Bristol Annual Awards Dinner 14th October 2021 – Bookings and Nominations now open!
Book tickets/ tables click Here
(N.B editable Booking Form available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org– our sincere apologies that the website will not support editable word format documents)
Award Categories and Nomination process – click Here
Howden’s second Solicitors Market report of 2021 is now ready.
In our latest Solicitors’ Market Report we discuss the outcome of the April 2021 PII renewal and our forecast for the rest of the year. We share renewal housekeeping tips, D&O Liability focussed FAQs, causes of PII claims and offer guidance on Pre-Action Protocol that applies to professional negligence claims.
HMCTS – Safely increasing capacity in our buildings from 19 July 2021
The government has confirmed that the legal requirement for social distancing in England will be removed from today (Monday 19 July 2021), as well as the detail of which other aspects of step 4 on the roadmap will be adopted. In Wales, meanwhile, it is hoped most restrictions will be lifted on 7 August 2021. In Scotland, it is hoped that all major restrictions will be lifted on 9 August 2021.
We have published our updated guidance for all court and tribunal users during the COVID-19 pandemic, Organisational Risk Assessment and assessment tool, and keeping our buildings safe, secure and clean which forms the basis on which we are working from today (19 July 2021). As ever this may be further refined in the light of any additional guidance that is issued.
Our Acting CEO Kevin Sadler also published a blog last week which provided details on the changes we’ll be making to some of the measures in our courts and tribunals in England to safely increase capacity. We’ll do our best to respond to any questions with the information available to us, making use of our existing regular meetings and communication channels to update you whenever we can.
In addition, we’ve organised an online panel discussion for legal professionals on Tuesday 27 July 2021 from 5pm to 6pm. The session will discuss how we are responding to Step 4 of the government’s roadmap out of national restrictions for England. The event will be chaired by Paul Harris, HMCTS Operations Director, with questions and feedback steered by legal professional body representatives who will also sit on the panel, including representatives from The Law Society, Bar Council, Criminal Bar Association and CILEX. Registration for the event is now open.
The transformational powers of workflow – Article by Insight Legal
The transformational powers of workflow
By Tim Smith, CEO, Insight Legal
If there’s one critical business lesson for us to take from the last 18 months, it is the vital importance of having the right software in place to tackle whatever changes and challenges come your way.
Your office likely looks quite different to what it once did and your working methods may have changed, but in a time where change is the only thing that is certain, operating an organised workplace has never been more pivotal to success.
A successful law firm must be two key things – efficient and effective. At a time when demands on firms have never been greater, this article puts workflow capabilities at centre stage and explores how software helps us to navigate a successful course whilst thriving in the hyper-competitive legal landscape of present day.
The problem of disorganisation
Fully understanding the benefits of workflow begins with an appreciation of disorganisation. Untidy piles of paperwork, cluttered desks and unanswered, ringing phones may instantly spring to mind here. However, a disorganised office is not necessarily as visible as this. Stereotypical dishevelled appearance aside, a law firm’s disorganisation may manifest in diverse ways, be it making mistakes in documents and losing files or missing deadlines and failing to inform clients about landmarks reached in matters.
For end users of legal services, these signs are no less visible than the chaotic-mess typecast. Client outcomes are impacted negatively by errors, delays, confusion, oversights and general topsy-turvy-ness. Needless to say, an unhappy consumer will not bring repeat business or refer your practice to others.
The signs of disorganisation are equally visible to senior leaders. With a lack of efficiency, both billable hours and caseload volume are capped. This, of course, limits revenue. A high client churn rate means overspending on attracting new business and struggling to compete with better-organised rivals. Lack of audit trailing and monitoring of case progress makes it easier to breach regulatory rules which can lead to intervention by the SRA, CLC or other supervisory bodies.
Disparate systems for working and for storing information results in the inability to collaborate, arrange cover during staff absenteeism and gain a coherent picture of overall practice performance. Heavy staff turnover is another unavoidable consequence because it’s demoralising and demotivating day to day, which places unnecessary strain on your HR resource for incessant recruitment. The list goes on.
In sum, disorganisation is damaging for business.
Getting organised with workflow
A solution presents itself in the form of workflow. The word workflow itself presents certain connotations. Some imagine the workflow systems of old, which were no more than a prescribed checklist of tasks and events. Almost a tick-box exercise.
Put simply, a workflow maps out in advance the sequence of actions relating to particular case types. But far from the systems of the past, modern software and well-designed workflows offer a guiding hand and a supporting framework for staff whilst catering for potential deviations in cases which are more complex in nature. A workflow does not have to prescribe the entire case from start to finish, and it would be naïve to think that every eventuality in every type of legal case can be defined in this way. What is certain though, is that no matter how complex the case, there are certain elements where defined process is absolutely critical.
Take client onboarding, engagement and client care for example. Can your law firm afford not to have clearly defined processes for your staff to follow at this stage when compliance is of the utmost importance? Workflow can be bought out of the box, tailored to your ways of working or written completely from scratch, depending upon your unique set up, so there really is no reason why any firm cannot benefit from these essential tools.
Whether you are committed, open-minded or reserved about workflows for your business, it is useful to illustrate how it offers automation support during a matter’s entire lifecycle. It is also reassuring to understand some of the steps to implementing workflows, and where you can see immediate benefits.
Start by identifying each phase in your workflow from beginning to end. These are the repeated processes pertinent to particular categories of matters. Conveyancing is a prime example of how logical parts of a property conveyance can be created via workflow as they rarely veer from a standard course. Even if you are running a type of case that does not follow the same path every time, breaking down a case into phases that can be started as and when needed allows you to plan and control even complex and irregular types of matter.
For each of the aforementioned phases, attribute tasks to yourself and others with timely reminders. These are defined actions required at that specific phase. Note any dependencies or associated actions, say a related Probate and Property Sale. With proper workflow solutions, actions can be triggered in one matter once a milestone has been reached in the other.
Many of the required tasks necessitate completion of prescribed or customised documentation, whether it is from an integrated legal forms library or your own branded templates. The correct document can simply be assigned to a task, opened at the right time, automatically populated with case information straight from your database, calculations done automatically and submitted to the relevant recipient.
Workflows are not just about documentation, either. You can set prompts for gathering information, make relevant hyperlinks available to users at key points in the matter, submit already populated payment requests to your accounts department, and even link directly to property search providers where required.
The benefits of workflow and organisation
Workflows occur across every kind of business and industry. A business becomes effective by organising their processes, their requirements and their responsibilities, and becomes truly efficient by making them streamlined. Many of the benefits of an organised office are glaringly perceptible. Cast your mind back to the chaotic mess which can be resolved by electronic filing, paperless office vision and clear desk policy – part-and-parcel of workflow. However, the impact of an organised office runs far deeper than mere aesthetics and it is workflow that brings about this transformation.
It is the ability to avoid repetitive work for greater job satisfaction. It is the ability to free your schedule of administration so there is more time for the practice of law. It is the ability to do what you do to the best standard – quality documents, every appointment remembered and milestones met. It is the ability to centrally store your digital assets with no more misplaced files. It is the ability to connect all employees regardless of location, gain a unified firm-wide view and present your brand consistently. It is the ability to retain clients due to service level improvements. It is the ability to comply with regulators’ guidelines because there is simply no room for slip ups. It is the ability to retain staff as your office is a nice environment and there is flexible working. It is the ability to accomplish a whole lot more besides.
