Top 5 new year tips for businesses

For many business owners, the beginning of a New Year is a time to give thought to ambitions and objectives for the year ahead, and with an uncertain political and economic climate in 2017, never has there been a more important time to ensure your business is robust enough to achieve its goals. When thinking about the next twelve months, here are the Top 5 legal issues we believe you need to consider:

  1. STAFF – People are increasingly conscious of and concerned about employment issues, so make sure contracts of employment are relevant to your current circumstances, in place and adhered to. Also, with Brexit set to dominate the national agenda this year, ensure you are up to date on all developments relating to foreignworkers, visas and work permits.
  2. TERMS & CONDITIONS - Are your current terms and conditions the most beneficial to your business? Could you make changes to help with cashflow? Can the terms of anybusiness guarantees you are committed to be modified or updated to your advantage?
  3. PROPERTY – Rent reviews coming up? Ready for negotiations with the landlord?Perhaps you will be looking for bigger premises? If you foresee your business moving, make sure you are aware of all details in your contract such as potential ‘Break Clauses’ which could enable the lease to be terminated early.
  4. DEBT - Are you owed money? Do you owe money? If your business has paid off any debentures (documents that create or acknowledge debt) and charges it may have had, make sure that these are removed from the registers at Companies House and Land Registry. This will improve the credit rating and value of your business should anyone look you up.
  5. GROWTH - Are you planning to merge with another business? An acquisition or a takeover? Perhaps an expansion of shareholders or your equity partnership? Maybe you are preparing your business for sale? Have you got the right expertise lined up for your best interests?

Sue is a Director and Head of Employment Law. Praised for her combination of common sense and expert knowledge, she offers advice to commercial clients on all employment matters and has also handled complex cases for individual employees.

Sue enjoys sharing her legal and HR knowledge with organisations in the fast-moving world of sport, particularly football. As an experienced member of Verisona Law’s Football and Sports Law team, Sue understands the issues that are specific to the industry and deals with the many legal elements involved in employment contracts for both players and non-playing staff. She regularly gives advice and support to individuals in contractual negotiations and disputes with Clubs in the Premiership, Championship and lower divisions. She also provides employment and HR advice to Clubs.

Sue is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association, and is a specialist trained ADR workplace mediator.

Sue qualified in 1995 with Gray Purdue and became a Partner there shortly afterwards. When Gray Purdue merged with another local firm in 2008 to form Verisona, Sue became Head of the Employment Law Team. Sue is also a member of Verisona’s Football & Sports Law team.

From defending claims for damages and allegations of breached restrictive covenants or franchise agreements, to helping a multi-national organisation achieve the favourable resolution of a claim from its former CEO, Sue has successfully represented clients in the civil courts and at employment tribunal.

One of her cases went to the House of Lords and is now regarded as an important test case (Neufeld –v- Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform).

Businesses

  • Contracts of employment and staff handbooks
  • Redundancy procedures
  • Restructuring programmes
  • TUPE law
  • Settlement agreements
  • Employment tribunal claims
  • Disciplinary and grievance processes

Sports and Football

  • Contractual issues
  • Service agreements
  • Executive departures

Company directors

  • Service agreements
  • Planning exit strategies
  • Settlement agreements

Dealing with creditors’ demands for personal guarantee payments

The company had substantial liabilities to the bank and its landlord. These liabilities were personally guaranteed, jointly and severally, by both directors.

The bank and landlord both called in the personal guarantees by pursuing our client, rather than the co-director who had little cash or assets. 

As a result our client was required to pay the guarantees totalling tens of thousands of pounds.

Claiming a share of the guarantee payments from the co-director

We were instructed to pursue a claim against the co-director for a contribution of half the amount our client had paid. 

The co-director instructed solicitors to resist the claim, alleging they had little or no involvement or control in the business and so should not have to contribute.         

We built a case based on the detailed consideration of historic company records which demonstrated the extent of each directors’ involvement in the company.  We supplied extensive witness statements and secured the disclosure of financial and other company records relevant to the case.

A number of witnesses also gave evidence at trial. 

Winning and enforcing the claim

We secured a judgment at trial against their former co-director for half of the sum our client paid under the personal guarantees, together with interest and their legal costs. 

Subsequently we took enforcement action to recover payment and, despite the co-director’s limited means, successfully recovered the full sum for our client.

Former Director and Shareholder of Limited Company

The background to the situation was complicated, yet Verisona Law quickly grasped the essentials and prepared clear arguments with a minimum of wasted time and cost.

Throughout a worrying period, their calm approach allowed me to fulfil my group function with a restored confidence, having been distracted prior to Verisona Law’s appointment by the aggressive and unjustified stance of the Secretary of State.

I have no hesitation in recommending Verisona Law to anyone in a similar position.

Individual - Chairman of a group of companies in the construction industry

"Over the years, I have developed a great trust in my working relationship with Mike Dyer, Head of Commercial Law at Verisona. One of the things I value most is that he is always at the end of a phone. On the rare occasions he is unavailable, his secretary is always well informed and very helpful. Through Mike, I have met many other members of Verisona and, just like in the recruitment industry, they understand the importance of being treated like an individual. They make me feel valued and important to both them and their business. At Verisona, you always deal with real people who you know and are in a position to help. Most importantly, Verisona delivers. We recently had an urgent situation regarding the restrictive covenants of new members of staff. Employment specialist Susan Ball came in on a day off to listen to us, dissect and analyse the situation, and translate what we wanted to achieve into the best possible legal language and solution. This is just one example of the calm, efficient professionalism I have come to value from Verisona over the years. Verisona has a refreshing approach to the law. They are there when we need them, always easy to talk to, go out of their way to make sure that we understand what they are doing for us and why, and always get the best results".

Stuart Cox

Legally enforcing the tribunal award

To enforce the Tribunal award we applied to the Defendant’s local County Court for it to be registered and for permission to enforce the award.  

The Court granted the application and on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.  As a result the Tribunal award would appear as a County Court Judgment which would likely affect the Defendant’s credit rating. 

Time limits for enforcing Tribunal awards

It is worth noting that there is no time restriction for registering or enforcing a Tribunal award. You can enforce one even if it is several years old.  In addition, it is usually possible to claim interest on the amount until you receive payment.

A commercial business


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