During a busy period, businesses can find themselves considering options that will mean employees working harder and longer than before to make up for the work, but can you make an employee work through a bank holiday?
The statutory minimum holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks, equivalent to 28 days for anyone who works a five-day week. There is no general legal right to time off on bank holidays, though it is a common practice to give time off.
Many employees have the right to time off during bank holidays written into their contract with their employer, but employers can ask employees to work on public holidays.
Unless specifically set out in an employee’s contract of employment an employer does not have to pay extra for time off on bank holidays.
To avoid confusion and the potential for grievances, it is advisable to set out clearly:
• The employee’s right to time off on bank and public holidays.
• Whether that time off is paid.
• What you will pay if the employee works on a bank or public holiday.
If you do pay employees for holiday taken on a public or bank holiday you can count that towards their statutory minimum holiday entitlement.
One of the hardest things for businesses to manage in a workplace can be grievance procedures. A key thing for business managers to identify is when a complaint from an employee needs to be made official.
A grievance could range from a minor workplace argument to a more serious employment-related issue. Many grievance issues can be dealt with informally, with a conversation or a meeting, for example.
Before resorting to a formal procedure, a business can implement mediation, where an independent third party is brought in to help resolve the problem.
Sometimes this simply isn’t possible, and a grievance will have to be escalated and managed formally.
The ACAS statutory Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures says if this is the case an employee should submit a grievance in writing ‘without unreasonable delay’ to a manager who is not the subject of the grievance.
Employers should keep a written record of any disciplinary or grievances cases they deal with. This is to provide evidence should the procedure escalate further.
ACAS also says employers might want to deal with grievances involving serious issues such as bullying, harassment or whistleblowing under a separate procedure.
In the past Employment Tribunals have treated many documents as formal written grievances, even if it was not immediately apparent if they were. It is good practice to assume that any sort of written document from an employee, from anyone acting on their behalf, or from anyone else, indicating that they have a complaint or grievance, is a formal written grievance and treat it as such.
It is worth noting that employees can bring a claim arising from a grievance, or for constructive dismissal, before an Employment Tribunal whether or not they have followed your grievance procedure.
In recent times, flexible working has gained more popularity as a way of improving an employee’s work-life balance.
Flexible working is defined as any working pattern other than the norm, which can include changes to working hours, start and finish times and place of work.
Almost all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service have the right to ask for flexible working, and you must consider requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.
Employees must make an application for flexible working in writing, specifying:
• Details of the change they are asking for.
• What effect they think the change would have on the business and how the business could handle it.
• The date the request is made and the date they would like the change to start.
• A statement that this is a statutory request for flexible working, whether or not they have made a request previously and if so its date.
In response to this request, a business must commit to assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application, holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee and offering an appeal process.
A decision must be reached in three months.
A request for flexible working can only be refused for one of the following business reasons;
• The burden of additional costs to the business
• A detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
• An inability to reorganise work among other employees
• An inability to recruit additional employees
• A detrimental effect on quality of the output of the business
• A detrimental effect on performance of the business
• Insufficient work at the times when the employee proposes to work.
• Planned structural changes.
If an employee has already made a request, they are not entitled to make another request until 12 months later.
If a request is accepted, there may be further changes needed, including amends to the employee’s contract, pay and holiday entitlement.
In the case of a home worker, a risk assessment must be carried out, though the employee can do this.
You should also consider the impact of the move on other employees.
Read Barry Davies’ article featured in Legal Practice Management – February 2017
Whether you’re an employer or self-employed it is a legal requirement for you to make an assessment of the health and safety risks arising out of your work. Here is what your assessment should focus on:
• Inspect your premises and processes to identify health and safety risks. Be thorough in your assessment and include any potential liabilities by checking all common hazards such as obstructions.
• Serious risks should be dealt with immediately. For example, loose or open wires should be removed, replaced or tidied to prevent harm.
• Be aware of all potential liabilities. Be mindful about what risks could occur in future. If a glass breaks on the floor there should be procedures in place to limit risk to anyone who could potentially come into contact with the area around it.
• Check all common hazards and ask employees if they are aware of any risks. Is there something wrong with machinery they are using or in the area that they work in? If so you need to know about it and take necessary action.
• Evaluate the scale of each risk and everyone it could affect. Consider how immediate the threat is and how to acceptably control the risk. Where practicable eliminate risks altogether.
• Check insurance arrangements and keep a written record of your risk assessment and safety precautions. This will help to demonstrate your compliance with the law, limit liability and keep track of health and safety factors and actions taken in your workplace. A good example of this is an accident report book.
When launching or relaunching your website there are some key legal issues that you should be aware of.
Hiring a web designer? You need a clear written agreement
Have a clear message about what you want at the outset and that you have intellectual property rights in the website. Be clear about who will look after the site, what is included and how much it will cost.
Who can access your website?
What information should your website include?
Business name and address is key. If you are a limited company you should also include: place of registration, registered office address and company number.
If your website contains prices you must also state whether prices include VAT and delivery charges. If individuals are able to buy on your website then there are additional rules you need to include, such as written confirmation of orders.
What other issues could you face?
Other websites may divert your visitors to their site by using a similar domain name. To prevent this consider subscribing to a domain monitoring service.
Provide a disclaimer on your website to limit liability for any damage a visitor may suffer from following your advice or downloading files from your site that contain viruses.
You also need to consider issues relating to discrimination, specific sectors of industry, chat rooms, third party content and hyperlinks.
For more information, click here
Employing members of your family can prove difficult and put a strain on your relationships, but if you handle it well it can be beneficial to your personal life and business.
To make it a success, transparency and communication with both your family members and other stakeholders is vital. Everyone should feel they are listened to and have a part in developing the business. They should understand the company’s business strategy and how the interests of the business and of the family are linked.
You need to get key people around the table who have an interest in the company and are influential – it doesn’t matter whether they are employed by the company or not, their advice could be useful.
Regular review meetings with employees and an annual family forum for family members need to be held. Identify how they fit in with your business objectives, plans and approach, and set out conclusions to be referred to. In family forums discuss personal, business and family aspirations. If family members provide loans for the business, consider their security if any problems arise and be aware that you may not be able to protect them if the company becomes insolvent.
There should be a clear strategy for how disputes will be resolved; options include using mentors, professional advisers, mediators or arbitrators.
Be clear about the current ownership and management structure and how you see it developing in the future. Plan your approach for ownership in the future with both family members and other key employees and consider that there will need to be a gradual handover process to reduce fallout of any sudden change. Agree how change will be raised, and the criteria that will be used to assess it.
Computer hardware is much like any other product, when you purchase it, you’re the outright owner of the asset.
Issues can arise when purchasing software, as it often isn’t a tangible asset but a transfer of files from the creator to the purchaser.
The software is known as intangible intellectual property and will be protected by copyright law, which prevents it from being replicated by another company. When purchasing software, you own a licence that allows you to use the software within the guidelines of the licence, but the copyright still remains with the creator.
If you commission a bespoke programme for your company, you should be sure that the contract names you as the owner of the copyright of the software or you will be unable to make any changes to the software without permission, which could result in further payments to the developer for any alterations. The developer could also stop you using the software at any time.
For more information on purchasing IT, visit here
When it comes to selling your business, you can often overestimate its worth. Here is a step-by-step guide to valuing your company that might help you when selling a business.
1. Establish what sets your business apart from others in the same field, whether it’s a stable firm with significant assets or a new business with good prospects.
2. Factor in the skillset and experience of your workforce, especially if employees are committed to the business and have clear employment contracts.
3. The relationships with your clients and suppliers can also add value to the business. If they are willing to continue buying from or supplying to your business after the sale, you can factor this into the price.
4. Explore whether your sector has its own established criteria for valuation.
5. Speak to a financial advisor with sector specific experience; they can help you get an accurate picture based on how the wider sector is performing.
6. Include the value of your physical assets
7. If you are an established firm with a profitable history, you may be able to implement a price earnings ratio
8. Weigh up the costs of setting up a similar business from scratch, this will show potential buyers the money they could save by buying your already established business.
9. Consider valuing your business at a multiple of its earnings, smaller businesses are usually valued at lower multiples than larger companies.
10. Remember your business is only worth what the purchaser is prepared to pay, and most business owners value their businesses too highly.
For more information, visit
While no business owner likes to think about it, sometimes you have to let go of staff. It can be particularly hard when making staff redundant as it is often through no fault of the employee, but has to happen.
Here are four things you need to know about redundancies.
You must have a formal procedure in place
Even if you have never previously had to entertain the idea of redundancy, it’s worth having a procedure in place and sticking to it when the situation arises.
It should cover the selection process, communication with employees, liaison with relevant unions and going to reasonable lengths to protect the employees whose roles have become redundant.
You must choose the employees to be made redundant from a ‘fair pool’
To avoid the risk of being sued for unfair dismissal, you should set out a ‘fair pool’ of employees from which to choose from. Your redundancy procedure will describe the selection pool, and you will be expected to follow this.
If you don’t have a procedure in place, you will be expected to act reasonably when identifying the pool for selection e.g. consider whether employees’ jobs are interchangeable.
Objective selection criteria should then be put in place, and each employee will be scored on the criteria, which could include performance and attendance.
If you wish to include length of service as a criterion, it is advisable to seek legal counsel as it could be construed as age or sex discrimination.
We cannot meet our redundancy payments, what can we do?
If you’re not able to pay the statutory redundancy payments, they will be paid out of the National Insurance Fund. If employees are entitled to more than the statutory payments, they will be join the other creditors.
Can we take on additional staff after the redundancies?
Doing this could potentially attract negative attention from former employees, but, as we all know, the fate of a business can change with the win of a single contract.
If you can prove that you had a ‘reasonable expectation’ that the business was about to enter a period of instability, then you will have a defence.
For more information, visit
DJM employment specialist says explosion of “gig economy” makes Deliveroo employment case one to watch
Coming hot on the heels of the recent Uber case , today’s Independent reports that Deliveroo drivers are the latest so-called “gig economy” workers to demand union recognition and the minimum wage. Our employment law specialist Aaron Hayward is quoted in the article, commenting on the legal significance of Deliveroo drivers’ bid to earn union recognition and employment rights such as holiday pay and minimum wage earnings. You can read the article here.
“It’s no surprise that Deliveroo couriers are taking legal steps to gain union recognition and workers’ rights, after the recent Uber case in which two drivers successfully argued that they should be classified as employees as opposed to contractors.
“The explosion of the gig economy means many thousands of workers across the UK are now engaged in temporary, casual work that doesn’t entitle them to paid holiday, minimum wage and other rights, because they are officially classified as “contractors”.
“Next week Deliveroo drivers in Camden will carry out a final push to get over 50% of drivers signed up to the IWGB unions, which will force formal union recognition from their employer. If they succeed, this will make it the first app-based employer to recognise a union in the UK. This will bring with it the potential of collective bargaining over pay and conditions, but first they must succeed in convincing a tribunal that drivers should be reclassified as employees as opposed to contractors as collective bargaining laws only apply to employees.
“This is an employment case that employers, workers and lawyers alike will be watching with interest. As we move more towards a “gig economy” based on short-term, software-driven casual work, this issue isn’t going to away anytime soon.”
Today (28 October) an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are entitled to full workers’ rights. This is a landmark decision for the gig economy and our employment specialist Aaron Hayward has provided his immediate reaction to the result.
“This is a monumental verdict in favour of gig economy workers across all sectors. From now on, businesses need to seriously consider how they use and contract freelancers and the self-employed. If such businesses don’t currently have HR processes in place, they now need to invest in them because workers will be demanding what they are rightly entitled to.
“The question will now be how this is implemented and whether or not organisations like Uber and Deliveroo will be expected to back-pay workers.”
Good communication is essential for a business to run effectively and for employees to be happy. Poor communication can result in misunderstandings, poor performance, low morale and wasted time.
