Facts of the case

Gabriela Rodriguez worked as a cleaner at the offices of Devonshires Solicitors for two years, via contractor Total Clean. She claims she was sacked last year after Devonshires complained that leftover sandwiches were not being returned. She admits eating a £1.50 leftover tuna sandwich, which she thought would be thrown away. Ms Rodriguez is part of United Voices of the World union (UVW), which claims that cleaners (most of whom are migrant workers) are “routinely dismissed on trivial and […] discriminatory grounds. Many describe feeling like the dirt they clean.”

UVW claims Devonshires would not have complained about Ms Rodriguez if she was not a Latin American with limited English. She has brought claims for unfair dismissal and direct race discrimination against Total Clean, and direct and/or indirect race discrimination against Devonshires Solicitors. Devonshires deny that they made any complaint about Ms Rodriguez and Total Clean maintains that it followed a proper process before dismissing her.

Takeaways

It is difficult to comment on the rights or wrongs of the case without having more detail about what exactly happened. However, it would seem the rules that applied to Ms Rodriguez may not have been clear enough. Many employees would not consider eating a sandwich they believe will otherwise be thrown away as dishonest.  If it counts as dishonesty in your organisation, you should make that clear.

It remains to be seen whether Ms Rodriguez will succeed with her claims or if the matter will even reach a full hearing in the tribunal – but it is certainly one to keep an eye on!

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Over the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at Manchester’s concerted aim to become net zero. We will cover each area of the city’s focus and look at how businesses can play their part in achieving ambitious sustainability targets.

Let’s start at the beginning. Greater Manchester has long been at the forefront of urban decarbonization, and its drive towards net zero continues at pace. The city launched its first plan for collective climate action in 2009, which in turn led to the establishment of the Manchester Climate Change Agency and Partnership.

The measures have had a positive impact and the city was able to achieve a demonstrable reduction of 54% in its carb emissions between 2010 and 2020.

However, the city is not one to rest on its laurels and considered that further reductions were possible, especially in light of national and global aims relating to climate change. Notwithstanding its own significant achievements, Manchester declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and committed itself to halving again its carbon emissions within the next five years.

The city does not operate in isolation and accepts that its own direct carbon emissions make up only around 2% of the city’s total. However, the authority does have power and influence over a range of administrative and infrastructure matters, which it is hoped in turn will themselves contribute to the objectives to be achieved.

What is Manchester doing to achieve net zero?

The city has publicly stated the view that, “everyone has a part to play,” in limiting the effects of climate change and has set out its intentions to achieve net zero carbon in its Strategic Outline Business Plan. The Plan, which is bolstered by bespoke climate action plans for each of the authority’s 32 wards, lists a number of arguments in favour of the move, including establishing the city – and North West as a whole – as a leader in clean energy, which it is hoped in turn will attract private sector investment and help deliver wider social benefits, such as reducing fuel poverty.

The Council has identified 48 actions which can be taken – by itself and the city as a whole – to help focus minds, which can be summarised under the following broad topics:

  1. Buildings and energy
  2. Transport and travel
  3. Reducing consumption-based emissions
  4. Carbon storage and sequestration
  5. Emissions savings.

What objectives are being pursued?

Taking each category in turn:

  1. Buildings and energy

The Manchester urban area, and city centre in particular, is a significant estate and magnet for the use of utilities and energy. It is therefore a prime candidate for savings, in terms of the existing built environment as well as future energy usage. For example, the Council has already stated its commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from its estate and streetlighting by 50% by 2025, and a further 50% by 2030, to be achieved through a programme of retrofitting and local energy generation, including solar farms.

That being said, decarbonisation of the built environment is no easy feat and requires consideration at both the new build and retrofit stages of a building’s life.

In respect of future construction, the Council has produced a Buildings and Energy Strategy for its estate and has produced a Manchester Build Standard for future developments.

The above goes hand-in-hand with the retrofit of existing premises, which includes considerations as broad as the provision of (and energy supply to) heating alternatives, installation of energy-efficient fixtures and fittings, increasing thermal comfort and lowering energy bills.

Going forwards, all developments within the Manchester area will need to be mindful of the city’s drive towards net zero, and will have to incorporate sustainable concepts and energy efficiency into their construction proposals, including energy generation and usage. Not only has the Council declared that it will give additional weighting to environmental credentials in future tenders, but companies themselves are becoming more alive to the importance of ESG scores, which are featuring more prominently in pre-contract discussions.

  1. Transport and travel

There is a balance to be struck between improving liveability and ensuring access into the city centre and other areas within the authority’s control through low-cost public transport, and ensuring that such travel and opportunities are provided on solid environmentally friendly credentials.

In connection with its own vehicles, the Council is replacing its fleet with electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, which is estimated will save around 900 tonnes of carbon annually (c.£9.8 million). The move towards electric vehicles is a huge logistical exercise, which will be decades in the transition, but is nonetheless one the Council is eager to pursue.

As laudable as the aim is, there are clear logistical hurdles in the way. For example, not only are there immediate and significant financial costs associated with the decarbonisation of travel, but the technology remains very much in its infancy and at developmental stage. Additionally, were these obstacles to be overcome, there are planning and spatial issues arising in connection with the installation of electric charging points. It remains to be seen what volume of energy generation will be required to realise the objectives, which leads to the question as to how that energy is to be produced in the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to allow green travel to remain a viable alternative.

Whilst there is ongoing discussion around the possible use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source, to date these exchanges have focussed on haulage and logistics as opposed to domestic travel. Despite its relative cleanliness, the use of hydrogen does come with its own significant risk factors.

  1. Reducing consumption-based emissions

There are a number of measures being taken, at both local and national level, to reduce consumption-based emissions and those arising from supply chains generally. For example, mirroring measures taken by central government, Manchester has indicated its intention to phase out single-use plastics and other non-recyclable products.

The last few years have seen an increasing behavioural and cultural shift towards the circular economy, and away from the take-make-use mentality. The national government has stated its desire to avoid all avoidable waste by 2042 and although this objective will not be achieved overnight, regulations are already in force working towards this aim, such as the successful introduction of the plastic carrier bag charge in 2015, and the prohibition on sale and supply of plastic straws and single-use cutlery.

In addition, the UK has recently seen the introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax and Extended Producer Responsibility regulations, both of which serve to impose waste management cost obligations on businesses for the packaging they generate and handle.  Whilst the purpose of these regulations is to encourage and incentivise durability, repairability and recycling, and move away from disposal as the default option at a product’s end of life, the additional costs generated are almost certainly going to be passed on throughout the supply chain.

Businesses need to start considering now whether any of their produced items can be redesigned using environmentally friendly components, or re-packaged in a way that supports environmental targets.

  1. Carbon storage and sequestration

Manchester is eager to promote carbon storage solutions, and has introduced a Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy which includes an intelligence-led approach to tree and hedge planting.

To date, over 7,000 trees have been planted, as well as five community orchards, with the aim of not only increasing the aesthetic attractiveness of the urban area, but also to best position the city ahead if expected future climate changes. 

  1. Influencing behaviour

The Council is eager to be seen as leading by example and, in turn, influence the behaviour of others. For example, to date it has embedded zero carbon as a priority into its Service Plans, has appointed three Neighbourhood Climate Change Officers, and has arranged both private and public lobbying of the GM Pension Fund to divest from investment in fossil fuels.

That being said, change will not come overnight and there also needs to be a degree of consensus and agreement as to how and in what way cultural changes are expected to occur. There is already discussion within the UK, as well as other countries, regarding the implementation of ’15 minute cities,’ programmable digital currency and, at its extreme, social credit scores. These are highly overt ways of compelling an expected behaviour, but are likely to meet resistance in the event of their unilateral imposition.

At this stage, the Council encourages individuals to take responsible actions – which can also be replicated across businesses – including:

Conclusion

The Combined Authority states that it ‘takes climate change seriously,’ and the objectives it seeks to achieve are to be welcomed. The decarbonisation objectives are not simply to meet Government guidelines, but are also intended to provide a framework for others to follow and to improve the lives of those living and working within Manchester.

However laudable the objectives are – at both a local and national level – they are not without their real and significant obstacles, which do need to be addressed before the aims can be fully realised.  Certainly, the objectives cannot be achieved overnight, in isolation, nor by one city alone. That is not to say that the aims should not be pursued, but they do require a considered and coordinated approach across numerous authorities.

Although many of the details as to the future landscape and specific actions expected of both businesses and individuals remain to be confirmed, the direction of travel is clear.

In the absence of a statutory compulsion to do so, we recommend that businesses undertake an internal review of their systems, production methods and environmental impact as soon as possible, to identify areas where more could perhaps be done. This process will help to position organisations in the most favourable position for further environmental regulations, which are undoubtedly on the horizon, and will also help work towards those collective aims intended to be achieved by the Combined Authority.

In our next blog in the series, we will cover the issue of transport and travel.

Picture: The Tower of Light – Manchester’s low-carbon energy centre (credit: Philip Openshaw)

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Pannone Corporate has advised APRIL Group, the leading wholesale insurance broker in France and Europe, on the cross-border acquisition of Lexham Insurance, a specialist two-wheeler insurance broker.

Lexham was established in 1999 and has since become a leading provider of moped, scooter and motorcycle insurance in the UK.

The acquisition reinforces APRIL’s ambition to expand its international footprint in specialist personal property and casualty (P&C) niche insurance, such as two-wheeler insurance, building on its presence in France and Spain. As part of the deal, Lexham CEO, James Miller, will continue to lead the business with his team.

Pannone’s corporate team included partner Tom Hall who co-led the deal with director Andrew Walsh, with further support from Belinda Cheung and Georgina Bligh-Smith.

Hall said: “This is a fantastic deal to kick the year off with – one that demonstrates the continued appetite of overseas investors and trade buyers, seeking to scale their operations internationally through strategic buy and build opportunities.

“APRIL has built up an excellent reputation in the European two-wheeler insurance sector and the acquisition of Lexham Insurance marks an important step in expanding its presence in the UK market.”

APRIL has a network of over 15,000 partner brokers internationally. With 2,400 employees, the company provides health and personal protection insurance, loan insurance, international health insurance (iPMI), property and casualty niche insurance and savings in investment products.

Marc-André Dupont, Head of APRIL Group property and casualty division, said: “We share Lexham’s passion for customer service and its recognised expertise in network management. With James Miller, who will continue to lead Lexham, we have begun to identify synergies that will enable us to create value across Europe.

Lexham Insurance offers in excess of 20 different insurance products, including quad insurance, car insurance for motorcyclists, motorhome and camper, as well as motor trade and commercial insurance. It employs 200 employees across three UK offices.

Other advisors on the deal were:

Photo credit: Milos Muller

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In the first of a six-part blog series from Pannone’s dispute resolution team, we take a closer look at commercial contracts, focusing at those elements which give rise to the risk of disputes, and how best to navigate those challenges.

Parties may believe that they are embroiled in a contract dispute, but the first question for the court will be “is there a legally binding contract in the first place?” In this blog, we examine the requirements for the formation of a legally binding and enforceable contract.

The five requirements for a legally binding contract

A contract gives rise to legally enforceable rights, obligations and remedies. It’s therefore important to consider whether or not a legally binding contract has been formed.

It’s not necessary for a contract to be documented in order to be legally binding. A contract can be formed whether made in writing or verbally.

However, there are five key requirements which must be present to form a legally binding agreement. These are:

  1. an offer
  2. acceptance
  3. consideration
  4. a mutual intention to create legal relations
  5. certainty of terms.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1          Offer

What is an offer?

An offer is defined as “an expression of willingness to contract, made with the intention that it shall become binding upon the person making it, as soon as it is accepted by the person whom it is addressed”. In other words, an offer is a promise made to enter into a contract.

When is an offer not an offer?

It’s important to distinguish between an offer to contract from what is commonly known as an ‘invitation to treat’. Parties need to consider whether the proposal which is made is intended to give rise to a legally binding contract (an offer), or whether it’s made with the intention of entering into negotiations (an invitation to treat). An example commonly given for an invitation to treat are goods displayed in a shop window. An invitation to treat will not amount to an offer to contract.

Can an offer be withdrawn?

An offer can be withdrawn before acceptance has taken place. This can happen in a number of ways. For example, an offer may give a deadline for acceptance. If the offer expires, the offer may not be capable of acceptance. If there’s no specific deadline for acceptance, the courts deem the offer to remain open for a reasonable amount of time. A ‘reasonable amount of time’ will depend on the particular circumstances of the case.

2          Acceptance

When is a contract formed?

A contract is typically formed, and therefore becomes legally binding, at the point of acceptance. Acceptance is the final confirmation that the terms of an offer are agreed. Acknowledging receipt of an offer will not constitute an acceptance. Instead, acceptance should clearly signal an intention to be bound by the terms of the offer. When assessing this, the court will apply the reasonable person test, i.e. would a reasonable person standing in the shoes of the person making an offer find that there is a clear intention to accept the terms of the offer and subsequently form the contract.

Acceptance of an offer can also be demonstrated by way of conduct which evidences an intention to accept the offer.

Is it an acceptance or is it a counteroffer?

In order for an acceptance to give rise to a binding contract, it’s important that the specific terms of the offer have been accepted. If alternative terms are proposed, this will not amount to an acceptance of the offer, but will instead amount to a counteroffer. A counteroffer amounts to a rejection of the original offer so that no contract exists. Querying something, or seeking clarification about the terms of the offer, will not, however, amount to a counteroffer.

3          Consideration

What is consideration?

The requirement for consideration is in essence the principle that you cannot get something for nothing. It’s centres on the idea that a party cannot enforce a promise unless it has given or promised something in exchange for it. The law does not interfere with the bargain struck between two parties and so will not test whether consideration is adequate, so long that the consideration has a value, even if that is a pound.

Who must the consideration move between?

Consideration must move from the party who seeks to enforce a promise, as this is in line with the doctrine of privity to a contract, i.e. only those privy to the contract can enforce the rights under the contract. However, the consideration does not necessarily have to move to the person who makes the promise.

Does past consideration count?

Consideration which is given at some time in the past is not a valid form of consideration, this being an act which has come before the promise was made and therefore not something of value.

4          Intention to create legal relations

Why is this important?

If the courts determine an agreement was reached without a mutual intention to create legal relations, that agreement will not be legally binding.

What is required?

When considering whether the parties had the necessary intention to create legal relations, the courts will consider the conduct of the parties and all the relevant circumstances. If an intention is disputed, the onus is on the party who claims there was no intention to prove this allegation. In order to avoid any ambiguity, it’s beneficial for parties to clearly identify their intentions from the outset.

The business presumption

Businesses should be aware that there is a presumption that there is an intention to create legal relations in commercial circumstances. In the event a party objects to there being a presumed intention, the onus is on that party to prove otherwise.

5          Certainty of terms

Are the terms clear?

For there to be a legally binding contract, there must also be certainty of terms. This requires all the essential terms that form the contract to be complete and free from ambiguity. If an agreement omits a material term or is uncertain, this may lead to the agreement not being capable of being enforced.

The court’s approach

In assessing whether essential terms have been agreed, the court will assess whether an honest and reasonable businessperson would have concluded from the parties’ communications and conduct that they had agreed all the terms they considered to be a precondition to creating legal relations.

Generally speaking, the court will not wish to interfere with agreements reached between two commercial parties. However, in certain circumstances, the court does have the ability to fill in gaps in a contract to give effect to the parties’ intentions. This will depend on all the circumstances of the case.

What’s next…

Our next blog post in this series will examine the ‘battle of the forms’ and how to ensure that your contract terms govern your business relations.

If you would like to discuss this blog, please contact Paul Jonson on 07737571147 or by email to paul.jonson@pannonecorporate.com

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Although the media interest surrounding the Awaab Ishak inquest focussed on the presence of damp and mould, there were other matters arising in evidence in that case which have not been touched upon as extensively by the press. That is not to minimise the possible risks that may be associated with extensive exposure to mould, but rather to put in context that there are many other hazards and concerns which can be associated with domestic premises, all of which may require investment and attention from the property owner.

The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, which was already in draft form prior to the Awaab Ishak inquest, was amended in light of the Coroner’s conclusion in that case to include a specific obligation on social housing landlords to investigate and repair, within a specified timescale, “prescribed hazards,“ which were reported from their housing stock

These additional obligations were proposed to form part of tenancy agreements, and were intended to provide tenants with an enhanced course of redress against landlords who were considered to be failing in their maintenance duties.

The Government has now launched a consultation which considers proposals for the full implementation of Awaab’s Law.

