Preventing Imposters - When to Register a Trademark

imposter
Have you ever considered how much your trading name, or brand, is worth to you? If not, think for a moment how your business could be affected if someone were to imitate your livelihood.

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.

 

MORE INFORMATION 

If you need advice on intellectual property or any trademark issues, please contact Edward Garston, a Senior Associate in the Company Commercial Department. Call on 01708 229444 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
This article was written by Edward Garston, a company commercial solicitor at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of February 2017.
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Lloyd's of London Booze Ban - a Tipple Too Far?

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Lloyd's of London has introduced a booze ban between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. What are the possible repercussions for their employees if they decide to flout the new rules?

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.

Substance misuse and the law

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.

The employers' stance

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.

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In The Spotlight - Kim Huggins

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We find out why our Medical Negligence Associate Kim Huggins joined the profession, her biggest challenges, and what really makes her tick.


Tell us about yourself and your role at Pinney Talfourd

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.

What made you decide to make the leap from a paralegal to a solicitor? 

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.


Why did you decide to specialise in Medical Negligence? 

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.

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Kylie vs Kylie - The Power of a Trademark

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When does a name become a trademark, and when should that trademark be disputed? Senior Associate Edward Garston explains.

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.

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In a spot of Big Bother - squatters and your rights

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Tonight is the final episode of this year's Celebrity Big Brother, and once again we'll hear those infamous words - "who goes? You decide". But is it all that easy to evict when faced with 'real' squatters?
 
The annual finale of Celebrity Big Brother is imminent; this year, we have witnessed various large personalities pass through those infamous eye-adorned doors. And, as always, 80% of the housemates have been evicted as part of a UK-wide public voting system, leaving us with 7 for this series’ climax. The notorious catchphrase rings true - who goes? You decide.

Does this liberty of voting and evicting, however, translate when faced with real-world squatters in non-residential properties?

Squatters and Their Rights

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).

Squatters and Your Rights

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:

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Does Your Company Dress Code Break The Law?

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Alex Pearce, employment law specialist explains how your business could be breaking the law in light of recent sexism claims.

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:

  • Age;
  • Disability;
  • Gender Reassignment;
  • Marriage and civil partnerships;
  • Pregnancy
  • Maternity/paternity;
  • Race, religion or belief;
  • Sex;
  • Sexual orientation.

Under the Equality Act, it is unlawful for an employer to:

  • Discriminate directly by treating a job applicant or employee less favourably than others because of sex;
  • Discriminate indirectly by applying a provision, criteria or practice that disadvantages job applicants or employees of one sex without objective justification;
  • Subject a job applicant or employee to harassment relating to sex, sexual harassment or less favourably treatment because they reject or submit to harassment;
  • Victimise a job applicant or employee because they have made or intend to make a sex discrimination complaint under the Equality Act 2010 or because they have taken action or intend to take action in connection with the Act.

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. 

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The implications of a 'Hard' Brexit

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Will we witness a 'hard' exit from the EU? Or will Britain go softly, softly?
 
Now seems to be the time to get thoughtful about the potential implications of the UK voting to leave the EU.  There could be significant repercussions for the way in which commercial counterparties within the European Union choose to contract with each other and for their ability to resolve international disputes. 


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.

For Contracts

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.

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Can you ever force a parent to be a parent?

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Can you actually force a parent to 'be' a parent when they decide that the role isn't for them? We look at the legal side of this debate.


A DIFFICULT FAMILY SITUATION

As a family law solicitor I am often consulted by parents, usually fathers (and so for the purposes of this article I will assume that is the situation), who are determined to continue to be a big part of their child’s life despite splitting from the child’s mother. Those fathers that I meet that find themselves in that situation are keen to spend as much time as possible with their child and would not want to ever miss an important occasion such as a Birthday, Christmas or Holidays. Those fathers are so dedicated to their child that if suitable arrangements cannot be agreed between them and their ex-partner they will engage the services of someone like myself and embark on what is sometimes a long and expensive process though the courts to ensure that they remain a constant and important part of their child’s life.

But what if the father is not like the usual father described above and does not want to spend time with, or be involved in their child’s life or perhaps does not want to be as involved as the mother would like them to be? What happens then, how can the mother force the father to be involved? How does the law work for children in that situation?

THE LEGAL STANCE

Quite frankly, it does not. There is nothing in law which can force a parent to be involved or more involved in their child’s life if they choose not to be.
The right to spend time with a parent is the child’s right, not the parents’, but if the parent does not want to spend time with their child then that child’s right is lost. How can the court or anyone else force a parent to spend time with their child? Simply, they can not. Sadly, if a parent decides that they do not want to be involved in their child’s life or does not want to spend regular, quality time with their child there is no way to force them to do so.

