Navigating Legal Pitfalls: Top 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make and How to Steer Clear

Small enterprises may incur significant costs due to legal oversights in the ever-changing world of entrepreneurship. In Aston Bond, we have had to go through these as well as every other business that is starting up. There’s many steps to creating a successful business and it goes far deeper than one may imagine. This blog seeks to clarify the top five legal errors that small businesses frequently make and offers helpful advice on how to prevent them. Let us equip your commercial endeavours with legal knowledge.

Incomplete or Inadequate Contracts:

  • Mistake: Relying on vague or generic contracts.
  • Solution: Invest time and resources in crafting comprehensive contracts tailored to your business needs, covering everything from client agreements to employee contracts.

Neglecting Intellectual Property Protection:

  • Mistake: Overlooking the need to protect trademarks, copyrights, and proprietary information.
  • Solution: Identify and safeguard your intellectual property early on; register trademarks, secure copyrights, and implement non-disclosure agreements to shield your business assets.

Poor Employment Practices:

  • Mistake: Neglecting employment laws and practices.
  • Solution: Stay informed about employment laws, implement fair hiring practices, and maintain clear, written employment contracts. Regularly review and update policies to ensure compliance.

Ignoring Regulatory Compliance:

  • Mistake: Neglecting industry regulations and compliance requirements.
  • Solution: Conduct regular audits to ensure your business adheres to industry-specific regulations. Seek legal advice to navigate compliance issues and stay ahead of any regulatory changes.

Incomplete Business Structure Understanding:

  • Mistake: Choosing an inappropriate business structure or failing to understand legal implications.
  • Solution: Consult with legal professionals to determine the most suitable business structure. Be aware of tax implications, liability, and compliance requirements associated with your chosen structure.

Contact us for a free health check of all of your policies and procedures. Our employment solicitor Ilinca Mardarescu can help you with any employment and work related concerns and our head of conveyancing Duncan Thomson will be able to assist you with regulatory compliance and intellectual property, as well as setting up a business.

Small firms must steer clear of legal traps if they want to succeed in the long run. Your company may confidently negotiate the complex legal environment by avoiding these common blunders and remaining up to date on legal obligations. Instead of letting legal errors impede your entrepreneurial endeavours, use them as stepping stones to a profitable and legally sound company.

Remote Revolution: Navigating the Legal Landscape of Remote Work Policies

The company landscape has completely changed as a result of the seismic shift towards remote work, necessitating careful consideration of the legal issues surrounding remote work. This blog post takes readers on a tour of the legal nuances surrounding remote working in the UK, covering the issues that both employers and employees need to be aware of as the workplace changes.

Understanding the Legal Framework.

The UK’s legal framework for remote work policies includes employment laws, data protection regulations including cyber-security, and health and safety standards. . The government also provides guidance on ergonomics, mental health support, and employer duty of care. Employers must stay updated on evolving regulations to ensure compliance on all of these matters when agreeing to and providing remote working for its employees.

Employment Contracts and Remote Work

To successfully integrate remote work clauses into employment contracts, employers must create comprehensive and enforceable agreements. These should outline the terms and conditions of remote work, including working hours, communication protocols, and performance metrics. These should ensure compliance with employment laws, GDPR compliance, and health and safety provisions. Contracts and policies should be regularly reviewed to adapt to changing circumstances and legal requirements..

Compliance with Employment Laws

The Employment Rights Act 1996 and related regulations are key to ensuring the fair treatment for remote workers. Employers must define working hours, break times, and the right to disconnect in employment contracts. Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal time is essential for a healthy work environment. Regular communication between employers and remote workers is crucial for addressing concerns and ensuring compliance with employment laws. By incorporating these aspects into employment policies, employers can promote a fair and compliant working environment for all employees.

