BEAUMONDE LAW PRACTICE IS MOVING

Beaumonde Law Practice is moving with effect from 1st March 2017.

This is because Audit House in Eastcote is likely to close in the near future.

We look forward to being of service at our new address which will be

Pentax House

South Hill Avenue

Northolt Road

Middlesex

HA2 ODU.

 

Our telephone numbers and email addresses will remain unchanged.

We look forward to being of service at our new location which is only a short drive away from Eastcote.

The new premises are adjacent to South Harrow bus and underground stations.

Law Society Council meeting summary: 30 March 2016

Council’s second meeting of the 2016 calendar year saw a busy programme of reports and papers. Among these, Council was updated on progress on the review of the governance of the Law Society. The independent lead, Nicola Nicholls, has conducted a number of meetings with Council members and a range of external stakeholders, as well as a programme of research with other comparable organisations. Nicola shared ideas for ensuring that the Law Society’s governance remains fit for purpose and supports the organisation in delivering its strategy. Further updates will be provided as more detailed proposals are worked up. Of course, a lot is going on in the external environment which impacts directly on the Law Society and our members and this was the main focus of the Council meeting. 

Promoting the profession – market and regulatory change

Following HM Treasury’s publication of ‘A Better Deal: boosting competition to bring down bills for families and firms’, Council heard of the corporate priority to ready the Society to respond to any consultation on the future revised regulatory framework for the profession. Activity is ongoing so as to inform the debate effectively. In discussion, there was broad consensus among Council that, to support and protect the public, regulation of legal services should be simpler and better, and that the legal profession should continue to be, and be seen to be, independent of the state. This would involve regulation setting and enforcing the minimum regulatory rules consistently so that the buyers of legal services are protected. It would also involve the solicitor profession taking responsibility for professional standards, entry into the profession, and awarding the professional title of solicitor. Council noted that further work was being done on how various possible models would work in practice and looked forward to further debate in due course.

Council heard about the Society’s submission to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) study on the supply of legal services in England and Wales, which can be found here: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/press-releases/law-society-response-to-scope-of-cma-study-into-the-legal-services-sector/. Close liaison has continued between the Law Society and the CMA including using the Society to facilitate engagement with members of the profession at large.

Council also noted the publication, shortly before Easter, of the Law Society’s report into the wider economic value of legal services.

Representing the profession – legal updates

Council noted the work that is being done, with the Bar, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) to update the criminal crown court fee schemes for litigators and advocates, with working groups including members of the Law Society Access to Justice and Criminal Law Committees.

The CEO took the opportunity to remind Council that, although the inclusion of legal professional privilege on the face of the Investigatory Powers Bill was a pleasing success, work was continuing in association with the Bar on a number of outstanding concerns.

Council also heard about continuing work on civil legal aid, in particular working with the Bach Review of Legal Aid to emphasise our long-standing position, calling for the restoration of legal aid where its removal has had the most significant impact on disadvantaged groups. On civil courts structure, Council noted that we have submitted a response to the interim Briggs report calling for the profession to be actively involved in the development of the proposed on-line court.

Supporting the profession – engagement and other activity

The CEO reported on a wide range of activity and events. This included oral evidence given by the President on court fees before the Justice Select Committee, and a meeting between the President and Vice President and the EU Justice Commissioner, as well as a meeting with the President and the Lord Chancellor on legal regulation. The President’s report drew attention to a number of visits to local law societies to support the profession’s work on business and human rights. In line with his presidential plan, he also highlighted work to support the role of solicitors in undertaking property transactions, and thought leadership on technology and law.

Presidential Plan 2016-17

More detail will follow but members will be interested to know that Council was warmly supportive of Robert Bourns’ plan for his forthcoming year as President which starts in July, focusing on a programme of work to connect further with members in England and Wales to identify best practice and bring members together, promoting pride in the profession, access to justice for all, and access to the profession for the best candidates regardless of social background.

Inspiring and informing others on what I do as a Law Society Council Member

On 22nd March 2016 I was one of the speakers and the compère of an event at The Law Society designed to inspire others to volunteer to join the boards and committees of the Law Society.

