CJCH History Month: The Story of Patchell Davies Solicitors

By Amy Palin

In April 2017 CJCH Solicitors welcomed its newest addition to the firm, with the incorporation of, Blackwood based, Patchell Davies Solicitors.

The story of Patchell Davies begins in 1977, when a new face arrived on the legal scene in Blackwood, Howard Patchell. After working less than a year as an Assistant Solicitor in a local firm, he became a partner, but it would only be four years before Howard decided to go it alone and open his own practice. Howard Patchell & Co opened its doors on Pentwyn Road, Blackwood in January 1982.

The firm grew from strength to strength, and in 1985 was joined by Graeme Davies. This marked the beginnings of the team that, despite changes over the years, would remain at the core of the firm throughout.

Graeme’s arrival at the firm allowed for the expansion of its expertise, in family law and litigation, areas in which he specialises.

With an expanding team and growing demand, the firm moved to bigger offices at its current location on Blackwood High Street in 1987.

It was in 1992 the firm officially became established as Patchell Davies, the name by which it has been known for nearly three decades, and under which it became a well-known and respected face on the High Street, offering clients a wide range of services.

Howard Patchell specialises in Wills, Probate, Conveyancing, and Commercial work. Graeme Davies is accredited as a Senior Litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and is a member of the Family association Resolution. David James, who has been with the firm for eight years, and the firm’s newest addition, Joanne Lerwill, specialise in Conveyancing.

The firm today takes pride in its reputation and loyalty from clients. This can be attributed to the quality of service, and also to the relationships developed with longstanding members of staff, who give clients the confidence that they will always receive a professional service with a personal touch.

Now an integrated part of CJCH Solicitors, the team from Patchell Davies continues to deliver their impeccable work ethic and client service standards.

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.

CJCH History Month: Clarke & Hartland shaking up Cardiff

By Charlotte Bardet

In 1982, former prosecutor Brian Jones contacted Stephen (Steve) Clarke to ask him to form a new law firm under the name Brian Jones & Co. Steve, currently Senior Partner at CJCH, had completed his training contract under the supervision of Brian at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Steve qualified in 1980 and two years later joined forces with Brian to establish a mainly Criminal Defence law practice in Canton, Cardiff. Brian Jones & Co. then opened its second office by partially moving to Clifton Street in 1983 and then fully moved to Clifton Street in 1985, when the firm changed name to Brian Jones Clarke & Co. It was at this time that Tim Hartland, now CJCH Managing Partner, joined the practice as a trainee solicitor and would later go on to become Partner when Brian retired in 1988. The firm became Clarke & Hartland Solicitors in 1990, with a staff of 16, and made its final move to The Parade, in Cardiff, in 2001.

Brian, Steve and Tim all specialised in Criminal law. The firm delivered prosecution work for the British Transport Police in South Wales throughout the 1990s, as well as defence criminal work, and acted for the Police Federation of South Wales. In the mid-1990s, Steve was one of the first solicitors in Wales to be given Higher Rights of Audience owing to his extensive experience, and about 5 years later Tim acquired Higher Rights as well. Both Partners appeared regularly in the Magistrates Court and conducted Crown Court proceedings. When the opportunity to develop the CJCH licence compliance programme came about, the skills both Steve and Tim had developed in criminal practice at Clarke & Hartland were ideally suited for what the project would require.

As well as Criminal law, the firm had experts in Commercial, Conveyancing, Matrimonial and Family law. Clarke & Hartland classed themselves as a high street practice, “providing local services to local people” Steve remembers. They developed their client base upon recommendations from previous clients and acted for many local families. In contrast to the work CJCH now does, Clarke & Hartland acted for very few corporations or companies, even throughout their commercial cases. Their work ethic was very personal and the strength of their team was grounded in excellent people skills. Steve noted that, unfortunately, this aspect of legal work is not as relevant anymore, with an ever-growing reliance on technology and big corporations.

