Published Articles

Fahmida Ismail's picture

You and the law - legal advice from Fahmida Ismail

Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News, Sep 2014.

Q. I am overweight and work in a call centre. A year ago my manager disciplined me informally and said that “because of my size” I came over as rude and aggressive. I was shocked. Then six weeks ago she said the same thing. My union says it’s not discrimination because it’s not racial or sexual.

John Irving's picture

Goodwill not necessarily a company asset

The way in which a business is structured has many ramifications and can be especially important on sale, as a recent case shows.

It involved a bakery company specialising in the sale of Turkish style products. When the business was sold, the sale agreement showed the owner/director of the company as being the owner of the goodwill of the business. The goodwill was transferred to the buyer for nearly £500,000.

Div Singh's picture


Insol won the inaugural Sydney Mitchell Charity Golf Day Competition held at Robin Hood Golf Club Course in Solihull on 11 September.  They won with a remarkable 90 points, closely followed by Freedom Technical and Merito Financial Services in third place.  The longest drive was won by Tom Addyman, Santander and nearest to the pin by Ed Hodgson. 

Dean Parnell's picture

Massive fine and disqualification for Director following corporate manslaughter conviction

The fact that the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 has real teeth has been illustrated by the announcement of a sixth prosecution under the Act.

Mobile Sweepers Limited entered a plea of guilty to a charge of corporate manslaughter following the death of a casual worker in an accident at its premises in Reading.

Julian Milan's picture

Website watch - is yours legal?

For today’s businesses, websites can be a vital asset, shop window and means of attracting, communicating with and selling to customers at home and abroad. 

The commercial, technological and cultural aspects involved give rise to numerous legal issues and ensuring that your business’s website is compliant and avoiding all the potential pitfalls can be something of a minefield. Here, in no particular order, is a summary of some of the key legal requirements and other risks related to websites:

Julian Milan's picture

Monkey business!

An unusual dispute has blown up between Wikimedia and a professional wildlife photographer over the ownership of copyright in a photograph of a macaque monkey which the photographer asked Wikimedia to take down from its website on copyright grounds. Wikimedia has refused.

Why? For Wikimedia, the photographer has no right to copyright protection because the photograph in question although an original and creative work taken with the photographer’s camera was not taken by his hand.

John Irving's picture

English Law proves decisive in dispute over Mexican lease guarantee

London is the world's number one venue for international litigation and many cases are heard in England which relate to foreign contracts. In one such, the landlord of factory premises in Mexico has won permission to enforce in England and Wales a $10.5 million judgment given by an Arizona court.

The landlord was left out of pocket after the factory's tenant abandoned the premises in 2003, leaving substantial rent arrears. A Bermuda-registered company which had its principal base of business in Hong Kong had guaranteed the tenant's obligations under the lease.

Nicholas Bennett's picture

Leaving digital assets in your will

As the pace of technological change increases new laws struggle to catch up. One point at which this is very obvious is death, or more specifically, what happens to your digital life when your real life comes to an end. (Digital Trend article refers)

Julian Milan's picture

Whose data is it anyway?

When a publisher and the firm managing its subscription database fell out over the database manager's quality of service, the publisher gave the database manager a month's notice to terminate the contract. In response, the database manager refused to release the publisher's data until its outstanding invoices were paid.

Kamal Majevadia's picture

Court cures 'clerical error' in £6.9 million will

The High Court has come to the aid of a family whose grief at the death of a gifted entrepreneur in a motorbike crash was compounded by the discovery of a 'clerical error' in his £6.9 million will.

Before the businessman's death at the young age of 47, he had expressed the wish that his estate, which included his £100,000 collection of classic cars and bikes and £5.4 million in shares, should be divided equally between his partner and five children.

Leanne Schneider-Rose's picture

Changes to Directors' disqualification and company ownership disclosure rules on the way

The Government has announced proposals to make sweeping revisions to the regulations concerning the disqualification of directors.

The changes will generally operate to make the regime more punitive towards directors whose behaviour is deemed to warrant a penalty.

The changes include the introduction of the ability to ban from being a director of a British company a person who is convicted abroad of a criminal offence or who has an unsatisfactory background (for example, having been a director of foreign companies that failed).

Richard Cooper's picture

Disclosure ordered when litigation not dominant purpose of report

When an expert report or advice is commissioned from external advisers, it is important to be aware that the report may be disclosable if its subject matter becomes relevant to litigation.

