OGR Stock Denton draws level with Gerald Edelman in cricket series

OGR Stock Denton has drawn level with accountancy firm, Gerald Edelman by winning the latest cricket match between the two firms.

The OGR Stock Denton team won the match at Southgate’s Walker Ground by three wickets, chasing a score of 103 after some sharp fielding and bowling. After a quick four wickets at the start of OGR’s chase, the OGR team ended up as comfortable winners, avenging their defeat from last year.

The series between the two firms is now tied at one match each.

Michael Stock, Partner and Head of Property at OGR Stock Denton, said: “It was great to come out on top this year, avenging last year’s defeat!

“It is always good work with our colleagues at Gerald Edelman. Ultimately, our clients benefit from the close working relationship between our two firms.

“We are now looking forward to another match next summer.”

Five top tips for dealing with smartphones in the workplace

Hayley Trovato, a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Employment department, has given her five top tips for dealing with the use of smartphones in the workplace.

She commented after the Prospect union said that an increasingly wide range of employers are asking employees to hand over their smartphones before starting work.

“Given the ubiquity of smartphones in modern life and their near-addictive properties, it is little wonder they are becoming a source of conflict between employers and employees.

“However, good practice can mitigate the chances of conflict arising. Having a clear policy on the use of mobile phones in the workplace means that situations such as this can be avoided easily. If employees know what to expect from the outset, then there can be no surprises, reducing areas where problems could arise,” said Hayley.

She added: “As with all policies, there need to be communicated clearly to employees, so they know they exist. They should also be applied fairly and consistently.”

Hayley suggested five top tips for employers dealing with smartphones in the workplace, noting that the applicability of each will vary according to the nature of the work an organisation is engaged in:

  1. Set clear boundaries as to if and when smartphone use is permitted. This could either be a total ban on employees having their smartphones on them at all or just limiting their use to break and lunchtimes. This decision with often depend on the nature of the work. If you do have a total ban on employees having their phones, then you should offer a safe place for employees to store them, such as a locker and ensure that the employee can be contacted by family members on another number in the event of an emergency.
  2. It may sound obvious but if an employee needs to take a personal call, then they should leave the room and do this in a separate area. Taking the occasional call may be necessary and as urgent situation often arise, but having employees catching up with their friends on their phone during work time is not acceptable.
  3. If you do let employees have their phones on them, then stress that phones should be on silent, vibrate or switched off. This will minimise the disruption of having a variety of noisy ringtones blaring out throughout the office.
  4. In some jobs, being on a mobile phone can pose a health and safety risk – such as while driving or operating machinery. For those jobs where employees are dealing directly with customers, being on a mobile phone is not good customer service.
  5. Be clear about employees spending time going on to the internet via their phone. The occasional email may be acceptable and sometimes necessary but prolonged periods spent on Instagram or doing online shopping is not.

We welcome accountants for a seminar on Wills, Trusts and Probate

Our private client team welcomed a number of accountants to a seminar on Wills, Trusts and Probate.

The seminar heard from members of the team on topics including the importance of proper Will drafting, inheritance issues for cohabiting couples, different forms of trusts and when they can be used and Capital Gains Tax matters.

Richard Denton, a Partner and Head of Private Client, said: “It was wonderful to be able to welcome so many of our colleagues from the accountancy profession to our offices.

“Wills, Trusts and Probate are highly technical matters, where precise legal drafting makes a considerable difference to outcomes for clients. Seeming minor differences in the drafting of a Will, for example, can make a considerable difference to the inheritance tax payable by an estate.

“We consider that clients benefit most when their lawyers and colleagues in the accountancy profession collaborate to find the right solutions for them.”

OGR Stock Denton LLP employment solicitor says that recent Supreme Court decision will give employers “some comfort”

Hayley Trovato, a Senior Associate Solicitor at OGR Stock Denton LLP, has said that a recent Supreme Court decision concerning the use of non-competition restrictive covenants in employment contracts will give employers “some comfort”.

The landmark case [Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd] concerned the ability of employers to prevent former employees from taking up work with competitors, potentially taking with them vital commercial knowledge, market insight and know-how.

Hayley Trovato said: “Employers can, to some extent, take some comfort from the long-awaited decision of the Supreme Court this week in Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd.

“In unanimously allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the offending words in the non-competition restrictive covenant could be removed from the clause without damaging the rest of the covenant, making it enforceable, even though it was accepted that the employer had drafted this restriction in very broad and therefore unreasonable terms.  As a result, the injunction was restored.

“It has been over 100 years since the Supreme Court has looked at the rules on restrictive covenants and while this is good news for those employers looking to enforce restrictive covenants, a cautious approach is still recommended.

“Employers should ensure that restrictive covenants are drafted responsibly and no wider than reasonably necessary to protect a legitimate business interest.

“Although the Supreme Court allowed the employer to enforce the other parts of its non-competition clause, there was a suggestion that unreasonable drafting by employers could result in costs orders being made against them.

“This case should act as a stark reminder to employers of the need to review their restrictive covenants regularly in order to ensure their enforceability.”

If you would like us to review these for you please contact either Susan Bernstein or Hayley Trovato.

Clients set to benefit as North-London lawyer Tim Crook gains prestigious tax qualification

Our clients are set to benefit after one of the firm’s solicitors gained a prestigious tax qualification.

Tim Crook, a Senior Associate in our Private Client department, has passed the STEP Advanced Certificate in UK Tax for International Clients.

The qualification from the well-regarded professional body covers a wide range of international tax and trust matters, enabling Tim to advise clients with highly complex financial arrangements.

Tim Crook said: “This qualification, together with my extensive offshore experience, enables me to provide expert advice to international clients and offshore trustees with UK connections.”