Stephen Clarke & Tim Hartland

Around 2010, Clarke & Hartland recognised that the days of small high street practices were numbered. When the government threatened to introduce changes to the way legal aid would be administered in England and Wales, the firm decided to anticipate any future problems this would create by expanding its volume of work to ensure a criminal contract and merging with Colin Jones Solicitors, in 2013.  CJCH become one of eight firms appointed to do criminal work in South Wales and one of five in Gwent, where there had previously been a total of 65 and 25 respectively.  The changes to legal aid never ended up taking place and therefore the newly establish CJCH had to consider what new opportunities were available to them as a bigger firm.

Clarke and Hartland had been built upon Brian and Steve’s close working relationship at the CPS, as well as Brian and Tim’s regular tennis matches at Penarth Lawn Tennis Club. This theme of forging a working relationship based upon knowing someone for a long time would continue with the Colin Jones merger. Although Steve and Tim knew Colin Jones professionally as a criminal solicitor, they also knew him socially. Steve had also played rugby with Nick Wootton, CJCH Chief Financial Officer, for years and knew Jacqui Seal, CJCH Senior Partner, through the CPS, and had previously worked with her brother. This work ethic mixed in with a comfortable environment gave them the incentive to grow and gain more experience as a firm.

In moving from a well-respected, experienced high street practice to a global business providing legal and corporate services, Steve and Tim have tried to carry across one element of Clarke & Hartland in particular to the new business. “Clarke & Hartland was very much in our images and our personalities” claims Steve. They wanted a happy working environment and were able to have one for 30 years thanks to having a staff of no more than 20 people. With a staff of over 130, CJCH have tried to maintain this convivial, hard-working and conscientious atmosphere, all within a welcoming environment.

Tim admits that it is very difficult to say exactly where the firm is headed in the future, especially given its extraordinary expansion in the last 4 years. They are confident that CJCH has only just started its growth pattern and in the next five years it could be three times the size it is now. CJCH Consulting has already established itself as brand leader in a niche market, and nobody else is currently replicating what we’re doing, nor the way we do it.

CJCH History Month: The Story of Colin Jones Solicitors (CJS)

By Danny McNeill

Colin Jones

In 1992, the fabric of Barry society was changed forever with the opening of a new law firm by local boy, Colin Jones. After studying law at Aberystywth University, Colin Jones joined Mallia and Co., another Barry institution, where he qualified as a solicitor after completing his articles alongside current CJCH Senior Partner Jacqui Seal (in 1982). Jacqui would go on to join the CPS, while later Colin left Mallia in 1992 to found his own Criminal Defence practice in the heart of Barry. Despite the firm’s humble beginnings in Colin’s back garden, his charisma and reputation for intelligence, integrity and honesty allowed him to begin growing the practice, which soon opened its first office on Barry’s Holton Road, before later relocating to where we still have offices today on Thompson Street.

Colin’s first hire was Traci Doyle as a Legal Secretary, who along with subsequent hires, John Moyle (Criminal Law), Chris Lacey (Criminal Law) and Tracy Higgins (Legal Secretary) are all still with CJCH to this day. The secret to this longevity, according to both Traci and John Moyle, was the trust, mutual respect and loyalty that Colin fostered. As the firm grew, so did its practice areas and by the early 2000s the firm was one of the largest Criminal Law practices in the Vale of Glamorgan, having established a reputation for high quality work and expanding into Family/Child Care law.

In 2010, Colin welcomed Jacqui Seal into the practice as a consultant once she retired from the CPS. Sadly, in that same year, Colin lost his life in a tragic accident. This was a loss, not only to the firm both professionally and personally with Colin described as the heart of the practice, but to the greater community and profession as well.

However, the respect and loyalty Colin had shown those he had encountered and brought together over the years laid the foundations for the firm’s continuation.

CJS Office 17 Thompson Street, Barry

Colin’s fiancé, and now CJCH Partner, Jodi Winter believes it was in part this dedication and loyalty that he showed, not only to his staff but the wider local community, of which he was an integral part, that has allowed his legacy to carry on to this day.

