Thrings Solicitors in Bristol, Bath, Swindon, London | Thrings Mon, 10 Feb 2020 16:57:06 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Why you need a contract ahead of building works Tue, 11 Feb 2020 08:30:16 +0000 Construction specialist, Eszter Lakos, discusses the benefits of agreeing the terms of a project with your builder in advance - and in writing.

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Drawing up a contract with your building contractor ahead of embarking on a project will help ensure that your works are completed on time and to budget. Importantly, they also set out the parties’ rights and remedies in case something goes wrong.

Three key points to remember are:

You might have entered into a construction contract without having agreed it in writing.

A construction contract is, in essence, an agreement to carry out certain building works in return for payment. A legally binding contract may be formed, for example, by accepting the builder’s verbal quote for the agreed works and by allowing the works to be carried out. It is possible to enter into a contract by way of a simple handshake.

The risk of relying on a verbal contract is that: if there is a dispute, for example about the quality or timing of the builder’s works, or payment terms, there is no written record of what was agreed.

When the parties fail to agree the key terms of a project, whether it be the budget or scope of works, common questions to arise include:

  • Do I have to pay for unwanted work? If so, how much?
  • What are my rights and obligations (and those of the building contractor)?

‘Informal’ contracts could be suitable for smaller projects – but there are risks.

For smaller projects, such as the building of a new barn or extension of a house, a contract might be formed by the exchange of letters or emails recording what the parties have agreed. These can even reference drawings showing the works to be carried out. In other cases, the builder’s terms and conditions might be attached to their quote.

These types of contracts, in normal circumstances, do not set out in detail the key terms necessary to avoid common disputes. For example:

  • The scope of the works and what happens if variations are required during the build.
  • Who is responsible for obtaining and paying for the various consents (such as planning permission).
  • When and what payments are due, and what happens if they are not paid on time.
  • How to deal with extra costs and overruns.
  • What happens if the works are not concluded on time.
  • If there is a defect following completion of the works, is the builder required to rectify this? And who pays? You can learn more about this here.

The benefits of having a ‘formal’ contract are certainty and clarity of terms.

There are many more benefits to having a written contract. For example, if a dispute arises without a formal contract in place, you and the building contractor are likely to incur legal and other fees disputing what was agreed in the building contract. These costs will often exceed the cost of formalising your agreement at the outset.

There are a range of standard contracts offered by industry bodies like the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT), which make for a good starting point. Where there is doubt or complexity in the project requirements, risk can be further reduced by involving a legal professional.

Whilst a construction contract cannot completely eliminate all the stress that might be involved in a construction project, it will provide transparency and clarity on what is expected of you and your building contractor.

To find out more on the topic of this article, or to discuss your construction project, please get in touch with Eszter Lakos or a member of the Construction team.

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Innovating? How to protect your intellectual property Mon, 10 Feb 2020 08:30:15 +0000 Imagining herself a product innovator for a day, intellectual property (IP) expert Megan Jefferies runs through the steps of her IP strategy – from the idea stage to commercialisation.  

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You have had a lightbulb moment and are sure your idea for a consumer product or innovative technology is going to take the market by storm. But have you protected your intellectual property (IP) from the start? Not doing so could put a damper on your entrepreneurial plans or next product launch.

Writing for Business Leader, Megan Jefferies, partner and commercial litigator at Thrings, plays the role of innovator by day and solicitor by night. Setting out to invent self-heating gloves, she works through the stages of product development, showing readers of the business magazine when intellectual property needs to be protected.

Protecting an idea “from the word go” is important, she writes. While the tools to use “will depend on what is unique about the product or brand”, patents, design rights and trademarks should all be considered right from the start.

Keeping notes of meetings, brainstorms and designs at all stages of development will help prove ownership, if challenged.

From non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) during the development stage, to ensuring a product does not infringe others’ IP, tweaking designs during the testing phase, to making sure the product and brand continue to be protected in the EU post-Brexit – all this and more is covered in the full article.

To read Megan’s piece in Business Leader, please click here.

Thrings is proud to be sponsoring the Innovation & Technology category at the Business Leader Awards 2020.

To discuss protecting your innovations or brand, please get in touch Megan Jefferies.

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The true cost of keeping Flybe airborne Fri, 07 Feb 2020 09:40:13 +0000 Mark Cullingford, partner in Thrings’ Restructuring and Insolvency team, discusses the rescue package recently offered to Flybe by the Government, and asks what's in the price of an airline ticket?

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The Government has been considering providing support to Flybe amid suggestions – many from competitors – that it would constitute state aid and afford the ailing airline an unfair competitive advantage, and claims that failing businesses shouldn’t be propped up.

