Litigation Lawyers

Hylton-Potts - London Based Law Firm Helping People Across the UK since 1999

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Need a Litigation Lawyer or McKenzie Friend?

We handle all aspects of dispute resolution, exploring the best solution for the client. We aim for a swift and cost-effective result.

Our clients include companies and individuals. We handle contractual disputes, arbitration, mediation, insurance and property litigation and judicial reviews. If you are being blackmailed phone Rodney Hylton-Potts in strict confidence.

We help with complaints to the Financial Services Authority and the Insurance Ombudsman.

We handle construction disputes and claims against professionals including solicitors.

We can help with problems involving The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), and other educational problems and appeals

Contact us if you feel you have been unfairly marked, or given a fail in any examination, including Royal College of Surgeons.

We can help with appeals to the Valuation Tribunal Service.

CCJ against you? We can apply to have it set aside and removed for a highly competitive fixed fee.

We can help you with neighbours disputes, and planning matters.

We are particularly good at appeals, and possession actions  and offer highly competitive fixed fees.

We are not doctors, but know that the impact of our legal work can be as important and life changing as that of a surgeon.

We are informal and approachable, but deadly serious about helping you, just like a top surgeon.

Rodney can be your McKenzie friend or handle your arbitration.

Court Appearances

We take you through the strength and weaknesses of your case to prepare you for hearing. We will guide you and be by your side every step of the way, and will assist you to give your evidence clearly and effectively. Better than solicitors.

We even advise you on what to wear in Court.

We work with touch, approachable, businesslike barristers, providing excellent value for money, goals we ourselves emulate” – Rodney Hylton-Potts

Negligence or Overcharging

If your solicitor, doctor, hospital, architect, quantity surveyor, civil engineer or other expert has been negligent or have overcharged, look no further. We are not afraid to take on solicitors. We relish it.

Let down by your solicitor?

Sloppy slow expensive solicitors – if you feel let down by your solicitor come no further. We were set up in 1999 as a cheaper, quicker and better alternative.

We receive numerous complaints from people all over the country that solicitors:

1. Are too expensive

2. Are sloppy and slow

3. Do not return calls

4. Are negligent

But above all do not look after the interests of their clients.

It does not matter whether the case is just starting or half way through or nearing trial. It is not too late to change advisers. We are very used to getting up to speed very quickly.

Also we can advise you on whether you have a claim against your solicitor, to get a refund of fees or even better compensation for your losses, and we can help you with the strain and stresses.

If your solicitor has been negligent, or has overcharged, look no further.

We can give you a free initial opinion on whether the claim is worth pursuing, and for a fixed fee such as £245 or £395, including VAT, draft the appropriate tough legal letters and the Court proceedings, and getting everything ready to get you your entitlement.

We can arrange other experts to support your case.

Rodney Hylton-Potts did not get his nickname from his clients ‘Rottweiler’ by being touchy feely. Get him on your side now.

Telephone Rodney Hylton-Potts 020 7301 8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com 7 days a week.

More Information

Cheaper and better than solicitors. For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

We offer an ‘Unbundling’ service, where we provide separate items of legal assistance where required, leaving you the client to handle the more routine matters and keep costs well under control. We can offer highly competitive fixed prices for each stage of the case.

The case remains client- led and elements can include advice on law and procedure, drafting documents, consent orders and arranging advocacy with barristers via direct access. You handle the routine correspondence. This is extremely cost-effective.

We offer a fast and efficient service and are committed to a high level of client satisfaction.

Buy to let.

If you have rented out property in the last 14 years, you can recover agents charges in many cases, following a recent High Court ruling.

Agents are not allowed to charge commission where a tenant continues to occupy the property after a lease expires, or where a tenant buys.

If you feel that you fall into this category, please email us and we shall be happy to look at your case and advise you free of charge.

Heard any of these excuses before? Rodney Hylton-Potts can help you – Contact us today – 020 7381 8111

HELL HAS NO FURY

When a relationship breaks down one party, in possession of intimate images of the other, posts them online in an attempt to punish the other.

