Solicitors in Essex, Colchester, Chelmsford, London – Fisher Jones Greenwood https://www.fjg.co.uk Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:10:36 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 How to make a Will (or amend) during COVID-19? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/08/07/make-or-amend-a-will-during-covid-19 https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/08/07/make-or-amend-a-will-during-covid-19#respond Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:05:05 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=20861 As a Wills and Probate Solicitor, making a Will for clients has been...

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As a Wills and Probate Solicitor, making a Will for clients has been one of the most common instructions I will receive, and whilst no two Wills are ever the same, the recent pandemic has certainly brought about even more change.

People have been in lockdown and isolation and it has really given them a chance to review their affairs and in many cases, this has led to them reviewing their Wills and realising that since they made them, their wishes and circumstances have changed.

Without a doubt, COVID-19 has brought additional challenges to making a Will but this should not deter anyone from doing so. Before lockdown, it used to be as simple as having an initial instruction appointment to gather all of the information and then having another quick appointment to review the drafts one last time before signing in front of two independent witnesses. Social distancing and lockdown measures have certainly made this a different process now but it is easily overcome – you just have to get a bit more creative.

How to give instructions on a Will?

Before COVID 19 we would have usually offered a face to face appointment to take the instructions (usually lasting up to an hour), we now offer these appointments by different means.

For people who are able to, we offer video appointments on a variety of platforms (such as Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WhatsApp). Even if you use a different software we can usually accommodate this as well. This gives us a chance to see you over the camera and also allows us to take copies of your ID which you can hold up to the camera.

For those who are not able to do a video appointment, we can of course offer a straight forward telephone appointment to discuss everything over the phone before sending the drafts.

Before the initial appointment, we also use an online tool called Settify that allows us to send the client a link to a secure online portal where they can complete all of their details and provide information about their assets, wishes, and concerns prior to the appointment for us to review. This is of course completely optional but the feedback from clients so far has been positive as the questions have made them consider other points they might not have originally thought of.

Of course, now that lockdown is easing to a degree, where absolutely necessary we are happy to offer home visits so long as social distancing measures are complied with. This usually means holding appointments in the garden (and so far the weather has held up well for these) whilst wearing masks and having hand sanitiser at the ready.

How to draft a Will?

After receiving the instructions, this aspect has not really changed as drafts can be sent by email (preferable) or by post. Using email is much quicker as many of us are still working from home and are therefore working paperless. However where necessary arrangements can be made for documents to be sent by post (there might just be a slightly longer wait for these to come out due to limited staff in the office).

How to sign a Will?

This is the aspect of making a Will which does pose the most challenging and for some people is the most worrying for them. The rules have always been that the person making the Will (“the Testator”) must sign the document before 2 independent witnesses. The 2 witnesses then sign the Will themselves and complete their details (name, address, and occupation) in front of the Testator, and then the Will is dated. The witnesses cannot be named in the Will, must be 18 or over and for safety we advise should not be a family member of the Testator.

Lockdown Will Signing Suggestions

During a time when nobody was allowed to meet other people outside of their household, this proved to be incredibly challenging to comply with. However, with some outside thinking we came up with the following suggestions for a lockdown Will signing:

  1. You could ask your neighbours or friends to stand as your independent witnesses.
  2. We recommend wearing gloves when signing your Will and using a different pen from your witnesses.
  3. Your witnesses can witness you signing your Will through a window or glass door and the Will can thereafter be passed through the letterbox for them to sign as well.
  4. As long as your witnesses can see, you could also sign your Will in your back garden, front garden, your neighbour’s garden, patio door, etc.
  5. If you live in a block of flats your neighbours could witness you sign your Will in the communal part of the building (you can be on different floors as long as they have a clear sight of you signing your Will).
  6. Unless you are in isolation, you can drive to your friend’s house and remain in your car to sign your Will provided that your friend and one other person (e.g. their spouse or partner) are outside their house and have a clear sight of you signing your Will. You can then pass the Will through the car window or put it in the boot where your friend and one other person can sign it and leave it for you to collect thereafter.
  7. If you have friends helping you with essential food shopping you could ask them to stand as witnesses when delivering your next shop.
  8. Your postman, milkman, or any delivery driver that may be willing to witness your signature with another person provided that you maintain the social distancing measures (two metres apart).

