Wilkes are pleased to announce that following a recent staff vote for our charity of the year the winner is Acorns Children’s Hospice with just under 50% of the vote!

Vicki Rowles, Head of Partnership Fundraising at Acorns Children’s Hospice, said: “We are delighted that The Wilkes Partnership have chosen Acorns as its charity of the year. We simply wouldn’t be here as a charity without the support of local businesses like The Wilkes Partnership and the community.

“Their support will help us continue our work to caring for children and families. We look forward to supporting Wilkes with their fundraising efforts over the next year and developing what I’m sure will be a great partnership.”

Ann-Marie Aston, Partner and Head of CSR at Wilkes, said: “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to work with Acorns Children’s Hospice as our charity of the year. Myself and the rest of the CSR team are busy putting the finishing touches to a busy schedule of fund raising activities over the next 12 months!”

Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care to babies, children and young people with life limiting and life threatening conditions across Birmingham and the Midlands, as well as support for their family.

In the past year, the charity has cared for more than 780 children and supported over 1,220 families, including those who are bereaved.

It costs £27,000 per day to provide Acorns care and services and the charity relies heavily on local businesses and the community to fund the majority of this amount.

To find out more about how you can support Acorns, visit: www.acorns.org.uk/support

 

Despite intense pressure from the insurance industry, the Lord Chancellor has announced a much more favourable Personal Injury discount rate than many practitioners expected.

Predictions for the new rate had varied between 0 % and 1% and indeed many insurers had applied pressure, relying on this uncertainty, when negotiating settlements irrespective of the current rate being -0.75%.

With effect from 5 August 2019, the new discount rate to be implemented changes the current rate from -0.75% (which had been set in February 2017) to -0.25%.

The Insurance industry is unsurprisingly very happy at the new rate to be applied and are now likely to see the benefits from any previous uncertainty surrounding the discount rate significantly curtailed.

Personal Injury practitioners will find the Justice Secretary’s comments a refreshing change to the usual PI bashing with David Gauke confirming that:

‘It is vital victims of life-changing injuries receive the correct compensation – I am certain this is the most balanced and fair approach following an extensive consultation. ….It is also right that the rate is informed by experts and reviewed on a regular basis to make sure this important calculation is accurate every time.’

It also offers comfort to cynical Claimant practitioners that the new methodology for setting the rate does indeed listen to those “in the know” as opposed to any partisan lobbying group that shouts loudest!

The government, in accordance with the new legislative methodology, will review the personal injury discount rate within a five year period following this review, to ensure that it remains fit for purpose in the future.

Future reviews will be conducted using an expert panel specifically established for the review. 

The change is very good news for a group of vulnerable individuals in society, who have through no fault of their own, suffered catastrophic injuries.

Good news for claimants!

For help and advice or to arrange your no obligation consultation with The Wilkes Personal Injury Team please contact pi@wilkes.co.uk or call us on 0121 233 4333.

Organisers’ of potentially dangerous activities often require participants to sign a waiver, but if you become injured you may still have a claim according to Catherine Owen, Associate solicitor in our Personal Injury Team.

If you’ve ever been to a trampoline park, horse riding, go karting, water sports or climbing, the chances are you were asked to sign a waiver before participating in the activity. And if you had the misfortune to sustain an injury during the activity you may think that you have no right to a claim against the organisers, because you signed the waiver.

However, as Catherine Owen says: “According to the Unfair Contract Terms Act you can shield an organisation from liability, but you can’t exclude or restrict liability to injury or death if it can be proved the organisation was negligent.

“There are many instances whereby you may  be eligible to make a personal injury claim. For example, if you took part in a triathlon and became sick due to bacteria in the open water swimming activity then the waiver may  not be valid as the participant could not foresee this would happen and the organisers should have ensured the facility was safe for the event.  

Or, if you have not had a proper induction in a gym and you hurt yourself on the equipment then you might have a valid claim.

“If you’ve had an injury falling off a horse there are any number of reasons for you to have a legitimate claim despite signing a waiver. You might be an inexperienced rider given a horse that’s not suitable for new riders. Your instructor may not be qualified enough or you may have been asked to do something beyond your ability. There could also be an issue with the equipment provided, such as a faulty riding hat or saddle.”

There are a number of things you can claim for, including pain and suffering, loss of amenity, loss of ability to live a normal life, loss of earnings, cost of medical treatment or ongoing care and assistance.

If you have a potential claim, Catherine Owen will be able to assess your situation for sufficient grounds. There is no charge for this initial consultation. If you do have grounds you will be offered a conditional fee agreement. This means that only if and when your case is won is there a fee payable.

You have three years from the date of the incident in which to claim. For children it’s three years from their 18th birthday. However, it is advisable to start the process as soon as possible.

For more information about personal injury claims please contact Catherine Owen at our Solihull office on 0121 733 8000 or cowen@wilkes.co.uk.

