Derby law firm Flint Bishop has fought off tough competition to be named winner of the ‘Award for Innovation’ at the Halsbury Legal Awards 2013; the second time in recent years the firm has won a national innovation award.
The Halsbury Awards are organised by global publishing giant Reed Business Information and celebrate excellence in the law and those that give a great contribution to the legal sector.
Each award was assessed by a highly acclaimed panel of judges that included the President of the Law Society, the Chairman of the Bar Council of England, the Senior Vice President of Commercial Legal Counsel at VISA as well as several leading professors. Well-known TV actor and comedian Hugh Dennis presented the award to Flint Bishop’s managing partner, Ken Dixon.
Ken Dixon says: “This is fantastic news for us. I believe that law firms today, more than ever before, cannot afford to stand still – which is why innovation and the development of new services are so important.
“In fact, in an age of technological advancements and changing client expectations, I believe innovation is the only way forward.
“I am proud that we can show innovation in so many of our practice areas such as wills and probate, conveyancing, employment, debt recovery and licensing.
“We always try to give our clients the best legal advice and client service possible. Our client research suggests we do, but it’s always nice to get impartial proof too.
“Not only does this continue what has been a great start to the year for us, it really highlights the hard work and commitment from all of our people.”
Flint Bishop’s commitment to business innovation has led to it winning numerous accolades in recent years, including the ‘Mould Breaking firm of The Year Award’ for innovation and runners-up status in the MPF Awards for ‘Best Use of Technology to Enhance the Client Experience’.
For more details on Flint Bishop and its legal services contact 01332 340211 or visit www.flintbishop.co.uk
As an employment lawyer, I am often asked “What is parental leave and how long is it for?”
It is important to remember that unpaid parental leave is in addition to Statutory maternity and paternity leave and pay. So employers obviously need to be aware of how much unpaid leave their staff are entitled to when they become parents and when they can take this leave.
To work this out, employers need to be clear on four main points:
- Which employees are eligible for parental leave?
- How much leave are they entitled to?
- How much notice do they need to give you?
- Can you postpone their parental leave?
Which employees are eligible for parental leave?
Parents can take unpaid parental leave so long as they fulfil all of the following criteria:
- they’ve been employed by you for more than a year
- they’re named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate
- they have or expect to have parental responsibility
- they’re not self-employed, an agency worker or contractor
- they’re not a foster parent (unless they’ve secured parental responsibility through the courts)
- their child is under 5 years old (or 18 in special circumstances)
How much leave are they entitled to?
As of 08 March 2013, any employees you have that are entitled to take unpaid parental leave can take a maximum of 18 weeks unpaid leave, for each child.
The leave should be taken up to the child’s fifth birthday, except if the child is adopted, in which case it should be taken up to their 18th birthday or the 5th anniversary of their adoption, whichever comes first. Special rules also apply where a child qualifies for the Disability Living Allowance, when parents can take the 18 weeks any time up until the child’s 18th birthday.
How much notice to staff need to give you?
Your employees have to give you 21 days’ notice before their leave period begins. If they or their partner are having a baby or adopting, the notice period is 21 days before the week the child is expected.
Can you postpone your staff’s parental leave?
Sometimes an employee can want to take leave at a difficult time for your business. In some cases you will be able to postpone parental leave but you will have to have a very good reason. For example, if their absence would cause significant difficulties for the running of the business or a key part of it over that period.
However, you cannot postpone leave if:
- the father or partner is taking it straight after the birth or adoption
- the employee would then lose some of their leave, for example, if it meant postponing it until after the child’s 5th birthday
If you want to postpone your staff’s parental leave:
- you must write to them within 7 days of their request and explain why
- you must suggest a new start date within 6 months of the original date requested
- you must offer them the same amount of leave as they requested
If you still have questions around what is parental leave and how long is it for, feel free to call me, Robert Tice, for a confidential chat on 01332 226 149. I’m Flint Bishop’s Partner and Head of Employment Law so I’ll be able to advise you on the right policies and procedures for your needs.
