The Scottish Paralegal Association

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17 May

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Powers of Attorney – a vital safeguard for your business

Discussions around Powers of Attorney (PoA), which don’t top anyone’s list of interesting conversation topics, tend to focus on elderly relatives and planning for old age. But this association risks other people overlooking them – with disastrous consequences.

Top of this list is anyone who runs their own business. Let’s suppose you’re a sole trader or run a small company. If you were suddenly incapacitated by serious illness or injury, who would pay suppliers, manage the bank account, deal with contracts or insurance, file VAT returns or generally keep customers happy?

If your business bank accounts are in your name and you have no PoA in place, no one would be able to take over managing the finances. This could be catastrophic for your credit record, business relationships and reputation, as well as for dependants relying on your income.

Any relative or colleague who wanted to take up the reins would have to apply to the courts for ‘Guardianship’ – a process which can take six months or more. Few businesses could survive such a hiatus.

Worst of all, this would be happening when family and friends are already struggling with other practical and emotional issues around your illness or injury.

A simple way to protect against situations like these is to set up a business PoA. It’s similar to a ‘personal’ PoA in that you authorise a chosen person to make decisions on your behalf, but it applies to the business only. The business attorney doesn’t have to be the same person as your personal attorney – in many cases, different people will be better suited for each task.

How you set up a business PoA depends on whether you operate as a sole trader or have a company or partnership. Existing partnership agreements or company articles of association may well have provisions for what happens if a partner or director becomes incapacitated, so a power of attorney must not conflict with these. Advice is therefore important.

In the midst of all the paperwork that faces business owners, few will have an appetite for more legal advice and documents. But as with many areas of law and business, it’s cheaper to think ahead than have the business paralysed by legal disputes or problems later on. In this sense, a PoA can be seen as similar to insurance – something you hope not to use but are relieved to have if disaster strikes.

While we’re on the subject of safeguarding your business against things going wrong, some other simple legal planning could be useful.

With family businesses in particular, the personal and the commercial cannot be treated in isolation. Events from divorce to someone dying without a Will can jeopardise the future of the business, or land it with expensive legal and accountancy bills.

Take Wills. It’s estimated that around six out of ten people in Scotland die without a Will, which means that who inherits their estate is determined by Scotland’s intestacy rules. This can lead to problems and undesirable outcomes in any situation, and particularly with family businesses.

With a Will in place, there can be a planned and pragmatic succession plan about who’s best to take over the business (though as with POAs, advice will be needed to ensure the Will doesn’t conflict with partnership agreements or articles of association).

Without a Will, the intestacy rules will determine who inherits. In some cases, this could mean very young children or a distant relative inheriting control of a family firm – with poor consequences for staff and other family members.

Divorce too can be protected against. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can ringfence a family business from being included in divorce or separation settlements, and safeguard its financial stability.

All this matters not only to families, but to other businesses and Scotland’s economy too. Around 98 per cent of businesses in Scotland are small (with 0-49 staff), and if you’re not part of one yourself, you probably have them among your key suppliers, clients or customers.

Assuming we all want them around for the future, a few more conversations around PoAs (and Wills) should probably be on your agenda. Not great chat, to be sure, but important nonetheless.

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09 May

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Mental Health Awareness Week 13-19 May

How to have a conversation with a colleague about their mental wellbeing
With Mental Health Awareness Week on the horizon (13-19 May) now is a great time to pay attention to the wellbeing of your colleagues.

If you are working with someone who appears to be struggling, is frequently anxious, short-tempered or low and depressed, consider asking your colleague in private what is wrong and how you might help. Talking to a colleague in this way can be difficult but you don’t need to be an expert in mental health to start a conversation of this nature. It’s important to remember that talking could make all the difference to your colleague’s mental health.

Here are some tips that might help.
 Find a suitable place, ideally outside of the office; perhaps a café or go for a walk.


 The conversation could be started with a simple ‘How are you?’ Once a person knows they are being given the space and time to talk, they often will.


 Actively listen to the person, and give them your undivided attention. Keep your phone switched on silent and refrain from looking at your watch.


 Don’t interrupt – try to leave any questions or comments you may have until the person has finished.


 Ask open questions: – What support do you have in place? What would you like to happen in this situation?”


 Use positive body language, and encourage the person to continue with small verbal comments like ‘I see’ or ‘what happened next?’


 Check your understanding by paraphrasing what the person has said back to them.


 Respond by using empathetic statements such as: “I appreciate this must be difficult for you…”


 Avoid clichés. Comments like ‘pull yourself together’ or ‘what will be, will be’ are not helpful.


