Payments in digital currencies now accepted at iLaw

Cryptocurrency is now acceptable as payment at iLaw

iLaw, a cryptocurrency law firm in London with other corporate expertise, has started accepting payments for its legal services in the form of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Payments are made through the well-established payment processor, BitPay.

iLaw’s Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets practice serves highly-regarded figures within the sector, including global exchanges, start-ups, traders and renowned developers of leading decentralised computing platforms.

iLaw Senior Associate Allan Murray commented that “it’s only sensible that our clients also have the option of paying with BTC or ETH if they would like to”.

Cryptocurrency payments are already accepted by some of the world’s major companies and platforms, such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Virgin Galactic and Wikipedia. iLaw, which specialises in technology, is amongst the first law firms in the United Kingdom to have embraced this forward-looking payment option.

If you are seeking for a cryptocurrency law firm in London or would like to discuss any issues on cryptocurrency and blockchain that your business might be facing, then please contact our cryptocurrency team on 0203 9622 230 or at info@ilaw.co.uk.

Future Fund – a matched funding opportunity for innovative businesses

Future Fund blog

On May 20, the government launched another initiative designed to help small and medium-sized businesses against the effects of Covid-19, the Future Fund. The fund is designed for businesses that are dependent to at least some extent on equity investment – one of the qualification requirements is that the recipient business must have raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from independent investors between 1 April 2015 and 19 April 2020. If you pass that hurdle, then you may be eligible, in which case the fund will match private investment to a sum of between £125,000 and £5m. In order to benefit from this, you’ll have to have one or more outside investors interested in lending on the same terms as the Future Fund. As it is an unsecured loan, the risk for any investor is relatively high even the interest rate may make up for that.

 

Key points include:

 

  • Funding is by way of loan.
  • The investment is not to be used to repay borrowings, pay dividends or bonuses, or pay advisory fees.
  • 8% interest (can be more, but not less so far as the fund is concerned). The company doesn’t pay interest over the course of the loan, but it gets wrapped up to be repaid or converted into shares at the end of the term.
  • The loan is for three years, and cannot be repaid early, so there will definitely be an interest of at least 24% (it’s non-compound interest).
  • At the end of that term, the loan plus interest must either be repaid or it will convert into shares.
  • The loan will also convert into shares on an earlier exit or a new funding round.
  • Conversion is at a discount of 20% or more to the last invested share price or the new investment round share price.
  • There’s a set form of loan note, which cannot be negotiated either by the company taking the investment or by the other investors.

 

The scheme is currently slated to be open only until September. We’re already advising a couple of businesses looking to close new investment rounds using this initiative, so it may prove popular.

 

If Future Fund is not applicable to your business, there are still other government-backed sources of loan funding, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (up to £5m for up to 6 years) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. If your business only needs a small amount to ride it over for a while, the Bounce Back Loan seems a good option, with up to £50,000 available for a term of up to 6 years, at an interest rate of just 2.5%, guaranteed by the government, and with no need for the bank to seek personal guarantees from the business owners or directors.

 

If you want to discuss the Future Fund or any other investment round for your business, please contact Justin Ellis on 0203 9622 230 or at info@ilaw.co.uk.

Statutory Residence Test changed to allow skilled workers from around the world to assist the UK’s coronavirus response

Statutory Residence Test changed to allow skilled workers from around the world to assist the UK’s coronavirus response

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has written to the Treasury Select Committee, to inform it that the Statutory Residence Test (SRT) is being relaxed temporarily so ‘highly skilled’ individuals from around the world can join the UK’s coronavirus response without jeopardising their tax status.

The measures apply to workers such as anaesthetists and engineers working on ventilator design and production.

The move means that time spent in the UK working on the country’s coronavirus response between 1 March and 1 June 2020 will be disregarded for the purpose of the SRT.

The period the relaxed measures apply to may be extended.

Without the measure, these skilled workers could have seen their global earnings becoming taxable in the UK.

Full details of the changes to the SRT are set to be included in the Finance Bill 2020.

IPO continues to deal with applications despite “interrupted period”

IPO continues to deal with applications despite “interrupted period”

The UK Intellectual Property Office has pledged to do everything it can to deal with trade mark and design applications during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although it is attempting to provide some services as usual, it is urging new applicants to use online services wherever possible to avoid delays.

The notice comes after the IPO officially declared the period commencing 24 March 2020 as “interrupted days” until further notice.

