In the latest in our My Life in Law series, we speak to Paralegal, Humera Patel. Humera joined the firm in September 2021 having cut her teeth in the legal industry at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Forbes Solicitors, where she assisted on a variety of corporate matters.

We hear all about her typical day, career goals and balancing a love of keeping fit with a love of eating out!

Tell us a little about your role at Pannone?

I work as part of the Corporate Services team and assist by drafting, negotiating and reviewing legal documents during corporate transactions.

I have been lucky enough to get involved with a wide range of work – from mergers and acquisitions to company re-organisations, investments and company secretarial work. The list just keeps getting longer, but it’s brilliant to get an insight into the full spectrum of services we offer.

Why did you join Pannone?

Pannone is one the best known innovative and collaborative law firms in the North. I was initially attracted to the firm due to its high calibre of clients, but from my first interview I knew Pannone was the right place for me.

The people and the culture of the firm really enhanced my belief that it would be a positive and inspirational place to work and, having now worked here for over a year, I can confirm my assumptions were correct!

The approachability of the senior members of the firm fosters a collaborative and supportive environment which makes a huge difference.

What route did you go down, in terms of training and qualifications?

I went down the traditional route: I studied law at the University of Central Lancashire, before undertaking the Legal Practice Course at University of Law.

My aspiration of pursuing a career in commercial law stems from my interest in both business and law – the synergies between these two fields are constantly growing and encompasses various aspects. I was always intrigued with the complexities of the legal system and how legislation constantly evolves, knowing that my job would never be a boring one!

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Completing a transaction and meeting the clients expectations – definitely. After all the hard work, it’s exciting to get a deal over the line.

What does a typical day look like?

Very busy! I start my day with checking my emails and going through the day’s tasks. I then attend the corporate team catchup meeting where we discuss our workload and capacity.

I always try to deal with the smaller tasks first thing so that I can focus on the larger tasks throughout the day. The smaller jobs usually involve drafting ancillary documentation, data room management, and responding to internal and external emails.

The larger tasks comprise drafting key legal documents such as SPAs, Disclosure letters and Shareholders Agreements.  In between drafting and responding to emails, I normally attend calls with clients and/or other side solicitors to negotiate and discuss legal documents.

Although the processes remain generally the same, the breadth of clients means that each day is very different and things can often crop up unexpectedly, so it pays to be prepared!

What are your career ambitions?

My immediate goals are to work hard and continue to grow my skillset and knowledge of corporate law. In the future, I aspire to train as a solicitor, build an impressive client portfolio and follow in the footsteps of the partners in the corporate team.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

Give everyone a day off! On a serious note, I would organise a firm-wide social to get to know everyone in the firm better – the power of strong colleague relationships can’t be underestimated.

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law? 

I would have become a primary school teacher; I really enjoy spending time with kids and seeing them develop. Not to mention the holiday perks!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

In my spare time, I enjoy going on long walks and to the gym to keep fit and healthy, this helps me to maintain a healthy work life balance.

I also enjoy socialising with my friends and eating together. I’m a total a foodie; I love trying a variety of different foods from different cuisines. I’d say my favourite is Italian –  I could eat pizza and pasta all day, every day!

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Inspections in the UK’s care sector have fallen dramatically in the last seven years, as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) continues to evolve its regulatory model, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

From 2015 to this year, the number of inspections undertaken by the CQC has dropped by around 97 per cent – from a peak of almost 23,000 to just over 8,000 to date in 2022. Understandably, there was a significant reduction across all types of inspections during 2020 as a result of the pandemic, with the CQC temporarily ceasing all physical inspections from 16 March.

The figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the CQC – conducted by Pannone Corporate – also shows that announced inspections fell from a peak figure 6,684 in 2019 to 3,593, with unannounced inspections also decreasing, from 19,586 in 2016 to 4,663 to date in 2022.

Bill Dunkerley, regulatory lawyer and associate partner at law firm, Pannone Corporate, commented: “It’s very clear that the coronavirus pandemic had a profound effect on the CQC’s ability to carry out inspections within the care sector, despite a number of inspections taking place by means of its Emergency Support Framework.

“However, what is clear from the figures is that inspections have been progressively declining over a number of years, from their peak in 2016. The reason for this decline is unclear, given that inspections are the primary way the CQC monitors compliance. Anecdotally, there may have been an initial backlog from when the new legislation came into force, with the CQC reviewing every application for re-registration.

“As the Commission continues to capture information and rate providers in accordance with the new standards, there is less need for unannounced inspections, with Inspectors proceeding instead by way of ongoing monitoring and announced follow-up visits in response to specific concerns received. This reflects the CQC’s revised – and evolving – regulatory model, which emphasises targeted inspections in response to specific concerns received. Moving forward, this risk-based approach is likely to continue as part of the Commission’s move towards a ‘single inspection framework’ and programme of rolling multi-point assessments.”

The research also shows that between 11 November 2021 and 15 March 2022, when vaccination was a condition of deployment, the CQC received 13,339 concern, safeguarding and whistle-blowing enquiries. By contrast, the total number of concern enquiries received by the CQC in 2019 as a whole was just over 43,000.

Dunkerley said: “During a short period of time, the number of concern enquiries remained at a high level. However, the annual figures are broadly consistent over a number of years which indicates perhaps that the presence of COVID-19 had little impact on the number of complaints generated.

“What is evident from the CQC figures is that in terms of enforcement, notices remain by far the single most commonly used regulatory action by the Commission, accounting for more than half of its enforcement activity.”

The FOI request shows that more than 69,000 requirement notices have been issued since 2015 (3,099 in 2022 to date), with over 7,000 warning notices during the same period (152 during 2022 to date).

Dunkerley added: “The changing landscape and evolving position of the CQC cannot detract from the fact that the Commission is still eager to impose conditions, cancel registrations and vary conditions of care providers. With the number of legal reviews standing at 132, it’s imperative that service providers review their procedures, systems and address risk areas in anticipation of inspection or intervention. The most effective management, however, is to avoid the initial set of circumstances that bring about regulatory intervention or investigation.”

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Pannone Corporate has strengthened its HR and employment law offering for businesses with the launch of a menopause toolkit.

The menopause toolkit will provide employers with a package of materials and legal support to ensure businesses can provide meaningful support to employees managing symptoms of the menopause. 

The launch follows a lengthy inquiry by the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) into menopause and the workplace at which Pannone Corporate gave evidence, providing legal insight from an employer’s perspective to illuminate best practice and shared challenges.

According to the WEC, almost a million women in the UK have left jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms. A recent survey commissioned by the committee also found that nearly a third of women miss work due to menopause symptoms and that the vast majority don’t ask for support, mainly because of concerns about how others may react.

The Pannone Corporate menopause toolkit includes an initial assessment of current relevant policies and procedures, a menopause policy which is tailored to each individual business and their needs, guidance for managers, delivery of staff training alongside the policy launch, and a six-month review meeting.

Chloe Pugh, an employment associate at Pannone Corporate, said: “The menopause is a topic that is being discussed in public arenas more than ever before and the subject is, quite rightly, becoming less of a taboo. As awareness of this issue increases, it is important that employers create a culture where staff feel they can request, and will get, support with any menopause related issues they are facing. A failure to deal with such requests appropriately or at all could result in businesses losing valuable employees and potentially facing tribunal claims for sex, age or disability discrimination.”

If you are interested in getting the menopause toolkit for your business, please get in touch with Fiona Hamor on fiona.hamor@pannonecorporate.com or call (0)7717 342049



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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border acquisition of Easyairconditioning.com.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to Beijer Ref AB – a Swedish listed business, which specialises in the wholesale of refrigeration and air conditioning products. Through the transaction Beijer Ref will expand its international footprint, strengthening its UK presence through the acquisition of the Midlands-based company.

The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall and included Arshnoor Amershi and Bez Borang.

Tom Hall said: “This is a fantastic acquisition for Beijer Ref, and cements its commitment to the UK market, as the company looks to grow its presence through a proven and highly successful network of 70-plus subsidiaries across Europe, Asia, Pacific and Africa. Easyairconditioning.com is a perfect fit for the business and complements its existing network in the UK.

“This cross-border transaction is yet another demonstration of the increasing appetite of large international businesses that have a strategic focus on the UK, using buy and build as an effective way to enter or expand into an overseas market. This has been a popular theme throughout 2022, with Pannone supporting large international clients on a number of significant cross border acquisitions this year, including acting for global cloud platform Esker on its acquisition of a controlling stake in Market Dojo, advising Dutch flower distributor van Duyvenvoorde on a significant UK acquisition and advising Argenbright on its strategic investment in Amberstone Security.

Easyairconditioning.com was established in 2001 and delivers a range of AC and heat recovery system solutions to business and domestic markets.

Christopher Norbye, CEO Beijer Ref, said: “With over two decades of experience, Easy Air Conditioning has accumulated a well-established customer base. They have a dedicated and committed team and we are pleased to welcome Easy Air Conditioning to the Beijer Ref group.”

Shakespeare Martineau (Michael Stace and Matthew Shephard) advised Easyairconditioning.com on the transaction.

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The Legal 500 rankings have been released, with Pannone Corporate once again performing exceptionally well in the annual listings. In total, 26 lawyers feature in Legal 500 UK commentary for their standout contribution to their respective practices. This includes:

The firm’s practice areas also continue to rank highly amongst those within the profession. Pannone has top tier practice areas in TMT/ media and entertainment and private client litigation. A further 12 practices areas are ranked and recommended in the listings. These cover:

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, commented: “Once again, the firm has demonstrated both strength and depth in key practice areas, by delivering high quality, commercial and practical legal advice to clients across a broad range of sectors and specialisms.

“We’re delighted to be ranked so highly across a large number of core practice areas with 10 practice areas featuring in tiers three and above.

“The team continues to deliver exceptional work for our clients and this is shown in the number of individuals who are recognised by the Legal 500 – whether that’s seasoned professionals, or future talent coming through the ranks. What’s always particularly pleasing is the number of positive comments that are made by clients, which feature so prominently in this year’s research.”

Standout comments include:

‘This company really does work together to get the best advice and knowledge to give the client the best service and outcome.’

‘Pannone are highly professional, committed and thorough. Very personable and highly experienced, they cleverly see around corners and help protect concepts, IP and business projects for the future. Good to have alongside any venture.’

‘This practice exceeds all expectations and always meets our needs in full. There are a range of specialists available who always deliver exactly what we need.’

‘They know what we do, how we operate and have made themselves indispensable. They see risks, opportunities and weaknesses that we don’t; they go over and above the brief.’

‘The team’s strength lies in efficiently making complex matters understandable and providing practical tools to achieve the desired goal.’

‘Pannone Corporate strikes nicely the fine balance between the big law firm capacity to handle a complex case without losing the small law firm responsiveness and personal touch. They work and communicate well as a team. High-profile commercial litigators.’

‘Pannone Corporate is a firm with an extremely strong presence in property litigation. They have an excellent client base in the North West of England and are strong enough to take on a wide range of clients from around the country. The firm has achieved prominence through building in-depth expertise in its chosen fields.’

The Legal 500 analyses the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market. The Legal 500 assesses the strengths of law firms in over 150 jurisdictions.

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Georgina Bligh-Smith is a paralegal in our insolvency and restructuring team. But, outside of work, she’s an avid hiker, spending much of her free time climbing some of the UK’s best-known mountains, racking up the miles and reaching new heights, in terms of elevation!

You can follow her climbing exploits on her Instagram page, @hikewithg_, where in the last 10 days she has posted about her greatest challenge yet – Tour du Mont Blanc. Along with her cousin, Danielle, Georgina has taken on the 170km trek, including 10,000m cumulative ascent and descent, with only one backpack and staying in mountain huts along the way.

In preparation for her epic adventure, Georgina has packed in several training hikes, including the Coledale 10 Peak Challenge in the Lake District (10 mountains, 13 miles, and 1700m elevation); Snowdon via Moel Elilio (14 miles, 1600m+ elevation); as well as a 20-mile trek in the Peak District. But nothing compares to the triumph of completing the Tour du Mont Blanc – all in aid of The Ella Dawson Foundation set up in memory of the 24-year-old who sadly passed away from a rare and aggressive form of blood cancer in July 2021.

