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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Paul Tucker’s suggestion of negative interest rates opens the door for even lower mortgage rates

  • More Cuts in Fixed Rate Mortgages on the Cards

Ray Boulger of leading independent mortgage adviser John Charcol comments on suggestions from Paul Tucker to the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) that negative interest rates are on the agenda.

Promoting the Benefits of Cycling in London

Rollingsons’ personal injury solicitors are well aware of the dangers posed to cyclists on the roads of London but there are good reasons to not be put off. The introduction of so-called ‘Boris Bikes’ has made cycling more accessible to visitors to London as well as Londoners and steps are being taken to improve cycling safety.

However, despite Boris Bikes, last year’s summer of sport and on-going road improvements, for the first time in a decade the number of people cycling in the capital actually fell in 2012. This may have been down to the weather but it may also be that questions over safety are frightening people off the roads.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Martine McCutchen Highlights Risks of Personal Bankruptcy

Martine McCutchen is a recent example of yet another celebrity declared bankrupt. She joins other high profile figures such as Peter Stringfellow, George Best and Marvin Gaye who have all filed for bankruptcy in the past. Not unusually, her largest creditor is HMRC.

This case highlights the financial difficulties even high-profile individuals can encounter and what happens to those who face personal insolvency.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Back to Work Schemes Broke Law

Successful claims by Cait Reilly, a 24-year-old unemployed geology graduate and Jamieson Wilson, a 40-year-old unemployed HGV driver, that the Government’s Work Scheme was unlawful have polarised political opinion.

However, the legal position is far more mundane than media hype about ‘slave labour’ suggests. As Sir Stanley Burnton, one of the three judges, stated, ‘this case is not about the social, economic, political or other merits’ of the schemes but the ‘lawfulness of the regulations’ underpinning them.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Divorcees May Gain More of Former Partners’ Pensions

The Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 changed the legal framework for those who divorced after December 1, 2000, determining that occupational and personal pension providers can be ordered to pay a sum of retirement income to a former spouse.

However, not all pensions have been properly valued by financial experts during divorce settlements, meaning that couples who have divorced since late 2000 may face the risk of handing over an additional proportion of their retirement funds to the prejudiced party.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Changes to Divorce Rates Since the 1960s

It is a common assumption that divorce rates have risen since the 1960s but new research from The Marriage Foundation shows that this is not necessarily the case. The research shows that couples who manage to make it through the first decade of marriage have the same chances of staying together thereafter as previous generations have had.

The most significant changes to divorce rates have in fact been confined to that critical ten year period at the beginning of married life, so what else can we learn from these figures?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Proposed Changes to Copyright Laws on Format Shifting

Spurred by a widespread consensus that the UK’s intellectual property rights laws were in need of reform, the government commissioned an independent review by Professor Ian Hargreaves. In his 123 page report Professor Hargreaves found that IP laws were “obstructing innovation and economic growth”.

Professor Hargreaves put forward 10 recommendations to redress the issues and singled out copyright laws as being in particular need of modernisation. As a consequence the government announced plans in December 2012 to adopt many of the recommendations, including making changes to copyright laws on ‘format shifting’ or private copying.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Understanding Database Rights

Lots of time, effort and money go into the collation and arrangement of information so understanding database rights and the laws protecting databases is critical for database owners. In the UK, databases are protected under the general copyright laws and also under the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 (“Databases Regulations”).

The law defines a database as “a collection of independent works, data or other materials which are arranged in a systematic or methodical way”. The definition includes all sorts of arrangements of independent research work such as indexes and directories.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Legal Professional Privilege - For Lawyers Only

In January, the Supreme Court ruled in Prudential PLC v Special Commissioner of Income Tax [2013], that legal professional privilege should not be extended to legal advice given by accountants but should remain a privilege that is only afforded to solicitors and barristers.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Contact Orders Granted to Sperm Donors

On 5th February 2013 the High Court made an important decision in relation to sperm donors and their right to contact their biological children despite having no legal parental status.

The judgment opens the door for sperm donors to apply to the High Court for orders in relation to arrangements with children. The ruling may affect thousands of people in the UK who have utilised sperm donors to become parents.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Acceptable Temperature in the Workplace

In its 2010 safety representatives’ survey, the Trade Union Congress found that one in three (34 per cent) safety representatives cited acceptable temperature in the workplace as one of their top concerns. In its 2009 survey, CareerBuilder found that 19 per cent of workers described their workplace as too cold, while 27 per cent described it as too hot. Cold temperatures in the workplace caused 11 per cent of respondents to experience a lack of concentration.

