Spring is coming

If firms are trying to shed staff the requirements of employment law are that certain procedures have to be followed and if not the employers could find themselves spending a day in the Bristol Employment Tribunal which is a very grim place. Firms often like to short circuit this by providing the departing employee with a compromise agreement which in effect arranges for the employee to receive a payment on signing an agreement that he will not make any claims whatsoever against the employer.

We had quite a few of these last year but fewer recently which must give us cause for optimism about where we are going. We have been receiving more instructions on house purchases and after quite a battering with the banks losing their cool and bringing our two offices in Sherston and Tetbury together I feel we can at last settle down and look to the future with optimism. We are a family firm. This means our aim is to look after small businesses as well as private individuals whether they are involved in divorce, death or road accidents.

One of my more recent interesting experiences was to go to the new 15 million pound court centre in Salisbury because I thought if I started issuing divorce petitions there I would not have to endure negotiating with other lawyers in the airless waiting area of the Swindon County Court. In the days of the old Salisbury County Court, I would park in the White Hart Hotel car park, have a coffee and then stagger into the court itself but now the new court down Wilton Road has no parking facilities at all. When I asked the court clerk how they overcame this problem she advised me that all the Salisbury solicitors used their bus passes to get to and from court and so that says something about the age of the criminal advocate. I agree though our work is very much a social enterprise and experience helps when you are dealing with someone who is going through a very nasty divorce or a sudden death such as three suicide cases that we have had to look after recently.

An agent asked me if I could help out on some commercial leases because some of the larger firms around were so interested in the mega rich cases that they were delegating their work to the inexperienced who did not know how to progress the case at all. Inexperience can lead to loss of common sense.Following use of the computer, solicitors have been keen to protect themselves by what is known as the standard client care letter, which can run to several pages. Without thinking of the individual, to whom you are writing, you might scare him off. This is why I am optimistic about our own future. We have been picking up cases from firms who forget that they are dealing with real people.

by MichaelHodge,