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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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Companies Act 2006 – no limited liability?

CA 2006 came into force in October 2009 but there is a danger that its provisions have inadvertently resulted in some limited companies becoming unlimited.

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Variation – anti-oral clauses

This year has seen a series of cases in which the courts have held that a ‘no variation’ clause in a contract is not binding. What we see is a clear intent on the part of the courts that contractual agreement should be eroded in favour of ‘party autonomy’ and a greater flexibility:

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Freedom of information – vexatious

There is a general right of access to information held by a public body (FoI 2000). But, this does not apply if a request is ‘vexatious’ (s14). However, the Act does not define ‘vexatious’ although it is made clear that the burden is very high to show that the request is indeed vexatious.

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Airline flights – delay

The Denied Boarding Regs give compensation to passengers whose flights are delayed if the flight departs from an EU airport. But, there has been much argument about the situation concerning missed connections.

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