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Friday, 30 December 2016

6 ways to protect business information in the workplace

pexels-photo-225502One of the most challenging prospects facing businesses in the UK today is how they can protect their confidential information, trade secrets and contacts, all of which are at threat from competitors, rogue employees and hackers. Here are 10 suggestions to better protect key information.

#1 – Background checks

Digging into the history of hiring candidates not only gives you a good indication of their competence for a particular role but it can also give you an insight into their honesty and integrity. While a criminal record may make you question whether or not they are the right fit for your businesses there are other red flags too. Lying about qualifications or work history and unaccounted gaps in their CV may also be red flags.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

How to legally change your gender

word gender on colorful wooden cubesIf you are looking to legally confirm a change of gender, you can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate with the help of a solicitor. Here we will outline some key information regarding legally changing your gender in the UK.

In order to be legally recognised as your chosen gender in the UK you must first apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. While changing your gender with banks, schools and official documentation such as your driving license or passport is relatively straight forward, it does not presently change your legal gender. However, under the Gender Recognition Act (2004) a route has been created for transsexual people to be able to legally change their gender.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Why business owners should consider prenuptial agreements

affair-1238430_1280Divorce has an impact on almost every area of your life and your business interests are rarely immune to that. When it comes to making a settlement with your spouse, you may be forced to give up as much as 50% of your wealth, and depending on the nature of your business this could include your business assets. However, increasingly pre-nuptial and post nuptial agreements are being recognised by the courts and taken into account when deciding upon financial settlements and could allow business owners to protect their companies from the impact of a divorce.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Why it’s important to be honest in divorce proceedings

accounting-931424_1280When a marriage breaks down and is headed for divorce, both parties are encouraged to be fair and honest with each other regarding their finances. This allows for the court to reach a settlement which is reasonable. There is a temptation for spouses to misdirect their partner and the courts over the value of their assets, but as two recent cases show this is rarely a good idea.

Sharland and Gohil

An example of the importance of being honest about your finances is the case of Sharland and Gohil. These two high-profile cases involved divorce claims which were brought back to court on the basis that finances were deliberately concealed and the court misled.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Do I need to give my employee a contract?

AdobeStock_97394901In the UK it is a legal requirement that if someone is working with you for longer than two months that you provide them with a written statement of their terms and conditions of employment. While this is not an employment contract, it does include lots of information about the working relationship such as payment, shift patterns, working location and holiday entitlement.

A written contract expands on these key points and tailors them towards your business needs, providing you with security and recourse should things go wrong. So it is a smart decision for businesses to provide their employees with a written contract.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

How to limit the damage to your business from divorce by planning ahead

AdobeStock_36522890One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a business owner is to not give your company adequate protection against a marital breakdown. Business entrepreneurs often put in place contingency plans for a number of different scenarios from insurance for fire and disasters to company policies which prevent data theft and cyber attacks. Why then do so few businesses prepare for what will happen to their business if a business owner’s marriage breaks down?

Friday, 28 October 2016

Divorcing when you own a business together

office-170639_1280The breakdown of a marriage is often difficult enough and there are lots of decisions to make, but throwing a business into the mix can make things all the more difficult, especially when you started the company together or share an interest in it.

According to figures from the Institute of Family Business, there are more than 3 million family businesses that currently operate in the UK. Family businesses tend to operate on mutual trust and all too often overlook the importance of putting pre-emptive measures in place like pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements. These types of measures can help to prevent putting your business at risk further down the line if problems arise and a marriage breaks down.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Why every business partnership should have a deed in place

Discussing projectIf you are thinking about entering into a business partnership then it is incredibly important that you set out an agreement that outlines your duties and obligations to each of the partners and to the partnership as a whole. Even when working with friends and family there is the opportunity for disagreement and especially when there is a lack of clarity over how the business operates. Drafting a partnership agreement at an early stage and regularly updating it to reflect changes in the partnership can help avoid expensive buyouts and headaches further down the line.

