Latest News

New Company Disclosure Requirements On the Way

The trend towards full disclosure and openness continues unabated in business, and new regulations are being mooted which will increase the amount of disclosure required of UK-registered companies regarding their principals. Currently, even the smallest...

Pension Trustees Owe No Duty of Care to Employer

Many directors of companies are also trustees of the company pension scheme. Sometimes, their duties as a director and as a scheme trustee can be difficult to reconcile. In a recent case, a company alleged that two directors who were trustees of the firm's...

Sale of Insolvent Company to Creditor Not Improper

Insolvencies are seldom happy periods for any of those involved and great care must be taken by those who deal with the insolvency proceedings to ensure they do their work in a way that correctly balances the interests of the creditors and the insolvent...

Data Protection Fees

On 25 May 2018, the Data Protection Act 2018 came into force, incorporating the EU General Data Protection Regulation, ushering in a new era of personal data regulation in the UK. At the same time, the Data Protection (Charges and Information)...

Debtors' Rights - High Court Takes to Task Bailiffs Who Overstepped the Mark

Judgments for debt would hardly be worth having if there were no bailiffs to enforce them. However, as a High Court ruling made clear , they have to abide by stringent rules and do not have carte blanche to trample on debtors' rights. The case concerned a...

Exchanging Secret Information? Always Get a Non-Disclosure Agreement!

Businesses that deal or hope to deal with one another often have to put security concerns to one side and share their confidential information. As a High Court case underlined, however, such exchanges should always be subject to a professionally drafted...

Company or Unincorporated Firm? The Distinction Can Be Vitally Important!

A limited company has a legal personality all of its own, but an unincorporated firm does not. As a High Court ruling in respect of a domestic building dispute showed , that distinction can in some cases be a crucial one. A couple who were to move into a...

Doing an Important Business Deal? Make Sure You Get it in Writing!

The existence of oral agreements is easily asserted but very hard to prove, and that is one good reason why important deals should be in writing and professionally drafted with the benefit of legal advice. In a case on point, a businessman received nothing...

Licence Revocation Threat Averted by Prompt Action

Government regulatory decisions can have an instant and catastrophic impact on businesses, but prompt legal action can ensure that such damage is not unfairly inflicted. The point was made in the case of a company whose licence to warehouse duty suspended...

Just Because a Debt is Small...

Many people think that the costs and difficulty of litigation mean that it is not worth pursuing relatively small debts. However, a High Court case in which a carpenter won the right to be paid for his work on a building project showed how wrong that...

Gold Visas Scheme Relaunch With Vetting Proposed

The Government has taken steps to halt the 'Tier 1 Investor' visa scheme after it became clear that it was being used to launder the proceeds of criminal activity and tax evasion. The scheme allowed wealthy individuals to enter the UK and obtain...

Financial Ombudsman Service Remit to be Extended to Cover More Small Businesses

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) exists to deal with complaints between financial service businesses (such as banks, insurance brokers, and loan and mortgage providers) and their customers – some of which are also businesses. Access to the FOS is...

Director Who Flouted Ban Given Jail Sentence

Ignoring a court ruling is a foolish strategy at any time – as a man who continued to act as a director after having been banned from doing so found recently. In 2011, the man had agreed to a four-year ban after being involved in the running of a...

Modern Slavery Compliance Regime to be Tightened Up?

There are estimated to be more than 40 million people who are victims of 'modern slavery' at any given time. A quarter of them are children, and the number of victims in the UK was estimated to be between 10,000 and 13,000 in 2013, although the...

Sovereign Wealth Fund's $3 Billion Worldwide Freezing Order Overturned

Worldwide freezing orders are an essential means by which dissipation of wrongfully obtained money and assets can be effectively prevented. However, as an important High Court ruling showed , such orders are only worth the paper they are written on if they...

Pension Trustees Take Note

Pension transfer scams are commonplace and cause a great deal of hardship for the dupe who puts their trust in the scammer and thereby loses all or part of their pension fund. However, the loss can also extend to pension schemes, a fact of which pension...

Resolving Disputes in the Boardroom

Boardroom conflict can often mean directors falling into opposing camps, with deadlock the result. As a High Court decision shows , taking legal advice is often the only means of achieving a resolution. The case concerned a holding company that was formed...

Failure to Comply With Order Means Loss of Right to Present Oral Evidence

When attempting to negotiate any dispute it is important to assemble fully your arguments, so that you can state your case with the greatest vigour, and to comply with any directions issued by the tribunal. This is also true when a dispute is being...

