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Lodders

39

One of Warwickshire’s best known corporate lawyers has joined Lodders Solicitors in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Mark Lewis, formerly a long standing partner of Leamington Spa-based Wright Hassall, will work with Lodders’ head of commercial law Victor Matts to build the firm’s client base in the West Midlands, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire.

Victor Matts said: “Mark’s decision to join Lodders reflects on our growing reputation both within the industry and also in the marketplace we serve.

He comes with a formidable array of references from the legal industry “bibles” Legal 500 and Chambers, and we are very pleased to have his experience and contacts available both to our clients and our younger lawyers here.”

The Chambers UK Guide 2014 states “Mark Lewis represents an array of charities and voluntary organisations, utilising his background as a corporate and company law expert to advise on a range of contract and constitutional matters.

“According to interviewees he is ‘very punctual with his replies and a very clear thinker’.”

In the Chambers UK Guide 2012 he is praised by clients for “thoroughness, precision and promptness”.

Legal 500 2013 refers to him as a “responsive” solicitor who provides “accurate advice”. The Legal 500 2011 noted he is “focused on achieving the best solutions in corporate and commercial matters” and in charity law, clients are stated as having “full confidence” in his advice. In the Legal 500 2009 he was noted for “very strong commercial understanding” and also for his ability to “translate well from legal to layman’s language”.

Mark Lewis has significant experience in advising charities and not-for-profit-organisations as well as a strong background in corporate and commercial law. In particular he has extensive experience with mergers, acquisitions and takeovers, disposals, management buy-outs, joint ventures, LLPs and partnership law.

He said: “I chose to join Lodders because of the firm’s established reputation as a successful regional law firm with solid historical roots, an excellent reputation and a commitment to growing in a competitive marketplace.

“I very much look forward to continuing to work with charities and not-for-profit organisations as well as carrying on with my corporate and commercial work.”

He is a consultant editor of the Law Society’s book on the Companies Act 2006, a contributing editor to Butterworths Corporate Law Guide and a former contributing editor of Butterworths Corporate Law Service.

He is currently the Chairman of the lawyers in the UK200 Group – a group of lawyers and accountants looking after the needs of the SME sector.

Locally, he is also a branch committee member of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Charity Law Association and was previously the chair of the Leamington Spa Chamber of Trade.

Mark spent 20 years with Wright Hassall and before 1994 was with Osborne Clarke in Bristol having qualified with DMH Stallard in the South East.

Lodders’ senior partner David Lodder said: “Having someone on board with Mark’s experience both as a corporate lawyer and as a former senior partner of a regional law firm can only help us with our growth plans internally and externally.

“With the opening of our Cheltenham office in the autumn of 2013 and the recruitment of Mark Lewis, this demonstrates our commitment to broadening both our locations and our legal firepower.”

47

Many employers will face a higher holiday pay package following a recent EU decision, an expert has warned.

Kim Klahn, a solicitor with Stratford-upon-Avon based Lodders, said the bill was set to rise in the wake of the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s opinion that it should be calculated taking in commission as well as basic salary.

“This is going to increase employer costs,” cautioned Ms Klahn, who has been running Lodders’ new employment service Empline which aims to provide business owners and HR professionals with legal peace of mind for a fixed annual fee.

The opinion of the Advocate General stated that employees whose pay is commission based, should be entitled to holiday pay that includes an amount that reflects their commission previously earned over a representative period.

The case involved Mr Z J Lock v British Gas.

Ms Klahn said: “The Advocate General has given a clear signal that Mr Lock, an internal energy sales consultant, should be entitled to his commission payments when on annual leave.

“Currently he loses more than 50 per cent of his average earnings for any period of annual leave. As a result he would never take more than five consecutive days.

“This is an important case as commission often features in the pay package of workers in the UK and across the EU.

“The unions are already hailing the decision as a major step towards allowing workers who rely on commission as part of their regular income, to take a holiday without fear of losing out.

“Naturally, Empline has been briefing this information to clients to keep them up-to-date and enable them to forward plan.”

The Lock case, first aired at an Employment Tribunal in Leicester, has been in the pipeline for nearly two years.

Ms Klahn said: “This will put an extra burden of cost on businesses but the EU takes the view that people need a proper break from work.

“For that to happen employees must not fear being penalised. This opinion, as with employers being no longer permitted to roll up holiday pay, is part of the process.”

42

Law firm Lodders is to focus its charity push on local Warwickshire projects.

Via Heart of England Community Foundation, the Stratford-upon-Avon solicitors are to throw their fund-raising effort behind The Buzz Arts and Community Centre and Support Sport Ltd.

Based in the town’s Henley Street, and catering for the needs of a range of individuals and groups, Buzz provides a venue for leisure activities, support bodies, training, charity events and conferences.

