A brief encounter – Legal news in brief

Posted on 7 Mar 2011 by The Manufacturer

In the first edition of a new column, TM’s legal beagle Edward Machin considers the legislation, litigation and caselaw affecting UK manufacturers both large and small.

Legal manufacturing webinar series

Eversheds’ Industrial Engineering Group has launched a global webinar series that will discuss key issues facing organisations operating in the industrial engineering and broader manufacturing sectors. The 45-minute webinars are free of charge and will cover a range of topics with at least two legal experts from the firm’s specialist engineering group.

At the first session, Robin Johnson, head of Eversheds’ Industrial Engineering Group, will be joined by Tim Hill and Mark Surguy, partners in Eversheds’ litigation and dispute resolution practice group. They will focus on areas of liability for directors and senior management around health and safety, crisis, privilege, and bribery and corruption. The webinars will provide guidance on the safeguards companies need to implement in order to avoid prosecution and the steps that directors should take if they suspect that the law has been broken.

MAS-West Midlands holds Bribery Act workshop

The West Midlands’ division of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) is warning manufacturers to be aware of how the Bribery Act will affect their business.

MAS-WM presented a workshop in February aimed at preparing manufacturers about the legislation which will influence the way large and small businesses trade.

Delivered by law firm Squire Sanders Hammonds, the interactive workshop considered the key legal changes set to be introduced by the act, with manufacturers in contravention of the act liable to be hit by unlimited fines, imprisonment and irreversible reputational damage.

Said MAS Auto’s Rachel Eade, “There is a lack of understanding from industry when it comes to the Bribery Act, which could cost companies financially in the long term. It is a very complex subject, which is why we’ve enlisted the support of Squire Sanders Hammonds to provide companies with an instant guide to what it means, the implications and what they can do to avoid falling foul of legislation.”

Manufacturer fined after safety breach

A UK manufacturing firm has been prosecuted after health and safety failures at its Northumberland facility. Hendry Hydraulics Ltd was charged after Health and Safety Executive inspectors visited Hendry Eurohoist Cylinders in Ashington and served two Prohibition Notices. South Northumberland Magistrates’ Court heard that the notices were served because the locking mechanism on the doors to two CNC lathes — designed to prevent workers coming into contact with dangerous moving parts — had been deliberately bypassed.

The offence was observed four months after an HSE inspector had stopped work on the same two lathes because safety interlocks had been defeated.

Further investigations revealed the company had provided workers with a spare interlock key to bypass the safety devices. Hendry Hydraulics Ltd, of Elgin, Morayshire, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined a total of £20,000 — £10,000 for each offence.

Best of the rest
From February 1, employers who dismiss employees unfairly will face a larger penalty.

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase to £68,400, while the maximum statutory redundancy payment will also go up to £12,000.

New draft legislation may adversely affect commercial arrangements that have been put in place by employers to reward and/or incentivise employees, or which employers may wish to use in the future.

The new legislation relates to ‘Disguised Remuneration’, and is aimed at attempts to defer or avoid income tax and/or National Insurance Contributions in connection with benefits awarded to employees and directors.