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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Are Agency Workers Receiving Fair Treatment From Employers?

Agency workers are individuals who work through employment agencies under a contract of employment or services. They are usually hired on a temporary basis on flexible terms and conditions to cover short-term absences and are often paid the national minimum wage.

The EU directive and regulations governing this type of employment specifically refers to workers instead of employees, underlining the fact that they do not have the same rights to claim unfair dismissal or redundancy pay. In other words, they have fewer employment rights than permanent staff.

However, in many cases the work carried out by agency workers is of equal value to that done by permanent employees and there is growing pressure to ensure that they are properly protected.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Avoiding Frustration with Third Party Insurance Claims

According to recent figures, insurance companies pay out £57m every day to settle general insurance claims. For many people, dealing with insurance companies after an accident is a frustrating and drawn out process.

After suffering damage through someone else’s negligence or being involved in a car accident, the prospect of claiming against another person and dealing with their insurance company can be daunting.

This should not put people off making a rightful claim and getting professional help can ease the process.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Divorce and Asset Concealment

With rising rates of divorce in the UK the issue of asset values and asset concealment is becoming increasingly important.

This issue has become particularly visible in light of the recent financial crisis and a number of high profile court cases.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Successful Appeal for Father Stopping Mother’s Kenya Holiday with Daughter

A father has won an appeal against an order giving permission to his ex-wife to take their daughter to Kenya on a holiday.

The ruling indicates that courts will err on the side of caution where there is any risk of abduction.

Friday, 25 October 2013

What are Separation Agreements?

Separation agreements can be a useful way to bring some stability to what is often a very uncertain situation.

Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas recently decided to separate in order to “evaluate and work on their marriage.” It is believed that the couple have a pre-nuptial agreement in place in the event a divorce but many couples looking to take a marriage break may not have.

For those lacking the luxury of a Hollywood lifestyle and the accompanying bank balance, the financial and emotional uncertainty of the wait and see approach is probably unthinkable and impractical.

A separation agreement can provide a practical way to manage this kind of situation by taking account of different eventualities that could eventually arise, including divorce.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

FCA Bares its Teeth at Barclays

Barclays is facing a £50m fine from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for breaching disclosure rules during an investment deal with Qatari investors in 2008.

Details of the potential breach of the disclosure rules emerged as Barclays issued its latest prospectus for a £5.9bn fundraising which completed on 4 October 2013. The recent share issue was to plug a capital shortfall due to higher regulatory leverage ratios.

The FCA claim that Barclays acted “recklessly” and “without integrity towards holders and potential holders” of its shares by failing to disclose payments made to Qatari investors relating to share issues in 2008.

The FCA’s aggressive approach in this case highlights once again the need for strict compliance controls.

Feeling Harassed by PPI Calls?

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, more than 30 million people or nearly two thirds of British adults have received unwanted messages concerning claims for mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).

Moreover, 55% of those surveyed state they were contacted more than ten times in 12 months. Out of all those surveyed a considerable 98% of those contacted felt they had not given their permission to be contacted.

Little wonder that people are fed up with unsolicited PPI calls but what can be done about them and how should legitimate business avoid breaking the rules?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Tackling Bullying and Discrimination in the Workplace

Sexual discrimination in the workplace is still rife despite social and legal changes that have sought to correct the balance.

A recent UN Report has stated that women remain under-represented in Parliament and are on the whole, paid less than their male counter-parts.

In addition to these issues, women frequently encounter discrimination on the basis of their gender in the workplace. 

The extraordinary cases that make the headlines such as the female lawyer told to “Stay single” by her boss are just the tip of the iceberg.

When Private Investigation Oversteps the Mark

The private investigator scandals related to the News of the World closure has revealed some interesting insights into their practices.

There may be good reasons for individuals or businesses to use private investigators but when do those activities cross the line into illegality? And where does the buck stop – at the investigator or the client?

The outcome of the current investigations could be a useful guide as to what is and what is not likely to be acceptable in future.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Increasing Rights for Unmarried and Same Sex Couples

Changes to social norms means that couples are increasingly deviating from the traditional institution of marriage even where they intend their relationship to continue indefinitely. At the same time, same sex relationships have also become widely accepted.

Although society has largely absorbed these changes, formal legal structures have adjusted more slowly meaning that discrimination can occur in a number of settings often leaving couples without legal resolve.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Casual Approach to Intellectual Property Can Cost Infringers Dear

Zynga, the company behind popular gaming apps Words With Friends and Chess With Friends recently settled its legal action against Bang with Friends Inc in the US.

Zygna’s ‘With Friends’ games are popular among users of smart phones and tablet devices. The games have become synonymous with the games maker Zygna, which claimed casual sex dating app Bang With Friends sought to take advantage of its reputation.

Zynga filed court papers in San Francisco complaining of trade mark infringement.

From Tweet to IPO: Social Media Comes of Age

The social networking site Twitter recently announced that it has submitted an application to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a bid to take the company public. It is likely to be the largest tech initial public offering (IPO) since Facebook and demonstrates the meteoric rise of social media.

Nevertheless, with growing popularity, social networks are becoming harder to police and critics argue more needs to be done to prevent abuse and online bullying. It is an area of increasing concern for legislators keen to ensure that the applicable laws are fit for purpose.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Wealth Advisors Should Heed Warning from AXA’s FCA Fine

The insurance company AXA was recently handed a hefty £1.8 million fine by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for failing to provide suitable investment advice to its customers.