A child has a right to spend time with both parents and if one parent is trying to prevent the other from spending time with the child then that parent would be able to rely on the law to determine whether or not it is in the child’s best interest to spend time with them. The importance of children having relationships with each parent following separation was reinforced by the Children and Families Act 2014. The court can, upon application of a parent, make orders relating to the living arrangements of a child and when, where and by what means that child will spend time with the other parent.

The frequency and amount of time a child will spend with each parent will differ from family to family. There is no formula to calculate what amount of time is suitable and there is no precedent as to what a child arrangements order will look like, it will depend on the individual family and their circumstances. Equally, there is no legal definition as to what would amount to a reasonable amount of time. Some parents spend an equal amount of time with their child, some parents split their time between weekdays and weekends or every other weekends. There is no right or wrong, it is whatever works best for the child.

MORE INFORMATION

If you are in this difficult position, Pinney Talfourd are here to help. We have a large experienced and dedicated team of specialist family lawyers and we would be happy to help you through this difficult time. We can offer late appointments from Monday to Thursday in each of our offices in Upminster, Hornchurch and Brentwood and your initial 30 minute consultation will be free.

If you would like more information please contact our Family Law Department on 01708 229444  (Upminster or Hornchurch), 01277 211755 (Brentwood office) or 01702 418433 (Leigh-on-Sea). 
 
We offer a free initial 30 minute consultation for all new family law enquiries. You can book your free initial family consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This half hour appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimise delays.
 

This article was written by Jennifer Herbert, a family lawyer based at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors' Upminster office. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of January 2017.

 

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Faulty Christmas present? Know your consumer rights

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Most people will have heard of the Sale of Goods Act but a new law introduced in 2015 strengthens consumer rights against businesses.

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

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.

Sale of goods

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.

Supply of services

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.

Digital content

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.

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How to reduce sickness absence at work

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Alex Pearce, employment law solicitor, advises what steps you can take to reduce sickness absence within your organisation.

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.

 

Sickness absence policy

 

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.

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Removing a director from office - company law

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Edward Garston, company law expert explains how to remove a director and how a director may automatically lose his position.

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.

How many directors should there be?

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.

Special considerations where a director is also a shareholder

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.

Removal by ordinary resolution

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.

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Social media at the Christmas Party

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A drunken office Christmas party can create all sorts of gossip. Make sure your employees know the boundaries when sharing on social media.
The office Christmas party is a chance for everyone to let their hair down and have fun, but with alcohol often flowing freely and people’s judgement impaired the potential for employees to get carried away is clear.

In the days before social media a drunken kiss between Karen and Steve in accounts, or some seriously dodgy dance moves by the office manager, would have caused a few giggles and a bit of gossip at the time but would soon be forgotten. This is not the case now where we have at our fingertips the chance to share these embarrassing moments with the world with the tap of a few buttons.

Few employees realise the potential damage that can be done by their use of social media during and after the office party or that it could possibly result in them losing their jobs. Even fewer realise that if what they have posted or uploaded concerns a colleague they could end up getting their employer in trouble too.

A comprehensive social media policy which is communicated to all employees in advance of the office party, or indeed any other business-related function, can be a very effective way of highlighting the dangers social media can pose in this sort of situation. While the introduction of a social media policy now will come too late for those employees guilty of the misuse of social media at this year’s party it will hopefully prevent similar problems arising next year.

Employment law specialist Alex Pearce explains how social media policies work and highlights the key things that should be covered.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy sets out the rules and expectations for your employees use of social media in the workplace as part of their work duties. It should also set out rules and expectations for the use of social media by your employees in their personal capacity where this might have an impact on your business. This includes at work-sponsored or funded social gatherings, such as the office Christmas party or the annual summer get-together.

Why is it important to have a social media policy?

Although there will be some cross-over with policies on electronic communications, the particular difficulties that inappropriate use of social media can create means it is important to have a separate social media policy. Recent examples of employees misusing social media to the detriment of their employer include an employee using his employer’s Twitter account to post his own unflattering views about Newcastle United supporters, an employee using Facebook to engage in derogatory ‘banter’ about managers in their employer’s business being drunk while working, an employee using Facebook to complain about their working conditions and an employee using Facebook to make threats to a colleague.

In the context of the office Christmas party there have been a number of incidents of employees uploading and sharing embarrassing or compromising photographs of colleagues on various social media platforms.

The potential for an employee’s use of social media to damage your brand and reputation is clear. However, there is also a risk that something posted on social media could expose you to potential liability. For instance, an employee who harasses a colleague on social media might put you in breach of your duty to provide a safe working environment. You might also be liable for an employee who uses social media to make discriminatory comments about a colleague or defamatory comments about a competitor. There is also the risk of damage being caused if an employee uses social media to post commercially sensitive or confidential information.

The speed and lack of control over the dissemination of information released on social media, and the difficulties in removing any posts made, presents a real risk to your business and is something that needs to be tightly controlled.

