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Friday, 28 June 2013

Proposed Reforms to Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts

In March 2013 the Law Commission published an Advice Paper recommending simplification and rationalisation of the law on unfair terms in consumer contracts.

What might this mean in practice for contracts concluded between traders and consumers?

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Recent Changes to the DBS System

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 introduced a number of changes in relation to criminal record status checks on individuals seeking to work with certain vulnerable sections of society.

Among the key changes introduced was the substitution of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in place of the previously separate Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority.

The most recent change to be implemented is the introduction of the new DBS Update Service for employers and individuals. It is effectively an online database of up to date employee DBS information that employers can access.

What to Do if HMRC Carries Out a Dawn Raid

Dawn raids are carried out by various government bodies including financial authorities, the Serious Fraud office and HMRC. With tax evasion high on the political agenda and millions of pounds of additional budgeting earmarked to tackle it, the chances of a dawn raid by HMRC have increased significantly recently.

If you or your business is subjected to an HMRC dawn raid there are a number of important points to remember as it happens. For immediate legal advice contact Rollingsons on 0207 611 4848.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Trademark Case Update: Interflora v Marks and Spencer

The European Court of Justice has previously ruled in the Interflora case that trademarks belonging to another party could be used as Google AdWords if certain conditions are met.

However, the High Court’s latest decision has found Marks and Spencer’s use of the term ‘interflora’ in the Google AdWord program to be contrary to the ‘origin function’ of trademarks and, as such, in direct violation of the European Union Trade Mark Directive and Community Trade Mark Regulations.

This is a landmark decision and will have huge implications on businesses purchasing space for online advertisements.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Duty of Confidence: Vestergaard Frandsen v Bestnet Confirms Knowledge of Confidentiality Required

The Supreme Court has confirmed in the case of Vestergaard Frandsen v Bestnet [2013] that there can be no implied term imposing strict liability for breach of confidence if a person did not know information was confidential.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Employment Law Changes in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

As part of the Government’s Employment Law Review, reforms to Employment law are being brought in by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act during 2013 and 2014.

The primary aim is to boost enterprise through improvements to the labour market such as encouraging early resolution of disputes, making the tribunal system more efficient and giving employers confidence to hire new employees.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

OFT Reports on Personalised Pricing

The internet and e-commerce offers both traders and consumers a wealth of opportunities for buying and selling in today’s marketplace. Access to this worldwide market is particularly valuable for businesses that can utilise the internet to target their marketing and offer efficient pricing through price discrimination; a practice that has caught the attention of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Personalised pricing is perhaps the ultimate price discrimination strategy. It occurs when businesses offer different prices to individual consumers depending on the specific information they have collected about that individual; a task made increasingly easier by the information available online.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Compensation for Distress Following Breaches of the Data Protection Act

Consumers are able to claim compensation from data controllers when they have contravened the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA) and that contravention has caused them damage. Where consumers can show that they have suffered distress from that breach and that damage has also been suffered, compensation may also be awarded in relation to that distress.

However, following a recent Court of Appeal decision, courts are unlikely to award compensation for distress generally unless it was caused directly by a breach of the Act. Furthermore, for distress to constitute a basis for compensation there must have been actual damage related to that distress.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

10 Year Prison Sentences for Design Rights Infringers

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has announced that premeditated infringement and sale of registered designs for commercial gain will hold criminal penalties of up to ten years in prison in future.

Under the present law, firms may only pursue civil remedies against infringers for theft of registered designs. Meanwhile, similar theft and sale of stolen DVDs and films is considered a criminal offence, punishable by a prison sentence of up to ten years under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Increase in Domain Name Disputes

A record number of domain name disputes were recorded by the World Intellectual Property Office between 2011 and 2012 which is indicative of the increasing competition for domain names.

The figures revealed a year on year increase of 6 per cent to 2,944 cases which shows the growing importance of protecting your online brand.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Choosing a Company Name

There are important practical and legal guidelines for choosing a business name. On a practical level it is usually advisable for a new company name be memorable, to have a positive connotation, to be fairly short and to include information about the nature of business in question.

There are also certain legal rules which one must follow when choosing a company name. Ignoring those rules may be disruptive down the line so it is better to keep them in mind at the start than bear the consequences later.

In the UK, the Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 govern company names. These set out the permitted characters, letters, punctuation and symbols, which can be used.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Guidance for Twitter Users: McAlpine v Bercow a Cautionary Tale

The case of McAlpine v Bercow makes it clear to Twitter users that defamatory comments which they post will not just be brushed off as harmless coffee table chat and can potentially lead to a law suit against them.

Defamation proceedings can be lengthy and costly, and it is therefore imperative that Twitter users are cautious of making any false comments which can be construed as direct or indirect accusations of a defamatory nature against an individual.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Victory for Family Law as Petrodel v Prest Appeal Allowed by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in favour of Mrs Yasmine Prest. Property held by her husband’s companies will be transferred to her as part of their divorce settlement.

This is a landmark ruling that is expected to offer significant weight to family law principles in big money divorces, where companies owned by one partner in a marriage are used to hold assets.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sally Bercow Tweet was Libel

The recent judgment in the case of McAlpine v Bercow sends a message of caution to Twitter users across the country.

The outcome of the case provides a timely reminder of the UK’s strict defamation laws to 21st Century online publishers.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Supreme Court Decision in Petrodel v Prest Expected on Wednesday

Family lawyers across the country await the outcome of the Supreme Court Decision in Petrodel v Prest with baited breath. The conclusion of this case is eagerly anticipated due to its potential impact upon both family and corporate law.

The central issue at stake is whether courts can ‘pierce the corporate veil’, to look through the company structure, and transfer assets held by companies in the circumstances of divorce, where companies are wholly owned by one of the divorcing parties.

This intriguing conflict between family law and corporate law is expected to come to a head on Wednesday 12 June and the outcome may create legal shockwaves.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

No Change On Bank Rate Or QE But Cost Of Fixed Rate Mortgages Continue To Fall

  • Difference in fixed rates and SVR currently well over 1%
  • Over 8 in 10 borrowers taking fixed rate mortgages so far this year

Ray Boulger of leading independent mortgage adviser John Charcol comments on the mortgage market and today’s announcement from the MPC of no change in Bank Rate or the amount of Quantitative Easing (QE).

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Copyright Issues for the Internet Age: NLA v Meltwater

Since the advent of the internet it appears that piracy in cyberspace has been endemic, immune to copyright law and with very few being held to account.

Copying of online material without a licence from the copyright holder is not only incredibly difficult to police practically, but identifying an infringement or those guilty of infringement can also be complex.

The courts in Public Relations Consultants Association Ltd (PRCA) v the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) & Others, commonly known as NLA v Meltwater, have considered these and various other copyright issues.

The Supreme Court has finally brought clarity to one outstanding issue related to temporary copies that occur when individuals browse the web.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Amanda Knox Publishers Take Fright Over UK Libel Laws

Following the murder of British student Meredith Kercher and the subsequent high profile court case of American student Amanda Knox, publishers offered Knox a reported £2.5m book deal for her side of the story.

Given the level of public intrigue in the case, they knew her story would sell but perhaps did not immediately anticipate the risks they could face in offering the book for sale in the UK market.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Trademark Infringement and the ‘User Principle’

The ‘user principle’, which dictates the level of damages that should be paid by a defendant where they have breached the intellectual rights of a claimant, has been a long established rule in cases involving patent or copyright disputes.

However, historically it has been unclear as to whether the ‘user principle’ should be applied in cases of trade mark infringement.