What should I communicate?
Employees should be provided with the information they are entitled to and that helps them do their job.
Staff should also be acknowledged when they do a good job. Credit to employees should be shared company-wide.
Perhaps most importantly, employees should be informed of any changes that will affect them or their job. This information should be disseminated to employees at the same time, so no one feels misled or confused.
How should I communicate?
Sensitive information should always be communicated personally.
Use a phone call, or better still a face-to-face meeting, to discuss matters and reach an agreement quickly.
An email can be useful to get agreements in writing, or to flag an issue that isn’t particularly urgent.
Businesses must be approachable. If it is unrealistic to have the managing director or CEO of the business available for employees to reach out to, find a relevant decision maker who may take their place.
Respond to every communication, even if it is criticism. If you cannot implement a suggestion or find a solution to a criticism, explain why. Employees must see the business as honest to foster trust and reliability.
Last year, the number of people working from home reached a record high, when 4.2 million workers chose to embrace the more flexible option. With home working appealing to both workers and businesses, we’ve put together a guide to what each party can reasonably expect from the arrangement.
Employees who thrive at working from home have a very specific set of attributes. If an employee doesn’t have these qualities, they can be trained to adapt to home working quite easily. Skills include:
• Good time management and self discipline
• The ability to work alone and self motivate
• Good lifestyle management. The distinction between home and work life will become even more blurred so it is essential an employee can manage to separate both
• Technologically adept
Creating a home office
The minimum requirements for a good home office include:
• A work space away from the domestic home environment
• Secure premises and a lockable cupboard or desk
• Compliance with health and safety regulations
• Telephone and internet access
• A computer with access to the internet, email software and access to a printer
• Appropriate insurance
Benefits and risks
The key benefit to working from home is increased productivity through:
• More efficient use of time
• Improved employee retention
• Reduced levels of sick leave and stress
There are a few risks associated with home working, including:
• Losing touch with employees and facing difficulty arranging meetings
• Reduced loyalty due to increased isolation
• Deterioration in employees’ skills and work quality
All businesses should have a good idea when they are experiencing trouble. If you are a company leader, you have a commitment to ride the highs and the lows of a business so you should never ignore these warning signs or simply walk away from them.
Always seek the advice of a licensed insolvency practitioner before taking action, as you could risk making matters worse. Some practitioners offer a free initial consultation.
If the company’s long-term prospects look good, you may be able to arrange some short-term finance to ease it through the turbulence. You can take out a new loan, chase late payments or sell non-essential assets.
There may be the possibility of negotiating payment terms with your creditors, especially if you make your situation known to them as they’re at risk of receiving nothing at all if your business becomes insolvent.
If your long-term prospects aren’t looking great, you may have little choice but to cease trading.
If your company continues trading with no reasonable prospect of avoiding insolvency you could be held liable for ‘wrongful trading’. This would make you personally liable for the company’s debts as well as being permanently disqualified from being a director.
We are delighted that our very own Philip Graham has been named in the new Legal 500, which analyses law firms across the world and highlights those providing the highest level of legal counsel. Philip was named as one of the top lawyers in Wales advising the construction sector. Philip, who has previously appeared in the prestigious list, leads our construction practice which regularly acts in complex construction matters involving multi-million pound claims, often against multinational companies. We are very proud to see his work recognised by the Legal 500.
Read Barry Davies’ article featured in Legal Practice Management – September 2016
DJM’s healthcare team has recently acted in substantial transaction which saw Talbot Court Nursing Home in Port Talbot being sold to a new entrant to the South Wales care market.
The transaction shows that appetite in the sector in terms of lending and interest from new operators is still strong. Funding was provided by Barclays Bank Plc.
DJM acted for the outgoing owner Wendy Morris, who had owned and operated the home for over 25 years. The transaction was for a large but undisclosed sum.
With great responsibility comes great pressure. This means disputes between shareholders, directors and business partners can arise when least expected. Advice should be sought as early as possible in a dispute to minimise disruption and cost to a business.
Here are some of the legal documents that can be put in place to cover many of the areas of dispute that can be predicted:
A shareholders’ agreement can set out the course of action to take should a dispute arise between shareholders. These contracts might set out how other shareholders can buy out an unhappy shareholder. Contracts should also hold restrictions preventing former employees from starting a competing business, poaching staff or clients.
Business partnerships are usually born from two people having known each other prior to starting their business, which means they are very rarely established with written agreements about aspects such as management control.
Without these agreements, profits, losses and control is shared equally between partners and individuals can be held responsible for the debts of the business.
If a partner was to leave without a partnership agreement in place, the partnership could automatically dissolve.
How to deal with a dispute
Negotiating a solution is always much better, both for the company and the individuals involved, than taking legal action in court. There are many alternatives to legal action that should be attempted initially.
For more information, see here
Home working is becoming more common as new technology means employment is no longer restricted by location. However, the home can be a difficult working environment to negotiate. Here we outline some of the legal issues that could arise.
If an office worker is to start working from home, we would advise a new contract is issued which specifies the terms and conditions of their employment. Employees cannot be required to work from home unless it is included in their employment contract and they have agreed to it.
Changing the pay of home workers needs to be handled carefully as if you cut the pay, you could be liable for a claim of constructive dismissal. If you are considering a change in pay, then the employee must be completely aware of it before agreeing to the change in role.
Any decisions to pay a worker less must be objectively justified.
For more information see here
If you’re planning to buy premises for your business, there are certain things to bear in mind to make sure your purchasing process goes smoothly and leaves both parties happy. Here are the questions we get asked most often:
What do I need to know about making an offer?
Ensure you seek advice on the most tax-efficient way to obtain the premises before you make any offer.
When making an offer, always make the conditions clear. These conditions could include viewings, contract conditions or those specific to your circumstances.
How do I negotiate a lower price?
Have a price in mind before negotiations begin. We would also recommend you find out as much as possible about the vendor’s position – i.e. Are they in a hurry to sell? Is there any other interest?
Prepare for your negotiation by researching and highlighting any faults in the premises and provide enough evidence to support your case for a lower price.
What research should I do?
We would always recommend buyers carry out a full structural survey. This will include the following:
• Checking the condition of the premises.
• Checking the structural conditions comply with building regulations and meet health and safety requirements.
• Identifying any harmful materials, such as asbestos, which may need to be replaced or made safe.
• Identifying any alterations that need to be made (e.g. making the premises).
• Estimating the costs of current and future repairs.
• Checking the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of the premises, giving a rating of the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of the building.
What if I change my mind?
If you change your mind after the exchange, you could be held liable for any losses suffered by the vendor so it is essential you are confident in buying. If you should change your mind, the process should be handled by a solicitor.
For more information see here
Sheraz Akram, head of our corporate and commercial department, takes a look at what the recent referendum result and the ongoing uncertainty could mean for the legal sector
The legal sector is worth an estimated £26bn to the UK economy, employing around 370,000 people in well paid and highly skilled jobs. Brexit will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the sector but we will need to wait to see as to how far that fall out will go.
Brexit could initially spark an increase in advice requests from business owners about the potential legal changes but this process may be relatively short lived.
The impact of the result of the referendum on the legal sector will be seen more mid- to long-term.
The legal sector is heavily reliant on business to business advice, and the uncertainty surrounding the financial markets implies that we can expect a wider economic fallout as a result of Brexit.
As with most industries, the legal sector is heavily reliant on a healthy economy. While the UK economy is showing signs of finally recovering after a major recession, Brexit could drag us back to negative growth.
I wouldn’t be surprised if any expansion in the legal sector now happened in mainland Europe rather than the UK, because advisors are required to move freely within Europe. Contingency plans of major manufacturers and big businesses would suggest that investments would take place in mainland Europe in the event Brexit went ahead, and it would make sense for the legal sector to follow suit.
Most commercial law practices all have clients who are heavily reliant on Europe for their business and this could very well be significantly impacted leading to reduced instructions, less investment and mergers and acquisitions.
In the interim period before Brexit actually becomes reality uncertainty will continue which will leave investors and decision makers pulling back from major decisions. This will continue to have an impact until we are clear on what Brexit actually looks like practically and contractually.
Most businesses will find themselves in a position of having to get out of a lease at some point. It is crucial that you familiarise yourself with your options before taking action as there is always the risk of breaking the law.
1. What are my options when getting out of a lease?
Your options depend entirely on the lease terms. You may be able to terminate the lease if it has a break clause (a section of the tenancy agreement which provides you with specified dates that allow you the automatic right to abolish your lease). Sometimes, you may be able to negotiate your lease termination with your landlord. Another option may be to assign (sell) the lease to a new tenant.
2. Which is the best option getting out of a lease agreement for me?
Terminating the lease is the most ethical option and provides the smoothest exit. The process of assigning the lease to another tenant can be more costly and time-consuming, as you will be required to find a new tenant and negotiate with both parties. Subletting can also be a way out of a lease, but the original lease will remain in force and you will retain your liabilities.
3. Is it possible to negotiate the lease termination even without a break clause?
Your lease termination and any other changes to the terms of the lease can be negotiated at any time.
4. How much will it cost to terminate the lease?
When it comes to the lease termination, payments can normally be negotiated but market conditions may have an effect. For example, if the local property market is weak, the size of your payment may be substantial, and vice versa. Sometimes you might be liable to pay for repairs and redecorations, if your agreement requires you to return the premises to their original conditions.
5. What will happen if I simply walk away from the property?
If you decide to just leave, you will still be held liable under the terms of your lease. In this case, the landlord has the right to take legal action against you to recover the money you owe and any legal costs.
Flexible working hours refer to any working pattern, which does not fall in with the widely accepted working schedule. Although the UK law requires employers to “consider seriously” all requests for flexible working hours coming from eligible employees, there are a few general rules, which should be taken into account.
1. An employee’s eligibility depends on his or her qualifying length of service (26 continuous weeks), and they must not have made another request within the last 12 months.
2. Certain special events, e.g. sporting events, do not generally qualify as reasonable grounds for an employee’s flexible working hours request. However, some leeway is possible if it is not detrimental to the business and this can be granted at the employer’s discretion.
3. An application for flexible work must be written by the employee in advance and must include detailed reasons for the application.
4. The employer can refuse the employee’s request for flexible hours only if there is a strong business reason. Rejection, in turn, allows the employee to appeal within 14 days of the employer’s letter of refusal. In certain circumstances, the employee can make a formal complaint to an employment tribunal.
5. If the request for flexible working hours is granted an approval, the employer must amend the employee’s employment contract to reflect the changes regarding working hours, salary and holiday pay as soon as possible.
Starting a family business is an exciting opportunity. However, sometimes it can bring along certain challenges and issues, from personal to commercial, which some families can be unprepared for.
Below are five questions, which may arise when running a family business:
1. What are the most common problems with family businesses?
Personal family conflicts are among the most frequently occurring incidents when it comes to managing a family business. For example, tensions may arise between the family and employees who resent favouritism (real or imagined) shown to members of the family.
2. Are there any restrictions on employing family members?
Unless there is a legal obligation to have specific experience or qualifications, there are no restrictions. However, you should encourage your family members to meet the same entry requirements as other recruits to avoid any resentment from other employees.
3. What issues should be covered in shareholder agreements within family business’?
A number of potential issues should be covered in a shareholder agreement in order to avoid conflicts and misunderstanding. They include:
• How directors are appointed;
• How the board will make decisions;
• Conflict and dispute resolution procedures;
• Rules and regulations restricting shareholders working with competitive business;
• How the business will be financed;
• How profits will be distributed;
• Rules enabling protection of confidential information;
• Rules and regulations of transferring shares, including the case of a shareholder’s death;
• Rules and regulations regarding employment of family members;
• Rules and regulations enabling protection of external shareholders.
4. How can I keep control of the business in case of a divorce?
There are certain steps you can take in order to protect your business in case of a potential divorce. You may want to establish suitable terms in your shareholders’ agreement and pre-nuptial agreement.