This is my speech in which,amongst other things,I discuss what I do on the Employment Law committee of the Law Society and on its Equality,diversity and Inclusion committee.

Law Society speech.22 March

Increasing diversity in the volunteer community

A couple of weeks ago I took part in my first webinar at the Law Society.

Upon arrival I was taken to a back room office which had been converted to a webinar studio.

Together with fellow Law Society council member, Stephanie Boyce, we answered questions on what it is like to be involved in  volunteer  work  at the Law Society.

It was a lot of fun and I think that the resulting webinar  gives a good idea as to what opportunities are involved ,how and why to put yourself forward ,and what it is like to be a Law Society Council member and to sit on its boards and committees.
You can listen here if you want to hear my mildly controversial opinions!

http://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/ethnic-minority-lawyers/news-and-guidance/become-a-volunteer-listen-to-our-interactive-webinar/5053937.article

Enjoy!  

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

On Wednesday 18th November I was asked ,at short notice, to do a 10 minute Feature Presentation at the Stadium Chapter of BNI in Wembley.
I used the opportunity to tell three stories showing how I, as principal of Beaumonde Law Practice, have made a real positive difference to peoples’ lives.
The whole talk was captured on video and plays in two parts.
Enjoy!

THE ART OF THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT by Sundeep Bhatia

There is far more to advising you about the contents of a settlement agreement then  blindly discussing each clause with you.

That is what your Employer would want me to do.

We are more concerned about whether you are getting a fair deal or not.

You need to remember that ,by means of signing a settlement agreement, you are giving up the right to take any kind of legal action against your former, or soon to be former, employer at any time in the future, with a few minor exceptions.

The trade off for giving up your legal rights should be worth your while.

This does not ,necessarily, need to be a trade off in financial terms.

Sometimes a glowing reference ,or a reference which lists your duties ,can be worth far more then a financial payment because it will aid you in finding alternative employment that bit faster.

We will assess the package your employer is offering you as a part of advising you regarding the contents of a settlement agreement.

Your employer  would usually pay this firm for the cost of advising you regarding the contents of a settlement agreement.

If your employer did not do so, and if you were to sign the agreement, without the benefit of independent legal advice, then the agreement you signed would be unenforceable.

If you want us to  negotiate an improved settlement package then we can do so for a moderate additional fee on top of what your employer is paying us.

This may mean that any additional benefit paid to you by your  employer ,as a result of our efforts, could result in an improved settlement package..

If you decide that you wish to reject the settlement agreement then we can advise you regarding the merits or demerits of commencing a claim at the Employment Tribunal or the County Court.

If  you are happy with the package offered by your employer then we will aim to advise you regarding its contents for the fee offered to us by your employer.

Our Sundeep Bhatia is a Member of the Employment Law Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales.

We hold Professional Indemnity Insurance and we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

 

SUMMARY OF LAW SOCIETY COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON 28TH October

As some of you will know I am one of three Law Society Council Members representing the Ethnic Minority Solicitors community.
The following is a summary of the Law Society Council Meeting I attended on Wednesday 28th October.As the Council met, it remembered one of the longest-serving Council members, Robin ap Cynan, who had recently died. In quarter of a century of loyal service to the Society and the profession, Robin made major contributions in a diverse range of areas including the Wales Committee and ensuring that the interests of practitioners in Wales were well represented, as well as family law and mediation.

Strategy development and budget setting
Following discussions in Council in September, work continued to refine the Law Society’s strategy, three-year plan, and one-year business plan. Council formally signed off these documents in October, and the strategy and three-year plan will be publicly launched in November. The one-year business plan is an internal document focused on the detailed activities of each team at the Law Society. The strategic aims are:
• We will represent solicitors by speaking out for justice and on legal issues
• We will promote the value of using a solicitor at home and abroad
• We will support solicitors to develop their expertise and their businesses, irrespective of whether they work for themselves, in-house or for a law firm.
These aims are supported by our shared vision for the profession, and by our commitment to spending our members’ money as effectively and efficiently as we can. The Council also confirmed that a review will be undertaken to establish whether the Society’s governance is fit for the purpose of delivering the agreed strategy. Further information will follow in subsequent updates. The Council also approved the budgets for the Law Society, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, and the shared services provided by Corporate Solutions. This confirmed the decision in July that solicitors’ practising certificate fees are unchanged from last year.

