Risk Management by Marsh JLT Specialty- Webcasts, Retainer Letters Pt 1 & Pt 2
Victoria Prescott focuses on the relevant regulatory obligations and guidance, significant case law, and the findings and conclusions that may be drawn from our survey of claims handled by panel firms: https://vimeo.com/420701743/c8d29ae3c3
John Kunzler discusses the human factors and underlying behaviours involved, why achieving high levels of compliance may be difficult, and the link with negligence): https://vimeo.com/420702089/53cc89bfc7
Feeding Bristol’s Healthy Holidays 2020
Feeding Bristol is BLS’s Charity of the Year.
If you can help to spread the word by sharing Feeding Bristol’s Healthy Holidays 2020 fundraiser within your networks, that will help increase awareness of the issue of hungry and disadvantaged children within Bristol, and hopefully raise some funds also. http://virginmoneygiving.com/fund/healthyholidays2020.
There is also lots of social media activity that would be great if you can re-tweet/post/etc
Fundraiser video: https://twitter.com/FeedingBristol/status/1283365863454892034
New study shows online legal mediation could be the future
A new study by the Association of South West Mediators and Bristol Law Society has revealed that many legal professionals think online mediation has been a success.
Mediation plays an increasingly important role in modern dispute resolution, helping individuals and businesses avoid more costly court actions by allowing a third-party, the mediator, to help resolve conflicts. Like every other aspect of life it has not been immune to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and has had to adapt.
It might not have been unreasonable to have thought that a process that involves building empathy with the parties and which can often last all day and go on late into the night would have been very difficult to move “online”.
Perhaps it is therefore surprising that the latest study by the two South West legal groups found that 72 per cent of respondents felt online mediation was as or more effective than traditional face-to-face mediation.
Incredibly 100 per cent of respondents said that online mediation was more convenient, while 91 per cent found it to be more cost-effective.
More than half agreed that online mediation meetings were easier for elderly people (54 per cent) and people with disabilities (62 per cent).
As a result of the overall findings, nearly a quarter said they would prefer to do mediations online in future, with 60 per cent saying they would use virtual meetings again but that it would depend on the circumstances of each case.
Roger Isaacs a forensic accountant and partner of Milsted Langdon LLP, who is also a mediator and expert witness with considerable experience in giving evidence virtually said: “The concept of conducting mediations on line would have been very unlikely ever to have been tested had it not been for the necessities of the past few months.
“As it is, the experience has been much more positive that many might have predicted with almost a quarter in favour of conducting more online meetings in future and a further 60 per cent agreeing that they may prove useful post-COVID-19. Online mediation may therefore be a lasting legacy of the Lockdown.”
“From a personal standpoint, I have been pleasantly surprised by the flexibility and convenience of online meetings and look forward to doing more of them.” he added
Urgent Court Notice – Wearing of Face Masks
Bristol Civil & Family Justice Centre
Wearing of face covering in court buildings:
We’re now asking that all court and tribunal users wear a face covering effective from Monday 27 July 2020. This will also include all HMCTS staff members being required to wear a face covering in the public areas. If you need one, they will be made available to you, though we request that you bring your own. You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a practical reason not to. For example:
- you have disability or health issue that makes it difficult
- wearing one will cause you severe distress
- a deaf person needs to read your lips
- you are eating, drinking or taking medicine.
Children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a face covering.
You may be asked to temporarily remove your face covering for identification purposes. The judge or magistrate may also ask that face coverings are temporarily removed. If you need to communicate with someone who relies on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound, they may ask you to take your face covering off.
Safer working at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre -You tube video:
Safer working at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre -You tube video:
The court has produced a “youtube” video to assist court users on the safety arrangements in place at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre as a result of Covid 19.
You are encouraged to view this video before attending your court hearing.
A link to this video is provided: https://youtu.be/QSmAt6bsck0
Mobile Device and Laptop Covid-19 Appeal
Download PDF here
If you are able to assist please email Hayliegh Beckles at BITC who is coordinating the responses Hayliegh.firstname.lastname@example.org
2020/21 Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causea nominations
The Ministry of Justice has launched the 2020/21 round of Queen’s Counsel honoris causa (honorary silk) awards by inviting nominations. All practitioners and members of the public are free to make nominations (including self-nominations if they qualify) directly to the Ministry of Justice.
In addition, The Law Society is participating in this process, as in previous years, by seeking to make nominations itself of solicitor members of The Law Society. Office holders are securing coverage for The Law Society’s role as nominator by means of publicity in the Professional Update, local law societies announcement, and The Law Society web site (see External Appointments) inviting nominations. We are inviting people to nominate themselves, or others, to us. Office holders will then select those who will go forward as nominees of The Law Society.
