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scott duff and co 40th birthday celebrations
SCOTT DUFF & CO. CELEBRATE 40 YEARS IN BUSINESS

Scott Duff & Co celebrated their 40th anniversary in April 2017, and what a long way we have come since it all began back in April 1977…

Hugh Andrew Scott Duff, or Andrew as he is known to all, made the difficult decision to uproot his whole family including the dog in April 1977 and move to Penrith to have his dream of owning his own law firm, whilst being close to his favourite place – the Lake District.

“I remember the heart searching I had, the long walks with my dog just thinking about starting. I had then a wife, two kids and a holiday home to support as well as a heavily mortgaged house in Blackburn. I had no clients to take with me and apart from being a member of Penrith Round Table (on a transfer from Coleshill) was unknown in Penrith. It was a question of just screwing my plate onto the wall outside whatever office I could find and waiting”, says Andrew.

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Andrew was lucky enough to find offices (three rooms) with a flat above at 41 King Street and he moved his family including the dog into the flat above, and that is where it all began.

Andrew was assisted by Kathy Jenkins (then Sidey) who had volunteered to help him with Wills and Probate and Conveyancing, and on the first day of opening, Andrew and Kathy sat and wrote each other’s Wills to give them something to do.

It was a slow start, but Andrew took on two secretaries, one for the morning and one for the afternoon and when they had no work to do he would dictate Statutes for them to type out as practice!

“I always remember having to wait for the telephone to ring, and when it did, to let it ring for three rings so as not to sound too eager and then pick it up. There were many days when it didn’t ring so I kept waiting and dictating the Statutes. Gradually, as I became known, it started to ring more.”

Andrew’s mantra was to serve the client; to ask what they wanted to achieve and to do his best to achieve it at a low cost. He has always been adaptable and over the years has done every kind of law from Conveyancing, Wills and Probate, to Crime, Family, Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence with a bit of everything else in between. He took on whatever work he could in order to keep his business going.

One of the things Andrew misses the most about the early days has been the loss of area cohesion in the Magistrates Courts all in the name of financial constraints. He says “in those days the Magistrates were known as Beaks. Sedburgh Court was in a loft above a house; Appleby in the Shire Court with its imposing wood carving; Shap in the Memorial Hall with the part time clerk Charles Arnison reading the Daily Telegraph while Advocates were giving their pleas in mitigation; and Penrith run also by a part time Solicitor.

scott duff and co 40th birthday celebrations

All the Clerks knew all the Advocates by first name and there was a lot of unspoken trust between the Clerks and the Solicitors. All the magistrates were locally based and knew the families they were dealing with. They were able to dispense justice with that knowledge and without the Guidelines to which they are now subject. Woe betide anyone coming in front of the Shap Beaks for poaching. They were all members of large farming families who didn’t take kindly to that particular offence!” As the business grew, more staff were needed and one of the first additions was Steven Marsh who is still at the firm now as the most senior Director. Andrew interviewed him on a Saturday morning in 1983, when he was on his knees with work and offered him the job there and then.

After that the business continued to expand and more partners and staff were added and new offices opened in Carlisle and Keswick. So here they are now with 6 directors (Steven Marsh, Fiona Marsh, Cheryl Christian, Suzanne Connell, Cheryl Corson and David Clarke) and over 20 staff across the three offices and still looking to expand and take on new talented lawyers to expand even further.

Over the years Andrew found his specialism in Clinical Negligence and working from the Keswick office where he could walk in the Lakes at lunch times, he had planned to stay there until his retirement, which all the staff believed would be well into his 90’s! Sadly, due to ill health, he was forced to retire much sooner than he had planned in 2015, and because he was so ill, it was with no celebration of all he had done for the firm.

In recent months, his health has been good and Andrew has been calling in to help out with difficult matters and provide his words of wisdom to the solicitors carrying on with the work he began all those years ago.

Everyone who has worked with Andrew will say he was the best boss, and he has been the inspiration for what the company works towards now – to provide the best quality legal advice using our local and specialist knowledge and with the client’s best interests at heart.