Key activities on major issues reported to Council
Presidential activity
The President presented an update on his first 100 days in office, mentioning meetings with members across the country as well as welcoming international delegates for the Opening of the Legal Year. He has been proactively using social media, including his Twitter channel and three monthly video updates, to improve communication and stakeholder engagement. In September, he launched the Law Society’s business and human rights engagement programme in London and Cardiff, as well as addressing the issue in his keynote speeches at the Opening of the Legal Year and the International Association of Young Lawyers. He has also taken several opportunities to use public platforms to promote the value of the legal services market to the wider economy, and to support the Society’s wider campaign to raise the profile of pro bono work undertaken by solicitors. The party conference season was a chance to engage with decision makers on a range of topics, notably access to justice.

Criminal legal aid
Council heard about the very substantial continuing concerns over the tender process, and over the impact on significant numbers of the profession. In addition to raising these concerns at the highest political levels, support measures are being made available for criminal practitioners who have been unsuccessful in securing a contract.

Criminal advocacy consultation
It was also noted that the government’s consultation on criminal advocacy raises a number of questions, including whether there should be a statutory ban on referral fees, and, critically, whether the instruction of in-house advocates by solicitors constitutes a conflict of interest. We are in active discussion with the Ministry of Justice, and have also contacted local law societies asking them and their members to respond direct to the consultation.

Court fees and court closures
Council heard about the Society’s robust responses to the government’s proposals for further increases in court and tribunal fees, and to the introduction of the criminal court fee charge. We have also made a substantial submission on court closures, informed by over 800 member responses and with a special focus on helping members campaign against closures in their own areas.

Consumer credit regulation
Council was pleased to hear that the SRA has announced that it will continue to be a designated professional body for regulating consumer credit activity, thus accepting the Law Society’s strong representations and avoiding the need for dual regulation on the part of many firms.

Legal Practice Technologies (LPT)
Council was informed that we are continuing to work with LPT on Veyo so that we can ensure that the product has the right level of functionality and usability before we launch – we will not launch the product until we are satisfied as we recognise that the product must meet our members’ expectations and serve them well.

KEEPING YOU IN WORK AND ON THE ROAD by Sundeep Bhatia

There are many people working in the UK who depend on their driving license in order to carry out their job or in  order to run their business.

If you are a taxi driver or a bus driver then  you would lose your job if you were to be disqualified from driving.

If you are a salesman travelling the length and breadth of the United Kingdom then the loss of your license is also likely to lead to the loss of your livelihood.

Whatever your profession ,the loss of your driving license will, at the least, constitute a major, and possibly costly, inconvenience .

Losing your driving license is probably easier than you think.

If your driving license is endorsed with twelve penalty points over a three year period then you face a compulsory disqualification period of six months .

An offence of speeding carries an endorsement of at least three points.

If you are court speeding substantially over the speed limit then you may be immediately disqualified. The same applies if you are found to be driving with no insurance.

In the case of driving with no insurance your license would also be endorsed with at least six penalty points.

If you are found to be guilty of driving of dangerous driving then you would be disqualified from driving for at least one year .

Furthermore your liberty could be at stake for that offence or if you were to be found guilty of causing death by careless or dangerous driving.

If you are found to be guilty of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol then you could face disqualification from driving for at least a year.

If the amount of alcohol in your sample of breath or blood was found to be more than three times the legal limit then you could be sent to prison.

All these matters start at the magistrates court.

In some cases you could be interviewed at the police station.

The more serious matters could end up being sentenced or tried at the Crown Court.

At Beaumonde Law Practice we have more than twenty years experience of dealing with such matters and can assist at all three of these venues.

