Excellence in Law awarded to local Year 13 Student from Royal Wootton Bassett

Last night Sonyia Woolnough, of Bevirs Law, attended Royal Wootton Bassett High School to present the ‘Excellence in Law’ award which Bevirs sponsor annually.

Congratulations to Emily Howse who won the award this year. Emily is a current Year 13 student studying BTEC Applied Law, Applied Business and BTEC Engineering. She is applying for University and plans to study Law at either Exeter or Worcester.

Her Law teachers had the following to say:

“She has been an exemplary student – amazing hard work displayed by her through the course of the whole year which was shown through her amazing grade in her exam in Year 12 and her coursework. Really conscientious student. “- Anthony Matthews

“I would like to add that she is an excellent role model, a real team player with a mature attitude to her studies.” – Georgina King

We look forward to working alongside Emily who, after invitation, plans to do some work experience with Bevirs in her gap year.

We look forward to having you Emily!

Blog – December 2018 – Renewables are coming of age

Blog – December 2018 – Renewables are coming of age

The UK may be in all sorts of muddle over Brexit with the country split, the Tory party split and the Labour party apparently playing a political game, but, at least, in one area we seem to be making progress. The sources of production of electricity is shifting more and more towards renewable sources. In the second quarter of 2018 31.7% of the total generated electricity came from renewable sources. On one day, 9th April, 26.25% of the total energy demand was supplied by solar and, when the other renewable sources were taken into account, the amount so supplied amounted to 46.989%.

There is political will for the use of renewables and that, coupled with the difficulties associated with the construction of nuclear power stations and the dealing with the waste produced, makes me say “renewables are coming of age”.

Added to that there is the forecast for consumption of electricity which is that it will substantially increase from about 2025. That increase will be largely be fuelled by the increase in the use of electric vehicles. If such forecast is correct then the electricity will either have to be produced in the UK or imported. In some ways, the importation of electricity is the easiest method as it overcomes the problems of (A) the withdrawal of support mechanisms such as the feed in tariff and (B) local opposition to the infrastructure needed for the production of electricity, (C) availability of grid connection and (D) the possible push toward nuclear (which now seems unlikely in a reasonable timescale), fracking or interconnectors. Even if those threats have an adverse effect on the renewables market, it will continue to grow.

Coupled to that growth will be the need to store the produced electricity. One disadvantage of renewables is that the electricity cannot only be produced when it is needed. Regretfully, the wind does not blow, nor the sun shine, to order.

This will lead to a growth in the market for electricity storage facilities which can be large or small scale. There are a variety of ways of becoming involved in that market but, for most people, the commonest and easiest is where there is an option for the operator to take a lease on an area of land which is exercised if the operator obtains the necessary planning permission.

Usually, there is considerable pressure from the operator to get the documentation signed. Some operators even try to make the landowners sign without having proper advice from a surveyor, as to whether the proposed deal is financially reasonable and the general terms acceptable, or a lawyer, to advise as to whether the landowner has proper protection in respect of ensuring payment of rent, indemnity against claims or decommissioning of the site. That is not a complete list of what the surveyor and the lawyer should be considering.

There is one other area to consider which is whether the erection of a battery storage system will reduce the value of the surrounding land. Most short-term operating reserve systems (STOR) will sterilise future residential development within 30 metres radius. That is something in the region of 75 acres or 30 hectares. The effect on the value of the retained land is therefore significant. Taking a pessimistic value of residential land in this area the loss of value is likely to be in the region of £45 million. The siting of a storage facility must, therefore, be carefully considered even before the landowner becomes involved in the niceties of the documentation.

To summarise, I do see an increase in the number of operators knocking on landowners’ doors and the need for those landowners to be properly advised to ensure that the proposed transaction properly reflects what is on offer in the marketplace and that the potential value of their retained land is not significantly adversely affected.

Hugh Ellins

Meet the Family Team at Bevirs Law

Meet the Family team:


The Family department consists of 2 teams:  child care and matrimonial (divorce/ separation/ finance/ children).  We have 3 Partners, 3 Solicitors, 2 trainee legal executives and we are ably supported by 4 secretaries.

