Liz Govier

11th December 2018

We are sad to announce the death of our friend and colleague Liz Govier who passed away on 27th November after a long battle with cancer.

Although she was very unwell at times over the past few years, she refused to make any concessions to her illness and remained positive and upbeat throughout.

She kept her unique sense of humour and was wholly committed to the Ottery St Mary office, which she managed for several years during which time she became well known to our clients in the town and was regularly seen supporting local events.

She will be greatly missed by her friends and colleagues.

Government Considering No-Fault Divorces

11th December 2018

A recent government consultation on no-fault divorces has caused a lot of discussion. Today is the final day of the consultation period for changing the rules regarding divorce in England and Wales.

Divorce is a hard enough time in people’s lives without over-complicated and prolonged proceedings. The Law Society of England and Wales believes that removing the blame from the divorce process will allow separating couples to focus on the future and help divorces to progress with as little unnecessary drama as possible.

At the moment, divorcing couples in England and Wales are required to allege one of five possible fault-based facts. This means that divorce proceedings are often uglier and more traumatic – and longer – than many people want or need them to be.

Law Society president Christina Blacklaws points out that this, “exacerbates conflict between separating partners. It makes it much harder for separating parents to focus their minds on the needs of their children when making child arrangements. Introducing ‘no fault’ divorce would change the way couples obtain a divorce – for the better.”

It is often the case that early legal advice in the case of divorce results in referrals to mediation. This avoids the cost of court hearings, but unfortunately many people do not know that the option of mediation exists, and due to cuts in Legal Aid, they are unable to access this early advice from a solicitor.

Unfortunately, many people going through a divorce are unaware that an early investment in legal advice can save them perhaps thousands of pounds in the long run, as well as give them clear and reassuring support from the outset by making the process of arranging a future for their children, home and finances easier to understand.

We know that divorce is always going to be hard, but we are optimistic about the prospect of ‘no-fault’ divorces. We sincerely hope that this will enable us to help our clients through this process more smoothly, so that rather than being forced to recount the past, they can look towards the future.

You can contact our Family Law department at ku.oc1544628529.sneh1544628529petst1544628529rebli1544628529g@waL1544628529ylima1544628529F1544628529 or on 01392 424242 to see how we can help you.

Christmas Opening Hours

7th December 2018

Our Christmas opening hours are:

Monday 24th December Closed
Tuesday 25th December Christmas Day – Bank Holiday
Wednesday 26th December Boxing Day – Bank Holiday
Thursday 27th December Working Day
Friday 28th December Working Day
Saturday 29th December
Sunday 30th December
Monday 31st December Closed
Tuesday 1st January New Year’s Day – Bank Holiday
Wednesday 2nd January Working day – Back to normal

Christmas Jumper Day

7th December 2018

We are very much looking forward to participating in Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day again this year.

On Friday 14 December staff in all 6 branches of the Gilbert Stephens Solicitors offices will be donating £2 for the privilege of wearing their Christmas jumpers.  We can’t wait to see what our teams will be wearing and who will have the most outrageous festive jumper, will there be sparkly 3D snowmen, glitzy unicorns or Stormtroopers in Christmas hats?!

This day isn’t just about the sparkles, it’s also about helping to create a brighter future for children. Putting on our Christmas jumpers is a lot of fun but it will also help bring essential food, healthcare, education, and protection to millions of children around the world who are missing out.

Find out here just how the money raised will help here 

Dawlish College Donation

6th December 2018

We were delighted to recently support Dawlish College in their charity endeavours by donating stationery packs to be included in their Christmas shoeboxes destined for Moldova.

Well done to the students who were able to hand over an incredible 71 shoeboxes to the Dawlish Water Rotary Club who were arranging the collection in association with

Christian Response to Eastern Europe (cr2ee). In total the Club collected over 1800 shoeboxes which have now been loaded on to the lorry and are on their way.

These shoeboxes contain vital resources and treats, and will no doubt be bringing many smiles to young and old alike on Christmas Day.

You can find out more about the work cr2ee do and a lovely Powerpoint presentation showing images of people opening their shoeboxes in previous years here

Christmas Shows!

29th November 2018

Christmas time is always a great excuse to indulge in bit of fun theatre and at Gilbert Stephens Solicitors we like nothing more than supporting our local productions, especially when staff members are part of the cast.