It is worth noting that, in the event of a divorce, a pre-nuptial agreement can be overridden if a fair financial settlement is agreed between the two parties.
This is a very complex area, and we would advise seeking guidance from a professional if this issue should arise.
5. How can we attract additional financing into a family-run business?
As with any business, you need to convince external investors or lenders that the business has good prospects.
If you require a loan, your lenders will require a guarantee of payment, this could mean offering the lender security in the form of a mortgage over a property.
If you are seeking outside investment in shares, you must guarantee fair treatment and you may have to enter an additional shareholders’ agreement, which will give investors additional protection.
A disciplinary hearing is never a nice procedure, and we would always urge managers to try to resolve any issues informally, but sometimes they have to happen.
Here are ten things to remember before conducting an official hearing:
1. Collect all information including evidence, allegations and the employee’s past record.
2. Inform the employee and senior staff in writing, notifying them of the reason for the hearing and the date it will take place. The employee must be given at least three days notice.
3. Any witnesses or evidence you and the employee have must be available for examination at the hearing.
4. The employee is allowed to bring a companion to the hearing. This can be someone from the trade union or a colleague. They will be allowed to present the employee’s case, but should not answer questions on the employee’s behalf.
5. After presenting the case against the employee, allow time for a response. While it can be difficult, employers should ensure the employee is allowed to communicate their point of view.
6. Consider the employee’s mitigating circumstances and encourage suggestions to overcome the issue, if possible.
7. As soon as the decision is reached, it must be delivered to the employee in writing, and the employee must be informed of his or her right to appeal.
8. Keep a detailed written record throughout and emphasise the consequences of further offences to the employee.
Every company must have a minimum of one person acting as a director.
Under current UK law, there is no legal demand for a director to hold any form of qualifications, with the exception of those in specific areas such as investment.
Anyone can be a director for a company but currently the government is trying to remove cooperate directors, stopping one company to act as a director to another. However, despite the lack of qualifications required, there are some key skills that will help to enhance the quality and success of your business.
These include an understanding of the different aspects of the business, including finance, marketing, administration and personnel. Having a good understanding of how each of these aspects works is vital to any director.
Having a strong sense of leadership, good strategy thinking and an ability to perform under pressure are all major factors in being able to direct a workforce, regardless of size.
Understand your limits
To be a good leader it is essential you understand when it is necessary to hand over certain tasks. Being aware of your abilities is a significant skill to hold, as it helps you to delegate tasks to those who are better suited, and also recruit and outsource individuals who can provide more benefits to the company.
More information about the requirements of a Company Director can be found at: Your responsibilities as a director faqs
We are recruiting a woman to do the job of a man who is retiring. Do we have to pay her what he is getting?
No, there is no requirement to pay the same as the predecessor, however you must be able to justify why you are doing so.
There must be proof that the lower pay is for reasons other than gender, rather than for her to prove that it is because of her sex. Examples of material difference include; the predecessor has more experience, the predecessor has higher qualifications.
If you are unable to provide substantial evidence then you face being judged under the Equality Act.
However, most claims of equal pay require the claimant to compare herself with another current employee. Claims cannot generally be made based on using a successor as a comparator.
More information on gender pay discrimination can be found at: equal pay faqs
If your sales people are all in their 20’s and someone older just wouldn’t fit, is this age discrimination?
Yes, this is discrimination. Since October 2006 is has been illegal to exclude someone from the interview process based on age. Age cannot be a consideration that affects your decision, meaning that in terms of controlling age composition there is very little an employer can do.
There are only very specific instances in which age can be considered, such as advertising a job with a specific age group if they are otherwise under-represented in the workforce. This is seen as a positive action. However, this is not to be used to recruit directly from one age group, or exclude applications from other age groups.
To hire with age as a consideration the action needs to be justified objectively. You must be able to show what you are doing is an appropriate and necessary means of achieving a legitimate aim, and show how it actually contributes towards the achievement of your legitimate aim.
– The benefits you expect your actions to produce are sufficient to justify the amount of discrimination you are prepared to practice.
– That you are practicing no more discrimination than is strictly necessary.
DJM are happy to continue to support the Free Wills Month campaign which helps raise future income for the Free Wills Months charities.
When setting up your own website, there are a number of legal issues to take into consideration around intellectual property. Here are the main ones.
The contents of your website is covered by copyright. Make sure you include the words ‘copyright – all rights reserved’ or the © symbol followed by year of creation. This will bring the issue of copyright to the attention of all website visitors, and is an essential part of copyright protection in some countries outside the UK.
However, it is equally as important that your website does not breach anyone else’s copyright. This means you should not include images or text you do not have the rights to, and only link other websites if you have the owner’s permission.
There are also intellectual property issues with regard to software. Be certain that all software you use to create and maintain your website is being used in accordance with the license agreement.
Furthermore, the databases that power your website might be protected by database rights. Make sure you are aware of these and use the database in accordance. For more information click here.
If you get someone else to design your website or create any content, it is essential both parties are in agreement on the intellectual property rights of the creations. Most importantly, make sure to have the agreement in writing.
Employment contracts are essential for making sure rights and responsibilities are lawfully distributed between the employer and employee. Because getting them wrong can be both harmful and expensive for your business, we have written this step-by-step guide to get it right.
Before writing the contract
1) Start by looking at samples of written statements and contracts. A good idea would be to contact ACAS, your trade union/association or similar businesses you know.
2) Establish the basic terms for the written contract. For example pay, working hours, holidays and notice periods.
3) Decide whether the job is permanent and if it should include a preliminary period.
4) Think about which areas might need flexibility – like job titles, responsibilities and place of work.
5) Consider areas that might have to be left out of the contract, for example possible bonuses.
Writing the contract
6) Make sure you include all the legally required information.
7) Ensure that all other employment-related documents (e.g. pension schemes) you refer to are easily accessible for the employee.
8) Review the job. Have you previously experienced any problems with employees or ex-employees?
9) Establish all requirements for the employee. For example, does the person need to have a driving license or a professional qualification?
10) Are there any other concerns? For example in relation to intellectual property or confidentiality?
Finalising the agreement
11) Draw up a clear contract, making sure all additional clauses have been included.
12) Ensure the contract is not discriminatory in any way, is fair to the employee’s rights and legally binding.
13) Make sure you contact a legal advisor if the contract can be seen as restrictive to employees after they leave your employment, just to be certain you go about it in the right way.
14) Remember to give each employee his or her contract within two months of starting.
15) Most importantly, make sure you explain the contract and that the employee agrees to it and signs it.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a legal advisor.
When setting up a new business, it is not uncommon to encounter various legal issues. To help make your start-up run as smoothly as possible, we have highlighted seven issues you will need to consider.
1) Does your business require any licenses? If so, how to you go about obtaining these?
2) Where will your business be based? Do you need to be involved in any negotiating on the lease agreement?
3) Do you need to carry out a health and safety assessment? As the answer is most likely ‘yes’, find out how to do this.
4) If you are going to have employees, several issues will arise. For example, you will need to ensure you have insurance, register with your PAYE office and learn how to draw up employment contracts. Luckily, our blog can help you out [link to employment contract blog].
5) Do you want to draw up standard terms and conditions of trade?
6) Consider your intellectual property rights. There are several ways to protect your creations; make your business or brand name a trademark, register your design or invention, and label all materials and plans with the copyright symbol.
7) It might be a good idea to plan ahead in terms of income and expenses. For example, will you need to register for VAT? How do you go about doing so?
Do not hesitate to talk through your plans with an experienced legal advisor – it might save you a lot of stress in the long run.
The rapid growth of the internet and digital communication methods has given users instant access to content.
This has led to a more widespread discussion about ‘intellectual property’ as individuals and organisations have sought to protect their rights.
There are four main kinds of intellectual property that can be protected:
• Inventions such as new products and processes
• Decorative designs, and designs for the appearance or shape of a product
• Names and symbols for products or service (e.g. trade marks)
• Original written publications, recordings and other material, such as websites, plans and blueprints, parts lists, catalogues, promotional literature, manuals, works of art, photos and other images and formats and layouts for publications such as newsletters, webpages
In some cases protection is automatic. For example, new text and images are automatically covered by copyright. However, other forms of protection, such as patents for inventions, require you to complete an application process and pay fees.
Database rights recognise the investment made in compiling a database – any collection of material arranged so each item is individually accessible, whether on paper or in electronic form.
EU residents and EU registered businesses who own database rights can stop someone extracting or reusing any substantial part of their database.
You do not have to register your database rights; they apply automatically and last 15 years.
Make sure you differentiate between ownership of database rights and ownership of the contents of the database.
Confidential information and trade secrets
Another, often unrecognised, form of intellectual property is confidential information and trade secrets. This can include information about your customers, products or services, pricing or sales and business strategies.
You need rules to identify confidential information and regulate when it must be marked as such, how it is kept, which employees have access, to whom they can disclose it (and in what circumstances), and how your employees know these rules.
If outsiders could come across your confidential information in the course of their work, they must sign confidentiality agreements legally binding them to keep it secret.
Employment law is a complex area full of pitfalls. Getting it right means keeping in touch with developments, thinking out your policies and implementing them with care. Getting it wrong could be extremely expensive.
Here are some basics to remember:
Do not allow prejudice (conscious or unconscious) to affect your decisions.
A contract of employment exists as soon as a candidate accepts your offer of a job, whether in writing or not.
You must provide a written statement of terms and conditions within the first two months of employment.
You cannot change the terms of the contract unilaterally.
Hours, leave and pay
You must comply with statutory requirements on working hours and leave.
Employees have the right to a minimum wage.
Employer’s National Insurance (NI) contributions are payable on employees’ pay and taxable benefits.
You must deduct your employees’ tax and NI contributions from their wages, and pay them to HM Revenue & Customs under PAYE (Pay As You Earn).
You also have to account for employees’ tax and NI on most benefits in kind.
Employers must not take any action which might undermine the relationship of ‘trust and confidence’ with their employees.
Employers must provide a secure, safe and healthy working environment.
Employees have the right to belong (or not to belong) to a trade union.
Employees are entitled to a reasonable degree of privacy.
Employees are entitled to protection against discrimination.
Employees are entitled to blow the whistle on their employer’s wrongdoings.
Each employee must get a pay statement.
All employees with more than one month’s service are entitled to a notice period.
Most employees are entitled to keep their jobs even if the business changes hands.
Employees are entitled to have discipline and grievance issues dealt with using ‘fair and reasonable’ procedures.
Treating someone less favourably because of their race, sex or gender reassignment, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, philosophical belief, membership or non-membership of a trade union, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy, maternity, care responsibilities or part-time status is illegal.
Indirect discrimination occurs if you impose a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ that members of one sex or one racial group are much less likely to be able to comply with, and which cannot be objectively justified.
If you treat someone less favourably because of their actions (or potential actions) in connection with discrimination proceedings, it could count as victimisation.
You must be prepared to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable people with disabilities to work.
You are responsible for any discrimination practised by you or your employees.
You must pay statutory sick pay to qualifying workers (including part-time, full-time and agency workers) for up to 28 weeks.
If a worker’s continued or repeated absences are causing problems, you may be able to end their employment.
Have disciplinary and grievance procedures in place which conform to the Acas Code of Practice (www.acas.org.uk).
If you have to dismiss an employee, you may have to prove you had good cause – e.g. gross misconduct or incompetence – and acted fairly and reasonably.
Unlawful dismissal could land you in front of a tribunal.
An employee can claim unfair dismissal if dismissed for an ‘unfair’ reason or if unfair procedures are followed. In general, they must have two years’ service.
Starting a new business can be daunting, as there is a large amount of paperwork and processes that must be completed. The legal documents that any business needs to keep are:
The company’s certificate of incorporation
This is a legal document relating to the formation of a company or corporation and gets issued to a company when it is registered with Companies House.