Private digital images are routinely swapped between adults in relationships, but on the understanding that they are private.

Unauthorised insemination of intimate material is a breach of the article 8 of human right of privacy.  Max Moseley was awarded £60,000, but the phone hacking settlements have been much higher.

There is a case called Vidal-Hall v Google suggests that exemplary/ punitive damages can be awarded on top of actual loss.

Claims can cover for breach of confidence, data protection, harassment and copyright.

Remedies can include an injunction to remove the material and not to put it back again on the web, and then damages.

The current criminal sanction is limited to harassment and that has to be a course of conduct so just one posting may not be sufficient.

There may also be offences however of blackmail or voyeurism, that is sending out grossly offensive threatening message under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

If you do find yourself in this situation you may want to take expert advice.

Consult Hylton-Potts, the experts who offer fixed fees, and give excellent value.

We operate a free and confidential 24 hour email service. Just click on law@rh-p.net or,  during office hours, there is a free and confidential legal helpline 020 7381 8111.

 

 Do you have rent arrears?

We can help beat off, or at least delay your landlord

If you have fallen into arrears with your rent, the landlord serve a notice and then take you to Court to get you out.

There is often a way you can stay rent free, and even profitably.

If it is your home, the landlord is obliged to place the deposit for rent and dilapidations you have paid into a government scheme. Many egged on by dodgy estate agents do not do so.

This is your way out.

If you have received a notice, eviction or possession proceedings, contact the experts. We may be able to turn things around, and we will certainly fight your corner.

Consult the experts. For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com

Personalised number plate

If you have a problem over a personalised number plate, and for example, recovery of it from another vehicle we can help. The claim is actually the right to complete the correct form at DVLA not of course the physical plate.

Consult the experts. For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com

 

Litigation News

Fired London Bankers Overcome Bonus Backlash in U.K. Courtrooms – Bloomberg

Consult the experts. For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com

Litigation claims online

If you want to issue a claim online this page tells you how.

https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

and this is the ‘quick start’ guide

If you need help with the claim, or a defence consult the experts – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

How to turn the tables if you owe money

If one of your creditors under pressure to chase debts, fails to take note of harassment legislation it could lead to fines and even imprisonment, and you can turn this to your advantage.

There is a thin line between good business acumen and harassment. The courts are prepared to award damages if they feel that a debtor has been harassed in the race to secure debts. Undoubtedly, economic uncertainties will test tempers but if this leads to individuals in a business behaving inappropriately, a harassment claim is a real possibility. Whether it is a customer claiming damages for harassment against a big corporation or one businessman suing another for causing anxiety and distress, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is increasingly being used as a tool in a debt recovery matters.

If businesses fail to consider the harassment legislation in all of this, they may end up paying money out to you rather than getting it in.

Threatening behaviour

In a badly handled debt recovery action, British Gas sent Ms Ferguson threatening bills and letters. Such threats included legal proceedings and, threats to report her to credit rating agencies.

Ms Ferguson decided to take a stand and sued British Gas, saying that its behaviour amounted to unlawful harassment contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act. She claimed £5,000 for distress and anxiety and £5,000 for financial loss because of the time she had lost and expenses she had incurred in dealing with British Gas.

The Court of Appeal agreed with Ms Ferguson that the behaviour could amount to harassment and that it was strongly arguable that it did.

Oppressive and unacceptable

In S&D Property Investments Ltd v Nisbet, the case started off as a straightforward debt recovery action in the sum of £111,579, said to be due from Mr Nisbet relating to monies lent.

Mr Nisbet counterclaimed damages for harassment by Mr French, a director and shareholder in S&D. He maintained that S&D was also liable for Mr French’s behaviour.

The judge accepted that Mr French’s initial frequent and insistent chasing of the debt was not harassment but, when he made reference to being tempted to beat Mr Nisbet, this was oppressive and unacceptable and amounted to harassment. Judges are more streetwise than you may think. They know what ‘paying a visit’ means.

The court also had little trouble accepting that Mr French calling at Mr Nisbet’s house on two occasions and shouting abuse amounted to harassment).

