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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Industry update – SRA announces confirmation of the Solicitors Qualifying Examinations

The days of legal qualifying programs such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) are numbered as the Solicitors Regulatory Authority this week announced the confirmation of the long debated centralised qualifying exam for would-be lawyers – the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

The merits of the new independent assessment are generating extensive discussion with the SRA positioning the SQE as an opportunity to offer a more inclusive and accessible route into the Legal Profession, while popular online legal commentators at Legal Cheek raise points for consideration concerning the reality of the cost and access benefits.

With aspiring lawyers in 2017 facing LPC fees of over £15,000 in some cases, the need to review the accessibility and inclusive nature of legal training is welcome, but only time will tell if this new assessment meets the needs of the market once it is rolled out, currently planned for 2020.

Paul Philips, CEO of the SRA, was quoted in their press release saying that the SQE will allow for assurance that new entrants to the legal profession consistently meet the high standard required for the profession. He further mentioned that it could help with recruitment of talent for law firms.

At CJCH Solicitors, we are constantly assessing ways to diversify and innovate within the legal profession. We welcome the opportunity to consider a new approach to legal training, and we look forward to seeing how this initiative will roll-out and how we can support young aspiring solicitors in entering the marketplace and developing their skills.

We asked a selection of CJCH Solicitors’ team members for their opinions on the new developments and encouraged consideration for both sides of the debate. Here are some of the thoughts they shared:

Rosa Fernandez – CJCH Head of Employment and HR Services

Having completed the LPC in 1998-1999, I would have welcomed combining practical experience with theory; whilst called the Legal Practice Course, most of it is not practical at all. I also think it is right to make all entrants to the profession sit the same finals to ensure standards and consistency.

If these changes serve to improve public trust and confidence, then they can only be positive for the profession.”

Gareth Thompson – CJCH Head of Commercial Law

“In my view anything has to be welcomed which:
mitigates the “training contract lottery” risk and exorbitant GDL & LPC course fees; 
makes it easier for aspiring lawyers to qualify as they grow in technical competence and experience and also get paid sensibly for their services; 
encourages firms with substantial paralegal workforces to reciprocate their investment of time, loyalty, and effort by facilitating qualification; and
maximise the prospects for lawyers hitting the ground running both professionally and in revenue contribution by the time they qualify.

Nerys Thomas – CJCH Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Ensuring excellence within the profession will be favoured by all involved, but the concern with the new proposed procedure is that exams are not necessarily the best method of filtering “excellence” and may deter some students of high calibre who struggle with time-pressured assessments, especially ones which may determine their future career.  No information has been received in relation to what the costs will be for the new procedure.  Current fees for the LPC are eye watering, especially when this has followed a standard three-year degree.  It will be interesting to see whether the fees will be set at a more reasonable rate and how funding will be made available to pay for the new process.”

Stephen Clarke – CEO and Senior Partner

“We are facing an exciting time in the legal profession. Change is inevitable and it is the way in which we embrace change that defines our growth. There are strong arguments on both sides of this topic but as a firm CJCH supports equality, diversity and development. We are excited by the possibility of a dynamic industry which removes barriers to entry and allows for all to get involved. There are teething issues with all new initiatives, but we look forward to embracing the SRA’s SQE and including it in our planning for future employee development programs.”

There is much food for thought as the introduction of the SQE unfolds. As can be seen from the discussion above, many factors need to be considered, including balancing the ability to standardise assessment while also considering individuals learning and assessment styles. For now, you can review the documents relating to the consultation and discussions held by the SRA on the matter, here.

CJCH Solicitors to create 71 jobs in Cyber Security with backing from Welsh Government.

CJCH Solicitors have embarked on an ambitious journey to create a staggering 71 new jobs within the Anti-Piracy and Cyber Security speciality in Wales by year-end 2020.  We are proud to reiterate the announcement made by the Welsh Government, revealing their support of our new global IP Anti-Piracy Unit at our Cardiff head office.

CJCH has been at the heart of digital piracy and Intellectual Property compliance in Wales, with an international impact. In 2014, our Intellectual Property practice launched its internal Anti-Piracy and Compliance consultancy. Our team developed a customised solution for our international clients, to protect their work product and recover lost revenues from software infringements.

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said “IP piracy, which can range from copyright theft or infringement to counterfeit goods, is a growing global issue that can cause untold damage to businesses, to their protected and valued brands and the economy. ”

Infringements of this nature are a form of cyber crime which impacts business globally, depriving them of revenue and compromising their intellectual property rights. CJCH have tackled this issue head-on and cultivated a bespoke solution for companies suffering from this invasion.

The purpose of this partnership with the Welsh Government is to leverage our thought leadership and create a central hub for Anti-Piracy and Cyber Security in Wales. We intend to bring global best practice into Wales while developing local talent as well. Our 2020 goal, is to have established 71 new jobs in this field, as well as contribute to making the United Kingdom and global digital community a safer and more secure environment. We will be partnering with local businesses and academic institutions, such as Swansea University, to cultivate development and training programs to support this initiative, with specialist content aligned to business needs.

