Employment lawyer responds to no-deal injunction launched by IWGB

Employment lawyer responds to no-deal injunction launched by IWGB

Julian Cox, Head of Employment law at iLaw has shared his thoughts on today’s decision by three low paid workers and the IWGB union to challenge efforts to circumvent the Benn Act, which is designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit:

Julian Cox, Head of Employment at innovative London law firm iLaw, said: “The uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues to cause a lot of issues for employers and while this legal challenge is an important attempt to raise the plight of low paid workers the Government continues to insist on leaving by the 31 October.

“There is a quickly emerging picture that the UK looks almost destined to face a no-deal Brexit at the end of this month, particularly if the latest rumours and comments from the EU and its leaders regarding the latest deal turn out to be true.

“Legal challenges such as these, whether successful or not, are sending an important message to the Government and lawmakers that the rights of employees must be respected, regardless of whether a deal is reached.

“I would think that in most cases employers themselves would want to maintain the majority of rights that have been created as part of our relationship with the EU, as they provide an effective workplace environment. They shouldn’t be eroded by a sudden withdrawal from existing agreements.

“Businesses and workers must begin to prepare immediately for the impact of a no-deal Brexit now ahead of time by reviewing their current arrangement to see how individuals and the business as a whole will be affected. They must seek advice and assistance immediately, especially if key workers ability to live and function is affected by the fallout.”

John Lewis Partnership executives facing restructuring should seek professional advice, warns iLaw

John Lewis Partnership executives facing restructuring should seek professional advice, warns iLaw

Innovative London law firm iLaw has said that the more than 70 senior executives at the John Lewis Partnership should get legal advice before their departure from the business.

The unique employment arrangements at the John Lewis Partnership, which is seeking to cut the roles from February next year, mean that any form of redundancy or remuneration needs to be considered carefully.

All employees at the Partnership, from the most senior managers down to those working on the shop floor, are known as partners under the company’s co-ownership model.

Each year they receive a form of bonus from shares that are held in trust for the benefit of employees. This bonus is a share of the company’s annual profits.

However, unlike shares issued by some businesses to senior executives as an incentive to remain in a business, the staff at the Partnership never actually own the shares that are held in trust and therefore they cannot be cashed in at the end of a person’s employment.

Julian Cox, Head of Employment at iLaw, said: “The John Lewis model of employment is often held high as a good example of employees co-owning a business and it has certainly worked for them for a long time.

“However, unlike some other co-ownership models, in which share arrangements allow employees to obtain shares and realise the value of those shares by selling them back to the market, either during or at the end of their employment, the John Lewis model offers no such flexibility.

“For those senior executives who have invested years of their career into the John Lewis Partnership the cuts will probably be very disappointing and they must be properly remunerated for their work within the organisation and given the best opportunity to move on.”

Julian said that employees should seek out expert legal advice from employment specialists with a strong understanding of the distinct partnership model at John Lewis to ensure they enjoyed the best outcome.

As part of the restructure, the management team at the John Lewis Partnership will be merged with that of the company’s grocery chain Waitrose to create a single team.

John Lewis hopes that the restructuring will help the Partnership save around £100 million. It comes after the world-renowned retailer announced a half-year loss for the first time in its history.

“Unfortunately, the John Lewis Partnership is not unique in facing a difficult time in the retail sector. High street sales are down and we are seeing an increasing number of big names go under, merge or take more of their business online,” added Julian.

“We are likely to see a period of restructuring within the sector, which may mean redundancies in future. Senior employees should seek advice before accepting any offers, as they may be in a stronger position to negotiate terms than they realise.”

To find out more about iLaw’s innovative services, please visit www.ilaw.co.uk

Legal 500 guide names iLaw as a ‘go-to firm’

Legal 500 guide names iLaw as a ‘go-to firm’

One of the world’s most prestigious legal directories the Legal 500 guide has ranked innovative London law firm, iLaw, for its work in the field of IT and Telecoms and Commercial Litigation.

Used internationally by businesses, organisations and in-house lawyers, the guide pools information on the country’s best firms by researching the matters that they handle and feedback from their clients.

iLaw is ranked in Tier 4 in London for its work within the IT and Telecoms sector. The guide says: “ILaw is a go-to firm in the field. The team understands the requirements of its client’s businesses and sets its costs appropriately.”

It highlights the firm’s work on contractual disputes, corporate transactions and intellectual property and regulatory matters, particularly those involving data protection issues.

The Legal 500 guide also recognises iLaw’s Directors Justin Ellis, Mark Culbert and Matt Poli for their knowledge of this sector and work within it.

Meanwhile, the guide lists the firm for Commercial Litigation in London and says that the “’team is exceedingly commercially astute and delivers good outcomes for difficult disputes”.

It also highlights the teams work on an ongoing multi-million-pound matter relating to VISA and Mastercard, which involves more than 50 retail businesses who are disputing the card issuers interchange fees.

The guide once again mentions the firm’s Managing Director, Mark Culbert describing him as “steady under fire”, while his fellow Director Tom Clark is said to be “a committed and adept operator”. It goes on to add that iLaw offers “great, practical advice from experienced solicitors”.

Reflecting on their position within the guide, Mark said: “We are delighted, as in previous years, to be listed in the latest Legal 500 guide. It recognises our respected position in these fields and the esteem in which our technology and litigation teams are held by our clients and the profession.  These are key areas for iLaw and ones which we continue to grow year upon year.”

