your President Mark Roome will be leading from the front by taking part himself!   Stephen Roberts, Chief Executive of North Devon Hospice, said that he hoped to see as many people as possible sign up. “We have arranged a dedicated day at the airfield for DASLS members to skydive together and, in the nicest possible way, we hope to see lots of you falling from the sky on Friday 10th March!”   Stephen said that skydiving is an unparalleled experience, and a great way to raise funds for the cause. “Everyone who has done a parachute jump will tell you it is one of the most exhilarating things you could ever do. There is no feeling like freefalling from 15,000ft, it is an unbelievable rush that is sharply contrasted by the tranquility you experience when the parachute opens. As you glide back to earth, you appreciate the beautiful landscape around you from a completely new perspective. Skydiving is a popular way of raising funds for North Devon Hospice, because people are always willing to sponsor you for doing something as challenging as this.”   All funds raised from the DASLS skydive day will help North Devon Hospice care for local people affected by cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. “We care for people through the toughest of times,” said Stephen. “When someone is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness like cancer, their whole world changes. But the impact is also felt greatly by their loved ones, which is why we pride ourselves on being there for all ...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
LawCare - Caring for your Colleagues LawCare Helpline: 0800 279 6888 Open 365 days a year from 9.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. on weekdays, 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. weekends and bank holidays. help@lawcare.org.uk • www.lawcare.org.uk • Admin: 01268 771333     Caring for your Colleagues Lawyers are kind, considerate people. They work very hard for their clients, and are diligent and dedicated. They tend to be highly intelligent, ambitious and driven people. They do not find delegation easy, believing honestly that no one else could ever do a job as well as they can. They see their work as a fascinating intellectual challenge, and perfectionism is the norm. When it comes to getting work done to a high standard these qualities are of real value, but the downside is that stress levels tend to be very high. There is also a very real tendency to take on too much work. Clients cannot be allowed to go elsewhere: they might never come back.   Many lawyers are robust enough to take this in their stride, but some end up calling LawCare for help. The caller will often have endured enormous pressure for months. His or her health may have been damaged and home life and work quality will almost certainly have suffered. The irony is that the departmental head may well be wondering whether the caller is up to the job, whilst completely failing to realise that the real problem, in fact, rests on the departmental head’s shoulders. Firms simply cannot ignore issues such as risk management, and employing stressed lawyers is a sure-fire way to wreck a good indemnity claims record and risk the reputation of the firm. Colleagues, managers, heads of department and partners, need to care enough about stressed lawyers to speak up and offer help.   Older lawyers sometimes self-medicate. Many of them tell LawCare that they were driven to drink by stress, a stiff drink being the quickest fix after a hard day. Lunchtime drinking follows, and their work will deteriorate ...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
How to maximise your costs recovery By SPONSOR bSquared costs law HOW TO MAXIMISE YOUR COSTS RECOVERY - HINTS AND TIPS   Our bSquared costs lawyers understand that your costs recovery is essential to your firm’s growth and profitability. The following hints and tips will help you to maximise your recovery either through negotiations with your opponent or formal assessment by the Court: Time recording is crucial, but not the only element that will help to achieve an excellent costs settlement or assessment. Detailed attendance notes aid between the parties recovery and will remove doubt from a Costs Judge’s mind when carrying out an assessment. Filing of all correspondence is extremely important; if correspondence is not there then it will not be recovered. Evidence of the work carried out must be on file, it is important to keep a record of draft and superseded documents. Expert reports and correspondence must also be on file, the Judge may want to see the evidence when considering how long to allow for the consideration of a report. Ensure your file is neat and tidy. A Costs Judge is also likely to simply disallow an item claimed rather than spend a disproportionate amount of time searching for an attendance note. When requesting a Provisional or Detailed Assessment, the guidance provided in respect of the documentation to be provided to the Court should be followed to the letter. Transparency is important, particularly with regard to funding in pre-Jackson cases. Ensure compliance with the relevant pre-action protocols and CPR at the outset of the matter in order to avoid sticky situations when it comes to costs recovery. “Failure to plan means you plan to fail” has never been so true following the Jackson Reforms. The above is just a flavour of what you should be doing to maximise your costs recovery. For more information please request a free copy of our litigation costs recovery guide, which takes you...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
