View - Kent Law Society
KENT LAW SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
44 members attended the Society’s AGM on 18th May.
Outgoing president Frances Pierce spoke of the great privilege
of representing the Society over the past year, and of the
significant events of the year. She handed on the presidential
baton to Jon Pitt, a solicitor practicing in-house in the printing
industry, from Ashford. Simon Franklin, of Quality Solicitors
Martin Tolhurst in Gravesend, was elected Vice-President. A
new SPC and GPC was voted in - details further down the page.
The AGM was attended by Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the Law
Society Vice-President, who at the close of proceedings
addressed the gathering with great passion of the tasks and
challenges ahead for the profession.
Kent Family Justice
HHJ Jeremy Carey
Roger Cruttenden & Jonathan Smithers,
Law Society Council Member for Kent
Deputy Lord Lieutenant Sir John
MummeryLJ & Lucy Scott-Moncrieff
Deputy Chief Constable Mr Alan Pughsley
& Edwina Milward DJ
Matthew Parden, M.D. of Duncan Lawrie
Private Bank, and HHJ Adele Williams
Anthony Berry QC
“HSBC – all change
Seeds for the Long
News in Brief
The next networking
event will take place at
restaurant, Tonbridge –
details on the website
High Sheriff of Kent Michael Bax & Dina
Henry, Duncan Lawrie Regional Director
The Society will man a
stand at the Tonbridge
‘Skillsfest’ – a careers
event for local schools.
Kent Law Society President Jon Pitt
Past President Kerry Waitt & Wilhelmina
More than 200 guests attended the
Society’s social highlight of the
year, the Dinner Dance which was
held at the Mercure Hotel
Hollingbourne on 18th May. The
new president Jon Pitt hosted the
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent,
Lord Justice Mummery, the High
Sheriff of Kent Mr Michael Bax,
The Deputy Chief Constable Mr
Alan Pughsley, the Vice President of
the Law Society Lucy ScottMoncrieff and other high table
The main speaker, His Honour
Judge Jeremy Carey, Resident Judge
for Maidstone Combined Courts,
spoke of the pressure on the delivery
of legal services and of his
admiration for those of our
profession who manage, against the
odds, to continue to offer help to the
legally underprivileged in our
society. Jon Pitt replied on behalf of
the Society, and then Anthony Berry
QC spoken entertainingly about his
experiences in international criminal
A table magician, Chris Harding,
worked the room during the dinner,
and a prize draw for an iPad 3 raised
£600 for the Pilgrims’ Hospices. In
a break with tradition, dancing was
held in the bar foyer area, which
enabled guests to continue to talk
and mix over coffee in the dining
administrator Roger Cruttenden
organised everything with quiet
Some 20 members and colleagues
attended the latest after-work networking
event, which was held at Zizzi’s in
Maidstone on Thursday 14th June. These
occasions are a great opportunity to meet
other practitioners beyond our own firms
and practices, to share ideas and make
new friends. Taking place between 6.00
and 7.15 pm, they are timed to disrupt
work and family life as little as possible,
but the drinks and nibbles on offer keep
the wolf from the door. There is no charge
for these events.
Zizzi was a good venue, with attentive
service and interesting snacks. The next
event will be in Ashford, at Massimo’s in
North Street, on 18th July.
NEW FACES ON THE GPC – the first of a regular feature!
After training at city firm Bristows, Michael became an
assistant solicitor at Cripps Harries Hall. After three years, he
left to form the niche Tunbridge Wells practice, Knights, with
Matthew Knight. After nearly 18 years there, Michael left
Knights at the end of 2011 and became a partner at Warners,
in their Tonbridge office. Michael’s areas of specialism are
predominantly employment and commercial and personal
injury litigation, particularly for rural and country sports
Janet is Head of the Commercial practice at Whitehead Monckton
in Maidstone. She celebrates her 20th anniversary in Kent having
joined the firm in 1992 from Clifford Chance. Janet became a
partner in 1996. In 1997 Janet qualified as a notary and is
currently Chair of the Kent and East Sussex Notaries Group. At
work, Janet specialises in corporate and business law and
pensions law. Janet lives in Headcorn and, when not at work,
divides her time between her family, her Gloucester Old Spot and
Kune Kune pigs and singing in a local choir.
M i d s u m m e r M a g ic – P r e s i d e n t ’s
S um m er Event
Given the heavy rainfall this month, holding an outdoor event seemed like a recipe for disaster. President Jon Pitt feels he was luckier
than he deserved, then, when we enjoyed a balmy Friday evening in the beautiful Mt Ephraim gardens near Faversham, for a picnic and
an open-air performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Kent Shakespeare Players. This group has been putting on plays in
the setting of Mr Ephraim for 30 years or more. They have the technical difficulties of performing outside sewn up, with a minimalist
approach entirely suited to the surroundings. With a large tree as a back-drop and the only prop, one could see in the performance the
very roots of this type of theatre by ‘strolling players’. The guests lounged in folding chairs or on rugs, fighting off the myriads of
ducks competing for picnic crumbs. There was a catered meal for those who wanted it, while others brought their own food. Among
the guests was Law Society President John Wotton, in the last days of his presidency and ready to enjoy a little relaxation after his
At the first GPC of the 2012-13 year, on 12th September, revises to proposed new rules of the Society will be reviewed and
arrangements finalised for an EGM later in the Autumn at which the changes can be put to the membership.
