News

Proud sponsors of Crediton Operatic Dramatic Society

24th April 2019

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors are very pleased to have sponsored a performance by the Crediton Operatic Dramatic Society (CODS) of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel.

The performances ran all last week with the final performance on Saturday 20th April 2019. The show was staged at Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnfield in Crediton.

CODS are famous in the area for their musical productions. They are extremely active in the local community, recruiting young performers from the age of 8 to join more seasoned actors and learn stage craft. The growing group have worked together to produce a fantastic musical theatre production and everyone involved should be very proud.

Carousel is an action packed love story, set on the coast of New England in the late 19th Century. The cast delighted their audience last night with plenty of drama, song and dances overseen by choreographer Amy Charles.

Gilbert Stephens were represented on the night by Judi Thistlewood from our Crediton office. Judi tells us, “the performance was very well done, an immense effort went into it from everyone and the audience had such fun. Buffy May, who played Carrie, was so impressive – a really stand out performance. The story was very moving, it brought a lump to my throat.”

Gilbert Stephens are always keen to support our local communities and being a sponsor for this extremely talented and hard working group of performers is very exciting. We are looking forward to their future productions and encourage anyone in the Crediton and surrounding area to go and see their shows.

For more photos and details of upcoming productions, contact CODS via their website http://www.codsonline.com/

First time buyer events with advice, help & tips for buying your first property

18th April 2019

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors will be one of the expert speakers attending the First time buyer events at Halifax in Exeter on Tuesday 23rd April and in Barnstaple on Thursday 25th April. The events run from 5.30pm – 8pm and are free to attend.

These events are put on to inform prospective buyers about all the things they need to consider when looking to purchase their first home, from securing a mortgage in principle to taking advantage of available first time buyer schemes.

Sarah Heath will be representing Gilbert Stephens at these events, speaking about the legal aspects of purchasing a property. Sarah is a Chartered Legal Executive with a wealth of experience in residential conveyancing. She will be presenting the main themes that prospective purchasers need to consider, as well as answering questions that attendees may have.

Buying a first home can be a daunting journey. This event is designed to reassure those who attend by offering up to date information about the process of becoming a home owner.

Sarah tells us, “Explaining how the buying process works from the point of instructing a solicitor helps buyers to understand the steps and possible costs involved. This is an exciting time in people’s lives and I hope that this event will help potential buyers feel more confident in taking the steps towards purchasing their first property.”

At Gilbert Stephens we offer clients the benefit of many years expertise in dealing with all residential property matters. Our aim is to make the buying of property as easy and quick as possible, so we welcome the opportunity to help encourage and inform first time buyers!

If you are interested in attending this event in either Exeter or Barnstaple, you can register for your free place by speaking to a member of staff at Halifax.

For any information or advice regarding the purchase and sale of property, you can contact our conveyancing team on 01392 424242 or email ku.oc1556146650.sneh1556146650petst1556146650rebli1556146650g@gni1556146650cnaye1556146650vnoC1556146650.

YPN Rockfish spring fun!

12th April 2019

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors Young Professionals Network had their bimonthly networking event yesterday at the new Rockfish restaurant on the Quayside, Exeter. There was an exceptional turn out of young professionals to the Rockfish restaurant, from their various roles in local businesses and organisations. This was a great opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and network with other likeminded young professionals.

One of our YPN members Zach Maiden from Lambert Hampton-Smith, had some exciting news to share – he has recently become a Dad to his beautiful daughter Dolphina.

As with all YPN events, the emphasis is on mingling and enjoying each other’s company rather than formal networking. Antonia from Gilbert Stephens, who organised the event, said, “It was nice to see some new faces attending the networking event and it was an enjoyable lunch, giving us the chance to catch up with other members of the Young Professionals Network”

Membership to the Young Professionals Network is free, and it provides the opportunity to attend many varied and interesting events throughout the year. If you are interested in joining, get in touch with us via email at ku.oc1556146650.sneh1556146650petst1556146650rebli1556146650g@npy1556146650 or follow us on Facebook @GSYPN and Twitter @GS_YPN.

To check out the sorts of things we get up to, have a look at our website.

DASLS Legal Awards Success

12th April 2019

DASLS 2019 Corporate and Social Responsibility DASLS 2019 HIGHLY COMMENDED Law Firm of the Year

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors are very proud to announce that the firm received recognition at the Devon and Somerset Law Society Legal Awards 2019.

Gilbert Stephens were finalists last night in two categories, winning the Corporate Social Responsibility award and being presented with a ‘Highly Commended’ Law Firm of the Year (11+ Partners) award.

