Our commercial team join the crowds at this year’s Business Show

Lawyers from OGR Stock Denton recently attended a major business exhibition, held at London Olympia.

Vida McShane and Isabelle Fatton, from the firm’s Company and Commercial team, were at the Business Show 2016 to meet with other members of the capital’s thriving business community.

The Business Show is the UK’s largest business to business event, with more than 25,000 firms attending over the course of the two days.

Vida McShane: “We are continuously looking for new ways to engage with London’s business community.

“It was great to be able to speak to so many London business owners at the show.”

For advice on any aspect of our Company and Commercial services, please contact the head of the department Gitta Altmann or visit our website.

The divorce rate among older couples continues to rise

One particularly noteworthy aspect of the UK’s most recent divorce figures is that the number of over 55s looking to bring their marriage to an end continues to increase.

While last week’s statistics showed a fall in the overall number of divorce petitions, in fact the number of older couples who are separating is growing.

The volume of silver splitters has been remarked on a number of times in recent years, with debate about the circumstances driving the trend.

It does not appear there is one definitive reason for why a growing number of older people are seeking divorce, with family law practitioners and relationship counsellors tending to argue that a number of factors are likely to influence a decision.

Generally speaking, over 55s are in a more secure position financially, with their savings and pension schemes making a split a more plausible option.

There is also the fact that a couple who had stayed together while their children grew up, may be more comfortable about parting ways once their sons and daughters have left home.

Other potential factors include the possibility that people are more likely to re-evaluate their lives as they approach or enter retirement and the fact that age gaps, which may not seem all that significant when a couple are younger, pose more of a problem later in life.

Rebecca Amboaje, from OGR Stock Denton’s family department, said: “The number of divorces in 2014 was highest among men aged 45 to 49 and women aged 40 to 44.

“There is no doubt that attitudes to divorce have become more relaxed over time. There are also an increased number of people cohabiting who decide not to get married, so these statistics show the changing face of modern society.”

For further information about this update then please contact Rebecca Amboaje on (0)20 8349 5483 or by email.

Lawyer’s Swiss Success

Isabelle Fatton, an Associate at OGR Stock Denton LLP and Co-Chair of the London Young Professionals Group (YPG) of the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the success of the group’s last event which was sponsored by Victorinox, best known for its Swiss Army knives.

A large and enthusiastic crowd attended the YPG event, which was held at the Victorinox Swiss brand’s flagship store on London’s Bond Street on 24 November 2016. The event featured a Victorinox-themed quiz with exclusive prizes for the winners.

Isabelle said: “We were delighted with the success of this event. It was great to see so many people come along during this festive period of the year and take part. There was a relaxed and fun ambiance and people had a great opportunity to network”

Following on from the success of this event, the Group is now looking forward to holding further similar events in future.

 

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Resolution takes its campaign to Parliament

A delegation from the family law association Resolution travelled to Westminster yesterday to make their case for MPs to legislate for no-fault divorce.

150 members visited Parliament to set out their case for a change in the law, discussing their concerns about the current regime with representatives from both the House of Commons and the Lords.

Resolution has long argued that the current system, which often results in a party having to attribute blame even if they don’t want to, tends to increase arguments and makes an acrimonious break-up more likely.

The campaign for change has the support of a number of senior members of the judiciary and was recently the topic of a Commons briefing paper, but successive administrations have shown little appetite for pushing through a change in the law.

Nigel Shepherd, Resolution’s national chairman, said it was quite clear that the current legislation was “not fit” for modern society.

“Divorce is already difficult enough, we don’t need it being made harder by the law pushing couples into conflicts and arguments,” he said.

“For so many to descend on Parliament to lobby MPs and Peers shows that it is time for politicians to act, and bring an end to the blame game.”

Suzy Shepherd, who recently divorced her husband of 14 years, is among those who have expressed their dissatisfaction with current arrangements.

She felt that her only choice was to cite “unreasonable behaviour” on the divorce forms, which she wasn’t comfortable with. Her experience has convinced her that a new option of “irreconcilable differences” should be recognised under UK law.

Rebecca Amboaje, Partner in OGR Stock Denton’s family department, said: “Resolution plays an important role in campaigning for improvements to family law and the family justice system.

