We have been contacted by the family of Raymond Kennedy, formerly of 5 Elliott Avenue, Frenchay, Bristol, BS16 1PB. Mr Kennedy died on 8 March 2020 and the family cannot find a Will in his affairs although they believe he had made one. Please could you check your Will databases and let Clair Ponting (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you hold Mr Kennedy’s Will and we will put you in touch with his family. Many thanks.
The human factor – How your people can help to protect your organisation from cyber threats
Covid-19 has brought about a seismic change in the way that our businesses operate. Remote working and increased activity on customer-facing networks and online services are now the norm. Yet these new ways of working have opened up a wealth of cyber security vulnerabilities that cybercriminals have been working hard to exploit.
In mid-March the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned of new cyber threats as a result of Covid-19. Less than two weeks later, the sheer scale of such activity was made clear in a Telegraph article, which reported that phishing “attacks have increased 667pc since the end of February”. Yet it is not just an increase in phishing that is being widely reported, cyber security weaknesses are also being exploited to launch a wide range of cyber attacks, including ransomware and other forms of malware.
What you can do to help
Often regarded as a security weakness, our experience tells us that as employees we can actually help to strengthen cyber security defences. With the right support and guidance, we can work together to detect and mitigate cyber threats, protecting our organisations from the financial, reputational and brand damage that they can inflict.
Developing human sensors
With cyber threats constantly evolving and increasing, it’s vital that we become ‘human sensors’, that can detect and mitigate cyber attacks before they can be exploited. To help us achieve this, our organisations need to build a cyber security aware culture that:
- Encourages and rewards reporting and sharing of attempted cyber attacks
- Offers interactive cyber awareness training that is tailored to the department and/or organisation
- Reminds us of the dangers of cyber security workarounds and the consequences of successful cyber attacks
- Confirms how, who and when important updates will be issued by the organisation (to ensure that phishing emails purporting to be from credible internal sources are discredited).
The human aspect of incident response
An increase in cybercriminal activity coupled with fundamental changes to the way that our organisations work, means that it’s more important than ever that incident response plans are fit for purpose. Yet a successful incident response relies on having the right people in place to co-ordinate and implement the plan, but with a distributed workforce and potentially key staff unavailable this can be a significant challenge. Organisations should therefore ask:
How would we respond to a cyber attack with a distributed team, not all of whom may be available?
- Are we adequately testing and rehearsing our plans?
- Are we ‘wargaming’ different scenarios?
- Should new vulnerability assessments be run to identify new weaknesses?
- Does our response plan cover remote working and increased use of online services?
If you would like to learn more about how you can build resilience to cyber threats during these uncertain times, then please contact Al Sweet at Warner McCall Resilience on email@example.com or (0)7778 322230.
Contacting Bristol Crown Court – 31/3/20
Due to Bristol Crown Court having only a skeleton level of staff working from the building it is not possible to deal swiftly with the present volume of non-urgent communications (email and telephone) being received. Our staff are prioritizing their work so as to deal with matters in the lists up to a week in advance. Your understanding of this situation would be much appreciated as we adapt to new ways of working.
HHJ Blair QC, Resident Judge
BLS Covid-19 update and useful links for members
In respect of the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak we would like to reassure our members that we are closely monitoring the situation and adhering to the latest government guidelines with regards to all our activities.
At present we have cancelled all events in March, April and May and will keep the situation under review.
In light of the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic, the BLS office is currently closed and all our staff are home-working with full access to our systems and can be contacted in the usual way during office hours. The closure will kept under review in line with Public Health advice.
In our representative role, please do contact us if you identify any issues which may require our support in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime we send our best wishes to all our members, supporters, their businesses and families.
For more advice, useful links and a list of the top priorities for business the following links may be helpful –
World Health Organisation
Ministry of Justice
The Law Society
If you have any queries or wish to discuss this matter further please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Operations, Helen Read on 0117 945 8486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Reconnecting Assets with their Rightful Owners – Landmark Legal
Probate professionals have a number of important obligations to fulfil whether they are acting as an executor or are assisting the personal representatives. One vital aspect is to identify any assets that are in the name of the deceased and so need to be considered, as part of the deceased’s overall estate.
When administering an estate, we often see that cases typically fall into two differing camps: the first are those individuals who have every asset and account fully documented, perhaps as part of an official will. Then, there are those who haven’t gathered any financial affairs into any orderly system. The latter often provides a great deal of angst to those left behind, who may feel daunted by the prospect of hunting for related paperwork, in order to try and uncover clues that uncover the full picture of their loved ones’ financial affairs.