Supreme Court Rules in 'Gay Cake' Case

In a unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that a bakery in Northern Ireland's refusal to make a cake bearing a slogan in support of same-sex marriage was not discriminatory. The legal battle began four years ago after Ashers bakery, a...

If You Agree to Abide by Rules...

Football Association (FA) rules require that, where disputes arise between players' agents and clubs, they must be resolved by arbitration rather than by public court proceedings. The extent of that requirement came under analysis in a High Court case ...

Force Majeure Attempt to Avoid Agreement Fails

Oil exploration is a risky business and industry contracts commonly make provision for unforeseen events that interrupt production – known to lawyers as 'force majeure'. Force majeure clauses are common in many other types of contract also. In...

Asset Freezing Can be Costly

Asset freezing injunctions can be a crucial tool in commercial litigation – but applying for them is not for the faint-hearted. If a freezing order is granted, it can be cataclysmic for the owner of the asset, as it prevents them (in effect) from using...

Sale of a domestic and commercial security company

Birkett Long’s Commercial & Corporate Finance team has recently completed the sale of a domestic and commercial security company, for a total enterprise value of £400,000.   Aspects that made this deal particularly interesting was the...

a revised loan facility

Birkett Long’s Commercial & Corporate Finance team recently completed a revised loan facility for a client. The client borrowed an extra £17 million by way of an additional term loan, and added a further £8 million to its existing...

Non-Disclosure is Fault of Policyholder Not Brokers

It is no real surprise that insurers are often not wildly enthusiastic about paying claims and will deny liability when they are able to do so. One condition which is normally present in a policy application is that the insured discloses any past criminal...

Registered Your PSCs Yet?

Every UK company is required to identify the people who are 'persons with significant control' (PSCs). Essentially, PSCs are the people who own or have significant control over the company. Their details must be lodged with Companies House....

Oral Contract Variation Invalid, Rules Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has decided a case which will be of significance to anyone who is used to making oral variations to contracts. The dispute involved a firm that had a licence to occupy office space provided by another company. The contract term was 12...

Debt Management Company Investigation Brings Bans

There was a certain irony to a recent report that the directors of a debt management company – set up to offer advice and assistance to those with debt problems – have been banned from acting as directors for a total of 23 years after action was...

Director Address Disclosures - Changes

Recent changes have made it easier for company directors to withhold disclosure of their private addresses in publicly filed documents. Prior to 2009, the usual residential address of all company directors was on file at Companies House in publicly...

Do You Understand Your Duties as a Director?

Directors have a wide range of legal duties that do not always coincide with their own interests, and seeking expert legal advice is the best way of ensuring that these are performed. In one case in which that did not happen, two directors of a phoenix...

Failure to Address Expert Report Proves Costly

When a tenant of industrial land failed to adhere to a notice to quit the premises, the landlord brought a legal action under the law of trespass for its lost rental income – £12,000 per annum. The tenant did nothing and the landlord then...

Breach of Contract Claim Defeated Quickly

Some breach of contract claims are stronger than others, but even groundless cases come to court sometimes. However, with skilled legal representation, these can be identified and defeated at an early stage. In one case on point, the High Court struck out a...

Director Who Helped Herself Faces Music

It is hardly surprising that directors of companies that face insolvency often wish to recoup their investments before the balloon goes up. However, as one High Court case concerning a failed furniture retailer showed, they are not entitled to give their...

Incomplete Partnership Arrangements Lead to Court Appearance

When new partners are being introduced into a partnership, it is wise to finalise the arrangements quickly in case the partners fall out. Any lack of formality in the business arrangements can lead to trouble, as a recent case shows . The case concerned...

Refusal to Cooperate Spells Trouble

Being made bankrupt is never a welcome experience, but failing to comply with reasonable requests of the Official Receiver can make matters even worse. Once a person is made bankrupt, they are required to deliver a statement of affairs within 21 days and to...

Serving Companies with Legal Documents - High Court Guidance

Although companies are independent entities in law, they can only act through natural persons and serving a company with a legal document can therefore be tricky. The point was illustrated by a High Court ruling that effective service of arbitration...

Pre-Trial Skirmishing Can Be as Important as the Main Event

In commercial litigation, many of the most important battles are fought before the trial even starts and those who drag their feet or fail to comply with judicial directions can find themselves hamstrung when it comes to the main event. Exactly that happened...

