The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently publicised the disqualification of three individuals from acting as directors as a consequence of their company's involvement in an infringement of UK competition law. In view of the CMA's commitment to enforcement actions and to ensuring that directors are held personally responsible for competition law compliance, individuals and organisations should, among other things, proactively consider the extent of any potential exposure that they may face.
The acquisition of a minority shareholding (which satisfies the jurisdictional criteria under the UK merger control regime) without obtaining clearance presents a range of legal and commercial risks for parties, including that the Competition and Markets Authority could ultimately order the acquisition to be undone. This article highlights some ways for parties to identify and understand the extent of the risks of an acquisition.
The Competition and Markets Authority can open an investigation and impose initial enforcement orders where it has reasonable grounds to suspect that two or more enterprises have ceased to be distinct. This includes circumstances in which an acquirer purchases only a minority shareholding in the target because, under the UK merger control regime, two or more enterprises cease to be distinct where they are brought under common ownership or common control.
Where the Competition Market Authority (CMA) opens an investigation into a completed transaction, it will generally impose an initial enforcement order (IEO). In addition, the CMA can impose IEOs in the context of planned transactions, but anticipates that it will do so relatively rarely in practice. In the context of a completed transaction, an IEO aims to ensure that the acquired business continues to compete with the acquiring business and is maintained as a going concern during the course of the CMA's investigation.
Under the UK merger control regime, while parties can notify transactions and obtain clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) before completion, there is no legal requirement to do so. However, if parties do not obtain clearance before completion, the CMA can still investigate. Therefore, a completed transaction is potentially at risk of investigation during the four-month statutory period.
The Technology and Construction Solicitors' Association recently launched a low-value disputes (LVDs) adjudication service, which is being run on a pilot basis until November 2019. The LVDs service aims to give parties that wish to refer disputes for fixed amounts of up to £100,000 (excluding value added tax and interest) to adjudication greater certainty as to the costs involved.
The continuing development of robotics and AI is a potential game changer for the construction industry and may help to resolve (or at least improve) skills shortages and poor productivity rates. However, this technological future will also bring new risk profiles to construction contracts and additional contractual provisions to deal with matters such as IP rights, data protection, confidentiality, health and safety and cyber risk. Perhaps the real question is how this technology will develop and what its impact will be onsite.
In light of the discussion and hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), this article considers AI and construction law in the context of risk and contract management, as well as a number of existing technologies which could assist in this respect. With greater collaboration between lawyers and clients, AI can bring greater efficiencies and efficacies to contract generation, review, analysis and management processes.
In 2017 the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) finally unveiled the Second Edition of the 1999 Rainbow Suite, Red, Yellow and Silver Books. This article examines how the FIDIC form deals with time and includes an appendix detailing the changes made to Clause 8, the primary clause which deals with time or 'Commencement, Delays and Suspension' from the original 1999 contract.
Certifiers hold a key role in construction contracts. Certificates, statements and decisions issued by certifiers can have a huge impact on cash flow. Their actions can also provide a recipe for disputes where the certifier is viewed as, or is, one-sided or biased. So, what are the basic laws governing certification and what can be done when something goes wrong in the process?
The Takeover Panel recently published a panel statement which provides helpful guidance on the factors that it will take into consideration when determining whether a person should be cold-shouldered. Cold-shouldering is the most serious disciplinary power available to the panel and has rarely been used – until now.
Two recent High Court of Justice decisions provide guidance on the interpretation of provisions customarily included in sale and purchase agreements for the acquisition of private companies or businesses. In the first decision, the court considered whether the provisions of a purchase price procedure were conditions precedent. In the second decision, the court considered the scope of a restrictive covenant in an employment agreement and its impact on sale and purchase agreements.
The High Court of Justice recently considered two disputes regarding breaches of warranties arising from the acquisitions of private companies. The decisions affirm the orthodoxy that the measure of damages for breach of warranty included in a sale and purchase agreement for the sale of shares is the diminution in the value of the shares purchased but also sound a warning to sellers that have struck a poor economic bargain.
Since June 2019, Universities Superannuation Scheme and Macquarie have been engaged in a competitive takeover battle for KCOM (a telecoms company). As was the case for the recent Sky takeover, it proceeded to an auction. However, instead of the parties agreeing to their own set of rules for the auction, the Takeover Panel's default auction rules were used, making it the first time that they have been used for a UK takeover.
The Takeover Panel recently published a revised version of the Takeover Code to reflect amendments relating to the response statement to its October 2018 consultation on asset valuations and the Financial Conduct Authority's announcement that it will phase out the United Kingdom Listing Authority name. In addition, the panel recently published a rule-making instrument concerning the response statement to its consultation on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union.
The Serious Fraud Office's guidance on self-reporting suggests that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is now turning to companies themselves to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. The guidance states that prosecutors will assess whether a self-reporting corporate has been genuinely proactive. Critical to such an assessment is whether the corporate has provided sufficient information about its operations, including making witnesses available and disclosing the details of any internal investigations.
Despite the dominance of Brexit, employment issues are one of the main election battlegrounds for all of the major political parties. There is a particular focus on current hot topics, including insecure work and the gig economy, the gender (and other) pay gaps and new mechanisms for enforcing employment rights. This article covers the key employment measures that have been proposed by the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Scottish National Party.
The Court of Appeal has refused an application by British Airways plc for an injunction to restrain strike action by airline pilots, thereby ruling that the trade union provided sufficient detail as to the categories of employee to be balloted under the statutory rules. The ruling provides useful clarification for unions and employers when they are respectively drafting and supervising industrial action ballot notices.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that judges are workers under whistleblowing legislation and are thus protected from being treated badly for making a protected disclosure. In the case at hand, the court agreed that the judge did not obviously fall within the definition of a 'worker' because she did not work under a contract, which would mean that she was not protected by whistleblowing laws. However, the court decided that this failed to protect her human rights – specifically, the right to freedom of expression.
Confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements have become a topic of significant interest because of how they can be used to prevent employees from reporting allegations of sexual harassment or other similar misconduct. The government recently published its response to a consultation on the regulation of confidentiality clauses, which sets out a number of proposals for new legislation in this area.
A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case clearly underlines that, on a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) transfer, new employers must ensure that all records kept by the transferor in relation to the national minimum wage are transferred when it takes over the employees (especially as such records are likely to be held electronically). The transferor's refusal or failure to provide the records should be dealt with by way of indemnities or other contractual provisions in the transfer documentation.