How would your business be affected if someone were to start up the same type of business with a very similar name? A customer searching for you on the web might believe that you were affiliated, or even worse, that you were the same organisation and trade with them instead of you. Just think of all the lost orders and potential for disruption.
It could get even worse. The imposter may not provide the same exceptional levels of service to its customers that you do. It may even deliver such a bad service that they quickly generate widespread bad press and if their name is similar, you will undoubtedly suffer the knock-on effects even though you are completely separate. Such a situation could see your hard-won reputation evaporate overnight, taking months, if not years, to restore. As business risks go, this one is very real.
Thankfully you can seek protection by registering your business name as a trademark. By doing so, you are indicating that you value your brand and that you are prepared to defend it. Protection can extend to just your business name, or further if you use a particular logo which your customers associate you with.
A registered trademark is no guarantee for avoiding problems, but if one occurs it means that you can quickly take legal action before any real harm is done. The registration process is surprisingly straightforward and cost effective when compared to the harm that might otherwise be caused.
In a statement, the company confirmed that it had been considering the ban for some time - to bring into line the industry norms, and also in response to uncovering that half of grievance and disciplinary cases over the last two years were related to alcohol.
Other firms such as QBE have previously advised staff not to drink as opposed to an outright ban, leaving it to their managers to decide the most appropriate course of action.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, all employers have a duty to ensure a safe place for work and safe systems of work for their staff. However, it also looks upon substance misuse which includes both alcohol and drugs (whether prescribed over the counter or controlled substances). Managing substance misuse at a workplace is also likely to engage the Data Protection Act 1998, for example in screening test results for drugs and/or alcohol and HR Records of how the employer have dealt with the worker. Any results of any alcohol or drug test would amount to sensitive personal data concerning the individuals physical or mental health or condition.
It is important that an employer has a clear policy in respect of drugs and/or alcohol. The purpose of any such policy is to increase awareness of the effects of alcohol and drugs misuse and to ensure that all staff are aware of their responsibilities regarding alcohol or drugs misuse and related problems. Staff who have an alcohol or drug related problem should be encouraged to seek help at an early stage and staff who have an alcohol or drug related problem affecting the work, are dealt with sympathetically, fairly and consistently.
It is up to an employer as to whether they take a zero alcohol tolerance approach to the workplace and work-related events, or to limit that to normal working day i.e. the approach taken by Lloyd’s of London.
Having spent 11 years previously working as a paralegal I qualified as a solicitor in 2011. I joined Pinney Talfourd just over 4 years ago, specialising in Medical Negligence.
Being a solicitor is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s not an easy profession to get into, and is fiercely competitive, so gaining experience of the legal industry beforehand can really help.
So, when I finished my degree, I worked in central government, and then from there I secured a job as a full-time paralegal for a firm in Chelmsford to gain the experience I needed. I dealt predominately with personal injury claims, working my way up to senior paralegal and negotiator. Then I decided to study for my exams whilst working full time to qualify and get to where I am today.
My specialism came from personal experience - a hospital GP misdiagnosed my own mum’s condition. She spent quite a lot of time being poorly but without knowing why, and it wasn’t until her final days that we actually found out what was wrong with her, by which time it was too late. Something could have been done to save her if it was caught early enough.
That feeling of utter helplessness and unnecessary loss is something that I don’t want other people to have to feel.
Reports that the US Patent and Trademark Office has rejected an application by Kylie Jenner to register the name “Kylie” as a trademark will have been warmly received by Kylie Minogue, following a prolonged legal battle about the use of the name.
When Jenner, the reality TV star, applied to trademark the name back in April 2014, it caught the attention of lawyers acting for Minogue, most famous for a string of hits in the 80’s and 90’s. You should be so lucky seemed to be Minogue’s reaction, and one which has been accepted in the application process.
Jenner has appealed the decision.
The battle brings into focus the often extensive and valuable commercial activities pursued by screen celebrities where name recognition and branding walk hand in hand. Particularly significant in this case is that Minogue is more often than not referred to by her first name only, which may have been persuasive in the decision.
For businesses building and developing their own brands, a trademark application can be a relatively simple and cost-effective way of protecting an investment. Although no guarantee that a competitor might try to infringe your rights, it permits swift action to be taken in such an event.
Does this liberty of voting and evicting, however, translate when faced with real-world squatters in non-residential properties?
Up until recently, squatting in England and Wales was generally viewed as a civil, rather than criminal matter. In September 2012, a new piece of legislation made it a criminal offence to trespass in residential properties with the intention of living there. However, the legislation only covers residential properties, so what do you do if squatters gain access to a commercial or non-residential property?
