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Commercial property solicitor offers advice ahead of predicted growth for Warrington region

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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A top commercial property solicitor in Warrington has provided key advice for businesses in the region when it comes to renting, selling or leasing.

It comes on the back of a prediction for 2018 for the commercial property market in the town by a leading estate agent.

Callum Morgan, assistant surveyor at Morgan Williams, believes warehousing and offices, which both enjoyed a strong 2017, will continue to improve over the next 12 months.

He said: “The on-going redevelopment of the town centre last year is set to continue in 2018 and, in particular, the £107 million Time Square scheme is advancing rapidly, all aiding the ‘recovery’ of the town centre.

“In addition, in 2017, Warrington saw an expansion in the residential sector in the town centre with many office buildings converted to residential accommodation and we predict that during 2018 this will continue.”

The active commercial property market in the region means many businesses and landlords could be seeking guidance on a number of key areas.

Kerry Baird is a solicitor at Watson Solicitors, a leading solicitors firm in Warrington, and she is keen to ensure all parties are aware of their rights and adhering to the law.

Here are her top tips for some of the most common topics of interest. If you have any questions about the below, or any other commercial property matter, please call 01925 571 212 or email Kerry.Baird@watsonssolicitors.com.

What general advice do you have for anyone involved with commercial property?

Everyone’s knowledge about commercial property is different, and there is always a piece of information you may not know, have forgotten, or not thought about. For example:

  • Is it a new start up that needs a short lease or frequent break clauses to leave premises without liability if the business falters?
  • If the planning permission you require is not in place would an Agreement for Lease work for you so the landlord is committed to give the lease to you but only if you get planning. If not you’re not bound.
  • If you’re a tenant, are there any incentives available such as a reduced rent period?
  • Do your research. For example, can you take advantage of incentives in regeneration areas, or from improvements in the local road networks like Centre Park Link or the planned Warrington Western link road?

 

What advice do you have for purchasing commercial property?

Use the knowledge and experience of your commercial property agent, and get a full structural survey. Another very important point is to ensure the planning use/permissions you require are in place before you exchange contracts.

What advice do you have leasing?

We often see parties entering leases without legal advice. This could leave a tenant not fully understanding their obligations for repair, registration, or whether they’ve ‘contracted out’ of security of business tenure.

Or for a new landlord, it could result in them not realising the tenant is entitled to stay beyond the end of the term.

We can ensure you are fully appraised whether a landlord or tenant, and, with advice, more favourable terms could be negotiated.

What advice do you have for selling?

Take the advice of an experienced local commercial property agent about value. Make your property as attractive as possible – for example, can you increase the value or appeal by applying for additional planning permissions? Get your paperwork up to date and ensure you are compliant where relevant, for example commercial EPC, fire risk assessment, and asbestos management report.

What are the common pitfalls to avoid?

We know leases over seven years must be registered, but a tenant without advice may not. This can have implications to the business if you wish to borrow money when the lender requires a secured charge, or if you would like to assign or sub-let to another.

In addition, everyone knows stamp duty may be payable when buying a property, but it can be payable when you enter into a lease too.

Is there anything else that’s important to know?

A contentious area can be dilapidations at the end of a lease term. We advise parties to agree a Schedule of Condition prior to entering into a lease because this can assist when dealing with dilapidations at the end of the term. A commercial estate agent can prepare this document for you.

High financial and reputational risk for firms without a staff social media policy

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

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Social media and other electronic means of communication enable everyone to communicate to whoever they like, all the time.  We are all publishers today.

But what if an employee posts on social media something confidential about their employer?  Or that’s derogatory about a customer or client?

Whether from the company or their personal account, damage is done and the customer can sue for breach of confidentiality or damages.

Warrington employment law specialist Watsons Solicitors is urging every company, big or small, to ensure it has a robust social media policy.

Latham Parry, partner and head of the employment law department, said: “The speed with which social media content can be uploaded means it’s easy to post before you’ve reflected on the consequences of what you’re saying.

