UK: Professional Practices News. Confidence Takes A Nose Dive, Winter 2008/09

Last Updated: 13 January 2009
Article by Simon Mabey

Professional Practices Survey 2008/09 - Business Confidence Plummets

Simon Mabey analyses the trends and attitudes revealed in our 14th annual survey of professional practices.

This year, 126 professional practices, including lawyers, property consultants and patent agents, took part in our annual survey. The most striking finding is the fall in business confidence. Last year's results gave the first hint that confidence was starting to wane, but this trend is dramatically more marked this year. The service sector has been one of the success stories of the UK economy over the last few years, but with only a little over half of the firms surveyed saying they are confident about the next 12 months, we are undoubtedly entering a more difficult phase of the economic cycle. Moreover, the percentage of respondents who are not confident about the future soared to 42%, from just 11% in 2007/08.

Fig 1: Business outlook comparison for 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09

Furthermore, we conducted our survey just before the period of market volatility which followed the collapse of a number of international banks and financial institutions. Therefore, our results could well under-represent the level of uncertainty prevalent across the sector.

The survey also explored business issues facing professional practices. Unsurprisingly, the economy is top of the agenda; almost four in five (77%) of respondents consider it a key issue.

According to the results, the second most important issue facing the sector relates to fee income. However, with only one in six (14%) citing this as an issue, it appears that concern about fee income is dwarfed by that about the economy. For the first time since this survey was started fourteen years ago, 'the management of a downturn' was mentioned – 6% feel this to be a concern.

Increased merger activity ahead

Despite unease about the sector's future, 60% of the respondents expect to see the level of merger activity increase. The equivalent figure last year was less than 44%.

It would seem, therefore, that while the economy has been booming, the anticipated level of merger activity has not materialised and, as the economy falls, consolidation is expected to increase. This suggests that some practices may look at defensive mergers in the year ahead.

Indeed, approximately one in five of our respondents admitted they were seeking a merger or acquisition at the time of the survey, of which about a third anticipated completion within the next three months. And, while half of these tie-ups are likely to add only 10% or less to revenue, a quarter may add as much as 50% to earnings. This appears to confirm that, as the economy deteriorates, we can expect to see further consolidation across the professions.

Firms take a risk when merging: in good times, merging two strong, complementary practices can build a 'super firm'; in bad times the opposite can occur. However, in the current market, the need to deal with underperformance may outweigh any potential problems of aligning cultures.

Team acquisitions still of interest

Interest in acquiring established teams from other practices appears to be even higher up the agenda than in 2007/08. More than 82% of firms admitted that they would consider this, whereas last year the figure was 77%. This trend appears to be most prevalent among law firms, where 84% said they would buy a team from another organisation. The equivalent figure for property firms is 73% and just 69% for patent agents. Not surprisingly, it is the larger practices which are most acquisitive.

Furthermore, just over half of firms (54%) have bought a team in the last two years, three-quarters of which have finalised the deal in the last year. Both London and provincial firms seem to be equally involved in such acquisitions.

When looking at practice areas that have changed hands, real estate is the most common, closely followed by litigation and company commercial. The major attraction of buying 'ready-made' teams appears to be profitability. Almost threequarters of those who acquired a team reported that it was profitable within two years, the majority of which were profitable within the first year of trading. However, acquisitions and mergers are also seen as an excellent means of developing specific sectors and growing the client base.

Most teams that changed hands comprised 5 fee earners or less, while only 10% had more than 20 fee earners.

Fig 2: Acquired team size (in terms of fee earners)

Looking east

Notwithstanding the decline in business confidence, our survey results reveal that the professional services market operates increasingly at a global level, with 81% of respondents providing international services. The most common route is via an associated firm or 'best friends' relationship. However, 41% of respondents who provide international services have a branch office overseas.

The results indicate, in particular, that there is a trend towards eastward expansion; respondents consider that the Middle East offers the most potential, with China and India following closely behind.

In contrast, lawyers and property specialists consider that the role of US firms in the UK has reached a plateau. 54% of participants do not envisage any further development in the role of US firms in the UK, while the remaining respondents are split equally between those who anticipate further growth and those who expect a decline in their role in the UK.

Fig 3: Overseas territories providing the greatest opportunities

Identifying the need for diversity

For the first time, we asked law firms about their diversity policies. Judging from our findings, steps are clearly being taken to introduce greater diversity among partners and staff, with the larger practices leading the way.

56% of respondents said they have amended their diversity monitoring systems and introduced more flexible working practices. Furthermore, 43% have amended, or are reviewing, their recruitment policy.

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES SURVEY 2008/09 - DEREGULATION OF THE LEGAL SECTOR

One year after the Legal Services Act was introduced, interest in raising external finance continues to grow. Giles Murphy assesses the likely impact on the legal sector.

