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Friday, 31 October 2014

Challenging trustees or executors of a will

Following the death of a loved one, you may have concerns about the legitimacy of their will or what they have written in their will. If you find yourself in this situation, our Guide to Contesting or Challenging a Will provides an overview to the ways in which a will can be challenged or contested.

Insurance Warranty Given Plain Meaning by Court of Appeal

A useful insight into the interpretation of insurance warranties was given by the Court of Appeal in 2014.

A three member Court of Appeal, consisting of Lord Dyson MR, Davis LJ and Gloster LJ, recently handed down its judgment in the case of Amlin Corporate Member Ltd &Ors v Oriental Assurance Company [2014].

Upholding Field J’s decision at first instance, the Court of Appeal held that terms in the ‘Typhoon Warranty’ had indeed been breached and therefore that the reinsurers were entitled to the declaration sought, i.e. the claimant reinsurers were not liable under the policy.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Truly Pink Trademark Battle Won in the High Court

In July the High Court handed judgment to luxury British fashion retailer Thomas Pink Ltd, ruling that Victoria Secret’s use of a sub-brand “PINK” had infringed Thomas Pink’s trademarks. These included the distinctive use of the capitalised word PINK.

Victoria’s Secret is the largest American lingerie retailer, with an increasing presence in Europe; Thomas Pink earned its reputation for its quality men’s shirts.

The case emphasised important aspects of trademark law which brand owners should bear in mind when it comes to protection and infringement of trademarks.

Fire safety advice for landlords

Our recent article about the obligations of landlords explained how landlords who rent property have certain responsibilities when it comes to protecting their houses and their tenants. In this blog we will look at two key areas of fire safety that landlords must devote attention to when renting their properties out.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

What are the grounds for evicting tenants?

Evicting a tenant can be a tricky, costly and time consuming process and for most landlords it is a last resort when they are left with no other choices. However, landlords must always ensure that they follow legal guidelines when bringing forth an eviction. We take a look at some of the grounds for eviction below.

Reducing Start-up Business Litigation Risks

Start-up businesses are finding themselves embroiled in litigation for basic legal failures at the outset of their endeavour. Many of these costly errors could be avoided with simple legal advice.

The messaging service Snapchat, which markets an application allowing users to send temporary photos and videos, has recently settled a dispute over its creation and ownership.

Frank Reginald Brown challenged Snapchat’s chief executive, Evan Spiegel, that he had originally provided the idea of images which would “disappear” when the two attended Stanford University together. Snapchat, judging by recent investment, is valued at approximately £6.2bn.

Start-up businesses, in particular tech companies, can face a variety of legal issues surrounding ownership and rights. The imprecise nature by which a start-up comes about, with undefined share holdings or property rights, often results in the prospect of litigation when the business’s value increases later down the line.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Privacy Claims Rising in Step with Data Growth

The number of privacy cases being brought before the courts in the UK has increased rapidly following the huge growth in the amount of personal information held by organisations.

What Lord Neuberger deemed the “astonishing development” in information technology (IT) has given rise to the situation where personal information is easily collected and shared by large organisations, such as giant tech firms and government departments.

This has important implications for individuals, businesses, the courts and the legal profession.

Litigants in Person are Unlikely to Get a Fair Hearing in Family Courts

The number of litigants in person, people who represent themselves in family court proceedings, has soared in recent years.

This is primarily due to a cut in legal aid which has meant that people wanting access to family solicitors have had to fund their legal advice themselves, except in very limited circumstances, such as care proceedings.

The House of Commons Justice Committee has been told that litigants in person present a number of difficult issues for the legal profession. One of the major issues is they are unlikely to get a fair hearing in the family courts.

Despite the upfront costs, professional legal advice is therefore essential and, in the long term, it is usually the best option financially.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Do I need landlords insurance?

