Solicitors Title was the first law firm in the country to appreciate the vital health and safety benefits of live-streaming video technology for its clients during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
We also set a new legal precedent on 1 May this year when, we supervised the first remotely executed video will for a client who was self-isolating 150 miles away in Surrey. This spared our client from any risk of being exposed to the coronavirus as well as allowing him to complete his will in the comfort and privacy of his home.
Dr Nicholas Bevan, senior associate solicitor, shared his ground breaking research with the government along with his proposals for an urgent intervention to encourage other lawyers to do the same.
Responding on the government’s behalf on 19 June this year, Lord Keen of Elie QC complimented our analysis, saying ‘It is an argument with force, set out in impressively comprehensive terms in Dr Bevan’s paper….I would like to thank him again for his detailed insights on the subject.’
On 25 July, the Government issued a press notice and guidance indicating that emergency legislation would be introduced in September. The Government’s proposals are based on Dr Bevan’s research.
Writing in the prestigious New Law Journal, in Where there’s a will there’s a way Dr Bevan shares the further clarification provided in Lord Keen QC’s most recent letter of 4 August on the Government’s proposed wills reform. Unfortunately, according to research released today by Today’s Wills & Probate, most law firms feel unequal to the task of executing wills using video technology.
Solicitors Title LLP, leads the will writing legal sector with this innovative nationwide private client service. We welcome enquiries from members of the public up and down the country. Our video witnessing will writing service has been devised to help anyone seeking to make a will in safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
For further details, please contact: Dr Nicholas Bevan on 01392 207900
Dr Bevan explains in Today’s Wills and Probate, how our detailed paper, calling for government intervention, persuaded the Justice Secretary to take decisive action to help self-isolating testators make their wills in safety. We are grateful to the Advocate General, Lord Keen QC, for his fulsome and gracious acknowledgement of the strength of our case for reform.
On 29 July 2020 Solicitors Title LLP executed a will for an elderly client who had retired to live in Crete. The entire process of executing the will (signing, acknowledging and witnessing ) was undertaken remotely, using online live-streaming technology, from Solicitors Title LLP’s offices in the West Country. This is believed to be a world-wide precedent; unparalleled in any other jurisdiction.
Although the Government has now introduced a temporary relaxation of the wrongful trading rules, under s.214 of the Insolvency Act 1986 – where a director could be held personally liable and have to contribute towards a deficit if he or she continued to trade a company past a point where they “knew or ought to have concluded that there was no reasonable prospect of avoiding insolvent liquidation” and did not take “every step with a view to minimising the potential loss to the company’s creditors” – a company’s general financial health and future prospects should feature highly on every board of directors’ agenda.
This temporary suspension of the wrongful trading rules will allow directors to continue to pay staff and suppliers, in preference to others, despite liabilities that might be overdue (potentially rendering the company insolvent), without the risks to them personally, that would normally be associated with continuing in these circumstances.
The purpose of the wrongful trading sanction being relaxed is to encourage directors to continue their businesses, in these unprecedented times, in the hope that instead of suffering a collapse, they instead emerge intact and able to rebuild once the Covid-19 pandemic is finally over.
If you would like further advice on your obligations and what you can and cannot do, as a director, to include if you decide to furlough yourself, please contact a member of our corporate team. For further guidance on a director’s obligations by trading through these difficult times: https://solicitorstitle.co.uk/covid-19-directors-and-insolvent-trading
In response to the current difficult times, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, award-winning South West law firm, Solicitors Title, will be launching a Business Support Hub, to provide comprehensive information for businesses during and beyond the current crisis.
Head of our corporate practice Richard James explained the initiative: “Having had many conversations over the last few days and with the rapidly changing situation for businesses, we recognised the need for the Business Support Hub, to help business owners navigate the risks, understand latest developments and to identify opportunities; for example, we have been impressed as we have watched the many businesses up and down the UK rapidly deploy an online offering, as a result of their traditional business model being impacted.”
Some will know that we had a bigger project in the making, along similar lines before the Covid-19 outbreak, as announced at our Solicitors Title’s 21st birthday celebration last year and therefore the Business Support Hub will act as a trial for the much bigger business support package that we have in preparation.
