First Company Convicted of Corporate Manslaughter Loses Appeal

diggerCotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd., which became the first company to be convicted of corporate manslaughter (under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007) in February of this year, has lost an appeal against its conviction.
 
The company was convicted following the 2008 death of geologist, Alexander Wright, 27, who died when a trench he was working in collapsed. 

Banks Give in Over PPI

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), which was sold aggressively by many of the clearing banks during the debt boomCommercial property 1110 of the 1980s and 1990s, has led to large provisions being made for losses as the banks have abandoned attempts to fight mis-selling claims.
 
Thousands of customers w ere sold PPI policies, which undertook to cover loan repayments on lo an in the event that the borrower became unemployed or fell ill and was unable to make the repayments. The policies were extremely profitable for the banks because the claim rates were very low and the policy costs were high.
 
However, following widespread complaints and successful litigation, the banks have abandoned their struggle and have earmarked more than £5 billion to meet claims.
 
 

Who is a Member of a Company?

Keeping company records up to date is not always a top priority for the directors of smaller companies. However, failing to keep the shareholders’ register up to date can have a downside if a share transfer has occurred but the new owner’s name is not entered into the register of members.

 
The problem is that under the Companies Act 2006, except in very limited circumstances, the person shown as a member in the register of members is a member and a person not shown isn’t – until the register is rectified.
 
This can have practical effects such as making notices of meetings invalid, invalidating votes of shareholders and so on and can affect, as it did in a recent case in the Supreme Court, whether or not one retains the rights attaching to shares transferred for financial purposes into the names of nominees.
 
Contact us for advice on company secretarial and company law matters.
 

More Businesses ‘Critical’

SaleThe number of businesses in the UK which are suffering from ‘significant’ or ‘critical’ financial problems on the first quarter of 2011 has risen to 186,000, according to a report by insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor. This is an increase of 26 per cent over the figure for the third quarter of 2010 and is 15 per cent more than the same quarter in 2010.
 
Another report shows a 4 per cent jump in the number of retail businesses at ‘high risk’ of insolvency and there has also been a 15 per cent increase in the number of retails using company voluntary arrangements compared with 2010.A report by accountants PwC also revealed an increase of more than 12 per cent in corporate insolvencies with retailing the worst-hit sector.
 
Things are tough in retailing and the building industry was recently identified as having had a particularly bad winter.
 

For advice on managing your trade risk, contact us.

Living standards

Institute of fiscal studies

According to figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the average family in Britain will have less disposable income this year, in real terms, than has been the case for 30 years and this apparently equates to losing £1,000.00 of buying power ion the last year. The average family is based on a couple with 2 children. The predicament is the result of a “perfect storm” of high bills, static wages, National Insurance increases and VAT increases. Just to cheer us all up further, it’s set to get worse !.

Biker Parking Challenge Fails

A motor cycle rider who  challenged Westminster Council over parking charges for motor bikes and then pursued it all the way to the Court of Appeal has seen it rejected.
Motorbike1
Warren Djanogly claimed that the introduction of roadside parking charges by the Council, by an order made in 2010, was invalid.
 
Unfortunately for him, the Court ruled that the achievement by the Council of a traffic management benefit through the introduction of the parking charge was sufficient to make the order legitimate.

Reasonable Approach Pays in Court

Keeping your head (and thereby taking a reasonable approach) when all about you are losing theirs can pay dividends in court.

In a recent case involving the break-up of a limited liability partnership (LLP), a partner who had been effectively expelled by the other members made an offer to them, in open correspondence (correspondence which is not legally privileged), that they should buy out his share in the LLP at fair market value.
 
The offer was rejected. When the case went to court, the court ordered that the ex-partner’s share should be bought out by the other members of the partnership at fair market value.
 
Because he had made the offer in open correspondence, the court ruled that the ex-partner’s costs should be settled on an ‘indemnity’ basis, which means he will receive approximately 90 per cent of his costs from the losers. Normally, the winner can expect to receive about 70 per cent of their costs from the loser.
The courts generally react favourably to litigants who are shown to have tried to adopt a reasonable approach.
 
We can help you negotiate a successful outcome to your commercial dispute.

Trade Mark Infringement Can be Based on Sound

Infringement of a trade mark need not be a visual issue: a trade mark can be infringed when the sound of the trade mark is infringed..

 
The case arose when the international toy manufacturer Hasbro alleged that its trade mark ‘PLAY-DOH’ had been infringed by a company selling ‘Play Dough’, an edible dough for children. The marks were not similar in appearance, nor were the products physically identical.
 
The defendants argued that PLAY-DOH had become synonymous with modelling clay and was thus so generic in meaning that it had lost its distinctiveness. It would not therefore qualify for trade mark protection. They also argued that if the words PLAY-DOH could be extended to cover ‘Play Dough’, then they lacked ‘distinctive character’, which is a necessity for a trade mark to be enforceable.
 
The court rejected both arguments.
 
It is good sense to make sure that you research trade marks before you start to use any trading style.We can assist you to make sure that you do not infringe others’ trade marks, and help you to protect your own trade marks and the rights attached to them.
 

Claim Procedure Reforms Will Affect Smaller Claims

 Stafford CourtWith all the hoop-la about the proposed change to the ‘no win, no fee’ regime, another set of proposals, which may well be of greater importance for many people has slipped under the radar of the popular press.

 
A new consultation paper proposes changes to the limits on claims to be heard by the lower courts. The proposals include:
 
  • the limit of a claim which can be dealt with in the small claims court is to be increased from the current £5,000 to £15,000; and
  • the minimum limit for a case to be sent to the High Court is to be raised from £25,000 to £100,000; and
 
In addition, the online system for settlement of smaller road traffic accident cases is to be adapted for use in all small personal injury cases up to £50,000 in value and trialled for use in claims for clinical negligence against the NHS.

Is Your Intellectual Property Protected?

Today is World Intellectual Property Day and the global members of the World Intellectual Property Office have joined forces to help raise awareness of how patents, copyright, trade marks and designs affect everyday lives. This year’s theme is ‘Designing the Future’.

 
Innovators and creative minds across the country are being encouraged to protect their inventions and ideas to help design the future. Designs are about the way an object looks and developers can invest a lot of time and money into making sure their designs are fit for purpose.
 
Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said, “Designs touch almost every part of our day to day lives, from the chairs we sit on to the phones we use. Registering your design with the Intellectual Property Office can offer protection against unauthorised copies and imitations.
 
“We are keen to encourage businesses to get their designs protected to allow them to reap the potential financial rewards of their innovations. Many people are unaware that you can register a design for just £60, granting exclusive rights that are renewable for up to 25 years.
 
“Today is about raising awareness of the importance to businesses of protecting their innovative ideas. Investing in their creativity and ideas now can help shape growth and success in the future.”
 
Further information on World Intellectual Property Day can be found on the IPO website at www.ipo.gov.uk.
 
If you have an invention, trade mark, original design or the practical application of a good idea that you wish to protect, contact us.