“It is positive that Resolution are lobbying the government on this issue and it is important that the law moves with the times and proposes changes which can be considered by Parliament so that voice of practitioners and the public who use the family justice system is heard.”

Peter Martin, head of the department, said: “Forcing people to blame the other party really does not help. Some solicitors really go ‘over the top’ in their petitions and upset the other person, which sets a bad tone for the divorce. This can then affects matters concerning both the children and finances.

“At OGR Stock Denton we always try to take a reasonable approach if possible. When people agree that they want to divorce there should be no reason why a simple petition stating that fact should not be enough.”

For further information about this update then please contact Rebecca Amboaje on (0)20 8349 5483 or by email.

Finchley lawyers mark Mitzvah Day by donating to the homeless

Lawyers from a Finchley-based law firm marked Mitzvah Day on 27 November by providing new thermal clothing and other clothing for local homeless people.

Members of the team at OGR Stock Denton LLP donated two boxes of brand new thermal gloves, socks and neck warmers and one box of donated knitwear to Homeless in Action in Barnet in aid of Mitzvah Day.

Homeless Action in Barnet provides a night shelter for the street homeless at St-Mary-at-Finchley Church, close to the firm’s offices on Regents Park Road.

Mitzvah Day is a Jewish-led day of social action that brings thousands of people of all faiths and none together to make a difference to the local community around them. It is the largest multi-faith day of social action in the UK, with 40,000 volunteers giving their time in 2015.

Richard Denton, Managing Partner at OGR Stock Denton LLP, said: “Here at OGR Stock Denton LLP, we are committed to making a contribution to our local community.

“Mitzvah Day is a great opportunity to build on this track record and make a real difference to lives of some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”

OGR Stock Denton LLP’s involvement in Mitzvah Day follows on from its fundraising efforts as part of the Macmillan Coffee morning initiative in September, which raised more than £400 for the cause.

Finchley lawyers attend the business show

Lawyers from a leading Finchley-based law firm attended the business show at London Olympia.

Vida McShane and Isabelle Fatton from OGR Stock Denton LLP attended the Business Show 2016 as part of the firm’s ongoing efforts to engage with the London business community.

The Business Show is the UK’s largest business to business show, with more than 25,000 businesses attending over two days.

Vida McShane: “We are continuously looking for new ways to engage with London’s business community. It was great to be able to speak to so many London business owners at the show.”

OGR Stock Denton LLP’s specialist lawyers have expertise spanning areas of law including corporate structuring, business contracts, buying and selling a business, employment law, commercial property and dealing with disputes.

Prison officers end walkout following High Court injunction

Prison officers have returned to work after a High Court injunction ordered them to end a 24-hour protest.

An estimated 10,000 officers across the UK were involved in the walk-out after claims of a “surge in violence” in jails.

While it is illegal for prisoner officers to strike, the Prison Officers Association (POA) had reportedly directed its members to stop working after talks with the Government over health and safety concerns broke down.

It said it had achieved its aim of securing a meeting with Justice Secretary Liz Truss “within the next 48 hours”.

The POA’s defence cited a number of incidents that had occurred in the last two weeks, including 30 assaults by inmates on officers, which had led to the strike action.

In court, Mr Justice Kerr said the prisoner officers’ actions had created a “very concerning” situation, and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it welcomed the decision to put an end to “unlawful industrial action”.

Mr Justice Kerr said there was evidence that 80 per cent of staff had taken some sort of action.

“A number of incidents have occurred in prisons today and the situation is very concerning indeed,” he said.

An MoJ spokesperson said: “The justice secretary already met with the POA earlier this month, but would not do so again until they called off their unlawful action.

“Now that prison officers are back at work, she will meet the POA, and invites them to resume talks with her team.

“We are committed to improving safety across the prison estate and are already taking action. This includes tackling the use of drugs, mobile phones and drones, while recruiting new staff and improving protection for staff.”

HSE to investigate ‘Black Friday’ safety concerns

MPs and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have voiced concerns over the wellbeing of UK logistics workers during ‘Black Friday’ promotions.

The news comes after UK courier Hermes reportedly asked as many as 5,000 members of staff to work up to 20 days without a break, in order to keep up with consumer demand for speedy deliveries.

Reports suggest that delivery drivers who already work six days a week have now been asked to work seven by Hermes – which is expected to deliver some 750,000 parcels for major retailers such as Next and John Lewis during ‘Black Friday’ promotions.