I am often approached by clients concerned about the implications of copyright. This might be because they have produced something they want to copyright. Or they may want to copy or play someone else’s work, perhaps as part of a business presentation.
The simple fact is that failure to respect someone’s copyright can lead to legal action against you and even criminal prosecution. So it’s important to understand:
a. what copyright is; b. what you need to do to copyright your work; and c. what penalties you could face if you copy someone else’s work.
What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of intellectual property. Intellectual Property protects the results of our intellectual efforts. Copyright protects certain original works at the point at which they become written down, recorded or otherwise fixed in some way. It gives the creator of a specific work the right to prevent anyone else from copying or reproducing it without their permission.
The works that are protected by copyright include:
• literary works such as novels or computer programmes • artistic works such as paintings, illustrations and photographs • dramatic works such as dance • musical works • broadcasts • films • sound recordings • typographical arrangements of published editions
How can you copyright your work?
There is no process for “copyrighting” your work. The right arises as soon as you put your work down on paper or in another fixed form. There is no need to register the right although you might wish to protect your interests by applying the © symbol to your work and keeping proof that the work was created by you and at what point in time.
If you have produced a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work it will be protected by copyright for your lifetime plus 70 years after your death. This means that nobody will have the right to copy your work or a significant part of it for that time.
If anyone does want to copy all or part of your work they will have to seek permission from you as the author or from someone to whom you have transferred your rights in the work.
What are the implications of copyright infringement?
Most uses of someone else’s copyrighted work will require the copyright owner’s permission. So if you do not get the consent of the copyright owner you will be infringing copyright if you:
• copy a work • issue copies of it to the public • rent or lend it to the public • perform or show it to the public • communicate it to the public • import an infringing copy • possess or deal with an infringing copy • provide the means for making an infringing copy
You will also be committing a criminal offence if you deliberately infringe copyright for commercial purposes, for example by selling pirate films.
If you infringe copyright, the copyright owner could be entitled to an injunction to prevent the unauthorised use of the work and damages for loss. If you commit a criminal copyright offence, this could be punishable by imprisonment.
Legal advice on copyright issues
Do you need to defend your copyright against someone who has copied your work without permission? Or do you need to find out how to use someone else’s work without breaching copyright?
If you are concerned about the implications of copyright, contact me, Katie Cooper, or one of our other commercial lawyers on 01332 340211.
As an employment law solicitor with Flint Bishop, I often get asked about the TUPE regulations for employees. Unfortunately, The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) is a notoriously tricky area of employment law. So it is no surprise if you are not 100% sure of where you stand.
That’s why I have put together this video on TUPE to give you some clear and straightforward advice on some of the most common questions I get asked. In particular, I look at how TUPE regulations for employees relate to service provision changes.
A service provision change covers 3 situations:
1. When you outsource for the first time.
2. When you change external contractor.
3. When you bring certain elements previously outsourced, back in house.
The Government is currently in consultation about removing the service provision change from the protection of TUPE. But, as with all Government consultations, it looks like it will be some time before this is confirmed and implemented.
In the meantime, as an employer, you will need to understand how the current law works. So my TUPE video should give you some useful advice in this area.
It will it help you avoid the legal pitfalls surrounding the application of TUPE. It will also ensure you know how and when it applies in practice, so you can comply with the obligations on you. What is more, it will also help you understand when a particular issue may not be related to TUPE, and what action you should take in this situation.
Still unsure about TUPE regulations for employees?
I hope the video answers any questions you have about employment law issues surrounding TUPE regulations for employees. But if you need further advice or assistance, please don’t hesitate to call me direct on 01332 226 149.
The Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1st July 2011. It aims to prevent bribery by modernising and simplifying the law and allowing the Justice system to deal effectively with those offences.
The Act affects businesses registered or doing businesses in the UK, individuals who live in the UK or British Citizens. It applies to both the public and private sectors.
People can have many different ideas about what constitutes bribery, but the Act itself defines ‘bribery’ as “giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage them to perform their functions or activities improperly or to reward them for doing so”.