Hours of Work and Overtime

In the remote work context, employers should clearly define working hours, breaks, and overtime compensation to create a transparent and equitable relationship. This includes specifying the start and end times of the workday, addressing breaks, and outlining the process for requesting and approving overtime. Effective communication and collaboration between employers and remote employees are crucial for establishing mutual understanding and compliance with these expectations. Clear policies and employment contracts can help foster a positive and productive remote work environment.

Termination and Remote Work:

To terminate remote work arrangements, employers must follow a clear and transparent process that adheres to legal standards and fairness. This includes reviewing termination provisions in contracts, engaging in open conversations with remote employees, and maintaining a respectful tone. Legal considerations, such as anti-discrimination regulations, must be prioritized, and documentation of termination reasons is crucial. Practical considerations, such as returning company property and handling sensitive information, should also be addressed. Employers should stay informed about evolving regulations and seek legal advice when navigating complex termination scenarios.

Insurance Coverage for Remote Work:

Employers need to assess their existing insurance policies for remote employees to ensure adequate protection. Traditional policies, such as workers’ compensation and liability insurance, may need to be reviewed and supplemented to account for remote work scenarios. Employers may need to explore insurance options for personal property damage, loss, and cybersecurity. Additionally, they should ensure remote employees are covered for home office accidents, which may not be automatically covered by traditional workers’ compensation. Effective communication with remote employees about insurance coverage and additional measures is crucial.

There are numerous issues which need to be considered and obtaining legal advice prior to implementing remote working is key to ensure compliance. Employers and employees alike must have a solid grasp of the legal environment as the trend of remote work becomes more widespread..

If you require any assistance with this or  any other employment matters, please don’t hesitate to contact our employment solicitor here at Aston Bond: Ilinca Mardarescu at

Securing Your Family’s Future: The Importance of Estate Planning for Young Families in England and Wales

A common misconception is that only the wealthy or elderly need worry about estate planning. But its importance cannot be emphasised, particularly for young families in England and Wales. We’ll explore the main justifications for why estate planning is so important for those who are just beginning a family and becoming parents in this blog post.

  1. Guardianship for Minor Children:
    • Parents should name legal guardians for minor children in estate planning to ensure their well-being in unexpected circumstances. This decision is legally documented in a Will, avoiding disputes and providing stability and support. It reflects parents’ commitment to their children’s future.
    • Appointing guardians is a crucial process for parents to secure their children’s future. This can be done by appointing guardians in a Will. This process provides peace of mind, alleviating concerns about their loved ones’ well-being and upbringing.
  2. Wealth Distribution and Inheritance Tax:
    • A clear estate plan is crucial for ensuring the distribution of assets according to the deceased’s wishes, preventing delays, disputes, and increased expenses. It also minimizes potential for family conflicts and uncertainty about inheritance, thereby reducing potential misunderstandings or disputes among beneficiaries.
    • Poor estate planning can expose young families to inheritance tax, a government levy on a deceased’s estate. By proactively addressing this through exemptions, trusts, and tax-efficient asset structuring, families can safeguard their wealth and minimize the financial strain associated with inheritance tax.
  3. Protecting Your Family Home:
    • Estate planning safeguards family homes and ensures a smooth transfer to future generations. It uses legal mechanisms like Wills and Trusts to stipulate wishes, protect from disputes, and maintain the home’s value, making it a cherished legacy.
    • Wills and Trusts are essential tools in estate planning for effective property management and distribution. Wills outline a legally binding roadmap, while Trusts allow individuals to set specific conditions and potentially minimize taxes, providing a comprehensive and flexible approach.
  4. Financial Security Through Trusts:
    • Trusts are a crucial tool in estate planning, allowing individuals to set aside assets for their children with specific conditions, providing financial security and a protective shield against potential creditors. They offer a strategic and secure method for long-term family benefit.
    • Trusts are strategic estate planning tools that allocate funds for specific purposes like education and healthcare. They allow individuals to designate conditions for fund disbursement, providing control and assurance. Trusts align financial resources with life goals, ensuring the well-being and advancement of loved ones.
  5. Ensuring Healthcare Wishes are Respected:
    • Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health and Welfare are crucial in estate planning for unforeseen medical circumstances. They allow individuals to express their preferences and appoint trusted individuals to make decisions, providing peace of mind and guidance for family members.
    • Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health and Welfare provide clarity and guidance in healthcare decisions. They outline personal values and preferences, reducing uncertainty and conflicts among family members. This proactive approach aligns decisions with the individual’s expressed desires, providing comfort and assurance in emotionally challenging situations.
  6. Avoiding Probate Delays:
    • Probate, the legal process of proving a Will and dealing with the administration of an estate can be time-consuming and costly without a well-defined estate plan. This can lead to delays, court fees, legal expenses, and administrative costs, diminishing the estate’s value.
    • A well-structured estate plan expedites estate administration by outlining the deceased’s wishes, minimizing ambiguity, and streamlining the probate process. This reduces the emotional and logistical burden on the family, preserving the estate’s value and easing the administrative burden on grieving family members.
  7. Keeping Pace with Life Changes:
    • Regular reviews and updates to an estate plan are crucial, especially after life events like birth or financial changes. These updates ensure the plan remains current and accurately represents an individual’s wishes, providing ongoing protection and peace of mind for themselves and their loved ones.