Although these still might be applicable (especially if we experience another period of lockdown), with restrictions easing at the time of writing, we are happy to allow clients to come to the office (whilst complying with safety restrictions and guidance) so we can act as witnesses. This usually means signing the Will outside the front of the office.

Can a Will be witnessed over video?

You may also have seen that the government very recently passed new legislation to allow for Wills to be signed via video calls. Given that so many Wills were witnessed this way during lockdown the legislation has been backdated to include Wills signed this way from 31st January 2020. This however only is in force until 31st January 2022. For more details on witnessing by video calls click here to see our related blog. Please remember this should be an absolute last resort method of signing and witnessing a Will.

How much is it to make a Will?

Although times have changed drastically in the last year, making a Will is still just as important as it has always been and we are able to accommodate any and all clients in respect of amending an existing Will or making a new Will. Given that we also run a charity campaign for making or amending Wills, there is no reason for you not to have one! Click here for more information about our Wills charity campaign.

Our free Wills scheme is ongoing and despite the Covid-19 crisis, to take part in our free Wills scheme, call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk. For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.

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Is your business prepared for the post-Brexit era? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/08/06/post-brexit-era-import-and-export-of-goods https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/08/06/post-brexit-era-import-and-export-of-goods#respond Thu, 06 Aug 2020 11:51:18 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=20837 The UK is currently in the Transition Period exiting the EU, which is...

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The UK is currently in the Transition Period exiting the EU, which is due to end on 31st December 2020. This means that starting from 1st January 2021 the UK will formally exit the EU and the EU legislation will no longer be in force unless the UK Government had opted to adopt such legislation; this includes free movement of goods between EU countries.

How to import goods after 31st December 2020

On 13th July 2020, the HMRC has published a Guidance on ‘How to import goods from the EU into GB from January 2021’ which is on the government website.

The guidance sets out the options that are available to traders which include, but are not limited to, customs declarations, standard import procedures, simplified declarations procedure and transit if multiple territories are involved in the import.

There are a few steps to be followed before importing goods from outside the UK, including, but not limited to:

  1. Check what guidance you should follow – this will be applicable if you are importing goods from the EU from 1st January 2021 for selling, processing or using the goods within your business. If you are receiving the goods by post or importing them from countries outside the EU the rules may differ.
  2. Find out how to declare goods from 1st January 2021 and register your business for import.
    • If you are importing the goods and any transporter or customs agent is acting on your behalf, you will both require an EORI number (your number needs to start with GB).
      How do you apply for an EORI number? You can apply for an EORI number on the government website.

     

    • If you decide to use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system to make a customs declaration, you will require both access to CHIEF and a commercial software that can submit declarations through CHIEF. You can apply for access to CHIEF on the government website.

     

    • Alternatively, if you import goods regularly, you can apply for simplified declarations procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. Further information about eligibility and how to use such procedures can be found on the government website.
  3. Set up a duty deferment account if you import regularly – this will allow you to make one payment of customs duties a month instead of paying for individual shipments. Please note that if you use simplified procedures you must set up such an account to defer duty payments when you import goods and this can be done on the government website.
  4. Check the new rules for your type of goods including licences or certificates you may need, labelling and marketing standards for food, plant seeds and manufactured goods, alcohol, tobacco and certain oils. Please kindly note that if you are importing plant or animal products, high-risk food or feed, medicines, textiles, chemicals or firearms you may be subject to different rules, including inspections of goods requirements, and we strongly recommend you seek further advice.
  5. Submit the import declaration.
  6. Check the rate of tax and duty you will need to pay – i.e. customs duties and VAT on imports. HMRC will usually tell you how much you need to pay after you submit your declaration.
  7. Check if you can make the importing process quicker- in certain situations, you may be able to delay making a declaration for up to 6 months after you imported the goods.

Further information and guidance regarding the general steps to be followed to import goods can be found on the government website.

How to export goods after 31st December 2020

The HMRC has also published a Guidance on ‘How to export goods from the GB into the EU from January 2021 which is available here.

Similar to the above, the HMRC export guidance sets out the standard export procedure or transit if goods are moving through multiple territories.