This case shows that oppressive and unacceptable behaviour in seeking to recover a debt can backfire and result in the payment of compensation for distress, anxiety and financial loss. Mr Nesbit got £7,000 damages

When seeking to make a recovery of a debt, a business can end up actually paying out compensation under the Protection from Harassment Act or, indeed, being subjected to a fine or prison sentence of up to six months.

The moral of the tale

If someone is getting ‘heavy’ with you, note it all on a spreadsheet which we can e-mail you free of charge. And then brief the expert Rodney ‘The Rottweiler’

We have had cases where the whole debt has been written off.

Do not get mad get even.

For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Keeping a Chronology of Important Dates

In any dispute, a good tactic is to prepare and keep up-to-date chronology of important dates, events and cross-reference in the documents.

We can e-mail you this template free of charge.

Later a Judge might say “How do I know this is accurate?”. You reply that on legal advice you recorded the event on your computer, in the spreadsheet, that very same day.

This works.

For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Utility companies’ incompetence – claim for your time

We have all been angry and frustrated when a utility, or energy company, like British Gas is incompetent and you lose out, but now you can bring a claim.

If your time is wasted e.g. you are self employed, and you have lost time and money, due to problems take them to court.

Log every phone call, letter and time off work. We at Hylton-Potts can send you a spreadsheet free of charge if you e-mail us. Companies should realise that their customers’ time is just as valuable as their own.

If you want compensation contact the experts –
For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Contempt of Court – HOW TO GET EVEN IF YOUR OPPONENT LIES

Anyone who has lost, or even won, a matrimonial or litigation case because the opponent has lied, carries a sense of grievance. The police do not want to know. The judge goes on to the next case, but you know your opponent lied and want to prove it.

We can help you get even legally and cost effectively.

Proceedings for contempt of court is the answer.

Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person if he make a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth, or gives dishonest oral evidence

Contempt proceedings can only be dealt with in the High Court. Proceedings that are being dealt with in the Principal Registry or a county court must therefore be transferred, but this can be done quickly and cheaply.

To be successful in contempt of court proceedings, the dishonest statement must be obvious. It must be proved to the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt, and the victim has to move quickly.

If the witness is found to be in contempt of court, he could face up to two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

This is a really useful weapon.

To learn more consult the experts – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Legal Aid

We specialise in helping people who cannot get Legal Aid, or where none is available.

Legal aid solicitors are usually free. They are often dedicated and compassionate, but quite clueless and inexperienced, and just sit there, adding no value.

You need somebody who is a specialist, and very streetwise.

It is like the difference between a Harley Street specialist and the local crowded GP’s surgery. The prisons are full of people on legal aid.

Our fixed fee, no nonsense, no bullshit approach may appeal to you.

We are better and cheaper than Solicitors.

If you think we might be the Lawyers for you please contact us – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

As far back as 1988 Rodney Hylton-Potts was congratulated by a High Court judge, with the speed with which he conducted litigationclick here to view.

Family provision for an adult child

The majority of parents with children will wish to ensure that their property ultimately benefits the next generation. Most parents want to be ‘fair’, which usually means each child taking an equal share. Sometimes, however, a parent wants to give one child a greater share than his siblings, or excludes one or all of the children altogether.

The Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Ilott v Mitson is important.

When Mrs Jackson died in 2004, she had been long estranged from her daughter, Mrs Ilott, aged 50. Mrs Ilott was not mentioned in the will, which left the estate to charity. Mrs Jackson left a letter to her executors explaining why she was leaving nothing to her estranged daughter. Nevertheless, Mrs Ilott (who was living on state benefits) claimed ‘reasonable provision’ from the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975.

The county court judge agreed that Mrs Jackson’s will did not make reasonable provision for her daughter and awarded her £50,000 – a little over ten per cent of the estate. The Court of Appeal held that the judge had applied the correct test, and that they would not interfere with his decision.

Importantly, the Court of Appeal did not rule that it will always, or normally, be reasonable for a parent to provide by will for their adult child, any more than the previous landmark cases ruled that it is always, or normally, reasonable for a parent to leave him or her nothing.