Accidents happen and it can be a costly mistake to overlook specialist landlords insurance. As standard homeowner property insurance is voided as soon as a tenant resides there, it is important that landlords have a good understanding of what insurance is available to them and how it covers them.

What is Proprietary Estoppel?

Proprietary Estoppel is a legal challenge, used for challenging a will. It allows people to challenge a will if they were given assurances by the testator (the person who made the will) during their lifetime that they would inherit property or land from them following their death, but then did not.

Friday, 24 October 2014

What is The Inheritance Act 1975?

The Inheritance Act 1975, or the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to give it its full name, is an Act if Parliament relating to inheritance in England and Wales. It allows anyone to challenge a will if they were previously partly or wholly financially dependent on the person who has died, and that person has not left any or enough provision (or “reasonable financial provision”) in their will to continue to provide for them.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

What is a tenancy deposit scheme?

Since 6th April 2007 it has been a legal requirement in England and Wales that landlords protect their tenants’ deposits. Disputes over withheld deposits are all too common, with latest figures showing that only 69% of deposits were returned in full during disputes which the scheme aims to alleviate. However, many landlords and tenants are still unaware of how exactly the scheme works and how it protects them. This article takes a look at some of the basics.

Do you need Employers’ Liability Insurance cover?

All employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees whilst they are at work. So, in the event of any injury, illness or disease that is sustained during employment, an employer could be liable. However, when they take out Employers’ Liability Insurance, any resulting claim is made against the insurance policy rather than against the employer themselves.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Avoidable Accidents and Misleading Health and Safety Notices

Recent cases from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have focused particular attention on businesses that employ workers exposed to the dangers of working at height. They also draw attention to the fact that accidents can happen anywhere for relatively innocuous reasons if adequate care is not taken.

Meanwhile, although health and safety is a popular whipping post for people complaining about restrictions on their liberty, businesses can’t simply blame HSE for every limitation that gets imposed in a working environment.

Does Your Business Need a 'Vaping' Policy for Staff?

There has been a huge rise in the use of e-cigarettes, predominantly among current and former tobacco smokers.

This has left health officials and policymakers in a quandary as to how e-cigarettes should be regulated as a reduction in tobacco consumption is a good thing but the risks of smoking e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ as it is known are not yet fully understood. That also goes for the risks to other people from the effects of second-hand e-cigarette smoke.

Business have therefore had little guidance on how to respond to the use of e-cigarettes but it is becoming apparent that there is a pressing need for vaping policies in the workplace due to a significant rise in their use.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Can Financial Analysts Libel Companies?

This is an interesting question as some financial analysts have considerable power over the fortunes of company stock prices in the financial markets. A lawyer’s standard answer is that it will always depend upon the circumstances but a recent case in the UK shows that it is possible.

Legal services firm Quindell, an AIM-listed alternate business structure (ABS), recently claimed victory against analyst Gotham City Research, following a recent High Court judgment.

The US analyst was found to have libelled the ABS, following the publication of a report questioning the profit quality of the firm and the accuracy of its accounts; the report resulted in close to £1bn being wiped from Quindell’s market value.

ICO Hands Out Heavy fines for Data Protection Breaches

The Ministry of Justice’s fine of £180,000 is just one recent example of the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) statutory power to issue fines for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

The fine is particularly notable as it represents one of the highest imposed upon a government department. The fine comes in response to the ministry’s “failing” in allowing data to be handled insecurely by 75 prisons stretching across England and Wales.

Needless to say, businesses and other organisations must take their data protection obligations seriously or they risk exposing themselves to potentially hefty fines too.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Worrying Rise of Industrial Deafness Claims and their Implications for Insurance Fraud

A new trend has recently emerged in the area of insurance fraud.

The Association of British Insurers has warned that industrial deafness is fast becoming the new ‘cash cow’ for ambulance chasers throughout the UK.

Although in the past, whiplash claims have offered the greatest scope for abuse of insurance policies, it now seems that the claims industry is exploring a more creative and potentially more lucrative alternative.

