Running your business

Running your business

 

When you are running your business, you want to be focused on the things that make you money, and not worrying about non-core functions such as legal. That being said having an understanding is key. 

This section covers a number of different legal matters that might come up while you are running your business.

 

Hiring & Managing Employees

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

This is popularly called a Section 146 Notice (it is a notice required to be served by section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and relates solely to business tenants) that warns a tenant who is in breach of covenant (other than the covenant to pay rent) of the landlord’s intention to forfeit the lease on ground of the breach of covenant.

Why is it important?

“Forfeiture” is the right of the landlord to re-enter the commercial property and take back possession of the property if a covenant has been breached.

For the notice to be valid and binding the notice must specify the breach of covenant and if the breach is capable of remedy , require the tenant to remedy it and pay monetary compensation to the landlord for the breach.

A landlord can only serve such a notice if the lease contains a right to forfeit the lease (i.e. a right of re-entry). The notice must also contain certain prescribed information. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within a reasonable time the landlord can start forfeiture proceedings in the County Court.

Risks

A landlord who wants to forfeit the lease must avoid “waiving” the breach of covenant. Waiver occurs where a landlord becomes aware of a breach of the lease but does not take action against the tenant within a reasonable period or acknowledges the continuation of the lease by for example demanding rent or service charges or accepting rent payments from the tenant.




Break notice


What is it? A Break Notice, also known as a Break Clauses or a break option, is an important contractual provision in a lease which allows either a landlord or tenant to bring a Lease to an early end. Some landlords often have a vested interest in making life difficult for a tenant seeking to exercise its option to break the lease by making the option subject to stringent conditions. Why is it important?

Break Notices are akin to options and are therefore strictly construed by the courts . From the tenant’s perspective, a properly drafted Break Clause gives them the opportunity to avoid being tied into a lease that they can no longer afford. This is a safety-net for a tenant – especially if they are just starting out.

Understandably though, a landlord who is receiving a steady rental income may be reluctant to lose a tenant, particularly in tough economic times.

Risks

Any tenant seeking to exercise the option to break the lease must check the lease carefully and ensure they follow the landlord’s “break clause conditions” to the letter. It is crucial when taking a lease that a tenant understands that the conditions of the Break Clause can easily defeat an option to break unless followed to the letter. If the conditions are not strictly followed the termination is not valid and the tenant remains a lessee until the expiry of the lease, the next break clause date or until the tenant is able to assign the lease with the landlord’s consent if there is such a provision in the lease.

A properly advised tenant should refuse any condition, other than up-to date payment of principal rent and giving up occupation.




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 provides tenants of business premises with rights of ‘security of tenure’. This means that once a business tenant’s lease expires, the tenant has the right to request a new lease on the same terms as the previous lease (subject to agreement on terms, such as the amount of rent, any legislative updates etc), except where the landlord has a statutory ground to refuse a new lease (for instance, if the tenant has failed to pay rent or the landlord wishes to redevelop the premises).

Why is it important?

When agreeing to enter into a commercial or business lease, one of the things that will be discussed when agreeing Heads of Terms is whether your lease will be ‘protected’ with security of tenure, or ‘contracted out’ i.e. excluded’ from security of tenure. It is quite common for landlords to require that security of tenure rights are excluded from a lease. They do this by asking the prospective tenant to sign a notice in front of an independent solicitor agreeing to the exclusion of security of tenure under the lease.

Risks

This notice means that a tenant of commercial premises will not have the automatic right to request a renewal of their lease at the end of the term of the lease, leaving the landlord free to let the property to another tenant at the end of the term. This is because landlords often wish to retain strict control over the occupation of their property. If security of tenure is excluded, you the tenant, must vacate the property at the end of the lease in accordance with its terms unless you have negotiated a new lease with the landlord separately.




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice by the landlord under s25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

Why is it important?

It allows the landlord to start a procedure which will end either in the tenant being granted a new lease or in the tenant vacating. This notice cannot be given before the last year of the lease terms nor after the tenant has served a request for a new tenancy under s26 of the Act.

Risks

The s25 notice must state the date on which the landlord intends to bring the existing lease to an end.




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice given by the tenant requesting a new tenancy upon the termination of the old tenancy.

Why is it important?

The s26 request must specify the date on which the existing lease is to end.

Risks

This notice cannot be served before the last year of the agreed lease term nor can it be served after the landlord has served a s25 notice.




Licence for alterations


What is it?

This is a licence from the landlord to the tenant giving the tenant the right to carry out specific works or alterations to the property that is being let. The alterations may be major or minor.

Why is it important?

The Licence should include provisions as to the manner in which the tenant will carry out the works, timescales, reinstatement and (to the extent applicable) the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Drawings and specifications showing the proposed works should be attached to the Licence so that it is clear what the landlord is consenting to.

If the proposed alterations are not substantial (e.g. the erection of demountable partitioning or signage) you can use a simple Letter- Licence to Alter.




Section 27 Notice


What is it? A tenant has the right under s27 of the 1954 Act to bring the tenancy to an end by giving at least three months’ notice before the date on which the tenancy would otherwise expire. If the lease term has expired but the tenancy is still continuing under the 1954 Act the tenant may bring that continuing tenancy to an end by giving not less than three months’ notice in writing to the landlord.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


HR Policies

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

This is popularly called a Section 146 Notice (it is a notice required to be served by section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and relates solely to business tenants) that warns a tenant who is in breach of covenant (other than the covenant to pay rent) of the landlord’s intention to forfeit the lease on ground of the breach of covenant.

Why is it important?

“Forfeiture” is the right of the landlord to re-enter the commercial property and take back possession of the property if a covenant has been breached.

For the notice to be valid and binding the notice must specify the breach of covenant and if the breach is capable of remedy , require the tenant to remedy it and pay monetary compensation to the landlord for the breach.

A landlord can only serve such a notice if the lease contains a right to forfeit the lease (i.e. a right of re-entry). The notice must also contain certain prescribed information. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within a reasonable time the landlord can start forfeiture proceedings in the County Court.