If you wish to export goods from GB to the EU from and including 1st January 2021, you should consider:

  • Checking what guidance you should follow-i.e. sending goods by post or exporting to countries outside the EU may be subject to different rules.
  • Customs declarations- the rules will be the same as the ones applicable to exporting goods to the rest of the world, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
  • Checking the rules for exporting different types of goods including what licences and certificates you may need, labelling and marketing standards for food, plant seeds and manufactured goods, alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.
  • Whether your business has an EORI number starting with GB or registered CHIEF to make custom declarations. This is similar to the import requirement and further information can be found above.
  • VAT – you may be able to charge customers VAT at 0% (known as zero rate) on most goods you export to the EU. Further information can be found here on the government website.

Further information and guidance regarding the general steps to be followed to export goods can be found here.

The Corporate and Commercial team here at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP can advise you in relation to the steps you may need to take to prepare your business for the post-Brexit era; as well as assist you with the preparation of any documentation that may be required in relation thereto. Should you require any information or assistance do not hesitate to get in touch. Please call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Did you know you can now witness a Will on video? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/27/witness-a-will-on-video https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/27/witness-a-will-on-video#respond Mon, 27 Jul 2020 13:55:20 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=20687 During lockdown, FJG have seen unusual ways of witnessing clients sign their Wills...

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During lockdown, FJG have seen unusual ways of witnessing clients sign their Wills – in car parks, gardens, garages, over fences and through windows. On the 25th July 2020, in a change to a 183-year-old rule, the government announced new rules which will enable the use of video-conferencing technology to witness a Will.

What was the old rule on witnessing?

Under the current rules, Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 sets out the requirements for the witnessing of a Will. The testator’s signature has to be made in the presence of two or more witnesses who have to be present at the same time. Therefore, a physical attendance and presence is needed in that the testator and the 2 witnesses had to be in each other’s line of vision. The very old and quaint case of Casson v. Dade in 1781 was an interesting case. Honora Jenkins ordered her Solicitors to prepare her Wills and then went to their office to execute it. However, the office was very hot and she suffered from asthma so she retired to her carriage to execute the Will. The witnesses went with her and after they watched her sign it, they went back to the office to attest it. She could see them from the office window. The Court considered this sufficient.

So in lockdown, it was possible for us to carry on witnessing Wills, through windows for example because the testator and witnesses have a clear line of sight.

Why do we need to change the legislation now?

Over lockdown, it became apparent that a few people who were self-isolating or shielding found the making of a Will difficult because of the requirement that the two witnesses had to be present. In some cases, people used video facilities to witness Wills and of course as there was no legislation in force at the time, so technically the validity of those Wills can be challenged.

When does the new law apply?

The new legislation is going to be retrospective so it will apply to Wills made since 31st January 2020 – which was the first registered Covid-19 case in England and Wales. However, it will not apply if Probate has already been issued in respect of the deceased person or if the application is already in the process of being administered. It will apply to Wills made up until 31st January 2022, but this can be shortened or extended if deemed necessary.

Can all Wills now be made under the new rules?

The advice remains that if Wills can be made in the conventional way they should. This should be the exception rather than the norm.

What is the new law?

It is all to do with video-witnessed Wills. It does not matter if it is over Facetime, Zoom, or Skype and it does not matter if it is on your phone, IPad, or computer. All that is important is that the person making the Will and their two witnesses each have a clear line of sight of the writing of the signature.

How do we do it?

There is a 5 stage process. You can find full details on making a Will using video conferencing on the government website but in essence:

Stage 1: Everyone needs to be sure that they can see each other and the video call should be recorded. The person making the Will (“T”) holds the front page of the will to the camera to show the witnesses (“W1 and W2”) and then T will turn to the page they will be signing and hold this up as well. W1 and W2 must actually see T sign the Will. If W1 and W2 do not know T, id will need to be shown.

Stage 2: This stage involves the witnesses and ensuring they can see, hear (unless they have a hearing impairment), acknowledge and understand their role.

Stage 3: Once the Will has been signed; it needs to be taken to W1 & W2 for them to sign, ideally within 24 hours. The longer this process takes the greater chance of problems arising later. It is only valid once signed by both witnesses.

Stage 4 & 5: W1 & W2 now need to sign. T will need to see both the witnesses sign. Again the witnesses should hold up the Will up and the signing must be in sight. If W1 & W2 are not physically present with each other when they sign then this step will need to take place twice. In both cases, T and W1 and W2 will need to see each other sign. It is good practice for W1 and W2 to sign in the presence of each other.

