Manchester, United Kingdom
I am a partner at Pannone Corporate LLP. The firm was formed through the acquisition of the majority of the commercial practice of Pannone LLP in February 2014.
I deal with all aspects of dispute resolution including mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. This involves advising clients from the outset of any dispute with a view to avoiding litigation, to contested matters including court, tribunal and arbitration proceedings. The majority of my cases never reach court and I firmly support the use of alternative dispute resolution.
I have extensive experience in acting for high net worth individuals, charities and trusts in relation to trusts and estate disputes. I have advised a wide range of clients including trustees, executors, beneficiaries of trusts, charities and estates and individuals wishing to contest an estate/trust or bring an Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) 1975 Act claim.
I am a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists and an affiliate member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) having obtained the STEP Advanced Certificate in Trust Disputes. I have also obtained the STEP Advanced Certificate in Mediation (Trust & Estates). I am also a member of the Manchester Law Society Private Client Committee.
In addition I have expertise in professional practice disputes, namely partnership and LLP disputes. I act for both individual members/partners but also LLPs. I am a member of the Association of Partnership Practitoners. Over the years I have represented partners/LLPs in a variety of sectors including solicitors, accountants and architects. I have a particular interest in disputes involving the health care sector such as GP partnership disputes.
I regularly deliver seminars to clients and intermediaries (particularly in respect of partnership/LLP matters and contentious trust and estate disputes). I have also spoken about such issues on Granada News NorthWest, Radio 5 and BBC Manchester. I have contributed to a number of publications such as The Telegraph, The Times, The Dentist, Practical Law and Solicitors New Law Journal.
Trainee, Solicitor then appointed as Partner in 2005.
I specialise in partnership and LLP disputes and contractual disputes (particularly in the medical sector). I advise in respect of judicial review and contentious trust and probate disputes.
I specialise in partnership and LLP disputes and contractual disputes (particularly in the medical sector), judicial review and contentious probate.
I completed my training contract at Pannone and qualified into the Dispute Resolution team in 1999, becoming a Partner in 2005.
2013 - 2013
Advanced Certificate in Mediation (Trusts and Estates)
2011 - 2011
STEP Advanced Certificate in Trust Disputes
1993 - 1996
1996 - 1997
Legal Practice Course, Distinction
Nicola has been recognised as a leader in her field since 2010.
In 2013 the Legal 500 stated that Nicola was ‘tenacious in seeking the correct outcome’ for her clients.
In 2015 the Legal 500 Nicola was described as someone who is ‘empathetic to the needs of the client, and possesses an approachable manner and a warm character.’
I have instructed Nicola Marchant to represent Defendants in two actions in the Chancery Division of the High Court , being claims for reasonable financial provision under The Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975 and a challenge to the testamentary capacity of the deceased.
In the conduct of both cases she has displayed a comprehensive knowledge of The Civil Procedure Rules and sound judgement in advising on court applications and orders. Her advice has been given in terms which the client has understood and always in the best interests of the clients with an appreciation of the overall objective and an ability to achieve that objective. I have found her to display excellent client care and communication skills.
I have recommended her services to others and she is my first port of call on cases described above. I have the highest regard for her ability and professional conduct .
I recently employed the services of Nicola Marchant in resolving a complex and contentious matter. The work carried out by Nicola entailed fending off very persistent attempts from an aggressive group of people, including family members. Nicola achieved a positive result for me.
I was very impressed with Nicola’s professionalism and knowledge. I also appreciated her care and focus in providing full and clear information on options available to deal with the matter. She guided me through the best course of action to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver the desired outcome.
I am very grateful for the advice Nicola provided throughout a difficult and upsetting situation and would not hesitate to recommend her.
Nicola’s help and advice enabled us to achieve the best possible outcome. We would not hesitate to recommend Nicola to others who may require similar advice.
I approached the firm with a complex case and felt confident in my legal team from the first meeting. The mere fact that they understood and had faith in the outline of my case gave me the confidence to proceed with my action. They provided me with a fee structure, an estimate of how long the case may take and comprehensive advice as to the best way forward.