The complex is for the public generally but in particular those who are young, old, infirm or disabled, in financial hardship or living in trying social or economic circumstances.

Lodders will fund a part time chef to support the centre’s Go Enjoy Project which aims to help those of limited mobility get into Stratford, meet others, get a bite to eat and enjoy some activities in an affordable setting.

Support Sport Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation enabling children and young people to benefit through sport and leadership activities.

The aim is to develop tomorrow’s community leaders, boosting ambitions, goals and confidence.

Lodders will back workshops for children aged 9, 10 and 11 at five different primary schools across Warwickshire, targeting those in areas of either high deprivation or rural isolation.

Senior partner David Lodder, head of the firm’s charity committee, said: “Every year we try to do our bit for charity.

“These are two great local causes, where hopefully we can help to make a difference.”

35

The news that more people are having to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT) on death has prompted Lodders Solicitors to highlight the ways of reducing the potential liability.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that in the year to April 2013 IHT receipts increased by eight per cent to £3.1 billion, but the figure has soared by 30 per cent during the past three years.

Lodders partner Eamonn Daly, a chartered tax adviser, said: “This is down to a number of factors, including the recovery in housing prices, household savings and equities recovering but also the freeze in the IHT threshold, which has been fixed at £325,000 since April 2009 has dragged more estates into the IHT net.

“The simplest way of planning to avoid IHT is to give cash/assets away more than seven years prior to death. However clients are often keen to keep control of the sums gifted, fearful of their intended beneficiaries spending the hard earned wealth frivolously or losing it in the event of a bankruptcy or divorce.”

Mr Daly pointed out that for significant gifts of over £1 million the use of corporate structures such as Family Investment Companies (FICs) should be considered to help address these issues.

Individuals can subscribe cash or assets for shares in their own bespoke FIC and then make substantial gifts of some of the shares to beneficiaries without incurring an immediate IHT charge.

The founder of the FIC can retain significant control by the retention of voting shares.

“For smaller gifts, where an individual wishes to maintain some control, trusts are still the main lifetime IHT mitigation tool,” Mr Daly advised.

“Where the total of assets to be gifted does not exceed the individual’s IHT threshold of £325,000 – or £650,000 for a couple – trusts are usually the most flexible solution,” he said “above these figures lifetime IHT is payable on assets transferred to most trusts at 20 per cent.”

He stressed that whatever the level of cash and assets held over the £325,000 or £650,000 joint threshold, professional advice could help to significantly decrease the IHT burden and protect family wealth.

Lodders Solicitors has offices in Cheltenham, Stratford-upon-Avon and Henley-in-Arden.

32

One of the Midlands major annual property conferences was held this year at Henley-in-Arden Golf Club where Lodders Solicitors hosted over 100 clients and fellow professionals.

The keynote speaker this year was Tony Green, chief executive of Birmingham-based Horton Estates, the family-owned property investment and development company. He was joined at the rostrum by fellow speaker Simon Horan of Savills in Birmingham, and Michael Campbell and Michael Orlik, members of the highways and rights of way team within Lodders’ real estate department, rounded the conference off with some legal insights into the problems inherent in varying Section l06 agreements and issues concerning rights of way and village greens.

Guests were welcomed by Lodders chairman George Campion who commented that while a north-south divide was readily discernible with the recovery more rooted in the south, he was encouraged by signs of a pick up in the Midlands property market.

Picture by John James.

34

Over 100 invited guests heard Lodders senior partner David Lodder announce the dawn of a new era in legal services in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.

The law firm, which has served its local communities from its Stratford-upon-Avon and Henley-in-Arden offices for over 225 years, has opened a major office in Cheltenham.

Mr Lodder said the launch was based on the firm’s core services – private client, agricultural and property. The move is being spearheaded by partners Robin Beckley, Paul Mourton and Penny Gladman, all of whom have a long established track record in the area. The reception was held at the Mercure Cheltenham Queens Hotel, Cheltenham, only yards from Lodders’ new offices at 25 Imperial Square.

33

A Stratford lawyer is celebrating a career success after becoming a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the industry body which focuses on professional development for those specialising in family inheritance and succession planning.

For Laura Eaves, an associate with Lodders Solicitors, obtaining the Society’s diploma is the culmination of four exams and two years of study.

“I’m very pleased,” she said. “It was hard work but the qualification is both important and well recognised.

“I find this area of the law particularly rewarding because you tend to be helping people often at one of the most difficult times of their lives.”

Ms Eaves joined Lodders as a trainee in 2006 and qualified in 2008.

A member of the Stratford-upon-Avon litigation team within the private client department, her role involves contentious trusts, disputed estates and inheritance claims as well as general wills and probate.

32

Law firm Lodders has celebrated its arrival in Cheltenham with a major client win.