Georgina’s 10-day journey began on 21 August at Les Houches, before arriving at the first refuge point in Auberge le Truc via Col du Tricot, with further stops in de la Balme; des Mottets (which included a well-deserved dip in fresh glacier water after tackling Tete des Nord Fours (2756m high); a celebratory Aperol Spritz at Maision Viellle, after crossing the border between France and Italy on day four; a big hike across Grand Col Ferret on day six, taking the duo out of Italy and into Switzerland; before finishing back at Les Houches after 15+ miles on 30 August.

After completing the Tour du Mont Blanc challenge, Georgina said: “This was a trip of a lifetime, not just because of the unbelievable mountain scenery throughout, but because we had the chance to connect with likeminded people from across the world on the same journey as us. Hiking six to eight hours a day for 10 days straight was tough, but the views were worth it!

“My cousin is close friends with Ella’s family, so it feels particularly special to us to have been able to raise awareness of the Foundation in the process.”

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, added: “Huge congratulations to Georgina on completing this epic adventure! We knew Georgina had a love of hiking, but to take on such a long distance hike in the Alps is extremely impressive. It’s a fantastic achievement for a wonderful cause and Georgina should be incredibly proud of her feat.”

If you would like to donate to the Ella Dawson Foundation and support Georgina’s charity challenge, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/ella-dawson-foundaton

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Welcome to our new look IP update – the latest insight into the cases and developments in IP law. We’ll uncover the news stories most relevant to you and provide insight into what they mean for your business.

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“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success,” said Alexander Graham Bell. Sometimes as HR leaders, it can feel that you have to prepare for every eventuality as you can never predict what the next call or issue may be. But how can you prepare for you or any of your colleagues giving evidence at an employment tribunal?

Our mock employment tribunal training session gives managers and HR teams the opportunity to experience what could happen at this type of hearing and to take part as witnesses! Based on a fictional scripted scenario, we explain the set up and procedure of an employment tribunal hearing and provide you and your colleagues with the experience of giving witness evidence and being cross examined by a legal professional. You will have the opportunity to consider and discuss whether the claimant will win or lose, before hearing the final judgment.

This preparation can make a world of difference to future outcomes because participants will better understand the importance of following fair processes, documenting decisions and the potential consequences of failing to do so. It also gives you the opportunity to see how an employment tribunal operates and what sort of factors make the difference between winning and losing, as well as being quite good fun!

Here’s what some of our participants said:

John Wrigglesworth, Operations Manager, Rail Gourmet

“I found the mock tribunal very useful. Certainly, in how the judge rules, and the rationale behind it. Understanding the legal rationale more than I did and then the emphasis on witnesses coming across as credible were my main takeaways.

“Prior to that I thought the written evidence/bundle held far more sway but your credibility on the stand counts for a lot.”

 James Turner, Head of People Services, SSP

“A fantastic event which prompted really good participation and discussion throughout from the audience. Essential training for any leader who hosts any type of ER meeting with colleagues. Relevant case studies from outside of the business really helped bring alive the need to manage cases thoroughly, applying fair judgement, not just policy and process.”

Kerry Rodgers, Operations Manager, SSP

“It was a fantastic day and certainly an eye opener. It certainly will make me think more when doing grievances and appeals.”

To find out more about how we can support your business through training and development opportunities like these, take a look at the Pannone Academy website.

 

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In the latest of our quarterly retail law updates, we look at the news and legal developments affecting the sector.

It covers the hot topic of user generated content and the legal implications for brands. We also look at the IP case which will have a far-reaching impact on 3D original product and garment designs, as well as a guest post from Mazars on the online sales tax.

Read our quarterly update here

If you would like to discuss these topics in more detail, or have any questions, contact partner, Melanie McGuirk on 07790 882567 or email melanie.mcguirk @pannonecorporate.com

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James Harris joined Pannone in April 2022, having worked as a real estate partner at Knights plc and, prior to that, managing partner at Jolliffe and Co LLP.

As someone who knew from an early age that he wanted to go into law, James chose the traditional route into the profession to reach his goal, before eventually finding a home in real estate, where he specialises in residential and commercial property development, as well as licensing for restaurants and public houses. We caught up with James three months on from joining the firm, to find out more about the real estate partner and Ironman competitor!

What attracted you to Pannone?

Pannone is highly regarded as a forward-thinking firm, which is developing in a sustainable manner and sets out to put clients at the centre of everything it does. That really appealed to me and aligned very much with my own management and leadership style.

Tell us what a typical day looks like?

I’m sure everyone says the same that no day ever looks the same, but typically the day kicks off with staff supervision each morning. I enjoy aspects of what I do, but I especially enjoy the supervision of junior members of staff. The rest of the day is a mixture of departmental management, which can include performance and staff-related issues; working on client matters; and also the all-important job of business development.

As someone who always wanted to go into law, what are your career ambitions?

I want to build the most respected Real Estate Group in the North West and be part of the development of Pannone Corporate over the coming years.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

I’d probably have to say, apply what I learned last time I was managing partner at Jolliffe and Co LLP and do it better this time! However, on a serious note, having that level of management and leadership experience hopefully adds another level to what I can bring to the firm and it’s something I’m very passionate about imparting on the team.

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law? 

Given the area of law I’ve ended up specialising in, I would have to say property development. It’s a fantastic sector and one that’s always been central to the success of the North West.

Thinking more widely, what can the legal profession do to better support clients?

For me, client feedback drives development and clients need to know they can approach you on any matter. Everything then follows from there.

 

 

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border sale of a controlling stake in North West company, Walker Sime.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to the shareholders of Walker Sime, of which shares were acquired by Oregon-based Otak, part of the HanmiGlobal Group. The US company has taken a majority stake in Walker Sime, as part of the deal.

The Pannone team was led by Tim Hamilton (corporate Partner), Miranda Foy and Behzad Borang.

Walker Sime is a multi-disciplinary construction consultancy, which specialises in quantity surveying and project management. It has worked on a number of high-profile projects, including Network Space’s 200,000 sq ft industrial scheme in Altrincham and the £54 million Glass Futures in St Helens.

Tim Hamilton said: “We have worked with Walker Sime for a number of years and have followed the company’s impressive expansion, establishing itself as a leading player in the North West construction market.

“The sale to Otak is a perfect culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the team and a significant milestone in its ongoing growth journey. We were delighted to have acted for the company on this transaction and look forward to watching the next phase of its development, in particular in advanced manufacturing and the low carbon economy.”

The Walker Sime deal comes three years after Otak, a design and project management firm, acquired a majority stake in London-based consultancy K2. As part of the deal, Walker Sime and K2 will merge operations under the Walker Sime name, creating a team of around 130 with a national focus.

The financial advisors to the shareholders of Walker Sime were James Jennings and Chris Bentley of the Strategy Exchange.

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Huge congratulations to Pannone’s Corporate team who were highly commended at this year’s Manchester Legal Awards. Partners, Mark Winthorpe and Tom Hall, were joined by the rest of the team to collect their award in the Team of the Year – Corporate/Commercial category. The MLA recognise and reward the wide range of skills and talent from across the regional legal sector.

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PLG International Lawyers firms, Lamy Lexel and Pannone Corporate, have advised on the cross-border acquisition of UK-based eProcurement software company, Market Dojo.

The two firms were legal advisers to global cloud platform Esker, which has acquired a majority stake in Market Dojo. Esker, which is listed on the Euronext Growth market in Paris, has purchased 50.1% of the shares and voting rights in Market Dojo, with an option to acquire the remainder of the shares after a period of four years.

The Pannone team, led by Tom Hall (corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang, worked alongside Lamy Lexel, its PLG partner in Lyon, who provided French law support to Esker on the transaction. Frédéric Dupont (corporate Partner), Typhanie Le Gall and Pauline Philippon led the corporate team at Lamy Lexel.

Esker, which is headquartered in Lyon, France, is a global cloud platform and leader in AI-driven process automation solutions for finance and customer service functions.

Tom Hall said: “Esker is a world leader in cloud and AI-driven technology, with a significant footprint across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

“This strategic acquisition will undoubtedly strengthen Esker’s presence in the UK, while offering significant international development opportunities. It will also build on the company’s capabilities in traditional markets by enabling Esker to bring eSourcing into its platform proposition. It is, as ever, a pleasure to work alongside Lamy Lexel on another successful transaction.

Frédéric Dupont said: ”Lamy Lexel is delighted to be able to support Esker and its teams, for which we handle the day-to-day market regulation aspects, in a strategic international acquisition. It is a renewed pleasure to collaborate with the Pannone team on sensitive operations in a friendly environment.”

Market Dojo’s eSourcing cloud solution was created to address the need for structured and digitised processes in procurement. Designed by procurement professionals, Market Dojo’s unique on-demand solution enables users to centralise information, negotiate the best value for goods and services, and select the right suppliers.

Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO at Esker, said: “We are pleased to welcome Market Dojo to the Esker family. This acquisition provides new growth opportunities in a developing market and strengthens Esker’s positioning in the global Procure-to-Pay (P2P) arena. Additionally, Market Dojo is an excellent illustration of Esker’s strategy to invest in organic growth combined with targeted acquisitions that offer a high potential for growth.”

Mazars provided financial due diligence and tax support to Esker. Advisors to the shareholders of Market Dojo were: Ryecroft Glenton (corporate finance and tax) and Simon Muirhead Burton (legal).

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In the latest in our series, My Life in Law, we speak to Associate Partner, Jonny Scholes, who has been with the firm since its inception on Valentine’s Day 2014, having worked at the previous incarnation of Pannone, joining as a paralegal in 2005. Having risen through the ranks to become a key member of the dispute resolution team, Jonny talks about his love affair with Pannone Corporate, the ‘speed date’ with partners which made him realise the firm was the one, his long-held ambition to be a professional rugby player, and his side-line in writing children’s picture books!

Tell us a little bit about when you joined Pannone Corporate?

I moved across as part of the management buy-out of the old Pannone LLP (with the remaining team joining Slater & Gordon). I started at the old Pannone as a paralegal for eight months or so in 2005. I’d been offered a training contract and arranged to do some work whilst I was waiting for it to begin. I started life in the travel team in personal injury, dealing with bulk claims involving sickness bugs abroad! I then had a few months off when I travelled across the West and East coasts of America with my brother, before starting my training contract in September 2006.

What did you do before joining?

My only other jobs before working at Pannone were working in my local pub – The Crown in Heaton Mersey – and working as a theatre porter at the Alexander Hospital in Cheadle. I enjoyed both jobs and they gave me some useful transferable skills, particularly in dealing with people, including some who could be a little nervous or wary and others who were a little more difficult! I also did a vacation scheme placement at the old Pannone too.

What’s your role at Pannone?

I’m currently an Associate Partner, having worked my way up through the ranks from my trainee days. I’m in the dispute resolution team and deal with general commercial litigation disputes, with a particular specialism in contentious trust and probate matters.

What drew you to Pannone?

I applied for a training contract with six Manchester firms. Pannone was one of them and stood out as being a full-service law firm, which was good for me as I didn’t know which area of law I wanted to specialise in at that time. In the end, it was the feel of the firm and the people that really attracted me. Pannone was the first of my second interviews for a training contract (a kind of ‘speed date the partners’ over lunch event, which sounds horrendous, but wasn’t too bad!) and I was offered a training contract.  I said I wanted to do a few more interviews before deciding, but after an assessment centre at a large Manchester firm, where it was clear to me the people weren’t as in tune with me as those at Pannone, I came outside, rang Pannone to accept their offer and cancelled my other interviews. I’m pleased to say it’s still the people that make the firm to this day.

What route did you go down, in terms of training and qualifications?

After my A-levels in English Literature, History and Politics, I didn’t want to do any of those as a degree on their own, so I opted for law, which encompassed elements of them all. However, I wasn’t actually planning on going into law as a profession at that time! I did my law degree at Oxford and then had a year out, where I was supposed to be playing rugby in France. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out due to a knee injury. In the end, I went back to Oxford and did a Masters in Criminology – in part to bide me some time to decide what I wanted to do for a career and also to try and get a rugby union blue (but an early season arm break put paid to that!). I applied for training contracts whilst doing my Masters and was offered one at Pannone just before I started my LPC back up in Manchester at Manchester Met. After that I did a stint as a paralegal at Pannone and then began my training contract.

