20 Years in Leigh on sea!

July 17, 2017 by Melinda at Giles Wilson Solicitors

20 Years in Leigh on sea!

This month Giles Wilson is proud to celebrate 20 years in Leigh on sea and what a 20 years it has been both in the law and in Leigh itself!

When Giles Wilson opened in 1997 (having transformed the previous firm of John Wilson & Giles), Tony Blair had just become Prime Minister bringing in a Labour government after 18 years of Conservative rule – as we celebrated our 20th birthday we realised that once again we were in the midst of a changing political time. However, we could not then have predicted just how far reaching some of the laws were to change; making significant changes to society and the way that we practised law.

Of course in 1998 we had the Human Rights Act, but since then we have had The Civil Partnership Act 2005 which allowed gay couples to form a recognised union (but not marry), and then in 2010 we had the Equality Act which provided that employers could not discriminate employees on the grounds of their sex – how very dare they! In March 2014 we saw the introduction of gay marriage and the first Essex couple to marry were from Leigh on sea!

I have tried to reflect on how different my daily practice as a solicitor is now from as it was in 1997 and aside from the practical differences of using a fax machine as opposed to email, and running to the bank to send completion monies rather than internet banking, I think that the biggest changes have been to the rights of individuals. Not only due to those changes in law that I have mentioned above, but we also finally welcomed the Mental Capacity Act (2005) into effect in 2008 – this was hailed as a “visionary piece of legislation” at the time because for the first time it meant that we put the rights of people to make their own decisions at the heart of things. These days we are all quite familiar with thinking of making a Power of Attorney, and most people have heard of the Court of Protection, but back then these were big changes from a regime that was still based in the past. As for the changes to Inheritance Tax – well! We are all now quite used to the fact that a married couple have double benefit (introduced in 2008) but that was a biggie!

And what changes has Leigh on Sea itself seen? Our first office was up on the Thames Drive junction and our head office on London Road was then still a bank! Our current office on Leigh Broadway was then an estate agents’ office, and parking in the Broadway was restricted to one hour. The Grand Hotel was a thriving bar (actually 3 bars) and there was a community hall where Eden Point now stands. The Leigh Art Trail also began 20 years ago this summer and who would have thought 20 years ago that in 2016 Leigh on sea would be named as one of the happiest places in the country to live!

But I know that the question on all of your lips is how exactly did Giles Wilson celebrate? Cocktails and cake is the answer! 20 years ago we were a team of 5. Today we are 35 and we all enjoyed an evening of a celebration GW20 branded cocktail looking out on to the estuary and Southend Pier and here’s to the next 20 years in Leigh on sea. Thank you to everyone who has made it possible.

This article is by Melinda Giles at Giles Wilson Solicitors.
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