Attestation Clause

This is the part where T and the W1 &W2 sign. It will have to be adapted so that it is mentioned that virtual witnessing has occurred, along with details of whether a recording is available.

FJG Solicitors have continued making Wills throughout the Coronavirus pandemic under their free Wills initiative; where Wills are put together free of charge in return for a donation to charity. If you want to make or update your Will, please contact FJG’s Wills, Life Planning & Probate team, call 01206 700113, or email contact@fjg.co.ukFor more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.

This blog post follows one written in May on how to get your Will witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Update – returning to work after COVID-19 https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/21/update-returning-to-work-after-covid-19 https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/21/update-returning-to-work-after-covid-19#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 15:07:55 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=20598 Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that Government guidance would follow on or...

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that Government guidance would follow on or after 1st August 2020, giving employers more discretion to ask employees to return to work provided that they can work safely. At the present time, the Government says that people should work from home if they can.

Changes could mean that continuing to work from home is possible, although returning to the workplace would be encouraged.

For those who do return to work in England, Government guidance on working safely across a range of sectors is available and was updated on 17th July 2020. The updated guidance includes information about managing risk in hotels and other guest accommodation settings and in connection with the visitor economy.

Is my workplace safe?

Employees will be wondering how their workplaces will be kept safe. Employers must still follow a strict code of guidelines, including but not limited to observing the “1 metre plus” rule for social distancing, and introducing one-way systems to minimise contact, frequently cleaning of objects and in communal areas and in shops and storing returned items for 72 hours before returning them to the sales floor.

What if I am shielding?

Those who were shielding will, from 1st August 2020, no longer be required to shield and may return to work if their workplaces are COVID secure. Employers will though have to be especially careful to protect such people, ACAS says. There are approximately 2.2 million people in England classified as being at high-risk. Such people include those who have received organ transplants or are on immuno-suppressants.

Many people who are working in industries such as retail, in bars and in restaurants, have already returned to work. Offices are also being discussed as on the map for returning to work.  Employers have been asked to be “extremely careful” about taking decisions to discipline employees or sack them when/if they decline to return to work because of health and safety related concerns. Employees who do not show up to work run the risk of not being paid or being disciplined for the same notwithstanding the climate.

Can I refuse to go back to work?

Under employment legislation, employees do have the right to refuse to return to work if they regard themselves as being in “serious or imminent” danger.

How will I travel to work?

Updated Government guidance advises people that they may use public transport to get to work. However, many people will be concerned about using public transport to get to work during this period – because the risk of infection is still there.

Face coverings are currently required on public transport in England and the cost of acquiring such personal protective equipment will often need to be borne by employees themselves. This will not come as a welcome piece of news for them, not least because as a corollary of travelling to work exposure will inevitably rise and the cost of protection from exposure will rise accordingly.

As a measure, employers are also encouraged to stagger working times outside rush hour and to provide parking and bike storage where possible. It does appear that face coverings will not be made mandatory for office workers on-site in England though. Much will rely upon the arrangements which employers make to protect their employees in their working environments, particularly since the 1 metre rule may/may not be adhered to, depending on what facilities are like at the workplace.

What is the “plan for jobs”?

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, presented his “plan for jobs” to Parliament on Wednesday 8th July 2020, to outline how the Government will boost job creation in the UK. The plan for jobs is the second part of a 3-phase plan to secure the UK’s economic recovery from Coronavirus. As part of the plan to support jobs, a job retention bonus will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers.  UK employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31st January 2021.

Inevitably though, there will still be redundancies and employers will need to get prepared for having to make difficult decisions about jobs in the near future.

The Government recently clarified the position in relation to employers claiming employees’ notice pay as part of the furlough scheme allowance. There was widespread confusion caused over whether the use of taxpayers’ cash was possible within the rules to pay employees serving notice periods their notice pay. One such example could be seen in the case of Wagamama which sparked controversy around the high street restaurant chain’s paying staff serving redundancy notice periods with CJRS revenue.

In an update made to its furlough guidance on 17th July 2020, HMRC said: “You can continue to claim for a furloughed employee who is serving a statutory or contractual notice period, however, grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments”.

