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Monday, 30 December 2013

Major Department Stores Face Sports Bra Price-fixing Investigation

In September the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) began investigating a number of companies it believed were involved in a price fixing deals related to a popular range of sports bras.

The Shock Absorber sports bras, worn by Anna Kournikova, are manufactured by DB Apparel UK Limited which the OFT has accused of striking anti-competitive deals with John Lewis plc, Debenhams Retail plc and House of Fraser (Stores) Limited.

The investigation underlines the importance with which competition laws are regarded by the OFT when it comes to protecting the interests of consumers. Businesses involved in the manufacturing or resale of goods should therefore be mindful of their obligations under competition legislation.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Gay Rights Trump Christian Beliefs in Supreme Court

Business owners wishing to run their affairs according to their religious customs should take heed.

The long-running battle between Christian guesthouse owners, Hazelmary and Peter Bull, and gay couple, Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, has reached a conclusion in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court refused to overrule the decision of the lower courts which held that the Bulls had acted unlawfully in refusing accommodation to Mr Preddy and Mr Hall.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Should Employers Implement Alcohol Testing At Work?

A campaign is underway to convince employers to offer alcohol testing at work.

As the festive season gets into full swing, employers are unlikely to want to risk considering the proposals in the immediate future and being labelled killjoys in the process. However, the Alcohol Health Network is confident that its arguments in favour of alcohol testing at work would provide worthwhile benefits to employers in the long run.

Whether employers wish to expend time and resources undertaking such paternalistic activities in the work place is open to question though.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Adultery – No Longer the Primary Ground for Divorce

A marriage can end with a divorce provided that the couple has been married at least a year and the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

The petitioner must prove the 'irretrievable breakdown' of the marriage by evidence of one or more of the five statutory grounds for divorce. These are adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years' separation with consent and five years' separation without consent.

Although in the past adultery has been the most prevalent ground cited in divorce cases, this is now changing with unreasonable behaviour taking over as the primary ground.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Planning Rules are Not there to be Broken

The rules and systems governing planning in England can be frustratingly complex and technical for the uninitiated. Some developments are automatically “permitted” and others require full planning consent and/or buildings regulation approval.

What’s more, enforcement of planning law can often seem inconsistent throughout the country, with some local authorities being more enforcement happy than others.

The rules are further complicated by a number of urban myths circulating, particularly online, which claim to enable the avoidance of planning laws.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

What are the Risks of Breaching Planning Consent?

Amateur developers such as individuals extending their houses are often surprised about the restrictions they face when making changes to their own property.

Planning laws generally aim to balance the interest of the applicant with the wider public interest. There is plenty of debate about whether the planning rules are overly restrictive but it is advisable that individuals do not test planning authorities by building beyond them.

Gaining an understanding of the background to the planning rules is time well spent; it can help you make decisions and avoid major pitfalls when undertaking a building project.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Full-Face Veils in Courts, Hospitals and other Workplaces

The globalised society in which we now live has many benefits stemming from the intermingling of diverse communities.

Living in a diverse society means that we can experience different food, music and cultures all within the borders of the UK. Cultural diversity also means that we can converse with individuals from different countries and backgrounds and appreciate different ideas and values. On the whole, this is considered a positive development of modern Britain.

However, multiculturalism has also been a divisive issue, especially where cultural values clash. The cultural expression of religious values can be particularly problematic when they conflict with an increasingly secular social order or even legislative provisions that protect other rights.

In the UK, the growth of certain Islamic customs such as the wearing of the burqa has been particularly contentious in certain circumstances. Recent debate has focused on the suitability of full-face veils in work environments where face-to-face communication is considered vital, such as hospitals and courts.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Are You Prepared for Cold Weather Commuting?

It’s that time of year again when cold weather may start to disrupt the UK’s rather delicate transport network.

Travel disruption can affect anyone so employers and employees should be prepared in advance with coping strategies in place to reduce the impact on business activities.

Friday, 13 December 2013

An Olympic Legacy for Leyton Orient?

In September, the High Court ruled against allowing Leyton Orient’s application for judicial review into the London Legacy Development Corporation’s (LLDC) decision to grant West Ham United use of the Olympic Stadium.