Richard Denton, Partner and Head of the Private Client department at the firm, added: “This is a fantastic achievement by Tim and highlights the tremendous strength in depth of our Private Client team and our ability to advise non-UK resident and non-UK domiciled clients.”

The qualification further strengthens the firm’s international tax practice. Partner Priti Shah also holds the qualification as well as being a Chartered Tax Adviser.

North London firm welcome accountants to their offices for a seminar on Wills, Trusts and Probate

Our private client team welcomed a number of accountants to a seminar on Wills, Trusts and Probate this week.

The seminar heard from members of the team on topics including the importance of proper Will drafting, inheritance issues for cohabiting couples, different forms of trusts and when they can be used and Capital Gains Tax matters.

Richard Denton, a Partner and Head of Private Client, said: “It was wonderful to be able to welcome so many of our colleagues from the accountancy profession to our offices.

“Wills, Trusts and Probate are highly technical matters, where precise legal drafting makes a considerable difference to outcomes for clients. Seeming minor differences in the drafting of a Will, for example, can make a considerable difference to the inheritance tax payable by an estate.

“We consider that clients benefit most when their lawyers and colleagues in the accountancy profession collaborate to find the right solutions for them.”

OGR Stock Denton LLP team takes part in softball event with Frank Hirth

A team from OGR Stock Denton LLP took part in a softball event with Frank Hirth on Thursday 20 June 2019, under threatening skies.

Our Head of Family Law, Graeme Fraser, led the OGR Stock Denton LLP team of Ali Kabani, Lena Schindehutte, Robert Talbot, Tim Crook, Gemma Barnhurst and Alex Stone.

Graeme said: “It was good to be able to see our colleagues from Frank Hirth in a more relaxed social environment, helping to build the strong working relationships that ultimately benefit clients of both firms. We are grateful to them for setting up the event, and I know that everyone enjoyed.”

Children’s wellbeing will be put first in Family court hearings, says Government

The Government has announced that it intends to do more to put the safety, health and wellbeing of children first in Family Court cases.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it is looking to those with direct involvement to share their experiences, in launching a new public ‘Call for Evidence’.

Meanwhile, MoJ has convened an expert panel to review how the Family courts protect children and parents in cases of domestic abuse.

The panel, which is made up of experts including senior members of the judiciary, leading academics and charities, has been asked to make recommendations and report back within three months.

The panel will make recommendations for:

  • The courts’ application of Practice Direction 12J, which relates to child arrangement cases where domestic violence is a consideration
  • The courts’ application of ‘barring orders’ which prevent further applications being made without leave of the court under the Children Act 1989
  • Evidence of the impact on the child and victim where child contact is sought by someone alleged to have, or who has, committed domestic abuse or other relevant offences.

The move follows concerns about how vulnerable children and adults were potentially being exposed to violent and abusive parent and former partners.

Justice Minister Paul Maynard said: “Some of the most vulnerable in our society come before the Family courts, and I am absolutely determined that we offer them every protection.

“This review will help us better understand victims’ experiences of the system, and make sure the family court is never used to coerce or re-traumatise those who have been abused.

“Its findings will be used to inform next steps so we can build on the raft of measures we have already introduced to protect victims of domestic abuse.”

Cleaner successfully challenges late employer’s Will

A cleaner has successfully overturned a Will that stood to disinherit her, following a High Court challenge.

Leonora Da Costa, worked as a cleaner for Harold Tickner, who had once been Head Waiter at the Savoy Hotel.

In 2014, Mr Tickner made a Will leaving the bulk of his estate to Mrs Da Costa, who had looked after him following the death of his wife in 2012.

However, just 16 days before his death in June 2015, Mr Tickner handed the keys to his £500,000 Harrow home to his nephew, retired barrister, Dennis Germain and made a new Will leaving a remaining £15,000 from his estate to his daughter, Karen Tickner.

Mrs Da Costa believes she is entitled to £400,000 from Mr Tickner’s estate.

The judge said he was not sure that there was sufficient evidence to show that Mr Tickner had understood the contents of the 2015 Will. However, he said there was “no real doubt as to the validity” of the 2014 Will.

He said: “The 2014 Will was prepared by his usual solicitors, read to him and explained to him by them.

“In my judgment, it is clear that he did know and approve its contents.

“I would, therefore, hold that the 2015 Will is invalid on the grounds of lack of capacity. I pronounce against the 2015 Will and in favour of the 2014 Will.”

The ruling means that Mrs Da Costa can now challenge the gift of the Harrow property to his nephew in a case set to be heard by another judge at a future hearing.

Court of Appeal refuses challenges to enhanced maternity pay

In a key judgment relating to the paid leave that parents can take following the birth of a child, the Court of Appeal has said that employers can enhance maternity pay, while only offering statutory parental pay to fathers.

Two claims were rejected by the court because the law allows employers to make exceptions for women on maternity leave.

Hextal v Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police saw an employee argue that paying women of maternity leave more than parents on shared parental leave indirectly discriminated against men.

The court agreed with Leicestershire Police that Hextall’s claim was about equal pay, rather than indirect discrimination. However, the exceptions in law for women on maternity leave meant that the claim could not be successful.

Meanwhile, Ali v Capita, saw an employee argue that men receiving less than women in such circumstances amounted to direct discrimination.

The judges, in this case, ruled that the arguments put forward were an “attack against the whole statutory scheme”. They added that the “entire period of maternity leave, following childbirth, is for more than facilitating childcare.”

A statutory exemption was made by Parliament to allow women special treatment in relation to pregnancy and giving birth. Women on maternity leave are given this treatment to recover from childbirth, cope with pregnancy and bond with and care for their new-born children.

An increasing number of employers are equalising parental pay, with diversity experts arguing that doing so can have widespread ramifications for equality in the workplace.