Contractual notice is usually agreed in the contract of employment or in a written statement of terms and conditions. The period is there often to give employers more time to recruit replacement employees for those who are leaving.  It, therefore, makes sense that if the design of the CJRS furlough scheme is to take some of the weight off employers who wish to protect the financial stability of their undertakings, then paying for the notice periods of employees, albeit that they are leaving their employer’s employ, is still a tangible benefit and one which will protect the viability of those businesses, potentially, in the future.

If you have any employment matters and would like further advice in relation to the same, please contact Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP for expert legal advice, call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.ukFor more on Employment Law during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.

This blog post follows one written in early June which has more guidance on returning to work after COVID-19.

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Covid-19 Webinar Series https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/17/covid-19-webinar-series https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/17/covid-19-webinar-series#respond Fri, 17 Jul 2020 12:44:17 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=18973 Over the past few weeks, FJG have been running a series of ’15...

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Over the past few weeks, FJG have been running a series of ’15 minute webinars’ discussing various issues that have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The series is being led by Senior Partner, Tony Fisher.

Here you’ll find our latest webinar recordings for you to catch up on or watch again.

Episode 1 – Force Majeure and frustration of contracts, 16th April 2020, 11am.

Episode 2 – What you really need to know about furlough leave – 23rd April 2020, 11am.

Episode 3 – Legal aspects of Covid-19 impacting the property market – 30th April 2020, 11am.

Episode 4 – Covid-19: Why you and your loved ones should have Lasting Powers of Attorney – 7th May 2020, 11am.

Episode 5 – Importance of good Governance – benefits of well-drafted Shareholders Agreements & Partnership Agreements – 14th May 2020, 11am.

Episode 6 – Re-Opening the Home Moving Market. Legal issues and guidance for those marketing their property & moving house – 21st May 2020, 11am.

Episode 7 – Child Arrangements during Covid-19 Lockdown with Lisa O’Boyle – 4th June 2020, 11am.

Episode 8 – COVID-19’s impact in construction – your contractual toolkit moving forward with Rebecca Palmer – 18th June 2020, 11am.

Episode 9 – Terms and conditions of trading in times of crisis – 2nd July 2020, 11am.

Episode 10 – Domestic Abuse during Covid-19 Lockdown – 19th July 2020, 11am.

Our COVID-19 webinar series came to an end in July 2020. However, we are still continuing to run webinars on an ad-hoc basis. Find out webinars we have in the pipeline and register to join us below…

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My journey to becoming a Solicitor https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/15/my-journey-to-becoming-a-solicitor https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/15/my-journey-to-becoming-a-solicitor#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2020 13:28:44 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=20493 I moved to England from Romania in September 2013 with big dreams and...

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I moved to England from Romania in September 2013 with big dreams and high hopes for the future. I had a good idea of the path I wanted to follow and how I wanted my career to take shape. Little did I know that your plans and ideas do not always turn out the way you want them to – and sometimes, it is for the best.

2013

In September 2013, I began to study Law at the University of Essex, I studied there for three years which proved challenging, especially the first year. I had to adapt to a different culture, a different environment and a different day to day language, all at the age of 18 as well as adjusting to adult life and living away from the family home for the first time. The first year was nothing but challenging but I stuck with it and every subsequent year became easier to tackle. In my second year, I felt comfortable enough to get a part-time job and even ended up working two part-time jobs and holding two volunteering positions in my third year – I always liked to keep myself busy! These experiences helped me develop good time management skills for which I am forever grateful.

I graduated from the University of Essex with a 2:1 and I was ready to conquer the world only to hit my first roadblock – I realised that I had no practical legal experience and so finding a job in the legal industry proved to be very difficult. Due to my financial circumstances after graduating from University, I took a full-time job in the hospitality industry and searched for my dream job in the legal world in the interim. I wished that someone would have warned me during my University years how important it was to gain experience in the legal industry.

2016

In July 2016, I have came across a job advert for a post room assistant at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP (FJG). The role was not exactly what I was looking for but I was prepared to take any role within the legal industry in order to prove myself and build from the ground up. However, I was shortly informed that they already found someone else. Many applications and rejections later, I was in disbelief that despite my enthusiasm and ambition no one was prepared to take a plunge and give me a chance to prove myself. I had given myself a deadline of September 2016 before taking a break from applications and re-considering my options.

