Friday, 22 June 2018

Family Businesses - Avoiding the Pitfalls

Twice in the last week alone, our Commercial Team have been asked to assist with problems involving family businesses. It can be extremely difficult for those involved and sadly the emotional stress can often result in family breakdowns. 
Frustratingly for us as advisors, it nearly always comes down to the same simple issues which are easily avoidable, so here are a few tips which you should follow:
1) Understand your duties as a director
It is quite common in family businesses for family members to be appointed as a director even though they may have little or no involvement in the business. This is often suggested by accountants for tax reasons. 
However, as a director it is essential that you know what is going on with the businesses on a day to day basis, especially where finances are concerned. Directors have certain duties and, in some circumstances, you may be held personally liable where those duties are breached. 
If you are a director of a family business:
  • It is therefore essential that you understand your duties as a director and take them seriously. 
  • Take the time to understand the finances of the business and make sure that obligations, especially to HMRC and the banks, are being met.
  • If you are not able or willing to be involved, consider resigning, as personal liability cannot be escaped by pleading ignorance.

2) Be open
Family businesses often rely too much on trust, with people being left to their own devices without the checks you might expect in a normal organisation. When the business faces a challenge, this trust can become an enormous burden, often resulting in problems being covered up or understated, whilst attempts are made to fix the situation. 
Unfortunately the others may be unaware of the problems until debt recovery letters arrive, perhaps from a supplier, HMRC or even the bank looking to repossess the family home. By this point it is often too late to save the business and sadly, the sense of betrayal can lead to the breakdown of the family relationship too. 
To avoid this:
  • Meet regularly to review the finances and ensure obligations are being met. 
  • If there are problems, share them. There is more chance of a successful outcome if everyone is working on a solution. This is the benefit of having a board of directors.
  • Implement checks to ensure that tasks are carried out properly and do not leave important jobs to one individual 
3) Agree it, document it
Family members often come to arrangements between themselves that are not documented. This may take the form of a loan or the transfer of shares and property. Because of the close family relationship, people often feel it unnecessary to document the arrangement and, 9 out of 10 times there will be no issues. 
However, what if the unexpected happens? How do you prove whether the transfer of money was a repayable loan or a gift, or that money paid was actually consideration for a property which has yet to be transferred? This can become a big problem in the event of divorce or death as it may have a significant affect on the distribution of assets. 
It is therefore important to take advice and document agreements properly. This may also provide important evidence when it comes to paying tax. 

4) Tell your advisors everything
Finally, there is no point seeking advice unless you tell your advisors everything. Accountants and solicitors can often help, but only if we know the full picture and understand precisely what you are trying to achieve. By withholding information you can create big problems. 
This was the case recently where we advised on a family situation. Money had been spent on taking advice from an accountant and a solicitor but both had been told one thing, whereas the family had actually agreed completely different terms behind closed doors. 
The tax saving they thought they had made paled into insignificance compared to the liability for other taxes they had not considered. Furthermore, following the death of one director, the others then disagreed over the term of the deal they had made and, because the terms agreed were completely different to the terms recorded in the documents, the agreement could not be enforced. 
No doubt the advisors could have found a solution that worked for everyone had they been given the full details and significant tax liabilities could have been avoided.
Whilst these examples may seem unlikely, they will be all too familiar to those of us advising family businesses on a regular basis. 
By understanding your obligations, meeting regularly, sharing problems, documenting agreements and taking proper advice, you may reduce stress, save money and grow your business all without risking the most important thing, which is the relationship with your family. 
If you require advice on any of these issues please get in touch with Tom Paget in our Commercial Team on 01380 722311.

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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Wasps Legends Rugby Golf Classic 2018

Awdrys Partners Tim Hotchkiss and Alex David attended the Wasps Legends Rugby Golf Classic 2018 in La Manga, Spain from 14-17 June in support of the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation.  

L-R: (left to right) – Antony Bulley (MD of Strakers), Alex David, Tim Hotchkiss and Matt Powell (former Saracens, Harlequins Worcester scrum-half)
The Foundation is the fundraising element of the Wasps Legends Past Players Network and supports a charitable project each year that is close to the heart of the Wasps Legends teams, with small grants awarded to chosen charitable projects throughout the year and a main grant awarded annually.  

L-R: Tim Hotchkiss, Matt Powell (former Saracens, Harlequins Worcester scrum-half), Alex David and Antony Bulley (MD of Strakers) 

L-R: Tim Hotchkiss, Matt Perry (former Bath, England and British & Irish Lion full back) and Alex David

This is the second time that Tim and Alex have attended the Golf Classic.  The event involves three themed nights (as can be seen from the fancy dress in the photographs) and two rounds of golf with the chance to play with a rugby legend on each of those days.  Approximately 150 guests attended and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all, with initial reports confirming that well over £100k has been raised following this event alone. 

