HR Policy, Birmingham Law Uk - The Wilkes Partnership

A former senior advisor for David Cameron has spoken out saying all employers should be made to pay a ‘Living wage’, which has sparked debate before the budget. Pam Sidhu, Head of the Wilkes’ Employment Team talks about the implications for Employers.

The “Living Wage” is not law. It is an hourly rate that is set independently and is purely voluntary for employers. It is calculated based on the cost of living in the UK; currently it is set at £9.15 per hour in London and £7.85 per hour elsewhere. Contrast this to the standard adult hourly rate set in law, known as the “National Minimum Wage” at £6.50 – which all employers must pay to adult workers as a minimum. There appears to be some pressure within the Government to make companies pay more to employees, in order to deal with poverty and boost the economy. Unfortunately there is no firm plan by the Government to increase the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage, or to give any legal footing to the Living Wage at all.

In any case, adopting the Living Wage is not likely to be viable for most smaller businesses, as these businesses are already saddled with red tape and other costs, to a disproportionately higher level than larger businesses. There would need to be some significant incentives offered by Government for smaller businesses to adopt the Living Wage rate for their staff, particularly for those of their staff currently on the National Minimum Wage.

There are clearly benefits in offering better pay that is more in line with current living costs in the UK. Staff will feel more motivated at work and will be more willing to go the extra mile for their employers. However, given the lack of any incentives for smaller businesses, the Living Wage is likely to be the preserve of larger businesses which can better afford it.

If you have any query or would like assistance in developing your human resources policy, please call Pam Sidhu or your usual contact in the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333 for further information.

Dame Barbara Windsor, who sadly passed away earlier this month, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 and was a prominent campaigner for research into dementia and better care from those affected by the disease in her role as an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Living with dementia can lead to all sorts of emotional, practical and physical issues, which have an impact on the individual and those caring for and living with them. One practical thing that should always be considered following a diagnosis of this nature, is putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney so that decisions about finances and welfare can be made on the individual’s behalf if they are unable to make such decisions for themselves. 

Lasting Powers of Attorney are prepared when a person has the mental capacity to appoint Attorneys to look after their finances and health or general welfare if they were to lose capacity in the future. A Power of Attorney is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, the statutory body overseeing how attorneys act.  An Attorney can be a trusted friend or family member or it can be a professional that can step in to act when the person is unable to manage their own affairs.

Attorneys can support the individual with their finances, manage any care fees and ensure that they are receiving the benefits they are entitled to. A health and welfare attorney can make decisions about where that person resides, the care they receive and general welfare decisions.

Without an up-to-date Lasting Power of Attorney, situations can arise where decisions need to be made for someone who has lost capacity and a Court of Protection application for a Deputy to be appointed can follow which is a more drawn out and expensive process.

If you have not got a Lasting Power of Attorney, and would like to make the necessary provisions and plan for the future, please contact Sophie Fenn who is a Solicitor in the Private Client department in our Solihull office.

Sophie will be able to advise you on all aspects of Lasting Powers of Attorney, provide reassurance and will be able to assist you with putting the Powers of Attorney through the Office of the Public Guardian.

The lockdown and its associated restrictions  have had a substantial impact on the economy and continue to do so. More tenants are unable to afford the rent for their commercial properties in the long term. Landlords are looking to let to more reliable tenants or choosing to use their commercial properties for alternative purposes, prompting a rise in the use of break clauses.

In this article Katie Briggs, Associate Solicitor in the Property Litigation Team at Wilkes looks at Break Clauses and some of the common factors both landlords and tenants should consider before serving one.

One of the main ways to end a commercial lease early is to exercise the break option. Break Clauses in commercial leases are extremely common. However, break notices can be a complex area of law, so it is vital to ensure they are correctly drafted and served. It is also important that you are aware of any conditions to ensure that the break is exercised correctly, the most common ones being the tenant giving up occupation and ensuring rent payments are up-to-date.

Case law has demonstrated that failing to adhere to covenants in the lease could deem the exercise of the break ineffective. Examples include the tenant’s failure to paint the property in the last year of the term (Bairstow Eves (Securities) Ltd v Ripley) and the tenant’s failure to provide vacant possession after removing the landlord’s fixtures and fittings (Capitol Park Leeds PLC v Global Radio Services Limited [2020]).

