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Welcome to Solicitors Title

Our clients tell us that they enjoy working with us. Why? Because we act as their legal partner, not just another service provider.

We are a long-established group of modern lawyers who provide a personalised legal service for businesses and the people who create, grow, run and sell them; we look after you and your business, helping you to achieve your ambitions.

Whether you’re starting out in business or expanding internationally, our commercial experience can support you; or perhaps you’re looking to buy your first home or need to make a will – we offer a full range of services tailored to your needs.  In addition, we have a real depth of expertise in a number of specialist areas; these include franchising, noise nuisance and motorsport.

We build long-term relationships with our clients, recognising that by delivering real value and cost-effective solutions, our clients are able to achieve their aims, effectively and efficiently. Our initial consultation is always free, just contact us or request a call back.

Awards

Western Gazette
Business Awards 2014

2015 Legal
Award Winner

Devon and Somerset
Law Society 2016 Shortlist

The Legal 500
The Clients Guide to Law Firms

DASLS Legal Awards Shortlisted Badge 2018 (1)

Shortlisted Devon and Somerset
Law Society Awards 2018

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GDPR and Franchising: Double Trouble for Franchisors

08 Feb 2018

A fundamental change under GDPR – the new data protection code which comes into effect in less than 4 months’ (25 May 2018) – will have particular relevance for anyone involved in a franchisor/franchisee relationship. Why? Because of the way in which data is handled; a franchisee operates their own business and is, under the existing Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”), a controller (i.e. a person that determines the purpose for and manner in which data is processed); franchisors, by contrast, and despite their obvious vested interest in that data – under many franchise agreements, client data can only be used within the franchisor’s system, licensed to the franchisee under their franchise agreement; franchisors, therefore, have a rare vested interest in the information that their franchise network collects and processes, as ultimately customers or clients are entering into a relationship with the brand.

From a practical standpoint, a franchisor’s relationship with ‘its’ customer data has arguably been in the guise of a data processor – with access to records of this information maintained and used by its franchisees and, in some cases, to provide facilities to capture prospects or those that might be interested in a franchisee’s products or services, through a central website or micro-site or page dedicated to a particular franchisee’s territory. A franchisor that does not undertake specific analysis on this data as a whole, is arguably no more than a data processor under the current DPA; but under GDPR, processors become subject to much enhanced obligations, not dissimilar to those applicable to their network of franchisees.

Taking the relationship from another angle, to some degree the franchise network will rely on the franchisor to guide them in best-practice and compliance; after all, their purchase of a franchise would, to some extent, have been to avoid the need to devise, think about and implement much of the back-office function of the business – the expectation within a franchise, as a ‘business-in-a-box’, is to be able to open and focus on sales and growth, without much of burden applicable to a start-up or owner-operator.

Much has been made of the vast fines that could apply to a data breach; these should not be ignored but our own assessment, as with much of the true approach to GDPR, is that proportionality will play its part. If it were going to cost a small retailer, tuning over say £120,000, £50,000 to implement a particular aspect of GDPR, this may not be seen as proportionate, subject to other relevant factors.

But what if you are a franchisor? With a franchisor’s specific role in directing and guiding their network of franchisees, albeit they may not be directly responsible for the processing of that data now, their heightened obligations under GDPR even if they are truly only a data processor and their obvious interest in the protection of their brand/reputation which could be seriously damaged following a data breach by a lax franchisee, franchisors should be taking the lead and communicating not only with their own internal team but also across their franchise network to ensure that plans are in place and assessments are carried out to minimize the potential risks.

Included will be a consumer’s appreciation of the franchisee’s relationship with the franchisor and that much if not all of their data will be made available to the franchisor, both to ensure efficient operation of the franchise business but most likely under obligations binding the franchisee within the franchise agreement or the operations manual, given what is effectively equivalent standing by a specific provision within the agreement; franchisees will look upon franchisors to advise on best communication and to implement and provide updated privacy notices and related documentation, to ensure best practice.

How we are Helping Franchise Businesses:
As specialists in both franchising and technology law, including data protection (recommended in both the 2016 and 2017 editions of independent Directory, Legal 500 in these areas), we are supporting franchisors and franchisees with:
1) Guidance on the practical implementation of GDPR, including data minimisation and analysis;
2) Advice and updates to operations manuals, technical notes and training around secure and effective data management;
3) Updated privacy notices and communications, including on websites and social media;
4) Handling data requests and breach notification plans – a data breach now has to be notified within 72 hours; a challenge if discovered on a Friday(!); and
Ensuring marketing is conducted legally, including under PECR Regulations.

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Solicitors Title recognised as a go-to business law firm in the latest edition of Legal 500

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Solicitors Title is delighted to have been recognised for the second year running as a go-to firm for corporate and commercial work in this year’s Legal 500 rankings.

Legal 500 is an independent directory of the leading law firms and lawyers. Published annually, the guide is compiled after extensive research, including confidential references from clients and contacts and following assessment of each practice’s experience and capabilities.

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