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Bell Pottinger North - Client News
Friday, December 23, 2005
A Look Ahead To 2006

23 December, 2005

A Look Ahead To 2006...

According to Beachcroft Wansbroughs, Manchester's fastest growing law firm, 2006 could see the beginning of the end for the City's buoyant residential property market as the supporting infrastructure cracks under the strain. "The ten-fold increase in commercial and residential development in Manchester has been great for the city," Regional Senior Partner Iain Moore points out, "but unfortunately there has been no commensurate investment in basic amenities, such as doctors, dentists, schools or car parks. The City is often grid-locked at peak times and while developers have been encouraging greater numbers of homebuyers to move into the city in recent years, residents are struggling to find the facilities they need to live or operate effectively. This could have a profound effect on our social fabric in the years ahead, and tinkering around the edges - such as the introduction of a congestion charge - is not going to solve it."

As for the legal landscape in the year ahead, the firm believes that that too could hold a number of surprises, including continued growth in the number of companies listing on AIM rather than on OFEX or the Stock Exchange.

"AIM is now becoming as popular as the main list right across the North West. In the last 5 years, it's gained credibility and is now one of the first-choice options for companies. Not only is it very tax effective, but it can raise a company's visibility and increase credibility with investors," commented corporate finance partner Leila Porter.

The financial services industry, which has grown substantially in terms of its Manchester presence over the last 5 years, is also likely to change significantly over the year ahead, according to sector specialist and partner Mark Broadhead. "There will be more consolidation within the sector, as the bigger outfits absorb the smaller independents in the year ahead," he added, "and we're expecting a much stronger reaction to regulation. The industry is now at a stage where red tape is beginning to stifle business growth and this is not a tenable position going forward. Ultimately, sustained economic growth is all about balancing risk and control."

For the region's employers, new legislation in 2006 will continue the anti-discrimination drive and there will be increased penalties for those who employ illegal workers.

"Age discrimination will probably be the single biggest cultural change companies will have to make next year," said employment partner Deborah Hely, "although pensions will continue to be a major issue.

"There will be a new financial penalty of £2,000 for those who knowingly employ or exploit illegal workers, plus the possibility of a custodial sentence. So, all UK companies must be sure that they have cleaned up their act in order to avoid expensive penalties."

In 2005, Beachcroft Wansbroughs was named as Manchester's fastest growing law firm. Originally specialists in litigation and injury risk, particularly for leading UK insurers, the firm has deliberately built up its commercial offering over the last 3 years, developing expertise in a broad range of legal specialisms and industry sectors.

"As regards our own sector," added Iain Moore, "we anticipate that Manchester will continue to attract the major commercial lawyers as the City's profile and business base continues to expand. We have been lucky over recent years, as significant investments - particularly in public and air transportation - in this region have helped to position the North West as one of the country's most buoyant regional markets. We can expect some further consolidation over the year ahead, perhaps with more cross-Pennine service offerings than has previously been the case."

Greater Manchester currently extends for over 1,300 km2 , making it one of the UK's largest regional metropolises, alongside the West Midlands. "As the commercial, financial, educational and cultural capital of the UK's largest economic region outside London, we are a force to be reckoned with," concluded Iain, "but we do need some joined-up thinking to make sure we grow at a sensible and sustainable rate."

For further information on Beachcroft Wansbroughs, please visit www.bwlaw.co.uk or call Regional Senior Partner Iain Moore on 0161 934 3001.


. For more information, please contact:
Deborah Garritty/Emily Goehler, Bell Pottinger North
Tel: 01625 506444

Editors Note:

Beachcroft Wansbroughs is one of the largest commercial law firms in the UK. With over 1,300 employees, including 772 professional staff, it provides fully integrated legal advice and litigation services from its offices in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Leeds, London, and Winchester. Its customer-focused service proposition reflects both the depth of expertise and the approachable nature of the firm and its partners. It is one of the largest law firms in the country to obtain the 'Investors in People' award across all of its offices.

The Manchester team currently includes 19 partners and 160 staff. Its partners have particular expertise and experience in commercial property, injury/risk, professional indemnity, corporate/commercial and employment law.

For further information please visit our website www.bwlaw.co.uk or call 0161 934 3000.


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