Risks

A landlord who wants to forfeit the lease must avoid “waiving” the breach of covenant. Waiver occurs where a landlord becomes aware of a breach of the lease but does not take action against the tenant within a reasonable period or acknowledges the continuation of the lease by for example demanding rent or service charges or accepting rent payments from the tenant.




Break notice


What is it? A Break Notice, also known as a Break Clauses or a break option, is an important contractual provision in a lease which allows either a landlord or tenant to bring a Lease to an early end. Some landlords often have a vested interest in making life difficult for a tenant seeking to exercise its option to break the lease by making the option subject to stringent conditions. Why is it important?

Break Notices are akin to options and are therefore strictly construed by the courts . From the tenant’s perspective, a properly drafted Break Clause gives them the opportunity to avoid being tied into a lease that they can no longer afford. This is a safety-net for a tenant – especially if they are just starting out.

Understandably though, a landlord who is receiving a steady rental income may be reluctant to lose a tenant, particularly in tough economic times.

Risks

Any tenant seeking to exercise the option to break the lease must check the lease carefully and ensure they follow the landlord’s “break clause conditions” to the letter. It is crucial when taking a lease that a tenant understands that the conditions of the Break Clause can easily defeat an option to break unless followed to the letter. If the conditions are not strictly followed the termination is not valid and the tenant remains a lessee until the expiry of the lease, the next break clause date or until the tenant is able to assign the lease with the landlord’s consent if there is such a provision in the lease.

A properly advised tenant should refuse any condition, other than up-to date payment of principal rent and giving up occupation.




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 provides tenants of business premises with rights of ‘security of tenure’. This means that once a business tenant’s lease expires, the tenant has the right to request a new lease on the same terms as the previous lease (subject to agreement on terms, such as the amount of rent, any legislative updates etc), except where the landlord has a statutory ground to refuse a new lease (for instance, if the tenant has failed to pay rent or the landlord wishes to redevelop the premises).

Why is it important?

When agreeing to enter into a commercial or business lease, one of the things that will be discussed when agreeing Heads of Terms is whether your lease will be ‘protected’ with security of tenure, or ‘contracted out’ i.e. excluded’ from security of tenure. It is quite common for landlords to require that security of tenure rights are excluded from a lease. They do this by asking the prospective tenant to sign a notice in front of an independent solicitor agreeing to the exclusion of security of tenure under the lease.

Risks

This notice means that a tenant of commercial premises will not have the automatic right to request a renewal of their lease at the end of the term of the lease, leaving the landlord free to let the property to another tenant at the end of the term. This is because landlords often wish to retain strict control over the occupation of their property. If security of tenure is excluded, you the tenant, must vacate the property at the end of the lease in accordance with its terms unless you have negotiated a new lease with the landlord separately.




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice by the landlord under s25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

Why is it important?

It allows the landlord to start a procedure which will end either in the tenant being granted a new lease or in the tenant vacating. This notice cannot be given before the last year of the lease terms nor after the tenant has served a request for a new tenancy under s26 of the Act.

Risks

The s25 notice must state the date on which the landlord intends to bring the existing lease to an end.




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice given by the tenant requesting a new tenancy upon the termination of the old tenancy.

Why is it important?

The s26 request must specify the date on which the existing lease is to end.

Risks

This notice cannot be served before the last year of the agreed lease term nor can it be served after the landlord has served a s25 notice.




Licence for alterations


What is it?

This is a licence from the landlord to the tenant giving the tenant the right to carry out specific works or alterations to the property that is being let. The alterations may be major or minor.

Why is it important?

The Licence should include provisions as to the manner in which the tenant will carry out the works, timescales, reinstatement and (to the extent applicable) the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Drawings and specifications showing the proposed works should be attached to the Licence so that it is clear what the landlord is consenting to.

If the proposed alterations are not substantial (e.g. the erection of demountable partitioning or signage) you can use a simple Letter- Licence to Alter.




Section 27 Notice


What is it? A tenant has the right under s27 of the 1954 Act to bring the tenancy to an end by giving at least three months’ notice before the date on which the tenancy would otherwise expire. If the lease term has expired but the tenancy is still continuing under the 1954 Act the tenant may bring that continuing tenancy to an end by giving not less than three months’ notice in writing to the landlord.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Protecting your IP

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Business Relationships

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Running an online business

Cookie Policy


What is it? A cookie is a small text file that that is stored on a website user’s computer to collect information. Why is it important? If you have cookies on your website you should have a cookie policy that informs users to your website what the cookies do, why you are collecting the information and how they can turn off cookies within their computer browser. Risks You must also get their consent and the consent must be clearly given.




Terms of Business


What is it? Your Terms of Business set out the terms and conditions on which you conduct your business and is the contract between you and your customer. Why is it important? Written terms and conditions of business are important especially when there is a dispute between your business and a customer or supplier. Written terms of business will clarify the scope of your services or the goods you agreed to sell or supply and certainty as to the agreed price, payment method, guarantees, warranties, remedies of the buyer if there is a dispute. Risks When selling goods and services online you must comply with certain legal requirements including the distance selling regulations.




Commission Linking Agreement


What is it? If you are linking your website to another website in order to share commission with the other website owner or to benefit from extra sales you need a Website Commission Linking Agreement.




Consent Notices


What is it? The law provides that if your website is based in the EU or if you are targeting customers in the EU and your site uses one or more cookies you need to display a cookie consent notice. To comply with the law your need to do three things:

  1. Let users to your website know that you are using cookies.
  2. Provide a link where they can learn more about how you use the data you gather.
  3. Provide a way for your website users to consent to the use of cookies.
Consent can be explicit opt-in consent and implied consent. For explicit consent, users have to click a button, select a checkbox or complete some other specific activity to opt in to the use of cookies. The most common way to do this is to display a banner at the top or bottom of your website with a link to your Privacy policy and a button to consent to the use of cookies and hide the banner. For implied consent a clear notice must be provided, and the user must be made aware that a specific action will be understood to be implied consent to the use of cookies. One way that implied consent is obtained is by displaying a prominent cookie notice that ends with a statement like “By continuing to use this site you agree to the use of cookies”. The law applies whether a user is on a smartphone, tablet, a laptop, computer or other device. So when you set up your cookie notice you must ensure that the notice appears and functions well on all devices. There are also plugins for Cookie consent notices.