What are the proposals?

The consultation offers seven proposals for comment, being:

  1. If a registered provider is made aware of a potential hazard in a social home, they must investigate within 14 calendar days to ascertain if there is a hazard.
  2. Within 14 calendar days of being made aware that there is a potential hazard in a social home, the registered provider must provide a written summary of findings to the resident that includes details of any hazard identified and (if applicable) next steps, including an anticipated timeline for repair and a schedule of works.

Whilst the consultation makes clear that physical visits to properties may not always be necessary, where remote viewing/ information sharing is possible, this requirement does imply and require a certain level of knowledge by the investigator to understand the potential hazards, and make a determination as to their severity.

  1. If the investigation indicates that a reported hazard poses a significant risk to the health or safety of the resident, the registered provider must begin repair works within 7 calendar days of the written summary being issued.

In determining whether a hazard poses a risk to health and safety, the consultation encourages landlords to consider any specific vulnerabilities of residents of which they are aware, with the overall approach being one of proactivity. Supportive medical evidence will not be required to determine the risk.

  1. The registered provider must satisfactorily complete repair works within a reasonable time period. The resident should be informed of this time period and their needs should be considered.

The explanatory notes which accompany the consultation detail that specific timescales for completion of works should reflect the nature of the problem, as well as being proportionate to the scale of repair as well as taking into account the needs of the residents.

  1. The registered provider must action emergency repairs as soon as practicable and, in any event, within 24 hours.

The explanatory notes confirm that ‘emergency repairs’ are those which present a significant and imminent risk of harm.

  1. In the event that the investigation finds a hazard that poses a significant, or a significant and imminent, risk of harm or danger, and the property cannot be made safe within the specified timescales for Awaab’s Law, the registered provider must offer to arrange for the occupant(s) to stay in suitable alternative accommodation until it is safe to return.
  2. The registered provider will be expected to keep clear records of all attempts to comply with the proposals, including records of all correspondence with the resident(s) and any contractors. If the registered provider makes all reasonable attempts to comply with the timescales but is unable to for reasons genuinely beyond their control, they will be expected to provide a record of the reasons that prevented them from doing so.

Overview of costs

The Government is unable to estimate the net additional costs of the proposals however they are considered likely to be small, on the basis that aside from specifying the response time, Awaab’s Law goes no further than re-stating landlords existing obligations.

The consultation itself states:

Social landlords already have a responsibility to maintain their homes to meet the Decent Homes Standard… to remedy disrepair, and to maintain homes so that they are fit for human habitation. To be fit for human habitation a home must be safe, healthy and free from things that could cause you or anyone else in your household serious harm. Therefore, the duty to make repairs to reported hazards is not a new burden on landlords, and the costs associated with the investigation and repair timescales are likely to be minimal, as the additional burden is the speed at which repairs need to be responded to, not the repairs themselves.

Familiarisation costs for year one are estimated in the region of £1.6 million, with the costs associated with the provision of a written summary of hazard findings anticipated in the region of £154 million.

The key driver behind the consultation is for social housing landlords to take faster action in responding to hazards within a home that are significantly impacting a resident’s health and safety. The consultation goes on to consider that the remediation of hazards will serve to stop the deterioration of these issues and may even improve mental health and wellbeing, on the basis that, “remedying disrepair in a timely fashion means residents feel their complaints are taken seriously, their pride of place is heightened, and they will feel happier to be at home. These health improvements are likely to result in a reduced burden on the NHS, with fewer housing relating issues resulting in residents requiring medical attention. There are also likely to be wider societal benefits of reducing health and safety hazards in homes, such as reduced instances of lost productivity due to ill health.”

Commentary

Awaab’s Law, and the proposals currently open for consultation, were introduced following the media frenzy flowing from the November 2022 inquest. However, without more long-term investment and increased funding streams, social housing providers are likely to continue to be placed in an impossible position. In the absence of a blank cheque, it is a difficulty that is not easily resolved.

Whilst the objectives are laudable, as the consultation itself accepts, the proposals are not novel in themselves and re-state existing obligations. What is liable to change however is the time within which those activities need to be put in hand. This may present an immediate logistical problem for many, especially smaller organisations which may have fewer/ more limited resources, and fewer bodies on the ground to put in hand the required attendances when required.

On the resources issue, although the government does not anticipate significant costs, those funds still need to be sourced, and any monies incurred as part of the expected ‘familiarisation’ period will not be available for other projects, such as the construction of new build homes, or upgrade of existing stock. Without downplaying the seriousness of health and safety risks, the remediation of issues in one property may result in a net loss for the stock as a whole if funds are not otherwise available – for example, to fund replacement fittings or new build projects.

Awaab’s Law is also restricted to the social housing sector and does not affect private sector landlords. The occurrence of mould – and other residential hazards – is not exclusive to the social housing sector, yet the proposals are likely to result in an imbalance between the private and the social housing sector, with the latter benefitting from generally faster remediation.

Additionally, tenants owe a duty to behave in a ‘tenant-like manner’ during the life of their lease. However, the current proposals risk severing that responsibility and shifting the responsible burden onto already over-stretched and under-funded social landlords and may, at their extreme, require a landlord to repair a hazard regardless of their genesis or the manner in which they have arisen.

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the sale of Eco-Readymix Ltd, a leading producer of mortar and concrete in the North West.

The company, which was established in 2004 and has sites in Wrexham and Ellesmere Port, was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Aggregate Industries, a member of the Holcim Group. The acquisition will reinforce Aggregate Industries’ position in the North West market and also help establish its place in the UK mortar market.

Pannone’s corporate team advised the shareholders of Eco-Readymix. The team included corporate partner, Tom Hall, Bez Borang and Sam Roberts. They were supported by James Harris, partner in the real estate team.

Hall said: “This is a fantastic deal. A regional business that is anchored in a traditional sector, but is forward-looking in its approach, particularly around sustainability and the environment.

“We’re delighted to see the business attracting the attention of a heavyweight, such as Aggregate Industries, and we will watch with great interest as the combined businesses make an even greater mark on the North West market.”

Eco-Readymix produces Ready to Use mortar and Dry Silo Mortar and serves national house builders, groundworkers and civil engineering firms alongside the domestic market.

It also produces ready mix concrete, liquid and traditional screed, concrete masonry blocks and aggregates. The company has strong sustainable credentials. Its Wrexham site is almost entirely powered via a biomass system alongside both wind and solar power. It employs 52 people across its sites.

Dragan Maksimovic, Chief Executive Officer of Aggregate Industries UK, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the acquisition of Eco Readymix and welcome them to Aggregate Industries.

“As a business, it has clear sustainable values very much in line with our own and will strategically add to our strong footprint in the North West.

“This also marks our entry into the UK mortar market with a knowledgeable and ambitious management that has multiple synergies with our own. The acquisition supports our long-term strategy to continue to grow our business in order to become the UK’s leading supplier of sustainable construction materials and solutions.”

Picture credit: Iryna Melnyk

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Calls for a ‘Hillsborough Law’ and increased accountability of public servants have been voiced for many years.  However, despite a number of independent inquiries and investigations, litigation and even draft legislation being prepared, it appears that any such law may now essentially be stagnant.

Whilst the draft Public Accountability Bill (also known as the Hillsborough Law) sought to establish a statutory duty of candour – being an obligation on public servants to be open, transparent and honest following public disasters – these proposals will not now proceed any further, at least not in the current session of Parliament.  Rather than enact legislation and subject it to parliamentary scrutiny, the Government has, instead, indicated it will sign a comparable Charter.

What does the Charter say?

The Charter responds to Bishop James Jones’ previous report published in 2017, in which he identified 25 points of learning.  One of the key recommendations within this was the creation of a Charter for families bereaved through public tragedy.  This Charter seeks to ensure that the lessons of the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath, are learned, to prevent those who are affected by public tragedy in the future from having the same experience.

The Charter lists six key points as to how the Government is committed to acting in practice, within the confines of the existing rules, regulations and codes.  The six rules are:

  1. In the event of a public tragedy activate its emergency plan and deploy its resources to rescue victims, to support the bereaved and to protect the vulnerable.
  2. Place the public interest above out own reputation.
  3. Approach forms of public scrutiny, including public inquiries and inquests with candour, in an open, honest and transparent way, making full disclosure of relevant documents, material and facts.  Our objective is to assist the search for the truth.  We accept that we should learn from the findings of external scrutiny and from past mistakes.
  4. Avoid seeking to defend the indefensible, or to dismiss or disparage those who may have suffered where we have fallen short.
  5. Ensure all members of staff treat members of the public and each other with mutual respect and courtesy.  Where we fall short, we should apologise straight forwardly and genuinely.
  6. Recognise that we are accountable and open to challenge.  We will ensure that processes are in place to allow the public to hold us to account for the work we do and the way in which we do it.  We do not knowingly mislead the public or the media.

Hurdles to implementation

However, far from addressing the concerns highlighted by those affected by the Hillsborough tragedy, as well as other public disasters, the Charter is considered by those who are intended to benefit from it, as falling far short of the mark. Not only does a Charter lack the weight of its statutory counterparts, but in addition there are serious and fundamental procedural questions which need to be addressed before for any such duty can achieve its intended aims.

Primarily, it remains unclear exactly what is intended by ‘candour’ other than a general duty to be open and honest. In any event there is an inherent tension with a potential defendant’s right to silence: where someone asserts that right, they are unlikely to be guilty of lacking candour – and to hold otherwise would fundamentally undermine well established principles of criminal justice. However, the idea that any assertion of the right of silence should be subject to third party scrutiny or assessment of reasonableness is seismic to say the least.

Another difficulty with the Charter is that it leaves open to interpretation the definition of a public tragedy. The answer may be that the public will know a tragedy when they see one, but the definition cannot simply be determined by the number of people injured or who have died. To set any such arbitrary distinction risks severe unfairness and injustice.  In addition, the Government’s pledge to activate its emergency plan and deploy resources to rescue victims and support the bereaved is perhaps only a restatement of the current emergency services framework and is not really an extension of the existing procedures already in place.

In respect of the Charter’s pledge regarding public inquiries and inquests, the granular detail which supports this pledge states, “full disclosure may not always be possible in relation to broader scrutiny, or enquiries…in signing the Charter, the Government is not intending to widen the disclosure obligations which currently apply, or to narrow the well-established exceptions to those obligations”.

One of the issues which arose from the various inquiries into Hillsborough, was the potential withholding of information and lack of disclosure.  However, the Charter does no more than to simply re-state the current framework regarding disclosure and expressly does not seek to expand the current regime.  It is unclear, therefore, how this pledge marks any form of change than what has already gone before.

In addition, whilst there may be a very strong moral imperative for public servants to be open and honest following tragedies, absent a ‘stick’ with which to enforce compliance and punish breach, there remains a question as to how compliance will – or even can – be enforced.

However, there does not appear to be any comparable or tangible ‘carrot.’ In the absence of an acknowledged benefit or (financial) incentive for being candid, a potential defendant to further investigation is likely to consider themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.

Conclusion

Whilst a Hillsborough Charter is broadly to be welcomed and may be seen to go some way towards addressing the concerns and queries raised by the families following that disaster and subsequent litigation, there is also much commentary that it simply falls far short of the expected mark and does not go as far as anticipated.

As the Charter does not have statutory force, it is not clear what the consequences of breach may be for us who act in contravention of it.  Possibly not much.

In parallel with the Hillsborough Charter, the police Ethical Code of Conduct now includes a duty of candour, but aside from any disciplinary proceedings arising in respect of individual officers, it is not clear how the pledges are to be enforced.  By its nature, the criminalisation of particular activities rests in the procedural ability to impose a penalty for non-compliance  However, in the absence of statutory footing for the Hillsborough Charter, there is no stick and it is difficult to see how breach, or non-compliance can be enforced.

That being said, the law does not operate in a vacuum and were the Hillsborough law to be enacted in the terms previously suggested, this would potentially cause significant tension within the criminal justice system and simply could not be imposed unilaterally without detailed and considered consideration of parallel issues which would be affected.

The Labour Party have indicated, in its manifesto, that it will reconsider a manifesto pledge around the Hillsborough law and the results of a general election in 2024 remain to be seen.  Whilst it may be the case that any future Labour Government considers that the Hillsborough Charter, as exists, is sufficient, this is unlikely to satisfy those who have been personally affected by the Hillsborough law and who do not consider that the Charter has, in fact, gone far enough.

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The draft wording of the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill (also known as ‘Martyn’s Law’) continues to work its way through Parliament, and following its inclusion in the King’s Speech.

Whilst some aspects of the Bill have recently been subject to scrutiny and criticism, the fundamental purpose of the draft is to be welcomed.

Although identification of ‘lone wolf’ individuals, their methodology and where and when they may attack are often difficult to predict, such ‘low complexity’ attacks are no less deadly than those committed by organised terrorist groups and it is only correct that all businesses prepare for the unthinkable.

The draft Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law in honour of Martyn Hett, who was killed during the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, seeks to address this issue by imposing proactive security measures on organisations that may be subject to terrorist attack.  Specifically, the Bill requires those responsible for certain public premises to expressly consider the risk from terrorism and implement reasonably practicable and proportionate mitigating measures in response. The Bill also proposes to establish an inspection and enforcement regime, to ensure compliance with the legislation once it comes into force.

Which premises are caught?

The definition of ‘qualifying public premises’ is wide and includes premises used for:

To be caught by the definition, and the additional duties imposed, the public must have access to the premises which themselves must have a capacity for 100 or more individuals.

Certain ‘qualifying public events’ are also caught by the provisions, which includes events held at premises which are not qualifying public premises, but to which the public have access and have capacity for 800 or more individuals.

What is the duty that is imposed?

Different duties apply depending on the size of the qualifying premises, with those having a public capacity of 800 or more individuals being classed as an ‘enhanced duty premises.’ Other public premises are subject to a ‘standard duty’.

In either scenario, the duties are imposed on the person (or persons) who has control of the premises for their relevant use, or the qualifying public event.

In addition to being obliged to register the premises, the responsible person must also:

A standard evaluation must be reviewed every time there is a material change to the premises or its use, as well as within 12 months of the previous review.

The evaluation should include information as to the:

Where the enhanced duty applies, the responsible person must also prepare a terrorism risk assessment at least three months before the date of the event taking place. The draft Bill explains that a terrorism risk assessment is an assessment of:

What are the responsibilities?

The draft Bill serves to impose additional duties on those responsible for qualifying premises.

For example, Martyn’s Law if enacted in its current form will oblige those responsible to provide terrorism protection training, and to implement prescribed security measures and plans in the event of an attack.

Enforcement

Obligations under the Bill will be monitored and enforced by local authorities, using a ‘reasonably practicable’ test to assess what is proportionate in any given situation.

If contraventions are identified then the Bill provides for notices to be served, as well as the imposition of financial penalties. Of note, the maximum penalty in respect of standard duty premises is £10,000, but for those subject to the enhanced duty is the greater of £18 million, or 5% of qualifying global revenue.

Failure to comply with a notice which has been served will be an offence, being punishable on conviction by up to two years custody and/ or an unlimited fine. In addition, individuals within an organisation may also be guilty of an offence if the corporate’s offending is shown to have been committed with their consent, connivance or neglect.

Conclusion

The aims of the Bill are commendable, and have been prepared following consultation with various parties in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017. The specific and deliberate focus on the risk of terrorism is to be welcomed and it is hoped that the Bill is able to complete its passage through Parliament as soon as possible.

However, the proposals are not in themselves novel and largely reflect and mirror existing duties imposed on organisations and businesses in respect of day-to-day health and safety management. Where this legislation differs however is that it prescribes the risk (terrorism) to be expressly considered and requires relevant organisations to proactively prepare in anticipation of that risk materialising.

The additional inspection and enforcement responsibilities come at a time when local authorities are financially stretched and it will be interesting to understand from where the additional funding and resources to achieve this aim will be sourced. For example, the impact assessment which accompanies the draft legislation estimates that the total set-up and on-going cost of Martyn’s Law to be between £1.1 billion and £6.3 billion.

In addition, criticism has been levelled at both the arbitrary capacity cut-off figures – given that acts of terrorism do not usually abide by such distinctions – as well as the potentially disproportionate cost which will be imposed on small and medium-sized venues. Whilst the Bill, if enacted, will certainly increase provider knowledge, it remains unclear how it will provide a benefit to venues, given the random and often unforeseeable nature of terrorist activities.

To discuss this in more detail, contact associate partner in Pannone Corporate’s regulatory team, Bill Dunkerley.

