Brenda Li from The Keith Jones Partnership talks about how proposals for further rises in court fees could affect SMEs

Posted by Brenda Li

Director - The Keith Jones Partnership

Wed 26th, Aug

The Justice Minister has recently announced proposals for a further rise in court fees. The Keith Jones Partnership Solicitors recently campaigned against the dramatic increase in court issue fees which took place in March this year where court fees were increased by as much as 622%! There are now proposals to double the maximum court issue fee for money claims to rise from £10,000 to £20,000! Fees are currently payable on 5% of the value of a claim up to a maximum fee of £10,000.

The Law Society has said that the plans are "tantamount to selling justice like a commodity". The Law Society president, Johnathan Smithers has gone on further to say that it would "cripple" individuals and small businesses trying to recover money owed to them.

The proposed further increase in Court fees have been dubbed a “barrier to access to justice” for SMEs who need to litigate. For those who cannot meet the cost, that barrier could mean they go out of business. The Court fees hikes appear to be grossly unfair. The Keith Jones Partnership will actively campaign against this and some of the points we are proposing to put to the Justice Minister are as follows:-

  • We understand that the Courts are not losing money and they are breaking even. If this is the case, then how can any hike in fees be justified?

 

  • The issue of legal proceedings is not an expensive process at all. All the Court does when issuing a claim is stamp a copy of the Claim Form, log the claim onto the system and send out the claim by post to the Defendant. How can a fee of £20,000 possibly be justified for such a simple process?

 

  • The Government have determined that an appropriate fee for a solicitor carrying out all of the pre action work necessary and drafting the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim is just £100. Given that the Government have decided that £100 is an appropriate fee for all of the work involved in this, we would again ask how it could possibly be justified for the Court to charge £20,000 to simply stamp, log and serve a claim.

 

  • Following on from this point, we can see a real difficulty in claims settling and thereby far more may well go to Trial. At the start of any legal proceedings, we make every effort to negotiate settlements for our clients. If immediately upon issue, the Claimant has had to pay out up to £20,000.00, then the prospects of settlement will be significantly diminished.

 

  • When a client comes to us, they are already substantially out of pocket as they have been kept out of monies owed to them by the debtor. We can envisage that, in these circumstances, many SMEs will struggle to raise the Court fee required and we have no doubt that some would not be able to pursue a legitimate debt and even have to go out of business.

 

  • We are convinced that there will be a knock on detrimental effect on the economy. We have already seen an increase in insolvency proceedings being issued instead of legal proceedings as it is now generally a cheaper option when trying to recover an outstanding debt. This means more businesses end up in liquidation, rather than entering into long-term instalment arrangements that can be put in place where county court proceedings have been instigated.

 

The Ministry of Justice is currently conducting a consultation and we invite you to give them your views on this very important issue. 

The MoJ consultation will close on 15 September 2015.

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"Liverpool City Region's time is now"

Posted by Alan Welby

Executive Director - Liverpool City Region LEP

Wed 19th, Aug

Government received 39 economic plans when it came to allocating the Local Growth Fund to LEP areas.  You can bet that at least 30 of them used the word ‘unique’ to describe their economic potential.  So what is it that really makes Liverpool City Region unique?

The first thing to note is that many different areas can have many different strengths. ‘Comparative advantage’ or ‘competitive advantage’ does exist – areas can have ‘smart specialisation’ not as an abstract concept but as a result of their ‘path dependency’ and ‘institutional fix’. In plain English – because all areas have different histories, they have different industries, people have different skills, and at a point in time – these can be strengths that make one area more worthy of investment compared to others.

Liverpool City Region's time is now.

The City Region Growth Plan spotted three huge economic opportunities.

  • Our City Centre – attractive to business and to tourism and a brand known around the world.
  • Our ‘Freight and Logistics Hub’ – the unique set of assets associated with the Superport that extends throughout the entire City Region and beyond.
  • LCR2Energy – the opportunity to be energy self sufficient within 20 years with the associated energy security, fuel poverty and carbon reduction benefits

Nowhere – and we mean nowhere – has such a unique set of economic assets and nowhere can create or replicate such – it is genuine, it is born from the City Region's history and it is of national importance if any Government is to be serious about creating a Northern Powerhouse and rebalancing the economy of the UK.