L-R: Tim Hotchkiss and Alex David with former Wales and British & Irish Lion No.8, Andy Powell

L-R: Alex David, Antony Bulley (MD of Strakers), Tim Hotchkiss and Peter Scrivener (founder of Wasps Legends and Trustee of the Charitable Foundation and former Wasps No.8)

Thursday, 10 May 2018


We asked Andrew Douglas, Partner at Awdry Bailey & Douglas Solicitors who specialises in elderly care, for his views on this issue?

Surely it must be BREXIT?   Because it gets all the headlines BREXIT will almost definitely be what DC is most remembered for? It is my belief however, that running a close second will be DC and his government’s unfulfilled pledges in respect of Social Care.  

Why do you say that? People may well recall that when DC won his last election in 2015 the Tories were saying that people would only have to pay for the first £72,000 of their elderly care costs. This was known as the “CAP”. The flag ship for the CAP at the time was the Care Act 2014. Shortly after DC was elected as Prime minister this pledge was broken (17.07.15 to be precise) and in December 2017 Jackie Doyle-Price, Health Minister said it would not be reintroduced.  

What does DC say about this? Recently DC was interviewed by the FT Weekend and stated that he was disappointed at his government’s record on Social Care and that the CAP was not capable of being pursued. His disappointment was because he thought that with the support of insurance products which the insurance industry were not interested in the CAP could have been a long term solution to the ongoing crisis in social

What is the future? Nobody of course knows, but there is irony in what DC has reportedly said.  This is because a green paper on the future of social care is to be published by the government in the summer and prior consultations have resulted in some insurers and in particular Royal London Mutual saying there is a potential important role for the insurance industry. 

What is best to do? Understand the existing rules under The Care Act 2014 and proceed accordingly. Waiting or doing nothing in relation to social care is not the best option. This approach only results in people not being organised and paying more.

To know more and for a free appointment to find out answers to the questions that need answering  email Andrew Douglas or his  team on or call on 0800 072 8636.  Alternatively visit our website

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Chippenham Business Awards 2018

Awdry Bailey & Douglas were proud to once again be title sponsors of the Chippenham Business Awards, which  took place on Thursday 22nd February 2018 at the Neeld, Chippenham. TV presenter Marc Allum, best known for his regular appearances on the BBC Antiques Roadshow, returned to host the awards which were attended by 150 finalists, sponsors and members of the business community.  

Senior Associate Tom Paget and TV Presenter Marc Allum
presenting the award for Chippenham Business of the Year
This was the second business awards organised by Chippenham Business Improvement District (Chippenham BID). 

Tom Paget, Commercial Solicitor at Awdry Bailey & Douglas and manager of the firm's Chippenham office, is a director of Chippenham BID and is chair of the Backing Business committee which organised the awards.

Tom was joined on the night by Senior Partner Alexander David and guests for what was a fantastic evening celebrating the success of the Chippenham business community. 

The winners of the Chippenham Business Awards 2018 were:
  • Apprentice of the Year: Ben Lisseman of Digiprint
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Cheryl Klukowski Stevenson of Taste of the Caribbean and Chocolate Blonde
  • Professional Services Provider of the Year: Goughs Solicitors
  • Hotel, Restaurant or Café of the Year: The Garden Chippenham
  • Creative or Technology Business of the Year: City Dressing
  • Customer Service Award: Bewley & Merrett Funeral Directors
  • Start-Up Business of the Year: Maria Christina Bridal Boutique
  • Small Business of the Year: Huw Thomas Commercial
  • Independent Business of the Year: J. Sheppard and Son Ltd.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Rick Squires
  • Chippenham Business of the Year: The Garden Chippenham
Congratulations to all of the winners, but in particular to the Garden Chippenham as overall winners of the Chippenham Business of the Year award.

Our thanks  to all those that took part by organising, sponsoring or entering an award for making this such a successful evening.

If you require legal advice on business or commercial property matters please contact Tom Paget at our Chippenham office on 01249 478333 or by email

For more information about our services please visit our website

More information, including photos and videos of the awards, can be found on the following website

Thursday, 8 March 2018

ABD match ball sponsor of Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks

24th February 2018

Tim Hotchkiss (Partner), Alexander David (Partner), Tom Paget (Senior Associate), Frances Nash (Associate) and Kelly Chandler (Solicitor) of ABD hosted 18 guests in the Ricoh Suite at the Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks game on Saturday, 24th February.  ABD was also the proud sponsors of the match ball for the game.  The photograph below captured the moment that Tim Hotchkiss and Alexander David were handed the match ball signed by the entire Bath Rugby squad by Australian international, Nathan Charles. 

