Why feedback matters..

We want every client to have a great customer service experience. The only way we can find out if this happens, is by asking you.

This is very important to us – so we hope you feel able to share your experience with us.

Hundreds of clients share their feedback with us every year, and it helps shape our staff training, how we answer the telephone, what changes we make, and so on. We really do read each and every single feedback form.

So, as you can see, your experience matters to us.

Today we thought we’d share some positive feedback received from a client about their experience with our Property Team. This transaction was particularly  difficult and, with the clients permission, we would like to thank Kim Thurston, a Residential Conveyancer in our Property Team.

“Thanks for all your hard work with the sale and purchase process over the last few months, your assistance was invaluable. I will be recommending you to friends and family when dealing with any other conveyancing work in the future based on your efficient service and excellent professionalism in some difficult circumstances”. Andrew

17.10.2019

Kim Thurston, Residential Conceyancer

Heather Reilly talks about the current piece of legislation known as the Domestic Abuse Bill currently being debated in the Houses of Parliament.

Heather Reilly, Solicitor in our Family Team.

A “landmark” piece of legislation known as the Domestic Abuse Bill is currently being debated in the Houses of Parliament. The Bill is currently on its second reading and has received cross party support.

If passed, the new legislation will introduce the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse, which will not be limited to physical abuse and will include emotional, manipulative, controlling and financial abuse. The importance of a statutory definition cannot be underestimated, it will help everyone, including professionals such as GP’s, solicitors and judges (as well as the victims themselves) understand what constitutes ‘abuse’.  Whilst it is easy to identify physical violence as domestic abuse, emotional abuse and coercive control is often considered a “grey area”. Without the relevant guidelines, professionals can struggle to identify whether a victim has experienced domestic abuse.  

Psychological abuse can be just as damaging and upsetting for victims as physical violence. Examples include intimidating and threatening behaviour, aggressive shouting or constant criticism or undermining, withholding finances or food, controlling all aspects of their partner’s life such as when they go out, what they wear and who they talk to. If your partner’s behaviour has left you feeling frightened, isolated and unable to make your own choices, this Bill has been drafted to protect you.

Although this Bill has not yet been passed, the Courts are increasingly aware of the seriousness of psychological abuse. This is, in part, due to controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship being made a criminal offence in 2015.

If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, whether physical or emotional, there are legal remedies available to protect you. We can help you obtain an injunction, known as a Non-Molestation Order, to protect you (and any children) from further harm. Such orders can prohibit an abuser from using physical violence, intimidating or harassing you and can even forbid a perpetrator from contacting you directly or indirectly. Breach of a Non-Molestation Order can result in a fine or custodial sentence.

If you are still living with your abuser or have been forced to flee the family home, we can help you obtain an Occupation Order, which requires the abuser to leave the family home and allow you peaceful and exclusive occupation of the property.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please contact Heather Reilly on 01793 532363, to discuss how we can help protect you from harm. Where appropriate, we are able to offer legal aid to fund your application.

Social Media and Family Law;

Michelle Bowyer, Associate – Family Team

I have lost count of the number of times Facebook is referred to in divorce petitions or social media posts are stored and relied upon during Children Act and financial remedy proceedings.  Over sharing on social media may be your downfall when it comes to family law cases as photographs and posts can be held on to, by your ex, as a permanent reminder of historical misdemeanours.  The courts have previously been presented with copy text messages and emails as evidence of conduct and are now used to seeing a screengrab of an offensive photograph or comment on social media and will accept this as evidence, if pertinent to your case.

Most importantly, it is an offence to identify children who are subject to court proceedings (unless specific authority has been obtained from the court) and therefore, you must not publish details of your case online, no matter how upset or angry you may feel about the process or the outcome.

Consider this:  you emphatically deny to your spouse that you have bought a property or car or been on an expensive holiday, whilst boasting about your spending (plus a photo for good measure with you looking suitably proud) on social media.  Your spouse is bound to rely upon that within negotiations about division of matrimonial assets, at the very least to show that you have been economic with the truth!

Uploading photographs and sharing details of frivolous expenditure will not help you when you pursue an argument concerning lack of resources and will instead assist your aggrieved spouse.

