May 2012 Archive

FLA Conference: the tricky balance between customers’ and lenders’ interests

The Finance and Leasing Association’s Debt Recovery for Lenders Conference last week was a very informative session with a good array of speakers and turnout from lenders. The first speakers were from the Money Advice Trust and Money Advice Service: the clear message was that customers with financial difficulties need to speak to their lender early, but only 8% do that at the moment. Speaking to Joanna Elson, the Money Advice Trust Chief Executive, we identified a real problem in customers needing independent legal advice but, given the absence of Legal Aid, specialist legal advice is not so easy to come by at no charge.

The legality of electronic signatures in construction contracts

Given that most business-related documents are normally sent electronically, the vexed question of how to authorise the final, agreed version virtually, when one or more of the participating parties is absent, often arises. Electronic signatures are not particularly widely used despite both the technology and legal framework being available. So how do businesses get round the problem of obtaining the signature of an absent party?

Launch of the Green Deal

The Government has confirmed that the Green Deal will launch this autumn after they named the 22 companies (including British Gas, Carillion, Kingfisher and Wilmott Dixon Energy Services) on the list of providers that would deliver the scheme. The Green Deal is intended to deliver the energy efficiency products and services that will enable property owners to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings.

What are letters of intent?

Letters of intent are commonly used in the construction sector and are normally used where the employer wants to start work, but for whatever reason there has not been time to finalise a formal contract with the contractor/sub-contractor, such as one of the JCT standard forms.

What does best endeavours mean?

What does “best endeavours” mean? This was an issue in Jet2.com Ltd v Blackpool Airport Ltd who had entered into a 15 year contract with each other. The contract required both parties to "co-operate together and use their best endeavours to promote Jet2.com's low cost services” and for BAL to “use all reasonable endeavours to provide a cost base that will facilitate Jet2.com's low cost pricing”.

Crunch time for cookies - is your website compliant?

Most businesses have a website and all websites need to be legally compliant. The period of grace for websites to get cookie compliant has just ran out; so a crunch time for cookies indeed! A cookie is a small file which is sent to a user’s computer or mobile internet device when they visit a website so as to enable the website to recognise and enhance the user’s experience as a result.

Scottish contract law - there are differences in the detail

Do you have customers north of the border and if so are any of your contracts subject to Scottish law? If the answer is “yes” to both questions then read on Macduff as there’s one or two risks you might not be aware of. The broad principles of Scots and English contract law are similar. However, as ever, there are differences in the detail. It is beyond the scope of this article to provide a detailed analysis but here are two significant points to bear in mind when Scots law applies.

Confidentiality and copyright infringement

The case of Force India Formula One Team Ltd v 1 Malaysia Racing Team concerned the misuse of confidential information and copyright. In April 2008 Force India engaged Aerolab to design a half-size wind tunnel model for a Formula 1 racing car. The parties entered into a development agreement which contained a confidentiality clause and provided that all intellectual property created by Aerolab under the agreement would belong to Force India.

HSE crane regulations to be lifted

The HSE has proposed removing the ‘Notification of Conventional Cranes Regulations 2010’ as part of a move to revoke or modify regulations that are either duplicates, redundant or ineffective. These particular regulations were originally brought in after concerns were expressed in Parliament about the number of injuries and fatalities since 2000 caused by the structural failure of tower cranes.

Service levels & the duty to act in good faith

The case of Compass Group (trading as Medirest) v Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust [2012]. The parties entered into a long-term contract for the delivery of food and other services within a hospital, the performance of which required continuous and detailed cooperation between the parties. The contract provided that both parties were to act in good faith.
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