The notion that cooler temperatures may, in fact, increase productivity has been found to be false. Alan Hedge at Cornell University conducted two studies on climate's effect on productivity, and found that when it was cool to colder in the office, people did less work and made more mistakes.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Understanding Earn-outs

The sale and purchase of a private business can take a number of forms and include a variety of payment structures. A simple cash payment may not always be the most suitable approach when one company buys another, particularly if the buyer and seller are some way apart in terms of valuation.

An earn-out can be used to bridge these valuation gaps - a proportion of the price is paid upon completion and the balance is paid at a later date or dates if specified performance criteria are met.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Legal Implications of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is another huge technological revolution that is changing the way individuals and businesses organise their affairs. Using remote servers hosted on the internet to store and manage data offers exciting benefits and opportunities, particularly for businesses.

The cloud can make stored data more accessible, increase productivity and significantly reduce expenditure. However, there are legal considerations that you should be aware of before placing a significant portion of your business in the hands of a third party.

Monday, 11 February 2013

TUPE Service Change Provisions Set to Change

As part of the Government’s recent consultation, it has announced proposals to make significant changes to TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations). Its broad aim is to simplify TUPE and make transfers easier for all involved.

The most dramatic changes include removing the provisions that apply TUPE to service provision changes, i.e. in-sourcing, out-sourcing and re-tendering. The Government proposes to reverse the 2006 amendment relating to service provision changes, effectively abolishing it in its current form.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Rights of Employees Absent Due to Snow

The recent regularity of our winter snowfall ought mean that our infrastructure is increasingly prepared each time it happens. Although we may live in hope, most of us are not surprised when our local roads and railways grind to a halt every time the weather maps turn white.

Something that might remain surprising to many though is what rights employees may or may not have if they are absent due to snow. Importantly, there is no general obligation on employers to pay employees who cannot get to work because of bad weather.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

High Court Opens Way to Religious Divorces

A recent High Court ruling has opened the way for religious courts to become a popular means for settling divorces. The landmark legal ruling may lead to devout couples of any religious persuasion being able to have their divorce referred to a religious court of their choosing.

Marking a first for English legal history, Mr Justice Baker referred an orthodox Jewish couple’s divorce hearing to a Jewish Beth Din, a rabbinical court of Judaism.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Authors’ Originality of Expression and Copyright

Improving accessibility to information increasingly necessitates an understanding of copyright laws and the protection granted to authors’ originality of expression. In the UK, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 governs the law relating to copyright protection for literary, dramatic, artistic, and musical works.

The Act does not require novelty or originality of thought or ideas for granting copyright protection but extends to all kinds of creative works that have an originality of expression. It is important to note that registration of works created is not required but they need to be fixed in some tangible medium before copyright protection can be claimed under the Act.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Changes Imminent for Design Copyright

Under current law in the UK, the term of copyright protection for an artistic work which is exploited through an industrial process is currently limited to 25 years from when it is first marketed. This time limit is the same for registered designs, some of which also qualify separately for copyright protection as artistic works. Section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 prevents such works from enjoying the full copyright protection period, which is normally the life of the creator plus 70 years.

This is set to change with the introduction of section 65 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which intends to repeal section 52, giving artistic work which is exploited through an industrial process the full term of copyright protection.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Employment Contracts Meet Technological Innovation

The need for employment contracts to meet technological innovation is something that any modern employment lawyer will be familiar with. Although the contract of employment can contain a variety of protections for employers such as confidentiality clauses and restrictive covenants, businesses should always be prepared to expect the unexpected.

Recent news that a US software developer outsourced his job to China so that he could spend his days surfing the internet has highlighted the potential risks posed by technological innovation.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Effect of Company Administration on Employees

Companies such as Blockbuster and HMV falling into administration demonstrate the impact of technology on traditional modes of doing business. The advent of the internet and its efficiency for providing products and services has seen some businesses becoming the new favourites of consumers while those that failed to join the bandwagon have become side-lined and eventually forced under.

Here we explore the potential effect of company administration on employees.