It was during this difficult time when the firm was dealing with the personal loss of Colin and changes to the distribution of legal aid contracts, that Jacqui, in collaboration with her husband Nick stepped in to lead the firm. Both Jodi and John Moyle agree that it was the hard work and leadership shown by both Jacqui and Nick that helped get the firm through this difficult time. John was surprised by the staggering amount of time and energy Nick, previously a Director at Deloitte, was able to put into the firm. Jodi also noted that for Jacqui this was a labour of love and that neither Jacqui nor Nick would allow the firm to close.

It was under their stewardship that, as Tracy Higgins said, the firm began to ‘’explode’’. With Nick’s background in financial strategy, mergers and acquisitions, he brought a different perspective to the legal market and began growing the firm over the following years. In May 2011, the firm acquired Garth James Solicitors, followed shortly by the recruitment of Garry Newberry to establish a foothold in Bridgend. Later, in September, the firm acquired Jeff Lloyd Solicitors expanding the expertise of the practice into Private Client work, into which Colin Jones Solicitors had not previously ventured. In March 2012, the Criminal Defence practice of Hurlows led by Lydia Harper in Cardiff was acquired, giving the firm a presence in the Capital.

Mallia & Co Office

Coming full circle, in July 2013 Mallia and Co., where both Colin and Jacqui had trained, was acquired bringing with it a fantastic mental health department led by CJCH Partner Amy Roberts-Rees and Keith James. Finally, in September 2013 Colin Jones merged with Clarke and Hartland and CJCH Solicitors emerged as it is known today – a thriving and dynamic South Wales based law firm with client service delivery at heart and a global reach of services and customers. Though the size, practice areas, and number of office has changed over the years, the core principles of loyalty and hard work have remained coded into the firm’s DNA, and John Moyle sincerely believes Colin would be proud to have his name attached to the firm it has become.

Happy #InternationalWomensDay

It’s the 8th of March, which is International Women’s Day, and although we celebrate our rich diversity and inspirational team everyday, we take some time today to stop and recognise the  immeasurable contribution made by the Women of the world.

1918 – Contance Markiewicz – First Woman elected to British House of Commons.

1921 – Edith Wharton – First Woman to win Pulitzer Prize.

1928 – Amelia Earhart – First Woman to fly a plan across the Atlantic.

1973 – Sybil Phoenix – First Black Woman to be awarded a MBE (35 years later in 2008 she was awarded an OBE).

1976 – Mary Joy Langdon – First Woman to become a fire fighter in the UK.

1981 – Baroness young – First Woman leader of the House of Lords.

2006 – Margaret Beckett – First Woman to become Foreign Secretary for the UK.

2017 – Lady Hale – Appointed first Female President of the UK Supreme court.

These are but a mere snapshot of the endless contributions and advancements Women have made throughout our history. We asked a few of the inspirational Women in our own team to reflect on their careers and share their experiences.

Amy Roberts-Rees, Solicitor and Partner: Head of Mental Health Law and Court of Protection Department

Amy has been with CJCH solicitors for 5 years and has been instrumental in growing the Mental Health Law practice, and establishing our Court of Protection service line. When asked what her proudest achievement has been in her professional career, Amy said:

I’m proud to be recognised as one of the leading female solicitors in the area of mental health law in South Wales, as well as having become a partner at the age of 29 to the largest mental health law firm in South Wales. I established the court of protection for welfare department at CJCH Solicitors who now lead in the area for Court of protection cases in relation to Deprivation of Liberty (Dols) and welfare matters. I am also a panel accredited member recognised by the law society in the area of mental health law.

We asked Amy what advice she would give to the next generation of young Women seeking to join the legal profession:

Becoming a solicitor is an aspirational position to obtain, long hours and extensive time in progressing in the area of law you wish to specialise in involves hard work and determination. If you have qualities such as being ambitious, driven and most importantly passionate about your work, your career will flourish. In order to achieve in life you get out what you put in.