In fact, in a recent poll by YouGov, it found that almost half of UK adults said that they would not know how to find the details of a loved one’s total financial assets upon their death.
Research from Farewill has also reported that more than 30 million UK citizens do not have an active will in place. And, then when you start looking at the potential financial figures involved, lost or dormant accounts are far more common than you would think. It has been said that over £15bn of unclaimed financial assets are held in various old bank accounts, pensions, life assurance and investments.
Since 2011, the UK’s 30 largest banks and building societies have been voluntarily transferring money left in dormant accounts to charity and other notable causes. Recent figures from the Independent Commission on Dormant Assets said that in the time this has been in place, over £600m has been redistributed to charitable causes.
In addition, the Independent Commission has since estimated that there may be a further £2bn sitting unclaimed in dormant insurance policies or from proceeds of sales of shares or unit trusts in stockbroker or investment accounts.
So what is the answer? The use of an asset reunification service would benefit anyone who believes they may be entitled to a share of the money, yet has been unable to locate any related documentation or perhaps believes a deceased loved one may have been eligible.
The legal profession is in the best position to take advantage of asset reunification services to connect unclaimed assets to individuals after a family member has passed away and may not have updated the most recent asset information in their will.
At the end of the day, a ‘lost’ asset can occur for a number of reasons, such as a marriage breakdown, changed circumstances, a family member not disclosing details of the asset, or perhaps a house move where the financial institution in question wasn’t notified of such changes.
The mystery of unclaimed assets can however be quickly rectified via one single search that probate professionals can undertake for their clients when administering an estate. Such asset reunification searches, such as Landmark’s Financial Asset Search, quickly help to identify potentially dormant, unknown or lost financial assets via one, online search service. This includes everything from pensions, life policies or unit trusts through to bank accounts, savings or shares.
A tracing service such as this centralises the arduous task of locating current, lost or forgotten financial assets by enabling probate lawyers to input the person’s information just once. Searches are then underway at multiple financial institutions from one single order. This can include identifying personal pension plans, life policies, occupational pension accounts, unit trusts, investment trusts, investment bonds, National Savings & Investments, Building Societies and Banks dormant accounts and even FTSE100 shares. As an additional advantage, registered wills are also discovered via the officially-recognised national wills register.
Ultimately, in today’s world, where people don’t necessarily keep paper records of their financial affairs, it’s important to be able to offer clients the support in uncovering all credit and debt against the deceased person in question; in doing so it removes the need for time-consuming manual investigations.
An automated search provides confidence to legal professionals and private client customers that the most thorough due diligence has taken place to support the process of administering a deceased person’s estate.
Chris Loaring, Managing Director, Landmark Legal
Caroline Alexander, Senior Associate (FCILEx), Michelmores LLP has been using LandmarkFAS service for many years, “The fact that LandmarkFAS now includes details on active and inactive assets and debts is transformative for legal professionals. It gives me confidence that I have full coverage regarding the deceased’s financial affairs, without having to sift through mountains of paperwork. It covers everything we need to progress with probate and, in my view, is a critical service that I wouldn’t be without.”
HMCTS daily updates – Covid-19
HMCTS publishes its daily operational status update on courts and tribunals. The page provides a daily summary of the HMCTS operational position during the coronavirus pandemic.
They aim to update this page by 9am daily.
They also Tweet the status update from their corporate Twitter account.
Sign up to e-alerts here
The Law Society – Covid-19 Guidance
Dispute Resolution: How can solicitors help cash-strapped clients?
Uncertainty is always a challenge for any business owner, and we are now entering one of the most uncertain periods in modern global economic history. As much as at any time, clients will be keen to retain cash and keep any unplanned expenditure to an absolute minimum.
Of course, this will not stop disputes from arising – but it will have huge impacts on how they are resolved.
Solicitors that successfully solve the risk and cash-flow problems around dispute resolution will be far more successful in helping their clients, as well as giving themselves a major competitive advantage over those lawyers that fail to provide clients with options.
Having handy access to a full range of insurance, risk management and funding options for clients gives you the ability to pursue the best route for resolving disputes, rather than being constrained by limited resources.