“It isn’t just words.  Warn employees about video content also.  A clip of operatives fooling around on a construction site, which shows the customer’s and the employer’s branding, can cause reputational damage and attract attention from health and safety bodies.

“In an office scenario, it’s all too easy to make a post public, when you thought you’d clicked private to send it to your closed group of contacts.

“Would an employee have written the same content in a letter they send by Royal Mail, or a fax?”

He recommends employers:

  • Have a policy in place that deals with electronic communications including texts and social media posts
  • Train staff about the policies, using real-life examples
  • Ensure staff understand this relates to personal and work-related communications.  Facebook is as important as LinkedIn.
  • Remind them that no mention should be made of customers without their approval

 

He added:“We would urge any employer to review their social media policies by speaking to an employment law specialist.”

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 50 years, specialises in employment law, family law and conveyancing.

The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.

Click for more information on employment law.

Watsons sponsors 2018 Warrington Business Awards

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Go-ahead companies and executives are being invited to enter the 2018 Warrington Business Awards, by its chairman, Watsons Solicitors partner, Danny Hudson.

A leading Warrington law firm, Watsons Solicitors is also sponsoring the Businesswoman of the Year category.

Entries are now open for the prestigious awards, whose winners will be announced on June 8.

The initiative will support the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Peace Foundation, in the 25th anniversary year of the Warrington bombings.

Danny Hudson is a keen supporter of business networking, having previously run the Warrington First group  for 10 years.

He said: “Winning a Warrington Business Award brings prestige, press coverage and extensive professional business contacts.

“This is a not for profit event, organised by a group of volunteers, and we have a panel of 30 to 40 very credible judges, ranging from MPs to company owners and directors.

“There are 12 categories, so hopefully something for everyone that wishes to enter.”

He added: “Watsons decided to sponsor the Businesswoman of the Year category, because we know there are plenty of female leaders out there whose successes have so far have gone unrecognised.  We’re expecting a good number of entries.”

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 50 years, specialises in family law, employment law, and conveyancing.

Previously run by a local newspaper, the awards were relaunched in 2015 as a not for profit organisation by a group of businesspeople.

The 2018 awards comprise:

  • Launch Event – 1st February 2018, 6pm
  • Dinner at the Peace Centre with guest speakers Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester and Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor.
  • Limited tickets cost £25 and can be bought by emailing wendy.parry@foundation4peace.org
  • 8th June 2018 – the glitzy spectacular that will be the Warrington Business Awards 2018 at a prestige venue in Lymm.
  • July 2018 – a winners and sponsors event: a chance for reflection and networking at a cocktail and drinks reception.

For details visit http://www.warringtonbusinessawards.co.uk

Employment solicitors in Warrington warn of expensive holiday pay claims after ECJ ruling

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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Employers who have wrongly classed their workers as self-employed contractors could now face substantial claims for unpaid holiday, following a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of King v The Sash Window Workshop Ltd.

Latham Parry, a solicitor specialising in Employment Law in Warrington, says that the ECJ ruling in King has significant ramifications in relation to the right to holiday pay in the UK.

Mr Parry, who heads the Employment Law Team at Watsons Solicitors, Warrington, said: “Companies often regard people who work for them as self-employed, independent contractors, but the reality isn’t always so. The employment tribunals and courts have recently dealt with a number of high profile cases including Uber, Addison Lee and CitySprint, where so-called self-employed contractors have been able to establish ‘worker’ status, meaning that they acquire certain legal rights, including the right to paid annual leave.

“The EJC decision in King means that an employer who prevents a worker from taking paid holiday because the employer refuses to grant paid holiday, for example, because the employer wrongly classes the individual as self-employed, is preventing the worker from exercising EU rights.

“The decision goes further and means if the employer refuses to grant paid holiday, the worker can now carry over his entitlement to the following holiday year and therefore accumulate these rights from previous years.

“Claims for holiday pay could potentially be made to as far back as 1996, when the original Working Time Directive came into force.”

