Bank Details – WARNING

There is a risk of bank details sent in an email being intercepted and altered.  To avoid this risk:-

  • We will NOT send you our bank details in the text of an email.
  • Please DO NOT send us bank details in the text of an email.
  • We will ask for your bank details in writing at the outset of the transaction, and preferably face-to-face.
  • We will treat with caution changes to your bank details and will take additional measures to authenticate these.
  • If you have any doubts about the bank details provided for payment to use please check with us before you send any money.

Harris & Harris Team “Moaty McBoatface” Paddle for Victory on Wells Moat!

A team from Harris & Harris have again taken part in the annual Wells Moat Boat Race on the August bank holiday Monday (29th). This is the fourth year running that we have entered a team in the event.  This year the team was made up of solicitors Joshua Eva (Team Captain) and Andy Hambleton, trainee Legal Executive Emma Wiltshire, trainee solicitor Maisie Kelly, Law Student / Office Clerk Ethan Mercer and local farmer Joe Stradling.

Our theme this year was inspired by the “Boaty McBoatface” story concerning the naming of the Antarctic research ship. An online poll had resulted in the name with most support “Boaty McBoatface” (in the end the ship was named RRS Sir David Attenborough). Hence the team were dressed as Polar Bears, Penguins and Seals. The team were very successful again, winning 5 out of 6 races and coming away with 2 trophies.

The team’s efforts were sponsored and funds raised by the event go in equal shares to support the Wells Lion Club and Wells Dementia Alliance.  Harris and Harris were also sponsors of some of the event categories.

A video of the action below:-

 

 

LLP Conversion

On 1st July 2016 the structure of Harris & Harris converted from a partnership to an LLP. Many law firms and other professional practices now operate as LLPs.  An LLP is a more flexible structure for management and ownership.

The LLP is called Harris & Harris Legal Services LLP but we will continue to trade as Harris & Harris.  The partnership Terms of Business provided that in the event of a conversion all contracts would transfer to the LLP.  Apart from some minor changes to record this change on our notepaper, you should not see any change to the service we will continue to provide. It should be business as usual.

At the same John Clare retired from the Partnership and Joshua Eva joined the LLP.  We will continue to refer to Members of the LLP as Partners.

If you do have any questions about this please contact Neil Howlett.

How to comply with the rules on the Register of People with significant control (PSC)

As of 6th April 2016 Companies and LLPs must keep PSC register, which must be available for inspection at their registered office. The aim to increase transparency of control of corporate entities.

A person will be a PSC if they:

  • own more than 25% of the company’s shares, or
  • hold more than 25% of the company’s voting rights, or
  • hold the right to appoint or remove the majority of directors, or
  • have the right to, or actually exercises significant influence or control, or
  • hold the right to exercise or actually exercises significant control over a trust or company that meets one of the first 4 conditions.

For many SMEs this will be simple – the PSCs will be the owner proprietors already recorded on the Share Register and Annual Return. The PSC register should include their name, service address, country of residence, nationality, date of birth, usual residential address, date of becoming a PSC, and nature of control. This information is likely to be in the company’s registers already, but should properly be recorded in a separate register too.

From 30th June 2016 Annual Returns will be replaced by “Confirmation Statements” which will require this information. Companies can then elect not to keep a separate PSC register but simply to record this information at Companies House through their Confirmation Statements.

For entities with complex structures, corporate owners, shares in classes with different voting rights or with “shadow directors” identifying PSCs and completing the register may require professional help.

For guidance see keeping your people with significant control (PSC) register and the link in that to the guidance on the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act.

Harris & Harris Discuss & Do

We are starting off the latest series of events to support businesses in Frome.

Frome Chamber of Commerce together with Frome Town Council are to re-start the popular ‘Discuss and Do’ series of monthly evening sessions for businesses and social enterprises keen to enhance their skills and share best practice. If you are a small company or organisation trying to make the best use of social media, understand employment law, pension regulations or get to grips with accounting systems such as Sage then these regular sessions could be very useful.

The new ’Discuss & Do’ sessions will be held on the 4th Tuesday of every month at the Cornerhouse. The first evening on March 22nd will kick off at 6pm with an informal buffet followed by a talk at 6.30 by Neil Howlett and Andy Hambleton of Harris & Harris, who will share more than 30 years practical experience. There will then be time for further discussion and networking.

Neil Howlett  says, ”Business people worry about Employment Law. You can make your life as an employer a lot easier if you are aware of the things you must and the things you can do. I aim to alert you to the issues, help you find reliable sources of information so you can protect yourself as an employer and ensure you don’t breach your employees’ rights. There will be a guidebook you can take away to help you set up your procedures as you grow.”

Town Centre Coordinator Mark Brookes said ‘We already have the popular business breakfast events as well as retail group meetings and through those it has become obvious that constructive and informative sessions on subjects that affect the small business owner would be very popular in Frome’

Book here.

