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Author Archive

Casting a net over Liverpool

Niki Addison, Concert Networks Ltd

Niki Addison is Managing Director of Concert Networks, a connectivity and communications company based in Northwich (Cheshire) supplying businesses throughout the North West. Concert’s current focus is a connectivity project for the Liverpool City Region, which will see the roll out of a brand new £30 million, 212km full fibre network.

Businesses who are able to connect to the network for their internet connectivity will benefit from speeds of up to 1 gigabit. Niki talked to Bermans about the roll out and why projects like this are so important to the local economy in 2021 and beyond.

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Is now the time to sell up?

Jon Davage

Many business owners are re-evaluating their future plans as a result of the pandemic. Some are finding that their thoughts on retirement planning are somewhat different now than they were back in 2019. Some owners have enjoyed more free time as their businesses have been forced to shut during the lockdowns and others have enjoyed more time at home as travel and office working has been discouraged.

In some cases exit plans have accelerated and business owners are looking at what options there are to achieve a sooner than expected exit. We consider some possible solutions in this article.

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EU GDPR – will this affect your business?

Stephen Green

Remember the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that overhauled data protection rules a couple of years ago and required lots of changes to how individuals’ data was stored and processed?

Since the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, UK businesses now have two versions of the GDPR to take into account – the UK GDPR and the EU GDPR.

 

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Supreme Court swaps old test for new one in professional negligence claims

Andrew Koffman

Manchester Building Society (MBS) successfully appealed to the Supreme Court in a claim for negligence against its ex-auditors Grant Thornton (GT), after losing in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The facts of the case are quite unusual.  However the judgment is of wider importance since the court took a different approach to assessing loss arising from an adviser’s breach of duty, from the previous line of cases going back to the 1990s, and the decision should signal a change of direction.

 

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Indirect Discrimination

adrian_fryer

Indirect discrimination occurs when an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) to all employees which disadvantages a group of people who share a protected characteristic (such as race or sex). Indirect discrimination can be justified if it is a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate business aim. In making their decisions, employment tribunals must take ‘judicial notice’ of facts that are so well known to the court system that they can be accepted without further enquiry. One of those universally accepted truths relates to what the Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently described as the ‘childcare disparity’, where women are less likely than men to be able to accommodate certain working patterns because of childcare responsibilities.

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Discrimination – interim relief

adrian_fryer

Interim relief is a powerful weapon in the employment tribunal’s toolbox. An employee can only ask for interim relief in dismissal claims relating to trade union, health and safety activities and whistleblowing. If an employee shows that there is a ‘pretty good chance’ that they will win their claim, the employment tribunal can make an order for their reinstatement (to their old job), reengagement (to an equivalent role) or simply for their contract to continue, with pay but without working, until the full hearing. It is a powerful tool because it essentially reverses the dismissal pending the final hearing.

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Philosophical belief discrimination

adrian_fryer

Religion or belief is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and can include any religious or philosophical belief. Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides for freedom of thought, conscience and belief. In a case called Grainger v Nicholson, the Employment Appeal Tribunal drew on the ECHR and gave guidance on what kinds of belief should be protected. The belief must be genuinely held; it must be a belief not a viewpoint or opinion; it must involve a weighty aspect of human life and behaviour; it must achieve a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance and it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with other people’s fundamental rights. The EAT has looked recently at whether a belief that humans cannot change sex is a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010.

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Disability – Long Covid

adrian_fryer

The TUC has called for long Covid to be recognised as a disability and an occupational disease so that workers can access legal protection and compensation. Their survey of more than 3500 workers, all of whom said they had contracted Covid-19, found that nearly a third have experienced symptoms for more than a year and 95 per cent have been left with ongoing symptoms. More than three quarters of those surveyed were key workers in either education, health or social care. They reported a range of responses when disclosing symptoms to employers, including questions about the impact of Covid symptoms, queries about whether they had long Covid at all and 5% said they had been forced out of their jobs. The report asks the government to change the Equality Act 2010 to show that long Covid is deemed to be a disability (in the same way as cancer, for example).

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Unfair dismissal – illegality

adrian_fryer

Parties to an employment contract where illegal activity has occurred may be prevented from bringing employment related claims. Where an employment contract has been entered into lawfully, but then illegally performed, the enforceability of the contract will depend on the parties’ knowledge of, and active participation in, the illegal conduct. The Court of Appeal has previously found that an employee who unknowingly worked in breach of immigration rules was not stopped from enforcing her contract (Akedina v Chilake). The Court of Appeal has looked at this issue again recently in Robinson v His Highness Sheikh Al Qasimi.

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