We are a very busy department all based in our Swindon branch at Regent Circus.  Stuart McNeil is the Senior Partner and head of the matrimonial team.  He has spent the entirety of his legal career at Bevirs Law having joined as a trainee solicitor in 1982 before becoming a Partner in 1988.  Stuart is supported by Michelle Bowyer and Heather Riley both Solicitors.

Kathryn Locke is our second longest serving department member.  She heads the care team and has worked for Bevirs Law for 16 years becoming a Partner in 2006 and she is supported by Rebecca Scammel, Partner, Claire Webb, Solicitor and Michelle Godwin and Emily Clayton who are trainee legal executives.

Between us we have 10 children and 5 grandchildren, 3 of us are vegetarians and we have a fanatical lover of guinea pigs in the team as well as a political activist and charity worker.  We are golfers, horse riders, tennis players and runners as well as practicing yoga, Pilates and meditation.

The team have a combined total of 95 years post qualification experience and share a passion for helping to guide our clients through some of their most personally challenging times and we do so with skill, compassion and empathy.

Working with you, not just for you.



Good Divorce Week


As Resolution’s annual campaign for a change in the law to include an option for a no-fault divorce has come to an end for 2018 we reflect on the key messages.

Conflict can have serious long-term effects on children and studies have shown that it’s not the separation or the divorce that has an impact but rather the conflict stemming from it that often has a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.

Divorce is always difficult but having to show fault can increase the conflict between the couple and make it more difficult to sort out child and financial arrangements.

Facts: Divorce in England and Wales

  • There are over 100,000 divorces in England and Wales each year;
  • Behaviour is the most common fact used for opposite-sex divorce (52%) and same -sex divorce (83% among women, 73% among men);
  • A National opinion survey showed only 29% of respondents to a fault divorce said that the Fact used very closely matched the reason for the separation.

What Resolution members think of the current law:

  • 90% say the current law makes it harder to reduce conflict between ex-partners;
  • 67% say the current law makes it harder for separated parents to reach agreements;
  • 80% feel the introduction of no-fault divorce would help separating couples reach an agreement out of court.


Bevirs entry into The Christmas Tree Festival at St Bartholomew and All Saints Church, Royal Wootton Bassett

Christmas Tree Festival at St Bartholomew’s Church!


This year Bevirs participated in the Christmas Tree Festival at St Bartholomew and All Saints Church in Royal Wootton Bassett. 39 Local businesses participated in the festival and the Church looked beautiful all lit up with so much colour.

We had such fun creating the decorations for this tree using all recycled  documents and paperwork from the office. Our staff in the Royal Wootton Bassett office did a great job. Our tree was called ‘The Reinvention Tree’.

All funds raised from the festival went to Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the Church.

Meet the team at Bevirs Law:

Meet the team at Bevirs Law:

We have 7 Partners who manage 40 staff and work in 7 different teams: business and commercial; property; family; care; litigation; private client (wills and probate); and employment. The partnership consists of 4 male (57%) and 3 female (43%) partners.

Our fee earning staff are made up of 33% men and 66% women and work from our 3 offices located in Royal Wootton Bassett, Swindon and Calne. We can come to you if you are unable to come to us.

We are parents, grandparents and dedicated animal owners with 51 between us (16 cats, 13 dogs, 4 horses, 1 parrot,1 rabbit, 4 guinea pigs, 2 hamsters and 10 chickens not to mention lots of fish).

We have been advising individuals and businesses in Wiltshire and beyond since 1885 and between us all, we have over 405 years post qualification legal experience.

We are proud to work with you, not just for you.

Town and village greens

Hugh Ellins on town and village greens

As those who read this blog regularly will have realised, my principal interest relates to development matters.  This is not only because I find the issues arising in the negotiations relating to options, conditional contracts and promotion agreements intellectually interesting but because whether we like the idea of more housing this has to be achieved.  There are not enough dwellings for us all to occupy.   How this is to be achieved raises interesting and serious social issues.  We have to find ways of constructing dwellings in areas where either people want to live or where the government would like us to live.  That involves a variety of issues – some technical and some social.  For example, if the government wishes to encourage industry to go to deprived areas then the relevant infrastructure to enable that industry to supply its market must be put in place.  However, the creation of the infrastructure may itself lead to increased pollution through increased traffic. 

