Did Bruce Willis Open the Pandora Box

The movie star has allegedly discovered he can’t pass on his iTunes collection to his children. It’s part of a far bigger issue, as many are discovering

Recently Bruce Willis raised an interesting issue related to the Terms and Conditions of iTunes.

It turned out that he will not be able to legally pass his iTunes music collection to his daughters, after his death. The movie star is cross with Apple and is now taking legal actions against them and requesting investigation of the legal agreement between iTunes and the client.

“A lot of people will get a similar shock when they realise this is the situation,” says Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for digital rights. According to him a lot of upset customers will turn not only to Apple, but to Amazon and other companies offering digital content, as when buying a digital product such as music or books, we have no rights over the goods, as referred to the license agreement “We Accept”.

Of course, by making the customer “”agree” the digital content will be only for personal use, the companies are trying to prevent Internet piracy, however in the same time, they “treat everyone as a thief”.

On the other hand, Joshy Thomas, an intellectual property lawyer says that probably most of the iTunes users do not realise that they do not actually own the content. They pay for it, so they won`t be sued for having a certain file on their computer. One of the examples he provides in order to describe the situation is the following: . “Say I own a horse. I can give you permission to ride it every Tuesday, but it is still my property. It also doesn’t mean your child has permission to ride it every Tuesday after your death. This is the situation as it stands. Apple could fix this tomorrow, though, by simply changing its small print.”

Mr. Thomas agrees that the issue of who owns the “digital footprint” has been growing and that case is just the beginning. For example many people are asking what will happen to their Facebook page or e-mail archive, after their death. These issues are comparatively new, due to the lack of so wide-spread internet connection and the respective services.

Mr. Thomas also made a remark by saying  that Bruce Willis should be very careful, as by forcing Apple to change their policy, this can serve as a thread to his fellow artists, because this might deprive them from receiving the income they should- as Mr. Thomas says : “Apple is only the middle-man here.”

 

See also:
Confidentiality Agreement 

Barclay`s CEO Fears Interest Only Mortgages Scandal

The new Barclay`s chief executive – Antony Jenkins has expressed some concerns that the mis-sold interest-only mortgages , not paid when they reach maturity, could be the reason for a huge financial scandal.

“We spend a lot of time trying to look over the horizon to what might be complaints in the future such as interest-only mortgages”. he also explain that there is a small number of Barclays borrowers, who were in a position to lack enough resources to fund their loan.

The interest-only mortgages are a type of a home loan, where the borrowers are required to pay off only the interest until the maturity date, when they are will be asked to pay off the full sum borrowed. During the period when the house prices were high the banks used to lend higher amounts for the interest-only loans, than they would with a regular repayment scheme.

However, at this stage it could be seen by regulators as an irresponsible action which has placed borrowers in an unfavourable situation now house prices have dropped.

The Financial Services Authority declared that they would be “monitoring the issues” surrounding interest-only mortgages which mature without the borrower having the means to pay off the full amount.

Barclay`s CEO has promised that they will act fairly to the borrowers, who are unable to repay their loans when they mature. “We are trying to communicate frequently as these loans reach maturity and to help if a source of repayment for the loan hasn’t happened”, he stated. He added: “We will be monitoring the issues that arise when interest-only borrowers reach maturity without the means of repayment and will examine the strategies in place across firms and their compatibility with the fair treatment of customers.”

In the recent years banks faced a wide range of mis-seling scandals, so now they fear the interest-only mortgages will be the next bank fiasco.

See also:

Loan Agreement

Stock Transfer Form – Form J10 & Form J30

A Stock Transfer Form, also known as a Share Transfer Form, shall be used to record the transfer of ownership of shares in any private or public limited company registered in England, Wales and Scotland.

According to Section 770 of the Companies Act 2006 a company may not register a transfer of shares unless a ‘proper instrument’ has been delivered to it.

A ‘proper instrument’ can take a variety of forms and may be subject to the company’s Articles of Association. The Model Articles of Association contained in the Companies Act 2006 state that “shares may be transferred by means of an instrument of transfer in any usual form or any other form approved by the directors, which is executed by or on behalf of the transferor”.

