In a constantly shifting legal landscape, Withy King brings businesses up to speed with the latest developments and highlights a few areas to watch out for.
Good news on property rates
Property owners and landlords may be able to trigger new periods of empty rates relief following a recent High Court ruling. A judge ruled that temporary storage occupying just 0.2% of floor space could be regarded as rateable occupation. This may encourage owners of empty buildings to think creatively about attracting short-term lettings of at least six weeks. When these lettings end, they will be entitled to claim 100% empty rates relief – up to three months for shops and offices, and six months for industrial premises.But be warned. You must be able to show the occupier intended to occupy and use the premises for their own benefit and satisfy other conditions of rateable occupancy.
Beware the new Consumer Rights Directive
Businesses are advised to start gearing up for the Consumer Rights Directive which is due to be passed into English law. The new rules, which are designed to better protect consumers, will apply to any contract made between traders of goods, services and utilities and their customers, with just a few exemptions. You will need to consider all the practical implications in the context of your own business. These include an automatic delivery period of 30 days and the prohibition of excessive payment charges being levied.On the positive side, liability for loss or damage to goods will pass to the consumer once they receive the goods.
Cybersquatting is an escalating problem
Did you know that you can claim a domain name, even if it is registered to someone else? If your company name is being used by cybersquatters to channel customers away from your website and profit from your brand and reputation, give us a call and we will advise you on your options.
Protecting your databases
Directors often voice concerns about how they can protect their customer databases from errant employees. The good news is that company data has automatic rights of protection which do not need to be expressly written into employment contracts. The key, however, is to be able to demonstrate that substantial time and resources went into tailoring the database to suit your company’s purposes. The more creativity applied to the construction and content, the greater the level of protection.
It’s raining, it’s pouring…
If you are having works carried out, make sure you know who is responsible for ensuring site safety and who carries the can for rain stopping progress. You might agree to allow the contractor some extra time but do you want to be responsible for his extra site costs too? And you can’t dodge the health and safety rules just because you have employed a site team; as the employer, you retain some responsibilities while the works are being carried out. It might be time to take a rain check.