It is important for the tenant to be advised of his requirements under the lease to validly exercise the break clause and to ensure these are done before the break date. Failure to do so may render the break notice invalid. It is equally important for the landlord to be aware of these requirements to ensure the tenant meets these or the landlord could dispute the validity of the break option.

The first step is to review the lease. If there is a break clause, the relevant provisions need to be carefully reviewed and understood.  Not only is this necessary to comprehend the conditions required in exercising the break but it is also necessary to determine the deadline to serve the notice, who it must be served on and how it must be served.

It is important to ensure the notice is served on the correct people, using the correct method of service and in accordance with the break clause. An incorrectly served break notice may be deemed invalid. If there are managing agents for the property, it may also be worthwhile serving a copy on them, however this is to be done in addition to serving a copy on the landlord as opposed to in place of.

It is strongly advised to take independent legal advice upon receipt of a break notice. Not only is this important to determine whether the notice is valid but it can also be important to understand the implications of the break notice, both legally and practically. It will also prove beneficial if you wish to contest the notice and allows you to obtain advice in relation to not compromising your legal position.

Landlords and tenants should note that ending the lease does not prevent claims for failure to repair (dilapidations). You can read more on the topic of dilapidations here.

Whether you are the commercial landlord or the commercial tenant and whether you wish to serve a break notice or have received a break notice, The Property Litigation Team at The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors are able to assist you on all matters relating to break notices.

You can contact Katie Briggs on 0121 710 5839 or kbriggs@wilkes.co.uk. 

2020 will certainly be a year for the history books of future generations. There have been many enlightening stories throughout the pandemic and the recent case of Ylenia Angeli is one of particular note.

Ylenia’s 97 year old mother has dementia and resides in a care home in the north of England.  Due to COVID-19 having had such a devastating impact on the care home population, care homes have been more or less closed to all visitors meaning families not being able to visit their loved ones.

Ylenia was distraught by the prospect of a further enforced separation from her mother for the second lockdown with no visiting allowed.  She decided to take ‘drastic action’ and remove her mother from the care home to go and stay with her.  The care home called the police and Ylenia was arrested (then de-arrested) and her mother returned to the care home.

Unfortunately, Ylenia only had a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) covering finances for her mother and not one for health and care decisions.  It appears that due to her dementia, Ylenia’s mother lacks the mental capacity to decide where to live and therefore may be subject to a Deprivation of Liberty authorisation meaning she must stay at the care home.  This doesn’t mean that she can never leave, but there are procedures to go through to move someone who lacks capacity.

A health and care LPA would certainly have helped Ylenia’s cause however the coronavirus legislation has overridden many normal procedures during the course of the pandemic and any move would have to comply with this legislation.

It is recommended that an LPA for health and care decisions as well as finances is put in place to ensure decisions can be taken by your chosen attorneys in the event you lack mental capacity.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this article or an LPA for either finances or health and care, please contact Ann-Marie Aston at The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors on 0121 733 8000 or aaston@wilkes.co.uk

The Wilkes Corporate Team, led by Jeremy Parkin, have advised the owners of Birmingham based client LTS Global Solutions on the sale of their business to management.

LTS Global Solutions were established in 1999 as a transport operator offering clients services relating to logistics, transport and shipping.

The company currently employs 60 people at its Midlands HQ and plans to create a further six new jobs next year, when it anticipates taking on additional premises to handle new incoming contracts.

Leading the MBO team was current Managing Director Dave Hands and Mirza Baig, LTS’s Director of International Services.

Working alongside Jeremy on the deal was Mike Linford, Senior Associate in the Corporate Team.

When asked about the service received from Wilkes, Les Nunn, Founder of LTS said “Throughout the process I was put at ease by Jeremy Parkin and Mike Linford. I sincerely appreciated their responsiveness, knowledge and ability to deal with any issues that arose throughout this process. The way they conducted themselves was totally professional and I would have no hesitation in using them again or recommending their services to others. Complete satisfaction.

Commenting on the deal, Jeremy Parkin, Partner in the Corporate Team at Wilkes said: “Working with Les and his team was an absolute pleasure. Throughout the process Les had a clear idea of what he was looking to achieve from the business sale, which was a huge help in the negotiations. We wish Les all the best for his well-earned retirement.”