Therefore there is no prescribed form for transferring shares and, as long as certain information is included in the form, there is no statutory requirement to use a particular form or template. However, the most common form is the Stock Transfer Form as set out in schedule 1 of the Stock Transfer Act 1963.

Form J10 and Form J30 are Stock Transfer Forms that comply with schedule 1 of the Stock Transfer Act 1963.

  • Form J10 Stock Transfer Form – is used for the transfer of nil or partly paid shares. Also it is used to transfer shares when both signatories are present as both the transferor and the transferee are required to sign this form.
  • Form J30 Stock Transfer Form – is used for the transfer of fully paid shares, where only one signatory is present as only the transferor is required to sign this form. This is the most widely used form of the two.

Please note that you can only use Form J10 and Form J30 above if you hold a share certificate.

For Stock Transfer Form (Form J10 & Form J30) and instructions on how to complete the forms please visit: Stock Transfer Form – Form J10 and Form J30.

Copyright Licence Agreement

For a Copyright Licence Agreement please see: Copyright Licence Agreement

In the UK the law relating to copyright is set out in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA1988).

Copyright can protect:

  • literary works
  • dramatic works
  • musical works
  • artistic works
  • layouts or typographical arrangements
  • recordings
  • broadcasts

Please note that copyright applies to any medium. Copyright protected work cannot be reproduced in another medium without prior permission, for example painting of a photograph.

Copyright is automatic thus, there is no need to apply for copyright.

Please note that copyright does not protect ideas. It is only when the work itself is fixed, for example in writing, that copyright automatically protects it.

There is no official registration system for copyright in the UK. Provided that the work qualifies for copyright protection, it is an original work and it is fixed then the work is automatically protected by copyright.

Copyright is an asset to businesses and individuals alike as it gives the owner numerous economic rights.

Copyright owners have the opportunity to make commercial gain from the exploitation of their work. Copyright owners generally have the right to authorise or prohibit any of the following things in relation to their works:

  • copying the work in any way;
  • issuing copies of the work to the public;
  • renting or lending copies of the work to the public;
  • performing, showing or playing the work in public;
  • broadcasting the work or other communication to the public by electronic transmission;
  • making an adaptation of the work, such as by translating a literary or dramatic work, transcribing a musical work and converting a computer program into a different computer language or code.

Copyright is infringed when any of the above acts are done without permission, whether directly or indirectly and whether the whole or a substantial part of a work is used. If copyright is infringed then the owner of the work has the right to claim damages.

A copyright owner has the right to decide whether and how the copyright work is used. A copyright owner can:

  • sell the copyright but retain the moral rights (assignment of copyright);
  • license the copyright for use by others but retain the ownership.

A Copyright Licence is a contractual agreement between the copyright owner and user; it sets out how the copyright work can be used.

A Copyright Licence Agreement is designed to be used where the licensor owns the copyright in one or more works and the licensee wishes to use those works. It allows the parties to decide whether the copyright licence is exclusive or non-exclusive. Also, the Agreement can be used to licence existing copyright or future copyright (works yet to be created).

ABI Not Happy With The Uplift Ruling

A few days ago it was revealed that the Court of Appeal has decided to increase general damages, however the news were not welcomed by the Association of British Insurers, which has appealed against it.

In July, it has been decided that a 10% uplift should be applied to all personal injury awards. The new changes, voted by three senior judges will be applied from April 2013, however cases launched before this date will also take advantage on the 10% uplift.

According to the insurers this decision offers a double cost advantage for claimants, so the ABI is taking a legal actions, by submitting papers to the High Court to request a review of the changes.

A spokesman for the ABI said: ‘At the moment this upsets the balance that was intended by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. We have always known about the 10% uplift, but it was supposed to be balanced by a reduction in legal costs.’

Lord chief justice, master of the rolls and the vice-president of the Court of Appeal were the ones to make the decision to increase general damage.

In their judgment, they said it would be a ‘breach of faith’ for the judiciary not to ensure that trial judges would apply it.

The uplift will apply to general damages for pain, defamation and all other torts which cause suffering, inconvenience or distress to individuals.

