Home > Legal Opinions from September 2010


  • Leading the way to the future?

    Emily Birkett

    It has been announced today that four councils have been testing the potential of community based budgets under the direction of the Coalition’s Big Society adviser Lord Wei. The idea is premised on the four councils leading the way, involving local residents in designing and running their public services and pooling budgets at a community […]

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  • First wave of changes as Equality Act approaches commencement

    Mark Blois

    The majority of provisions under the Equality Act 2010 (EA) come into force on 1 October. In time the EA should make it easier for schools to understand their obligations to ensure pupils and prospective pupils are not harassed or victimised. Schools will be relieved to see that implementation of the provision that removes their […]

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  • Robust governance and accountability for academies recommended

    Mark Blois

    The National Audit Office’s (NAO) latest report highlights concerns over the financial management and governance of academies. Whilst the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA), the body responsible for financial monitoring of academies, has powers to monitor academic and financial performance of academies, it has no equivalent processes for monitoring standards of governance. The NAO report […]

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  • Liquidated damages, commercially justified

    Ryan Harrison

    Liquidated damages clauses have traditionally been assessed on the basis of whether the clause in question represents a genuine pre-estimate of the loss suffered as a result of the breach. If not, the clause was held to be a penalty and therefore unenforceable. In a recent case, the High Court allowed a liquidated damages clause […]

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  • Say what you mean

    Gemma Steele

    What’s the difference between the allegations ‘loss of £3,000′ and ‘theft of £3,000′? A finding of unfair dismissal says the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Celebi v Compass. Mrs Celebi’s employers invited her to a disciplinary hearing regarding the allegation ‘loss of £3,000’. The evidence put to the tribunal was that they actually believed she […]

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  • A stitch in time – the right approach to local authority cuts

    Sharon Jones

    The impending comprehensive spending review is likely to mean more swingeing cuts across the board for local authorities. How? Schemes such as PFI, LIFT and BSF have stalled as there is less enthusiasm for the ‘build now, pay more later’ philosophy and local authorities have been forced to examine more imaginative ways of achieving savings […]

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  • New era for the Patents County Court

    Mark Daniels

    It’s all change for the Patents County Court. A new judge (Colin Birss QC) coupled by new rules, including cost capping and more robust case management powers, should see an even greater shift in emphasis in the newly named IP County Court towards a low cost and speedy dispute resolution process. These changes should be […]

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  • Increasing maternity pay – a double edged sword?

    Heather Mitchell

    EU plans to impose on Member States a requirement for fully paid maternity leave for 20 weeks have been thrown into controversy by a report on impact assessment produced at the request of the European Parliament this week. The current regulations in the UK allow for first six weeks of maternity leave on 90% pay, […]

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  • Ice cream is our religion

    Oliver Sweeney

    On Wednesday the ASA ruled that an advert for Antonio Federici ice cream was offensive to Catholics. The advert depicted a heavily pregnant woman, dressed as a nun, holding a tub of ice cream. The advert’s text said “Immaculately Conceived….” Federici said that their advert was a form of art and self-expression. They felt that […]

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  • Can you build a trade mark out of Lego?

    Mark Daniels

    The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Lego brick cannot be registered as a trade mark because its shape is necessary to obtain a technical function, ie to enable another Lego brick to be attached to it. The court found that the exclusion applies even where, within the shape, there are other non-essential […]

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  • It’s all Greek to me

    Paula Dumbill

    Do we make assumptions about the origin of goods on the basis of a single letter? The Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM) says not – an application for a community trade mark by Borco to register the Greek letter alpha – α – for wines was held to lack distinctive character, being […]

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  • Teather calls for special educational needs ‘overhaul’

    Mark Blois

    The children’s minister Sarah Teather is seeking input for a green paper from parents, teachers, charities and Local Authorities (LA’s) on SEN assessments, calling the current system ‘adversarial’ and in need of change. The paper will discuss how to identify children’s needs earlier, develop fairer and more transparent funding arrangements, streamline assessments and ensure parents […]

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  • The Buzz surrounding Google’s $8.5 million settlement

    Emma Tuck

    Google have agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle a class action brought by a group of customers using Gmail accounts (Google’s email service). Google signed up its Gmail users to BUZZ, their new social networking application, without their prior consent. The BUZZ application created the user’s network on the basis of their email contacts […]

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  • TUPE – A more measured approach needed

    Peter Jones

    The TUPE regulations require outgoing employers to inform and consult with employee representatives if they envisage taking measures in respect of employees. Outgoing employers rarely take such measures, or so we thought. In Todd v Strain the transfer happened on 4 January 2008. The outgoing employer paid wages for 1 to 3 January shortly after […]

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  • Dyson fails to clean up

    Oliver Laing

    The High Court has dismissed a claim by Dyson Ltd against rival Vax Ltd for infringement of Dyson’s registered design for a cyclonic vacuum cleaner. The claim concerned Vax’s Mach Zen model which Dyson claimed infringed their registered design dating back to 1994. Mr Justice Arnold dismissed the claim, deciding the two designs gave a […]

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  • ‘Damp squib’ danger as Gove announces first wave of free schools

    Mark Blois

    Michael Gove has announced the first 16 free schools that will progress to the next stage of preparing business plans . The schools are a mix of secondary, primary and faith schools in a number of areas set up by various groups including parents, teachers, local interest groups and charities.  In his ministerial statement Gove […]

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  • Stigma continues

    Richard Roberts

    In last week’s Legal Opinion, Stig facing the dump, Browne Jacobson reported the initiation of legal proceedings by the BBC who were seeking to restrain the publication of Ben Collins’ autobiography, The Man in the White Suit, which identified Mr Collins as Top Gear’s enigmatic celebrity driver The Stig.     By ruling of Mr Justice Morgan […]

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  • Academies – only 32 hares but potentially plenty of tortoises

    Katie Michelon

    The Department for Education has revealed that a total of 142 schools are currently on track to convert to academy status this academic year. 32 of these conversions will take place this month. The conversions form part of the Government’s much-publicised new academies programme, which encourages maintained schools to adopt academy freedoms. Based on the […]

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  • ASA to investigate your website

    Oliver Sweeney

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today announced that it will be extending its remit to cover marketing communications which appear on businesses’ own websites. Previously, the ASA’s online coverage only extended to paid-for adverts. The change will come into force on 1 March 2011. This is a significant change, as it brings a large amount […]

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Intellectual Property local authorities litigation Claims Nichola Evans James Arrowsmith NHS Laura Richards trade marks government education Browne Jacobson copyright Dai Durbridge advertising employment Hayley Roberts academies further education employment tribunal schools Oliver Sweeney Richard Freeth Public Sector adult safeguarding Social Care Mark Blois teachers Brands Fiona Carter free schools Ofsted Court of Appeal personal injury Department for Education Gemma Steele child protection Richard Nicholas Browne Jacobson LLP Sarah Erwin-Jones