Category Archive: Religious

Sintons once again wins praise from Legal 500 2022

Law firm Sintons has again maintained its reputation as one of the leading law firms in the North of England in newly-released rankings from Legal 500, winning plaudits for its strength and expertise across the firm.

Legal 500 2022, released today, renews its praise of Sintons and confirms them as being a go-to legal provider in the region in many key practice areas.

The independent publication – which ranks law firms and lawyers across the North, compiled as a result of examples of work, interviews and client and peer testimonials – names eight of Sintons’ lawyers as leading individuals, three as next generation partners and a further six as rising stars. One of its lawyers also secures the highly coveted accolade of being named in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame, in recognition of consistent achievement throughout their career.

The latest Legal 500 rankings add further to the long-standing reputation of Sintons – winner of five awards at the most recent Northern Law Awards, including overall Law Firm of the Year – as a leading player in the North of England, with national reach and capability in many of its departments.

The leading individuals at Sintons, as identified by Legal 500, are:

The next generation partners, as identified by Legal 500, are:

The lawyer named as member of the Legal 500 Hall of Fame is:

The rising stars at the firm are:

Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons, said: “We are very proud of the reputation we have built during our 125 year history as being a law firm which consistently offers legal excellence and an outstanding service to our clients, and for these two factors to again be recognised by Legal 500 as being a staple of Sintons’ offering is very pleasing.

We are delighted to maintain our position as one of the leading law firms in the North of England, with strength, capability and experience running throughout our practice areas.”

Sintons’ development – reflections from the Chairman

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.

Technology

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.

Practice areas

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.

National reach

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.

Law firm Sintons is marking its 125th anniversary

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.

In many of its practice areas, including business, healthcare, private client and neurotrauma, Sintons is regarded as one of the UK’s leading specialist advisors.

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.”

Non residential leases of church buildings

Associate Joanne Russell from the Faith Based Institutions department at Sintons recently recorded a podcast concentrating on non residential leases of church buildings for the Methodist Church Trustees.

Payment of rent: concerns raised by tenants during COVID-19 pandemic

This article features on the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes website.

COVID-19 and the ‘lockdown’ have thrown up a number of potential problems for tenants who are unable to work or are experiencing a reduction in their income. There are many people who are experiencing financial difficulties and TMCP has listened to the concerns raised with Managing Trustees by their tenants. As a Church we are sympathetic and want to help those in need.

In relation to those tenants in residential accommodation owned by the Church, TMCP have worked in collaboration with Sintons, one of the firms on the panel of solicitors, on a process which can be followed by Managing Trustees where they have received a request from their tenant who has a genuine concern about meeting their rental payments.  The aim is to ensure that if Managing Trustees want to acquiesce to a request for a temporary suspension in payment of rent, or agree a reduction in rent, that such an agreement is documented legally without affecting the other terms of the tenancy/lease.

To that end TMCP and Sintons have produced a questionnaire which Managing Trustees can complete, detailing the reasons why they are agreeing to reduce or suspend the rent, setting out the length of the suspension/reduction and what the repayment terms will be once life returns to ‘normal’. The questionnaire can be found in the Trustee Documents (password protected) area of the TMCP website. If you do not have the password then you can email or call TMCP and we will provide you with the same.

Once the questionnaire has been completed it should be sent to TMCP and Sintons. Sintons will prepare a side letter for the Managing Trustees detailing what has been agreed, which can then be signed by the parties and kept with the original tenancy agreement/lease. Sintons have agreed to charge Managing Trustees £200 plus VAT for producing the side letter on the basis the questionnaire is completed correctly. To help keep costs down Managing Trustees can contact TMCP Legal  if they are having difficulties in completing the questionnaire and we will provide as much assistance as necessary. TMCP have trained a number of its Legal team to deal with these enquiries to ensure the same are dealt with as a priority.

Managing Trustees who wish to use a different solicitor should refer to the process referred to in COVID-19 FAQ 9.2, available on the COVID-19 page of the TMCP website and contact TMCP so that we can approve the document recording the temporary arrangements.

There is also a step by step guide (the AST Concession Process Chart) available on the TMCP website  which will help Managing Trustees in following the process and completing the questionnaire.

Please also refer to COVID-19 FAQ 9.1, which gives guidance on the types of questions Managing Trustees should ask before agreeing to a rent suspension or reduction.

It is important that any agreements to suspend or reduce rental payments during this difficult time are correctly documented to protect both parties and ensure that the other terms of the tenancy agreement/lease are not affected. It is also important to bear in mind that as prudent charity trustees and in accordance with Methodist Church best practice, Managing Trustees are not encouraged to offer any concessions themselves but rather wait until an approach is made by a tenant and proper investigations have been made into the financial circumstances of all parties.

If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this document please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.

Trinity Church Gosforth Newcastle welcomes Caffe 1901 Limited

Trinity Church Gosforth Newcastle were delighted to welcome Caffe 1901 Limited as the new café operator within Trinity Church. The café is proving to be a great success, drawing in large numbers keen to sample excellent food and coffee within a very attractive space.

The Church Managing Trustees, Alan Nicholson and Jeremy Nelson, have worked closely together with Caffe 1901 directors Mandy Walia and Debbie Baker to provide a fresh, attractive environment which fits seamlessly with the current Church activities and attracts both seasoned Church facility users and other members of the local community.

The café’s success forms part of the much wider and dynamic role of the Church in the local community with the Church already offering meeting facilities for numerous local groups and last year Caffe 1901 jointly hosted, with the Church, the switching on of Trinity’s outside Christmas lights at a celebration with Church Members and members of the local community.

Alan and Jeremy comment: “we are very pleased that Caffe 1901 limited are now part of what the Church offers to the local community and we would like to thank everyone for their work in making this arrangement possible, in particular the efforts of TMCP and Church panel solicitors Sintons LLP who acted for the Managing Trustees of Trinity Church.”