Why did you choose this route?

I guess it was a case of finding my way as I went along. It just took me a bit of time to decide that being a solicitor was a decent fit for me. All in all, the slightly longer approach into the profession has probably made me more well-rounded. 

What’s the most satisfying aspect of your job?

I enjoy working with people and particularly the people at Pannone. It’s nice to see more junior fee earners progress and grow in confidence. In a more, pure work capacity, I’m lucky that my contentious probate cases often give me an opportunity to make a real tangible difference to people’s lives, often in very sad or distressing circumstances for them. That can be very rewarding.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day can often be hectic and is often changeable! My ‘to do’ list alters three or four times a day, most days. I’ll try and get some smaller jobs out of the way first thing and may need to set some time aside for a chunkier piece of work such as drafting a long letter of claim, or preparing instructions to counsel. There’ll normally be an element of supervision in there too: reviewing work done by junior lawyers in the team. Some of my time will be spent on business development issues and no doubt I’ll have a few phone calls and multiple emails in the day as well. Perhaps less frequently I may have a client meeting, conference with counsel, a mediation or even a court hearing and, if I’m lucky, the odd client lunch as well!

What are your career ambitions?

I’ve always had the philosophy of just getting my head down, working hard, and trying to be a good employee to have in the firm! By doing that I’ve always trusted that I would be rewarded at the right time with progression. Thankfully that’s tended to be the case and I’ve progressed each time I’ve felt ready to. Where I’m at now is a good place to be and if I keep on progressing as I am, then one day I’d hope to join the partnership.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

I’d look to set up some kind of fun team building event. Being from a sporting background (rugby), I think building team spirit is essential to a positive and productive environment and building relationships within the workplace only leads to a better culture and then better service delivery. I’d also allow everyone a Friday afternoon in the sun at Dukes (the pub) – also important for team building!

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law? 

If you’d asked me this when I was younger I’d have said a professional rugby player, but now with three children of my own, it would probably be some form of teaching, or writing children’s books! As it is, I’m limited to coaching the ‘Tiny Tacklers’ at my local rugby club, Burnage, on Sunday mornings in the rugby season.

What can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients? Does anything need to change?

The one thing I’ve learned to improve on over time, which I know clients appreciate, is the provision of information. Clients just want to know where things are up to and to be kept informed and updated. Clearly there will be times when you’re busy and you take longer to return pieces of work to clients. I’ll regularly try to send a few short emails at the end of a day if my timescales have slipped to let the client know. They’re generally okay with that and are grateful to be kept informed rather than having to chase. I think this is an area of client service a lot of solicitors can improve on.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

I lead a busy life with my wife Karen and our three children: Tessa (10), Tilly (7) and Toby (4). I love spending time with them and they’re a lot of fun, but it’s non-stop running around after them! Aside from that, spending time with our friends is also important to me, as is exercise. I’ve just finished playing rugby regularly with my club’s third team and am getting into CrossFit, cycling, and dabbling at golf! If you know anyone who could clone me to free up some more time to do all the above that’d be good!

Do you have any particular skills/talents that your work colleagues may not know about?

I read a good bedtime story… and have also written a few children’s picture book texts over the years as a bit of a hobby, some examples being: ‘Nacho Newt and his Parachute’, ‘Flamingo Joe’, ‘The Gnome that Left Home’ and ‘When a Fisherman Caught an Astronaut’! I’ve not written any for a while though, so maybe I need to get back into it! Then I just need to find a good illustrator to bring them to life!

Where do you live?

I live in Heaton Chapel in South Manchester near Stockport. There are quite a few from the office who live in the Heatons and it’s a great place to live – only 10 minutes on the train to Manchester, close to the airport, lots of bars and restaurants, the Savoy cinema, my rugby club and a great community spirit!

 

 

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Pannone Corporate – the North West law firm – has strengthened its commercial and real estate teams with the appointment of Andrew West and James Harris as partners.

Andrew, who set up his own commercial law firm Rushmoor Law 11 years ago, following more than a decade as partner at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, brings more than 30 years’ experience in advising a range of clients on IP/IT, data and commercial issues. Andrew will work alongside partner Amy Chandler in one of the region’s most prominent commercial teams.

James joins from Knights plc, where he was a commercial property partner for more than three years. He was previously the Managing Partner of Chester-based commercial law firm, Jollife & Co LLP, for 12 years. James brings considerable experience in residential and commercial property development, as well as licensing for restaurants and public houses.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Andrew and James to the firm – two senior hires who will add significant strength and depth to our commercial and real estate offering. Both markets have huge potential for us and Andrew and James will complement our existing teams in capitalising on the opportunities for growth.”

Their arrival follows the news that Pannone has been appointed onto the legal framework for the Canal & River Trust. The firm will provide construction and property litigation support, as part of a five-year agreement.

Andrew commented: “Having worked alongside Pannone for a number of years in a consultancy role, I have built up a strong relationship with both the team and clients. When the opportunity arose to join such a well-established firm on a more permanent basis it was an easy decision to make and a seamless move. It’s very much business as usual for me.”

Commenting on the sector, he said: “There is a real opportunity in the technology services space, as corporate customers continue their digital transformation across all areas of operation. This is underpinned by the proliferation of cloud services, which enables businesses to test and adopt new technologies at a quicker rate.  This trend has been accelerated as a result of COVID-19, and currently shows no sign of a slowdown,  despite the obvious economic headwinds.”

James added: “There is also considerable market opportunity in commercial development, which remains buoyant, with licensing continuing to recover following an extremely challenging two years. I’m delighted to be joining such a dynamic and experienced team, and hope to bring both sector and management expertise to the role.”

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Pannone Corporate and Carbon Corporate Finance have advised on the cross-border sale of leading producer and supplier of premium organic superfood products, Go Superfoods Limited.

The Manchester firms acted as legal and financial advisers respectively to the shareholders of Go Superfoods, which was acquired by Swedish food-tech and FMCG listed company, Humble Group. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (corporate Partner), Arshnoor Amershi and Humera Patel. The Carbon team was led by partners Tom Johnson and David Kandola.

Go Superfoods, which was founded by CEO Harry Singh in 2008, offers a wide range of superfoods to retail customers and distributors under its own brands Green Origins, Rainforest Foods, and Piura.

Tom Johnson said: “We’re delighted to have advised the shareholders of Go Superfoods on this transaction. Harry and his team have built a leading superfoods business, which will flourish as part of the Humble Group.

“Achieving results such as this for Harry demonstrates Carbon’s commitment to helping business owners realise significant value through strategic sales.”

Tom Hall said: “Go Superfoods is an exciting business that’s really made its mark in the rapidly-growing organic superfoods sector – building strong brand loyalty amongst both consumers and distributors.

“With the vast potential that exists in the marketplace, combined with an ambitious and profitable business in Go Superfoods, this cross-border deal made perfect sense for Humble Group. It allows the business to enter a new niche market segment, while using its own scale and purchasing power to enhance the offering and reach of the multi-channel supplier. We’re delighted for Harry and the team and wish them every success as they embark on the next phase of their growth journey.”

Go Superfoods has established itself as a competitive superfoods supplier with a broad customer base, including specialist and nutrition retailers, distributors, food manufacturers and consumers.

Singh commented: “At Go Superfoods we’ve always strived to be a bridge connecting growers of superfoods in the developing world with European consumers looking to improve their health and wellbeing. Humble is the perfect partner for us to continue our journey with and we look forward to working with Simon Petrén and his team at Humble to accomplish our shared vision.” 

Advisors to Humble were Knight Transaction Services (UK Financial DD), Shoosmiths (UK legal) and Rämsell Advokatbyrå AB (Swedish legal).

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Pannone Corporate has advised nZero Group on the multi-million pound acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems to create an industry leader in the UK’s low carbon industry.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to nZero Group, which acquired Orbital Gas Systems from its NYSE-listed parent company, Orbital Energy Group (OEG) for an undisclosed sum. The deal was backed by NVM Private Equity, nZero Group’s institutional backer.

Cheshire-based nZero Group aims to become the UK’s leading measurement and control partner across the natural gas, petrochemical, biomethane and decarbonisation sectors. It said the acquisition would ensure the necessary skills and capacity are ready and aligned to help the country’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Tim Hamilton, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, led the deal alongside Andy Walsh, Rosie Korcz and Amy Chandler. He said: “nZero Group is an innovative and exciting business, which has perfectly positioned itself in a fast-growth sector driven by the UK’s net zero ambitions. The acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems perfectly complements nZero Group’s strategic aims and bolsters its position, not only in the domestic market, but also internationally.

“We’re delighted to have supported the team in achieving this exciting milestone and look forward to working alongside the company during the next stage of its growth journey.”

The deal will see the enlarged group employ over 150 people with combined turnover in the region of £16million. Over the next three to five years, the company expects to create more than 50 highly-skilled jobs, whilst investing in creating its own engineers for the future through apprenticeship and graduate programmes to address the skills shortage in the UK.

Both companies, which will retain their existing names as part of the deal, will be led by nZero Group managing director, Matt Allen.

Allen commented: “This deal represents a significant step forward in our strategy to become a key contributor in the UK net zero energy transition by bringing under common ownership two of the UK’s leading measurement and control partners across the natural gas, low carbon hydrogen, petrochemical, and waste to energy sectors.

“The UK and many other countries are making significant commitments to tackle the climate crisis. This is creating a growing demand for companies, like Orbital and Thyson Technology – a subsidiary of nZero Group – to provide a blend of existing technologies and innovative solutions to decarbonise, while supporting customers’ commercial and technological challenges to meet the targets they have set themselves or have been set by government.”

Located in Stone, Staffordshire, Orbital Gas Systems specialises in the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of industrial gas sampling, measurement, and delivery systems. It has nearly 40 years’ expertise in the manufacture of a broad range of innovative technologies for the energy, power, and processing markets.

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Pannone Corporate has expanded its client base, after being appointed onto the legal framework for the Canal & River Trust. 

The North West law firm will provide construction and property litigation support, as part of a five-year agreement. Pannone is one of a number of law firms to be appointed by the Canal & River Trust.  

The Trust works with communities to transform their local canal or river, creating places and spaces for everyone. Together with volunteers and supporters, the Trust plays an important local role in addressing global issues, such as climate change and biodiversity decline. 

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “We’re delighted to have been appointed onto the national legal framework for the Canal & River Trust, following a rigorous and competitive procurement process. 

“The charity plays a vital role in enhancing our waterways, transforming places and enriching lives. Our team will be working closely with the Trust to ensure that their purpose and vision is not compromised.”

Gemma Staples, associate partner in the property litigation team, added: “The Canal & River Trust is making a significant contribution to protect and nurture the natural environment that sits right on our doorstep. The events of the last two years have shown how important that environment is to our health and wellbeing andI, amongst thousands of others, have found solace in time spent in woodlands and by our local waterways. I’m thrilled to be able to work with such an organisation.”

The Canal & River Trust covers six English regions, including the North West, East and West Midlands, London and the South East, the South West, and Yorkshire and the North East, as well as Wales. Teams cover water management, sustainability, restoration, community engagement, design and planning, ecology andengineering. 

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Culture is everything and it was one of the key drivers in Kenneth Tang choosing to join Pannone in October 2021.

“The firm’s culture is centred around approachability, both for clients and for its staff,” explains Kenneth. “Before joining, I read that the firm was considered a leading alternative to national practices. This really came through during my interview for the role.”

The quality of work and the team structure were also important factors for Kenneth. “Pannone offered me the chance to work within a firm that carried out high quality commercial work,” says Kenneth. “The team’s structure promotes collaborative working, where partners are directly involved in cases – which is really beneficial for junior members of the team.”

Six months into the role, we caught up with Kenneth as part of our series ‘My Life in Law’, and talked about his role as a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team, specialising in real estate litigation.

Tell us a little bit about your background, before joining Pannone?

