April 2012 Archive

Online trading – proposed changes to consumer rights

The Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83 aims to strengthen consumers' rights across the EU particularly when shopping online. What should you be doing now to get your website and online terms ready? The UK must pass domestic law so as to comply with the Directive by 13 December 2013. Although this is still some way off the key points you should be aware of.

Are late payment penalties good news for creditors?

Over 10 years after the introduction of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 and the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002, the problem of late payments remains unresolved. Research by the Federation of Small Businesses suggests that this problem may be getting worse as companies delay paying their debts as a means of improving their own cash flow and providing them with cheap credit.

Time is running out for "no win, no fee"

Do you have commercial disputes that are causing you concern? Have you considered tackling them but are worried about how much it will cost to resolve them or have you heard horror stories of litigation legal fees spiralling out of control? Many people feel this way when considering litigation. Add to this, the perceived aggravation associated with litigation and the last thing many individuals and organisations want to do is deal with a dispute. But there are ways that you can deal with your commercial disputes in a relatively risk-free environment - if you act quickly.

Sale and leaseback – mortgagees retain possession, so far…

Earlier this year the Appeal Court upheld the decision to allow mortgage companies to take possession of properties that had been subject to sales and leasebacks. We have been waiting to hear whether the Supreme Court becomes involved after the Court of Appeal declined permission to appeal its decision, but just yet there has been no confirmation of a petition to the Supreme Court. So far, then, the decision remains in favour of mortgage companies, controversial though that has been in some areas.

New EU cookie law

In May 2011 the EU’s Privacy and Communications Directive came into force. It requires all websites to seek consent from website users before storing cookies on their computers. Almost all websites use cookies meaning the impact of this EU directive was significant and far-reaching. To that end, organisations were given a year to prepare for the new law. With the 26 May 2012 deadline for compliance approaching, have you done what you need to do to comply with the law?

Planning for the end of an IT supply agreement

At the start of any relationship, no one likes to talk about what will happen should it break down. And this is often the case in business relationships, and in particular IT supply agreements. When signing IT contracts, few organisations agree what will happen at the end of the agreement. As a result disputes and problems can often occur which can be time consuming and costly.

Transporting your horse: is your horsebox overloaded?

Horseboxes and towing vehicles driven on public roads are subject to legal weight restrictions. If a vehicle is found to be overloaded then the driver will be held liable and will have committed an offence even if they are not the owner. Roadside checks by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency have prevented riders from continuing on their journey when it has been discovered that their vehicle is overloaded. A vehicle is considered to be overloaded if its weight exceeds the gross vehicle weight as stated on the manufacturer’s plate.

Do your employees know what's considered to be confidential information?

The recent case of Caterpillar Logistics Services (UK) Ltd v Huesca de Crean (2012 EWCA Civ 156) underlines the importance of an employer making sure that it clearly points out what is considered to be confidential information. In this case the employee was contractually obliged not to use or divulge any trade secrets or confidential information about Caterpillar to third parties, either during or after the termination of her employment.

Legal professional privilege

Legal professional privilege (LPP) protects the confidentiality of communications between a client and their lawyer when seeking or giving legal advice. It exists in order that everyone has access to legal advice and can give full and frank disclosure of every relevant matter without fear that their interests will be compromised by that disclosure. Despite LPP dating back to the 1500s there are still important issues arising even now. The Supreme Court will, this November, consider whether an accountant’s advice on tax liabilities - which inevitably means advice on tax law - attracts LPP.
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