Criticising your ex-partner online creates a permanent record which could later be referred to as evidence of poor parenting, as could photographs or updates about drinking to excess/drunken exploits or recreational drug use. 

Family breakdown is an extremely upsetting and stressful time and an outlet will be needed but be warned that such outlet should be in private.  Consider not only the legal consequences which could be far ranging but also the impact upon your children who may one day see the record of the public fall-out between their parents.

Michelle Bowyer,

Associate Solicitor, Family team.

Grants of Probate: fees and delays

Janet Strong, Associate Solicitor in our Wills and Estate team

When someone dies, it is sometimes necessary to apply for a Grant of Representation to deal with their estate. There are different types of Grant: executors named in a Will can apply for a “Grant of Probate”; if there is a Will but none of the executors can apply, others (usually the main beneficiaries) can apply for a “Grant of Letters of Administration With Will Annexed”; and if there is no Will, an application can be made for a “Grant of Letters of Administration”.

There have been two significant practical concerns this year relating to these applications. Firstly, a substantial increase in most fees was due to come into force in Spring 2019; and secondly, since Spring, there have been substantial delays in the processing of applications. The two problems are not entirely unrelated: there was a substantial increase in the volume of applications just before the original deadline for the fee change. Other contributing factors to the delay appear to have been a change in the format of the Grants coupled with a new computer system.

Under the government’s proposals, probate fees would have risen from the current fixed fee of £215 – or £155 with a solicitor – to a sliding scale of up to £6,000 depending on the size of the estate. However, it has been confirmed that the Government Minister has decided allow the probate fees increase to lapse.

As to the delays, it has recently been taking months rather than weeks to receive a Grant. The Law Society recently met with HM Courts and Tribunals Service and were told that a 20% increase in resources has been brought in to deal with the increase of applications and putting paper applications onto the new system, which they were told HMCTS is now up to date with. The challenge now sits at the quality assurance and final issue of grant stage.

HMCTS say they have processed 98,000 grants since April this year and have a backlog of applications from March. These need to be dealt with by people who have the appropriate skill/experience. They say they have brought in an additional legal advisers and believe this should help with getting through the backlogs.

It is therefore to be hoped that an end may at last be in sight to the present delays.

If you would like any help or advice regarding Grants of Representation, our Wills and Estates team would be happy to help.

Michelle Bowyer Promoted to Associate Solicitor

Michelle Bowyer, Associate Solicitor in the family team

Bevirs Law would like to congratulate Michelle Bowyer on her promotion to Associate Solicitor, following her successful track record in advising clients with family law issues including divorce, financial arrangements arising from divorce, and child arrangements for both parents and extended family members.  She also deals with preparation of cohabitation and separation agreements as well as pre-nuptial agreements.

Michelle is an experienced family lawyer, practising since 1996 and has been based in our Swindon office since February 2014.

Michelle said: “I was thrilled to be offered an Associate position this year.   I will continue to support Stuart McNeil and the rest of the fantastic family team I work with.  I practice with a passion for the law and with a drive to help my clients work through some of the most challenging times they face.  To be made an Associate of such a lovely firm is validation of my efforts in both practicing law and in my care of clients and I am grateful to the Partnership for this opportunity”.

Stuart McNeil, Partner and Head of the Family Team, said: “Huge congratulations to Michelle on her well deserved promotion. Michelle is a key member of the family team who has proved time and again to be an extremely valuable asset to the firm as well as being well thought of by her clients”.

The Final Blog – Hugh Ellins

The NSPCC Thames Row – Cotswold to Capital

24th  – 26th  August 2019

The only bad thing about the row is that I did not see England put 8 tries on Ireland nor see the Ben  Stokes innings.