Estate planning is a crucial step for young families hoping to protect the future of their loved ones, and it’s not only for the old. Young parents can secure a legacy that represents their objectives and values by being proactive about estate planning in England and Wales and getting competent legal counsel.

Demystifying Legal Jargon: A Beginner’s Guide to Common Legal Terms

It can be intimidating to navigate the legal landscape, particularly for people who are not familiar with the complex jargon used in the industry. We’ll clear up the confusion around popular legal phrases in this beginner’s guide, giving you the knowledge you need to comprehend courtroom conversations, paperwork, and procedures. Let’s enter the legal field with confidence and clarity.

  1. Jurisdiction:
    • Definition: The geographical area or legal boundaries within which a court or authority has the power to make legal decisions.
    • Example: “The court has jurisdiction over cases that occurred within the state.”
  2. Litigation:
    • Definition: The process of taking formal legal action; the act or process of carrying making or defending a claim – usually in a Court or Tribunal. .
    • Example: “The parties involved opted for litigation to resolve their dispute.”
  3. Claimant and Defendant/Respondent:
    • Definition: The Claimant is the party bringing a legal action, while the defendant/respondent is the party being accused or sued.
    • Example: “The Claimant  alleges breach of contract, and the defendant denies the claims.”
  4. Contract:
    • Definition: A legally binding agreement between two or more parties, outlining the terms and obligations.
    • Example: “They signed a contract specifying the terms of their partnership.”
  5. Tort:
    • Definition: A wrongful act or an infringement of a right that leads to civil legal liability.
    • Example: “Negligence resulting in personal injury can be a basis for a tort claim.”
  6. Criminal Law vs. Civil Law:
    • Definition: Criminal law relates to offenses which breach the rules, procedures or laws that the government imposes on all of its citizens, while civil law deals with disputes or matters between individuals or entities.
    • Example: “Stealing is a criminal offense, while a breach of contract is a civil matter.”
  7. Due Diligence:
    • Definition: Thorough research and investigation undertaken before entering into a legal agreement or transaction.
    • Example: “Before acquiring the business, they conducted due diligence to assess potential risks.”
  8. Probate:
    • Definition: The legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person.
    • Example: “The Will is currently in probate, and the assets are being distributed accordingly.”
  9. Arbitration and Mediation:
    • Definition: Methods of alternative dispute resolution where neutral third parties help parties reach a resolution outside of court.
    • Example: “They opted for arbitration to resolve their contractual dispute.”
  10. Solicitor/Barrister:
    • Solicitor: A qualified legal professional who provides advice and representation on various/all areas of law and acts directly for their client.
    • Barrister: usually instructed by a solicitor to advocate in a Court on behalf of their client.  Barristers have specialist knowledge of and experience of the courtroom and therefore cases and their advice and advocacy, whilst working with the instructing solicitor, can make all the difference to a case.