The way in which to make a nomination for this process is by providing basic personal details of the nominee (or yourself) and the following:
- Legal qualifications and legal experience to date
- What significant contribution have they made to the law in England and Wales other than in court
- Major contribution beyond what might normally be expected for someone in their position
- Why you think this person should be nominated by The Law Society as an Honorary QC
Please download and complete the standard nomination form from the Ministry of Justice web site https://www.gov.uk/government/news/honorary-queens-counsel-nominations-deadline-tuesday-11-august-2020 along with further details.
Please send your completed form to email@example.com no later than 12 noon on Monday 27 July 2020 for consideration by The Law Society for submission to the Ministry of Justice. Nomination by The Law Society is subject to our own internal review and is, of course, no guarantee of ultimate success in the competition. As mentioned above, you are free to nominate yourselves or anyone you wish direct to the Ministry of Justice.
Survey – The Disclosure Pilot in the Business and Property Courts – 18 months in
The disclosure pilot scheme introduced by PD51U (the Pilot) has applied to all proceedings in the Business and Property Courts since 1 January 2019 and is set to run until January 2021.
As we approach the 18 month mark, BLS is keen to understand the experiences of practitioners and their clients working with the Pilot. This is a living Pilot and the feedback you give will hopefully be used to shape how the rules will be implemented in the future. This is your chance to have your say now you have had some experience of how the Pilot operates.
This questionnaire is aimed at finding out how the Pilot is performing on a practical level and understanding any day to day issues faced by practitioners using the Pilot. The results of this questionnaire may be reported to the judges of the BPCs in Bristol in an anonymised format – no names will be provided.
The questionnaire should take no more than 10 minutes or so and allows you to input any more detailed comments you may have. If you have any other points you would like to raise, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to take the questionnaire.
The questionnaire will close on 1st August 2020.
Our thanks to Leeds Law Society for permission to recreate this survey
Wessex Searches – Different office – same great service
Note from HHJ Wildblood on Family Listing
HHJ STEPHEN WILDBLOOD QC
DESIGNATED FAMILY JUDGE
22nd June 2020
Note about Family listing
1.When lockdown started many of us thought that it would only be a matter of weeks, or a few months at most, before everything reverted to normal. We know, now, that we are in this for the long haul.
2. Events over the past three months have placed a huge strain on everybody and I am really grateful for the way in which everyone has pulled together to keep the system running in these exceptional times. However, these events have taken a huge toll on many and, foremost amongst them, are the members of the Family Court listing team.
3. The Family Court listing team members never complain. They have been coming into the court office and working overtime at weekends to keep things going. But this has now reached a crisis point and I need to ask for your help in supporting them.
4. The listing teams has over 720 pieces of work outstanding and the amount of work is increasing. They cannot continue to bear that burden.
5. Therefore, please can I ask you to do the following:
i) Please do not send any emails to the Family listing office unless your email is genuinely necessary.
ii) Please do not make multiple requests for the same thing. The team is working as hard as they can and is doing its utmost to get through the work. But multiple requests clog up the system and cause delay. We cannot have a system where the person who shouts most frequently and at greatest volume gets answered first. Where this occurs I have asked that it is referred to me and I will then take appropriate action.
iii) Where possible, please appoint one person from a case to correspond with the listing office on any point that arises. At present, for instance, the listing team are often getting multiple emails from all parties in public law cases about listing arrangements. Please appoint one person to contact the listing office on any joint issues and then ask that person to cascade the reply among the other parties.
iv) Do not leave the arrangements for remote hearings to discussion with the listing officer. The arrangements for remote hearings (e.g. which platform will be used, who will set up the hearing etc) should all be part of case management and should be resolved at a case management hearing or advocates’ meeting wherever possible. At present the court office gets many emails from parties to the same case making the same enquiries about this. That has to stop. Again, I have asked the listing officer to report to me if this does occur and I will then contact those who are responsible. Therefore, please do not leave a case management hearing (or other interlocutory hearing) without resolving how the next hearing will proceed and recording the arrangement on the face of the order.
v) Please do ensure that you have included directions for an advocates’ meeting when you settle orders for directions.
vi) If you need directions from the court, please consider whether it would be quicker and easier to email the Judge directly. Otherwise your email may be sitting in a backlog of emails in the listing office inbox.
vii) Please do not copy the listing office into emails between the parties (for instance, by using ‘reply all’) except where this is genuinely necessary for the work of the family listing office.
viii) Please keep correspondence about orders to a minimum. I actively encourage legal advisers and judges, please, to seal their own orders. Legal advisers and judges can also help by completing what are called hearing outcome sheets at the end of each day.