Monday, 3 October 2016

How to check a tenant under Right-to-Rent

stamps-738059_640Due to changes made in February 2016, every landlord in England must now carry out checks on potential tenants to make sure that they have the right to be in the country on a residential basis before they are allowed to move in.

Right-to-rent checks do not need to be carried out on current tenants but if you fail to check new tenants within a 28 day period leading up to the start of a new tenancy then you could face penalties.

Right to Rent was introduced as part of the Immigration Act (2014) as a way of deterring those persons who are not legally allowed to reside in the UK, and was initially piloted in the West Midlands for six months. In order to establish whether a resident is allowed to live in the UK they must ask to see original and genuine documentation such as ID or birth certificates and retain copies on file with dates of checks recorded next to them. If a tenant is currently allowed to live in the UK but only on a temporary basis then the landlord must schedule to follow up the check just before the expiry date or 12 months after the initial check. A list of acceptable identification can be viewed here, as supplied by the Home Office.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

How to encourage tenants to pay on time

keys-1837155_640If you have found yourself repeatedly renting a property to problematic tenants then you may be wondering how you can cut down on the number of tenants who end up missing payments. As a landlord, missed payments can be one of the most frustrating aspects of buy-to-let, and can leave you disheartened and frustrated with your tenants. Here are some ways that you can reduce the likelihood of arrears.

Standing orders

We are all human and often a tenant can miscalculate the payment day or simply forget to make a payment at all. One of the easiest ways to prevent any mistakes is to have the tenant set up a direct debit or standing order. This standing order can be set up on the day after their payday which should allow rent to be paid automatically, and before they have chance to accidentally spend too much of their wages.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Choosing a legal structure for your business

hand-427518_640One of the most important decisions you have to make when setting up a company is the type of legal structure that you wish to operate under. It is important to have a good understanding as each option has its own specific advantages and disadvantages relating to a number of areas including tax, liability and finance. Here we will go through each of the three most popular forms of business structures and detail the pros and cons.

Sole Trader

The easiest structure to get your head around, a sole trader is normally the most suitable business structure for small businesses. As a sole trader you solely own and control your business and are liable for it. In the UK the majority of businesses operate as sole traders. Some examples include butchers, barbers, photographers and plumbers.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

What to do if a tenant defaults on their rental payment to you

pound-414418_640As a landlord it can be incredibly frustrating when a tenant defaults on their rental payments. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common problems that landlords face yet many landlords have no contingency plans to deal with the situation when it happens.

The first thing to do is to take a step back and try to stay calm. Changing the locks on the house while your tenant is out or calling their mobile phone repeatedly is only going to frustrate the situation and potentially lead to claims of harassment. Instead, the best route is to accept what has happened and begin working on a solution.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

5 tips for choosing the right tenant

london-773359_640Whether you have one property or a whole portfolio, the people that you rent your home to are the ones that determine how successful you will be with your letting. A tenant that pays on time, is friendly with the neighbours, house proud and has no plans for moving is the ideal tenant and can be a real asset, but the bad ones can result in lots of stress. Here are a few tips on finding the best tenants for your properties.

Do your research

You can only make an informed decision on whether or not to accept a tenant if you do your research on them first. You should always ask them to fill out a form which provides a background check on them. This should include basic details like their name, age and current address but also information about employment, income, their right to work in the UK and a list of any previous addresses in the past three years. This will provide you with some initial data that you can cross check and validate to make sure the person is who they say they are. Furthermore, you should ask to see a copy of their birth certificate or passport and a recent utility bill to prove their current address. Always be wary of tenants who have a history of moving around lots in a short period of time as they may repeat this pattern which means you will have to spend more time relisting the property, redecorating and finding new tenants for the property.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

3 critical mistakes when hiring staff for the first time

Business people waiting for job interview. Four candidates competing for one positionFor most start-ups there comes a time where it becomes very clear that support is needed. It might be that you are losing work to competitors because you don’t have the time to take on new contracts, maybe you’ve identified an opportunity to diversify, or perhaps you want to improve on the service that you are providing to your existing customers by dedicating more time to them. Whether through hiring someone to answer telephones, work the books or a full on recruitment drive to fill a number of departments, developing a team of people to work alongside you can help push your business forward. However, if you are planning on hiring then it is important that you are aware of not only your legal obligations as an employer, but also some common pitfalls that catch out first-time employers.