“Prior to qualifying, I worked as a Court Advocate, before becoming a paralegal,” Kenneth explains. “I was a trainee at Stephensons Solicitors, where I had seats in the commercial litigation and discrimination departments.”

“In that role, I advised on a number of matters, including general commercial contracts, restrictive covenants, property disputes, and professional negligence. I was heavily involved in a case that went to the Court of Appeal, which became one of the leading authorities on seeking interim relief against public bodies.”

Kenneth graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in Ancient History. He then went on to study the GDL at the University of Law before going on to do the LPC at BPP University.

Now as a fully-fledged solicitor, Kenneth is getting stuck into the role in the Dispute Resolution team. The most satisfying aspect of Kenneth’s role is tackling ‘new and interesting issues’ every day.

“So far, I’ve been involved in a wide range of disputes, including lease termination and renewal, adverse possession, easements, forfeiture, breach of covenant, as well as residential and commercial possession,” he says. “Other areas of work include breach of contract, breach of warranty, debt recovery and unjust enrichment.”

The role is vast and varied, and when asked what a typical day looked like, Kenneth responded saying “emails, emails and emails.”

Looking forward, what are your career ambitions?

“My immediate goal is to become an integral part of the very talented team at Pannone Corporate. I want my practice to be built on being more frank and open with clients. Clients need lawyers to be their advisers, not their friends.”

Outside work, Kenneth enjoys films and sport. “My favourite film is Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and my favourite football team is Liverpool FC (my dad named me after Kenny Dalglish!),” says Kenneth.

While Kenneth is building a reputation in Dispute Resolution, there is one particular skill that his work colleagues may not know about him. “I grew up near Blackpool’s promenade and became very good at arcade games,” admits Kenneth. “Time Crisis is a game I am particularly adept at!” As one of the most celebrated arcade shoot-em-up franchises ever made, that’s not a bad game to excel at!

 

 

 

 

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In this article we look at why an employer may decide to instruct an external investigator to conduct a workplace investigation and how this process works.

The challenges faced by employers in the last two years have been significant and far-reaching. The Coronavirus pandemic has stretched resources, exposed employers to unexpected risks, and posed unprecedented problems in the workplace. Some sectors have really suffered during the pandemic, inevitably leading to more workplace disputes and grievances. On the flip side, some sectors have been incredibly busy and at times found their resources stretched.

As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of instructions we have received to conduct workplace investigations. In this blog we take a closer look at why this is and how our investigations team can assist.

 

Why instruct independent external investigators?

A common reason for instructing an external investigator is because the issues involve senior employees or board members. Instructing an external investigator can ensure a more rigorous and impartial investigation, politically it can also be easier to have an external law firm conduct the investigation. Employers may also instruct external investigators because there is a need to ensure the investigation is seen to be impartial, and to reduce the risk of litigation. Alternatively, it could simply be the case that the employer lacks the internal resources to conduct the investigation.

An added benefit of instructing a law firm to conduct the investigation is that it may be possible to ensure the investigation has the benefit of professional legal privilege.

 

So, how can we help?

We are regularly instructed by boards, HR teams, and in-house counsel to conduct investigations or to support and advise on an investigation. In the rest of this blog we take a brief look at how we can support workplace investigations and our team’s experience in this area.

 

Independent investigations – our approach

When we are instructed to carry out an internal investigation, we first take time to understand any relevant background and the nature of the issue being investigated. Once we have done this, we agree the terms of reference for the investigation with the client and, as appropriate, other interested parties. Whilst instructing us will certainly reduce the workload for a client’s internal teams, we will usually need some practical assistance in gathering evidence and arranging meetings with witnesses. However, other than that we can liaise directly with witnesses to conduct investigation meetings. Once we have concluded our investigation, we will prepare an investigation report and deliver that report to the client and any other interested parties.

Each matter is led by a senior lawyer with experience of contentious legal matters, advising in relation to investigations, and of conducting internal investigations.

 

Law firms and other professional advisers

In certain circumstances it may not be appropriate for an employer to instruct its usual external professional advisers to conduct an investigation. For example, the adviser may not be able to independently investigate the issue, or in doing so, there may be potential for a conflict. Our internal investigations team can be instructed by other professional advisers on an independent basis to carry out an investigation as a discrete, one-off instruction.

 

Our experience

Our team has decades of experience advising and supporting clients on workplace disputes and investigations. Examples of work undertaken by the team includes:

Well planned, thorough, and impartial investigations are such an important first step in dealing with many workplace issues. In this blog we have hopefully given you an insight into when it may be appropriate to instruct an external investigator and the potential benefits of taking this approach.  If you would like to know more about our investigations experience or how we could help your organisation (or your client’s) please contact Michael McNally.

 

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the sale of Bury FC’s stadium, paving the way for the return of football to Gigg Lane.

Richard Wolff (insolvency & restructuring partner), James Wynne (real estate partner) and Oliver Moore (insolvency & restructuring), advised Inquesta Corporate Recovery & Insolvency – the administrator of The Bury Football Club Company Ltd.

The ground, along with other assets including club memorabilia, goodwill and intellectual property, and the Bury FC name, have been acquired by newly-formed Gigg Lane Stadium Limited – a company limited by guarantee whose members are the Gigg Lane Propco Limited and Bury Football Club Supporters Society Limited.

Richard Wolff said: “Today’s announcement is not only a positive result for the parties involved, but also for football, Bury and its local community. As a firm, we’ve been able to bring together our expertise across restructuring and real estate to support the process over the past few months and achieve the best possible outcome for stakeholders.”

Inquesta announced in May 2021 that the 12,000-capacity stadium was being put up for sale. Gigg Lane is one of the world’s oldest professional football stadiums and has been home to Bury FC since the club was founded in 1885.

Steven Wiseglass, a director at Inquesta, said: “We are delighted that this transaction has been successfully completed. It is a fantastic outcome for the fans, the club and the whole town, as it will hopefully bring football back to Gigg Lane. My hope all along has always been that Bury FC could be rescued.”

The Bury Football Club Company Ltd remains in administration and Inquesta is continuing with investigations into the company.

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Georgina Bligh-Smith joined the insolvency and restructuring team at Pannone Corporate in April 2021, after completing her Legal Practice Course.

Despite joining at a time when many people were still working from home, Georgina says she was made to feel “right at home” very quickly by a team full of legal professionals who have been at the firm for many years.

Nearly one year on, Georgina talks to us about ‘My Life in Law’, her own career ambitions, and her aim to help improve social mobility in a sector where more work still needs to be done.

Tell us a little bit about what you did before joining Pannone Corporate in April 2021?

Before joining the insolvency and restructuring team last year, I worked as a cost litigation assistant, which is a very niche area of law that many graduates don’t even realise exists! It really goes to show how varied the legal profession is and the range of opportunities out there.

While studying at university I also worked as a Topshop sales assistant for three years – I like to think that every experience has made me into who I am today!

As a paralegal in the insolvency and restructuring team, what does your role consist of?

I assist on a wide range of matters relating to both corporate and personal insolvency and restructuring scenarios. This includes administrations, liquidations and bankruptcies – in each case predominantly acting for insolvency practitioners.

What attracted you to the role at Pannone Corporate?

I was first drawn to Pannone Corporate because of its impressive array of clients and the firm’s specialist approach and focus on commercial law, providing business legal services. This really aligned with my interests and meant that my training would be completely tailored to an area I wanted to progress in.

Most importantly, I was looking to join a firm that had a collaborative culture that would nurture me into a great solicitor – something just felt right at the interview and I knew I’d found the place!

What route did you go down, in terms of training and qualifications?

I very much went down the traditional route: I studied law at the University of Manchester, before undertaking the Legal Practice Course at BPP Law School. I start my training contract with Pannone Corporate next year – something which I am really looking forward to. Once completed, I will finally be a qualified solicitor.

Increasingly, there are more and more avenues for people to choose from when it comes to entering the legal profession.  Why did you choose the traditional route?

If I’m honest, at the time it seemed as though this was the only route to a professional career in law. The sector has become so much more diverse in recent years, in that respect.

If I was starting that journey today I would give some serious thought to undertaking a legal apprenticeship. However, despite the hefty price tag, I really don’t know if I would give up that university experience!

Tell us what does a typical day looks like?

It might sound a bit clichéd, but no two days are ever really the same and this is what I love about the job.

I get to assist different team members with caseloads, covering contentious and non-contentious matters for a range of clients which involve both personal and corporate insolvency scenarios.

Typical tasks include conducting investigations into the conduct of directors of insolvent companies relating to antecedent transactions and misfeasance claims or dealing with possession and sale proceedings in bankruptcy matters and generally assisting with hearing preparations.

One thing that is consistent though is a good cup (or two) of coffee!

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Aside from the variety, I would probably say the intellectual challenge. I joined Pannone Corporate right in the middle of the pandemic – something that has had a profound effect on the insolvency sector, in particular.

Not only have companies come under extreme pressure and struggled over the last two years, but insolvency law has continued to evolve in response to the pandemic.

No more so than with the introduction of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, which has introduced both permanent and temporary measures which we have also seen various extensions to.

As such, it’s been really important to keep abreast of all those changes, adapt and continue to find innovative solutions to the issues faced by clients in the current unusual circumstances.

What are you career ambitions?

Apart from the obvious one of qualifying as a solicitor and successfully making my way through the ranks, I really hope to be able to make a difference in improving social mobility within the legal profession.

As someone who was state school educated and the first generation in my family to go to university, I, like many others, have found navigating the legal profession particularly difficult at times.

I want to help level the playing field for younger people from disadvantaged backgrounds, whether that’s by mentoring students or supporting charities/groups that have this kind of aim in mind – for example, The 93% Foundation.

Whilst work is being done to raise awareness and increase diversity within the profession, in my view more must be done.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do?

I would go out and invest in employee fitness in some way shape or form, because participating in regular exercise has had such a positive impact on my own lifestyle and mental health.

Perhaps by partnering with a local gym, to arrange weekly group classes that are private to employees of the firm, with maybe with some light-hearted competition thrown in between different teams/departments!

This would help maintain a healthy, happy and productive workforce, whilst increasing camaraderie between employees at the same time (sounds like a great return on my investment!).

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law?

I almost picked psychology for a degree, so it would probably be something in this field.

Why people do things in the way they do, why they feel and react in a certain way, as well as exploring different personality types, really fascinates me.

In fact, there’s a link with both psychology and the law – psychology seeks to understand and explain human behaviour and the law seeks to regulate it.

Understanding how emotions can complicate decisions taken by clients/opponents or having the ability to anticipate your opponent’s reaction, while being able to use effective tools of persuasion, can be really helpful in law too.

What can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients and does anything need to change?

I’d say improving client responsiveness remains an important aim, as this is something clients really value and, whilst it sounds simple, it’s also easy to get wrong and fall short sometimes.

By responsiveness, I don’t mean dealing with everything there and then, but making sure you acknowledge it and manage your clients’ expectations appropriately. This involves being more than just reactive but also proactive, such as updating the client before having to be asked. This is something we are very conscious of as a team and as a firm.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

I love hiking, particularly with a good scramble included to make it that bit more adventurous! The highlight of last year was scrambling along a knife-edged ridge called Crib Goch in Snowdonia.

I love escaping from busy city life into the hills with a packed lunch in my rucksack – there is literally nothing better.

This summer I am completing Tour du Mont Blanc – an 11-day hike through Switzerland, France and Italy, covering 170km. The combined elevation of this route (over 10,000m) is higher than Mount Everest is tall.

I always document and post route information/inspiration on my hiking Instagram page @hikewithg_

 

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Pannone Corporate has strengthened its position in the retail sector, after recently being appointed by Costcutter and The Fragrance Shop. The North West law firm has also been reappointed to the BooHoo Group legal panel.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “Retail is a vast, dynamic and ever-changing sector and one that has formed a core part of our growth strategy in recent years. Across a range of teams and specialisms we have built up strong sector credentials over recent years and we’re delighted to be extending that retail footprint through our work with prominent brands, such as Costcutter and The Fragrance Shop.