6. If we do not take these measures the listing office will fall increasingly behind. There are no quick fixes to this and so we have to do our best with the resources that we have. The listing officers are people and, like all of us, they are trying to do the best job they can whilst still also preserving an overall way of life that is at least reasonable. Please help them. Thank you.
Stephen Wildblood QC.
22nd June 2020
Junior Lawyers – we’ve got your back – SBA The Solicitor’s Charity
Junior lawyers – we’ve got your back
Do you work closely with Junior Lawyers? If so, we need your help in reaching those at the start of their careers. Please share this post with colleagues.
By now, you may be aware of our COVID-19 Support Hub and £1 million Personal Hardship Fund for those affected by coronavirus. Since launching these a few months back, we’ve received a number of applications from a broad range of solicitors. One group in particular is Junior Lawyers.
Recently we joined a webinar hosted by LawCare to highlight the help available for this group. Joined by representatives from LawCare, Solicitors Assistance Scheme and the Junior Lawyers Division, we discussed key challenges and signed posted where to receive assistance.
Are you Fit for Law? LawCare updates and free webinar
Are you Fit for Law?
Some think there is no place for emotion in the law and believe emotions interfere with rational thinking. In fact there is a huge body of scientific evidence which proves cognition and emotion are intertwined. If we consider that emotions affect your actions, decision-making, reasoning, thought processes and judgement, we can clearly see the relevance of emotion in the law.
Often lawyers enter the workplace without the emotional competencies needed to meet the demands of an evolving profession. Emotional competency is about how we understand and handle our emotions, as well as identifying and interpreting emotional responses around us.
Providing legal professionals with resources to enable them to understand and develop key emotional competencies such as emotional self-awareness, self-reflection and better strategies for emotional self-regulation is one way to equip them more effectively for practice, enhance their wellbeing and potentially reduce levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
LawCare and academics at The Open University and the University of Sheffield have developed a new free online resource on emotional competency and professional resilience for the legal community.
The interactive resource, called Fit for Law, is part of an on-going project to promote psychologically and emotionally healthier ways of working within law and was developed based on evidence from focus groups with legal professionals across the UK and Ireland. The course takes 2-4 hours in total to complete but is broken down into smaller sections, and includes videos from legal professionals discussing wellbeing issues as well as a range of interactive activities.
The goal is to foster enhanced wellbeing, to support legal professionals to not just survive, but to also thrive, within a challenging work environment.
In addition to providing resources aimed at individual practitioners, the resources we are developing will include a tool kit for employers, to encourage positive organisational and cultural change in the legal workplace.
The resources are available to everyone studying law or working in the legal profession. For more information visit fitforlaw.org.uk
If you need emotional support call LawCare on 0800 279 6888 or visit www.lawcare.org.uk to access webchat, email support and other resources.
You can also view the video clips from Fit for Law on our You Tube channel
There is a free webinar, with Emma Jones of the University of Sheffield, the co author of Fit for Law, on June 24 1630-1730 to explain what Fit for Law is and how it can be used, here is the link to the webinar details and sign up https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/108857626090
LawCare continue to add new resources to our covid hub, https://www.lawcare.org.uk/covid-19 40% of our support contacts have a covid element, with returning to work and concerns about having a job and the future being common reasons for reaching out to us for support. You can find all our covid resources here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8w56vhcw68rdg2u/AAANy_t_7k73vv1RsY0nhi1Ca?dl=0
Online Mediations Survey
The Association of South West Mediators is conducting a survey on online mediations. If you have experience of an online mediation please do get involved and give us your feedback here
Feedback from the survey will be shared.
Financial Remedy Court Update
Trainees – The Law Society updates – Covid-19
DAC6 :Update and Risk Management Recommendations
Click here to open full article
Solicitor’s Regulation: Are the New STaRs a Supernova or Blackhole?
Click to open full article
What is coaching and why should lawyers care?
The world of coaching has developed enormously over recent years. Nowadays, hundreds of thousands of business people and professionals – including many lawyers – are benefitting from coaching every year in the UK alone. So what’s it’s all about?
Good professional coaching has evolved a long way from mentoring, consultancy and much of the early coaching methods of 20 years ago. These days a well-trained coach will bring skills shared with psychologists and counsellors into the work setting but in a non-threatening, dynamic, business-focussed way. While their techniques may have similarities, meeting with a modern business coach won’t be all about boxes of tissues and sympathetic listening. Nor will they be reading your mind.