To read iLaw’s full ranking in the 2020 Legal 500 guide, please click here.

Employers and agencies face onerous tasks under latest IR35 proposals, warns iLaw

Employers and agencies face onerous tasks under latest IR35 proposals, warns iLaw

Innovative legal firm, iLaw, is concerned that the latest proposals and guidance for IR35 will leave many employers with a considerable amount of additional work and responsibility.

The draft bill, released earlier this year and the guidance provided last month, has confirmed a lot of things, such as the small business exemption, and added new tasks and checks for employers.

However, two changes in particular could be extremely burdensome for employers, according to iLaw.

The first of these is the introduction of the status determination statement. This will require

end-clients, i.e. those using the services of contractors, to provide a statement which says whether or not it believes IR35 applies to both the contractor and the party directly engaging the workers.

Within this statement they must give their reasoning for reaching their decision, which can be challenged.

If this is not provided then the company will be classed as the fee-payer and responsible for deducting the appropriate tax and NIC from the contractor before it is paid to HMRC.

Reflecting on the change, Julian Cox, Head of Employment at iLaw, said: “This seems to be an attempt by HMRC to prevent the use of blanket determinations, which I am sure most contractors will welcome.

“It will, however, place a lot of pressure on companies to make these difficult determinations, which is going to be harder in large organisation that uses a lot of agency workers and consultants.”

Julian said that for agencies, this new rule may create another issue in that it may affect regulations surrounding limited company opt outs.

Legislation created in 2003 by the European Union offered contractors the opportunity to opt out of certain workers’ rights regulations.

By opting out, agencies have been able to use contracts that contain provisions that would otherwise be enforced by the regulations, such as withholding pay where work has not been done properly, and charging transfer fees beyond the regulatory limits.

Meanwhile, contractors benefit from being able to offer more attractive working arrangements that would otherwise not be possible.

However, where an employer decides that a person should be included within IR35 and paid via PAYE they will no longer have the option to ‘opt out’.

Julian said: “Agencies will be forced to change their procedures and, in some cases, their contracts.

“They need to take this into consideration now before the IR35 rules come into place and speak with contractors and their clients to ensure they are happy with these arrangements.”

The other main concern, accord to iLaw, is the introduction of a client-led disagreement process. This should give contractors an opportunity to overturn what they view as inaccurate determinations, by allowing them to request the reason for a determination.

The end client will then have 45 days to respond and must provide its reasons for the original determination.

The end client will also be required to either confirm or change its decision. If they fail to respond then they will then become the fee-payer, meaning that all liability will transfer to them.

“What the legislation doesn’t make clear is what happens if a contractor is still unhappy with a determination after it has been reviewed, which is creating additional uncertainty for contractors,” Julian added.

“Although a final consultation ended on these changes on 5 September, we may not have these arrangements confirmed until the Chancellor’s next budget, and they could be dropped depending on the outcome of a general election,” added Julian.

He said growing political uncertainty meant that nothing was certain, but he says that everyone invested in consultancy and contracting must ensure they are prepared for IR35.

To find out how iLaw can help you prepare for the upcoming changes to IR35, please visit www.ilaw.co.uk/

Brands don’t stay still…and neither do their trade marks anymore

Brands don’t stay still…and neither do their trade marks anymore

For the first time in UK history, a moving trade mark has been registered after fundamental changes were made to the law earlier this year.

Toshiba is leading the way, according to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), becoming the first organisation to successfully register a distinctive multimedia ‘motion’ mark.

Toshiba’s Origami-based moving trade mark was created by the company to reflect its brand and Japanese heritage.

While it was technically feasible to register a ‘motion’ mark before the changes were enacted to the law in January this year, each submission needed to be carefully graphically, illustrated.

However, the new rules allow for applicants to submit moving images, holograms and sounds as part of their trade mark application via a multimedia file, such as an MP4.

This has simplified the system and made it easier for businesses to protect their iconic branding.

Although Toshiba is the first to have a motion trade mark registered, others are also making use of the new rules, including Google who has successfully been granted a trade mark for a hologram of their famous logo. The only aspect of the new trade mark legislation yet to be tested by a business is the sound-related trade mark.

Reflecting on what the changes mean, Andrew Murch, a trade mark attorney at London law firm iLaw, said: “The 2015 Trade Marks Directive, which came into force this year, has radically changed how companies can protect their branding.

“It has been technically possible to register a moving trade mark for some time, but the new process for applying for a motion, holographic or sound trade mark is now far simpler.

“This means there is a greater range of opportunities to protect a company’s branding, which can only be positive news for many brands.

“The uptake of these new rules may seem slow, but I anticipate that many more companies will follow Toshiba’s example to ensure their intellectual property and branding is secure.”

Andrew added that it would likely only be a matter of time before sound trade marks were registered and can think of several notable examples of well-known sounds, such as the recognisable Windows or Mac start-up sounds, that could benefit from trade mark registration.

“Sound has a powerful link to memory. Its why you may not be able to remember your PIN, but you can always remember an annoying jingle,” said Andrew.

“The emotive power of sound is significant and can be as important to brand recognition as a logo. I suspect, therefore, that trade marks related to sound could take off in future.”