However, in mid-August 2016, I received an email from FJG inviting me to an interview for the post room assistant position as it was vacant again. I was thrilled to have my first interview request after so many rejections! One of the desirable experiences for the job was knowledge of how to use a franking machine – I had no idea what a franking machine was at that stage let alone how to use it – so I googled and watched many YouTube videos in readiness for my interview. I remember the day I got the call to inform me that I was successful and they offered me the position – I was over the moon, I could not contain my excitement to be given a chance!

Once I was in, I was prepared to put in all my effort and work my way up to where I wanted to be. After the first 6 months as a post room assistant, I was given the opportunity to work as a Paralegal in the Family Law team and gain some actual legal experience – regardless of the fact that the Family Law team was not where I wanted to be (I was always more interested in Commercial & Corporate matters), I took the opportunity in a heartbeat. I was thrown in the deep end but I like to think that I always thrive when challenged and the simple fact that after a short period in my new role I was entrusted with quite a lot of responsibility made me think that I must have done something right.

2017

Once I was comfortable in my new role, I decided that it was time to take the next step to advance my career so I have enrolled with BPP University, London to study the Legal Practice Course and Master’s Degree on a part-time basis from September 2017. I was well aware that working full-time and studying part-time will be ‘full-on’ but I was ready to put my time management skills to test again. Little did I know that such skills would be put to the test more than I imagined. Due to an unforeseen incident, I was given an opportunity and a challenge at the same time – I was excited to step up and accept more responsibility but this also led to longer hours and overall pressure whilst still in my first year of studying my Legal Practice Course and Master’s Degree.  I was nevertheless committed to my role and put in 100% effort to ensure everything was in order. From beginning to the end my role as a Paralegal provided a very good overall experience of a Solicitor’s day to day life which made it clear to me that I was on the right path.

2019/2020

I was thrilled to be offered a training contract with the firm and everything was plain sailing from there. I was offered the opportunity to train in the Corporate & Commercial team for a full year which worked well as it was what I wanted to qualify in. Despite the Covid-19 outbreak during my last trainee seat in the Wills, Life Planning & Probate team which started in January 2020, I had a very good experience and overall exposure to all matters with no business disruption due to the firms’ quick response to the changes.

Fast forward to the present, I am with still with FJG, having qualified as a Solicitor in the Corporate & Commercial team which is what I have always wanted to do. I am very grateful to the firm for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to prove myself when no one else did.

Our journeys are not always what we plan them to be at the beginning – mine certainly was not – but 9 times out of 10 you will find that all the roadblocks you encountered on your way pushed you onto the right path and you’ll find yourself exactly where you needed to be.

FJG attract applicants for training contracts via various different routes and encourage application at all levels from capable, dynamic, talented, and bright people. If you fit with our ethos, we will fit with your aspirations. 

Make initial contact with Fisher Jones Greenwood by calling 01206 700113 or emailing contact@fjg.co.uk.

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FJG launches a COVID-19 Legal Advice hub https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/13/new-coronavirus-legal-advice-hub https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/13/new-coronavirus-legal-advice-hub#respond Mon, 13 Jul 2020 06:00:02 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=20385 We’re delighted to launch a Coronavirus Legal Advice hub on our website. The...

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We’re delighted to launch a Coronavirus Legal Advice hub on our website. The hub collates topical articles and relevant information that FJG have put together on legal issues that have been affected by or that have arisen as a result of Coronavirus. Our aim is to help our clients and the Essex community by providing effortless access to up-to-date news during these difficult times.

The hub provides a continual stream of updates in law as circumstances develop and change across a broad range of legal subjects. This includes guidance for how COVID-19 may affect family circumstances, such as difficulties with separation or child arrangements or putting into place a Will or Lasting Powers of Attorney. Moreover, the hub looks at implications that Coronavirus may have on debt and tax, immigration, landlords, tenants, and property transactions from a personal and business perspective. In addition to this, the hub offers advice for employers and employees with the latest information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Throughout 2020, FJG have innovated their offering in line with the needs of their clients, launching online inductions for both their Family Law and Wills, Life Planning and Probate services, as well as, revising their ‘drop-in’ sessions to become virtual, online advice clinics. This new hub is another way that FJG are supporting their clients, existing and new, in accessing legal advice and information.