It will often be up-beat, positively focussed ‘thinking space’ for a busy professional, tackling practical and essential topics such as where you want to go in their career (and wider life), how you might get there and what unhelpful habits you may be able to spot and then shed along the way, to increase your performance, resilience, success and overall happiness. It’s a lot about how your ‘best self’ can get the opportunity to turn up for work every day – not just occasionally or when you’re lucky.
Those things you keep avoiding
A saying I love is “Just get out of your own way!” That really sums up my approach to coaching – spotting those things you do that obstruct you, self-sabotage your efforts and make you avoid tackling difficult or uncomfortable things. A great example is how embarrassing and off-putting many lawyers find making those ‘sales calls’ to potential clients. Even the ones we met and who gave us their card, saying “I’d be happy to hear from you.” But just think what might have happened if you had never once avoided or delayed making such a call or pitch for work.
Or what about the redundancy that you absolutely knew you should have made last year but kept putting off for a wonderful (but, with hindsight, unwise) list of reasons? Reasons that, at the time, you were certain were “facts” but now you might admit were probably more “feelings”? Many law firms have gone bust over the years because of partners’ fear of the discomfort of laying off staff when they really needed to.
Both lawyer and human being?
As well as being great for tackling blind spots and learning how to tackle avoidance of necessary tasks, coaching can – if you are willing to let it – enormously raise your game in understanding yourself and others. You’ll have heard the phrase ‘emotional intelligence’ or EQ. High EQ is all about understanding your emotional state, self-management of it, understanding how others tick and being able to read people better and relate to them in powerful, connected ways. Research suggests that EQ may be considerably more important than IQ for success in work and career. But how many lawyers could say that their EQ is as high as their IQ? We love our law and we love facts… but how comfortable are we with feelings, especially talking about feelings and doing so in the workplace? Yet a high EQ can produce leaders with devoted followers and lawyers with devoted clients.
Stuck in a rut?
A third area where coaching can be incredibly helpful for legal professionals is when times are really hard and some difficult thinking needs to take place. A lawyer may be under great workload stress or financial pressure (often both) and their personal life may be taking a real hit too, but they just carry on until they crack. Or they may not crack but just live a life feeling overwhelmed and exhausted for years. “I’ll get through it somehow…” “Just a few more years like this…” “It’s just what being a lawyer requires…” Sound familiar?
Here, coaching can bring space and structure to think things through – what you are willing to accept, what you are not willing to accept any longer and must change. And how to go about both that acceptance and making those changes. Critical thinking, empathy, support, a little challenge, and holding you accountable for steps you agree you’re ready to make – these are some core benefits of coaching.
Our capacity for denial of what’s staring us in the face and avoidance of difficult decisions is simply amazing. What an incredible waste of precious energy! Coaching reflects back at you what’s going on in your life and work, and invites you to stop for a moment and decide what you really want from life – even if that may involve a big change. It can be transformational.
I’ve been a lawyer for 24 years and have created a nationally award-winning niche law firm, Menzies Law. Along the way, I’ve benefitted hugely from some great coaching, and have become a professionally qualified coach myself, eager to share these benefits with many others. I coach several clients a week (including lawyers) alongside my legal practice.
Supporting BLS members
Over the years I’ve mostly focussed on me – qualifications, career, earning money, professional success, etc. You know the type of thing. Now I’m at a stage in life where it feels more important to be thinking about other people. Coaching provides a great outlet for this. But those really in need of it can’t always afford it.
So I am now offering to BLS members the chance to access my support for free, where it’s really needed. I am offering free-of-charge coaching sessions, once a fortnight, to any BLS member who is facing professional or personal difficulties and is willing to give coaching a go, to gain clarity about things and find a way out of the place they are stuck in. This is available to one member at a time. Typically it takes at least 6 sessions to make significant progress, but sometimes amazing things can happen in the first couple of session.
For everyone else
And for everyone else in the Bristol legal community, I would love to work with you to promote clarity of vision, better decision-making, more resilience, improved self-awareness and generally taking proper charge of own your life – not just letting life happen to you. My coaching fee may be half your own hourly rate (or even less) and I promise you it can be life changing. I offer a free ‘chemistry session’ as a sample.
I’m going to leave you with this recent feedback I had from a Bristol lawyer client (and BLS member): “Thank you so much for what you helped me realise about myself and the changes I’ve made. I came to you for coaching on business and leadership. But the biggest change I’ve noticed is how differently I now talk to my children.”
How the right processes, supported by technology can lead firms to new success – Insight Legal
If the last 10 weeks has taught us anything, it’s that a lot can change in a short space of time. Law firms have needed to be agile and to re-think many operational processes to deal with staff issues and continue to provide their clients with expected levels of service. As lockdown restrictions ease and the practical implications of what ‘return to work’ actually means are considered, law firm leaders are working to identify the priority areas that need their attention.