This means that any deadlines for patents, supplementary protection certificates, trade marks, designs, and applications for these rights which fall on an interrupted day will be extended to the next non-interrupted day.

In its statement, the IPO said: “For new trade mark examination reports we will allow a four-month default period to respond, not the current two months, hopefully removing the need for an extension; interrupted days still applies to deadlines that fall during the period of interruption,” said the Office.

“We are unable to allow longer default time periods for design examination reports (because they are set by statute), but interrupted days applies to deadlines that fall during the period of interruption, plus extensions are available after that if required.”

It added that extended default time periods for design examination reports cannot be granted, but “interrupted days applies to deadlines that fall during the period of interruption, plus extensions are available after that if required”.

The team at iLaw offers a full range of intellectual property services ranging from registering trade marks and negotiating licences through to obtaining emergency injunctions against infringers when the situation requires. For help and advice, please get in touch with our expert team.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘the Scheme’)was unveiled by the Chancellor as part of his emergency response to the ongoing crisis and is available to all UK employers.

So far only brief guidance notes have been issued to businesses and employees with more detail expected shortly.

The Scheme is only appropriate for employees who the business does not require to undertake any work for them whilst the Coronavirus crisis continues, referred to by the Scheme as a ‘furloughed worker’.

The Government is to “reimburse at least 80 per cent of wage costs” for employees who would otherwise be ‘laid off’ up to £2,500 a month per employee.

Eligibility

  • Employers, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE) and public authorities, will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for “those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis”. 
  • You must have created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020 and have a UK bank account to be eligible, which means a limited number of start-ups may be affected.
  • Those you choose to designate as a ‘furloughed worker’ must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including full-time employees, part-time employees, agency contracts (as long as the person is not working) and zero-hour arrangements.
  • Employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020 will also be eligible if they are rehired.
  • To be eligible for the subsidy, an employee must not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue, but they can do training or volunteer outside of the business.
  • If an employee is working, but on reduced hours or reduced pay they will not be eligible for this scheme should be paid as normal through your payroll.
  • Employees on unpaid leave cannot be furloughed, unless they were placed on unpaid leave after 28 February.
  • Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay, but can be furloughed after this period. However, vulnerable Employees who are self-isolating in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough. 

what you can claim

  • Employers will receive a grant from HMRC to cover either 80 per cent of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, whichever is lower.
  • Grant includes associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage.
  • It does not include fees, commission and bonuses.
  • Employers should pay at least the minimum allowed under the scheme, but can pay more to top-up employees wages should they wish to.
  • Those who are contractually obliged to enhanced maternity, adoption or shared parental pay are eligible for the scheme, but not those on statutory maternity pay.
  • For full time and part time salaried employees, the employee’s actual salary before tax, as of 28 February should be used to calculate the 80 per cent.
  • For those whose pay varies, such as those on zero-hour contracts, you can claim for the higher of either:
    • the same month’s earning from the previous year
    • average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year
    • If the employee has been employed for less than a year, you can claim for an average of their monthly earnings or it can be worked out pro-rate if they have been employed for less than a month.

Employers who wish to benefit from the scheme will need to:

Identify their affected employees who should be designated as ‘furloughed workers’.

Employers should discuss with their staff and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. Employers may need to seek legal advice on the process. 

Where a business or organisation is furloughing a large workforce, consultation may need to be done on a collective basis.

The employer must then submit the following information to HMRC:

  • your PAYE reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • the claim period (start and end date)
  • amount claimed (per the minimum length of furloughing of 3 weeks)
  • your bank account number and sort code
  • your contact name
  • your phone number

You can only submit one claim at least every three weeks (the minimum length an employee can be furloughed for) and these. can be backdated until the 1 March.

The scheme will continue for three months, but the Chancellor indicated that the scheme may be extended.

Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract.

How will I be reimbursed?

Once HMRC has received your claim and you are eligible for the grant, they will pay it via BACS payment to a UK bank account.

A claim should be made in accordance with actual payroll amounts at the point at which you run your payroll or in advance of an imminent payroll.

You must pay the employee all the grant you receive for their gross pay, no fees can be charged from the money that is granted.

The Chancellor has announced that he expects the first grants under the scheme to be paid before 1 April 2020, but more detail is expected soon. The is scheme just one of a number of measures that the Chancellor has announced to support businesses.

Here to Help

For advice on this or any of the other measures recently outlined by the Government, please contact us.