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Monday, 31 March 2014

Economic Recovery Fuels Family Breakup

The good times may be starting to roll once again for businesses but this is having the opposite effect on marriages.

There is a degree of consensus between family lawyers and government statisticians about a theory that the end of recessions also brings an end to increasing numbers of marriages.

This time is no different; as the economic recovery takes hold divorce is on the rise but the cause may not be just down to economics.

What do you do if your spouse starts divorce proceedings against you?

If your husband or wife starts divorce proceedings against you, then chances are that you are expecting it as there needs to have been an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage for a divorce to be granted. However, if it does come as a complete surprise then you may be in a state of shock and not know what to do. The following provides a brief overview of what to expect.

State Street Overcharging Reviewed by US Regulators

Custody bank State Street was fined £22.9m in January by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for overcharging clients beyond their contractual terms between June 2010 and September 2011.

State Street, based in the US, is the third largest custody bank with businesses in the UK operating under subsidiary units.

Custody banks work on behalf of institutional investors such as hedge funds, mutual funds and pension funds; providing services such as maintaining records, tracking performance and lending securities.

In the wake of the FCA fine US regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Attorney’s offices have begun separate investigations into State Street’s activities.

Employment Tribunal False Evidence Does Not Necessarily Mean Costs Order

Whichever type of claim is brought in whatever type of litigation process, there is always a temptation for parties to present false evidence to support their case. This is not an advisable tactic as one employment tribunal claimant nearly found to her cost in Kapoor v The Governing Body of Barnhill Community High School [2013].

The main point of legal interest was that the claimant had the cost order made against her in the employment tribunal overturned on appeal. The takeaway point for litigating parties should be that presenting false evidence is not worth the risk.

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Tarantino Method for Dealing with Copyright Infringement

There are a number of ways to deal with copyright infringement which rights holders should be aware of. Seeking out the perpetrators, quoting Ezekiel 25-17 to them and gunning them down in a hail of bullets should not be on the list. But having a sensible enforcement strategy should be if intellectual property rights are valuable personal or business assets.

Copyright enforcement had its 15 minutes of fame recently when film director Quentin Tarantino found that a script for his new film project, ‘The Hateful Eight’, had appeared online.

Under UK copyright law, copyright is infringed when certain acts such as copying or issuing works to the public are done without permission, whether directly or indirectly and whether the whole or a substantial part of a work is used. Exceptions do exist but these are limited.

Brain Damaged Child Reaches Multimillion Pound Settlement with Great Ormond Street Hospital

Great Ormond Street Hospital is world renowned for its treatment of children suffering from serious illnesses. Unfortunately even the most respected institutions are capable of making mistakes and in a children’s hospital they have the potential to be particularly tragic.

A terrible case in which a 10 year old girl, Maisha Najeeb, was given permanent brain damage by a mistake that occurred during an operation in 2010 was recently settled by Great Ormond Street Hospital For Children NHS Trust for several million pounds.

Should Police Officers Resign to Avoid Misconduct Proceedings?

Misconduct procedures are a normal part of the modern HR policy and are something even the best behaved employees are aware of. Although they are the norm, employees accused of serious forms of misconduct may be offered the choice of resigning rather than going through the disciplinary process.

Depending upon the specific circumstances, resignation on confidential terms may be the least bad option if it avoids the alternatives: potential embarrassment, reputational risks from protracted misconduct investigations and hearings, and possible sanctions.

In the private sector such practices are likely to attract little attention but this tactic has been receiving growing scrutiny when used in parts of the public sector, as the Metropolitan Police have found following the Plebgate scandal.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Lamborghini Tug of War: Ownership of Romantic Gifts

Cars of all types have been known to insight an extraordinary degree of passion in their owners particularly among addicts of BBC’s Top Gear. But exotic supercars such as the Lamborghini Aventador have the ability to wow even non enthusiasts with their combination of outrageous looks, extreme performance and wallet-withering price tags.

The idea of gifting something as extravagant as a Lamborghini Aventador to your other half is only likely to cross the mind of the seriously passion-struck and very wealthy, but even more modest gifts can seem valuable in the heat of a breakup. Generous lovers should be warned though, if the relationship breaks down before the car (modern supercars are apparently very reliable), ownership will follow the same rules as even small gifts.