There has been much discussion about commercial terms being required, but is that enough? Is the Government partly motivated by non-commercial reasons when it comes to offering support? Is that appropriate and what special price should that command?

Many businesses provide something ‘special’. It might be a product consumers need or have come to rely on. It could be a service that offers a genuine benefit or meets a social need. But do airlines fall into this category – and does Flybe provide a service that fills a need that other carriers do not or will not provide?

If it does, how would special commercial loan terms be priced if, for example, the fundamental risk of failure includes the costs of repatriation of customers that may fall on the CAA and Government and may not be fully recoverable? How are such other benefits factored into the pricing? What price should the Government charge for such a loan and what should be required of the current stakeholders (secured lenders, creditors and shareholders)?

Other businesses and services engender local or central government moral and financial support. In some circumstances the Government may feel compelled to provide support for a public need if a private business fails (as reflected by the Government fronting the £50m cost of repatriation of passengers when Monarch Airlines failed in 2017).

Further education colleges, hospitals, rail operators, insurance companies and banks can also go bust. If they do, substantial costs fall on the community. They have all secured some structural support through ‘special administration’ processes being available to them which support an adjusted objective to other administrations – e.g. to provide for the completion of further education courses in a number of ways ahead of the general interests of creditors (see note for example). These have developed since 2006. In effect these change the risks of insolvency in a specific sector.

Airlines have secured a focus for support via the Airline Insolvency Review – published in 2019 following the Monarch administration – and promises of legislation for a further Special Administration Regime (SAR) that are summarised in a recently published Commons Briefing Paper and report.

The primary purpose of this SAR would be the repatriation of stranded passengers (this would take precedence over duties to creditors).

Other key elements of the proposed SAR are:

  • The appointed special administrator (an insolvency practitioner) would be under a duty to use all available funds until repatriation is concluded;
  • The Secretary of State for Transport would control the identity of the special administrator and be able to prevent alternative insolvency proceedings being commenced in the UK. This is common in existing SARs for other sectors;
  • An enhanced moratorium to prevent creditors taking legal action for a 14-day period at the start of the special administration, including to prevent key suppliers such as aircraft lessors and fuel suppliers from terminating contracts or demanding ransom payments. (According to the report, the key challenge is ensuring this is respected in other jurisdictions which may require the special administrator to pay those overseas creditors threatening action.);
  • Arrangements to ensure funding is available to enable the special administrator to achieve the purpose of the special administration. (For example, arranging payment agreements with staff and suppliers to ensure costs associated with repatriation would be paid as expenses of the administration.); and
  • The Secretary of State would have an express power to provide a grant, loan or indemnity to the special administrators to alleviate concerns over their personal liability.

That seems likely to form part of a range of financial measures that include airlines providing ring-fenced capital funds to meet repatriation costs, a new ‘Flight Protection Scheme’, to protect passengers if an airline became insolvent while they were abroad to include a levy (less than 50p per passenger) on flying customers.

The proposed legislation has, however, not quite made it to the departure lounge. So, for now, continue to take care when buying your ticket and travel insurance as the principle consumer protections still lie in Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) bonding, travel insurance and the protection provided to all purchases using credit cards.

To discuss this article further, or for more information about issues arising from financial distress affecting businesses and individuals, please contact Mark Cullingford.

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Is it me? Thu, 06 Feb 2020 08:30:11 +0000 Thrings partner John Davies gets hot under the collar about other road users’ antics in the first ‘Is it me?’ of 2020.

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Hello everybody. Happy New Year and all that. I hope you had a good one and that 2020 brings you health, prosperity and happiness.

On that last limb, you’ll be relieved – and maybe not surprised – to know I’m still fairly crabby, so I thought I’d share my latest line of misery with you.

I should perhaps preface the following moanfest by acknowledging that during these times of heightened global tension, economic uncertainty across Europe, and of course the devastating fires being suffered by our cousins in Australia, I’m aware there are far bigger issues out there. So, yes, I accept my grumpiness is a little petty (or should that be extremely petty?) but here goes anyway.

Indicators on cars. We all have them. They’re pretty front and centre for drivers. So why do some people refuse to use them?

Idiots the lot of them. I recently found myself waiting at a busy four-exit roundabout on a main road. About two-thirds of my fellow motorists used their indicators, thereby allowing the rest of us to make sensible driving decisions. But the remaining third? Well, I’m sure you can guess.