If you are facing disqualification because you risk your license being endorsed with twelve penalty points, over a three year period, then we may be able to help you to argue exceptional hardship if your disqualification were to cause exceptional hardship to others and if you had never previously put across exceptional hardship as a reason not to disqualify you .

If you plead, or are found guilty, of a driving offence where the court has a discretion as to whether to disqualify you then we can mitigate and put forward reasons why the court should not disqualify you from driving.

In the case of all offences we can help you put forward any defence that you might have and ,in some cases, can advise you as to whether you might want your case to be heard  in circumstances where the Magistrates give you a choice as to where you want your case to be heard at the magistrates court or at the Crown Court.

If you plead ,or are found to be, guilty then we can mitigate on your behalf (i.e. argue and persuade a court to deal with you leniently.

You should be aware that legal aid is not available for many of these matters. In circumstances where it is you may feel that it is prudent to pay privately for representation.

The reason for that is simple.

If you use a Duty Solicitor at a police station  then you will have no choice as to who comes to represent you at the police station.

Duty Solicitor services, at the police station, are currently being put out to tender at a fraction of  the fee firms were paid , per case, twenty years ago.

As a result there is an overwhelming temptation for firms to use less qualified and less experienced staff because they are cheaper.

At the magistrates court, and at the Crown court, legal aid is only available if there is a possibility of someone going to prison if they plead guilty or are found to be guilty.

For the vast majority of road traffic cases legal aid is not available because a person’s liberty is not at stake.

For those where liberty is at stake your earnings may push you over the limit for which legal aid is available.

Duty Solicitors are available at court, for imprisonable offences ,on the first occasion.

However it will be luck of the draw as to who is available to represent you.

It is also luck of the draw as how many clients the Duty Solicitor has to deal with on the day that you first attend court.

Moreover the fee law firms receive for criminal cases has been slashed over the last twenty years.

Once again the overwhelming temptation is to send less experienced staff to court.

If you value your driving license, or in some cases , your liberty, then an investment in your legal representation, is money well spent.

At Beaumonde Law Practice we have the experience to deal with your cases and can give you the care and attention that your case deserves.

Please do call us on 02088681614 or ,out of office hours,07803727534,if we can be of  assistance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Business Networking the Indian Way

I have always been taught that BNI,Business Networking International,is an international phenomena operating in more than sixty countries worldwide.

A trip to India gave me the perfect opportunity to check this for myself.

Nishant Jain, member of the Gurgaon Chapter,Incredibles,emailed me stating that he was looking for Travel Agent connections because he was about to visit the United Kingdom.

I,in return,explained that I was in Delhi and would love to visit his Chapter.

He agreed and sent me an invite .

Gurgaon is immediately adjacent to the part of Delhi I was staying in so visiting that Chapter was convenient.

A quick search of the website revealed that BNI Incredibles has around forty members.

By Indian standards it is a smaller Chapter.When I attended I was informed that there were adjacent chapters with 80 members.

I was also aware of a Chapter in Bangalore with 108 members.

BNI in India starts later than it does in the UK.

Thus I was asked to attend at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

The venue was a very presentable four star hotel called Clarins.

There was no signage at the entrance but a receptionist pointed me in the rIght direction and two members joined me in the lift.

Once I exited the lift I was immediately greeted by the visitor hosts who welcomed and signed me in in the usual BNI way.

At that point I could have been at any BNI Chapter in the world.

The Incredibles Members were great hosts.

Several Members came to speak to me and I was never left feeling isolated or like an outsider.

The meeting started promptly at 8pm.

The word Chapter was not used.

Members were greeted with the refrain “Good morning BNI.”

All of the roles ,and who fills them ,were explained as in all BNI Chapters.

The education slot was filled by a Dr Amit Nagpal who discussed the Chapter’s Social Media strategy.

Members were then given 30 seconds to speak about their business.

This was different from the sixty seconds given at Stadium Chapter Wembley where I am a Member.

Moreover members started their presentations by asking for a “give”.

This was an alien concept to me so,after the meeting,I asked  one of the members what that meant.

They explained that a “give “was an offer to put members in touch with the person referred to as a give.