In May 2017 Scott Duff & Co celebrated with a 40th Birthday party for all the staff and their partners, with Andrew and his wife Susan as guests of honour so that he could be thanked properly for all he has done since his humble beginnings in 1977. We all gathered at the Roundthorn Country House in Penrith for a fantastic evening of food, live music and a fun casino!

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Dementia Friends

We are pleased to announce that two of our Wills and Probate Team are now Dementia Friends Champions. Claire Maxwell completed her training in 2016 and has provided information sessions to our staff, as well as to outside groups. Cheryl Christian completed her training in March 2017 and is looking forward to providing information sessions. Claire and Cheryl are able to provide information sessions to members of the public, local businesses, care homes and charities, increasing their awareness about the personal impact of dementia and enabling those who attend the training sessions to themselves become Dementia Friends.

If you would like to attend a session, or if you would like Claire or Cheryl to present a session to a group, please get in touch.

Claire and Cheryl have over the years helped many clients prepare their financial affairs by creating Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Deputyships to help clients make sure that their wishes are carried out. This can sometimes be a difficult time for families with relatives living with the early stages of Dementia and this is where Cheryl and Claire’s training and support will provide that extra reassurance for clients.

Dementia Friends Website >>
eden valley hospice challenge
Always Up for a Challenge

In November Scott Duff & Co signed up for the Eden Valley Hospice Corporate Challenge. The hospice gives you £50 and asks you to turn it into as much as possible using your ingenuity and entrepreneurship. There were absolutely no guidelines as to the kind of activities we chose to get up to however it had to be ethical and legal! Cheryl Corson signed up her team of 18 to participate in a fire walk held at the Museum Inn on Moorhouse Road and turned £50 into £2105.80. Well done to everyone who took part.

For Details visit

Eden Valley Website >>
Free Family Law Advice Clinic

We can assist with a range of family law issues including:

  • Divorce
  • Separation
  • Unmarried Couples
  • Financial issues arising from Divorce/Separation including Property and Pensions
  • Pre-Nuptial Agreements
  • Children’s arrangements
  • Adoption
  • Grandparent’s Rights

To ensure you can be seen, an appointment would be best. If you would like to pre-book a FREE half hour appointment between 5pm and 7pm, please call us on 01228 531054, or just call into our Carlisle Office on the 29th March 2017.

Probate Fees Increase

The Private Client Department of Scott Duff & Co were all very sorry to learn that the Government intend to increase probate fees notwithstanding our response to the recent Consultation. Both Cheryl Christian and Claire Maxwell both fully accredited members of Solicitors for the Elderly endorse the sentiments of Claire Davis, Director, SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) who said:

“SFE is extremely disappointed to see that the consensus to reject the proposed probate fees has been ignored.

“For the 62% of estates that use a solicitor, probate registry performs a purely administrative role, and the value of the estate has no bearing on the work undertaken.

“To burden larger estates with a significantly larger fee is an unfair form of taxation. For people in this situation, their property is often their primary asset, and they have little cash to pay for higher probate fees, on top of other necessities such as IHT or the use of a solicitor.

“The increase in probate fees will place a burden on families at a sensitive and distressing time and is likely to put people who are vulnerable and/or elderly at risk. Our fear is that such clients might be persuaded to take steps to avoid probate fees, even if the effect is to leave them with insufficient assets to provide for themselves for the rest of their life.”

We are pleased to see the comment has already been featured in a This Is Money article this morning, alongside several other professionals who agree with our point of view. To see the full article, click here.

The Private Client Department would ask that any clients who feel strongly about the matter write to their local MPs to urge the Government to reconsider.

Solicitors in Attorney warning

Solicitors from two Penrith firms have joined forces to issue a warning about the Government’s on-line tool for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).

Cheryl Christian and Claire Maxwell, both from Scott Duff & Co., and Trevor Price of Arnison Heelis, have joined a number of organisations representing older and vulnerable people to raise serious concerns around the on-line tool.

An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows a person to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions about care and finances on their behalf in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.

The Government claims its on-line tool allows people to create the documents without the need for professional advice from a Solicitor but a new report warns that anyone creating an LPA without taking specialist legal advice faces a significantly higher risk of being left with an ineffective legal document, incurring additional application fees, and even becoming a victim of fraud or coercion.