 Don’t make the conversation about you: avoid saying things like ‘ I know how you feel’ or ‘The same thing happened to me.’


 The important thing is to listen, rather than give advice, the individual needs to be able to act for themselves.


 Be reassuring and signpost them to support such as LawCare, HR, another colleague or suggest they visit their GP.

If you are worried about a colleague you can call the LawCare helpline on 0800 279 6888. The helpline is free, independent and confidential.

Additional information, resources and factsheets are available at 

03 May

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CPD & Networking Event – May & June 2019 – Free to attend

We are delighted to announce two upcoming CPD & Networking events.

22nd May 2019 – 5.30 to 7.30 pm
Glasgow Faculty, Nelson Mandela Square, Glasgow

Please join us on the above date to hear Brendan Kelly of Callan Taxation Services give  a presentation on PROCEDURES FOR TAXATION OF ESTATES.

The event is FREE and is open to members and non-members and will count towards your CPD.

Places are limited so please reserve your place today.

Register here!

19th June 2019 – 5.30 to 7.30 pm
Lindsay, 19A Canning Street, Edinburgh

We are delighted that Central Law Training have arranged for Niall Hassard of TLT to give a presentation called Licensing – Theory -v- Practice. 

The event is FREE and is open to members and non-members and will count towards your CPD.

Places are limited so please reserve your place today.

Register here!

24 Apr

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Coal Authority – CON29M Report – CPD Event

Following the launch of the Coal Authority’s new industry leading official CON29M report, we will be hosting seven free to attend CPD events across Britain during April and May. Come and join our experts at The Trades Hall of Glasgow on 30 April 2019 where we can talk you through the new report, and how this can support you and your clients.

On the day we will:

• discuss our industry leading official CON29M coal mining report

• talk through the changes and improvements in our CON29M report

• explain how our data expertise supports our reports

• demonstrate how the new CON29M report can support you and your clients

In addition to providing insight into the new report, this event will include a session from John Logan, Country Manager for Scotland from Stewart Title will also be talking you through Title Indemnity – Mines, Minerals and Miscellaneous Matters.

Sandra Reid, President of the Scottish Paralegal Association will also be at the event to give an update.

Refreshments will supplied throughout the day, including lunch (if you have any dietary requirements, please let us know at the earliest opportunity).

This event has limited spaces available, so please register now to avoid disappointment.  


08 Apr
SPA Conference 2019

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SPA Annual Conference Timetable 2019

Scottish Paralegal Conference
Annual Conference 2019

Thursday 18th April 2019

Our 2018 Annual Conference was an undeniable success with over 130 paralegals in attendance, enjoying CPD verifiable presentations on Conveyancing, Executry, Criminal, Licensing, Civil and Debt Recovery.

The conference schedule can be seen here:

We will announce the Paralegal of the Year at the conference.

27 Mar

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FPSG, specialist recruitment

Check out the adverts on our website by FPSG, specialist recruitment.

Our expert knowledge of the Legal sector, long established personal and business relationships within the industry and proven track record make FPSG an excellent choice to work in partnership with.

We take pride in our deeply held commitment to deliver a superior client service and it is on this basis that we successfully source and place high calibre candidates in a wide variety of roles.

Michelle Beaumont
Head of Legal

10 Mar

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Could employee ownership work for your business?

Employee ownership offers diverse benefits, such as resilience, staff retention, tax breaks and a smooth exit strategy. Plus there is plenty of flexibility over the extent, pace and structure of the deal.

As a result of these benefits, employee ownership is expected to surge over the next years. A recent article in the Herald newspaper (30 June 2017) suggested that up to 5% of all Scottish businesses could end up being employee-owned.

A PERFORMANCE BOOST

There are numerous studies and statistics showing how employee-owned businesses outperform other businesses. For example, during the recession, employee-owned companies grew sales by 11%, while traditionally structured businesses managed an increase of just 0.6%. The positive figures in terms of productivity, absenteeism and growth for employee-owned companies are often referred to as ‘the John Lewis effect’, after the UK’s highest-profile employee-owned business.

Moreover, employee ownership can be used in many situations – from starting a business to exiting one – and you can choose what share of the business is owned by employees. It could certainly be a useful option for the 16,000 or so businesses which, according to the Herald article, will be seeking to transfer ownership in the next five years.

Already in Scotland, there are numerous successful examples in sectors from food and drink to engineering. An added incentive is that the Scottish Government provides feasibility and transition support for businesses that take this route.

THE POSSIBLE BENEFITS

In addition to the performance benefits referred to above, there are also advantages for owners and employees.