This year we are excited to be supporting both Robin Hood which will be performed at the Barnfield Theatre, and the traditional pantomime Aladdin being performed at the Exeter Corn Exchange.

Robin Hood runs from Thursday 20th December to Saturday 5th January and we are very much looking forward to seeing Josie Tapp one of our Support Administrators who has the role of Maid Marian!

“We all know the story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Little John, Will Scarlett and Friar Tuck – or at least we think we do.

What if we were to tell you the true and unadulterated truth about who really wore the tights in Sherwood Forest?”

This production will no doubt keep you laughing throughout as we discover the true story of Maid Marian and her feisty and impetuous Girlpower Gang, the true story of Robin Hood and his love of wearing green tights and feathers in his hat, his troubles of keeping his wardrobe neat in a hideout in a forest and the true story of the Sherriff of Nottingham ‘Clarence’ who, as it turned out, was a much misunderstood man.

We asked Josie how she was finding preparations for the show: “I am loving being a part of ELTC’s pantomime. I feel very lucky to be working with such a welcoming and lovely group as this is my first ever pantomime! So far there have been lots of amusing moments as 6 hour rehearsals can make us a bit stir crazy! Steve (Snotty Notty) putting on his heels for the first time was a truly fabulous moment.”

Full details and tickets are available here

Aladdin runs from Saturday 8th December 2018 to Tuesday 1st January 2019 when you can join a host of classic characters for songs, laughter – the perfect Christmas show!

“The most magical and adventurous of all pantomimes will be lavishly presented, with all the fun our pantos are now famous for!  The festive tale is told with merriment and melody- plus a big dollop of slapstick fun and silly sing-alongs!”

What more could you want?!

Full details of Aladdin and how to book tickets can be found here




Christmas Shoebox Appeal

26th November 2018

This Christmas, Gilbert Stephens Solicitors have again joined forces with an Exeter Primary School and Dawlish College to send gifts and Christmas spirit to some of the poorest families in Europe.

Children at Kenton Primary School have shown great compassion, collaborating with staff at Gilbert Stephens to arrange dozens of shoeboxes filled with quality gifts and clothing, and decorated with Christmas cheer, for those living in poverty in Moldova (formerly part of Romania).

Two students from Dawlish College have also taken it upon themselves to organise donations for this appeal. We think this is an incredible effort of empathy and encourage those in the Dawlish area to donate towards the students’ campaign. We have collected many items for the boxes, including sets of stationery in collaboration with Devon Commercial Stationers.

The shoebox appeal is organised by registered charity, the Christian Response to Eastern Europe (CR2EE). They campaign for families and organisations to get together and make up these Christmas gifts throughout the months of October and November. After collection, a gargantuan voluntary effort takes place to pack and drive these boxes to be stored in Europe before being distributed to the children and grandparents of poverty-stricken families.

CR2EE suggest that people who want to donate boxes fill them with basic items such as soap, toothbrushes and facecloths, warm hats and gloves, as well as items such as notebooks, pens, coloured pencils, and sweets. Boxes for children can contain good quality small toys and games.

Kenton Primary School has collected gifts for the boxes for over 10 years. Gilbert Stephens’ Exeter office became involved eight years ago through solicitor Helen Clegg, whose eldest son attended the school.

Gilbert Stephens’ staff get together to donate all other items needed for around 30 boxes before delivering them to Kenton Primary School in mid-November.

Central to the Gilbert Stephens Moldova Appeal operation is Exeter office manager Julie Besley, her office begins filling up with piles of donations from October onwards. Julie volunteers her own time to pack the 30 boxes and put together the stationery packs, which have now been delivered to Kenton school in time for CR2EE to receive. Their volunteers are now working tirelessly, packing gifts to drive to Moldova!

Julie said, “Every year around this time the office gets very crowded with gifts and boxes, and there is a lot to do to get everything arranged, packed and wrapped. I now collect toiletries and other basics for the boxes all year round!

“It’s very much worth the effort every year though, to know that we are giving quality gifts and that special feeling of being cared for at Christmas, to children who have so much less than ourselves.”



Budget 2019

16th November 2018

This year’s Budget certainly won’t be going down as one of the most exciting. With Brexit ongoing it’s certainly difficult to make too many changes until we can be sure of the future landscape for Britain, but was there anything we should be taking note of? Well no, not really – but that is good news for now as very little will change and an emergency budget next year has been promised if we crash out of the EU without a deal.

