FOXY Lady Drivers Club works with Stormcatcher Law – a specialist legal practice that supports us by providing free initial advice as well as associated support services for Club members and motor trade subscribers. Knowing how stressful this can all be, women often find it easier to deal with a female in the initial contact stage so we wanted to know more about Antonia Rees-Brown and her role as their Business Manager.
About Antonia and Stormcatcher Law
Q/ Tell us about your background and how this brought you into the automotive industry?
I came into the legal automotive industry purely by chance. I met my partner eight years ago while he was working for Mercedes; at the same time he was studying to become a barrister- intriguing mix!
I studied Law at A level and always had an interest in cars- my brother and his friends always had a car in pieces at home. I became a teacher years ago and ended up teaching in the Motor Vehicle department at a Further Education college. It seems I was destined to become involved even though it wasn’t a conscious choice! I was the only woman in the college in that particular department but that’s another story.
Q/ What is your role at Stormcatcher and what does this entail?
I am the Business Manager for Stormcatcher. I am responsible for generating new business as well as networking with our local community of small and medium sized businesses. I take care of our customers and make sure their expectations are being met; our advice line freephone number goes straight to a lawyer but I can answer the basic questions. I also keep an eye on our accounts section and suppliers. It’s always different, which I love.
Q/ What are the sort of legal cases Stormcatcher deals with? Does the motor industry loom large here?
We can deal with all sorts of things, although our practise areas are particularly suited to those supplying goods and services to consumers. We have unique experience in all aspects of the construction and motor industries.
We’ve just launched LawPlan, directly targeting the motor industry, offering a fixed, unlimited access, pay monthly tariff of either £49.50 or £99 depending on the size of the business. A bit like your mobile phone unlimited contract!
We’ve had some interesting legal cases surrounding the motor industry and we act on behalf of both consumers and businesses; issues have involved cars from across the spectrum from second hand cars costing hundreds of pounds to new cars and Italian sports cars, with motorhomes, caravans and boats in between.
By far and away the most frequent problems for dealers and customers involves the Consumer Rights Act and post-purchase faults. We have also successfully dealt with circumstances concerning cars which turned out to have been written off, subject to outstanding finance or stolen.
Motor Industry Careers for Women
Q/ Is this a profession you can recommend to women/or would like to see more women working in? How might they go about finding out more about this as a career?
The legal profession has a strong male bias, especially in the higher levels in the profession, but this is gradually changing, so don’t be put off! If you are determined, as with everything in life, you will succeed.
Your Favourite Car
Q/ What car do you drive and, if you had an unlimited budget and no family demands, what car would you most like to drive?
Currently I drive two cars, the dogmobile, which is an old Mercedes E class estate which I absolutely love, and a BMW 3 series for when I don’t want to get out at the end of a journey covered in hair and mud!
If money were no object I’d have a McLaren Mercedes, the one with the gull wings. Of course I’d never be able to park it in Sainsburys!! But they are absolutely gorgeous.
Women and the law
Q/ Are women any different from men when they need legal advice? It’s tempting to imagine that men might know more about their rights or be tougher when things go wrong, but perhaps this isn’t necessarily the case?
I can only speak from personal experience here. The majority of our clients are men. We have some women across our books; of these a good percentage have got their husbands or boyfriends to ring up for them. We had a woman who picked up her wedding dress only to find the day before that it didn’t fit. You can imagine what she was like- almost hysterical.
But the scariest client I’ve ever come across was a woman who was at the top of her profession. She took absolutely no prisoners. I would definitely avoid being on the wrong side of her!
I don’t think men know any more about their rights than women. I judge that to be the same – but women are more likely to negotiate than men. Some men take things very personally and can rant and rave spectacularly – and more if it’s about motor vehicle issues. For some men their car is part of them and defines who they want to be seen as. A man who has a fault with his Ferrari is not a happy one!
Q/ We suspect that a lot of women learn from car buying mistakes the hard way but don’t always tackle the business that has perhaps sold them a dodgy one. What advice would you give women in general when things go wrong?
I remember well going to buy my first car. I walked into a garage that sold old MGBs (I had an old film star thing going, imagining myself with the hood down, scarf and big sunglasses!)) with two thousand pounds in my hand, hard saved, and said, “I’ve got two thousand pounds what have you got?” He must have thought all his Christmases had come at once. It was a dud of course. I got my Dad to sort it out!
My key advice to women nowadays would be- keep all the paperwork! Make a note of when things were said and by whom. Keep screen shots of texts – better to email. When it comes to tackling dodgy deals, evidence is key. Get receipts and if they promise to rectify things, get them to put it in writing – precisely what they’ll do, and by when.
Then when it comes to getting your money back or getting things put right, everything becomes a lot easier.
If you’d like to JOIN FOXY Lady Drivers Club to enjoy motoring services, including legal advice when you need it, that are reserved for Club members, the subscription benefits for women include
+ preferential rates for car insurance
+ exclusive new car deals (Suzuki and Citroen)
+ regular money saving offers
+ VIP services* at female friendly approved garages & dealers
+ a friendly motoring helpdesk
+ expert legal, claims and accident advice
+ a monthly e-newsletter packed with news & female reviews.
PLUS a copy of the latest Official Highway Code.
*free car checks, member discounts and local ladies’ evenings.