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Friday, 30 August 2013

Farming Regulation: Is Your Agri-business Up to Speed?

Farming is a heavily regulated industry. Like any activity that poses health and safety risks, policymakers have a duty to protect people, animals and the environment from unnecessary harm.

However, as for many other business sectors, the amount of agencies and regulations related to farming only ever seems to increase and become more complicated. This red tape can produce a huge burden on farmers.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

First Row Sports Website Earns a Red Card

On 16 July 2013 the High Court in London passed judgement against a number of UK-based internet service providers (ISPs) forcing them to block public access to the ‘First Row’ website.

The big six ISPs including Sky and BT have been banned from allowing public access to the online service, which provides links to unlicensed streams of football and other sporting events.

The High Court ruled that First Row merely by facilitating access to websites streaming unlicensed sporting events was in breach of the Premier League’s copyright on the basis of a ‘communication to the public’ infringement.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

An Overview of Agricultural Tenancies

The rules relating to tenancies being used for agricultural purposes are different from those for other properties. These rules give the tenant certain rights such as compensation, and regulate how the landlord can treat the tenant in relation to rent reviews, notice and arbitration over disputes arising from the tenancy agreement.

There are two different types of agricultural tenancy: known as 1986 Act Tenancies, entered into before 1 September 1995, and Farm Business Tenancies (FBTs), entered into after 1 September 1995. The latter recognise the increasingly business-like nature of farming and are far less onerous.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bad Faith Trademark Application is Superman Workout’s Kryptonite

A successful appeal decision in the recent ‘Superman’ case has highlighted a number of issues relating to bad faith trademark applications. DC Comics, the owner of the trademark Superman and its associated logos, appealed against the decision of the Registrar of Trade Marks in Australia to accept the trademark of Chequot Pty Ltd, owner of the Superman Workout trademark.

Although it was held that the Superman Workout trademark was not deceptively similar to the Superman trademark, as they both relate to different subject matters and the use of the word ‘Superman’ by Chequot was merely descriptive; the use of Superman Workout with its BG device closely resembling the S device of Superman was in bad faith.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Startup Exit Issues

It is not always the first thing on the mind of entrepreneurs but understanding some of the basic startup exit issues is a useful way to keep your options open.

When considering a startup exit, usually the entrepreneur’s aim will be to hand over the management to someone else, to capitalize on their investment or to exit both operationally and financially. There may be a variety of exit options available such as simple handover to a successor, a sale, a management buyout (MBO), an IPO or liquidation.

Simple succession plans deserve serious attention but if a founder wishes to transfer some or all of their financial interest; the issues will generally be more complex than just handing over the reins to new management. MBOs and IPOs can be particularly complex transactions.

Guidance on Illegal Travellers Sites Could Help Landowners and Developers

The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, recently issued new guidance to councils explaining how they can use their legal powers to remove illegal travellers, protected camps and squatters from public and private land.

It is hoped that this more determined stance might offer some relief to landowners and property developers who suffer the blight of stubborn travellers on theirs or neighbouring council land.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Beware the Aggressive Regulator: FCA Prosecutions in the Spotlight

After any catastrophic event it is human nature to find someone to blame and the financial crisis has been no different. The wave of public opprobrium directed at the financial service industry in the wake of the financial crisis has meant politicians and authorities have had to act.

Legislators have been in overdrive, rhetoric has been ratcheted up and money has been poured into reducing the high risk and sometimes criminal behaviour felt by many to be responsible.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Legal Issues for ‘Silver Splitters’ Divorcing Couples

Figures published on 6 August by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show an increase in divorce for couples aged 60 and over, but falling rates for the rest of the population.

Between 1991-2011 divorces for men over 60 (and mostly marriages of 25+ years) increased by 73%; there were 2.3 divorces for every 1,000 married men in 2011, up from 1.6 in 1991.

Although it may be heralded as a bid for freedom by stifled older couples, the statistics also imply some worrying issues for so called ‘silver splitters’.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Challenge to Employment Tribunal Fees

On 29 July 2013 fees were introduced for lodging claims of unfair dismissal or discrimination at the Employment Tribunal (ET) for the first time. The new fees are £160 for a minor claim, such as an unlawful deduction of wages, plus a hearing fee of £230; or £250 for discrimination or unfair dismissal, plus a hearing fee of £950.

Uncertainty now presides over the future of these fees after Unison was given the right to challenge the fees by judicial review which will take place in October.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Employment Law Changes Now In Effect

On Monday the 29 July 2013 a number of employment law reforms came into effect.

The main reforms incorporate changes to the following areas: the inadmissibility of pre-termination discussions, settlement agreements, fees in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal, new Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure and a cap on compensatory awards.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Legal Implications of Rihanna v Topshop

The case of Rihanna v Topshop is the first of its kind in the UK. Robyn Rihanna Fenty and others v Arcadia Group Brands and others [2013] concerned the IP protection of photographs used on material items.

