PR UPDATE MARCH

Dealmaker joins hlw Keeble Hawson

Dealmaker Matt Ainsworth is joining the team at hlw Keeble Hawson as a corporate partner.

Ainsworth has nearly 20 years’ experience in all aspects of corporate finance and private equity transactions, joint ventures and company reorganisations. hlw Keeble Hawson managing partner, Paul Trudgill, said: “I am delighted to welcome Matt to the firm. He is widely acknowledged and respected as one of Yorkshire’s top corporate lawyers and his appointment demonstrates our ambition to offer the best talent and service of the highest quality to our clients. Matt Ainsworth said: “hlw Keeble Hawson’s reputation as a leading independent regionally focused firm is second to none and the opportunity to play an instrumental role in the next stage of its development was too good to miss.” With offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster, hlw Keeble Hawson is one of the region’s biggest law firms.

The ‘art’ in effective GP partnerships

Like many relationships in life, GP partnerships often start on a relatively informal basis before developing over time. Some partnerships might evolve organically from a natural practice break-up whilst others might be based on little more than a handshake or a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. In the latter case the explanation we hear most from clients is that, when they started out with their business partner(s), they got on well and never disagreed about anything. However, whilst such sentiment is understandable it is also potentially dangerous. It’s a fact of life that disagreements can, and do, arise even among the closest of allies and, when they do, our experience is that it’s far easier to resolve when the parties have agreed in advance just what will happen in such an event. While it’s true to say that the law will generally step in to provide a limited level of governance in circumstances when parties have no formal Partnership Agreement (courtesy of the provisions of the Partnership Act 1890) it is important to recognise that the Act applies a broad-brush approach which is not suitable for all partnerships. The precise terms of any Partnership Agreement will, of course, depend very much on the nature of the GP practice and the individual circumstances of its partners. However, there are a number of important considerations that, in our extensive experience, are usually relevant. The first is to decide at the outset what will happen if a GP wishes to leave the partnership. This is something that’s often overlooked but it is far better to put in place a mechanism for dealing with it at the start – at a point when the partners are on good terms – rather than waiting until a party wants to leave, particularly as this may be contrary to the wishes of the other partners, or as a result of a dispute with them. The Partnership Agreement should then clearly spell out whether or not the partnership will continue with the remaining partner(s). For example, how much will s/he be paid for their share? When will they be paid it? Without the protection of a Partnership Agreement the partnership may be forced to dissolve which could, potentially, lead to the loss of important, lucrative contracts. The second is to set out any circumstances in which a GP partner can be forced by the other partner(s) to leave the partnership – for example, if his or her performance falls below a certain level. Thirdly, the majority of a GP’s day is occupied with their own practice. It’s therefore important to set out how the business will be run and managed around them. Most GP practices, for example, will have partners of varying experience and seniority and each individual is likely to want to take a different approach to the day-to-day running of the business. It will help to identify early what is expected of each partner, such as how much capital is to be contributed and what happens financially if one partner is required to devote more time to the business than the others. These are just a few of the many potential pitfalls of a failed practice partnership so our advice – particularly with primary care in such a state of flux – is to seek help early and set firm foundations in place that will serve all parties in the event of a partnership coming to an end. How should general practitioners go about ensuring they get off on the right foot? Identifying what is expected of each partner

hlw Keeble Hawson nominates St Luke’s Hospice as adopted charity

hlw Keeble Hawson’s Sheffield office has cemented its long-standing association with St Luke’s Hospice by appointing it as the firm’s official charity for 2017. The practice’s involvement with St Luke’s – which strives to deliver the best possible palliative care in Sheffield for people over 18 who are terminally ill – spans initiatives including Will Month and Master Cutler’s Challenge. Michele Todd, who heads hlw Keeble Hawson’s Private Client Department and is acknowledged for her growing expertise and reputation in the Charities sector, said: “Our employees nominated St Luke’s which plays an inspirational and instrumental role in delivering palliative care, nursing and support services across the city. Their dedicated team also work tirelessly to provide dedicated support for families and friends of those who are terminally ill.” St Luke’s chief executive, Peter Hartland, said: St Luke’s has worked with hlw Keeble Hawson for many years, as an adviser to many of our commercial transactions and for general legal advice – most recently in our acquisition of Clifford House, which will help us to engage with and support more people affected by terminal illness in Sheffield. “We’re excited to see that relationship develop into this partnership, with St Luke’s becoming hlw Keeble Hawson’s chosen charity. We’re looking forward to having fun together for a fantastic cause, and thank the hlw Keeble Hawson team for their enthusiastic support”. A champion of giving back to its local communities, hlw Keeble Hawson – which also has offices in Leeds and Doncaster – donates over 50 pro bono days annually to participate in wide-ranging fundraising events for organisations. These include Cathedral Archer Project, St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds and the nationwide charity, Changing Lives.

hlw Keeble Hawson nominates St Luke’s Hospice as adopted charity

A workshop on 15 March will guide employers on how to hold protected conversations with a view to agreeing exit terms with employees.