Minimising environmental risk by SPONSOR Wessex Searches At Wessex Searches we know it’s the story behind your client’s property transaction that really matters. Families making room for a new arrival. Businesses in need of space to grow. Or sometimes, sadly, when circumstances change and assets need to be sold quickly. We understand that for your clients their stories are what conveyancing is all about and they often want things done quickly. Our service is all about helping you to make your client’s property transactions easier.   One of the ways we do this is through sharing practical tips and ideas at our CPD training sessions, and for allthree speakers at our recent Devon and Somerset Law Society event there was one big question. How do you minimise environmental risks in property transactions? Here are our highlights.   Failed environmental search? What next?   Environmental law specialist Keith Davidson gave a useful explanation of the options available following a negative environmental search.   Keith has a wealth of experience. He’s the founder of ELM Law, a specialist environmental law firm that provides support in transactions.   As a property lawyer you know the frustration of a negative desktop report. A property found “in need of further assessment” usually results in the lender being reluctant to proceed. This can impact property value and delay a transaction. So, what are the options following a negative report?   Regulatory enquiries Regulatory enquiries usually help switch a negative report to a positive one. However, with it taking up to 20 days for results from sources including local authorities and the Environment Agency, many clients simply can’t afford to wait. Phase 1 site inspection Adding a site visit to regulatory enquiries adds cost, but will increase confidence in the overall result. Unfortunately, that wait of up to 20 days for the relevant authorities to reply still stands. Indemnity insurance...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
Not IF ... but WHEN! by SPONSOR - Alchemy These days it’s no longer a case of IFyour firm will be the target of a cyber attack but WHEN. The cyber threat to firms is increasing daily with attacks becoming ever more sophisticated targeting people, networks and devices.   In 2015 the UK government published the results of a survey into information security breaches:   74% of small businesses reported a security breach   63% of businesses provide security awareness training to their staff. Unsurprisingly 72% of the companies where the security policy was poorly understood had staff-related breaches.   Only 27% of small businesses and 39% of large organisations have insurance that would cover them in the event of a breach.   32% of firms hadn’t carried out any form of security risk assessment.   The NCA Strategic Cyber Industry Group warned in their Cyber Crime Assessment 2016 that “the accelerating pace of technology and criminal cyber capability development currently outpaces the U.K.'s collective response to cybercrime. […]it is a major and growing threat to UK businesses.”   The long-term impacts of a cyber attack include substantial loss of revenue, data and other company assets; the impact of litigation costs and potential fines that new regulations could impose as well as the loss of confidence from reputational damage. These would all seriously impact the trading performance of a business. The report also reminds us that firms have an important role in educating and encouraging their customers and suppliers to improve their own cyber security since vulnerabilities within supply chains can be exploited and targeted by criminals.   Firms need to understand the risks and take appropriate action in order to demonstrate that threats have been assessed and it has policies and procedures in place to mitigate and manage those risks   The starting point for developing a cyber strategy and producing policies and procedures is a ...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
Common Breaches of SRA Accounts Rules - By SPONSOR PKF Francis Clark LLP COMMON BREACHES OF THE SRA ACCOUNTS RULES 2011   It has been a typical busy season for Reporting Accountants undertaking their work in completing the annual Accountant’s Report for law firms over recent months.   One of the key changes in the scope of the Accountant’s Report, is the underlying basis of the Reporting Accountant forming a qualified opinion within the report. Under the updated SRA guidelines a qualified opinion should arise where there has been a material breach of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 (SRA AR 2011) or a weakness / failure has been identified in the firm’s systems and procedures which could put client money at risk.   Whilst this was by no means a relaxation of the application of the SRA AR 2011, the change in basis of a qualified report was anticipated to reduce the number of qualified reports previously submitted to the SRA under the previous definitions / guidelines.   General feedback from the sector has been indicative that the level of qualified Accountant’s Reports submitted to the SRA have reduced under the new requirements. In general however there are still a number of key SRA AR 2011 breach areas arising which are helpful to highlight that may assist firms in maintaining a secure control environment in safeguarding client money.   The below is not comprehensive but highlights some key areas of the SRA AR 2011 where there has been common breaches arising across legal practices, which may lead to a qualified Accountant’s Report.   Residual Client Balances   SRA AR 2011 – 14.3 and the supporting accounting system notes and procedures in the appendix of the rules, specify that a law firm must ensure that once a client matter has completed or substantially completed any residual client balance must be returned to the client. In addition a firm should ensure that they have controls and procedures in place to ensure for the timely closu...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