The Legal Awards ceremony on Thursday 4th April was hosted by the Devon and Somerset Law Society (DASLS) at Exeter Cathedral. The venue was the perfect accompaniment to the relaxed but distinguished ceremony.

Gilbert Stephens were nominated for these awards for the first time and to walk away with such a high level of appreciation is a great honour.

Managing Partner Terry Bastyan said, “We are delighted to have been commended so highly. To be recognised amongst our peers, and fellow legal professionals is a great honour. The Corporate Social Responsibility category, in particular, means a great deal to us. We have 6 offices in differing communities across Devon, where we work with a variety of people and businesses. We are all in this job because we want to use our skills and knowledge to help and support others. We are pleased to be in a position to help not just our clients, but also the communities we work in.

“Receiving ‘Highly Commended’ for Law Firm of the Year is an incredible achievement for our firm – especially at the first attempt. It reflects our ethos of dedication and team work, exemplified by every staff member. I am proud to be in the position I am in and to work with such an inspirational and talented team of individuals.

“Thank you very much to also DASLS, the category sponsors and everyone involved for this opportunity and recognition. We intend to continue working together in making Gilbert Stephens a law firm that we are proud of and that is worthy of the respect of our community and profession.”

Ten members of Gilbert Stephens Solicitors were present on the night, receiving the Corporate Social Responsibility award on behalf of the firm, presented by the Devon Community Foundation’s Scott Walker.

The Gilbert Stephens team would like to extend their heartfelt congratulations to all of the finalists and winners on the night, this was a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements and commitment of the region’s legal professionals and we were very pleased to be a part of the ceremony.

Gilbert Stephens take on Brewin Dolphin in netball friendly

12th April 2019

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors Netball team

On Tuesday evening, Gilbert Stephens Solicitors formed a team of eight and pivoted from legal matters to shooting nets in a friendly practice match at Exeter University, with financial advisors Brewin Dolphin.

We were inspired to put together a team after being involved in the Brewin Dolphin charity netball tournament last December. At Gilbert Stephens we make a conscious effort to get involved in and arrange local charity events, as part of our commitment to our corporate social responsibilities. This commitment was highlighted with our recent award from the Devon and Somerset Law Society Legal Awards 2019.

The team was organised by Sarah Heath, one of our Chartered Legal Executives and although we had a great evening, we seemed to have left our feet in the office as we were defeated by 18 goals to 2. Hayley Martin Herkt from Gilbert Stephens Financial Services and Laura Newbould, Legal Secretary, took up the task as our shooters and managed to score one each, but sadly it was not enough to finish victorious.

The good news is, we plan many more friendly matches to improve our skills, the evening was a welcome bit of mid-week entertainment and exercise.

Sarah tells us, “These friendly matches aren’t as high profile as the charity sporting events we do throughout the year as a firm, but tonight was really good fun. This sort of thing keeps us fit and is a great way to build relationships with others in the area after work. It also gives us a chance to practice for the bigger charity events – where so many people are watching us compete!”

If you would like to find out more or get involved, contact Sarah on 01392 424242 or email ku.oc1556146650.sneh1556146650petst1556146650rebli1556146650g@hta1556146650eHhar1556146650aS1556146650

Top 5 skills for a successful solicitor

12th April 2019

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a successful solicitor? Or whether you might have the skills for a career in law? Read our list of Top 5 skills you will need to really stand out as a top professional in your field.

People skills

You simply cannot excel as a solicitor if you are not, first and foremost, dedicated to giving the best possible advice to your clients.

We are here to offer you a service. Our purpose is to provide advice and all the necessary support for our clients to reach the best possible outcome, often in difficult or stressful circumstances.

Qualities like politeness, respect, careful listening and putting people at ease in their interactions with you are invaluable to a solicitor. You can make far more progress if you can build a genuinely trusting working relationship with your clients.

Communication

This may sound very similar to the last point, as good communication plays a key role in good people skills, but communication is an important skill that deserves discussing all on its own.

Being able to tailor your way of communicating depending on the context is a vital skill for a solicitor. You will need to use very different language when writing documents that will go to court than if you are explaining options to a client.

On the topic of client communications, you need to be able to get the right information from your client to assess the facts of their case and develop ways of moving forward. Clients won’t always know which bits of information are relevant to their case, as well as often being anxious or emotional, which means that you need to be able to put them at ease and ask the right questions.

Think of the game ‘20 Questions’. You need a strategy in order to guess the answer within your 20 question limit, so you need to take a broad view of the possibilities and cleverly hone in, with as little digression as possible, on the information that will help your client’s case.

Research

An absolutely vital skill for a successful solicitor to master is the skill of research. The law is constantly evolving, with new legislation and new precedents being set all the time.