The free event, hosted by hlw Keeble Hawson, takes place at the firm’s Commercial House office on Commercial Street, Sheffield from 8.30am-11am. It will focus on when protected conversations with staff are most useful and cover the key requirements. A light hearted protected conversation role play will also show how things might go wrong. The importance of the ACAS code of conduct and the ‘Without Prejudice rule’ will be explained as well as the effect of legally binding settlement agreements. Barry Warne, partner and head of employment law at hlw Keeble Hawson who will host the workshop with his team, said: “Protected conversations and settlement agreements are valuable HR tools which, if used carefully, can solve problems with difficult employees . This workshop will give attendees valuable insights into how that can be done .”

Landmark ruling is good news for Yorkshire inheritance planners

A Yorkshire law firm has hailed a landmark legal ruling today as good news for anyone with a specific beneficiary when making their will. hlw Keeble Hawson, has commented on the Supreme Court verdict that has reversed earlier court decisions awarding a woman a third of her mother’s estate despite being cut out of her will. Judgement means that family members don’t automatically take precedence over a named beneficiary, such as a charity or local good cause. Heather Ilott was successful in her application for “reasonable financial provision” under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 after Melita Jackson left most of her £486,000 estate to animal charities. Mrs Ilott, from Hertfordshire, was originally awarded £50,000, which was later more than tripled to £160,000 by the Court of Appeal. The animal charities challenged that ruling and it has now been agreed she should receive only the original £50,000. Kelly Wharin, of hlw Keeble Hawson’s contentious probate team, said: “The new decision signals that, in principle, being a mere blood relation does not carry sufficient weight for the courts to interfere with a Testator’s last wishes unless the deceased maintained them in some way. It is interesting to note, though, that in this case the daughter was not being maintained by her mother but was on benefits. “This may suggest that the courts could look at the financial circumstances of claimants, especially if they are being supported by the State and there are clearly sufficient funds in an estate to provide for them.”

The Full Disclosure Principle In Divorce – Don’t Try To Hide From It

There have been a number of recent high profile cases where an ex-partner in a divorce has hidden money or assets to avoid them being included in the joint assets that will be divided by the court or an arbitrator. Among these was an Australian couple’s dispute about the whereabouts of $160,000 fortune hidden in a shoebox. It is surprisingly common for people to attempt to do this and I have worked on many cases where it has happened – including when a client’s ex squirreled away stacks of £10 notes. In fact, almost every family dispute I have handled has involved an alleged non-disclosure. Reasons for hiding or undervaluing assets include a wish to save money, a desire for revenge or a belief that the asset or the person’s wealth is too trivial for scrutiny. However, before the court can reach a financial settlement on separation, both parties have a legal obligation to provide full and frank disclosure of all their assets (including pensions), income and liabilities. Unless and until this has been done, a financial order cannot be made, even if both parties are happy for it to go ahead. The court does not take into account who is ‘at fault’, meaning that the ‘wronged’ party has no excuse for not making an honest declaration. Nor is it justified for the poorer partner to fail to disclose. That person may feel aggrieved at having to list a tiny savings account or income from a part time job, when the other person is far better off – but the court’s intention is to assess a couple’s joint worth and how this can be divided fairly to meet the reasonable needs of both parties. Declaring everything that you own does not mean you will receive a reduced settlement – however, failing to disclose an asset can produce that result. If one party fails to fully disclose, it can lead to a more extended, costly dispute. The person who has not disclosed can in extreme cases be ordered to pay the other side’s legal costs and it is usually the case that that person will receive a far less favourable settlement – with more allocated to their ex on top of what would have been awarded in the first place. There is nearly also extra expense in relation to applications for court orders for further disclosure or the hiring of a forensic accountant to track down hidden funds, the cost of which is sometimes ordered to be paid by the “non-disclosing” party. In any event, legal costs always are paid out of the pooled assets that the court would prefer to be spent on the households of the separating couple and their children. One partner’s dishonest disclosure can severely reduce the funds available to do this, which could diminish everybody’s standard of living and affect a parent’s long term relationship with their offspring. There are often no winners from somebody’s refusal to fully declare, but there can be many losers. Honesty is always the best policy – no matter what misgivings or lingering bitterness one party has for their ex.