The Court of Appeal also noted that parliament deliberately included children over 21 among the categories of individuals entitled to claim under the 1975 Act, even if not financially dependent on the deceased.

This decision undoubtedly poses problems for a testator who wants to leave his child little or nothing from his estate. One useful strategy is to make a will containing a modest legacy for the child together with a forfeiture clause. This will not prevent the child claiming under the 1975 Act but makes his risks significantly higher. It means if they make a claim and fail, they get nothing.

Objectively, is reduced (or no) provision for this child in this will reasonable? Has he or she already received significant lifetime gifts? Does he have other financial resources available?

Attacking a Will

If you feel a will has been signed resulting from duress undue influence or lack of capacity, look no further. We are experts of this and can give you a free opinion by telephone or email.

International Estates

Estates with an international dimension often raise issues as to whether the children of the deceased have a legal right to inherit notwithstanding the terms of the will and the intentions of the deceased. In some foreign jurisdictions, it is impossible to completely disinherit children.

One such estate came before the High Court in May 2011: Morris v Davies.

The claimant was the executor of a British citizen who lived in Belgium and France from 2001 until his death in 2008. He sought probate of the deceased’s will; various family members opposed this, claiming that the deceased was domiciled in Belgium, that Belgian compulsory inheritance rules applied, that the will was invalid, and that Belgian intestacy rules operated. At a case management conference the Master directed that the question of the deceased’s domicile be tried as a preliminary issue. A trial in the Belgian court was scheduled before the hearing on domicile.

The executor obtained an anti-suit injunction precluding the defendants from proceeding in either Belgium or France before the preliminary issue had been heard in England.

He said;

  1. The foreign court’s findings would be relevant only after the English court had determined the issue of domicile, and there would still need to be a trial of that issue in England
  2. it would not deprive the defendants of any legitimate advantages in the foreign proceedings; and
  3. it would protect the process of the English court from misuse.

The judge,, concluded that “the wide-ranging nature of the Belgian proceedings at present seem to me to be designed at the very least to enable… the second defendant to reduce to her own possession and for her own benefit some of the deceased’s assets in advance of the hearing of the preliminary issue in England… Given that the present defendants had submitted to the hearing of that issue and had allowed costs to be incurred, in my judgment such conduct is vexations and oppressive.”

If you have a problem or an issue, in relation to drafting a will which does not provide for your children equally, or if you are a child whose parent has died, without giving you equal provision with your siblings, contact the experts – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

 Local Government Ombudsman

 If you wish to make a complaint to the local government ombudsman we can help. Generally these complaints cover

  • Planning
  • Education
  • Social care
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax
  • Transport and highways
  • Environment and waste
  • Neighbour nuisance and antisocial behaviour

Click on this link to learn more www.lgo.org.uk

We operate highly competitive fixed fees. If you need help completing the complaint form we are expert, and can also advise you on other courses of action, including court.

Consult Hylton-Potts, the experts who offer fixed fees, and give excellent value.

We operate a free and confidential 24 hour email service. Just click on law@rh-p.net or,  during office hours, there is a free and confidential legal helpline 020 7381 8111.

Challenging Exam Results

A disappointing result/grade or failure is not the end of the road.  Expert advice and the law can help you.

Examining bodies have duties. We operate highly competitive fixed fees.

Contact us by phone or email for a free expert opinion.

Late Payment of Commercial Debt

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have adopted a new directive aimed at tackling late payment for goods and services in business to business contracts within the European Union.

Despite a previous directive dating back to 2000, late payment remains a significant problem in commercial transactions, with a particularly negative effect being felt by small and medium sized businesses already hit by the economic downturn. So what is being done to make debt recovery easier?

The new directive includes a number of provisions intended to encourage prompt payment:

  • A creditor is entitled to statutory interest for late payment from the day after the date or period for payment specified in the contract.
  • The period for payment should generally not exceed 60 days.
  • If a date or period for payment is not specified in the contract, the creditor is entitled to interest for late payment 30 days after the date of the request for payment or the date of receipt of the goods or services.
  • The creditor is also entitled to compensation for costs.

