Contentious conveyancing and broader action on NDAs: your letters to the editor

Charity works: support the SBA

I am a now-retired area representative of SBA The Solicitors’ Charity, who for nine years assisted ‘John Amos’ (News Focus, ‘Charity case’, 29 July). John has seen a copy of this letter and he approves of you publishing it.

We are both indebted to the Gazette and Jemma Slingo for reporting John’s experiences. John is extremely grateful for the help and assistance that the SBA continues to give him.

The former chief executive’s sick leave lasted a long time, involving the appointment of two interim CEOs. Nick Gallagher’s appointment as chief executive came in the nick of time. Mr Gallagher has taken immediate steps to quash the board decision to reduce John’s income, accepting that Rowntree Trust formulae were not fully considered. He has ensured that area representatives are able to present cases before the committee or board.

Mr Gallagher is undertaking a review of all aspects of the SBA, including making membership more diverse; adopting an externally focused approach to fundraising; ensuring staff are better trained so their talents are realised; and harnessing the latent skills of area representatives, who have practical experience in the application of welfare benefits.

We live in times of great change and uncertainty. Members of the profession should understand that, through little or no fault of their own, they may require urgent assistance from the SBA. I am aware of instances where the timely intervention of the charity has avoided a solicitor becoming homeless.

Under dynamic leadership, the SBA can now move forward. I call on every firm, from sole practitioner to City giant, to consider how they could support the SBA, and to look out for solicitors, active or retired, who might be in need of assistance.

Peter James Lord

Alfreton, Derbyshire


Searching for a solution in Camden

We are a property firm in Camden, London. This has served us well for many years and we have weathered the recession, HIPs and all the other challenges that solicitors face. The current challenge, though, is the ridiculous amount of time it is taking Camden to issue searches. I applied for one on 13 September and have just been told that I will not get the results until 25 February 2020. This is beyond infuriating. Indemnity insurance is not always a possibility and personal searches are rarely more than a few days quicker. Even searches which are put in when the property goes on the market are being overtaken by a transaction. Is Camden trying to engineer its own localised property recession? Is it trying to win some kind of perverse bet? One of my clients complained to their MP but this did not achieve anything. Can anyone think of anything that can be done to improve this ever-worsening and utterly unworkable situation?

Angela Neale

Partner, head of conveyancing, Comptons Solicitors, London NW1

Heading off confusion

I am a conveyancing solicitor, although the following observations would apply to any discipline.

I totally agree with R M Napier’s comments (‘To whom it may concern’, Feedback, 11 November). If the following are put in the heading of any email, one cannot go wrong (and, once this information has been inserted comprehensively, it can simply be copied and pasted on to another email on the same matter):

1. File no.

2. Your ref:

3. Short matter details.

4. Their ref:

5. Their client name and your client name.

The beauty of stating the file number is two-fold:

a. The accounts department will be able to deal with it (if it needs to).

b. Many client management systems pick up the file number and put the email straight into the relevant client electronic file without the need to drag emails physically into them.

Vipin Adhia

Ilford, Essex

Divorced from reality

In your 28 October issue, two leading lawyers suggested that the stress of divorce would be reduced by people not being required to prove fault. It was suggested that this exacerbated tensions.

This claim has figured for years in debates on divorce but it is detached from the reality of most people. For the majority, what causes anger and tension is the fact that the other party wants a divorce often without what once would have been regarded as good cause. It is this and not the fact that it has to be alleged which is the cause of tension – and requiring people to be silent about such issues will increase tensions, not reduce them.This is another example of how detached from the real world much of family law is.

Adrian Pellman

Pellmans Solicitors, Eynsham, Witney, Oxfordshire

Training pay dismay

The Gazette recently reported that first-year trainees at an international firm are to be paid £48,000. This is a sum that most criminal defence solicitors will never achieve in their career. It is unsurprising that most trainees avoid (legally aided) defence work like the plague.

Nick Wright