Category Archive: Leisure
Following the grey clouds of 2020-2021, 2022 seemingly got off to a flying start. We saw the re-opening of entertainment venues, and dancing shoes were removed from the back of the wardrobe. Events such as the World Cup, European Cup, British Grand Prix and the Commonwealth Games drew people together; we slowly started to remember the joys of seeing a face in real life rather than on a screen.
However, as 2022 progressed, the war in Ukraine took hold, supply chain issues magnified and increased energy costs hit the leisure and hospitality industry hard; some businesses have passed the increases on to customers, some could not keep their doors open. Alongside spiralling costs, most businesses are working with a reduced workforce as a result of the pandemic and freedom of movement ceasing, and the Office of National Statistics predicts a drop in the GDP across 2023-2024.
Whilst the Spring budget has not afforded a VAT holiday or a reduction in business rates, the Government has promised additional energy support for eligible UK Businesses, in England, Scotland and Wales. In addition, it had pledged £63m to support punlivily0owned swimming pools and leisure centres as part of a one-year scheme to relive pressure caused by high fuel bills.
It is widely reported that inbound tourism has picked up thanks to the weaker pound, and new hotels have opened up nationwide. There are clearly growth opportunities if the right staff can be put place as consumer confidence starts to grow in the industry.
Most in the leisure industry, starts to grow in the industry, and particularly those in hospitality, are well aware of staffing shortages and , whilst there is no overnight fix, there is hope that the Government’s migration plans will help ease the labour supply pressures. As it stands visa applications for hospitality workers formed just 3% of the overall applications In 2022. In August 2022, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned to review the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) in the construction and hospitality sectors. Interim findings we published on 15th March 2023 ahead of a final review later this year. Whilst no hospitality roles have been placed on the SOL, there is time and the final outcome will be published later this year. We are hopeful that as a result of the findings, the legal migration system will become quicker and more responsive to the needs of businesses and economy. Finally, the Government has pledged to extend childcare support with the intention that more working parents may return to the workplace. The industry may well find applications are on the up as working parents re-enter the workplace. Businesses should therefore be mindful of applications for flexible working which will, in the coming months become a ‘day one right’ rather than a right reserved for employees with more than 26 weeks’ service.
Flexible working requests can take many forms. They can, for example, be for a reduction in hours, specific set hours, compressed hours, home working or job sharing, and can only be refused on one of eight prescribed business grounds, which includes the burden of additional costs, the inability to re-organise work and the detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand among others.
Thought and attention should be given to any flexible working request. They are often, but not always, intrinsically linked to caring responsibilities. If this is the case, and a flexible working request is declined without due consideration, business could find themselves on the receiving end of aa discrimination claim; something to avoid.
On a final note, keep and eye on the SOL, keep an Eye on the SOL, keep an open mind with hires and here’s to a prosperous 2023.
On 19 December 2022, the Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman, made a statement announcing the foundational policy elements that will form the basis of the upcoming Protect Duty Bill (also known as Martyn’s Law).
The proposed Martyn’s Law will seek to improve the safety and security of citizens so they can enjoy public premises without fear of terrorism by improving protective security and organisational preparedness at a wide range of locations across the UK, including visiting venues, retail areas, and other publicly accessible venues. Those responsible will be required to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate, proportionate mitigation measures. The two primary objectives for Martyn’s Law will be to i) clarify who is responsible for security activity at locations in scope, thereby increasing accountability; and ii) improve outcomes UK- wide so that security activity is delivered to a consistent level. An inspection and enforcement regime will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with Martyn’s Law.
Legislation will establish a tiered model, introducing a requirements framework that is linked to the type of activity that takes place at eligible locations and the number of people (occupancy) that the location can safely accommodate at any time. The requirements for each tier are:
- Standard- locations with a maximum occupancy of greater than 100 people at any time will be required to undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve protective security and preparedness. This will be achieved by accessing free awareness raising materials and development of a basic preparedness plan considering how best a location can respond to a terrorist event in their area.
- Enhanced- locations with an occupancy of 800+ at any time will additionally be required to take forward a risk assessment and subsequently develop and implement a security plan. Enhanced Duty Holders will be required to meet a reasonably practicable test.
Locations with a maximum occupancy at any time of less than 100 will fall out of scope but will be encouraged to adopt good security practices on a voluntary basis. This will be supported by free guidance and training materials.
Premises will fall within scope of Martyn’s Law where “qualifying activities” take place. This will include activities such as entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, museums and galleries, sports grounds, public areas of local and central Government buildings (e.g., town halls), visitor attractions, temporary events, Places of Worship, health, and education. It is proposed that Martyn’s Law will apply to eligible locations which are either: a building (including collections of buildings used for the same purposes, e.g., a campus); or location/event (including a temporary event) that has a defined boundary, allowing capacity to be known. Eligible locations whose maximum occupancy meets the above specified thresholds will be then drawn into the relevant tier.
To deliver clarity of To deliver clarity of accountability, Martyn’s Law will define parties obliged to meet its requirements. This will be a simple formulation to establish persons in control of premises. Where there are multiple parties at a location, Martyn’s Law will primarily place obligations on a lead party whilst placing requirements on others to co-operate with that party, such as in the development of risk assessments and security plans. Martyn’s Law Guidance will detail how and where it would be envisaged that parties will need to co-ordinate on assessments and plans and provide examples of good practice.
Enforcement will mainly be delivered through a civil sanctions regime. In all but the most serious cases a civil monetary penalty is likely to be issued. For cases of serious breaches, a limited number of criminal offences will be available. A maximum penalty of up to £18m or 5% of worldwide turnover will be available for Enhanced locations. Standard locations will be subject to a maximum £10,000 penalty.
The government continues to engage with a range of stakeholders and other government departments to further develop the legislation, which will be introduced to Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
Sintons has again confirmed its position as one of the leading law firms in the North of England with the release of Legal 500 2024, which highlights the expertise and client service excellence delivered by departments and key individuals across the business.
Newcastle-based Sintons has won praise across the firm for the high levels of legal advice and personal service it delivers, and it is highlighted in four key practice areas as being leaders in its field in the North of England, and being recommended in 15 others.
A total of 48 lawyers are recommended for their standout practice in their respective fields, with fifteen of its lawyers hailed as leading individuals, which comprises experts in their field from across the North. Head of licensing Sarah Smith maintains her place in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame, in recognition of being a leading individual consistently for more than a decade.
A further four are named as next generation partners, and four hailed as rising stars.
While Sintons has for many years continually been named by Legal 500 as one of the key law firms in the North, its rankings for 2024 show the firm’s ongoing growth and progress, with gains made in many key practice areas.