“Our reappointment to the BooHoo legal panel is also testament to the hard work and sector expertise that the team has shown over the last 15 years, in supporting the global fashion brand on an impressive growth journey since it started trading.

“We look forward to working alongside our new clients and also our many longstanding retail clients, as they expand their presence in the UK and overseas, whether that’s through bricks and mortar growth, or by capitalising on the continued rise of ecommerce.”

Pannone Corporate works alongside a growing list of retail and wholesale businesses including Bestway and Iceland.

 

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In our last update of 2021, we look at the IP stories and case updates making headlines across the UK and around the world.

In December’s edition of our monthly IP round-up, we delve into a Stormtrooper helmet NFT dispute between artists and a curator, the high-profile Supreme Court decision of Lloyd v Google, and Walmart’s issue with Kanye West’s Yeezy LLC. In a more festive theme, we also look at why John Lewis is being urged to donate the proceeds of its Christmas advert to charity, and the importance of clear wording of online promotions as shoppers hit the sales.

Read our monthly IP round up here.

If you would like to discuss these topics in more detail, have any questions or would like to receive our IP round-up directly to your inbox by email each month, contact Melanie or Amy:

Melanie McGuirk on 07790 882567 or email melanie.mcguirk@pannonecorporate.com

Amy Chandler on 07920 237674 or email amy.chandler@pannonecorporate.com

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the USD $8 million investment into games studio and developer of virtual worlds, Dubit. The multi-million dollar deal will fund the world’s first live esports league in the metaverse, starting in Roblox.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to Metaventures founder and French investor Jean-Charles Capelli, who led the funding round. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (Corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang.

The capital funding values Dubit at USD $55 million and will enable the Yorkshire-based company to expand its existing metaverse activity, with the launch of the inaugural Metaverse Gaming League (MGL) – branded gaming events and esports tournaments. Following its launch on Roblox, the company intends to expand into other leading metaverse gaming platforms, such as Minecraft and Core.

Tom Hall commented: “We’re delighted to have worked alongside Metaventures and Jean-Charles in what is a hugely exciting deal in a rapidly growing technology space.

“The metaverse is grabbing both headlines and people’s imaginations, as major players commit to the virtual world. With a strong reputation amongst global brands for its development capabilities, the multi-million investment will undoubtedly provide Dubit with further momentum as it continues to expand its presence in the virtual world.”

Established in 1999, Dubit works with companies such as Disney, Facebook and Lego, and is already taking brands into Roblox. As part of its ambitious growth strategy, Metaventures and Dubit also plan to create consumer lifestyle experiences such as concerts and fashion shows for the metaverse.

Jean-Charles Capelli said: “Dubit is in the perfect position to take advantage of the new opportunities in the metaverse. No other company has 20 years’ experience in developing and launching virtual worlds, combined with a great network of brands and organisations that it works with around the world. As an entrepreneur and musician, I’m proud to invest in Dubit, and I’m excited to help scale up the incredible experiences it creates for users of Roblox and other metaverses.”

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Dr Patricia Jones is a data protection lawyer at law firm Pannone Corporate: 

This case was brought by consumer rights activist Richard Lloyd alleging that Google had breached its data protection obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998) by using the browser generated information of more than four million Apple iPhone users.

Mr Lloyd had brought the case as a representative action on behalf of all the affected iPhone users arguing that they had the same interest.  The Supreme Court disagreed.  It considered that individual assessments of the entitlement to damages of each user would be required. The Court considered it necessary to establish what, if any, unlawful use Google had made of each user’s personal data and what damage had been suffered by the user as a result. The Court did not consider that damages can be awarded for a breach of the DPA 1998, where the individual doesn’t suffer any material loss or distress as Mr Lloyd had argued.

“Although the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of Google was made under Data Protection Act 1998 which is no longer in force, it will make it more difficult for people to seek compensation for a data protection breach when they have suffered no material loss or distress. The decision will have implications for the bulk compensation claims that can typically follow a data breach affecting a large number of individuals and impact on the burgeoning data protection claims industry that has grown up. There are a number of data protection representative actions which were on hold pending the Supreme Court decision and it will be interesting to see what happens to them.

“Despite the judgement going in favour of the internet giant, it should act as a strong reminder to businesses – both large and small – about the importance of complying with the data protection legislation when collecting and using customer data. If businesses get it wrong, they could potentially face sanction from the Information Commissioner’s Office as well as compensation claims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The results of Chambers 2022 have been announced with impressive results for individual lawyers and teams at Pannone Corporate.

Chambers and Partners identifies the best law firms globally, from multi-nationals to boutiques, based on independent research and analysis of feedback from clients, peers and the wider market.

Chambers produces annual rankings of teams and individuals according to their area of specialism. They take into account: client service; technical legal ability; depth of team; commercial vision and business understanding; diligence and value for money.

Commenting on this year’s results, senior partner Paul Jonson said: “We’re delighted that so many individuals and teams have been acknowledged in this year’s Chambers rankings, with particular note to our Intellectual Property team, which has moved up to tier two.

“It’s excellent to see such positive feedback from clients, highlighting our strong and client-orientated approach, robust and highly professional advice, ability to translate complex legal matters, and a clear commercial awareness – all important and consistent qualities across the firm.

“I’d like to congratulate everyone who’s been included in this year’s rankings for their continued hard work and commitment to delivering a first-class service to clients across all specialisms.”

The rankings 

Specialist Area 2022 Band Region Ranked Lawyers
Construction Emma Judge – Band 4 (individual)
Corporate/M&A: Lower Mid-Market 2 North West Arshnoor Amershi – Associates to watch

Tom Hall – Band 3

Mark Winthorpe – Band 3

Tim Hamilton – Band 3

IT 3 North West Amy Chandler – Band 2
Intellectual Property 2 North West Amy Chandler – Band 3

Melanie McGuirk – Band 2

 

Litigation 3 North West

 

Paul Jonson – Band 1

Sarah Bazaraa – Associates to watch

Partnership 4

 

UK Wide Paul Jonson – Band 3

 

Partnership: Contentious UK Wide Paul Jonson – Band 3 (individual)
Real Estate North West Gareth Birch – up and coming
Real Estate Litigation 3 North West

 

Gemma Staples – Band 3

 

Restructuring/ Insolvency North West Richard Wolff – Band 3

Daniel Clarke – up and coming

 

 

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Pannone Corporate has advised the founder of streetwear brand, HERA London, on the sale to Gymshark director and former chairman, Paul Richardson.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to Ashley White, founder of the fashion company, which aims to grow into a £100 million label over the next three to five years. The Pannone team was led by Tom Hall (Corporate Partner), Andrew Walsh and Behzad Borang.

Launched in 2015 by Ashley White, HERA London has become known for its iconic skinny jeans, oversized sweatshirts and loungewear, with the brand attracting celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Brooklyn Beckham and Sofia Richie.

Tom Hall said: “We’ve worked alongside the founder of HERA London for the last few years, during which time the company has achieved exponential growth, established a loyal customer base, and built an impressive reputation amongst brand ambassadors.

“We’re delighted to have advised Ashley on a significant deal, which marks an exciting new chapter for the fashion brand as it looks to scale up and build on its success to date.”

Richardson, who was previously joint owner and director of All Saints, has purchased a majority stake in HERA London and will become executive chairman at the online retailer. He will oversee company strategy, create significant growth and improve brand equity.

Ashley White commented: “I would like to thank Tom, Andrew, Behzad and the whole Pannone Corporate team for their hard work and commercial advice. Their expertise is second-to-none and they made the process an enjoyable one.”

 

 

 

 

 

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The Legal 500 is positioned as the ‘client’s guide to the best law firms’ because it is underpinned by client feedback and insight about how a firm and its lawyers work. It’s an important benchmark, which celebrates our team, allows us to build on success and strive for continuous improvement.

The Legal 500 rankings for 2022 – highlighting the practice area teams who are providing the highest quality legal advice – feature Pannone Corporate in 15 areas of law, moving up in two corporate & commercial, and commercial property.

The rankings include Tier 1 listings for our contentious trusts and probate, media and entertainment, and debt recovery teams. As well as the teams’ success, three people were named in the Hall of Fame, the firm had six namechecks for ‘leading individuals’, two ‘next generation partners’ and four mentions for ‘rising stars.’

Beyond the numbers and fantastic recognition in the rankings, we’re proud to see all the feedback from clients. Here’s what they said:

 

Contentious trusts & probate

“What sets them apart is their ability to combine their knowledge of the law, the softer skills of client care and an ability to be direct. The clients I have referred to them are by the nature of the specialism in a highly emotional state and every one of them has been gushing in their praise of the work done by this team.”

 

Debt recovery 

“An engaging, tenacious team who are practical and efficient in what they do. They have worked with us and our functions to provide a seamless recovery service to suit our business needs.”

 

Media & entertainment

“Liaison with clients takes on a personal form and the relevant legal staff do not need reminding about issues. They keep in touch.”

 

Employment 

“Responsive, accessible and commercial practitioners who work with us, as the client, to arrive at the right outcomes for our business.”

 

Health & safety

“A new team but one with excellent experience and technical expertise with a dynamic can-do approach and a personable demeanour.”

 

Intellectual property

“…amazing from our first meeting right to the conclusion of my case, our first meeting gave me hope in a situation which I had long since deemed a lost cause… extremely empathetic to my situation and secured a settlement against a formidable adversary.”

 

IT & telecoms

“Attentive, personal and always available for advice and guidance.”  

 

Professional negligence

“Highly specialised firm with a strong track record in claimant professional negligence work.”’

 

Commercial litigation

“Pannone Corporate has lawyers at the top of their respective disciplines and a client base to match. Customer service is a key ethos at the firm with a high degree of partner involvement ensuring the client gets the service it needs. Electronic document management and searching ensures that key documents are identified early in the case.”

 

Corporate & commercial

“…adaptive and pragmatic in their guidance and advice. We completed three transactions with them and found them to be sensibly priced and adaptive in their approach to the size and scale of due diligence required.”

 

Property litigation

“Pannone Corporate strikes an excellent balance: they have the big-firm capacity to handle large and complex cases, but the small-firm responsiveness and personal touch. They have the flexibility and skills to manage cases that cross between different fields, for example real estate litigation that raises company law, insolvency or property damage issues.”

 

Commercial property

“The approach of Pannone and their staff is very much aligned to our values, what is important to us and the way we like to operate, Pannone recognise this and it’s reflected in the service they provide. It’s important when dealing with legal matters that a firm has the ability to tailor its service to work in partnership with its clients, take time to understand our objectives, the way we operate and therefore offer a more bespoke service to deliver the right outcomes. I feel that this is a specific strength of Pannone.”

 

Insolvency & corporate recovery 

“The team are always ready to help and have found innovative solutions to technical problems.”

 

Construction 

“All of the partners feel like extended members of the in-house team. They are flexible and accommodating.”

 

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In our latest IP round-up, our team shares the latest IP headlines and legal developments from the UK and around the world.

This month we cover the rise of social media copyright infringement claims, the news that Superdry sues Asos for ‘flagrantly’ copying its designs and ASA and CAP’s launch of guidance on advertising in-game purchases.

Read our monthly IP round up here: https://mailchi.mp/pannonecorporate/ip-round-up-october-2021

If you would like to discuss these topics in more detail or have any questions, contact Melanie or Amy:

Melanie McGuirk on 07790 882567 or email melanie.mcguirk @pannonecorporate.com

Amy Chandler 07920 237674 or email amy.chandler@pannonecorporate.com

 

 

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As part of the launch of our annual Care Report, barrister, Jonathan Landau, looks in more detail at the CQC’s new strategy and the likely consequences. 

The care sector is an integral part of the UK’s societal landscape – both in economic terms and the number of vulnerable people it services. With an ageing population – with estimates suggesting a 36% growth in the number of people aged over 85 by 2025 – it’s clear that the sector will only grow in prominence over the coming years. 

The regulatory structure that sits around the sector has been governed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) since 2009 when the external body was created to regulate and monitor health and social care services in England, taking over the roles and responsibilities of the Healthcare Commission, Commission for Social Care Inspection and Mental Health Act Commission. In bringing together these three predecessor organisations it was (and remains) the CQC’s stated aim to ensure that, “health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care.”