Paula Cameron, Managing Partner at FJG commented, “At FJG, we feel it is our job to support and guide our clients through these challenging times. Along with our other initiatives this year, the newly created ‘one-stop-shop’ of information and expert advice for our clients’ needs is another string to our bow. I am very proud of how FJG have been able to adapt over the last few months and I look forward to the future with optimism”.

Visit FJG’s Coronavirus Legal Advice hub here.

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Registering a Birth during the coronavirus Pandemic https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/09/registering-a-birth-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/09/registering-a-birth-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2020 12:45:28 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=19233 The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty in many aspects...

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The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty in many aspects of our lives. For many new parents, this has been an especially daunting and worrying time.

One concern new parents have is how can they register their baby’s birth during the lockdown period.

Local Authorities have confirmed that registrations of births are being deferred until further notice. This means that parents cannot register their baby’s birth at this time. The Government have indicated that parents can still make a claim for child benefit or universal credit before the registration of the birth.

It is important that, once Local Authorities have indicated that births can be registered again, parents ensure they make an appointment to register the birth as soon as possible. There is currently no online system in England to register births.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is all of the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent, such as looking after a child, choosing a place of education for a child, and arranging medical treatment.

Where the parents of a child are married when the child is born, or if they’ve jointly adopted a child, both parents share parental responsibility. This parental responsibility is kept if the parents later divorce.

In relation to unmarried parents, a mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. An unmarried father can acquire parental responsibility by being named on the birth certificate at the time of registering the birth.  It is therefore important that when birth registrations recommence unmarried parents ensure that both parents attend the registration appointment if it is the intention for both parents to have parental responsibility.

If a father is not named on the birth certificate, he can apply to the Court for an order for parental responsibility or they can enter into a parental responsibility agreement.

Same-sex partners and step-parents can also acquire parental responsibility, this can be a little more complex and the family team would be happy to advise you on these issues.

Update on registering births – July 2020

Throughout the lockdown period, new parents have been unable to register the birth of their baby. This service was temporarily put on hold due to the virus pandemic.

Many Local Authorities, including Essex County Council, have now confirmed that they are restarting birth registrations for babies born up to and including 30th May 2020. Exact arrangements may change depending on the Local Authority.

As there is a backlog of birth registrations since March, there is a high level of demand to register births at present. There is an online booking system showing appointment availability.

Currently, Essex County Council are not taking appointments for babies born after 30th May 2020.

The virus pandemic continues, but it is positive that many of our services are beginning to resume.

Please do not hesitate to contact the family team if you require advice or assistance, call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

Here at FJG, we have set up a Coronavirus Legal Advice hub with information on the legal issues that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.

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Update – Covid-19: protection from eviction for commercial tenants https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/08/update-covid-19-protection-from-eviction-for-commercial-tenants https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/08/update-covid-19-protection-from-eviction-for-commercial-tenants#respond Wed, 08 Jul 2020 08:06:21 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=18522 Further to our initial blog in relation to the proposed protection from eviction...

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Further to our initial blog in relation to the proposed protection from eviction for commercial tenants, the Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent and came into force on 25th March 2020. This emergency legislation was pushed through Parliament before its early Easter shutdown, in view of the pandemic and the need to social distance.

Section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 provides details as to how exactly commercial tenants will be protected from eviction during these unprecedented times.

  • Subsection (1) confirms that a “right of re-entry or forfeiture, under a relevant business tenancy, for non-payment of rent may not be enforced, by action or otherwise, during the relevant period”. The “relevant period” is currently 26th March 2020 to 30th June 2020, with an option to extend this period by statutory instrument, should this become necessary.
  • Subsection (2) provides that during the relevant period, no conduct by the landlord (other than express waiver in writing) is to be regarded as waiving a right of re-entry or forfeiture of a business tenancy, for non-payment of rent. This protects the landlord’s position if there are breaches of the lease prior to 26th March 2020, for which the landlord may wish to forfeit to the lease, but is unable to do so due to this emergency legislation.

Provision has also been made for proceedings which commenced in the High Court or County Court before 26th March 2020 to enforce a right of re-entry or forfeiture. During the relevant period, any order made in favour of the landlord is not to require the tenant to return the property to the landlord before 30th June 2020.

What happens if an Order has already been made?