The Number of Same Sex Marriages is Growing Steadily

The end of 2014 will mark the passing of an important year in the fight for equality for gay and lesbian couples in the UK.

The first same-sex marriages in England and Wales took place in March of this year after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into effect. A similar law has been introduced in Scotland with the first marriages being expected to occur before the end of 2014.

This development is a necessary and welcome development and reflects the international trend towards granting marriage rights to same sex couples. It is also hoped that it will inspire more countries to introduce similar laws and put pressure on countries like Russia and Uganda who continue to criminalise people for their sexual orientation.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Tax Dodgers May be Hit by a New Criminal Offence

The issue of tax evasion and tax avoidance have been attracting a huge amount of international attention recently.

Celebrities being caught out using artificial tax avoidance schemes and high-profile parliamentary inquiries into the conduct of large multinationals like Apple and Google have added fuel to the fire. There seems to be a growing public perception that somehow those who seek to avoid tax are harming other aspects of society.

It is perhaps not surprising that, in line with the international move to clamp down on tax-cheats, HMRC has therefore announced a consultation on a new strict liability offence for tax evasion announced in April. The law is aimed at individuals that fail to declare assets held offshore rather than corporations.

Prior to introducing the new offence, HMRC is inviting submissions from lawyers, tax-specialists and even those who may be affected by it to submit their views on the detailed provisions.

Discrimination in the workplace – what you need to know

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Image9Discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently or less favourably than others. An example of this could be a female worker being denied equal pay to male colleagues, or a mature employee being denied the same training as other workers due to age. Discrimination can occur in the form of direct discrimination or indirect discrimination (see below). Organisations and businesses should put in place policies to prevent any such discrimination from happening.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Claimants for Breach of Contract Cannot Expect to Win More than they Bargained For

The recent summary judgement decision in Comau UK Ltd v Lotus [2014] shows that the courts are keen to ensure that a claimant cannot receive the benefit of a greater level of compensation than that which is specifically provided for in a contract.

Rollingsons Solicitors featured in the Mail on Sunday

Rollingsons’ Neil Acheson-Gray offered his thoughts and advice in a recent article of the senior lifestyle supplement in last Sunday’s, Mail on Sunday. In the column, Acheson-Gray dealt with the issue of Inheritance Tax and in particular how planning ahead can help to mitigate taxes.

Gilt Yields Collapse

Cost of Fixed Rate Mortgages to Fall Further

Ray Boulger, of leading independent mortgage adviser John Charcol, comments on the impact of today’s collapse in gilt yields.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Court of Appeal Clarifies Cost Implications in Forfeiture Proceedings: Barratt v Robinson

The recent case of Barratt v Robinson [2014] has clarified the position for landlords as regards costs in property tribunals.

The Court of Appeal also confirmed that determination by a property tribunal is a pre-condition of service of a section 146, under the Law of Property Act 1925, of the landlord’s intention to forfeit the lease.

Barratt v Robinson related to a landlord’s dispute with a tenant who was in breach of covenant to pay building insurance fees.

Does your business need Public Liability Insurance cover?

A public liability insurance policy protects businesses against third party claims for injury, loss or damage to property as a result of the activities of their business.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Latest Health and Safety Cases Highlight Safety Risks to Individuals and Businesses

Recent health and safety cases highlighted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) once again stress the importance of businesses properly managing health and safety risks in the workplace.

Businesses large and small should not leave health and safety to chance. Appropriate health and safety policies must be designed, implemented and enforced while robust insurance policies should be taken out to cover unexpected accidents.

Any business unsure of its health and safety obligations should seek professional advice.

Maternity rights – what you need to know

What are an employee’s rights during pregnancy?