The enforcement of the lockdown period and resultant sudden requirement for different working practises has meant that most law firms have had no option but to implement new procedures. For some, this has been a welcome push in a direction they always intended to take; for example, working more paper-lite or relying more on technology to automate processes. For others, lockdown has not only highlighted inefficiencies, but in some cases has exposed gaping holes in contingency planning and left firms teetering on the edge of survival.
Drawing on our many years of experience, including supporting over 850 law firms through the events of recent months, Insight Legal are publishing a series of articles with a particular focus on legal software. The series includes guidance on what you can – or should – expect from your software and your software supplier, as well as insider information on the process of transferring from one supplier to another and why now might just be the perfect time to change.
Part 1: Change offers opportunities to enlightened firms
How can you manage a law firm effectively when the only certainty is uncertainty? It seems to us that the answer is maximum flexibility regarding every arrangement and relationship. Your firm will have a myriad of such arrangements and some of these will be under contract. These provided certainty in stable times but now may become a millstone. Is it too much to suggest that, during the recovery phase, there is nothing that is not re-negotiable?
If lockdown shone a light on new working practices, and how technology enabled these, it is only sensible to ask your software supplier how these can be adopted and supported going forwards.
There are many different reasons why a practice might decide it is time to re-evaluate its software supplier, including:
- End of contract
- Change in fortune of the existing supplier
- Change in circumstance of the firm
Perhaps there is nothing “wrong” with your current software as such, but you feel that there just may be a better solution out there. Whatever the trigger, it is most important to have in mind a 3-6 month window in which to evaluate what you have and assess alternative solutions. It is not a decision that should be rushed, and if you don’t leave yourselves enough time then you could easily be swept in to an automatic renewal, and tied to your current software for perhaps another two or three years.
In our experience, the firms that extract the most benefit from transferring to a new system are those that followed a structured review process. Before starting a search of alternative providers, we recommend the following:
- Gather together all essential information about the existing software contract
- The contract end date and what happens immediately afterwards
- Any notice period needed to avoid an auto-renewal taking place
- What happens to the firm’s data in the event of not renewing?
- How will data be returned to the firm and will it be in raw form or in a report format?
- Will a charge be made for returning the data from the current supplier?
- How will any residual data be managed to satisfy GDPR regulations?
- Establish a project team of all vested stakeholders who will be at every stage of the review and recommendation process.
Deborah Witkiss, Chief Operating Officer at Insight Legal Software
Next time: Part 2: Drawing up a list of necessary software functionality and the traits of a reputable system supplier.
You can read more here: Insight Legal – White Paper – Choosing the right legal software
Law Society – Furloughing and Return to Work updates/toolkits
Furlough scheme deadline
The Government’s furlough scheme, the Job Retention Scheme, will close to new entrants on Wednesday 10 June.
If firm’s are considering taking advantage of the scheme in the future, including the new arrangements for part-time furloughing, relevant employees must be entered into the scheme by that deadline.
We have updated our guidance on the furlough scheme, published new FAQs on the scheme including some scenarios which firms may find themselves in.
> Read our latest guidance for law firms on the Job Retention Scheme
> Find the latest government guidance on the Job Retention Scheme
New webinar on furloughing will be available later this week
New return to the office toolkit
As the government begin to lift restrictions and solicitors slowly return to the office in the coming weeks, it is vitally important that firms are prepared and have taken all the necessary steps to ensure their safety.
We have published a return to the office toolkit, focused on providing practical steps that members can take in line with government guidance. It includes:
- Template COVID 19 Risk Assessment for law firms
- Downloadable posters to display in the firms (including the option for small firms to order printed and laminated copies from us)
- Staffing decisions flowchart
It is incredibly important that firms begin to consult with staff and complete the necessary risk assessments to ensure that everything is in place when they are able to return to the office.
Read our toolkit on the safe return to the office
Law Society – Reductions on cost of Accreditations
Reduction in the cost of accreditations
CQS members and Lexcel for the most recent renewal will be able to access a refund of 75% and for new application these will also be at a discounted rate by 75%.
Law Society Practice Note on Supervision
Please see link to the updated practice note on supervision
To access this you will be required to register for free on TLS website.
Bristol CFJC HMCTS Risk Assessments for Court Users
Movers & Shakers
Wards Solicitors LLP
Regional law firm Wards Solicitors LLP has announced that four of its solicitors have been promoted to Partner at the firm. They are:
Jeremy Johnson in the Commercial Property team, who is based at the firm’s Weston-Super-Mare office
Laura Jakeways, who specialises in Wills and Probate cases and is based at the Portishead branch
Alison Lamont, a Court of Protection specialist based at Wards’ Bristol office
Emma Kerry, a Disputes specialist focusing mainly on cases involving wills and inheritance matters, who works at the firm’s Clevedon office.
