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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Court of Appeal Decision to Impact Limitation Periods in Industrial Disease Claims

The issue of limitation periods – the period of time within which a party to a legal action must bring a claim – has been recently addressed in the case of Collins v Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills [2014].

Mr Collins, the claimant, worked as a dock-worker between 1947 and 1967 during which time he was exposed to asbestos. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002 but only got in touch with solicitors in 2009.

At first instance the claim was held to be time barred under the Limitation Act 1980. The Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether the lower court had correctly concluded the issue of the timing of the Claimant’s constructive knowledge and whether the court had erred in exercising its discretion by not extending the limitation period.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Credit Controls Not to Copy: Banks Chasing Debtors Through Defunct Solicitors Firms

It seems almost impossible for banks to avoid any opportunity to attract public opprobrium at the moment.

In the latest controversy, British banks, including RBS, Natwest, Lloyds and HSBC, have been caught out issuing legal demands to customers from what at first glance appear to be independent solicitors firms. However, on further investigation, these firms have been revealed to be mere names for the banks’ respective in-house lawyers and legal departments.

The revelation follows on from Wonga recently being ordered to pay over £2.6m in compensation to its customers as a result of its sending certain letters to its customers in the name of fictional legal entities.

All businesses should have effective credit control policies in place but those policies must be appropriate and legal.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Facebook Encounters Data Protection and Privacy Issues in UK Probe

Businesses that interact with customers in real time by using data collected via online channels should pay attention to the issues tech giants such as Facebook are currently encountering.

The UK data regulator has begun investigating whether Facebook had broken data protection and privacy laws when it conducted a psychological emotion study on unwitting users.

The experiment consisted in manipulating the content of users’ news feeds, the result being that users which had viewed more negative posts in their news feeds tended to post more negative statuses, and vice versa.

Facebook’s size and public profile draw considerable attention to its every move regarding the treatment of people’s information. That does not mean it is the only organisation that will attract the attention of regulators over data protection and privacy issues though.

All businesses acting as data controllers should keep abreast of their obligations and any new legal developments that occur.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

UK –US Extradition Case Highlights Parental Kidnapping Risks

The extradition of 57 year old mother Eileen Clark to the US should serve as a warning for parents considering removing their children from a jurisdiction without parental consent.

Parental kidnapping is recognised both in the UK and many other countries but parents are often unaware of the potential consequences.

Anyone unsure about their right to take children abroad or anyone concerned about the risk of a parental kidnapping should seek immediate legal advice.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Burnt Luxury House Adds Heat to Contract Formalities

On April 2012, fire destroyed a large house which was in its course of construction on Green Island in Poole Harbour.

Consequently, the claimants filed an action against the defendant builders, Feltham Construction Limited, claiming damages in excess of £3,500,000.

The court found in favour of the claimant and against the defendant despite the fact that the defendant had not actually carried out the work that led to the fire.

One of the key issues in the case was the fact that contractual formalities had not been completed by the time construction had begun.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Claims Against Agents in Insolvency

Businesses looking to work with an agency under an agency and distribution agreement should take note of a case considered by the Court of Appeal early in 2014.

The case of Bailey v Angove’s Pty Limited [2014] raises an interesting issue for businesses regarding their right to terminate an agency agreement. Generally a principal can revoke an agent’s authority to act on their behalf but in this case an attempt to terminate the contract and the agent’s authority due to an insolvency event was deemed ineffective.

The case has since been appealed to the Supreme Court but it is a useful reminder of the need for careful drafting in agency and distribution contracts and the potential risks if something goes wrong.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Are Britain’s Roads Really Too Dangerous for Cycling?

Enthusiasts have dared to hope that the Tour de France passing through the UK would encourage more people to incorporate biking into their daily commute for their personal and environmental health.

However, a recent survey indicates that over half British adults believe their local roads are too dangerous to commute by bike.

Younger British cyclists feel less endangered than older ones, with 45% of 18 to 24 year olds feeling endangered and 61% of those aged 65 and over.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign cites conditions such as "badly maintained roads" and "narrow cycle lanes" as examples of hazards that endanger cyclists.

But is it all bad news for Britain’s cyclists?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Challenging Personal Guarantees on Borrowings

Creditors commonly ask a principal borrower to provide a third-party personal guarantee as a condition of the offer a loan. Should that principal borrower default and not fulfil all its contractual obligations, the creditor may seek repayment from the third-party guarantor directly under the terms of that guarantee.