Taxation: Owners who sell more than 50% of the company to employees directly or to an employee ownership trust receive valuable capital gains tax relief on the sale. This can increase their overall gains from the sale or enable them to offer a lower price to the buying employees.

Phased and planned succession: The option for staged buyouts can reduce risk for businesses and employees, and allow vendors to control their pace of exit. For example, some successful buyouts in Scotland have included arrangements for the loan repayments to be phased over a decade

Employees: Gaining a stake in a business is an excellent incentive for staff to stick around and perform well. In addition, staff at an employee-owned business can receive a tax-free annual bonus of up to £3,600

STRUCTURING THE DEAL

Once it has been decided that employee ownership is a good course for you and your business, there are three main aspects to think about:

Financial – including value of the business, raising finance, tax and timescales

People – including employee engagement and governance

Legal – including ownership structure, assets and protections.

Ownership structure is a key point here, since some of the options are specific to employee-owned companies. In summary, there are three choices:

  • direct employee ownership, where employees become individual shareholders
  • indirect employee ownership, where shares are held collectively on behalf of employees, normally through an employee ownership trust
  • hybrid ownership, combining the two options above.

Each of these choices has its pros and cons, and will be more or less attractive in different scenarios.

Those pros and cons show why you need good legal support from experienced advisers in this area. You want a team who not only have expertise in the specific structures available but can also view them in the wider context of funding, tax, employment law, governance and the issues around succession in family-owned businesses.

WHY ISN’T IT MORE POPULAR?

Employee-owned companies in the UK already turn over around £30 billion annually and the popularity of employee ownership is growing.

However, moving to employee ownership is a specialist area. Many professional advisers don’t have experience of it, and therefore do not (or cannot) guide their clients through it.

There are also various misconceptions around it – for example, that it may mean losing out on a better sale price in the open market; or that finance can be hard to raise. These may deter businesses and families from looking into it.

Such fears are either unfounded or easily handled. Having worked on successful employee ownership deals, including advising on the recent transition to this structure for Harvey Map Services as well as with organisations such as Capital for Colleagues, which invest in employee-owned businesses, we see huge potential in this area for our business clients.

If you wish to discuss how employee-ownership could benefit your business then please contact Douglas Roberts in our Corporate and Technology team.

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26 Feb

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Broaden your horizons


Exciting opportunity in Brussels for trainee solicitors/newly
qualified solicitors/paralegals.


The Brussels Office of the three Law Societies (England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) acts as the voice of the Solicitors’ profession in Europe. Situated in the heart of the EU district we are well placed to represent the interests and views of the legal profession to key decision makers and legislators.

We are currently offering trainee solicitors, newly qualified solicitors and
paralegals from the UK, a unique opportunity to undertake a three to six-month secondment in the Brussels Office commencing in April/May 2019.

There has never been a better time to be in Brussels; you will be at the centre of the biggest political change of this century, which has momentous constitutional and legal implications.

Your role will be to assist the Brussels team in actively monitoring EU legal
developments that range from competition law to criminal justice, public procurement to private international law. Specific tasks will include: preparing and writing the Brussels Agenda as well as drafting legislative updates highlighting developments in the corporate client and private client areas. You will also attend European Parliament hearings and high level conferences offering the opportunity to develop contacts with MEPs, key Commission officials and UK Government departments.

Anybody interested in applying will need to provide a letter from their firm/employer confirming that it will continue to pay their salary during the secondment.

Candidates are invited to send their application, which should comprise a CV and covering letter and confirmation from your firm/employer of consent to the secondment to Antonella Verde, antonella.verde@lawsociety.org.uk.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 3rd March and interviews will take place the week of 4 March (telephone interviews are possible).

If you require an information note or would like to discuss the secondment, please contact antonella.verde@lawsociety.org.uk.

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25 Feb

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Scottish Paralegal Association – Paralegal of the Year 2019

Nominations for Paralegal of the Year are now being accepted.  The winner will be announced at our annual Conference to be held in the Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow on 18th April 2019. 

If you work with or if you are a paralegal who deserves the award please download a copy of the application form here.  Completed forms should be emailed to sandrareid@lindsays.co.uk.

09 Feb
SPA Conference 2019

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Annual Conference 2019

Scottish Paralegal Conference
Annual Conference 2019

Thursday 18th April 2019
Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow

Our 2018 Annual Conference was an undeniable success with over 130 paralegals in attendance, enjoying CPD verifiable presentations on Conveyancing, Executry, Criminal, Licensing, Civil and Debt Recovery.

Tickets for our 2019 are now on sale.

Register Now