We have a City that is globally known, that millions visit - and we need to build on this strength.

Global freight change sees ships get bigger and the opening of a widened Panama Canal means Liverpool becomes the first port of call to enter Western Europe.  From pretty much anywhere in our City Region you are 30 minutes from the Port and less than 4 hrs from 35 million people. You cannot be any more people and port centric within the UK!  The market – not our Plan – is driving this change.  Our plan is to capture the benefits as quickly as we can.

And energy is likely to be the biggest issue of our age: we need it, we need it to be less damaging to our environment, we need it to be more secure, we want it to be cheaper and we want it now. Somewhere has to take a lead on tackling the issues faced, and nowhere is better placed than Liverpool City Region.

In summary then, no place has a set of assets like ours but they are not the only strengths with which we can promote what we do.  Our people are exceptional and hard working – productivity in some sectors is way above the UK average and when it comes to humour and friendliness the City Region is world renowned.

And nowhere has a commitment of business like our LEP area.   Our LEP is unique – it engages directly with the private sector in a way no other LEP can do. It is why as a City Region our public sector partners have a private sector representative on the Combined Authority as a voting member – another unique asset we have!

So is the Liverpool City Region unique – definitely!

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Does the interest rate benchmark influence your business’s bottom line? We take a look at the points to consider – and the steps to take if it does

Posted by Jonathan Dinsdale

Associate Solicitor, Colemans ctts

Wed 19th, Aug

Since the issue of Libor manipulation reared its head in 2012, there has been a lot of concern among businesses – and their legal advisors – as to who may have been affected financially. The combination of increased media focus on the activities of high-street and investment banks, the hangover from the financial crisis and further scrutiny of regulatory obligations have all served to intensify customers’ fears about potential losses. Jonathan Dinsdale, of national law firm Colemans-ctts, offers some guidance on how businesses can identify whether they are affected by Libor rate manipulation and the steps to take in response.

What is Libor?

Libor (the London Interbank offered rate) is the average interest rate at which a selection of leading banks on the London market are prepared to lend to one another. It is calculated as an average of estimates that are submitted by the banks in question and announced once every working day.

Libor is the benchmark used by banks and other financial institutions to calculate interest payments for customer products, such as mortgages, loans and more complex derivative products.

What exactly happened?

Libor is calculated on the basis of estimates submitted by banks and it was suggested that some of those banks might have submitted false figures – conspiring together to provide numbers that were either higher or lower than their actual estimates, in order to influence the final average.

In 2012, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the predecessor of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), fined a number of banks sums ranging from £59.5m to £160m, for significant failings in relation to Libor and Euribor. Further fines followed for misconduct relating to Libor in 2013. Most recently, the UK operations of Deutsche Bank was fined £227m by the FCA for Libor and Euribor failings, and for misleading the regulator.

How might Libor manipulation have affected businesses?

SMEs, partnerships and sole traders may be affected where they have used financial products that are benchmarked to Libor. If you think you may be affected, carefully check your contracts and agreements.

Is it possible to make a claim where this has happened?

There has been a lot of discussion over whether the manipulation of Libor may give rise to action. However, the guidance that was hoped for from a recent case failed to materialise and this has resulted in some confusion.

The Guardian Care Homes case against Barclays bank was settled a few weeks before the trial was due to start. Had Guardian Care Homes been successful, it could have opened the door for cancellation of other Barclays customers’ derivative contracts where it could be shown that the interest rates charged were calculated on the basis of a Libor rate manipulated by bank employees.

How is a claim made?

Businesses considering a claim will be faced with a two-fold test: 1) establishing their level of loss and 2) showing, on the balance of probabilities, that the bank’s manipulation caused the loss. This is likely to be more straightforward for those customers who defaulted on particular covenants in their financial products as a result of the Libor rate at the time. Customers should seek advice from accountants or financial advisors in relation to specific covenants embedded within products and whether Libor was instrumental in any breach situation.

Is there any way of knowing if a claim will be successful?

In view of the lack of judicial authority, it’s difficult to say. The first step is to look at the terms and conditions of financial products purchased to establish whether Libor is the benchmark used to calculate payments. After that, legal advice will establish whether any losses were directly attributable to the Libor rate during the relevant period when the losses occurred.

So it is simply a case of wait and see?

