September 2012 Archive

IFAs and the use of restrictive covenants – proceed with care

The ongoing financial gloom permeating many corners of the economy is tempting certain employers, whose business is heavily dependent on personal relationships, to enter into potentially unenforceable employment contracts with their employees. With clients more inclined to pursue conservative investment strategies and new clients proving more elusive than ever, IFAs are one of the groups affected. The temptation to adopt a defensive stance when protecting their business interests can backfire spectacularly.

Divorce - encouraging a fairer system for the division of assets

Agreeing an acceptable post-divorce financial settlement is a minefield. As it currently stands, the law gives no clear guidance on what is considered to be an equitable financial outcome making it difficult for lawyers to predict how a judge might determine a fair or reasonable division of assets. In addition, there are no rules on how property either accumulated before the marriage or inherited (non-matrimonial property) should be divided. There is increasing concern that the current system, largely based on an assessment of needs, usually of the financially weaker spouse, is outdated.

School computer scam: could it have been prevented?

BBC’s Panorama reported this week on a fraud by which 169 schools up and down the country have been scammed by signing up to leases in return for ‘free’ computer equipment. The debate is heating up over whether teaching professionals ought to be involved in such high value purchasing, but anyone can be scammed if they don’t carry out sensible due diligence and think about advice on a legally binding commitment.

The Green Deal for domestic properties

The Green Deal for domestic properties is due to be launched in October 2012 and we understand that it will be heavily marketed to homeowners (for whom take up is voluntary) and tenants. The Green Deal is the financial scheme funded through energy savings and removes the need for upfront payments. It is attached to the building not the owner and if the building is empty for any period, the charge is paid for by the landlord who will pick up the utility bills whilst the property is empty, in the usual way.

Obtaining payment from a debtor

Winding up petitions and bankruptcy petitions can be very effective in obtaining payment from a debtor. If the debt is due, and disputed, and in the absence of any counterclaim greater than the debt, the best course of action for a debtor who is subjected to insolvency proceedings is simply to pay, to avoid being wound up or being made bankrupt. Given the current financial climate, underhand debtors may say that the debt is disputed or allege that they have some claim which should be set off against the amount owed in an attempt to try and fend off the issue of bankruptcy or winding up proceedings.

Grain contracts and the small print

UK grain harvest yields and quality, first threatened by drought and then by persistent rainfall and accompanying low light levels, is down on last year with possibly the worst harvest for over 20 years. Any shortfall in yields and/or quality of grain could result in a contract dispute. If this has happened to you, what can you do?

Ensure your contracts are ‘robust’ before purchasing software

Businesses purchasing new software must ensure ‘robust’ contracts are in place or risk paying substantial fees for systems that don’t provide the required functions, according to an expert in logistics law. Lindsay Ellis, head of the specialist logistics team at leading commercial law firm Wright Hassall, has advised on a wide range of technology procurements and has noticed an increasing trend to shift the risk from the software owner to the end customer.

Recovering retention monies

Retention monies are an important issue under main contracts and sub-contracts alike. Commonly, half the retention monies are released at Practical Completion and the balance on a Certificate (or equivalent notification) of Making Good Defects. If a contractor fails to rectify defects, then the retention can be used by the employer towards the cost of rectifying the defects. Retention monies are monies already earned by the contractor for work done. If the retention is not applied for making good defects, then it is understood that the retention monies will be paid to the contractor.
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