Squatting in non-residential buildings is still regarded as a civil matter and resolution usually means resorting to the civil courts. In essence – it is not a criminal offence for someone to enter a non-residential property without the owner’s consent or authority.
The good news for property owners is that it is still not easy for a trespasser to acquire ownership of a property, or “squatter’s rights” as per common parlance. A squatter can only gain title to a property if the squatter has excluded the world at large from the property, including the owner, for a period of 10 years (12 years if dealing with unregistered land).
As mentioned above, squatting in a non-residential property still isn’t looked upon as a criminal offence. The police take can action on your behalf if squatters commit other crimes when entering or residing in your property. These can include:
Sexism in the workplace has been rife in recent news, with MPs demanding that the government look to enforce the law to ban sexist dress rules at work that are discriminatory against women.
The article, published by BBC News touched briefly upon the Equality Act 2010 and the legal standing that women have regarding discriminatory dress rules at work. We look more closely at this legislation to understand what is currently protected under its rule.
The Equality Act 2010 is concerned with discrimination and harassment in respect of the following protected characteristics:
Under the Equality Act, it is unlawful for an employer to:
Discrimination in employment is generally prohibited, however, there are certain circumstances where an employer may have a defence in respect of an act of discrimination. For example, there may be an occupational requirement; however, being sexy at work is not a job requirement.
In January 2017, the House of Lords’ EU Justice Sub-Committee will hear evidence from two senior UK Judges on the significance of EU legislation designed to facilitate cross-border civil disputes. However, it cannot be avoided that there is the smell of uncertainty about the detail of the consequences for us for ending the UK/EU relationship, if it ends hard.
At present, EU legislation protects parties’ abilities to choose what governing law there should be for their contractual relationships and the ability to choose forms a fundamental freedom offered by English law.
The current EU framework applicable to contractual and non-contractual obligations is enshrined in the Rome I and Rome II Regulations, respectively.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that a decision could be taken to leave the rules as set out in the above regulations intact after Brexit. A possible consequence being that the English Courts would be the final arbiter of how the rules are applied - ultimately a job reserved for the European Court of Justice as things stand. If that were to happen, then nothing immediate would change, but it is possible that the interpretation of the two regulations could start to differ between the UK and the remaining EU member states over time.
If the Rome I and Rome II Regulations were no longer to apply following Brexit, then it is possible that the UK would revert back to the rules in force before those regulations became law. As such, in regards to contractual obligations, the Rome Convention; which applied to the law governing contracts made between April 1991 and 17 December 2009 could apply, which, of itself, would not materially alter the present position as we know it. However, in regard to non-contractual obligations, the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 - which is a regime which is unlike to Rome II - could operate so that the parties would not have an express right to choose the law applicable to non-contractual relations between them.
However, it’s anticipated that when the UK eventually leaves the EU, the courts of EU member states will continue to respect the parties’ choice as to governing law as before; so that on choosing English law the parties to a contract will still enjoy an application of the rules set out in Rome I and II.
If you have bought or been given something for Christmas that does not work it is important to know what rights you have.
Most people will have heard of the Sale of Goods Act, which for years has given consumers a right of redress against businesses who sell faulty goods, but few will have heard about a new law introduced in 2015 which strengthens consumer rights.
Nadia Fabri is a litigation solicitor at Pinney Talfourd. Below she explains the increased protection now available to consumers in the UK who purchase goods, services or digital content following the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The Consumer Rights Act is designed to ensure that if something you purchase is faulty, not as described, or not suitable for the purpose for which it was intended, you have the right to insist that the business you bought it from does something about it.
Knowing your rights can help you challenge a retailer or supplier who fails to deliver on their promises. This is something that you might need to do at any time of the year but which tends to happen more frequently after Christmas.
When a business sells you goods you have the right to be provided with goods that are of satisfactory quality, fit for the purpose for which they are intended to be used and as described in any literature or promotional material. If the goods are not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or as described, you have the right to do a number of things depending on the circumstances.
You have a short-term right to reject the goods within 30 days of purchasing them if you wish to do so. This is unless the goods you have bought are perishable, such as food, in which case rejection must happen sooner.
Once 30 days have passed you have the right to request that faulty goods, or goods which are not fit for purpose, or do not match their description, are repaired or replaced. If an attempt at repair or a replacement still falls below the expected standard you then have a further right to reject the goods or to ask for a price reduction.
When a business provides you with a service you have the right to receive a service that is provided with reasonable skill and care, which is charged at the rate agreed and which is performed within the time agreed. Where rates of pay or the timeframe for performance have not been agreed you have the right to be charged a reasonable rate and for the service to be provided within a reasonable time.
