March 2012 Archive

Tax breaks for video games companies

Businesses in Warwickshire will receive a welcome boost as a result of the Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to offer tax breaks to the games industry in last week’s budget. That is the view of Alan Darby, tax director at Midland law firm Wright Hassall, which has advised a number of games companies on their commercial and legal affairs.

Contracts and withholding of consent – what’s reasonable?

The phrase “consent not to be unreasonably withheld” is often used in commercial contracts; but does it give you the comfort you want? A recent case sheds some light. The Porton case provides useful guidance on the principles to be applied in deciding whether consent has been unreasonably withheld under a commercial contract (Porton Capital Technology Funds v 3M UK Holdings Ltd).

Equality for disabled customers

The fact that the UK is hosting the Paralympics in September this year gives an ideal opportunity for retailers to reflect on whether or not they are compliant with both the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act. As far as the law is concerned, retailers are required to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled people can make full use of the services and goods on offer. However, the law does not define what is ‘reasonable’, leaving retailers to interpret it as best they can in the context of their own premises.

Land Registry encourages absent property owners to combat fraud

In an effort to combat fraud, the Land Registry announced that, from 1 February 2012, they will not charge a fee for home owners wanting to register a restriction on their property, providing they are not currently resident there. Properties that are empty, tenanted or mortgage-free have traditionally provided rich pickings for fraudsters who sell or mortgage the property and pocket the gains.

Drought and water abstraction licences

After two dry winters and in recognition that any reduction in food outputs will adversely affect the economy at large by forcing up food prices, Defra, the EA, the water companies and the NFU are meeting regularly to review the situation and put in place measures that will help farmers to manage their water requirements as well as continuing to protect the environment.

When and why is expert evidence needed in professional negligence cases?

One of the most significant expenses of a professional negligence claim against a surveyor or solicitor can be the expert. The expert needs to review all of the circumstances objectively and give an opinion as to whether the work fell below the standard of a reasonably competent professional in that situation. There may be circumstances in which leaving the expense until relatively late is acceptable, but the importance of expert evidence generally has been reinforced by a pair of recent cases.

St Paul’s squatters given their marching orders

Squatting is to become a criminal offence following a government consultation last year, an intention perhaps reinforced by the protests outside St Paul’s Cathedral. The lengthy civil action required to dislodge those protesters made it clear why a criminal offence would be welcome in some circumstances. Lenders needing to repossess properties should find the new proposal welcome, although the timing of legislation and the severity of punishment are both uncertain.

Budget release 2012 - enterprise management incentive options

EMI is a government backed share option scheme which allows small and medium sized businesses to grant tax-advantaged options to employees. The Chancellor announced a number of significant changes to enterprise management incentives (emi) options in the 2012 Budget. It was also announced that the Government will continue with it's policy of increasing the fuel benefit multiplier above the rate of inflation.

Court of Appeal decision regarding starter tenancies

Mandatory Possession Order upheld by the higher Court. A Court of Appeal decision, handed down on 13 March 2012 may be helpful in defeating article 8 defences to action taken to recover possession during the starter tenancy phase. In May 2009, Mr Jack Haycraft was issued with an assured shorthold ‘starter’ tenancy by West Kent Housing Association with the intention that, if he completed the probationary or trial period satisfactorily, this would convert to a full assured tenancy.
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