Perhaps the lawyers need to believe first ...   By Sarah Randall, Trainee Solicitor, QualitySolicitors Dunn & Baker   As a trainee solicitor I have heard the word ‘mediation’ thrown around throughout my studies so opted to study ADR as a module at degree level. Until becoming a trainee in my firm’s Civil Litigation Department I had never experienced being part of a ‘real life’ mediation.   During the course of my studies it was drummed into us that failing to mediate with no reasonable explanation can adversely affect your client’s costs position. We all know the importance of mediation but do we really appreciate the benefits? If we are not fully convinced ourselves, how do we educate and persuade our clients?   I am quite happy to put my hand up to say I was a non-believer. The first case I came across that was going to mediation I thought “what a waste of everyone's time” and not only that, a waste of the client’s money having to pay out for the mediation and our time of attending with them. I could clearly see from the file that the main point in dispute was a legal matter which required a Judge to say who was right and who was wrong. The client also felt this way and couldn’t see how any agreement would be able to be made at mediation unless the other party admitted they were at fault.   We started the mediation with a site visit which the mediator attended and discussed both parties’ concerns separately before heading back to the office where both parties were in separate rooms. I was still adamant that this was a pointless exercise, however there began to be some movement when both parties out forward some potential resolutions that would be acceptable to them. Some hours later our client had signed a settlement agreement and was going home happy that the matter had at last been brought to a conclusion, no longer having to worry about an ongoing legal battle and with an agreement that a court would not have been able t...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
From the Non-Contentious Business Sub-Committee: a reminder of the extent of actions for negligent misstatements By Alastair Teague, Member, Non-Contentious Business Sub-Committee   A reminder of the extent of actions for negligent misstatements   In this time of information overload, some members might be forgiven for having missed the decision of Hunt and others v Optima (Cambridge) Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 714, either in the professional media or when referred to within recent professional development update courses. The case provides buyers, and particularly their advisors, with a cautionary reminder about the extent to which reliance can be placed on a Professional Consultant’s Certificate (PCC) which is to be issued to a buyer covering the standard of construction of new builds (or conversions) as an alternative to the developer guaranteeing the construction within schemes such as NHBC or a New Homes Warranty. This case considered the extent to which buyers can rely, and possibly subsequently sue, on the statements contained within PCCs that later turn out to have been made negligently.   Briefly, Optima developed 2 blocks of flats which, during their construction, were regularly inspected by the supervising consultant who on completion of the works issued the PCCs. Subsequently it became clear that the buildings suffered serious defects in their construction. The buyers sued both the developer (who had gone into administration) and the firm of surveyors who had issued the PCCs. The defendant surveyors denied liability on the basis that there was no reliance by the buyers on the negligent misstatements made in the PCCs as, save in relation to one flat, the PCCs had not been issued before the buyers had contracted to purchase. At first instance, the timing of the issue of the PCCs was not considered a bar to the tortious claim of negligent misstatement against the surveyors, as the buyers had been told before contracting to purchase that a PCC would ...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
Ethics Column: Thinking about numbers - changes to the SRA Accounts Rules   Tracey Calvert Oakalls Consultancy Limited tcalvert@oakallsconsultancy.co.uk www.oakallsconsultancy.co.uk   THINKING ABOUT NUMBERS – CHANGES TO THE SRA ACCOUNTS RULES   I spend a lot of time thinking about numbers which may seem a slightly odd confession for a regulatory compliance adviser to make. However, the truth is that anyone involved in law firm compliance and risk management cannot avoid doing this and, for my part, I discuss financial viability issues and, of course, the need to keep client money safe and demonstrate compliance with the SRA Accounts Rules with clients on a regular basis.   Most firms hold client money, yet for many years my conversations were mainly with reporting accountants or with firm managers or accounts staff querying the findings of reporting accountants, particularly if these had led to a qualified report. Until very recently, this was often as far as interest in the topic extended.   