Gaining a better understanding of these frequently used legal terminologies is extremely helpful in navigating the intricate legal landscape.  This guide provides a foundation but your solicitor should always explain things clearly and in a manner you understand.  If they don’t, do not be afraid to ask them!

Here at Aston Bond, we pride ourselves on providing a stress-free and pragmatic approach when you do require legal advice.  No question is too big or too small, and we take the time to ensure our clients are comfortable and understand every step of their journey.

Barristers Cautioned Due To Risks of ChatGPT

The Bar Council has updated its guidelines for barristers on the use of ChatGPT and other AI technologies.

Although the guidelines confirm that utilising trustworthy AI tools to enhance legal services is not intrinsically wrong, they do highlight the need for barristers to proceed with caution and thoroughly check the work being produced by the AI. The most common risks include information disorder caused by systems unintentionally producing false information, violations of intellectual property rights, and breaches of confidentiality and sensitive information.

The Bar Council is especially concerned about the potential for “hallucinations,” bias, anthropomorphism, and “stereotype reinforcement” on some AI platforms. Indeed, it warned that there has already been at least one case in the UK where a litigant in person presented nine legal “authorities,” all of which turned out to be completely made up by an AI system like ChatGPT.

According to the guidelines, using AI in an irresponsible manner can result in severe and embarrassing outcomes for barristers, such as being sued for professional negligence, breach of contract, breach of confidence, defamation, data protection violations, infringement of intellectual property rights (including passing off claims), and reputational harm. It might also lead to violations of professional obligations and guidelines, which would call for disciplinary action and penalties being imposed.

According to research, new software “should not be a substitute for the exercise of professional judgement, quality legal analysis, and the expertise which clients, courts, and society expect from barristers,” even while technology can “complement and augment human processes to improve efficiency.”

The Bar Council’s chair, Sam Townend KC, stated:

“The growth of AI tools in the legal sector is inevitable and, as the guidance explains, the best-placed barristers will be those who make the effort to understand these systems so that they can be used with control and integrity. Any use of AI must be done carefully to safeguard client confidentiality and maintain trust and confidence, privacy, and compliance with applicable laws.”

He went on: “This Bar Council guidance will support barristers using LLMs to adhere to legal and ethical standards by outlining the key risks and considerations.” “It will be reviewed periodically, and practitioners must remain alert and adjust as the legal and regulatory environment shifts.”

Judges and solicitors were given advice on the use of AI at the end of last year, and this new guidance is the most recent in a series of documents that have been sent to them. The whole topic of AI is a controversial one, particularly within professional fields. One of the concerns is that  it strips away the natural or human aspect of the work, which in turn can potentially damage the reputation and validity of the work.  However, it is clear AI is here to stay and work must now be done on educating lawyers and how best to use AI – and when not too!

Fees for the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal to be introduced

A public consultation on the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal (ET) and Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has been opened by the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice’s proposed introduction of a £55 fee in the ET and EAT is intended to accomplish the following, among other things:

  • To relieve some of the cost to the general taxpayer by requiring tribunal users to pay for the tribunal system, where they can afford to do so.
  • To incentivise parties to settle their disputes early through ACAS without the need for claims to be brought to an ET
  • To create better engagement by parties in ACAS early conciliation so as to add value for taxpayer money that is spent on providing this free service
  • To alleviate some of the pressures the ET are currently facing.

It has been proposed that the fee (which will be payable on issuing the claim) being set at £55 should be moderately affordable for most.

More details can be found here:

Employment Tribunal fees were abolished in 2017 following a case bought by Unison against the government.  The Supreme Court ruled in their favour and ruling that it was unlawful on the grounds of access to justice.  The case (and subsequent abolition of fees) saw a spike in case being presented at the Tribunals.  This has continued to rise steadily over the years with some arguing the lack of fees encourages speculative or weaker cases being presented.