Newly released for 2024, Legal 500 is based on extensive research into law firms throughout the UK, with its independent findings based on examples of work, client and peer testimonials and interviews.
In Legal 500 2024, Sintons is named as a top tier firm in:
Its leading individuals have been named as:
- Angus Ashman, partner in dispute resolution
- Phil Davison, head of general personal injury
- Mark Dobbin, head of commercial property
- Adrian Dye, head of corporate
- Keith Land, head of employment
- Amanda McCabe, head of NHS healthcare
- Andrew McGowan, head of neurotrauma
- Jane Meikle, head of banking & finance
- Paul Nickalls, head of personal and family
- Alex Rayner, head of construction & engineering
- Emma Saunders, head of contentious probate
- Sarah Smith, head of licensing
- Karen Simms, head of commercial
- Hilary Waters, head of dispute resolution
- Christopher Welch, corporate partner and managing partner
- Tom Wills, head of rural, agriculture & estates
Next generation partners have been hailed as:
- Paul Collingwood, private client partner
- Louise Masters, head of family
- Emma Pern, corporate partner
- Kathryn Riddell, healthcare partner
Rising stars are:
- Pippa Aitken, IP specialist senior associate
- Chloe Dinsdale, healthcare senior associate
- Cristina Falzon, dispute resolution associate
- Louise Weatherhead, data and IT specialist associate
Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons, says: “This is a phenomenal and very well deserved assessment of our performance as a firm. We are ranked as leaders in our field in several key practice areas, with Legal 500 rightly recognising the huge capability and expertise we have here, and the progress we continue to make.
“Sintons is all about our people, and to see so many recognised for the outstanding efforts they make on behalf of our clients is fantastic news. We have excellence running throughout the business, in all areas of our work, and our team are all absolutely committed to delivering the best possible service and outcomes to our clients.”
Plans for an outdoor dance music festival in the region have been supported to become reality by law firm Sintons.
Shoe Shaker Fest is being held in Cramlington and brings together a host of major dance acts across two stages. It has been hailed as a “dream come true” by its organiser.
The festival, held next to Northumberlandia on August 5, is anticipating thousands of attendees to enjoy dance acts including Andy Whitby, DJ Sash!, Fragma, Cappella and QFX.
Shoe Shaker Fest, the first event of its kind in Cramlington, has been organised by Kathie Turnbull, who has worked in the local wedding and events industry for over 20 years as part of her award-winning family business.
“I have always wished and wanted to hold festival events as far back as I can remember and my previous experience has given me the background and knowledge to execute a larger event,” she said.
“I believe I have been moulded during my time in business to bring something big to my home town Cramlington, putting my town back on the map.
“The dream is not just to have a one-off event in Cramlington as we hope this is the start of many more to come.
“I never in a million years thought this would be possible, to have so many original acts in one place.”
“Sarah was just fantastic, she was brilliant to work with and has enabled my dream of holding a festival like this to become a reality. I’m very grateful for her support throughout,” said Kathie.
Sarah Smith, consistently top-ranked by Legal 500 for her work in supporting leisure operators and entrepreneurs nationally, said: “As a seasoned events organiser, Kathie had an ambition to do something on a much bigger scale, and has worked so hard to put this together.
“It is fantastic news for Cramlington and the wider area that Shoe Shaker Fest is taking place and will attract guests from across the North East and beyond.
“We are very pleased to have been able to support Kathie in making this possible and wish her every success in putting on the festival.”
Alok Loomba looks at tenant operators’ rights under the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022 and the circumstances in which they may be reassured amidst the latest economic crisis.
After suffering what can only be described as the most challenging conditions faced by the leisure sector in a generation, during the COVID-19 pandemic, with enforced closure for much of 2020 and some of 2021, leisure businesses are, at last, starting to get back on their feet.
The return of a thriving leisure scene in the North East is encouraging to see, the leisure and hospitality sector having for decades been integral to the local economy, with operators now able to take full advantage of the growth in confidence within the market – both locally and as a result of tourism – since those tentative steps out of lockdown in 2021.
However, while COVID lockdowns now appear to be a distant memory, leisure operators are now facing a new set of challenges. Recruitment and soaring energy costs are proving to be ongoing and persistent challenges and the cost-of-living crisis looms large over the sector, with soaring costs already biting and these look set to get even worse as the months go on. Whether footfall will be impacted as consumers look to shore up their own finances remains to be seen. Will entertaining and socializing take the hit – as customers struggle to make their disposable income meet the basics? It’s possible that these factors may reduce turnover and profit margins for leisure businesses, thereby increasing the financial squeeze.
It’s not just the cost-of-living crisis that has leisure operators concerned. Many tenant operators are still under the shadow of arrears owed to their landlords that remain outstanding from the height of the pandemic. There is potentially one bit of reassurance for leisure businesses amidst the developing economic situation, with regard to outstanding rent arrears incurred during the COVID pandemic.
Amidst closure, or being forced to significantly revise their offering, for the best part of 16 months, many operators incurred sizeable debts around their rents, which remained due to landlords even though the premises were unoccupied or used to a small proportion of their normal capacity.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 afforded protection against eviction to those who were unable to pay their rent, although the total ban on forfeiture of commercial premises ended on 25 March 2022.
In its place has arrived the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022= (“CIRCA 2022), which ringfences outstanding unpaid rent built up during periods of forced closure of businesses during lockdowns and offers tenants protection for these.
While agreement between landlord and tenant is encouraged over these protected debts – which a specialist advisor can support – if this is not possible, the Act introduces a legally binding arbitration route to achieve resolution, with a supporting Code of Practice. The CRCA 2022 provided a six-month window in which a referral to the statutory arbitration scheme could be made. This ended on 23 September 2022, however the CRCA 2022 will continue to apply where a valid referral was made during the six-month window. Court proceedings to recover debts cannot be issued while arbitration remains an option.
Furthermore, a landlord cannot use these protected debts that fall within the CRCA 2022 to terminate a lease or enforce an eviction, providing there has been no actionable breach by the tenant – affording further protection to leisure operators who have faced such huge pressures since March 2020.
The route of finding a positive way forward through co-operation, or else arbitration, between landlord and tenant is one which will hopefully bring confidence to leisure businesses with knowledge that they remain safe in their premises, as debts incurred between 21 March 2020 and the date when specific restrictions on the relevant sector were removed, are protected. This is subject to a cut-off point of 18th July 2021 in England and 7 August 2021 in Wales. By way of example, in England, the protected period for non-essential retail will be between 21 March 2020 and 12 April 2021; for nightclubs, it will be 21 March 2021 to 18 July 2021.
