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All blog posts from Amanda Doyle Law Services

Bribery Act 2010

The UK’s law on bribery is widely considered to be outdated, unclear and difficult to enforce. It is also inconsistent with the OECD Bribery Convention, which the UK ratified in 1998.

As a result the Bribery Act 2010 has found its way on to the statute book and will clarify the law in relation to offences of bribing another person and being bribed and will also introduce new offences of bribing a foreign public official and of commercial organisations failing to prevent bribery. The Act will come into full effect in April 2011.

This new corporate offence has prompted much comment and concern. Section 7(1) of the Act is very wide and provides that a commercial organisation is guilty of an offence if a person associated with the organisation bribes another person, intending to obtain or retain business or a business advantage for the organisation. It is irrelevant that the organisation did not know of or authorise the bribe. There is some relief, however, in that section 7(2) provides a defence if commercial organisations can show that they had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent bribery.

Penalties under the Act include fines and imprisonment and companies that have been convicted of corruption can also be permanently debarred from tendering for public-sector contracts under the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.

Businesses would do well to use the time to ensure they have formal anti-bribery policies in place and have reviewed their control procedures with bribery prevention in mind.

By |4 October 2010|

Got a complaint about your solicitor?

From 6th October 2010 you can take it to the new legal ombudsman who has powers to investigate clients’ complaints.

See full article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/oct/03/got-legal-complaint-legal-ombudsman

By |4 October 2010|

Data Protection – Personal Information Online Code of Practice

The newly issued Personal Information Online Code of Practice from the Information Commissioner’s Office explains how the Data Protection Act applies to the collection and use of personal data online. The easily readable Code covers activities from the collection of a person’s details online through to using the details for marketing and how to use of cookies to target content. A worthwhile read for all online businesses.

To view the Code:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/ebook/ebook.htm

By |4 October 2010|

New OFT online resource to help retailers comply with Sale of Goods Act

The OFT has launched a website which retailers can use to educate their staff about their obligations under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, particularly in relation to customer refunds and returns. Materials on the site include an “at a glance” guide, practical examples and training materials. All the materials on the site are available for download and have been jointly developed by the OFT with the British Retail Consortium to improve customer service and reduce the compliance burden on retailers.

See:

http://www.oft.gov.uk/business-advice/treating-customers-fairly/sogahome/sogaataglance

By |4 October 2010|

Beware letters of intent

In March this year the Supreme Court delivered judgment in RTS Flexible Systems Ltd v Molkerei Alois Muller Gmbh & Company, finding that the parties were legally bound by the terms of a draft contract despite the fact it had not been signed and even though the discussions has been said to be “subject to contract”.

In this case, the parties agreed that RTS would start work on the basis of a letter of intent while they negotiated the terms of the final contract. The letter of intent expired after 4 weeks and even though no final contract was signed, RTS continued to work on the project. A dispute later ensued.

The Court concluded that whether there was a binding contract and, if so, what its terms were, depended on the words and / or conduct between the parties and whether that led objectively to a conclusion that they had intended to create legal relations. The specific actions of the parties in this case led the Court to conclude that there was a binding contract.

The moral of this tale – ensure your communications and instructions to suppliers are carefully considered and controlled at all times.

By |4 October 2010|

New controls over on-line marketing

1 September 2010 – the Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice introduced the 12th Edition of the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code). At the same time they also announced that, from 1st March 2010, the scope of the CAP Code will be extended to cover marketing communications on an organisation’s own website and in other non-paid-for online space under a company’s control, such as social networking sites.

Previously, the Code applied only to sales promotions and marketing communications in the paid-for online space. This change represents a major extension to the remit of the ASA and CAP. Organisations have six months to ensure that their websites and other online space under their control comply with the code.

For further details see:

http://www.cap.org.uk/The-Codes/CAP-Code.aspx

and

http://www.cap.org.uk/Media-Centre/2010/Extending-the-Digital-remit-of-the-CAP-Code.aspx

By |4 October 2010|

Targeted Behavioural On Line Advertising

In May the Office of Fair Trading published a market study on on line targeted advertising and prices. The study sets out the OFT’s current view of advertising where a computer user’s online behaviour is used to target online advertising and customise prices.

In brief the OFT is supportive of the practice believing it is an efficient way of targeting consumers that reduces costs, funds free access to online content (in the case of news websites) and reduces irrelevant advertising. It does, however, recognise there are concerns around privacy issues and the possibility for the misuse of personal data.

The study finds industry self-regulation is addressing some of those concerns but that more could be done to provide consumers with better information about how personal information is collected and used. A number of recommendations for further self-regulation are made, as is the development of an Internet Advertising Bureau.

For the OFT’s press release and the report see:

http://www.oft.gov.uk/news-and-updates/press/2010/53-10

http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/business_leaflets/659703/OFT1231.pdf

By |4 October 2010|

A brief guide to the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)

Data protection is complex and topical issue. Businesses need to be constantly mindful of the issue and should take steps to handle, process and store data responsibly and keep up to date with legal developments in this area.

In a nutshell the DPA applies to personal data in computerised, manual or any other format, as long as the data is in a system that allows the information to be readily accessible. Personal data must be processed and stored according to eight data protection principles which specify that personal data must be:

  • processed fairly and lawfully
  • processed for limited purposes
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • accurate
  • not kept for longer than is necessary
  • processed in accordance with the DPA
  • secure
  • not transferred to countries outside the EU without adequate protection

The DPA is enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which provides a comprehensive and resourceful website.

To find out about the DPA in detail see:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/data_protection/practical_application/the_guide_to_data_protection.pdf

To assess whether you need to be registered under the DPA see:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/data_protection/detailed_specialist_guides/notification_handbook_final.pdf

By |4 October 2010|