Latest News

Twelve Month Reprieve on Construction Industry VAT Changes

The introduction of the new VAT domestic reverse charge for construction services , originally due this October, has been postponed until October 2020. The extended timeframe comes after businesses in the construction sector raised concerns that they would...

Email Footer Counts as Signature, High Court Rules

In a recent property case that will have a bearing on all contractual matters, the High Court ruled that a footer automatically appended to an email amounted to a legal signature and led to a contract for the sale of land being formed. A couple who owned...

Employee Shareholder Status Impacts Unfair Dismissal Claim

Few employees would say no if offered shares in the companies for which they work. However, as an important decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) showed, accepting such offers can in some circumstances involve the sacrifice of employment rights. ...

High Court Umpires Fierce Row Over Pharmaceuticals Company's Future

Shareholder disagreements as to the direction a company should take are generally fought out behind closed doors. However, as a High Court case concerning the future of a troubled pharmaceuticals company showed, judges are always there to act as umpires...

Packaging Patents Not Inventive Enough to be Valid

Patent protection is a valuable privilege that is only afforded to ideas and products that are genuinely novel and inventive. In a case on point, the High Court declared invalid two patents in respect of plastic food packaging on the basis that the central...

Upper Tribunal Paves Way for Former Corporate HQ's Conversion Into 114 Flats

Record employment levels mean strong demand for office space, but the need for more new homes is perhaps even more pressing. A case concerning proposals to convert an office block into 114 flats highlighted the difficulty of balancing those requirements. ...

Vegetarianism is Not a Protected Characteristic, ET Rules

People have all sorts of reasons for choosing not to eat meat, and that prompted an Employment Tribunal (ET) to rule that vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice, rather than a philosophical belief protected under the Equality Act 2010 . The case concerned a...

Can Wild Animals Ever Be Owned By Anyone? Novel High Court Ruling

It may seem obvious that no one can own a wild animal. However, in a novel case of interest to property professionals – and anglers – the High Court has ruled that there are nevertheless property rights in wild fish held in captivity in a...

Legal Landscape is Complex When Tenants Seek to Buy Freehold of Flats

Flat tenants in certain circumstances have the right to band together and acquire the freehold of the blocks in which they live. However, as a High Court decision showed , the process of doing so is replete with legal pitfalls and those who fail to take...

HMRC Threaten Investigation Over Disguised Remuneration Schemes

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand why many people don't seem to put as much effort into making profits as they do into trying to avoid paying tax. Tax avoidance is a red rag to a bull as far as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are concerned. They have...

Employers Cannot Be Forced to Re-Engage Unfairly Dismissed Workers

Can Employment Tribunals (ETs) or the courts force employers to re-engage employees who have been unfairly dismissed? In a ground-breaking decision, the Court of Appeal has answered that question in the negative ( Mackenzie v The Chancellor, Masters and...

A Contract Is What it Says

When you enter into a contract, you are agreeing to be bound by what it says, not by what you think it means. Only rarely, such as when the meaning would make no commercial sense, will the court substitute its own view of the meaning of the contract if the...

High Court Overturns Planning Decision for Bungalows Development

It may come as a surprise to many that local authorities are under no statutory obligation to give reasons for their planning decisions. However, as a High Court case concerning a residential development showed , a lack of explanation can render such...

Copycat Design Proves Expensive for Retailer

There is almost nothing more frustrating for businesses than to see their successful products imitated by rivals. However, as a High Court case showed, expert lawyers are more than capable of putting a stop to such conduct if it amounts to a breach of...

Employer Not Liable for Worker's Offensive Facebook Post

Under Section 109(1) of the Equality Act 2010 , anything done by a person in the course of their employment must be treated as also done by the employer. That is to say employers generally bear legal liability for misdeeds committed by their employees in...

Company Pays Crushing Price for Failing to File its Accounts On Time

The consequences of a company being struck off the Companies House register – even temporarily for nothing more than an administrative failure – can be catastrophic. In a case on point, a company that suffered that fate sacrificed the profits it...

Agricultural Tenancies Are Complex - Always Seek Professional Advice

When a farmer dies, close relatives are in certain circumstances entitled to succeed to any agricultural tenancies he or she held. However, strict time limits and other procedural rules apply to the exercise of that right, which is why bereavement should not...

Ripped Off By a Crooked Employee? You May Be Entitled to Tax Relief

Losing money at the hands of a crooked employee is a sadly familiar experience for many businesses, but what are the tax consequences of such deceit? The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) tackled that issue in the case of a catering supplies company whose manager...

Hospital Whistleblower Compensated for Detrimental Treatment

Workplace whistleblowers who act in the public interest by exposing wrongdoing are protected by the full force of the law. In a case on point, a hospital worker who endured detrimental treatment after making protected disclosures was awarded substantial...

Reached an Important Agreement? Get a Lawyer to Record It in Writing

Agreements are frequently reached behind closed boardroom doors, but a failure to engage a professional to record them, contemporaneously and in writing, can cause serious problems down the line. That was certainly so in one case concerning the tax...

Refused Planning Permission? You Are Entitled to Know the Reason Why

A fundamental principle of good government is that anyone on the receiving end of an adverse decision is entitled to know why it was made. In a case on point, the High Court came to the aid of a housing developer who could only speculate as to the reason...

Constructive Knowledge - Employer Defeats Claim Thanks to Reasonableness Test

Under Section 15 of the Equality Act 2010 , an employer's duty to make reasonable adjustments for an employee who is disabled is only triggered if the employer has actual knowledge or could reasonably be expected to know (has 'constructive knowledge') of...

Motor Industry Worker Who Profited From Theft of Data Ordered to Pay £25,500

In November 2018, a motor industry worker, Mustafa Kasim, was given a six-month prison sentence for accessing motorists' personal data on his employer's computer system without authorisation and selling it to rogue telemarketers. The case was brought by the...

Hotel Under Duty to Protect Guests Against Third-Party Criminal Acts

Can businesses owe a duty to protect customers on their premises from the criminal acts of others? In a test case concerning a horrific attack on three hotel guests , the High Court has ruled that, in certain circumstances, the answer to that question is...

Reasonable Endeavours Clauses Can Have Teeth

Unreasonable delay in fulfilling the terms of a contract is an unwise policy, as a recent dispute that ended up in the Court of Appeal shows. When a developer wished to build an ice-skating rink, its first priority was to secure a clear title to the...