As the trade looks to the months ahead and considers the impact of the developing cost of living crisis, we hope the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act 2022 will continue to give them breathing space from the legacy of the COVID pandemic.
For any concerns around the implications of the Act, what it means for your business, or support in negotiating with your landlord, our leisure team will be able to assist.
Taxi drivers need to be aware of falling foul of council’s licensing policies and breaching the conditions that apply to their hackney carriage and private hire driver licences. Failure to comply can result in the loss of their licence, which can have serious consequences for their livelihood.
Licensing policies and conditions are in place to ensure that taxi drivers operate safely and legally, whilst also protecting passengers and the wider public.
They often include requirements relating to the following:
Reporting Incidents to the Licensing Committee
Policies regularly require drivers to report any incidents to the licensing authority within a certain deadline. This includes accidents, criminal convictions, and any other incidents that could affect their ability to drive safely or professionally, including attendance at a speed awareness course. Failure to report matters often lead to drivers being asked to attend before a licensing committee.
Driver Conduct and Professionalism
Councils licensing policies may have requirements for drivers relating to conduct and professionalism. This includes requirements such as dress code, communication and timeliness. If complaints are received relating to these matters drivers may find themselves being asked to attend an interview with the licensing officer or a hearing before the licensing committee.
Compliance with Regulations
Taxi drivers must comply with all relevant regulations, including those related to vehicle safety, insurance, and licensing. This includes having a valid hackney carriage or private hire licence, insurance coverage, and a safe and roadworthy vehicle. The council carry out regular checks and inspections to ensure compliance with these regulations. Failure to comply can result in penalties or the loss of a licence.
Drivers need to be aware of the council’s licensing policies and conditions. If in doubt, ask. And if you do find yourself being called before the licensing committee, seek advice. Investing in legal assistance at an early stage can often save time, money and worry in the long run.
Sintons can help and support taxi drivers.
Some of the iconic buildings and structures in the North East have built up a resonance with the public in a way that makes them very tempting to use for commercial purposes in advertising and promotion. The Angel of the North, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Bamburgh Castle to name a few.
Is the use of photographs or other representations of these buildings and structures without risk?
What is protected by Copyright?
Work that is protected by copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) includes artistic work which includes a work of architecture being a building or a model for a building; and graphic works which includes diagrams, drawings, maps, charts and plans.
What is permitted?
Copyright in (a) buildings, and (b) sculptures and models for buildings, if permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public, is not infringed by making a graphic work representing it, photographing or filming of it, or making a broadcast of a visual image of it (the so called section 62 exception).
So, in general, it is permitted to take a photograph or drawing of a building which is in a public place. If you are the photographer or artist, you will also be the first owner of the copyright in the photographs or drawings and be entitled to commercially exploit your work. However, there are always exceptions and other areas of risk to watch out for. I have set out some tips to help you avoid problems in the future.
TIPS TO AVOID INFRINGEMENT
- You need to ensure you know the building is in a public place, as many areas that you may think are public are in actual fact privately owned. For example, many museums, art galleries, stately homes, public attractions, churches and football grounds are on private land and you would need the permission of the landowner in order to be able to commercialise your photos, or even just take photos, in these places.
- There are also some public places that have byelaws preventing commercial photography without obtaining prior written consent, such as in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.
- The Eiffel Tower in Paris falls within the public domain but its lighting and sparkling lights are protected by copyright so professional use of images of the Eiffel Tower at night require prior authorisation.
- Care should also be taken when taking photos of 2D graphical works such as posters, artwork or commissioned murals which are located in public places. Making copies of those works could be an infringement of copyright and therefore you should carry out some due diligence as to ownership and permissions required.
- If the building is still within the term of copyright protection (which normally lasts for the life of the architect plus 70 years) then you will need the permission of the copyright owner to make a physical 3D reproduction of a building.
- Permission may be required to reproduce any trademarks (names and logos) that are visible on a building.
- Although the law in the UK is uncertain regarding privacy, you should be careful when including in your work, pictures of people in a public place.
Legal advice should always be obtained prior to embarking on a business venture that reproduces images of iconic buildings or other artistic or graphical works.
There has been much made in the press relating to drones over the last few years, particularly in the context of those disrupting holiday makers with their invasion at Heathrow Airport.
This airport has now installed an anti-drone system designed to block drones entering its airspace to counter this problem by using holographic radar technology to detect not only the drones, but their operators as well. However, unless the interference is one of health and safety or of national security, or a company has the financial resources to employ such technologies as this, then there has been an absence of remedies available to businesses to address this problem.
The Civil Aviation Authority recently updated its code of practice in this area. The ‘Drone Code’ was issued to address the use of drones by operators and provides guidance that operators should follow, including adherence to rules such as not flying closer than 50 m from a person, and not flying closer than 100m from a group of people. It’s also incumbent on an operator to make themselves visible to people while flying (no covert piloting) and always having a direct line of sight to their drone, amongst other things.
The enforcement of these rules is carried out by the police. As this updated guidance is new, (revised in January 2023) it’s unclear how the police will respond to this, and how seriously they take such reports generally. Nevertheless, the guidance suggests that if you suspect someone is in breach of these new drone rules, it is the local police force who should be contacted to deal with it.
In terms of privacy, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK Regulator who oversees the collection and use of personal data, has issued some guidance on the use of drones, or “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS’s). This is in the absence of any data protection legislation specific to the use of drones contained in the UK GDPR. The ICO guidance distinguishes between those who collect personal information for personal reasons, who they call “hobbyists”, and those who collect it for professional or commercial purposes. It may be that those who fall into the former category may rely upon the domestic exemption if they use the drones and any data collected from them for personal use only, and the ICO maintains even then that operators should be aware of wider privacy considerations when recording and sharing images with others.
The ICO does recognise that the use of drones can be highly intrusive and those who collect images of individuals for professional or commercial purposes without that individuals consent, must demonstrate their compliance with the legislation and codes of practice governing this activity. Particularly, operators should notify those individuals who would likely be caught by any recordings or make such information available through an accessible privacy notice and prepare a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) to demonstrate that it has considered the privacy rights of the individual(s) concerned.
This leaves businesses seeking to protect their brand and the privacy of their customers against drone activity with the following options:
- Where the operator (or wider company who employ them) can be identified, report the operator and company to the police;
- Place clear signage around property boundaries stating the prohibition of drone activity in its airspace;
- Where recordings are made by a drone (this may only become apparent when uploaded to social media sites), report this to the ICO; and
- Consider legal action for misuse of private information where the individual(s) concerned had a reasonable expectation of privacy
As tempting as it might be, businesses should not engage in action to shoot down drones as this could constitute criminal damage to property.