If you are not yet familiar with Insight’s Enterprise module, comprising a series of pre-built workflows and also the tooling to create your own, head over to https://www.insightlegal.co.uk/solicitors-software/enterprise/
Enterprise might just be the key to your organised office.
Valedictory for DJ Watson on 22nd July @ 9.30-10.15am
To mark the retirement of District Judge Brian Watson, we would to invite you to valedictory speeches which will take place on the above date and time.
Due to current restrictions, it has been agreed with the Leadership Judges that attendance will be remote and therefore, the following Cloud Video Platform (CVP) link is provided:
Included instructions for joining below.
The valedictory speeches will be as follows:
Opening His Honour Judge Cotter QC and His Honour Judge Wildblood QC
Responding BAR representative – name to be confirmed
Responding Solicitor representative – name to be confirmed
Replying District Judge Brian Watson
An RSVP is NOT required. Please feel free to forward this invitation to your colleagues who may be interested in attending this event.
Contested Financial Remedy Applications – HMCTS Update June 2021
Please see attached letter from the Court : Contested FR Update June 2021
COVID-19: Operational notice for external court users of Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre
HMCTS has been notified of suspected and positive COVID-19 tests amongst a small
number of people who attended our site within the last 14 days. Those awaiting test results or who have received positive test results are self-isolating for a minimum of 10 days fromthe onset of their symptoms. We wish them a speedy recovery.
As a precautionary step, the areas they occupied or visited while on site are isolated for 72 hours, with signs clearly indicating the isolation points, and followed by regular touchpoint cleaning or s16 cleaning, as appropriate.
Those affected have reported that they had no contact with members of the public visiting the building. Anyone they identified as having been in close contact (which includes spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of somebody, face-to-face contact of less than one metre, skin-to-skin contact, or sharing a vehicle), would be notified immediately by the court or tribunal they attended, as well as by NHS Test and Trace.
READ THE FULL NOTICE HERE: Friday 16 July external
2021/22 round of Queen’s Counsel honoris causa (honorary silk) awards by inviting nomination
The Ministry of Justice has launched the 2021/22 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.
As in previous years, the Law Society is participating in this process by making nominations itself of solicitor members of The Law Society. We are publicising the Law Society’s role as a nominating body and inviting nominations through a range of channels, including the Professional Update, local law societies, and the website. We are inviting people to nominate either themselves or others to us. A review panel will then select those who will go forward as nominees of The Law Society.
To make a nomination, you will need to provide basic personal details of the nominee (or yourself) and the following:
- Legal qualifications and legal experience to date
- What significant contribution(s) has the nominee made to the law in England and Wales, other than in court
- The major and particular contributions the nominee has made that reinforce the case for awarding the title of QC (honoris causa)
- 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-monday-9-august-2021.
Send your completed form to email@example.com no later than midday on Wednesday 21 July 2021 for consideration. Nomination by the Law Society is subject to our own internal review process and there is no guarantee of success.
President of the Law Society of England and Wales
Promotions and retirements at Wards
New era for Wards Solicitors as it announces a new Managing Partner
Leading South West law firm Wards Solicitors LLP has appointed a new managing partner, effective from 1 June.
Jenny Pierce, who is Head of Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity practice at Wards and is one of the firm’s long established senior team, has taken on the new position.
Commenting, Jenny said: “I am hugely proud to be appointed Wards’ new managing partner. As the first female head of the firm in its 100 year history, it’s an exciting new chapter in my career and also for the business.”
“We have always prospered by being a friendly firm which combines outstanding levels of client care with excellent legal advice. The last 14 months have been challenging but from when we first went into lockdown, the firm’s performance has exceeded expectation – we adapted quickly by using new technology and different ways of working across our teams. Now it’s about keeping the best parts of our working practices in this new environment, although nothing will ever replace one to one contact – we are all looking forward to resuming face to face client meetings safely.”
“I am really looking forward to working with our strong management team and helping the firm continue to thrive, supported by our fantastic lawyers and support teams who work incredibly hard delivering the best legal service to our clients.”
Former managing partner David Sheridan, who was instrumental in the successful growth of Wards over his 26 year tenure, continues to advise Jenny and other members of the firm’s senior team as a Consultant.
David said: “Jenny is dedicated, highly respected professionally and an experienced leader. She has developed Wards’ Wills and Probate team into one of the region’s largest and most respected. Having worked with her personally for many years, I know that she will do a fantastic job bringing that same enthusiasm to the firm as a whole. I wish her every success in her new role.”
Established more than 100 years ago, Wards Solicitors LLP is an established regional law firm with twelve offices across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and North Somerset.
The company employs more than 75 legal specialists providing a full range of legal services to both local businesses and individuals.
Wards Solicitors announces six new Partner promotions
Regional law firm Wards Solicitors LLP has announced that six of its solicitors have been promoted to Partner, across the firm’s family, conveyancing, disputes, cohabitation, Wills and Probate practice areas.
The newly promoted Partners are:
- Claire Blackman in the Residential Conveyancing team, who is based at the firm’s Worle office
- Sylvie Feltham who specialises in Family cases and is based in Weston Super Mare
- Lucia Mills a cohabitation and residential property disputes specialist based at Wards’ Bristol office
- James Murray a construction and property Disputes specialist based in the Bristol office
- Liz Pople in the Residential Conveyancing team, based in the firm’s Staple Hill office
- Sarah Woodward, who specialises in Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity work, based in Clevedon
Commenting, Wards’ Managing Partner Jenny Pierce said: “This year more than any other, our teams have experienced enormous disruption to their personal and professional lives but despite everything, they have shown the ability to adapt and thrive while remaining dedicated to our clients.
“I’d like to congratulate our new partners who have each made excellent contributions to the firm and their promotions are thoroughly well deserved.”
Wards Solicitors LLP is a well-established regional law firm with twelve 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.
Burges Salmon receives platinum Investors in People accreditation
Investors in People awards Burges Salmon the highest level accreditation, recognising the firm’s commitment to its people.
Independent UK law firm Burges Salmon has been recognised with a platinum ‘We invest in people’ accreditation by Investors in People for the deeply engrained policies and practices in place at the firm to support its people and enable them to flourish.
Investors in People is the international standard for people management, defining what it takes to lead, support and manage people effectively to achieve sustainable results and enabling organisations to benchmark against the best in the business on an international scale. Platinum is the highest accreditation available and only two per cent of organisations achieve this level of recognition.
The three-year accreditation follows an in-depth assessment carried out by Investors in People through one-to-one interviews, focus groups, observations of key meetings and people surveys. The prestigious recognition is particularly noteworthy having been achieved during COVID-19.
In its report, Investors in People applauded Burges Salmon’s commitment to high performance through exceptional people management which underpins the firm’s collaborative and inclusive culture. Areas highlighted in the accreditation assessment include: the firm’s approach to learning and development; its benefits package; its wellbeing strategy; the engagement with women whilst on maternity leave and the external coaching provided to support their return to work; and more.
Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, says: “We’d like to congratulate Burges Salmon. A platinum ‘We invest in people’ accreditation is a remarkable effort for any organisation, and places the firm in fine company with a host of organisations that understand the value of people.”