If you have misplaced your certificate, you will have had a digital copy sent via email when your registration was approved. Alternatively, you can order a replacement paper certificate for £20 from Companies House.
Copies of the company’s memorandum and articles of association
A memorandum of association is a legal statement signed by all initial shareholders agreeing to form the company. Articles of association are written rules about the company agreed by shareholders, directors and the company secretary and will include the responsibilities and powers of the directors.
Both of these are required for a company formed in the UK under the Companies Act 2006.
Any directors’ service contracts and other important contracts with employees, customers or suppliers
Every relationship should be documented, which some businesses may find hard to do at the start especially if they are utilising existing networks. Relationships can break down, so we would always advise our clients to make sure there is some form of written agreement in place.
Read our Corporate and Commercial directors advice for start ups here Wales online Article
Douglas-Jones Mercer Solicitors are pleased to continue to assist National Free Wills Network in helping to raise future legacies for the Network charities.
Read Barry Davies’ article featured in Legal Practice Management February 2016
Douglas-Jones Mercers Corporate and Commercial team headed by Sheraz Akram advised the shareholders of the Glass Systems Group on the sale of the entire issued share capital to Press Glass UK Limited which is the UK subsidiary of Press Glass SA one of the biggest operators in the glass industry in Europe.
The existing team of Glass Systems Group will be maintained and will work with the new owners to drive the business forward. The Glass Systems Group already one of the biggest operators in the UK has ambitious growth plans.
The Douglas-Jones Mercer team was led by the head of the Corporate and Commercial team, Sheraz Akram who was supported by Michael Price (Director; Commercial Property) who dealt with the property aspects of the transaction and also Aaron Hayward, Zoe Lowe and Jenna Birch of the Corporate and Commercial team.
Sheraz Akram commented that “the Glass Systems Group is one of the largest businesses in Wales supporting a large workforce and providing an important contribution to the Welsh economy. The purchase of the Glass Systems Group by Press Glass will create one of the largest operators in the glass industry within Europe and will act as a catalyst for further expansion within the UK by the Glass Systems Group. The individual specialisms that are held by the two entities complement each other perfectly providing routes into different markets and areas of work. We were pleased to have been involved in advising on yet another transaction of this size and complexity and the transaction highlights the expertise held by our Corporate and Commercial and Commercial Property teams at DJM.”
DJM’s Corporate and Commercial department has continued to grow considerably following its work on a number of major transactions in the first three quarters of this financial year including one of its biggest ever deals.
DJM practice director Barry Davies, added: “It was our aim to continue to secure work of this caliber in this financial year and we have done so on a number of occasions thanks to our highly-capable team.”
“We have been fortunate enough to attract high caliber staff to DJM who will help us pursue similar work in future.”
Read Barry Davies’ article featured in Legal Practice Management December 2015.
The Corporate and Commercial team at Douglas-Jones Mercer have acted for the shareholders of GRS Care Ltd in the disposal of their entire shareholding.
GRS provides care services across ten sites in South Wales with 85 employees.
See Insider article published on 26th June 2015
See GRS article published on 29th June 2015
Douglas-Jones Mercer’s Corporate and Commercial team advises on the share sale of Williams & Wheeler pharmacy
Douglas-Jones Mercer’s Corporate and Commercial team headed by Sheraz Akram advised the shareholders of Williams & Wheeler (WW) on the sale of the entire issued share capital of WW.
The transaction is just one of many conducted by the Corporate and Commercial team at Douglas-Jones Mercer within the healthcare sector in the first three quarters of this financial year. Sheraz Akram commented that “the healthcare sector is buoyant at the moment and this transaction is one of many conducted by the Corporate team this year. We are seeing a lot of transactions in the Care sector as well as the Pharmacy sector. Clients are attracted to DJM as we possess genuine sector expertise which leads to an efficient and targeted approach.”
DJM continue to support the Tenovus Free Wills Month Scheme and are pleased to have helped raise approximately £110,000
Douglas-Jones Mercer’s corporate team are pleased to have acted for the management team at Track Training in respect of a transaction that saw Gower College Swansea taking a strategic stake in Track Training.
Track Training chairman Malcolm Sanders said: “We believe this latest development will have a positive impact on our work with our clients and partners and will allow Track to expand its product portfolio and further strengthen its position in the marketplace.”
See Insider Media article published on 22nd September 2015
Douglas-Jones Mercer is delighted to have been recognised in the latest edition of the Legal 500, regarded as the client’s guide to the best law firms in the UK. The results are based on research undertaken on law firms in the UK, along with evaluation of client feedback.
We are very pleased to be the highest-ranking of all law firms in Swansea for our commercial litigation work, and for our work within the construction sector. The Legal 500 guide, published on 17th September 2015, said of our work with construction clients:
“The ‘excellent’ Douglas-Jones Mercer handles high-profile instructions on a national level.”
The guide also said that “Douglas-Jones Mercer punches well above its weight” in relation to our dispute resolution work.
In addition to the recognition for a number of our departments, individual team members were recognised for their commitment to client satisfaction, as follows.
Hugh Hitchcock, Dispute Resolution
“Team head Hugh Hitchcock is an ‘excellent negotiator’ who ‘engenders confidence’ in clients…he acted for one of the UK’s largest furniture retailers in a claim relating to currency adjustment…Hugh Hitchcock is noted for recoveries at Douglas-Jones Mercer”
Philip Graham, Construction Litigation and Dispute Resolution
“‘Articulate’ team head Philip Graham advises clients such as WRW Construction and Gravan Construction. Graham advised an international civil engineering and building company on a substantial commercial and residential development.”
Commenting on the Legal 500 results, our Practice Director Barry Davies said:
“We are delighted to have been recognised in the Legal 500, which represents the crème de la crème of law firms across the UK. We are very proud to have established ourselves as one of the best-performing law firms in Wales, and our rankings in the guide highlight our growing reputation in commercial litigation and construction.”
Read Barry Davies’ article featured in Legal Practice Management July 2015.
Read Barry Davies’ article featured in Legal Practice Management May 2015.
DJM are pleased to continue to support the Free Wills Month scheme.
During the month of October 2014, DJM raised approximately £21,330 of future income for the Free Wills Month charities.
Read Barry Davies’ “Accredit to the Firm” article featured in Legal Practice Management October 2014.
This article was published in the Western Mail on 24th September 2014
This article was published in the South Wales Evening Post on 24th September 2014
Our Corporate and Commercial Director provides his thoughts on the legal sector in the Insider review
A number of notable players in the legal market in Wales were asked to comment on the current market conditions for the purposes of the Insider’s legal sector review.
Sheraz Akram, head of Corporate and Commercial law at DJM – was one of the few people asked to provide his thoughts as part of the Insider review. Read Sheraz’s thoughts on the risks facing Welsh law firms and DJM’s strategy to overcome the current pressures in the legal market here Legal Perspectives Article October 2014
Douglas-Jones Mercer is extremely proud to be amongst a minority of law firms across England and Wales to secure a prestigious national Law Society quality accreditation. Only 15% of the 10,700 law firms across England and Wales hold such accreditation.
Douglas-Jones Mercer is one of the best-performing commercial law firms in Wales and , has been awarded the esteemed Lexcel Excellence in Legal Practice Management certification.
You can read more about this accreditation by clicking on the below link:-
Read our very own Barry Davies’ “Are we covered enough?” article featured in Legal Practice Management September 2014
Read our very own Barry Davies’ article The Silly Season – Law Firm Professional Indemnity Renewal published in The Brief from CPM21 on 15th August 2014
We’re delighted to sponsor Nigel Evans as he embarks on the Butcher’s Bike Challenge, batting through a gruelling 874 miles – from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. Good luck!
DJM Solicitors are proud to announce that we have become a member of Certainty, the National Will Register.
What is the National Will Register?
As the name suggests, the register is a database where anyone can register the location of the Solicitor who holds their Will. No further details are registered so that your confidential information never becomes accessible to the public or anyone searching the register. The Register was created by ‘Certainty’ following considerable investment.
Why Register your Will with Certainty?
575,000 people die in the UK each year, and two thirds of adults do not have Wills. However, for those people who have taken the wise step to create a Will, it may not always be found.
A Survey carried out by Certainty revealed the following facts:-
• 67% of people do not know where to find their parents Wills.
• 98% of Solicitors hold Wills at their office where the person has died and the Will has not been administered.
• Over 300,000 people die every year intestate where a Will either cannot be found or was presumed never written.
• 77% of the public were in favour of a voluntary Wills register.
What Happens If I Don’t Register?
• Your beneficiaries may not receive inheritance in accordance with your instructions.
• Your Will may be found after your estate has been distributed.
• The Courts distribute your assets under the rules of Intestacy.
• Your beneficiaries are financially penalised.
• An old Will may be discovered and deemed as your final wishes.
• Family disputes can occur.
• Your children and dependants may not be looked after in the way you have stated in your Will.
• It may be assumed that you never wrote a Will.
At DJM we have decided that it is in the interests of all our clients to make the financial commitment and join Certainty. So if you have a Will and would like to register it then please contact us. Similarly if you are an Executor of a Will then we recommend that you ask the person appointing you to register their Will to avoid any difficulties for you in the future.
Finally, the Register also enables us to carry out a Will search on your behalf – not just against the Register itself, but also against other Solicitors in the country. If you have therefore lost a loved one and are not certain whether they have left a Will, or if the Will you have is the most up to date version, then please contact us for assistance.
Douglas-Jones Mercer’s corporate team are pleased to have added another major transaction to its impressive deal list during the first two quarters of the current financial year.
Securus Group have been on a buy and build strategy for some time and Security Centres joins the likes of Goldshield Electronic Security, CEL Electrical Logistics, Diverse Communication Services, Suffolk Electrical Services, AIS Total Security, Rodgers and TFS as part of the Securus Group. The deal was funded by a multimillion-pound finance package from Natwest.
Security Centres was established in 1985 and was developed by Graham Rees and Simon Philips into one of the largest privately owned fire and security companies in the UK.
Simon Philips of Security Centres commented:-
“Having decided to engage the services of DJM to assist us in the disposal of our company it was essential that they fully understood the need to complete the process within the set timeframe. It was evident from the outset that they fully understood our requirements, their professional approach to all key areas was faultless.
We would like to thank Sheraz and his team for all their help and assistance.”
Sheraz Akram Director and head of Douglas-Jones Mercer’s Corporate and Commercial team commented that “Graham and Simon had built a significant and highly profitable business, the transaction will ensure that continued aggressive growth can be achieved throughout Wales and beyond. DJM were pleased to have advised on the transaction”.
See Insider article published 28th Jul 2014 at 08:45am
A leading Swansea-based optician practice has been acquired by one of its practitioners.
Bater Opticians in Morriston has been acquired by Tony Stout, a current practitioner at the optometrists with over 30 years’ experience in the industry.
The opticians, which has other associated sites in Gorseinon and Singleton Hospital, will maintain full patient continuity after the acquisition, as all of its specialist practitioners will remain in their roles.
Mr Stout purchased the company from Lindsay Bater, who will continue to work at the practice, specialising in contact lenses and the treatment of the effects of vision on dyslexia.
As part of his development plans for the practice, Tony Stout has ordered state-of-the-art technology to provide Eye Dream contact lenses. The lenses, which aim to reduce short-sightedness in young people, are worn overnight, with the effect staying strong enough for people to function the entire day without spectacles or contact lenses.
Bater and Stout, which employs eight people, was purchased for an undisclosed fee and Swansea-based corporate law firm Douglas-Jones Mercer (DJM) Solicitors advised on the acquisition.
Tony Stout, who joined Bater and Stout Opticians in 2001, said:
“I’m very pleased to have purchased the practice, which has provided comprehensive eye-care for patients for nearly 30 years.”
