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Covid-19: Directors and Insolvent Trading

Although the Government has now introduced a temporary relaxation of the wrongful trading rules, under s.214 of the Insolvency Act 1986 – where a director could be held personally liable and have to contribute towards a deficit if he or she continued to trade a company past a point where they “knew or ought to have concluded that there was no reasonable prospect of avoiding insolvent liquidation” and did not take “every step with a view to minimising the potential loss to the company’s creditors” – a company’s general financial health and future prospects should feature highly on every board of directors’ agenda.

This temporary suspension of the wrongful trading rules will allow directors to continue to pay staff and suppliers, in preference to others, despite liabilities that might be overdue (potentially rendering the company insolvent), without the risks to them personally, that would normally be associated with continuing in these circumstances.

The purpose of the wrongful trading sanction being relaxed is to encourage directors to continue their businesses, in these unprecedented times, in the hope that instead of suffering a collapse, they instead emerge intact and able to rebuild once the Covid-19 pandemic is finally over.

If you would like further advice on your obligations and what you can and cannot do, as a director, to include if you decide to furlough yourself, please contact a member of our corporate team.  For further guidance on a director’s obligations by trading through these difficult times: https://solicitorstitle.co.uk/covid-19-directors-and-insolvent-trading

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Solicitors Title to Launch Comprehensive Business Support Hub

Covid-19 Business

In response to the current difficult times, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, award-winning South West law firm, Solicitors Title, will be launching a Business Support Hub, to provide comprehensive information for businesses during and beyond the current crisis.

Head of our corporate practice Richard James explained the initiative: “Having had many conversations over the last few days and with the rapidly changing situation for businesses, we recognised the need for the Business Support Hub, to help business owners navigate the risks, understand latest developments and to identify opportunities; for example, we have been impressed as we have watched the many businesses up and down the UK rapidly deploy an online offering, as a result of their traditional business model being impacted.”

Some will know that we had a bigger project in the making, along similar lines before the Covid-19 outbreak, as announced at our Solicitors Title’s 21st birthday celebration last year and therefore the Business Support Hub will act as a trial for the much bigger business support package that we have in preparation.

We will announce when the Business Support Hub is available and, of course, the resources and information will be entirely free.  In the meantime, please see our guidance to businesses, via our Business Perspective in light of Covid-19 article.

 

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Coronavirus – Working Together

As the Prime Minister has said, we have not known a situation like this in peacetime. Our objectives, like with many other businesses, are to ensure the safely and wellbeing of our staff, to support our clients and to ensure, as much as we can, that any disruption to the availability of our services is minimised. We have therefore considered whether we can deliver services in a more novel way, if the need arises or in particular cases and we are keeping this under review.

Our offices are open and we will aim to ensure minimal disruption to our service levels, but please bear in mind that all businesses are having to manage this fast-moving situation, keeping developments and how they respond to those developments under constant review. However, for our clients, referrers and contacts, we can confirm the following:

  • We have full remote working capability and a secure IT infrastructure, meaning that we can continue to operate even if our offices needed to close (at present, all of our offices are open as usual)
  • Our compliance team have reviewed critical deadlines and areas of work that cannot be disrupted, if at all possible, to ensure continuity in these respects
  • We have considered any risks to our business and are taking steps to mitigate these
  • We have deployed updated guidance on hand washing and good hygiene and are taking practical steps to avoid unnecessary contact (for example shaking hands) and this is ongoing
  • We have already moved some meetings to alternative methods of communication; for example, phone, video conferencing/Zoom/Skype

This situation may inevitably lead to consideration of advice that businesses and others need or to look at putting various things in place -we will be publishing some outline thought of things to consider, from a business perspective, later on today.  For the moment, and as always, please do get in touch with your usual contact at Solicitors Title, to see what we can do to help.

The Partners and staff at Solicitors Title

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Mary Berry’s Stout – Infringement of a Name Trademark

It is recognised that celebrity endorsement of a product can add real weight to how it’s received by the public, particularly where the product is in a competitive or crowded marketplace.  Such was the case last week when, in California, a brewer chose to associate a new beer, called a pastry stout (owing to it being made with the kinds of ingredients you might usually associate with the familiar baked item), with a celebrity baker, without their endorsement!

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Does your Business Need a Staff Handbook?

A staff handbook serves many purposes – yet surprisingly, many businesses still choose to operate without one. However, most HR professionals recommend that you provide every member of staff with a copy, as it ensures employees are familiar with all company policies and procedures.

In this article by our employment specialist Wendy Harris, you’ll find out what a staff handbook should contain, and how it can support your business in the future.

What is a Staff Handbook?

Quite simply, a staff handbook is a document that’s supplied to all members of staff (preferably when they start working with you). It contains important information about your company policies and procedures, and ensures that every employee fully understands what’s expected of them – in terms of behaviour, protocol and responsibilities.

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Supporting World Cancer Day 2019; CRUK

Together with Cancer Research UK, Solicitors Title is delighted to be holding an event on Thursday 14th February 2019 at Yeovil Innovation Centre (our Yeovil office) raising awareness around the impact of cancer, how you can help (including via Cancer Research UK’s Free Will Service) and the international research undertaken from the money raised, in support of World Cancer Day 2019.

Cancer Research UK is working with a number of other cancer charities, through World Cancer Day, to raise awareness and further support the work that they do. Each year, funds raised support thousands of scientists, doctors and nurses to accelerate progress in the fight against over 200 types of cancer.