According to a report in The Guardian, Hermes has told employees that Sunday work is “completely optional”.

However, a number of couriers have commented that they feel ‘under pressure’ to oblige.

One employee said: “They are requiring us, if we can’t get cover, to do the Sundays because they threaten to take our rounds off us. I am very concerned about safety”.

Another added: “It is dangerous. One Friday, after I’d worked two Sundays, I pretty much fell asleep and had to pull over … [But] I can’t afford to lose a round … We end up in a position where we almost aren’t given the option to say no.”

Labour MP and chair of the work and pensions select committee, Frank Field, has called upon HSE to investigate the potential health and safety risk of Hermes’ requests – particularly with regard to road safety.

Meanwhile, UK consumers are expected to spend approximately £2.9bn over the four-day period following the promotion, which will take place on Friday 25 November. Online retail association IMRG predicts a 12 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of parcels processed over ‘Black Friday’ weekend.

Lawyer’s top ten tips for divorcing well

A leading Family Lawyer has set out his top ten tips for couples looking to divorce or separate well and his further top ten tips to stop children becoming casualties of divorce.

Peter Martin, a Partner at Finchley-based OGR Stock Denton LLP who has more than 40 years’ experience in Family Law, prepared the tips ahead of Good Divorce Week which will run from 28 November to 2 December.

Amongst Peter’s suggestions are “reactive decision are usually bad ones”, “try to be rational and objective” and “don’t listen to your friends.”

Peter said: “Having dealt with divorce cases for more than four decades, I have learnt that how one starts the process can dictate the whole tenor of the future of your divorce or separation.

“Certain characteristics repeatedly stand out as leading to what might be termed as ‘constructive’ divorces, which allow divorcees to begin the next chapters of their lives, and ‘destructive’ divorces, which lead only to further pain and suffering. Too often, it is children who suffer most.

“My top ten tips are intended to help people achieve ‘constructive’ good divorces and to avoid the pain and suffering, particularly experienced by children, of a ‘destructive’ divorce.

“I hope these tips will help families emerge from the process of divorce with minimal suffering and ready to start the next chapter in their lives.”

Good Divorce Week is organised by Resolution, formerly the Solicitors’ Family Law Association, and will highlight the organisation’s calls for ‘no-fault’ divorce to become an option for divorcing couples.

Peter Martin’s top tips for divorcing or separating well

As a divorce lawyer – now more accurately called a Family Lawyer – of more than 40 years’ experience I have learnt that how one starts the process can dictate the whole tenor of the future of your divorce or separation.

So here are my top ten tips for an amicable divorce and my tips for trying to protect the children:

  1. Reactive decisions are usually bad ones. If you are feeling hurt or have just discovered your partner with someone else don’t take any legal actions until the red mist has gone from your eyes.
  1. Try to be rational and objective. Going through a separation is highly emotional, but try to put that emotion to one side and sit down around a table with a neutral party with the aim of making sensible decisions.  Remember that you loved the other person once.  There must have been a reason – focus on this not the hurt.
  1. Decide on your priorities. More often than not one of the biggest priorities is to move on with your life with your dignity intact. The more amicable the divorce the quicker it will be over, leaving you to get on with the next chapter of your life.  It is also a lot cheaper.
  1. Be nice for the sake of the kids. If you have children then it is only in the most exceptional circumstances that it is not in the children’s interests for their parents to get on with each other and remain friendly, even if they are separated or divorced.
  1.  Go to a good family lawyer. Find a family specialist committed to working out solutions as amicably as possible and in a way that will preserve your relationship with your spouse.  If you can, use mediation or collaborative family law.
  1. Expect a big change in your lifestyle. Your life is going to change dramatically, it is the surprise of this that can often lead to resentment and breed conflict. Your partner’s life will be changing too and they will be having the same problems adjusting as you are. Yes really.
  1. Don’t do it the celebrity way. Every week there seems to be another celebrity couple fighting out a dirty divorce in the media. You don’t have to fight dirty to get the best result – in fact, in reality, judges will frown upon it when making their settlement.
  1. Don’t listen to your friends. Turn to them for emotional support but remember that every marriage is different and every divorce is different.  Just because friends think it is a good idea, doesn’t mean it is.
  1. Be the bigger person. Even if your nearly ex is trying to play dirty, don’t rise to the bait. It is easier said than done, but I often hear from people who years later regret that they allowed themselves to get lowered to that level.
  1. Think about divorce before you get married. Think about what your situation will be if things don’t work out and how you think the other person is likely to behave in those circumstances as well. Consider a prenuptial agreement. Realism does not have to be anti-romantic.