One of the consequences of the launch of the SRA Handbook in 2011 was the need to recast the assumption that responsibilities in respect of client money could be limited. Entity-based regulation, and the concept that the firm’s continuing authorisation rests in the hands of the weakest link in the business, has been a game changer in many firms. Add to this risk-based regulation, and the SRA’s expectation that we will manage hot spots and fall in line with their opinions about risk priorities, and keeping client money safe and understanding the Accounts Rules becomes a firm wide issue.   The COFA leads the response by wearing the hat of an internal auditor. Many COFAs have seized the opportunity to assess their colleagues’ knowledge, review internal systems for suitability, and introduce training and reviews to ensure that both they and the firm are in a good position to demonstrate a proper response. What many COFAS are finding is that there is a...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
Admissions Ceremony 2016   Group photo in Exeter Guildhall - copyright www.marionfrances.co.uk   19 recently qualified solicitors were welcomed into the Solicitors' Profession on Monday 7 November 2016 at the Guildhall in Exeter.   His Honour Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC warmly congratulated them on their achievement. District Judge Collins was also present. The function concluded with wine and canapes.  ...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
What's on @ DASLS! By Tony Steiner, DASLS Executive Director   Public Relations   I hope that you will have seen some of the press coverage that our PR activity has been generating as we have been raising awareness about Housing Advice deserts, the need for SMEs to consult with their solicitors and an introduction to DASLS President and the Society’s activities.   This is an ongoing project and there is a role for members to get involved from time to time by being willing and available, sometimes at very short notice to comment on issues that the media are interested in. For this reason I am compiling a list of volunteers that we can draw on – if you are interested then please email ella@dasls.com with your details to include mobile contact number and areas of practice upon which you are able to comment.   DASLS Diary   The diary is as packed as ever with events including the Practice Management Conference on the 16th of this month. We are also arranging a Compliance & Regulation Conference for 16 March 2017 when Paul Philip CEO SRA will come and speak to us. This will be a key opportunity as there should be further consultation around this time about the future of the Solicitors’ Handbook.   Another date for your diary is our first Family Law Conference on 23rd March 2017 when the headline speaker will be The President of the Family Division.   Consultations   I have already mentioned the recent SRA consultation about the Solicitors’ Handbook. DASLS hosted two briefings for members about the proposals, one from The Law Society and one from the SRA. Both meetings were lively and useful and those that attended the latter were able to give their views directly. The Practice Management Sub-Committee will be looking at the more detailed proposals when they are published.   You may recall that earlier in the year the SRA consulted about the routes to entry to the solicitors’ profession. Their initial proposals attracted a si...

| 11th September 2017 | Newsletters
District Judges' Corner and other news from Exeter Court Guidance from District Judge John Collins on communications with the Court   Would all parties please note this guidance. Compliance will ensure that precious court resources are not wasted. If you send a communication to the court by email you will receive an immediate acknowledgement.   The court will endeavour to process or respond to your email within 10 working days. However, please note that if your document requires referral to a Judge you may not get a reply for up to 20 working days. If your email is regarding a complaint, please allow 10 working days for your concerns to be investigated and a response provided.   There is guidance on complaints in the document EX343 on the Justice websitewww.justice.gov.uk. Would all parties please note that Court staff are not legally trained and cannot provide legal advice. If you are uncertain how to proceed the burden is upon you to consider, the Civil Procedure Rules and Family Procedure Rules available on the Ministry of Justice website see http://www.justice.gov.uk.   The court will advise litigants in person that it is best for people to seek professional legal advice from a solicitor, legal executive, legal advice agency or Citizens Advice Bureau. They will also be referred to Civil legal advice who can provide for free legal advice on 0845 345 4 345 or via their website at https://www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice.   Litigants in person in Devon will also be referred to the Personal Support Unit based in Exeter Combined Court which is able to provide emotional and practical support (but is not able to give legal advice).  See their website www.thepsu.org, or tel: 01392 415 335 or email exeter@thepsu.org.uk .   Would all parties please note:   1.  Send your documents once and do not duplicate a copy in the Post/DX/Fax – the email acknowledgment is your confirmation that your email has been received.   2. Do not send documents ...

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