See also:

Accident Reporting Pack 

Contract Variation – Changing Terms of a Contract

For a Variation Agreement template please see: Variation Agreement – Changing Terms of a Contract

Where the parties to an already existing contract later on want to change the terms of the contract they can do so in one of two ways. One option is for the parties to consent to the termination of the original contract and enter into an entirely new one. However, this is expensive and time consuming especially where large and complex commercial contracts are involved. Another option is to create a Variation Agreement to change the existing contract by only varying a certain number of terms, while keeping the majority of original terms in existence.

Thus, a Variation Agreement should be used where the parties to an existing contract want to change one or more provisions of a contract/agreement that has already been signed and is in effect.

Common law allows for a written contract to be changed by subsequent mutual agreement from both parties, whether oral or written. However, it is common in commercial contracts to include a variation clause providing that that any changes made to a contract are ineffective unless made in writing and signed by or on behalf of both parties. This clause is intended to prevent informal or inadvertent oral variations. Thus it is important to check if the original contract has a variation clause because if this is the case then oral variations will generally be ineffective. Furthermore, to ensure that there is no dispute over what has been agreed it is advisable to always attempt to document any variation, as oral variations are hard to prove.

In order for a Variation Agreement to be effective certain elements must be presents. There must be:

  • a valid agreement between the parties (mere notification by one party to the other is not effective); and
  • some form of consideration supporting the agreement.

Consideration could take many forms, for example: mutual abandonment of existing rights; new benefits being granted by each party to the other party; assumption and/or release of obligations. In the absence of consideration, a variation can be effected by deed.

Generally, in order to avoid problems it is always advisable to execute a Variation Agreement as a deed; especially where an agreement amending an earlier contract is all in one party’s favour and/or there appears to be no consideration.

A Variation Agreement should be drafted in accordance with the terms of the underlying contract. Thus if any third-party rights or interests have been granted and/or whether any obligations of the underlying contract are guaranteed by a third party then that third party should also sign the Variation Agreement.

Please note that a Variation Agreement should only be used to change the terms of an existing contract and it should not be used to change the parties to the contract. If you want to change the parties to the contract you should use a Novation Agreement.

To change the terms of an Employment Contract visit: Deed of Variation – Employment Contract.

New Squatting Law

Squatters to face fines and jail sentencing according to changes in the law. From Saturday, in England and Wales squatting in a residential building will be considered a criminal offence. From now on the police will be able to act immediately to squatting reports.

These changes are considered a great improvement of the system, as currently property owners are the ones responsible for the eviction of squatters. They need to take court action against the squatters and to prove they live in the property before being allowed to take any action against the squatters. According to the new law the maximum penalty for squatting will be six-month prison along with a £5,000 fine.

On the other hand the changes have been criticised by some organisations including the Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association. The new changes will affect mainly those living in abandoned and unoccupied properties however, there is little need for such sanctions in these areas.

There were claims that police failing to enforce laws currently in place was behind many of the current problems, with questions over whether the new offences would make any difference. The Metropolitan Police agreed that the current legislation on the matter was generally sufficient.

Homeless charities and campaign groups also raised their voice by saying that the new legislation would lead to criminalisation of vulnerable people. By forcing them to live rough and fine them, the government might make the squatting problem worse than it is.

“It will do nothing to address the underlying reasons why vulnerable people squat in the first place – their homelessness and a lack of affordable housing,” said Leslie Morphy, chief executive of national homeless charity Crisis. “Ultimately the government needs to tackle why homeless people squat in the first place by helping, not punishing, them.”

However Housing Minister Grant Shapps claimed that the government was “tipping the scales of justice back in favour of the homeowner” with the move.

 

Employment Contract Templates

Shift Work Employment

If you are looking for a shift worker contract of employment please click: Shift Worker Employment Contract.

What is shift work?

Shift work is a pattern of work in which one employee replaces another on the same job within a 24-hour period. Shift workers normally work in crews, which are groups of workers who make up a separate shift team. In some shift systems, each crew will regularly change its hours of work and rotate morning, afternoon, and night shifts. Continuous shift systems provide cover for 24 hours, seven days a week. Non-continuous or discontinuous shift systems provide cover for less than the total hours available in a week – for example five 24 hour periods in seven days, or 12 hours out of 24.

