Latest updates

Too little, too late? IR35 changes announced
Lewis Silkin
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Kingdom
  • 26 February 2020

In a welcome but late move, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed that the imminent IR35 reform will apply only to supplies of labour provided on or after 6 April 2020. With less than two months to go before the change takes effect, many businesses will consider HMRC's announcement and its recently issued detailed guidance too little too late as they grapple with the significant administrative burden and cost implications of the reform.

Online harms: government publishes response to consultation on proposals for internet regulation
Bird & Bird LLP
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • United Kingdom
  • 21 February 2020

The government recently published its initial response to the public consultation on the Online Harms White Paper, in the first substantive update since its publication in April 2019. The consultation response is described as an indication of the direction of travel and it is clear that the policy development process is at an early stage. Certain things have been clarified, while much remains up for grabs. The government's full response to the consultation is expected in Spring 2020.

Cryptocurrency treated as property in freezing order
Allen & Overy LLP
  • Banking
  • United Kingdom
  • 21 February 2020

The High Court recently granted a freezing order over £1.5 million worth of bitcoin and ethereum cryptocurrency against a trading platform and its directors in only the second known example of the court treating cryptocurrency as property. This decision will provide further reassurance of the English courts' willingness to deal with cryptocurrency as property.

Introduction of paid parental bereavement leave confirmed
Lewis Silkin
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Kingdom
  • 19 February 2020

The government has finalised the legislation to implement an entitlement to two weeks' paid bereavement leave for working parents who lose a child aged under 18. The new right will come into force with effect on 6 April 2020. In readiness, all employers should review their policies and practices and amend them as necessary to reflect the new rights.

Franchising, Brexit and trademarks – what now?
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 18 February 2020

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) recently published a short, reassuring update about what happens to IP rights during the transition period following the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union. The UKIPO has assured that it will be business as usual, but there are some key points of which franchisors should take note.

Equitable compensation for breach of fiduciary duty: a question of loss?
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 18 February 2020

A director who extracted money from a company by way of sham invoices may have a defence to an equitable compensation claim for misappropriation of the company's funds. The facts in this case may test the willingness of the trial court (due to hear the matter later in 2020) to develop the equitable remedies for breach of fiduciary duty.

OGA launches mediation pilot for resolving UKCS licence disputes
CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • United Kingdom
  • 17 February 2020

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) recently launched a year-long UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) mediation pilot, which aims to test the extent to which mediation can assist in resolving disputes involving licences in the UKCS. The OGA has consistently emphasised that it would prefer to exercise its influencing rather than its regulatory role in assisting the industry to achieve the Maximising Economic Recovery Strategy for the United Kingdom, and sees mediation as a potentially helpful option.

Data protection post-Brexit: a game of 3D chess
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • United Kingdom
  • 14 February 2020

The year 2019 was one of high-octane political drama for the United Kingdom, culminating in its withdrawal from the European Union. While there was no cliff edge on 31 January 2020, there are significant challenges ahead, including in the cross-cutting area of data protection, which could affect many UK businesses.

IR35 reforms from April 2020
Lewis Silkin
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Kingdom
  • 12 February 2020

The proposed IR35 reform represents the biggest change to employment tax for decades. Until now, businesses have been able to engage contractors using personal services companies (or other intermediaries) without having to give much thought to the individual contractor's status for tax purposes. The proposed changes mean that businesses must review how they engage with contractors ahead of April 2020.

Lenders face more allegations about their actions on restructuring
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 11 February 2020

Representatives of a lender on a board will not automatically impose directors' duties on the lender, but they may apply where a director's specific instructions have led directly to a breach of fiduciary duty. The High Court recently explored this issue in an appeal in the case of Standish v Royal Bank of Scotland.

Beware of Quincecare: update from Supreme Court
Squire Patton Boggs
  • Company & Commercial
  • United Kingdom
  • 10 February 2020

In 2018 the Court of Appeal rejected a stockbrocker's appeal against the High Court's decision that it owed a client a Quincecare duty. In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's decision. The client's Quincecare claim was held not to have been defeated by illegality as, in the circumstances, the fraud of a sole shareholder of a company should not be attributed to the company itself.