Friday, 5 August 2016

What is Parental Responsibility?

clip_image002For many of us, Parental Responsibility will never become an issue in our families.

However, when family life becomes complicated, Parental Responsibility can play an important part in decisions that are made by the courts, particularly in issues such as divorce, custody and decisions over a child’s upbringing and future.

By law Parental Responsibility is defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property” which explains the role of the parent in relation to their child until the child turns 18 years of age.

Parental Responsibility might come into play in a number of different circumstances. These include when naming a child, choosing their religion, where they live, what medical treatment they might have and how they are educated. These are decisions which can become complicated after a divorce or separation and may sometimes need the involvements of solicitors and the courts to resolve.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

My ex wants to move abroad with my child, what can I do?

girl-486950_640No parent may remove their child from the UK without the permission of anyone else with Parental Responsibility such as another parent, or without an order from the courts.

This means that if your ex and parent of your child has decided that they wish to return to their country of birth, or start a new life somewhere abroad they must seek out your permission so long as you have Parental Responsibility.

However, if you decide that your child moving to start a life abroad is not in their best interests then you have the right to refuse their request.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Trademarks: FAQs

Trademark application In previous articles we have explained the importance and methods of protecting a business’s brand by registering the brand as a trademark . This article covers some of the most frequently asked trademark questions.

To get protection for my brand, do I need to register it as a trademark?

It is possible to claim “common law” rights for a trading name within the UK. However, it can take a significant amount of time to earn the right, your rights will be unclear, someone else could register the name as a trademark and if that did it happen it would be very costly to get the rights back. So it is highly advisable that you register your brand as a trademark as it is the best way to ensure you have the exclusive legal right to use your brand.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

What should I do if I want to take my child on holiday and their other parent doesn’t agree?

air-mattress-704445_640Whether you are taking your children abroad for a day trip to France, a weekend in Rome or a summer long trip with your relatives in India, there are legal rules regarding taking a child out of the UK.

If your child lives with you under a Residence Order or a Child Arrangements Order then you will able to take the child abroad for up to one month.

However, if you are planning a holiday with your child and are not travelling with the other person who shares Parental Responsibility then you will need to ask for written permission, otherwise you could run the risk of being charged with child abduction.

Monday, 27 June 2016

In International Leave to Remove your child’s needs come first

child-817368_640It is often a sad time when a relationship comes to an end, but when there are children involved it can be even more painful and complicated. One example of a problem that can arise is when one parent seeks to move permanently to another country.

In the UK, it is an offence to move your child abroad without proper permission from anyone else who shares parental responsibility. To do so without first seeking approval can be classed as abduction – a criminal offence.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The best way to protect intellectual property

R Registered trademark in a blue backgroundAll businesses should be aware of what intellectual property is and how to protect it.

A company’s branding, the name of products, inventions, product design or an item you have produced is classed as intellectual property and can be protected to prevent others from stealing or copying them. In previous articles we have highlighted the importance of registering a trademark to protect your brand and the reputation of your business. In this article we will discuss some of the best practices for protecting a business’ brand.

Monday, 6 June 2016

How to buy the freehold to your lease

Once you have lived in your leasehold property, you may decide that you like the area and property enough and have the finances in place to purchase the freehold to the property. The difference between leasehold and freehold is that as a leaseholder you only own the right to occupy the building during the length of the lease but as the freeholder you own the property outright. This article will explain the process of buying the freehold to your leasehold property.