Why is shift work on the increase?

Shift work is widespread throughout Europe. It is essential in some industries in which equipment, services or manufacturing processes must continue on a 24-hour cycle. Examples of this type of industry range from newspaper production and public utilities to hospital and emergency services. A development in more recent years has been the spread of shift working to industries such as telephone sales and banking. Other reasons for using shift work are:

  • Economic reasons – the pace of change has quickened and so has the rate at which plant and equipment become out of date: shift work enables employers to make maximum use of plant, which can reduce production costs and increase output.
  • Social reasons – changes in living and working patterns have created a demand for goods and services outside traditional working hours: for example, retail outlets are commonly open 7 days a week and in some cases for 24-hour periods.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Shift work can reduce unit costs because capital equipment is operated more intensively and cheaper off-peak electricity can be used. Rotas in some shift systems can enable a more flexible response to peaks and troughs of demand. Shift work can provide higher earnings for employees and allows them to use shops and social facilities at times when they are less crowded. On the debit side, shift working increases wage and labour costs and can disrupt employees’ social and domestic lives. It can also upset employees’ body rhythms and cause them to lose sleep. In addition, public transport facilities may not be available outside normal working hours.

What are the legal aspects of shift work?

The Working Time Regulations 1998 govern the hours people can work and prescribe special health provisions for night workers.

What are the health and safety implications of shift work?

There is no conclusive evidence about the effects of shift work on health, but disturbance of the body’s rhythms can lead to digestive problems and lack of sleep. Some of these problems can be reduced if applicants for shift work are medically examined before being appointed. In addition, shift workers should not work excessive overtime. They should also be provided with canteen facilities or hygienic surroundings in which to eat their food. There should be appropriate safety practices and access to medical facilities.

What payments are made for shift work?

There is a variety of ways of paying shift work premiums, but the following are the most common:

  • flat rate allowances per hour, shift or week, in addition to basic day rates;
  • fixed percentage additions to the day work rates;
  • differential basic rates of wages with shift workers getting a higher rate than day workers;
  • paying a standard annual amount to all employees working that particular shift;
  • extra allowances for hours worked outside the normal daily hours.

How can shift work be made successful?

  • Involve employees and their representatives as early as possible.
  • Consider carefully whether operating shift work is economic. The following factors favour the introduction of shift work: – low labour costs compared with capital costs – a high expected rate of depreciation of plant which will need replacing regularly – possibly because of rapid developments in technology – a projected reduction in production costs following the introduction of shift work.
  • Consider what type of shift system to adopt. This will depend on a number of factors including:
  1. the nature of the service or manufacturing process – for instance is 24-hour continuous working required?
  2. pressure to reduce hours of work
  3.  local tradition – certain shift systems may be more readily accepted because they are commonly used in a particular locality or industry.
  • Consider setting up a working party of management representatives and trade union or other employee representatives.
  • Negotiate with representatives of recognised trade unions to set shift premiums and other relevant terms and conditions of employment including health and safety and welfare provisions for shift workers.
  • Find out whether there are enough suitable volunteers for shift work from the existing workforce.
  • Find out whether suitable local employees will be available.
  • Arrange a thorough medical examination for applicants.
  • Plan a shift rota.
  • Involve shift workers fully in communication and consultation arrangements.
  • Make shift workers aware of grievance procedures and train shift managers and supervisors to handle grievances.
  • Arrange adequate supervision for shift workers ideally by a shift manager.

 

Volunteer Agreement – Taking on Volunteers

Many organisations use the services of a volunteer and many people volunteer their time for a variety of reasons, perhaps for the experience, or the flexibility, or maybe for the simple reward of personal satisfaction.

A volunteer has a different status from that of an employee or worker. They have no real employment rights when compared to an employee or worker; indeed their rights are limited to being safe at work (i.e. a risk assessment must be performed by the host organisation).

It is important that any volunteer agreement is worded in such a way so that it is clear that it is not intended to create a contract of employment. However, please note that employment contracts can be verbal only and, irrespective of any written agreement, the circumstances and dealings between the parties may take things further and give rise to a contract.