What should a social media policy include?

Your first step is to decide how much, if any, personal use of social media is allowed in the workplace or using work equipment. When it comes to using social media for work purposes, the policy should set out rules relating to appropriate use. These rules are aimed at protecting your brand and reputation, protecting confidential and commercially sensitive information, providing safeguards for checking any content before it goes live, avoiding breaches of copyright and avoiding any online bullying or harassment of colleagues.

It is also sensible to explain how the rules apply to your employees use of social media in their personal lives where this might impact on your business. For instance, although employees may regard their Facebook accounts as private, if they use their account to send insulting messages to a colleague or to complain about a supplier or customer, you may need to take action. Action may also be necessary if they use their account to post offensive or derogatory remarks about the behaviour or actions of colleagues at work-related events.

The policy should clarify if employee use of social media will be monitored and, if so, the purposes of the monitoring. This warning is needed to comply with data protection provisions and regulations on intercepting communications. The consequences for an employee who breaches the policy should also be set out. You may wish to state in your disciplinary policy that a serious breach of the social media policy may result in summary dismissal and link this to your equality policy.

Make sure you publicise your policy when it comes into effect and again at key times of the year, including Christmas. Keep your policy under review, particularly to ensure that it is still fit for purpose as technology develops. Finally, make sure the policy encourages effective use of social media for the benefit of your business because, used appropriately, social media can be a very effective promotional tool.
 
 

More information 

For advice on social media policies or any other employment law issues, please contact Alex Pearce in our Employment Law Team  on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01708 229444 for advice.
 
Pinney Talfourd is currently offering a free employment law review service to ensure your employment policies are legally sound and to advise on resolving any issues effectively. Take advantage of this offer and discuss your employment needs with one of our legal experts. Simply call 01277 211 755 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to arrange a review.
 
This article was written by Alex Pearce our Employment Law Associate. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. The law may have changed since this article was published. This article is based on the law as at December 2016.
 
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Autumn 2016 Statement - Commercial updates

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Edward Garston talks about the mixed business reaction to the Autumn Statement amongst the business community.

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.

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Pinney Talfourd team expands

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We are delighted to welcome two new members to our growing team at Pinney Talfourd; Lee Kirby and Edward Garston.


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 Kirby

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.

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The Autumn Statement and Residential Property

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New spending on housing projects totalling £3.7bn in England has been announced by the chancellor in the Autumn Statement.
£2.3bn is going to be spent on infrastructure (such as roads) in relation to housing developments. This will obviously make it easier and cheaper to build homes and boost this sector, meaning more properties overall and (in theory) lower prices.

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.

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What the Autumn Statement means for Employment

AlexP
Following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn statement Alex Pearce, an employment law specialist, looks at those measures relevant to employers and employees.

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.

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Resolution launches Good Divorce Week

Resolution
Monday 28 November 2016 marks the start of “Good Divorce Week 2016”, a campaign by Resolution. 

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.

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Just “horsing around”? Accident or negligence?

horse
A recent equine case highlights the difference between negligence and genuine accidents. Kim Huggins explains  

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.

Burden of proof of the Claimant:

Ultimately, for any case (equine or not) to be successful, it is for the Claimant to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that;

  1. The Defendant was negligent
  2. The negligence caused the accident
  3. The accident resulted in injury and loss.

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. 

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Christmas contact for separated families

chritsmascontact
It is never too early for separated families to start working together to arrange Christmas contact in the best interest of the children.
 

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.

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Alterations to your property - what to do when you leave

AndreaH
How far can a commercial tenant alter a property? That depends on if it is classed as a fixture or a chattel?
 
A recent case has highlighted the need to ensure a distinction between alterations which are tenant’s fixtures and alterations which are tenant’s chattels.

The case involved partitioning which was installed by the tenant during initial fit out works in accordance with a licence to alter. Both the lease and the licence to alter required the Landlord to give notice of any reinstatement the Landlord reasonably required before the end of the term. The tenant exercised a break option with 2 pre-conditions: 6 months’ prior written notice and vacant possession.

The Landlord did not serve a notice of his requirement to reinstate the premises. The case turned upon whether the partitioning alteration was a fixture and therefore formed part of the premises.

The partitioning was not carried out in accordance with the specification attached to the licence to alter and therefore the partitioning was in breach of the licence. The validity of the licence was conditional upon compliance with the condition on which the licence was given. As the conditions were not met, the partitioning became unauthorised works and therefore should have been removed automatically by the tenant. This meant that even if the partitioning was not a tenant chattel, the tenant should have removed it and failure to do so meant vacant possession had not been given.

Based upon expert evidence it was found that the partitioning was demountable and therefore the tenant did not in fact give vacant possession.

On sending or receiving a break notice, parties to the lease should review the lease and all supplemental documents (including licences to alter) carefully.

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