As an operator of a licensed venue, you have a responsibility to keep your staff and customers safe. One of the most important ways to do this is by conducting regular Risk Assessments and implementing Best Practices. In this article, we will explain why these concepts are integral to every licensed business and provide practical guidance on how to implement them.
What are Best Practices?
Best Practices refers to the most effective ways to do things. These practices are based on past experience, research, and industry standards. By adopting best practices in your licensed venue, you are using what has proven to be the most effective methods to promote the licensing objectives. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel by writing policies from scratch. You simply need to adopt the best-established practices and adapt them to the specific needs of your venue.
What are Risk Assessments?
A Risk Assessment is a documented evaluation of potential hazards and associated risks in a particular environment. The risk assessment will typically include information on the hazards, the people who may be affected, and the steps that will be taken to control the risks.
Why are Risk Assessments and Best Practices Important?
Many operators see Risk Assessments and Best Practices as a “tick box “exercise, simply creating a neat file of paperwork to gather dust pending their next licensing inspection. However, it is important to remember that these concepts are not just about compliance. They are about keeping your staff and customers safe and preventing incidents that could harm your business.
By identifying risks associated with your premises and applying Best Practices in how you address those risks, you will not only ensure that you are keeping staff and customers safe but will provide evidence that you are doing so. This will not only save you money in insurance premiums and claims if incidents do occur but will also promote compliance with licensing objectives.
How to Implement Risk Assessments and Best Practices in your venue:
- Conduct a Risk Assessment –
The first step in implementing best practices is to conduct a Risk Assessment. Identify potential hazards and associated risks in your venue and develop a plan to control those risks.
- Adopt Best Practices –
Once you have identified the risks, adopt Best Practices that have been proven to be effective in addressing those risks. This could include policies relating to spiking of drinks and people, safeguarding and vulnerable people, dispersal, and drug and weapon policies.
- Keep practices under review –
Best Practices have to evolve all the time to incorporate changes in risks relating to licensed premises. Keep your practices under constant review and adapt them as necessary.
- Train your staff –
Train your staff regularly to consider Best Practice and encourage them to highlight potential issues with best practice and offer better solutions to improve how the venue operates.
In these difficult trading times the need to apply Best Practice and keep it under regular review is more important than ever. By conducting regular Risk Assessments and adopting
Best Practices, you can promote compliance with licensing objectives, keep your staff and customers safe, and prevent incidents that could harm your business. Remember, Risk Assessments and Best Practices are not just about compliance. They are about keeping people safe and promoting a safe and well-managed venue.
Please get in touch if you would like us to help you prepare or review your risk assessments and policies.
Well nobody saw that coming! This may seem an unusual way to start an article, but if you cast your mind back to this article 12 months ago, we thought that the industry had turned the corner, the dark days of Covid-19 were behind us, and there was plenty of opportunity to bounce back to profitability.
But how could we foresee the troubles that have hit the industry in the last 12 months?
With utility prices sky high, product prices rising as a result of suppliers carrying increased costs of production, the high rate of inflation hitting the pound in the pocket of many punters, and the chaos that followed September’s mini-budget, it became another increasingly tough year for many in the industry. With hindsight, it seems like the sector had walked out of a dark tunnel into the light, but that light was just the lightning flashes of the approaching storm!
But as always, this industry we love has been resilient and found a way forward. New outlets have popped up all over, from smaller microbusinesses (pubs and street food outlets), through to high end fine dining establishments, indeed it can easily be argued there has never been a better time to be a foodie in the region. Other areas of the industry have also continued to thrive, such as the holiday and caravan park market, where demand for sites is higher than ever and prices being paid are at all-time highs.
There has also been a strong uptick in the conversion of former retail space to leisure uses, so much so that statistics indicate the number of bars, large venues and high street units increased by 0.5%. Whist Pubs sit within a Sui Generis planning class, the introduction of Class E has allowed food focused operators to benefit from this relaxation in planning laws, and we’ve been pleased to see the opening of outlets such as NQ64 on Pilgrim Street and Four Quarters on Dean Street in Newcastle City Centre, which both build on the competitive socialising scene.
Licensing however remains tight in many city centre locations and as licensing authorities begin to review the pavement licences granted during Covid-19, there are no doubt some more changes to come.
That is not to say that there have not been closures of businesses, but the severity of closures was not as severe as many feared. The CGA/Alix Partners Report for October 2022 confirmed that total pub numbers in England & Wales declined by just 0.6% in the preceding 12 months (the increase in city centre venues, being offset by closures in the traditional wet led sector). This means that the total number of pubs would sit just short of 46,000 for the start of the year. These numbers, however, strongly suggest a distinct slowing in the rate of decline over the last 5 years.
Now whilst last year was undoubtedly hard work, there are still lots of positive things coming up. Once again, the RFL Magic Weekend returns to Newcastle, for an unprecedented 7th time, and the continued performance of Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland will continue to ensure the hostelries of their respective town centres are full on match days. Music, Comedy and Theatre performances are back, audiences are growing and Sam Fender’s two nights at St James’ Park and Beyonce at the Stadium of Light will be the biggest shows the cities have seen for some time. Hopefully, the recent Business Rates Revaluation will result in reduced liabilities for operators, but even if your Rateable Value has not fallen, there are still ways to make sure that you are making the most of the savings available.
Whilst 2022 didn’t prove to be the year we all hoped, there’s every reason to think 2023 looks like it’s going to be another interesting year and hopefully, this isn’t another false dawn.
Article from our North East Leisure Supplement 2023, produced in conjunction with Sanderson Weatherall.
To view the full supplement click here.
In addition to Government guidance and Covid-19 safety measures, business owners should consider whether its processing of Covid-19 pass information meets the requirements under the Data Protection Act 2018.
A visitor’s Covid-19 status constitutes health data, a type of special category of personal data under UK data protection laws. Compliance obligations around processing this type of personal data are more onerous, due to its inherent sensitivity, and a failure to comply with the 2018 Act could lead to sanctions issued by the ICO, the UK Regulator responsible for data protection matters.
For operators, where you do check or record people’s Covid-19 status, you must justify this in terms of what you collect, what you do with the information, how long you keep it for, and how you keep it secure, amongst other things. The Data Protection Act 2018 requires that you ensure the collection of visitors Covid-19 status is necessary, clear and transparent. What you do with this information should be set out in your Privacy Notice, statement or policy.
