CJCH History Month: Wales’ oldest law firm, Gaskell and Walker, joins CJCH

By Myles Thomas

As Wales’ oldest law firm, the acquisition of Gaskell & Walker is a matter of pride for those working at CJCH Solicitors. Given the continued growth and success of the tech-centric Consulting side of CJCH’s business, it is also apparent that the firm still holds true to the values and ethos of a community based high street practice.

E.W. Miles Solicitor on record for a probate matter, 1921

The origins of Gaskell and Walker go back to Ebenezer William Miles, who practiced as E W Miles & Co. in Cowbridge. Ebenezer was born on 8th June 1852 to Thomas Miles of Cowbridge, where he was later educated and admitted as a Solicitor in 1878. He practiced alone from 1878 until 1932 and was succeeded by Mr Morgan, who was admitted in 1900 and died in 1934.

At this point, the practice was taken over by Francis (Frank) Gerald Walker who was born in 1881, admitted as a Solicitor in November 1929, and practised in partnership with John Clare Gaskell. At the end of the Second World War, Frank handed the practice on to John Thornley Taylor, who acted as a sole practitioner until he was joined in partnership by Ian Jewell, Ray Nicholson and Anthony.

Following the unfortunate demise of Mr Jewell, Gwyn Davies joined Ray and Anthony in partnership in 1988 and upon Ray’s retirement in 1999 they were joined by Mel Butler. Up until the point where CJCH acquired Gaskell and Walker, astonishingly, that had only been a total of nine partners in over one hundred and thirty years.

John Gaskell record of Admission, 1902

When CJCH took over Gaskell and Walker in late 2014/early 2015, the two firms practiced from their offices in Caroline Street and Park street, respectively. Speaking with current members of CJCH Solicitors in Bridgend (the majority of whom worked for Gaskell and Walker previously) at their relatively new office in Dunraven Place, they indicate the new premises are just one of the many welcome changes they have seen since joining the CJCH family.

Rebecca May, Solicitor at CJCH, originally began her training with Gaskell and Walker under Gwyn Davies, who, despite his retirement remains a mentor to her. Originally, she had trepidations of CJCH’s takeover as she was only four months into her training contract and was worried for her future. Her fears were calmed by Nick Wootton, CJCH’s Chief Financial Officer who informed her she would remain a trainee with the practice. A few years on, Rebecca has flourished with CJCH and says that the takeover benefited her greatly, allowing her more opportunity.

Original Gaskell & Walker letter head on a conveyancing matter, 1946

The rest of the team who also worked for Gaskell and Walker collectively have almost one hundred years of service between them. Nigel Daniel, now Head of Employment at CJCH commented that the team is built on “good old-fashioned loyalty” and they are “incredibly tight-knit”. It is apparent that this is true, with stalwarts Hollie Wood, Louise Watts, Cathy Leyden and a more recent appointment, Caroline Jones regaling and laughing over their experiences in the office together. They insist that they are friends before anything else, there are no secrets between them and they love coming to work every morning.

One of Gaskell and Walker’s main focuses was their client-centric approach, aiming to provide full transparency with ‘friendly, professional and approachable advisers’. Their historic advertisements speak of not being just a ‘faceless law firm’ which they would be proud to see is still apparent today. The Bridgend Office oozes friendliness, charm and personality whilst remaining successful, efficient and professional.

Mental Health law: Support, resources, and insights.

We have come a long way in terms of awareness and support, but Mental Health matters continue to have a stigma and an air of uncertainty overshadowing them. For example, a 2016 survey by Time to Change Wales revealed that 1 in 10 people believe that people with mental health illnesses can never fully recover, and 1 in 7 believed that people with mental health problems should not be allowed to hold public office. People still have reservations about speaking openly and honestly about their personal mental health experiences and challenges.

In a bid to raise awareness, the CJCH Solicitors mental health department have shared insight into some of the information we believe people should be aware of when it comes to mental health law.

We asked Craig Mills, a solicitor in the mental health law department to answer a few important questions:

What the aim of mental health law is?

The Mental Health Act protects the rights of people with mental health challenges, not only when someone is detained in hospital but also when someone is being treated for their ailments within the community under the Act. People should only be admitted to hospital against their wishes when it is essential to their health and safety or the protection of others.