My feeling was that,after mentioning the give,members had too little time to inform members as to what they did and how they could offer value.

There then followed the induction of a new member.

I was honoured to be called up to greet the new member .

A nice touch was that the cv of the new member was read out to the rest of the Chapter.

Instead of a ten minute presentation there were two four minute presentations.
I learnt a lot about Sante Fe removal services from Vani Gehani and I also learnt a lot about business travel from Ravi Singh of “I shall holiday” (P) Ltd.

Both speaks referred to five “gives” as well as five asks.

Following the meeting I sat in on the induction which was the same as in the UK.

I then had breakfast with the rest of the members.

That was a joyous experience.

The breakfast was lavish and the company was great.

It was easy to see how the rapour between the members had developed.

My thanks to Arvinder Singh and Kiran Ashri of the leadership team for making me feel so welcome and to Monika Gulati for guiding me through the meeting .

    
  

Code of Practice for Recruitment of Trainee Solicitors

I am delighted that the Law Society has agreed to become a signatory to this Code and that they are prepared to replace the Solicitors Regulation Authority who have withdrawn.

I also welcome the updated wording and the efforts of the Junior Lawyers Division in achieving this outcome

I attach below a Press Release from the Junior Lawyers Division as well as a copy of the revised code

Sundeep Bhatia

Law Society Council Member for Ethnic Minority Lawyers

Press release issued on behalf of the Junior Lawyers Division

 

 

29 July 2015
News: Code for recruitment of trainee solicitors is updated to reflect modern practices
 
The voluntary code of recruitment of trainee solicitors (the “Code”) has been updated to reflect modern practices.
The Code was created as a recommended standard of good practice for employers, students, higher education careers advisers and faculty staff. The revised Code follows detailed discussions between signatories and students.
The announcement follows the news that the Law Society of England and Wales has replaced the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) as a signatory to the Code. The Law Society, the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society (“JLD”), Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (“AGCAS”) and Association of Graduate Recruiters (“AGR”) are now signatories to the voluntary code.
Since the SRA removed itself as a signatory to the Code in April 2015, the three remaining original signatories have held a number of surveys and discussions to understand whether the Code still provided value to recruiters and students.
Junior Lawyers Division chair, Max Harris, said: “We found that there was widespread support for a code which offers best practice guidance on recruitment for trainee solicitors. However, it was clear from the evidence that the Code, as previously written, was out of date and no longer reflected modern recruitment practices. After detailed discussions, we are pleased to announce that a revised Code has been agreed between the signatories.”
The revised Code, which will replace the current Code after this recruitment cycle, has been drafted to reflect modern recruitment practices, and includes the following principles:
· Training Contract Applications: Employers can set their training contract application deadline at a point of their choosing, but not before the penultimate year of an undergraduate’s degree.
· Training Contract Offers: Employers may make offers to students at any point during the student’s penultimate year, or later.
· Training Contract Acceptance: Students may accept offers at any point after the offers are made, but students shall not be obliged to accept (nor should they be put under pressure to accept) before a deadline of 15 September in their final year (or four weeks after an offer has been made, whichever is later).
· Post-Acceptance: Once a student has accepted an offer they have an obligation to withdraw from the process at all other employers.
All providers of training contracts (or periods of recognised training) are encouraged to adhere to the revised Code. However, employers must be reminded that failure to adhere to this revised Code will not result in regulatory action. This voluntary code is designed to provide best practice guidance to law firms and students on the recruitment of trainee solicitors. Employers who comply with this revised Code are free to advertise their compliance in graduate recruitment brochures, their website, or in any other media.
Ends

 

Notes to editors:

VOLUNTARY CODE OF RECRUITMENT FOR TRAINEE SOLICITORS

 

This Code has been created as a recommended standard of good practice for employers, students and Higher Education Careers Advisers and Faculty staff for the recruitment of trainee solicitors.

 

The signatories to the code are:

· The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) is the professional body for careers and employability professionals working with higher education students and graduates and prospective entrants to higher education.

· The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) is an employer-led membership organisation, whose goal it is to ensure that all its members can recruit and develop the best student talent for their needs and the needs of the UK economy.

