Cardiff lawyer takes the helm at prestigious legal society

By Raspberry Jim,

A Cardiff-based lawyer is ‘delighted’ following his appointment to a coveted role at a high profile legal society.

Clive Thomas, Managing Partner of award-winning firm Watkins & Gunn has taken the reins as President of Cardiff and District’s Law Society, after being selected by its Council.

As Managing Partner and head of personal Injury at Watkins & Gunn, the award-winning legal expert has over 25 years of experience and extensive knowledge of his sector.

Mr Thomas, who has previously held the title of President at Monmouthshire Law Society and the Association of South Western Law (ASWLS), will now oversee the 2,000 members of the distinguished Cardiff and District Law Society.

As part of his new role, Mr Thomas will be promoting a new initiative known as #legalCardiff, a campaign created to help, support and engage local lawyers in Cardiff, while also promoting the outstanding legal work taking place in the area.

The initiative was launched in July at Cardiff City Stadium at its Managing Partners and Directors lunch.

With speeches from Legal 500 and Welsh Government, the event, sponsored by Legal Network Wales and Lloyd’s Bank, saw senior lawyers representing the leading law firms in the area discuss the opportunities for the legal sector in Cardiff.

Mr Thomas said he was “delighted and honoured to be appointed as the society’s new president.”

He said: “I’m thrilled to start working with the society in such a pivotal role. It’s an honour to be leading over 2,000 members and working with the council to implement new ideas.

“While we’re celebrating the incredible legal work being done in Cardiff and District, we’re also working hard to nurture young talent and engage lawyers from all disciplines.

“With #legalCardiff, our aim is to spread awareness of the outstanding legal professionals in the area and provide insight with a series of events.”

Watkins and Gunn offers a wide range of legal services including Accident Claims, Medical Negligence, Wills and Probate, Employment and HR services, Education Law, Public Law, Business Law, Divorce and Family Law, Childcare Law, Criminal Law, Road Traffic Law and Property.

Campaigners ‘over the moon’ after vital leisure centre saved

By Raspberry Jim,

aerial Pont Leisure Centre 1 Day

Determined campaigners are “over the moon” to have safeguarded the future of a much-loved Pontllanfraith leisure centre dubbed a “community lifeline”.

Members of the Save Ponllanfraith Leisure Centre campaign group were thrilled with Caerphilly County Borough Council’s decision to defer the closure of the much-loved community facility.

Group member Dean Jones, whose under 12s team trains at the leisure centre, said the decision would be welcomed by thousands of families, community groups, and users across the county.

The Blackwood resident, who has coached at the facility for eight years, said: “This is a fantastic result, not just for people across Pontllanfraith, but also others across the county who vitally depend on this community lifeline.

“We are absolutely over the moon with the council’s decision, which will safeguard this amazing facility for so many people for generations to come.

“Our campaign group and its dedicated members have worked tirelessly, from the minute the potential closure was announced. They have been incredible and we can’t thank them enough.”

Fellow member Kate Alderson, who uses the leisure centre through a GP referral scheme, added: “This is amazing news and myself and the other group members are incredibly pleased with the council’s decision. I’d also like to specifically thank independent councillor Kevin Etheridge, whose motion to call-in the original decision really enabled us to fight on.”

The council’s U-turn comes after it announced plans to close the leisure centre, which features a range of amenities includes a sports hall, fitness centre, and football pitch, in December.

Following this, around 30 outraged residents formed the group with a view to challenging the “devastating” plans.

Since September members, including Ms Alderson and Mr Jones, have undertaken numerous activities including organising a petition to save the leisure centre, which attracted almost 1,700 signatures, they also held a demonstration outside the county council building in January, lobbied the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee alongside various cabinet members.

However, the turning point came when members sought the legal advice of specialist solicitor Michael Imperato at Watkins & Gunn Solicitors.

Mr Imperato, a public law specialist at the Cardiff, Newport and Pontypool-based firm, challenged the decision with the council, leading to its reversal.

He said: “The people of Pontllanfraith and its surrounding areas were rightly devastated by the threat to their leisure centre, which is used by community groups, as well as schools, and vulnerable users.

“We challenged the closure decision with the county council, citing various flaws in the consultation into its proposed closure.

“Specifically, we highlighted that the consultation may have been misleading in relation to the availability of Islwyn School, which may not have been able to cater for the displaced Pontlanfraith  users. We also highlighted the necessity of the facility for many elderly and vulnerable groups, who rely on it weekly.

“Finally, we also raised the Council’s failure to consider options put forward such as for the centre to be taken over by Blackwood Town Council;.

“When presented with these arguments the Council rapidy backed down. It was evident that the council recognised the need to reconsider its decision to ensure it reached a more fair and informed conclusion.

“We are delighted for the many dedicated campaigners whose hard work helped to save this treasured leisure centre.”

Michael Imperato is a partner at Watkins & Gunn with extensive experience covering some of Wales’s most complex legal cases. Alongside being a specialist in Public Law, he also heads up the Education and Administrative Law departments, offering his expertise in group actions to local authorities, educational institutions, and youth organisations.

 

Going into business this year? Here’s what you should know

By Raspberry Jim,

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The new year presents itself as a fresh start for many people, with a number of us using the opportunity to revaluate our career aspirations and goals.

For some, this could mean a journey into self-employment or building a new business. If 2018 is the year you plan on going it alone, or embarking on a new business venture, it can be tricky to know where to start. With financial responsibility and legal requirements, it can seem like an intimidating process. … Continue reading

Law firm expands with new business law offering

By Raspberry Jim,

Regional law firm Watkins and Gunn has made a high-profile appointment to its award-winning team to support the continued expansion of the business.

Faris Dean has been recruited to head up a new team focusing on business law.

The firm, with offices in Newport, Cardiff, Pontypool and London, will now provide a wealth of corporate and commercial services including partnership and investment agreements, buying and selling of businesses and shares, shareholders agreements, advising on commercial contracts and drafting terms and conditions of business.

Joining the team from Richard Nelson LLP with 15 years of experience, Mr Dean, who is also a qualified accountant and fluent Arabic speaker, will assist the firm in developing the new department.

Providing both local and national SMEs with legal support, Mr Dean will also work to develop Watkins and Gunn’s international business offering, particularly targeting the Middle East, where it is already acting on behalf of an airline company.

Speaking of his new role, he said: “I’m thrilled to have joined the team here. Watkins and Gunn is a progressive firm. It has an excellent reputation in South Wales and has won a number of awards to back this up. I was interested in joining to expand its offering and develop the business internationally. My goal is to set up and expand the corporate commercial service to a level that makes a positive contribution to the firm.”

Clive Thomas, managing partner at Watkins and Gunn said: “We are delighted to have someone of Faris’s calibre join the team. His reputation precedes him and his experience will undoubtedly benefit us as we continue to expand the business.”

“We’re looking forward to offering new and existing clients a full range of corporate and commercial legal services. It is a very exciting time at Watkins and Gunn, with so many new developments and opportunities, and this appointment is the latest example.”

Watkins and Gunn offers a wide range of legal services including Accident Claims, Medical Negligence, Wills and Probate, Employment Law, Education Law, Public Law, Business Law, Divorce and Family Law, Childcare Law, Criminal Law, Road Traffic Law and Property.Untitled design-21