Wards has also announced two new promotions to Associate level: Alison Mellor, a Wills and Probate specialist in Bristol, and Richard Green, a Personal Injury claims solicitor who works in North Somerset.
Wards’ Managing Partner David Sheridan said: “We are especially pleased to announce these promotions to Partner and Associate within the firm, despite the problems caused by the current epidemic. These excellent specialist solicitors deserve this recognition. Congratulations to all of them.”
Wards Solicitors LLP is a well-established regional law firm with eleven offices across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset. The company employs more than 75 legal specialists who provide a full range of legal services to both local businesses and individuals.
The National Will Register are holding their annual Free Will Registration Month from Monday 18th May 2020.
Protect your wishes, protect your assets, for free
The National Will Register are holding their annual Free Will Registration Month from Monday 18th May 2020.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for Will writing has vastly increased. It was reported by The Law Society, the independent professional body for Solicitors in England and Wales, that there has been a 30% increase in the demand for writing Wills since the outbreak began. The Coronavirus has triggered many members of the public to either review their current Will or to contact a solicitor or Will writing professional to write a Will for the first time.
Part of the process of writing a Will is to ensure it can be quickly located following a death. Therefore, when writing your Will, you should also register it with The National Will Register. If your beneficiaries or executors are unsure if they are in possession of the last Will, cannot find the Will or are unaware if a Will was ever written, it can cause additional stress for your loved ones as well as put them at risk of distributing your estate incorrectly.
The National Will Register is endorsed by The Law Society of England & Wales and was set-up over a decade ago to help ensure that after a death a Will, and the last version of it, can be found. Today over 8.6 million Wills are now in the registration system. This means that after someone dies and before probate is granted, a Will can be located for a loved one by a person named in the Will (the executors and beneficiaries). There were an additional 750,000 Wills registered in 2019 which has contributed to the 8.6 million Will registrations that are now in the system. In line with the current increase in the demand for Will writing, there has also been an increase in Will registrations.
Registering a Will is a vital process that prevents families, beneficiaries and executors suffering additional stress because they either cannot find the Will, are not sure if they hold the last Will or are unaware if a Will was ever written.
Being able to locate a Will quickly after a death removes the additional emotional turmoil the family can face hunting through their loved one’s possessions. If they do find a copy of a Will, they then have to work out if it is indeed the last Will written and will need to understand where the original is stored, as the original document will be required to distribute the estate. This can be very distressing and create unnecessary uncertainty at a difficult time.
When it’s time to distribute the estate, the responsibility lies with the executor to distribute the estate correctly, a process more commonly known as ‘probate’. The executor is financially liable for any errors made during distribution. It is therefore absolutely imperative that the executors can locate the Will and distribute the assets in line with the Will.
Remember, if you’ve written a Will and it cannot be found then your estate will be distributed under the rules of intestacy. Therefore, posing the threat that those who you may have outlined to inherit could be left with nothing.
Free Will Registration Month is running from Monday 18th May until Thursday 18th June 2020. To register your Will visit www.nationalwillregister.co.uk and enter the code FreeWillReg2020 when asked. You do not need a copy of your Will to register it and the register does not need to see your Will.
About The National Will Register
Certainty the National Will Register is The Law Society’s endorsed provider of the National Will Register for England and Wales, the Institute of Professional Will Writers and the Society of Will Writers and Society of Will Writers Scotland. It is recommended by organizations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and Which?
Used by the public, legal profession, funeral directors, professional indemnity insurers, government agencies and charities to Register Wills and Search for Wills when dealing with a bereavement or writing a Will.
The National Will Register has over eight million Wills in the system currently a large proportion of Wills written by solicitors and Will writers with over 750,000 being registered in 2019.
The National Will Register provides fundamental protection for executors, beneficiaries and administrators and the probate profession distributing estates by minimising the risk of another Will being discovered after the estate has been distributed or an unknown Will remaining untraced and the estate being distributed without a Will.
In 2019, 12% of estates searched against had an unknown Will attached to them, the search prevented incorrect estate distribution. Either being a later Will revoking the Will being used or the estate was believed to be intestate and a Will existed. A Will Search checks to see if a Will has been registered with Certainty the National Will Register and also conducts a nationwide geographically-targeted search for Wills that have not been registered.
Each and every day we obtain human interest stories that demonstrate how Will Registration and Will Search have been able to assist in the Will writing and probate process, please do get in contact should you wish to receive further details.