What should people be aware of when it comes to matters relating to mental health?

Personal rights are an important thing for people to be aware of. There has been a lot of mental health advocacy recently and people need to be aware that it can affect individuals in a number of different ways  (Read a recent article in BBC News on South Wales Police wanting mental health lessons for youths). It can sometimes be difficult to identify when/if people are suffering from mental health problems, but it is important that everyone is aware that help is available. There are a number of mental health charities that can provide support.

Here are some links to assist with finding the right support for you or your loved ones:

For an example of how these matters are impacting people in Wales, you can read this recent article about three people’s personal struggle with mental illness which was shared for World Mental Health day.

For more information or assistance with a mental health legal issue, contact our team via email: mentalhealth@cjch.co.uk ; to telephone: 0333 231 6405.

#SortYourLifeOut – A mantra of taking control

At CJCH Solicitors, we aim to put our clients first and to support the communities in which we operate. With four offices spanning across South Wales, and two satellite offices in England, we have the ability, expertise and resources to offer our clients a wide range of services in several locations.

Our Family, Matrimonial and Children Law and Private Client departments recently launched a new ad campaign to reach out to people who may have questions and need support in difficult times. We hope to help guide them and ease the stress associated with situations such as planning a will, dealing with the probate of an estate, or considering all elements involved in a separation or divorce. There are many instances when people could benefit from the advice and guidance of an experienced and approachable solicitor, and we at CJCH have made it our mission to improve access to legal support and deliver personalised service.

Our new campaign is called #SortYourLifeOut, which is positioned as a helpful and uplifting slogan rather than the joking and judgemental tone it is often said with.

Take charge of your life. Put your plans in place. Be the victor, not a victim. Sort your life out.

Our campaign focuses on the fact that in every situation we face in life, no matter how testing or difficult, the choice to proactively plan, react and prosper is our choice to make. No one enters a marriage with the dream of it ending, and no one has children with their partner with the plan to raise them in separation, but should these things happen, our team is here to help you take the right steps towards making the most out of it and planning for a positive outcome.

#SortYourLifeOut is an uplifting mantra, of possibility, opportunity and silver linings.

At CJCH, we can help you #SortYourLifeOut.

To get in touch with us and see how we can assist you, click here for our contact details.

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Reflection on Mental Health Awareness Week with a look to the future.

By Keith James, Solicitor/Partner

Last week, 8 to 14 May 2017, marked UK Mental Health Awareness week for 2017. The purpose of this annual event is to ‘prompt a national conversation about what we can do as communities, schools, families and individuals ‘to move from surviving to thriving’ (The Mental health foundation).

There is little doubt that in recent months awareness of the wide variety of mental health conditions and of the impact of mental health problems has grown and now appears to be rising up the political agenda.

High profile individuals who have experienced the impact of issues such as depression, including prominent figures in the football world, have helped to shine a light on how mental health problems can impact on the lives of everyday people – Mental Health issues do not discriminate.

Also in the news have been many stories from prominent individuals of how bereavement can impact on families and how help can be provided to families to talk through these issues.

Of particular current interest is how the result of the general election will impact on Mental Health Law and the provision of Mental Health Services. Already suggestions have been made of manifesto commitments to increase provision of community mental health staff and services but also a suggestion that the Mental Health Act should be replaced. This perhaps is the most intriguing suggestion.

The Mental Health Charity, Mind, has called for a review of the Mental health Act but there is a suggestion this could go further to avoid ‘unnecessary detentions’. It will certainly be interesting, during the General Election campaign, to see if this forms part of a manifesto commitment. Of particular interest will be what alternative proposals are suggested.

There is little doubt that Mental Health issues have risen up the political agenda, and for CJCH will continue to be an important part of our focus and drive to support our community.

For any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law team at mentalhealth@cjch.co.uk or call on +44 333 231 6405 (24 hour emergency line: +44 7967 305949)

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Planning for tomorrow – Introduction to Lasting Power of Attorney

By John Moore, Solicitor

We live in a time of better healthcare and advances in science where we are able to enjoy life for longer than previous generations.  We never know what is around the corner, however, with many people experiencing challenges with their mental health in their later years or are incapacitated through accident, injury or illness.

