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Monday, 30 September 2013

Office to Flat Conversions Challenged

Developers in the capital should take heed of Lambeth Council’s challenge to the permitted development rights introduced in the Spring of 2013. A successful challenge may entice other councils to follow suit.

On 19 August 2013, Lambeth Council filed a judicial review application against the government’s decision not to exempt certain areas in Lambeth from the development right to convert offices into flats without planning permission.

Before this, on 30 May, the government granted 17 exemptions from the right to convert without planning permission (165 Councils applied to opt-out), but apart from some areas in Waterloo and Vauxhall, Lambeth Council was unsuccessful in its petition to opt-out for its 31 areas.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Burying King Richard III: What About the Wishes of the Deceased?

Last February regal remains were found buried beneath the not so regal location of a car park in Leicester. The remains were that of King Richard III. The discovery was made 527 years after his death at the battle of Bosworth Field.

The University of Leicester were granted a licence by the Ministry of Justice in order to exhume and rebury the remains before 31 August 2014. The licence permitted the body to be buried at Leicester Cathedral or at an alternative burial ground in Leicester. However, a number of distant relatives of the late King have been granted permission to seek judicial review of the decision to bury the King in Leicester.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Beware the Flash for Cash Car Insurance Fraudsters

For most of us, a quick flash of the headlights from a fellow driver is an expression of courtesy, which is greatly appreciated, however criminal gangs are exploiting this expression of good manners to profit from an insurance fraud that experts have called ‘flash-for-cash’.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Understanding Co-parenting Legal Issues

Co-parenting takes place where two or more adults decide to conceive and parent a child together outside the formalities of a marriage or a legally recognised civil relationship. It means that a co-parent may or may not have a biological link to the child but is responsible for raising the child and taking a full parental role.

Co-parenting used to be the preferred and popular option for lesbian and gay men to have children but has now extended to single people who wish to have children without entering into marriage, civil partnership or even co-habitation.

Co-parenting can involve significant legal complexities which should be properly considered before any commitments are made.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sky Forces Microsoft Climb-down Over SkyDrive

Microsoft’s tie up with struggling Nokia may be its latest stride to move onwards and upwards but not every cloud has a silver lining for the tech giant. Microsoft has been forced to rebrand its ‘SkyDrive’ cloud storage service following a High Court ruling which it decided not to appeal in a major climb-down.

It follows a claim from BskyB against Microsoft for trademark infringement and passing off. The high profile nature of this decision sends a positive signal to companies keen to protect their intellectual property and serves as a warning to those seeking to exploit the goodwill and reputation of well known brands.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Brand Protection: Tackling Lookalike Products

In May 2013, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) released its report on lookalikes. The report, “Impact of Lookalikes: Similar Packaging and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)”, was based on extensive research conducted by the IPO.

The IPO report came as a result of pressure from brand owners, keen for greater and more effective protection against lookalike products. The research was carried out to ascertain the effect of lookalike products on consumers and also their effect on business and sales.

It is evident from conducting this exercise that the government takes seriously the importance in consumers being able to quickly identify quality products and make informed choices in a busy market. This in itself is a positive for brand owners.

Friday, 20 September 2013

How Much Tax Did Deferred Bonuses Save UK Employees in 2013?

Payment of top rate income tax can seriously reduce the actual net receipts of employee bonuses for high earners. It was little wonder then that many financial firms decided to pay out bonuses for 2012 after April 2013, when the UK government decreased the top rate tax from 50 pence to 45 pence.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that many UK insurance and financial services firms deferred their annual bonus season from the traditional December to March window until April 2013. This deferral allowed UK firms to avoid paying £1.3 billion in taxes by eluding the previously higher top rate of tax.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Financiers Feel the Wrath of Regulators

Financial regulators have long been criticised for their meek approach to prosecuting rich and powerful wrongdoers. However, there appears to be renewed vigour on both sides of the Atlantic to make financial crime pay more dearly.

In the US, the SEC recently required an admission of wrongdoing to settle a case in a step away from the no-admit/no-deny policy of the past.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Do You Feel Worked to Death?

The death of a young Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) intern in August highlighted concerns over the long-hours culture in the world of City banking. Moritz Erhardt, a summer intern at BAML, was found dead at his apartment in East London during the course of an apparently gruelling internship.

The young man’s death sparked heated speculation that it was related to the excessive hours he was required to work, although the exact cause was not confirmed at the time.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Are New Homes Short of Space?