In a recent case, the buyer of a business resold it some time later, which had the effect of triggering a dispute about the sum due to the original owner under 'resale' clauses in the original agreement for the purchase and sale.

Dean Parnell's picture

Dean Parnell of Sydney Mitchell shortlisted for two legal awards

National Legal Awards Short list Sydney Mitchell LLP Dean Parnell

Partner of Legal 500 regional Law Firm, Sydney Mitchell LLP and former President of Birmingham Law Society, Dean Parnell has recently been shortlisted for two individual awards at the national Law Society’s Excellence Awards.

Mauro Vinti's picture

Relationship break-up and tax

Getting divorced is never a pleasant experience and couples going through the process have a lot to think about. Whilst management of the tax consequences of the split is not normally at the top of their priority list, these can be considerable, even where family income is fairly moderate.

Sundeep Bilkhu's picture

Landlords keep rent paid in advance, rules Court of Appeal

The overturning of a High Court decision concerning rent paid for a period after the end of a lease has restored the status quo in such cases – to the relief of landlords. 

The case concerned a tenant which exercised the break clause in its lease having already paid rent for a period beyond the break date.

Tracy Creed's picture

Who carries the cost of mental illness?

When the state becomes involved in paying for care, there are often complications, as a recent case illustrates.

It involved a mentally ill man who had spent almost half his life detained in psychiatric hospitals. He subsequently became the focus of a row between two local authorities over which of them should cover the heavy cost of caring for him after his discharge into the community.

Leanne Schneider-Rose's picture

Court ruling helps to define insolvency

For what seems to be a relatively easy concept, the meaning of 'insolvency' has proven to be a surprisingly contentious issue for the courts over the years. This is important because when insolvency occurs, the courts can seek to overturn transactions which are deemed to be to the detriment of creditors.

Karen Moores's picture

Separation without litigation.

Whilst over recent years the divorce rate had fallen, in the last 12 months that trend appears to be being reversed.  There is some evidence that as the housing market continues to pick up and individuals start to feel more economically stable they are prepared to take steps to end an unhappy relationship.

However, the modern separating couple are often looking for a more creative way to resolve any issues rather than utilising the old style ‘adversarial’ system.

Amanda Holland's picture

Stay at home husband in £11 million divorce dispute

A stay at home husband who claims that he sacrificed his own career on the altar of his investment banker wife's ambition has triumphed in a crucial round of their £11 million divorce battle, after the Court of Appeal accepted that he was 'habitually resident' in England.

Norman Rea's picture

Employee not entitled to protection from the sun's rays

In a case which demonstrates that there is a limit to the duties owed by employers under health and safety legislation, the Court of Appeal has rejected arguments that a local authority was obliged to provide sun cream and a hat for a gardener who worked outdoors (Earl v Middlesbrough Borough Council).

Nigel Mears's picture

Divorcee refused 'second bite of the cherry'

Separated couples should fix their eyes firmly on the future when signing divorce agreements, as was demonstrated in a recent case in which a former soldier, whose ex-wife had 'spent her share' after their split, fought off her bid for a slice of his military pension.

Norman Rea's picture

High Court grants order for the inspection of ex-employees' computers

When considering an application for a mandatory injunction pending trial proceedings, the court must determine which course is likely to involve least risk of injustice if it turns out to have been the 'wrong' decision.

In a case concerning commercial confidentiality (Warm Zones v Thurley and Another), the High Court agreed to an order allowing the inspection of the computers of two former employees who were alleged to have made unauthorised use of confidential data belonging to their employer.

Julian Milan's picture

'Greek' is a geographical term, not a style

The Court of Appeal has concluded that a product description which contains a geographical term can constitute 'passing off' if the product does not in fact come from the place named.

The description of a product as 'Greek' (in this case Greek yoghurt) would give most consumers the impression that it was made in Greece. However, the manufacturer argued that 'Greek' in this context referred to a style of yoghurt, not its place of manufacture. The yoghurt referred to is actually made in the USA.

Mauro Vinti's picture

Warring couple spent £1 million on divorce

The High Court has lamented the expenditure of almost £1 million in legal costs by a warring ex-couple whose acrimonious divorce had descended into a murky world of lies, private detectives, hidden assets and mutual accusations of skulduggery and assault.

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