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Once again, both individual lawyers and teams at Pannone Corporate have featured strongly in this year’s Chambers 2024, consolidating the impressive showing in the Legal 500 rankings, which were announced last month.

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.

Highlights from this year’s Chambers 2024 include:

So, what do our clients say about us?

Corporate: “They understand the market and the needs of clients and formulate them into pragmatic solutions.”

Employment: “A great all-round team of high-level thinkers with the ability to transfer that knowledge into actionable solutions.”

Litigation: “No stone is left unturned and every correspondence is well considered.” 

IT: “Pannone’s commercial awareness is a key distinguishing factor of them as a firm.”

Commenting on this year’s results, senior partner Paul Jonson said: “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.”

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.

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Welcome to our latest IP update – insight into the most recent 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.

To find out more, click here 

If you have any questions about the updates or any IP issues or challenges you’re facing, please contact Melanie McGuirk or Grace Astbury.

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Pannone Corporate has strengthened its cross-sector expertise, after being appointed by a trio of high-profile clients – TalkTalk, Silentnight, and ExamWorks.

The North West law firm will provide legal support to UK connectivity provider, TalkTalk, which operates Britain’s biggest unbundled broadband network, while the firm has also recently been appointed by renowned sleep brand, Silentnight.

In addition, Pannone has joined a panel of external advisers for ExamWorks – a market leading service provider to the insurance, legal, and healthcare sectors. The company specialises in a range of services, including accident aftercare, medical reports, health assessments and rehabilitation treatment.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “We’re delighted to be appointed by such respected brands – each of which has carved out a strong, market leading position in their chosen sectors. To be aligned with key industry players is a step forward in our growth journey.

“It’s also really pleasing that each of the brands is North West born and bred, while possessing a national and international reach that demonstrates the strength and depth of our regional economy. We look forward to working alongside TalkTalk, Silentnight, and ExamWorks moving forward.”

Earlier this year, Pannone was appointed by The Lowry, New Balance and Beauty Bay, strengthening its retail and leisure credentials.

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Pannone Corporate has been recommended as top tier in two practice areas and also recommended in a further ten practice areas in The Legal 500 2024 edition released yesterday.

Here are some highlights from what our clients had to say:

 

Commercial litigation 

“Direct partner contact, in-depth subject expertise and competitive rates due to its size and structure which makes it stand out in the Manchester and national market.

“Pragmatic yet thoroughly detailed advice together with responsiveness and quick turn-around times – an invaluable resource for a busy in-house team.”

“Collaborative, responsive, thoughtful and with a deep knowledge and understanding of our business.”

 

Commercial property

“The team is very experienced and offers a personalised service. They are highly knowledgeable and able to represent the core interests of their clients without prompting.”

A smaller team that offers a big company service and an ethos personalised to the needs of the client.”

“Valued members of their team and ours. They are always available and ready to answer quick questions and give advice.”

 

Contentious trusts & probate

“Sound, intelligent advice and support.”

“Exceptional advice and persuaded me to agree to mediation. This proved to be excellent advice and helped achieve a fantastic result, avoiding court costs.”

“Client-focused and provide realistic straight-talking advice in a manner clients can easily understand. They are very experienced around the legal issues but also have their eye on costs.”

 

Corporate & commercial

“Able to manage demanding and challenging stakeholders – always with a smile on their faces.”

“Highlights risks in a commercial manner. Doesn’t labour incidental points, a characteristic that helps keep processes moving and on track.”

“Always has a solution when required to get through a log-jam and able to manage diverse stakeholders to ensure a consensus solution is found.”

 

Debt recovery

“Pannone are very good at replying and explaining their process. We can call them anytime and they pick up – not the case with other firms.”

“The personal touch and the relationships with people at Pannone. They have held inhouse training at their Manchester office to help myself and my staff understand the legal process.”

  

Employment

Supported several very complex cases and always quick to respond, giving excellent and considered advice. They understand our business and some of the difficulties we face and apply this when giving advice.”

“‘We have built a strong relationship with the whole team and no matter what the issue, any of them can be approached and you can trust that if it is not their area of expertise they will liaise with the subject expert within the team before providing advice.”

“Their employment law knowledge is fantastic, and they present this in a simple yet effective way.”

 

Health & safety

“An outstanding partner to myself and the whole business. Nothing is too much trouble.”

Undoubtedly the firm to watch in the North West, buckets of experience mixed with in-depth knowledge of the regulatory landscape means the firm is going from strength-to-strength.’

“The class act of the North’

  

Insolvency & corporate recovery

“A very commercially sound and technically gifted team who provide an excellent service.”

“Excellent technically and commercially, and fun to work with.”

“Strong technically, very commercial, results-orientated and well-respected in the market.”

“A good communicator and always willing to take a commercial view.”

 

Intellectual property

“Pannone have kept up with us every step of the changes in our organisation, and their diligent handling of our cases has played a significant part in our organisation’s success post-pandemic. They are consistently a pleasure to deal with – no matter the query or the request, the team work tirelessly to meet our expectations.”

 

IT & telecoms

“Adept at providing commercial and pragmatic advice which comes from being experts in the sector.” 

“Manages to provide the right level of advice for our business without over-engineering it.”

  

Media & entertainment 

“Highly professional, supportive and excellent advice”

“An ability to see around corners…always my first choice.”

 

Property litigation

“A very cohesive and proactive team, which is essential to support our sometimes urgent and time-critical requirements.”

  

Notable individuals

Hall of Fame

Melanie McGuirk – Intellectual Property

Tim Hamilton – Corporate and Commercial

 

Leading Individuals

Amy Chandler – Intellectual Property

Amy Chandler – IT and Telecoms

Nicola Marchant – Contentious Trusts and Probate

Paul Jonson – Commercial Litigation

David Brown – Property Litigation

Melanie McGuirk – Media and Entertainment

Jack Harrington – Employment

David Walton – Health and Safety

Next Generation Partners

Gemma Staples – Property Litigation

Jonny Scholes – Contentious Trusts and Probate

Rising Stars

Sarah Bazaraa – Intellectual Property and Media & Entertainment

Arshnoor Amershi – Corporate and Commercial

Andrew Walsh – Corporate and Commercial

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Natasha Mafunga joined Pannone Corporate at the start of the year as a solicitor in the dispute resolution team. In the latest in our blog series, My Life in Law, Natasha reflects on the first nine months of her at career at the firm, her love of people and problem solving, what she would do if she was managing partner for the day and the Broadway career that never was!

Tell us a little bit about your role at Pannone?

I work in the dispute resolution team and, since I joined in January, I’ve developed a mixed caseload consisting of commercial litigation work on the one hand and contentious probate and trusts work on the other.

That’s what really appealed to me about the job – I liked the idea of doing commercial litigation work alongside contentious probate and trusts. What’s more, the firm has a clear progression route and invests in the development of its people – people who, I might add, are absolutely lovely to work with, which applies across all teams!

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

After completing my A-levels in Law, Psychology and Sociology, I went down the ‘traditional’ route of getting my LLB undergraduate law degree at the University of Chester, before getting a training contract and qualifying. I was able to do my training contract alongside my LPC MSC in Law, Business and Management, which I did part time. It was tough at times juggling work and doing my LPC, but I managed to get through it fairly unscathed!

Why did you choose this route?

I didn’t really consider any other route at the time. I was lucky enough to be able to get a postgraduate loan for my LPC, as I was doing it alongside my masters. This meant that I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to fund my course.

Tell us what does a typical day look like?

No day is ever really the same. It usually starts of with me updating my to-do list from the previous day, checking my calendar for upcoming meetings and deadlines and trying to get my head down with the hopes of crossing a task off the list. My tasks can range from having phone calls with clients, opponents and third parties, responding to emails and drafting letters and court documents, all the way through to attending conferences with counsel or even court hearings. It’s always important to keep an eye on upcoming deadlines and have the Civil Procedure Rules to hand at all times.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

I enjoy working with people and problem solving. The work I do as part of the contentious probate and trusts team especially allows me to see how much of a real difference my colleagues and I can make to people’s lives, often in very sensitive and stressful circumstances.

Looking ahead, what are your career ambitions?

Simply put, I want to be the best solicitor I can be in my areas of specialism and provide a great service to my clients. In doing that, I trust that I will always be rewarded with progression. Who knows, it might lead me to joining the partnership one day.

Talking of being a partner, if you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

I like the idea of a 30-minute wellness session where employees can do some simple yoga, meditation or breathing techniques to clear the 1,000 tabs that are always open in our minds at any one time.

Keeping your managing partner hat on, what can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients?

Its important to always be clear on costs from the outset and not be afraid to continue raising the subject with clients throughout. De-mystifying the process and the costs likely to be involved will ensure that clients keep coming to you for advice.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

From about 2020, I got into walking and hiking, as you couldn’t really do much else at the time due to Covid. Now it’s one of my favourite things to do.

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

Apparently I can be quite dramatic, so I imagine I would’ve been a world famous Broadway actress by now. If only the law hadn’t got to me first!

On that note, it shouldn’t surprise colleagues about your previous skills and talent!

No! I played a lead role in an adaptation of We Will Rock You the musical in high school. The talent being I can memorise a script fairly quickly. Hopefully that footage never sees the light of day!

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Earlier this year [July], the EU adopted a decision that will see the free flow of personal data between the EU and the US – a move that will undoubtedly be welcomed by trans-Atlantic businesses. The adequacy decision for the EU-US Data Privacy Framework will allow the free transfer of personal data between EU and US companies participating in the framework on the basis of binding safeguards. 

Under the EU GDPR, the European Commission (EC) has the ability to determine whether jurisdictions outside of the EU offer an adequate level of protection for EU citizens’ personal data. The effect of such an adequacy decision is that personal data can freely flow between the EU and the non-EU jurisdiction without additional safeguards needing to be put in place. Those additional safeguards included, for example, the use of EU approved Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) in contracts between the data exporting and importing parties, and the carrying out appropriate data protection impact assessments. In relation to EU-US data flows, this decision is highly valuable, with the White House stating that there are more data flows between the EU and the US than anywhere else in the world. 

This is not the first time the EU and the US have attempted to put a framework in place for the free flow of data. The two previous decisions of the EC, the Safe Harbor, put in place in 2000, and the Privacy Shield put in place in 2016, were declared invalid by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2015 and 2020 respectively, following challenges from privacy activist Max Schrems. These decisions were invalidated in part because of programmes allowing US authorities to access personal data transferred from the EU for national security purposes. This meant US domestic law limited the protection of EU citizens’ personal data in a way that did not provide for an essentially equivalent, and therefore sufficient, level of protection as guaranteed by EU law. 

The EC has stated that “new binding safeguards have been introduced to address the points raised” by the ECJ in 2020, including limiting US authorities’ access to data to the extent that it is “necessary and proportionate to protect national security”. The Data Protection Review Court has also been established, allowing EU citizens an independent redress mechanism which will investigate and resolve complaints relating to access to their data by US authorities. 

Joe Jones, director at the International Association of Privacy Professionals said that there had been “significant reforms” to the US’s surveillance safeguarding, and that the Data Privacy Framework was not just a “reheating” of the two previous attempts. However, he also said “the question is: is it good enough?” Perhaps predictably, Max Schrems is unenthused about the proposed agreement. noyb, the not-for-profit organisation led by Schrems, states that data agreements with the US will not work unless the necessary changes in US surveillance law are made, which is yet to happen. Schrems is quoted as saying that simply calling something ‘new’, ‘robust’ or ‘effective’ will not be enough for the Court of Justice, and noyb have already prepared various challenges to be filed with the ECJ. 

But what does this mean for the UK? The adequacy decision does not apply to UK-US personal data flows. In June 2023, the UK and US announced that a commitment in principle had been reached in relation to a proposed data bridge allowing for the free flow of data between the UK and US organisations that have been certified under the scheme. The data bridge would act as an extension to the EU-US Data Privacy Framework, purportedly providing businesses with an annual saving of £94.2 million. However, if the EU-US Data Privacy Framework is subject to challenge and ultimately declared invalid, this may affect the UK-US data bridge. There are also further concerns that the scope of the data bridge could bring the EU’s UK adequacy decision into question. 

For now, the new adequacy decision will facilitate EU-US data flows. It will be interesting to see how the challenges from privacy campaigners develop and what effect this will have on efforts to facilitate the transfer of data between the UK and US.  

UK businesses trading in the US may wish to consider the following steps in preparing for the introduction of the UK-US data bridge:

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In our insolvency and restructuring blog series, we’ve been exploring the various options available to businesses that may find themselves in financial distress, but fundamentally have a sound business that has the potential to succeed.

We’ve covered topics, such as Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs), pre-pack administrations, as well as what to consider in the early stages of restructuring.

When it comes to proactive ways to deal with a business that needs a helping hand, these are the most popular and, to a large degree, the most effective methods to keep a business above water. However, there are some less common tools that, in the right circumstances, could help companies to move forward. So, what are they?

Liquidation
Traditionally, liquidation is a terminal process. It’s generally intended to bring the life of a company to an end in an orderly fashion.

However, there are scenarios where liquidation can be used in a more proactive way. In certain circumstances, typically smaller businesses can use liquidation in a similar way to a pre-pack administration, where the assets of the business are essentially reacquired from the liquidator.

It’s also important to note that there are two basic forms of liquidation – insolvent and solvent. On the one hand, if you cannot afford to keep the business afloat and know it’s the end of the line, then it’s worth considering insolvent liquidation as a means to formally close down the business. On the other, if the company has been successful, but you’re in a situation where you want to wind it down (e.g. as part of a wider group restructure, or perhaps after an SPV has served its purpose), then a solvent liquidation may be the best route for you. In that scenario, the assets of the business are realised and distributed to the shareholders.

Moratorium process

The standalone moratorium was introduced via the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. It can be used independently (in that it is not automatically followed by an insolvency process – moratoriums in English law have traditionally been attached to administration or a CVA, for example) and is designed, according to the Government, to create ‘formal breathing space in which to explore rescue and restructuring options, free from creditor action’.

Except in certain, limited circumstances, no insolvency proceedings can be instigated against the company during the moratorium period, which is 20 days. It also prevents most forms of legal action being taken against a company without permission from the court.

Insolvency statistics indicate that the moratorium has not been widely used. That might be down to a lack of understanding of the process – new law always takes time to settle of course – but, it’s important to note that, while 20 days may appear a short amount of time in order to resolve serious financial issues, the intention is really that a business uses that time to consider and finalise wider restructuring plans. In reality, the expectation would generally be that the moratorium would be followed by some other form of insolvency process. In that sense, there is no reason why the moratorium cannot be a useful tool in the right circumstances.

What are the options?

When a business finds itself in difficulty, the good news is that there are a number of options they can explore with the support of a professional adviser. Those options have been covered at greater length in this series and the links to our previous blogs are below:

General Restructuring;

CVAs; and

Pre-pack Administration.

It’s true to say, of course, that what works for one business may not necessarily work for another. Similarly, what is effective in one sector might not have the same impact in another. The key to insolvency and restructuring is to understand the current state of your own business and to be open minded about the various options available to you. No-one ever wants to seek insolvency advice, but sometimes it is impossible to avoid. Professional support is likely to be hugely valuable if you do find yourself in that position.

If you would like to discuss this blog, or any of the blogs in our insolvency and restructuring series, contact me on  (0)7920 237687 or email daniel.clarke@pannonecorporate.com

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In this short article, Jack Harrington and Radhika Das from our employment and pensions team consider the use of mediation as a conflict resolution tool. They look at why employers should be utilising mediation, the benefits of doing so, and how to implement mediation in your workplace.

A recent Acas study found that workplace conflict costs employers around £30bn per year. It reported that nearly half a million employees resign each year as a result of conflict, costing employers around £2.6bn annually. A further 874,000 are estimated to have taken sickness absence each year as a result of conflict, at a cost of around £2.2bn annually.

The study found that while 35% of respondents had experienced an incident of conflict or ongoing difficult relationships at work, just 5% had taken part in workplace mediation. Of those who did go through mediation, 74% said their conflict was fully or largely resolved.

Mediation is a flexible, voluntary and confidential form of dispute resolution increasingly being used for resolving disputes in the workplace as an alternative to more formal procedures. A CIPD survey suggested that ‘mediation is an effective approach to help resolve workplace disputes [which] should be required before using the formal grievance process.’

Larger organisations have set up their own internal mediation schemes in order to train employees to act as mediators. Often, employers prefer to engage an external mediator. External mediators offer a number of benefits, including:

A simple first step on the journey to introducing workplace mediation is to include mediation in internal policies and procedures as part of the organisation’s approach to people management. For example, as the CIPD survey referenced above suggests, encourage mediation to be considered before the formal grievance process is used.