BLS & Milsted Langdon Survey on users experience of virtual hearings
BLS and the Forensic team at Milsted Langdon have compiled a survey to gauge ALL users experience of virtual court hearings. Whether you are a Solicitor, Barrister, Judge, LiP or Expert Witness etc. we would love to hear what your experience is so we can publish the results and feed it back in to the courts.
The survey takes only a few minutes to complete. NEW Deadline 31 August 2020
Please do share amongst contacts.
Take the survey here
LawCare released data on all COVID-19 related contacts
Legal mental health charity LawCare has released data on all COVID-19 related contacts it has received to date for Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May). Forty eight legal professionals have contacted the charity with issues related to COVID-19 since 10th March, making up over a third (37%) of all contacts to their support service.
The top three issues concerning legal professionals are not being permitted to work from home, financial issues due to furlough/pay cuts or lack of work, and worsening of existing mental health conditions. Other problems have included relationship strain, childcare issues and being asked to work whilst on furlough.
Chief Executive Elizabeth Rimmer said: “We feel this is very much the tip of the iceberg and anticipate in the coming weeks more and more legal professionals will contact us as the emotional and financial impact of the pandemic begins to really hit home. We would like to remind all legal professionals, including support staff, they can contact us for free, in confidence, to discuss anything that is bothering them. Talking through your problems with one of our trained staff and volunteers, who have all worked in the law themselves, can really help.”
In response to the pandemic LawCare has developed a COVID-19 hub full of information and resources at www.lawcare.org.uk, where you can also access emotional support via email, webchat and LawCare’s peer support service. The helpline number is 0800 279 6888 (1800 991 801 in Ireland).
The charity is also asking legal professionals to share moments in their legal career when someone showed them kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week. You can share yours using #momentofkindness and tagging @LawCareLtd on Twitter, or LawCare on Facebook and Linkedin.
LawCare has received 130 contacts (helpline calls, emails, webchats) from legal professionals since 10th March with 48 of those (37%) related to COVID-19
Reasons for contact:
Not being permitted or enabled to work from home: 9
Worsening of existing mental health issues: 8
Financial issues due to furloughing/pay cut/lack of work: 9
Practical issues caused by measures (e.g. childcare problems, house move, transport): 5
Relationship strain or domestic abuse: 3
Postponement of needed review/exams/other: 3
Being asked to work while furloughed: 3
Overloaded with work due to colleagues being furloughed: 2
Distressed and unreasonable clients: 2
Emotional distress/isolation/boredom: 2
Struggling to adapt to working from home: 1
Worried about financial future of firm (employee): 1
Legal Walks Update and the Community Justice Fund
The Legal community across the nation were due to start raising funds during the spring Legal Walks this month. The Access to Justice Foundation hope for the Legal Walks 2020 programme to make a return this Autumn. However, as they continue to monitor government advice around social distancing, they will provide you with updates as soon as possible.
In the meantime, you can act now and protect our crucial free legal advice sector through the COVID-19 crisis.
The Access to Justice Foundation and the London Legal Support Trust have launched the Emergency Advice Appeal. The appeal will support the Community Justice Fund which is now live and application process is now open.
The fund was created in partnership with leading social justice organisations, who stressed the need for urgent, decisive action and maximum flexibility in how funding can be used.
Funders include the Access to Justice Foundation, Therium Access, Legal Education Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, AB Charitable Trust and Indigo Trust plus contributions from Law Society, Linklaters, Allen and Overy and London Legal Support Trust. The Community Justice Fund will be hosted by the Access to Justice Foundation and opens with over £5m, including contributions from Ministry of Justice.
With great thanks to all who have donated, the appeal has raised over £370,000! There is still time to donate and make an impact on access to justice.
Many specialist advice agencies will close over the next 6 months with risk of permanent closure unless they receive immediate extra support. Any donation you make to the Emergency Advice Appeal will be doubled and enable more advice services to continue to help the people most in need.
TO DONATE PLEASE VISIT OUR APPEAL PAGE https://atjf.org.uk/donate/emergencyappeal
If you have any questions about giving or how you could support further please contact email@example.com.
COVID-19 testing extended to those solicitors who are key workers.
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that those solicitors who are recognised as key workers (as set out on The Law Society’s website here) are eligible for COVID-19 testing. The Government portal is available here. All firms that are registering as employers via the portal must indicate that they employ some essential staff who are working with the MoJ to support the operation and delivery of the justice system.
BLS and the national Law Society would welcome feedback from those firms that register staff for testing in this way on how it works in practice.