The same applies for those employees from whom you seek a vaccination status. An employee has the right to understand what information is held about them, and the easiest way to demonstrate this is with an Employee Privacy Notice. The processing of employee personal data must be fair and justifiable in all the circumstances and where you operate a business with a sizeable number of employees, you should carefully consider the purpose for retaining an employee’s vaccination status long-term.
Remember that the cornerstones of the 2018 Act are transparency and accountability, and that even where you are acting in line with government guidance, this must be demonstrated by your policy documents.
Article from our North East Leisure Supplement 2022, produced in conjunction with Sanderson Weatherall.
The hospitality industry is often regarded as a springboard into the workplace for many young people but recently the UK has experienced rising staff shortages, with job vacancies at their highest levels since records began.
Covid-19 and Brexit have been cited as contributing to the problem. Since the start of the pandemic, 1 in 5 workers have left the sector, according to industry bodies such as Hospitality UK.
Prior to the pandemic, the hospitality industry employed 3.2m people and was the UK’s third largest private sector employer, with vacancies consistently around 90,000.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that job vacancies in the industry were already at high levels before the UK went into in lockdown in March 2020.
Much of this shortfall could be attributed to the perceived culture of very long working-hours and low wages. Hospitality insiders suggest that some shortages, particularly of chefs, waiting staff and restaurant managers, are being seen because the Government reopened the whole economy at the same time and so everybody is looking for staff. Hospitality UK state that the industry can return to pre-pandemic levels of demand by the start of 2022, but warns it is “undoubtedly going to take the industry a long time to recover”.
The situation could be seen as a “reset moment” with employers looking at working conditions, training, and skills development.
Staff shortages are impacting on hospitality businesses in many ways – with reduced opening hours, it is highly likely that with overworked teams, customer service will suffer alongside reputational damage and an increase in complaints. Pressure on existing staff where they are covering multiple job roles that they may not be trained or qualified to do. Pressure on staff who are training new staff and the time and effort this takes alongside trying to do their own jobs.
With increasing challenges facing the hospitality industry, it is important to ensure that all staff are fully trained ahead of starting their first shift.
By ignoring the importance of workplace training, you could risk:
- An increase in workplace accidents, decreased staff morale and increased absence. There is a legal obligation to ensure staff are provided with adequate health and safety training.
- Inadequately trained staff are likely to experience poor job performance and increased levels of work-related stress.
- Lack of training leads to staff feeling undervalued, which will reduce workplace productivity, loyalty and engagement.
Article from our North East Leisure Supplement 2022, produced in conjunction with Sanderson Weatherall.
For businesses operating in the leisure industry, to say the last 24 months have been turbulent would be an understatement, with Covid-19 and Brexit combining to create significant challenges for operators.
On January 1, 2020, the UK’s departure from the European Union became a reality. Little over two months later, on March 23, the UK went into lockdown as the result of a global pandemic.
These two successive events have really affected the leisure and hospitality industry.
As we move into 2022, the operational difficulties faced by the pandemic are clear. Staffing is sporadic, menus are reduced, outlets are closing, there is a strain covering for absent colleagues and employers need to manage Covid-19 in the workplace and consider how to move forward.
How to keep staff and customers safe?
Whilst it would be hoped workers and customers would take a sensible view if they contract Covid-19, ending free testing and changing statutory sick pay and isolation payments at the same time could create a scenario where individuals, avoid taking tests, don’t communicate a positive test, don’t isolate or unknowingly walk around with the virus.
It is therefore important that employers update risk assessments to reflect the probability that Covid-19 may be coming into the workplace.
Workers with Covid-19 no longer need to isolate. It may therefore be worth considering a contractual change forcing those with Covid-19 to remain at home, on pay to avoid spreading the virus.
It is important to assess how this will work in practice, for example, how long will the isolation period be, what pay will employees get whilst isolating and how they will evidence having Covid-19?
How to entice applicants to the industry?
As a consequence of Brexit, workers no longer have freedom of movement. Employers need to sponsor individuals to work in the UK who are not settled workers or who do not have some other immigration permission allowing them to work in the UK.
This has naturally had a significant impact on recruitment in the industry and can be seen by the number of unfilled posts. In December 2021, there were 163,000 unfilled posts in the leisure industry, a marked increase from 75,000 unfilled posts in December 2019.
One of our national clients, Motel One, has seen its non-UK national workforce reduce from 60 per cent to 30 per cent. That being said, its chain of hotels is expanding across the globe and while applications are reduced, calibre remains high. So, it may not be all doom and gloom.
So, what can you do?
Consider paying above the National Living Wage to attract applicants. The job site Indeed reported that wages in the leisure industry have increased by 4.6 per cent and employers need to remain competitive.
Also, engage workers on a guaranteed hours contract, with an option for overtime rather than a casual worker contract. Whilst the flexibility of casual arrangements can be beneficial, the certainty of hours provides security which is attractive to all in uncertain times.
What if I cannot provide work for the full workforce?
Unfortunately, in the last 24 months, restructures and redundancies have been commonplace. A restructure is not a temporary measure, it imposes a permanent change and so you may want to consider other avenues first. Check if your contracts permit lay-off or as an alternative staff may be amenable to a temporary change to their contract if it protects the job role longer term.
If redundancies do become necessary ensure that you follow a fair and transparent process and be mindful that 20 or more dismissals from the same establishment within a 90-day period will trigger collective consultation obligations.
Article from our North East Leisure Supplement 2022, produced in conjunction with Sanderson Weatherall.
To view the full supplement click here.
As Sintons marks its 125th anniversary, here, we highlight some of the major events since 1896, both in the development of Sintons, as well as the world in general.
Please click on the play button below.
As Sintons celebrates its 125th anniversary, some of its team share their thoughts and experiences of being part of the firm and playing their role in its growth. From those who have been at Sintons for over 30 years to those who have joined more recently, here they discuss what makes the firm stand out in the competitive legal marketplace, while also being a great place to work.
“I have been at Sintons now for nearly 20 years and during that time I have progressed from trainee to partner level and more recently to head of our fast-growing NHS Healthcare team. Many of my clients have been with Sintons for years and grown with me and I think a large part of that is because we have built such strong and trusting relationships with them.
The firm has grown significantly since I first started working here – it has doubled in size. However, the same culture, values and traditions are still imbedded which means whilst the firm changed in size, it still embraces the supportive nurturing culture you only find at Sintons which cascades from the top down.
As I began life as a trainee at Sintons, it’s fantastic to be able to support others in progressing and achieving their goals. We have a strong team and great dynamic and that is evident to our young lawyers who bring with them a refreshing approach to the Sintons culture.”