Main Provisions
EU countries shall ensure that if the date or period for payment is not fixed in the contract, the creditor is entitled to interest for late payment upon the expiry of any of the following time-limits:

  • 30 calendar days following the date of receipt by the debtor of the invoice or an equivalent request for payment ;
  • if the date of the receipt of the invoice or the equivalent request for payment is uncertain, 30 calendar days after the date of receipt of the goods or services.

In addition, countries shall ensure that:

  • the maximum duration of the procedure of acceptance or verification does not exceed 30 calendar days from the date of receipt of the goods or services, unless otherwise expressly agreed in the contract and provided it is not grossly unfair to the creditor;
  • the period for payment fixed in the contract does not exceed 60 calendar days, unless otherwise expressly agreed in the contract and provided it is not grossly unfair to the creditor.

Compensation
When interest for late payment does become payable in commercial transactions, the creditor is entitled to obtain a minimum fixed amount of EUR 40. This fixed sum is payable without the necessity of a reminder and as compensation for the creditor’s own recovery costs. In addition the creditor will be entitled to obtain reasonable compensation from the debtor for any recovery costs exceeding that fixed sum and incurred due to the debtor’s late payment. This could include expenses incurred, inter alia, in instructing a lawyer or employing a debt collection agency.

Public Authorities
In commercial transactions where the debtor is a public authority and a certain time period has expired, the creditor is entitled to charge interest, without the necessity of a reminder, where the following conditions are satisfied:

  • the period for payment does not exceed any of the following time-limits: i) 30 calendar days following the date of receipt by the debtor of the invoice or an equivalent request for payment; ii) if the date of receipt of the invoice or the equivalent request for payment is uncertain, 30 calendar days after the date of the receipt of the goods or services;
  • the date of receipt of the invoice is not subject to a contractual agreement between debtor and creditor.
  • Countries may extend the time-limits up to a maximum of 60 calendar days for:
  • any public authority which carries out economic activities of an industrial or commercial nature by offering goods or services on the market and which is subject as a public undertaking to the transparency requirements laid down in Commission Directive 2006/111/EC;
  • public entities providing healthcare which are duly recognised for that purpose.

Unfair Contract Terms

The Directive should prohibit abuse of freedom of contract to the disadvantage of the creditor.
Where a term in a contract or a practice relating to the date or period for payment, the rate of interest for late payment or the compensation for recovery costs is not justified on the grounds of the terms granted to the debtor, or it mainly serves the purpose of procuring the debtor additional liquidity at the expense of the creditor, it may be regarded as constituting such an abuse. For that purpose, any contract term or practice grossly deviating from good commercial practice, contrary to good faith and fair dealing, should be regarded as unfair to the creditor.

For example the follow contract terms are likely to be considered ‘grossly unfair’:

  • exclusion of the right to charge interest
  • the exclusion of the right to compensation for recovery costs

Transparency
Member States shall ensure transparency about the rights and obligations stemming from this Directive, for example by making publicly available the applicable rate of statutory interest for late payment.

Payment Schedules & Claims
Where instalments are not paid by the agreed date, interest and compensation provided for in this Directive shall be calculated solely on the basis of overdue amounts.
To ensure parties can enforce full payment each country’s shall also certify that an enforceable title can be obtained, including through an expedited procedure and irrespective of the amount of the debt. They shall carry out this duty in accordance with their respective national laws, regulations and administrative provisions.

Changes under the new directive

Payment period

  • Parties may still specify payment periods in their contracts, but they must not be “grossly unfair” (see below). The maximum potential period for payment is 60 days, although this can be extended by express agreement and any longer than 60 days seems likely to fall foul of the “grossly unfair” test.
  • If the contract is silent then a 30-day payment period from date of receipt of invoice is applied.
  • Where the buyer is in the public sector the maximum payment period is reduced to 30 days from either the date of invoice or delivery (whichever is earlier). This can be extended by each member state in national law to 60 days in healthcare or where the public authority carries out economic activities of an industrial or commercial nature.
  • There is also some wording in the directive which suggests payment periods are deferred where there is an acceptance process. It will be interesting to see how this will be implemented.