Of course, with a potential change in government things may well change again.  In addition, there is nothing stopping a further challenge in the Courts if fees were re-introduced.   For now however, the more that have their say the better.

Do you agree with the re-introduction of fees?  Let us know your thoughts! The government are now consulting on whether to re-introduce the fees and inviting responses. 

Judges rule that Walkers’ small poppadoms are crisps in every way, besides the name

A very interesting case today. The world’s biggest crisps brand is now facing a deadline following a verdict  that they will now have to pay VAT on it’s mini poppadoms because they are more akin to crisps, rather than what they say they are. There is more specifics by law on products being sold  than it may seem! Walkers contended that the Sensations Poppadoms bags should be exempt from the sales tax since they are not crisps (which are included in a specific category of snack items that are liable to the tax, along with cereal bars, ice cream, and chocolate-covered biscuits).  The judge disagreed.

Foods on that list are subject to 20% VAT under the complicated tax regulations.  Because traditional poppadoms are considered restaurant cuisine or food that needs to be prepared further rather than a packaged snack, they receive a zero rating. Previous VAT debates have involved McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes, which tax authorities in the 1990s unsuccessfully argued were biscuits; Pringles, a win for HM Revenue and Customs when they were found to be a crisp; and flapjacks, which were found to be too chewy to be a cake and therefore subject to VAT.

Walkers said that their little poppadoms, which were meant to be eaten with curries or for dipping in sauces, shouldn’t be categorised as crisps because they weren’t made of potatoes and needed to be prepared beforehand. In spite of this, a tax tribunal determined that the “small, generally round, bite-sized objects” were in fact crisps because 40% of the ingredients, including potato starch and granules, were “potato-derived.” The objects were also described as “somewhat wavy, with small bubbles on the surface.”

“Nominative determinism is not a characteristic of snack foods: calling a snack food Hula Hoops does not mean that one could twirl that product around one’s midriff, nor is Monster Munch generally reserved as a food for monsters,” stated the tribunal judges, Anne Fairpo and Sonia Gable.

The idea that Sensations Poppadoms were employed similarly to their larger brethren did not convince them either. Given that we believe there is a practical limit to the amount of dip or chutney that most people are likely to want to combine with the crunch of the conveyor product, we did not believe in practice that they were significantly different from potato crisps in terms of their ability to convey dips, etc.

Walkers have not yet commented on the ruling but may, nevertheless, file an appeal.

The case covers complex tax rules and we always advise getting professional advice on such matters.  At Aston Bond we have worked alongside tax specialists and accountants in the past as needed. However, obtaining advice early on can avoid fines as well as hefty legal costs.

Madonna Defends Herself From fans’ legal lawsuit

Representatives for Madonna have stated that she will “vigorously defend” against legal action brought by two fans after she missed a show by more than two hours in New York in December 2023. They have claimed that they would not have paid for tickets if they knew that the concert would finish that late.  The concert was on Wednesday 13th December 2023 at 8:30pm EST, but it did not start until after 10:30pm which then ended at 1am.

Spokespeople for the American artist and promoter Live Nation claimed that the delay was due to a technical problem. “The shows opened in North America at Barclays in Brooklyn as planned, with the exception of a technical issue during soundcheck on December 13th,” the joint statement stated.

“At the time, press accounts amply recorded the delay caused by this. We plan to mount a strong defence in this matter.”

It was also underlined that the tour’s latest European leg had “received rave reviews”. However, the two fans, Michael Fellows and Jonathan Hadden, have argued that “Many ticketholders who attended concerts on a weeknight had to get up early to go to work and/or take care of their family responsibilities the next day”.

“False advertising, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair and deceptive trade practices” are the reasons they are suing Live Nation and the Barclays Centre, who have not responded to the lawsuit as of yesterday (25th January 2024).

“Defendants failed to provide any notice to the ticketholders that the concerts would start much later than the start time printed on the ticket and as advertised, which resulted in the ticketholders waiting for hours,” according to the paperwork. The lawsuits also claimed that on other nights at that exact venue around the 13th, concerts started more than two hours late.