“Starting my career, it was important to find a firm with local roots and a reputation for providing high quality training. The first-class levels of service Sintons provide is testament to the standard of training they deliver, and there was no question which firm I wanted my career to start in.
Sintons have always focused on ensuring that my development is put first and have laid the foundations for a successful career as a solicitor. Being a full service firm has given me the opportunity to experience all areas of law and has exposed me to a variety of high value and complex work. I look forward to what the future holds for me at Sintons.
Although the marketplace is competitive, Sintons longstanding history and their presence, both locally and nationally, will always place them at the forefront.”
Anne Smith, secretary
“I started at Sintons in 1986 and this year in November will have been here for 35 years.
I still remember my first day like it was yesterday. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and it is still like that today – almost like a second family to me.
“I have mainly worked in private client and worked for lots of fee earners and partners. In 2000 I started working for Steve Freeman who then went on to become a Partner and Head of the Private Client Department. I have now worked for him for 21 years this year and I can honestly say it has been a pleasure and an honour to work for such a lovely man – we have a great working relationship. I also work with the rest of the Family Department and work for such lovely fee earners.
I am also very proud to say that my daughter Emma also works for Sintons in the Conveyancing Department and she also loves her job and the team she works with.
I have seen many changes over the years but one thing remains constant – Sintons is a great place to work. I have made lifelong friends here and they will remain so.”
Emelie Vardon, solicitor
“Sintons’ heritage was very important to me when choosing to join Sintons. I came here as a trainee solicitor in 2017 and making the right choice for my future career was crucial. Knowing Sintons’ reputation and history, I couldn’t have made a better decision.
This is such a great place to work with a warm and welcoming environment. Following the completion of my training contract in 2019, I joined our developing Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes team. Under Emma Saunders’ excellent leadership and support, my first year as a qualified solicitor has been excellent groundwork for my future career in this specialist area of law.
As a full-service law firm, I consider that Sintons is well-placed in the competitive market.”
“I joined Sintons as a trainee in September 1997. At the time the firm consisted of about 80-90 people. We were operating from an office in Portland Terrace in Jesmond, it was like a rabbit warren for a new starter as it was multiple old terraced houses converted and joined on different floors.
The main changes have been the massive growth in size and expertise, plus multiple office moves until finally landing at the Cube. When I qualified in 1999 myself and the partner at the time (Andrew Walker) were the Sintons commercial property department. Since then we have grown significantly.
Sintons has always been and remains a great place to work, we have an excellent team in Real Estate and will continue to succeed because of the efforts of our staff.”
Pippa Aitken, senior associate
“Sintons was much smaller when I joined in 1998. It was a friendly, family firm renowned for its reputation in private client and personal injury work. There was no dedicated corporate and commercial department.
“I was the only trainee and was sent on all sorts of weird and wonderful jobs – witnessing wills, attending infant settlements and the odd trip to the bank for the accounts department!
Sintons has become a lot more sophisticated in its working procedures and there is a much faster pace of life with emails being the most popular form of communication. I have seen some great lawyers leave and some great lawyers arrive but everyone soon seems to inherit the ‘old’ Sintons sense of fun, respect and teamwork.
Sintons is in a great place going forward. Virtual working has opened up some great opportunities to spread our wings and engage with clients even better than before.”
“The firm has almost doubled in size since I started in 2005. The range of services offered by the firm has expanded quite significantly since then too, making the firm much more attractive to commercial clients.
When I first came to Sintons, I headed up the department with Lucy Winskell (now chair of NELEP and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Northumbria University). Since her departure I have headed it up myself. In spite of that, the department has grown in its client base and the amount of work we deal with on an annual basis.
With the growth in size and services we continue to see, I think Sintons are very well placed in the market to take advantage of opportunities going forward.”
Astrid Stevenson, secretary
“I joined Sintons on 21 October, 1997, and will have been here for 25 years this year.
I think when I started there were only about 80 people working at Sintons. We were based in Portland Terrace then moved to Osborne Terrace. We didn’t have open plan working like we have now, we had little rooms with approximately 3 secretaries in each room. I shared a room with Anne Smith from the first day I arrived and we have been firm friends ever since. Fee earners all had their own office. Basically, it was like a rabbit warren.
The staffing levels were very much smaller then, as I say about 80 staff then and now we have more than double that number. The computer system (Word Perfect 5.1) and equipment were top of the range for the time, and I think that has carried on until this day, our IT department have the latest of everything and are basically top notch.
Since I started 25 years ago, the firm has changed and has always moved forward with the times. When I started there were no female partners. Hilary Parker and Karen Simms became the first, which was a very welcome breakthrough for Sintons.
We were like one big happy family with lots of social events, which thankfully still happen to this day, keeping the ethos of Sintons going.
I think if I didn’t enjoy working here I wouldn’t be celebrating my 25th years this year at Sintons. I’ve worked for the head of dispute resolution Angus Ashman for 24 of those years, and I think we work well together because we work as a team.
This is a very nice place to work, the people are all friendly and If anyone needs help with anything there is always someone there to help. I always think we are only as good as the tools we work with and I must say Sintons do provide all the best equipment and people and it makes the job so much easier if you have things like that in place.”
Sintons’ chairman, Alan Dawson, is one of the firm’s longest-serving people, having joined in 1980. Here, he shares his thoughts on some of the biggest changes and advances he has seen in the past 41 years.
When I joined in 1980, we used manual typewriters, although thankfully electric typewriters had recently become available. There were no screens at that time, but over the years we added one-line screens to the typewriters, then that went up to three or four lines. It was the early 1990s before we introduced computers.
There were no colour photocopiers so all of the plans we copied were in black and white. We would have to go over them with coloured pens to make them the same as the original.
The introduction of fax in the 80s was a game changer, everything before then was done by Telex or telegram if we needed ‘instant’ communication. The only problem was that due to the paper fax machines used at that time, the print would fade – we’d go back to the file six months later and the sheet would be completely blank! We had to remember to photocopy the fax when they came in for use in our records.
With property completions, all bank-to-bank transfers involved getting an actual cheque from the bank, and then going to the office of the other solicitor in the transaction to inspect the deeds and then complete the deal. Fridays, the traditional completion day, were often spent going between solicitors’ offices in Newcastle.
When mobile phones were introduced, we had one mobile for the firm to use, we didn’t have one each. It was one of the brick-like phones with a huge battery, but it was a huge novelty.
Thankfully things have moved on hugely, and Sintons now has a first-rate technology and IT infrastructure, which enables us to offer a very efficient service to our clients while keeping their data fully secure.