In order to avoid the risk of creating an employment contract with volunteers, volunteer agreements shall not set out the duties and obligations of the parties but shall only provide a framework for setting out the ‘reasonable expectations’ of the parties. If the agreement places obligations upon the volunteers there is a risk that the document creates a contractual relationship between the parties and amounts to a contract of employment. Furthermore, it is important that organisations avoid giving volunteers income and reduce perks that could be seen as ‘consideration’. In other words, volunteers should only be reimbursed for actual out-of-pocket expenses only as any sum over actual expenses may be regarded as a consideration, no matter how small it is, which could create a contract of employment.

Volunteers are generally excluded from the National Minimum Wage and receive only basic expenses. Expenses don’t count as wages as they’re repayment for costs incurred through volunteering. Normally expenses will be limited to money for travel, food and drink, as well as repayments for things that volunteers have had to buy in order to carry out the work. If a volunteer receives any other payment or benefit in kind for volunteering, they might be considered as consideration and the volunteer may be classed as in a contractual relationship like an ‘employee’ or a ‘worker’. Furthermore, even benefits which are necessary for the volunteer to carry out their work, such as training, can be problematic if they’re understood in such a way so as to suggest an obligation on the part of the volunteer.

In summary, a volunteer might be classified as an employee if obligations are placed on them and/or if they get certain kinds of benefits in the role. For example if they:

  • receive training that’s not directly relevant to the voluntary work; and/or
  • receive a fixed regular amount for expenses that is more than they spend.

Volunteers have the same rights under the Data Protection Act as employees. This means that organisations must comply with rules on personal data about volunteers and that they can’t process any of this data without permission.

Finally, it is important to note that people under 14 years of age cannot volunteer for a profit-making organization.

A Volunteer Agreement helps both the organisation and its volunteers by making expectations clear. If you are looking for a volunteer agreement template please see: Volunteer Agreement.

London Metropolitan University Stripped from its Highly Trusted Sponsor Status

Foreign students will not be accepted or taught in London Metropolitan university anymore, because of a ban by UKBA.  It lost its “Highly Trusted University” status after failing to comply with the main requirements of UKBA to recruit students from outside the EU and prove that it is a proper institution to do it. The license has been taken away last month, because the auditions showed the university poses significant “thread to the immigration control.”

By announcing its decision today, the UKBA has put the future of many of London Met’s current and prospective international students in grave jeopardy. According to the regulations, without having this license the university is unable not only to accept foreign students, but also to teach the current students, who have already enrolled. Currently, there are about 2000 overseas students at the university, who, according to the UKBA`s guidelines , will have 60 days to arrange transfer to another UK university. In case they fail to do so, they will face deportation and will be forced to leave the country.

Damien Green – Immigration Minister explained the situation  by saying that the decision has been taken upon the university’s failure to take care of “serious and systemic failings” that had been flagged up earlier this year.In reply to the accusation that this will ruin many student`s lives, he said that they still have the  right to stay in the UK, as soon as they study.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May have been accused by National Students Union (NUS) that they are using international students as “political football. This heavy-handed decision makes no sense for students, no sense for institutions and no sense for the country. This situation and the botched process by which the decision was arrived at could be avoided if international students were not included in statistics of permanent migrants.” – said the NUS president.

UKBA says that they did everything possible to avoid this terrible outcome and worked closely with the university, unfortunately the university failed to improve. According to UKBA reports, the main violations include the university`s failure to check whether the international students have the mandatory English skills required in order to study in a UK university, as well as to keep record of whether the students visit  their lectures regularly, which is mandatory for all universities, accepting overseas students.

A UKBA spokesman said: “Allowing London Metropolitan University to continue to sponsor and teach international students was not an option”.

The Immigration Minister Green has said that the government will do all it can to ensure that those genuine students who have been adversely affected will be able to find new courses. Universities Minister, David Willetts MP said ‘it is important that genuine students who are affected through no fault of their own are offered prompt advice and help, including, if necessary, with finding other institutions at which to finish their studies.’

The government is very strict when it comes to immigration, because of the many attempts to abuse the education system as a way to enter the country. Some institutions allow “fake enrolling”, so the “students” can legally seek for employment.