Jenny Goward, HR director at JJG HR Solutions Ltd and Investors in People Practitioner, comments: “Congratulations to Burges Salmon for achieving platinum in their recent We Invest in People assessment; platinum level is not easy to achieve and demonstrates excellence and high performance. Platinum clients are our superstars, with their people management and the way they continuously improve in everything they do. Burges Salmon has a unique and strong organisational culture that is highly collaborative, purpose driven with strong organisational values that are at the heart of everything they do. It is a pleasure to work with them.”
Burges Salmon’s Managing Partner, Roger Bull, says: “We are delighted that the firm has received this platinum accreditation from Investors in People – it is testimony to the collective efforts made across the firm to ensure it is a place where all our people can flourish.”
The firm’s Chief People Officer, Robert Halton, adds: “We are incredibly proud to have been awarded a platinum accreditation by Investors in People in recognition of our efforts to ensure Burges Salmon has an open and inclusive culture, where our people are encouraged and feel able to be themselves at work.
“This achievement is all the more significant following a year during which the business and every one of our people faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the global pandemic, and it is of huge importance that our unique, collaborative culture has prevailed and strengthened through such testing times.”
Bristol Legal Service – Tuesday 19th October @6pm
SAVE THE DATE FROM THE HIGH SHERIFF
The Legal Service will be held this year on Tuesday 19 October at 6pm at St Mary Redcliffe Church. Traditionally it is to mark the start of the legal year but the High Sheriffs of Bristol now hold it as a celebration of the philanthropic work of the whole legal and judicial world.
The work that I can see through the community engagement group gives only a snapshot of all the community, pro bono, fundraising and other activities which go on throughout the year and which are so valuable to the people of Bristol and this is just a way of highlighting what you all do.
I would love as many people as possible from all the law firms to join me so I can say thank you from the city and all the people who benefit. It will be a chance as well to meet you all in person after this year of virtual meetings.
Susan J Davies BEM
High Sheriff of Bristol 2021-22
twitter – @hsheriffbristol
EU Settlement Scheme – deadline 30th June!
As you may know, the deadline for EU nationals to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme is next week, on 30 June.
Due to Brexit, EU citizens must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme if they want to continue living in the UK after June 2021. Even if they have lived in the UK most of their lives. EU nationals who have lived continuously in the UK for five years or more should be entitled to settled status, meaning they are free to go on living in the UK indefinitely.
If those needing to apply miss the deadline, they may lose their existing rights, like living and working here, access to free health care, and benefits.
Please help us to get the message out to your staff, colleagues and networks so that EU community are able to stay living, working and studying here.
You could share this tweet , or one of our EUSS posts on Facebook, Instagram or linked in. I have attached our digital slide poster for you to print or share digitally, and please do include in your next newsletter or on your intranets.
You can find out more about the scheme and where residents can find help at Bristol.gov.uk/EUSettlement
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Nine Feet Tall Host Legal IT Panel Discussion on Digital Transformation
On Wednesday 16th June, Nine Feet Tall hosted a Legal IT Event with panellists from leading firms: Allen & Overy, DAC Beachcroft and Osborne Clarke. The theme was “Digital Transformation and the Role of IT” and the event addressed IT adoption and key challenges, as well as emerging technology and the future of Legal IT.
The online event was attended by representatives from the top 50 UK law firms who submitted questions to the panellists throughout the online discussion. One of the topics centred around ensuring behaviours and rapid decision making, which accelerated during the pandemic, are continually embraced and firms do not fall back into more traditional ways of working.
The IT function within the legal sector has changed rapidly in the past few years, not just in terms of the technology available but also the growth in scope and limitation of boundaries. Andrew Brammer discussed some of the changes Allen & Overy have seen: “A while ago we might have struggled to get people on IT training courses, now they recognise the need to use technology to fulfil their role.” The panel agreed that the role of IT has become more consultative and working collaboratively with business teams is key.
Nathan Hayes (IT Director) from Osborne Clarke expanded on this point whilst addressing the role of IT in Digital Transformation versus the role of the rest of the business: “Playing a consulting role is key for us. We play an essential role in connecting our lawyers with the toolsets they need to deliver key outcomes including outstanding service delivery, reducing risk and improving profitability.”
David Aird from DAC Beachcroft led a discussion around whether firms are fully utilising their current technology stack. The panel discussed issues with adoption and misconceptions as to what can be achieved within legal services. This included how the successful rollout of applications such as MS Teams, over the last year, has proved that barriers to adoption can be overcome. Helping individuals to understand how technology fits into their role is critical for addressing adoption.
Nine Feet Tall Partner and Event Panellist Tiggy Robinson said “we were so pleased there was such an interest in this event and the discussions were animated and valuable. Law firms are starting to move beyond traditional ways of working and IT plays a huge role in enabling this. It has been interesting to hear different opinions and discuss pressing topics such as data compliance and security as well as the value of innovation. I hope our attendees have left with plenty of food for thought.”
A recording of the whole event will be hosted on NineFeetTall.com for anyone wishing to watch the discussions. If you would be interested in attending our events in the future, please contact: TiggyR@NineFeetTall.com.
Contested Financial Remedy Applications – HMCTS Update
SRA agrees to Law Society’s request for SIF extension
Press release • 15 Jun 2021
The Law Society of England and Wales welcomed the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s
(SRA) decision to extend the life of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) for a further 12
months and is pleased the SRA has heard our concerns and those of both the profession
However, the Law Society called on the SRA to act quickly and work with us and others to develop a viable alternative scheme to provide post six-year run off cover.
Law Society president, I. Stephanie Boyce, said: “We are pleased the SRA has heard the
many reservations expressed by us and others about the closure of the SIF and has now
removed the risk of imminent SIF closure at a time when no viable alternative is available.
“We have been raising our concerns with the SRA, the regulator for this issue, for more than three years. We are pleased they are now taking steps to find an effective solution and undertake the detailed analysis required to assess the future of post six-year cover.
“The SRA has accepted, as an important element of consumer protection, it is a problem
that it, as regulator, must solve.
“But it is not enough simply to delay closure again in the hope that next year the commercial indemnity insurance market will change and fill the gap in consumer protection that SIF closure will create. The SRA must move quickly to publish its consultation on future options and put a plan in place.”
“We urge the SRA to work hand in hand with the Law Society, the insurance industry and others to find a long-term solution to the problem of run-off indemnity cover. It needs to show imagination in looking at long-term solutions that provide proper levels of consumer protection, and that do not expose solicitors to ruinous claims or consumers to potentially lengthy and complex litigation.”
“The Law Society will continue to make the case for solicitors and their clients, and we look forward to supporting the SRA in this critical area of its work.”
Are you working from home or living at work? Article by Insight Legal
Are you working from home or living at work?
By Deborah Witkiss, COO, Insight Legal
Remote working has become universal during the pandemic. The office is replaced by a designated area somewhere at home. The journey to the office is replaced by the telecommute. The standard 9-to-5 day is replaced by flexible hours.
While these operational changes have given business continuity, the impact on individuals working from home (WFH) has not always been positive, argues Deborah Witkiss at Insight Legal. However, software can resolve many of the problems experienced by WFH employees and their employers alike.