Mr Price said “the prospect of being able to submit an LPA application entirely digitally is extremely concerning ad raises some serious questions around the potential for fraud and financial abuse”

Ms Maxwell added “this is a specialist area of the law and we recommend that anyone considering an LPA goes to a legal expert to ensure they get the right advice, consider all the options and safeguard themselves for the future”.

For any advice regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney please contact, Cheryl Christian or Claire Maxwell on 01768 865551

dementia friends
Giving Tuesday

We have all heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – but this week the staff at Scott Duff & Co took part in Giving Tuesday! Instead of spending money shopping, Giving Tuesday is a day to give to charity and raise awareness for a good cause.

Most of our staff and Directors have recently had some training from our Dementia Champion Claire Maxwell and have now become Dementia Friends.

Here are the staff at our Penrith Office on #givingtuesday doing what they can to raise awareness for Dementia Friends and the Alzheimer’s Society.

If anyone is interested in raising awareness for the cause, or how we can help as a firm if you are living with Dementia or know someone who is, then please do not hesitate to contact us on:

  • Carlisle – 01228 531054
  • Penrith – 01768 865551
  • Keswick – 017687 74321
APPOINTMENT OF NEW DIRECTORS

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Cheryl Corson and David Clarke to Scott Duff & Co. Solicitors' Board of Directors.

Both Cheryl and David started their legal careers with Scott Duff & Co. and are delighted to have the opportunity to ensure the firm’s continued success and reputation for top quality legal services.

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After joining the firm in 2006, Cheryl has built a formidable reputation in a wide variety of Litigation matters from Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence claims to Motoring Offences. Cheryl is based at our Carlisle Office on Devonshire Street, but represents clients across Cumbria and North Lancashire. Cheryl was featured as one of the top 175 Solicitors in the UK in the Sunday Times recently as voted for by clients on review site VouchedFor.

David now works primarily at our Keswick office on St John’s Street but also sees clients at our Penrith office on King Street. David has built a reputation for providing clear, practical, professional and friendly advice, helping clients in a wide variety matters including Wills, Probate, Powers of Attorney and Trusts.

Steven Marsh, Senior Director says: "I am delighted to welcome Cheryl and David as Directors of the firm and look forward to working with them to ensure Scott Duff & Co.'s continued success in serving our growing number of clients throughout Cumbria".

christmas presents
SCOTT DUFF & CO. SECRET SANTA DONATIONS

At Scott Duff & Co. we have had a long running tradition of giving 'Secret Santa' presents between staff at our Christmas party every year, but this year we decided to do something different.

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This year, instead of our usual anonymous gifts between staff, we all donated the cost of a present for our chosen charity and are pleased to say we have raised £250!
This will be split equally between Eden Valley Hospice and Cumbria Community Foundation Flood Appeal. We hope that the money can be put to good use by these two very worthy causes (much more useful than a pair of fluffy socks or a personalised mug!)
We would like to say a big thank you to all our staff for taking part and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas from all of us!

cumbria floods - carlisle civic centre
Cumbrian Floods - Information for those affected
Your Legal Rights

After the recent events in Cumbria, we've put together a guide which aims to help you understand your legal rights should your property be affected by flooding.

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Flood Warnings

There are three different alerts / warnings the Environment Agency can issue when an area may be affected with flooding.

  • Flood alert; flooding is possible and residents should be prepared.
  • Flood warning; flooding is expected, immediate action is required.
  • Severe flood warning; severe flooding is expected, there may be a danger to life.

More information can be found on the Environment Agency’s website:www.environment-agency.gov.uk/

Be prepared – take out insurance

It is always advisable to have appropriate insurance on your property and the contents, however – you must read your policy carefully! Occasionally the small print within the policy excludes certain types of claim, for example if you are within a certain distance from a river or flood plain your policy may not cover you for flood damage. Keep your insurance policy documents in a safe place, upstairs if possible or in a waterproof folder.

