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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Whistle Blowing

Whistle blowing is making the news again with officers, past and present, of the Metropolitan police giving evidence at the Commons public administration committee that crime figures have been manipulated to account for lower crime rates than were actually true.

This is not the first time whistle blowing has made headlines, after Julie Bailey exposed the rampant neglect at Mid Staffordshire hospital that had led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths. Whilst Bailey’s revelation led to a public inquiry report damning the lack of “care, compassion, humanity and leadership” at the hospital, she unfortunately suffered a backlash that saw her being bombarded by hate mail and her mother’s grave vandalised.

Although Bailey’s whistle blowing has led to significant changes in the NHS which would see gross neglect of patients become a criminal offence, her quest to seek greater protection for whistle blowers by prosecuting Managers who ignored or silenced them was unsuccessful.

This protection seems ever more warranted after officers at the Metropolitan Police claiming that those who attempted to come forward about the manipulation of crime figures were treated unfairly and often persecuted.  Peter Barron told the committee that whistle blowers were “marginalised” and “judged not to be a team player.”

Another officer, PC Patrick, was also ordered after whistle blowing “not to have contact with the public, external agencies or stakeholders.” Karen Todner, his lawyer, said “He is a whistleblower and what this is about is freedom of expression. This is someone who has tried to raise his concerns through the legitimate channels but was not able to do so.”

In both cases it would appear that the whistleblowers involved had suffered to their detriment when speaking out against practices they felt endangered the public. Patrick notes that there were “serious consequences” of maintaining the status quo. Perhaps Bailey is correct in demanding better protection for whistle blowers if the consequence of failing to do so allows malpractice to go unchecked.

Should you wish to ensure your business has a Whistle blowing Policy that sets out your company’s guidelines and methods in relation to this please see the one available on our website for further guidance.

6 of the Most Important Documents in World History

The world we live in today has been fundamentally shaped by the use of legally-bound documentation.

In fact, it’s safe to say that the majority of the most fundamental laws enforced across the modern world have been influenced and even directly dictated by documents created, agreed to, and signed decades and centuries ago.

Below we have listed just 6 of what we believe are amongst the most important documents in living memory; surviving to inspire modern-day laws, regulations and legal agreements within and between Western and European countries.

1. The Declaration of Independence

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On July 4th 1776, the United States of America was born. The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, officially declaring the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, as states no longer part of the British Empire.

The committee who drafted the Declaration included ex-Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

Bonus fact: John Hancock, the President of the Congress, signed the copy of the Declaration with a bold, pronounced signature, which led to  the modern-day synonym ‘John Hancock’ for ‘signature’.

 

2. Treaty of Versailles

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The Treaty of Versailles is one of the peace treaties declared at the end of the first World War, ending the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers.

One of the provisions in the treaty required “Germany to accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage” during the war.

The Treaty required Germany to disarm, make territorial concessions, and pay compensation (equivalent to £284 billion in 2013) to numerous Central European countries; liberating many nationalities from German rule.

 

3. Magna Carta

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The Magna Carta is a Latin charter originally issued in 1215. It was the first document forced upon an English monarch to show that the royal family, too, is bound by the law of the land.

The document was integral in influencing the rule of constitutional law in English-speaking countries, offering particular inspiration during the creation of the United States Constitution.

Perhaps the most pivotal consequence of the Magna Carta was its requirement for monarchs to accept that “freemen” can only be punished according to the law of the land, a right that still exists today in Great Britain, the USA, and various other countries across the globe.

 

4. Germany’s WWII Surrender

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Germany’s “Instrument of Surrender” was the single document which officially, unconditionally ended World War II in Europe.

The document was signed on 8 May 1945 by representatives of the three armed services of the OKW and the Allied Expeditionary Force, together with the Supreme High Command of the Red Army, and French and US representatives.

This pivotal date is now known in the West as “Victory in Europe Day”.

 

5. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, representing the first global adherence to a set of rights to which all people are entitled.

The document includes 30 articles which have been extracted and used in treaties, human rights instruments, constitutions, and laws on a global scale.

The UDHR is currently in practice in over 193 different countries worldwide, including African, Asian-Pacific, Eastern European, Latin American, Caribbean, and Western European countries.

 

6. Beveridge Report

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The Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services, also known as the Beveridge Report, was a document instrumental in the founding of the United Kingdom’s “welfare state” after WWII.

The creation of the Report was chaired by William Beveridge, an economist who identified five “Giant Evils” in society which he believed were the source of its problems at the time: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease.

The Report proposed post-war reforms to address these evils, which formed the basis for the Welfare State as the UK knows it today; leading to the founding of the National Insurance system and the National Health Service (NHS).