Blurring the boundaries between professional and private life
The line separating work from home is blurred. There’s no clear geographic division from workspace to personal space, no punctuation to the daily grind and no set time of day to shut down the laptop.
The conjoining of work and home, and working longer days, mean that stress is rising with accuracy and attendance bearing the brunt. Other emerging concerns are supervision and teamworking, resulting in lack of essential direction and failure to function coherently.
These factors do not a successful law firm make.
Gaining immunity through software
Part of the solution comes in the form of cloud case management and legal accounts software which contains functionality to support home workers and management teams.
The first way software helps is by introducing efficiencies. Where Insight Legal Software is concerned, this plays out in areas such as the workflow, tasks and time recording features of our Enterprise system.
Assigning tasks and actions at each step in your workflow makes sure that the right things are being done (or not being done) by the right people at the right time. The automatic prompts to perform an action, automatically populate data, automatically calculate financials, and automatically save correspondence and documents eliminates errors to which anyone working long hours is prone. With work made easier, morale benefits, as does attendance records. Plus, your staff get more done in less time, as shown in accompanying time recordings.
The second way software helps is by enhancing management and collaboration by setting up approval measures, performing file reviews, distributing work and redistributing during sickness or holiday. The associated monitoring and reporting permits identifying mistakes for rectification, tackling unfair volumes so that no one is stretched more than another, prioritising work for its timely completion and continuing case progress to stay on track.
Teamworking capabilities are revolutionised because you can coordinate everyone’s schedule, align employees and oversee junior people. Your business is more orderly, your procedures more methodical and your service delivery more consistent, for advantages internally (morale and engagement) and externally (stakeholder perceptions): the visible manifestations of a well-managed company.
Risk, trust and control
Insight Legal participated in the Law Society Gazette roundtable on the changing nature of risk with wellbeing and supervision discussed at length. The consensus being not getting overly distracted by the tangential issues of WFH at the cost of people. As a sector whose business is delivering legal services, we wholly rely on our people.
HR programmes are the primary channel to overcome staff welfare challenges. As we have demonstrated here, though, software also plays a leading role.
Software’s role is about more than just empowering your talent to be productive anywhere with cloud faculties. Software’s role is to elevate efficiencies, reimagine legacy processes, mitigate risk in all its guises, unite and protect workers, and strengthen controls to tick your ‘working from home’ box, not ‘living at work’.
From 21st June (as per the current government roadmap) you can choose how you will operate, whether it is returning to a totally office-based structure, paring back on office space or adopting a hybrid architecture. Whatever your business decision, Insight Legal is here to support you. Our software gives you the total flexibility to run your company any which way with tools designed to optimise procedures, connect people and equip partners to manage better: insightlegal.co.uk/solicitors-software/enterprise.
The Law Society Good practice for supervision of junior staff and trainees article May 21
SRA Closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF)- Article by BLS Council member
SRA Closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF)
Before I start, I declare an interest as a former sole practitioner. I closed my practice in 2010 after 23 enjoyable years, with no successor practice. If I had known, then what was going to happen I would probably have done things differently.
The SRA has decided to close the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF). Well, so what, you might ask? Bear with me and please keep reading – because this has the potential to affect not just solicitors like me, but every one of you, whether you are a partner, sole principal, or an employee, whether past or present.
Last year the SRA, following representations from The Law Society, extended the closure date for SIF by one year. The date for closure is now 30 September 2021. The reason given for the extension at the time was the covid pandemic, and the difficulties in the insurance market, and to give The Law Society time to find a solution such as an alternative insurance product. Nothing has changed since then.
No solution has been found. There is no insurance product available in the market. We are now approaching the cliff edge.
I am aware that many of you won’t have heard of SIF or know very much about it – especially those of you who qualified after 2000, and those of you who have never had to deal with applications for your firm’s professional indemnity insurance. But it is important that all solicitors know what is going on.
For a bit of background see the recent statement by the SRA:
There is also background information on The Law Society website, an extract of which is as follows:
Originally, SIF was the statutory fund that used to provide cover to solicitors in England and Wales.
When the profession voted to move from a statutory fund system to purchasing professional indemnity insurance (PII) on the open market, a portion of SIF was retained to provide ongoing run-off cover for firms that had already closed. Later, its scope was extended to cover other closed firms once their mandatory six-year run-off cover had expired.
After a law firm closes, run-off cover must be purchased to protect solicitors and their clients in the event of any civil claims that arise because of negligence. This mandatory run-off cover is purchased as part of the firm’s professional indemnity insurance (PII) and lasts for six years.
Coverage after this six-year period is called supplementary run-off cover and is currently provided by SIF by way of indemnity, at no additional cost to the former principals of a closed firm. However, for firms that closed on or after 1 September 2000, this cover will end on 30 September 2021.
Unless alternative arrangements are made, the former principals of firms that closed from September 2000 onwards, their estates, and even individual employees, may be personally liable for losses from any claims that are made.
Please also see a recent article in the Gazette:
……..Read the rest of the article here
Howden proud to announce new PII sponsorship of the Bristol Law Society
Howden are delighted to announce that Bristol Law Society have chosen Howden as their new, long-term Professional Indemnity Insurance sponsor. This appointment will allow Bristol Law Society members access to resources and exclusive facilities only available through Howden.
Howden will also be providing regular guidance on risk management and other areas of expertise such as Cyber Liability Insurance, Directors & Officers Insurance and Employee Benefits & Wellbeing solutions.
Matthew Baker, Associate Director, Howden, commented – “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the Bristol Law Society and their members. We see that the Law Society provides a crucial role for law firms and through this partnership we will be adding further value for members.”
Colin Taylor, Divisional Director, Howden, commented – “We aim to provide guidance and support to members in what have become very challenging times. I am sure our experienced and personal approach will be welcomed, bringing a number for benefits to the members.”
Ben Holt, President of the Bristol Law Society said, “We are looking forward to developing a long term working relationship with Howden. This relationship enables us to offer our members insight and support for Law Firm Professional Indemnity Insurance and maximise the effectiveness of their risk management culture. With recognised expertise in the legal sector, and our history of working with Matthew Baker and Colin Taylor, Howden are a great fit for us. Howden will help us by providing a range of educational workshops, webinars and market insights as part of our increasing offer to members at a time of significant challenges and opportunities in the legal sector.”
Online Applications under S8 Children Act 1989
Download letter here>> C100 pilot letter FINAL (003)
Content of letter below:
Online applications under section 8 of the Children Act 1989
From Tuesday 18 May 2021, online applications made at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre using the online version of form C100 ‘Applications under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 for a child arrangements, prohibited steps, specific issue order or to vary or discharge or ask permission to make a section 8 order’ will be processed by a central team as part of a pilot to deliver a faster service for users.
The central team will deal with the initial checks, fee payment and data entry onto our case management system before passing the file to the local court for judicial gatekeeping. The aim will be to deal with applications within 24 hours and urgent applications will continue to be prioritised. If you need an urgent hearing you must contact the local court to arrange an appointment in the usual way.
All subsequent case management will be completed by the local court staff as usual and you should continue to contact the local court with any queries.
The pilot will be subject to an evaluation ahead of a national roll out.