For anyone thinking of making a claim, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the separate ongoing action launched by Guardian Care Homes against Lloyds banking group. This second piece of litigation by the same claimant is for just over £8m in relation to Lloyd’s involvement in the Libor manipulation. It will be interesting to see how this further claim goes and whether it will result in any judicial guidance. However, many are expecting another settlement, as it seems doubtful that Lloyds will want to expose itself to a contested trial and the clear risks of an adverse judgment.

Is there a time limit within which to make a claim?

Yes. Contractual limitation runs from the date the agreement was made and any claim in tort (such as negligent misstatement or misrepresentation) runs from the date of the breach. In both cases, the applicable time limit is six years. It’s a good idea to take legal advice in relation to limitation and, where necessary, to issue a claim protectively in order to stop the clock ticking.

Jonathan Dinsdale is an associate solicitor in the dispute resolution team atColemans ctts.  This blog was first posted on The Guardian

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Liam talks about his experience at Agent Marketing

Posted by Liam Lewis

Project Support Officer, Agent Marketing

Fri 14th, Aug

You should never trust your preconceptions, because most of the time, what you expect is completely different to what you experience…

I was expecting the conventional things that you associate with an office: dull walls, tiled ceilings, the odd murmur from the water cooler and really monotonous talk with peers. That wasn’t the case when I joined the team – dare I say, family –  at Agent Marketing. I went in to my first day with catastrophic nerves and complete and utter self-doubt, something I’d been accustomed to for years, the stigmas that had limited me from taking prior opportunities.

However, from the get-go I felt like I was flying; I was welcomed with open arms, literally. My first two weeks here were for work experience, but at the end of the first I got talking with Agent’s MD, Paul, about my future and what I wanted to pursue. Paul and I  talked a lot about different options, and by the end of the chat, he said he’d find something for me down the apprenticeship route – something I wanted dearly!

After 2 more weeks of refreshing challenges and experiences it was made official…

…I became the new Project Support Officer!

This news was overwhelming for me. Not to sound like a corny Oscar-winning actor, but I literally thanked every, single family member that had got me here. Because for the first time in a long time, I was proud of myself. I wouldn’t have had that feeling if it wasn’t for this place.

Since working here I’ve sat in client meetings, researched some big projects for the team, shared my own ideas for our Academy programme, presented my findings before the heads of departments, and even took part in Yoga (which was an achy experience that I won’t forget for a while!).

It’s safe to say I’m really happy and comfortable here, and it’s only just the start.

I look forward to the next chapter with my new, mid-week family…and Leo.

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UK intellectual property law has long been criticized for failing to keep up with the digital age

Posted by Edward Barnes

Head of Corporate & Commercial

Thu 13th, Aug

Partly in response to this, the Intellectual Property Act 2014 came into force in October last year (with all measures to be implemented  by the end of this year), in an attempt to modernise and simplify the law relating to designs and patents in the UK.

These are some of the key provisions:   

-        Design infringement is now a criminal offence - someone knowingly copying a registered design, without the owner’s consent, could be liable for a maximum of a 10 year prison sentence and/or a fine. It is hoped that the requirement that the copying be intentional will achieve a fair balance between design owners and potential infringers.

-        In commissioned work, ownership of both unregistered and registered designs no longer vests in the commissioner, but rather in the designer. This means that from now on commissioners will need an agreement with the designer, transferring ownership, otherwise the designer will retain all ownership rights to the design so a well drafted agreement is essential before the work is begun.  

-        A design opinion service is now being provided for anyone affected by a registered design (and this may be extended to include unregistered designs). This will be similar to the patent opinion service already provided by the Intellectual Property Office, providing a view on the validity of registered designs, and whether an infringement claim, or indeed a defence to infringement, would be successful.           

-        ‘Virtual patent marking’ provides the option for all patent owners to mark their patented products with a weblink (instead of a patent number) which will give detailed information about the patent and any applications that are associated with it. The use of a weblink will serve as notice to a third party of the existence of the patent.

-        The  Act widens the powers of the Intellectual Property Office by allowing it to revoke a patent if it has previously given the opinion that it does not fulfill the necessary requirements to be valid. This is a quick and low cost option to invalidate the patent of a competitor, without the need to issue costly proceedings although it may discourage businesses from seeking opinions in the future, as it could render their patents void.