Abrahams Dresden streamlines Legal Accounts management with Insight Legal Software support
BLS is delighted to announce our new supporter relationship with Insight Legal Software. Insight Legal provide award winning software for solicitors.
This case study gives an insight into their services and capability. Read the full case study here:
Ben Holt, BLS President, Legal Life May Update
We are now a month into lockdown and after the initial focus by firms on re-adjusting to the whole workforce remote working, the focus is firmly back on business and how we operate effectively within the confines of the lockdown rules. BLS have been liaising on a weekly basis with other large law societies and the national Law Society, ensuring that updates across the legal profession are disseminated to members and that member issues are being raised and addressed where possible on a regional and national platform.
Whilst our events have taken a back seat this last month, we are looking at new ways to engage with our members and in our representative capacity we have met with local Managing Partners to discuss the impact of the crisis and plan more virtual roundtables with HR and IT teams amongst others.
Our work on Community Engagement continues with a cross firm meeting held last week and a discussion about how firms can continue their work and collaborations in the current climate when the need is perhaps never greater.
I also hosted a very useful and well attended meeting organised by BLS with HHJs Cotter, Russen and Matthews for local litigators earlier this month ago to encourage a two-way discussion of court practices and procedures during this difficult time. You can read the salient points here
In the meantime if there are any issues that members wish to raise with us please do not hesitate to contact us via President@bristollawsociety.com or via our Head of Operations, Helen Read at firstname.lastname@example.org
Best wishes Ben Holt, President, BLS
COVID-19 Personal Hardship Fund for Solicitors – SBA
The Solicitors’ Charity has developed a unique COVID-19 Personal Hardship Fund to support solicitors who find themselves in personal hardship caused by the pandemic. The charity has committed to initial funding of £1,000,000. The fund will help solicitors that find themselves financially in need due to COVID-19. Full details on the fund and how to apply can be found on the charity’s website.
In addition, you can access the COVID-19 Support Hub. Here you can find up to date information and resources to support you during the outbreak.
Please pass this on to any person who you feel will benefit from the support on offer.
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: New Combined Qualifying Test for Deputy District Judge and Fee-Paid Judge of the First-tier and Employment Tribunals
The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) has now opened its registration for its new Combined Qualifying Test (CQT) which will take place in June 2020. The test is the first stage of three large selection exercises for fee-paid judges:
- Deputy District Judge
- Fee-paid Judge of the First Tier Tribunal
- Fee-paid Judge of the Employment Tribunal
In a change to the process used last year, the CQT will take place before candidates fill in their full application form. If you wish to apply for one or more of these roles, you will need to register for the CQT between 14 April and 5 May 2020, and express which role(s) you are interested in applying for. You may apply for all three. The JAC will not run another qualifying test for these roles until 2021, so if you are interested in any of the three roles, please make sure you register by 5 May. If you do not register for this test, you will not be able to apply for any of the above roles this year.
To find out the latest information on the CQT and to get reminders to register, please sign up to alerts here.
COVID-19 Business & VCSE weekly webinar – Mayor of Bristol
First session: Thursday 9 April 2020, 16:00-17:15
Online Zoom conference
Register your place on Eventbrite
During the webinar key city partners from business, public health and the voluntary sector will share updates and take questions on what they are doing, hearing and seeing, as follows:
1. Business – Updates 25 mins + 5 mins Q&A
2. Public Health – Updates 10 mins + 5 mins Q&A
3. VCSE sector – Updates 25 mins + 5 mins Q&A
If there are any questions you would like to raise ahead of time for this webinar or future events, please email email@example.com. To help manage the session, questions can be asked during the session via specific individuals and these will be shared on the day.
If you haven’t already, please check out the Council’s guidance on Covid-19, which is updated daily.
Register your place on Eventbrite here. Please note that spaces for the webinar are free and reserved on a first-come-first-served basis. The link to the Zoom conference will be shared with those who have a ticket in advance of the call.
Mayor of Bristol
t: +44 (0) 117 922 2420
Update from Bristol Law Centre re its pro-bono clinics and volunteering
Bristol Law Centre is currently continuing with its pro-bono clinics in Family, Civil Litigation and Employment. We are particularly inundated with Family enquiries which we are currently unable to manage the volume of enquiries.
Anyone who specialises in these areas of law and is 2 years PQE+ and holds a practising certificate, can volunteer for the Law Centre. As the client is a client of the Law Centre, insurance cover is provided by the Law Centre. Appointments are conducted over the phone with the client, they are one off and last between 30 -45 minutes.
If you are on furlough, you are allowed to volunteer your services to another organisation, although you should check with your firm first.
If you are interested in undertaking any volunteering, please contact Evi Economou at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 (email@example.com) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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.”