 As a result of this interest one of the areas of law over which I keep a watchful eye relates to town and village greens.  The reason for this is that applications in respect of such greens are used as a method of stopping or delaying development.  The power to use such applications in a negative way was restricted by David Cameron’s government which, in my view, was one of his better decisions.  Certainly, a better decision than his decision to make an announcement that he would like to return to politics because he is bored and would like to be Foreign Secretary.  That puts me in mind of Peter Cook as Mr Misty saying “I think I will go judging”.  But, enough said on that as I am meant to be discussing town and village green applications. 

 There has been a recent decision in the Court of Appeal relating to greens where the Court of Appeal seems to have reached a pragmatic and sensible decision.  For those of a legal bent the case is TW Logistics Limited v Essex County Council & Tucker.

 In outline, the case revolved around the use of a quayside area over which members of the public were claiming recreational rights.  The owners had fenced off the area which was a working quayside because of the risk of employees and others falling into water.  Initially, the County Court following a public enquiry registered the quayside as a town or village green based in its use by local residents over 20 years.  The activities that were claimed were:  swan feeding, crabbing and recreational walking with or without dogs.

 The owners were claiming:

  1.  that the recreational use was being enjoyed by an implied authority which could, therefore, be removed.
  2. that the registration of the quayside would effectively criminalise the landowners’ commercial activities and that this should be taken into account by the registration authority.

Firstly, the Court of Appeal was not persuaded by the argument about implied authority based on the concept that an implied permission to negate the prospect of rights does not exist in law.  The Court noted the difference between a permission which required positive action on the part of the landowner and the mere tolerance of use.

Secondly, the Court of Appeal was not convinced by the criminalisation argument.  The landowner would continue to have the right to use the land in the manner to which it had been previously used provided that this was not incompatible with the public’s recreational use.  On the facts the Court held that this was correct in this case and that this should be taken into account in reaching the decision. 

The thrust of the argument appears to be that the use by the landowner must not be incompatible with the use of those seeking recreational rights.  This means that not only can pre-existing use, prior to registration as a green, continue but if the provided future use is not incompatible then the use can be changed.  In this case the registration was upheld. 

There is an interesting side point which does not come out of the case to which I have referred but which relates to signage.  To try and protect against people successfully claiming rights over land many owners use signs:

(a)        either to indicate that the land is private, and/or;

(b)        no authority is given for the recreational use, or;

(c)        that the recreational use is by specific permission. 

This is a part of the armoury of the landowner, but care must be taken to ensure that the notices are sufficient.  For example, a sign that says “No Fishing” from a particular area will not prohibit other recreational use or fishing from a different area. 

There is a simpler way of protecting land from becoming a town or village green which is to use the provisions of the Commons Act 2006.  To successfully claim a right over land there must, among other points, be established a minimum user period of 20 years.  A statement can be lodged with the Registration Authority that stops the clock on such period.  That deals with historic claims but does not stop new claims building up after the Notice has been served.  This means that the landowner will have to lodge the appropriate notice once every 20 years.

The case to which I was referring demonstrates the proper use of the application for registration of town or village greens which is to protect a genuine recreational facility as distinct from trying to use the legislation purely to prohibit development.

Hugh Ellins – November 2018


Calne Bike Meet Charity Presentation Event

On 17th October, Nick Sewell was asked to attend the Calne Bike Meet AGM and Charity Presentation Event. The event was held at the Spice of Bengal in Calne where the two Charities, Free Wheelers and the Royal British Legion (Calne Branch), received their cheques. 

Freewheelers were presented with a cheque for £4,333.00 which will help them continue to offer their motorcycle courier service. Freewheelers EVS is a registered charity, which offers an out of hours and free of charge courier service to the NHS. For more information about the service they provide please see their website https://www.freewheelers.org.uk/our-service/

The Royal British Legion were also presented with a cheque for £4,333.00 which will also help continue to run the Calne branch of RBL. For further information please see their website https://branches.britishlegion.org.uk/branches/c/calne

It was a real pleasure for Bevirs Law to be involved with the Bike Meet this year and to present these cheques to two very worthy charities was the icing on the cake!