Size of the firm
Back in 1980, we had about 36 people – now we have around 170.
We really started to grow from the mid to late 90s, and in 1998 we moved our offices from Portland Terrace in Jesmond to bigger premises in Osborne Terrace, which comprised three and a half houses next to each other with an overspill office further down the road. We imagined that would give us room to grow for the next 15 years – but within the next two or three years, it was already too small.
We came to The Cube in 2004 and at first didn’t use the top floor of our four-floor building, although within the next couple of years we had expanded into there.
Over the years, we have added many outstanding lawyers to our team, both through recruitment from other firms as well as training young people-in house. Our commitment to supporting aspiring lawyers through their training contract has been unfaltering – I joined as an articled clerk (or trainee, as it’s now known) and have progressed through the ranks.
As the firm has grown then so too has our back-office and support functions developed. We didn’t have the infrastructure we have now, so no HR, IT or marketing department.
Our accounts system was all manual, the cashier had to write everything by hand. There was one card per client, so if you had to borrow it, then they couldn’t make any more entries for that client until you returned it.
Our HR function was our office manager, who kept a record of who was off and the reasons for their absence – reading it now, some of the reasons are quite amusing!
Law firms weren’t allowed to advertise at all until the late 1980s, so the only kind of marketing we could do was through the Yellow Pages. Now, we operate at the very forefront of the sector, adopting digital way before many of our competitors, and that early investment is helping us to stay ahead in the marketplace.
In the 1980s when I joined, Sintons had a very significant insurance litigation practice which acted for four or five of the major national insurers. The revenue from that area of the business probably accounted for two thirds of our entire income. However, in the early 1990s, we recognised that reliance on a few large clients or a particular work stream was not the best way to develop the firm and could make us vulnerable. We therefore made concerted efforts to radically change our business model and to further grow the other practice areas we had operated in for many years, including private client, corporate and commercial and real estate, and they proved to be areas of strong development for us. They continue to be key areas of the business for us and will be central to our ongoing progress as a firm.
We also moved into claimant personal injury work, which really took off in the late 90s and early 2000s. More recently, we have developed our national reputation as specialists in catastrophic and serious personal injury work with a thriving specialist neurotrauma department which handles life-changing brain and spinal cord injury work.
In the early days, we were more of a regional firm with clients mainly across the North East, and some in the wider North. Occasionally, clients moved to elsewhere in England which helped us to reach out nationally on a small scale, but we didn’t have much of a national reach.
However, as we grew as a firm, we started to work on a more national basis and now on an international basis as well. The improvement of technology was also an important factor in enabling us to communicate with people wherever they were by phone or fax, but more recently by mobile phone, email or even video calling which has proved so important during the pandemic.
Through our efforts to grow individual areas of the business – which in many instances have demonstrated substantial growth over the course of a number of years, underpinned by the hard work of our people – we have been able to add outstanding new lawyers to the team, whether they have moved to Sintons from elsewhere or have been trained in-house.
Now, we have a number of areas of the business which are regarded in the highest terms nationally, including our healthcare team, which has grown its presence over the past 10 to 15 years to become a national leader in its field.
We continue to receive growing numbers of instructions from across the UK and wider afield in almost all areas of the business, as our capability and reputation as a firm builds further still.
1896 marked a year of historic new beginnings and breakthroughs.
The year that saw the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens;
The introduction of the X-ray;
The development of the first Ford vehicle, the Quadricycle.
And in such a landmark year as 1896, with events taking place which went on to change history, it is fitting that this was the year when Sintons was founded and the foundations laid for the firm that it would become.
Having been founded as Sutton Cheshire & Thompson on February 8, 1896, to serve the people of Newcastle, the firm then merged with John H. Sintons & Co in 1971 – later becoming Sintons – and has grown into one of the leading law firms in the North of England, acting for ever-increasing numbers of business and private clients both regionally and across the UK.
Over the past 125 years, Sintons has developed a reputation for the quality of its advice, and crucially, the deep and trusting relationships it builds with its clients borne out of the outstanding service it delivers to them.
There are so many momentous events and developments which have taken place over such a long period of time and the world has changed, and continues to change, beyond recognition.
However, throughout that period Sintons has been working alongside individuals, families, businesses and organisations for 125 years, adapting and changing to meet new challenges and will continue to do so for the years to come.
As a law firm for changing times, Sintons continues to evolve, as it has done since 1896, to ensure it stays at the forefront of the legal market and in the best possible position to deliver excellence to its clients.
“Over the past 125 years, we have continually shown we are innovators, we are leaders. We have never been afraid to take bold decisions,” says Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons.
“A great example of this is when we invested in our head office, The Cube, in 2004. We were moving to an area of the city which was largely undeveloped and were, largely, surrounded by the old Scottish and Newcastle plant. Looking around us now, this is a thriving, fast-growing and sought-after area, which is the site of huge investment from both business and academia. We had the foresight to buy into these brave future plans and the ambition to want to become part of it.
“In these changing times, we will continue to evolve and develop, as we have done throughout our history, to ensure that at all times we are delivering the very best service to all our clients while also building and investing in the firm from within.
“We have stood the test of time for 125 years and are committed to ensuring Sintons maintains the reputation and presence that has been built so carefully into the future.”
For Christopher, who joined Sintons in 2003, the main differentiator between Sintons and its competitors is its unfaltering commitment to clients.
While continuing to attract new clients nationally, the firm is rightly proud of its longstanding client base, which includes many who have been with Sintons through multiple generations of their family or business ownership.
“The firm’s absolute priority from day one has been our clients and ensuring they receive the highest standards of legal and personal service. Our reputation is built on those foundations, which were laid by our previous generations of Sintons’ lawyers, and is one we are proud to continue to develop further,” says Christopher.
“At Sintons, we care about what we do, how we do it and we never forget that the clients we are working with are depending on us for, often, some of the most momentous decisions of their lives. As a firm, we recognise both the privilege and the responsibility that goes with this, it is fundamental to how we work and to our values as a business.
“Our clients are the front, back and centre of everything we do. We’ve been there for them whenever they’ve needed us for 125 years and that will continue to be the case as we move forward.”
And building further on its reputation for leading the way in the legal marketplace, Sintons continues to innovate to stand out from the crowd.
Having carried out a full rebrand in early 2020, to give the firm a fresh yet timeless identity, Sintons continues to invest in its future.
“Our rebrand was a significant step for the firm,” says Christopher. “Our branding represents the firm that we are; bold, innovative and providing clear and confident advice to our clients – a firm that stands out from the crowd.
