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Insights

We are almost one quarter of the way through 2017 (already?!). Each year the beginning of April is notable from an employment law perspective, with a number of changes usually coming into force. This year is no different and so this week we take a look at some of the key changes coming next month.

It has long been the case that human activities produce large amounts of records of what has happened and of what people have said and done. Now that so much of what people do and say is done through connected electronic devices, and so much of what happens is monitored electronically, more and more data is produced, and it is easier than ever to gather very large amounts of that data. This is further facilitated by the availability and cost of storage capacity. Taken together with the availability and cost of computing power, it is easier than ever to store and process huge volumes of data.

The introduction of 'Pursuer’s Offers' is the latest in a number of recent changes to the Court rules.  These changes come into force on 3 April 2017 and apply to both Court of Session and Sheriff Court actions.  They follow the theme of encouraging litigants to settle cases before they reach an evidential hearing in a case.

Yesterday Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first and only Spring Budget.  Although, as anticipated, the Budget was relatively uneventful, a number of previously announced changes which may affect clients will come into effect from April. This Insight provides a summary of the key measures to look out for. 

Parties to a contract often include provisions setting out what will happen in the event of a breach by one of them. They may for example include a provision stating that the party in breach must pay the 'innocent' party a sum of money by way of 'compensation'.  It is however, a well-established principle of contract law that where the contractual provision provides for a sum which has the intention of penalising the wrongful party rather compensating the loss that could actually be suffered by the innocent party, the clause could be deemed an unenforceable penalty clause.

Accident victims who suffer severe and life changing injuries are often awarded a lump sum in compensation for future losses.  For example, claimants who suffer a serious injury may be able to claim a lump sum to compensate them for future loss of earnings and/or future care costs. In principle that lump sum if invested should be capable of being drawn down over the projected period of loss so that by periodically withdrawing a combination of capital and accrued interest the compensation will only run out at the end of the relevant period.

Instead of being the focus of the usual stories about excess pay for football players, St Mirren Football Club was among a list of employers to be ‘named and shamed’ last week for failing to pay their staff the national minimum wage (NMW). The Paisley side, who currently sit rock bottom of the Scottish Championship, featured in the list published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The list named 359 UK employers who, between them, underpaid 15,513 workers a massive £994,685. This included a total of 16 employers north of the border, who cumulatively owed 125 workers £29,611, although over half of that total was owed by a charity social care firm ‘Crossroads Caring Scotland’. KFC on Aberdeen’s Union Street was reported to have failed to pay a total of over £1,000 to 23 workers. Other notable high street names to feature on the list included Debenhams and Subway.

The Scotland Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 23 March 2016.  It provides for a range of devolved powers to Scotland. It is important that those working in the UK energy industry are aware of what aspects of energy policy are becoming devolved and the practical impact this may have on Scotland’s oil and gas sector.

Chambers UK 2018

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