In the UK it is recognised that maternity leave is very important. Currently, new mothers are entitled to 52 weeks leave in total, with the first two weeks of maternity leave being compulsory. This is regardless of how long they have been employed, how many hours they work and what their pay amounts to. They will also keep their right to any pay rises and will still accrue annual leave during this time.

Monday, 13 October 2014

What are the rules of intestacy?

If you die without making a will, or if you do make a will but it is not valid and you have no other will, then what happens to your money, property, possessions, savings and other assets (i.e. your estate) is instead decided by something called the rules of intestacy.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Employee liability insurance vs. public liability insurance

Insurance is essential for safeguarding your business and liability insurance can be one of the best ways to protect yourself against compensation claims. But what are some of the key differences between employee and public liability insurance?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Restrictive covenants – what you need to know

What is a restrictive covenant?

All businesses have information and knowledge that helps them operate and potentially gives them an edge over competitors. When an employee leaves it can be devastating to lose their expertise but it can be even worse should they decide to take important information with them. Restrictive covenants can protect a business against such a scenario.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Unfair dismissal–what you need to know

Unfair dismissal is a scenario whereby an employee is relieved of employment for reasons that are not deemed to be valid or fair; but what are those reasons and what circumstances can make you eligible for a claim?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

What does public liability insurance cover?

There are potential risks in any business but by protecting yourself with public liability insurance you can ensure that you are covered against incidents that could prove costly to your business.

Public liability insurance protects businesses against third party claims and safeguards businesses against costly compensation pay outs. But what are the areas that the insurance covers?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Complaining via Twitter for a Rapid Response

Social media is increasingly being utilised by consumers to make complaints against companies.

Savvy social media users are harnessing the fact that many companies are keen to avoid negative publicity in the Twittersphere, resulting in the proposition that social media quite often provides the most efficient method of resolving certain types of complaints or issues with a company.

In this way, customers are able to take advantage of a much more expedient way of resolving their consumer issues. Meanwhile, businesses are having to learn how to respond to complaints through these new mediums.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Separating Parents Should Avoid Taking the Law into their Own Hands

A large fall in the number of new private family law cases has prompted Resolution, formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), to make clear its concerns that parents are increasingly taking the legal issues involved in a separation into their own hands.

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) statistics reveal that there was a 36% fall in the number of private family law cases in July 2014, compared to last year.

Following the coming into force of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 in April 2013 (LASPO), legal aid has been unavailable for the majority of private family law cases. Family lawyers, including the Law Society’s family law committee chair, have voiced concerns that the lack of funding has left parents without affordable access to the courts.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Managing the Avalanche of Post-Holiday Email

Most employees dread the avalanche of holiday e-mails that is waiting in their inbox when they return from annual leave.

People who send e-mails to employees when they are away holiday can normally expect to receive an automated message, commonly known as an “out of office e-mail,” informing them when a e-mail may be read and offering an alternative contact for urgent messages.

Urgent or important emails requiring action are therefore likely to have been dealt with by colleagues during a person’s absence while the bulk of informative mail may be past its ‘sell by date’ or of little importance in the first place.

As the burden of email grows, so too grows the debate about how the usual post-holiday e-mail misery could be managed more effectively. If changes are deemed necessary, businesses should be mindful of their legal and other responsibilities when they adopt new policies.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Cuts to Whiplash Assessment Report Fees May Reduce Claims

Whiplash claims by drivers involved in car crashes have had a negative impact on the insurance industry. The insurance industry believes the problem is so bad it is costing drivers an extra £90 on their insurance premiums.

From October 2014, the Government is changing the rules regarding medical assessment fees, which are paid to obtain an assessment regarding the extent of whiplash injuries. The fees can run as high as £700, which offers an incentive for medical professionals to exaggerate injuries.

Under the new proposals, the fee will be fixed at £180 to encourage doctors to make a more honest assessment of a driver’s injuries. The Government argues that the move will save drivers money.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, told the BBC “Honest drivers have been bearing the cost of a system that is open to abuse and it is time for a change.”