Tag Archives: law

Welsh legal firm sees rise in family law cases despite drop in national divorce rate

THE cost-of-living crisis, fewer marriages and a more settled period following the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to a decrease in divorces in the UK.

But long-term, latest ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures revealing there were 80,057 divorces – down from 113,505 in 2021 – may not point towards family bliss, according to family law solicitors.

The ONS says the numbers may have been affected by the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act, which came into effect in April 2022 and introduced new mandatory waiting periods at important stages, and other changes including allowing couples to end a partnership jointly, and the removal of fault-based grounds for divorce.

The cost implications also played a role, according to many in the sector, though Jade Liptrot – a Solicitor at Mackenzie Jones Solicitors, based in St Asaph, Chester, and Menai Bridge – says anyone concerned should explore their options.

“A wide range of factors have impacted on the figures, and of course it looks very positive to see divorce rates in the UK fall,” said Jade.

“That said, staying together for purely economic reasons will no doubt put a strain on the family unit.

“Divorce and relationship breakdowns can be a trying time without having to worry about the financial and legal complications which often go with it, which is why we are focused on providing sensitive care and support.

“We have seen an upturn in people contacting us since the turn of the year, as some have delayed commencing proceedings because of the perceived cost, which is the feedback we are hearing from other practices nationally.”

She added: “Our team have years of experience and are experts in this field, having assisted hundreds of couples across North Wales and beyond for more than two decades.

“This also includes matters such as pre-marital agreements and agreements for couples who live together outside of marriage, so if anyone is worried or unsure about how to proceed, please get in touch.”

The ONS also said the higher number of divorces and dissolutions granted in 2021 may partially reflect delays in the number and timing of divorces granted during 2020 because of disruption in family Court activity during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The lower number of divorces in 2022 may partially reflect the introduction of new minimum waiting periods, meaning that divorces applied for after April 6 that year may take longer to reach final order.

In 2022, there were 78,759 opposite-sex divorces, which is a decrease of 29.6% from 2021 and 23.1% from 2020 divorces.

Same-sex divorces also decreased, to 1,298 in 2022, a decrease of 17.4% compared with 1,571 same-sex divorces in 2021, the first year there was a decrease since the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2014.

For more information and for help and advice, visit www.macjones.com or call 0800 328 4466.

Alternatively, follow Mackenzie Jones Solicitors on Facebook and LinkedIn at @macjoneslaw.

Laytons ETL’s John Gavan hands compliance baton to disputes partner Ben Thorogood

The City of London-based international law firm Laytons ETL has appointed partner Ben Thorogood as its new Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP). Mr Thorogood takes over from partner John Gavan, who held the role from its inception 11 years ago.

As COLP, Mr Thorogood will be responsible for ensuring Laytons ETL’s compliance with the terms of its authorisation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and for ensuring that the firm, its managers, employees and interest holders comply with any SRA regulations which apply to them.

Ben Thorogood joined Silverman Sherliker, which merged with Laytons in 2017, as a paralegal in 2012. He trained with the firm, qualifying in 2015, and was appointed a partner at Laytons ETL in 2022.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Thorogood said, “I am grateful for the immense contribution made by John Gavan during his tenure as COLP.

“I am committed to providing the firm, and those engaged within it, with the support required to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards, and to maintain an effective and dynamic legal practice.”

The firm’s previous Compliance Office for Legal Practice, John Gavan, is stepping back to focus on his practice which spans the firm’s corporate, employment and tax groups. A former main board director of a FTSE 350 company, and previous chairman and managing partner of Laytons, Mr Gavan has advised both employers and employees on share incentive schemes for over 30 years, and specialises in matters where corporate law, corporate governance, employment law, and tax interact.

His tenure as COLP spanned the pandemic, and the associated challenges of adapting compliance procedures to new remote working practices, and, in 2021, the firm’s integration into the international professional services group, ETL Global.

Mr Gavan said, “It has been an honour to serve as Laytons’ first Compliance Officer for Legal Compliance, and to play my part in maintaining, through one of the most turbulent periods in post-war history, the exemplary professional standards for which our firm is known.

