August 2013 Archive

Creating transparency and trust in corporate life

Following the G8 summit in July, Vince Cable published a discussion paper ‘Transparency & Trust: Enhancing the Transparency of UK Company Ownership and Increasing Trust in UK Business’. The purpose is to encourage corporate transparency in an effort to combat some of the shadier aspects of international corporate activity including tax evasion, money laundering and financing of terrorist operations.

Mis-sold interest rate hedging products, a hot topic for the FSA

The FSA has been investigating, and castigating, a number of banks for their failures in selling interest rate hedging products. Many small businesses were sold these arrangements to sit alongside loans, aimed at limiting exposure to interest rate rises. Yet many of these arrangements also prevented the interest rate from falling below a certain level (a collar). When the base rate fell to 0.5% in early 2009, many people on collars failed to benefit from the low rates, often stuck paying rates in excess of 4%.

Image rights...or wrong?

On 31 July 2013, Mr Justice Birss found in favour of Rihanna in a claim against Topshop relating to the unauthorised use of her image on a t-shirt. This decision has been reported in various ways, including “Rihanna Wins Topshop Image Rights Fight” (Sky News, 1 August 2013). In fact, this decision reminds us that there is no free standing general “image right” which enables famous (or any other) persons to control the reproduction of their image.

Clarity and guidance on lease guarantees

K/S Victoria Street v House of Fraser (Stores Management) Ltd and others [2011] (the ‘Victoria case’), decided in the Court of Appeal in July 2011, was heralded as the long awaited case to bring certainty to an uncertain area of landlord and tenant law. In our view, the Victoria case has achieved this by determining the validity of agreements that require an outgoing tenant’s guarantor to guarantee the performance of the incoming tenant. Perhaps of more significance, is the opinion of the Master of the Rolls on a workable alternative.

The latest on tax avoidance for professional advisers

For many months the government, the Public Accounts Committee and other have trumpeted the social and moral duty of businesses to pay tax. Legal and legitimate structures put in place to minimize taxes have been publicly attacked at length; and the advisers that recommend those criticized. Now the courts have confirmed firms must recommend those schemes or face liabilities for failing to advise.

LIBOR – Stumbled but not fallen

More and more investors, predominantly in the property industry, are reviewing the performance of their funds and portfolios, highly sensitive to small changes in LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate), with the view to bringing their own claims against the implicated banks. Parties looking at bringing these claims would be well advised to keep a weather eye on two cases currently working through the courts.
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