Rate of interest for late payment

  • In the UK the default interest rate will be the Bank of England base rate plus 8%.
  • In the Eurozone the default interest rate will be the European Central Bank plus 8%.
  • Parties can agree a lower rate of interest but only to the extent that it is not “grossly unfair”.
  • Parties cannot agree to no interest at all being due for late payment – that will be deemed to be “grossly unfair”.

Compensation for recovery costs

  • A creditor is entitled to recover a minimum fixed sum of €40 as compensation for its recovery costs.
  • A creditor may also recover reasonable compensation from the debtor for any recovery costs. This can include expenses incurred in instructing a lawyer or employing a debt collecting agency.

“Grossly unfair”

  • If a contract term or practice related to payments, the interest rate, the period of payment or compensation recovery costs is “grossly unfair” to the creditor then it is unenforceable.
  • The directive hints that payment terms longer than 60 days are probably grossly unfair.
  • Excluding entirely a right to interest or compensation for recovery is automatically unenforceable.
  • The criteria for considering if the provision is “grossly unfair” includes:
  • Gross deviation from good commercial practice
  • Nature of product or service;
  • Whether the debtor has an objective reason to justify deviation
  • If you are owed money consult the experts

Rodney did not get his nickname ‘Rottweiler’ by being touchy-feely – contact the experts – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Public Carriage Office (PCO) 

If you have had your Public Carriage Office licence, revoked or wish to appeal a decision look no further. We are experts and have helped many London Private Hire Drivers successfully appeal decisions and successfully appeal to the Court.

Contact us by phone or email for a free expert opinion.

Judicial review

Claimant-friendly judicial reviews
Parties to judicial review proceedings should take heed of recent decisions on the importance of the pre-action protocol or face the consequences.

What should happen when a defendant in a judicial review reconsiders its decision?

In R (Bahta) v SSHD , the Court of Appeal considered costs following consent orders in judicial reviews which were resolved without a hearing because the claimants had been granted what they wanted by the defendant.

The Court said that it was not acceptable for a public authority defendant to fail properly to respond to an adequately formulated letter of claim under the pre-action protocol. In the absence of an adequate response, if the claimant commences proceedings and then obtains the relief sought, or substantially similar relief, it should be awarded its costs. If a concession was properly due it should normally be made at the pre-action stage.

The judge said that the starting point is that a successful claimant is entitled to its costs. Where relief is granted, a defendant bears the burden of justifying a departure from the general rule that the unsuccessful party pays. The burden would be a heavy one where the defendant did not comply with the pre-action protocol when the claimant did.

The court said that judges should not be tempted too readily to adopt a fallback position. They should make a reasonable and proportionate attempt to analyse the situation, including the merits, and determine what order for costs was just and appropriate.

The court concluded that the time for judging the position was the date at which the application for costs was determined, but that consideration should be given to the whole sequence of events in relation to the litigation and the conduct of the parties throughout.

Where a defendant agrees that it will reconsider its decision and proposes a consent order, should that not bring an end to the proceedings? There was some authority which suggested that it was appropriate to stay the proceedings to allow them to be reinitiated against the new decision.

The result is to require parties to comply closely with the normal requirements of litigation. Both claimants and defendants should follow the pre-action protocol. Defendants must address challenges at the pre-action stage and indicate a willingness to settle at that stage, where appropriate. Neither claimants nor defendants should seek to play the system.

The importance of Bahta should not be underestimated. It signals a change in practice which is likely to have an effect on which JRs are brought and which are fought. It shifts the process a little further towards helping claimants, which means more JRs will be brought.

If you want advice on bringing all help in drafting applications for judicial review consult the experts – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Refund of course fees

If you have paid a school, college or university money and want a refund, or if you owe the money and need time to pay, consult the experts.