The Act creates various offences including:
- Promising or giving a bribe
- Taking or requesting a bribe
- Bribing a public official
- Failure to prevent bribery
The Bribery Act Corporate Offence
The Act also creates a corporate offence. As a result, commercial organisations can now be liable for failing to prevent acts of bribery committed by individuals who work for them.
In short, a business can now be prosecuted if a person associated with the business bribes another person to obtain business or some other advantage for the organisation.
Under the Act an ‘associated person’ is anyone who performs a service for the organisation such as an employer, agent or contractor.
The offence can be committed by any business registered in the UK or carrying out all or part of its business in the UK.
Penalties for breaching The Bribery Act
There are severe penalties for businesses that get involved in bribery. These include:
- Unlimited fines
- Debarment from public contracts
- Personal liability for senior officers
So how can businesses protect themselves?
It is a corporate defence for a business to show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
Unfortunately, The Bribery Act does not explain what it means by ‘adequate procedures’. However, the Ministry of Justice has provided some guidance by suggesting that businesses follow six principles to help them avoid bribery.
These principles are:
- Proportionate procedures
- Top level commitment
- Risk assessment
- Due diligence
- Monitoring and review
For more details on these principles you can click here to view a video on The Bribery Act.
Flint Bishop’s commercial lawyers can advise you on how to ensure you comply with the above principles. In particular, you should look to:
- Review your policies and procedures
- Train your staff
- Include anti-bribery provisions in your contracts
- Carry out due diligence
What about Corporate Hospitality?
This is an area which businesses seem particularly concerned about? Can they take a client out to a meal or a football match? Can they send Christmas gifts or host a client Golf Day?
The good news is that so long as any corporate hospitality you provide is reasonable and proportionate you will not be in breach of the law. However, you should not engage in hospitality which is:
- Excessively or unusually generous
- Designed to influence a decision maker to act improperly
Trademarking a name, whether for your business, product or service, is very important for building brand awareness and differentiating you in your marketplace.
That is because once you have trademarked your name, nobody has a right to copy it and use it for their own brand image.
You can trademark the words in your name as part of a particular design, often referred to as a logo or a brand.
Trademarking a name for business
Your distinctive trade mark will come to represent your brand values and your customers’ expectations of their experience when using your business, products or services.
As such, it has an innate value to your business and should be protected. If not protected as a trademark, it can be open to abuse by competitors wanting to exploit some of your own success.
After trademarking a name you also need to think about how you will contract out your intellectual property rights so that other business partners can use it.
For example, if you are looking to become involved in a joint venture with another company and they want to use your trademark to help them sell your products in another country, you will need to think about how to do this without putting your brand at risk.
Trademarking a name for certification and membership
If you are a trade association, government department or technical institute looking for a trade mark that denotes a particular standard or characteristic then you will need to register what is called a Certification Mark.
Trade associations also need a brand which members can use to demonstrate their membership. For this, you will need to register what is known as a Collective Mark.
When your trade mark cannot be registered:
• It is not distinctive i.e. it does not distinguish your goods and services from others in the marketplace • It describes your products or services in any way, for example, their quality or value • It has become customary in your market sector • It is offensive or against the law • It is three dimensional, shaped in whole or in part like the products you are interested in, has a function or adds value to your products • It is a specially protected emblem such as a State emblem or hallmark • It is deceptive, for example, as to quality, suitability, etc
How do I register a trade mark?
As commercial solicitors we can advise you on how to register your trade mark in the UK and the EU. We can also advise you as to whether we think your trade mark is acceptable before you apply for registration. And we can check to see whether your trademark is already registered by someone else.
Just as importantly, we can also ensure your trade mark and any of your other intellectual property rights are protected in your commercial contracts with suppliers, clients and business partners.
Derby Cathedral Quarter, which has just embarked on its second five-year programme as a Business Improvement District (BID), has appointed solicitor Ian Beardmore as Board chairman.