Pop Sensation Rihanna made a claim against the high-street giant Topshop after the fashion retailer used a photograph of her taken during the filming of the hit “We Found Love” in 2011 on its clothing.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Evidence Mounts that Fixed Rate Mortgage Pricing has Bottomed Out

  • MPC’s “Explicit Guidance” Message Backfires

Ray Boulger of leading independent mortgage adviser John Charcol comments on today’s MPC Minutes and other factors influencing mortgage pricing.

A Quick Guide to Sporting Rights and Profit a Prendre

When buying land for the purpose of country pursuits or when planning on taking part in country sports on others’ land it is important to know what sporting rights exist and who they belong to.

In addition to the legal issues surrounding sporting rights themselves, certain types of country pursuit are also subject to specific pieces of additional legislation.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

BSkyB Wins First Round of Trademark Fight with Microsoft

Software giant Microsoft has been dealt a major blow after a High Court judge ruled in favour of BSkyB in a claim for passing off and trademark infringement of the ‘Sky’ trademark.

This case began two years ago but the recent ruling could mean that Microsoft will now have to re-brand its cloud storage service ‘SkyDrive’ and face the risk of a possible financial penalty in the form of compensation to BSkyB.

Microsoft are likely to appeal the decision.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Can Creditors Stand Up to Administrators?

The economic crisis has resulted in vast numbers of companies going into administration which in turn has placed the spotlight of scrutiny on administrators. As stipulated in the Insolvency Act 1986, administrators are required to act in the interests of creditors as a whole.

Aggrieved creditors have two principal means within Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act, Paragraphs 74 and 88, to stand up to the actions of administrators. However, the courts are generally reluctant to interfere in the affairs of administrators.

Friday, 9 August 2013

A Closer Look at the ‘Company ownership: transparency and trust discussion paper’

The Department for Business Innovation & Skills has published a discussion paper on its options to ‘Enhance the transparency of Company ownership and increase trust in UK Business.’

The policy paper has been published subsequent to the UK Government’s commitment at the G8 summit in June 2013 to institute tougher rules on tax evasion, money laundering and the concealment of stolen assets.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Recovering Residential Property from Tenants

In today’s private rental market, most residential tenancies are likely to be assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) which are protected by the Housing Act 1988 (‘the Act’). Landlords wishing to gain back possession of their properties let under ASTs must use one of the two options available to them under either Section 21 or Section 8 of the Act.

Failure to follow the correct procedures could lead to criminal sanctions, as well as providing the tenant with a right to civil redress which can lead to substantial damages being awarded. Using forcible means to evict a tenant could also result in other criminal offences such as assault or harassment. Landlords should seek legal advice to avoid the pitfalls.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

“Explicit Guidance” from the Bank of England is just the opposite with all the caveats!

  • The key mortgage message is that nothing much has changed

Ray Boulger of leading independent mortgage adviser John Charcol comments on today’s announcement of “explicit guidance” from the MPC and its implications for mortgage pricing.

Businesses Providing Services to Members of the Public Cannot Discriminate on Grounds of Sexual Orientation

In the case of Black & Anor v Wilkinson [2013], the claimants, Mr Black and Mr Morgan were refused a room at Mrs Wilkinson’s Bed and Breakfast, on the grounds that their sexual orientation conflicted with her religious beliefs.

The County Court decided that the defendant’s actions were unlawful discrimination against the claimants contrary to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, a decision recently upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Will the Home Office’s Immigration Proposals Burden your Business?

Tougher sanctions on the employment of illegal migrants are being proposed by the Home Office. The proposals, currently in the consultation phase, should be noted by businesses as they look likely to tighten up the law and extend the liabilities of directors.

The broad aims of the proposals are to make it harder for illegal immigrants to live and work in the UK while simplifying the way the civil penalty scheme currently operates.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Are You Aware of Claims that Can be Made Against Unregistered Land?

Claims for adverse possession or prescriptive easements can come as a great shock to property owners. Understanding the risks and taking appropriate steps to protect your property from these types of claims is an important first step for owners of unregistered land.

As might be expected, adverse possession and prescriptive easement claims have always been a potent source of disputes. If things get to this stage it is important to seek immediate legal advice.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Contractual Audit Clauses Can Require Broad Disclosures

Long-term commercial contracts often contain complex audit clauses. These audit clauses can require the disclosing firm to maintain extensive records on contract performance over a lengthy period of time and can impose burdensome access and production obligations.

The 2012 case of Transport for Greater Manchester v Thales Transport Security Limited illustrates how the UK legal system interprets a broadly worded audit clause and the wide audit rights conveyed in such a clause.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Mortgage Rates Stable Pending The MPC’S “Guidance”


  • Record 88% of John Charcol’s Residential Mortgages on Fixed Rates in July

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.

Could a Review of Your Contracts Bring Cost Savings?

Once contracts have been signed and implemented, it is often the case that they do not see the light of day again. However, after the toing and froing of negotiations has come to an end and both parties have signed on the dotted line, it is important not to simply leave those important documents in a filing cabinet gathering dust; particularly if they relate to long-term relationships.