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Latest News & ArticlesEmployee Owned Businesses
The Nuttall review of employee ownership, which was published in July 2012, made a number of recommendations, some of which were recently implemented (including changes to the Share buyback regime and the introduction of Treasury Shares for private companies).
Reform of consumer law?
The 2013 Queen’s Speech has stirred quite a response, in particular, in relation to an EU referendum bill (or the lack thereof). At the time of writing this blog, a Conservative MP has tabled a private member’s bill paving the way for a referendum on the UK’s EU membership in 2017. It remains to be seen whether or not that bill gets defeated as it goes through the Parliamentary process, however, the Queen’s Speech has introduced a number of new bills, including the Draft Consumer Rights Bill.
Caring for the elderly
One of the largest change, nearly 6 years ago, was the introduction of Lasting Powers of Attorney and the incorporation of the Court of Protection into High Court.
Residential landlord recovers majority of costs despite failure to consult over works
A residential landlord who failed in his duty to consult before carrying out works did not automatically lose the right to recover the whole costs of those works from its tenants because of the failure. He was required to compensate them only to the extent they had been prejudiced by the failure.
Court gives guidance on 'reasonable' attempts to negotiate or mediate in disputes
Parties to legal disputes will welcome guidance from the Court of Appeal on their expected conduct during attempts to negotiate settlement and their approach to mediation, to avoid costs penalties in subsequent court proceedings.
Promises made during negotiations but not in final contract can still be enforceable
Promises or representations made by a party during contract negotiations could be enforced by the other, even if they are not repeated in or contradicted by the eventual contract.
Different policies can be applied to different employees to avoid discrimination
An employment policy may be objectively justified and not, therefore, discriminatory for staff in one age group but not in another. Employers may be able to avoid claims by the second group by applying a different policy to them which doesn't discriminate against them.
Contractor liable for fall in property value during his delay
Contractors causing delays in projects in breach of contract can be liable for consequential losses such as those caused by falls in property values, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Employer can use using recruitment criteria when selecting for redundancy
An employer's use of new employee recruitment criteria to assess competency when selecting for redundancy has been upheld as within the range of reasonable options for an employer. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) expressed some reservation.
Employers should avoid discussing an employee's age and retirement unless circumstances justify it
Discussions and comments at work about an employee's age and possible retirement can be non-discriminatory, but only if circumstances justify them.
Guidance given on when employees can use secret recordings in employment claims
Employers will benefit from guidance on when employees can rely on secret recordings of conversations with co-workers and their employer in employment law claims.
Businesses should check they comply with discrimination laws on access to their goods and services
A restaurant whose staff manhandled a customer in a wheelchair has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds for disability discrimination and for its failure to make 'reasonable adjustments' so as not to disadvantage disabled customers.
Private Company Treasury Shares
The recent draft Regulations relating to the share buyback regime changes (see our article Share buyback regime changes for more details), which are due to come into force on 30th April 2013, have introduced the concept of treasury shares for private companies.
Registration of company charges- Changes coming into force on 6th April 2013
Even with the introduction of the Companies Act 2006, there were a number of administrative aspects of the registration of company charges that needed to be updated and brought into the 21st century.
Have your say: restrictions on company and trading names
Businesses and others are invited to give their views on whether the rules regulating limited company, limited liability partnership, and trading or business names are still required, or need changing.
Share buyback regime changes
On 19th March 2013, the Government published revised draft Regulations under the Companies Act 2006, which are intended to come into force on 30th April 2013. The aim of the Regulations is to simplify the share buyback procedure to encourage employee share ownership.
Businesses' potential liability to HSE 'Fees for Intervention' now clearer
Businesses can now assess the risk of having to pay Health & Safety Executive (HSE) fees if it intervenes in relation to their operations. The HSE has published the first two months' figures for its 'Fee for Intervention' scheme, introduced on 1 October 2012.
Tenant not allowed to pay pro-rata rent so break notice ineffective
Tenants trying to exercise a break clause in their leases before the end of a quarterly rent period should beware trying to pay only a pro rata part of that rent when it is demanded, or risk the break being ruled ineffective by the court.
Employer cannot 'undo' dismissal without employee's consent
An employer's decision to dismiss an employee for gross misconduct during an internal disciplinary procedure could not later be replaced with a lesser sanction on an internal appeal, without the employee's consent.
Court widens residential landlords' and agents' obligations to consult before works
Residential landlords and managing agents should consult with leaseholders in advance if total annual services charges per leaseholder from qualifying works could exceed £250.This includes where the charges arise from a number of different projects, the High Court has ruled.
Permanent right to use land can arise from use on odd occasions
Landowners should be alert to third parties crossing their land, including any physical evidence of use and even on odd occasions only, or risk the third party successfully claiming they have a legal right to do so.
Employers and employees in discrimination cases usually have 'joint and several' liability
Claims against colleagues may increase following a recent ruling that liability for discrimination is usually 'joint and several' against employer and employees. This means an employee could recover 100 per cent of any award from fellow employees and or the employer.
Reasonableness of contract limitation clause can depend on insurance cover required
Businesses seeking to limit their liability for breaches in their commercial contracts should ensure the amount of the limit is proportionate to the amount of insurance cover they are required to hold under that contract. If it is not, they must be able to justify why not - or risk the limitation clause being unenforceable.
People whose names are not in a company's register are not shareholders
A person whose name was not in a company's register of shareholders could not exercise shareholder rights to block a change of company status from private to public, because he was not a shareholder.
Unmarried couples have no automatic right to each other's property
In the absence of clear agreement about the proportions in which they share interests in family homes and businesses, unmarried couples in England and Wales who separate rarely have a legal claim to assets registered in each other's name.
Have your say: Acas consults on proposed Code on Settlement Agreements
Employers can offer their views on Acas's proposed Code of Practice on Settlement Agreements. The Code is aimed at helping employers have discussions with employees in anticipation of a termination of their employment on the basis those discussions will not be revealed in court if they fail.
Lower severance payment for younger employee objectively justified
An employer has objectively justified paying a younger worker less severance pay than older workers on redundancy because of the proportionately greater problems for older workers in getting a new job.
A rival's similar product design can still be valid
A competitor's product design that is very similar to that registered by another business may still create a different overall impression for an informed user, meaning the competitor's design is validly registered.
Business rates reliefs and exemptions: What are they? and should the Government be doing more?
In the current economic climate, all businesses should be aware of any available exemptions or reliefs which they may qualify for in respect of business rates. Below is a summary of the main reliefs and exemptions available together with a comment on the government’s latest measures.
Inheritance tax changes to benefit mixed domicile spouses and civil partners
UK domiciled individuals with non-UK domiciled spouses or civil partners will welcome changes to the inheritance tax (IHT) regime from 6 April 2013.The changes could reduce potential IHT liability on transfers to their spouses or civil partners, whether during their lifetime or on death.