Throughout the case I have received prompt responses to any queries I have raised and their advice has always been rational and realistic. There have been times during this stressful period when I have been thrown into disarray, however, their composed reassurances and practical counselling has enabled me to continue my case.
Ms Marchant’s fortes are her capability to keep me on the right track, the competent manner in which she has dealt with the ‘other side’ and her skill at thinking ahead – the outcome of which has always worked in our favour. In comparison to other firms they are outstanding.
During my commercial dispute I was referred by numerous colleagues to the dispute resolution team as they were regarded as the leaders in this field. I can truly say that after eighteen months of working with them I can see why. Their service was professional, detailed and efficient throughout the entire process. They explained all the procedures and costs at the outset and also throughout the process as matters progressed, thereby keeping me fully informed not only on the legal and commercial issues involved but also on costings. All matters were dealt with in a timely and cost effective manner.
I was provided with access to various members of the dispute resolution team, including associates, partners and counsel. The whole team were very friendly, helpful, approachable and easy to contact at amy time during the day or evening.
I was also very impressed by the performance of the entire dispute resolution team at the mediation stage. They employed strategies which helped me gain a successful resolution in my commercial dispute and I am very grateful for their help. In summary they provided a very personal and professional service and I would recommend them to anybody who needs to resolve a dispute.
Nicola Marchant does a brilliant job for me. She is on the ball and always comes straight back to me if I have any queries.
Deciding to go with Pannone Corporate LLP – namely Nicola Marchant and Jonny Scholes and their team was the best thing that I ever did. My first contact with Nicola was on speaker phone with my sisters and best friends listening in and supporting me in a state of catatonic shock as a result of the dreadful situation in which I found myself. Nicola’s voice alone (plus the energy that went with it) immediately gave us all the confidence that we had chosen the best company for what was evidently the difficult task ahead.
A relationship of trust was established at the first meeting where not one iota of condescension was evident. I was simply told how the team planned to go about solving my problem, the part that I was to play and how we were to proceed. Over the following months we did just that. I was never made to feel that I was calling too much, asking a ridiculous question (which I probably was!) or wasting time. I was made to feel that they had all the time to give me that I needed and that the matter demanded.
Of course it was not easy, sometimes I was despairing but we did get to the end of the very long tunnel and it was as Nicola had predicted – there was light! There was no drama of unnecessary court cases or appearances – although we would have certainly gone down that road if it had been called for – rather there was immaculate preparation on my behalf as their client – a preparation and delivery which made the other party consider very carefully and settle out of court.
I will never be in such a unique situation again, but I will never forget Nicola and Jonny’s intelligence, stalwart endurance and good humour. On that basis I would fully recommend anyone else who needed representation to go straight to them.
From my first meeting in the office I felt confidence in Nicola Marchant. It was obvious that she had done her homework before our meeting because she knew exactly what to do and told me to do nothing and relax, which I did. When returning home to Oslo I found a copy of the first letter to the opponent and Nicola kept the pressure on top all the time and only after a few weeks I had my money. I also appreciated very much that Nicola kept me informated all the time about the developments in the case. I have been in contact with some lawyers in my long life (mostly Norwegians) and I am glad to tell you that Nicola is definitely in the top league.
After a 5 year battle I was recommended to Nicola Marchant and within just over a month my case was sorted and a settlement agreed. Meetings were relaxed, I felt comfortable and at ease and everything was explained very clearly and in a professional but caring way. I was kept informed throughout the proceedings and felt very confident they were doing the very best they could for me. I cannot thank Nicola Marchant and Jonny Scholes enough.
Nicola Marchant and Jonny Scholes unravelled a particularly difficult and long-standing inheritance problem for our family and brought it to the best possible conclusion. They were professional at all times, but still managed to be friendly, patient yet flexible. Once they had ascertained and understood the desired outcome we wished for, they gave us constant intelligent advice on how to move forward.