It is increasingly being recognised that mediation can be a ‘win-win’ approach – employees are able to reach a resolution without going through a lengthy and adversarial process, and employers are able to improve staff retention and avoid expensive tribunal claims. It is unsurprising therefore that the reported number of mediations carried out in England and Wales jumped from 2,000 in 2003 to 12,000 by 2018 and 16,500 by 2020.

Our employment and pensions team have qualified mediators who would be happy to assist you with implementing mediation as an approach to resolve workplace disputes. For more information, please contact jack.harrington@pannonecorporate.com.

We will be talking more about the benefits of workplace mediation and practical tips on approaching it at our next HR Club on 14 September 2023 – contact jolanta.jones@pannonecorporate.com to register your place.

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Following Pannone Corporate’s Freedom of Information Act request to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), regulatory associate partner, Bill Dunkerley, looks in more detail at what the statistics tell us and asks: what next for the CQC? Read more here:

What next for the CQC

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Pannone Corporate has announced the promotion of five people, as it continues to invest in future talent across the law firm.

Effective from 21 July, Arshnoor Amershi has been promoted to Associate Partner in the Corporate team, having joined the North West firm as a trainee solicitor in 2011. Ranked as an ‘Associate to watch’ in leading legal directory, Chambers and Partners UK, Arshnoor specialises in all aspects of corporate legal work, including mergers and acquisitions, disposals, and debt and equity investment.

She recently advised on the sale of Up & Away Aviation – a provider of aircraft cleaning and detailing services – to US-based group, Unifi Aviation. Unifi is the ground aviation services company that forms part of the Argenbright Group, which Pannone has previously acted for on its cross-border strategic investment in risk-led intelligent security solutions provider, Amberstone Security.

Arshnoor is joined by Andrew Walsh who, having qualified as a solicitor in 2017, is also promoted in the Corporate team, becoming a Director. Andrew was instrumental in assisting Dutch client Boels Rental and French-listed company Visiativ SA continue their buy and build strategy in the UK.

In the last 12 months, the Corporate team has seen unprecedented activity levels and headcount has risen from 10 to 14 as a result, putting the team in a perfect position to capitalise on significant growth opportunities in the market.

Commenting on the promotion, Arshnoor said: “I’m delighted to have been promoted to Associate Partner in the Corporate team, as we continue to make our mark in the North West M&A market.

“Having joined the firm as a trainee solicitor, it’s hugely satisfying to have moved up through the ranks, while playing a part in the growth of the firm. It really is an exciting time to be at Pannone, as the firm’s growth story continues to unfold.”

In total, Pannone has promoted five people. These include the promotion of three lawyers to Senior Associate in the well regarded Dispute Resolution team – Callum Halley, who specialises in commercial disputes and who joined the firm in 2019;  Gemma O’Brien, who also specialises in commercial disputes and joined Pannone in the same year; and Elizabeth Walsh, who joined the firm in 2018 and advises on contentious trust and probate disputes, as well as commercial disputes.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, commented: “Pannone has an unwavering commitment to invest in people. Our staff represent the future of the firm and have an integral role to play in helping us to reach our long-term goals.

“The promotions are all thoroughly well-deserved and testament to the passion and dedication of our team.”

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Pannone Corporate has advised multi-concept operator, Mission Mars, on the letting of a flagship London site, as part of an ambitious expansion plan for 2023/24.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to the hospitality company on the acquisition of a prominent 20,000 sq ft building on Shaftesbury Avenue, Trocadero. The site will be transformed into the latest Bavarian-style beer palace, Albert’s Schloss – one of a number of new openings planned for this year and next.

The Pannone team was led by Real Estate partner, James Wynne and included Senior Associate James Brandwood and paralegal Harry Jenkins.

James Wynne said: “Mission Mars operates some of the most iconic bars, restaurants and event venues in Manchester, but over the last few years has extended its portfolio beyond the North West under its highly successful Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s brands.

“The opening of its flagship bar and restaurant on the equally iconic Shaftesbury Avenue, is an exciting milestone for the company – one of a number of regional operators which have set their sights on London as part of their strategic growth. It demonstrates the wealth of potential that exists for Manchester leisure and hospitality operators, as well as the wider appeal of brands such as Albert’s Schloss on a national level.”

James has worked alongside BGF-backed Mission Mars since 2018, with the firm acting for the company on a number of real estate deals. This includes advising on conditional agreements for leases, leases and all ancillary documentation.

The Pannone Real Estate team works with a number of high-profile names, such as Boohoo, Bestway, and Junkyard Golf. Pannone recently advised the crazy golf brand on the letting of its second London site – its biggest location to date.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to the competitive socialising brand on the acquisition of a prominent 19,500 sq. ft. building in the heart of Camden Town. The former Shaka Zulu restaurant will be transformed into an immersive crazy golf experience and will be the company’s seventh site opening. This includes its flagship venue on First Street in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Oxford, Shoreditch in London, and Newcastle.

Wynne added: “We’re delighted to be working alongside such exciting North West brands as they extend their footprint across key cities in the UK. The London site openings are another significant step forward for Junkyard Golf and Mission Mars and demonstrate the vibrancy and potential that exists in the regional leisure and hospitality industry.”

 

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Safeguarding concerns in the UK care sector are falling from the highs seen during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

From January to May this year, more than 9,000 safeguarding alerts and concerns have been raised in the sector. This compares to a total of 21,886 in 2021, with figures hitting 23,116 last year.

The figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – conducted by law firm Pannone Corporate – also show that inspections in the UK’s care sector are on track to fall, continuing the downward trend seen since 2019.

Announced inspections fell from a peak figure of 6,684 in 2019 to just 1,458 in January to May 2023. Unannounced inspection also appear to be decreasing. According to the FOI figures, 2,223 unannounced inspections were carried out in the first five months of 2023. In 2016, this reached a high of 19,586.

The significant reduction has been attributed not only to the pandemic, with the CQC temporarily ceasing all physical inspections from 16 March 2020, but also to the evolving regulatory model being adopted by the Commission.

Bill Dunkerley, regulatory lawyer and associate partner at law firm, Pannone Corporate, commented: “The seismic impact of the pandemic on the care sector is widely documented and this can be seen in the figures released by the CQC around safeguarding concerns and inspections.

“What’s also clear is that the CQC is not static in its approach and the standards which it expects providers to achieve continue to evolve. This is evident in the introduction ‘Single Assessment Framework’, as well as the initial evidence-gathering phase being simplified into six new categories, to streamline the information collated. The feedback received will allow the CQC to make individual assessments more bespoke to individual providers, for example in respect of their delivery model or population group.”

The FOI research also shows that since March 2021, the CQC has received nearly 37,000 whistleblowing enquiries, with more than 6,000 being received in the first five months of 2023. The number of complaints raised during the same 26-month period topped 135,000. However, with only 25,017 made between January to May 2023, it’s unlikely the figure will exceed the 62,591 seen in total in 2022.

Dunkerley said: “The trend across the board is a general decline in headline figures, with complaints, whistleblowing, and safeguarding concerns all likely to be lower in 2023 based on the current statistics.

“As the CQC continues to roll out its new regulatory model, and Inspectors find their feet with the new data-driven approach, it will be interesting to see how the figures develop over the coming months and years. It may be the case that the CQC’s new approach results in a permanent reduction to the frequency of inspections, but equally may also result in an increase in the use of its more dynamic powers, such as notices, which can have an immediate and profound impact on a provider’s continuing operations.”

Dunkerley added: “Whilst the CQC has modified the form of its regulatory function, and amended its assessment criteria over the years, its fundamental roles have remained consistent: ensuring the safety and quality of care of service users; and maintenance of appropriate standards of behaviour by providers.

“These are the same core objectives held by providers, and so long as they continue to put these demonstrable tenets at the centre of their business, then they are likely to be well-placed to respond to any future changes in the CQC’s operations and regulatory model.”

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Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) have grown in prominence in recent years, as businesses have sought to implement them as a means to continue trading in the toughest of conditions – most notably on the high street.

Most recently, Wilko is understood to be considering a CVA in a shake-up of its business and upmarket retailer, Robert Goddard, is the latest business in a growing list to use a CVA as a restructuring tool. The independent mini chain, which operates across 10 locations and employs 100 people, had its CVA approved by creditors at the end of June – a move that protects both its staff and retail outlets.

Despite their popularity, CVAs remain the subject of debate and discussion. Consider, for example, the landmark High Court ruling last year when a large London landlord overturned a CVA decision relating to one of its contractors [link – https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/large-london-landlord-overturns-cva-in-landmark-high-court-ruling-81483].

The increased use of CVAs to manage obligations to landlords, in particular, is clearly divisive – driven by the continued fall-out from a global pandemic and the current economic landscape, both of which are accelerating the fortunes and misfortunes of many businesses, particularly those on the high street. However, there are companies that have suffered irreparable damage in the last three years. As such, CVAs are a viable option for those businesses finding themselves unable to recover from the relentless challenges that have rained down on them since the beginning of 2020.

Whatever your view on the current framework, it’s hard to deny that CVAs have played, and continue to play, a vital role in enabling businesses to continue to operate.

So, how do CVAs work?

A company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is, in simple terms, a legally protected agreement between a company and its creditors to restructure its debt. There are very few rules about what terms a CVA can and cannot contain – the driving factor tends to be what the creditors of the company will realistically approve. Typically though, a CVA will entail an insolvent company repaying all or a proportion of its debts over an agreed period of time. Usually, this is between three to five years. Provided that the company complies with the terms of the CVA, it will effectively be free of the pre-CVA debt at the conclusion of the arrangement.

What are the benefits?

The biggest benefit of a CVA, provided that it is approved by the creditors of the company in question, is that it enables the insolvent business to continue trading more or less normally. A CVA also allows business owners to:

Seemingly secure companies have found themselves in a fragile position in recent years – a prospect that may have seemed unfathomable as trading drew to a close at the end of 2019. Given the current state of affairs, with inflation causing the cost of doing business to swell, the price of funding becoming prohibitive to many, not to mention the debt pile gaining significant fat thanks to 13 consecutive interest rate rises, it’s becoming particularly difficult for cash-poor businesses with little working capital and growing liabilities to operate.

With so many unknowns and factors outside of the control of businesses, the key is to be prepared, flexible and open to opportunities for restructuring and re-organisation. It’s important for businesses to take a proactive approach, to keep their financial position under ongoing review and consider all of the possibilities potentially available in a timely manner. Waiting in hope may only minimise the options available and force businesses into increasingly difficult choices. A CVA may well be one answer to the issues a business faces.

If you’d like to discuss the blog in more detail, contact me on  (0) 7920 237687 or email daniel.clarke@pannonecorporate.com

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

This month, it covers how to transform retail spaces in the face of 47 shops closing every day last year, the In the Style High Court case and the lessons to be learned around protecting business ideas, the battle of the supermarket giants over logo use and trade mark infringement, as well as a guest article from Dan Williams, founder and managing director at 100% Group on the power of technology in the retail environment.

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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With a year under his belt at Pannone Corporate, we speak to real estate solicitor, Dominic Beddow, on his legal career so far, the importance of being able to ‘switch off’ from the day job, his passion for the Toon Army, and his mission to ‘indoctrinate’ his wife and daughter into Geordie life!

Tell us a little bit about your experience before joining Pannone in April 2022.

“I started my legal career in 2016. At the time I was a paralegal specialising in landed estates. My role primarily involved dealing with first registrations of land, Farm Business Tenancies, generational tax planning (Inheritance Tax), and registration and sales of woodland.

“During my training contract, I did seats in commercial real estate (mainly landlord and tenant issues), corporate (predominantly buying and selling of pharmaceutical companies and dentistry practices), as well as employment, where I acted for employers dealing with wrongful termination claims, and also large-scale redundancy exercises.

“After qualifying in October 2020, I went into the ground rents team, where my work primarily involved asset management for a large freeholder, dealing with anything from simple Deeds of Variation and Licences for Alterations, to managing the legal side of large works projects, such as merging multiple flats/properties into one.”

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

“I studied Law with Business at the University of Liverpool, before completing the Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP Liverpool. I then moved to Chester, where I started legal life as a paralegal, whilst simultaneously studying the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law at the weekends. I completed my LLM Masters around the time I started my training contract.”

Why did you choose this route?

“During my A-Levels, I was still torn between a career in law and one in business, and so I decided to undertake a combined honours degree. I enjoyed both disciplines, but it was clear from an early stage in my undergraduate degree that law was the route I wanted to go down.”

Tell us about your role at Pannone?

“I am a solicitor in the real estate team. I primarily cover landlord and tenant based issues, with a specific focus on leases of units in major shopping centres. I also deal with purchases of development land, advice regarding overage, assents of land, and general transactional work.”

What was it that attracted you Pannone?

“I had trained and qualified at the same firm in Chester, which is a fantastic city and one which I am proud to call home, but it’s a relatively small legal community compared to Manchester. I was ready to make a move to a new firm and a new city.  I’d heard great things about Pannone, and got in contact with managing partner, Nicola Marchant, who invited me in for an informal chat. After a further conversation with the senior team, I knew straightaway that Pannone was the perfect firm for me.”

When it comes to the day job, what is the most satisfying aspect?

“It has to be learning something new on a daily basis, and never being allowed to remain within your comfort zone!”

What does a typical day look like?

“Every lawyer will say this but, quite simply, there is no such thing as a ‘typical day’.  I will sign off for the day with a good idea as to what the next will involve, but it’s very rare for that not to change. Business never sleeps, so I often start my day dealing with new matters which have come in overnight. Every day is different, which is a challenge, but one I enjoy.”

What are your career ambitions?

“I aspire to become a partner one day but, more importantly, I want to reach a stage where I am confident in as many aspects of my role as possible, with a following of clients who can always rely on me to be able to deal with anything they throw at me.”

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

“I would introduce a family fun day! Lawyers generally have an inability to ‘switch off’ – even when we’re not working, we are thinking about what needs to be done, which can sometimes impact on those around us. As such, I would introduce a day, every so often, when families are invited to the office, where they can meet the team, take part in fun activities, and see what we do. Looking after your own mental health is so important, particularly in a fast-paced working environment. Something like this could really make a positive difference.”

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

“For me, it’s about delivery of information. We spend a large part of our lives learning the theory of law, the technical aspects, and how to think and speak like a lawyer. This is great for passing exams, but often doesn’t translate well to clients, who typically want a straight answer, delivered in a user-friendly manner.

“Law can also be portrayed in a certain way – think Harvey Specter in the television series, Suits! However, the reality is somewhat different. You meet such a wide variety of people in this job, from all walks of life, and I would like to see this side portrayed more.”

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

“If I didn’t have a career in law, I would love to be involved in the business side of football.”

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

“I’m a relatively new father, and I enjoy nothing more than taking my daughter to Chester Zoo. She adores animals, and her excitement during those long walks around the zoo are positively infectious!

“Outside of family life, I am a passionate (sometimes overly passionate) Newcastle United fan. I don’t get to as many games as I used to since my daughter was born, but I have worked hard to indoctrinate my partner and daughter into Geordie life, much to the dismay of my partner’s Liverpool-supporting family!”

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In the last three years, companies of all shapes and sizes have had to contend with a plethora of challenges that have severely tested the balance sheet and put a strain on even the best run businesses. Brexit, a global pandemic, geo-political tensions, a cost-of-living crisis, record inflation, rising interest rates, and crippling energy prices, have all been layered on top of each other to create a bruising trading environment for many.

The simple fact is, demand in certain sectors has fallen and is slowly recovering, the cost of business has shot up, and the job of getting things done has become more time consuming and onerous. It’s little wonder that a significant proportion of SMEs have accumulated considerable liabilities during this period and have reached the point where a different course of action is needed, in order to secure the long-term future of their business.

Step in, pre-pack administrations. Loved by some, loathed by others (namely creditors), pre-pack administrations haven’t always had the best reputation, because the sale of the business and assets is often completed before the creditors of the insolvent company are even aware of the administration.

Post-COVID, many predicted a resurgence in ‘pre-packs’, which has yet to materialise, but with much of the Government support brought on by the pandemic now at an end, the restructuring tool remains a viable and useful mechanism for securing the future of those businesses that are fundamentally sound, but have been weighed down by debt and outstanding liabilities.

So what are ‘pre-packs’ and how can they help businesses looking to restructure? 

What is a pre-pack?