“A number of our customers travel from afar as Cardiff, Carmarthen and even London, and our goal is become the most respected and recommended optician in South Wales.”
“We have already invested in technology to improve the scope of services we offer, from Eye Dream contact lenses for young people, to our new MPod – which screens and monitors for age related macular degeneration or AMD.”
“We will also be announcing a number of initiatives in the coming months to make eye-care more accessible and affordable for everyone in the community, building on our reputation as a centre of excellence.”
Lindsay Bater, who founded Bater Opticians in Gorseinon, said:
“With Tony’s knowledge of our patients and his experience, this sale ensures that patients will receive the same excellent service and continuity of care.”
“His leadership will ensure that the practice continues to grow and flourish, maintaining its excellent reputation in the community.”
Advising on the deal, Sheraz Akram, director at Douglas-Jones Mercer Solicitors, said:
“I am extremely pleased to have assisted on this transaction. The opticians has a leading reputation in South Wales and under Tony’s stewardship, I hope the practice can realise the potential of its ambitious growth plans.”
See South Wales Evening Post article published on 4th June 2014
See Commercial News Media article published on 19th May 2014
See Optician Online article published on 19th May 2014
See Insider Media article published on 19th May 2014
See Business in Wales articled published on 28th May 2014
Read our director’s views on whether the UK should follow France and ban after-hours work calls and emails?
Read our very own Barry Davies’ review of The Law Firm Finance and Administration Handbook as published in the Legal Practice Management May 2014 Edition.
The business of Mustang Marine (Wales) Limited (in administration) – based at Pembroke Dock – has been purchased by a consortium of nine individuals led by Stewart Graves, the interim managing director put in place to run the company late last year by the Milford Haven Port Authority. The consortium was advised by Sheraz Akram director and head of the Corporate team at Douglas-Jones Mercer and Mike Price director in the Property team at Douglas-Jones Mercer.
Eversheds acted for Grant Thornton the Administrators of Mustang Marine (Wales) Limited. Lead administrator and head of Grant Thornton in Wales Mr Wardell, commented “We are delighted to have been able to conclude a deal for the boat building and marine services parts of the Mustang business.”
Sheraz Akram of Douglas-Jones Mercer commented “the consortium team is full of high caliber individuals who will be looking to grow the business; the purchase is important for the local and wider economy and will see the retention of strategically important projects within Wales such as the Tidal Energy Turbine that will be put into service in Ramsey Sound later this year”.
The transaction also sees the retention of highly skilled workforce within the business.
Founded in Fishguard in 1984, Mustang Marine (Wales) Limited has been based at Pembroke Dock since 1997 where it has been building and supplying boats for commercial use, including pilot boats, wind farm support vessels, workboats and passenger vessels to customers across the world.
See Wales Online article published on 21st May 2014 at 14:23
See Insider article published on 22nd May 2014 at 08:35am
See Western Mail Article published on 22nd May 2014
DJM’s Corporate team acts on tie up between Longdin & Browning and £180 million pound Scottish conglomerate
Douglas-Jones Mercer are pleased to have acted on a transaction that sees a £180m-turnover conglomerate in Scotland take control of Swansea based Longdin & Browning.
Longdin & Browning are a topographical survey business, which was founded almost 50 years ago, the existing team will remain in situ and form part of the growth plan at the business.
Sheraz Akram Director and Head of the Corporate & Commercial Team at Douglas-Jones Mercer commented “this is an important deal on both sides of the table. The Longdin business is extremely specialist in nature and it includes as clients some of the largest business entities in the world. The fact that the management team form such an intrinsic part of the ongoing business is testament to their knowledge and expertise in the industry”
Sheraz Akram was assisted on the property element of the transaction by his commercial property colleague Rob Howells.
Tom Cox of Longdin & Browning commented “When it came to the point of wishing to sell on the company, we didn’t hesitate to instruct DJM to oversee the transaction.
This transaction was dealt with their usual professionalism, and once again demonstrated their ability to explain complex issues in a straightforward manner, coupled with patience and tenacity in equal mix to resolve what , at times, seemed immoveable obstacles. Sheraz and Rob were both excellent to work with, and we would not hesitate to recommend them”
See Insider Article published on 17th April 2014 at 08.33 am
Insider, Commercial News and the Western Mail picks up news on the appointment of our Sheraz Akram to the position of Director following substantial growth in that area.
See Insider article published on 7th April 2014 at 08:43 am
See Commercial News Media article published on 4th April 2014
This article was published in the Western Mail on 9th April 2014
Swansea will play host to the first ever International Jazz Festival, open to the public between 20th and 22nd June.
We’re delighted to announce DJM as proud sponsors of the Festival, which will feature 21 ticketed concerts taking place at the Dylan Thomas Centre, National Waterfront Museum and Dylan Thomas Theatre in the Swansea Maritime Quarter.
The Festival, promoted by Swansea Jazzland, will comprise of artists including Jeff Lorber’s Fusion Band all the way from the US, along with a host of top UK jazz bands including SHAKATAK and Steve White’s Trio Valore.
The event, in partnership with the Arts Council of Wales, Swansea City Council and University of Wales Trinity St David, will also include further ‘fringe’ performances at venues across the city, which will all be free to attend.
Dr Karl Jenkins, now the most performed living composer in the world and originally from Swansea, is the Festival Patron. He said:
“I am honoured to be asked to be Festival Patron. I love my hometown and I am also an official ambassador for the Dylan Thomas centenary.
“Jazz is now, belatedly, universally considered to be culturally important. Currently, Swansea has no opera house and no symphony orchestra, with unfortunately little prospect of either being established in the near future and that is why this Festival is so important.
“I can’t think of a better and more unique way to increase the cultural life and credibility of Swansea than with its very own Jazz Festival.”
Karl Jenkins will attend the official Festival launch event on the evening of Friday 21st March at the Dylan Thomas Centre, along with Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM and festival partners and sponsors.
To find out more about the Festival launch event, and ticket information, please visit: Swansea International Jazz Festival, ‘like’ Swansea Jazz Festival on Facebook or follow @Swanseajazzfest on Twitter.
Douglas-Jones Mercer’s Corporate team continue to advise Dawn Meats in their expansion plans.
The transaction saw Dawn Meats purchase the beef abattoir and boning specialist Jaspers which operated in Cornwall for an undisclosed sum.
Niall Browne, chief executive officer at Dawn Meats, said “We look forward to continuing to work with farmers in Cornwall and across the South West to promote this excellent product to both new and existing customers.”
David Jasper, of Jaspers, said: “We have known and done business with Dawn Meats for many years. We are pleased that Dawn has decided to invest in Cornwall and we are confident they will continue our tradition of providing great service to both our farmers and our customers.”
Sheraz Akram of DJM’s Corporate team commented that “we are pleased to have been able to advise Dawn Meats on this strategically important acquisition; the acquisitions team at Dawn Meats are extremely well versed in the acquisition and integration of targets into their UK structure which will benefit Jaspers greatly. I am sure that the Jaspers business will go from strength to strength following this acquisition.”
See Insider article published on 10th February 2014 at 12:13pm
Our Director and Head of Construction, Philip Graham, featured as a keynote speaker during an informative networking breakfast last week, at Parc y Scarlets.
The event, hosted by Nolan uPVC, examined the current state of the construction industry and the process of procurement within the public sector.
During his presentation, Philip Graham considered the legal implications and pitfalls that SMEs should be aware of when tendering for and working on commercial contracts, to ensure they are best placed to win work.
The event was well attended and featured other expert speakers’ insights on the construction industry, as well as an introduction by Scarlets Chief Executive Mark Davies.
We’re pleased that Philip Graham was selected to present his knowledge and expertise, helping businesses find out how to avoid the types of conflicts that can quickly develop into legal disputes.
The corporate and commercial team at Douglas-Jones Mercer are pleased to have advised Lyncu on taking substantial investment for the purposes of its internet based platform. The platform will be available on web browsers, smartphones and tablets with a view to bringing small and medium sized independent businesses together under one umbrella.
Lyncu utilises unique technology using a GPS tool to locate users and provide them with offers promoting local small and medium independent businesses in that area.
Lyncu came about as a result of a collaboration between Pembrokeshire entrepreneur, Daron Paish, and Dutch marketing specialist Paul Lakatos and will initially create 10 new jobs in Wales.
Sheraz Akram of Douglas-Jones Mercer commented: “Lyncu is an innovative business with ambitious and exciting plans and I will watch its developments with interest. The fact that such a cutting edge venture has been launched in Wales rather than other major European cities is a testament to the digital based expertise that we have in Wales.”
Managing director Paul Lakatos commented: “Douglas Mercer Jones is a local company with an international orientation and state of the art knowledge of the Internet Business. The service and turnaround time is also in line with the fast paced online world.”
The Lyncu team have plans to grow throughout the UK, Europe and the US.
See Insider article published on 23rd September 2013 at 08:32 am
See Commercial News Media article published on 20th September 2013
Our specialist healthcare team at Douglas-Jones Mercer is delighted to announce that it is one of the first law firms in Wales to be registered on the British Dental Association’s panel of specialist solicitors for Dentists.
Mike Price a Director at Douglas-Jones Mercer said:
“It speaks volumes that we are one of the first law firms in Wales to achieve a listing on the BDA panel and, as our client roster continues to grow in this specialist area, this listing is certainly a recognition of our expertise.”
Our Healthcare team has experience in working with healthcare organisations across the country including Dentists, General Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, Optometrists, Nursing & Care homes, medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies.
If you would like to find out more about the British Dental Association, please visit: http://www.bda.org/
Douglas-Jones Mercer’s corporate team are delighted to announce that it has recently advised on an investment arrangement between the London based Audere Capital and Cake Communications.
Audere Capital acquired an equity investment in the PR company Cake Communications in Q2 of 2013.
Audere Capital focuses on investment opportunities primarily in startup companies in the media, technology and fashion sectors and at end of Q2 2013 investments made-to-date totalled £1.9Million.
Cake Communications, established in 2011 by award-winning PR consultant, and former journalist, Sara Robinson, is an independent communications agency offering multi-platform communication campaigns, digital strategy, social media management and training.
Cake’s client list includes organisations in the legal, healthcare, education, retail, property, technology and charity sectors.
Cake Communications was voted Chartered Institute of Public Relations Outstanding Small Consultancy of the year 2013.
Sheraz Akram of the Douglas-Jones Mercer Corporate team commented that “amongst other benefits the investment facilitated the creation of a new Canary Wharf office for Cake which will allow Sara and her team to capitalise on broader markets. I am certain that this investment will see Cake’s turnover and client roster expand rapidly.”
Sara Robinson the managing director of Cake stated “It is genuinely a pleasure to work with the DJM team. Their advice is responsive, clear and no–nonsense, really getting to the heart of the issues in question. The service was of a quality above and beyond anything we have experienced previously. Additionally they really understand the commercial world and the pressures we operate under. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to businesses looking for high-quality legal services.”
See Cake Communications article published on 1st August 2013
See Insider article published on 6th August 2013 at 09:22 am
See PR Week article published on 6th August 2013 at 1:40 pm
See Wales on Line article published on 20th August 2013 at 18:58 pm and the “business” section of the Western Mail on 20th August 2013
Sheraz Akram, Douglas-Jones Mercer, Sara Robinson, Cake Communications and Richard Alvin, Audere Capital
The Law Society Gazette article highlights the relationship advice between law firms and their insurers and brokers, and includes advice from our very own Barry Davies.
Read our very own Barry Davies in the chair on Lawnet website:
SA1 Solutions acquired Business Systems Services (BSS), an IT and software development company based on the Garngoch Industrial Estate in Gorseinon.
The company will continue to use trading names BSS and Picseli, its website development arm.