A judicial review is a court proceeding where the judge considers the lawfulness of a public body’s decisions. In this case Leyton Orient had applied to have the LLDC’s competitive bidding process for the Olympic Stadium reviewed.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

FCA Harpoons JPM for the London Whale Trades

JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay four regulators a total of £572m in fines in relation to a $6.2bn loss incurred as a result of the "London Whale" trades. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will receive £138m of this amount.

This is the second largest banking fine to be issued by UK regulators and serves as a warning to those carrying out regulated activities.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Rise of the Contractor

As a result of the huge economic changes of recent years, the employer-employee relationship has evolved dramatically for many workers.

Traditional “employee” roles are no longer considered as the default for many businesses looking to fill positions. Employers often seek more temporary and flexible arrangements by hiring self-employed contractors instead of recruiting salaried employees.

Employers must be cautious when creating these types of new working relationships. It is surprisingly easy to inadvertently create an employee relationship, even where both parties may have initially intended for an employee to be self-employed.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

What is Clinical Negligence?

Clinical negligence is a legal term which refers to an injury resulting from medical treatment.

This can be a ‘medical accident’ or an ‘adverse incident’. It might entail the failure to diagnose a condition or a wrong diagnosis; birth injuries; surgical errors; the administration of incorrect drugs or dosages; or the failure to obtain consent or warn about the risks of a particular treatment.

Where actual harm has been caused to a patient from improper medical treatment they may be entitled to compensation.

Monday, 9 December 2013

What Lessons Can be Learned from the Young Divorce Saga?

The long-running and acrimonious divorce case between Scott and Michelle Young has finally reached a conclusion.

Details of the divorce have made headlines at every twist and turn with some developments surprising even the most seasoned legal practitioners. High Court judge, Mr Justice Moore, awarded Michelle Young £20m to settle the case, a sum she described as “disgraceful”.

Although the case is highly unusual due to the large amounts of money involved, there may be a few lessons to be learned for potential divorcees.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Avoid Nasty Festive Surprises

There’s nothing like an unexpected liability to ruin the festive season.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, many employers are planning office parties for their employees. In the past, employer liability for employee injury may have been less of a risk but many businesses now face a range of personal compensation claims if celebrations take an unexpected turn.

Notable hazards include discrimination, harassment and personal injury compensations claims which can all heavily impact a business’s financial solvency, human resources, and employee morale.

Here are some tips for a happy holiday.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Compensation for Businesses: Mis-sold Interest Rate Hedging Products (IRHPs)

Thousands of businesses have been mis-sold IHRP products by banks and could be in line for compensation.

In 2012, a FCA review found serious failings in the sale of interest rate hedging products (IRHPs) to small businesses by some of the UK’s biggest banks.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

FCA Sharpens Focus on Hedge Funds

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is increasingly taking a prevention-is-better-than-cure approach to regulating financial institutions.

There is a widening belief that the FCA is showing greater concern for the UK’s financial system than its predecessor the Financial Services Authority.

The latest firms to be probed for greater transparency are hedge funds.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Employee Termination: Scope of Payments in Lieu of Holiday

The recent Employment Tribunal case of Podlasiak v Edinburgh Woollen Mill Ltd has confirmed that a token payment in lieu of holiday upon termination is not acceptable.

The case confirmed that such payments must reflect normal pay, underlining the importance for both employers and employees to have due regard to compensation mechanisms following termination.

Monday, 2 December 2013

How do Courts Decide Jurisdiction in Divorce?

The increasingly globalised nature of society affects both how the laws of different countries interact and the subsequent legal implications for individuals and businesses.

The ease of movement of people is one consequence of globalisation that has profoundly affected family law as a practice area. One particularly prominent issue that attracts family cases to the UK courts is divorce; the approach of the English courts to division of assets in divorce is believed to be a major factor in this trend. However, not every case that is brought before the English courts will automatically be allowed to proceed if the courts of another country are a more appropriate forum.

The recent Appeal case of Mittal v Mittal [2013] has helped to clarified the law on the proper jurisdiction for divorce proceedings.