Oil and gas: English and Scottish courts define limits of lawful protest
CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • United Kingdom
  • 10 February 2020

The past 12 months have seen increased efforts by environmental activists to disrupt the business of oil and gas companies (or those associated with them) and draw attention to their campaigns against the use and production of fossil fuels. Public statements by groups such as Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion suggest that this trend is likely to continue. Two recent cases provide some indication of the extent of any protection which may be sought from the courts in the event of disruption.

Compatibility of liquidation and adjudication
Taylor Wessing
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • United Kingdom
  • 07 February 2020

Generally speaking, the purpose of adjudication is to speed up cash flow and allow the speedy resolution of disputes, while the purpose of liquidation is to resolve the final accounting position between two parties in respect of all of their dealings. As a result, there are often incompatibilities between the two regimes. A recent Technology and Construction Court decision provides the latest judicial guidance on the ability of a company in liquidation to refer a dispute to adjudication.

Food and drink businesses: are you Brexit ready?
Burges Salmon LLP
  • Product Regulation & Liability
  • United Kingdom
  • 06 February 2020

After more than three years of 'will we, won't we?' uncertainty, 31 January 2020 marked the day that the United Kingdom officially left the European Union; however, this is just the beginning of the real process of change. The rest of 2020 will see the United Kingdom transition out of the European Union and there are currently still more questions than answers about what the legal, regulatory and trading landscape will look like for UK food and drink businesses on 1 January 2021.

Significant new guidance on harassment from EHRC
Lewis Silkin
  • Employment & Benefits
  • United Kingdom
  • 05 February 2020

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published substantial new guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work, setting out detailed recommendations that employers should consider following to prevent and deal with such behaviour. The guidance puts the onus on employers to be more inquisitive about what is going on in their workplace, rather than simply having policies and dealing with complaints.

Bitcoin is 'property' and can therefore be subject of proprietary injunction
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 04 February 2020

Following recent case law on the matter, the High Court has found that bitcoin can be 'property' and can therefore be the subject of a proprietary injunction. In reaching its conclusion, the court adopted the detailed analysis of the issue set out in the UK Jurisdictional Task Force's November 2019 Legal Statement on Crypto-Assets and Smart Contracts, thereby providing a far more detailed judicial basis for the finding than found in previous cases.

High Court grants anti-suit injunction after finding that parties to insurance policy had agreed to arbitration
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
  • Insurance
  • United Kingdom
  • 04 February 2020

The High Court has continued an anti-suit injunction against a defendant, having been satisfied to a high degree of probability that the parties had agreed to submit their dispute to London arbitration. The central question was one of contractual interpretation: whether, on a true interpretation of the relevant excess insurance policy, the 'service of suit' clause entitled the insured to pursue its substantive claim against its insurers before a US court or whether it had to arbitrate.

Are milestone payments an adequate payment mechanism in construction contracts?
Fenwick Elliott Solicitors
  • Construction
  • United Kingdom
  • 03 February 2020

The Court of Appeal recently considered whether milestone payments in a construction contract constituted an adequate mechanism for payment in terms of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, as amended. The decision is a helpful reminder that where standard payment terms are replaced by bespoke amendments as to stage or milestone payments, it is imperative to ensure that they are properly drafted.

Collapse of Thomas Cook: BEIS letter of recommendations
Squire Patton Boggs
  • Company & Commercial
  • United Kingdom
  • 03 February 2020

In November 2019, in the looming shadow of the collapse of Thomas Cook Group plc, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee published a letter of recommendations to Secretary of State for the Department of BEIS Andrea Leadsom. The letter follows BEIS's inquiry into the collapse of Thomas Cook and the factors that led to the global travel group's downfall and covers a range of recommendations relating to corporate governance, audit reform and executive pay and bonuses.

Bitcoin is 'property' and can therefore be subject of proprietary injunction
RPC
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • United Kingdom
  • 31 January 2020

Following recent case law on the matter, the High Court has found that bitcoin can be 'property' and can therefore be the subject of a proprietary injunction. In reaching its conclusion, the court adopted the detailed analysis of the issue set out in the UK Jurisdictional Task Force's November 2019 Legal Statement on Crypto-Assets and Smart Contracts, thereby providing a far more detailed judicial basis for the finding than found in previous cases.

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