The term ‘pre-pack’ is used to describe the process whereby the business and assets of a company are sold, via administration, in an arrangement that is typically negotiated in advance of the company concerned formally entering into an insolvency process. The buying party is often (but not always) connected to the company (e.g. a new company formed by the existing directors of the company in administration).

Essentially, the process allows a valid business to survive whilst relieving it of creditor pressure but also ensuring that its assets are realised for proper value. It’s the latter aspect of that equation that has been an area of concern for some and which reforms brought in two years ago were focused upon – tightening up regulatory intervention and introducing more accountability.

When is a pre-pack appropriate?

‘Pre-packs’ can be a really effective tool for all concerned when they’re used in the right way. Typically, they’re used where a company has a good underlying business but is struggling to meet its ongoing liabilities – it’s not uncommon for there to be an imminent threat of, for example, a winding up petition, or a cessation of supplies/services which would damage the business.

Administered properly, pre-pack administrations create a virtually seamless transfer of business and assets from the insolvent company to the purchaser. This can have significant benefits for the majority of stakeholders involved, because it allows for a high level of continuity. The business can continue trading under the same name (subject to compliance with section 216 of the Insolvency Act and its associated provisions), often from the same premises, and with the same staff. This means that the underlying business retains value, which is ultimately good news for all involved (especially when compared to the potential outcome, for example, in a liquidation). For those reasons, where they are viable, ‘pre-packs’ have always appealed to struggling businesses.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government put in place a significant number of measures to support businesses, including those in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act, aimed at protecting businesses during the pandemic, providing much-needed respite for struggling companies. Those protections and safeguarding measures have now largely gone, leaving many businesses still exposed to the economic headwinds, which is where pre-pack administrations can play a part.

Key considerations

There are a number of important questions to ask and considerations to be made when exploring the option of pre-pack administrations.

Pre-pack administrations have a valid part to play in securing the long-term future of businesses, but there is a lot to consider before going down the route of a ‘pre-pack’. Now is the time to go through your options, taking into account the future economic outlook. With interest rates and energy bills still creating significant ongoing liabilities for companies, which will not necessarily be taken away by a pre-pack administration, it may pay to wait for the waters to calm before embarking on your ‘pre-pack’ journey.

If you’d like to discuss the blog in more detail, contact me on  (0) 7920 237687 or email daniel.clarke@pannonecorporate.com

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In this short article Michael McNally and Lorna Shuttleworth from our employment and pensions team consider the use of external investigators when carrying out workplace investigations. They look at why an organisation may instruct an external investigator, the benefits of doing so, and the issues to consider when instructing external investigators.

On 21st April 2023 the Government published Adam Tolley KC’s investigation report into complaints about the conduct of the Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab MP. Mr Raab resigned the following day. A few days later, on 24th April, the CBI wrote an open letter on the recommendations of Fox Williams, an external law firm, following its appointment to carry out an investigation after reports in The Guardian in early April of a ‘toxic culture’ at the CBI and other serious allegations. Both stories involve external lawyers being appointed to conduct investigations into serious workplace issues. Whilst these are two high profile examples, organisations will often instruct barristers, law firms, and other independent professionals to investigate serious issues that arise in the workplace.

In this article we look at why, based on our experience of carrying out external investigations on behalf of organisation, an organisation may instruct an external investigator, the benefits of doing so, and the issues to consider when instructing external investigators.

  1. Seriousness

External investigators are usually appointed when a matter concerns the most serious types of allegations and/or relates to senior individuals. This was the case in both the Raab and CBI investigations. For example, in the case of the CBI, the external investigation was focused on “whether the CBI’s leadership was aware of any of the events before the recent media reporting, and if so what steps they took or failed to take in response.” In relation to that particular issue, it would be very difficult for someone within the CBI to have looked into that question because it specifically concerned the actions of the CBI’s leadership.

  1. Perception

That last point leads on to the next reason why an external investigator may be appointed, namely ‘perception’.

In the case of Mr Raab, the CBI, and other examples such as the allegations of discrimination at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, it could undermine any findings if the organisation was seen to “mark its own homework”. This principle is also true of lower profile, albeit serious, matters.

To be able to draw a line and move on, it’s not enough that an organisation takes the matter seriously, it must be seen to have taken it seriously. Interested parties need to have confidence in the findings. History is littered with examples of investigations and inquiries that are perceived to have been a “whitewash”. Whilst instructing an external party to investigate concerns will not always ensure the right perception, it can certainly help to do so.

  1. Complexity

Workplace investigations need to be handled properly and thoroughly. If they are not, there can be serious legal, financial and reputational consequences for the business.

In respect of grievances for example, Acas states that it is highly recommended that anyone appointed as an investigator should be trained in the relevant area wherever possible. If there is no one within the business who is suitably qualified, experienced, and confident to deal with the investigation, it is advisable to instruct a third party with the relevant experience.

The process of identifying relevant issues, questioning witnesses, analysing the evidence, and making findings can be difficult and external investigators will often be chosen for their skills in these areas. For the most serious issues, which as mentioned earlier are usually the subject of external investigations, it is vital that these things are done as well as possible.

  1. Neutrality

Best practice is that an investigator is impartial and acts fairly and objectively. For day-to-day workplace issues it will usually suffice that the investigator is not directly involved in the matters being investigated. However, for more serious matters the issue of neutrality needs to be carefully considered.

If the investigator is found, or even just perceived, to have been biased,  it leaves the findings of the investigation open to challenge. Appointing an external party, seen to be a neutral actor in the process can also help in ensuring witnesses are willing to co-operate and are candid when giving evidence.

However, one thing to consider on this point is to what extent the investigator is said to be independent.

Depending on the nature of the investigation external investigators may conduct the investigation on behalf of the organisation (in the same way an internal member of staff might). Whilst this may not be independent in the strictest sense of the word, the fact the issue is being looked at by someone from outside the organisation with specialist skills can still be beneficial. Alternatively, whilst the organisation may ultimately pay the external party for their services, some external investigations are conducted with a view to them being truly independent, for example we have seen published reports that will make it clear that the investigator’s fee will be paid before a report is delivered. If instructing an external investigator it is important to consider the exact nature of their role and ensure that is clearly communicated to anyone with an interest in the process.

  1. Privilege

In some circumstances, including where litigation is anticipated, an investigation report may be legally privileged. The scope of this privilege may be wider if lawyers, rather than other third parties, carry out the investigation. Legal privilege is particularly helpful where the organisation does not know what the investigation will reveal, enabling a confidential investigation into  the concerns in order to determine how best to deal with them. Without the benefit of legal privilege, some organisations might well be deterred from carrying out an investigation for fear of what they may find.

We know from our experience of carrying out, supporting, and advising on workplace investigations that these issues play a part in deciding whether to appoint an external investigator. And, whilst we are not privy to the thought process of those who instructed external investigators in the examples cited in this article, no doubt some of these considerations played a part in their decision.

If your business has an issue which requires further investigation, please contact michael.mcnally@pannonecorporate.com.

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Pannone Corporate has advised crazy golf brand, Junkyard Golf Club, on the purchase of its second London site – its biggest location to date.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to the competitive socialising brand on the acquisition of a prominent 19,500 sq. ft. building in the heart of Camden Town. The former Shaka Zulu restaurant will be transformed into an immersive crazy golf experience and will be the company’s seventh site opening. This includes its flagship venue on First Street in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Oxford, Shoreditch in London, and Newcastle.

The Pannone team was led by Real Estate partner, James Wynne and included James Brandwood (Senior Associate) and Harry Jenkins (paralegal.)

James Wynne said: “Junkyard Golf has become an iconic brand – not only in its hometown of Manchester, but across the country. The latest opening in one of London’s best cultural hotspots is testament to company’s growth ambitions, but also its resilience in weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly impacted on the leisure and hospitality sector.

“We’re delighted to be working alongside such exciting North West brands as they extend their footprint across key cities in the UK. This is another significant step forward for Junkyard Golf and forms part of ambitious domestic and international growth plans for 2023.”

James has worked alongside Junkyard Golf since 2017, with the firm acting on all site openings since.

The Pannone Real Estate team works with a number of high-profile names, such as Boohoo, Bestway, and Mission Mars.

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A 14-strong team of Pannone fundraisers took to the streets on Sunday to compete in the 20th Great Manchester Run.

Taking part in both the 10k race and the half marathon, the team raced around the streets of the city, taking in sights such as Beetham Tower and Old Trafford Football Ground, before finishing the race along with more than 25,000 other participants.

The Pannone team were raising money for one of the firm’s chosen charities, St Ann’s Hospice, with more than £2,500 being raised so far.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “Congratulations to everyone who completed the Great Manchester Run, in what were very hot and sunny conditions!

“It’s fantastic to see so many of the team coming together to support one of our chosen charities, St Ann’s Hospice – an amazing charity which carries out such vital work across Greater Manchester. It’s also really pleasing to see the values and ethos of the firm come to life on the streets of Manchester.”

St Ann’s Hospice is a Manchester institution and one of the oldest and largest adult hospices outside of London. It provides care and support to people with life-limiting illnesses, as well as to their families and carers.

The Pannone team have a number of other charitable events lined up in support of the charity, including a Tough Mudder challenge later this year. If you would like to support the team, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pannone-corporate-llp

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Michael McNally lives in Heswall on the Wirral and is an associate partner in Pannone’s employment team. In this instalment of My Life in Law, he tells us about his 17-year career in law and what’s changed in the industry during that time.

What was your experience prior to joining Pannone?

I qualified in 2006 and have always specialised in employment law, even spending some time before qualification working as an employment law advisor. Before joining Pannone in September 2020, I worked at Hill Dickinson and Freeths.

I’ve always worked in commercial employment law advising employers and have particular experience working with clients in care, retail, transport and logistics, leisure and retail, and manufacturing. I’m also an experienced employment tribunal advocate.

What’s your current role and why did you join Pannone?

I joined as a Director and became an Associate Partner last year. The firm has a great reputation, both for the quality of its work and culture. Having worked here for a couple of years, I’ve not been disappointed in either regard.

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

The standard route for my generation of law at university, LPC in the Chester College of Law, followed by a training contract. I did approach things a little differently though and did my training contract in local government at Chester City Council, as it was then.

Why did you choose this route?

I wouldn’t say I chose it, as such – it just seemed the most obvious way of becoming a solicitor at the time. With hindsight, I appreciate you don’t need to do a law degree at university to become a lawyer. If I had my time over again, I would have done a non-law degree and then the conversion course before the LPC.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Understanding what the client wants to achieve and then helping them to achieve it. I enjoy the technical side of the law, but working with the client is the most satisfying part of the job.

What does a typical day look like?

There isn’t one! The best thing about being an employment lawyer is the variety.

A day could include drafting an article first thing, then working with the corporate team on a transaction. After lunch, there could be a preliminary hearing in the employment tribunal by video and, later in the day, I could be on a call with a client’s HR Director and CEO discussing a re-organisation.

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

Give myself a long-term contract in the role, as I’m not going to get much done in a day!

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

My original reason for going into law was because I thought it would be a good way of becoming a football agent, so maybe I’d have ended up doing something like that! Although, to be honest, it’s not a job I would want now, but when I was 15 it seemed like a great career!

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

I have been lucky enough to work at firms and with lawyers who I think do a very good job of supporting clients. The focus should always be on providing the client with responsive commercial advice.

Going forward, I think law firms will need to offer a wider range of business services than they do now – similar to how many accountancy firms will offer other services (including legal support in some cases). The profession is also going to need to adjust to the changes that technology will bring, particularly in respect of AI.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Being a Liverpool season ticket holder; I enjoy going to regular Champions League finals!

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

This is more of a talent that I wish I had, but I went through a phase a few years ago of tinkering with watches. I still aspire to assemble my own watch one day – making one may be beyond me!

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On 8 March, a new Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (No. 2) (the Bill) received its first reading in the House of Commons. This Bill replaces the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (the DPDI Bill), which was introduced in July 2022 before being paused in September 2022. In its press release, the Government said:

Although the Bill has been introduced as separate bill, its proposals for data reform are broadly the same as those contained in the DPDI Bill.

Grace Astbury summarises the key provisions of the Bill and the implications for the UK data protection regime below.

Provision The Proposed Changes
Personal data Under current data protection legislation, personal data is defined as any information relating to an identifiable person. An identifiable individual is someone who can be identified directly or indirectly from the data. The Bill proposes to move towards a more subjective definition of personal data. Information being processed will only relate to an identifiable individual where:

 

(i)              the individual is identifiable by reasonable means of the controller or processor at the time of processing; or

(ii)             where the information is likely to be obtained by a third party, the living individual will be or is likely to be identified by that third party by reasonable means at the time of processing.

 

What does this mean? This updated definition seems to acknowledge the difficulties of truly anonymising personal data. It should provide businesses with more clarity on whether data they process are subject to data protection regulations.

 

Data subjects’ rights Currently, controllers may refuse or charge a reasonable fee for a request for personal data that is “manifestly unfounded or excessive”. The ICO says that this could include instances where the requester is attempting to harass the organisation, with the intent of causing disruption, or where the request is malicious. This threshold is being shifted to “vexatious or excessive” in an effort to capture a wider number of requests. This will now include requests intended to cause distress, requests not made in good faith and requests that are an abuse of process.

 

What does this mean? Businesses will hopefully be able to refuse a greater number of illegitimate data requests. That being said, it is unlikely that businesses will see a significant change to the number of requests received.

 

Record keeping Businesses (whether controllers or processors) will only need to keep records of processing where such processing activity is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals, regardless of the size of the business (including the number of employees). When assessing high risk processing, controllers must take into account the nature, scope, context and purposes of the processing.

 

DPIAs will no longer be mandatory, instead replaced with obligations on businesses to assess and mitigate risk by undertaking an “assessment of high-risk processing”.

 

What does this mean? Business will only be required to keep records of processing, where they carry out high risk processing activities.

 

DPOs The requirement for businesses to appoint a DPO has been removed. Instead, public authorities and businesses undertaking processing which presents a “high risk” to rights and freedoms of individuals must appoint a “Senior Responsible Individual” (SRI). The SRI must be part of the business’ senior management but may delegate functions of the role to other skilled individuals.

 

What does this mean? Businesses will no longer be required to appoint a DPO. If they carry out high risk processing, they will need to appoint a “senior responsible individual”.

 

International data transfers

 

The Bill’s explanatory notes clarify that that it is intended to facilitate international trade by providing a clearer and more stable framework for international data transfers.

 

Controllers will be permitted to take a more risk-based approach in assessing the impact of international data transfers using a “data protection test”. Transfers will meet the test where the controller acting reasonably or proportionally considers that following the transfer, the standard of data protection would not be “materially lower” than the UK’s data protection legislation. This is a shift from the EU GDPR standard of “essentially equivalent protection”.

 

The Government also intends to make new adequacy decisions for the UK using the same approach. One of the current priorities is an adequacy decision with the US. Businesses are likely to be keen for the simplification of international data transfers. However, the Government has already admitted that if the changes concerning data transfers lead to the removal of the EU-UK adequacy decision, this could do more harm than good.

 

What does this mean? This does not make much of a change for businesses as the Bill makes it clear that mechanisms entered into before the Bill will continue to be valid.

 

ICO framework

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be replaced by the “Information Commission” and given a new statutory framework including the implementation of a principal objective and general duties relating to its role under data protection legalisation. The Secretary of State will have more oversight over the ICO through powers to designate a statement of strategic priorities and approve codes of practice.

 

What does this mean? No real practical changes for business owners, but this is part of a wider set of changes aimed at keeping the ICO sufficiently independent.

 

PECR Businesses will no longer have to seek consent for all types of cookies and other tracking technologies. The Bill will bring in exemptions for non-intrusive analytics cookies such as those used to ensure website functionality. The long-term aim is to move to an “opt out” consent model which relies should remove the need for pop up cookie banners but relies on browsers having opt out functionality.

 

The ICO will also be permitted to increase fines under PECR, in line with those currently levied under UK GDPR – up to £17.5m or 4% of a business’ total annual worldwide turnover.

 

What does this mean? The rules about website cookies will be relaxed so consent will not always be necessary. On the other hand, the fines are increasing, so it would be worth keeping an eye on the new rules.

 

Legitimate interests Businesses frequently rely on legitimate interests as their lawful basis for processing personal data.

 

The Bill provides some examples of processing which may be considered necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests such as:

(1)   Processing necessary for the purposes of direct marketing

(2)   Intra-group data sharing for administrative purposes, and

(3)   Processing necessary for the purposes of ensuring network and information system security.