Tamara Ecclestone’s lost tug of war over a Lamborghini Aventador provides a salutary lesson.

Restricting Competition from Ex-employees

In 2014 the UK is a highly knowledge based economy with considerable economic value tied up in the information created, stored and utilised by businesses. To take commercial advantage of information assets such as technology, know-how or customer details it is usually essential that employees are given access to it.

When employees are let go or decide to move on of their own accord there is always a risk that they will be able to use that information to compete with their former employer. Although it is impossible to prevent this in its entirety for both practical and legal reasons, there are useful restrictions that can be incorporated into the employment contract to limit potential damage. These are known as restrictive covenants.

Thinking of Hiring? Think Employee Restrictive Covenants

The Office for National Statistics stated that employment increased by 193,000 in the last quarter of 2013. Meanwhile unemployment is also lower. This is great news for the economy and a positive sign for employers and employees.

As every seasoned politician is keen to remind us though, there is some way to go before we can be comfortable that we are in recovery mode. Although a handful of sectors have already started recruiting new employees, many businesses are a step away from taking the plunge and increasing their overheads just yet.

Employers waiting for the upturn to gather pace before recruiting should take this opportunity to review the terms of their employment contracts in preparation for new hires.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Reining in Ramblers Rights of Way

Landowners may have a ray of positive light when it comes to the contentious issue of footpaths crossing their land. Legislation that enables historic rights of way to be turned into footpaths where there has been 20 years of unhindered public use has long caused tensions between ramblers and landowners.

Often landowners have found that the footpaths being claimed run through parts of their property that they consider an intrusion, such as those through gardens near to their houses, or through areas they consider dangerous, such as working farm yards. This has left many individual landowners with little choice but to mount costly challenges against local councils.

An intervention by the Environment Secretary, Owen Patterson, over the Deregulation Bill means that it will now be easier for landowners to get footpaths diverted in these circumstances.

Social Media Slip-ups Spur Contempt of Court Guidelines

Among the general public there is often a misconception that the black letter of the law confers absolute rights upon individuals. Freedom of speech is commonly misconstrued in this way. The reality is that most laws exist to offer a degree of protection to particular rights or principles while balancing them with competing but equally legitimate rights.

Although such misconceptions are normally entirely innocent, in England it is well established that ignorance of the law is no defence. Therefore, it is up to individuals engaged in particular activities to be aware of both their rights and their responsibilities under the civil and criminal law to avoid coming a cropper.

Social media users in particular should take note as many legal pitfalls exist to snare the unwary and many of the unwary have already fallen prey.

Manslaughter Charges for Health and Safety Failures

Organisations undertaking dangerous activities in the course of their business must be more aware than ever of the risks of leaving their employees vulnerable to harm.

Some jobs carry an inherent degree of physical risk to employees but strict health and safety guidelines exist in particular industries which seek to mitigate the dangers. Workers using certain types of heavy machinery in the construction industry for example must do so in accordance with relevant health and safety guidelines. Their employers must take a rigorous approach to training, monitoring and inspection to avoid the most serious charges in the event of an accident.

Failure by employers to implement and enforce appropriate health and safety measures can leave employees or the public exposed to preventable harm and employers facing civil and criminal liability.

Leasehold Enfranchisement – the key changes

A significant amount of luck and good timing appears to have been with those MPs  in the House of Commons and Baroness Williams in the House of Lords who were seeking to make a short but potentially important amendment to the statutory requirements governing the signature of notices by lessees seeking lease extensions or collective enfranchisement. Passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords in almost record time the rather unexcitingly named Leasehold Reform (Amendment) Act 2014 will come into force on 13th May 2014.

Monday, 24 March 2014

What is the difference between a decree nisi and a decree absolute?

In order to complete a judicial separation, an annulment or a divorce, you will need to apply for a decree. In England and Wales, the decree nisi and decree absolute mark the final stages of the divorce process, but how exactly do they differ?

The simplest way to explain these two decrees is that a decree nisi represents the courts initial approval, in that there are valid grounds for a divorce and the marriage has irretrievably broken-down. After a cooling-off period, the decree absolute confirms their decision as final and the divorce is finalised.