Theft of intellectual property can cause major economic and reputational damage, which can be avoided by businesses being able to identify and protect what they have.

Businesses should review their intellectual property in the light of this new legislation. For more information regarding the Act, and how best to protect your intellectual property, please contact Ed Barnes on 01244 354829 or at edward.barnes@dtmlegal.com.

 

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Posted by Simon Reid

Sector Manager, Advanced Manufacturing, Liverpool City Region LEP

Wed 12th, Aug

The ability of today’s technologies to self-diagnose, self-maintain, self-repair and optimise based on communicating with each other (‘machine-to-machine’ or ‘M2M’) means that there is an increasing amount of work that can be performed by machines in terms of increasing the quality and quantity of outputs whilst reducing costs and resource consumption. The German government aptly coined a phrase for this transition that we are now undergoing - ‘Industrie 4.0’ - the fourth industrial revolution.

The ‘cyber-physical systems’ involved in such operations are essentially robots that are programmed to not just do one task, but to do multiple tasks as relayed to them through a network filled with huge volumes of data being sent backwards and forwards from many servers, computers, inputs and outputs.

The communication system underpinning all of this is the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). In the context of its applications in manufacturing, it is popularly referred to as the ‘Industrial IoT’/IIoT, enabling ‘Smart Factories’. It has further adaptations in its various renditions as an enabler of ‘Smart Cities’ and of many future preventative and clinical medical technologies – Smart Healthcare. In short, it is everywhere that we can find an object, connect a sensor to it and measure some variables in order to better inform the decision we make or the actions we take.

There is concern amongst some groups that further automation might be good for businesses but could displace workers whose jobs will eventually be taken over by machines. Nobody can say for certain what effect innovation such as the Industrial IoT will have on the overall necessity to employ people, but it is likely a little overly dystopian to assume that a digitalised workforce will render human effort obsolete in all but a programming capacity.

The ‘Industrial Internet Survey (2014)’ by the World Economic Forum indicated that participants in the survey were largely positive about the potential future employment impacts of IoT integration within their operations. What would be reasonable to expect to see is a shift in the dynamics of working groups, operating teams and OEM employee skill sets. Teams of technicians and engineers will not just need soldering equipment and hammers – it will become a necessity to have an embedded software expert and an electrical engineer with broad expertise across circuit boards, sensors, data transfer systems and operating nodes. In short, this should be seen as a huge opportunity – not a challenge or the end of the line for existing professions. As with all innovations in business, now is the time to upskill and adapt.

At the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, the Advanced Manufacturing team are driving forward efforts on multiple fronts to get businesses in the region in a position to be ahead of the curve. Through working with Sensor City we are looking to make the region a hub for the production of the technologies which enable the IoT, whilst the ‘LCR 4.0’ brainchild is being built to help existing manufacturers of products across the full application spectrum to adopt and incorporate the latest in IoT and cyber-physical technology, as well as ensure there is sufficient human resource to utilise it effectively.

The team welcomes interaction from companies operating in or thinking about IoT, IIoT and advanced technologies in general and have a strong support network featuring local creative communities, SMEs, support services and large industrial partners. For an informal discussion about what’s going on in the sector and the city region, e-mail Simon or Jonny at either simon.reid@liverpoollep.org or jonathon.clark@liverpoollep.org

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Posted by Thomas Sutherland

Employment & HR - Morecrofts

Mon 03rd, Aug

Whilst driving to work yesterday, I heard a shocking statistic – that 1 in 5 employees in the North-West don’t take their full annual holiday leave entitlement. 

Let’s be completely clear on the above statistic. Holiday leave doesn’t necessarily mean a trip away from home in the traditional sense of ‘holiday’, but rather days off in general (i.e. for a wedding, relative’s birthday or purely for a lovely extended weekend).

Some people may even choose to take a week or two off just to relax at home and spend time with the kids, catch up with local friends and family or even (gulp!) catch up with the housework! Even with my adventuring hat on, I must admit the opportunity to avoid the rigmarole of airport security and simply put your feet up sounds pretty appealing.

Let’s be honest, everyone loves holidays. I certainly know I do. I only have to return from a trip to snowy Germany or sunny Barcelona to then have thoughts of planning another adventure. At the moment, the picturesque Christmas markets of Belgium and/or the stunning Northern Lights of Iceland are catching my eye and looking likely to destroy my piggy pig in the next six months. 

