One of the effects of the pandemic has been to slow down (some might say even further!) the litigation process in the UK courts, and despite one or two high-profile decisions relating primarily to business interruption insurance there have been few reported cases dealing with the effects of the pandemic relevant to asset financiers.
One likely vehicle of attack by customers arises from the doctrine of frustration of contracts, which may discharge the parties from performance of a contract that has become legally or physically impossible through no fault of the parties. In general terms this doctrine is very difficult to establish, and for example the European Medicine Agency failed in its attempt to use frustration to extract itself from a long lease on its central London premises as a result of the fact that it had to move to Amsterdam following Brexit.
The Court of Appeal has recently handed down judgment in Wood v Commercial First Business Ltd and Others and Business Mortgage Finance 4 plc v Pengelly  EWCA Civ 471, on the issue of broker “secret commissions”.
These decisions have caused something of a storm in the industry, and somewhat surprisingly in our view the NACFB is recommending “both regulated and unregulated firms, working in all sectors, should be transparent about their commissions and fully disclose the amount of commission received”.
We came across an interesting argument concerning the right to sue after securitisation of assets in a recent reported case we ran for an asset finance company, Haydock Finance Limited v Starcruiser Bussing Limited  EWHC 622 (Comm).
The case involved commercial vehicles and acting for the funder we brought a claim against the hirer for return of the vehicles and the guarantor for a substantial sum. There appeared to be no merit whatsoever in the Defence as served, but by the time of the hearing the Defendants turned up with a so-called “Securitisation Analysis Report” prepared by an academic in California who describes himself as an “Expert Analysis on Auto Agreement Backed Securities Data.”
The FCA has published revised consumer credit information sheets, the first update since July 2018. In accordance with section 86A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, Funders are required to include a copy of the relevant information sheet when notifying a regulated customer that they are in arrears or default.
On the 22 June 2021 the Government extended, perhaps for the last time, the Coronavirus Act 2020 restrictions on issuing winding up petitions until 30 September 2021 (which is also when the furlough scheme ends) and landlord forfeiture/Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery until 25 March 2022.
It was assumed that other restrictions, such as the suspension of liability for wrongful trading, would also be extended but that was not the case and that suspension ended on 30 June 2021. So from 1 July 2021 directors can be sued for wrongful trading in respect of trading after 30 June which increases the deficit to creditors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.