If an Order has already been made (meaning that the tenant will be evicted between 26th March 2020 and 30th June 2020), the Court must ensure that if the tenant applies to vary the Order before they are required to hand back possession of the property, the tenant does not have to return the property to the landlord before 30th June 2020.

  • Subsection (11) of the Act also confirms that in the future should a landlord wish to remove a tenant from the property on the basis of a persistent delay in paying the rent, any delay during the period 26th March 2020 to 30th June 2020 is to be disregarded.

Update – July 2020

The Government has since introduced secondary legislation to extend the relevant period, so that this now expires on 30th September 2020.  These regulations came into force on 29th June 2020.

To help you manage the impact of coronavirus across your business we have established dedicated teams in all key practice areas. Contact the Fisher Jones Greenwood quick response team on 01206 700113 (initial telephone advice will be free of charge) or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Race discrimination in recruitment processes and workplaces https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/02/race-discrimination-at-work https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2020/07/02/race-discrimination-at-work#respond Thu, 02 Jul 2020 12:44:07 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=20264 With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a...

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With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a focus on race discrimination in recruitment processes and workplaces. Below we take a look at some of the frequently asked questions and what someone can someone do if they feel they have been discriminated against because of their race and what employers can do to create and maintain a non-discriminate workplace.

What rights do employees have against racial discrimination in the workplace?

What is race discrimination?

Race discrimination is one of 9 protected characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2020 (EqA 2010) and it occurs when an employee is treated less favourably on the grounds of their race. ‘Race’ is defined as:

  • Colour;
  • Nationality;
  • Ethnic or National Origins.

An employee who has suffered discrimination at work should be advised to approach their line manager with a view to reporting discrimination soon after it has taken place, to prompt an investigation and they should follow their firm’s policies and procedures around dealing with discrimination at work.  If they wish to, they can file a grievance with their employer to try seek redress for the discriminatory act. An employer can be liable for the discrimination just as the discriminator can. Under the EqA 2010, employees can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal if they believe they have been discriminated against, harassed or victimised because of their race.

What is direct and indirect discrimination and how can employers make sure they have an indiscriminate workplace?

What is direct discrimination?

Direct discrimination is where an employer treats an employee less favourably than they treat others because of their protected characteristic. Less favourable treatment can be described as where: employee (A) has been treated differently in comparison to employee (B) who doesn’t have employee (A)’s protected characteristic(s).

What is indirect discrimination?

Indirect discrimination is concerned with acts, decisions or policies (broadly speaking) which are not intended to treat anyone less favourably, but which, in practice, have the effect of disadvantaging a group of people with a particular protected characteristic. Where such a policy disadvantages an individual possessing that characteristic, it will amount to indirect discrimination, unless it can be objectively justified.

Employers should have clear policies for conduct at work, which include discrimination and diversity policies and they should also conduct unconscious bias training with employees.

What can an employee do if they feel they have been discriminated against because of their race?

We recommend that employees approach their line managers or their Human Resources departments before proceeding with instituting formal procedures in the first instance. In some cases, workplace mediation can assist if the parties are willing to partake. In the event that no resolution to the problem can be found, invoking the employer’s grievance procedures may be necessary. Instituting an Employment Tribunal action can be used as final port of call.

What can someone do if they feel they have been discriminated against during the recruitment process because of their race?

The individual can approach their recruitment agency, if the role was advertised via an agency, or alternatively their Human Resources department within the firm. The individual can request feedback from their interview and a copy of the firm’s equality policy and a reason as to why the role was not offered to them. Sometimes discrimination in recruitment can be lawful.  If it is warranted, a written complaint may be presented to the employer about its processes though. In the event that no resolution to the problem can be found, a complaint may be submitted to the Employment Tribunal.

What top tips would you give to employers to successfully create and maintain a non-discriminate workplace that all employees can feel comfortable and welcome in?

  1. Be proactive and implement up-to-date policies within employee handbooks and/or their contracts such as; equality, diversity inclusion, equal opportunities and anti-discrimination policies.
  2. Communicate clearly to enable transparency at all levels.
  3. Drive initiatives to promote racial equality in the workplace.
  4. Ethnic minority (BAME) employees; by executing BAME mentoring schemes/staff networks and training programmes to create opportunities for BAME employees to be on recruitment and interview panels.
  5. Train around and be aware of unconscious biases.

Our friendly Employment Law team are available if you would like further advice, please contact us on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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