Avoiding unintentional discrimination

It is often overlooked that rights to equal treatment don’t begin when an employee starts work. They start with the recruitment process, and even with the job advert. The right to equal treatment in the provision of services also covers advertising.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new guides on advertising, for organisations who advertise jobs or services. They are written in plain English, and give helpful examples.

Have a look at the ECHR guidance, their ECHR Checklist and ECHR FAQ document.
The risk of a claim for discrimination through advertising may be small, but the costs of defending a claim may be significant. There have been examples of vexatious claimants who have brought claims based on discrimination on the job application process who have issued claims against multiple employers. Even where these have been struck out and the litigants barred from issuing more claims that has involved costs for employers which have rarely been recoverable.

As there are many claims about the UK being deluged with laws required to meet EC requirements we would point out that the Equality Act 2010 was a consolidating Act which helpfully out in one place laws introduced by the UK Parliament over the previous 40 years. Although it had the same goals as the EC Equal Treatment Directive 2006/54 that was a case of the EC catching up with UK law in the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and three statutory instruments..

Supporting the Royal United Hospital, Bath by Making a Will

Harris & Harris are pleased to announce that they have raised over £1,000 in support of the Royal United Hospital, Bath’s charity The Forever Friends Appeal.

The month of September 2015 saw people across the Royal United’s catchment area being urged to put their affairs in order and make or update their Wills as part of the hospital’s first ever Make a Will Month scheme which raised a total of £33,000.

The Forever Friend’s Appeal provides a vital service to help improve the hospital’s environment, providing additional medical equipment, facilities as well as all the finishing touches and extras that help care for patients more effectively, together with its ongoing research and development.  Every donation raised by Harris & Harris as part of the Make a Will Month will help to continue providing this care.

We are delighted to have made a contribution towards the Appeal and would like to thank all our clients who made generous donations.

RUH 2

Online dispute resolution platform postponed

Businesses were supposed be ready to implement the new laws on online dispute resolution (ODR) by adding a link to their websites, and online ordering systems by 9th January 2016. The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has issued a statement delaying that which says :

‘We have been informed by the European Commission that due to a number of other member states not being in a position to implement the requirements of the ODR Regulation by 9 January, the ‘go live’ date of the platform has been delayed to 15 February. Businesses will now not be required to carry a link to the ODR platform until it is launched on this new date of 15 February.

‘We recognise that the decision to delay is not ideal as a number of businesses and consumer organisations have been gearing up for 9 January. However, we also acknowledge that as we have not been able to provide you with a link to the platform the six-week delay will give additional time to get ready for its introduction.

‘We can reassure you that although the date of 9 January remains in our Regulations, we fully understand that it will not be possible for businesses to meet this date as the ODR platform will not yet be launched. There will of course be no question of enforcement action before 15 February.’

See the ‘Alternative dispute resolution’ guide which has been updated to reflect these developments, and diarise for early February in the hope we will know more then.

Zero Hours Contracts

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has produced a guide for employers on zero-hour contracts. There is also guidance from ACAS.

The BIS guide explains how zero-hour contracts work, the difference between appropriate and inappropriate use of such arrangements, and gives guidance on best practice and alternatives to zero-hour contracts.

BIS says:

Zero hours contracts allow flexibility for both employers and individuals. However, they should not be considered as an alternative to proper business planning and should not be used as a permanent arrangement if it is not justifiable.”

Having contractors available for call–in is not a zero hours contract, if the contractor remains genuinely self-employed.

In contrast someone who is not self-employed will acquire employment rights as a ‘worker’, including the National Minimum Wage, protection from discrimination, rest breaks, annual leave, sick pay and pensions auto-enrollment.

If the arrangement is one under which they work regularly but do not work regular hours, they are likely to be an ‘employee’, with additional rights to a written statement of terms & conditions, holidays, holiday pay and in time protection against unfair dismissal or the right to a redundancy payment. This will apply where there is not a full week without work from Sunday to Saturday between the times they do work, but leaving that break will not necessarily be enough to prevent a ‘worker’  becoming an ’employee’.

Because ‘zero-hours contract’ is used to cover a wide range of situations, it is important for employers to ensure that written contracts contain provisions setting out the status, rights and obligations of their zero-hours staff. Having done that they must keep to those contracts, as otherwise they may find that a ‘worker’ has become an ’employee’. A court or employment tribunal will look at the reality of what happens not just what is written down.

It is important that employers and employees understand what they are doing. Not being clear can lead to disputes, disgruntlement and litigation. Employers may feel that claims from zero-hours staff will be deterred by the costs of paying the high fees to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal, but many claims can also be brought in the Small Claims Court, which is much cheaper.

We are pleased to store your Property Documents and / or Wills free of charge

If you have important documents that you would like to be securely stored by us free of charge, please telephone Dorothy Baker on 01749 674747 or by email to Dorothy.Baker@harris-harris.co.uk

You do not have to be an existing client of Harris & Harris to use this service, but we will need you to provide proof of identification.

We are a firm of solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and maintain insurance which means that you can rest assured your documents will be safe and secure, and available if you need them.