But putting my desire to explore the globe to one side, why is it so crucial that an employee takes all of their annual holiday leave? Well, the above statistic is particularly concerning due to annual leave being there to protect the health and safety of workers through the provision of well-needed rest from working time. Failure to do so may well be detrimental to an individual’s health in the long-term and lead to increased sickness absence in the future.

Because of this, an employer should encourage its workers to use all of their holiday leave, especially as the 28 days holiday leave provided for under working time legislation may not be carried over from year to year unless exceptional circumstances apply. Therefore, any worker who does not take all of their statutory annual holiday entitlement, may lose it during the next leave year (and not be paid for this).

To be clear, an employee is generally not entitled to be paid in lieu of any accrued, but untaken, holiday at the end of a holiday year.

Naturally, the above statistics are concerning for employees and employers alike due to both being affected by underuse of holiday leave. An employer will look to encourage full use of holiday leave in order to meet its legal obligations and have a well-rested, happy and healthy workforce. 

Should either an employee or employer outwardly refuse to act in a way that enables the full use of annual statutory holiday leave, legal advice should be sought by the relevant party from an employment law solicitor.

Hopefully, these statistics will reduce over time and more people can recharge their batteries. After all, the thought of a sunny/snowy adventure is a fitting motivation when being blown half backwards during the gloomy, rainy commutes into work…

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Posted by David Hesketh

Senior Business Manager at HM Revenue and Customs

Wed 29th, Jul

David Hesketh explains how UK businesses can benefit from better supply chain management and visibility.

It’s a simple analogy and one that many of us can relate to. Check in at the airport, and one of the many questions you are likely to be asked is, ‘did you pack this bag yourself?’ There are strong similarities between this and how we manage information about cargo being moved in the international supply chain.

I have spent 40 years working in all areas of international supply chains and despite major advances in technology and communications, a UK buyer does not know what their order contains until the container arrives and it is unloaded. And, all of that is down to the lack of good quality data.

In the past, the international trade process was relatively simple. The buyer would travel to another country, identify the goods they wanted, pay for them, load them onto a ship, return to their own country, unload them, pay the customs duty and sell them.

When the buyer stopped travelling to buy the goods and there was no face-to-face transaction, international commerce became more complicated. Coupled with the fact that globalisation during the last 30 years has seen many companies put productivity into developing economies and supply chains have increasingly lacked certainty and clarity from a security, legal and commercial point of view.

 With a lack of accurate data, the regulatory authorities do not get the information they need to carry out the risk assessments and create efficiencies. This lack of visibility makes supply chain costs unclear, profit margins unpredictable and the price to the end consumer ambiguous. Research has shown that data inaccuracy among the UK’s top five retailers and their suppliers is costing as much as £1.4billion a year.

For major multi-national brands that can afford to implement their own in-house quality control procedures, these risks can be mitigated but for other national UK retailers and SMEs without those levels of resource, the losses can be significant.

So how can we make things better? The most important part of the supply chain is the understanding between the ‘buyer’ and the ‘seller’ and to keep the items safe in the supply chain.

Going back to my airport analogy at the beginning of the blog, we need to start by asking the people who packed the container to input accurate information and make them accountable.

So, how can we make this happen?

As part of my work, we are piloting a project to capture consignment data from UK trade through the Port of Felixstowe. Working alongside three, end-to-end UK supply chain management companies, Warrant Group, Uniserve and Metro Shipping, we are working on developing a 'single window' seamless electronic data pipeline to conform to standards set by the United Nations, the World Customs Organisation and the European Commission.

My work with Warrant Group in particular, has shown how I am not alone in my quest for reducing risk in the supply chain and delivering a pro-active approach to planning and data management. The company is already demonstrating to its clients how supply chain certainty and exact data can deliver accurate forecasting to create a whole range of benefits from improving warehouse operations to avoiding unnecessary costs such as wasted labour, detention and demurrage fees.

Thanks to this commercial expertise, I am pleased to report that we are now successfully supplying live data into the pipeline and shining a light on the huge benefits companies of all shapes and sizes could enjoy.

Growing the UK economy through international trade is essential and this new approach could make a real difference.