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) seems to think so.

As part of a wider consultation, the DCLG is considering introducing basic space standards in an effort to curb increasing concern around the building of small homes. Arguments over the acceptable amount of space needed to live have seen issues raised relating to the health and general well-being of individuals.

The outcome could have serious implications for developers; the DCLG consultation in relation to housing standards is due to report in October 2013.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Why did Red Bull Threaten Redwell?

For some companies the brand is everything. Red Bull is a great example of a company whose brand extends far beyond its primary product. The energy drinks company sponsors extreme sports, owns five football teams and two racing car teams, to name some of its many ventures.

As such the company is rightly protective of the investment its brand but there can be a fine line between protection and a perception of bullying in trademark disputes.

Legal Issues for Startups

Venturing into small business is becoming an increasingly popular endeavour for individuals.

Budding entrepreneurs should be aware that there are many legal obligations that come along with starting a business which they need to incorporate into their business planning.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Employee Share Schemes for Startup Businesses

Start-ups often have little immediate revenue and can struggle to attract the sort of talent needed to get their business off the ground. Employee share schemes can provide an alternative or an addition to a salary as a way of attracting and rewarding key employees.

Employees working for a company where they have a direct share in businesses performance are more likely to more motivated and loyal than a salaried worker. Some research even shows that businesses operating employee share schemes are more productive. Schemes can also be cost and tax effective.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Cost of Cyber Crime to UK Business

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on e-crime warns that the threat to national security from cyber attacks is real and growing. An equal threat comes from e-crime which ranges from attacks on networks, identity theft, industrial espionage, fraud, phishing, and forgery.

The annual global cost of e-crime is an estimated £250bn. E-crime transcends national borders and can take place at almost any time or in any place; the UK is a prime target for state-sponsored cyber-espionage as well as criminal gangs based in Russia and Eastern Europe.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found 25 countries where criminals were predominantly targeting Britain; there is deep concern that fellow EU countries are not doing enough to prevent these attacks.

Monday, 9 September 2013

App Developers must Comply with Data Protection Obligations

The surge in apps for mobiles and other devices has been remarkable. It is estimated that between 56 and 82 billion mobile apps will be downloaded worldwide in 2013. People are becoming increasingly reliant on apps for entertainment, communication and information.

Exciting as this industry is, the EU Data Protection Working Group has recently expressed concerns over the ways in which many apps use personal data. Mobile apps may collect a variety of data, whether it is in the form of browsing history, personal information or bank details.

Fortunately for users, there is legislation that regulates how their data can be used; for app developers this entails significant legal obligations that must not be overlooked.

Friday, 6 September 2013

A Quick Guide to Zero Hours Contracts

Zero-hours contracts are employment arrangements where the employee agrees to be available for work as and when they are required.

There are no contractual numbers of hours of work or times of work specified over the length of this type of contract, hence the name ‘zero hours’. The result is that the employee is effectively on-call should the employer need them to work for a particular number of hours.

If a worker is made to wait for work on the employer’s premises or is made to take breaks, then they must be paid under this type of contract.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Legal Issues for Sole Traders

Self-employment as a sole trader can be a great choice for those requiring more control over their time. The financial crisis has also meant that many people forced out of employment have found themselves working as self-employed sole traders.

Although it is in many ways the simplest form in which to operate a business, there are important legal considerations that should be taken into account.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Would You Like to Take Your Business Public?

Initial public offers (IPOs) can be one of the pinnacles of business achievement for entrepreneurs.

IPOs are as complex as they are exciting and business owners must get to grip with a myriad of legal issues that come to the fore when Initial Public Offers (IPOs) are being contemplated. Furthermore, as with any major strategic business decision there are advantages and disadvantages that come with this complexity.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Are You Thinking of Selling Your Business?

The legal issues to consider when selling your business will depend largely on its status, be it a sole trader, partnership or a limited company.

Legal advice is essential when selling a business but sellers should have a basic understanding of the issues that need to be considered and the responsibilities different entities place upon them.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Cash Cow or Nest Egg: Running a Business for Lifestyle or Growth

There are a hundred and one things budding entrepreneurs and business owners need to consider when setting up or running a business. Many of these factors have important legal and tax consequences.

One very important way of categorising the business that is often given too little consideration is whether it will be run as a ‘lifestyle business’ that exists primarily to provide an income for the business owner, or a ‘growth business’ with a focus on rapid growth usually with the ultimate aim of selling the business as a going concern in the future.