Established as an Employment Law solicitor in Warrington, Mr Parry added: “The ruling applies to four weeks’ European annual holiday, so each worker could claim up to 4 weeks’ holiday pay for the last 20 years, or 80 weeks’ pay. This could be financially disastrous for companies which have wrongly classed large numbers of their workers as self-employed.”

In King, Mr King had been believed to be self-employed, so his ‘employer’ had not granted paid holiday.

An employment tribunal then held that he was a worker, entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998, and also that he was entitled to compensation for holiday not taken in previous years.

The employer argued that the Working Time Regulations 1998 provide that, if paid holiday is not taken in a leave year, it is lost, and successfully appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on this point.

Mr King appealed to the Court of Appeal, which then made a reference to the ECJ.

The ECJ said that any worker prevented from taking paid holiday because the employer refuses to grant it, is being denied his EU rights. The ECJ also held that an employer who fails to grant paid holiday to workers should not be entitled to the benefits of the normal limits on how much can be carried over.

Click for more information about employment law.

Warrington-based family solicitors urge cohabiting couples to seek advice following survey results

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cohabiting couples urged to speak to family law firms

A family law group has warned that Warrington and Cheshire’s unmarried couples who live together could incorrectly believe common-law marriage exists.

A survey carried out by Resolution found that 66 per cent of cohabiting couples are unaware of their rights in the event the relationship ends, and this can lead to consequences when dividing up the finances.

Danny Hudson, partner and member of the family department at Watsons Solicitors, said: “The number of unmarried couples who live together has increased from 1.5 million to 3.3 million in 21 years. Despite this significant growth, the laws have not kept pace with this change in society.

“This research highlights that the government needs to act immediately to protect people in such a situation.

“For example, it’s estimated that 66 per cent of people don’t have wills in Warrington. If a death occurs and that person hasn’t left a will, his or her unmarried partner will not automatically inherit anything, unless they jointly own property. However, a married partner would inherit all or some of the estate.

“Another common scenario is when one of the partners stays at home to care for children. If the relationship breaks down, they may not be entitled to make any claims for property, maintenance or pension sharing.

“We would urge any cohabiting couple to review their rights by speaking to a local family law firm.”

Danny specialises in all types of family law including divorce and is a member of the Law Society Family Law Panel. Watsons Solicitors’ family department also backed calls to reform out-dated divorce laws.

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 50 years, specialises in family law, employment law, and conveyancing.

The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.

Click for more information on family law.

Top Warrington family law solicitor’s term with the Law Society comes to end

Monday, November 27, 2017

Catrin

A partner and the head of the family department at Watsons Solicitors has completed her term as president of the Warrington Law Society.

Catrin Parry, who joined the Warrington law firm in 2007, handed over duties at the AGM, her final engagement in the role.

The AGM, which was held at the Park Royal Hotel, was well attended by Warrington’s legal fraternity, and Faisal Rashid, MP for Warrington South, delivered the main speech.

Catrin has helped Watsons Solicitors become a leading firm of family solicitors in Warrington. She specialises in local authority children care work acting for guardians, parents, grandparents and children. She also handles all other aspects of family work including matrimonial property disputes.

Catrin, who will stay on in an active role with the Law Society, is also a member of the Law Society Children’s panel and resolution.

She said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 12-month stint as president of the Warrington Law Society and know it’s in capable hands moving forward.

“The Law Society plays an important role in the region to promote and support solicitors to ensure they can help their clients.”

The new president is Stephen Poyner of FDR.

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 50 years, specialises in family law, employment law, and conveyancing.

The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.

Family solicitors in Warrington welcomes campaign to modernise divorce laws

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A leading Warrington family law firm has welcomed aspects of a national campaign to modernise divorce laws.

 

Senior judicial figures have called for an end to ‘unjust’ and ‘outdated’ legislation, with The Times newspaper launching a campaign to modernise family law.