This is the latest in a growing line of M&A work for The Wilkes Partnership, following the completion of deals across a range of sectors including Financial Services, IT software, FMCG, events and health and social care.

For help and advice relating to your business get in touch with Jeremy Parkin on 0121 710 5931 or via email at jparkin@wilkes.co.uk.

The Solihull Chamber of Commerce Committee are looking to raise £500 for their Charity of the Year, Arrive Alive.

Arrive Alive is the UK’s only registered charity solely dedicated to providing lifesaving vehicles and equipment to Community First Responder groups. Arrive Alive is solely funded by voluntary donations and is none government funded.

Several of the committee members are taking part in the 5km in 5 days challenge. Some will be walking 5km every day for 5 days, some are challenging themselves to run 5km a day, others may run 5km in 5 days.

Members of the committee including our very own Amanda Holden, Partner & Head of Residential Conveyancing at Wilkes will be taking part in the 5K in 5 days challenge.

The committee have until Christmas to finish the challenge and are at the time of writing 59% of the way the way to their target of £500.

If you would like to sponsor Amanda and the rest of the committee you can do so using the link below.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/solihullchamber

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in demand for Will writing, both in preparing new Wills and updating existing Wills.

In this article Jack Ackrill, Solicitor in the Contentious Probate Team at Wilkes discusses the importance of choosing the right executor in order to avoid loved ones having to deal with a dispute after we die.

It is important to be aware of and understand who can be appointed as an executor and just what that role entails so that we can make an informed decision.

The fact of the matter is, virtually anyone can be an executor; a family member, a friend or perhaps an independent professional such as an independent financial advisor, accountant or a solicitor. The most important matter to consider when making this decision is whether the appointed individual is trusted and, quite frankly, capable of dealing with your affairs competently and in accordance with your wishes.

Executors have a duty to properly administer the deceased person’s estate. This requires collecting in the estate assets and paying off the estate liabilities before distributing to the named beneficiaries in the Will. Of course, this should be done (regardless of whether or not they are a professional executor) with reasonable skill and care. Executors owe a duty to the beneficiaries of the Will to ensure that the estate is properly administered.

Disputes usually arise where relationships break down between fellow executors and/or beneficiaries. What follows is a lack of trust and allegations being made as to potential maladministration and perhaps favouritism towards other beneficiaries or third parties. The estate and its beneficiaries tend to lose out considerably in these types of disputes, especially if the matter proceeds to a fully contested trial in the High Court where legal costs can spiral out of control.

It is therefore very important that, when deciding who your executors are going to be, that you consider the nature of the role, their obligations and the scope for a potential dispute in the event of disagreement and the implications this would have on the estate.

Conversely, if you find yourself in a situation where you disagree with what an executor is doing and you are a beneficiary or fellow executor, you may find yourself with little option but to take independent legal advice to try to resolve the matter.

When administering an estate, disputes may arise where the executors:

  • are not performing their duties correctly;
  • are incapable of performing their duties,
  • are disqualified due to a criminal conviction;
  • have a conflict of interest; and
  • have acted in a way which amounts to serious misconduct in administrating the estate.

If an executor is considered by a beneficiary or a fellow executor to have failed in their duties to administer an estate, there may be option for recourse via the High Court. As above, this is a costly and time-consuming process, but may be unavoidable depending on the circumstances.

Indeed, I would strongly suggest that anyone finding themselves in such a predicament should try to obtain independent legal advice to assess their options before taking any further action.

The Contentious Probate Team at The Wilkes Partnership advises executors and beneficiaries faced with issues in relation to the conduct of an estate administration and/or removal of executors if appropriate.  If you wish to discuss any aspect of the obligations of an executor or issues regarding an estate, please get in touch with Jack Ackrill on 0121 233 4333 or via email on jpackrill@wilkes.co.uk.

The Wilkes Corporate Team, led by Kate Hackett, have advised long-standing client Clarkson Wayman Ball (CWB) on the formation of a new group, Radiant Financial Group (Radiant). CWB is one of the founding businesses within Radiant and its management team has also invested into the Group.

