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Monday, 21 July 2014

Driving Disruption: Uber in the High Court

Uber’s smartphone-based pick-up service is just the latest in a line of new businesses that are using technology to disrupt existing markets.

London’s black cab drivers are not going to back down without a fight over their territory though. After Transport for London (TfL) authorised the American business to operate in the capital, a fierce row broke out between TfL, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and the Licensed Private Car Hire Association (LPHCA).

TfL issued proceedings in the High Court in June to get a judicial determination on the legality of Uber operating its service. This has now been delayed due to a spate of cases related to the service which are making their way through the magistrates’ courts.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Don’t Let Business Jargon Get in the Way of Good Communication

Entrepreneurs and business managers hardly need reminding of the importance of communicating well. Whether it is dealing with customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees or regulators, good communication is vital and can mean the difference between success and failure.

Business jargon plays a double edged role in the work environment. On the one hand it enables people to display their understanding and belonging to a particular type of group, on the other it can alienate other stakeholders that are just as important to a business.

Seasoned litigators usually have countless tales of disputes that could have been avoided with better communication. So although jargon has its place, its use must be carefully balanced to avoid problems.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Are You Ready For Flexible Working?

Flexible working is now upon us.

From 30 June 2013 British businesses and their employees have become subject to new flexible working rules and those rules are broad in scope.

After 26 weeks of employment, employees have a right to request flexible working which can entail a wide variety of options.

On the face of it what this means is that qualifying employees can now request flexible working once per year and their employer is under a legal duty to provide an answer to that request.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Rising Insurance Fraud Equals Rising Costs

The cost of insurance fraud hit record levels in 2013 with £1.3bn in false claims being made according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The most common type of fraudulent claims were related to motoring which made up a staggering £811m of the total. The number of fraudulent motoring claims came to nearly 60,000 individual cases, meaning tens of thousands of people either exaggerated or made up their claims entirely.

As well as being a criminal offence, insurance fraud imposes costs on both insurance firms and honest insured parties that suffer from increases in their premiums.

It is important to remember though that not all disputed insurance claims imply fraud, there are a variety of reasons that insurers and the insured might clash over payouts.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Can Property Developers Escape Personal Guarantees?

Securing a bank loan to forge ahead with grand property development schemes has been tougher in the post financial crisis world. One element of borrowing that has continued to thrive though is the banks’ insistence upon personal guarantees from directors.

Personal guarantees in relation to business debts are common and it is often the case that those debts are repayable on demand. This can leave business owners and directors personally exposed to a considerable degree of financial uncertainty. However, under normal circumstances personal guarantees are only likely to be called upon by creditors if a default event occurs such as missing an interest payment.

As with any form of contractual obligation, personal guarantees are open to challenge in certain circumstances. If there has been a misrepresentation for example, they may be unenforceable.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Preventing Accidents – No Laughing Matter

Barely a week goes by when a terrible workplace accident or an outrageous breach of health and safety laws is not in the news. Although the worst stories attract attention because of their sometimes Monty Python levels of farce or their particularly unpleasant outcomes, health and safety issues do not need to be dramatic to cause serious problems.

Accidents can happen anywhere and they usually do so suddenly and unexpectedly, therefore individuals and businesses often find themselves unprepared for the ensuing investigations and recriminations. Both criminal and civil repercussions can follow work related incidents so it is important that those involved seek immediate legal advice.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Victims of their Own Success: Brand Genericide

The BBC recently brought attention to the odd phenomenon of brand ‘genericide’. But what exactly is it and who needs to worry about it?

Businesses that own high-profile brands are the ones that mainly need to be concerned about brand genericide but it has implications for wider intellectual property protection.

In some senses it could be seen as a nice potential problem to have as it relies on a brand being hugely successful, but failure to prevent it from reaching its final conclusion could present a serious loss of value to businesses.

The ability of internet platforms such as Amazon and eBay to create almost overnight brand sensations and at the same time to enable infringement on a mass scale means it is a significant legal issue for affected businesses.