While personal guarantees are often clear and enforceable, a guarantor with any doubt should seek legal advice on the validity of the personal guarantee. There are a number of uncertainties that can arise relating to guarantor repayment as guarantors may only be contractually liable for some or even none of the amount due if the contract or a term in the contract is limited or unenforceable.

Lenders on the other hand must be sure that personal guarantees are carefully drafted to avoid enforcement issues.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Rogue CMC Regulation Continues with New Fines Unveiled

Anyone that has felt harassed by nuisance calls from marketers and robotic calling systems will be pleased to know that the net has been closing in on the claims management companies (CMCs) that engage in these practices. Consequently the number of CMCs registered to handle personal injury claims fell by nearly 50% in 2014.

On top of that, new plans announced by Justice Minister Lord Faulks QC make it clear that a CMC using information gained via illegal unsolicited communications (for example, cold calling or spam texts) could be fined up to 20% of its turnover.

For larger CMCs, this could mean fines totalling millions of pounds.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Google Take-down Notifications: The Right to be Forgotten in Action

Google’s recent take-down notice to the BBC that it would exclude certain search results for a 7-year old BBC blog post appears to have caused some confusion over the operation of the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ rules.

Despite the avalanche of commentary, online publishers are likely to find that uncertainty over the new right to be forgotten rules will continue for some time while the practicalities of the recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) legal ruling take shape.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Wonga-style ‘Solicitors’ Letters’ Attract Potential Criminal Liability

Recent debt recovery practices of sending communications under non-existent solicitors firms’ names could attract criminal liability.

Payday loan company Wonga has agreed to pay over £2.6m in compensation in response to the Office of Fair Trading’s finding that the company had created fictional law firms in order to threaten legal action against its customers in arrears. In addition, the Law Society had asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate whether Wonga has also committed a variety of criminal offences.

Companies thinking of using ‘innovative’ techniques to chase outstanding debts should take note.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Managing Responsibility for Another’s Affairs

There are various parts of a person’s life that friends or family members may be appointed to manage on their behalf in certain circumstances. This can be intimidating for inexperienced appointees.
Third party appointments can be made for dealing with a host of responsibilities such as managing bank accounts, buying or selling assets or executing wills. People taking on these duties via lasting powers of attorney, deputyship orders and other third party management arrangements may come across issues that they are not comfortable dealing with on their own.
In circumstances where those appointed feel overwhelmed it can be helpful to seek professional advice and also to reduce any risk of a claim being made against them.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

How to Manage Property Disputes over Trees

Property disputes can arise from any number of causes most of which usually relate to things done by neighbouring occupiers. One area of dispute that is more of a ‘natural’ source of arguments between owners of neighbouring property is the management (or lack thereof) of gardens and the things that grow in them. Trees in particular can be a source of trouble, especially when they are near to or form part of the boundaries of properties.

As with other areas of property law, dealing with disputes over trees can be complex and expensive if things get out of hand. An amicable solution is generally preferable to heading to court but understanding the legal position early on can help avoid things from escalating that far. A good solicitor can also help recommend services such as alternative dispute resolution if the parties cannot overcome their differences informally between themselves.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Incident of Boy Mauled by Polar Bear Highlights Liability Risks

In the early morning of 5 August 2011, 17-year-old schoolboy Horatio Chapple was mauled to death by a polar bear and four others were injured. Chapple was on an adventure holiday to arctic Svalbard, Norway, organised by the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES).

Following the tragic incident, an inquest was commenced to determine whether the expedition leaders or sponsor held any liability for the boy’s death.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Technology: Mixing Business and Pleasure

Technology’s blurring of the lines between business and pleasure took a significant leap further forward recently after Apple and IBM announced a commercial alliance. The two technology giants plan to work together by using IBM’s expertise in the corporate technology market to make Apple products such as the iPhone and the iPad more business friendly.

The move draws attention to the wider issue of mixing the professional and the personal which has always come with something of a health warning. As this trend gathers pace through the use of mobile technology, businesses and individuals will need to be aware of a host of potential legal issues that are likely to arise.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Outsourcing: Key Contractual Issues for Businesses

Outsourcing is a major strategic tool for businesses. What was once seen as primarily a cost saving exercise is now perceived as a powerful way to improve productivity and competitiveness and as essential for growth in many sectors.

From a strategic perspective, outsourcing can provide clear benefits within a simple framework but, as ever, the devil is in the detail. The contractual approach must be managed carefully in order to set the relationship up correctly and meet the expectations of both parties.

Cost savings and efficiency gains will only be realised if an outsourcing project is carried out successfully and this is not guaranteed.