How to submit an application for approval of a draft consent order
• Complete form C100 online
• Email accompanying draft consent order to C100applications@justice.gov.uk quoting
the unique C100 reference number followed by ‘consent order’ in the subject field
immediately after submitting your application.
The process for applications made on paper remains unchanged.
We encourage you to pay the court fee online or quote your fee account number on the
application as this will allow us to process applications faster. We are unable to accept cash payments, but cheques can be sent with your application to:
PO Box 1792
DX: 135986 Southampton 32
Help and support
Further guidance on completing the C100 is available online. For more information or to ask a question about the pilot, please contact Civil_and_familybusinesssupport@justice.gov.uk
Deputy Director and Probate Service Owner
HM Courts & Tribunals Service
Law Care Resources #MHAW 10-16 May 2021
Reclaim your lunchbreak and recharge in nature this Mental Health Awareness Week
10-16 May 2021
Many of us have lost our connection with nature, spending most of our time indoors, at home, in an office or in a car. Sometimes even having a lunchbreak seems luxurious – most of us bolt food down at our desks so as not to miss a minute of the working day. However as humans we aren’t meant to spend so much time indoors. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers spending most of their time outdoors amongst trees, by water, studying plants and animals, in all seasons and weather. Could our health and wellbeing be compromised because we spend less time outdoors? There are many powerful reasons why we should down tools and step outside once a day, so this week try and use your lunchbreak to get outside.
Being outside can help your productivity
We often think we don’t have time to take a proper break during the working day but having a break outside can make all the difference to your productivity and give you perspective on a work issue. Researchers found that time spent in nature can renew our attention spans when they are flagging after a hard day’s work or an extended period staring at a screen – this is known as Attention Restoration Therapy (ART). This is supported by research from the University of Madrid and Norwegian University of Life Sciences that found seeing natural landscapes can speed up recovery from stress or mental fatigue.
Contact with nature reduces anxiety and stress
Being anxious, stressed or depressed can mean you don’t want to go outside, preferring to hunker down indoors. Whilst this may be your natural instinct, going outside and being with nature can reduce your anxiety and stress. There is scientific evidence that we feel calmer when we look at trees for example, this is known as biophilia. Forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese practice of spending time slowly and quietly in forests, is proven to lower the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenalin, suppresses the fight or flight instinct, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and improves sleep. Not only that but the activity of white blood cells known as natural killer (NK) cells increases when humans spend time in woods. You don’t have to visit a wood or forest every day – these biochemical benefits last for up to a month.
In addition there is evidence that exercise outside can be more effective than antidepressants for those with mild to moderate depression and research from the University of Exeter showed that the presence of birds in a landscape can help to lift depression. It is also well known that time spent with animals, or gardening has a positive impact on your mental health.
Time outside can effect the chemical make up of our brain
There are several physiological and neurological changes that take place when we go outside which can boost the happiness chemicals in our brain. Serotonin is a compound that carries signals between nerve cells in our brain and there is link between the levels of serotonin in our brain and our mood. Time spent in the natural world and particularly in sunlight triggers an increase in serotonin. Exploring a new environment outside and foraging, collecting shells, leaves, blackberries, releases dopamine which helps regulate movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses. Cold water swimming is shown to boost serotonin, oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphins which reduces pain, relieves stress, and enhances pleasure. It also helps to control our fight or flight instinct.
Nature can help you learn mindfulness
Meditation, or mindfulness, is proven to reduce stress, however some find it hard to get to grips with. Nature offers many ways to be mindful without even realising, whether its bird watching in your garden, watching a sunrise or sunset, looking at a bee buzz round a flower, star-gazing at night or listening to the sound of the sea, these are all ways to help you be calm and still and focus on the present moment which can help you maintain good mental health and wellbeing and keep stress at bay.
LawCare provides emotional support to all legal professionals, support staff and their
concerned family members. You can call our confidential helpline on 0800 279 6888, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or access online chat and other resources, including Mental Health Awareness Week materials, at www.lawcare.org.uk
Resources and useful links
Book: Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell
Book :The Natural Health Service by Isabel Harman
Mental Health Foundation Thriving with Nature
Mind – how nature benefits mental health
Nature for Health and Wellbeing The Wildlife Trusts
RHS: How gardening can help mental health and wellbeing
Thrive: the gardening for health charity
Forestry Commission: Forests for Wellbeing
Mindfulness in Law Group
The Law Society Awards 2021 are now open for entries
The Law Society Awards 2021 are now open for entries
It’s never been more important to celebrate the outstanding work of our profession. Last year, the legal industry persevered despite significant challenges. Now more than ever, all your hard work deserves to be celebrated.
Whether you’re dedicated to delivering first class client service or your organisation or firm has gone above and beyond in upholding the rule of law during the most challenging of times, there is a category for you. The Law Society Awards are here to highlight the outstanding work that solicitors do. Find out more
Entries close at midnight on Friday 21 May 2021.
Lateral Flow Test Guidance for local stakeholders: Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre – April 21
COV 19 Home Test kit service launch at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre
Following our previous communication informing you of our intention to make home test kits available for staff, judiciary, contractors, jurors, professional court users (including legal professionals) who regularly access our buildings, we would like to provide you with further detail around the collection service operating at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre.
Why are we offering Home Test kits?
HMCTS is committed to supporting The Department of Health & Social Care’s national testing programme to identify individuals within the population who are positive for Covid-19 but do not have symptoms. Identifying asymptomatic positive cases and informing them to self-isolate will reduce the spread of the virus. We have been operating on-site testing stations at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Southwark Crown Court, Leicester Crown Court, Reading Crown Court, Leeds Combined Court, Winchester Combined Court and Northampton County Court Business Centre. Since 8 March, we have been piloting home test kit collection in some of our courts.
Testing will supplement our existing COVID-secure measures, provide additional reassurance to staff and court users and help us identify asymptomatic people who need to self-isolate, but who would not otherwise be identified……………. Click here to download and read remainder of letter :Lateral flow test guidance for Local Stakeholders
Myanmar update post delegation visit in 2019
Bristol Law Society were delighted to welcome a delegation of Myanmar lawyers back in 2019 who were keen to meet local lawyers and hear about the judicial system in our country.
It is with concern that we learn of the difficulties facing the country at present and those who practice law within it including the arrest of U Kway Hoe, one of the lawyers who visited BLS as part of the delegation. The Law Society International Campaigns team have put together a statement of solidarity and we would echo the content of the Law Society statement and support the work they are undertaking to monitor the situation in Myanmar.
Closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund
The Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) will stop accepting new claims after 30 September 2021.
Currently, SIF provides ongoing cover to firms once their mandatory six-year run-off period has elapsed. The closure means that solicitors may be personally liable for losses from any future claims that are made against firms that have been closed for more than six years.
It’s important that you understand what this means for you in order to protect yourself against potential future claims. This is a short summary – links to full details are available at the end.
What you need to do
You’ll need to start by reflecting on your risk exposure.
The first thing to consider is areas of work. Some work areas are at greater risk of long-tail claims, such as residential conveyancing, wills and trusts, child personal injury, and matrimonial property.
Secondly, you may be affected differently depending on whether a practice at which you were a principal or employee is now closed, and when the closure took place.
Below we have outlined four groups of members which will be affected differently and suggest practical steps you could take.