Initially the CQC inspected and monitored registered care providers in accordance with 16 ‘essential standards’ of quality and safety. However in the years that followed its creation there was, both within the CQC and the wider industry, a perceived lack of understanding as to how the essential standards were applied and interpreted in practice, prompting new ‘fundamental standards of care’ in 2015. To assist in enforcing the required standards, the CQC was given new powers, transforming it from an inspection and monitoring organisation into a regulator with teeth, including not only civil enforcement powers, but also the ability to prosecute those who had failed to meet those required standards.

Roll on six years and the role of the CQC remains a great source of debate. A global pandemic has made a seismic change to the way in which the CQC has pursued its objectives, and earlier this year it introduced a new strategy ‘for the changing world of health and social care’. The aim of the strategy, published in May 2021, is to strengthen the CQC’s commitment to deliver its purpose.

The CQC claims that its aims and role as a regulator won’t change – but how it works will be different. The strategy is based on four themes:

People and communities

Regulation that’s driven by people’s needs and experiences, focusing on

what’s important to people and communities when they access, use and move between services.

Smarter regulation

Smarter, more dynamic and flexible regulation that provides up-to-date and high-quality information and ratings, easier ways of working with the CQC and a more proportionate response.

Safety through learning

Regulating for stronger safety cultures across health and care, prioritising

learning and improvement and collaborating to value everyone’s perspectives.

Accelerating improvement

Enabling health and care services and local systems to access support to help improve the quality of care where it’s needed most.

The ‘smarter regulation’ theme is likely to have the biggest impact on providers, in terms of how they are inspected and rated. There will be a move away from relying chiefly on comprehensive on-site inspections. Instead, the CQC will develop continuous insight and monitoring methodologies. It anticipates that this will enable inspectors to spend more time speaking with people when on site rather than looking at paperwork.

The CQC also plans to develop innovative ways of analysing data and using AI to make decisions. Ratings will be more dynamic and won’t require an inspection for a change in rating.

All of this presents both risks and opportunities. In terms of risks, the validity of the CQC’s judgements will only be as robust as the systems it uses and the data it obtains. Providers, their advisors, and representative bodies will need to scrutinise the methodologies as they develop and quickly raise concerns. It’s likely that AI, for example, will pose some difficulties, with the potential for some very uncomfortable – even discriminatory – decisions for the CQC. Providers will also need to advocate for a fair system of challenging any decisions, as it seems unlikely that the factual accuracy correction procedure will not be available for such a dynamic regulatory scheme. That is particularly important if the CQC is obtaining information from sources it cannot itself verify and if it is making decisions on an AI (read automated) basis.

In terms of opportunities, providers that develop good relationships with stakeholders, and who invest time in understanding the CQC’s methodologies, will be well-placed to achieve good ratings and may benefit from lighter touch regulation. The more developed the CQC’s methodologies are, the easier it will be for providers to ensure that they can provide the evidence to satisfy the independent regulator.  

Currently, the CQC is targeting services with which it has concerns. In many cases, it does not have concerns about homes with lower ratings because of the improvements they have made. That leaves them stuck on lower ratings, because the CQC is not re-inspecting them. The ability for ratings to improve quickly is therefore very welcome.  

The themes of the new strategy are laudable, but it is inevitable that there will be unintended consequences and teething problems as the methodologies develop. Case associations and providers’ trusted advisors will be well-placed to keep them informed as the detail emerges.

Jonathan Landau is a barrister at 5 Essex Court. He has particular expertise in inquests and healthcare regulation. Joanthan is regularly instructed in relation to high profile Article 2 and jury inquests, often in the context of media coverage or regulatory investigations. He advises in respect of a broad range of healthcare regulatory matters including all levels of CQC and Ofsted enforcement, safeguarding investigations, commissioning disputes, contract monitoring, and mental capacity.

 

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In our latest My Life in Law, we speak to new recruit, Emma Hafez, who joined Pannone in April 2021 as part of our Real Estate team. 28-year-old Emma talks about her career so far and why she decided to join the firm earlier this year after taking a career break to have children.

Tell us a little bit about your career, before joining Pannone.

My route into law was the traditional route. In all honesty, this was the only one I really knew about. At college we had to lay out our career paths and this was the route I chose and stuck to.

I did a three-year degree in law, followed by the Legal Practice Course and then entered into a training contract with brief stints of working as a paralegal in between.

Prior to joining Pannone, I qualified and worked as an immigration and human rights solicitor, before taking a career break to have to have my two children, Ella and Oliver. It was during this time that I decided to pursue a career in commercial law.

Why did you decide to join the firm?

My partner is the managing director of a property development company in Liverpool. He’s genuinely passionate about his work and we often discuss it together in the evenings. As a result of this interest, I felt it was the logical step for me to pursue a career in Real Estate law.

What does a typical day look like?

Every day is completely different, as the work that we do is so varied. However, a typical day usually starts with a call with my supervisor to go through the day’s tasks, followed by liaising with clients and the other side’s solicitors in relation to large developments, leases, residential investment transactions and a whole variety of work.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

I really enjoy getting positive feedback from satisfied clients which I get a great sense of achievement from.

What can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients?

I believe solicitors could always be more empathetic to clients, as I have the benefit and perspective of seeing the client’s point of view first hand and can appreciate the challenges faced from both sides.

Looking forward, what are your career ambitions?
I hope to be able to stay at Pannone and grow an impressive client portfolio.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do?

I would take all of the teams on a city centre canal party cruise!

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law?

I’ve always said I would have enjoyed being a dentist.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy taking my children on days out to the zoo or farms, anything which is outdoors.

 

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A six-strong Pannone team took part in the annual Manchester Legal Walk earlier this week, to raise money for the North West Legal Support Trust – the local arm of the Access to Justice Foundation, which funds local advice services.

Money raised from the 10km walk, which started at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, before heading out to Chorlton-on-Medlock and finishing at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, will be used to help local agencies keep operating and provide access to justice to as many people as possible.

The event, which involves both legal professionals and justice advocates, takes place each year in 27 cities across the UK, including Liverpool, Leeds, London, Birmingham and Glasgow.

Ben Blatch-Hanlon, a solicitor in the dispute resolution team, has taken part in a number of walks in three previous locations. He was responsible for organising the team’s involvement in this year’s event. Walkers included Lorna Shuttleworth, James Brandwood, Georgina Bligh-Smith, Heather Morris, and Emma Hafez.

Ben said: “The Legal Walk is a fantastic industry event to be involved in, raising much-needed funds and awareness of a vital service that has been severely affected by the pandemic.

“Through the charitable efforts of the legal and justice profession, we can play a small part in helping to fund a service that offers free advice to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society – making a huge difference to their lives.”

The Legal Advice agencies work to help prevent homelessness, resolving debt problems, gaining care for the elderly and disabled and fighting exploitation.

If you would like to support the team and make a donation, simply visit:  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/PannoneCorporateLLP

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Pannone Corporate has advised Europe’s leading call tracking provider, ResponseTap, on the sale to Infinity in an undisclosed deal.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to Salford-based ResponseTap, which was acquired by call intelligence provider, Infinity, from the company’s management and venture capital investors. The team was led by Tom Hall (Corporate Partner) and Arshnoor Amershi (Senior Associate), with support from Behzad Borang.

ResponseTap has built up a strong reputation for the development of highly innovative customer experience software to predict caller intent and personalise the call experience. This will combine with Infinity’s leading conversation analytics suite, which enhances its core call tracking services. It will allow the enlarged SaaS group – which has annual recurring revenues of £15 million, employing 135 staff – to better serve its 350 enterprise and over 1,000 SMB clients.

Tom Hall said: “We have worked alongside the founders of ResponseTap for the last 10 years, following the company on an impressive growth journey that has attracted significant interest from across the market.

“ResponseTap has developed and launched pioneering speech analytics technology, expanded beyond its North West roots to international territories, and built up an enviable client portfolio, including Virgin Money and luxury travel group, EFR Travel. It’s a real success story for the region and a significant deal within the marketplace.”

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Whistleblowing in the UK’s care sector rose to its highest recorded level in 2020, driven by health and safety concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of whistleblowing complaints made to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has increased year-on-year since 2015, with a 43% rise between 2019 and 2020 – a total of 14,508 enquiries were received last year.

The figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the CQC – conducted as part of an annual Care Report by Pannone Corporate – also show that ‘concern’ enquiries increased by 39% between 2015 and 2020. However, the number of safeguarding complaints fell to its lowest level last year to 25,847, driven in large part due to a reclassification of abuse notifications in March 2018 and an increase in providers notifying their local authorities in the first instance rather than the CQC.

Bill Dunkerley, regulatory lawyer and director at law firm, Pannone Corporate, commented: “The global pandemic has had a profound effect on the care sector, touching every facet of the industry – whether that’s financially, operationally, or from a corporate governance perspective. Prior to 2020, the word ‘pandemic’ was unlikely to be considered as anything more than a theoretical risk. However, events since March last year, and the imposition of the first national lockdown in the UK, have demonstrated that providers must be prepared for all eventualities and risks.”

He continued: “In the context of the last 18 months, it comes as little surprise that the number of whistleblowing enquiries rose to its highest recorded level in 2020. In general terms, the majority of complaints in the UK relate to health and safety matters. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that the increase in complaints from 2019 to 2020 were related to the coronavirus, with safety concerns around COVID-19 extremely likely to have played a role in these figures.”

The Care Report 2021 shows that regulatory interventions rose by 109% between 2016 and 2019, understandably falling in 2020 due to a seismic change in how the CQC conducted itself as a result of COVID-19. The rise in interventions mirrors the number of enforcement actions carried out by the CQC, which revealed an 87% increase since 2014/15 in its latest annual report.

Dunkerley said: “In light of the increasing use of enforcement action by the CQC, as well as the apparent realisation of the intention to prosecute more cases, it’s imperative that service providers review their procedures, systems and address risk areas in anticipation of inspection or intervention. This includes assessing areas of their operation requiring immediate improvement; undertaking pro-active audits of risk areas and implementing remedial or control measures where appropriate; and responding to near misses and learning from them to prevent a recurrence.”

He added: “The last 12 months have had a particular impact on the CQC, which has had to respond to the novel challenges presented, as well as clarify its own role in regulating providers in light of recent criticisms. When you consider that people are also more alive to potential issues of concern, as well as becoming more aware of the CQC’s role as regulator and its power to take enforcement action in response to issues of concern, then we are likely to see considerable change in the care sector over the course of the next 12 months as providers and the CQC adapt.”

To read the report in full, click here

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Many employers offer benefits such as private medical cover and permanent health insurance to employees as a potentially valuable part of their reward package. As the recent case of Amdocs Systems Group Ltd v Langton demonstrates however, it is crucial for employers to think carefully about the wording used when insurance-backed benefits are offered to employees.

The claimant’s written terms of employment included an entitlement to an insurance-backed income protection scheme in the event of his long-term sickness absence, including an escalator of 5% per year after the first year of absence. When the claimant became ill, he received the expected payments under the scheme, however, when he came to claim the 5% increase, he was told that this element of the insurance had been discontinued so there was no longer an entitlement to the escalator payments.

The employment tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that because details of the escalator payments had been set out in the claimant’s contractual terms, he was entitled to these payments whether or not they were still covered by the insurance policy. The fact that his contract stated the operation of the scheme was ‘governed by the terms of the Group policies’ did not mean the employer’s liability was limited by the terms of the insurance policy. Crucially, the claimant had not been given a copy of the insurance policy or provided with a summary of its terms. If the company had wanted to link the claimant’s entitlement to the terms of the insurance policy, that should have been spelled out in his contract.

The moral of the tale – if offering insurance-backed benefits, make sure the entitlement is expressly linked to the terms of the insurance policy and receipt of payment from the insurer.

For more information about this issue and assistance with reviewing or re-drafting contractual terms, please contact: Jack Harrington on 0161 393 9050 or jack.harrington@pannonecorporate.com

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As employers welcome back staff in the coming weeks, Fiona Hamor catches up with People Management magazine to talk about what employers need to be aware of from a HR and employment law perspective.