Here at CJCH, we regularly meet people of all ages who come to us for advice and who are concerned about safeguarding their personal affairs in the future.  Where appropriate, we try and assist by arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney for our clients in respect of their property and financial affairs.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows individuals to appoint someone of their choosing to act on their behalf (as their attorney) if they are no longer able to manage things themselves for whatever reason. An attorney would be able to access a person’s property and finances to help pay bills, manage investments and pay care home fees. An attorney is legally under a duty, however, to act in the person’s best interest at all times.

Sadly, however, many people that we meet have loved ones who have not set up a Lasting Power of Attorney and no longer have the mental capacity, whether by illness or accident, to be able to do so.  We often find that family members hit a brick wall when dealing with banks and buildings societies who will of course only deal with the account holder themselves.  As there is no one legally able to act for the person it means that there are often situations where bills and care fees cannot be paid. This causes a great deal of stress for everyone involved because a person’s finances cannot be accessed or their property cannot be managed or sold.

In order to resolve this our team of experienced lawyers represent families in making applications to the Court of Protection so that family members can be appointed as Deputies to manage a person’s property and financial affairs.  Once the Court has approved an application the family members who have applied will be able to access a person’s finances and manage the sale of a property under a Court Order.  The Majority of applications to the Court are straightforward and dealt with on paper and do not require any attendance at Court.

If you would like to speak with us for a free consultation on better preparing for your future to ensure those things that are so important to you can be managed property should you no longer be able to do so yourself, you can contact Mr John Moore (solicitor) in our Private Clients department:

Telephone number0333 231 6405, or email privateclients@cjch.co.uk.

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Welsh Landlords face fines of up to £250 and loss of rental income if non-compliant

CJCH Solicitors on RENT SMART WALES – 23 November 2016

rentsmartwales-logoAn estimated 50% of private landlords in Wales have yet to apply to Rent Smart Wales leaving them exposed to potential fines and legal action for non-compliance. If you own a property which is rented out on your behalf, or you manage your own rental property then as of this morning, 23 November 2016, the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 is already in place for you. Here’s everything you need to know:
Rent Smart Wales registration came into effect as of midnight which requires all private landlords to be registered. If you manage the property yourself, there is a further requirement for you to be licenced to do so.
The aim is to improve the standards of management in the private rental sector. Failure to comply is officially an offence and from today the enforcement powers are now active. A potential penalty of either £150 or £250 fine is applicable, with further action including being prevented from managing your properties altogether.
If you have your properties managed by an agent then you are only required to register and do not require a Licence. It is the agent’s responsibility to apply for a Licence (But you are responsible for ensuring that your chosen agent is licensed).

  1. Registration only:
    The registration costs £33.50 if you apply for it on-line and if you want to make a paper application this route will cost £88.50.
  2. Registration and Licence required:
    For private landlords who manage their own properties, in addition to registering there is a course which needs to be taken to enable you to obtain a licence to manage a property. Courses are offered separately and you must obtain a minimum mark of 70% to qualify. Once completed, you then apply for a Licence for which Rent Smart Wales will charge £144.00 (online) or £186.00 (paper application).

If you have not already applied for registration or a Licence you should arrange this as quickly as possible.
As a Landlord the Licence lasts for 5 years, but you have to provide accurate information about yourself and your properties and by law must keep your information up to date. This includes adding any additional properties you may acquire, or indeed sell, or any changes in your personal details.
The Licence may be granted with conditions attached and if you break the conditions or are considered no longer `fit and proper` then the Licence can be revoked which means you will no longer be able to undertake any letting or management activities.
Do not ignore your obligations to register as it may cause you problems in the future when you try to rent your properties
In addition to the penalties mentioned above, Rent Smart Wales can apply for a Rent Stopping Order or a Rent Repayment order. This would mean that if you try to rent a property without being registered or by using an unlicensed agent your tenant would not be liable for rent (would not be legally required to pay you rent) and you would not be able to serve a section 21 Notice to obtain possession of a property as an unregistered /unlicensed landlord.
It is not too late to get compliant. We can assist if you need advice or support.

 

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(Disclaimer: Information in this article is referenced from the Rent Smart and Welsh government Websites, with the Rent Smart Logo provided for identification)