 

Controllers will still be required to undertake an exercise of balancing their legitimate interests against the individual’s interests, rights and freedoms. Businesses may push the government to include other examples of processing necessary for the purposes for legitimate interests to provide greater certainty.

 

What does this mean? The examples provided will hopefully make it easier for businesses to determine whether their data processing has a legitimate interest.

 

Recognised legitimate interests As outlined above, controllers are required to carry out a balancing exercise, weighing their legitimate interests against the rights of the individual.

 

However, the Bill proposes the introduction of a new lawful basis: ‘recognised legitimate interests’. Controllers processing personal data on the basis of a recognised legitimate interest will not be required to carry out the balancing exercise, provided the processing falls within the activities outlined in Annex 1 to the Bill. The activities include processing for detecting, investigating or preventing crime. The explanatory notes to the Bill clarify that ‘crime’ would also cover economic crimes such as fraud, money-laundering or terrorist financing, amongst other things. This may be of relevance to businesses who carry out checks into their customers or suppliers.

 

Other recognised legitimate interests include processing for national and public security and defence, emergencies, safeguarding vulnerable individuals and democratic engagement. The Secretary of State may also add additional activities to the list.

 

What does this mean? If businesses can argue that their data processing falls in one of the recognised legitimate interests set out above, they won’t have to carry out and record the balancing test – they can just rely on the recognised legitimate interest.

 

 

The proposed changes seem to be more of an evolution of the UK GDPR rather than a complete departure, alleviating some but not all of the compliance burdens under the UK data protection regime. Businesses will be afforded some greater flexibility in meeting the legal requirements for their data processing activities. Should the Bill be passed in its current form, businesses should carefully consider whether their current practices and procedures meet the requirements under the Bill. However, at this stage businesses should not take any immediate steps to modify their practices. It is likely that in most cases, where a business is GDPR-compliant, they will also be compliant under the new regime proposed by the Bill.

Michelle Donelan, Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary stated that “no longer will our businesses have to tangle themselves around the barrier-based European GDPR”. However, whilst the changes move the UK’s data protection regime away for the EU GDPR, the Bill cannot make changes to obligations under the EU GDPR. Therefore, businesses processing the personal data of individuals based in the EEA will still be required to comply with the EU GDPR. Businesses who process the personal data of both UK and EEA based individuals may have little desire to have separate data practices for their EU and UK operations.

On 17 April 2023, the second reading of the Bill took place, which gave MPs a chance to debate the main principles. The Bill passes this stage but in the course of the debate, concerns were raised in relation to the ICO’s independence, the UK’s adequacy status with the EU and the overall complexity of the Bill. The Opposition welcomed the Bill’s overarching principles but suggested that it did not go far enough. The Bill will now proceed to Committee stage to be scrutinised line by line. The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on 10 May, with the Committee being scheduled to report by 13 June. It remains to be seen what amendments could be on the horizon.

In the coming months, businesses will need to watch out for confirmation of the timing for implementation of the Bill and whether there is general cross-party support for the proposals. Further, the European Commission is yet to release its view on the proposals for reform under the Bill, raising the question – is the UK on a collision course with its adequacy decision with the EU?

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Pannone Corporate – the North West law firm – has expanded its team with the senior appointment of David Walton.

David joins Pannone’s regulatory team as partner, bringing over 30 years’ experience to the role. He joins from Keoghs LLP, where he played an instrumental role in establishing the crime and regulatory team, working throughout his career on high profile prosecutions instigated by the CPS, HSE, Environmental Health and the Environment Agency.  This includes the CPS-led prosecution following the death of four employees in the Bosley Mill (Macclesfield) explosion in 2015.

At Pannone, David will be responsible for supporting corporate and individual clients facing investigation and/or prosecution by a raft of bodies, including the Police, the HSE, CQC, CIW and Trading Standards, following serious work place accidents or incidents. He will work alongside associate partner Bill Dunkerley to promote the regulatory team’s capabilities to existing and new clients of Pannone Corporate.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, said: “Client services is an integral part of our proposition as a firm and that can only be delivered by a highly skilled and talented team. We continue to build our expertise at all levels and David’s appointment is a significant hire – not only for the regulatory team, but the firm as a whole.

“David has an excellent reputation within the marketplace, consistently being ranked as a ‘leading individual’ by Legal 500 and Chambers rankings. He has a wealth of experience in handling heavyweight health and safety prosecutions over a hugely successful career and we’re delighted to have him onboard.”

David said: “I have enormous respect for the Pannone Corporate brand and for the people who have established it over a relatively short period of time.

“I believe my professional and personal background, and my approach to workplace life, is ideally suited to the Pannone culture and to the people who work there. Bill Dunkerley was my assistant for several years when he worked at Keoghs and it’s exciting for both of us that we have the opportunity to work together again. Many of our clients and peers have commented that it is great to see the ‘Dave Walton/Bill Dunkerley team’ back together again!”

Commenting on the sector, he added: “Traditionally, regulatory lawyers are called into action when a client is in distress. Whilst that will undoubtedly continue, I believe the sector will carry on evolving in line with the HSE’s own strategy for the next 10 years, which includes an increased focus on the prevention of accidents. As a result, there will be considerable opportunities for the team to support clients in improving what they already have in place, stress testing systems and procedures and reinforcing key aspects of employee training.”

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Those at the helm of a business should always be looking ahead and taking proactive measures to help future-proof the success of their organisations. 

As a leader, if you’ve carried out financial forecasting exercises and have concerns over the commercial viability of the business in the coming months or years, then now is likely to be an ideal time to consider undertaking an exercise to restructure or reorganise the business.

Restructuring does not have to be a significant exercise and it does not have to involve formal insolvency. Often there are relatively simple steps that can be taken to  support the goal of becoming more profitable and building longevity – but where do you start? Here, I share the five key areas to consider in the early stages of restructuring.

Identifying that things aren’t going to plan is one thing, but truly understanding the root cause of the issue is another – and until you know exactly what’s causing pressure, you can’t make an informed plan.

Is it a particular area of the business that’s underperforming, a major contract that isn’t profitable, or lease liability at a site that isn’t commercially viable? Perhaps a particular creditor is causing issues, or you’re stuck in the throes of litigation?

Asking questions like this should be the first stage in developing a restructuring strategy – it will not only identify current issues that need addressing now, but potential future headaches that could be avoided.

The next stage in the process is to audit your existing banking and financial arrangements and explore whether they can be altered to afford the business some financial breathing space. 

There are several options to consider, such as whether terms can be extended or renegotiated, or if a factoring or invoice discounting facility could assist with cashflow. Alongside banking arrangements, you should also review supplier contracts – can prices or payment terms be renegotiated to avoid operations grinding to a halt?

Although you may not want to make long term changes here, even temporary alterations in arrangements could help you navigate current business distress until you’re in a more stable position. 

When a business is struggling with debt and cash flow is lacking, an option to consider before exploring external financing is looking to negotiate with your existing creditors. You can ask to lower your monthly payment amounts, extend payment terms, or seek to set up a longer term payment plan.

You’ll need to demonstrate that you’re able to keep up with the proposed new terms and be prepared for creditors to deny your request but, as they say, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

As much as every business owner wants to avoid making staff cuts, it’s worth considering whether a redundancy process or reduction in staff numbers could assist – or whether hours or contracts could be reduced to save costs. 

The unfortunate reality is that, in some cases, reducing internal resource is unavoidable. However, if you’re considering making redundancies as part of restructuring plans, you must follow the usual process. Take professional advice to avoid unfair dismissal claims which could lead to even more stress and expense. 

Simplifying the corporate structure of a group can also support in a business restructure. You should review whether contracts and liabilities are distributed effeiciently between parent companies or subsidiaries.

A reorganisation will often involve the transfer of assets, which may be shares in another group company or the business of another group company from one to another.

You could manage risk or exposure by moving liabilities around the group, or creating specific subsidiaries.

Restructuring can feel overwhelming but once you’ve identified issues, solutions may well present themselves. The best way to approach each stage should be discussed with a lawyer, but if solutions are not obvious or straightforward, you may need to consider a more formal process. 

Over the next blogs within this series, we’ll take a deep dive into the following options:

If you need restructuring advice now, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts. We’d be happy to help. Contact restructuring and insolvency partner, Daniel Clarke on  (0) 7920 237687 or email daniel.clarke@pannonecorporate-com.stackstaging.com



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Case in point: Cleaner brings claims for unfair dismissal and race discrimination after she is sacked for eating a leftover tuna sandwich - Pannone Corporate

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600-miles, nine consecutive days and a lot of mud and rain later, employment partner Jack Harrington has conquered the notorious Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh trail – all in the name of charity.

Along with six friends, Jack set off on the once in a lifetime charity challenge at the end of March, cycling from Hanoi in the north of the country, before heading south through jungle routes and mountains to Hoi An. In often hot, wet and muddy conditions, the group cycled between 95 and 140 kms each day, spending two consecutive days covering around 200 miles.

The cycling feat, which was delayed for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was completed in memory of friend Dean Masom, with money raised being donated to The Dean Masom Hope Tribute Fund (supporting The Christie) and Once Upon a Smile, the only charity of its kind to provide emotional and practical support to bereaved families.

Jack said: “Sadly, in 2010 we lost our friend Dean, who died at just 39 from a brain tumour. When we agreed  to embark on this cycling challenge we decided to use it to raise money for the memorial fund set up in Dean’s name to support the incredible work that is carried out at The Christie into cancer research and treatment, while also supporting the brilliant work done by Once Upon a Smile.”

 On his return from Vietnam, Jack said: “This was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, but we all managed to finish it!

“It’s fair to say that we’re all exhausted after cycling nearly1,000 km over nine days through a mixture of gruelling heat, driving rain and kamikaze drivers! On the final day, in temperatures over 30 degrees, we climbed the infamous Hai Van pass and eventually finished the ride in the lovely town of Hoi An. We’re delighted to report that, together with the original sponsorship, we have raised nearly £10,000 for two fantastic charities.”

If you would still like to donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/velovietnam1

 

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In our latest instalment of My Life in Law, we catch up with employment solicitor, Lorna Shuttleworth.

She tells us all about her career journey with Pannone over the last five years and why she’d love to see more animals in the office!

When did you join Pannone Corporate?

I first joined Pannone Corporate in April 2019 as a paralegal in the real estate team. I left in September 2019 to complete my LPC and returned in September 2020 to start my training contract.

I’m now a solicitor in the employment team after qualifying in September 2022.

What was your role/experience prior to joining?

I graduated from university in 2018 and went to work for an investment platform in Salford Quays. My role was two-fold: Quality and Audit Supervisor; and CASS SME. I split my time between monitoring compliance with the FCAs CASS rules, training members of the client services team, and carrying out quality checks and audits.

Prior to and during my studies, I also worked in various roles including as a sales assistant at Next and in hospitality at Manchester United.

Why did you join Pannone?

Whilst at university, I undertook various vacation schemes and had a number of interviews at large national firms, but I didn’t feel that they were quite right for me. I decided to try a different industry but, after a few months, I realised that wasn’t for me either.

I came in to discuss the paralegal position at Pannone and was surprised at how welcome I was made to feel from the first day. I could tell that I would be supported and valued as part of a team.

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

I studied law at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2018, moving away from law for a short while before starting as a paralegal at Pannone in April 2019. I then went on to complete the LPC alongside an LLM (Masters in Legal Practice) at BPP in Manchester and returned to Pannone to start my two-year training contract in September 2020.

Why did you choose this route?

I decided whilst doing my GCSEs that I wanted to pursue a career in law and knew early on in my degree that I wanted to be a solicitor. At the time, this was really the only route which was openly discussed for qualifying into private practice.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Finding a solution to a particularly challenging issue is always satisfying – one of my favourite parts of this role is that there is always a new challenge cropping up; it never gets boring!

What does a typical day look like?

Every day is different. In the employment team, we deal with both contentious and non-contentious matters, so I might be reviewing contracts and handbooks, or preparing for a tribunal. Most days, there are urgent queries to deal with, which could relate to any day-to-day employment issue from disciplinaries, grievances or managing sickness absence.

What are your career ambitions?

Personally, I’d like to keep learning and continue to improve. Over time, I’d also like to offer the same level of support that I have received to more junior members of the firm and help them to develop.

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

Bring in a ‘Cats in the Office’ policy – having my cat roaming around and popping up on video calls is the main thing I miss about working from home!

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

When I was at school, I always said I wanted to be a graphic designer – unfortunately, I wasn’t too talented at art or IT! I’d also love to do interior design, so maybe something creative.

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

At an individual level, I think we can all be better at open and honest communication, keeping clients updated – and avoiding ‘lawyer talk’!

In terms of the legal profession more broadly, more diversity and inclusion across the board would be beneficial – it would help us to better understand the needs of our clients and, as a result, support them in more appropriate way. I think the legal profession is becoming more inclusive gradually, but there is still more to be done.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Since we spend a lot of our time at a desk, I love getting out for a walk somewhere quiet at the weekend when the weather allows! On a rainy day, it’s relaxing at home with my cat, Merlin. I also have a season ticket for Manchester City, so I go to matches with my Dad and Grandad.

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

I used to do Latin and ballroom dancing when I was younger, although I’m not sure I’m very skilled in that anymore!

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the share sale of Detectronic– a specialist in sewer and wastewater network monitoring and management.

The Lancashire-based company was acquired for an undisclosed sum by environmental services business Adler and Allan Limited. This is A&A’s fourth acquisition in the utilities sector, and sixth overall in the last 18 months. The deal will further enhance its capabilities in wastewater telemetry and monitoring.

Pannone’s corporate team advised the shareholders of Detectronic, a long-standing client of the North West law firm. The team included corporate partner, Tom Hall, and Andrew Walsh, senior associate. They were supported by Renee Neophytou and Lizzie O’Leary.

Hall said: “Since we first started working with the team at Detectronic more than a decade ago, the company has built up an unrivalled reputation for its innovative and creative approach to environmental services, with extensive experience in sewer and wastewater management.

“The business has achieved enormous success in recent years and the sale to a company of the ambition of Adler and Allan marks an important chapter in Detectronic’s growth journey. As a long-standing and trusted client, we look forward to seeing how the company flourishes under the expert stewardship of Adler and Allan.”

Detectronic is an environmental and engineering company with a proven track record of helping customers prevent flooding and reduce pollution. It designs and manufactures a range of flow and level monitors for wastewater monitoring including LIDoTT, a market-leading range of sewer level monitoring devices.

Steve Woods, Executive Chairman at Detectronic, said: “We are delighted to be joining the Adler and Allan Group. The services it offers, combined with its established position in the utilities market, allows us to extend our expert monitoring and management solutions to more companies.”

Adler and Allan provides environmental services across utilities, energy, and industrial infrastructure, to reduce risk to the environment, people, and organisations.

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Welcome to our latest IP update – insight into the most recent 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.

To find out more, click here

If you have any questions about the updates or any IP issues or challenges you’re facing, please contact Melanie McGuirk or Alexandria Winstanley.

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Case in point: Cleaner brings claims for unfair dismissal and race discrimination after she is sacked for eating a leftover tuna sandwich - Pannone Corporate

Facts of the case Gabriela Rodriguez worked as a cleaner at the offices of Devonshires Solicitors for two years, via contractor Total Clean. She claims ...

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Employment partner Jack Harrington is taking on the notorious Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh trail later this month, as part of a charity challenge in memory of friend Dean Masom.

The seven-strong group – who were supposed to take on the cycling fundraiser three years ago, but had to cancel it due to the COVID-19 pandemic – will set off on 26 March.

The team will cycle for nine consecutive days, starting from Hanoi in the north of the country, before heading south through jungle routes and mountains in temperatures reaching up to 35 degrees. Cycling between 95 and 140 kms each day, they will spend two consecutive days covering around 200 miles, before finishing their once in a lifetime challenge in Hoi An.

So far, Jack and the team have raised £3,500, which has already been donated to their chosen charities – The Dean Masom Hope Tribute Fund (supporting The Christie) and Once Upon a Smile, the only charity of its kind to provide emotional and practical support to bereaved families. The group now hopes to raise a further £3,500 three years on from when the initial trip was set to start.

Jack explains: “Sadly, in 2010 we lost our friend Dean, who died at just 39 from a brain tumour. When we agreed  to embark on this cycling challenge we decided to use it to raise money for the memorial fund set up in Dean’s  name to support the incredible work that is carried out at The Christie –into cancer research and treatment, while also supporting the brilliant work done by Once Upon a Smile.

