News

News, analysis, opinion, research, and events for business law in the UK and international. Please see below a list of categories of news articles available for you to look at.  Please click on the category you see a list of articles and then click on the individual article to see the full text....

Feathers Fly in Menswear Trade Mark Dispute

Following an unusual High Court trade mark dispute, ‘Mr Wills’ – the top hat-wearing pheasant logo that helped make fashion label Jack Wills a household name – has pecked to death a confusingly similar pigeon which had featured on a rival retailer’s range of men’s shirts.

Since Mr Wills came off the drawing board in 2007, he has played an important role in boosting the annual sales of Jack Wills Limited to around £40 million. The company launched proceedings after it noticed a pigeon logo, which also sported a top hat, embroidered on ‘Linea’ shirts sold by House of Fraser (Stores) Limited.

The pheasant’s distinctive silhouette is protected by UK and community trade marks and the Court found that House of Fraser's use of the pigeon logo 'took unfair advantage' of Mr Wills’ reputation and had caused 'a subtle but insidious' erosion of the goodwill associated with the artwork.

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Woolworths Collective Redundancy Case Referred to the ECJ

Under Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, employers have a duty to consult with appropriate representatives of employees concerning forthcoming redundancies if 20 or more employees are to be dismissed at one establishment within a 90-day period.

In May this year, in a decision involving the protective awards payable to employees made redundant by Woolworths and Ethel Austin, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that the words ‘at one establishment’ should be deleted from the Act, in order to give effect to EU Council Directive 98/59EC, which it is intended to implement, and protective awards were payable to former employees who had worked at stores with fewer than 20 members of staff (USDAW and Another v Unite the Union and Others).

The effect of the ruling would be that the duty to consult would be triggered when 20 or more employees were to be dismissed as redundant from a business as a whole, irrespective of the number of people employed in each individual workplace.

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Law Firm Precluded From Acting in $2 Billion Claim

In a case which underlined the limitations of Chinese walls and ethical screens, a top international law firm has been ordered to cease advising a client in a $2 billion commercial dispute despite pointing to a battery of precautions that it had taken to ensure that it could fairly represent potentially conflicting clients.

The firm had taken instructions from a businessman who claimed that he had not been paid his

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House of Commons Workers Must Submit to Pay Freeze

Three disgruntled members of staff at the House of Commons, who had their remuneration frozen for more than two and a half years due to Government cuts, have failed to convince the High Court that they have a contractual entitlement to regular, automatic, pay rises.

The three men, two of whom worked in the House of Commons library and the other as a statistical researcher, were amongst more than 1,000 Parliamentary workers whose pay had not been increased since the Chancellor in June 2010 announced a freeze on civil service remuneration in an emergency budget.

Employed by the House of Commons Commission, the statutory body responsible for managing the House’s services and administration, their contracts of employment entitled them to remuneration ‘broadly in line’ with the home civil service. Their letters of appointment stated that their progression through the relevant pay bands would be on an annual basis, dependent on performance.

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