GDPR Compliance


What is it? The Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the processing of personal data by companies in the UK, specifying, for example, that data must be kept accurate and secure. A data protection policy is a statement of how you handle personal information given to you by your customers. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations set out a variety of rules which apply to the use of email marketing campaigns and regulates the use of cookies. Pure Business Law can assist you with all your data compliance matters.




Terms and conditions for sale of goods to consumers via a website


What is it? Your Terms of Business or Terms and Conditions sets out the rights and obligations of the buyer and the seller in any sale of goods. Standard terms and conditions for the sale of goods help to make each party to the contract (whether a business or consumer) aware of their rights and obligations from the start. Why is it important? If you are dealing with a consumer there is a considerable amount of legislation eg the Consumer Rights Act 2015 aimed at protecting consumers which must be taken into account when preparing your terms and conditions. Make sure you do things right when creating your terms and conditions.




Terms and conditions for supply of services to consumers via a website


What is it? Your Terms of Business or Terms and Conditions sets out the rights and obligations of the buyer and the seller in any supply of services. Standard terms and conditions for the supply of services help to make each party to the contract (whether a business or consumer) aware of their rights and obligations from the start. Why is it important? If you are dealing with a consumer there is a considerable amount of legislation eg the Consumer Rights Act 2015 aimed at protecting consumers which must be taken into account when preparing your terms and conditions. Make sure you do things right when creating your terms and conditions.




Email footer and disclaimer


What is it? An email footer sets out information required by law about limited companies and limited liability partnerships. The Companies Act 1985 requires all business emails from a private or public limited company to include the company’s registered name, registered number, place of registration and its registered office address. Why is it important? An email disclaimer is a notice or warning added to an email designed to protect the email sender from breaches of confidentiality, contractual claims. Virus propagation and employee liability. An email disclaimer is optional.




Website terms and conditions


What is it? If you have a website it is a good idea to create website terms and conditions as it helps to ensure that customers and users know how a website can and cannot be used. They set out the legal rights and obligations between you and users of your website. They cover the acceptable uses of the website, prohibited use of the website, registration, password and security, linked websites, disclaimers and limitation of liability.




Privacy policy


What is it? A website privacy policy is a statement of how you handle personal information given to you by your customers. When you trade on the internet you will most likely be handling personal information because you keep records of your customers or website users. Why is it important? A website privacy policy helps build trust in your website and informs your visitors how their personal data is protected. In the UK the main legislation governing the collection, processing and distribution of personal data is the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).




Website Terms of Use or Online Terms of Use


What is it? Your Website terms of use set out the legal rights and obligations between you and users of your website. Even if you do not sell goods on your website, you should have a written set of terms and conditions to cover all permitted and prohibited uses of your website, including any registration requirements, linked websites, disclaimers, limitation of liability and associated subscription fees.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Buying & Selling Goods & Services

Share Purchase Agreement


What is it?

A Share purchase agreement (SPA) is an agreement setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale and purchase of shares in a company. Share purchase agreements are often complex documents which can become lengthy and create significant delay, friction and cost if not dealt with by experienced, business minded lawyers.

Why is it important?

There is often a choice and negotiation over whether it’s best for either or both parties to buy/sell assets rather than shares. This would depend on whether the current owner (seller) is a limited company. If not, there can be no share sale! Further, where a buyer wants to preserve as many customer relations as possible, they may elect to buy the shares as opposed to assets.

The seller’s solicitor usually draws up the draft share purchase agreement.

Risks

While the buyer’s solicitor will try to protect the buyer the interest of the seller’s solicitor is to minimise this protection, in particular by limiting the seller’s liability for misrepresentation. However, in practice, where there is fraudulent misrepresentation the seller will still be liable so the buyer may accept such clauses since they are not valid if the seller can prove fraudulent misrepresentation.

Please contact us if you require specialist commercial lawyers to review, draft, negotiate, amend or generally advise on a share purchase agreement.




Asset Purchase Agreement


What is it?

An asset purchase agreement is an agreement setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale and purchase of assets of a business. In an asset purchase, the company itself will be selling the assets, whilst in a share sale, the individual shareholders will be the sellers.

Occasionally a buyer will prefer to acquire certain assets of a business rather than acquire all of the shares in a company and therefore, both its assets and liabilities.

A buyer will normally prefer to buy the assets of a business, while the seller will prefer to sell the shares. The main benefit of an asset purchase is that a buyer may selectively pick the assets and liabilities they want to acquire and there is generally less risk of hidden liabilities than with a share purchase.

Risks

The main disadvantage of an asset sale, as opposed to a share purchase agreement is that each item must be transferred in accordance with its proper rules and made enforceable against third parties (eg through consents and approvals). This is especially the case for customer contracts, as a third party may view the transaction as an opportunity to renegotiate their contract thereby adding delay and additional costs to the transaction.

In addition, there may be other important contracts that are non-transferrable, or licences and consents unique to the seller which may not be transferrable.

In an asset sale it is vital to identify what exactly is being purchased. Assets transferred as part of an Asset purchase agreement may include:

  • Plant and machinery.
  • Premises;
  • Stock;
  • Contracts;
  • Know-how; and
  • Goodwill.

Please contact us if you require specialist commercial lawyers to review, draft, negotiate, amend or generally advise on a share purchase agreement.




Disclosure Letter


What is it?

A Non-Disclosure letter or Non-Disclosure Agreement, also called a Confidentiality Agreement, is a legal contract between two or more parties by which the parties agree not to disclose information (which is intended to be kept secret) that they have shared with each other during a business relationship to third parties.

Why is it important?

This Agreement may either be one-way (unilateral) or two-way (mutual), depending on whether both parties will be providing the secret information. If one party will be providing the secret information to the other, it is called a Unilateral Non-Disclosure Agreement.

For example, where an inventor of an idea is sharing the idea with another person, the inventor is the disclosing party and the other party is the receiving party. If the two parties will share the secret information between themselves, it is called a Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement.

This Agreement can be used to share intellectual property, share commercial trading information or formalize a business relationship, for example, between an employer and an employee





Managing a company

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Settlement agreements & Ref

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





Commercial notices

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

This is popularly called a Section 146 Notice (it is a notice required to be served by section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and relates solely to business tenants) that warns a tenant who is in breach of covenant (other than the covenant to pay rent) of the landlord’s intention to forfeit the lease on ground of the breach of covenant.

Why is it important?

“Forfeiture” is the right of the landlord to re-enter the commercial property and take back possession of the property if a covenant has been breached.

For the notice to be valid and binding the notice must specify the breach of covenant and if the breach is capable of remedy , require the tenant to remedy it and pay monetary compensation to the landlord for the breach.

A landlord can only serve such a notice if the lease contains a right to forfeit the lease (i.e. a right of re-entry). The notice must also contain certain prescribed information. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within a reasonable time the landlord can start forfeiture proceedings in the County Court.

Risks

A landlord who wants to forfeit the lease must avoid “waiving” the breach of covenant. Waiver occurs where a landlord becomes aware of a breach of the lease but does not take action against the tenant within a reasonable period or acknowledges the continuation of the lease by for example demanding rent or service charges or accepting rent payments from the tenant.




Break notice


What is it? A Break Notice, also known as a Break Clauses or a break option, is an important contractual provision in a lease which allows either a landlord or tenant to bring a Lease to an early end. Some landlords often have a vested interest in making life difficult for a tenant seeking to exercise its option to break the lease by making the option subject to stringent conditions. Why is it important?

Break Notices are akin to options and are therefore strictly construed by the courts . From the tenant’s perspective, a properly drafted Break Clause gives them the opportunity to avoid being tied into a lease that they can no longer afford. This is a safety-net for a tenant – especially if they are just starting out.

Understandably though, a landlord who is receiving a steady rental income may be reluctant to lose a tenant, particularly in tough economic times.

Risks

Any tenant seeking to exercise the option to break the lease must check the lease carefully and ensure they follow the landlord’s “break clause conditions” to the letter. It is crucial when taking a lease that a tenant understands that the conditions of the Break Clause can easily defeat an option to break unless followed to the letter. If the conditions are not strictly followed the termination is not valid and the tenant remains a lessee until the expiry of the lease, the next break clause date or until the tenant is able to assign the lease with the landlord’s consent if there is such a provision in the lease.

A properly advised tenant should refuse any condition, other than up-to date payment of principal rent and giving up occupation.




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 provides tenants of business premises with rights of ‘security of tenure’. This means that once a business tenant’s lease expires, the tenant has the right to request a new lease on the same terms as the previous lease (subject to agreement on terms, such as the amount of rent, any legislative updates etc), except where the landlord has a statutory ground to refuse a new lease (for instance, if the tenant has failed to pay rent or the landlord wishes to redevelop the premises).

Why is it important?

When agreeing to enter into a commercial or business lease, one of the things that will be discussed when agreeing Heads of Terms is whether your lease will be ‘protected’ with security of tenure, or ‘contracted out’ i.e. excluded’ from security of tenure. It is quite common for landlords to require that security of tenure rights are excluded from a lease. They do this by asking the prospective tenant to sign a notice in front of an independent solicitor agreeing to the exclusion of security of tenure under the lease.

Risks

This notice means that a tenant of commercial premises will not have the automatic right to request a renewal of their lease at the end of the term of the lease, leaving the landlord free to let the property to another tenant at the end of the term. This is because landlords often wish to retain strict control over the occupation of their property. If security of tenure is excluded, you the tenant, must vacate the property at the end of the lease in accordance with its terms unless you have negotiated a new lease with the landlord separately.




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice by the landlord under s25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

Why is it important?

It allows the landlord to start a procedure which will end either in the tenant being granted a new lease or in the tenant vacating. This notice cannot be given before the last year of the lease terms nor after the tenant has served a request for a new tenancy under s26 of the Act.

Risks

The s25 notice must state the date on which the landlord intends to bring the existing lease to an end.




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice given by the tenant requesting a new tenancy upon the termination of the old tenancy.

Why is it important?

The s26 request must specify the date on which the existing lease is to end.

Risks

This notice cannot be served before the last year of the agreed lease term nor can it be served after the landlord has served a s25 notice.




Licence for alterations


What is it?

This is a licence from the landlord to the tenant giving the tenant the right to carry out specific works or alterations to the property that is being let. The alterations may be major or minor.

Why is it important?

The Licence should include provisions as to the manner in which the tenant will carry out the works, timescales, reinstatement and (to the extent applicable) the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Drawings and specifications showing the proposed works should be attached to the Licence so that it is clear what the landlord is consenting to.

If the proposed alterations are not substantial (e.g. the erection of demountable partitioning or signage) you can use a simple Letter- Licence to Alter.




Section 27 Notice


What is it? A tenant has the right under s27 of the 1954 Act to bring the tenancy to an end by giving at least three months’ notice before the date on which the tenancy would otherwise expire. If the lease term has expired but the tenancy is still continuing under the 1954 Act the tenant may bring that continuing tenancy to an end by giving not less than three months’ notice in writing to the landlord.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Letting a commercial property

Share Purchase Agreement


What is it?

A Share purchase agreement (SPA) is an agreement setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale and purchase of shares in a company. Share purchase agreements are often complex documents which can become lengthy and create significant delay, friction and cost if not dealt with by experienced, business minded lawyers.

Why is it important?

There is often a choice and negotiation over whether it’s best for either or both parties to buy/sell assets rather than shares. This would depend on whether the current owner (seller) is a limited company. If not, there can be no share sale! Further, where a buyer wants to preserve as many customer relations as possible, they may elect to buy the shares as opposed to assets.

The seller’s solicitor usually draws up the draft share purchase agreement.

Risks

While the buyer’s solicitor will try to protect the buyer the interest of the seller’s solicitor is to minimise this protection, in particular by limiting the seller’s liability for misrepresentation. However, in practice, where there is fraudulent misrepresentation the seller will still be liable so the buyer may accept such clauses since they are not valid if the seller can prove fraudulent misrepresentation.

Please contact us if you require specialist commercial lawyers to review, draft, negotiate, amend or generally advise on a share purchase agreement.




Asset Purchase Agreement


What is it?

An asset purchase agreement is an agreement setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale and purchase of assets of a business. In an asset purchase, the company itself will be selling the assets, whilst in a share sale, the individual shareholders will be the sellers.

Occasionally a buyer will prefer to acquire certain assets of a business rather than acquire all of the shares in a company and therefore, both its assets and liabilities.

A buyer will normally prefer to buy the assets of a business, while the seller will prefer to sell the shares. The main benefit of an asset purchase is that a buyer may selectively pick the assets and liabilities they want to acquire and there is generally less risk of hidden liabilities than with a share purchase.

Risks

The main disadvantage of an asset sale, as opposed to a share purchase agreement is that each item must be transferred in accordance with its proper rules and made enforceable against third parties (eg through consents and approvals). This is especially the case for customer contracts, as a third party may view the transaction as an opportunity to renegotiate their contract thereby adding delay and additional costs to the transaction.

In addition, there may be other important contracts that are non-transferrable, or licences and consents unique to the seller which may not be transferrable.

In an asset sale it is vital to identify what exactly is being purchased. Assets transferred as part of an Asset purchase agreement may include:

  • Plant and machinery.
  • Premises;
  • Stock;
  • Contracts;
  • Know-how; and
  • Goodwill.

Please contact us if you require specialist commercial lawyers to review, draft, negotiate, amend or generally advise on a share purchase agreement.




Disclosure Letter


What is it?

A Non-Disclosure letter or Non-Disclosure Agreement, also called a Confidentiality Agreement, is a legal contract between two or more parties by which the parties agree not to disclose information (which is intended to be kept secret) that they have shared with each other during a business relationship to third parties.

Why is it important?

This Agreement may either be one-way (unilateral) or two-way (mutual), depending on whether both parties will be providing the secret information. If one party will be providing the secret information to the other, it is called a Unilateral Non-Disclosure Agreement.

For example, where an inventor of an idea is sharing the idea with another person, the inventor is the disclosing party and the other party is the receiving party. If the two parties will share the secret information between themselves, it is called a Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement.

This Agreement can be used to share intellectual property, share commercial trading information or formalize a business relationship, for example, between an employer and an employee





Sale and Purchase of Commerial Property

Communications and equipment policy


What is it? This policy explains to employees the rules and procedures to follow when using the employer’s IT resources and electronic communication systems at work. It sets out the extent to which the business allows the use of its IT resources and the use of PCs, laptops, internet, emails, software and passwords. Why is it important? Having such a policy ensures that your employees are aware of and comply with your rules regarding the use of IT resources and communication systems while at work.




Data protection and data security policy


What is it?

A data protection policy is an internal document that serves as the core of a business’s GDPR compliance practices.

It explains the GDPR’s requirements to employees and states the business’s commitment to compliance. The policy does not need to include specific details on how the business will meet the Regulation’s requirements, as these will be covered in the business’s procedures.

Why do you need a GDPR data protection policy?

  • to provide the groundwork from which your business can achieve GDPR compliance.

  • to make the GDPR understandable to your staff.

  • to prove that your business is committed to GDPR compliance.

Why is it important?

We highly recommend our clients to have the following data protection related policies :

a)Encryption policies

b)Acceptable use policies

c) Password policies

c)Email policies

d)Data-processing policies

Risks

Your business’s policies are at the heart of your business operations. They set out exactly how employees should handle certain issues, ensuring that everybody is following agreed best practices.

Effective policies are all the more important now that the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) are in place. The DPA and the GDPR are not just about implementing technological and organisational measures to protect the information your business stores.

You also need to demonstrate your compliance, which is why data security policies are essential.

Employee training is vital to ensure each of these policies is maintained.

For advice and more information on Data Protection, contact your expert Data Protection solicitors at Pure Business Law.




Social media policy


What is it? A social media policy sets out how a business and its employees should conduct themselves on the internet and what is and is not appropriate for employees to post about their company on social networks. Why is it important? It helps protect your company’s online reputation. The policy must reflect the business culture and be designed to minimise risks such as employees making derogatory remarks about your business or workplace online.




Equal opportunities policy


What is it? This policy sets out the business’s commitment to treating its employees fairly and giving everyone the same opportunities for employment, pay and promotion without discriminating against anyone on the grounds of age, sex, race, gender, ethnic origins, gender etc (the nine protected characteristics”).




Flexible working policy


What is it? A flexible working policy is a policy that sets out different working arrangements where employees are given greater freedom in the hours they work and how they fulfil the obligations of their roles. You are legally obliged to provide your employees with details of your business’s flexible working policy and procedures Flexible working includes working from home, part-time working job sharing, compressed hours, flexible start and finish times and phased retirement. Why is it important? The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) recommends that employers put in place a flexible working policy as best practice to ensure that you deal with flexible working requests consistently and to ensure that staff are all aware of how you deal with them. Flexible working has advantages and disadvantages. Is flexible working right for your business? Contact us to discuss!




Health and safety policy


What is it? A health and safety policy states the employer’s commitment to protect employees’ health and safety and to cooperate with other parties such as employees, supervisors, the health and safety representative to ensure a safe work environment.If you have five or more employees, you are legally required to have a written health and safety policy. Why is it important? If you do not have a written policy the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can take action against you and prosecute you. Even if you do not have five employees it is best practice to have a written health and safety policy to make your health and safety arrangements clear. Consideration of the health, safety and welfare of staff is an integral part of the management process. The purpose of a Health and Safety policy is to establish general standards for health and safety at work and to distribute responsibility for their achievement to all managers, supervisors and other employees through the normal line management processes. Risks Managers must approach health and safety in a systematic way, by identifying hazards and problems, planning improvements, taking executive action and monitoring results. There should be an annual audit and regular risk assessments.




Grievance procedure


What is it? You are legally obliged to provide your employees with details of your business’s grievance and disciplinary procedures. The grievance procedure is a tool by which a member of staff may formally have a grievance (i.e. “complaint”) regarding any condition of their employment heard by the Company management. Your grievance procedure should set out the process to be followed, to whom a grievance should be reported and the right to appeal a finding. The employee has the right to representation by a Trade Union representative or a work colleague. Why is it important? Your disciplinary policy should include examples of the types of conduct or behaviour that will lead to disciplinary action as well as information about the process your business will follow in investigating and handling a disciplinary matter. You also need to set out the names of the people in your business who will deal with disciplinary matters and any appeals arising from the disciplinary process. It is also good practice to have a Whistleblowing policy, a Bullying and harassment policy and a smoking, drugs and alcohol policy alongside your standard grievance and disciplinary procedures.




Redundancy policy


What is it? A redundancy policy provides employers with detailed procedures to follow within a business when making staff redundant so avoiding possible unfair dismissal claims. The policy also provides employees with information regarding the procedures the employer must follow thereby helping to avoid uncertainty for staff. It sets out each step of the redundancy process and outlines the statutory settlements for redundant staff. Employees who are made redundant and have at least 2 or more years continuous service are entitled to statutory redundancy pay. Why is it important? Having a redundancy policy in place will provide an employer with a clear framework to carry out redundancies and provides employees with clear notice of how any redundancy would be undertaken.




Sickness policy


What is it? If you have employees, you are required to set out details of their sick pay and leave entitlements in their employment contracts. A sickness policy sets out your procedures for dealing with and managing employee sickness absences and return to work eg how you want your staff to notify you when they are sick, whether your company offers any enhanced sick pay (ie contractual sick pay) over the minimum statutory sick pay (SSP), what absence levels will trigger the beginning of the disciplinary procedure, your policy regarding time off for medical appointments. Why is it important? Having a sickness policy in place is not a legal requirement however it can be reassuring and can help to remove some of the stress and uncertainty associated with sickness absence. It can also help to ensure that sickness absences are handled fairly and consistently across your work force. Risks When writing your policy you must remember that if an employee is ill and or off work due to a disability you must make any reasonable adjustments to help that employee remain at work or return to work before imposing any sanction under your sickness absence policy. This could include agreeing to provide them with a special type of chair (if the employee has back pain), changing their working hours so they can attend work more easily or providing a phased return to work ie the employee works for 3 or 4 hours for the first few weeks and then increases their working hours gradually. If you do not have a sickness policy and you treat staff inconsistently you may end up being sued by an employee for discrimination.




Maternity policy


What is it? This is required by law. A maternity leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage pregnancy absence and return to work. Why is it important? You must ensure that written information about the rights and policies applicable to new and expectant parents is available to all staff members so that they are aware of their rights and obligations. Your maternity policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Parental leave policy


What is it? This is required by law .A parental leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage parental leave for reasons associated with childcare eg when a parent has to take time off to look after children for one reason or the other and return to work. Your parental leave policy should set out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage parental leave after pregnancy absence and return to work. Why is it important? You must ensure that written information about the rights and policies applicable to new and expectant parents is available to all staff members so that they are aware of their rights and obligations. Your parental leave policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Paternity policy


What is it? This is required by law . A paternity leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage paternity leave either when a father wants to take time off to look after his child after childbirth or adoption etc. and return to work. You must ensure that written information about the rights and policies applicable to new and expectant parents is available to all staff members so that they are aware of their rights and obligations. What is it important? Your paternity leave policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Shared parental leave policy


What is it? This is required by law. A shared parental leave policy sets out the policies and procedures that your business has to manage shared parental leave and return to work. Why is it important? Your shared parental leave policy should also include information about time off work for antenatal or pre-adoption appointments, the rules about leave and pay during the child’s first 12 months and return to work rights of the expectant partner. Your policy should also include information about whether your business will offer the minimum statutory rights or an enhanced entitlement.




Environmental policy


What is it? Although not a legal requirement it is good business practice to have an Environmental policy. An Environmental policy confirms that your company is committed to continuous improvement in managing environmental issues including proper management and monitoring of waste, reduction of pollution and emissions, compliance with environmental legislation and environmental codes of practice, training for staff and the monitoring of environmental performance. Why is it important? This will in turn assist you in building and maintaining good relations with the community and the general public. Once written it should be signed by the most senior director in the company to show that it is company policy and should be reviewed on a regular basis alongside your Health and Safety policies. Whilst not required by law an Environmental policy may also come in useful if you are bidding for medium-sized and large tenders. We are experienced in preparing such policies for offices, shops, construction, automotive workshops, hotels, transport ,logistics, parcel delivery, restaurants, manufacturing cleaning companies.





Buying & Selling a business

Share Purchase Agreement


What is it?

A Share purchase agreement (SPA) is an agreement setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale and purchase of shares in a company. Share purchase agreements are often complex documents which can become lengthy and create significant delay, friction and cost if not dealt with by experienced, business minded lawyers.

Why is it important?

There is often a choice and negotiation over whether it’s best for either or both parties to buy/sell assets rather than shares. This would depend on whether the current owner (seller) is a limited company. If not, there can be no share sale! Further, where a buyer wants to preserve as many customer relations as possible, they may elect to buy the shares as opposed to assets.

The seller’s solicitor usually draws up the draft share purchase agreement.

Risks

While the buyer’s solicitor will try to protect the buyer the interest of the seller’s solicitor is to minimise this protection, in particular by limiting the seller’s liability for misrepresentation. However, in practice, where there is fraudulent misrepresentation the seller will still be liable so the buyer may accept such clauses since they are not valid if the seller can prove fraudulent misrepresentation.

Please contact us if you require specialist commercial lawyers to review, draft, negotiate, amend or generally advise on a share purchase agreement.




Asset Purchase Agreement


What is it?

An asset purchase agreement is an agreement setting out the terms and conditions relating to the sale and purchase of assets of a business. In an asset purchase, the company itself will be selling the assets, whilst in a share sale, the individual shareholders will be the sellers.

Occasionally a buyer will prefer to acquire certain assets of a business rather than acquire all of the shares in a company and therefore, both its assets and liabilities.

A buyer will normally prefer to buy the assets of a business, while the seller will prefer to sell the shares. The main benefit of an asset purchase is that a buyer may selectively pick the assets and liabilities they want to acquire and there is generally less risk of hidden liabilities than with a share purchase.

Risks

The main disadvantage of an asset sale, as opposed to a share purchase agreement is that each item must be transferred in accordance with its proper rules and made enforceable against third parties (eg through consents and approvals). This is especially the case for customer contracts, as a third party may view the transaction as an opportunity to renegotiate their contract thereby adding delay and additional costs to the transaction.

In addition, there may be other important contracts that are non-transferrable, or licences and consents unique to the seller which may not be transferrable.

In an asset sale it is vital to identify what exactly is being purchased. Assets transferred as part of an Asset purchase agreement may include:

  • Plant and machinery.
  • Premises;
  • Stock;
  • Contracts;
  • Know-how; and
  • Goodwill.

Please contact us if you require specialist commercial lawyers to review, draft, negotiate, amend or generally advise on a share purchase agreement.




Disclosure Letter


What is it?

A Non-Disclosure letter or Non-Disclosure Agreement, also called a Confidentiality Agreement, is a legal contract between two or more parties by which the parties agree not to disclose information (which is intended to be kept secret) that they have shared with each other during a business relationship to third parties.

Why is it important?

This Agreement may either be one-way (unilateral) or two-way (mutual), depending on whether both parties will be providing the secret information. If one party will be providing the secret information to the other, it is called a Unilateral Non-Disclosure Agreement.

For example, where an inventor of an idea is sharing the idea with another person, the inventor is the disclosing party and the other party is the receiving party. If the two parties will share the secret information between themselves, it is called a Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement.

This Agreement can be used to share intellectual property, share commercial trading information or formalize a business relationship, for example, between an employer and an employee





Operating as a Sole Trader

Notice of breach of covenants


What is it?

This is popularly called a Section 146 Notice (it is a notice required to be served by section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 and relates solely to business tenants) that warns a tenant who is in breach of covenant (other than the covenant to pay rent) of the landlord’s intention to forfeit the lease on ground of the breach of covenant.

Why is it important?

“Forfeiture” is the right of the landlord to re-enter the commercial property and take back possession of the property if a covenant has been breached.

For the notice to be valid and binding the notice must specify the breach of covenant and if the breach is capable of remedy , require the tenant to remedy it and pay monetary compensation to the landlord for the breach.

A landlord can only serve such a notice if the lease contains a right to forfeit the lease (i.e. a right of re-entry). The notice must also contain certain prescribed information. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within a reasonable time the landlord can start forfeiture proceedings in the County Court.

Risks

A landlord who wants to forfeit the lease must avoid “waiving” the breach of covenant. Waiver occurs where a landlord becomes aware of a breach of the lease but does not take action against the tenant within a reasonable period or acknowledges the continuation of the lease by for example demanding rent or service charges or accepting rent payments from the tenant.




Break notice


What is it? A Break Notice, also known as a Break Clauses or a break option, is an important contractual provision in a lease which allows either a landlord or tenant to bring a Lease to an early end. Some landlords often have a vested interest in making life difficult for a tenant seeking to exercise its option to break the lease by making the option subject to stringent conditions. Why is it important?

Break Notices are akin to options and are therefore strictly construed by the courts . From the tenant’s perspective, a properly drafted Break Clause gives them the opportunity to avoid being tied into a lease that they can no longer afford. This is a safety-net for a tenant – especially if they are just starting out.

Understandably though, a landlord who is receiving a steady rental income may be reluctant to lose a tenant, particularly in tough economic times.

Risks

Any tenant seeking to exercise the option to break the lease must check the lease carefully and ensure they follow the landlord’s “break clause conditions” to the letter. It is crucial when taking a lease that a tenant understands that the conditions of the Break Clause can easily defeat an option to break unless followed to the letter. If the conditions are not strictly followed the termination is not valid and the tenant remains a lessee until the expiry of the lease, the next break clause date or until the tenant is able to assign the lease with the landlord’s consent if there is such a provision in the lease.

A properly advised tenant should refuse any condition, other than up-to date payment of principal rent and giving up occupation.




Tenant's agreement to exclude security of tenure


What is it?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 provides tenants of business premises with rights of ‘security of tenure’. This means that once a business tenant’s lease expires, the tenant has the right to request a new lease on the same terms as the previous lease (subject to agreement on terms, such as the amount of rent, any legislative updates etc), except where the landlord has a statutory ground to refuse a new lease (for instance, if the tenant has failed to pay rent or the landlord wishes to redevelop the premises).

Why is it important?

When agreeing to enter into a commercial or business lease, one of the things that will be discussed when agreeing Heads of Terms is whether your lease will be ‘protected’ with security of tenure, or ‘contracted out’ i.e. excluded’ from security of tenure. It is quite common for landlords to require that security of tenure rights are excluded from a lease. They do this by asking the prospective tenant to sign a notice in front of an independent solicitor agreeing to the exclusion of security of tenure under the lease.

Risks

This notice means that a tenant of commercial premises will not have the automatic right to request a renewal of their lease at the end of the term of the lease, leaving the landlord free to let the property to another tenant at the end of the term. This is because landlords often wish to retain strict control over the occupation of their property. If security of tenure is excluded, you the tenant, must vacate the property at the end of the lease in accordance with its terms unless you have negotiated a new lease with the landlord separately.




Landlord's notice to exclude security of tenure





Section 25 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice by the landlord under s25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

Why is it important?

It allows the landlord to start a procedure which will end either in the tenant being granted a new lease or in the tenant vacating. This notice cannot be given before the last year of the lease terms nor after the tenant has served a request for a new tenancy under s26 of the Act.

Risks

The s25 notice must state the date on which the landlord intends to bring the existing lease to an end.




Section 26 Notice


What is it?

This is a notice given by the tenant requesting a new tenancy upon the termination of the old tenancy.

Why is it important?

The s26 request must specify the date on which the existing lease is to end.

Risks

This notice cannot be served before the last year of the agreed lease term nor can it be served after the landlord has served a s25 notice.




Licence for alterations


What is it?

This is a licence from the landlord to the tenant giving the tenant the right to carry out specific works or alterations to the property that is being let. The alterations may be major or minor.

Why is it important?

The Licence should include provisions as to the manner in which the tenant will carry out the works, timescales, reinstatement and (to the extent applicable) the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Drawings and specifications showing the proposed works should be attached to the Licence so that it is clear what the landlord is consenting to.

If the proposed alterations are not substantial (e.g. the erection of demountable partitioning or signage) you can use a simple Letter- Licence to Alter.




Section 27 Notice


What is it? A tenant has the right under s27 of the 1954 Act to bring the tenancy to an end by giving at least three months’ notice before the date on which the tenancy would otherwise expire. If the lease term has expired but the tenancy is still continuing under the 1954 Act the tenant may bring that continuing tenancy to an end by giving not less than three months’ notice in writing to the landlord.





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Ending or Assigning an Existing Agreement

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Health & Safety

Health and safety policy


What is it? A health and safety policy states the employer’s commitment to protect employees’ health and safety and to cooperate with other parties such as employees, supervisors, the health and safety representative to ensure a safe work environment.If you have five or more employees, you are legally required to have a written health and safety policy. Why is it important? If you do not have a written policy the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can take action against you and prosecute you. Even if you do not have five employees it is best practice to have a written health and safety policy to make your health and safety arrangements clear. Consideration of the health, safety and welfare of staff is an integral part of the management process. The purpose of a Health and Safety policy is to establish general standards for health and safety at work and to distribute responsibility for their achievement to all managers, supervisors and other employees through the normal line management processes. Risks Managers must approach health and safety in a systematic way, by identifying hazards and problems, planning improvements, taking executive action and monitoring results. There should be an annual audit and regular risk assessments.





 
 
 
 

Planning & Highways

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





 

Managing employee performance

Letter ending a contract


What is it? A letter terminating a contract also known as a Notice of Contract Termination, Notice of Cancellation of Contract or a Contract Termination Letter is a formal declaration indicating your intention to terminate a contract with the other party to the contract. When writing a letter terminating a contract ensure that you have the legal right to terminate the contract in the particular circumstances and keep your tone formal,straightforward, courteous and professional. Risks You should also ensure that :

  • The letter contains a clear description of the reasons for the termination of the contract.
  • The date of termination is mentioned.
  • The letter thanks the other party for their services.

Our contract solicitors can provide you with a bespoke letter for a reasonable fixed fee that you can use to cancel a contract or agreement.




Letter assigning a contract


What is it?

Transferring a contract from one party to another is known as ‘assigning’ a contract or ‘an assignment’ of the contract. An assignment ends one party’s involvement in the contract and transfers their contractual rights, benefits and interests to a new party.

Risks

Some contracts may contain a clause prohibiting assignment; other contracts may require the other party to consent to the assignment. Unless assignment is prohibited in a contract, a party may assign their rights to third party without the consent of the other party to the agreement. A letter of assignment is used to effect the assignment and will be signed by the outgoing party and the incoming party.





Reorganisation & Redundancies

Settlement agreement


What is it?

A Settlement Agreement is a binding contract between an employer and employee which settles claims that an employee may have against their employer. Whilst such an agreement is usually used in relation to be ending the employment it may also be used to settle a dispute that has arisen between an employer and employee where there is no intention by either party to end the employment.

Why is it important?

The terms of the settlement agreement must be mutually agreed between the employer and employee and must include a waiver of the specific claims which the employee has or could have. The agreement should contain a breakdown of the payments which have been agreed and should also state whether any of the payments are to be paid to the employee free of tax. Payments of up to £30k compensation can often be paid without deduction of tax if the payment is being made on an “ex gratia basis” (i.e. it is a payment you have voluntarily decided to make rather than one that you are legally obliged to make) or as compensation damages for a breach of contract.

Risks?

For a settlement agreement to be legally binding it must meet a number of statutory requirements eg it must be in writing, must specify the particular claims or complaints which the agreement is settling and the employee must have received advice on the terms and effect of the agreement from an independent solicitor or a trade union official whose advice is covered by insurance.

If the settlement agreement does not meet all of the statutory requirements, it will not be binding and the employee can still bring claims against the employer relating to the claims allegedly “settled” by the settlement agreement.It is a good idea to take proper legal advice before you decide to enter into a settlement agreement.

For more information on settlement agreements, contact our employment solicitors




Reference letter


What is it?

A Reference letter is a letter that is usually written to testify to a person’s or (sometimes) a company’s skills, experience, character and or achievements. It is used in various circumstances eg when a candidate applies for a job and needs a reference to support their application, if a job candidate is made a job offer and is asked to provide a reference letter before the contract can be signed, a landlord asks a prospective tenant to provide a reference letter testifying to their character and good financial statues, a student applies for funding and is asked to provide a reference letter or a company applies for a tender and is asked to provide reference letters testifying to their ability to do the job and their trustworthiness.

Why is it important?

A Reference letter is a formal document and should be written in a business-like style. Do not mention any weaknesses that the candidate has or say anything that could be construed as derogatory or libel. If you honestly feel that the applicant has no good qualities or if you have had a dispute with them in the past you should tell them to get a reference letter from someone else. An employer must give a reference if there was a written agreement to do so and they are in a regulated industry such as Financial services.

Risks

You are under no obligation to give a work reference but if you do it must be fair and accurate. Your employee may be able to sue you in court and claim damages if you give a reference, they think is misleading or unfair. To do so the employee must be able to show that (a ) the reference is misleading or inaccurate and (b) they suffered a loss eg a job offer was withdrawn.It is essential that you do not lie in it or you could be sued.

Need some advice? Contact our employment solicitors.





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Pure Business Law is the trading name for Pure Business Law Ltd-a private limited company registered in England & Wales with company registration number 10405413. Registered office and Principal place of business : Excel House, 3 Duke Street, Bedford. MK40 3HR. VAT number 265 5386 75.

 

 

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