Legal action against “phoenix” companies doubles
Legal actions against directors of “phoenix” companies have almost doubled within a year, according to RPC. Such businesses have gone into liquidation and then been set up again using the same or similar name without court permission or notifying creditors. In 2012-13 the Insolvency Service took action on 163 cases where phoenix companies used prohibited names, compared with 85 the previous year. Vivien Tyrell, a partner at RPC, described it as a remarkable increase, and added: “‘It’ shows just how many people still think they can simply offload their debts and yet carry on what is effectively the same business without anyone noticing. It’s very concerning, given that this has been an offence for more than 25 years.”
The Times, Page: 37
Asbestos victims face compensation cut
Charities have claimed that thousands of people who are dying of asbestos-related cancer will lose out on compensation under reforms which have been hijacked by the insurance industry. The charities say that the government reforms, aimed at speeding up the compensation claims process, will be hit by punitive legal costs. Four asbestos victims’ charities will put their concerns to the Ministry of Justice later today.
The Times, Page: 16
Future of the profession
The Scotsman carries comment from Fiona McAllister, Emma Boffey and Andrew Jackson of the Scottish Young Lawyers Associations, who argue why young legal workers should be seen as the drivers of the profession’s future. They add that “future-gazing” is not preparing new lawyers for the present profound changes in practices.
The Scotsman, Page: 26-27
Police complaints on the rise
The number of requests for investigations into the handling of police complaints in Scotland has risen by nearly one-third in a year. The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland John McNeill says the number of applications from members of the public seeking a review of how police handled their complaint rose by 27%. Of the 405 individual complaints detailed in reports, 42% were found to have not been handled to a reasonable standard by the police.
The Herald, Page: 4
SMEs lacking insurance
One in every 20 SMEs has no insurance cover, leaving 230,000 companies open to fines, prosecution and potential claims, according to insurer LV=. So-called “slips and trips” claims for injuries at work account for the second-largest proportion of claims against employers behind theft and accidental damage.
The Times, Page: 40
Outsourcers retain their employment protection
The government has abandoned its proposals to scratch a special provision in the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations which would have extended the rules to outsourcers. The government had wanted to remove the provision, known as the service provision change, to promote competition between contractors and to help small operators to win bigger contracts. The government’s change of mind was welcomed by contractors, who hailed it as a victory for common sense. Simon Fennell, an employment partner at Shoosmiths, warned that the decision to drop the service provision change could hurt the smallest contractors, which remain bound by TUPE rules.
The Times, Page: 37
Labour admits migrant failings
Labour has admitted that Ed Miliband’s plan to reduce immigration would actually allow more foreign workers to come to Britain. The revelation emerged after the Conservatives challenged Mr Miliband’s claim that he would include a rule encouraging companies to hire “local” apprentices. The Conservatives said that any legislation restricting jobs to British applicants would be prohibited under European law. Labour conceded that the new apprenticeships would be open to all EU citizens.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1-2
Business leaders critical of apprenticeship policy
Labour’s plans to force large companies to offer a new apprenticeship place each time they hire a worker from outside the EU have been criticised by business leaders. The British Chambers of Commerce denounced the policy as an “apprentice tax” while the Institute of Directors said it was “completely removed from reality”. Meanwhile, a separate proposal, floated by Ed Miliband, for varying minimum wage rates in different sectors of the economy has been described as “unworkable” by the CBI.
Financial Times, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 6-7 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 7 Daily Mail, Page: 10-11 Yorkshire Post, Page: 4
Fit to work appeals on the rise
The cost of appeals against “fit to work” assessments have soared by more than a quarter, according to new figures. The amount taxpayers are paying has risen from £58.4m to £73.8m, an increase of 26% in a year. Labour has demanded that Atos, the company in charge of the assessments, is sacked.