Mr Tomkins v Knowsley Primary Care Trust  EWHC 1194
Mr Tomkins v Knowsley Primary Care Trust  EWHC 1194
by chriscorona | Apr 30, 2010 |
A fantastic dento-legal conference – believe me, it was well worth attending and I recommend that everyone keeps an eye out for the next one.
Pannone Speakers L-R Simon Butler, Dr Colin Hancock,
Chris Baker of Corona Design & Communication reports on a very informative day at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester…
Time was when most dentists would only require the services of a solicitor when they either bought or sold a practice. Times they are a-changing! The law firm Pannone recently organised an excellent conference which discussed the way that the new dental contracts have had a significant impact on practitioners and the legal issues that can arise.
Dr Colin Hancock, Chairman of Denticare – the leading provider of dental care in England and Wales, kicked the day off with a discussion on 2 really big issues, Clawback and Goodwill. He began with a Samuel Goldwyn quote, “A verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on”. This was to be a theme of the whole day – if you don’t record it, it didn’t happen. On the issue of clawback his message was clear: challenge the underperformance demand and detail the issues that were out of your (the practitioner) control and launch a counterclaim. Items such as FTAs and failure to recruit can be considered to be beyond your control and not part of ‘reasonable underperformance’. Also, ongoing costs such as heat, light etc. will be incurred anyway and should be offset against the demand. A member of the audience questioned Colin on the amount of clawback paid by his organisation in the last 4 years and the answer was simple; “none”. Colin also spoke on the subject of goodwill and stated that it is neither reasonable for a healthcare authority to ‘pirate’ a Provider’s goodwill. Goodwill is in effect a relationship between 2 parties NOT 3!
Former BDA Chairman, John Renshaw then took us through the process (and hoops?) that need to be negotiated to gain a new NHS contract. He said to delegates who are considering applying to tender, there can be a large resentment in the NHS towards the private dentist and this shouldn’t be underestimated. He pointed out that the new PDS+ contracts need to be viewed with caution as many can involve huge commitments including 8am to 8pm service, 357 days a year!
After coffee and refreshments, James Lister a partner at Pannone LLP, discussed employment issues and in particular redundancy and flexible working. He began by dispelling the myth that redundancy only comes into play in ‘bad times’ and when there is a shortage of work. In reality, redundancy is related to you, as a business owner, having the right mix of skills and costs to make a profit ie. right people, right job at the right cost. Redundancy is overwhelmingly in favour of the employer and he illustrated this with examples that showed even an inept redundancy program will save money. There is however, a right and proper way of doing things and he took us through selection criteria for redundancy.
Flexible working will become a greater part of all our lives and all full-time employees who have the responsibility of care of a child up to the age 18 or care of an adult spouse, cohabitee or relative, have a right to request flexible hours. This request should be made in writing but informal requests should not be ignored. Again, a paper trail and correct procedure are vital. He concluded by notifying the audience that most employment tribunals’ default position is that employers can offer flexible working in the majority of cases.
The afternoon session got going with Simon Butler of Ely Place Chambers talking us through dental agreements between PCTs and practitioners and the ‘fair and sensible’ test. Simon was the barrister who represented Eddie Crouch in his case against South Birmingham PCT and the clause in the NHS Dental Contract that allowed bosses to terminate dental contracts without cause or notice.
The principle of Promissory estoppel means that when two people enter into a contract, if one leads the other to believe that a certain state of affairs exists, they cannot go back on it when it is unjust or inequitable to do so. For instance, if a PCT should have clawed back funds in year 1 or 2, don’t, and then try and do so in year 4, this could be considered inequitable. As you would expect, Simon also spoke about the process of termination and used the case of Dr Crouch vs South Birmingham Primary Care Trust to illustrate that is unfair for a retrospective clause to be enforced. It is retrospective because as a practitioner, you will have made decisions eg. investment, premises, staffing etc., upon the initial agreement. He told us that it is “a fundamental rule of English law that no statute shall be construed to have a retrospective operation unless such a construction appears very clearly in the terms of the Act, or arises by necessary and distinct implication.”¹
A good agreement won’t prevent disputes but it does mean that there is a clear process to follow, should one arise! Nicola then spoke about other business structures and how these can be utilised to avoid disrupting a PCT contract (which many PCTs view as between an individual and a ‘personal contract’.) For instance, it is perfectly possible to leave a PCT contract in a partnership or name and then set up a company that will deal with any private work carried out by the practice. Hopefully in time, this can then take over the contract.
