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‘Consequential loss’ – financial loss?

Many contracts will exclude liability for ‘consequential loss’. But, does that exclude liability for financial losses caused as a result of physical damage? Usually, the answer will be that it does not, but a recent case shows that the position is not certain (and in particular circumstances it can exclude liability for financial loss).

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‘Close of business’ – meaning?

Many contracts use the phrase ‘close of business’. But, what does that actually mean?

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Contract – intention?

An informal agreement may not show a sufficient intention to establish legal relations. As always, some element of certainty is needed.

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Online auctions – distance selling

The fastest-growing part of the art market is online. Indeed, virtually all the major auction houses now operate online auctions (some are totally online, whereas others merely stream physical auctions). But, the distance selling laws pose major problems for such businesses, giving ‘consumers’ rights that they do not always appreciate they have.

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Keyword ads – trade mark

A recent case illustrates the dangers of buying keyword ads on Google in the name of a competitor – especially if that competitor has a trade mark.

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HMRC – reasonable excuse

HMRC cannot impose a ‘penalty’ if the taxpayer took ‘reasonable care’ to avoid an inaccuracy. The general rule is that if the taxpayer takes professional advice then that will be a reasonable excuse.

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Grey goods – criminal

Selling ‘grey goods’ can be a criminal offence (under Trade Marks Act 1994).

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Financial advice – negligence?

In the medical/clinical negligence world the most important decision of recent years was Montgomery [2016], which overruled the long-standing principles established in Bolam [1957]. Under Bolam a medical professional’s actions were judged by asking whether that professional ‘was acting in accordance with a practice of competent respected professional opinion’. In other words, if a reasonably competent practitioner would have taken the same approach, then there would not have been negligence.

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Contract – or counter-offer?

When do negotiations turn into a binding contract? If the other side responds with a counter-offer, does that form the basis of the contract?

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HMRC – offshore accounts

HMRC has offered (another) last chance to come clean about offshore money (it is called a ‘requirement to correct’). The scheme calls for voluntary disclosure by September 2018, but there are severe penalties – 200% of the tax, plus the tax due and interest. In addition, there is currently a proposal for an additional 10% asset-based penalty, plus there will almost certainly be publication on the list of deliberate tax defaulters. Note that there is no undertaking by HMRC that they will not prosecute.

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