This e-newsletter is provided free of charge to business clients and contacts of Reynolds Parry Jones.
Its purpose is to briefly inform readers of topical legal developments so that business owners and managers may be made aware of issues which may affect their businesses.
Topics are listed as succinct headings. A click on any which appear relevant or interesting will reveal a short summary description which should confirm or otherwise the relevance to your business.
For most items a further click will reveal a checklist which will provide further details and, if relevant, advise further appropriate actions for your business. Here you will also find the appropriate Reynolds Parry Jones contact if you need further explanation or action.
A High Court decision illustrates the importance to employers of having effective restrictive covenants, appropriately drafted to an employee's role, to protect their business. The restrictive covenant in this case stated:
"During your employment with Customer Systems (CS) and for a period of one year afterwards you undertake not to be employed directly or indirectly by any present or past customer of CS with which you have been personally involved in the course of your employment by CS."
The court held that the covenant relied on by the employer was unenforceable. Its 12-month duration was considered too long, as there was no time limit on the interval between the employee's involvement with a customer and the employee leaving the business. The inclusion of past customers without any limit of time was unreasonable, as was the absence of any time limit on the employee's previous involvement with the customer.
This checklist explains what restrictive covenants are, when they are likely to be enforceable and how they can be used in employment contracts to protect businesses' interests.
The Court of Appeal has provided a useful practical illustration of the difference between the rescission of a contract and its discharge by breach, and the impact the distinction can have on the amount of damages that a claimant can recover.
The court held that rescission was unavailable when a seller failed to comply with his contractual obligations to lay new, separately metered, electricity and mains water supplies to a property within six months after completion. However, the buyer was entitled to accept the seller's repudiatory breach and treat the contract as at an end.
The buyer was entitled to recover damages for the losses he had suffered as a result of the seller's breaches, but was not entitled to be put back in the position he would have been in, had the contract never been entered into.
This checklist highlights the main remedies available to a business for breach of contract.
Businesses will welcome the decision in an ongoing High Court case concerning an indemnity in a compromise agreement provided by an employer to a former employee. The court held that the words "any administrative, regulatory, judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings" did not cover investigations by the police into alleged criminal behaviour by the employee.
The words used in the indemnity in the agreement are standard, so their interpretation may have an impact on many businesses. The decision also underlines the importance of accurate drafting of contract terms or provisions in compromise agreements.
This checklist sets out the key issues a business should consider before entering into a compromise agreement with an employee.
Raising awareness of data protection in the workplace
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has published a new toolkit for businesses to use to help increase awareness among their staff of the importance of handling data securely and confidentiality. The toolkit offers a range of free downloadable materials, including posters, bin stickers and postcards for businesses to use in staff areas.
The ICO has also started offering advisory visits to businesses, in addition to its data protection audits. The visits are aimed at SMEs that process significant volumes of personal information or sensitive personal data.
This checklist sets out the key legal obligations a business should consider when dealing with personal data about customers, suppliers, employees or any other individual who may be encountered during the course of business.
Employers with employees who regularly work overtime, should be made aware of a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision on the 48-hour working week opt-out.
The EAT held that a requirement by an employer for an employee to sign an opt-out agreement to work overtime was reasonable and necessary to ensure the employer complied with its duty under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) to take reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the 48-hour week.
The decision will be welcomed by employers who may have been concerned by their exposure to criminal sanctions for employees who wanted to work overtime, but did not agree to opt out of the 48-hour working week.
This checklist summarises an employer's obligations under the Regulations.
The Senior Courts Costs Office has held that an after the event (ATE) insurance premium of more than £9 million was recoverable in full from the defendants in the Trafigura litigation.
The decision establishes that the principles governing the recoverability of ATE premiums apply regardless of the sums involved.
This checklist explains what after the event insurance is and highlights its main advantages and disadvantages for a business.
The information provided in this email is intended for general information and guidance purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal or professional advice. If you are concerned about the issues raised in this note and how it might affect you or your business you should contact us for specific advice on the details provided above. The information is based on the law and other circumstances in force at the date on which this email was sent. There may have been changes in the law since the date of this email. This email not may not have been updated to reflect such changes.
Reynolds Parry Jones Solicitors, 10 Easton Street, High Wycombe, Bucks HP11 1NP, Telephone: 01494 525941 Fax: 01494 530701 Internet: http://www.rpj.uk.comPartners: GM King, RR Hill, JR Scrace, RC McCulloch, MW Marshall, DM Maunder, CW Selby
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