RUN FOR THE SOCIETY AND
On Sunday 7th October, President Jon Pitt aims to lead a team of
Kent Law Society members in the Givaudin 10k Road Race around
Ashford. This is a multi-purpose event!
PROMOTION This is a great opportunity to promote our
profession in the public eye as community participants.
In furtherance of the first of these objectives, your President invites members
to come up with the neatest, pithiest and most entertaining slogan for the back
of a tee-shirt or vest, to promote Kent’s lawyers. Replies to the president at
[email protected] by 31st August please. The winner gets a bottle of
bubbly and the satisfaction of seeing their creativity in print.
KENT FAMILY JUSTICE COUNCIL
This years conference will be held on Thursday 1
November 2012 at Oakwood House, Maidstone.
HHJ Richard Polden, Designated Family Judge for Kent
has announced that Mr Justice Ryder, Judge in charge of
Family law modernisation, has agreed to attend as the
keynote speaker. He will be talking about the major
changes that are to be implemented and the
Judge Polden will be sending out full details in due
course but please note the date in your diaries, as the
speaker will naturally attract a lot of interest.
FUND-RAISING We can individually raise funds for charity
- your president is supporting the Pilgrims Hospices this year
and would welcome support from other runners and sponsors.
FITNESS Our jobs can be a bit sedentary - here is a great
opportunity to get fit. With just under three months warning,
even the flabbiest of us can hit the road and target completion
of the course - 10 kilometers or 6.25 miles.
All levels of fitness are catered for - the race regularly attracts over
1000 runners, who range from international runners to first timers
CONVEYANCING CONFERENCE AT BRANDS HATCH
The Society held its first training conference on 24th May 2012. Accredited with 6 cpd
points, this was a new format of training event for us. Brilliantly organized by Gillian
Ellis, the delegates were lectured on a range of topics germaine to the daily practice of
The day was chaired by our very own Jonathan Smithers of CooperBurnett in Tunbridge
Wells and one of our Law Society Council Members for Kent. He spoke on the subject
‘The view from Chancery Lane – the Law Society perspective on recent developments in
conveyancing and relevant regulation’, touching on the Conveyancing Quality Scheme,
Mortgage Fraud and the future landscape with ABS’s.
He was followed by Claire Larbey, a freelance lecturer and formally of the SRA, on
OFR in practice. Peter Rodd, of Thanet firm Boys & Maughan, then spoke on ‘Conflict
– the issues for conveyancers, and was followed by Liz Cooper of Thames Water, who
gave a practical insight into drainage and water services issues.
We enjoyed an excellent working lunch, briefed by Yolanda Barnes of Savills on the
prospects for residential property.
In the afternoon session, Philip Swaine of
Conveyancing Liability Solutions (who
kindly sponsored the lunch) spoke on the
current position on indemnity challenges,
covering Chancel repair liability,
environmental reports and innovative
solutions to legal changes (village greens,
rights of light and solar panels).
Andrew Crawford, a freelance lecturer, led
sessions on Capital Gains Tax for residential
conveyancers, and Avoiding Negligence
Claims. The conference was closed by Olivia
Burren of Travelers Professional Risks, who
spoke about ‘Avoiding Negligence Claims’.
Look out for these training conferences later in the year
Estate and Tax Planning Conference, at Marriott Tudor Park, Bearsted on 20th September
– Civil Litigation Conference at Mercure, Maidstone on 18th October.
Full details available on the training page of the website – www.kentlawsociety.com/training-courses.html
HSBC – “ALL CHANGE PLEASE”
This is the text of an article written by the Council Member for Kent, Jonathan Smithers and published in the Law Society Gazette 31st of May 2012.
The recent admission of CQS firms to the HSBC panel is a welcome return to normality.
Perhaps not quite “as you were” but a major step towards recognition that the best interests of our
clients and their borrowers are served by a diversity of choice within the framework of a quality
The new HSBC system will have two tiers. The first comprising of the favoured few, “the 43”, who
have signed up to the discounted fees the structure overseen by Countywide including a no sale no
fee deal and various other bells and whistles. These firms may be recommended by the bank’s
mortgage advisers. That is little or no different to the deal which many estate agents have with their
preferred firms, regardless of whether any referral fees are paid.
Any client wishing to instruct their own firm will be free to do so (as before). The difference now is that if the firm is a
CQS member then joint representation will be allowed by the bank. Non-CQS firms may still suffer the indignity of not
being allowed to act for both, but with Santander and Nationwide requiring CQS membership for new members and
Clydesdale with Yorkshire Bank mandating it, HSBC is back in the game once more.
What caused this change of heart? Perhaps a Damascene moment, the light shining from above? We may not know
precisely but the campaign led by the Law Society was certainly instrumental.