 

The suggested reforms include to abolish the requirement to allege fault or blame during divorce proceedings, as well as to provide statutory backing for prenuptial contracts.

 

A report by the Nuffield Foundation condemned divorce laws for leading to false and exaggerated allegations, which deteriorates relationships further and can harm the mental health of any children involved.

 

Danny Hudson, partner and member of the family department at Watsons Solicitors, said: “The need to allege blame or fault, unless the parties have been separated for at least two years, increases the possibility for hostility between the parties in what is already an adversarial process.

 

“In the event that the parties have agreed to divorce then this should be an option upon which to proceed rendering the requirement to ‘point the finger’ obsolete unless absolutely necessary.”

 

However, Danny, who specialises in all types of family law including divorce and is a member of the Law Society Family Law Panel, warns against giving pre nuptial agreements statutory protection.

 

He added: “These documents exist because often one party has more assets than the other, and in some cases significantly so. This can create an inequality of bargaining position almost immediately despite the requirement for independent legal advice on the terms, disclosure of assets, and confirmation that there has not been any duress placed upon a party to sign.

 

“This discretion of the courts to take into account, or ignore, an agreement means that a court can decide what is fair and reasonable given all the circumstances of the case.

 

“As judges have explained to me on several occasions, ‘the court is more than simply a rubber stamp’.”

 

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 50 years, specialises in family law, employment law, and conveyancing.

 

The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.

 

Click for more information on our expertise and to find out why we’re a leading firm of divorce solicitors in Warrington.

The importance of writing a will with a solicitor

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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Writing a will is often a necessary part of good financial planning. Here, Watsons Solicitors highlight the importance of writing a will with a solicitor.

What is the purpose of writing a will?

Writing a will allows individuals to decide what happens to their assets on their passing. Without a will, it is up to the law to decide where your money and other assets will go. A will can also ensure that loved ones don’t end up paying more inheritance tax than they need to. While you may be able to write a will without assistance, it is highly recommended for individuals to seek advice on wills from a legal expert.

What is the importance of writing a will?

Writing a will with a solicitor is extremely important. There are a number of benefits to using a solicitor to provide wills and probate advice, including:

Protection

All solicitors are regulated. If you or a family member have any problems, there are different levels of action that may be taken. Here at Watsons, we have over 50 years’ experience providing advice on wills. Our reputation is second to none because we ensure all legal procedures, including wills and probate, are overseen by a partner, thereby ensuring all clients receive the best possible level of care.

You can also be sure that no mistakes are being made. Commonly, problems with wills arise because an individual has not sought legal advice. By writing a will with a solicitor at Watsons Solicitors, you can be safe in the knowledge that your family will be protected in the worst-case scenario.

Minimise stress

Writing a will can be a stressful process, but it needn’t be when you seek the skills and knowledge of Watsons Solicitors. As experienced solicitors, we can help explain the complicated terms surrounding wills and probate, include inheritance tax. Here at Watsons Solicitors, we can help you make the right decisions for both you and your family.

Advice on wills

As expert lawyers, Watsons Solicitors can provide you with the information and advice you need when writing a will. We understand that the law can be extremely complicated, which is why we will explain all legal matters in simple terms.

Watsons Solicitors are experienced solicitors, providing advice on wills. For more information on writing a will with a solicitor, contact us today on 01925 571212.

Social Media Grey Areas

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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In today’s modern world, social media is generally seen as having a positive impact on society. We can catch up with old friends, make new ones and browse endless family holiday snaps.

But what about the dark side of social media? In some cases, social media and the internet as a whole can be used as a tool to harass an individual or publish material without permission. As the world of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing, perpetrators often find new ways to target victims, and it can be a while before the law catches up completely.

When this happens, we call it the social media ‘grey area’.

(more…)

What is the Court of Protection?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

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The Court of Protection was set up to assist people who are not capable of making their own decisions, due to a mental incapacity. Decisions are made for them regarding their finances, health and any other legal matters which could have a lasting impact on their lives.

(more…)

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