We will announce when the Business Support Hub is available and, of course, the resources and information will be entirely free. In the meantime, please see our guidance to businesses, via our Business Perspective in light of Covid-19 article.
As the Prime Minister has said, we have not known a situation like this in peacetime. Our objectives, like with many other businesses, are to ensure the safely and wellbeing of our staff, to support our clients and to ensure, as much as we can, that any disruption to the availability of our services is minimised. We have therefore considered whether we can deliver services in a more novel way, if the need arises or in particular cases and we are keeping this under review.
Our offices are open and we will aim to ensure minimal disruption to our service levels, but please bear in mind that all businesses are having to manage this fast-moving situation, keeping developments and how they respond to those developments under constant review. However, for our clients, referrers and contacts, we can confirm the following:
- We have full remote working capability and a secure IT infrastructure, meaning that we can continue to operate even if our offices needed to close (at present, all of our offices are open as usual)
- Our compliance team have reviewed critical deadlines and areas of work that cannot be disrupted, if at all possible, to ensure continuity in these respects
- We have considered any risks to our business and are taking steps to mitigate these
- We have deployed updated guidance on hand washing and good hygiene and are taking practical steps to avoid unnecessary contact (for example shaking hands) and this is ongoing
- We have already moved some meetings to alternative methods of communication; for example, phone, video conferencing/Zoom/Skype
This situation may inevitably lead to consideration of advice that businesses and others need or to look at putting various things in place -we will be publishing some outline thought of things to consider, from a business perspective, later on today. For the moment, and as always, please do get in touch with your usual contact at Solicitors Title, to see what we can do to help.
The Partners and staff at Solicitors Title
It is recognised that celebrity endorsement of a product can add real weight to how it’s received by the public, particularly where the product is in a competitive or crowded marketplace. Such was the case last week when, in California, a brewer chose to associate a new beer, called a pastry stout (owing to it being made with the kinds of ingredients you might usually associate with the familiar baked item), with a celebrity baker, without their endorsement!
A staff handbook serves many purposes – yet surprisingly, many businesses still choose to operate without one. However, most HR professionals recommend that you provide every member of staff with a copy, as it ensures employees are familiar with all company policies and procedures.
In this article by our employment specialist Wendy Harris, you’ll find out what a staff handbook should contain, and how it can support your business in the future.
What is a Staff Handbook?
Quite simply, a staff handbook is a document that’s supplied to all members of staff (preferably when they start working with you). It contains important information about your company policies and procedures, and ensures that every employee fully understands what’s expected of them – in terms of behaviour, protocol and responsibilities.
Together with Cancer Research UK, Solicitors Title is delighted to be holding an event on Thursday 14th February 2019 at Yeovil Innovation Centre (our Yeovil office) raising awareness around the impact of cancer, how you can help (including via Cancer Research UK’s Free Will Service) and the international research undertaken from the money raised, in support of World Cancer Day 2019.
Cancer Research UK is working with a number of other cancer charities, through World Cancer Day, to raise awareness and further support the work that they do. Each year, funds raised support thousands of scientists, doctors and nurses to accelerate progress in the fight against over 200 types of cancer.
Over a third of the research undertaken by Cancer Research UK into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer is funded through supporters leaving a legacy to the charity via their will; as a result we are proud to be part of CRUK’s Free Wills Service, locally.
Sadly, one in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. The generous gifts left by people through wills help cancer charities to continue their work to beat cancer sooner.
For more information about leaving a legacy gift and Cancer Research UK’s free will service, visit www.cruk.org/freewillservice or contact us
2019 marks Solicitors Title’s 21st Anniversary year and the firm’s 6th year based in Somerset making their team accessible to local individuals and families.
How it begins:
You start your own business; it may initially be for you but in time you might think about how you might grow – a natural option would be a new location. This starts a journey towards growth. So you might hire someone in the new area. But, after all of your hard work building your brand, money, time resources, making your product or service unique, can you really entrust your business reputation into the hands of an employee who might start doing things that are not in line with your original vision; next might come bad reviews, customer service issues, considerable management time overseeing your new location to get them back into line with your original blueprint. So in reality, you don’t grow. Instead, how are you going to grow without these potential issues in the way?
There is one word that alleviates all of these problems: franchising.