There were three themes that added to the already challenging task of rowing roughly 40 miles a day, almost caused us to fail.  The first is that, for once, the August Bank Holiday was a glorious weekend of blue skies and unremitting sun.  Temperatures rose into the 30s which itself made the effort of rowing difficult.  Added to that, the sun brought out a variety of other users to the Thames:  there were the swimmers, some serious and some just swimming from the riverbank; there were the canoeists and paddlers and, of course, river cruisers of all shapes and sizes and a couple  drifting in the middle of the Thames on a unicorn more interested  in  their bodies than  where  they were on the Thames.  That activity would have slowed us but the volume of cruisers wishing, like us, to go through the locks meant that there was continuing and growing delay.  Finally, the river Thames is not designed for crew changes of row boats and that coupled to the instability of the boat as we clambered in and out of it or entered or left locks meant that such times were fraught and slow .  Despite that the boat was frequently tipping dangerously towards capsizing.  All in all, the estimated time of arrival at the end of each day just kept on being pushed further and further back.

Because of the delays we all spent longer in the boat than was planned.  The killer stints were where  one rowed then coxed and then rowed again.  This meant that one was in the boat continuously for five to six hours.  Not only was that tiring but also painful on the backside.  This lead one member of the team, Sowande, to exclaim as he got into Lyn’s car “ah, just let me sit in your car – the seats are so soft”.

Bear all that in mind as I recount the highlights or  lowlights of  the row.

On Saturday the 24th August the two rowing crews assembled at Lechlade Marina at about 7.00am.  The two teams were the younger members ‘The Young Blades’ and the more, shall we say, mature members ‘The Gentlemen’. First there were the photos, the crew, the crew and Stuart McNeil from Bevirs Law, our sponsors, representatives from The Lions, who made a very generous donation, and the Mayor.  Once that was done, the boat was launched and The Young Blades plus the Cox, me embarked. Cheers of encouragement from the supporters and we were off – straight into the side of the narrow outlet to the Thames. 

The Thames at Lechlade is, for several miles, very pretty but is also narrow and very windy.  Not ideal for a boat which is designed to go in a straight line.  That, coupled with the ineptitude of the Cox, me, and the fact that we occasionally forgot the difference between stroke side and bow side, meant that we formed a close relationship with the overhanging trees and growing reeds.  Progress was slow but we comforted ourselves with the thought that when the Thames widened we would make up time.  Good theory but bad practice because the weather got hotter and filled with other users.

We arrived at our first night stop at Abingdon about an hour and a half late.  We supped at the local Beefeater, where the service was friendly but the food – ‘ho-hum’.  The Young Blades were to take the first stint and, taking into account, the previous day’s experience, intended on an early start.

Most of The Gentlemen were not needed and were given dispensation from leaving home between 4:30am and 5:00am.  We needed as long as possible to recover because the second day was the longest to row.  The Gentlemen gathered at Clifton Lock at about 8 a.m. having walked past moored boats from which the smell of frying bacon gently wafted making the taste buds tingle.  The early start had not quite happened.  The changeover was effected, but as the day got hotter, the locks fuller and the changeovers undertaken with increasing care, we slipped further and further behind the schedule.  The planned mooring was at the Marlow Rowing Club.  As the evening sun began to set, and darkness grew, we were still optimistic that we would reach our destination.  Unfortunately, we had not taken into account the penultimate lock of the day.  Lock keepers work 9 to 6.  By the time we got to the penultimate lock 6 o’clock was well past.  The problem was that no one – not the crew, the Back Up Team or those standing by the lock knew the mysteries of its operation.  We ineffectively pushed buttons and pulled levers but still the lock did not change.   Eventually, a man appeared who took control, pushed the buttons and pulled the levers in the right sequence and in and out we went.  Not only that, the man donated £50 to our cause.  This was one of several donations we collected on the journey.

By now darkness had descended and the Cox, me, could not easily distinguish the water from the bank, nor was I able to see that the boat that I thought we were trying to overtake was actually coming straight towards us.  The decision to abandon our efforts to reach Marlow, was made as we approached Hurley Lock.  I suddenly realised that our approach was not the lock but the adjoining weir.   The cry of ‘Back row! Back row!’ stopped the impending disaster and to Hurley Lock we went. 