What is wrong with these people? Do they think the rest of us have somehow mutated, expanding and enhancing the psychic possibilities of our frontal lobes? Well, spoiler alert: I’m neither Uri Geller nor Derren Brown, so I’d appreciate it if you’d simply lift your finger, poke the stalk and let me know where the hell you’re going because your mind bullets are missing the target, mate! How hard can it be? If you want to go left, pull the lever down and take away the mystery. You never know you might even enjoy the ensuing tick-tock sound, the one that nobody knows where it comes from.

While I’m on the subject, despite my miserable ramblings I’m a pretty polite and happy driver. I’ll always give you a cheeky flash or raise a hand to show you my appreciation when you’ve done something gracious on the tarmac. And why wouldn’t I? If you let me out or through, bless you; and the least you deserve is a smile and a friendly gesture.

But it’s a two-way street (if you’ll forgive the pun). I’ve got to be honest: when I’ve carried out an act of generosity on the highway I like an appreciative nod or a xenon blast to acknowledge it. Some people simply don’t give a horn’s toot, driving by as though their fellow road users owe them something. What is their problem? Come on folks, it’s common courtesy.

I’m actually getting a bit irritated writing this so I’d best stop now.

But if you’re reading this and you’re one of those non-indicating, flash-less, gesture-inhibited road users, why not make 2020 the year of change? Give the little stick a poke or raise a couple of happy fingers in acknowledgement. You’ll feel better for it…and so will I.

To read the article in The Business Exchange, please click here.

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Farmers Weekly Business Clinic: Can self-employed worker enjoy same benefits as FTE? Wed, 05 Feb 2020 11:51:22 +0000 Natalie Ward discusses employment status with Farmers Weekly.

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A self-employed farmworker has recently stopped working for a client after more than a year. No written contract or employment terms were ever agreed between the two parties, with the worker invoicing the farm every month.

But having only provided the farm with labour – she used its tools, tractors and other equipment – the worker believes she should have been treated as an employee and entitled to the benefits enjoyed by those hired directly by the farm.

Does the worker have a case?

In this month’s Business Clinic Natalie Ward, a senior associate in Thrings’ Employment and Immigration team, assesses the farmworker’s situation and explains who should be responsible for her holiday pay, pension contributions and National Insurance contributions.

Click here to read the full article in Farmers Weekly.  

To discuss this matter further, please contact Natalie Ward or another member of Thrings’ specialist Agriculture or Employment & Immigration teams.

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Thrings Eats with…John and Sarah Mills of Parsonage Farm Mon, 03 Feb 2020 10:50:09 +0000 Thrings and the Countryside Education Trust go in search of those at the heart of Hampshire’s food-producing community.

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Following on from the successful ‘Thrings Meets’ series, ‘Thrings Eats’ celebrates the businesses, groups and organisations that put food at the heart of Hampshire.

The project is being run by Thrings in support of the Countryside Education Trust (CET), the charity which aims to help children and adults learn about, understand and care for the countryside.

In the second article in the series, Thrings partner Mark Charter meets John and Sarah Mills, a husband-and-wife team who found their niche in British charcuterie thanks to a Royal connection.

Click here to read Hampshire Life’s article in full.

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Fourth care home acquired for South West group Mon, 27 Jan 2020 08:30:56 +0000 Family-run care home business, JAMMAC Group, has added a fourth home to its growing portfolio of residential care facilities with the help of Thrings.

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Gloucestershire headquartered JAMMAC Group has purchased Longview Care Home in Truro. The home accommodates 28 residents and specialises in the provision of care for those suffering from dementia and mental health conditions.

Purchased in December 2019 from the owners, who had run the care home for 15 years, the acquisition marks a continued period of expansion for the family business, which is led by husband and wife, Mike and Christine Westmore, with the increasing support of their three daughters and son.

Providing specialist corporate legal advice to the group were Thrings partner Simon Hore, assisted by solicitor Steven Rice. Associate Rebecca Whiting advised on the property-related matters of the deal, with Carey Willis Fleming, associate, providing employment support.

The acquisition comes a year after JAMMAC Group purchased Lilena Residential Care Home in Newquay. Thrings also advised on the deal.

Santander provided funding for both acquisitions.

Other than the Longview and Lilena residencies, the group owns and manages Rowan House in Saltash and The Crescent in Newquay. All four homes in Cornwall care for the elderly and specialise in mental health issues including Alzheimer’s, dementia, schizophrenia, challenging behaviour and sensory impairment.

Taking on the role of managing director at Longview, Mike Westmore, said: “Longview provides some of the best care in the area and is set in three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. We look forward to getting to know the staff and residents, and adding value to this already excellent facility.