 

For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

 

How to combat copycat rip-offs

I run a boutique fashion house. I have been plagued by copycat manufacturers, making counterfeits of my products. I have tried stopping them to no avail. But the situation is getting more serious, as the copycats are getting better and are finding reputable outlets in which to sell their bags in the UK. I have tried alerting the outlets, but they have been slow to respond. What legal remedies do I have?

Infringement by copycat manufacturers is rife. The solution is to follow a dual strategy – tackling the source and the outlets.

Provided you have registered rights, you can place a “watch” notice with UK Customs, along with information to identify counterfeits, to stop them entering the UK.

Should counterfeit goods be detained by Customs, you will be able to initiate court proceedings against the importer.

To target the outlets, a lawyer should write to inform them of the copycat goods on the market, and notify them that you will take legal action against any sale of such items. If the outlets continue to sell the items, you should consider taking action against at least one, to deter others.

If you have a problem with people copy your goods consult the experts – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111  or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Enforcing partner restrictive covenants

Many partners on the move are shocked to find that the post-retirement restrictive covenants in their partnership or LLP agreement – which to them appear oppressive – have a reasonable chance of being enforceable against them and certainly are far more likely to be binding on them than if they were employees.

Professional partnerships’ restrictive covenants tend to be for a period of 12 to 24 months (in contrast to employees where three to 12 months is more typical). They usually prevent the departing partner from soliciting, canvassing or doing business with the firm’s clients, and from soliciting other partners or defined employee categories. Some go further and include a geographic non-competition clause; others aim to prevent team moves.

As with all restrictive covenants (partner and employee alike), the starting point is that they are void on the grounds of public policy unless they are, broadly speaking,

(1) reasonable in scope, length and duration;

(2) protect a legitimate business interest such as trade secrets, client relations, or the stability of the workforce;

If you need help drafting a valid clause, or advice on enforcing or defending a claim arising out of a restrictive covenant, consult the experts. We offer highly competitive fixed fees – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Can a former employee poach my customers?

A senior member of staff has recently left our business and a “non-compete” clause in her contract forbids her to work for our clients for six months. But I have just discovered that her new employer has begun advising one of our clients. She claims that she isn’t involved with that account. Is there anything we can do?

If you can prove that the restriction has been put in place to protect a legitimate business interest, and that the clause goes no further than is reasonably necessary to protect that interest, then a court is likely to enforce it.

Your “non-compete” clause sounds like a “non-dealing” covenant that prevents a former employee dealing with former clients, rather than a “non-solicitation” clause that prevents the poaching of clients.

These non-dealing covenants have to be carefully worded and stipulate that the restriction bites regardless of which party approached the other. If yours does not do that, then your former employee can successfully claim that she did not approach the client, and the client approached her business independently.

But if you are confident and can prove that the relevant clause has been breached and that your business has suffered a financial loss as a result, you can consider seeking an injunction.

Before embarking on a legal process – Consult the experts – better than solicitors – For more information or a free legal opinion telephone 020-7381-8111 or email law@hylton-potts.com.

Commercial property rent arrears.

The common law remedy of distraint was abolished on 6 April 2014, when the commercial rent arrears recovery procedure is brought into effect.

From 6 April 2014, landlords must to follow a fixed, rigid process if they want to seize goods to pay rent arrears.

  • the process can only be used where the lease is of commercial property only.
  • a landlord must give a tenant written clear days’ notice of  intention to seize goods;
  • the process applies only to arrears of principal rent, interest and VAT – not insurance or service charge
  • entry to commercial premises will be possible between 06.00 and 21.00  by authorised “enforcement agents”; (in practice certified bailiffs, who worked under the old system).
  • goods must then be secured – either at the premises or at a place within a reasonable distance of the premises (where there is a significant risk they may be removed by the tenant) and cannot be sold until seven clear days following removal from the premises;
  • a landlord can serve notice on a subtenant of its tenant, requiring payment of rent directly to the landlord; effective in 14 clear days .

Consult Hylton-Potts, the experts who offer fixed fees, and give excellent value.

We operate a free and confidential 24 hour email service. Just click on law@rh-p.net or,  during office hours, there is a free and confidential legal helpline 020 7381 8111.