On the lock side, and high above us, there were shadowy figures making helpful suggestions as to what we should do.  None of those suggestions gained consensus.  Suddenly, there was a man saying ‘It’s OK, you can use my boathouse’.  Some of the Back Up Team and non-rowers, whilst searching for access to Hurley Lock, stumbled into this man’s garden.  He was having an al fresco dinner with friends.  Without hesitation, he left his meal, came to the lock, made his suggestion, returned to his house to find a torch and then, like a Cornish Wrecker, waved his light.  We secured the boat in a mood of despondency, occasioned by tiredness, if not exhaustion, and the failure to reach our objective.  That was not the end of the man’s generosity as he then offered us sleeping accommodation in his house.  The man was a star and lifted our spirits.  Having had our spirits lifted, they were then sent descending as we discovered that the restaurant at which we were intending to eat was now shut.  Not surprising, as we were some 2.5 hours late.  Did this mean that our only source of food in Marlow was the kebab van?   Among the Gentlemen was Peter Mapson, who is known for enjoying good food and wine.  His gastronomic nose found the Marlow Bar and Grill.  Not only did its kitchen stay open for us, it served some seriously good food.  If in Marlow do visit, I recommend. 

We spent the night in the Travelodge and in the morning returned to Hurley Lock.  The Gentlemen took the first stint to the Marlow Rowing Club.  We rowed as quickly as we could to make up the time.  Despite that, and because the boat needed attention, the day proper again started late. 

If we thought the river had been busy and hot on the previous two days, it became busier and hotter on day three.  We were now slipping seriously further and further against the schedule.  An hour, an hour and a half, two hours.  This led to discussions as to whether we could achieve our goal, or only achieve it if we could return and row on Tuesday, or whether we had to admit defeat and accept that the heat and the activity on the river would beat us.  Whilst no one wanted that, the prospect was looming large. 

Then a piece of luck.  One lock keeper pointed out that at the next lock there was a portage point.   We rowed towards it among shouts from various boats who had been queuing for a considerable time of “there’s a queue you know!”  and manhandled the boat to the other side.  That gained us half an hour.  We now believed we could, not would, achieve our objective. 

The decision was then made that the greatest chance of success lay with The Young Blades doing most of the remaining rowing, and with The Gentlemen joining in when a Young Blade admitted he needed a break.  That was usually confessed through gritted teeth.  Whilst I, and I think, the other Gentlemen felt that this meant we were not pulling our full weight, it was the right call. 

With the number of miles remaining reducing steadily, we found another portage point and again hauled the boat out and into the water.  That, again, made up some lost time.   From the final changeover point, The Young Blades were rowing together with Alan as Cox.  They rowed the last five miles at a cracking pace, at some point reaching 12 miles per hour, and, eventually, finished at the Lensbury Hotel at about 8:30pm.  Without The Young Blades we would have failed, so well done guys and thanks.

On the question of thanks, there are three people who have only been obliquely mentioned as ‘the Back-up Team’.  That consisted of Lin, Pauline and Lyn.  I know that they had assistance from others but they bore the brunt:  getting up early, making sure that we rowers had water, food, transport, tender loving care, and hauling increasingly tired bodies in and out of the boat.   One measure of their efforts is that, between them, they walked some180,000 steps during the three days.  Remember, that was done in the intense heat and whilst carrying heavy loads of water and food.  Without those three we would have undoubtedly failed – so a big THANK YOU.

Thanks also to the Reading Rowing Club who lent us the boat and, particularly, to Des who taught us the rudiments of rowing and repaired the boat when we had a collision.

Thanks to all those who have made donations.  I am uncertain as to the final amount, but it is heading to  £12,000.00.  Thank you.

Finally, would I do the same again with The Young Blades and the other Gentlemen?  Despite tiredness, heat and a sore backside “bet your sweet bippy I would”.

Hugh Ellins

The Final Practice Row

Last Sunday was the final practice. Reading Rowing Club is closed on Thursday because of the Reading Festival. Sad that some people attending a music festival thing it is an occasion to practice  their vandalism skills. Where are the days of the hippies?

Hugh Ellins

The last row passed without collision but not without incident.  Regretfully one of the seats broke so that instead of sliding back and forth in conjunction with the rower’s stroke poor Warren was left with his knees in close proximity to his ears. That necessitated the bow pair to gently row us back to base.  After much head scratching and with the assistance of a knowledgeable member of the rowing club we got a replacement seat and away we merrily went on our way.