Failure to Point Out Business Decline Proves Costly

When a business is sold, a 'due diligence' process is normally entered into to make sure that the representations made by the seller to the buyer, on which the buyer's valuation of the business will be based, are true. Failure to be forthright in...

Act When You Think You May Have a Claim, Not When You Know For Certain

The time to seek legal advice when you think something may be wrong is when you first have a concern, not later on when you know there is a problem. One reason for this is that there are legal limitation periods for bringing claims, and in claims involving...

If You Help Fund a Claim You May Be Liable if it Fails

It is not unusual for the cost of litigation – especially where a group of companies is involved – to be paid for in whole or in part by a person or organisation that is not directly involved in the dispute. It should be remembered, however,...

Insolvency and Assignment of Causes of Action - High Court Ruling

On the basis that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, it is common for liquidators of insolvent companies to assign (transfer the rights to) any claims that they might wish to pursue on behalf of creditors to specialists in the field. One such...

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

When a contract is breached and one party suffers a loss as a result, they are normally entitled to be compensated for their loss by the party that has breached the contract. Whilst there are a number of ways the breach can be dealt with by the courts, the...

Letting Agency Fined for Breaches of Consumer Rights Legislation

Professionals who deal directly with the public are subject to a battery of consumer protection rules and failing to comply with them can be costly, both in financial and reputational terms. In one case, a letting agency that neglected to display a list of...

Banter Doesn't Create a Contract

The trouble with light-hearted discussions of important business matters in a social context is that none of those present can really be sure whether any agreements apparently reached are serious or merely a joke. Exactly that happened in one case in which...

Company Credit Status Must Stand Alone

You may think that if people of substance are behind a business you have a dispute with, this acts as a source of comfort that any sum you are awarded against the company is likely to be met, but that is not necessarily the case, as a recent dispute shows. ...

Government Makes Tendering Process Easier

The complexity and length of the tendering process for government contracts has for many years operated as a significant deterrent for small businesses that might otherwise wish to compete for lucrative public sector contracts. Recognising this issue, the...

Breach of Contract - Court Takes Commercial Approach

Making the right decisions in the immediate aftermath of a breach of contract is of critical importance and, at such knife-edge moments, legal advice is essential. That point could hardly have been more clearly made than by a High Court case concerning an...

Recovery of Cross-Border Debts

Firms and people who fail to pay their bills are a significant nuisance for any business, but when the debtor is abroad, there may be a temptation to give up. Although recovery of debts from those who live overseas requires determination, English judges are...

GDPR - ICO Consults on Written Contracts

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will apply to all EU member states from 25 May 2018, data processors have new responsibilities and liabilities in their own right, and both controllers and processors may be liable to pay damages or...

GDPR Guide and Steps to Take

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data protection regime which will start to be enforced in the UK in May 2018. The penalties for non-compliance can be very substantial – for serious breaches, up to 4 per cent of global...

Failing to Plan Ahead Creates Problems for Family Companies

Although no one likes to think about their own death, failing to be prepared for all eventualities can cause chaos in family companies, which are often dependent for their success on the skills of a small number of people. The point could hardly have been...

Small Data Protection Glitch Produces Big Financial Loss

When a local council published information in connection with a family's planning application for building works, it failed to think through the consequences of its actions. The result was that it placed sensitive personal data in the public domain. The...

Free Advice Given and No Contract? You May Be Liable

Any professional will know that there are many people who like to have free advice, and whilst this is seldom proffered in a social setting such as the pub, it is normal for friends to give one another advice. It was therefore unremarkable when a couple who...

Failure to Comply With Regulation Brings Jail for Moneylenders

Commercial moneylending is, with good reason, heavily regulated to ensure that unfair advantage is not taken of vulnerable borrowers. In one case that made that clear, two men who provided over £750,000 in finance to taxi drivers without any legal...

Government Bank Sale Tendering Dispute - High Court Ruling

Public tendering exercises almost inevitably leave unsuccessful bidders dissatisfied but the courts will only intervene if there is a legal flaw in the process. A consortium behind a failed bid to acquire a government-owned bank found that out when the High...

High Court Rules on Fall-Out From Wine Company Insolvency

Insolvency proceedings that arise in the midst of an ongoing trading relationship can sometimes result in large sums of money remaining in limbo for a significant period. In one such case, the High Court ruled on the correct destination of more than 870,000...