“The small matter of a global pandemic may have set us back a few years, but we’re determined to take on the infamous Ho Ch Minh trail. After several training rides in Spain, we’re now set to finally begin the challenge later this month.”

The Dean Masom Hope Tribute Fund was set up to support brain tumour research at The Christie. Currently little is known about brain tumours, with research projects only receiving minor funding at present.

Jack added: “Throughout Dean’s life, and brief illness, he made those who loved him very proud and was a keen fundraiser. I’m sure he’d be very proud of the tribute fund and the work it’s helping to support, as well as everyone involved.”

Pannone Corporate is one of a number of corporate sponsors supporting the team’s efforts on 26 March. These include: Northstone, Peel L&P, Aptus Utilities, Eurogold, E3P , NJL Consulting,  Daintree, Verlingue  and Tritech.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be supporting Jack and the team on what is an epic challenge. After months of training, and years of waiting, they’re all set to take on Ho Chi Minh trail  and raise money for two extremely worthy causes. We wish them all the very best on their nine-day challenge.”

If you would like to donate to the challenge, visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/velovietnam1 

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Case in point: Cleaner brings claims for unfair dismissal and race discrimination after she is sacked for eating a leftover tuna sandwich - Pannone Corporate

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Financial trouble can hit any business and, in a post-pandemic world, it’s even clearer how fragile things can be. However, if issues arise, it may be necessary to seek alternative means of securing your future.

If you hit stormy seas, what options are available to help your business?

One of the most effective and common methods of securing an organisation’s position in the market – and to which financial hardship is not necessarily a pre-requisite – is a business restructure.

Restructuring is a catch all term that involves changing the financial, operational, legal, or other structures of a business to improve efficiency, profitability and cash flow. There are no hard and fast rules as to what a restructure will look like but it tends to involve refinancing, streamlining and/or corporate simplification, sometimes combined with a formal insolvency process, sometimes not, typically with the overarching aim of dealing with debt. However, companies may also restructure if they’re preparing for a sale, buyout, merger, or transfer of ownership.

There are significant benefits to undertaking a restructuring exercise and business owners should try not to be anxious about the process – it’s an opportunity to reflect on its current position and take the necessary steps to shape the future you want.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that restructuring is by no means a one size fits all process –what may work for one company, could be totally unsuitable for another. In order to be effective, the process requires the expertise and support of specialists who can work closely with the management team and other key stakeholders to devise and deliver an appropriate plan.

Here at Pannone Corporate, we’re experts in providing pragmatic advice to businesses of all sizes across a wide range of business sectors. Our Corporate Recovery team can help identify and implement the best solution in so far as restructuring is concerned – all done in a way that is tailored to your current needs, with a focus on you future strategic objectives.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be developing a series of blogs to give business owners all the information they needs about the options available to them when it comes to restructuring. You’ll hear from a range of specialists as we cover:

If you need restructuring advice now, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts. We’d be happy to help. Contact restructuring and insolvency partner, Daniel Clarke on  (0) 7920 237687 or email daniel.clarke@pannonecorporate-com.stackstaging.com

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Pannone Corporate has strengthened its retail and leisure credentials with a trio of client wins, after recently being appointed by The Lowry, New Balance and Beauty Bay.

The North West law firm will provide legal support to the renowned North West arts centre, The Lowry, while the firm has also recently been appointed to the legal panel for New Balance – a global sports footwear and apparel manufacturer. In addition, Pannone has joined the legal panel for skincare and cosmetics retailer, Beauty Bay.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “Retail and leisure remain a core part of our experience, and we are delighted to kick off the first quarter of the year with such positive additions to our expanding client portfolio.

“The Lowry, New Balance, and Beauty Bay, are all prominent brands across key their own retail and leisure sub-sectors, and help to strengthen our industry credentials in the regional market, across a range of teams and specialisms.”

Last year, Pannone was appointed by Costcutter and The Fragrance Shop, as well as being reappointed to the Boohoo Group legal panel. Pannone Corporate works alongside a growing list of retail and wholesale businesses including Bestway and Iceland.

Jonson added: “Retail and leisure are hugely varied and constantly evolving sectors, which continue to demonstrate dynamism in the face of strong economic headwinds and changing consumer dynamics. Whether it’s sports, fashion, arts and culture, or beauty, each has distinct challenges and opportunities. Our team is perfectly placed to support clients as they continue on their growth journey – both domestically and overseas.”

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The results of Pannone Corporate’s 2023 Regulatory survey are in!

Earlier this year we invited responses on a number of issues, to gauge the current concerns and anxieties within businesses as to their compliance obligations and worries for the coming year.

Responses continue to be received, although at this early stage a number of clear trends have already started to emerge.

What EHS issues are currently causing the greatest concerns for businesses?

By far and away the most common concern for recipients of the survey is the issue and impact of sustainability, with 75% of respondents highlighting this as an area of current concern for them and their business.

Of almost equal concern amongst respondents to our survey (62%) was their ability to attract and retain quality staff.

However, somewhat surprisingly, less than 40% of respondents ranked employee wellbeing as a current concern for their business.

What has had the biggest impact on EHS?

A clear concern amongst respondents to our survey is confusion caused around the introduction of new legislation, the extent to which new regulations will apply to them and the potentially limited guidance available from central Government in respect of discrete issues, with one respondent stating a desire for, “plain and simple,” language to be used.  For regulations and guidance to be effective, they need to be capable of understanding and comprehension by recipients.

Added to this, the still unknown impact of the Retained EU Law Bill is continuing to cause anxiety for many respondents to our survey, with a number highlighting this as a concern for the immediate future.

The draft Bill continues to work its way through Parliament but, if enacted in its current form, risks removing overnight the majority of EU-derived workplace regulations, including the Working Time Directive, Work at Height Regulations and CDM. Were this to occur, it would have a seismic impact on all businesses and would fundamentally change the nature of workplace regulation.

How can businesses prepare?

The world of workplace and business regulation has been evolving over a number of years, and global events since 2020 have accelerated this change. For example, not only has there been an increase in the number of matters subject to regulation, but the manner and methodology by which regulators discharge their functions has also had to be revised.

These changes look set to continue, and what is clear from the survey responses is that businesses appear to be less concerned with traditional compliance issues and physical health and safety and are currently focused instead on novel issues.

No one can predict the future, but the recent shift in the nature of workplace compliance looks set to continue and businesses should take steps to embrace these changes.

As Lord Robens suggested in his 1972 report, which laid the foundation for the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, what he considered was required was a greater acceptance of shared responsibility, for more reliance on self-inspection and self-regulation and less on state regulation.”

Going forwards, we consider that rather than businesses addressing their mind to specific risk as they arise – as may have been the case in respect of traditional health and safety concerns and risks to physical safety – what the world of workplace compliance increasingly requires now is a holistic approach.

For example, in respect of employee wellbeing, provision of workplace perks is unlikely to be sufficient on its own. Whilst such measures will usually be appreciated by a workforce, what is of increasing importance is the condition of their entire employment relationship, including in respect of management culture, monotony of daily routines and efficiency of IT systems.

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Pannone Corporate has announced the promotion of two longstanding members of the team to Partner.

Effective from 3 February, Jonny Scholes has been promoted to Partner in the firm’s Dispute Resolution team. Jonny has been with Pannone since its inception in 2014, having previously worked at Pannone LLP joining in 2005. Jonny has built up a strong reputation in his field, particularly in the area of contentious trusts and probate – a top tier practice area for the firm in the Legal 500 rankings.

He is joined as Partner by Daniel Clarke, who leads the Corporate Recovery and Insolvency practice at Pannone. Like Jonny, Daniel joined Pannone LLP nearly 20 years ago and qualified in 2006. Daniel advises on all aspects of corporate and personal insolvency, including administration, bankruptcy, CVAs/IVAs, and restructuring and re-organisation.

Commenting on his promotion, Dan said: “I’m delighted to have been promoted to Partner alongside Jonny, during what is an exciting period of growth for the firm. The investment we make in talent is integral to our ongoing success – not just for the Corporate Recovery and Insolvency team, but for the firm as a whole.”

Jonny added: “I’m very proud to have been promoted to Partner and I look forward to helping Pannone continue to flourish alongside a group of wonderful and hard-working people.”

The promotions follow a number of recent appointments, as the firm continues to invest in future talent. As part of the recruitment drive, Joshua Dolan joins the firm as a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team; Will Newman has been appointed as a solicitor in the Real Estate team; Ciara Scanlon joins in the Employment team as a solicitor; Natasha Mafunga has been appointed as a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team; Jack Taylor further strengthens the Dispute Resolution team, also joining as a solicitor; with Renée Neophytou completing the raft of appointments, joining the Corporate team as a solicitor.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, commented: “Each promotion and appointment represents Pannone’s commitment to investing in our people and the future of our business.

“The Partner promotions are thoroughly well deserved. Jonny and Dan have both demonstrated true commitment, dedication and passion to the firm, acting as a real example to those rising through the ranks, and they should be incredibly proud of their achievements.”

 

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When Andy Burnham, then MP for Leigh, proposed a statutory duty of candour for public authorities back in 2017, he no doubt hoped that progress might now have been made. His draft Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, prompted by his involvement with the Hillsborough families, would have required public authorities to admit responsibility following adverse and mass casualty incidents, potentially even before court proceedings had been intimated.

That Bill was put on hold following the snap General Election in May 2017, but calls for progress have recently been reinvigorated following the introduction of similar duties within the healthcare sector, as well as a number of high-profile incidents, including the Grenfell Tower fire and, more recently, the inquest touching upon the death of Awaab Ishak.

Statutory duty of candour

During a public discussion held in Manchester last month, Mr Burnham supported calls for the playing field to be levelled between bereaved families on the one hand, and well-resourced public authorities on the other during investigations into mass casualty events. It appears that this objective has been borne out of disquiet that, despite the extent of investigations prior to the second Hillsborough inquest, neither the coronial nor criminal justice system had been able to reveal the cover-ups which subsequently came to light.

The ‘Hillsborough Law’ which is proposed would establish a statutory duty of candour, requiring public authorities, public servants and officials to:

It is proposed that ‘public authority’ be given the wide-ranging and inclusive definition: “any national or local government department… institution or agency engaged in functions of a public nature… [this] includes entities with a private structure but which are majority owned by public funds.”

To ensure compliance with the proposed duties, it is suggested that new offences be created for failure to discharge the duty, punishable by a fine and/ or custodial sentence.

Offences would also be committed by public servants, if they intentionally or recklessly misled the general public, the media or proceedings. In addition to an organisation’s offending, individuals would also be liable if by their acts or omissions they hindered their authority’s compliance with its the duty.

Parity of funding

Hillsborough Law also suggests that bereaved families and ‘core participants’ at inquiries and inquests be entitled to publicly funded legal assistance and representation at the same level, or in proportion to, the resources available to the public authority, to ensure a parity of arms.

What could this achieve?

When introducing the initial draft of what is now the Hillsborough Law back in 2017, Andy Burnham summarised the motivation as “simple”:

It [is]…to protect other families from going through what the Hillsborough families went through and from a similar miscarriage of justice. It empowers victims to secure disclosure of crucial information and prevent public authorities from lying to them or hiding the truth by making that an imprisonable offence… it creates a level legal playing field at inquests for bereaved families so that finally inquests become what they should always be – a vehicle to get to the truth.”

When can we expect a change?

First introduced in 2017, the Bill’s progress was thwarted by the dissolution of Parliament for the General Election in May of that year.

The Law Commission has consulted generally on the offence of misconduct in public office, providing its final report in December 2020, which concluded that the offence should not be retained in its current form. Specifically the Commission recommended repeal of the offence and its replacement with two separate offences, being:

The Government’s response to the Commission’s report is awaited, and it does not therefore appear that there is any current appetite within government to progress the proposals.

By contrast, Labour have publicly stated that the Hillsborough Law will form part of its next election manifesto and it will introduce relevant legislation is if is elected.

Public Advocate Bill

Some progress may have been made towards the general aims of ensuring parity between bereaved families and public authorities with the introduction last summer of the Public Advocate Bill, which has received its first reading in the House of Lords. A date for its second reading is awaited.

The current draft of the Bill proposes the establishment of a Public Advocate office, which would have responsibility for reporting to bereaved families regarding the progress of criminal and inquisitorial investigations into casualty events, to set up a panel to review all documentation relating to the event if requested, and publish a report following its review of such documents. Again, the objective is to minimise the potential for cover-ups and permit full analysis of the facts at the earliest opportunity.

Comment

To date there is little clarity as to what exactly is meant by the term, ‘candour,’ and the precise scope of the proposed Hillsborough Law remains unclear. Certainly we would not expect any duty to require criminal suspects to make admissions prior to appearing before the Court: that would fundamentally undermine the criminal justice system.

A similar proposal in Scotland has recently been rejected by the Scottish Government, on the basis that it considers the existing legal framework to be, “robust,” and has dismissed further specific legislation as, “unnecessary.”

Questions will also arise as to the tension between the requirement for candour and the right to silence in the criminal process. Where someone reasonably asserts that right, they are unlikely to be guilty of lacking candour. However, the idea that any assertion of the right of silence will be subject to third party scrutiny is seismic to say the least.

The proposal to extend legal assistance to bereaved families is likely to receive widespread support. However, the very significant cuts to the legal aid budget in recent years and continuing austerity generally begs the question: where will the money come from?

Interestingly, the 2017 Bill proposed a limit on the legal spend of public authorities in responding to inquests and inquiries – the logic being that the requirement for them to ‘come clean’ at the outset will reduce the length of investigations and thereby ensure costs savings for all. Any such limits may however fetter the ability of public authorities to fully and properly articulate their case when responding to investigations.

Also, it is often extremely difficult at the outset of an inquiry or inquest to estimate the overall costs that may be incurred. Were a cap to be introduced in responding to any such proceedings, the basis for this would need to be carefully considered, to ensure that all parties are capable of achieving full and proper advice and representation.

In addition, of the organisations which have to date voluntarily accepted responsibility in the immediate aftermath of adverse incidents, there has been little acknowledgement of their acceptance or explicit reduction in the fine imposed.

For example, Sentencing Guidelines for health and safety offences are stated to be punitive and designed to send a message to shareholders. To this end they can therefore be seen as a ‘stick’ to encourage early admissions and prompt acceptance of responsibility.

However, there does not appear to be any comparable or tangible ‘carrot.’ In the absence of an acknowledged benefit or (financial) incentive for being candid, a potential defendant to further investigation is likely to consider themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.

Conclusion

Despite the suggestions for improvement which have been highlighted by bereaved families over recent years, the enactment of a statutory duty of candour appears low on the Government’s priorities at the current time.

If the proposed Hillsborough Law is to become law then there needs to be careful consideration of the potential, but significant, implications to ensure that there is genuinely fairness to all parties concerned.

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Essex-born 26-year-old Joel Costi-Mouyia lives in West Didsbury and is a paralegal in our Dispute Resolution team. 

When he’s not resolving disputes, he’s playing football or making music – keep reading to learn more about his route to working in law and professional aspirations for the future. 

What was your role/experience prior to joining Pannone?

I graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2018 and began working for DWF as part of RSA Manchester’s in-house civil litigation team where I specialised in RTA related cases. 

Although this was my first post-graduation job in law, I also previously completed work in a Citizens Advice Bureau on issues relating to welfare rights, as well as completing a three month placement in Liverpool University’s Legal Aid Clinic, where I worked on matters concerning immigration and asylum seeking. 

While these two experiences are certainly different to my current line of work, they gave me invaluable exposure to the practical application of the law.

What is your role at Pannone?

I’m a paralegal in the Dispute Resolution team, dealing with a wide range of disputes in the fields of debt recovery, commercial contracts, wills and probate, property and intellectual property.

Why did you join Pannone?

Pannone is a young law firm that has grown since it started in 2014 – this success was something that I wanted to be a part of. 

We’re also a firm that really emphasises the importance of a collaborative working environment, which is something that really appeals to me. As a junior member of our team, it’s often I’ll need to pick the brains of some our more senior members of staff and they’re always more than happy to help out. This has been great – not just for my own development, but also in making me feel like a welcomed and well-integrated member of the firm. 

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

I’ve had a relatively standard introduction to the legal and professional world. Not long after graduation, I began working for DWF in November of the same year and then began my LPC full-time in January 2020. 

I completed this in December 2020 and was fortunate enough for DWF to offer me some part-time work whilst I completed my LPC studies, which allowed me to maintain some level of income. 