Radiant is a new, fresh consolidator of IFA businesses. Its objective is to bring together like-minded firms with a shared vision and values to deliver a truly holistic service to the market. Radiant will provide services to address the full spectrum of financial advice needs of companies, their owners and their employees as private individuals.

As part of the deal CWB Managing Director, Simon Cogman-Hellier, has taken up the role of CEO at Radiant Financial Group and will lead its growth strategy.

Joining Simon on the Board of Radiant are Peter Mann (Chairman), former CEO of Skandia and Vice Chairman at Old Mutual, James Cumming (CFO), former CFO of Complete Cover Group and Krys Wojnarowicz, former COO of CWB, now COO of Radiant.

Radiant has been established with the backing of Apiary Capital, which has invested in the group alongside existing management.

Working alongside Kate on the deal was Charlotte Lines, Solicitor in the Corporate Team.

Commenting on the deal, Kate Hackett, Partner in the Corporate Team at Wilkes said: “Myself and the team have always placed huge value on the relationship we have with Simon and the rest of the team at CWB. We were delighted to have been a part of the next stage of their journey. We will be watching their progress with interest and look forward to offering support and guidance to the business going forward.”

When asked about the support provided by Wilkes Simon Cogman-Hellier said: “We are very pleased to have established this new Group, with its focus on culture and client-centric service, and are thankful to the Wilkes team for all their support in the transaction. A great deal of work from everyone involved went into the launch and we are now excited to begin executing on our growth strategy.”

This is the latest in a growing line of M&A work for The Wilkes Partnership, following the completion of deals across a range of sectors including, Financial Services, IT software, FMCG, events and health and social care.

For help and advice relating to your business get in touch with Kate Hackett on 0121 710 5904 or via email at khackett@wilkes.co.uk.

 

The current coronavirus pandemic and continuous government restrictions have resulted in a widespread ‘work from home’ approach, limiting the need for office space and bringing an end to many commercial property leases.

Unfortunately, some commercial tenants have no option but to end their lease and vacate their premises as their business ceases trading.

The end of commercial leases has resulted in a rise of dilapidation claims. Dilapidations generally refer to disrepair to the premises relating to the tenant’s repairing obligations in the lease. These claims are often brought by the landlord against the tenant at the end of a lease. In light of the pandemic and the changes it has brought, landlords are increasingly bringing dilapidation claims and tenants are understandably concerned about their liability in relation to the amount of damages.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, the first course of action would be to double check the tenant’s repairing obligations under the lease. The landlord will need to ensure that any disrepair relates to these obligations. The tenant should double check their obligations and ensure they have complied with these. It would be beneficial for the tenant to check the lease terms prior to the end of the lease to ensure they have sufficient time to adhere to their covenants.

If the landlord brings a claim for dilapidations, the landlord will need to calculate the damages, which will involve instructing a surveyor to prepare a schedule to serve on the tenant. If the lease is still continuing at this time, it is important for the landlord to review the terms of the lease in relation to accessing the premises to ensure they do not breach their covenants and the tenant’s continuing right to quiet enjoyment.

The amount of damages the tenant is liable for in relation to the breach of their repair obligations will be limited under section 18 (1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927. Damages are limited to take into account diminution in value and supersession.

  • Diminution in value relates to the amount by which the value of the landlord’s remaining interest is reduced by the breach. This considers the difference in the value of the premises when comparing the value of the premises in the condition required by the lease and the value of the premises in its actual condition. The amount of damages claimed cannot exceed the loss in the value of the property.
  • Supersession refers to the concept that damages should not be recovered for any improvement works or alterations a landlord intends to undertake, which would render the tenant’s repair work valueless. The tenant is responsible for proving that the landlord’s intention to undertake any work which amounts to an improvement and which goes beyond what the tenant is obliged to do would make the tenant’s repairs valueless and as such, no loss is suffered by those disrepairs.

Whether you are the commercial landlord or the commercial tenant, it is strongly advised that you obtain specialist legal advice in relation to dilapidations before the landlord brings a claim or before the tenant terminates the lease. In the current climate, the importance of doing so is amplified.

If you are a commercial landlord looking to bring a dilapidations claim or a commercial tenant who is concerned about their liability in relation to dilapidations, please contact Katie Briggs, Associate Solicitor in the Property Litigation Team at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 233 4333 or kbriggs@wilkes.co.uk.

