When an employee leaves a company, it is very likely that they will retain some confidential information in their heads. This information could be of use to a competitor, these memories are able to be protected in the same way as hard documents or data.
Nestlé have once again been foiled in their attempt to trademark their distinctive four-finger shaped confectionery. It’s been a long drawn out battle against Cadbury and the law, their main rivals in the confectionery industry.
On May 17th the Court of Appeal decided that Nestle should not be granted a trade mark due to the four-finger design having ‘no inherent distinctiveness’. The 16,000 word ruling found that the KitKat shape was not a ‘badge of origin’ and therefore Nestle had no grounds for trademarking the shape.
Different people have different philosophies in life. There are those who live to fight for others. Such people do everything they can for others, which is a trait growing increasingly rare in modern society. The 2016 Notary of the Year, Elissa Davey, is one of these exemplary personalities. She has lived to speak for the voiceless. She has gone the extra mile for her clients, when most could or would have done the minimum. She has most certainly earnt this prestigious award.
Formerly a realtor, Elissa did everything to provide complete services to her clients in the real estate. She was always there for them whenever they needed something notarized, and believed in doing the ‘little’ things that can really change people’s lives. As both a Notary and philanthropist, Elissa would walk away knowing that she had done her best for them every time.
In 1999, the Notary was lauded for her Garden of Innocence: a dignified resting place for unidentified and abandoned children. This was inspired by the touching piece on a baby found abandoned in a dustbin in San Diego. She is particularly recognised for her positivity in tragic situations. She always champions and protects any signer, namely vulnerable elderly signers and those coerced into signing or claiming abandoned infants.
The first commencement order made under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 has banned exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts with effect from 26 May 2015.
Specifically, Section 153 of the Act inserts a new section 27A into the Employment Rights Act 1996 that renders unenforceable any provision in a zero hours contract that prohibits a worker from doing work or performing services under another contract or under any other arrangement, or any provision that prohibits the worker from doing so without the employer’s consent,
Further proposed measures (included in The Draft Zero Hours Workers (Exclusivity Terms) Regulations 2015) intended to prevent employers sidestepping the ban are expected to follow.
In addition, from 26 May 2015, the financial penalty payable for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage is set at 100 per cent of the arrears owed to each worker to whom the notice of underpayment relates, subject to a maximum of £20,000 per worker.
In a warning to the business community that the consequences of disobedience to court orders can be more than just financial, three company directors who moved more than $600,000 abroad after learning of the appointment of a provisional liquidator have been jailed for their contempt of court.
The liquidator had been put in place by the High Court at the behest of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which claimed that the company owed more than £7.7 million in VAT. The liquidator, accompanied by a solicitor and a process server, attended the company’s premises and explained the terms of the order.
However, in a little more than 24 hours after their visit, the directors had arranged the transfer of $624,625 to a company based in Dubai. This had the effect of clearing out the company’s cash assets. HMRC brought contempt proceedings on the basis that the liquidator was an officer of the Court and that the directors had prevented or impeded him from carrying out his duties.
The Court noted that the directors had admitted their contempt and that the money had been paid out to a favoured creditor. However, in doing so, they had usurped the liquidator’s function and had intentionally thwarted the purpose of the court order by which he was appointed. The directors had been motivated by a desire to preserve the company’s trading position. Nevertheless, their contempt was serious and each of them was handed a six-month jail term.
Dishonesty is always a threat to businesses and it is the nature of the beast that it is often found in the least expected places. In one striking case, creditors lost heavily after the managing director of a respected family company stole £2.5 million.
The man had taken over the helm of the long-established timber business from his father. He sought to blame other employees for the company’s poor performance; however, it eventually emerged that he had helped himself to its funds over a five-year period. Trade and other creditors lost substantial sums after the company became insolvent and loyal members of its staff lost their jobs.
The man was prosecuted and convicted after a trial of three counts of theft and four of false accounting. He was jailed for seven years by a judge who said that his behaviour would have made his father turn in his grave. The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal declined to cut the man’s sentence, ruling that it was justified for crimes which caused substantial harm to others.
An £85 charge levied on a motorist who outstayed his welcome in a free shopping centre car park triggered a contract dispute which raised novel issues and required the full attention of three Court of Appeal judges.
The car park was fitted with prominent signs which stated that only two hours of free parking was permitted and that an £85 charge would be imposed on overstayers. The motorist’s car was parked there for almost three hours, but he refused to pay the charge and was taken to court by the car park’s operators.
A judge accepted that, in circumstances where the operators suffered no financial loss if a car overstayed, the charge ‘had the characteristics of a penalty’. However, in ruling that the motorist was contractually bound to pay up, he found that the charge was commercially justified and was neither improper in its purpose nor manifestly excessive in its amount.
In rejecting the motorist’s appeal, the Court noted the obvious benefits to both consumers and retail businesses of enabling free parking for limited periods. There had been no want of good faith on the operators’ part; the amount payable was not unconscionable or extravagant and the charges were justified as a deterrent to overstayers.
The bad old days in which company bosses were constantly at odds with trade unions have largely been consigned to history. However, in one case, the relationship between an airline and a union representing its pilots was so acrimonious that High Court intervention was required.
The airline had been required by the government’s Central Arbitration Committee (the CAC) to recognise the union for the purposes of collective bargaining. The CAC also laid down a specified method by which negotiations in respect of pilots’ ‘pay, hours and holidays’ were to be carried out annually.
The union launched High Court proceedings, arguing that the airline had failed to meet the obligations imposed by the CAC. The Court observed that it was clear that the airline wished to minimise the union’s involvement in its business and that the union was equally determined to maximise the extent to which the airline was required to negotiate with it.
Rejecting the union’s arguments, the Court found that, whilst the airline was required to bargain in respect of contractual terms affecting pay, hours and holidays, that did not encompass shift and rostering arrangements which did not relate to the core terms of employment. The airline was also entitled to communicate with its staff about proposed pay increases before negotiating such matters with the union.