“I can’t think of anyone better than Ben to take over the role and I am sure he will be more than capable of tackling whatever challenges may come his way as the world changes, working practices continue to evolve, and the regulation of our profession adapts accordingly.”

Michael Kashis, Managing Partner CEO at Laytons ETL, said, “’After 11 years of dedicated service, since the role was introduced, John Gavan will be stepping down from the role of Compliance Officer for Legal Practice. We are deeply grateful for John’s unwavering commitment and invaluable contributions to ensuring our compliance and upholding the highest legal standards.

“Ben Thorogood brings a wealth of experience and a strong understanding of compliance requirements to this position. We are confident that Ben as COLP will continue to uphold our firm’s standards of excellence and integrity in this new capacity.”

Expanding law practice issues warning as almost half of UK adults yet to write a Will

ALMOST half of adults in the UK have not written a will.  

A report by the National Will Register also revealed 42% have not spoken to anyone about what should happen to their estate upon their death.

This is a growing issue nationwide, which is why Mackenzie Jones Solicitors – based in St Asaph, Menai Bridge and Chester – has added prominent Wills and Probate lawyer Matthew Skeels to its award-winning team.

Originally from Pembrokeshire and now living in Wirral – an area where the company has experienced growth in past months – the University of Chester graduate urged people to consider making a will and securing a Power of Attorney document for peace of mind.

“The most important aspect of doing so is the security of knowing your family and loved ones will receive your property or possessions and be cared for financially,” said Matthew, who has worked in the sector for more than a decade.

“But also, to help you avoid probate or any conflict and to make plans for the future. That applies to Power of Attorney as well, so that if you were to become ill or unable to work, or unable to make medical or ‘life’ decisions for yourself, someone else you trust and arrange for can make them for you.

“To see such a large percentage of the population do not have these safeguards in place is quite alarming given how family dynamics and demographics have changes over the generations, so we encourage people to get in touch, even just for advice and guidance so we can point you in the right direction.”

He added: “Being part of the growing team at Mackenzie Jones is fantastic, and with my contacts and presence in the North West that’s an area we will be focusing on over the coming years, in all areas of the business.”

The National Will Register report – published in 2023 – also found just 25% of adults have made a “life folder” with will details enclosed and told someone about it; 49% of respondents said their parents had never discussed instructions or details of a will either.

For those who have not made a will, two in five said that they had not got around to making one yet, while almost a third felt they did not have enough to warrant making a will.

Among over 55s, three in 10 have not spoken to anyone on the subject and half of those are unlikely to in the future – a figure that increases to 58% across all age groups.

For more information, visit www.macjones.com or call 0800 328 4466.

Alternatively, follow Mackenzie Jones Solicitors on Facebook and LinkedIn at @macjoneslaw.

City centre move leads to expansion and new commercial clients for law firm

A CITY centre move led to expansion and clients across new commercial sectors for an acclaimed law practice.

Mackenzie Jones Solicitors – based in St Asaph, Menai Bridge and a recently opened base in Grosvenor Street, Chester – is attracting business in a wide range of industries.

The firm is representing opticians, care homes, holiday parks and more from its North West office and now planning to take on a paralegal to meet demand, having recruited a Wills and Probate lawyer in past weeks.

Director Andrew Foley Jones said relocation and growth in the team will help service territories which have increased “significantly” in the last 12 months.

“Opening in Chester and then moving to larger, more central premises across the city was a result of the huge amount of interest and feedback we’ve received in multiple industries, particularly those purchasing or selling businesses,” said Andrew.

“We’ve represented some major organisations but also independent retailers and hospitality firms looking to expand, and our own growth has aligned with that.

“As a result, we have taken on new staff and will require more, particularly on the administrative side.”

Among those to call upon the support of Mackenzie Jones in recent times were the Jaunty Goat coffee empire; the Livingston family when brokering the multi-million pound sale of Morfa Lodge Holiday Park in Dinas Dinlle, near Caernarfon, and a number of traders moving from Chester Market to the neighbouring £72m Northgate Project development.