Group A: Firms that closed on or before 31 August 2000
These firms are currently covered by SIF. As they closed before the profession moved to purchasing insurance on the open market, arrangements will be made for them to receive ongoing cover after SIF has closed.
If you fall into this group, you may not need to take any action.
Group B: Firms that closed between 1 September 2000 and 30 September 2015
These firms are in SIF, or will be in SIF, by 30 September 2021. This is the group that we believe faces the greatest difficulties as a consequence of SIF’s closure. For some time now, we have been actively pursuing options for this group and continue to earnestly engage with the insurance industry to find a solution. However, there are currently limited alternatives available.
- If you’re aware of any matter which could give rise to a claim and can identify the former client who was affected, consider contacting that client (or their beneficiaries) and encouraging them to register a claim with SIF prior to 30 September 2021.
- Gather and keep whatever relevant paperwork you still have available relating to your practice and indemnity insurance records, including previous applications and claims.
- If you had a good claims history and paid your excesses and run-off premium, consider approaching your former broker or underwriter to see if they’re willing to consider providing you with supplementary run-off cover. This would not have to be on the same terms as your original mandatory run-off cover.
- If you were part of a traditional partnership, you may want to discuss with your former partners whether and how you would pay for any supplementary cover.
Group C: Firms that have closed since 1 October 2015
These firms have closed, and they will never benefit from SIF because it will stop accepting new claims before their mandatory six-year run-off period comes to an end. Unless alternative arrangements are made, these firms will be left without protection once their run-off cover expires.
For former principals, we suggest that you take the practical steps outlined in points 2 through 4 above and preserve any records which may be of assistance in dealing with future claims.
Group D: Existing firms
Unless alternative arrangements are made, existing firms will be left without protection once their run-off cover expires. However, there are still precautionary measures that firms can take to reduce their long-term exposure.
- Principals of existing sole practices or partnerships should consider incorporating as a limited liability company, as this will reduce personal exposure to claims arising from work carried out subsequent to incorporation. But you should take independent advice on this, as it may have other consequences for your practice.
- Work to improve risk management systems, and carefully consider whether you should stop taking on any new work in areas with a higher risk of long-tail claims. Retain records of any such work you’ve done previously, or do in the future, in order to defend any claims that may arise subsequently.
- Principals should also think about their likely need for supplementary run-off cover, and how they’ll pay for it. Consider setting aside funds now or start to implement a plan to help you to pay for your mandatory and supplementary run-off cover in the future.
To find out more about the SIF closure and register for updates
- Visit www.lawsociety.org.uk/SIF-closure for the full details on the closure of SIF, its impact on closed, existing and new firms, and practical steps to take for principals and employees.
- Sign up or log in to My LS and add the ‘Solicitors Indemnity Fund’ topic. Select ‘Manage topics’ and search for ‘Solicitors Indemnity Fund’.
- Register interest in receiving further information by calling the Support Centre of the Law Society of England & Wales on 020 7242 1222 and leaving your contact information, or email SIF@lawsociety.org.uk to be included in future updates.
BLS back apprenticeship campaign
BLS has pledged their support, for Weston College’s latest apprenticeship campaign,
300 in 100, which seeks to create 300 apprenticeship opportunities in just 100 days.
Following the Coronavirus pandemic, youth unemployment has risen by 13%, with a further 785,000 people under 24 on furlough. This campaign is seeking to create brighter futures for young people, businesses, and the wider community, to help us build back better.
Also any employer who decides to hire an apprentice between 1st April 2021 and 30th September 2021, can access government incentives, of up to £4,000.
Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of the Weston College Group, said: We are delighted to welcome Bristol Law Society on board, to support this much needed campaign. The whole business landscape has been flipped upside down over the last 12 months, and this campaign is seeking to help employers’ access new skills, whilst committing to changing someone’s life. One of the most effective ways of bringing a new generation of employees to your company or investing in your current workforce training is through apprenticeships. Our employer network and our learners have benefited hugely from apprenticeships, and we are excited to help even more people improve their lives through this campaign.
You can pledge your support for the campaign, and find out more about apprenticeships, at www.weston.ac.uk/300in100
Legal Services Board – Launch of Reshaping Legal Services: a sector-wide strategy
Following a year of engagement, consultation and research, the LSB have launched Reshaping legal services: a sector-wide strategy.
The strategy outlines how long-term, sustainable change is needed to reshape legal services so that we can better meet society’s needs. It builds on the State of Legal Services 2020 report, which offers an evidence-based account of the legal services sector over the last ten years and the challenges it continues to face and the three strategic themes for the sector to address to reshape legal services: fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services.
Critically, the strategy recognises the importance of collaboration. We invite you to work with us and others across the sector to contribute to meeting the strategy’s aims.
We have also published our 2021-22 business plan and response to the recent consultation. The business plan sets out the our budget and priorities for the year, and we are looking at which areas will be best supported by collaboration. We are grateful for the offers already received and welcome other expressions of interest.
We are grateful to those who have contributed to this strategy’s development and who recognise the collective work needed to deliver better outcomes for society. We look forward to working with you.
Dr Helen Phillips
Legal Services Board
LawCare News March 2021
Volunteer for LawCare!
Join our fantastic team of volunteers, we’re currently looking for the following:
- Helpline Volunteers who can cover weekday shifts (particularly Wednesday morning or Friday afternoon)
- Peer Supporters who are young and/or newly qualified and have experienced and overcome workplace bullying
- Peer Supporters who have been through disciplinary proceedings
- Peer Supporters who work in-house and in the public sector
- Peer Supporters who are pupil or newly called barristers
We would particularly welcome Peer Supporter applicants from BAME backgrounds as this group is currently underrepresented.
Full training is offered for these roles. To find out more please email email@example.com
or call 01268 771333. Please note that we require all helpline volunteers and peer supporters to have had experience of working in the legal profession.
LawCare is thrilled to be a charity partner of The Be Kind We Care initiative, launched by the Conveyancing Foundation to promote kindness and wellbeing within the property industry and raise over £30,000 in 2021 in support of charities providing mental health and welfare initiatives.
The Be Kind We Care Resource Hub offers access to a host of useful guides, top tips, podcasts, and webinars.
The Legal Mind podcast
LawCare’s Gemma Matthews talks to Joanna Fleck and Rachel Francis, founders of Claiming Space, about Vicarious Trauma in the legal profession. Listen here or find us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Take part in research
We want to let you know about some interesting research studies happening in the wider legal profession that you might like to get involved with.
The Work in Lockdown study is examining experiences of working from home.
Advancing Wellness in Law: Digital Conversation
Advancing Wellness in Law was created by four legal academics with strong research interests in the areas of wellness, wellbeing, emotions and mental health in legal education and the legal profession. Join them on Tuesday 23rd March 2021 at 9.30 am for a discussion of wellbeing in law schools and law firms. A chance to share experiences and ideas on what are the key wellbeing issues to focus on, what wellbeing initiatives do and don’t work and how we can develop a more ‘joined-up’ approach across law schools and legal practice. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation.
Bristol City Initiatives of interest to the local legal Profession
We were pleased to welcome the Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees speak to many of our local Managing Partners and Senior Leaders this week.