Plaintiffs have not indicated the damages they are suing for.

As this took place in the US, the claim being brought is subject to US law of course.  This differs markedly from UK law. The US legal system is primarily based on common law, which is developed through judicial decisions and precedents. Each state has its own legal system, and there is also a federal legal system that governs certain matters.

The UK legal system is a combination of common law and statutes. The legal system in England and Wales is distinct from that in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

However the most relevant and marked difference between the two is the levels of compensation which can be claimed (and on what basis).   The claim will no doubt interest other artists however and will be one watched closely.

Work Experience at Aston Bond: Bartek

Bartek who recently started a week of work experience at Aston Bond had this to say for his visit:

“Embarking on a one-week work experience at Aston Bond, a reputable law firm, was an insightful journey that offered a first-hand glimpse into the dynamic world of legal practice.

From the moment I stepped into Aston Bond, I was met with a welcoming atmosphere and a commitment to excellence that defined my week-long immersion in the legal profession.

My one-week work experience at Aston Bond was filled with threads of learning and growth. The collaborative culture, the practical application of legal knowledge, and the emphasis on mentorship collectively contributed to an enriching experience. The week not only deepened my understanding of legal practice but also ignited a passion for profession’s profound impact on individuals and society.

The approachability of the legal professionals at Aston Bond was a cornerstone of my positive experience. Partners and associates alike took the time to engage with me, sharing insights about their own career journeys and offering valuable advice. This approachability made it easy to connect with the team on both a professional and personal level.

My time at Aston Bond was not merely a week of observation; it was a week of active participation, guidance, and the beginning of a professional journey fuelled by the values of excellence and client-centred advocacy. This brief yet impactful experience was undoubtedly shaped my perspective on the legal profession and set a high standard for my aspirations in the field.

Ultimately, Aston Bond’s commitment to creating a friendly workplace has undoubtedly set a standard for what I hope to find in my future endeavours in the legal field.

I highly recommend Aston Bond, and I am genuinely thankful for the invaluable work experience that has not only enriched my understanding of the legal profession but also exposed me to a welcoming and supportive environment.”

By Bartek Wisniewski

We thank Bartek for all he has done here this week at Aston Bond and we wish him all the best success!

Apple settles lawsuits alleging it purposefully slowed down iPhones

In response to allegations that it purposefully slowed down some iPhone models in the US, Apple has started paying settlements in a protracted class action case.

The $500 million (£394 million) settlement will be divided among the complainants, amounting to around $92 per claim. Apple stated at the time that it denied any wrongdoing but was concerned about the cost of pursuing legal action, and as a result, it agreed to settle the complaint in 2020.

In the UK, a lawsuit similar to this one is suing for £1.6 billion in damages.

The US case began in December 2017, when Apple acknowledged that it had purposefully slowed down some iPhones as they aged, confirming a long-held fear among phone users. It claimed that when batteries grew older, their efficiency dropped, resulting in a “slowdown” that extended the life of the phones. However, following accusations that it had secretly throttled the performance of some iPhone models, Apple responded to the outcry by providing a low-cost battery replacement.

The US legal action resulted from it. It was projected at the time of the settlement that each individual might receive as little as $25, but it looks like the real payout is nearly four times that amount.

Apple failed in its attempt to stop a comparable class action case in the UK last November. Justin Gutmann initially filed the lawsuit in June 2022, on behalf of an estimated 24 million iPhone users.

“We have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” Apple said in response to the case, labelling it “baseless.”

However, the UK complaint additionally demands damages for owners of iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X devices, in contrast to the US settlement, which only extended to handsets in the iPhone 6 and 7 range.

In the UK, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that goods purchased must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality.  There are additional rights when items are purchased online.

If you have had any problems with goods or services that you have purchased, our litigation department can help.  Get in touch today with our head of department, James Dyche on or call us on 01753 486 777.