Now employing more than 30 people, fellow director Sara Parry believes the company will continue to rise in 2024.

“We have seen more and more walk-ins since the move and being more prominent in this busy location has put us front and centre in people’s minds, given the thousands of cars and pedestrians that pass by every day,” she said.

“And that hasn’t just been in Chester and North Wales, we have more and more calls coming in from across the UK, which is heartening.

“Commercial activity has increased significantly but we’ve also seen that in other areas of the company, including wills and probate and conveyancing, so it’s an incredibly busy time for us.”

The firm, listed in the prestigious Legal 500 rankings, is also exploring plans to open another office in north west Wales.

For more information, visit www.macjones.com or call 0800 328 4466.

Alternatively, follow Mackenzie Jones Solicitors on Facebook and LinkedIn at @macjoneslaw.

Barnes Law founder joins Future Female Entrepreneur scheme to support next generation of talented female lawyers

Yulia Barnes, founder and managing partner of boutique Mayfair law firm, Barnes Law, has joined the Two Chicks ‘Future Female Entrepreneur’ scheme to help inspire the next generation of talented female lawyers.

Yulia, who founded Barnes Law in 2019, is providing mentorship to a number of graduate lawyers, helping them navigate the early stages of their careers and realise their true potential in the field.

The Future Female Entrepreneur scheme was launched by food business, Two Chicks, in 2022, to support entrepreneurial young women by helping them build confidence and establish connections.

It gives them the opportunity to spend a day with an established female entrepreneur who has created her own business, and applicants receive guidance on future goals and insight into creating and running a business.

Yulia Barnes, founder and managing partner of Barnes Law, said: “The most recent data collected by the Solicitors Regulation Authority [SRA] in 2021 shows there is a still significant underrepresentation of women at senior levels in the law profession, with only 35% of partners being female.

“I’m therefore proud to be a part of the Two Chicks Future Female Entrepreneur scheme to champion young women in the legal industry and help them progress on their career paths.

“I know from personal experience the challenges women can face in the legal profession. I hope that by participating in the scheme, I can play my part in paving the way to true equality in the practice.”

Lucy Wooldridge, mentee, final year student of LLB Law at Cardiff University and founder of Lolli Lifting, said: “Having witnessed first-hand that only a minority of women are sat in high positions at many law firms, as men continue to dominate the top roles, I truly admire Yulia as founder and leader of Barnes Law.

“As a law student going into my final year at university, I feel very empowered and motivated by Yulia’s journey, to know that I too can reach high positions through working hard and dedicating my mind to it.”

Situated in the heart of Mayfair, Barnes Law is a leading commercial and corporate law practice, which works closely with businesses of all sizes – from multi-national corporations through to ambitious and fast-growing start-ups – with a key specialism in litigation and property law.

Law firm opens new city centre office to meet demand in the North West

A PROMINENT legal practice expanded its North West operation to meet demand.

Mackenzie Jones Solicitors has increased its Chester-based team to eight staff and opened a new two-storey office on Grosvenor Street in the heart of the city.

Director Andrew Foley-Jones said growth across the company’s portfolio – including its sites in St Asaph and Menai Bridge – led to the business relocating to bigger premises.

And with Mackenzie Jones now employing up to 30 people that trend looks set to continue into 2024.

“We have seen a rise in clients across all areas, and with us taking on more staff there was a need for a larger office here in Chester,” said Andrew.

“The change has also allowed us to forge new partnerships and relationships in Cheshire and across the wider region, given our rising profile in the North West, built on the foundations we’ve laid in Wales over the last two decades.”

He added: “On the commercial and commercial property sides, the sale and purchase of businesses, as well as conveyancing, clinical negligence, divorce and wills and probate, we have seen an increase in demand and more walk-ins given the busy location.

“Since opening in Chester we have had a warm welcome and strategically it’s been a very positive decision, so thanks to everyone who has shown us so much support.”

Fellow director and solicitor Sara Parry says the larger site will allow them to better serve clients nationwide.