Where a business has told you certain things about a service or the person who will be providing it, and those things influenced you in your decision to buy the service, you also have the right to hold the business to account if the things you have been told are not delivered on or turn out to be untrue. This is a new right created by the Consumer Rights Act which makes it easier for consumers to seek redress when promises made by businesses are not honoured.
If services are not provided with reasonable skill and care, or fail to deliver on promises made by the business, you have the right to request that the business performs the service again so that it is performed correctly. Depending on the circumstances you may also have the right to claim a price reduction of up to 100 per cent.
When a business sells you digital content, such as computer software and computer games or music downloads and films, you have the right to content which is of satisfactory quality, fit for its purpose and as described. If this does not happen you have the right to request repair or replacement unless this would be impossible or too expensive, in which case you have the right to a price reduction. If the digital content supplied has caused damage, either to other digital content or a device that you own, you may also have the right to claim compensation if you can show that the supplier of the digital content failed to exercise reasonable skill and care.
The rights in respect of digital content are new; previously digital content was treated as a general sale of goods contract and consumers did not have such extensive rights of redress when things went wrong.
The average British worker takes 4.4 days’ sickness absence every year and minor illnesses such as coughs and colds are often cited as the reason. However, more days are lost on average to more serious complaints such as back, neck and muscle pain.
High levels of sickness absence can lead to reduced production, low staff morale, increased costs and poor customer service. For small employers in particular, this can be very disruptive.
You should have a sickness absence policy in place so that employees understand what is expected of them. It should set out your arrangements for sick pay and for reporting and managing sickness absence. It will help managers to deal with sickness absence fairly and consistently.
Relationships in business can break down and companies often need to take a different direction necessitating a change in management, especially if one of the directors is not acting in a way that promotes the success of the company.
Before considering what route to take, you must always ensure that your reason for removing the director is fair, or you could find yourself facing an employment tribunal claim for wrongful dismissal and a hefty compensation pay out.
A private company must have at least one director and a public company must have at least two at all times. There is no legal maximum number of directors, but all directors must be over 16 years old.
Where the director being removed is also a shareholder, removal from office will not usually affect their shareholding and voting rights. In small private companies, where a director is often a shareholder, it is advisable to hold negotiations for the purchase of the ex-director’s shares. Alternately, it may be wise to insert a clause into the articles of association that a shareholder who ceases to be a director is deemed to have given the company a transfer notice in respect of his shares.
A director can be removed by an ordinary resolution of a general meeting under section 168 of the Companies Act 2006. The director can be removed before their period of office has expired, regardless of any other agreement to the contrary.
Although there was much from Chancellor Hammond’s first Autumn statement to offer the business community some festive cheer, there were equally plenty of measures which may not be so warmly received.
A headline grabbing £1.1bn investment into transport networks, including £220m for traffic easing measures on key roads will certainly be welcomed by all those struggling with delays and congestion. Other highlights include an extra £110m funding for rail, and a commitment for new road building in the Oxford to Cambridge corridor. Of particular benefit for the haulage industry, the Chancellor announced a freezing of fuel duty for the seventh consecutive year at a time when a fall in Sterling is already feeding through to higher pump prices.
Meanwhile, the country’s digital infrastructure is set to be enhanced by generous tax allowances on both 5G, the next generation of mobile communications, and a new fibre broadband infrastructure. With business increasingly moving online this move is set to reap rewards across all sectors and keep the UK attractive for overseas investment.
This was an autumn statement which clearly had one eye on the post-Brexit business environment. In view of this, the Chancellor attempted to dampen fears that a significant number of businesses will relocate by underlining the government’s commitment to cut corporation tax from 20% to 17%. It is hoped that keeping business taxation competitive will help the UK be seen as an attractive place for businesses to locate.
But there were also some less business friendly measures. The increase in the national living wage, estimated to be worth £500 to a full time worker, will increase costs for employers. This will have a wide ranging impact, but those sectors most likely to feel the effects range from catering and hospitality, through to the healthcare industry.
We are delighted to welcome two new members to our growing team at Pinney Talfourd; Lee Kirby and Edward Garston.
Edward joins our Commercial team as a Senior Associate. Edward has considerable corporate and commercial experience and specialises in company acquisitions and disposals, business sales and purchases, commercial agreements, protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights, joint ventures and debt or equity investment arrangements. His experience has been in sectors as diverse as transport and logistics, manufacturing, care services, software and IT businesses and support services.
Having originally worked in the financial markets, Edward’s niche expertise is lending arrangements. His background offers him a unique advantage within corporate finance transactions and he is regularly instructed by banks, financial institutions and private and subordinate lenders.