“Thank you to the team at Thrings, once again, for their diligent work. Their expertise and personal attention reassured us every step of the way and ensured we were able to complete within the required timeframe.”

Simon Hore added: “Thrings is pleased to have supported this growing family business with their latest acquisitions. With solid experience in the care home sector, we are confident in Mike and Christine’s ability to successfully grow the business further into Cornwall and beyond.”

The JAMMAC Group transactions are the latest in a series of care homes deals advised by Thrings. Further to providing legal support to buyers and sellers, Thrings has advised a number of leading banks on lending for care home acquisitions.


To discuss your merger or acquisition (M&A) queries with an expert, please get in touch with a member of Thrings’ Corporate team.

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New year, new you, new will Thu, 23 Jan 2020 08:30:57 +0000 The New Year is a time to reflect and make positive changes. One question we should be asking ourselves is: do I have my affairs in order? In the latest edition of Bath & Wiltshire Parent, senior private client associate, Penelope Munro, looks at why we should make sure we have a will in place – and that it’s up to date.

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Statistics suggest that only one third of us have made a will – and of these wills, a number might have been prepared a long time ago, meaning that they’re likely to be outdated.

Considering the effort that many of us go to in order to accumulate wealth, it may come as a surprise that so few make arrangements for it to be distributed as we would like it to when our time comes.

Admittedly, it can be difficult for people to turn their mind to such things, especially so soon after the festive period.

However, it’s a good time to make positive changes – and not just of the ‘reducing chocolate consumption’ variety.

At the top of your New Year’s resolution list should be the preparation, or updating, of a will – especially if there are children in the picture.

Without a will

If a valid will is not in place, intestacy rules dictate what happens to your estate when you die. While these rules attempt to ensure a balanced distribution of wealth between a person’s closest surviving relatives, experience tells a different story.

The allocation of assets, in line with the rules, can cause additional upset, distress and disputes between those left behind – only adding to the trauma of a loved one’s passing.

Making your own choices

For parents and carers, the most important thing may be to ensure the wellbeing of your children. Making a will allows you to appoint guardians to look after them when you’re gone. This can be a very difficult decision to make for parents – but would you prefer someone else to make that call? Time and forethought are the key to arriving at the right decision. Don’t forget to discuss it with your preferred guardians before finalising the process.

Of course, a valid will also allows you to distribute your assets to those you wish to benefit from them. Importantly, it lets you, through the appointment of executors, choose who you trust to deal with your affairs when you pass. It’s worth remembering that, despite being a common myth to the contrary, an executor can also be a beneficiary.

If you have personal mementoes that you want specific individuals to have, or you wish to leave as a gift to charity, a valid will can help you do that too.

Is my will valid?

There are certain formalities which have to be complied with in order for a will to be recognised as a legal document. Speaking to a legal adviser to ensure you’ve taken the necessary steps, and considered all the possibilities, is always advisable.

You can download the article, as published in Bath & Wiltshire Parent, here.

For more information, or to discuss your will, please contact Penelope Munro in our Bath office, or another member of the Wills and Probate team.

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New Real Estate seminar series: launch event shines a spotlight on development Tue, 21 Jan 2020 09:09:00 +0000 Thrings’ new seminar series, launched today, will help developers, real estate and construction professionals to navigate the development process, from site acquisition through to lettings and disposal.

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Competition for sites, access to development finance and ever-changing planning policy represent just a few of the multiple challenges that developers face in today’s market.

Responding to these hurdles, Thrings is bringing together its specialists from across the firm’s five offices to deliver the Real Estate & Development Seminar Series.

The events, which  kicked off today in Bristol, will help those involved in the development of real estate – residential and commercial schemes – to navigate the full development cycle, from site acquisition through to lettings and disposal, including plot sales.

Today’s sold out event will focus on acquisitions and disposals, with 60 developers, agents and building consultancies hearing from our experts on:

  • Title issues and Heads of Terms
  • Overage
  • Restrictive covenants and easements
  • Planning and environmental issues
  • Construction procurement and security
  • Development finance
  • Top tips and practical considerations


Speaking from Thrings’ Development team are:


Further seminars will take place throughout the year. Get in touch to receive information on upcoming events.

To discuss your related issue, please get in touch with a member of the Construction & Engineering, Commercial Property, Planning or Property Litigation team.

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Ancre Hill Estate Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:24:05 +0000 Thrings TV looks at the Ancre Hill estate where wines of the highest quality are produced using biodynamic and organic practices.

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Thrings TV looks at the Ancre Hill estate where wines of the highest quality are produced using biodynamic and organic practices.

The post Ancre Hill Estate appeared first on Thrings.