“We are seeing an increase in enquiries from all over the country, notably on the commercial side,” she said.

“It’s been an incredibly busy year and this switch across the city to a fantastic building in a prime location will help us to capitalise on that.”

The firm, again listed in the prestigious Legal 500 rankings, is also exploring plans to open another office in north west Wales.

For more information, visit www.macjones.com or call 0800 328 4466.

Alternatively, follow Mackenzie Jones Solicitors on Facebook and LinkedIn at @macjoneslaw.

North Wales and Chester law firm strengthens position in illustrious Legal 500 rankings

MACKENZIE Jones Solicitors has strengthened its position in the illustrious Legal 500 rankings.

The law firm, based in St Asaph, Menai Bridge and Chester, held its Personal Injury (PI) listing and had Clinical Negligence included for the first time.

Directors Anna Mills-Morgan and Richard Jones were lauded for their commitment to clients and customer service.

The Legal 500 is an independently researched survey broken down by location and practice area. For almost 35 years it has been analysing the capabilities of legal practices globally, assessing strengths based on a series of criteria.

There were less than 15 Welsh firms in each of the two categories, an astonishing achievement.

“We are really pleased to have retained and improved upon our Legal 500 position,” said Anna.

“It’s down to the hard work of the team, who are always striving to provide clients with the best possible support and advice.

“For that to now be recognised in two areas is a privilege, we will keep working hard to build on that in the future.”

Richard added: “The positive responses we’ve received were heartening, and testament to the standards we have set in dealing with PI and Clinical Negligence cases.

“We would like to thank everyone who took part in the survey for their feedback.”

In the Clinical Negligence section, the listing read: “The firm has a unique position to support their clients in this area, and especially to support Welsh speaking clients.”

“Anna Mills Morgan has a very good working relationship with her clients and maintains frequent contact. Her knowledge was second-to-none and she knew who to use as her support to bring the case to a favourable conclusion.”

The Personal Injury listing was equally commendable, stating: “Mackenzie Jones Solicitors have a unique position to support their clients in the area, especially for their Welsh speaking clients. I know that their clients do search for this.”

“Anna Mills Morgan went up and above any customer expectations I have experienced in any customer service industry. She kept us up to date during every stage of the claim which at times was very frustrating in the six years it took to conclusion.”

For more information on the Legal 500 rankings, visit www.legal500.com.

For more on Mackenzie Jones Solicitors, visit www.macjones.com or call 0800 328 4466.

Alternatively, follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn at @macjoneslaw.

Devastated parents of baby who died in hospital care fearful other families affected by ‘systemic failings’ of NHS Trust

THE devastated parents of a baby who died following a traumatic birth in hospital care are fearful other families may have lost children due to the “systemic failings” of an NHS Trust.

Sarah Robinson and Ryan Lock, from Morecambe, were left heartbroken following the death of seven-day old Ida at Royal Preston Hospital in November 2019.

Ida was born a week earlier at Royal Lancaster Infirmary, and despite mistakes made during and after her birth – including failures during resuscitation – University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust carried out an internal investigation and deemed there were no care delivery issues.

The Trust did not involve the family in the investigation and failed to notify the Coroners’ Court despite being advised to do so by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) in April 2020.

After failing to secure answers, Sarah and Ryan – with the support of Anna Mills-Morgan, a clinical negligence specialist and director at Mackenzie Jones Solicitors, based in North Wales and Chester – were forced to contact Senior Coroner Dr James Adeley themselves, who has now ordered a full inquest to be held next February as the Trust finally accepted care delivery issues.

Mr Lock said: “Anna and the team at Mackenzie Jones have been unbelievable from the day we approached them with our issues.

“This has been a very difficult journey to deal with, though with Anna’s compassion and diligence we now have the support we need to find the answers we deserve.

“Any other parents who are sadly suffering following maternity care issues like us should get in touch with them.”