Our way consisted of several trips over the same couple of miles of the Thames. A stretch, by now well known to us. Whether loved I leave open.  Our efforts over the last few weeks have resulted in us now resembling a crew of rowers. The blades going into the water and coming out at the same time.  In Out In Out. The sound of John Snagg resonates in my ears. That was true until the young Turks decided that they wanted to see  if they could row the boat  at  10 miles an hour.  On that  occasion I was the cox. “On the Stroke” I call.  “3,2,1 Row “ I shout in a fair imitation of the Great  British Bake Off.  Away we went the boat almost shuddering with the strain. Looked impressive for about five strokes and then the timing went a little awry. As the timing went awry  so the water  was splashed. The rowers and cox got  wet and the Thames placid surface became distinctly ruffled. The  Old Man of the Thames  was obviously  unhappy so  we  went to our  more accustomed rhythm and peace descended.

After the session we undid all the good done by retiring to the nearby bar to partake of liquid   refreshment and to do some bonding.

Now to the main event next  Saturday. There is still plenty of time to give if you haven’t and would like to. The address is  www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sbccthamesrow2019. The NSPCC needs the  money which is what this is all about.

Hugh Ellins

20.08 2019

Hugh Ellins – Rowing Down the River….

Hugh Ellins, Associate Solicitor – Commercial

Rowing Down the River

This blog is not about development, planning, green energy, compulsory purchase or CLUEDS.  It is about 8 people over the August Bank Holiday weekend rowing from Lechlade to Teddington Lock in aid of the NSPCC in Swindon.

Some 15 years ago,  the well know ( in Swindon) , Swindon 6 (at that time 8) decided to row the same trip for the same cause.  As this year is the 25th year of fund raising in Swindon for the NSPCC the idea is mooted that we should do it again.  A little seed grew and now some of are doing it again.

Unfortunately, of the original 8 only 4 are still rowing that is Alan Fletcher, Peter Mapson, Michael Shirley and myself.  On this occasion we are being aided by 4 younger men.   That sounds a good idea but as we have found in training it creates it own problems.  We discovered the first problem at the Reading Rowing Club who are not only generously lending us the boat but also through Des Norton giving us a lot of help in training.  Oh yes, we are in training.  The distance is 124 miles which we intend to cover in 3 or 4 days.  That is a serious effort, but we shall do this in relays as the boat only holds 4 and a Cox.

The first problem is that the younger men (the boys) row with a longer stroke than us older men (the gentleman).  Initially this caused us many problems as the oars were going in and out of the water at different times.  Not only was there no passing resemblance to a smoothly operating rowing crew it meant that progress, when there was any,  was not running sleekly through the water but bearing a remarkably resemblance to a car whose timing was out.  Start splutter stop start splutter stop.  We are still not rowing with the style and rhythm of other rowers from the reading Rowing Club all whom seem to make their boats pass serenely by with little or no effort and are a joy to watch.  We are however improving so that we can get to a speed where our trainer on the bank (no he does not have a megaphone nor a bicycle) has to break out to a gentle trot.

Another problem which affects both the boys and the gentleman is getting in and out of the boat.  This is a greater problem for us gentleman.  When we were first introduced to the boat the aforementioned Des gave us clear instructions as to how this was to be achieved most efficiently and safely.  The theory is fine but practice less so.  Not only is there the issue of getting into a boat which is only slightly wider than the rowers then one has to bend into an even smaller area.  The idea is to gently sit on to the sliding seat.  That seat is clearly malignant as it has the knack of never being immediately below you as you go to sit down.  It is always at the end of the runner and where it firmly stays whatever encouragement you offer it.

Getting out has similar issues to which must be added the difficulty of unbending oneself after an hour or two’s rowing.   That results in a stiffening back and lack of mobility.