Flood alert – what to do

If you receive a flood alert or warning. you should start to take steps to minimise the amount of damage that could be caused to your property. The Environment Agency has a downloadable ‘flood plan kit’ on it’s website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/. The plan contains excellent advice on how to protect your home and possessions and includes useful tips such as ensuring your gas and electricity supply is safely turned off. If severe flood warnings have been issued in your area, the Environment Agency advises that you stay in a safe place with a means of escape and be ready should you need to evacuate from your home. It is important that you call 999 if you are in immediate danger. Your local authority may also have emergency flood plans for your area.

If your property is flooded

If your property is damaged by flood water make sure you contact your insurance company as soon as you are able. All insurance companies have details of their customers, so even if your insurance policy documents have been damaged as a result of the flood you should still be able to make a claim by giving them your personal details.

Try not to move or touch anything (as far as possible) before you contact your insurer as some insurers prefer an assessor to attend your property to assess the damage in person.

Your insurance company should take care of any repair work necessary and start to make arrangements to replace items. Try to write down details of the advisors / contractors you speak to along with the date, time and details of your conversation.

If you can, make sure you keep a list of all items damaged along with photographs of those items and the damaged parts of your home.

If your property is too severely damaged for you to continue living in your home whilst repairs take place, your insurance company should relocate you to a bed and breakfast / hotel locally – dependant on your insurance policy. Check the terms to make sure if you are covered for this. If not, there are various charitable organisations and reception centres in and around the county who may be able to help.

Rights for a privately rented property

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 says that your landlord is legally responsible for certain repairs. Under section 11 your landlord must:

  • Keep the property’s structure and exterior in a good standard of repair, even if it was in a poor state of repair when the tenancy began.
  • Repair the property when damage has been reported. Your landlord is obliged to rectify any problems.
  • Ensure that the property’s supply of utilities (gas, electricity, water etc) is in working order.

Your tenancy agreement may also include extra contractual responsibilities for your landlord to follow. Read through your tenancy agreement carefully and contact your landlord. If your landlord fails to carry out their obligations you may be able to take action against them for breach of contract.

Rights for Council/Housing Association Tenants

Both local authorities (councils) and housing associations (private registered provider of social housing (PRPSH)/registered social landlord (RSL)) have a legal duty to repair damage and disrepair in your property. Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 also applies to PRPSH / RSL. Contact your Council or Housing Authority for more information on how they can help you.

Property Hazards

The government has produced guidance on potential health and safety hazards for tenants. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System - Guidance for Landlords and Property Related Professional contains details of what is classed as a hazard and can be found online at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/housinghealth

If you believe your property is hazardous but your housing provider will not move you to alternative accommodation you should contact your local environmental health department who will use the guidance above to determine if they need to take further action against your landlord.

For Council / Housing Association tenants, your housing provider should provide you with suitable alternative accommodation if you cannot live in your property whilst repairs are being carried out.

For private tenants if the damage is so serious that you cannot live in your property, your landlord is not legally obliged to provide you with alternative accommodation. If you have to leave, you should either ask the landlord to terminate the tenancy or to suspend the rent on your property until you can move back in.

If you have to leave your property and you have nowhere else to stay you may be able to make a homelessness application to your Local Authority. If you are considered to be in priority need you should be offered suitable accommodation until you can go back to your own property.

Crisis Loans

Regardless of whether you own or rent your property, you may be entitled to claim a crisis loan. Crisis loans are discretionary interest-free loans from the Department of Work and Pensions intended to help with expenses in emergency situations. Crisis loans can be used for advances on rent for alternative accommodation or for everyday purchases such as clothing, toiletries etc.

Crisis loan applications can be made, and in urgent circumstances approved, by telephone. In England, Wales and Scotland, the telephone number to make a claim is 0800 032 79520800 032 7952.

Useful Links
Sign-up for flood warnings

Floodline Warnings Direct is a free service which sends you a direct message when flooding is expected and may affect your property.

Flood warnings will give you time to prepare for flooding which could save you time, money and heartache. You can receive warnings by telephone, mobile, email, SMS text message or fax.

THIS INFORMATION IS INTENDED AS A GENERAL STATEMENT OF THE LAW AND DOES NOT PURPORT TO RENDER SPECIFIC ADVICE, LEGAL OR OTHERWISE. SPECIFIC ADVICE ON A PARTICULAR PROBLEM SHOULD ALWAYS BE SOUGHT.

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