Jodi Winter: Solicitor and Partner: Head of Family, Matrimonial and Child care Law Department, and Partner in charge of our Barry office

Jodi’s career in law boasts an impressive array of achievements. She joined CJCH Solicitors in 2013, and prior to this spent 14 years in the Public Sector, with half this time as a Chief Legal Officer.

We asked Jodi what barriers she has had to overcome to achieve success:

Being a female from a working class family in the Rhondda Valley ( of which I am very proud), with an ambition of embarking on what was a predominantly middle class male profession was something that was discouraged by careers advisors at my school. I recall the careers  questionnaire that I completed in 1991 where I clearly set out my preferences to be a solicitor, produced the most suitable job match for me as a librarian! Fortunately, apart from that I have always been supported in my career by those who have managed me, worked with me and for me regardless of gender.

When asked what her proudest achievement was, Jodi jovially commented:

After years of hard graft, part time jobs, study and 30k worth of debt – being admitted to the Roll of Solicitors.

She went on to add:

The second followed on from  that by being made a Chief Legal Officer (in the public Sector) at the age of 28 and then at 38 being invited to join CJCH as partner

Lastly, when asked if she felt that Women have more opportunities within the legal industry now, Jodi said:

Absolutely – there are  more women entering the profession, more female partners and directors. Far more women Judges – after all 2017 saw  Baroness Hale’s appointment as the first Female President of the UK Supreme Court …. YAY!

Amy Palin, Paralegal: Blackwood office, Private Law and Conveyancing

Amy is a recent addition to CJCH having started at the firm in 2017 after completing the Legal Practice Course at Cardiff University. She began with us in our Cardiff office in the Anti-Piracy and Licence Compliance research team, and has since been moved to being a dedicated Paralegal in the Blackwood office on the path to being a trainee solicitor with the firm.

When asked what barriers she has had to face, Amy replied:

Thankfully I do not feel I have faced nor have had to overcome any barriers so far. I do feel that I am very early in my career, and this may be something that is encountered later, however I do not believe or worry that that would ever be something I would experience in CJCH. It is great to be able to work for a firm that clearly holds no prejudice, with so many women holding important positions in the firm, not only several partners but also a senior partner.

Advice Amy would give aspiring lawyers looking to enter the profession:

I would say to not believe it is a profession which is dominated by men, as it may have been in the past, as this is not the case anymore. I also believe it is important to remember that men and women may have different qualities to bring to the profession. I am sure many women have believed they weren’t as outspoken or assertive as their male colleagues and superiors, so would never progress, so think “why should I bother?”. No one should feel that they don’t have what it takes because they don’t fulfill the classic idea of a lawyer, the intimidating “shark” in the big office, that always knows best. I believe times are very different now and as well as considering yourself equal to males in your profession, you must consider yourself equal to your client, so any arrogance or believing yourself as superior is unlikely to be a positive quality for a promising career in law in the future.

Sally Perrett, Solicitor: Child care Law

Sally has been with CJCH Solicitors for two and a half years, and although she represents clients throughout South Wales, she is based in our Barry office. Sally acts, mainly, on behalf of parents in child care proceedings brought by the Local Authorities.

When asked what her proudest professional achievement was:

For me, this would have to be being accepted on to the Law Society Children Panel.

We asked Sally what advice she would give to women starting out in the field:

The Legal profession isn’t easy, however if you work hard the rewards will follow.

Lastly, in reply to whether she thinks Women now have more opportunities within the legal industry now, Sally said:

Yes definitely, there are more women than ever before in senior positions both within the private and public sector and the judiciary. However, they have worked incredibly hard  and made sacrifices both professionally and personally to be there. Hopefully in the future these sacrifices will not have to be so great.

 

We would like to thank each of our team members who contributed to this post, and wish a happy Women’s Day to all.

 

 

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.