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust were heavily criticised in 2015 in a report prepared by Dr Bill Kirkup, who stated there was ‘major failure at every level’ in maternity and neonatal services’ between 2004 and 2013, following the deaths of 11 babies and one mother.

He made more than 40 recommendations but after further scandals in Shrewsbury, East Kent and Nottingham, Dr Kirkup admitted earlier this year they had failed to ‘stop the recurring cycle of catastrophes’ in NHS maternity units.

At a pre-inquest held in Preston, Dr Adeley revealed that he could not recall any perinatal deaths having been reported to him and ordered a full and detailed and transparent investigation fully involving the family.

He added: “It appears to be an ongoing continuum from matters identified in Kirkup that are again replayed in this case, with distinct similarities. The information I am going to want from the Trust is going to be very extensive.”

Mrs Mills-Morgan, representing Miss Robinson and Mr Lock, said more babies and families could have been impacted over the years due to “systemic failings” at the Trust.

“The Trust knew there had been failings as early as April 2020 when the HSIB produced their report, and that it was very clear that they should have reported Ida’s case to the coroner, but they didn’t,” she said.

“That is a worry because how many other cases are there out there where the coroner hasn’t been notified?

“The hospital’s own internal investigation said there had been no problems. We also reported the case to the Care Quality Commission, but they did nothing.

“Instead, it was left to Sarah and Ryan to fight to make the Trust accountable for Ida’s death – that is totally wrong. Their case is evidence that little has changed since the Kirkup Report in 2015. What is the point of all these regulatory bodies and reports if they don’t make a difference?”

She added: “There are massive gaps in accountability in the NHS. Parents and families shouldn’t be the ones forcing action, hospital managers must be held accountable.

“If anyone reading this has any questions or concerns about their own situation, please get in touch, because there are undoubtedly going to be other parents and families affected by these findings.”

For more information, visit www.macjones.com or call 0800 328 4466. Alternatively, follow Mackenzie Jones Solicitors on Facebook and LinkedIn at @macjoneslaw.

Summer of growth as leading law firm continues North West expansion

SUMMER is a time for growth and development at a leading law firm.

Mackenzie Jones Solicitors is recruiting staff after a busy start to the year, with vacancies for a litigation secretary, private client solicitor and secretary, having recently welcomed a new conveyancer, legal assistant, and graduate paralegal.

Several members of the team are also progressing with legal qualifications and working towards promotion at the firm – based in St Asaph, Menai Bridge and Chester – which again secured the Law Society’s Lexcel Accreditation for Excellence in Legal Practice Management and Client Care.

Among them is Wendy Tinkler, from Rhyl, currently studying for a Level 4 Diploma to qualify as a Conveyancing Technician.

Wendy joined the company in 2016 after many years in the hospitality industry and thanked Mackenzie Jones for inspiring her to reach the next level.

“I saw a role for a legal secretary and decided a change of career would be good for me, and from there my interest in the sector has grown and grown,” said Wendy, supported by partner Gareth, from Mold.

“Over the last seven years I’ve worked in conveyancing and more recently on the commercial side, but I see my future as a conveyancing technician.

“I’m studying online for a Level 4, then hope to move on to a Level 6 and go on to achieve that dream. I love the role I’m in but was keen to push myself and ultimately it will be beneficial for the business as well.”

She added: “The company has really backed me to do this, as they do with all the staff here; they want us to develop and progress, there is a culture of advocacy and encouragement and I’m so grateful for that.

“I’m looking forward to spending my time between St Asaph and Chester and helping the company as it continues to expand into the North West and North Wales.”

With a workforce approaching 30 people, and several of the team in the process of completing CPD (Continuing Professional Development) programmes, Director Anna Mills Morgan said they will continue to back employees keen to embrace personal and professional growth.

“Wendy and colleagues are working really hard to develop their skills and progress with us, which in turn makes Mackenzie Jones a stronger organisation,” she added.

“As demand for our services continues to rise, notably in conveyancing and the commercial arena, we hope to see even more of our team follow their lead and look to take the next step in their careers – we will certainly support them.”