Research skills include understanding how to seek the information you need, before distilling the key points and then retaining the information. It is important for solicitors to understand in depth how their area of law works. This is what informs the questions that they ask and the avenues that they explore in order to weigh up their options and give each client personalised advice.

Research is a skill that solicitors learn out of necessity whilst training, but they need to be willing and able to continue to seek information throughout their career, in order to stay up to date with legislation and to cater to each individual case as best they can.

Perseverance

This probably goes without saying. By the time you qualify as a solicitor, you have already learned to persevere through a long and arduous training programme!

However, the journey doesn’t stop there. There are so many intricacies involved in individual cases that a solicitor needs resilience and a keen drive to succeed, to get a case resolved in the best possible way.

That said, communication with clients to manage their expectations regarding the length and scope of their case is important. Even with the greatest will and effort, due processes can take time, which makes the character trait of perseverance vital.

Creativity

This skill may come as a surprise in our Top 5 list, as the legal profession is mostly known for being logical and heavily analytical.

However, all of those facts and detailed information recall is no good if you can’t also adapt your knowledge to the client in front of you. The best solicitors are the ones who can call upon their knowledge and use creative problem solving skills to think outside the box and find the best solution for the case.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a solicitor, and that effort continues throughout your career. There are other important skills to develop, for example teamwork, commercial awareness and good judgement. The most important thing to remember, however, is that in law, every client and every situation is different.

Good solicitors know the law, but great solicitors know people.

If you require any legal advice, contact us at ku.oc1556146650.sneh1556146650petst1556146650rebli1556146650g@wal1556146650 or phone 01392 424242, to be referred to a solicitor with the expertise you need.

New ‘no fault’ divorce law to end ‘blame game’ between couples

10th April 2019

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors have a great deal of experience in family law matters and understand the intricacies of arranging matters when couples separate. The decision to divorce is not one that anyone takes lightly. However, once that decision is made it is far better for everyone involved to proceed as swiftly and amicably as possible. New ‘no fault’ divorce laws make this easier than ever before.

The Law Society of England and Wales has this week stated that it welcomes the government’s decision to introduce reforms that allow ‘no fault divorce’. This means that couples will no longer have to apportion blame on the other party under the same guidelines as before.

This law is described by Law Society president Christina Blacklaws as, “bringing divorce law into the 21st century”. The new rules allow couples to focus on the important matters once they have made the decision to separate, for example division of assets and child arrangements.

The Office of National Statistics estimates that 42% of marriages in England and Wales now end in divorce. Going through divorce proceedings can be an extremely stressful, and often drawn out, process. This was made even harder by the need for one party to prove one of five ‘fault-based’ reasons to validate their request for a divorce. Taking this blame element out of the process prevents further tension and stress. Couples with children have also found this requirement to be detrimental to the younger members of the family at this time of upheaval.

Reducing the time frame in which couples need to wait for the divorce process to be completed – from 2 to 5 years down to only 6 months in many cases – may also reduce the amount of disruption to the entire family. Separating couples can then focus on moving forward amicably and, in families with children, find co-parenting solutions without the need for further animosity.

The Law Society are clear in their opinion that this new legislation, “will change the way divorce works – for the better”.

If you need any advice or guidance regarding a separation or divorce, get in touch with our family law team on 01392 424242 or email ku.oc1556146650.sneh1556146650petst1556146650rebli1556146650g@waL1556146650ylima1556146650F1556146650.

Plastic Free Firm

4th April 2019

Plastic Free Firm Gilbert Stephens Solicitors

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors are pleased to be taking further steps towards becoming a Plastic Free firm by reducing our use of disposable plastics. 

Antonia D’Alessio, Graduate Legal Executive and Sarah Heath, Chartered Legal Executive at Gilbert Stephens, recently attended an event run by Plastic Free Exeter, an initiative that aims to make Exeter plastic free by 2020. Antonia and Sarah have taken up the challenge of becoming Gilbert Stephens’ Sustainability Officers and will be trialling Plastic Free Exeter’s recommendations in our Exeter branch for 2 months before expanding these eco-friendly practices across our 6 branches. 

Plastic Free Exeter intends to achieve its aim of becoming one of the first plastic free cities in the UK by working with the council on a strategic approach to this issue, guided by the campaign’s steering group. For success, it is vital to engage businesses, schools and communities to take positive action and change the habits that are causing the problems. 