There are numerous products available to help maximise inter partes costs recovery, to affordably finance issue fees, disbursement costs or the entire legal budget, and to insure either adverse costs risk, own costs risk, or both.
Whether a client needs some certainty around fees, or a completely ‘free’ package to pursue litigation, there are various options available that can defer all costs to a successful outcome in the case.
There is no reason why dispute resolution practices need to take on more risk in order to assist clients – Most products are designed to shift risk away from both the client and their solicitor, and onto the balance sheet of a major insurer of finance house that is better equipped to carry and manage such risks.
Of course, transferring risk has a price and one of the real skills in this market is assisting clients in shifting the maximum risk for the least possible cost. If done currently, the clients can significantly improve their net position by improving their settlement odds considerably without incurring large fees for funding and insurance.
How often have you heard that litigation funding is expensive, without ever actually considering the real costs of litigation for the client? Or the costs on a dispute resolution team of not being able to help clients (or potentially even being negligent in their approach to retainers, funding and insurance?).
Often, there’s a sensible, staged approach that can be taken which allows the client to pursue their case effectively, the legal team to be paid their fees, and the opponent to be put on the back foot, without great expense.
Is it worth a few minutes to discuss an ongoing case that has cash flow problems, or a potential new instruction where the client should be able to make an informed choice about their options?
Annecto Legal is a broker for litigation funding and insurance, capable of providing a clear range of options for clients either prior to embarking upon litigation, or where cash has become tight and the litigation can no longer be properly pursued without assistance.
We are available via our website: www.annectolegal.co.uk our 24 hour helpline 0800 612 6587 or contact David Law (email@example.com) or Mark Beaumont (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly.
Urgent help – can your manufacturing clients help with ventilator manufacture?
The below request has come to us via Business in the Community from CBI/BEIS via KPMG seeking companies with manufacturing capabilities which might be able to manufacture ventilators to help meet the expected huge forthcoming demand
Please can you circulate to your clients who might be able to assist and then ask them to contact BEIS directly.
Specification For RMVS Challenge
Lloyds Bank customer business advice – Covid-19
To help you understand some of the guidance that is available to you, please have a look at the dedicated Coronavirus: Help & Support section on the Lloyds Bank website, which covers a variety of topics.
There are also several external links which you may find helpful:
Are you facing a Covid-19 Cashflow crisis? Milsted Langdon provides some guidance.
If so you are not alone and you may have more options than you think. Few businesses have sufficient cash reserves to be able to survive an extended period during which their cashflows are disrupted. As business-owners around the world are starting to discover, Covid-19 is beginning to give rise to just such disruption. Read the full article here: Are you facing a Covid 19 cashflow crisis
Other things BLS Members might wish to note:
1. For most SME businesses, the most valuable support is likely to be from the Business Interruption Loan scheme which will offer viable businesses loans of up to £5m, with no interest due for the first six months. The government will provide banks with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give banks confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. We understand from our banking contacts that the banks got no advance notice of these plans, and have therefore needed to move very quickly to devise a loan product and have it approved. In order to access a Business Interruption Loan, applicants will need to contact their banks directly in the first instance but may need help preparing supporting information such as accounts and cash flow forecasts Our understanding is that relationship managers in most of the major banks should be in a position to talk about these, and how they work, today or tomorrow, and that loans should be available from next week, although this may vary from bank to bank.
2. Small business grant funding of £10,000 is available for all business in receipt of small business rate relief (SBRR), or rural rate relief. The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief to help meet their ongoing business costs. If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority. You do not need to apply.
3. Individuals should bear in mind that now might be a good time to arrange income protection insurance. This pays out if the policyholder is unable to work as a result of ill-health.
How do you keep morale high when working remotely?
When you’re no longer seeing colleagues face to face on a daily basis, how can you make sure that their spirits aren’t suffering? As leaders, it is important to check that your staff can cope with the changes imposed on them and ensure morale remains as high as it can.
These are certainly challenging times, but there have been challenges throughout history which have been met and overcome. Optimism is your friend and optimism needs to spread now. Think about all of the courageous people carrying on with their jobs like NHS staff, the police, food supply chain workers. Morale needs to stay high.
Not having daily office contact with other people can be lonely. It is important to check in with everybody and make sure you listen to them. If you have a large organisation may be consider buddying people up for daily calls to check in on each other.