The Mayor thanked the local profession for their contribution to the City and also outlined a number of initiatives that might be of particular interest to the local legal community:
West of England Black Interns Pilot: In recognition of the employment gap that exists for black graduates, and inspired by the #10000BlackInterns initiative, we are launching a new internship programme in the region – the West of England Black Interns pilot.
The scheme will provide a four week paid work experience for black and mixed heritage students at the end of the summer, with Hargreaves Lansdown coordinating the recruitment and placement of interns.
To find out more, you can go to the website or email WestEngInterns@hl.co.uk – please get in touch with expressions of interest, including how many interns you’d like to take, as soon as possible.
Bristol WORKS – information on how to sign up to offer experiences of work is available at Bristol WORKS and the team can be contacted directly at email@example.com
Domestic Abuse legal support – if firms are in a position to help improve access to representation and advice for people affected my domestic violence, please do contact us and we can put them in contact with Next Link Housing who are leading this work – firstname.lastname@example.org The report of the Mayoral Commission on Domestic Abuse is available to read here, and as part of this work we are asking employers to engage with Hestia’s Everyone’s Business Campaign. Hestia have been commissioned by the government specifically to advise employers on domestic abuse within the workforce.
No Recourse to Public Funds – A ‘One City’ working group is being established on legal support for vulnerable migrants, particularly those that have been accommodated on an emergency basis during the COVID pandemic. For more information, please contact email@example.com
Bristol One City- March Newsletter
March 2021 Newsletter – Bristol One City
Includes City Office updated One City Plan and Annual Report 2020
New report reveals significant LegalTech cluster in Bristol & Bath
A new report from Whitecap Consulting, conducted with support from key regional stakeholders, has found impressive levels of LegalTech activity, capability and employment across legal service providers, tech firms and LegalTech businesses in the Bristol & Bath region.
The report identifies a significant level of LegalTech activity across an established legal sector, including more than 750 tech and innovation roles. In addition, there is a growing cluster of over 30 LegalTechs, tech companies working in the legal sector, and LegalTech arms operating within the region’s law firms. The new report is the latest evidence to support the region’s core strength in emerging areas of technology, coming less than two weeks after it was named in the Kalifa Review as one of the top 10 FinTech clusters in the UK.
The research has been conducted in partnership with West of England Combined Authority, Invest Bristol+Bath, Bristol Law Society, Bristol+Bath LegalTech, with support from sponsors including Amdaris, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, Datasharp Integrated Communications, Foot Anstey, PracticeEvolve, University of Law, and VWV. Nearly 50 stakeholders were interviewed as part of the research process, which was supported by an online survey and a number of events.
The key findings of the report include:
- High levels of LegalTech activity and service innovation across law firms of all sizes reflect the region’s underlying strengths in technology and law – including the presence of 17 Top 200 law firm head office functions.
- Bristol and Bath has built an extensive LegalTech talent pool, with more than 750 legal technology and innovation roles identified by our research.
- There is a growing cluster of over 30 LegalTechs, tech companies working in the legal sector and LegalTech arms within the region’s law firms. The number of LegalTech businesses is significant in size compared to other regional locations – as is the case in FinTech.
- The region’s LegalTech sector could create powerful differentiation on a national and international level if embryonic collaboration in the legal sector was fully joined up with and modelled on the tech sector’s well-established regional collaborative ecosystem.
- A strong sense of societal purpose is evident within the legal sector in the region and this should drive a future strand of LegalTech development.
The report makes recommendations against each key finding, and advocates supporting the future development of the ecosystem via actions including: improving visibility and accessibility to law firms for LegalTechs and tech firms; more communication and collaboration; building cross-sector links (eg with FinTech) within and outside the region; raising awareness of the roles available in LegalTech to help attract talent to the sector; and building on the region’s strong sense of societal purpose.
Richard Coates, Managing Director of Whitecap Consulting, said:
“The analysis that underpins this report has focused on the intersection of two of the most successful sectors in the regional economy, so it is no surprise that 93% of people surveyed believed LegalTech to be a growth opportunity for Bristol & Bath. The region is widely acknowledged to ‘punch above its weight’ in both sectors, a view that the findings of this research endorse.”
Ben Holt, President of Bristol Law Society & Partner, VWV, said:
“LegalTech is a central plank for the legal future and this report is a keystone for taking us to the next step. We now need to move to that next phase and to make innovation and legal tech a long-term success story for the region. This report was commissioned to assist in giving the Bristol & Bath city region LegalTech sector a platform to demonstrate an enviable position as a world class innovation hub. I very much look forward to seeing the next stage of that evolution.”
Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said:
“This report shows that the West of England is the place for LegalTech in the UK. It’s easy to see why, with our globally recognised tech and creative sectors fusing with legal and professional services to revolutionise how clients are advised and firms operate to create the jobs of the future. The data and insights in this report are not only valuable for our region but for the entire country, being the first comprehensive survey of LegalTech in the post-Covid world. With such a strong cluster in Bristol and Bath, I look forward to us welcoming more talent and new businesses to the region soon.”
Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“This report recognises the unique opportunity for LegalTech businesses based in our region. Combined with the existing strength of our tech and professional service sectors and our long history of innovation, this report demonstrates that we are well positioned to lead digital transformation and create the future of LegalTech.”
Chris Bull, Co-Chair of Bristol+BathLegalTech, who co-authored the report with Whitecap, said:
“The report shines a much-needed light on the growth of a nationally and internationally significant LegalTech cluster in the West of England and it was great to see the role of our collaborative LegalTech community network, Bristol+BathLegalTech (BBLT), cited by many contributors to this report as one of the region’s great strengths. Recommendations in the report reflect a collective desire to take these excellent foundations to the next level and for 2021 to be a major step-change in BBLT’s activity, helping the sector power back up post-pandemic”.
The new Bristol & Bath LegalTech 2021 report can be downloaded here.
You can watch the live launch event recording here
Boost for small businesses as free and independent service for unresolved bank complaints goes live
Business banks sign up to innovative scheme with a focus on historical cases alongside contemporary complaints.
Small businesses will, from today, be able to use a new, free and independent service to
help them resolve disputes with their banks, in a boost for SMEs struggling in the current crisis.
The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) will use alternative dispute resolution
techniques to settle unresolved complaints from larger SMEs with seven participating
banks, who make up the majority of the business banking market.
It is hoped that the BBRS will give SMEs added confidence to take out loans and other
business banking products and services knowing that, if something goes wrong, they
have a route to independent resolution. An improved climate for investment will be
much-needed as the economy seeks to recover.
The service has been two years in the making and has been set up on a voluntary basis
with small business groups and banks working together. The setting up of the BBRS
comes after a sustained campaign by SMEs, who have argued for a wider means of
The BBRS will work to settle unresolved complaints from customers of the financial
institutions who have signed up. The banks are: Barclays Bank plc and Barclays Bank UK plc; Danske Bank; HSBC UK Bank plc; Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds Bank plc and Bank of Scotland plc); NatWest Group (including The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, National Westminster Bank plc, Coutts & Company and Ulster Bank Limited (Northern Ireland)); Santander UK plc; and Virgin Money (including Clydesdale Bank plc and Yorkshire Bank).
It is hoped that more banks will join in future.
