The legal landscape is constantly changing, making it difficult for directors to keep up with a seemingly endless stream of new rules and regulations. Here, solicitors in Withy King’s corporate teams highlight a few of the latest legal developments
Are your consultants really self-employed?
Many unsuspecting employers engage with contractors, consultants and freelance operators, believing they are self-employed. The important question is whether they are regarded as self-employed in the eyes of the law. If they are not, you could find your business exposed to the statutory obligations and liabilities that govern every employment relationship. Although there is no single test to determine whether an individual is self-employed or an employee, an Employment Tribunal will consider the following factors if they are faced with this issue:
• The individual’s freedom to determine when and how to work, substitute, work freely for other businesses and reject work
• The nature and length of engagement
• Payment method and receipt of benefits
• Level of integration within the company
• Who provides the facilities and equipment
• Who is responsible for payment of income tax and NICs.
If you have any concerns about the nature of your relationship with your consultants or would like further guidance, please contact Malcolm Gregory or Richard White in our Employment team.
Consumer rights move up the agenda
Businesses dealing with consumers should diarise a review of their existing contractual terms and conditions to ensure they comply with forthcoming revised consumer protection legislation.
We expect the new Consumer Rights Bill to be announced in the Queen’s speech in May following publication of proposals for reform of consumer protection by the Law Commission last year.
Recommendations included reversing the current burden on consumers to show that standard terms of business are unfair. Instead the onus will be on businesses to prove their terms are fair. For help with your contracts or any other commercial issue, please contact James Worrall or David Cavaliero in our Corporate team.
Who owns the IP?
Company directors in the creative and technology sectors need to ensure the company owns and controls IP and associated products created by employees and contractors.
Companies are increasingly focussed on recognising, harnessing and exploiting their inventions, creations and other IP rights.
So it’s crucial for owners of IP to make sure they control what is created, especially where it includes efforts by employees and third party contractors.
While IP rights normally rest with the employer or company commissioning the work, this should always be explicit in the employment contract and written terms of business.
For help or advice on any IP matter, please contact Simon Clegg in our Technology and Media team.
Are telecoms masts and equipment on your radar?
If you are a landowner, you will need to be aware of the Government’s plans to remove restrictions to make way for the roll out of mobile phone services.
The three main changes include:
• Telecoms arrangements will no longer need to be excluded from the lease renewal rights applicable to business premises but will enjoy their own separate security regime
• Landowners will have a right to remove telecoms equipment to permit development or receive compensation
• Telecoms operators will be entitled to transfer or share masts with other operators without the landowner’s consent. In particular, clauses requiring part of site sharing income to be shared with the landowner will be outlawed.
Although the legislation will not be retrospective, we believe telecoms operators will use the possible exercise of break clauses to persuade landowners to vary existing agreements to incorporate the new transfer and sharing provisions.
If you think this might affect you, please contact Peter Foskett in our Commercial Property team.
Previous Director's Briefings are available here:
Director's Briefing - July 2012
Director's Briefing - April 2012
Director's Briefing- February 2012