Teifion Davies, the managing director of BSS, commented “My experiences with Sheraz on this transaction have been immeasurably positive. The professionalism, knowledge and understanding shown throughout this process have made an emotive and stressful period much easier to comprehend. I would highly recommend Sheraz and his team at DJM as the quality of the advice and response times were of top quality.”
Sheraz Akram of Douglas-Jones Mercer’s Corporate Team commented that “this transaction was not without its complexities however, it makes perfect sense for both parties and I have no doubt that the enlarged entity will push forward to make some real progress within the sector. Teifion is extremely well connected within the sector and will bring a lot to the enlarged group which has ambitious plans for growth.”
This matter was first published in the insider on 16th July 2013 at 08:36am
Douglas-Jones Mercer are pleased to have held a Seminar and workshop in conjunction with Finance Wales, Lloyds TSB Bank Plc and KTS Owens Thomas with regard to succession planning for businesses. The event was extremely well attended with the local business people who were particularly active in discussions during the event.
One of the panellists Douglas-Jones Mercer’s Sheraz Akram commented “the event was very well received and some very interesting and fruitful discussions were held with regards to business succession planning. Feedback from the attendees was extremely positive.”
Business in Wales article highlights a recent transaction conducted by Douglas-Jones Mercer’s corporate team.
The transaction saw Irpco Limited a company of process control instrumentation engineers being acquired by the Rototherm group, a leading UK manufacturer of instrumentation for measuring temperature, pressure, level, density and flow.
Sheraz Akram of DJM who acted on the transaction commented “this transaction is strategically important for both Irpco and Rototherm and will act as a catalyst for the rapid growth of the business in the future.”
Paul Williams commented “We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Sheraz Akram of DJM for his assistance in the sale of IRPCO Ltd. The process from start to finish was handled with competence and efficiency and whenever we had a query there was always someone at hand to answer it and to guide us in the right direction.
At such a stressful time, Sheraz was our rock and always allayed our concerns and put our minds at ease. In 2010 a decision was made to move our business requirements to DJM after 23 years with our previous solicitor. Our only regret is that we didn’t make the move much sooner”.
The below press cutting was published in the Western Mail on 23rd May 2013
Douglas-Jones Mercer’s corporate team consider the implications of the issue of bonus shares instead of paying dividends
Bonus issue of shares can be made as long as you have authority to do so (such as through a shareholder resolution) and sufficient profits.
In short bonus shares can be issued by a company by using its profits (rather than using such profits to pay shareholders dividends), to pay for new shares and to offer them to the shareholders. It should be noted that it is also possible to utilise a company’s share premium account, or any revaluation reserve, in the company’s balance sheet to fund a bonus issue, despite such methods not being available for the purposes of funding dividends.
A bonus issue is sometimes used to increase a private company’s issued share capital to £50,000 (or its euro equivalent) so it can satisfy the requirement imposed on re-registration as a public company.
The effect of a bonus issue in the company’s balance sheet is to transfer the amount equal to the nominal value of the bonus issue shares from “profits” (and, if used as a source of funds, any share premium account or revaluation reserve) to “share capital” therefore allowing the company to retain such an amount for the purposes of its business rather than paying dividends. For the company, paying a bonus issue can help to maintain cash balances.
One of DJM’s clients Phoenix Music International (PMI) continue on their successful acquisition trail having recently completed an acquisition that included the rights to PJ and Duncan’s “Let’s get ready to rumble!”. PMI are enjoying further success with the 1994 song officially becoming UK’s number 1 recently.
Mick Ramage the MD of Phoenix group commented “Sheraz Akram of the Corporate and Commercial team at Douglas-Jones Mercer provided first-rate legal advice in a timely manner. It makes a real difference to have someone who knows what they’re talking about acting for you, and who gets things done.”
Sheraz commented that “DJM’s corporate team were pleased to have been able to advise PMI on the acquisition” and that “Mick of PMI is extremely astute when it comes to picking potential targets, as has been proven in the latest transaction and as always he is a pleasure to work with.”
Democracy relies on freedom of speech but it’s vital to know your libel law if you are going to blog online
This Article first appeared in the Western Mail on 22nd March 2013
The new system of press regulation goes beyond printed titles, and could have serious implications for websites and social networking sites. Legal expert Hugh Hitchcock explores what impact the changes will have on freedom of speech online.
David Cameron has insisted the cross-party deal reached earlier this week on a royal charter on press regulation defends the principle of a free press. But what will it mean for freedom of speech online?
The Prime Minister, who was granted an emergency Commons debate on the proposed new system in response to Lord Justice Leveson’s report on press standards, said the new regulator would not be set up by legislation – an approach he claimed was “fundamentally wrong in principle”.
But he acknowledged that legislation was necessary to establish a system of exemplary damages for newspapers that did not sign up to the regulator.
The new system goes behind printed media however, with all publishers of news, comment and “gossip” being encouraged to join the regulatory system. This means that blog and news websites are equally as affected as printed titles, with bloggers potentially facing high fines if they don’t sign up to the new regulator.
Under the charter, the definition of “relevant” bloggers or websites includes any that generate news material where there is an editorial structure giving someone control over publication.
Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship, which campaigns for press freedom, said it was a “sad day” for British democracy.
“This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people’s web use,” she said. She says she feared thousands of websites could fall under the definition of a “relevant publisher” in clause 29.
She pointed out that exemplary damages and costs imposed by a court to penalise those who remain outside the regulator could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds, enough to close down smaller publishers.
The exemplary damages clause was recommended in the Leveson report but has been opposed by some newspapers, which have been given legal advice that it could be contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the principle of free speech.
Under sustained questioning in the commons on Monday night the culture secretary Maria Miller said publishers “would have to meet the three tests of whether the publication is publishing news-related material in the course of a business, whether their material is written by a range of authors – this would exclude a one-man band or a single blogger – and whether that material is subject to editorial control”.
She said the new rules were designed to protect “small-scale bloggers” and to “ensure that the publishers of special interest, hobby and trade titles are not caught in the regime”.
However, sites that rely on a network of bloggers with a clear editorial structure, such as the Huffington Post, would be covered under the new rules.
Crucially, blog sites would not be at risk of exemplary damages for comments posted by readers.
While there has been an outcry over the proposals from those concerned about freedom of speech online, there is a danger here that we could miss the wood for the trees.
Bloggers already face big fines for libel, as we saw recently in the case of a Carmarthenshire blogger who lost a libel case against the Chief Executive of her local council after he counter-sued.
Jacqui Thompson launched her action after a letter responding to criticism of Carmarthenshire council, following an incident where she was ejected from a meeting for filming. But the High Court dismissed her claim.
Lawyers representing the blogger had claimed her case was one of “state versus citizen”. But Mr James’s legal team argued that Mrs Thompson had carried out a “wholly improper” campaign in her online blog.
Giving his written ruling, Mr Justice Tugendhat said: “I have found that Mrs Thompson was engaged in an unlawful campaign of harassment, defamation and intimidation targeted against Mr James and other council officers.”
Ms Thompson claimed that the ruling potentially opens the floodgates for similar actions, and that it has dire consequences for those who publicly scrutinise and criticise various types of institutions.
What this case makes clear is that those who make unfounded claims or defame others online already face the risk of being punished under existing legislation.
I have every confidence that the eventual regulatory body will be able to differentiate between a site such as The Huffington Post and small, independent bloggers. Even Leveson admitted in his final report that trying to regulate the latter would be a step too far.
But that doesn’t mean that bloggers can get away with making unfounded claims or defaming other individuals online.
Anything you write on the Internet that might cause someone’s reputation to be harmed could potentially be libellous. It doesn’t matter if the statement is on your Facebook page, in a review of a new product, or it’s a blog post about a celebrity news story.
While many Internet users believe that they are free to say and do as they like while on the Internet, this is untrue; the same defamation laws and regulations stand for online defamation as they do in any form of media.
The message for bloggers is to stay vigilant, to be careful to know what constitutes libel or defamation and to stay on the right side of that line.
What will be interesting to see is whether these proposals will create a more level playing field whereby those that struggle to access legal remedies will have a right of recourse.
Crucially, the proposed changes by no means herald the death of the citizen journalist, as has been claimed by some. It’s hugely important that across all media outlets, we continue to hold those in authority to account. The implications for democracy if this ceases to be the case are too awful to contemplate.
Hugh Hitchcock is director of DJM Solicitors in Swansea and an expert in media law and defamation.
The corporate team at DJM are pleased to have been able to help in the ongoing expansion of one of their clients, Team Tours Direct.
Team Tours specialises in operating sporting tournaments around the world.
Terry O’Neill the managing director of Team Tours explained “as an organisation we must offer our acknowledgement & thanks to our company lawyers Douglas, Jones & Mercer and in particularly their talented team of commercial lawyers, in particularly Mr Sheraz Akram who’s guidance and expertise in dealing with such an important agreement for our company was invaluable. A great deal of work went on behind the scenes to enable Team Tours Direct to successfully negotiate a contract which will be worth well in excess of a million dollars with one of Dubai’s leading Holding Companies and thus enhance our expansion plans throughout the Middle East. None of which I believe would have been possible without the expertise of Sheraz and his talented team support.”
Sheraz Akram of DJM commented “the expansion of Team Tours shows that Welsh businesses are increasing their global reach and can compete successfully with the largest of organisations in their chosen sectors. I am sure that Team Tours will continue to grow both internationally and domestically at the rapid rate that they have done to date. It was a pleasure to work with both Terry and Alex on this transaction and we were pleased to have achieved the right result for the client”.
The below link was published on 19th March 2013 Wales Online
The below link was published on 19th March 2013 at 8.44 am Insider Media Limited
Leading law firm Douglas-Jones Mercer are pleased to have been involved in a joint venture arrangement between one of its clients, Mr Shayban Al-Ibrahim (one of the leading Domino’s Pizza franchise operators in Wales) and Dominos Pizza Group Plc.
The Corporate team at DJM was led by Sheraz Akram who commented “we’re delighted to have worked on this transaction and pleased to be a part of a tie up that will allow the joint venture company to expand rapidly and create jobs and growth, which is always good news for the Welsh economy”.
Shayban explained “Sheraz not only provided expert legal advice, he also supported and guided me through the whole process. His legal expertise along with his knowledge and understanding of the business world make him a top class Corporate Lawyer offering an excellent service.”
DJM has experience in all forms of joint ventures and have advised on cross border and domestic joint ventures for their clients.
This article first appeared in the Western Mail on 27th February 2013
The horse meat scandal has raised crucial questions about the security of our food supply chains and has major implications for business says solicitor Sheraz Akram.
Anyone for spaghetti bolog-neighs? While the horse meat scandal has been a god-send for wannabe comedians on the social networks, it has prompted a wave of criticism of retailers and major food brands.
What began as an isolated problem with one supplier has now become a political and economic problem as retailers and ministers alike struggle to deal with the crisis.
Big name supermarkets and leading frozen meal supplier Findus have all found themselves at the eye of the storm after being found selling horse meat, despite assuring that they have stringent checks in place to test the quality of their food products. The saga has highlighted the difficulties in monitoring and securing a reliable supply chain, even for the biggest brands.
Nasty surprises in the supply chain are nothing new, as we saw when Apple, Dell and HP came in for a barrage of negative publicity when poor working conditions were uncovered at one of their Chinese suppliers, Foxconn.
One of the harsh realities of dealing with global supply chains is that it can be incredibly difficult to keep tabs on every single sub-contractor. In the case of Tesco, it had a number of controls in place to ensure the quality of its meat products, including regular audits and approved sub-contractor lists that are all British Retail Consortium accredited.
In fact, Tesco told the environment, food and rural affairs select committee that it carries out over 20,000 tests a year for quality and adherence to strict specifications.
It had visited the supplier that produced the burgers found to contain horse meat three times in 2012 to audit its practices, yet it still slipped through the net. Investigations suggest the supplier in question had been buying in meat from an unapproved Polish supplier for as long as a year, and Tesco had no knowledge of this link in the chain.