While remote working has thrown up significant challenges for employers, a return to the office will equally create newfound problems generated by COVID-19. Recent employment tribunal rulings have highlighted some of the issues that have arisen from the pandemic, which have led to unfair dismissal claims being made.

Fiona says: “COVID-19 has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the workplace and businesses have had to adjust to new ways of operating. The return of workers over the coming months will continue to pose unprecedented challenges to employers. The need to understand, assess and act on potential risk is clear, if businesses are to remain operational and to protect against any potential future claims.”

Read the full article on the People Management website. https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/experts/legal/what-to%20consider-employees-return-to-workplace

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In our latest IP round-up, our team shares the latest IP headlines and legal developments from the UK and around the world.

In the second of our monthly IP roundups we cover the clash of two heavyweight brands, New Balance and Michael Kors, over alleged trade mark infringement, the ASA’s clamp down on influencers who repeatedly fail to identify their posts as ads on social media, and a High Court win by Eurovision 2021 contestant James Newman against an ex-Voice UK contestant who claimed James had copied one of her songs.

Read our monthly IP round up here: https://mailchi.mp/pannonecorporate/ip-round-up-september?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

If you would like to discuss these topics in more detail or have any questions, contact Melanie or Amy:

Melanie McGuirk on 07790 882567 or email melanie.mcguirk @pannonecorporate.com

Amy Chandler 07920 237674 or email amy.chandler@pannonecorporate.com

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In our latest My Life in Law, we speak to employment director, Stephen Mutch, about his career in law and his love of bass playing in indie/alternative group, BC Camplight.

I’m what’s called a ‘one club man’ in football.  I joined Pannone Corporate’s predecessor firm as a fresh-faced trainee lawyer back in 2003. This isn’t actually that rare at Pannone Corporate – there are a good handful of people here who joined when I did.

I joined Pannone straight from university, having completed a law degree at the University in Sheffield and a post-graduate in Chester.

They had a great reputation and a very varied portfolio of legal work. Even back then, they prided themselves on having a more human element than most firms – something I still think is true after nearly 20 years.

I’m rather ashamed to say that back then it was simply what most people did. Progress has been made, in terms of alternative routes into a career in law, but there’s still a very heavy reliance on a ‘good’ degree from a ‘redbrick’ university to open up doors. Lots more still needs to be done.

I like the intellectual challenge and getting to speak to and help people run their businesses. Employment lawyers are almost always a ‘distress purchase’, so it’s nice to help people with the problems or challenges their business are facing.

I spend most of the day on the phone or emailing clients providing advice, mixed in with a healthy dose of preparing clients’ defences for employment tribunal proceedings.

I’ve always enjoyed helping more junior lawyers navigate what can be a very difficult first few years, so more involvement in what I enjoy. That’s on top of the usual partnership, world domination type ambitions of course…

I would be a penniless and struggling musician (please see below)

I think some lawyers can still be a bit stuffy. Rarer these days, but clients don’t want that kind of lawyer anymore. Being user friendly and pleasant to deal with is top of most client’s priorities.

I play bass in indie/alternative band, BC Camplight, which releases records under the Bella Union label in London, so that takes up a lot of my time. We’ve been on the radio a fair bit and get to do around 30-40 shows a year. We’ve toured in Europe and played some of my favourite venues, such as the Roundhouse in London and the Paradiso in Amsterdam (Nirvana played there!) – there were 3,000 people in the audience, and I turned off my own instrument for our last song. Not cool! Our next record is out in the Spring.

I am also a trustee for a local arts-based charity called Art with Heart. Check them out here  https://artwithheart.org.uk/

I would say ‘please see above’, but I bore everyone to death with my tales of the (not so) rock ’n’ roll lifestyle!

 

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In our first IP round-up, our team shares the latest IP headlines and legal developments from the UK and around the world.

We cover the new law for influencers posting edited photos introduced in Norway, Hendrick’s Gin’s copycat claim against Lidl (brought in Scotland but resulting in a UK wide ban on sales) and Adidas’s law suit against US designer Thom Browne for alleged infringement of its three stripe logo.

Read our monthly IP round up here: https://mailchi.mp/pannonecorporate/ip-round-up-august-5399161?e=%5bUNIQID

If you would like to discuss these topics in more detail or have any questions, contact Melanie or Amy:

Melanie McGuirk on 07790 882567 or email melanie.mcguirk @pannonecorporate.com

Amy Chandler 07920 237674 or email amy.chandler@pannonecorporate.com

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Pannone Corporate has advised North West-based medical communications agency, Spirit, on the sale to OPEN Health Group.

The Manchester law firm acted as legal adviser to the shareholders of Spirit, which has been acquired by the global medical affairs specialist. OPEN Health Group is a portfolio company of Amulet Capital Partners LP, a US-based private equity firm focused exclusively on the healthcare sector. The team was led by Tom Hall, Corporate partner, with support from senior associate, Arshnoor Amershi and corporate paralegal, Behzad Borang.

Founded in 2006 by Asif Zaman, and based at premises in Didsbury and Alderley Park, Spirit offers full-service medical communications throughout the product lifecycle, with deep expertise across a range of therapy areas. Services include publication planning, medical strategy, medical education, scientific meetings, training and digital solutions.

As part of the undisclosed deal, Spirit will benefit from OPEN Health Group’s global network, with more than 850 people based in 15 locations across six different countries, including the USA, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, India and China.

Tom Hall said: “Over the last 15 years, Spirit has built an enviable reputation as a leading medical communications agency – not just in the North West, but across the globe.

“We’re delighted that a company of OPEN Health’s stature has recognised the exciting potential that Spirit possesses through its unique approach to scientific communications and its unwavering commitment to exceptional client experience. Having worked alongside Asif and the team for more than 10 years, as a long-standing client of Pannone Corporate, we have no doubt that the deal – one of a number in the sector over the last 12 months – will undoubtedly help to expand Spirit’s global reach and the range of innovative services it offers to clients worldwide.”

Asif Zaman, founder and chairman of Spirit, added: “I am delighted to see the business I started in 2006 move to the next level with OPEN Health. This transaction has exceeded my expectations, and not just in terms of my own personal outcome, but more importantly in finding the right home and cultural fit for Spirit and its fantastic team of medcomms professionals.

“Tom and the team at Pannone Corporate have been outstanding in terms of providing service excellence, adding value throughout the process and quite simply being a great team of people to work with and rely on.”

Spirit was also advised by corporate finance advisors, BCMS and accountants/tax specialists Mitchell Charlesworth LLP

 

 

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The Building Safety Bill was introduced to Parliament on 5 July by Housing Minister Robert Jenrick MP.

Although the headline proposals contained within the Bill have been known for some time, its formal introduction marks a significant – and crucial – moment in its development. The draft is not only voluminous (running to 218 pages), but also seeks to fundamentally revise the current system of building safety and regulation, with the Government confirming that it intends the Bill will “create lasting generational change”in terms of how buildings are designed, constructed and maintained.

The Bill is incredibly wide-ranging in its proposed scope and extent, but what are the key changes suggested?

A ‘Golden Thread’ of Information

A key objective of the Bill is to establish a ‘Golden Thread’ of information to identify at every stage of a residential building’s lifetime, from planning and design through to completion and occupation, who is responsible for ensuring safety standards, and for managing potential risks.

In general terms, the Bill proposes that the person or entity which creates a potential risk should, as far as possible, also be responsible for managing that risk.

To help the passage of information between duty holders, the current Building Act will be amended to introduce a new ‘Gateway’ regime. Each gateway is intended to act as a ‘hard stop’ with compliance and appropriate sign-off/regulatory approval being required before the next development stage is able to commence.

To assist in retaining the Golden Thread of information following completion, and to act as an identifiable point of liaison for residents, the Bill will establish an Accountable Person for all higher risk buildings, being those over 18m/ seven storeys in height and which contain at least two residential units. The Accountable Person may be an individual or corporate entity. Once appointed, the Accountable Person must apply to the Building Safety Regulator for a Building Assurance Certificate, as confirmation that they are complying with their statutory obligations and must manage the ‘golden thread’ of information.

In addition, the Accountable Person must also appoint a Building Safety Manager (before occupation in relation to higher-risk buildings) to assist them with the day-to-day management of safety within the building.

The Building Safety Regulator must be notified of the appointment of the Building Safety Manager and will have the power to veto their appointment if it is not satisfied that they have the relevant skills, knowledge, and experience to discharge their responsibilities.

Building Safety Regulator

The Bill proposes extensive and wide-ranging powers for the new Building Safety Regulator, including the ability to investigate and prosecute those who fail to meet the new standards and requirements. Where corporate offences are found to have been committed with the consent, connivance or neglect of directors or managers, then those individuals will also be liable to prosecution in addition to the corporate entity. The Regulator will comprise both resident representatives and industry experts.

In addition, the Bill permits the Building Safety Regulator to appoint a Special Measures Manager to replace the Accountable Person or Building Safety Manager, where serious failures endangering the life of residents are identified.

Mirroring existing powers of the Health and Safety Executive, the Building Safety Regulator will also be able to issue compliance notices, which will require duty holders to rectify non-compliance issues by a specified date. In addition, the Regulator will have the ability to issue stop notices during the design and construction phase, mandating the stoppage of work until non-compliances have been addressed. Failure to comply with either type of notice will be an offence, punishable by a custodial sentence of up to two years for individuals, and/ or an unlimited fine for corporate entities.

Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings within the Health and Safety Executive, has said of the Bill’s introduction that it, “will give HSE the tools to deliver its important role as the Building Safety Regulator and is an important step in setting out what will be expected of future duty holders”.

He continued: “Everyone involved in higher risk buildings from design, construction and day-to-day operations will manage and control building safety in a way that is proportionate to the risks. This will ensure these buildings are safer for those who live in them, and they have a stronger voice. I encourage duty holders to use the Bill’s introduction in preparation for the new, more rigorous regulatory regime.

“The Building Safety Regulator will continue to work with industry and others to deliver the new building safety regime to ensure that residents of higher risk buildings are safe, and feel safe, in their homes now and in the future.”

New Homes Ombudsman

The Bill also proposes the establishment of a New Homes Ombudsman scheme, to receive complaints from the owners of new build homes and to help hold developers to account. The Ombudsman will be able to impose sanctions on developers who breach requirements, although an appeals procedure will also be available.

However, unlike other Ombudsman services, the Bill mandates that developers become, and remain, members of the new scheme.

Regulation of Construction Products

The Bill proposes to regulate construction products placed for sale on the UK market, through the concept of ‘safety critical products’ and their inclusion on a statutory list. The Bill also contains provision for future regulations to be introduced to prohibit the supply or marketing of products which are unsafe.

Where products do not fall under an existing regulatory regime and are not included on the statutory list, the Bill enables regulations to be created which will require manufacturers to ensure that the products they supply are safe, with breach resulting in prosecution.

Conclusion

The draft Bill has a long way to go before it receives Royal Assent. Given that there is little time for further discussion before the start of the summer recess at the end of July, the majority of discussions will likely take place from the autumn. Thereafter, it is unlikely that the Bill will come fully into force much before summer 2022.

Whilst it is hoped that the Bill will be able to be enacted without significant amendments, to the benefit of all stakeholders and residents, it is not expected to have an entirely smooth transition through Parliament. For example, it is anticipated that substantial amendments will be proposed by the opposition and rebellious Conservative backbenchers, especially in relation to the redress available to leaseholders within unsafe buildings.

If you would like more information on the Building Safety Bill, contact regulatory director, Bill Dunkerley, on Bill.Dunkerley@pannonecorporate.com or call 07920 237681.

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Pannone Corporate has acted for the management team, Maven Capital Partners, and Mercia Fund Managers, on the proposed sale of Macclesfield-based fintech start-up, Mojo Mortgages, to RVU – the owner of multiple digital brands, including Uswitch, Confused.com and Money.co.uk.

The transaction remains subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Mark Winthorpe, corporate partner, who lead on the deal, commented: “Mojo is fantastic North West success story, demonstrating the significant potential that exists in the regional’s fintech community when you cleverly combine smart technology with market and consumer insight. This deal is testament to the considerable investment and ambition that the team has made in the last few years and is an exciting milestone in the growth journey of the tech start-up.”