People are all different and don’t assume that everybody will respond in the same way to a sudden shift to remote working. Think about what motivates the individual and where possible use a bespoke approach to lifting their spirits. If you’ve ever done any 4D colour profiling you’ll know a bit about what makes people tick. If you haven’t maybe this is a good time to introduce it and learn more about each other.
Praise can go a long way. If somebody has produced a great piece of work make sure you acknowledge their efforts and reward them with your thanks and positive feedback. According to OfficeVibe, 82% of employees said they’d rather receive praise than a gift at work.
When you’re in the office is every single conversation about work? No. Remember how valuable non-work related communications are amongst the team. We love to chat about each other’s lives. How about starting a “guess whose front door” competition? Or a daily challenge or riddle to solve? How about a Through The Keyhole style peek at where everybody has chosen in their house to work from? Remote working is a pet’s dream come true… can you organise a virtual pet show? How about virtual after work drinks where you Skype in with a beer and catch up.
Now is the time to exercise trust in your employees. Remember why you chose them at interview stage and trust that they will deliver what you need them to. You also need to show flexibility and understanding, there will be challenges as people adapt and you need to give them time and space to do their best. You don’t want to cause them unnecessary stress.
Can you take this time to offer your team the chance to upskill through any online courses? A new skill and a welcome distraction would be a good morale boost. Get them to share their learnings amongst the team and offer to do a Q&A.
Share positive stories. If something lifts your own spirits it may have that effect on your team too. If you’ve discovered a great new film or programme share it with your team. If you’ve heard a positive or funny story pass it on. If you’ve received some inspirational words elsewhere make sure you let everyone know.
As Change Management experts we know that bringing people along with any change is crucial to your business’s success. This is even more true if it is a change that nobody requested! So motivate, cherish and support your team over the coming weeks. The WHO have issued this guide to supporting mental health which may be a useful resource.
If you have any questions about Nine Feet Tall and our ways of working, please contact Esther McMorris (email@example.com).
Helping you work safely during Covid-19 – Cyber security guidance for remote working
In these challenging times, it’s sad to learn that cyber criminals are only increasing their activity as they look to capitalise on the Covid-19 crisis. With the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) issuing warnings of such activity on a daily basis, it’s important that we all work to protect our organisations from the damage of cybercrime. Whether we are an administration assistant, lawyer or managing partner we all have our role to play.
As many of us move to working from home, the opportunity for cyber attacks only increases, so it’s vital that we work together with our IT and security teams to adopt good cyber health practices:
1. Only work on secure networks
If you are working from home, you should only be using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or a secure home network with strong end-to-end encryption; e.g. Office 365 SSL session. Don’t be tempted to use public wifi, as hackers can position themselves between you and the access point.
2. Beware Phishing emails
Phishing is a disguised email, that aims to hook the recipient into clicking a link or attachment that enables a cyber-attack to take place. Attackers masquerade as a trusted entity of some kind, so it’s important to be extra vigilant:
- Don’t click on links in emails from people that you don’t know.
- Don’t open emails purporting to contain important updates from your organisation, especially those that ask you to validate your credentials or install additional software to permit remote connectivity.
- Check the grammar, punctuation and spelling of the email – in many cases, these are clear signs of a phishing email.
- Don’t open emails relating to Covid-19, purporting to be from bodies such as HMRC or the World Health Organisation as these are known phishing tactics.
If you are at all in doubt, then the advice is to call the sender to verify the details.
3. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Weak security credentials are easy targets for cyber criminals, so if you have not yet set-up multi-factor authentication for access to your organisation’s systems, then now is the time to do so.
4. Make personal devices secure
If your organisation has sanctioned the use of personal devices, then it’s important that you implement anti-virus software and make sure that any software and operating systems that you are using are up-to-date. Outdated software is easy for cyber criminals to exploit.
5. Adopt secure working practices
Don’t be tempted to make life easier by forwarding information to personal accounts or cloud storage accounts, which are more vulnerable to cyber-attack. Locking your computer when it’s not in use, ensures that other family members don’t accidentally open your device to malware or phishing attempts.
If you would like to learn more about how to build your resilience to cyber threats during these uncertain times, then please contact Isabel Thompson, Commercial Director at Warner McCall Resilience. Isabel can be contacted at Isabel.firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07824 498 591.
His Honour Judge Roderick Denyer QC
Many of you will be very sad to learn of the death over the weekend of His Honour Judge Rod Denyer QC. who was the Designated Civil Judge in Bristol from 2009 until his retirement in 2017.