“The use of technology to better serve our clients has always been an essential part of our growth strategy. Our founding partners would be aghast at the thought that we were able to have virtually all our colleagues working remotely – with some as far away as the Cayman Islands and Texas – without any impact on client service.
“By investing heavily in our website and online presence, we have created a resource which is available to clients wherever they are in the UK or indeed the world, giving them immediate access to information and support in ways which weren’t available before.
“The legal sector isn’t always the first to embrace change, but we are rightfully proud of the reputation we have built for standing out in that respect. For 125 years, we have taken bold moves, we have never shied away from making investment to equip the business for the long-term, and we have shown foresight and innovation to make the firm what it is today.
“This is a landmark anniversary for us, and in uncertain times, the investment we have made for many years in our infrastructure, development of our people and strategic recruitment means we remain confident in our future and the service we can continue to provide to our clients and to the regional community of which we are a fundamental part.
“These truly are changing times – but with 125 years behind us then we must be doing something right! We know that our business will continue to evolve, with further investments in technology and infrastructure changing how and where we work. However, as we move forward, what is clear is that Sintons will always be right there, by the side of our clients, as we have been since 1896.”
Since its foundation in 1896, Sintons has grown to become one of the leading law firms in the North of England with a client base which extends across the whole UK.
It has become known as a key advisor to businesses and individuals acting on major, complex matters, regionally, nationally and internationally.
Sintons has built a well-deserved reputation for delivering expert legal advice and outstanding service to every client, which is at the heart of the trusting and long-lasting relationships it has built during the past 125 years.
Testament to the quality of service provided is the fact that many of the firm’s clients have been with Sintons for decades, with the firm routinely being trusted to advise multiple generations of families and business owners.
Now, in its 125th year, and despite the ongoing challenges being presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sintons remains confident in its future as the firm continues to develop and grow.
The firm can trace its roots back to the formation of Sutton Cheshire & Thompson on February 8, 1896, which merged with John H. Sinton & Co in 1971 to become Sinton & Co, and later Sintons.
The expansion of the amalgamated firm has seen it move offices a number of times in order to house its growing number of employees, moving from Portland Terrace in Jesmond to bigger premises in Osborne Terrace which were soon outgrown, resulting in the relocation in 2004 to its current purpose-built home, The Cube, opposite St James’ Park in Newcastle. A second site was added with the opening of a consulting office in York two years ago to help the firm service its increasing demand for work from around Yorkshire.
The move in 2004 acted as a springboard in the development of Sintons, with many people not having realised how big the firm had grown and heralded a period of strong growth across the firm as a whole, with legal talent continually added to build its expertise and capability further still.
This has been backed by continued investment in its IT infrastructure, digital offering and people, to ensure Sintons is well positioned for the future.
“We are very proud of the reputation we have built over the past 125 years, which has seen us become known on a national scale as a law firm of the highest capability which is absolutely dedicated to its clients,” says Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons.
“We have never been afraid to be leaders and to take bold decisions, which have frequently put us at the very forefront of the legal sector. We were, for example, building our online presence and digital business development platforms way ahead of our competitors and long before it was something that was embraced widely within the legal sector.
“Going forward, we are in a strong position, having built on the heritage and legacy of Sintons over the past 125 years to create a law firm with a national reach, regarded in the highest terms for the quality of both our legal and personal client service.
“This is a very significant milestone for us as a business, and while we reach it during some of the most challenging economic conditions in the country’s history, we remain confident in the future of Sintons.”
Sintons’ Employment team, in partnership with Reed HR, have recorded the following complimentary online employment law seminar.
This seminar focuses on how to manage the end of furlough & potential restructuring.
Please click on the play button in the bottom left corner of the below image to start viewing.
To follow the full size slides the team are using throughout the presentation, please click here prior to commencing watching.
The department maintains its long-held top-tier ranking in Legal 500 2019, in recognition of its work with key clients in the leisure sector regionally and nationally.
The team is praised for its breadth of expertise, from general administration and new applications to defending reviews of licences and handling applications in cumulative impact policy areas, and for its strong client base, which includes many of the leading leisure operators in the North of England. Legal 500 also hails its specialism in taxi licensing law.
Sarah Smith, head of licensing at Sintons, is again named as a leading individual for her work on behalf of clients, and is hailed for her ability to work in collaboration with licensing authorities and responsible bodies.
Consultant Barry Speker also wins praise in this area, with Legal 500 naming him as “notable” for his work in advising restaurants and takeaways on licensing and property matters. He is a longstanding trusted advisor to the Chinese community in Newcastle and the wider North.
Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, said: “Our licensing team has a long-standing reputation as being one of the leaders in its field of the North of England, and Legal 500 2019 rightly gives further recognition of this status. Our work in this very specialist area is unrivalled and Sarah Smith is a true expert in this field, leading a team which acts for major nationally-known leisure names on a wide range of matters and delivering excellence in legal and client service.
“Leisure is another area of the Sintons business which continues to grow and make even further gains, and we are delighted with this continuing progress.”
The specialist corporate and commercial team at Sintons has again been hailed as one of the key advisors in the North of England, with Legal 500 2019 praising its capability in the full spectrum of matters.
The team was hailed for its strength in key areas including mergers and acquisitions, buyouts, private equity, solvent and insolvent reorganisations and corporate finance, with Legal 500 pointing to its work in healthcare, life sciences and leisure as being of particular strength.
Legal 500 – a wholly independent assessment of law firms and lawyers based on examples of work, interviews and client and peer testimonials – hails the team for being “friendly and very approachable” and “very knowledgeable and quick to respond to queries”.
Karen Simms, head of corporate and commercial, is again named as a leading individual by Legal 500 and is highlighted for her “significant experience” in the complex areas of energy and waste management. She is also noted for her ability to “always remain calm during pressured situations”.
Senior associate Emma Pern is again hailed as a rising star, noted for her work in “complex transactions”.
Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, said: “Our corporate and commercial team is widely regarded as one of the leaders in the North of England, with a client base that extends across the UK, and to have further endorsement of our work from Legal 500 2019 is very pleasing. The fact we are highlighted for excellence in so many areas of corporate and commercial work is testament to our strength and capability in this area, and to have a number of our key people recommended is further endorsement of our presence in this field.
“Our corporate and commercial department plays a central role in the delivery of our Strategy for Growth, and great strides have been made in the continuing development of this key area of the business, alongside the addition of a number of excellent new lawyers to the team. These latest strong rankings from Legal 500 add to our recent success at the Northern Law Awards in showing that Sintons is a strong and growing presence in this field and a highly-rated trusted advisor to so many clients regionally and nationally.”