Stephen Clarke, the CJCH CEO, stated “The modern world of digital liberty and innovation offers greater access to information and narrows the global divide. Unfortunately, the digital economy brings with it a growing sophistication in criminal activity. Without proper defences, digital piracy exposes businesses to uncontrollable risk and vulnerability. Our solution enables us to partner with our clients to establish a proactive (protection) and reactive (recovery) governance model. Our goal is to share this experience with the community and grow the local capability in cyber security.”

As of 6 March 2017, CJCH Solicitors has been awarded a £432 000 grant from the Welsh Government to support our active project to establish this new entity. Our objective is to aggressively drive the development of Cyber Security and Anti-Piracy enforcement in collaboration with skills development and knowledge transfer. Making Wales, and the UK, a more secure and impenetrable digital landscape.

For more information and updates, email us at ip@cjch.co.uk or engage with us via Facebook, twitter or LinkedIn.

Security of Tenure for Commercial Leases – What does it mean?

Security of Tenure for Commercial Leases

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Part II (‘the Act’) confers security of tenure on business tenants and regulates the manner in which business tenancies can be terminated.

What does this mean? Sam Pearson, our commercial law trainee explains that firstly, a business tenancy will not come to an end at the expiration of a fixed term. Secondly the tenancy cannot be terminated unless the Landlord gives sufficient notice to quit.

The statutory right of renewal can be triggered if either the Landlord gives notice of termination or the Tenant requests a new tenancy. Notices must be prepared and served in the required format and within strict time periods. There are many pitfalls with the notice, drafting and procedure and we strongly recommend seeking professional advice.

A Landlord can only oppose a business tenancy protected by the Act on certain statutory grounds:

  • tenant’s failure to repair.
  • persistent delay in paying rent.
  • substantial breaches of other obligations.
  • offering suitable alternative accommodation.
  • demolition or reconstruction.
  • landlord’s intention to occupy the holding.

Compensation may be payable to the Tenant if the Landlord’s application is successful. If the Landlord’s opposition to a new tenancy fails and new terms are not agreed, then an application to Court will be required. A Judge will set the terms and rent after receiving expert evidence.

On taking a new commercial lease the parties may have agreed that the tenancy will not have any statutory right of renewal. In order to do so the Landlord must serve a notice on the Tenant in the prescribed form. The Tenant must make a formal declaration confirming receipt of the notice and accepting the absence of any statutory right of renewal.

Whether you’re looking to renew a commercial lease, seeking advice on a contested lease renewal or looking to contract out of the Act our experts at CJCH Solicitors are ideally placed to provide you with the right advice to suit your business needs.

Our commercial team are available to assist at commercial@cjch.co.uk, or on 0333 231 6405.

Compliance without borders

CJCH Solicitors is a law firm based in Cardiff, United Kingdom. The firm has grown substantially through a combination of a focused expansion strategy and key merger and acquisition projects. With collective legal experience spanning over 34 years, CJCH Solicitors is focused on dedicated solution development for both corporate and private clients.

The firm has developed a standalone Anti-Piracy and Compliance offering, which is coordinated by its team of experienced solicitors and compliance and research professionals. Compliance is no longer a tick-box function of corporate governance. Rather CJCH sees Anti-Piracy and Compliance as a dynamic element of the modern, digitally-aware organisation both in the UK and globally.

At CJCH we are committed to perfecting our compliance solutions to ensure that no client’s software or intellectual property is utilised without licence. We have grown our sphere of knowledge sharing and best practice development. Having recently hosted Attorneys from a leading American Law firm, our CEO and head of Anti-Piracy and Compliance embarked on a tour of partner firms in the Nordic and Baltic regions to share our compliance processes and learn from their local experiences.

The tour included visits with Njord Law in Copenhagen, a prominent Scandinavian law firm, as well as Sorainen in Latvia which was voted Baltic Law firm of the year for 2016.

(L to R) Stephen Clarke – CEO of CJCH Solicitors; Frederik Lindboe Refsgaard – Legal Assistant at Njord Law; Emma Whitehead – Dassault Systemes Lead Investigator, Baltic Region; Jeppe Brogaard Clausen – Partner at Njord Law.

(L to R) Steve Rees – CJCH Compliance and Enforcement Team Manager; Stephen Clarke – CEO of CJCH Solicitors; Agris Repass – Head of Intellectual Property of Sorainen in Latvia; Emma Whitehead – Dassault Systemes Lead Investigator, Baltic Region. Our objective in Latvia was to discuss our IP enforcement policies for the Baltics and in particular increased use of court procedures and raids on premises where businesses are using illegal software.

As illegal usage and piracy of our clients’ software continues to expand globally, so too does our focus on enforcing Anti-Piracy and Compliance on an international scale. The increased use of court authorised raids in particular has proved very helpful, playing a major part in increasing our recovery rate by over 50% in the recent year from €11.8 Million in 2015 to €18.6 Million in 2016.

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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)