Prior to his appointment as a Judge in 2002 (and after a spell as an academic) HHJ Denyer QC, was in practice in Bristol during a very successful career at the Bar and many local practitioners will wish to join judiciary and staff to pay their respects at a court hearing/meeting to mark his passing.
Unfortunately, due to restrictions introduced today, we are unable to hold this hearing for what may be some time. However you can rest assured that it will take place when restrictions are eased and notification of the date will be provided in due course.
His Honour Judge Barry Cotter QC
Designated Civil Judge for Avon, Somerset and Gloucestershire
The Law Society – Appointments to Committees
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Old copies of The Digest need re-homing – can you help?
Integreon are on the move and have an immaculate full set of The Digest (https://www.wildy.com/isbn/9780406899149/the-digest-hardback-lexisnexis-butterworths ). They haven’t been updated for a few years, but are often referred to for older cases.
Would any members be interested in these books? They need to go by the end of this month!! If so, please contact Caroline Rowlands email@example.com
Could you be a family court magistrate? Please share.
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Warner McCall Resilience appoints new Commercial Director as it expands its team
Warner McCall Resilience (WMR) is expanding its Bristol based team in response to the growing demand for its cyber security and resilience services. Isabel Thompson has been appointed as Commercial Director, after spending 14 years leading technology consulting and business development teams at KPMG. Isabel is joined by Niall Astowe, a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cyber security, who is starting his career as Junior Security Consultant.
Warner McCall Resilience are experts in their field, trusted by government departments and commercial clients to deal with a range of cyber threat actors from national states and cybercriminal organisations to individual hackers. Such experience has informed the consultancy’s approach to mitigating cyber threats, understanding that technical solutions alone are not enough and that only when an organisation considers cyber security as part of a holistic approach to risk can it become truly resilient.
Isabel comments “Each day we hear of new cyber attacks and data breaches that are impacting every size of organisation from the sole trader to the global corporate giants. It’s therefore an exciting time to be joining Warner McCall Resilience, working to help organisations build resilience to cyber threats, and to protect them from the financial, brand and reputational damage that cyber attacks can inflict”
Johnny Norris, CEO, of Warner McCall Resilience adds “We are delighted that Isabel and Niall have joined our growing team. Isabel’s commercial and consulting experience will help us further develop our offering, whilst Niall brings a thirst for knowledge that is essential in the ever-evolving cyber security space. These new appointments are part of our on-going growth strategy as we expand in response to growing demand.”
Find out more about Warner McCall Resilience by visiting their website, and by following them on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Bristol, England, March 2020
Missing Wills – can you help?
We have contacted by some family members trying to trace the wills of their recently deceased loved ones. Can you help us please? If you can, please contact Clair Ponting, firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Edward HOWARD; Date of Birth: 19/5/1937; Date of Will: unknown but thought to be between July-December 2019. Does anyone remember Mr Howard making a will with them recently?
Freda Florence Barbara MICKELWRIGHT; Date of Will: 10/3/1994; Originally made with David Johnstone & Co of 3 St Stephen Street Bristol. Does anyone have any knowledge regarding the Will banks of David Johnstone and where they may be located now.
Mary Everard ALDEN; Date of Will: 15/8/1989
Movers & Shakers
BARCAN+KIRBY MAKES SENIOR ASSOCIATE APPOINTMENT IN BISHOPSTON
Bristol law firm, Barcan+Kirby, strengthened its Wills, Trusts, and Probate team with the appointment of Helene Bryant as Senior Associate at the firm’s office in Bishopston.
Helene, who is also a Registered Trust and Estate Practitioner will lead the team in their new office in Bishopston advising clients on matters relating to Wills and probate, Powers of Attorney, Trusts, estate planning and wealth preservation.
“This is an exciting time to join Barcan+Kirby at the new Gloucester Road office. I look forward to enhancing the services offered from the Bishopston office and growing the firm’s private client practice as a trusted adviser to both new and existing clients.”
Commenting on her appointment, Bill Willcocks, Managing Partner at Barcan+Kirby said: “We are delighted to appoint Helene who brings twenty years’ worth of experience and legal expertise to the role.
“Our clients will benefit from her extensive knowledge when it comes to preparing for the future, putting in place plans tailored to individual requirements and circumstances.
“Helene and the team in Bishopston will also be able to serve clients in the local community when it comes to navigating the complexities of inheritance tax and capital gains tax.”