Ian is Senior Partner at Flint Bishop LLP in St Michael’s Lane which, with more than 200 staff, is one of the Cathedral Quarter’s largest employers.
Ian chairs the Cathedral Quarter Board which is made up of representatives of local businesses and statutory partners who are responsible for the strategic direction and governance of the BID. Day to day responsibilities for driving forward initiatives then lies with pfbb UK LLP (the BID’s contract manager) and the Management Group (which is supported by a series of working groups) whose members are all from local businesses and organisations.
Cathedral Quarter businesses voted recently to renew the area’s BID status and a programme has started this month on improving the visitor experience in the area, promoting the strengths of different business sectors and supporting business growth and investment.
Ian, who has been involved in the Cathedral Quarter BID since its inception in 2007, said “Cathedral Quarter Board members and the Management Group give their time to the BID voluntarily and the success over the past five years in establishing this area as a quality destination is testament to their hard work, energy and passion for this distinctive area.
As a Derbyshire person born and bred and having spent the majority of my working life in Derby, I am extremely proud of the Cathedral Quarter which is a great place to work and to visit and I am convinced that the BID has been a major factor in helping businesses to not only survive but develop in this difficult economic climate. It has galvanised people to work together and has given us a strong voice to tackle issues that we collectively face.
“As we embark on a second five-year BID programme, I am confident that the business plan we have in place is robust and achievable and will enable us to build on the firm foundations that have already been laid which can only be good news for all of the businesses within the Cathedral Quarter district.”
Family breakdown is always a sad time, but there are ways to ensure your divorce is as trauma-free as possible for both you and any children involved.
By following these few simple tips, you can help reduce the stress and unpleasantness that can hamper divorce proceedings and cause unnecessary pain.
1. Take your time
Unless one or both of you own assets in foreign jurisdictions, it is unlikely that you will need to rush your divorce. People often feel very emotional in the wake of a separation so trying to deal with matters amicably and rationally at this point can understandably be hard. As a result, it is best to wait a while before you start divorce proceedings. Talk to an expert divorce lawyer and give yourself time to get over the initial shock and upset before you make any firm decisions on how to proceed.
2. Don’t get mired in principle
You might feel entitled to more than your partner wishes to give or you might want to fight it out over who owns a particular asset. Stop to consider the emotional and financial cost of digging your heals in. You should certainly look to protect your own interests, but beware of engaging in a costly tug of war over things of little relative value.
3. Miminise stress to children
Remember that anger and resentment between parents can be very distressing to children. As adults, it is down to you and your partner to make decisions that prioritise your children’s welfare.
4. Choose the right lawyer
Find a divorce lawyer that understands the outcomes you want from your divorce, thoroughly investigates your partner’s assets and is skilled in standing their ground to defend your interests. If you are facing a high value divorce, you will need a lawyer with experience of dealing with more complicated divorces involving shares, businesses, properties and, where relevant, foreign assets.
5. Don’t Do It Yourself
Beware of being tempted by online DIY divorce kits that seem inexpensive. You are not likely to get professional advice tailored to your needs, which could end up costing you much more in the long run. In fact, lawyers’ fees are very reasonable for straightforward divorces and their advice is invaluable in more complex divorce cases.
If you would like a discussion about your own situation call Flint Bishop’s Head of Family Law Kirpal Bidmead and her team of family solicitors on 01332 226174.
Some links you might find useful:
Grounds for divorce – https://www.gov.uk/divorce/grounds-for-divorce
In an ideal world, all suppliers would receive payment upfront for the goods they supply and thereby eliminate the risk of not being paid. In reality, though, we know that you sometimes need to supply your goods on credit.
If customers don’t pay you should be able to bring a claim to recover the debt but what if you want to avoid legal proceedings or it turns out that the customer is insolvent and not worth suing? This is where retention of title clauses come in.
In its simplest form, a retention of title clause is a clause in a contract which states that until the supplier has been paid in full for goods supplied, those goods will remain the supplier’s property. This clause should be supplemented by other rights and obligations such as:
• an obligation on the customer to safeguard and insure the goods • a right for you to enter the customer’s premises to repossess the goods • a list of events (such as non payment or insolvency) that will trigger the right to repossess the goods
If you are supplying goods, you should include a retention of title clause in your terms and conditions.