Any supply chain relies on well drafted contracts and a certain amount of trust between the parties involved and the supplier in this case has now lost lucrative contracts with a number of supermarkets.
But that by no means signals the end of the problem. The authorities are now considering whether there has been some kind of international conspiracy to substitute beef for the more cheaply produced horsemeat.
At the moment, investigations are focussed on protecting public health and addressing understandable consumer concerns. But how long before we hear of procurement fraud? In legal terms, this could take a range of forms. Product substitution to the supplier is one possibility, as it is unlikely the buyer requested ‘horse meat’ in its product specification. Then there is the issue of product substitution to the consumer; would consumers have bought the product if they were aware of the substitution? Then there is the spectre of possible bribery and corruption. Who was aware of the product substitution? If so did money change hands to those complicit in the actions?
What will also unfold in the coming months is a legal blame game which will no doubt see contracts tested and enforced right the way up the supply chain. This is just the start of a long legal process that has yet to get fully underway.
The lesson that many big brands have learnt the hard way is that if someone is determined to do something illegal, if they are good at covering their tracks, it can be difficult to uncover. For us as consumers, that is a scary thought. What else are we eating, buying and using daily that isn’t quite what it seems?
Increasingly, consumers are demanding cheaper products, which means supply chains have become longer and more complex – which obviously presents hidden dangers. Any organisation with multiple suppliers should ask itself: Do I have clear visibility of my supply chain? How strong is my contract with suppliers? Do I know how long my supply chain is? And do I really know who my suppliers are, or has the work been subcontracted so far down the supply chain that it’s just too much trouble to delve deeper?
It is true that the longer the supply chain, the harder it is to monitor and carry out compliance checks. But what this scandal has shown is that this scrutiny and attention to detail in contractual relationships is crucial; not only to protect reputation, but more importantly, to protect others.
One answer is to keep the supply chain as simple as possible; Morrisons has been largely safe from the horse meat scandal because it sources the bulk of its own-label meat in the UK and processes it at its own network of abattoirs.
There are also assurance schemes to boost buyer and consumer confidence – the NFU-backed Red Tractor assurance label, for instance, guarantees meat has been tracked through the entire production process from the farm to packing and labelling.
Some retailers are upping the ante on their testing regimes, but that is unlikely to be sustainable as the cost can run into the millions and this cost will eventually have to be passed on to the consumer.
Intense scrutiny of supply chains by retailers is the only way to avoid unwanted surprises. Scandals such as the horse meat saga dent shoppers’ trust, and at a time when trust in big business is at an all time low, it’s crucial that retailers do everything possible to restore that faith.
And as consumers, perhaps it’s time to reconsider what we expect in return for our money. We may want to enjoy cheap food, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that it could come at a different price altogether.
Sheraz Akram is an associate solicitor with Swansea based DJM Solicitors, who has considerable experience in dealing with food sector businesses.
The below link was published in Issue 022 Feb/March 2013 in Swansea Bay Business Life
We are delighted to say that DJM’s Mamuna Farooq has won the prestigious “Young Achiever of the Year” Award at the inaugural British Muslim Awards 2013.
Mamuna, Solicitor in our Wills, Estates & Trusts department was the only Welsh Award winner at the prestigious ceremony hosted at the Sheridan Suite in Manchester on 29th January 2013.
27 year old Mamuna was the youngest Award winner at the ceremony for which nearly 10,000 nominations were received across the UK from a variety of achievers including Muslim groups, businesses and individuals.
Mamuna was nominated for the British Muslim Award 2013 as she has impressively maintained her British and Muslim values throughout her educational and professional life, in a geographical area where she is one of very few Muslim females in the legal industry. Being an active member of the Muslim community in Swansea from a young age, Mamuna has always had a burning ambition to use her professional qualifications to help ‘give back’ to the community and she is one of, if not the first, Solicitor in Wales to offer a bespoke service of drafting and advising Muslim clients on Islamic (Sharia) Wills; something which we at DJM are very proud of.
Her ambition and professionalism has clearly been recognised and Mamuna is regarded as a proud British Muslim professional, effortlessly integrating her Welsh and Muslim values into the legal industry.
Mamuna joined us in 2008 as a Trainee Solicitor and was retained by DJM upon qualification in 2010 joining our Wills, Estates & Trusts team. She now specialises in all areas of Private Client law.
Mamuna was shortlisted in the Young Achiever of the Year category with four other worthy finalists, including Dragon’s Den success story Imran Hakim of iTeddy.
Other finalists and Award winners included Olympian Mo Farah, boxer Amir Khan, footballer Samir Nasri, Dragon’s Den James Caan, 99p Stores, Manchester City Football Club, Charily Islamic Relief, MP’s Baroness Sayeeda Warsi & Anas Sarwar and BBC Five Live.
After receiving the Award presented by Grafx Media, Mamuna said:
“I felt honoured and surprised to have been shortlisted as a finalist and honestly did not expect to receive the Award. I would like to congratulate the fellow finalists, especially in the Young Achiever category”.
“To say I was excited when I unexpectedly heard my name called out is an understatement”.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have been named as a finalist and then a winner at the first British Muslim Awards alongside public figures, individuals and businesses whom I admire and respect. To be told I’m regarded as a role model for younger Muslims is a true honour”.
Jonathan Powell, Director in our Estate & Trusts team commented:
“To say that Mamuna exceeds the expectations of Solicitors in our firm would be an understatement. Her dedication and professionalism have resulted in a level of service given to clients which is second to none.
The prestigious Award is thoroughly deserved by Mamuna, and reflects the progression that we as a firm have made in offering bespoke services to clients, something which we pride ourselves on.
I look forward to observing and supporting Mamuna’s progression in the legal profession for which she will no doubt win future Awards”.
Douglas-Jones Mercer is pleased to have advised on a multi-faceted transaction in which Irpco Limited a company of process control instrumentation engineers were acquired by the Rototherm group, a leading UK manufacturer of instrumentation for measuring temperature, pressure, level, density and flow.
Sheraz Akram of DJM commented “I am extremely pleased to have assisted Paul and his team on this transaction. Given that Paul will be moving forward with the business it was an important strategic step for Irpco, which will allow for the rapid growth of the business in the future.”
Paul Williams commented “We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Sheraz Akram of DJM for his assistance in the sale of IRPCO Ltd. The process from start to finish was handled with competence and efficiency and whenever we had a query there was always someone at hand to answer it and to guide us in the right direction.
At such a stressful time, Sheraz was our rock and always allayed our concerns and put our minds at ease. In 2010 a decision was made to move our business requirements to DJM after 23 years with our previous solicitor. Our only regret is that we didn’t make the move much sooner.
DJM offer a relaxed, informal and efficient service and we would not hesitate to recommend them to any friends, family or business associates”.
The below link was published on 5th Feb 2013 at 09:03am in the Insider magazine online updates.
DJM were very pleased to have the opportunity of sponsoring the Mumbles Cracker 7’s hosted by Mumbles Rugby Club during the August bank holiday 2012.
The weather was particularly good and an enjoyable day was had for staff members and clients who were able to attend.
DJM’s Corporate and Commercial team are pleased to have continued in its close working relationship with Bevan & Clarke Assets LLP in their continuing growth strategy. Bevan & Clarke have recently completed on the purchase of Taibach Nursing Home in Port Talbot.
John Bevan of Bevan & Clarke commented “DJM are trusted advisers and are invaluable to our business and its growth strategy; Sheraz Akram and Mike Snowdon are first class solicitors who always give excellent advice”.
Sheraz Akram of DJM’s Corporate and Commercial team commented “It is always a pleasure to work with John and Nigel the team at Bevan & Clarke. They have continued to prove that aggressive growth strategies can work successfully despite the current economic climate. The acquisition will place our clients in a stronger position as one of the leading nursing home operators in the region.”
The below link was published on 17th Jan 2013 at 08:34am in the Insider magazine online updates.
This Article first appeared in the Western Mail on 27th November 2012
Lord McAlpine’s legal action against the BBC and up to 10,000 tweeters could have profound consequences for other users of social networking sites. In fact, the case may change the way we use social media forever says Hugh Hitchcock, Head of Dispute Resolution and managing partner of DJM Solicitors.
Conservative peer Lord McAlpine has rightfully received a £185,000 settlement after a BBC Newsnight report wrongly labelled him a paedophile. He has also contacted ITV after the presenter Phillip Schofield handed the Prime Minister a list of alleged abusers live on the This Morning show on 8 November. Unfortunately for the broadcaster, some of the names on the list – which were taken from various internet sites – were clearly visible to viewers.
Most worryingly for those of us outside of media circles, he is also perfectly properly considering legal action against the estimated 10,000 tweeters who falsely accused him of being a paedophile on the social networking site, and have failed to withdraw or delete their statements. Through litigation McAlpine is making a very clear point – every tweet or social media post is a publication rendering the author potentially liable, and in every 140 characters we type or share, we could be inviting a lawsuit.
The increasing usage of social media, blogs and user-generated content led to the UK Government producing a new Defamation Bill in May. The new bill seeks to address the issue of who exactly is the author of content – as secondary publishers such as forum hosts and social media sites cannot be responsible for the words of every single post that goes online through their channels.
Interestingly, on his insistence, the majority of the so-called ‘McAlpine Tweeters‘ will only have to apologise and make a small charitable donation. But, the other 500 million Twitter users should be watching and listening carefully. This may be the first example of somebody suing 10,000 users for comments on the same subject, but it is by no means the first high-profile case of bad behaviour on Twitter that has led to legal intervention.
We only need to look back to early November for the most recent Welsh case of legal proceedings being brought for damaging online posts.
Nine people were each forced to pay £624 to a woman raped by former Wales footballer Ched Evans, after admitting to revealing her name on Twitter and Facebook.
They were all charged with publishing material likely to lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.
As this case shows, more and more people are blurring the distinctions between the kind of a private conversation you might have in the pub, or over a garden fence, and a highly visible public comment posted on the internet for the world to see. Tweets are not private and by no means disappear like words in conversation – in legal terms, every time a website is ‘hit’, it is considered as being republished, therefore pages can never go out-of-date unless they are taken down. The potential audience is unfathomably large, and the mode and extent of visibility are highly relevant factors to the level of damages awarded to the defamed.
However, even after a person has deleted a post, they can still find themselves in legal hot water.
Liam Stacey, a Swansea University biology student, served a month in prison after tweeting abusive comments about former Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a heart attack on the pitch. Stacey was subsequently banned from the university for the rest of the academic year and forced to sit his exams a year later as an external candidate.
This is an example of a drunken, foolish act that has caused irreparable damage to him and his family. Stacey is no longer invited to Swansea University’s traditional graduation ceremony and his job prospects will be severely affected for some time, if not the rest of his life. Did he consider the implications of his actions at the time of writing? Of course not. How many people stop to think that a post could be libellous before clicking ‘tweet’?
It is not only members of the general public that have spectacularly fallen from grace online. A Caerphilly councillor was forced to pay £3,000 and legal costs to a political rival for posting a libellous comment on Twitter.
Plaid Cymru Cllr Colin Elsbury posted that Eddie Talbot had been removed from a polling station by police during a by-election in 2009. He claimed the tweet was the result of a mistaken identity and went on to win the by-election, but as far as his reputation goes, the damage had been done.
The issue facing all internet users is the very real danger linked to posting defamatory material about others online. It’s scary to think that every time we update our status or press the retweet button we are risking criminal proceedings, but that is increasingly the reality.
Sharing something we find funny, or posting something accusatory about a celebrity or even a product or brand name, might seem innocuous at the time, but it could end up costing thousands of pounds at best, not to mention the long-term damage to reputation.
Further, there is no physical jurisdiction online. So, regardless of where the defamatory statement is published, if somebody has a reputation in the place it was read, the author can be sued.
