Welcome to BSDR’s new Business Services quarterly bulletin, giving you a snapshot of what is new and what you need to know in the world of commercial, corporate, employment and intellectual property law

Consumer Rights Act 2015 – Are you ready?

The government has introduced new consumer protection legislation to reform and consolidate the current patchwork of UK consumer law. The Consumer Rights Act is the last part of the jigsaw and comes into force on 1 October 2015.

It covers:

  • Unfair contract terms in consumer contracts, including a new list of terms which may be considered unfair;
  • Statutory implied terms (and remedies) for goods, digital content and services which cannot be excluded from consumer contracts; and
  • Enhanced enforcement of consumer protection law including a new set of tiered remedies for consumers.

All consumer facing businesses will need to review their pre-contractual information, terms and conditions (including standard website/app terms), sales lifecycle, and cancellation and returns policies to ensure they comply with the new legislation.

How can we help you?

We can provide training on the new legislation and review your contracting processes and documents to ensure they comply. Contact Claire Jacques on 01235 836643 or [email protected] if you would like to discuss.

New requirements for companies

On 26 March 2015, the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill received Royal Assent. One of the aims of the new Act is to increase transparency in relation to companies’ ownership and reduce ‘red tape’.
Some key dates and changes include:

  • October 2015 – subject to certain exceptions, the appointment of new corporate directors will be prohibited;
  • January 2016 – UK companies will be required to keep and maintain a register of persons with ‘significant control’ (PSC register), which must be publically available; and
  • April 2016 – annual return filings for UK companies will be simplified so that companies will only be required to check and confirm that all information filed at Companies House is up to date. Companies will be able to take advantage of new rules which allow them to keep statutory registers at Companies House.

Employment news

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Parents with a baby that was born (or is due) on or after 5 April 2015 are able to take advantage of the new statutory scheme. It allows a woman who is eligible for statutory maternity leave and pay, to choose to bring these entitlements to an early end and to share the balance with either the father of her child, her husband, civil partner or partner. In addition, employees who adopt (on or after 5 April) enjoy similar rights to shared parental leave and pay, as do parents of a child born through a surrogacy arrangement.

Fit for Work Service

The service provides free occupational health advice and a return to work plan for employees who have been on sick leave for four weeks' or more. It will be possible for either the employee’s GP or employer to make a referral, although full access to the scheme is being rolled-out on a phased basis. It is hoped that it will be available nationwide by the end of 2015. Use of this service is not mandatory, but is strongly recommended. Especially where the organisation does not have access to occupational health advice.

Intellectual Property news

Those who commission independent service providers (such as brand or website designers) to create designs should be aware that the law relating to first ownership of UK registered and unregistered designs has changed. Previously the (more logical) rules were out of step with other UK intellectual property rights, as well as EU designs law, in that the commissioner would be the owner of the rights in the designs (if there was payment for the design process itself). However now, the first owner of such rights will be the designer, not the commissioner (where there is no agreement to the contrary). So for any business engaging third party service providers where important IP is to be created (e.g. software development, database creation) it is of vital importance for there to be a written agreement vesting the IP rights in the customer business.