Over a third of the research undertaken by Cancer Research UK into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer is funded through supporters leaving a legacy to the charity via their will; as a result we are proud to be part of CRUK’s Free Wills Service, locally.

Sadly, one in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. The generous gifts left by people through wills help cancer charities to continue their work to beat cancer sooner.

For more information about leaving a legacy gift and Cancer Research UK’s free will service, visit www.cruk.org/freewillservice or contact us

2019 marks Solicitors Title’s 21st Anniversary year and the firm’s 6th year based in Somerset making their team accessible to local individuals and families.

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Wanting to Expand but don’t know how: Considering how to Franchise your Business

How it begins:

You start your own business; it may initially be for you but in time you might think about how you might grow – a natural option would be a new location. This starts a journey towards growth.  So you might hire someone in the new area.  But, after all of your hard work building your brand, money, time resources, making your product or service unique, can you really entrust your business reputation into the hands of an employee who might start doing things that are not in line with your original vision; next might come bad reviews, customer service issues, considerable management time overseeing your new location to get them back into line with your original blueprint.  So in reality, you don’t grow.  Instead, how are you going to grow without these potential issues in the way?

The Solution:

There is one word that alleviates all of these problems: franchising.

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2nd March: Contact Information

Although our offices are closed, due to the severe weather, we remain available to our clients and contacts.

As a result of our major IT upgrade last year, we have full remote availability to our systems, wherever we are, meaning that there should be limited disruption to our services today. Our offices, however, are closed and therefore for best contact information, please e-mail your usual contact, who can reply or call you back, rather than calling our usual telephone numbers.

We thank you for your understanding and hope everyone remains safe and secure.

Best wishes from all of the Team at Solicitors Title.

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GDPR: Bringing Home the … Data

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the new data protection code that replaces the existing Data Protection Act 1998 in May 2018. Many have focussed on the negative aspects such as the fines for non-compliance, which are eye-watering. You may recall TalkTalk’s security breach in 2015, which led to the loss of 150,000 customers’ data and resulted in a fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of £400,000; under GDPR that would have been £70 million!

Arguably, it was not TalkTalk being lax; but instead came about from part of their infrastructure being inherited when they took over Tiscali, a number of years earlier. This leads to the first practical step that we take when working with clients, preparing for GDPR. What data do they have and where is it?

Data is everywhere and can be found in unexpected places. It dawned on me the other day that having certain clients’ phone numbers in my mobile, means that some of that data is also in my car, because it’s uploaded via Bluetooth. You need to consider how wide the net is; documentation kept out of the office, data found in or copied to personal devices or e-mail accounts – Hilary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server, for example.

The challenge comes simply from how well connected we are these days and as a result of this complexity, the aim is to harmonise data security across the EU. So when people ask me whether Brexit will get in the way, the simple answer is no; GDPR is here to stay.

Where businesses process data they must do so lawfully, fairly and transparently. To demonstrate lawful processing, a business must show that it is necessary for the performance of a contract or they must be able to justify, in line with the Regulation, that it is for the purposes of their legitimate interests.

Otherwise, businesses must demonstrate consent and this must be more than a simple tick-box amongst other terms; these requirements are detailed and cover how and the purposes for which that consent is obtained. Why not just e-mail all of your clients or customers confirming they are happy? A couple of recent cases suggest this might be a dangerous strategy; e-mails sent by the companies involved were themselves deemed to be marketing; for which there was no prior consent under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations from 2003 – a related set of regulations that govern e-marketing activities.

Don’t worry then, you think, we’ll just outsource everything! Not quite; businesses will now be liable for the actions of suppliers that handle data on their behalf; at present there is a distinction between the data controller that owns the data and a supplier engaged with processing it (obvious examples being outsourcing and the use of cloud-based IT infrastructure). Therefore we are looking at clients’ existing arrangements. Providers should recognise your greater responsibilities and should not be seeking to exonerate themselves through well-crafted terms and conditions – you may need to prioritise reviewing your suppliers’ contracts.

GDPR may be about compliance, but we’re encouraging businesses to give themselves a competitive advantage by adopting a privacy by design approach and demonstrating that the protection of their customers’ and clients’ personal information is central to everything they do. They say a week is a long time in politics; so it’s hardly a surprise that today’s digital economy, back in 1995 (when the current Data Protection Directive came in), would have seemed more science-fiction than today’s day-to-day reality.

Areas where we are currently helping clients are within our Online and E-Commerce services under GDPR and Data Protection.

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Exeter City Centre Vacancy – Award Winning Law Firm

We are looking to appoint a legal assistant to work primarily in our property department in Exeter  city centre. Whilst we would like to talk to experienced legal assistants/ paralegals, this post will most likely  suit someone who is looking to pursue a career in law for which this would be a first step on the ladder so do not let a lack of experience deter you from applying if you are serious about a career in law.

You will be expected to show your commitment towards a career in the law. You must be prepared to start at the bottom, to be conscientious, hard working flexible and reliable and in return you will be provided with a solid training in conveyancing and in property law.  You will be exposed to all types of property transactions, both residential and commercial. In addition you may be required to assist from time to time in other disciplines.

In the first instance, please write, by post or by e-mail (the later addressed to: [email protected], setting out why you want to work in the law and why you would like to be considered for this particular post.

 

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