If you are genuinely determined to post something potentially defamatory about another person online, be extremely careful to make sure it is based in truth and proven facts, as fundamentally this is the best defence in court. Admittedly not all untrue statements are defamatory. But the risk remains, as a claim for malicious falsehood may also be on its way to the author who recklessly says something untrue that is not technically defamatory.
But, for the majority, caution should be exercised when posting anything about others online, because like it or not, we are all fast becoming authors. And our words could turn out to be worth a lot more than we originally bargained for.
By Hugh Hitchcock, Director – DJM Solicitors
Once again the staff at DJM have volunteered to take part in the annual Mr X appeal in Swansea during the Christmas season.
The charity provides Christmas gifts for underprivileged children and youngsters from around the child care agencies in South West Wales. The appeal has been running for 53 years and is co-ordinated by an anonymous gentleman in Swansea who arranges a list of around 4,000 children each year.
This will be the 4th year that staff at DJM have taken part in the appeal and who have each year bought presents for around 20 children and youngsters who would not otherwise have received a present to open on Christmas day.
DJM are privileged to be part of such a special appeal and will continue to offer support in years to come.
Douglas-Jones Mercer were pleased to host a Seminar at the Copthorne Hotel Cardiff on Thursday 15th November for delegates from across the Construction Industry.
The Seminar was well attended by a cross section of businesses that operate within the Construction Industry in Wales and beyond.
The topics for the Seminar covered the following areas:-
• Consideration of the construction market, the opportunities and challenges facing Welsh SME’s;
• The importance of sound contractual arrangements;
• Collaborations as a means of positioning your business for future framework opportunities;
• The legal aspects of collaborations;
• Framework challenges.
Speakers at the event included Paul Thorburn, DJM’s business development consultant, Sheraz Akram, Associate in the Corporate/Commercial team at DJM and Philip Graham, Director and Head of Construction at DJM.
For further information or assistance, please contact Philip Graham, either via email email@example.com or via telephone 01792 656536 or Sheraz Akram, either via email firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone 01792 656519.
The Legal 500 is regarded as the client’s guide to the best law firms in the UK. The results are based on research undertaken on law firms in the UK, along with evaluation of client feedback.
Douglas-Jones Mercer are proud to be listed again within the 2012 edition.
‘Michael Snowdon and Michael Price are the key players at Douglas-Jones Mercer; they are ‘experienced, and provide excellent customer focus’. 2011 brought an increase in work from pension provider Sanlam, and from the Action for Children charity.’
Dispute Resolution – Commercial Litigation
‘Hugh Hitchcock remains the driving force at Douglas-Jones Mercer. Clare Carpenter has a growing profile in the region, and recently acted for the Dolphin Hotel in evicting squatters.’
‘Philip Graham at Douglas-Jones Mercer is ‘sound and informed’.’
Private Client – Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate
‘The ‘remarkably knowledgeable’ Jonathan Powell heads the team at Douglas-Jones Mercer, which is a popular choice for local IFAs. ’
Insurance – Personal Injury: Defendant
‘At Douglas-Jones Mercer, the ‘highly knowledgeable’ Jeremy Wolfe is recommended for his pragmatism. He specialises in local authority, fire and police service work, both via direct instruction and insurers. ’
‘Advanced Panel and Resolution member Nicola Conley at Douglas-Jones Mercer has a strong reputation for divorce and separation advice.’
Leading Wales Law firm, Douglas-Jones Mercer and Antur Insurance, one of Wales’ leading Insurance brokers jointly hosted a Seminar at the Liberty Stadium on Thursday 8th December for over 100 delegates from across the Construction Industry, where details of the changes and amendments to the Construction Act 1996 were presented and discussed.
As of 1st October 2011, construction and engineering businesses face important changes to the law. Part II of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 has been amended and the changes affect nearly all commercial construction contracts in the UK.
The key changes include:
- Changes to the payment mechanisms in construction contracts;
- Parties rights to suspend performance for non-payment;
- Changes to Adjudication.
All those in the construction industry need to be aware of how these changes affect their business and the seminar was designed specifically for construction professionals & companies to bring them fully up to date from a legal, insurance and practical perspective.
Those who attended included Costain, one of the UK’s leading Construction companies, Gwalia Housing Association, numerous main contractors, sub contractors, Architects, Consulting Engineers, Project Management Companies and those in the Steel Fabrication sector, all of whom will be impacted upon by the changes in legislation.
Speaking after the event, Philip Graham, Director and Head of Construction at Douglas-Jones Mercer said, “We were delighted with the turn out this morning and particularly with the quality of organisations who attended, highlighting the importance across the industry of the changes to the legislation. The legislation was originally introduced back in 1996 to ease cash flow within the industry and has now been updated to ease its application to contracts. As is often the case, knowledge is key to the effective control of budgets. In addition, management of expectations is important to all businesses, no matter what sector.”
With the economic climate in a precarious state, getting contracts drafted as comprehensively as possible is essential, thus minimising contractual issues/disputes during the course of a project.
With interest having already been expressed by other companies in the region, Philip Graham added, “We would be delighted to meet with organisations who have concerns or queries over these new changes, so please do not hesitate to contact us. We have considerable experience in the drafting of contracts, but also in dealing with disputes where existing contracts have perhaps not been as comprehensive as they should have been or where the evolution of construction projects has given rise to differences”.
“The changes to the Construction Act is such a huge potential minefield that we felt it was very important that we supported Douglas-Jones Mercer in getting this message out to both clients and prospects who would be affected by these changes in the law. Antur has many years of experience in the construction industry, and has always made a commitment to understanding the nature of our clients’ business and the risks and challenges that they face. Participation in such events equips us to offer assistance in any insurance related issues in this area and is, I believe, an illustration of our professionalism which has contributed to our Chartered status. Antur will be looking to run further seminars in conjunction with our commercial partners in the future.”
John Knox, Chairman of Antur Insurance commented, “The changes to the Construction Act are such a huge potential minefield that we felt it was very important that we supported Douglas-Jones Mercer in getting this message out to both clients and prospects who would be affected by these changes in the law. Antur has many years of experience in the construction industry, and has always made a commitment to understanding the nature of our clients’ business and the risks and challenges that they face. Participation in such events equips us to offer assistance in any insurance related issues in this area and is, I believe, an illustration of our professionalism which has contributed to our Chartered status. Antur will be looking to run further seminars in conjunction with our commercial partners in the future.”
For further information or assistance, please contact Paul Thorburn at Douglas-Jones Mercer, either via e.mail email@example.com or via telephone 07786 625731
The Prince of Wales concluded his tour of Wales with a visit to Frank’s Ice Cream Factory in Ammanford, Carmarthen.
Mr Hugh Hitchcock and Miss Aisha Daghem had the pleasure of attending the event on Friday 1st July 2011.
The visit by the Prince of Wales was a huge mark of recognition for the Company.
The Prince of Wales enjoyed an afternoon of ice cream tasting at the factory including trying a new Bara Brith ice cream created especially for the Prince.
DJM were privileged to be a part of the special day and the afternoon was a lesson in outstanding achievement and all that should be positive in business.
“It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without writing a Will about it.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
“A man may do good deeds for seventy years but if he acts unjustly when he leaves his last testament, the wickedness of his deed will be sealed upon him, and he will enter the Fire. If, (on the other hand), a man acts wickedly for seventy years but is just in his last will and testament, the goodness of his deed will be sealed upon him, and he will enter the Garden.” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah)
DJM is pleased to be one of, if not the, first law firms in Wales to offer our Muslim clients a Sharia compliant solution to meet with all of their testamentary requirements. We respect and understand the principles associated with preparing an Islamic Will to ensure it is compliant with both Sharia and English law.
If you die without leaving a Will, the ‘intestacy’ rules dictate how your estate will be distributed, which in the UK will unfortunately not be under the Islamic Law of Inheritance.
DJM can however assist you with preparing an Islamic Will in accordance with the inheritance obligations placed upon you in the Quran.
An Islamic Will also gives you the opportunity to include your wishes, such as:-
- Islamic burial and funeral wishes
- Choice of who you would trust to administer your estate (Executors)
- Appointment of Guardians for your children
- Requesting your religious obligations are fulfilled upon your death – such as unpaid Zakat (charity)
At DJM, our Lawyers will not only draft your Will to ensure it is compliant with Sharia law, but we will also consider ways in which to ensure your Will is tax efficient, minimising any potential tax liability upon your death.
Now is the perfect time to start thinking about making a Will, ensuring you have reduced any unnecessary predicaments placed upon your family after your death and most importantly fulfilled your duty as a Muslim.
A guide to the conveyancing process
We spoke with Nicola Conley,who is pleased to be joining such a prestigious firm. “I am delighted to be appointed Head of Family Law at DJM,” discussed Nicola. “I look forward to working with my team and the directors to develop the department by focusing on clients and their needs, therefore helping them to achieve the best possible outcomes.”
The Board at DJM discussed with us the new appointment of Nicola Conley to head up their Family Law team. Nicola, who resides in Swansea, is a member of the Family Law Panel and also a member of the Resolution Panel, bringing with her years of experience in advising clients in all aspects of family law matters. Nicola is also included in the Good Lawyer’s Guide.
Barry Davies, DJM Practice Director, commented, “Nicola has really made a big impact on our clients in such a short space of time. She is very business-minded and this is essential when dealing with clients who expect a first class service. This is exactly what we needed in a department dealing with such sensitive and emotional issues. I am sure that her joining us will be of great advantage to us as a firm, Nicola in her career and not least our clients.”
Since its inception in 1946 Douglas- Jones Mercer (DJM Law Ltd) has always been a well regarded law firm, in particular it’s Family Law team, as stated in the Legal 500.
“At DJM the Family Team offers full support and a comprehensive package of family legal advice. They have a broad knowledge and years of experience in a whole range of issues. However this is what you should expect from any family law advisor. What sets DJM apart is that the approach that is taken to dealing with what are such traumatic issues by demystifying the law and advising clients in a way that is clear and easy to understand.”
Despite only being with DJM for a short period of time, clients are already warming to Nicola. “I aim to provide a friendly, efficient and professional service to clients. I want to ensure that they understand the process in a jargon free manner, and feel completely comfortable with the issues surrounding their case.”
Speaking with DJM, it becomes clear that they carry an ethos of transparency with legal fees. They make it clear that ‘one size’ does not fit all when it comes to family law matters, especially when there are business assets involved. Therefore DJM take a practical and realistic approach to the cost of each case and believe that keeping the client informed is paramount. This is an embedded culture across the whole firm at DJM and not just its Family Law team.
DJM feel that Solicitor involvement is essential in Family Law matters, as the breakdown of a relationship infringes on each and every facet of a person’s life and should not be left to chance. DJM’s trained professionals minimise conflict and hostility wherever possible to get the best results.
The Family Law department understand that the consequences of a relationship breakdown can be emotionally stressful in itself, let alone the financial consequences on your personal life and your business Many divorces can bring with them high value risk, whether it’s corporate or domestic DJM are well equipped to handle individual circumstances – and to help you prepare for the financial consequences that a change in your family life may bring More and more business people are planning ahead to minimise the impact of a relationship breakdown. This may involve preparation of prenuptial, separation, or civil partnership agreements. Always remember that there are no fixed rules on how finances should be divided on a relationship breakdown, which does leave an amount of uncertainty. Therefore to use a specialist Solicitor throughout the whole process is essential as part of the planning process.
DJM’s roots go back to 1946, and since then they’ve established themselves as the foremost providers in efficient and cost effective legal advice. Clear thinking, accurate drafting and a jargonfree service gives clients what they want from their Solicitor, with quality personnel and the combined talents of their legal team making this business second to none. The enthusiastic and lively team are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise sometimes stuffy legal world. They boast a list of clients which include large companies to private individuals, and have a philosophy of placing long term value for money before short term economies.