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Pressure is clearly mounting on the Government to classify long-COVID as a disability. The aim is to provide thousands of employees with legal protection against any potential discrimination in the workplace.

Interestingly, a recent survey commissioned by the TUC revealed that just over half of people with symptoms, which typically include extreme tiredness, brain fog and dizziness, have experienced some form of discrimination or disadvantage at work.

The online poll of 3,500 people found that long-COVID sufferers are frequently met with disbelief and suspicion, with 19% of respondents saying that managers questioned the impact of the condition.

With calls for long-COVID to be given ‘occupational disease’ status for healthcare workers, there is clearly growing momentum for the condition to be given greater precedence in the workplace. While long-COVID is something that is entirely new, the Equality Act 2010 talks about disability as a physical or mental impairment that affects you day-to-day. The Act doesn’t contain a long list of conditions; it’s all about how it impacts your daily life. As such, there is a strong case for the emerging condition to be classed as such.

If long-COVID is categorised as a disability, employers will have to be very cautious about how they deal with the condition moving forward, to avoid any potential discrimination claims. However, from a HR perspective, the motivation shouldn’t be about avoiding employee action. Rather, it should be about what the long-term effects are going to be on workers, so that employers can put appropriate measures in place to support staff. The problem is, we don’t know a huge amount about the condition, which seems to differ enormously from one person to another.

As we wait to see how long-COVID is treated from a legal perspective, there are a number of key things that HR Directors and business owners should consider to ensure they are dealing with the condition in the most appropriate way – now and in the future.

If you would like to discuss how to implement an effective strategy to help manage occupational health, please contact Adam Pavey on 07980949525 or email Adam.Pavey@pannonecorporate.com

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In the first of our quarterly retail law updates, we look at the latest news and legal developments affecting the sector.

It covers the upcoming Children’s Code, which will come into force in September and will impact those online retailers that currently process personal data of under 18s. We also look at the new guidance on buy now, pay later, as well as key fashion cases setting the tone for the industry, including when drawing inspiration becomes infringement.

Read our quarterly update here https://discover.pannonecorporate.com/retail-update

If you would like to discuss these topics in more detail, or have any questions, contact partner, Melanie McGuirk on 07790 882567 or email melanie.mcguirk @pannonecorporate.com

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In our latest My Life in Law, we speak to paralegal Holly O’Farrell about her move from retail into law and her career so far as a legal apprentice. 

I joined the firm in January 2020, so I only had a few months in the office before the first national lockdown was imposed in late March. So far, the majority of my Pannone Corporate career has been undertaken from home!  

Before starting at Pannone I had been in private practice for approaching six years – at Clyde & Co for two years and then at Weightmans LLP. Prior to entering the legal profession, I worked in retail as a trainee assistant manager and ‘Style Advisor’ (read: personal shopper!). 

I am a paralegal in the construction team. I assist the head of construction with her day-to-day work and conduct some matters of my own under her supervision. 

What drew me to Pannone Corporate was the fact that it was a boutique firm that focused on commercial law and, as such, was a specialist in this area of work. The staff are so experienced because of that focus, and it has a hugely impressive roster of clients. As a result, the exposure and training available to a junior lawyer like me is fantastic. 

I am currently in the process of completing my CILEx qualification and will shortly qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive. 

I began my legal career as a legal apprentice. I don’t have a degree – I withdrew from the University of Manchester because, despite the advice from all my teachers, I felt that university wasn’t for me. I loved the idea of higher education but, in reality, I found I wanted to learn in a more practical environment. As I was living away from home, I needed to ensure I was still earning, so an apprenticeship was ideal for me. Doing it this way also means that, by the time I am formally qualified, I will have had the benefit of eight-plus years’ legal work experience, which puts me in a great position compared to graduates and other newly qualified solicitors. 

It might sound like an over-done answer, but genuinely each day is very different! In construction law, you do both contentious and non-contentious work. So, one day I may be working on a dispute for a client which might involve document review, possibly drafting submissions in adjudication or court proceedings and/or providing strategic advice to the client; the next I could be working on the contracts underlying a new building project, drafting a contract, or providing comments on a draft received from another firm to ensure that the client’s position is protected and there are no sneaky clauses in there that might cause them trouble down the line! 

The most satisfying aspect of the job for me is its variety – I purposefully sought a role in an area that provided variation to keep me hooked. My manager in my first construction role told me that even after 35 years in the sector he was still presented with work that he’d never encountered before. After four years specialising in construction, this is certainly ringing true and I can’t wait to keep being surprised for the rest of my career. 

Following completion of my CILEx qualifications, I am considering completing the SQE in order to cross-qualify as a solicitor. After I’ve achieved that I don’t intend to focus on any particular thing; I think there is some danger in having too fixed a plan. I just want to keep enjoying my work and be open to whatever opportunities arise. 

Get the corporate credit card out and get everyone to the pub, after so many months apart! 

I would probably have continued working in retail. I had ideas about moving into buying or visual merchandising. I definitely wouldn’t have continued in personal shopping. Pouring champagne and hoisting people into cruise-wear is not what five-year-old me dreamed of!

The usual – walking the dog, binging on Netflix and worrying that I don’t have enough hobbies! 

None that I wouldn’t be ashamed to admit to! However, I fancy myself as a bit of a dancer so, maybe when we’re all allowed to socialise again, I’ll get to embarrass myself! I do also have an excellent memory for song lyrics – in conjunction, these ‘talents’ result in quite the performance!

 

 

 

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The latest figures from The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas),  show the significant financial impact workplace conflicts can have on a business.

In its latest report, Estimating the Costs of Workplace Conflicts, Acas has said that workplace conflict costs UK employers £28.5 billion every year, an average of just over £1,000 for every employee. This is based on the total cost to organisations in handling workplace conflict that includes informal, formal and legal processes, as well as the cost of sickness absences and resignations.

During a period where margins are being stretched, additional costs such as these will only increase the considerable financial pressure being placed on businesses. If you add to the fact that, according to Acas, nearly half a million employees resign each year as a result of conflict, then the argument for taking a proactive approach to workplace conflicts has never been clearer.

Handling disagreements and complaints early before employment relationships are damaged not only helps to save businesses time and money in managing those claims, but it can also prevent unnecessary recruitment costs further down the line.

So, as a business, what can you do to try and prevent workplace conflicts from materialising?

A proactive approach

The key is prevention. Having a robust set of policies and procedures in place that are clearly communicated to employees and managers is an important step in creating an open and transparent workplace. If your business instils agreed customs, ideas and behaviours that everyone buys into then you can create a positive culture where people believe they are being listened to and one that encourages employees to handle any potential conflicts in a proactive and positive way.

Handling grievances

It’s essential to have a formal, written grievance procedure in place that is reviewed on a regular basis in line with any changes in legislation or official guidance, and managers should receive relevant training, so they know the steps to be followed. Ensure that when a grievance is raised, you refer to your procedures immediately – allowing you to manage workplace conflicts effectively and in a formal way. This includes investigating grievances fairly and consistently; creating open lines of communication for everyone involved; taking action and making decisions as soon as possible; and allowing the employee the right of appeal.

Focusing on diversity and equality

Creating a culture of fairness and inclusion is key when focusing on diversity and equality. This should be displayed throughout an employee’s journey with the company – from recruitment, through to day-to-day activities and any formal exit interview. Ensure key members of the team are aware and follow the correct procedures and are actively identifying and acting upon any potential breaches. Finally, arm each and every member of staff with the skills and training to ensure diversity and inclusion become a natural part of the organisational makeup of the business, and not something that you simply pay lip service to.

Bullying and anti-harassment

A policy on bullying and anti-harassment is also helpful as it can set out the company’s standpoint on such behaviour, give examples of what this can look like and make it clear it won’t be tolerated. This can reassure employees who feel they are being bullied or harassed that they can raise any concerns in a safe space, and set out the steps for you to take action against any perpetrators where appropriate. Training for staff and management on this subject can also help to the avoid behaviour arising in the first place, by illustrating that it is not acceptable in your workplace and highlighting the potential consequences.

In a world where more than half of employees are currently working from home, it’s vital to have the right systems in place that provide you with the flexibility to manage potential grievances that may arise remotely, while ensuring they’re firmly in place once people start to return to the office.

If you would like to discuss providing training for your staff around any of these issues, contact Chloe Pugh on chloe.pugh@pannonecorporate.com call 07500 797553, or visit our training website Pannone Academy at https://www.pannoneacademy.com.

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Pannone Corporate has strengthened its insolvency and restructuring team with the appointment of Richard Wolff as partner.

Richard, who joins from JMW where he established the firm’s insolvency practice over a decade ago, brings nearly 25 years’ experience to the role. He will assist in team growth and development, as well as the expansion of the practice’s client base and professional network.

Specialising in both non-contentious and contentious insolvency and restructuring work, Richard has acted for a wide variety of clients – from insolvency practitioners and lenders, to corporates and private individuals.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, said: “We’re delighted to welcome someone of Richard’s calibre to the firm, as we look to expand our expertise and reach within the insolvency and restructuring market.

“The insolvency landscape has changed markedly over the last 12 months and, as a firm, we are keen to capitalise on those developments by strengthening our team.”

Richard’s arrival follows the appointment of Georgina Bligh-Smith, as a paralegal in the insolvency and restructuring team. She will work alongside Richard, together with associate partner, Daniel Clarke, and senior associate, Heather Morris.

Richard commented: “Pannone has an excellent reputation for its ethos and outlook and has exciting ambition and aspirations for insolvency and restructuring as a core practice area within the firm – something that really drew me to the role.

“Over the next 12 months, there will undoubtedly be a period of sustained development and growth for this area of practice within the firm, as the pace within the insolvency and restructuring marketplace shifts up a gear off the back of the coronavirus pandemic and the withdrawal of the government and legislative-backed support measures for the UK economy.”

 

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The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been complex and far-reaching. No facet of business, or society, has escaped the effects of COVID-19 and serious questions have been asked of both employers and employees. 

While the issue of fraud – and more specifically employee fraud – has been on the radar for many years, the unique challenges posed by the pandemic have brought the problem under the spotlight in recent months. 

Whether it’s payment fraud, procurement fraud, personnel management, travel or subsistence fraud, exploiting assets and information, or receipt fraud, cases of employee fraud are common. According to Action Fraud, nearly 1 in 5 small businesses have been defrauded by an employee at some point during their trading history, causing significant loss and damage. Unsurprisingly, recent figures from NatWest show that UK businesses have been hit by fraud at a cost of £190 million a year, with 40% being caused by internal employees.

Despite a general perception around the issue, fraud isn’t always the product of malicious intent. Quite often, it materialises from despair, a lack of ability, or even inexperience. With many employees working remotely, and feeling disconnected from the structure and security of the workplace, it’s little wonder the problem of employee fraud has come under the spotlight. 

Times of economic uncertainty or economic boom, as evidenced before and as a result of the 2008 financial crash, often lead to an increase in fraud. Circumstances created by the pandemic – homeworking, job insecurity and financial hardship, and availability of financial support from the Government – all create an environment in which workplace fraud can increase.

Pre-pandemic, the fear of the boss “looking over the shoulder” could be a key factor in limiting employee wrongdoing and minimising the risk of employees falling victim to fraud from third-parties. However, the pandemic has forced employers to rely to a greater extent on its internal policies and procedures, as well a trusting its employees to do the right thing.

 To minimise the risk of fraud by employees, employers should consider:

 To minimise the risk of employees’ actions resulting in fraud by others:

Whilst a determined and sophisticated fraudster will always find a way, most workplace fraud (committed by or against employees) is often opportunistic and possibly due to lapses in oversight, poor management, or simple human or technology error. Taking a risk-based approach to identifying the greatest areas of risk within a business can help an employer effectively review, monitor, and minimise risk and to put in place the appropriate systems and defences to protect against internal fraud.

 If you would like to discuss the topic of employee fraud, contact employment director, Michael McNally, on 07736617394 or email Michael.McNally@pannonecorporate.com

 

 

 

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