Does an individual’s right to the freedom of expression take precedence over confidentiality obligations owing to their employer?

No, was the decision of the High Court in the case of, Linklaters LLP v Mellish.

Lisa Moore, Employment Solicitor in our Birmingham Officeconsiders the outcome of this recent case which balances the Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘Convention rights’) against the duty of confidentiality.

In this case, Mr Mellish was employed by Linklaters as Director of Business Development and Marketing. He was subject to an express confidentiality provision as detailed in his contract of employment. Following the termination of his employment, Mr Mellish notified his ex-employer that he planned to, ‘share his impressions of the current culture at Linklaters’ along with what was described as, ‘the ongoing struggle Linklaters has with women in the workplace’ and provided various examples of his concerns.

Consequently, Linklaters issued an application for an injunction to restrain disclosure of confidential information; namely, to protect the names of the individuals involved along with some details relating to the relevant matters. The confidential nature of these issues were such that they were not set out in the body of the Court’s transcript and instead were attached as a confidential Annex to the Judgment.

The High Court considered whether, in all the circumstances, it was in the public interest that the duty of confidence should be breached. It was also noted that other Convention rights could be relevant in the circumstances such as the right to privacy of the third parties who could be named by Mr Mellish.

The Court ultimately decided to grant a temporary injunction despite this conflicting with the right to freedom of expression to which Mr Mellish was entitled. Several factors formed the basis of this decision.

Firstly, the Court felt that the matter would have good prospects of success should it proceed to trial. Secondly, there was a clear risk that highly sensitive information could be published. The rights of the third parties involved were also highly relevant to the Court’s decision. It was considered that reputational harm was not the primary motivating factor for Linklaters having applied for the injunction. If it had been, it was far less likely that the injunction would have been granted.

Lisa Moore comments: “Although applications for injunctions are considered on a case by case basis, employers should seek some comfort from this decision. The High Court is clearly willing to override Convention rights to prevent the disclosure of confidential information where necessary. This decision also serves as a reminder of the importance for employers to adopt appropriately drafted confidentiality provisions to protect their position as far as possible. An employer is in a much stronger position whenever attempting to enforce an express term of a contract rather than just relying on an implied term.”

For more information about how we can help assist your business in respect of the above issues, from drafting appropriate confidentiality provisions and restrictive covenants, to obtaining an injunction, please follow the link to our Business Protection Package.

Otherwise, to discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Lisa Moore or any member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333. 

We are delighted to announce that we have agreed a sponsorship deal with Solihull Swimming & Water Polo Club.

Ann-Marie Aston, Partner at Wilkes said “The SSC, which is currently in its 56th year as a competitive entity offers a fantastic community environment to over 600 members from in and around Solihull. We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to support them in their efforts.”

As part of the sponsorship Wilkes have provided new swimming kit such as branded t-shirts for all volunteers and coaching staff.

Pictured is Chair Nick Pemberton and Head Coach Ben Stanford, along with Anne Marie Aston from Wilkes Partnership Solicitors .

You can find out more about Solihull Swimming Club on their website here.

The Wilkes Corporate Team, led by Partner Rick Smyth have been involved in a lead advisory role on the management buyout of Brierley Hill based engineering company IDE Systems (Holdings).

Based in Cannock, IDE manufactures power distribution equipment for sale and rental and has provided equipment for use at events such as the London Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

The management team consisted of Wayne Woodhead, the Group Managing Director, Kevin Warne as Group Sales Director and Matt Collins as Operations Director. The transaction represented a new chapter for the relationship between the firm and management team, TWP having previously advised on the management buyout of Silverwing UK Limited in 2013 and its successful exit in 2016.

Rick was assisted on the transaction by Jeremy Parkin, Lucy Freeman, Elisabeth Conner and Owen Shave. Transcend Corporate & Spencer Gardner Dickins provided the financial advice.

Wayne Woodhead, Group MD of IDE said: “We have greatly valued the support from Rick and the Wilkes team over the last few years. We have found their considerable experience in negotiating these sorts of transactions, as well as their pragmatic and timely response to whatever issues came up, were invaluable in helping us achieve a successful management buyout and continue our growth”.

Commenting on the deal Rick Smyth said “We were delighted to work with Wayne and his team once more  on the next stage of their growth. This deal and the  many others completed in recent months underlines the continuing reputation of the team as one of the foremost providers of legal support for these sorts of deals and a real alternative to the leading national practices. We are seeing really positive movement in the manufacturing sector at moment and are keen to work with more ambitious businesses and individuals in the sector.”

This is the latest in a growing line of M&A and MBO 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. The firm have completed over 100 significant corporate transactions for its clients in the last 12 months.

For help and advice relating to your business get in touch with Rick Smyth on 0121 710 5932 or via email at rsmyth@wilkes.co.uk.

Steve Dymond was found dead on 9th May a week after filming the show, during which he took a lie detector test.