The ability of solicitors to coordinate action has been remarkable. Press packs issued by Chancery Lane, with MPs
briefings hit the target. The ripple spread out, reaching consumer organisations and Fleet Street alike. When WHICH?,
the Consumers Association, is on your side, you know the wind is in your sails.
The esteem in which banks are held was perhaps influential. Few these days were going to start off on the side of a
The argument still had to be won. How? Not by protesting that it was hurting us but by expressing the disadvantage
suffered by our clients. The HSBC borrower was clearly becoming a pariah. I have spoken to many people on the
subject in the last few months, whether in the industry or not, few were unaware of the problem even if they did not
know its precise detail.
Cash and profit is the driving force for any successful business. Selling product, in this case mortgages, is at the centre
of motivation for HSBC. As the difficulty became clear for all to see, simple financials probably became the tipping
point. The restrictive panel idea was broke, so the bank have fixed it, and not a moment too soon.
Solicitors must not rest on their laurels. Some may call this a victory but to do will be a mistake. This is but one wave in
an ocean of challenges.
The recent decision by Nationwide to embark on a data collection exercise will cause concern. Like the Constable
asking you where you have been and where you are going, the climate of fear generated by lenders seemingly arbitrary
decisions leads us to be wary of why they want to know. Subjectively, giving the lender confirmation of basic business
structure should not be problematic but we are all nervous of the use to which the information is put. What arbitrary
criteria is next when the axe falls on your instructions from a lender?
Despite this scepticism we must rise above it. Solicitors wishing to be instructed by the bank have to show that they can
line up to the high expectations rightly required by their clients, that includes the lender client. There must be an
acceptance that we have no absolute right to require instructions from any client. Instead of concern for our immediate
problems (pressing though they are) understanding that there are difficulties will go some distance to helping us as a
profession locate and embrace solutions.
Whilst we have considerable centres of excellence the fight to improve standards across our market must continue. The
ability to convey property and provide security for lenders in a timely and cost effective manner is the hallmark of good
practice. Perhaps a statement of the obvious, but constant reminder that we all have to learn, improve and adapt to ever
changing markets and the law must be embedded into our thinking.
Will the insistence on CQS for panel membership result in an increase in applications to the Scheme? Perhaps, but some
may be irritated by the need to apply. My answer is simply that we must open our eyes to reality. The world has
changed and is changing still. High standards of due diligence and practice are required. The longevity and size of or
practice is not a good enough guarantee for the future. Names of Wolstenholmes and Halliwells may need to be spoken
(in hushed tones) at this point in the discussion. Perhaps at its starkest doubters will need to answer the question, why
would you not want to join a scheme which enables you to demonstrate excellence with probity and become part of the
industry’s trusted community?
So for now a little light relief, we live to fight another day and can be proud of the achievement. We are grateful to
HSBC for having the good grace to accept the arguments put forward.
Jonathan Smithers , Council Member - Kent Chair The Conveyancing & Land Law Committee Law Society of England & Wales
DUNCAN LAWRIE PRIVATE BANK: SOWING FINANCIAL SEEDS FOR THE LONG-TERM
It really could not be more unlike a High Street bank. Duncan Lawrie Private Bank is set in 23 acres of gardens and woodland at
Wrotham. As well as a lake, there is even a flock of 32 grey-faced Dartmoor sheep in the grounds to keep down the grass.
Small wonder, in this idyllic setting, that Dina Henry, the Regional Director for South-East and Kent at Duncan Lawrie Private Bank,
talks about planting seeds and nurturing them for the future.
“Forming lasting relationships with clients is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of my job. Many of them have been
with the bank for more than a decade,” says Dina, who has been with Duncan Lawrie Private Bank for 30 years having worked her
way up through the ranks.
Dina says another feature that sets Duncan Lawrie Private Bank aside from the high street crowd is what some people might think of
“We will always act with integrity and provide advice that we believe is right for our clients’ current needs and future financial
objectives. And what’s more, you don’t need to go through hurdles to speak to us – there’s no call centre, we are at the end of the
phone and contactable directly,” she says.
Duncan Lawrie Private Bank was founded in 1971, and as well as banking offers a comprehensive range of investment, financial
planning, tax and fiduciary services both in the UK and internationally. Its origins can be traced back to East India where in the
nineteenth century Walter Duncan and Alexander Lawrie were involved in tea estates. Tea gardens, in this region, are still run today
by the Camellia Group, of which Duncan Lawrie Private Bank is a subsidiary.
Though it has not taken as big a hit as other areas of financial services, private banking has still felt the impact of the financial crisis.
For Duncan Lawrie Private Bank this has only put a much greater focus on retaining, expanding and deepening client relationships.
Dina continues: “Unlike other banks we do not receive commission for recommending specific investments, so our primary
motivation is our clients’ long term prosperity. We also do not manufacture our own products or investment funds so instead have a
dedicated financial planning research team to find the right opportunities for our clients’ best interests.”
Duncan Lawrie Private Bank’s approach is certainly one founded on prudence and care – words you do not hear used too often these
days with the big banks still struggling to re-establish both their balance sheets and, more important, their reputations in the wake of
the economic crisis.