I then went on to join Pannone in December 2021 and I’m delighted to have recently been offered a training contract which I am due to start in September 2023. 

Why did you choose this route?

Having worked primarily in litigation for the past four years, I felt it was important to follow the training contract route as a means of expanding my knowledge alongside my contentious professional legal experience. 

Pannone has a number of interesting departments dealing with non-litigious client issues such as corporate law that I’m excited to work in as part of my training contract seats and wider legal education.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Definitely hitting drafting deadlines and securing positive results for our clients. Throughout my time at Pannone, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed building and developing relationships with our clients and to be able to meet their goals and expectations is something I take a lot of pride in.  

What does a typical day look like?

I normally start my day by checking through my emails to make sure that nothing urgent has come in the previous evening requiring my immediate attention. Once I’ve done this, I’ll get into the work that I’ve planned out for the day. 

Organisation is an essential skill for excelling in our work, so at the end of each working day I tend to draft a small to-do list of tasks that I’ll need to tackle the following day.

What are your career ambitions?

Having been offered a training contract, my initial ambition is to qualify as a solicitor at Pannone Corporate. There’s a wealth of experience across the firm, so I’m hoping to soak up as much of this as possible and continue to develop and improve in the right way. 

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

I think I would try and promote some sort of fitness initiative to all employees. I’m a big believer in the ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ approach to life and find that if I’m regularly exercising, it helps me to manage my own workload and deal with any stresses, work-related or not, that get thrown my way. 

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

Maths was probably my long-standing favourite subject at school and was almost the subject I chose to study at university. I did toy with the idea of something more maths related, such as economics or actuarial science, but neither of these were something I ended up going for.

Career wise, it’s difficult to say, but I’ve always tried to blend my love of music and sport with my professional ambitions, so I’d like to think I may have done some sort of work dealing directly with sportspeople and musicians. My master’s dissertation was based on whether current copyright legislation provides scope for streaming platforms to exploit musicians and therefore not adequately remunerate them for their work – so law and music is something I’ve always attempted to fuse. If not this, a professional career as a musician or producer wouldn’t have gone amiss!

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

One step I always think is vital is to help our clients understand the litigation process. I’m conscious that from the client’s side, the legal world can be intimidating and often convoluted, so it’s important for us to untangle and simplify this as best as we can. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I currently play football for Village Manchester Football Club in the Lancashire and Cheshire Saturday league. If I’m not playing football, I also enjoy running or going to the gym. 

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

I take a lot of pride in my love for music and have been playing piano since around the age of eight. I have also performed as part of an indie-rock band as a singer and guitarist, having received track of the week accolades on BBC Introducing and also supported an NME award-winning artist as part of their UK tour. 

In the past couple of years, I’ve also started DJing and performing in different places around Manchester – not to mention the Pannone Corporate party last Autumn.


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North West law firm, Pannone Corporate, has advised on transactions with an aggregate deal value of over £550 million in the first half of 2022.

The corporate team, led by partners Mark Winthorpe, Tom Hall and Tim Hamilton, has continued where it left off in Q4 of 2021, by completing 19 transactions, with an average deal value of £29 million. These were completed between January and June 2022 across M&A, IPO and private equity.

High-profile deals include: the cross-border sale of leading producer and supplier of premium organic superfood products, Go Superfoods Limited, to Swedish food-tech and FMCG listed company, Humble Group; the UK aspects of the IPO of TVS Supply Chain Solutions; NVM-backed nZero Group’s acquisition of Orbital Gas Systems; and the acquisition of UK-based eProcurement software company Market Dojo by global cloud platform Esker.

Mark Winthorpe said: “Despite obvious macroeconomic headwinds, the appetite for M&A – both nationally and internationally – has been very resilient during the first half of 2022.

“We have seen a number of instructions acting for private equity-backed groups looking for bolt on acquisitions to maintain their growth curve and, in certain instances, transform underperforming assets. The appetite for new investments also remains strong as private equity bidders become even more competitive in deal processes, as the valuations attributed to corporate bidders has, in our view, softened to a degree.”

He added: “Other stand out themes include truncated deal processes, with average deal periods being closer to two months (and sometimes much shorter than that) than over three months pre-pandemic. This is in part driven by the irreversible move towards technology in the deal process and the desire of sellers to de-risk with supply chain pressures and inflation having an impact on trading outlooks.”

Recent deals which Pannone has also acted on include: the cross-border sale of a controlling stake in Walker Sime by US-based Otak, part of Hanmi Global Group; Procuritas-backed Polarn O. Pyret’s acquisition of Odin Retail; and Maven Capital’s £4.25 million VCT round into baby care brand, Pura.

Tom Hall commented: “Our international M&A practice has had an incredibly strong first two quarters, with high quality instructions for UK assets from French, Spanish, US, Dutch and Swedish clients, amongst others.

“Technology is definitely ‘one to watch’ as US and European buyers show an unabated appetite for high quality targets, especially when coupled with the depreciation in the value of sterling against the Euro and the Dollar. When you combine that level of interest with strong performances across other key markets, such as financial services, online retail and food production businesses, we are confident for the remainder of 2022, with deals we are aiming to complete by the end of the Summer being circa £250 million in value.”

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Pannone Corporate – the North West/Manchester [change for regionals] law firm – has bolstered its  debt recovery team with the appointment of Paul Jagger.

Paul, who joins from Ward Hadaway as Debt Recovery Manager, has 15 years’ experience in the sector, having previously worked at Turner Parkinson. Paul will work alongside Head of Debt Recovery, Karl Williams, in growing the team and its national client base, which includes DHL, L’Oreal and Manchester City Council.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Paul to firm, as we look to strengthen our debt recovery team over the coming months in key sectors, such as the debt collection industry, recruitment and retail, where Paul has significant experience.

“Paul has a fantastic track record of building and implementing industry-leading systems to enhance client services and we’re confident his knowledge of the market and practical experience will lay the foundations for future growth.”

His arrival follows the appointment of a raft of legal professionals to the firm. These include: Dominic Beddow, solicitor in Real Estate; Lauren Whittaker, Foreign Lawyer, Regulatory; and Belinda Cheung, Associate, Corporate.

Paul commented: “The opportunities and potential that exist at Pannone Corporate are very exciting and the prospect of being able to make my mark on the team, in terms of how we work and the technology we utilise, was too good to turn down.”

Commenting on the sector, he said: “The world we live in is constantly changing and the future direction of the debt recovery market is very difficult to predict. Creditors are seeing an increase in collection activity for already stretched credit control teams. It’s our job, with experience and system efficiencies, to provide cost-effective relief for creditors, while ensuring that those struggling businesses that are committed to paying are dealt with fairly.”

 

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North West law firm, Pannone Corporate, has announced the promotion of seven people across its team, including two promotions to Associate Partner.

Effective from 21 July, Bill Dunkerley has been promoted to Associate Partner in the firm’s Regulatory team. Since joining the firm in 2019, Bill has quickly built up a strong reputation in the area of regulatory interventions and prosecutions, including corporate and gross negligence manslaughter, health and safety offences, with extensive experience advising and assisting care providers.

He is joined as Associate Partner by Michael McNally, who joined the Employment team last year as director. He advises employers on all aspects of employment law, including regular representation and advocacy in the Employment Tribunal. He has particular experience working with businesses in the care, manufacturing, transport and logistics, retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

Commenting on his promotion, Bill said: “I’m delighted to have been promoted to Associate Partner alongside Michael, during an exciting period of growth for Pannone Corporate.

“It’s a real honour to have moved up through the ranks, as we look to build on the momentum achieved across the Regulatory team, and the firm as a whole.”

In total, Pannone has promoted seven people. These include: Arshnoor Amershi, who has been promoted to Director in the Corporate Services team, where she specialises in all aspects of corporate legal work, such as M&A and disposals, reorganisations and restructuring; Andrew Walsh, who joined Pannone as a trainee solicitor seven years ago, rising up the ranks to become Senior Associate in Corporate Services; and James Brandwood, who has been promoted to Senior Associate in the Real Estate team. In addition, Radhika Das, who joined as a Legal Executive in 2018, has become an Associate in the Employment team; together with Lauren Beech, who has been promoted to Associate in Commercial Services.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, commented: “These promotions represent Pannone’s commitment to investing in our people and the future of the firm.

“The Associate Partner promotions are thoroughly well deserved. Bill and Michael have both demonstrated a clear focus on both technical excellence and commercial advice  in a short space of time, to provide a high quality service to clients. Everyone who has been promoted should be incredibly proud of their achievements.”

The promotions follow the recent appointments of Paul Jagger as Debt Recovery Manager, joining from Ward Hadaway, together with Dominic Beddow, solicitor in Real Estate, Lauren Whittaker, Foreign Lawyer, Regulatory, and Belinda Cheung, Associate, Corporate.

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Pannone Corporate has advised on the cross-border strategic investment in risk-led intelligent security solutions provider, Amberstone Security.

The Manchester firm acted as legal adviser to Argenbright Group, a leading provider of human capital services headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Through the transaction, the US company will re-establish its UK presence and plans to expand into Europe with Amberstone as its platform company.

The Pannone team was led by Tim Hamilton and included Ashi Amershi, Andy Walsh, Belinda Cheung and Humera Patel.

Tim Hamilton said: “We’re delighted to have acted for Argenbright on this deal and look forward to working with them on the exciting journey that will see them develop as a significant player in the UK and European security sector.

“Argenbright has extensive experience and a strong reputation in the international security market, stretching over four decades. This strategic transaction will extend its global reach and capitalise on the rapid growth Amberstone has experienced in a short space of time.”

Amberstone services key customers in the retail, warehousing, and logistics sectors.

Frank A. Argenbright Jr., Executive Chairman of Argenbright, said: “We are excited to be back in the security business in the UK and I personally look forward to sharing my experiences of providing legendary service and technology-driven solutions to valued clients with the leadership team to help Amberstone take the business to the next level.”

Argenbright intends to invest in growing Amberstone, by adding significant capabilities in account management and sales, as well as selective strategic acquisitions.

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Venture Capital is set to underpin the North West deals market in 2023, following a record year of fundraising, as uncertainty and high interest rates in the debt market continue to dampen the volume of leveraged buyouts.

After Venture Capital Trust (VCT) fundraising reached a record high of £1.13 billion in the 2021/22 tax year, VCTs are expected to continue to deploy capital in 2023, which includes investment in small and innovative North West companies. This is aided by the Government’s decision to extend the tax relief scheme beyond its original 2025 sunset clause, which will help maintain the positive momentum achieved over the past few years.

In the final quarter of 2022, a number of standout deals demonstrated the appetite of VCTs to invest in the regional North West market, contrary to what is perceived to be a London-centric investment approach. This included Manchester-based Summize – a contract lifecycle management disruptor – which secured £5 million Series A VCT funding from YFM Equity Partners and Maven Capital. The investment duo also led a £6.5 million Series A round into biomedical data specialist, Biorelate.

According to law firm, Pannone Corporate, which acted on both deals, VCT fundraising could reach new record levels in the tax year 2022/23, particularly given the sector’s ability to offset subscriptions against income tax – an ability to pay tax free dividends, at a time when Government fiscal policy tightens, especially in relation to income tax thresholds.

Mark Winthorpe, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “As the deals in 2022 demonstrate, venture capital investment is becoming an ever increasing element of the investment landscape, following a record year of fundraising.

“In many cases, VCTs are looking at a longer time horizon of five to seven years and investment rounds are increasingly done on a syndicated basis to increase the level of investment in the round and diversify a VCT’s portfolio. As such, this patient approach is making funds less susceptible to shorter-term economic and political impacts, with deal volumes also potentially benefiting from any softening of valuations.”

In 2022, Pannone acted on 12 VCT-backed deals, a 50% increase on the previous year. Overall, deal volume increased by 24%, with cross-border transactions continuing to feature strongly.

Other publishable high-profile deals in Q4 2022 included, acting for the management team of training and apprenticeships provider Babington on its tertiary buyout, backed by Unigestion; advising digitisation and data storage business, Storetec, on its MBO, backed by Bridges Fund Management; acting for Maven Capital on its investment through the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund into British tech-for-good company GWD; advising the shareholders of Inprova Procurement on its MBO backed by NVM Private Equity; as well as acting on the cross-border acquisition of Easyairconditioning.com, advising Beijer Ref AB – a Swedish listed business, which specialises in the wholesale of cooling technology and HVAC.

Tim Hamilton, corporate partner at Pannone Corporate, said: “While uncertainty in the UK economy is putting off some overseas buyers, who have choices about where to invest their funds, there are still those who see a weak pound as an opportunity to acquire businesses in a well regulated market and a mature economy at good value. As such, we expect cross-border deals to remain resilient in the next 12 months.

“In terms of sectors to watch in 2023, big data and data security remain attractive areas for investment, as evidenced by the Biorelate and Storetec deals in Q4. Data security is an area that firms will need to maintain investment in over the course of the next 12 months, given the wider geopolitical landscape, whether that’s in Ukraine, or the growing tension between China and the United States over Taiwan.”

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North West law firm, Pannone Corporate, has strengthened its team with a number of appointments, as it continues to invest in future talent.

As part of the latest recruitment drive, Joshua Dolan joins the firm as a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team, where he will provide support across a range of areas, including advising on disputes for international clients. With particular experience in the UK and European transport sector, Joshua previously worked on the first ever collective proceeding case granted by the Competitions Appeals Tribunal on an “opt-in” basis.

He is joined by Will Newman who has been appointed as a solicitor in the Real Estate team. He will work alongside partners James Harris and James Wynne. He will be responsible for advising on a wide range of transactions, including titles, refinance and leases for both landlords and tenants across a range of sectors, including hospitality, industrial and retail.

Ciara Scanlon joins in the Employment team as a solicitor. Having recently qualified as a solicitor, she will support the team in delivering employment law advice, as well assisting in employment tribunal claims.

Ciara is joined by Natasha Mafunga who qualified in 2020. Natasha has been appointed as a solicitor in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, where she will work across the team’s specialisms, including contested trust and probate matters and commercial litigation.

Jack Taylor further strengthens the Dispute Resolution team, also joining as a solicitor. Jack will have a particular focus on Real Estate litigation, providing practical and commercial advice to a range of clients across the team’s key sectors.

Renée Neophytou completes the raft of appointments, joining the Corporate team as a solicitor, working alongside partners, Mark Winthorpe, Tom Hall, and Tim Hamilton. Renée will assist clients on issues including mergers and acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures, and shareholder reorganisations.

Paul Jonson, senior partner at Pannone, said: “We’re delighted to welcome our latest recruits to our growing team.

“As a firm, we’re committed to hiring and investing in young talent. We recognise the value they can bring to the firm and our clients and I’m confident they will all be a real asset across our Dispute Resolution, Corporate, Employment and Real Estate teams.”

Joshua Dolan commented: “Pannone has an excellent reputation for the diversity and quality of its work, as well as its portfolio of clients. I was also attracted by the great team dynamic, not just within Dispute Resolution team, but across the entire firm, and I’m delighted to be joining at such an exciting time, in terms of growth and opportunity.”

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For those working in the legal profession, the Legal 500 rankings are an annual fixture in a firm’s calendar. The rankings are based on client feedback about what it’s like to work with lawyers, and which firms excel in particular areas.

As a firm, we rank favourably across the practice areas in which we operate and this is testament to our belief that our talented team is even greater than the sum of its parts.

We also believe in celebrating recognition for an outstanding performance, which is why it’s fantastic to see some of our team named in the Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards shortlist. This shortlist has just been announced to recognise the lawyers, law firms and in-house legal departments setting the pace in the region, providing a platform to celebrate their achievements over the last 18 months.

The shortlists and winners were based on the Legal 500’s independent research for their annual UK Solicitors guide and winners will be selected by a judging panel.

We would like to congratulate our colleagues below on being shortlisted by the Legal 500 and look forward to the awards in March.

 

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Facts of the case Gabriela Rodriguez worked as a cleaner at the offices of Devonshires Solicitors for two years, via contractor Total Clean. She claims ...

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Welcome to our latest IP update – insight into the most recent 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.

To find out more, click here

If you have any questions about the updates or any IP issues or challenges you’re facing, please contact Melanie McGuirk or Alexandria Winstanley.

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Case in point: Cleaner brings claims for unfair dismissal and race discrimination after she is sacked for eating a leftover tuna sandwich - Pannone Corporate

Facts of the case Gabriela Rodriguez worked as a cleaner at the offices of Devonshires Solicitors for two years, via contractor Total Clean. She claims ...

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