For more information, visit www.macjones.com or call 0800 328 4466. Alternatively, follow Mackenzie Jones Solicitors on Facebook and LinkedIn at @macjoneslaw.

Lawyer set for his own Hollywood ending with new Wrexham AFC novel

A NOVEL charting the rollercoaster rise of Wrexham AFC could be set for its own Hollywood ending.

It’s Always Sunny in Wrexham appeals to the club’s growing global fanbase and is a captivating, at times crazy, tale of a fanatical fan who wakes from a 10-year coma to find the Red Dragons are now under the stewardship of two A-list superstars.

Featuring a host of well-known local characters, former players, and world-famous actors – Hugh Jackman is now chairman of arch-rivals FC Romans of Chester – the book was written by Andrew Foley Jones and is already capturing the imagination of readers the world over, in the same way the football team has since the arrival of owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Andrew, who hails from Prestatyn, said interest is building in the story on both sides of the Atlantic ahead of his beloved Wrexham’s return to the Football League.

“A lot of ideas are being discussed which are very exciting and I’m in talks about turning this into a screenplay, so it could also end up with a Hollywood twist!” said the dad-of-two.

“It’s a blend of fact and fiction which has gone down a storm in the UK, the US, and other parts of the world.

“I hope is resonates with our die-hard supporters as there were plenty of references to past players, matches and managers; combining that with an off-the-wall narrative that loosely follows the reality of the past three years – which itself is hard to believe! –   it has made for a fun, at times emotional and serious, novel that I’m very proud of.”

Written in the first person, it’s the ultimate underdog story with some very real and true facts thrown in. The time Andrew had to persuade a Mexican on a plane to Qatar that he wasn’t striker Paul Mullin, or when he played in a Mickey Thomas testimonial due to mistaken identity.

The anecdotes come thick and fast, there are twists and turns and as many highs and lows as the club itself has endured, but most importantly of all, it pulls at the heartstrings while tickling the funny bone to the point of fracture.

“I’ve supported Wrexham AFC for almost 45 years, so while my desire to write it was piqued by the takeover and long days spent in lockdown during the pandemic, it’s always been there,” said Andrew, a director of Mackenzie Jones Solicitors, who represented the previously fan-owned club for a number of years pre-takeover and was on the legal team when the acquisition took place in 2021.

“The concept of a man who woke up in 2030 from a coma without any memory of his life beforehand was based on an idea I was previously writing about, and it became the engine for a flurry of weird and wonderful ideas which I managed to weave into something tangible.

“This isn’t a textbook about life, or football or even Wrexham AFC. There are plenty of publications out there which tell such stories much better than I ever could. This is my personal version, reflection, anecdote, memory, history, and ultimately a prediction of the future.

He added: “The rest is fiction, and there’s some surreal stuff in there, stuff to do with politics, popular culture, how society might change over the coming years, alien invasions, Joe Wicks becoming Prime Minister, assassinations, world wars,  but then it’s set in the future so given the unreal, impossible series of events which has taken place since Ryan and Rob arrived at the Racecourse it might not be too far away from reality.”

There’s also a nod towards Artificial Intelligence and how it might shape the future, and interestingly, when Andrew entered a synopsis of the book into an AI app, it threw this out as its summary of the novel:

‘Enter a mind-bending time capsule to the year 2030: a football club’s quest for unlikely glory entwines with a world transforming beyond belief. Explore a captivating and hilarious journey that will spark your curiosity and challenge your imagination. Ultimately, without any spoilers, the rise over the rest of the decade of Wrexham through the league pyramid to the brink of the premier league is a metaphor that anything can happen, that things can get better and that sometimes, fact is weirder than fiction, the underdog can have its day.’

“I hope people like it because it’s positive, it’s good news and what has happened to the football club I have been so devoted to over the decades is amazing, it’s hard to believe after the many lows of this century, from nearly going bust to selling the ground and more,” said Andrew.

“The only way is up, for the fans, the team and given the response I’ve had so far, It’s Always Sunny in Wrexham.”

The book is available as on Amazon Kindle and as a paperback on Amazon.