 

The Wilkes Corporate Team, led by Gareth O’Hara, have advised facilities management company SR Group on the Acquisition of CPL FM Ltd. CPL joins CDC Facilities Management Ltd (CDCfm) as part of the SR Group of companies.

The transaction was supported by £1m in funding from ThinCats, enabling the Midlands based SR Group to acquire Birmingham-based CPL, a leading facilities management company offering a range of integrated facilities management services.

Founded 15 years ago, CDCfm has unique experience installing and maintaining cleanrooms and close control environments within a wide range of market sectors and has a large presence in the facilities management market covering a range of sectors including retail.

Working alongside Gareth O’Hara, Senior Partner and Head of Corporate and Helen Smart, Solicitor in the Wilkes Corporate Team was Nick Johnson of Ryecroft Glenton, Newcastle.

Commenting on the deal Gareth said: “It’s always great to be able to advise strong local businesses and play a part in their growth aspirations. It was a pleasure working with the teams at CDCfm, Ryecroft Glenton and Thincats to get the deal done. It’s encouraging to see the SME market as buoyant as it is at present. Myself and the rest of the team at Wilkes are delighted to get another deal over the line.”

When asked about the support provided by Wilkes Carl Isakovic, Managing Director of SR Group commented – “We can’t speak highly enough of Gareth O’Hara, and Helen Smart of The Wilkes Partnership, they helped us through the acquisition/merger process with great professionalism and helped steer us through the many challenges that the year 2020 has given us all.” 

This is the latest in a growing line of M&A work for The Wilkes Partnership, following the completion of deals across a range of sectors including IT software, FMCG, events and health and social care.

For help and advice relating to your business get in touch with Gareth O’Hara on 0121 710 5904 or via email at gohara@wilkes.co.uk.

 

The Wilkes Corporate Team led by Jeremy Parkin, have advised GBB on a transformative investment of £20m by the £5.3bn Teesside Pension Fund.

Currently a ‘bank in waiting’, GBB expects to secure its provisional banking licence later this Autumn when it will trade as GB Bank and provide bespoke development finance to SME property developers in underserved regions across the UK.

The investment comes at a good time for GBB, which recently announced it will headquarter its operations in Middlesbrough. An initial team of 60, growing to 120, will be based in a new 11,000 sq ft space in the town’s purpose-built 2 Centre Square, Grade A office development.

Once formally up and running it expects to lend £385m in the North East to kick-start residential and commercial projects.

As GBB then expands across the North, Midlands and other parts of the UK, it aims to lend circa £3bn over 5 years building a £1bn-plus balance sheet. It will fund almost 20,000 homes and several million square feet of office space, along the way supporting the creation of well over 100,000 jobs.

Steve Deutsch, CEO of GBB, said: “This is a landmark moment in our journey. Middlesbrough has a reputation as a hotbed for digital tech innovation, making it a natural fit. 2 Centre Square is a hugely impressive building and will make a great base for the team.

The bank will meet a real need for SME commercial and residential property developers, as we’ll deliver the finance and relationship support that’s lacking at the moment.

Establishing a bank in the region benefits everyone, from the people we employ to the jobs created by the property developers we work with. We now have an excellent base, the investment that we need – the next stage is to secure our licence and have the full infrastructure in place ready to launch late 2021.”

Speaking about the investment, Jeremy Parkin, Partner in the Corporate Team at Wilkes said: “We were delighted to work with Steve Deutsch again and help GBB in financing its mobilisation plans. There is a great opportunity for GBB to capitalise on the gap in the market for funding SME builders and in turn to help address the chronic shortage of housing.”

When asked about the support provided by Wilkes Steve Deutsch said: “Working with the Wilkes team again was great.  They quickly grasped what needed to be done and, led by Jeremy Parkin, were able to help us smoothly conclude this important transaction, so that now we can push ahead with our plans to develop what will become GB Bank.”

Jeremy Parkin was supported by Gareth O’Hara, Mike Linford and Matt Hartas from the Wilkes Corporate Team.

For help and advice relating to your business get in touch with Jeremy Parkin on 0121 710 5931 or via email at jparkin@wilkes.co.uk.