Edward’s experience and expertise adds further weight and depth to our Commercial team.
Lee joins us as our Practice Director, tasked with developing the efficiency and effectiveness of our lawyers and working environment to maximise our abilities to deliver excellent client service and cost effective advice to our clients.
The chancellor has said the funding will help support the building of up to 100,000 new homes.
The government has also agreed to spend an extra £1.4bn on affordable housing in England, which would fall into categories such as Affordable Rent, Shared Ownership or Rent to Buy.
This is expected to lead to 40,000 more affordable homes being built.
Paul Berry, Head of Residential Property says “There still seems to be a big demand for property. We’re certainly as busy as ever in the Residential Property Department and prices don’t seem to be going down any time soon.”
Hopefully these will be Freehold properties, moving away from the recent trend of Leasehold houses, where the “buyer” essentially takes a lease over a new build house (albeit for 999 years maybe) with a ground rent that could be several hundred pounds, and depending upon the lease, potentially doubling every 10 years causing substantial problems in years to come.
From April 2017 employees participating in salary sacrifice schemes, in which an employee gives up part of their salary for a non-cash benefit with both the company and worker paying less tax, will be abolished. Most medium and large organisation offer salary sacrifice schemes, which may include gym memberships and mobile phone deals. This is likely to affect lower paid workers the most. Child care, ultra-low emission cars and cycling to work will not be affected. There is some limited comfort with any arrangement in place before April 2017 being protected until April 2018.
Mr Hammond also announced changes to the income tax threshold, which will increase to £11,500 in April 2017. The government will increase the higher rate income tax threshold to £50,000 by the end of the Parliament.
The National Living Wage to rise will increase from £7.20 an hour to £7.50 from April 2017.
Employer and employer NI thresholds will be equalised at £157 per week from April 2017.
Employers are advised to contact their accountant to discuss how these changes will affect their business in advance of the changes. You are also advised to speak to your employment lawyer regarding updates to employment contracts to reflect any changes to salary sacrifice schemes.
Resolution is a community of family law professionals who subscribe to a Code of Practice to assist working with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way.
The family team at Pinney Talfourd are all proud to be members of Resolution and subscribe to their Code of Practice which has recently been revised.
The ethos of the Code is to encourage families to deal with their issues without conflict or confrontation, to support and encourage them to put forward the best interests of their children first, to act with honesty, integrity and objectivity and to strive to resolve matters so far as it is possible to do so without the need to apply to Court.
A full copy of the Code of Practice can be seen here: http://www.resolution.org.uk/site_content_files/files/code_of_practice_full_version_web.pdf
As part of the campaign, Resolution will be attending Parliament to lobby for a change in the law to include ‘no fault’ divorce and improving the rights of cohabiting couples.
The much publicised case of Ashleigh Harris who has been awarded in excess of £3 million pounds following paralysis after being thrown from her boyfriends family horse ‘Polly Perks’, has caused debate and concern from riders, horse owners and yard owners alike over the possible flood gate effect following this litigation.
An estimated £4billion pounds per year is spent on horses in Great Britain, with over four million people riding each year, as such, there will inevitably be some accidents.
There is, however, a great deal of confusion over the difference between a genuine accident, occurring through no fault of anyone and an accident arising from exposure by another person to an obvious risk of harm.
Ultimately, for any case (equine or not) to be successful, it is for the Claimant to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that;
Each case turns on its own facts and it is therefore important to seek advice from a solicitor, whether you wish to bring a claim or defend a claim being made against you.
It is never too early to start working with the other parent to sort out which part of the coming Christmas holidays your child or children will spend with each of you.
You always know Christmas is around the corner when the shops start selling cards and gifts, lights go up in offices and shops - even though it is only the second week of November!
If your child or children live with their your ex spouse or ex partner, then it is never too early to start working with the other parent to sort out which part of the coming Christmas holidays your child or children will spend with each of you.
It’s a good idea to try and share the time equally and alternate from year to year, especially when your children are young, so that as the years go by, you can both enjoy the experience of waking up on Christmas morning and opening their presents with them. It will always be best for your child or children if you can agree this without the need for the Court to get involved.
However, if you cannot agree on a schedule of time that your child or children will spend with each of you, you may need to apply to Court for an Order, which is now called a Child Arrangement Order (we no longer use the phrases ‘access’, ‘contact’, ‘custody’ or ‘residence’ when talking about children), though save in limited circumstances you must at least try and reach an agreement through mediation otherwise you will not be able to apply to the Court for a Judge to sort things out.