Roger Matthews the Chief Dental Officer of Denplan’s presentation was entitled, “Parallel Paths or Collision Course?” Roger made the point that the public and private sectors should work better together for the sake of patients but that this isn’t necessarily happening. It is human nature that everyone acts in their own self interest. He went on to illustrate how since 2006, NHS dentistry has seen inconsistencies of both care and contract enforcement across the UK. One very telling set of figures showed that since the 1st April 2006, the NHS is seeing 129,000 more adults and 111,000 fewer children. This means a net increase of 18,000 patients by 30th September 2009 at a investment of an extra £1.2 billion.² Value for money?! He was concerned that PCTs are deciding to enforce guidelines when they like and that this is bad news for the small practice.
Finally, Eddie Crouch guided the audience through the Steele pilots and what these could lead to in the way of a potential new contract. The Steele Review principally identified in current provision:
The Review’s principal recommendations were:
The pioneer Steele pilots commenced last month, with a further rollout likely to be in 2011 (depending upon election results!). Eddie has been a member of the Contracts Group within the Steele implementation board looking at producing a list of contract options with a view to the new system being complete around April 2015.
Ample question and answer sessions were provided throughout the day for those needing more clarification or to elaborate on matters further. Legal issues can sometimes be a little dry but I would like to commend Pannone and all of the speakers on making the entire day interesting, engaging and relevant. I look forward to more in the future.
¹Interpretation of Statutes (12th edition, 1969, Sweet & Maxwell)
2nd February 2015
Family members and husband and wife teams who are in partnership together are being urged to put formal ‘partnership agreements’ in place to help safeguard their future in the business.
Such agreements setting out parties’ liabilities and responsibilities are standard in other business structures such as companies and LLPs (Limited Liability Partnerships). However they are often overlooked in partnerships which still remain common vehicles for running family businesses.
In partnerships, partners are the owners of the firm, responsible for driving its success and in exchange they share the profits and liabilities.
However, lack of formal partnership agreements between partners in the family firm can result in lengthy and expensive battles and, in these tough economic times, we have seen a significant increase in disputes between family members.
Often when family members start out in business they are united by a common goal. However, as often is the case, relationships can breakdown over time. Disputes can arise for a number of differing reasons such as disagreements over direction and strategy of the business. Also over workloads where some feel they are contributing more to the business than others.
All too easily one or two members are ostracised from the management of the business and, without proper formal partnership agreements in place, disputes can arise over their entitlements.
Without a partnership agreement, a partnership can easily be dissolved by one member without the consent of the other, simply by serving a letter on the other party. Dissolution is the process whereby the business is wound up with all the assets being sold and liabilities being discharged.
We have seen parties on the brink of a divorce and indeed other family members - in one case a member who was close to the retirement age - simply dissolving a partnership out of spite leaving his brother-in-law without an ongoing business or income.
A properly drafted partnership agreement should set out how to deal with these situations. However, the fact remains that most family business partnerships do not possess such agreements and, in firms where husbands and wife are in partnerships together, they are practically non-existent.
Unless the partners have agreed and signed a partnership agreement, or have written evidence of what has been agreed between them, the partnership is governed by the Partnership Act 1890.
Therefore when family members decide they can no longer work together, they are left to rely on this archaic Act.
The Act is basic and is only nine pages long. In contrast, partnership agreements are usually no less than 20 pages long. This simplistic comparison helps to illustrate that a partnership agreement rather than reliance on the Partnership Act should deal with the majority of scenarios which can arise in a dispute.