There are many small things we can do on a day to day basis that can add up to make a real difference. Some of the suggestions Gilbert Stephens are implementing can be done in any office or home. Some of these include: 

  • Recycling used pensplastic stationary and other plastic ‘rubbish’
    You can even help a charity at the same time; Ellie’s Fund is a children’s cancer charity that can raise money from used plastic that you send them. 
  • Choose reusable coffee cups and drinks bottles
    Disposable coffee and water containers are responsible for a lot of plastic waste. Consider investing in your own reusable coffee cup or drinks container.
  • Plastic cups in the drinks machine
    Do you really need to use them? Reach for a glass instead!  
  • Used cosmetics
    These can be recycled instead of thrown away 
  • Printing
    We all know about using as little paper as possible. As well as printing only when necessary, you can also remember to print ‘double-sided’ and use a font that uses less ink – for example Calibri. 

At Gilbert Stephens, we are committed to continuing improvement in every area. Whether its client care, HR or our environmental impact. We look forward to seeing how our new Sustainability Officers get on with this initiative, and to finding new ways to help Exeter become plastic free while showing that you don’t need to pollute the environment in the course of running a business.  

Our Managing Partner, Terry Bastyan says, “We have been conscious for a while now of the issues of disposable plastic use and the impact it has on our environment on a global scale. Though we have made decisions over the years to support an unspoken eco-friendly ethos, we are now excited to be making a positive change to address our plastic use at the company policy level and in our daily practice.” 

If you would like any more information about how you can help, as an individual or a firm, you can follow Plastic Free Exeter on social media @plasticfreeexeter or take a look at their website

Stamp Duty Land Tax

3rd April 2019

Paul Kibbler Gilbert Stephens Solicitors

This month has seen changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax. Paul Kibbler from the Conveyancing department at Gilbert Stephens Solicitors explains what these changes are and how they might affect you. 

Stamp Duty Land Tax needs to be paid on any property or land over a certain price in England and Northern Ireland. The current threshold over which you have to pay is £125,000 for residential properties or £150,000 for non-residential land and properties, though there are exceptions for first time buyers. 

As of 1st March 2019, buyers now have only 14 days after the completion date to submit their Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and pay HMRC. Previously, buyers had 30 days. If you are instructing a property solicitor, they will make sure that this is arranged in a timely manner, though it is important to note that the buyer is liable if the tax isn’t paid on time. Therefore, if you are not instructing a solicitor to handle the entire buying process, you need to be aware of your responsibilities. 

Specific rules and a surcharge rate applies to properties that are not your main residence and to inherited properties. 

If you purchase your new property before you have sold your current main residence, you will still be liable to pay a higher rate as the new property will count as an additional home. However, once you have sold your current home, you can claim the surcharge back provided that this occurs within 3 years. 

Stamp Duty Land Tax is also payable in a number of other situations, such as transfer of equity, certain remortgages and to those purchasing a property but who also have one held in trust. 

Some rules provide relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax, including in certain cases of inheritance or if the transfer of the property is ordered by the Court in divorce proceedings. 

If you have any questions about how Stamp Duty Land Tax can affect you in the purchase or transfer of your property, contact Paul Kibbler on 01392 424242 or email ku.oc1556146650.sneh1556146650petst1556146650rebli1556146650g@gni1556146650cnaye1556146650vnoC1556146650. 

Proud Sponsors of Friends of Ottery St Mary Parish Church

2nd April 2019

Ottery St Mary Parish Church

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors are proud to be sponsoring the Friends of Ottery St Mary Parish Church for another year.  

We have been actively involved in supporting the efforts of the Friends of Ottery St Mary Parish Church for many years now, getting involved in their Christmas Tree Festival, Christmas Market, Flower Festival and attending other events throughout the year. 

Last Christmas we made our mark in the historical 14th Century church by decorating our very own Gilbert Stephens Tree, which was put on display for a week in December with around 50 other trees decorated by local community groups, businesses and organisations. 

Each year, the Friends of the church work hard to organise events that have become renowned in the local area, with visitors coming from far and wide to spectate and participate; at these events there are seasonal refreshments and plenty of stories about the church and local area on hand.  

The Friends of Ottery St Mary Parish Church were established in 1952 and became a registered charity in 2001. With the Lord Bishop of Exeter as their patron, the Friends of the church are going from strength to strength with their fundraising efforts, contributing to the upkeep of the church on a yearly basis as well as instigating and supporting bigger projects for the church and its parishioners and visitors. 

The Church has a rich history, being re-built in the image of Exeter Cathedral in 1342 on the site of an older, 13th Century church. It boasts in its long story the birth of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, famous writer and philosopher, in the old School House opposite the church steps. 

To find out more about whaton at Ottery St Mary Parish Churchtake a look at their website or Facebook page @otterystmarychurch.