The CCW Linlithgow 10k and Fun Run

The upcoming Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games are a key part of the UK’s attempts to build a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. This summer also marks CCW’s second year as headline sponsors of the CCW Linlithgow 10k and Fun Run.

The 10k is an iconic race with a challenging course around the picturesque setting of historic Linlithgow. The fun run helps introduce kids with a range of ages (8-15yrs) to the most popular participation sport in the UK.

CCW are delighted to sponsor this event, which has allowed race organisers, Linlithgow AC, to freeze entry prices for another year, making the race more accessible for all.

Last year, three of our solicitors took part in the 10k race and raised over £500 for MS Society. This year, we have another team taking part which will also be raising funds for MS Society. Training has already started in earnest!

If you are interested in entering the CCW Linlithgow 10k, please click here.

You can sponsor Team CCW by clicking here.

Missed anniversaries

We’ve all missed anniversaries – weddings, birthdays, mothers’ day etc.  In our personal lives the worst that happens (although bad enough!) are angry or upset relatives or friends but in the business world the outcomes can be a lot worse (at least in financial or operational terms).

Much of our time is spent dealing with the consequences of what happens where a key anniversary date has been missed – which could mean the date when a lease reaches its end date or when the tenant has to exercise an option to extend a lease early but failed to take the required action.  In most cases, what has been forgotten about is the need to send a notice to the other party to the contract or lease; for example, a lease does not end automatically on the stated date but continues to remain in force for a period of up to one year in the absence of a valid notice.  Whoever has forgotten to address these will not only endure the ire of their work colleagues, but, more importantly, the business may be at risk of serious problems by having the unexpected financial cost of an extra year’s rent or worse or the operational difficulty of being unable to recover occupation of a property from a tenant.

Worse is if you have actually remembered the key anniversary but not sent the correct type of notice.  Here, there really is no parallel with the non-business world – most people are grateful to have been remembered at all and will overlook the unfunny or mildly offensive joke inside the card.  In business, though, sending the wrong type of notice is just as bad as forgetting the anniversary in the first place.  So, for example, if a person has remembered to serve a notice but sent it to the wrong address, the notice may be ineffective.  Or, if it has been sent by ordinary post but it was a requirement of the contract that the notice be sent by special recorded delivery, the notice will equally be ineffective.  Or, more recently, a court has decided that even where a tenant given to the landlord a notice to end a lease early and the notice was validly served, the tenant’s erroneous underpayment of rent to the landlord invalidated that notice.

The lesson from this is:

  • don’t forget key anniversaries
  • diary ahead not just the anniversary date but also the last possible date for when you must take action
  • where there are major financial implications of getting the notice wrong, don’t scrimp on costs but get the notice sent in the correct legal form and sent on time.

Lastly, what can a person do who has either failed to send a notice or has sent one but it is invalid?  In some cases, it will simply be too late to be able to fix the problem.  There are, though, certain cases in which the problem can be fixed, although it will take some time and effort to fix it.  Please get in touch with us if you are in the unfortunate position of having forgotten one of these key anniversaries and we’ll do our best to help put things right.

Michael Dewar is an experienced commercial property solicitor providing expert advice and assistance to landlords and tenants in Fife, Edinburgh and across Scotland.

Are you working flexibly yet?

This month saw the one year anniversary of Government legislation giving all employees in the UK who have worked for their employers for 26 weeks or more the right to ask if they can work flexibly.

Long gone are the days when the right was confined to parents and carers only, as are the days when the employer had to follow a prescribed statutory procedure. It should be easier than ever before to work where, when and at times we want to. The right is now available to any employee for any reason and an employer’s obligation is to deal with any request reasonably and within 3 months.

So, do you fancy changing your working hours, say an extended lunch break with a later finish, to let you walk the dog in the middle of the day? Simply:

  • put your request in writing,
  • date it,
  • state that is it an application under the statutory scheme,
  • state the change you are asking for and when you wish it to take effect,
  • explain what effect you think the change would have and how that could be dealt with, and
  • state if you have previously made an application and, if so, when.

Your employer will then most likely meet with you to discuss your request before confirming its decision in writing. It is still open to an employer to refuse your request for one of eight prescribed reasons or, alternatively, agree to your change on a trial basis.

But are we achieving the work/life balance we desire? Our experience has been that uptake is slow. While employees may wish to enjoy a more flexible approach to working, employers are not convinced that the needs of their businesses will allow for it.

It is also our experience that, of all areas of potential conflict in the workplace, flexible working requests are one of the most contentious matters to deal with for one obvious reason: employer and employee almost always have competing interests. The employee wants change, the employers wants the status quo. The employee is often distracted by what he or she wants rather than the practical effects of what they are asking for, the employer is often concerned that any change will automatically have a detrimental impact on the business.

Whether you are considering making a flexible working request or having to consider one, the most important thing you can do to help achieve the outcome you want and avoid an unnecessary dispute is to give the most thought to the effect the change would have and how that could be deal with. This means:

  • As an employee, do no blindly refuse to accept that your request may have a detrimental impact on the business and write only about the positive impact the change will have for you. Instead, accept that it may – whether on performance, insufficiency of work or something else entirely – and get creative as to how these issues could be addressed. For example, if there is insufficiency of work for you to do in your department during the hours you wish to work could you ease the burden on an over stretched department elsewhere in the business by helping them?
  • As an employer, do not automatically assume that the requested change will not work. Think about your reasons for believing it won’t work, don’t overstate them and be objective. Really think about how it could be made to work and carefully explain why you’ve ruled out the different ways you may have identified. For example, you’re concerned about the impact on quality if you allow your most experienced member of the team to work from home for part of the week when the rest of the team are relatively inexperienced. Don’t be tempted to overstate the impact of the employee’s physical absence from the team. Or perhaps a period of training for everyone could benefit the business in the long term and allow you to reconsider the request.

Donna Reynolds is an experienced Employment Lawyer and HR Adviser assisting both SMEs and employees in Fife, Edinburgh and across Scotland.

LEGO of my IP Rights!

A recent challenge to the famous Danish toy manufacturer LEGO’s trade mark in respect of its miniature figurines (known as “minifigs” by loyal customers) has been rejected by the General Court of the European Union.

Registration of a Community Trade Mark is not allowed where the characteristic seeking protection is inextricably linked with the kind of good in question, or, as was argued in this case, where the shape is strictly necessary to obtain a particular technical outcome.

The claimant (and competitor) Best-lock, a toymaker operating out of the UK, based their argument upon the assertion that the distinctive minifig design, protected by a Community Trade Mark, fell squarely into the above category.  They claimed that the connectors in the heads and feet of the minifigs were put in place in order to allow them to connect with building blocks, etc, and as such, the shape of the minifigs was necessary to obtain a technical result.

The Court rejected this argument on the basis that this function was ancillary to the “essential characteristics” of the trade mark, these characteristics being its human shape and the clear intention on the part of the manufacturers that they be used primarily by children for recreational purposes.  In other words, they are toys.  In fact, at one point in the judgement, it was dryly observed that a child enjoying playing with a toy could hardly be classed as a technical result.

Moreover (and as anyone who has played with LEGO knows), the factual basis of their assertion was also false – it may be physically possible to connect the minifigs with the LEGO building blocks, but the shape of the figurines as a whole are not designed specifically for that purpose or purely for that purpose.  As such, the Court found it appropriate to dismiss the claim.

The result of the judgement is that LEGO, going forward, have cemented their right to stop competing companies from manufacturing similar toy figurines and undercutting them in the market (as Best-lock had been doing).  Everything is awesome!

Kieran Reilly is a Trainee Solicitor in our Corporate Team