How to stop children being casualties

Divorce affects children. How badly is, to a large extent, up to the conduct of their separating parents who can either make things worse or better.

So here are my top tips for minimising the damage:

  1. Reassurance. Children need to know that separation does not mean they will be losing a parent. Ideally work out in general terms the arrangements for the children and then tell them together and without blaming the other person. Tell the children it’s not their fault, as they may well think they have some responsibility as a result of their behaviour. Yes, really they do, it’s not just a myth.
  1. Try not to argue about the divorce, the children or finances in front of the children or within their earshot. If you argue about maintenance, where the children will live and contact issues in front of them, there is no point in telling them the separation is not their fault.
  1. Be civilised. The children need to see that it’s possible for their parents whom they love to still get on even if they don’t love each other. Try to do occasional things together, especially with schooling. For a child to see his or her parents cooperating about the major issues is incredibly important in enabling them to have their own future relationships.
  1. Don’t be negative if your former partner wants to be more involved. Fathers often want to be more involved with their children than mum’s feel they were before. There’s a realisation that if the children are not around every day more effort is needed to maintain a good relationship.
  1. Avoid blame. Knowing that one parent blames the other makes the children take sides. Let the children know it is OK to enjoy themselves with the other parent. This helps them to enjoy being with the other parent without feeling guilty.
  1. Don’t bad-mouth the other parent to your children, or to others in front of them. Remember your child is part of both of you. Attacking the other person is attacking part of them.
  1. Don’t cut off grandparents. They will usually side with their child. You should both tell them not to when the grandchildren are around. Let them know what you are doing to minimise the damage to their grandchildren and tell them to do the same. Help from grandparents can be very useful and should not be cut off.
  1. Use a shared calendar. You can do this electronically and both use it to put in important dates and tell each other things but also have the same child friendly wall calendar in both homes so the children can see when they will be with each parent. This provides huge reassurance.
  1. Try to divorce amicably. Use mediation or collaborative law to try to develop a civilised and dignified separation. For more details on how to do this, look at our website.
  1. TAKE ADVICE. Not from friends or family but objective advice from a specialist solicitor. There’s an old legal adage that a lawyer who acts for himself has a fool for a client. How much more so if, in the emotion of family breakdown you try to do it yourself. Of course there are cost consequences but believe me, the cost is far less than the cost to your children and to you of getting it wrong.

Tesco Bank attack highlights importance of implementing effective fraud prevention measures

Tesco Bank has made headlines in recent days after tens of thousands of customers fell victim to fraudulent attacks on their online bank accounts.

As many as 40,000 Tesco Bank account holders spotted suspicious activity online over Bonfire Night weekend – many of whom lost hundreds of pounds as a result of the cyber-attack.

Tesco managed to pick up on the fraudulent activity Saturday evening – and sent automated text messages to customers who had been affected. The grocery giant’s banking arm has also announced that affected parties will be reimbursed for any funds lost as a result of the attack.

Such frightening fraudulent activity raises a number of questions. Perhaps most significantly – What can companies do to protect themselves from fraudulent activity? Businesses should consider the following tips:

  1. Use a firewall and always download (and keep up-to-date) antivirus and anti-malware programs on all computer-based systems.
  2. Identify and monitor any tangible and intangible company assets, including data – and protect these against internal and external threats by limiting access to unauthorised people.
  3. Restrict access to anything your employees do not specifically need to know in order to do their job. From false invoices and travel and subsistence claims to targeted assets, internal threats are surprisingly common. Restricting access to sensitive information will also go a long way to prevent fraudsters from posing as employees to obtain or manipulate vulnerable information.
  4. Refer to Financial Fraud Action UK’s guidance on how to protect yourself from fraudulent activity when making electronic payments.
  5. Refer to the Bank of England’s guidance on how to spot counterfeit currency in any instances your company finds itself dealing with cash.
  6. Make sure your business has in place a suitable policy dealing with the use of your IT and communications system. All staff should be aware of the importance of complying with this policy.