Misconceptions we hear about Divorce

Much like politics, the topic of divorce is often widely discussed but not always fully understood. As specialists in family law, the CJCH team of expert solicitors are often faced with the many myths and misconceptions surrounding matters of relationship breakdown and divorce. Jodi Winter (Family Law Partner) and Sarah Perkins (Family Law Solicitor) address some of the common issues raised by new clients, who might have benefited from seeking assistance sooner, if they had the correct information.

Jodi Winter: People sometimes assume that what they see on TV or in the news is how things actually work. It is important to note that media representations are often dramatised. For example, there is no such thing as a “quickie” separation or divorce. In non-contentious divorces, the judge’s ruling and the Court process might be concluded quickly, but there is a requirement for specific criteria and processes to be satisfied and completed before it gets to that point. On the other hand, some people assume a divorce will take years and be ridiculously expensive so are put off starting the process. A divorce could be processed in as little as 4 months, but it will often take far longer to negotiate, agree and conclude the financial settlements. You need to consider a divorce from two perspectives, the first being the legal attachment to one another, and the second being the financial attachment.

 

Sarah Perkins: Aside from the timeline, there are other questions raised which can be misunderstood. Who gets the house? Who gets the kids? What if my spouse won’t agree to a divorce? Can’t we just list irreconcilable difference as our reason? The short answer to these questions are that they are case specific. The best way to ensure you have the correct information is to seek advice at the earliest opportunity and give your solicitor all the information they need.  You will then receive expert advice on your own particular circumstances.  The notion of irreconcilable differences (i.e. no-fault) is not currently a part of the law in England and Wales. You would need to show that your relationships have irretrievably broken down, with specific facts of proving such.

 

Jodi Winter: The financial aspects of the matter are what often take the most time to negotiate, which is often why it is best to get advice on a pre-nuptial agreement before you get married. Again, pre-nuptial agreements can be misconstrued but they provide a fair and considered starting point which is often upheld by the court if constructed properly. The same goes for agreeing child contact once the divorce is underway. Address the matter as early as possible and come to an agreement that you are both happy with, otherwise the court will decide for you.

The CJCH Solicitors Family Law team specialise in supporting and navigating the difficult situations that arise at the end of a relationship. You’re not alone, Jodi and Sarah are here for you. For more information and contact, please see here.

Need to recover debt from an individual or sole trader? New protocol in place from October 2017.

By Nerys Thomas – Solicitor (Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution)

From 1st October 2017 a new Pre-Action Protocol will be introduced which sets out the steps needed to be taken when looking to pursue a debt claim (The Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims). 

All businesses (including public bodies and sole traders) seeking to recover a debt from an individual will need to comply with the Protocol.   

The Protocol will not apply to business-to-business debts unless the Potential Defendant/debtor is a sole trader. 

As is the case with all Protocols, the intention is for the procedure to provide a way of filtering through potential claims, possibly facilitating a resolution where possible, or if the matter could not be resolved the parties will hopefully be in a position where the issues have been narrowed and/or a clearer understanding of the issues in dispute will be known.    

It is the intention that the Protocol will complement any regulatory regime to which the Potential Claimant/creditor is subject and should any conflict arise between the regulatory obligation and the Protocol, the former will take precedence.   

The likely impact upon the Potential Claimant/creditor in complying with the Protocol is the cost of preparing the required correspondence and responding to queries, should any be raised. 

Furthermore, the Protocol specifies deadlines, of mostly 30 days, which become relevant at various stages of the procedure, hindering the Potential Claimant/creditor from being able to issue the claim at their own discretion.

From a Potential Defendant/debtor’s perspective, a Letter of Claim requires a Reply Form being completed and possibly, depending upon the response being given in the Reply Form, a Standard Financial Statement which requests a great deal of personal information surrounding the person’s/sole trader’s finances, something a great deal of people/sole traders are likely to be uncomfortable with due to the imbalance this presents between parties.  

As with all Protocols, unless there is a justified reason for not using it, there may be cost consequences for failing to comply with the process.

Should you have any queries in relation to the above or any other dispute matters, please contact Nerys Thomas and the rest of the Commercial Law team on commercial@cjch.co.uk