· The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) is the division of the Law Society which represents LPC students, LPC graduates, trainee solicitors, and solicitors up to five years qualified across England and Wales. With approximately 75,000 members, it is one of the largest communities within the Law Society.

· The Law Society of England and Wales is the independent professional body for solicitors, supporting and representing over 133,000 solicitors practising in England and Wales.

 

 

Embarking on a training contract (*) is a critical step in a solicitor’s career. This Code allows law and non-law degree students sufficient time to make considered career decisions before committing to this career path and to a particular employer. In doing so, the Code aims to promote diversity and best practice in recruitment in the profession from the entry level.

 

The code also recognises the business needs of employers when candidates are interviewed and offered training contracts. Firms that participate in the Code shall expect that student applicants will abide by it in return. Compliant firms are free to advertise their participation in the Code.

 

Obligations on Employers

 

This Code applies to all applicants whether or not they have undertaken/are undertaking a vacation placement with the employer and whether they are law degree or non-law degree students.

 

Equality and Diversity

Employers shall give due regard to equality, diversity and social mobility in their recruitment practices with particular reference to the Equality Act 2010.

 

Application Deadlines

The opening date for training contract applications shall be no earlier than during the penultimate year of an applicant’s undergraduate study.

 

Employers shall give due consideration to the academic calendar and set an appropriate deadline date for training contract applications. Employers will respond to all applicants regardless of outcome.

 

 

Interviews

At interview, applicants will be told if there are any further stages to the selection process and when these will take place.

 

Training Contract Offers

Employers may make training contract offers to individuals at any time after applications open, but the offer shall not expire before 15 September in the applicant’s final year of undergraduate study, or 4 weeks from the date the offer is made (whichever is later).

 

Students applying in their final year of study or who have already graduated may be made an offer at any time and will have four weeks to respond unless the required start date is earlier than four weeks.

An offer will not be withdrawn before the time limit for acceptance has expired. Students shall have the option to accept or reject the offer from the date the offer is made, but shall not be pressurized or penalized for waiting until the expiry date of the offer.

 

Extension of Time

Employers will give consideration to an applicant’s request for an extension to the time limit on an offer, and may grant such an extension provided that a good reason is given.

 

Financial Assistance for Undergraduate or Postgraduate Studies

Where an employer is prepared to provide financial assistance to a student in relation to undergraduate or postgraduate studies, the terms and conditions on which the assistance is offered will be explained in writing when the training contract offer is made. Any time limit for the acceptance of an offer of financial assistance must not have the effect of reducing the time limit for accepting the training contract offer.

 

Obligations on Students

 

Informing Firms When You Cannot Attend a Training Contract Interview / Vacation Scheme

In the event that a student knows in advance that they cannot attend a training contract interview or vacation scheme, they should make every effort to inform the firm in a timely fashion. This should be a minimum of 48 hours notice.

 

Responding to Offers

Students should carefully and seriously consider any offers of employment as a trainee solicitor and be aware that they will not be penalized for waiting until the expiry date of the offer. Students should accept offers in writing within the time frame stipulated above.

 

After Accepting an Offer

Once a student has accepted an offer, the student must inform all other employers who have made a training contract or vacation scheme offer, or invited them to attend an interview, that they have accepted a training contract offer elsewhere and as such are withdrawing from the recruitment process. Furthermore the student will make no further applications for a training contract or vacation scheme.

 

 

· (*) The words “Training Contract” have been used throughout this document in recognition that this is still the commonly used and understood terminology for what is officially now known as the “Period of Recognised Training”
-About the Junior Lawyers Division: Launched in January 2008 for junior lawyers across England and Wales, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) is a division of the Law Society but with an independent voice. With over 70,000 members, it is the largest community within the Law Society. Membership is free and automatic for LPC students, LPC graduates (including those working as paralegals), trainee solicitors, and solicitors with up to five years post qualification experience. The JLD is all about its members and their needs. To enable us to better represent you, we want to hear from you. Email us at juniorlawyers@lawsociety.org.uk.