Read more about the service Business Banking Resolution Service goes live – 15.2.21
Financial Remedy Court Update – HHJ Cope
Her Honour Judge Stephanie Cope
Lead Judge for Financial Remedy Work for Bristol
Financial Remedy Court
Some four months have passed since the launch of the FR pilot. Contested applications will shortly move to an online procedure and I will write to you about this in due course.
You will all be familiar with the allocation process. However, only a few court users are taking the opportunity to provide additional information to the court to assist the allocation judge. The purpose of this note is to encourage you to provide that additional information when you return the allocation questionnaire. This will assist the FR court in working efficiently and effectively for you and your clients.
A judge when allocating a case will consider:
– the level of judge required for the case;
– whether it can be listed before any FR judge;
– if the case should be reserved to a judge from the outset;
– the time estimate for the first directions appointment.
The system that has been put in place enables court users to ensure they have the right level of judge and continuity where required. The additional information is there to assist you and your client and you are encouraged to use it. Lay clients may well find involvement in court proceedings stressful and the more we can do to improve their experience should assist. In the absence of such information cases are likely to be allocated to any FR judge. The FR pilot enables all accredited judges to do this work. Some are more experienced than others but all accredited judges have been appropriately trained. I am keen to develop an FR court where both
professional and lay users can have the best possible experience throughout the life of the case.
As before, please ensure any additional information you provide is limited to no more than one side of A4.
Please also remember the Bristol Financial Remedy Hub has a dedicated email address
monitored by staff trained in financial remedy work – allowing court users to communicate directly with the court (BristolFRC.firstname.lastname@example.org).
In respect of consent orders, please can I remind you to provide the necessary information in the statement of information form setting out the reasons for the proposed order.
Finally, please share this letter with as many of your colleagues as possible. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and if you have any suggestions in respect of improving the FR court please do contact me direct.
Her Honour Judge Stephanie Cope
Lead Judge for Financial Remedy Work for Bristol
Fighting for fairness for Junior Lawyers
Junior lawyers (including experienced non-partners/compliance officers) are not generally covered by the sort of insurance that would help them if they needed expert help defending themselves against SRA investigation. That very often leaves them at a huge disadvantage when it comes to explaining themselves to a much better resourced SRA. With support from The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division, Leigh Day Regulatory team is conducting a survey about the potential uptake of regulatory defence cover, if it were available, to try to persuade insurers to provide a solution.
The survey was recently covered in a feature in the Law Society Gazette, is completely anonymous and should only take a few minutes to complete. Please share the survey with any junior lawyers you know to help inform the research.
Take the survey
What is ESG and what does it mean for law firms?
Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate
Argyll Environmental staff portraits – Simon Boyle
ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance and is a set of factors that assess how an organisation impacts on the environment and society. These three criteria are considered key factors for assessing the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment, as reported by both McKinsey and Deloitte.
- “83 percent of C-suite leaders and investment professionals say they expect that ESG programs will contribute more shareholder value in five years than today.” – McKinsey’s Global Survey
- “89 percent of investment managers…indicate their firms will devote more resources to this area in the next two years.” Deloitte
It’s no surprise many mutual funds, brokerage firms and other financial service advisors are now looking for products that inform investments through ESG criteria.
But what does each area of ESG encompass? It’s a complex subject, so this article just covers the main areas and looks at some ways you can address them within your firm.
As you would imagine, this first pillar of ESG focusses on the effects on the physical, natural environment. Across the globe, how we produce, consume and discard has a significant adverse impact on the natural world.
- Potential climate risk
- The extraction and use of raw materials
- The effects of human activity on biodiversity
It’s not only nature we need to consider. How employees and local communities are affected also must be taken into account.
- Are human rights respected?
- Is the end consumer protected from unsafe products or practices?
- How is the personal data of individuals protected?
Governance is to do with making sure there are systems in place to ensure accountability within a corporation.
- Transparency of processes and procedures
- Clear anti-bribery and corruption policies
- Ensuring boards are composed of independent members
How to simplify and structure your ESG process
Given the wide spectrum of areas that fall under ESG, putting a process into action can seem daunting. However, because Landmark recognise the importance that ESG reporting will have in the future, we are offering a platform and reports that allows anyone – regardless of ESG knowledge, experience or qualifications – to kick off their ESG due diligence.
The RiskHorizon ESG Screen report has been designed to simplify ESG risk management for law firms. By providing a framework for ESG due diligence it allows you to quickly focus on main ESG risks of a particular sector.
Simply answer a number of questions, which become more specific as you drill down into the sector or location of the target firm, and get instant access to a clear, concise overview of ESG risk and recommended next steps for that company.
This report uses data from:
- 90 industries
- Over 45 global risks, with coverage for 175 countries
- Up to 30 data sources including The World Bank, Unicef and the Global Child Forum, Freedom House, and United Nations Development Programme
- All of these are benchmarked against the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
You will be provided with a list of due diligence questions which frame the whole ESG due diligence process and can inform any further legal advice including next steps around the potential investment.
- Pre-screen target companies for risk
- Easy question-and-answer format focuses due diligence from the outset
- Conduct deeper investigations by a sector/geography specific list of questions
- A clear, numerical ESG score is easy to digest and explain
- Internal benchmarking means you can not only review potential investments, but improve existing ones
In addition, you will have access to an experienced consultant for to answer any questions on the report results.
You can find out more about RiskHorizon here.
LawCare Impact Report 2020
LawCare 2020 impact report is now available to view at www.lawcare.org.uk/impact
The number of legal professionals contacting us rose by 9% last year and people seeking help for anxiety has seen a sharp increase – from 45 people in 2019 to 111 last year.
The Legal Mind podcast
In the latest episode of The Legal Mind podcast LawCare’s Gemma Matthews talks to counsellor, LawCare volunteer, author and non-practising solicitor Angus Lyon about how talking helps, lawyer mindset, starting a conversation about mental health and how to keep positive and resilient over the next few months. Listen here or find us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
LawCare’s free, independent and confidential helpline, email and webchat support service provides a space for you to talk about anything that may be worrying you
Call us on 0800 279 6888 or visit our website
Could you or someone you know be a Family Court Magistrate?
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Yeovil Law Courts – COVID update 26th Jan 2021
Obituary – Matt Ashley, Osborne Clarke
It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Matt Ashley of Osborne Clarke over the Christmas period, shortly after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Matt was a hugely valued member of the residential development team at Osborne Clarke and at Clarke Willmott before that. He was well-known and well-liked throughout the Bristol legal community, where he had many friends amongst his current and former colleagues.
Matt generously shared his time and expertise with a range of industry and charitable organisations. He held leadership positions with The Institute of Residential Property Management and used his property management expertise to help develop community-led housing in Bristol as well as helping The Scouts manage their property portfolio.
Our thoughts are very much with Matt’s wife, children and wider family at this sad time.
Osborne Clarke have set up a book of remembrance for Matt and BLS members who knew Matt are welcome to contribute to it. https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/MatthewAshley/Content/Filler
There is also a remembrance fundraising page in aid of Bowel Cancer UK
WECA Recovery Taskforce Update
Outputs from the WECA taskforce meeting pre-Christmas which puts a bit more flesh on some of the key focus areas and the progress being made.
Taskforce presentation – 15.12.20
Taskforce – additional slides – 15.12.20
WECA support for business and residents