There are a number of key principles which the Partnership Act 1890 confers on partnerships if no alternative agreement is reached between the partners:-
At first glance these do not perhaps appear to be especially draconian provisions. However, if you have not agreed a provision for expulsion of a partner then a situation can and often does arise where one partner can be failing to carry out his share of the workload and yet will be still entitled to an equal share of the profits.
By contrast, partnership agreements will expressly set out the requirements of partners so that all partners are fully aware of what is expected and any potential consequences of failing to fulfil those expectations.
Under the Partnership Act, if agreement cannot be reached between the partners as to the retirement of one or more partners then the only way to bring the partnership to an end is by way of dissolution.
The ramifications of dissolution are that the partners are required to divide up the business, sell the assets of the partnership including equipment and premises. Contracts with employees are terminated and the partnership can face redundancy payments or dismissal payments.
Further, dissolution triggers the obligation to immediately repay any loans and overdraft facilities and can lead to advance tax payments. To leave such an outcome in the hands of any one partner who is not bound by a partnership agreement puts the business and the other partners’ livelihoods at risk.
7:00AM GMT 19 Jan 2013
Estates worth up to £1 million have been left to charities such as the RSPCA, leaving family members who were expecting an “easy pot of money” disappointed,
Donkey sanctuaries, the RSPCA and PDSA are among the most common beneficiaries, as many charities have focused on
Ms Marchant, of the law firm Pannone, said she had seen cases of relatives challenging legacies left to animal charities in wills treble over the last two years, increasing from one every other year in 2008 to around three a year in 2010 and around nine last year.
She said: “It doesn’t seem to matter whether the gift is only a few thousand pounds or the entirety of a £1 million-plus estate.
“It seems that in tough times, we are not quite the nation of animal lovers we once were.”
She went on: “It tends to be women who are leaving these requests, and while I have seen it with children, it is more often the aunties that are leaving it to the charities and the nephews and nieces who are very upset by the fact they have been excluded when they’re their only relative.
“Generally, as a whole, the contentious probate area has hugely increased since the recession. It’s across the whole spectrum of contentious probate and trusts, but in particular with animal charities.
“I think people see it as an easy pot of money and they can’t believe that in hard times the pot of money isn’t coming to the family.”
Challenges tend to happen most when the family member has a previous will in which their legacy was left to relatives, but changed their will shortly before their death in favour of animal charities.
“In about 90 per cent of cases, Aunt Molly has actually left it to the relatives in the past and has only just, in the last couple of years before her death, changed it entirely to the charity,” Ms Marchant said.
The disgruntled relatives will argue that that the family member did not have the capacity to change their will and, if successful, the previous will is then enforced.
But relatives wanting to mount a challenge should be prepared for a tough, expensive fight as charities often have a duty to do what they can to preserve money for their cause and rarely settle out of court.
Legacy income pays for one of every two animals the RSPCA saves, the charity said.
“The RSPCA and many other charities rely almost entirely on private donations - and legacy bequests are an important part of that,” a spokesman said.
“There have been anecdotal reports of slight rises in the number of challenges to these legacies. It is certainly fair to say that the legal processes around these bequests are becoming more complex.
“We remain immensely grateful to all those who remember the RSPCA and its work in their will and to their family and friends who respect their loved one’s wishes.”
The pair, who lead the firm's contentious trusts and estates team, advise clients on UK and off-shore trust disputes.
In 2011, Simon and Nicola were awarded the STEP advanced certificate in Trust Disputes.
Simon said "We are both delighted to achieve this second STEP qualification, which cements the team's credentials as genuine specialists in this unusual and difficult area of law."
Simon and Nicola are also among a small handful of lawyers who in the region who are members of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS).
Pannone Coorporate rated as a Tier 1 firm in the North West by the independent Legal 500 directory
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STEP is the worldwide professional association for those advising families across generations. STEP promotes best practice, professional integrity and education to its members.
The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists was established in 1997 for lawyers specialising in contentious trsut and probate work.