Five Reasons Why Document Services Could be in Greater Demand Over the Next Few Months

UK businesses need access to a wide range of business documents throughout the year, but there are certain times when that need is greater than usual. Here we present five reasons why document services businesses may experience a surge in demand over the coming months.

#1 – Letters from HMRC

November 5th is the date from which employers will start receiving letters from the HMRC informing them of their obligations for filing tax documents for the 2012-2013 tax year. Though this is generally done using HMRC’s own forms and online systems, these letters also serve as a reminder to businesses that they need to get their financial records and other key business documents in order.

#2 – New hires for a new year

Many companies choose to recruit extra staff in January and February and for some this may push them from being a small firm to a larger one. In order to comply with employment law and keep their house in order they may then need a range of employment documents and legal contracts, from job application forms to equal opportunity policies.

#3 – Holidays

During December and January, many people choose to take additional holidays on top of their days off for Christmas and New Year. This extra demand for annual leave request forms and associated documents may provide a spur for businesses to acquire document templates to ease the workload.

#4 – Filing documents with Companies House

30th December is the date that limited companies are required to file their records with Companies House by for the year ending 31st March 2013. This may trigger a rise in demand for corporate document services.

#5 – New businesses

The beginning of a new year is a time when many people decide that it’s time to start a business. During this embryonic period, a wide range of document templates are needed.

SMEs Look Ahead to a Year of Growth

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are anticipating a year of growth in 2014, according to figures from Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, with 97% – 4.5 million SMEs in total – planning to invest in growth. The statistics make for promising reading for the UK economy, with SMEs often described as the lifeblood of the nation’s business sector as a whole, and build on reports of substantial new companies being launched in 2013.

Earlier in 2013, Direct Line noted the number of Brits who were launching businesses of their own as a way of boosting their income from a day job – around 800,000 new launches in local areas throughout the UK in the first half of the year. The insurer’s research found that 36% of people undertake some activity to boost their primary income each month, even if it only involves selling items on online auction sites, and across the board they average annual earnings of over £2,500.

For those going the extra mile to launch a new business as their primary means of employment, having all of the right legal contracts in place could help to protect any additional income earned, as well as to ensure there can be no doubt about customers’ obligation to pay for work done.

Looking to the future

Looking ahead to 2014 and the Cydesdale/Yorkshire Bank report, it seems many businesses are likely to need further business documents in place to ensure the legality of new recruitment measures or other types of expansion. The survey found an almost unanimous 97% of SMEs plan to invest in some way in their own expansion in 2014, with 60% saying they are doing so to keep pace with growing demand, reversing the effects you might expect to see due to austerity measures.

A majority (57%) said they are taking an optimistic approach to investing, putting funds into their business as they hope to see growth over the coming 12 months – and a reassuring 43% said they currently perceive no barriers of any kind to their investment.

Promisingly, while many SME managers face the challenge of performing both their primary task and all of the necessary admin, the main barriers to investment that were identified by the survey did not relate to red tape or burdensome paperwork. Instead, one in four SMEs were worried about the availability of funding, and 18% said their largest current challenge is finding new customers.

 Again, for those whose customer base is growing rapidly, paper client contracts are one way to ensure that the level of service that is required is set out from the start, along with any specific rules regarding payment. SMEs venturing into employing a workforce for the first time, as their order books become overwhelming for an individual, should also ensure they have contracts of employment in place that spell out employees’ duties, any obligations regarding confidentiality of data, and potential grounds for dismissal.

With this kind of focus on any issues that arise during investment and expansion, SMEs can protect themselves against unwanted shocks, and give themselves the best possible chance of capitalising on the potential of the coming 12 months. In amongst all this enthusiasm for business and entrepreneurial spirit, the importance of getting the paperwork right must never be underestimated.

Robin Thicke sued by Marvin Gaye’s family for Copyright Infringement

“Blurred Lines” may be Robin Thicke’s greatest success to date, peaking at No.1 in 27 countries and topping the Billboard 100 for 12 consecutive weeks, but it appears Thicke may have blurred the lines a little too far between drawing inspiration and copyright infringement.

The children of the late Marvin Gaye have filed papers alleging that Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I copied elements of Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ They are calling for damages as well as a percentage of the profits from Blurred Lines.

Whilst Thicke, Williams and T.I have claimed that the songs are in no way similar but for “…commonplace musical elements” the Gaye family point to an earlier admission by Thicke to support their claim. “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favourite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up,” Thicke told GQ. “I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half-hour and recorded it.”

A court will now need to decide whether Blurred Lines infringes Gaye’s copyright or whether the songs are dissimilar as to make the claim for infringement baseless. The saga continues.

Should you believe that your own copyright is being infringed and want to take the first steps to stopping this, consider looking at our Intellectual Property Cease and Desist Letters. These can assist you in taking the necessary action to protect your rights in the event of any suspected infringement.

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