A lie detector, or a ‘polygraph monitor’ is a machine that senses the person’s breathing rate, their pulse, blood pressure and perspiration.

Jackie Lee, Solicitor in the Family Team at Wilkes said “ A lie detector cannot be admitted as evidence in the family court as the results of the detector are not reliable and cannot be used as evidence as different people react differently to lying”.

“When evidence is given in the Family Courts, the witness is usually given the opportunity to set out their position in a witness statement and attach documents in support. They will be required to sign a Statement of Truth. On the day of the Final Hearing, the witness has an opportunity to confirm the contents of their witness statement in person. The opponent or his/her legal representative has the opportunity to ask the witness questions and cross examine them, the Judge will decide,  “on the balance of probabilities” based on the evidence he/she has heard, whether the evidence given by the witness was convincing.

Mrs. Lee further added ‘ evidence is usually given in private in the Family Courts to protect the family’s interests, although there may be some cases when they are allowed to be reported if the Judge permitted.

For further advice in relation to a family related matter, please contact Jackie Lee on 0121 785 4443 or email jwlee@wilkes.co.uk

There has recently been an interesting development and expansion to employee rights and protection in the workplace.

In July 2017 Parliament introduced The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill (‘the Bill’).

The new law, expected to come into force in 2020, will give all employed parents the entitlement to have two weeks’ paid leave following the death of a child under the age of 18, or should they suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

Jas Dubb Associate Solicitor in our Employment Team considers the key points of the new law and the impact this could have on employees.

Attempts to introduce paid parental bereavement leave over the past few years have been unsuccessful but the Bill which introduced into the House of Commons on 19 July 2017, has led to the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018. It will seek to ensure grieving parents in employment, with 6 month’s service or more will receive 2 weeks paid leave to grieve away from the workplace.

Employees will be entitled to a statutory rate of pay (currently £148.68 a week) or 90% of their average weekly earnings per week (whichever is lower). This is in comparison to the capped statutory rates in place for employees on maternity leave/ paternity leave or shared parental pay.

Most employers are likely to be sympathetic to an employees’ need for time off and support during such a difficult time. But currently the only recourse available is under the Employment Rights Act, under which employees only have a right to take a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off work but only to the extent of putting in place arrangements in case of an emergency which may affect a dependant they have responsibility for. What is deemed “reasonable” depends on the circumstances and can vary from employer to employer.

Jas Dubb comments: “It has been estimated that 1 in 10 employees are likely to be affected by bereavement at any one time. The loss of a child is a traumatic experience for any parent. The Bill will provide parents with the certainty of having time off as a matter of  right so they can grieve and start to come to terms with their loss.

In these situations, employers should be mindful that advance planning and training will ensure that managers are better prepared to deal with what can be a difficult time for staff affected by bereavement. Employers should also consider having a separate written bereavement policy in preparation for the future or at least consider reviewing their Employee Handbooks and updating their Family Friendly Policy accordingly.”

For further guidance on this issue or any other employment related matter please contact Jas Dubb on 0121 710 4312 jdubb@wilkes.co.uk.

The Wilkes Partnership are delighted to announce the promotion of 4 members of staff across our Birmingham and Solihull Offices.

Congratulations to Mike Linford (Senior Associate, Corporate) Lucy Freeman (Associate, Corporate), Katie Briggs (Associate, Property Litigation) and Verity Shepherd (Senior Legal Executive, Private Client).

Ellie Holland, Managing Partner at Wilkes, commented:

“It’s been a fantastic 18/19 for Wilkes which has seen the firm expand and take on 35 new members of staff, through organic growth and our merger with Coley & Tilley. We are delighted to be able to recognise the great work and contribution to the firm that Mike, Lucy, Katie and Verity have made.”

It’s an exciting time to be at Wilkes and we are currently hiring for a number of roles within the firm which can be found here.

It has been over one year on from the Supreme Court unanimously ruling that tribunal fees were unlawful and needed to be quashed, so where are we now?

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will be considering the reintroduction of fees for Employment Tribunal claims.

Jas Dubb of The Wilkes Partnership considers the possible decision and the impact this could have on future Employment Tribunal cases.

Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013 with the aim of reducing malicious and weak claims. This led to a 70% reduction in cases over three years.

The decision made in 2017 arguably was the most significant judgement in employment law over the last 50 years.  The Supreme Court decided that the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013 prevents access to justice and was unlawful.

Since the ruling in 2017, unsurprisingly, the number of Tribunal claims has increased.

Jas comments: “The Supreme Court judgment didn’t completely rule out Tribunal fees and in the longer term, it is probable that fees will be reintroduced but the fee levels will have to be structured to ensure access to justice is achievable.”

The Wilkes Partnership Solicitors have offices in Birmingham & Solihull.

For any further guidance on this issue or any other employment related matter please contact Jas Dubb on 0121 710 5929 or jdubb@wilkes.co.uk.