Forbes Blog

Early New Year’s Resolutions in Trade Mark Law

As the countdown to Christmas and New Year begins in earnest, anyone with an interest in using Trade Marks as part of their business may have their eye on another not so distant date in the calendar.

On 14 January 2019, the Trade Marks Regulation 2018 will come into force and bring some very interesting developments to UK Trade Mark law. The most interesting of these are summarised below. Read more

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Legal Aid Cuts and the Impact for Family Law Cases

The President of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir Andrew McFarlane, in an interview with The Times highlights the negative impact on family law proceedings because of cuts to legal aid fees.

Being able to commission an expert opinion from a doctor or child psychologist for family court proceedings can be vital to representing our clients, whether Forbes are acting for the children or one of the parents.    Read more

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Faraday Development Limited v West Berkshire Council – concerning dodgy package deals

When is a public works contract a public works contract?

On 14 November 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment on the question on whether a future commitment in a development agreement entered into by West Berkshire Council constituted a public works contract for the purposes of the Public Contracts Regulations.

The Council was found to have breached procurement regulations by effectively committing to award an above-threshold works contract as part of a land plus works package. Whilst those familiar with the case of Helmut Mueller GmbH v Bundesanstalt fuer Immobilienaufgaben [2011] PTSR 200 (Case C-451/08) and other CJEU decisions will not be surprised by this, perhaps the finding of the Court of Appeal will remind contracting authorities and convince contractors in the UK that dodgy package deals are, in fact, dodgy. The judgment (and logic) requires this to be the case as, in its words: “the only other possibility would be that a contracting authority is at liberty to construct a sequence of arrangements in a transaction such as this, whose combined effect is to constitute a public works contract, without ever having to follow a public procurement procedure. That would defeat the operation of the legislative regime”. The German case concerning the award of a public contract for the construction of a tax office building in Quedlinburg was settled out of court based on this logic.

As an aside, this is especially true when contractors purchase the land and then sell it back-to-back to contracting authorities, on the condition that they get the building contract – with the sole purpose of attempting to circumvent procurement rules. This has never been ok, and this case explains – in helpful detail – a few procurement fallacies. We are now likely to see increased craftiness in the drafting of options and conditions to carry out above-threshold works, with nebulous semi-commitments replacing bold obligations, with a view to keeping the works element in the realm of the R (Midlands Co-Operative Society Ltd) v Birmingham City Council decision, distinct from the fact of this decision in Faraday. That said, given that this is a Court of Appeal decision, whereas Midlands Co-Op was decided in the High Court, we may well see challenges even to situations more closely comparable to Midlands.

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ICO prosecution results in first custodial sentence for data misuse

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has successfully prosecuted a car repair worker for stealing customer data, resulting in the first jail sentence for an offence brought under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

Mustafa Kasim, a former employee of Nationwide Accident Repair Services, pleaded guilty to a charge of securing unauthorised access to personal data between January 13 2016 and October 19 2016, at a hearing in September 2018 and was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court.. He also admitted to accessing a software system that estimated vehicle repair cost estimates by using a colleagues log-in details, continuing to do so even after he had moved on to a new job which used the same software.

Suspicions came to light when Nationwide Accident Repair Services became aware of a marked increase in customer complaints regarding cold calls about their accidents, resulting in them contacting the ICO and aiding them in their investigations.

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Housing Sector: Is It Ready for the Ageing Population?

Background
Further to our recent blog ‘Smith Institute – Report Review’, a report by the Universities of Dundee, Housing and Ageing: Linking Strategy to future delivery for Scotland, Wales and England 2030, found that the UK housing sector is still not ready for the ageing population and recommends that housing should play a dominant role in the provisions of services for older people. The report recommended investments in early intervention, new adaptable and affordable housing and consulting with older people.

One author of the report, Judith Sixsmith, professor of health-related research at the University of Dundee, said: “Getting the appropriate housing solutions in place is a key challenge for our ageing population. Ageing in the right place is so important if older people are to live well in their homes and communities.”

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Transparency for the family courts: lawyers permitted to blog on private family hearings

From October 2018, the government and the judiciary are commencing a 9-month long pilot scheme which will see lawyers being permitted entry to private family law hearings for the purposes of blogging. Read more

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Children’s Commissioner warns of the ‘Toxic Trio’

The media have recently reported on the Children’s Commissioner’s report which highlights that an estimate of 8,300 babies are growing up with issues of alcohol or substance misuse, domestic violence and mental health  – known as the “toxic trio” from their parents.

Children are identified as being in need and there is a call from the government to address more funding for Children’s Services in the forthcoming budget. Read more

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Trafford Centre Mass Surveillance – Big Brother is Breaching?

Recent data protection headlines have been filled with the statement from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner that advanced CCTV programmes in place in Manchester’s Trafford Centre are ‘not proportionate’, causing many to wonder how far security systems can go before they fall on the wrong side of data protection law. Read more

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Smith Institute – Report Review

Last week saw the release of a report, at the NHC Northern Housing Summit 2018 (attended by Jennifer Hankinson Head of Development – Housing & Regeneration (Property) at Forbes), on:The Hidden Costs of Poor Quality Housing in the North” written by the Smith Institute and commissioned by the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) and sponsored by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Karbon Homes. Read more

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New Era of Higher Standards Signalled by Charity Commission

This week the Charity Commission unveiled its new five-year strategy laying down what it believes its role to be, what goals it wishes to achieve and how it aims to achieve them. The strategy signifies a change in tone that charities should take note of given the Commission’s wide-ranging powers. Read more

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