News

Peace of mind for home buyers and sellers with new remote identity checks

10th June 2020

Cryptographic and biometric techniques are now being used in law firms across the UK to help Conveyancers confirm the identities of their clients. The process will involve users placing their smartphone (Android or iPhone) next to their microchip-enabled passport. An app will then determine the validity of the passport by gathering information from the microchip. The user will record a video of themselves, which is compared to the passport photo on the microchip, in efforts to achieve facial recognition. The results for this check are almost instant. Read more…

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme launches

2nd June 2020

Applications are now open for small to medium sized employers to claim back any coronavirus related statutory sick pay (SSP) they have paid on or following 13th March 2020.

The Rebate Scheme will reimburse SSP for employees who have been unable to work as they have been infected with coronavirus; self-isolating in accordance with official guidance; or shielding following a letter from their doctor or health authority. Read more…

English property market begins to reboot

27th May 2020

On Wednesday 13th May, the Housing Secretary announced the Government’s plans to relax some lockdown measures in its aim to reboot the property market. This plan which solely applies to England sets out that moving house can now be added to the list of ‘essential travel’.

The relaunch of the property market has been very much welcomed by estate agents, conveyancers, valuers, surveyors, and many other property professionals who have started to return to their offices. Fraser & Wheeler, Stags, Underhill, Smart and Bradleys are among the many local estate agents to reopen their offices under an appointment-only basis. Read more…

Probate – what is it, and do you need a solicitor?

21st May 2020

The word probate’ is often used to mean the whole process of administering the estate of a person who has died. In fact, ‘probate’ just refers to the process of proving a Will (which ends with obtaining a Grant of Probate).

That is why Gilbert Stephens prefer to refer to “Estate Administration”, which covers the whole process and includes dealing with the estates of those who have died without a valid Will.

Private Client solicitor at our Exeter office, Alyson Coulson, talks us through the whole process and where you may need a solicitor. Read more…

Surge in domestic abuse during UK lockdown calls for urgent action

15th May 2020

As the lockdown came into full force on Monday 23rd March 2020, the UK has witnessed a dramatic spike in domestic abuse incidents, with calls to domestic abuse helplines rising by 25%.

Approximately 2.4 million victims of domestic abuse are recorded each year. In light of the current circumstances, there is an undeniable urgency for action more so now than ever.

Jessica Burgess, Chartered Legal Executive at Gilbert Stephens, updates us on the measures the Government has taken to tackle the increase in domestic abuse cases. Read more…

The “Butterfly Effect”

14th May 2020

Since the coronavirus lockdown came into force seven weeks ago, questions have continued to mount over its damaging effects to the property market. Martin Pratley, Head of our Conveyancing Department, shares his predictions for the uncertain months ahead.

The question which most people are asking right now is “what is going to happen to the property market?”

My answer to this is below but, firstly, let me explain how I arrived at it. Read more…

VE Day 2020 – We Never Close

8th May 2020

Today, Gilbert Stephens Solicitors are proud to be commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe. On 8th May 1945, Winston Churchill announced that Britain and its Allies had formally accepted Germany’s surrender. At this moment, celebrations, street parties and mass gatherings broke out across the UK.

75 years on, whilst we are unable to celebrate in quite the same way as we did in 1945, Gilbert Stephens is delighted to be participating in the nationwide ‘stay at home’ party. Read more…

Welcome Alyson Coulson, new Solicitor at our Exeter office!

24th April 2020

Gilbert Stephens Solicitors are delighted to introduce our newest team member and Solicitor at our Exeter office, Alyson Coulson.

Alyson joined Gilbert Stephens in February 2020 and deals with a wide variety of Private Client work to include Wills, Powers of Attorney, Inheritance Tax Planning, Court of Protection matters and trusts. With a particular interest and expertise in working with families affected by learning disabilities, she is able to ensure that proper Wills, trusts and Powers of Attorney are put in place for the whole family. She is also a Dementia Friend.

We asked Alyson a few questions to get to know about her typical working day and what she finds the most challenging working in law. Read more…

COVID-19: Latest update on furlough scheme

23rd April 2020

When the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced on Friday 20th March 2020, the new legislation left many questions unanswered. Many people were eager to know who would be eligible, how long the Scheme would stay open for, when would employers be able to claim their staff’s wages, and so on.

Helen Clegg, Solicitor at our Exeter office, talks us through some of the latest updates for employers and employees utilising the Scheme.

What is the Scheme?

Many will now be aware of the Scheme’s aim to reduce unemployment by providing a grant to employers of up to 80% of their employee’s wage. This grant will be capped at £2,500 per month, per employee, and is inclusive of employers’ national insurance and pension contributions. During this time, furloughed employees must not undertake any work for the company. This includes checking or responding to any emails. You can claim your employee’s wages through a new HMRC portal.

When will the portal be available?

The portal launched on Monday 20th April 2020. After making an application, employers should receive the money within six working days. You can start your application through the portal here.

Who is eligible for the Scheme?

The Government have now clarified that apprentices, public sector organisations, administrators, individuals and those on fixed term contracts will be able to claim for the grant. This is provided they have a UK bank account, have enrolled for PAYE online and have created or started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19th March 2020.

I am a Company Director; can I furlough myself?

Yes, as an office holder you are eligible to be furloughed through this Scheme. Whilst you will have to carry out basic administrative duties for the company during this time, you must not carry out any work which will be profitable for the business.

How long will the Scheme be open for?

On Friday 17th April 2020, the Government announced the Scheme’s extension until the end of June. This date could be extended further if necessary.

I made some employees redundant before I knew about the Scheme, what can I do?

For any employees who have been made redundant or have been put on unpaid leave on or after 28th February 2020, you can re-employ them and put them on furlough instead.

As an employee, can I work elsewhere whilst I am furloughed?

Yes, but only if your employment contract allows you to do so.

I have multiple jobs; if I am furloughed will the cap be applied to my total monthly income?

No, the cap is applied to each employer individually. It is also worth mentioning that if you are furloughed in one of your jobs, you may continue to work for another employer and receive your usual pay.

What happens if I refuse to be furloughed?

If you refuse to be furloughed, you may be at risk of your contract being terminated or being made redundant. If this happens, you will still be protected by the usual redundancy rules and protections.

Can I take holiday pay whilst on furlough?

Yes, you can take holiday pay during this time. Your employer must then pay you your usual holiday pay. You can also agree with your employer to be paid any holiday entitlement as part of the furlough agreement.

The policy on holiday pay under furlough is still under review and further updates can be expected.

I’m on maternity leave during this time, how does this affect me?

If you are on maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental pay, your employer can claim for enhanced contractual pay for you during this time. The amount you will receive will be dependent on your earnings.

For more detailed, practical advice on the CJRS and other funding you may be eligible for, get in touch with our employment law team on or call 01392 424242

Welcome Amanda Farley, new Solicitor at our Sidmouth office

16th April 2020

Today, Gilbert Stephens Solicitors would like to tell you about Amanda Farley, new Solicitor at our Sidmouth office.

Amanda is a solicitor at our Sidmouth office and deals with a broad spectrum of Private Client work, such as Wills, Inheritance Tax Planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Deputyship Applications, Court of Protection work, Elderly Client and trusts. In her role, Amanda enjoys supporting clients through difficult times and being able to communicate her knowledge to clients. Read more…