New legislation has made the process of buying the freehold to your leasehold property easier and it’s also possible to do it as a group of leaseholders who lease individual flats within one building. To have the legal right to buy the freehold you must meet certain requirements; if you do you can force the freeholder to sell the freehold to you. Alternatively, you can negotiate with the freeholder and purchase the freehold by mutual agreement.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The benefits of successful brand protection

Branding wordAll businesses develop a substantial association between the company’s brand and the products or services it provides the consumer. Previously we have explained the process of registering a trademark in order to protect your brand and in this article we will focus on the benefits of successful brand protection.

Branding for your business should be carefully considered at an early stage and treated equally alongside the goals of the business. Creating a strong brand will enhance the growth of your business because your branding helps your clients or customers associate a reputation with your products or services. To ensure your developing brand and your businesses reputation is protected you should register your brand as a trademark.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

13 leaseholder rights

If you own or plan on owning a leasehold property it is important that you understand the legal nature of this type of property ownership.

The ownership of a leasehold property is very different to owning the freehold, as our article ‘The difference between leasehold & freehold’ explains in detail. This article will focus on your rights as a leaseholder, which should be outlined in your leasehold contract with the landlord. 

One of your simplest rights is that you will have the right to peaceful occupation of the property for the duration of the lease, called ‘quiet enjoyment’. Contractually, you also have the right to expect the freeholder to maintain, repair and manage any shared parts of the building. Shared areas are parts of the property that you do not own as part of your lease but have the right to access. Shared parts of the building are likely to include the exterior of the property, the entrance hall and staircases. There are many other rights that the leaseholder has and should be aware of.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

4 great tips on how to register a trademark

Book Title of Corporate Identity.Your brand could be the most important aspect to your business’s ongoing development and not registering a trademark to protect your brand from exploitation could be a big risk. Correctly securing a trademark will not only add value to your business and brand but will also allow your company to stand apart from your competitors.

A common misconception is that registering your businesses name with Companies House or owning the website address is sufficient, but these provide no form of trademark protection whatsoever. The only way to correctly protect your brand is to apply for a trademark with the Intellectual Property Office. However, before you apply for a trademark you should check that the name you want to protect can be registered with Companies House and that the internet domain name is available.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Top tips for new business investors

Investing in a business is a great way to increase the return on your savings but it is also risky and without the correct preparation you could lose all of the investment. You should also pay particular attention to how you can invest in businesses as there are many options and variables that could affect your decisions. If you are interested in business investing, the following tips should hopefully help you make decisive decisions.

Don’t gamble
It is vital that you research the business you are interested in to evaluate how successful the business is likely to be and whatever you do, do not make snap decisions. There are several aspects of a business that you should look into. The first should be the size of the market for the product or service the company is offering. You need to ensure that the market is big enough for the company to grow sufficiently to see a return on your investment. Your next challenge is to appraise the managers of the business to ensure the company has the right people to drive the business forward.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Investing through crowdfunding

When exploring how to invest in businesses you will discover that there are many methods available and you should not overlook the option of investing through a crowdfunding website. There are two types of crowdfunding. The most common campaign is where a business offers people a product (often at a discount) or gift in return for their money. The second form of crowdfunding is where businesses offer equity shares in return for their money.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

How to extend your leasehold’s length

In a previous article we explained the difference between owning a leasehold and owning a freehold. This article looks specifically at how to extend the length of a leasehold if you own one.

If you have bought a leasehold to a property, you own the right to live in that property for a specific number of years. Eventually however, your lease will run out and the ownership will return the freeholder. Additionally, if you have less than 60 years left on your lease it will be almost impossible to remortgage which will drastically reduce your ability to move home. Therefore you should avoid allowing your lease to drop below this threshold.

Friday, 18 March 2016

2 major benefits of buying a leasehold

It can be very difficult getting on the property ladder and because of the expense involved many people choose to rent instead.