Engineers Must Pay for Defective Design of Seaside Storm Culvert

Contract arbitrators' decisions are meant to be final and challenging them is always an uphill struggle. This point was illustrated by one case in which the High Court upheld a six-figure award to a local authority in respect of a defectively designed...

Cartel Whistleblower Avoids Massive Fine

Being in a cartel is unlawful and is a risky business – especially when one of the cartel members blows the whistle on the others. In such circumstances, the whistleblower can receive immunity from punishment, leaving the other members to carry the...

Directors Guilty of Misfeasance in Insolvency Proceedings

Some directors will always sadly be tempted to denude troubled businesses of their assets before they formally become insolvent. However, companies are not personal piggy-banks and, as one High Court case showed , the consequences of such conduct can be...

Knife-Edge Timing Solves £2.4 Million Construction Contract Dispute

In a striking piece of knife-edge timing, a property developer has convinced the High Court that it was reassigned rights under a construction contract just before a multi-million-pound dispute was placed before an adjudicator. The decision means that the...

English Jurisdiction Clauses - Court of Appeal Cracks Down

English law is well-developed, written in the universal business language and the English judicial system has a deserved reputation for fairness. It is not surprising, therefore, that vast numbers of international contracts incorporate English jurisdiction...

New Rules to Prevent Corporate E-Signatures

The law has tried to play 'catch up' with the increasing sophistication of cyber-crime since the advent of the Internet, and new EU regulations implemented in the UK as the Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions Regulations...

Data protection shield

The EU Data Protection Directive only permits transfers of personal data from the EU to territories outside the European Economic Area if adequate protection for that data is ensured in the receiving territory. Previously, the Safe Harbor framework was an...

Company Articles Triumph in Share Valuation Dispute

People tend to think of the articles of association of companies – and often shareholders' agreements – as matters of detail not warranting close attention. However, a recent case shows the importance of having up-to-date knowledge of such...

Bank Fails to Avoid Guarantee Liability

The sums of money involved in international trade are so vast that without bank guarantees to underpin contracts, the wheels of commerce would cease to turn. However, as one High Court case vividly revealed , banks normally insist that all the formalities...

Court Guidance on Jurisdiction

When contracts have an international element and a dispute arises, it is often necessary to ascertain at a very early stage which country's courts have jurisdiction to deal with the dispute. In the case of a dispute over a contract, the place of performance...

Failure to Adopt Sound Business Principles Proves Costly

Cases involving negligent valuations have been passing through the courts steadily over the years – many triggered by the financial meltdown in 2008. A recent decision involved the reliance of a bank on a valuation provided in support of a £1.8...

Continued Use of Defective Devices - Who is at Fault?

Disputes between insurers and claimants under insurance policies are common, and a recent dispute raised an interesting question: What is the position if a person or business uses a device which they know to be faulty and this results in subsequent damage?...

Slipshod Execution of Contracts Can Come Back to Haunt You!

Slipshod execution of contractual documents can come back to haunt you, and that is one good reason why you should always have the benefit of qualified legal advice. In one case , the waters were so muddied that the High Court was unable to say, without...

What You Do as Well as What You Agree in Writing Matters

It is a common misconception that contracts have to be agreed in writing or orally to be binding. However, a contract can also be valid if it is performed…even if the documentation requires that it must be formally agreed to be valid. A recent case...

Swift Justice Sees Director Receive £105,000 Bill

It is regrettably not unheard of for directors to flout their duties and help themselves to company money to which they are not entitled. However, one High Court case showed that professionally managed litigation can be a swift means of catching up with...

Winding Up Petitions and Validation Orders - High Court Guidance

From the moment a winding up petition is presented against a company, any payments that it makes become legally void if a winding up order is granted. However, what happens if supplies are made to that company before the supplier is aware of the winding up...

In Business With a Friend? Don't Dispense With Formalities

When entering into a business partnership with someone you also consider to be a soulmate, putting in place formal agreements with them can seem inappropriate. However, personal relationships can turn sour and, in one case, the equity in a buy-to-let...

High Court Brings Clarity to Multi-Million-Pound Consultancy Contract

One might expect contracts between sophisticated business entities to be couched in precise and unambiguous terms. That is not always the case, however, and the High Court's intervention was required to bring clarity to a jurisdiction clause in a...

Disloyal Director Pays Price for Serving Her Own Agenda

Directors are under a duty to act in good faith and to do all that they reasonably can to promote the success of the companies they serve. Breaching those obligations can be costly, as one businesswoman found out after the High Court ruled that she had...