The regulator concluded that AXA had fallen short of its responsibilities to inexperienced retail customers in respect of various investment products.

Wealth advisors and those selling investment products to retail customers should take note of the FCA’s tough approach when it comes to protecting ordinary investors from unacceptable risk.

UK Takeover Code Changes Now in Force

Changes to the reach of the Takeover Code came into force on 30th of September 2013. Affected companies should take note. Any UK, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man incorporated public company whose securities are admitted to trading on a UK multilateral trading facility such as AIM are now subject to the Takeover Code, regardless of the location of that company’s central management and control.

Previously, those companies falling into the above category were subject to a residency test in order to determine whether or not the regulations contained in the Code applied to them. This residency test consists of the following question: where does the central management and control of the company reside? If the answer was in the UK, Channel Islands, or Isle of Man, the Code applied; if the answer was anywhere else, the Code did not apply.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Ensuring the Validity of Break Notices

The High Court has recently confirmed the validity of a tenant’s break notice despite the notice not strictly complying with the break clause in the lease.

The ruling in Siemens Hearing Instruments v Friends Life [2013] confirms that the requirements of a break clause do not necessarily need to be strictly observed but tenants should treat it with caution.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Bitcoin Legal Issues

Bitcoin is the first decentralised digital currency. It operates in a virtual world, run through a peer-to-peer network, independent of central control such as a bank or clearing house. Bitcoins can be bought using conventional currency and can also be accepted as payment for goods or services.

Another way of earning Bitcoins is online through a process known mining which involves solving algorithms to unlock blocks of Bitcoins. Bitcoins are attractive because they can be sent to anyone, anywhere in the world at any time with little or no fees. Bitcoin is also limited in supply and therefore its value cannot be devalued.

Exciting as the Bitcoin phenomenon is, there are legal complexities that are yet to be fully resolved.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Insurance Considerations for Start-ups

Positive, forward thinking entrepreneurs do not generally dwell on worst case scenarios. But factoring risk analysis into business planning is a must. In order to achieve its goals, a business must match its growth ambitions with practical risk considerations and insurance.

Start-up entrepreneurs and small business owners should also be aware that some types of insurance are legally required.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Public Transport Health and Safety

First Capital Connect (FCC) was recently fined £75,000 after passengers were left stranded on a train in London for 3 hours.

The fine demonstrates the seriousness with which health and safety issues are taken for passengers on public transport and should reassure members of the public that there are statutory measures in place to protect them.

Individuals are of course also free to pursue their own legal action if they have suffered harm which has been caused by a company’s breach of health and safety.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

FCA Clamp Down: Complying with Client Money Rules

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently fined Aberdeen Asset Management £7.2m for breaching its client money rules. The case highlights the regulator’s renewed sense of purpose.

Aberdeen Asset Management’s fine was levied for failing to correctly identify client money placed in Money Market Deposits (MMDs) with third party banks from the period May 2008 to September 2011. The lack of clear identification meant that client money was not protected properly, with funds affected totalling an average daily balance of £683m.

In the event of financial collapse or bankruptcy of a fund, client funds should not be exposed to the manager’s losses.

Despite breaching the FCA’s rules, Aberdeen moved to reassure investors that no money was lost.

Monday, 7 October 2013

HS2 Would Require a Host of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO)

To most homeowners the property and land where they choose to live is more than just bricks and mortar. The family home is normally purchased over years of hard work, scrimping, saving and endless mortgage payments and carries years of nostalgia and strong ties built up in the surrounding community.

But, if your home happens to stand in the way of development, it can come as a shock to people when they find out that their local authorities have the power to force them to sell their homes by issuing a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

Although the wider political focus is on its costs, the high speed rail project High Speed Two (HS2) would displace many homeowners subjected to CPOs.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Does Surrey Need Another Golf Course?

Developers Longshot Cherkley Court Limited gained early success in their pursuit of planning permission for a golf course on the Beaverbrook estate. The Andy Murray-backed venture was granted planning consent to create a hotel, health club, cookery school and a private 18-hole golf course by Mole District Valley Council.

Despite this early victory, protest group, Cherkley Campaign Limited, successfully brought judicial review proceedings against the plans, arguing that Surrey had no ‘need’ for another exclusive golf course.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Residential Service Charges: A Brief Guide

Residential service charges are amounts payable by the tenant of a property either as a constituent part of or in addition to their rent payments. Service charges generally cover the cost of services provided by the landlord during the course of the lease.

Service charges can be fixed or variable. The latter often form the basis of disputes between landlords and tenants so it is important for parties to understand the basics to enable smooth management of the property.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Have Privacy and Decency Been Sacrificed at the Altar of Social Media?

There are growing concerns over the scant legal protection offered to those whose privacy is abused by fellow users of social networking sites.

Significant media attention has returned to this issue recently after a set of explicit photos went viral. While many accounts sharing the photos were initially shut down, the events continued to create a web sensation with some forums revealing the identity of the person in the photos.

Cases such as this give the appearance of a legislative gap that leaves personal privacy and decency exposed entirely to the whims of irresponsible social media users and cyber bullies.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

European Court of Justice Rules on Trademark Colour Protection

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently delivered its judgement in Specsavers v Asda.

The European court’s clarification regarding ‘genuine use’ of trademarks normally used within composite logos and enhanced reputation based on use of marks in a particular colour should be welcomed by brand owners.