Becoming a leaseholder could be a better solution. In a previous article we explained the difference between buying a freehold and a leasehold; freehold is where you own the property and the land outright and leasehold is where you lease the property from the freeholder for a particular period of time.

However, if you are considering buying a leasehold property you should make sure that you choose a property with a long lease otherwise you can expect the value of your lease to quickly decline.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Negotiating investment terms

Before you begin looking for an investment opportunity it’s important you know how to invest in a business. Once you are ready to make an investment in a business you must remember that the negotiation process is the start of a long-term business relationship so it’s crucial that the partnership gets off on the right foot.

Both parties should have the similar long term objectives and therefore the investment should reflect this and ideally it should be balanced. Previous experience within the industry you are investing in counts for a lot and most businesses will be looking for expertise as well as capital value.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Selling your home but want to back out?

Selling your home can be a difficult decision to make and you may have some doubts about whether you are making the right choice. In previous articles we have discussed the process of buying and selling property and this article will focus on what you should do if you want to retract the sale of your home. 

There are many reasons that you may wish to stop the sale of your property but it’s important that you make this decision as early in the selling process as possible. If you decide to pull out before the contracts are exchanged you will only have to pay your solicitor or your licensed conveyancers fees and the expenses of your estate agent. Estate agents will usually take their fee once the sale is complete but make sure you check their terms and conditions because you may still have to cover their advertising, ‘for sale’ board fees and any other costs they may incur. If you have instructed a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to start the conveyancing process you will probably have to pay them for the work they have completed to date or you may have to pay an agreed fee dependent on the arrangements you make with these firms.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

How to find great businesses to invest in

It can be very risky investing your hard earned cash in a business but there are ways you can reduce the risk and increase the chance of finding the next big thing.

The very nature of investing means that you must be prepared to lose as well as gain money. However, carefully considering the qualities of a business and using your previous experience of the market sector can help you make an informed decision which should increase your chance of success.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

How to get the best investment agreement

There are many methods of raising capital for your business but securing an investment can be very difficult. This sometimes leads to businesses rushing into deals because they are keen to get hold of any investment without first taking the time to step back and assess the implications of the investment agreement and, critically, understanding the terms. Therefore, from an early stage you should make sure that you fully understand the investment deal that is on offer, take legal advice from a specialist team and pay particular attention to the key terms.

One of the most fundamental terms will refer to the amount of equity shares the investor wants in return for their investment. Most investors will ask to have equity shares in the company they are investing in and this can be anything from 1% to 51% or more. 51% would be a majority share and would mean the investor has control of the business but most investors do not want this so would usually pitch their equity share return between 15% - 30%.  That would allow sufficient remaining equity to enable the business to obtain further investment at a later date.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

How to re-negotiate after a property survey

The process of buying and selling property can be fraught with stress and frustration.  As a seller, there is nothing worse than receiving a survey report for your property that is essentially a long list of expensive repairs. It can add additional stress to the process as you are likely to be worried that your buyer may pull out, but their first approach is likely to be an attempt to re-negotiate the price.

In some instances, where the report only shows minor repairs, you may be able to persuade the buyer to stick to the previously agreed price. However, survey reports don’t always make this easy to achieve.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

An overview of winding-up orders

If you find yourself in a situation where a company owes you money and is refusing or unable to pay then, with the help of a solicitor, you may be able to petition the court for a ‘wind-up’ order.

In England and Wales  a wind-up order can be served to a company if their total debts to you equate to more than £750. With legal counsel you also need to be able to prove that the company is unable to pay the debts and serve specific forms to the court.

Evidence of the company being unable to pay their debts could be a certificate of personal service or substituted service which includes details of the services you provided to the company and details of your requests for payment.  It could also be a statement from a bailiff’s company to inform you that they cannot recover assets of enough value to cover the debt in question. This helps to demonstrate to the court that your previous attempts at recovering the debt have been unsuccessful.