It will now be advising Huntsmans Quarries based at Naunton near Stow-on the Wold, a privately owned 77-year-old business that employs over 60 local people and owns approximately 400 acres of land

With the business looking to expand as the construction market picks up, it has turned to Lodders for all its legal needs but particularly those relating to property acquisition.

Paul Mourton, a partner in the Cheltenham office which the Stratford-upon-Avon headquartered firm opened on Monday, September 30, said Huntsmans Quarries was looking to expand and diversify.

“We have already advised them on two acquisitions,” he commented.

“The first involves purchasing extra land in order to extend the existing quarry at Naunton while the second is for a new depot near Evesham.”

Today Huntsmans principally produces aggregates and agricultural lime but also natural building stone, walling and roofing. Some of the aggregates are converted into concrete products such as readymixed concrete and their Atlas Walling and Fieldstone Conservation Roofing.

Huntsmans also operate a construction and demolition waste facility for the North Cotswolds whereby waste from local construction projects can be reprocessed for use as aggregates.

Essentially they serve a local market with 90 per cent of products going within 25 miles and provide a one stop shop for the local and not so local contractors.

Huntsmans Quarries managing director David Glenn said: “Following the financial crash and the UK’s plunge into recession, output reduced by over 50 per cent. “Fortunately, the industry has at long last turned the corner and local construction and farming seem to be on the up.

“We are now investing in the future and are pleased to be working with Lodders who have taken the time to understand our business and that gives me confidence we are valued and not just a number.”

33

The Warwickshire and Gloucestershire firm is rated in the top tier for agricultural and private client work, and this year the real estate team is rated in the second tier of legal firms outside of Birmingham.

Legal 500, the trade “bible” for lawyers, comments that Lodders “has a sizeable and highly knowledgeable team. It recently assisted in the resolution of a potential family dispute over the winding-up of an estate and the partition of a farm between farming and non-farming beneficiaries.

The guide describes senior partner David Lodder as ‘exceptional’ and partner Alex Robinson as “very efficient”

In the area of personal tax, trusts and probate, Lodders has a “very strong offering”. It focuses on high net worth individuals with multiple business interests, and acts for a number of Sunday Times Rich List clients.

Partners Martin Green and Stephen Brignull are described as ‘technically very strong and pragmatic”, and the guide notes that partner Helen Rowett joined the team, based in the Henley-in-Arden office, this year from Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham.

Commenting on the firm’s growing real estate work, Legal 500 notes that Lodders’ “driven” team is “very responsive” and is appreciated for its “partner-led approach”. Team head Nick East is “very experienced”, and Mark Lee “thrives on getting the deal done”. The firm recently acted for IM Properties in its purchase of a retail warehouse for over £8 million.Lodders managing parter Rod Bird said: “Once again this is most welcome recognition of the firm’s strengths and we are particularly pleased that our growing real estate team is getting the attention it deserves.“As a firm, we are well positioned to advise the Midlands and Cotswolds’ high net worth individuals on a business, private, property and agricultural basis and focus on these key areas is central to our growth plans.

”Lodders opened a new office in Cheltenham on Monday, September 30. Partners Paul Mourton, Robin Beckley and Penny Gladman are to continue the push into Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds which was started with the opening of an office in Cirencester in 2009 – which has now merged into the new office at 25 Imperial Square, Cheltenham.

18

Real estate lawyers at Lodders Solicitors have given a guarded welcome to the Government’s empty property rate relief scheme for newly built commercial property which comes into effect on Tuesday, October 1.

Amy Bloomer, a trainee solicitor in Lodders real estate team, said: “The new exemptions cover properties that are completed after October 1 this year and before September 30, 2016, and those that are unoccupied for the first 18 months after their completion.

The temporary scheme states that empty non-domestic properties that currently qualify for a three month (retail property) or six month (industrial and warehouse property) rate-free period may benefit from a further 15 or 12 months of rate relief. The scheme is subject to state aid limits.

Miss Bloomer said: “If during the exemption there is a period of occupancy of the property of six weeks or less, the occupancy will be ignored and the business rates exemption will continue to run.

“If however, the property is let or occupied for more than six weeks during the exemption, the rates exemption will end at the start of the occupancy with a new exemption able to be claimed should the property become vacant again, if the property still satisfies the necessary criteria.”

The measure is intended as an aid to stimulate construction.

By reducing the risk of paying empty property rates on a newly built commercial property should the property not become fully occupied straight away should incentivise some commercial property projects to go ahead, helping to stimulate the construction industry.

Miss Bloomer said: “While this encouraging for those currently contemplating new commercial building construction it is disappointing as, at the same time, we are being told that there are no changes proposed to relief for empty buildings generally.

“This is a disappointment for landlords with empty properties and also those who are renovating property which is then not let or sold.”