8 October 2015

The bombing of Safe Harbour: what now for data transfers to the US?

The Safe Harbour decision was adopted by the European Commission on 26 July 2000. It recognised that US companies could ensure an "adequate level of protection" for data transferred from the European Community to the US by self-certifying to adherence to Safe Harbour Privacy Principles issued by the US Department of Commerce.

Safe Harbour provided a certain amount of comfort for UK businesses storing or processing customer data in the US that their practices were compliant with UK data protection laws, and free from the risk of regulatory intervention and fines. But all that changed on 6 October 2015 when the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declared Safe Harbour invalid.   

2 September 2015

Employee privacy in the information age

Towards the end of August, Facebook – which was only created in 2004 – announced having had one billion active users in a day for the first time. In a parallel development, judgment was given in an Employment Appeal Tribunal case (British Waterway Board v Smith [2015] UKEAT/0004/15), upholding an employer’s decision to dismiss an employee in consequence of a number of comments he made about work on Facebook.

So what do these developments mean for employee privacy? Is it an outmoded concept now that so much of life is lived online? Not so fast, the picture is a little more complicated than that.

17 July 2015

Rethinking negotiation

Everyone who negotiates for a living will at some point experience "deal hell" - that point when you’re still way off agreement; you’re running out of time and haven’t slept in days; and you’re actually really unhappy that the vending machine has given up serving coffee that tastes like vegetable soup.

30 June 2015

What’s on the horizon – five areas HR professionals should be keeping under review

Now that the dust has settled on this year’s General Election, employers can get a better idea of what changes we can expect to see in employment law in the next couple of years. Whilst, at first glance, it might look like we’re entering a "steady as she goes" period, scratch beneath the surface and there are plenty of important developments to be found. We discuss some of the most interesting below and will keep you posted as more detail emerges. 

1. Rights to take leave

Employees already have the right to take time away from work for a wide variety of reasons. If the following proposals come to fruition, we will be able to add two more to that list.

Remember the millennium bug? Meet the leap second.

IT lawyers of a certain age will remember the Millennium Bug with fondness.

Long before the iPhone, when even the humble Blackberry had barely dented our work/life balance, IT lawyers weren't partying like it was 1999.

Oh no, we were saving the world from catastrophic computer meltdown!

8 May 2015

Outsourcing contracts - do try this at home

We recently spent some time reviewing the UK Government’s latest template outsourcing agreement. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s a great benchmark for larger scale projects, and it’s freely available for download and non-commercial use.

However, pushing 400 pages (including schedules), it’s a big old read, so, in no particular order, we picked out nine of the more useful take-aways.

1 May 2015

Zero-hours contracts – modern tyranny or flexible friend?

There is an “epidemic” of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) that is “undermining family life”. Individuals on such contracts are “left at the beck and call of an employer who can ask the world of you but can give you no security in return”. So said Ed Miliband when announcing what a Labour government would do to tackle the problem. Labour claim that the number of ZHCs has tripled since 2010.

In contrast, the Conservatives have suggested that ZHCs offer flexibility to employees, claim that the Labour proposals threaten jobs and have accused Labour of whipping up scare stories. They say that only 2% of workers operate under such contracts. 

20 April 2015

Is it discriminatory to call someone left-wing?

As the General Election approaches, the temperature of political debate seems to be rising. The claim by one Tory MP that Ed Miliband had stabbed his brother in the back, and would do the same to the country, is just one example of this.

All may be fair in love and politics, but how far can you go in the workplace before risking discrimination claims from employees? The issue was considered in the recent case of GMB v Henderson UK/EAT/0073/14.

31 March 2015

Four judges, one football club, and pornography in the workplace

What links four judges and one football club employee? The clue is, of course, above – they have both been in the news recently in connection with the viewing of pornography in the workplace.

The BBC reported earlier this month that three judges had been removed from office after they were found to have viewed pornography using their official IT accounts. A fourth judge resigned pending the outcome of the investigation. There was no suggestion that the pornography being viewed by the judges was illegal in nature, but their conduct in accessing the material via official judicial accounts was found to be inappropriate.

30 March 2015

Google on the rack for Do Not Track

Google has suffered a double whammy at the hands of the Court of Appeal in a judgment with potentially far-reaching implications for the UK's data protection and privacy landscape.

The case concerned Google's controversial use of code in the period between summer 2011 and February 2012 which had the effect of bypassing the privacy settings of Apple's Safari browser.  

23 March 2015

A new elephant in the room?

There’s been considerable furore about technology and legal process outsourcing (LPO) in the legal services market in recent years and rightly so.

In 1988, William C. Cobb (of the acclaimed Value Curve) estimated around 60% of legal work is at the commodity end, i.e. bought on price. Even assuming this percentage hasn’t increased in the intervening 25-plus years (unlikely), technology and LPO are set to make a material dent in a global legal market now estimated to be worth around £500billion.

18 March 2015

A fracas in the workplace – more common than you might expect

Petrolheads hoping to tune in to Top Gear at the weekend were left disappointed. As has been widely reported, the remaining shows in the current series have been pulled from the schedules after Jeremy Clarkson was suspended following an alleged ‘fracas’ with a producer. It has been claimed that the fracas occurred after Clarkson was told by the producer that he could not order a steak from the hotel where he was staying because the hotel kitchen was closed.

17 March 2015

Can I get access to my software supplier's source code if they go bust?

It can be a problem. Your software supplier suddenly goes into administration and you are left with legacy software that you can neither support nor maintain because you do not have access to the source code.

The common solution to this is to require your supplier to enter into a so-called "escrow agreement" and to deposit the source code with a third-party agent such as NCC or Iron Mountain, who will release it to you on the occurrence of certain specified trigger events, typically including insolvency.

But, if you have the bargaining power, you can also try and negotiate additional protections in the software supply agreement itself.

11 March 2015

Outsourcings and TUPE - working out what happens to the employees

In outsourcings and insourcings, one of the key considerations is what happens to the employees currently providing the service.

Where activities are outsourced, transferred to a new supplier or insourced, this may, if certain conditions are met, constitute a Service Provision Change (SPC) for the purposes of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). If there is an SPC, the employees will transfer to the supplier/customer (as applicable) with their continuity of employment preserved and with the benefit of additional employment protections. All of this can have significant financial and practical consequences for the businesses involved.

28 January 2015

Enforcing your rights on the internet - how do you choose where to sue?

The internet - as the name suggests - is truly international. So if you, as a national of one EU state, become aware that a website of another EU state is shamelessly using and abusing your work, where can you take legal action to make them stop?

26 January 2015

Why there are no real winners in Rihanna v Topshop passing off case

It has been widely reported in the press that Rihanna has won her "image battle" against Topshop relating to the unauthorised sale of t-shirts bearing her likeness. But while the Court of Appeal has indeed dismissed the appeal by Topshop against an earlier High Court decision in favour of the pop diva, does this really vindicate the Barbadian superstar's decision to fight such a lengthy and expensive legal battle?

20 January 2015

Car wars: Enterprise drives off Europcar in fight for "e" trade mark

In proceedings so lengthy and costly they were described as "a state trial" by the judge, car rental rivals Enterprise and Europcar have squared off in a fight for the right to use competing "e" logos (reproduced below: Enterprise on the left, Europcar on the right).

15 January 2015

Anti-screen scraping Ts and Cs can be effective, rules European Court

In an eagerly awaited judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that website terms and conditions prohibiting the wholesale extraction of data - aka screen-scraping - can be enforceable.