Then there is the scariest part which is putting the boat back in its resting place.  This consists of lifting it out of the water turning it through 180 degrees and then manoeuvring it over a floating platform up on to the bank then into the boatyard.  The yard is now full of other boats of a similar ilk.  All this has to be done without dropping the damn thing and particularly not the berth below our berth in the rack.   That is because as Des told us on the first occasion, we manoeuvred the boat that it is one of the GB boats.

All this effort is to enable us to accomplish the  row and raise a lot of money for the NSPCC.  If this blog inspires you to make a donation I  will  be delighted.  The donation can be made either by contacting me at Bevirs or by donating via the fundraising web page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising@fbccthamesrow2019

 As the NSPCC says every child who is worth fighting for.

Hugh 01.08.2019

Bevirs Law sponsors NSPCC Thames Row

THE NSPCC SWINDON ROWING TEAM  –  “COTSWOLDS TO CAPITAL”

24 – 26 AUGUST 2019 – Rowing 124 miles from Lechlade to Teddington

Bevirs are pleased to announce their sponsorship of this amazing challenge, helping raise money for the NSPCC.

Hugh Ellins, a Solicitor in our commercial team, is taking part in the challenge and will blog the trials and tribulations of training and competing in the challenge. Some 15 years ago Hugh Ellins was one of the original crew that decided to row the same trip for the same cause.  As this year is the 25th year of fund raising in Swindon for the NSPCC they decided they should do it again!

In 1992 the NSPCC recognised the need for a physical centre in Swindon to help local children and their families suffering the consequences of child abuse. At that time, although there had been an Inspector based in the town for over 100 years, there was no building in which to provide these services and NSPCC could not afford to establish such a unit without local funding.

In response some local businessmen and women formed a support group called “Swindon Business Cares for Children” which raised sufficient money in a year to purchase and equip a house which was officially opened as a Child Protection Centre by Princess Margaret in November 1993. 

Since then the Centre has continued to provide services to help children and their families to recover from the impact of abuse. The team works with children who have suffered from all types of abuse which includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect and those who have experienced domestic violence. 

The level of demand for the services of the Centre has grown dramatically over the years and over 800 children and adults were helped last year. Regrettably this trend continues and, due to the inevitable financial constraints, there is a waiting list of children in need of the services available at the Centre.

Swindon Business Cares for Children continues to raise money to support the running of the Centre and since its inception has raised over £850,000. In 2005 the group rowed from Lechlade to Teddington raising over £17,000 and this year’s row is designed to replicate that event with four of the original team plus four of the “next generation” of fundraisers. To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Centre SBCC is committed to raising £25,000 to support the work undertaken there and this Thames Row is part of that fundraising effort.

We would encourage anyone to help support this challenge by donating via their fundraising webpage at:

https:// www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sbccthamesrow2019

Calne Bike Meet 27 July 2019

We are pleased to announce that we are once again supporting Calne Bike Meet following on from its success last year. Calne Bike Meet will take place on Saturday 27th July 2019.

Calne Bike Meet started life as Calne Motorcycle Meet and was the brain child of two local motorcycle enthusiasts and two Rotarians back in the year 2000.

The basic idea was to bring trade to the town and to “put Calne on the map”. The first year started small with just a few bike clubs and some private motorcyclists attending but that soon changed as word got around.

Just 4 years later in 2004 the event had grown with vintage, classic and veteran bikes coming in large numbers. Then there were the specialised clubs like Bath Classics, BSA, classic Japanese, BMW, Virago, Royal Enfield and many more, suffice to say, that every make and style of motorcycle comes to Calne in their thousands on the last Saturday of July every year and attracts many more thousands of spectators, filling the town centre for the whole day.

Now it has fulfilled its original aim and certainly put Calne on the map, as people come from all over the country, with some arriving from the continent. The main reason for this success is the fact that it is based in the town centre and is the only free event of its kind in the country, and the bikers are made to feel welcome.

This year, we wish, not only to sponsor, but once again participate in the days events. This will include volunteering as well as having a tombola to raise money which will offer some fantastic prizes .

This year we hope to raise some funds for Headway www.headway.org.uk. A Charity that we work closely with. The Bevirs Law Team will also be available for any questions you may have. 

For the further information, please take a look at the website https://www.calnebikemeet.com