Something that you will have heard being bandied about in connection to this budget is a possible end to austerity, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “Today I can report to the British people their hard work is paying off and the era of austerity is finally coming to an end.” In theory, this means we won’t have to cut back quite so much in the coming years, but the reality remains to be seen.

Below is a summary of a few items you may wish to be aware of:

Income Tax

  • From April 2019 the personal allowance will increase to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000.


  •  From April 2019 the Pension Lifetime Allowance will rise to £1055,000.

 Capital gains tax

  • From April 2019 Capital Gains Tax Allowance increases to £12,000, a rise of £300.

Inheritance tax

  • From April 2018 the residence nil rate band increases from £125,000 to £150,000.
  • The IHT nil rate band will remains frozen at £325,000 until April 2021.

Trust taxation

  • A consultation is planned to consider how to simplify and make trust taxation fairer.


  • Annual ISA limits remain the same at £20,000 per person.

We warned you it wasn’t very exciting! If you have any questions or concerns about how the latest Budget might affect you, feel free to contact us.

Gilbert Stephens Inspires Exeter Students

15th November 2018

Potential young lawyers of the future have been receiving advice and inspiration from staff at the Exeter branch of Gilbert Stephens Solicitors, who represented the firm at Exeter School’s annual Careers Convention.

The law firm was among over 40 organisations who attended the event on Thursday 15th November to share their professional experience and expertise, as the students are considering their future career paths and finding out about the qualifications and training they will need.

This year, partner Kim McDonald and Cheryl Bolt attended the convention. They were also able to advise the pupils on the A-level subjects that would be most useful if they were considering a career in law, and the academic qualifications and training required to become a solicitor.

We particularly enjoy representing the firm at these sorts of events. They are a great opportunity to meet bright, aspiring and ambitious young people, and encourage and hopefully inspire them to consider pursuing a challenging yet extremely rewarding career in law.

The pupils were particularly interested in hearing what a day in the life of a lawyer actually involves. They were surprised to learn that there are so many different specialised areas of law, including Litigation, Private Client, Conveyancing, Commercial and Family, which are all covered by our firm.

The students were also keen to hear the variety of tasks that solicitors perform on a daily basis such as writing letters and emails, answering calls, drafting legal documents, and meeting and advising clients in person, sometimes in the office or even by going out to visit them in their own homes or residential care homes.

Of course, young people are always excited to hear about what it is like to go to court!

We were very pleased with the interest from Exeter School’s students, it demonstrated the motivation and ambition of the young people coming through the school, and we hope they and the parents we spoke to during the evening gained a better understanding of what we do here at Gilbert Stephens and what we have to offer.

Among the many other professions and occupations featured at the careers convention were medicine, the media, science and engineering, the charity sector, finance and the armed services.

Many pupils and families attended, and Exeter School’s careers advisor Ruth Cheesman thanked all the exhibitors for giving up their time to share their career journeys with the pupils.

We wish them all the best of luck in whatever career path they choose!


Bonkers Conkers Championship

15th November 2018

Some of our Young Professionals Network (YPN) team enjoyed an evening with a difference last month thanks to Brewin Dolphin. The Bonkers Conkers event hosted at Lloyds Kitchen in Exeter, was their annual conker championship. It proved to be an entertaining – if a little competitive – evening of conker battles and gin! Though sadly our team didn’t retain the King Conker Trophy, they did at least come away uninjured and are already looking forward to next year’s event.

The event was hosted to help raise funds for Brewin Dolphin’s Charity of the Year HeartSWell, there was also a fun Guess How Many Conkers in the Jar. HeartSWell South West is committed to supporting heart patients, their families and carers across the Westcountry. They do this by helping to provide life-saving heart equipment to local hospitals, information booklets for cardiac patients, funding towards nurse training and a counselling service. If you would like to find out more and/or donate you can do so here:

Gilbert Stephens’ Cheryl Bolt tells us “the food buffet was brilliant, which was good because we worked up an appetite. Unfortunately, the conkers weren’t actually breaking and we had to change the conventional conker rules, but there were only a few bruise casualties on the night. There was a great atmosphere!”

Here’s a few photos of the event, we’ll get practising our technique for next year – if you have any tips then do pass them our way.

Want to join in with our Young Professionals Network? Then get in touch. We host and attend events throughout the year offering our members a chance to network with like-minded professionals on an informal basis. Find out more on our website here: