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

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





HR Policies

Company formation


What is it?

Companies House is the UK’s ‘registrar of companies. A UK company can’t be formed without approval from Companies House therefore all company formation requests need to go through Companies House. You can apply directly or via company formation agents – who may charge slightly more than Companies House and are able to offer everything that Companies House offer, plus extra associated services.

Why is it important?

Company formation documents are the key pieces of documentation (i.e. the certificate of incorporation, memorandum of association and articles of association) that you will need to keep and refer to following your registration of your company with Companies

House. If you have access to a computer, you can form your company online in a matter of hours The prices vary but Companies House charge £12 if the formation is done online. Using the paper method via the actual IN01 form sent via post costs £40 for the standard 5-10 da service or £100 for the same-day service.

To form a company, you need the following information:

  • Proposed company name
  • The proposed Registered office address
  • Shareholder(s) details
  • Company director(s) details
  • The share capital information and the particulars relating to each class of shares
  • Details of the people with significant control details

You also need Articles of association – These set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility and a Memorandum of association – This document will contain the names of the subscribers (initial shareholders) or guarantors agreeing to forming the company.

If forming your company online, the Articles of Association and Memorandum will be automatically created for you although you still have the option to create your own ‘Articles of association’ if you wish. If using the paper method, you will still have the opportunity to use prepared ‘Articles of association’ but you will need to include your own ‘Memorandum of association’ when posting your completed IN01.




Directors' service agreement


What is it?

This is a more complex contract of employment between a director/executive and an employer.

Why is it important?

It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment.

Risks

As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee- director belongs to the business..




Articles of Association


What is it?

Every company formed in England and Wales is required to have articles, without which a company cannot legally be formed. This requirement applies whether or not the company is public or private and whether limited by shares or by guarantee.

Why is it important?

The Articles of Association set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility agreed by the shareholders or guarantors, directors.

The articles generally cover five essential areas:

  • Limited liability of shareholders – a fixed sum limited to the nominal value of their shares.
  • Shares and distributions – rights attaching to particular shares, issues and transfers of shares, payments of dividends and another share dealings;
  • Shareholder decision making – quorum and voting at general meetings of shareholders and various decision-making options.
  • Directors and decision making – number of directors, their powers and responsibilities and procedures for decision making; and
  • Administrative arrangements.

Our corporate solicitors can provide you with legal advice on reviewing, drafting, or amending your articles of association and other constitutional documents. We can also provide you with bespoke articles of association.




Board Resolutions


What is it? A resolution is written documentation describing an action authorized by the board of directors of a company.




EMI Schemes


What is it?

An Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) scheme is an approved employee share scheme designed for smaller companies and accessible to most trading companies.

Why is it important?

It allows employers to attract and retain key staff by rewarding them with share options (equity participation ) in the business in a tax efficient way, as a reward for their efforts within the business and/or to incentivise key staff, It is ideal for smaller entrepreneurial businesses that might not be able to match salaries paid elsewhere.




Board Minutes


What is it? The minutes are a written document that describes items discussed by the directors during a board meeting, including actions taken and resolutions passed.




Share Certificates


What is it?

A Share Certificate (or stock certificate) is a written document which is evidence of a shareholder's ownership of shares in the company. The share certificate is generally issued by companies to shareholders after a transfer or transmission of shares or an allotment has been made.

Why is it important?

The share certificate will include the name of the company issuing the shares, its registration number, the details of the holders of the shares, the certificate number, the class(es) of shares being issued, date of issue, the amount paid on each share etc.

A share certificate can be issued by a private limited, public limited and unlimited liability company but cannot be issued by a company limited by guarantee as the company does not have shares.




Shareholders Agreement


What is it?

We always recommend that you put a shareholders’ agreement in place if your company has more than one shareholder.A shareholder agreement sets out the rights and obligations of each shareholder. The purpose of a shareholder agreement is to cover the most important issues in a business relationship:

  • How the shareholders will run the company
  • The mechanism for resolution of disputes between the shareholders(i.e. a “Deadlock” clause)
  • The process for valuation of the company
  • The transmission of shares in the event of the death or departure of a shareholder.

Why is it important?

A Shareholders agreement has several benefits:

  • It provides each member with clear details of their responsibilities, financial input, voting arrangements and share transfers thereby making it a strong safeguard against legal disputes and disagreements.
  • If carefully thought out and drafted it can protect individual shareholders and give them more protection that they would receive under the Model Articles of Association eg by giving each individual member a veto if the business is considering important changes
  • It is an essential agreement to have when a company has more than one shareholder as there is nothing to regulate what happens if the shareholders have a dispute or a shareholder dies.
  • It greatly reduces the risk of a shareholders’ dispute occurring and if it does it will be quicker to resolve.
  • If a shareholder is not pulling their weight or is damaging the business’s reputation the to her shareholders can vote to remove him or her and buy his or her shares for a fair price. This would be difficult to do without a shareholder’s agreement and if just relying on the standard Articles.

Our Shareholders Agreement solicitors can provide you with a professionally drafted shareholders agreement at reasonable fixed fees. Contact us today!





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Protecting your IP

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Business Relationships

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





Running an online business

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Buying & Selling Goods & Services

Company formation


What is it?

Companies House is the UK’s ‘registrar of companies. A UK company can’t be formed without approval from Companies House therefore all company formation requests need to go through Companies House. You can apply directly or via company formation agents – who may charge slightly more than Companies House and are able to offer everything that Companies House offer, plus extra associated services.

Why is it important?

Company formation documents are the key pieces of documentation (i.e. the certificate of incorporation, memorandum of association and articles of association) that you will need to keep and refer to following your registration of your company with Companies

House. If you have access to a computer, you can form your company online in a matter of hours The prices vary but Companies House charge £12 if the formation is done online. Using the paper method via the actual IN01 form sent via post costs £40 for the standard 5-10 da service or £100 for the same-day service.

To form a company, you need the following information:

  • Proposed company name
  • The proposed Registered office address
  • Shareholder(s) details
  • Company director(s) details
  • The share capital information and the particulars relating to each class of shares
  • Details of the people with significant control details

You also need Articles of association – These set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility and a Memorandum of association – This document will contain the names of the subscribers (initial shareholders) or guarantors agreeing to forming the company.

If forming your company online, the Articles of Association and Memorandum will be automatically created for you although you still have the option to create your own ‘Articles of association’ if you wish. If using the paper method, you will still have the opportunity to use prepared ‘Articles of association’ but you will need to include your own ‘Memorandum of association’ when posting your completed IN01.




Directors' service agreement


What is it?

This is a more complex contract of employment between a director/executive and an employer.

Why is it important?

It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment.

Risks

As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee- director belongs to the business..




Articles of Association


What is it?

Every company formed in England and Wales is required to have articles, without which a company cannot legally be formed. This requirement applies whether or not the company is public or private and whether limited by shares or by guarantee.

Why is it important?

The Articles of Association set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility agreed by the shareholders or guarantors, directors.

The articles generally cover five essential areas:

  • Limited liability of shareholders – a fixed sum limited to the nominal value of their shares.
  • Shares and distributions – rights attaching to particular shares, issues and transfers of shares, payments of dividends and another share dealings;
  • Shareholder decision making – quorum and voting at general meetings of shareholders and various decision-making options.
  • Directors and decision making – number of directors, their powers and responsibilities and procedures for decision making; and
  • Administrative arrangements.

Our corporate solicitors can provide you with legal advice on reviewing, drafting, or amending your articles of association and other constitutional documents. We can also provide you with bespoke articles of association.




Board Resolutions


What is it? A resolution is written documentation describing an action authorized by the board of directors of a company.




EMI Schemes


What is it?

An Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) scheme is an approved employee share scheme designed for smaller companies and accessible to most trading companies.

Why is it important?

It allows employers to attract and retain key staff by rewarding them with share options (equity participation ) in the business in a tax efficient way, as a reward for their efforts within the business and/or to incentivise key staff, It is ideal for smaller entrepreneurial businesses that might not be able to match salaries paid elsewhere.




Board Minutes


What is it? The minutes are a written document that describes items discussed by the directors during a board meeting, including actions taken and resolutions passed.




Share Certificates


What is it?

A Share Certificate (or stock certificate) is a written document which is evidence of a shareholder's ownership of shares in the company. The share certificate is generally issued by companies to shareholders after a transfer or transmission of shares or an allotment has been made.

Why is it important?

The share certificate will include the name of the company issuing the shares, its registration number, the details of the holders of the shares, the certificate number, the class(es) of shares being issued, date of issue, the amount paid on each share etc.

A share certificate can be issued by a private limited, public limited and unlimited liability company but cannot be issued by a company limited by guarantee as the company does not have shares.




Shareholders Agreement


What is it?

We always recommend that you put a shareholders’ agreement in place if your company has more than one shareholder.A shareholder agreement sets out the rights and obligations of each shareholder. The purpose of a shareholder agreement is to cover the most important issues in a business relationship:

  • How the shareholders will run the company
  • The mechanism for resolution of disputes between the shareholders(i.e. a “Deadlock” clause)
  • The process for valuation of the company
  • The transmission of shares in the event of the death or departure of a shareholder.

Why is it important?

A Shareholders agreement has several benefits:

  • It provides each member with clear details of their responsibilities, financial input, voting arrangements and share transfers thereby making it a strong safeguard against legal disputes and disagreements.
  • If carefully thought out and drafted it can protect individual shareholders and give them more protection that they would receive under the Model Articles of Association eg by giving each individual member a veto if the business is considering important changes
  • It is an essential agreement to have when a company has more than one shareholder as there is nothing to regulate what happens if the shareholders have a dispute or a shareholder dies.
  • It greatly reduces the risk of a shareholders’ dispute occurring and if it does it will be quicker to resolve.
  • If a shareholder is not pulling their weight or is damaging the business’s reputation the to her shareholders can vote to remove him or her and buy his or her shares for a fair price. This would be difficult to do without a shareholder’s agreement and if just relying on the standard Articles.

Our Shareholders Agreement solicitors can provide you with a professionally drafted shareholders agreement at reasonable fixed fees. Contact us today!





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Managing a company

Company formation


What is it?

Companies House is the UK’s ‘registrar of companies. A UK company can’t be formed without approval from Companies House therefore all company formation requests need to go through Companies House. You can apply directly or via company formation agents – who may charge slightly more than Companies House and are able to offer everything that Companies House offer, plus extra associated services.

Why is it important?

Company formation documents are the key pieces of documentation (i.e. the certificate of incorporation, memorandum of association and articles of association) that you will need to keep and refer to following your registration of your company with Companies

House. If you have access to a computer, you can form your company online in a matter of hours The prices vary but Companies House charge £12 if the formation is done online. Using the paper method via the actual IN01 form sent via post costs £40 for the standard 5-10 da service or £100 for the same-day service.

To form a company, you need the following information:

  • Proposed company name
  • The proposed Registered office address
  • Shareholder(s) details
  • Company director(s) details
  • The share capital information and the particulars relating to each class of shares
  • Details of the people with significant control details

You also need Articles of association – These set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility and a Memorandum of association – This document will contain the names of the subscribers (initial shareholders) or guarantors agreeing to forming the company.

If forming your company online, the Articles of Association and Memorandum will be automatically created for you although you still have the option to create your own ‘Articles of association’ if you wish. If using the paper method, you will still have the opportunity to use prepared ‘Articles of association’ but you will need to include your own ‘Memorandum of association’ when posting your completed IN01.




Directors' service agreement


What is it?

This is a more complex contract of employment between a director/executive and an employer.

Why is it important?

It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment.

Risks

As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee- director belongs to the business..




Articles of Association


What is it?

Every company formed in England and Wales is required to have articles, without which a company cannot legally be formed. This requirement applies whether or not the company is public or private and whether limited by shares or by guarantee.

Why is it important?

The Articles of Association set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility agreed by the shareholders or guarantors, directors.

The articles generally cover five essential areas:

  • Limited liability of shareholders – a fixed sum limited to the nominal value of their shares.
  • Shares and distributions – rights attaching to particular shares, issues and transfers of shares, payments of dividends and another share dealings;
  • Shareholder decision making – quorum and voting at general meetings of shareholders and various decision-making options.
  • Directors and decision making – number of directors, their powers and responsibilities and procedures for decision making; and
  • Administrative arrangements.

Our corporate solicitors can provide you with legal advice on reviewing, drafting, or amending your articles of association and other constitutional documents. We can also provide you with bespoke articles of association.




Board Resolutions


What is it? A resolution is written documentation describing an action authorized by the board of directors of a company.




EMI Schemes


What is it?

An Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) scheme is an approved employee share scheme designed for smaller companies and accessible to most trading companies.

Why is it important?

It allows employers to attract and retain key staff by rewarding them with share options (equity participation ) in the business in a tax efficient way, as a reward for their efforts within the business and/or to incentivise key staff, It is ideal for smaller entrepreneurial businesses that might not be able to match salaries paid elsewhere.




Board Minutes


What is it? The minutes are a written document that describes items discussed by the directors during a board meeting, including actions taken and resolutions passed.




Share Certificates


What is it?

A Share Certificate (or stock certificate) is a written document which is evidence of a shareholder's ownership of shares in the company. The share certificate is generally issued by companies to shareholders after a transfer or transmission of shares or an allotment has been made.

Why is it important?

The share certificate will include the name of the company issuing the shares, its registration number, the details of the holders of the shares, the certificate number, the class(es) of shares being issued, date of issue, the amount paid on each share etc.

A share certificate can be issued by a private limited, public limited and unlimited liability company but cannot be issued by a company limited by guarantee as the company does not have shares.




Shareholders Agreement


What is it?

We always recommend that you put a shareholders’ agreement in place if your company has more than one shareholder.A shareholder agreement sets out the rights and obligations of each shareholder. The purpose of a shareholder agreement is to cover the most important issues in a business relationship:

  • How the shareholders will run the company
  • The mechanism for resolution of disputes between the shareholders(i.e. a “Deadlock” clause)
  • The process for valuation of the company
  • The transmission of shares in the event of the death or departure of a shareholder.

Why is it important?

A Shareholders agreement has several benefits:

  • It provides each member with clear details of their responsibilities, financial input, voting arrangements and share transfers thereby making it a strong safeguard against legal disputes and disagreements.
  • If carefully thought out and drafted it can protect individual shareholders and give them more protection that they would receive under the Model Articles of Association eg by giving each individual member a veto if the business is considering important changes
  • It is an essential agreement to have when a company has more than one shareholder as there is nothing to regulate what happens if the shareholders have a dispute or a shareholder dies.
  • It greatly reduces the risk of a shareholders’ dispute occurring and if it does it will be quicker to resolve.
  • If a shareholder is not pulling their weight or is damaging the business’s reputation the to her shareholders can vote to remove him or her and buy his or her shares for a fair price. This would be difficult to do without a shareholder’s agreement and if just relying on the standard Articles.

Our Shareholders Agreement solicitors can provide you with a professionally drafted shareholders agreement at reasonable fixed fees. Contact us today!





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Settlement agreements & Ref

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





Commercial notices

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





Letting a commercial property

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.





Sale and Purchase of Commerial Property

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Buying & Selling a business

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Operating as a Sole Trader

Trademark (UK, EU, US, China)


What is it? One of the best ways of protecting your business name, brand and logo from being copied is to register a trademark. A trademark is a distinctive sign eg name, brand, logo or tagline (or a combination of these) used by a business to distinguish its goods and or services from those sold by another business and to identify its business as the source of those goods and services. In the UK, trademarks are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) Registering a trademark increases the protection it receives and stops others from using it. You may be able to register a trademark over:

  • words (eg the trademark “Nandos”)
  • pictures and words (eg the Pure Business Law trademark).
  • slogans (eg the Lidl strap line “Big on quality, Lidl on price”)
  • colours (eg the Cadbury Dairy Milk purple as owned by Kraft ).
  • sounds (eg the Match of the Day theme song played when their logo appears at the beginning of football matches) and
  • Logos (eg the Mac OS logo);
  • 3D shapes (eg the Pepsi cola bottle shape)
Why is it important? Registering a name or a logo gives you the following three benefits: Allows you to object if someone else applies to register ay name or logo that is similar to your trademark for the same of similar goods or services. This protection does not cover an application to use the same name or branding for a different type of business. For instance if you register “Fast-Sports” for a trade mark for selling sports cars, no one could register “Fast-Spots” for anything to do with selling cars but they may be able to register it as a trade mark for a dry-cleaning business because that has nothing to do with cars. If another business tries to use the same or similar branding on similar goods or services thereby infringing your trademark you can take legal proceedings to stop them. Your business’s goodwill and reputation have commercial value so registering a trademark is an easy way to protect your hard work and creativity. Registering a trademark gives you the exclusive right to use it for 10 years, after which you must make an application to renew it to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Their website is at www.ipo.gov.uk. You can register your trademarks in the UK, the EU and or internationally. All registrations last for 10years and are renewable indefinitely in further 10-year periods. The most suitable registration for your brand will depend on where you do business eg UK, EU or internationally. Risks If you do not register your name, brand or logo as a trademark you will not be able to easily stop other people using your trademark and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work.




Patent (Worldwide)


What is it? Protect your invention through a patent. A patent gives you an exclusive right over a novel invention that you have created. It gives you the exclusive right to use and reproduce your invention and stop people copying your invention without your permission. For instance, only Apple can make and sell Apple phones. In the UK, patents are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) To have a patent over something you have created, you must register it at the IPO. Patents generally last for up to twenty years. You can only patent a novel invention and cannot patent something that is already in the public domain. This means that your invention must be new (i.e. you cannot patent something which already exists eg a literary work, method of medical treatment, a diagnosis, scientific theory or a discovery) . You also cannot patent something which is already the subject of a patent application pre-dating your application. This means that you must carry out extensive market research examining trade journals and academic papers relevant to your industry market and searching for patents and patent applications on the patent registers worldwide. Obtaining a patent is expensive and time consuming. You should enlist the help of a professional eg lawyer or patent agent before starting an application for a patent. Why is it important?
Should I register my invention as a patent? Yes, you should if you believe that you have created a novel product or process which is so important to your business that you wish to pay a patent application fee to prevent others from using it. Risks Registering your invention as a patent ensures that:

  1. You can prevent others using your product or process if they intend to use it for commercial purposes.
  2. You can profit from your patent by only permitting certain people to use it for commercial purposes and only on condition that they pay you or give you a percentage of the profits they make from using your patent.
Risks If you do not register your invention as a patent, you will not be able to easily stop other people copying your ideas and you may end up allowing other businesses to profit from your hard work. You can use free online databases to search for patents eg Ipsum the UK IPO’s search facility, the Patents Journal (for UK applications that have been filed but not yet published), Espacenet – the European Patents Office’s (EPO’s) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents and Patentscope – the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s ) free database for worldwide patents including UK patents. Note that these databases may not be up to date. As an alternative you may prefer to use professional search services such as:
  1. The PATLIB (patent library) centre
  2. A Patent attorney through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys at www.cipa.org.uk




IP Assignment Agreement


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one person to someone else or to a business. It can be used to transfer rights in a trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work.




Registering Designs


What is it? Register your design to stop someone else from using it. A design right is a right that you have which can protect your original design from being copied by someone else.There are two different types of design rights – registered and unregistered design rights which can protect the look or appearance of a product from being copied. Why is it important? Design rights can exist in computer icons, logos, graphic designs, packaging and clothing. The rights do not arise by reference to the particular product but rather in the shape or look of either the whole of the product or part of that product. For instance, a registered design right in a motif used on a book will be infringed if someone else uses the same design motif on a duvet cover. In the UK, design registrations are granted by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). Risks Even if you do not register your design, it will still be automatically protected as an unregistered design right. However this right is more limited right because it only protects you against unauthorised copying and does not prevent other people creating similar designs independently. For businesses in the UK these unregistered design rights arise automatically in the UK and the EU for some designs under both UK and EU law if the relevant criteria are met. In the UK, unregistered design rights arise as soon as the relevant designs are recorded in some way eg in a drawing and in the UK as soon as they are made available to the public. However, the protection granted differs slightly in each jurisdiction. For instance in the UK unregistered design rights will automatically protect either the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article for up to 15 years, whereas in the EU unregistered design rights will automatically protect not only the appearance of the whole or part of any industrial or handicraft product resulting from its features but also its lines, shape, texture, contours and materials but only for up to 3 years. You should therefor keep a watching brief and consider whether such a right has arisen as soon as you believe that either you or your employees (in the course of their employment) have created an original design. Brexit The UK and the EU have agreed that there will be an implementation period (ie transition period) from the date the UK left the EU i.e. 31 January 2020 until 31 December 2020 or a later date if the transition period is extended. During this period there will be no changes to unregistered design rights. UK unregistered design rights UK unregistered design rights will continue after the transition period and provide up to 15 years of protection. However, after the transition period the UK Government has advised that only UK residents or businesses incorporated in the UK will be eligible for UK registered designs. EU unregistered design rights From the end of the transition period unregistered design rights in the EU (ie unregistered Community designs) will no longer be valid in the IK. The government has advised that it will immediately replace the unregistered Community design rights with UK unregistered design rights ( to be known as UK continuing unregistered design rights) and which will offer protection in the EU and UK for the rest of the three year terms previously attached to the unregistered Community design right. This means you will continue to be protected in the EU and UK for unregistered Community designs that existed before the end of the transition period. If you are concerned about how to protect your unregistered design rights in the UK and EU after the transition period please contact our IP lawyers for further advice on 01234 938089.




Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)/Letter of confidentiality


What is it? This agreement protects confidential information belonging to your business including IP and other information which you do not want to be made public. Why is it important? It is important to have an NDA in place before sharing any confidential or sensitive information in business meetings with people with whom you intend to do business eg investors, prospective co-founders, suppliers, consultants and the like. A letter of confidentiality is similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The party disclosing confidential information imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information to the party receiving it. Risks If you do not have the required safeguards in place to protect your intellectual property during business meetings or negotiations you may have your designs, inventions or work stolen or copied by the person with whom you are negotiating. This could be disastrous for your business.




one-way confidentiality agreement


What is it? A one-way Confidentiality agreement is similar to a non-disclosure agreement but imposes restrictions as to the use of this confidential information only on one party.




Assignment of intellectual property


What is it? An IP assignment agreement transfers rights and ownership in an IP created by one-person eg trademark, patent, logo, designs or any other IP to someone else or to a business. Why is it important? An IP assignment agreement is important when a business is sold, and the founder created intellectual property before becoming a part of the company or a company employs a someone whether consultant or employee to do some work. If you assign IP rights to another business, you are transferring ownership of the IP. It is more common to licence intellectual property rights than to assign them in business. Licensing allows a third party to have rights over the IP and do certain acts with the IP that they would not otherwise have been able to do but you keep ownership of the IP. You can limit the licence to a certain area eg the UK, Middle East, Africa etc or to a certain period of time eg 1 year, 2 years etc. Risks If for example you assign your IP to a business and it fails, you would have lost your IP. If on the other hand you licence your IP to another business, you are in ultimate control and can stipulate how the IP should be used and when it has to be returned. You can also stipulate that the IP be returned to you if the business goes into liquidation or on the happening of certain events.




Copyright


What is it? Copyright is the exclusive right to use and reproduce in public any material you have created if it falls into one of the following categories: i) Written work such as books, plays film scripts, web content, articles, essays, professional opinions, tables, compilations and databases; ii)Artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photos, maps, charts, plan, diagrams etc; iii)sound recordings; iv)Films, music and broadcasts; or v) computer programs. Why is it important? Copyright arises automatically when you create the work so there is no need to register copyright to own a work that you have created. You should be wary of any person that asks you to pay them to register your copyright in a work that you have created as it will be a scam. Businesses as well as individuals can own copyright. Copyright usually lasts for 70 years. You can buy someone’s copyright via a document called a Deed of assignment or give them a licence to use your copyright. As a general rule if an employee creates a work in the course of their employment their employer (ie the business ) will own the work. However, if the work in question is not part of the agreed duties of the employee the employee will own the work. To ensure that copyright work created by employees is owned by the business you should include appropriate intellectual property clauses in your employment contracts. Risks If you commission a piece of work from a freelancer the copyright in the work will belong to the freelancer unless the parties have agreed otherwise. It is important to ensure that the position on ownership of the copyright in writing before work starts to ensure that the business owns the copyright in the work produced by the freelancer.





Ending or Assigning an Existing Agreement

Company formation


What is it?

Companies House is the UK’s ‘registrar of companies. A UK company can’t be formed without approval from Companies House therefore all company formation requests need to go through Companies House. You can apply directly or via company formation agents – who may charge slightly more than Companies House and are able to offer everything that Companies House offer, plus extra associated services.

Why is it important?

Company formation documents are the key pieces of documentation (i.e. the certificate of incorporation, memorandum of association and articles of association) that you will need to keep and refer to following your registration of your company with Companies

House. If you have access to a computer, you can form your company online in a matter of hours The prices vary but Companies House charge £12 if the formation is done online. Using the paper method via the actual IN01 form sent via post costs £40 for the standard 5-10 da service or £100 for the same-day service.

To form a company, you need the following information:

  • Proposed company name
  • The proposed Registered office address
  • Shareholder(s) details
  • Company director(s) details
  • The share capital information and the particulars relating to each class of shares
  • Details of the people with significant control details

You also need Articles of association – These set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility and a Memorandum of association – This document will contain the names of the subscribers (initial shareholders) or guarantors agreeing to forming the company.

If forming your company online, the Articles of Association and Memorandum will be automatically created for you although you still have the option to create your own ‘Articles of association’ if you wish. If using the paper method, you will still have the opportunity to use prepared ‘Articles of association’ but you will need to include your own ‘Memorandum of association’ when posting your completed IN01.




Directors' service agreement


What is it?

This is a more complex contract of employment between a director/executive and an employer.

Why is it important?

It sets out the employment terms and conditions of employment and the standard areas of the employment.

Risks

As a director is more likely to be exposed to confidential information and have more responsibility this contract will include clauses which help to protect the business’s interests eg garden leave, confidentiality, non-solicitation clauses and restrictive covenants and ensure any intellectual property created by the employee- director belongs to the business..




Articles of Association


What is it?

Every company formed in England and Wales is required to have articles, without which a company cannot legally be formed. This requirement applies whether or not the company is public or private and whether limited by shares or by guarantee.

Why is it important?

The Articles of Association set out the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility agreed by the shareholders or guarantors, directors.

The articles generally cover five essential areas:

  • Limited liability of shareholders – a fixed sum limited to the nominal value of their shares.
  • Shares and distributions – rights attaching to particular shares, issues and transfers of shares, payments of dividends and another share dealings;
  • Shareholder decision making – quorum and voting at general meetings of shareholders and various decision-making options.
  • Directors and decision making – number of directors, their powers and responsibilities and procedures for decision making; and
  • Administrative arrangements.

Our corporate solicitors can provide you with legal advice on reviewing, drafting, or amending your articles of association and other constitutional documents. We can also provide you with bespoke articles of association.




Board Resolutions


What is it? A resolution is written documentation describing an action authorized by the board of directors of a company.




EMI Schemes


What is it?

An Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) scheme is an approved employee share scheme designed for smaller companies and accessible to most trading companies.

Why is it important?

It allows employers to attract and retain key staff by rewarding them with share options (equity participation ) in the business in a tax efficient way, as a reward for their efforts within the business and/or to incentivise key staff, It is ideal for smaller entrepreneurial businesses that might not be able to match salaries paid elsewhere.




Board Minutes


What is it? The minutes are a written document that describes items discussed by the directors during a board meeting, including actions taken and resolutions passed.




Share Certificates


What is it?

A Share Certificate (or stock certificate) is a written document which is evidence of a shareholder's ownership of shares in the company. The share certificate is generally issued by companies to shareholders after a transfer or transmission of shares or an allotment has been made.

Why is it important?

The share certificate will include the name of the company issuing the shares, its registration number, the details of the holders of the shares, the certificate number, the class(es) of shares being issued, date of issue, the amount paid on each share etc.

A share certificate can be issued by a private limited, public limited and unlimited liability company but cannot be issued by a company limited by guarantee as the company does not have shares.




Shareholders Agreement


What is it?

We always recommend that you put a shareholders’ agreement in place if your company has more than one shareholder.A shareholder agreement sets out the rights and obligations of each shareholder. The purpose of a shareholder agreement is to cover the most important issues in a business relationship:

  • How the shareholders will run the company
  • The mechanism for resolution of disputes between the shareholders(i.e. a “Deadlock” clause)
  • The process for valuation of the company
  • The transmission of shares in the event of the death or departure of a shareholder.

Why is it important?

A Shareholders agreement has several benefits:

  • It provides each member with clear details of their responsibilities, financial input, voting arrangements and share transfers thereby making it a strong safeguard against legal disputes and disagreements.
  • If carefully thought out and drafted it can protect individual shareholders and give them more protection that they would receive under the Model Articles of Association eg by giving each individual member a veto if the business is considering important changes
  • It is an essential agreement to have when a company has more than one shareholder as there is nothing to regulate what happens if the shareholders have a dispute or a shareholder dies.
  • It greatly reduces the risk of a shareholders’ dispute occurring and if it does it will be quicker to resolve.
  • If a shareholder is not pulling their weight or is damaging the business’s reputation the to her shareholders can vote to remove him or her and buy his or her shares for a fair price. This would be difficult to do without a shareholder’s agreement and if just relying on the standard Articles.

Our Shareholders Agreement solicitors can provide you with a professionally drafted shareholders agreement at reasonable fixed fees. Contact us today!





Managing licenses


Running an online business


Protecting your IP


Business Relationships


Writing a business plan


Health & Safety

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


 
 
 
 

Planning & Highways

At risk of redundancy letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is at risk of being made redundant.




Dismissal for redundancy letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee is being dismissed for redundancy reasons. Why is it important? It is best practice for the employee to be given the right of appeal against redundancy.




Invitation to a redundancy appeal meeting


What is it? This is a letter to an employee inviting them to a redundancy appeal meeting.




Redundancy consultation letter


What is it? This is a letter to an employee informing them of the redundancy consultation procedure. Why is it important? The letter should contain details of the consultation procedure.





 

Managing employee performance

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





Reorganisation & Redundancies

Invitation letter to a disciplinary appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

Make sure you do things right when you discipline an employee. Our employment solicitors can provide you with a disciplinary hearing letter/notice to be sent to the employee which sets out in clear and simple terms the disciplinary allegations, process to be followed, the employee's rights and potential sanctions.

Why is it important?

If you are formally disciplining an employee for misconduct, this letter ensures that you are complying with the unfair dismissal laws. It also meets the requirements of the statutory ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. It is always best practice to give the employee a right to appeal any misconduct decision. The letter should tell the employee they must appeal in writing with their grounds of appeal. If you accept an appeal by the employee, you should respond with a letter inviting the employee to an appeal hearing for misconduct.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded your employee if the case went to court.




Invitation letter to an appeal hearing for misconduct


What is it?

The right to appeal against the outcome of disciplinary action is an important element of a fair disciplinary process. Where an employee appeals against a disciplinary sanction, the employer should invite them to a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Why is it important?

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation letter to an appeal hearing that helps ensure that your processes are watertight. The invitation should include information about the employee's right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

Risks

Non-compliance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures will be taken into account by an employment tribunal when deciding whether an employee has been treated fairly and can also result in the tribunal increasing the amount of compensation awarded if the case went to court.




Disciplinary outcome letter for misconduct - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when the outcome is a warning or that no further action is to be taken by the employer.




Invitation letter to a performance appeal hearing


What is it?

This is a letter that should be used to invite an employee to a performance appeal hearing.




Invitation letter to a performance appraisal


What is it?

An appraisal is a formal process that allows you and a member of staff to assess the staff member’s performance over a period of time eg on a 6 month or 12 month basis. A detailed appraisal has a number of benefits for you and your employees.

Why is it important?

For example, it gives you the opportunity to:

1. review and provide feedback on their performance and set objectives to maximise performance.

2. It also gives the employee the opportunity to comment on their performance, suggest improvements and bring any problems to your attention.

3. It can therefore assist in motivating employees, resolution of problems and the prevention of legal disputes.

Our employment solicitors can provide you with an invitation to attend an appraisal meeting letter tailored to your specific requirements. This letter sets the date for the meeting, who will conduct the meeting and whether the member of staff needs to bring any particular documents or information to the meeting.

Contact our employment law solicitors on 01234 938089.




Poor performance outcome letter - warning or no action


What is it?

This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the poor performance meeting when the outcome is a warning or no further action is to be taken.




Disciplinary procedure


What is it?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’).

Why is it important?

You should put your disciplinary procedure in writing and make it easily available to all staff. IIt should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.

It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you do not agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.

Disciplinary steps : Your disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:

  1. A letter setting out the issue.

  2. A meeting to discuss the issue.

  3. A disciplinary decision.

  4. A chance to appeal this decision.

Risks

Before starting a disciplinary procedure against a member of staff , you should first see whether the problem can be resolved in an informal way. This can often be the quickest and easiest solution.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.




Suspension Letter


What is it? This is a letter that can be used to inform the employee that the employee will be suspended pending investigation of the disciplinary allegations.




Dismissal letter for misconduct


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the grounds of misconduct falling short of Gross Misconduct. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for poor performance


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal for poor performance. Why is it important? To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Gross misconduct dismissal letter


What is it? This Gross Misconduct Notice of Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting when that outcome is dismissal on the ground of gross misconduct. An employee can be dismissed “on the spot” for gross misconduct eg fighting at work. Why is it important? However it is best practice to follow up a gross misconduct “on the spot dismissal” with a letter fully explaining the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Dismissal letter for employees without unfair dismissal rights


What is it? This Dismissal Letter should be used to inform the employee of their dismissal when they have under two years’ service with the employer. Why is it important? It is best practice to put an employee on a performance improvement plan(PIP) first before dismissing them irrespective of their length of service. This letter can be used where an employee is dismissed either with or without having been put on a performance improvement plan. In all cases, the employer should adopt a professional and respectful tone when communicating with the soon-to-be dismissed employee. Risks To comply with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures the employee should be given the right to appeal against any disciplinary sanction or decision.




Appeal letter


What is it?

This is a letter from an employee against whom a disciplinary sanction has been imposed appealing against the dismissal.

If you need help in resolving an employment matter or dispute, please contact our employment solicitors on 01234 938089. We can provide you with advice on a fixed fee basis.





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01234 938089/938090 (Bedford Office)

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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.

 

 

Pure Business Law is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 635679)- we are governed by the SRA's  professional rules which may be found at www.rules.sra.org.uk. A list of our directors is available on request.  The term "director" denotes a shareholder or director of the company or an employee or consultant who is a lawyer with equivalent standing and qualifications. Calls may be recorded for security and training purposes.

 

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