How well do retention of title clauses work in practice?
There are limits to the effectiveness of retention of title clauses. For example:
• Retention of title clauses only work if they are incorporated into the contract with the customer – in other words the customer has to agree to the clause, either expressly or by implication (for instance because they have been sent your standard terms and proceeded with the purchase) • If the goods you supply are perishable or have a fluctuating value a retention of title clause is of little value • If the customer is put into administration, the clause will be difficult to enforce
The effects of administration
The purpose of administration is for the administrator to try to rescue a business as a going concern. In order to achieve this, relevant legislation prevents third parties exercising their legal rights against a company in administration without the consent of the administrator or permission of the court. In other words, you cannot simply repossess your goods if the customer is in administration.
Maximising your right to recover your goods from a customer in administration
If your customer enters administration, there are things you can do to maximise your chance of recovery. Strictly speaking, the administrator should not dispose of your goods without your consent. If they do, you will have a claim against them unless they can show that they have reasonable grounds to believe that they were entitled to dispose of them. For this reason, you should notify your customer and the administrator as soon as possible that you consider the goods to be your property.
Steps to take
If you are concerned about not getting paid for goods you have supplied you should:
• Review your terms and conditions to make sure they include a retention of title clause • Make sure that the terms and conditions are incorporated into your contracts with customers – ideally you should get your customers to confirm acceptance of your terms • Keep an eye on your customer and if an event triggering your right to repossess happens, exercise your rights immediately. • If your customer enters administration, make sure you tell the administrator that the goods have not been paid for and remain your property
If you would like further advice on retention of title clauses or on other ways that you can use your terms and conditions to protect you please contact Katie Cooper on 01332 340211 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past twelve months, Derby-based law firm, Flint Bishop, has advised on a number of multi-million pound commercial property deals.
Significant deals have included the planning, construction, letting and sale of commercial property for client, Clowes Developments (UK) Ltd, at the Castlewood Business Park at Junction 28 of M1.
These projects have included the construction of a 500,000ft² warehouse distribution facility for the Co-op, a 60,000ft² bespoke unit for Meridian Lightweight Technologies and the letting of 40,000ft² of prime production space to local engineering company, Midland Aerospace.
Heather Dixon, Partner and Commercial Property solicitor at Flint Bishop says: “The East Midlands has always had a strong engineering and manufacturing base and Clowes Developments saw that Castlewood was a perfect location for local firms looking to expand and relocate to bespoke industrial units. It is important these companies stay in the area to keep their skilled workforce and attract other businesses in the supply chain”.
However, Flint Bishop’s commercial property pipeline extends far beyond the East Midlands, ranging from a food store development to be occupied by Waitrose in Alton, Hampshire and the development of a harbour for mixed retail in Cornwall to a food, retail and leisure development in the North East.
Heather says: “Several of our clients have a strong portfolio of development sites and have been active in acquiring new sites. There are lots of ambitious projects in the pipeline and it’s exciting to be involved from the beginning”.
Well known in Derby for its expertise in commercial property law, Flint Bishop’s reputation was further endorsed last year when its commercial property solicitors, Heather Dixon, Ian Beardmore and John Taylor, achieved the coveted ‘Leaders in their field’ status in the 2013 edition of leading legal directory Chambers & Partners.
Senior partner and Head of Commercial Property, Ian Beardmore says:” The size and complexity of deals we have been involved in over many years has helped us achieve ‘Leaders in the field’ status.
“In the last couple of years our projects have included a disposal for Land Registry of their London Headquarters for around £37.5 million and a £70 million deal for CWC Group involving a 1million sq.ft lease of distribution space to Marks & Spencer Plc.”
Readers interested in commercial property legal advice can contact Heather Dixon on 01332 226 137 or contact Ian Beardmore on 01332 226125.