The Herald, Page: 6
Assisted suicide remains chilling prospect for the disabled
Baroness Grey-Thompson writes in the Times that new proposed laws on assisted suicide are a chilling prospect for disabled people. She argues that Lord Falconer’s Bill, however well intended, risks becoming a law to oblige the strong and the determined rather than to protect the weak and the vulnerable.
The Times, Page: 24
Inheritance tax rule investigated
A campaigner has won his bid to secure an investigation into a controversial rule that allows solicitors to keep interest accrued on inheritance money. Chartered accountant Jim Clarke discovered the practice while dealing with his mother’s estate. Mr Clarke took his concerns to two legal bodies who threw his claim out. However, the Law Society of Scotland said an investigation will now go ahead.
The Herald, Page: 5, 14
A4e found guilty
The training company A4e has been found guilty of racial discrimination and been ordered to pay out £50,000 in compensation. Employment tribunal judges found that the company racially discriminated against Rohim Ullah when it unlawfully dismissed him from its Bradford office in 2011.
The Guardian, Page: 13
ArcelorMittal faces criminal charges
The Telegraph reports that ArcelorMittal is under criminal investigation that theoretically leaves it facing a multi-billion euro fine. The steelmaker is being investigated in the French courts over claims of alleged criminal conduct in an escalating legal row with hedge funds and other investors.
The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1, 8
Courtroom showdown previewed
The FT previews the US government’s first courtroom test of allegations that banks defrauded investors by selling defective mortgages, which starts tomorrow.
Financial Times, Page: 22
Hoaxers go unpunished
The Telegraph reports that only 16 hoax callers to the emergency services have been prosecuted – despite 31,000 such calls being made in the past three years.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2
Tax disputes backlog reaches record level
The FT reports that the queue of tax disputes headed for litigation reached a record level last year. In the year to 2012-13 there were 26,965 outstanding first-tier tax tribunal cases, up from 13,456 in 2009-10. Advisers have called on HMRC to help clear the backlog by stepping up its efforts resolve disputes without the need for litigation. Jason Collins, head of tax at Pinsent Masons, said: “These figures show that there is a huge backlog … still building up … which is costing businesses and individuals dear.”
Financial Times, Page: 2
HMRC targets SMEs
HMRC has found an easy target in SMEs as it seeks to hit demanding compliance targets, according to UHY Hacker Young. The accountancy firm points to new statistics showing that compliance investigations into SMEs netted HMRC £565m in the 2012-13 tax year, 31% more than the previous year.
The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 8 The Independent, Page: 57 The Scotsman, Page: 33
Planning applications surge
The FT says that the UK could be heading for a housebuilding boom after new figures from the Home Builders Federation (HBF) showed a sharp pick-up in planning applications. The HBF revealed that the number of planning approvals for new homes rose by 49% between April and June compared against the same period the previous year. In the first six months of the year, 77,686 permissions were granted, a 26% year-on-year increase. The FT believes that the figures show that moves to relax planning laws and encourage councils to release undeveloped land are having an effect. However, the HBF warned that the building recovery could be threatened by local authorities showering developers with “red tape” before they can start work on new sites. It said that some developers must deal with more than 100 items on a “pre–commencement” list before they lay the first brick after being given planning clearance by councils.
Financial Times, Page: 26 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3
HBJ Gateley has revealed it plans to recruit three lawyers to its new banking and finance operation, amid signs lending prospects are improving for businesses in Scotland. Richard McMeeken has become a partner in the litigation division of law firm Morton Fraser. Julie Davies has been appointed as the new head of residential property at LCF Residential, the conveyancing division of Last Cawthra Feather.
The Herald, Page: 23 Yorkshire Post, Page: 15
Consumer confidence in the economy has improved to its strongest level in at least two-and-a-half years as optimism about the housing market and jobs rises, Lloyds Bank’s latest Spending Power report has shown. Almost one fifth (18%) of people felt positive about the economy in August, showing a sharp increase from just over one in 10 (11%) in January.