Attendees get on board with charity governance workshop

Trustees from across the UK have described a Good Governance workshop hosted by hlw Keeble Hawson in Leeds as ‘extremely helpful’ and ‘valuable’. The session at the firm’s offices in Capitol House, Russell Street, examined and debated the role of trustees in good governance with the aim of helping attendees to be better and more effective trustees. Held in conjunction with the Small Charities Coalition, the session was led by hlw Keeble Hawson partner and charity expert, Michele Todd who is ranked by Legal 500 as a highly regarded Private Client practitioner in Yorkshire. A legal trustee of Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity from 2010- 2015, Michele is also a board member of independent residential care home, Taptonholme, also based in Sheffield. The workshop covered three key themes - the makeup of a board of trustees; trustee responsibilities; and choosing the right charitable structure. It also looked at the different types of trustee and equipped attendees with a wealth of tips. Michele said: “Feedback from the session was very positive with attendees leaving with an enhanced understanding of whether they are eligible to be on the board, what is expected of them, legal compliance - and the possible personal liabilities of getting it wrong.” “As charities face increasing public and media scrutiny, ensuring effective governance has taken on an unprecedented importance for trustees.” With offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster, hlw Keeble Hawson is one of the region’s biggest law firms and is at the heart of the business and wider community.

Yorkshire developers could benefit from substantial business rates savings

Developers looking to renovate shops and offices in Yorkshire could stand to save thousands of pounds in business rates on the back of a landmark Supreme Court judgement, according to a leading local law firm. Lawyers at hlw Keeble Hawson cite the recent case of Newbigin vs Monk as a reason for local ratepayers and developers to seek immediate advice on their business rate liabilities. The case centred on a disagreement about the rateable value of a property in the North East that was being extensively redeveloped. The ratepayer argued that, because all of the services and installations had been stripped out as part of the refurbishment, the building should not be valued as if it was a useable office block. The Valuation Office (VO) disagreed, claiming that unless a building is beyond economic repair, it should be valued as a property capable of being put back into commercial use. “This is a massive financial difference and, in the end, the Supreme Court came down on the side of the ratepayer,” explained property litigation solicitor, Sarah Finnemore. “Although the question of whether a property is incapable of beneficial occupation will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis, the judgement has sent out a very strong message. “It has huge implications for ratepayers and property developers across the Yorkshire region, because it provides support for ratepayers to potentially seek to have the rating list altered during redevelopment.” In the Newbigin vs Monk case, The Supreme Court held that the starting point for assessing rates in development cases should be to objectively evaluate whether a building is either in a state of disrepair or undergoing renovation works. It said the valuer can take into consideration the scheme of works which are being carried out on the material date for the purpose of making that assessment. The ratepayer said the rateable value should be £1, the VO said it should be £102,000.

Rail specialist Mechan acquired by French group

Rail depot equipment manufacturer Mechan, which specialises in heavy lifting and handling machinery, has been bought by France's CIM Group. The Sheffield-based business will be retaining its name, management and personnel, but will benefit from the support of CIM's export expertise and industry contacts.

CIM's portfolio of products and services includes railway infrastructure supply and construction projects.

Richard Carr, Mechan's managing director, said the takeover would help accelerate the company's international development. "I will continue to lead Mechan's expert team and as far as existing clients are concerned, it will be business as usual. "However, we are looking forward to raising CIM's profile in the UK and becoming part of an organisation that has demonstrated its dynamism through consistent growth," Carr added. Alain Lovambac, chief executive of the CIM Group, said: "Mechan is a particularly innovative and successful company whose high-quality products are complementary to our own. "This acquisition strengthens our ambition to become a world leader in the design and supply of turnkey railway workshop solutions." Legal and financial advice was provided to Mechan's management team by hlw Keeble Hawson and accountancy firm Shorts.

Formation of new property management team set to ‘open up new markets’ for hlw Keeble Hawson A new five-strong team, led by property management specialist Cassandra Zanelli, has joined hlw Keeble Hawson to launch a new department entitled ‘PM Legal Services’. Based in Doncaster, the team’s areas of expertise include resolving complex property disputes, First Tier Tribunal proceedings, recovering service charge and ground rent arrears, property debt recovery and landlord and tenant disputes. Ms Zanelli was listed as among the Hot 100 Most Influential People in 2016 by industry title, News on the Block. She is also invited regularly to address key national and regional conferences and host training sessions for the Association of Residential Managing Agents and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Joining her at hlw Keeble Hawson are associate, Elizabeth Rowan, a specialist in County Court proceedings, assistant solicitor Brian Fowler and legal assistants, Jennifer Knibbs and Ruby Zaman. Paul Trudgill, hlw Keeble Hawson managing partner, said: “The recruitment of Cass and her team is a major step in the firm’s development and confirms its focus on the core elements of its private client and commercial services. “Cass is a nationally recognised specialist in the field of property management services and her team brings a wealth of experience in this field. “Her team will complement the services we already provide to our property clients and open up new markets and potential clients to the rest of our firm.” Miss Zanelli added: “We are highly regarded in the marketplace and have devised a powerful strategy for new areas of operation and growth. “hlw Keeble Hawson’s reputation, forward-thinking ethos and approach to support us in driving this forward was a hugely attractive prospect which highly complements the firm’s wider strategy.” With offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster, hlw Keeble Hawson is one of the region’s biggest law firms.

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