News Archive for December, 2012

Proposal to Cut Back on Planning Appeals Looks Risky

The Prime Minister, in a speech to the CBI has announced the Government is looking at whether the right to appeal against planning decisions should be limited, so as to speed up the whole process, essentially by bringing in measures to reduce the number of what are called judicial reviews. But anyone hoping to benefit as a result anytime soon needs to be realistic. Says Anthony Davies a partner in local law firm DPA Law: “As the saying goes, the Government want to be careful what they wish for. It’s difficult to see how a significant reduction in the number of judicial reviews can be achieved without reducing the time period in which reviews can be requested and/or fast tracking the legal process in the Administrative Court. It seems a roundabout and complicated way of achieving better economic competitiveness in the here and now”

Under the proposal, which the government is now seeking to put out to consultation, there could be a range of measures including shortening time periods, adjusting fees, and restricting opportunities to seek oral reconsideration. Anthony comments: “One thing is clear: this is not going to happen overnight. Not only is it more complicated than it at first seems, but there is the potential for a clash with EU environmental protection law, which could lead to further litigation and legal challenge. This one could run and run.” If you feel you would like to know more, call Anthony Davies at DPA Law on 01554 749144 for further information.

PARTNER NOTES
The Prime Minister announced his intention in a speech to the CBI on Monday 19 November.
In the speech he commented that applications for judicial review had climbed from 160 in 1975 up to 11,000 in 2011. He commented that applications in what he termed “hopeless cases” were hindering infrastructure investments and economic growth.


The news report from the Ministry of Justice outlining the terms of the consultation can be viewed at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/features/unclogging-the-courts

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Payday Loans Under Scrutiny

The Office of Fair Trading has announced an investigation into Payday Loans lenders. And not before time says Anthony Davies a partner in local law firm DPA Law: “There are several good reasons to welcome this investigation. There are just too many concerns to ignore.”

The OFT has written to all 240 payday loan providers seeking information. The major areas being looked at include:
• The advertising used and who it is targeted at, with concerns that the lenders may be targeting people who are in financial difficulty;
• Whether lenders are encouraging people to roll over their loans;
• Whether lenders are failing to carry out proper credit and affordability checks;
• And lastly, the debt collection procedures lenders use, with allegations being made of aggressive telephone calls and borrowers being quoted exorbitant collection penalties.

Anthony comments: “This is a form of lending which has grown enormously in the last few years, and up to now it has largely escaped major scrutiny. This investigation is overdue, and the OFT seem to have drawn up a comprehensive list of issues to be looked at. With this type of loan, if borrowers get into difficulty, the financial consequences can very rapidly become overwhelming.” If you feel you need advice, call Anthony Davies at DPA Law on 01554 749144 for further information.


PARTNER NOTES
The Office of Fair Trading Press Release announcing their investigation was issued on Tuesday 20 November, and is available at:

http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2012/110-12

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:08 AM

New “Shares for Employment Rights Swap” Proposal may prove a Flop

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s new idea for so-called employee-owners looks, on paper, to give businesses options as to what terms to employ people on. Well, probably not really, says Anthony Davies a partner in local law firm DPA Law: “The proposals will, in theory, allow firms to offer employees free shares in the business in return for giving up some employment rights. However, we suspect that the new employee-owner status will simply create a potential legal minefield, and deter the great majority of firms from going anywhere near the issue.”

Under the scheme an employee can be granted up to £50,000 worth of shares free of capital gains tax, in return for agreeing to be employed under a new contract of employment, forgoing unfair dismissal and redundancy rights, as well as losing the right to request time off for training or flexible working. One further proposal is to double, to 16 weeks, the period of notice an employee must give of a settled date to return to work following maternity leave. Anthony comments: “We think we’ll need to advise people to approach this with caution. It doesn’t seem to offer the employee very much, given current annual capital gains tax exemptions, and it doesn’t look like being attractive to many companies, as there will be upfront and on-going costs, such as professional advice, as well as creating more red tape.” If you feel you would like to know more, call Anthony Davies at DPA Law on 01554 749144 for further information.

PARTNER NOTES
The Chancellor announced the proposal in October 2012.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills subsequently issued a consultation paper, which can be viewed at;

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/BISCore/employment-matters/docs/C/12-1215-consultation-on-implementing-employee-owner-status.pdf

The chair of the Law Society’s Employment Law Committee, Angharad Harris, has commented:
“Unlike traditional share ownership schemes, this could create a two-tier workforce with different rights according to where workers opt in or not. Employees can already be given shares in a company as a reward or incentive without needing to give up their statutory rights, and in reality this is not creating a new employee status at all.”

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 11:05 AM