The team from ABD greeted their guests at 11.30am in the Ricoh Suite before enjoying the usual excellent food and service from the hospitality team at Bath Rugby.  It was then time to head into the stands in time for kick-off at 2.30pm. 
The game itself was a real treat with Bath Rugby eventually coming out 33-32 winners.  As the scoreline suggests, it was a nail biting affair with makeshift fly-half James Wilson holding his nerve to convert Zach Mercer’s try with 30 seconds remaining.  The result keeps Bath Rugby firmly in contention for the play-offs.
It was then back to the Ricoh Suite with our guests for a delicious cheeseboard and the screening of the Scotland v England Six Nations game.  The less said about the result the better for the English contingent, although this certainly did not dampen the spirits of those that attended.  It is certainly fair to say that a thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


If asked, most people think that David Cameron (“DC”) will be most remembered for calling a referendum on BREXIT. People may be right but when history does remember DC his broken promises on older peoples social care could be a very close second.

Most recently Theresa May’s botched election campaign  had at it’s core her suggestion that people should use all but the final £100,000 of their savings including their home  to fund elderly care. Voters did not like this suggestion and we are now where we are. A question which arises from this suggestion is was it lack of judgement by her or learning from her predecessor DC?   

When DC won his last election in 2015 it was in part based upon a promise that people would only have to pay for the first £72,000 of their elderly care costs known as the “CAP”. The Care Act 2014 was the flag ship for this. Shortly after DC was elected (17.07.15 to be precise) this promise was broken by DC and his Government. The CAP as originally proposed by DC will not ever be introduced, so says Jackie Doyle – Price Health Minister in December 2017.

In a recent interview with the FT Weekend DC says he was disappointed that the CAP was not capable of being pursued.  He explains that he thought this might have been a solution to Long term care combined with supporting insurance products which the insurance industry was never interested in.

Irony however is alive and well.  DC post politics is very much involved with social care as “President of Alzheimer’s Research UK”. Additionally and his lament about the insurance industry might be about to turn full circle.  This is because consultations prior to publication of the Governments Green Paper on reform of older person social care has started a debate on the role of the insurance industry led by Royal London Mutual insurer.

Specifically Sir Steve Webb Director of policy at the insurer and a former Pension Minister has been responsible in part for submitting a paper to government proposing a care product linked to pension income drawdown. The proposal is that a person commits to regular premiums being taken from their drawdown account to be used for their care costs.  The incentive is that the government under Royal London’s proposals would allow for favourable tax treatment (tax free) in respect of the premiums and importantly the Government would introduce a CAP on people’s overall care bills. This proposal sounds like déjà vu  from DC’s point of view.

To know more on elderly care options and for a free appointment to find out answers to the questions that need answering  email Andrew Douglas or his  team on or simply call us on 0800 072 8636. The firm has offices In Marlborough, Royal Wootton Basset, Devizes & Chippenham. Alternatively visit our website


Friday, 19 January 2018


Nobody will deny that the Ambulance Service in the UK is one of the best in the world. The Service and the 32,000 people who work within it are second to none. In 2016 some 10.7 million emergency calls were handled by English Ambulance Services alone.

·        The job of the Ambulance Service is to respond to 999 or 112 emergency calls, to deal with Doctors urgent hospital admission requests, hospital transfers and to respond to major incidents.

·        That said and like any organization challenges as far as performance do exist.  The challenges centre on under funding resulting in lack of staff, equipment such as vehicles and state of the art satellite tracking equipment and training to up skill medics and other operatives.  Other issues include transfer times in hospitals because of under funding and increasing demand there and in particular in Accident and Emergency departments.

·        Concerns for the Ambulance Service are such that Coroners have written to the service on no less than 86 occasions since July 2013. They warn of the need to make changes because of potentially unnecessary deaths to people in their care.  This excludes people who suffer in different ways and in particular do not arrive at hospitals neurologically intact because of delays, under skilling and lack of equipment because of funding and training issues.

·        The demands on the Ambulance Service are ever increasing partly as a result of our ever increasing ageing population.  The solution is more staff, more equipment, better systems and up skilling by means of better training. This means more money

·        A big well done to everybody who works in the service but more money please.  This is especially so because of the needs of our elderly population and their elderly care issues.

The above is an overview only.

For a free appointment and to find out answers to the questions that need answering  and to get the care you or a loved one need email Andrew Douglas or his  team on or call on 0800 072 8636. We have offices In Marlborough, Royal Wootton Basset, Devizes & Chippenham. Alternatively visit our website                        www.