Posted: Monday 26 March 2012
By Austin Flynn
Last week was a bit hectic (hence the lack of a blog). It started with my team hosting a delegation of senior Chinese judges and court officials from the Yunnan Province of China. We’d been invited to give the delegates an overview of the structure of British company law and how our insolvency laws deal with companies that are struggling. It was also an opportunity for my colleague, Jamie Kerr, to demonstrate his expertise as one of Scotland’s leading immigration lawyers. The delegation was organised by Sino UK Link, an organisation established to promote the exchange of business and cultural information between China and Britain to assist commerce between the two nations. It was a fascinating morning and although the presentation was conducted via an interpreter, the questions coming from the delegates suggested that we’d struck a chord with them. Our guests then kindly gave us gifts from their homeland.
The next ‘highlight’ of the week (or was it an ordeal?) was making a short video, to be posted on the Morton Fraser website, of me introducing myself and giving an ‘elevator pitch’ for the benefit of the viewer. No doubt it’ll be up and running fairly soon and you can decide for yourselves whether I should audition for the X-Factor, leave on a high and become a recluse like Doris Day, or stick to blogging.
Next came the Budget and the usual round of Budget seminars (of which I attended three this year, all excellent but different in their approach). I’ll leave it to other commentators to draw out the finer economic and political points of the Budget, but I was certainly pleased to see that many of my high-growth, high-tech clients will be able to benefit from some of the changes to the tax treatment of R&D tax credits, EMI Options and EIS relief for equity investors. Give me a call if you’d like to discuss how any of these changes could benefit your company.
As the Chancellor was up on his hind legs delivering his Budget I was on my hind legs delivering Data Protection Act (DPA) training for a client in the healthcare sector, including putting in place a robust written DPA policy for staff. Although I’m clearly biased, I really believe that it’s a false economy not to take the DPA seriously, particularly as the Information Commissioner is taking an increasingly intolerant approach towards those who breach the legislation. Bearing in mind that he can fine organisations up to £500,000 for breaches of the DPA, you really do need to be on your toes.
Thursday afternoon brought a meeting with two entrepreneurial clients who sold their business almost three years ago and are in the process of setting up a new company. On Thursday we finalised a new joint venture arrangement and EMI Options for them, and we’re also handling a couple of trademark applications for them too. It’s great to see that after growing and selling one very successful business they’re as keen as ever to do it all over again and they’re getting their legal housekeeping in order.
Just when I was about to head home on Friday to put my feet up and have a cold beer, my eye was caught by a headline on the internet: “Goldman Sachs trawls system for ‘Muppet’ jibes.” That kind of headline is a blogger’s dream, and I was highly amused to read that the bank’s Chief Executive has ordered a search of e-mails to look for use of the word "Muppets" a fortnight after a London-based employee resigned, claiming it was the way clients were referred to by members of staff at the bank. It made me wonder what would happen if our IT guys were asked to carry out a similar search. My guess is that the only reference would be to my ‘elevator pitch’ performance in front of the video camera earlier in the week: bearing in mind my hair colouring and distinct lask of acting ability, I’d be surprised if my colleagues in the Business Development Team haven’t sent each other e-mails referring to me as ‘Fozzie Bear’.