David Hesketh leads the UK Demonstrator Work Package 10 for CORE which seeks to demonstrate international supply chain visibility and security centred, initially on UK trade through the Port of Felixstowe. The project is funded under the European Commission Framework Programme 7.

 

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Posted by Alison Lobb

Managing Partner at Morecrofts LLP

Wed 29th, Jul

Liverpool is an exhilarating place to do business.  You can feel the energy that our city-region’s businesses project. You can almost touch it.

Independent businesses in particularare integral to the city’s fabric and that’s why we launched the MIB awards in 2012 as we celebrated our 200thyear.The awards provide a chance to recognise those businesses that are forging ahead with grit, determination and creative thinking – the very qualities that make Liverpool and Merseyside great.

The people of Liverpool are, in my opinion, some of the proudest in the UK. We wear our culture and heritage on our sleeve.  We’ve built the UK’s second largest regional economy.  We have more than 250,000 businesses choosing to call the city home.  We have captivated the world stage with the story of our cultural and economic renaissance.It’s no surprise then that as the deadline for the third MIB awards looms, the search for the city’s most innovative and dynamic independent businesses reaches fever pitch.

But what makes a successful business?  Winners in business have clear aspirations, defined goals, drive and a clear sense of responsibility.  They know how to compete, to change and flex as markets change and have the passion to keep going.They write their own success with confidence.

Those of you who know my passion for tenniswon’t be surprised when I draw comparison between the game and the world of commerce. For me, Wimbledon Women’s Champion Serena Williams sums it perfectly.She said:  “Tennis is mostly mental. You win or lose the match before you even go out there.”

This message chimes well with business and judges for this year’s MIB will be looking for entries that show confidence and bravery in their decision-making,tackle challenges with innovation, deliver growth in the face of adversity, capitalise on new opportunities and wave the flag for Merseyside.

Past MIB winners Mattas, The Brink and CyberHost Pro are part of Liverpool’s success story and proof of why the city has earned its place as one of the UK’s leading business destinations.

It’s too early to know who will be crowned the most worthy independent businesses of 2015?But if you act quickly, it could well be you.

To enter Morecrofts MIB awards visit www.mibawards.co.uk.  The closing date for entries is 14th August 2015.  The awards will culminate with a glittering black tie dinner at the Rum Warehouse on 1st October and the winner of ‘Independent Business of The Year’ will be gifted a £10,000 businesssupport package. 

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Posted by Zee Hussain

Employment Partner - Colemans-ctts

Thu 23rd, Jul

Social Media is here to stay, whether it be the instantly disappearing messages from Snapchat to the more detailed blogs of Tumblr. Most employers will recognise that most of their staff now have some form of social media presence. Understanding how social media should be used at work and what businesses may need to have in place to ensure employees are not breaching any contractual obligations is crucial.Zee Hussain, Partner and Head of the Employment at Colemans-ctts provides guidance around this rather tricky subject.

Bad news travels fast

While having a social media presence can be commercially beneficial to business, many employers will be aware of the risks associated with employees’ personal accounts given how fast (bad) news can travel. To what extent an employer can take action when an employee speaks out on their social media account is a burning question. Below are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to social media use in the workplace

Do:

  • Have a policy which is clear and spells out what is acceptable conduct on social media and what is not and also provides specific examples. If you are going to monitor social media, then this should be made clear in any policy.
  • Have a strategy in place.If employees are representing your business professionally (e.g. on linked in) do ensure that their updates and profile is consistent with your brand message.
  • Take steps to protect your clients and any confidential information.Often ‘off the shelf’restrictive covenants do not prevent employees from befriending clients on social media which can be lethal if an employeejumps ship.Therefore, it is advisable to regularly review your policies in light of social media to ensure they adequately protect your business.

Don’t:

  • Leave it to chance.Not having a policy in place can mean that it becomes difficult to take action when things go wrong. The case of Game Retail Ltd v Lawssays it all.
  • Ban employees from having social media.Most people have some sort of social media account nowadays and it is part of everyday life.
  • Share employee content. Regardless of any disclaimer, sharing employee content appears to be an approval and you may find your contacts following them.
  • Overreact. If an employee remarks on Facebook that they have had a bad day, it does not automatically warrant disciplinary action and certainly may not warrant dismissal. 
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