Karon Walton, Chief Legal Officer for SFE, gives her view of the SFE National Conference 2018


On Thursday 21st June 2018 SFE held its national conference at the British Library and our topic this year was digital deaths and cyber security.

The day started with registration and networking for the delegates and gave everyone an opportunity to catch up with old and new faces.  It was amazing to see that we had the largest delegate attendees since SFE started its conferences over 19 years ago.

The conference was opened by the Chair of SFE David Sinclair.  This was his first year chairing the conference since becoming Chair in 2017, following the departure of Justine Clowes.  David thanked everyone for attending and gave a quick update as to how SFE was evolving over the last 12 months.

First up after David was Ian Bond who is the Head of trust and estates at Talbots and gave an interesting and topical presentation as to digital assets, what happens to these assets on death and what executors and practitioners need to consider regarding digital currencies, online banking accounts and social media accounts.  Ian certainly gave the delegates much to think about in respect of how we and our clients may be managing our finances in the future and the change and development in the digital world.

After coffee Professor Lesley King, who is well known to the SFE delegation, presented her first slot of the day and gave an update on private client law.  As always Lesley gave us an interesting and in depth update as to current developments.

Alan Eccles, The Public Guardian gave an update as to how things were evolving within the OPG and gave statics as to the continuing growth of applications for LPA’s, he also reported a growth in deputyship management and safeguarding issues.  He announced the start of the mediation pilot to start shortly and implementation of the deputyship reporting tool soon to be launched for professional deputies.

Lunch provided delegates with the opportunity to network and see our sponsors and exhibitors who this year were Clarion Solicitors, Finders International, Smith & Williamson, Today’s Wills and Probate/Solve Legal Marketing and Intaforensics Ltd.

Professor Lesley King gave her second talk of the day on the complex issue of Residence Nil Rate Band and was able to keep the interest up within the room even though she had the slot after lunch.  We are all grateful to Lesley to be able to cut through the issues in the area and give us a clear and pragmatic approach in dealing with this law.

Straight after Lesley, we had our keynote speaker the new Senior Judge Hilder who updated us as to her role within the Court of Protection and how things are growing and developing within the court.  She stated that applications continue to increase and that all the regional hubs will be fully optional by July to be able to receive applications for welfare determinations without the need to submit them to First Avenue first.

After Tea and the last slot of the day was taken by Intaforensics Ltd with Damian Walton and his team providing the delegates with an update as to cybercrime and the trends facing business and individuals; and the types of scams and attacks that can occur.  They ended their session by demonstrating a live hack into a computer and how a hacker can take control of the computer and enter files.  It certainly had everyone talking at the end and hopefully has given everyone food for thought, but not scared them too much.

For my perspective, it was a great day and good to catch up with everyone, as far as possible.  Hopefully, next year I will have more time to talk to more people.  I look forward to planning next year’s conference which will be our 20th anniversary of our conferences and I hope with the Board to plan something special – so keep the date in your diary for next year – Thursday 20th June 2019 – see you there!