Following the introduction of the Legal Services Act (the Act), we used our annual professional practices survey to explore how the Act has affected firms' views on external finance.

Given that the Act enables law firms to join forces with other professionals, a resounding majority (82%) of respondents anticipate mergers between firms of different disciplines. This is slightly up on previous years, as the equivalent figure in 2007/08 was 77%, and in 2006/07 was 78%. In order to finance this, 73% expect that firms will need to raise external capital, whereas last year the equivalent figure was 66%.

The survey explored when this finance might be raised. 28% of respondents expect to seek external finance within the next two to five years. The proportion of respondents who thought it unlikely that they would raise external capital within the next two to five years has fallen since 2007/08.

We also explored how external finance will be raised. Although structured bank finance remains the most likely route, just over half the respondents looking to raise finance would consider the private equity/ venture capital route (52%), while 38% would consider a public listing.

While we expected initial interest in the opportunities that the Act created, this has scarcely changed over the last 12 months, despite the worsening economic conditions and the decline in equity values. This suggests there is a significant minority of the top 100 law firms which is actively pursuing the option of external equity funding.

However, the realisation that this is not a route simply for partners to sell out appears to be gaining some traction. The 'opportunity for partners to realise capital value in the business' has slipped from the third most important reason for wanting to raise capital to the fourth. The most important reason remains 'funding the long-term future development of the firm'.

The survey explored the amounts firms might wish to raise and while 34% would raise less than £5m, those wishing to raise up to £50m has increased from 5% in 2007/08 to 10% this year.

Fig 2: Amount firm would wish to raise, if seeking to raise capital in the next two to five years

Looking ahead

2009 will see the first aspects of the Act coming into force when non-lawyers will be able to become partners in solicitors' practices. However, it is the potential opportunity of obtaining external equity funding which has grabbed most of the headlines; our survey suggests that there is a core and not insignificant element of the legal market that is heading in this direction.

While the regulations allowing these structures may not be in place until 2011, there are already a number of firms making the necessary changes to their ownership, remuneration and governance procedures. Through various forms of convertible debt from non-banking organisations, firms are changing their business structures to be ready to take advantage of the regulations the moment they become operational.

All law firms (and other professional practices who may look to merge with or acquire law firms) should, therefore, consider how their business model could be adapted to take advantage of the proposed regulations. Alternatively, they should assess the risk of their competitors going down this route and prepare a defensive strategy accordingly.

HOW SAFE ARE CASH DEPOSITS?

In light of the recent financial crisis, Neil Cullum discusses risk and return in relation to cash deposits.

Generally, people are able to accept that their investments in stocks and shares might go down in value. They are even able to come to terms with the fact that their house might be worth less now than it was a year ago. However, they find it hard to believe that their cash might not be safe in the bank.

Since the rescue of Northern Rock, we have seen the near collapse of the international financial system. Governments have stepped in with everincreasing injections of liquidity, which has culminated in a co-ordinated approach to recapitalising the system. At last, the strategy appears to be working and interbank lending rates are starting to return to more 'normal' levels. However, we are unlikely to see inter-bank rates restored to the previous structure where, in effect, they contained no risk premium.

Playing it safe

As memories fade and official base rates come down, yield will resume its importance. But in the meantime, individuals are likely to favour a low risk position and to accept a lower rate of interest from institutions they regard as 'safe'.

Deposits in UK banks, with a limit of £50,000 for each individual in each bank, are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Alongside this statutory protection lies the Government's commitment to "do whatever it takes to stabilise the banking system; protect savers and the taxpayers; and support the wider economy".1 To a certain extent, therefore, savers ought to be reassured about a deposit with any major UK bank or building society. However, many will still wish either to diversify their risk widely or concentrate it in only the largest, most recognisable names.

Professional firms' client accounts with UK banks offer FSCS protection up to the statutory limits and remain suitable for transient, transactional funds. However, there is normally a requirement that these sums are held at a bank. For firm's money that is likely to be held in cash in the longer term but where access might be required at short notice, a money market fund could be an attractive option. Such funds diversify risk, by being invested with a wide range of banks. They offer easy access, transparent pricing, enhanced yields and, in some cases, an attractive tax treatment.

1 Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement to the House of Commons, 13 October 2008. http://www.hm-treasury.gov. uk/statement_chx_131008.htm

WHAT IF...? EXPLORING CAUSE AND EFFECT IN BUSINESS

Scenario planning improves decision making and strategic thinking. Denis Burn describes the process.

Some people liken scenario planning to 'rehearsing the future'. Others talk about the 'entrepreneurial power of creative foresight'. In less flowery terms, scenario planning helps businesses to spot good opportunities and to make decisions that will be more resilient in uncertain times.

Scenario planning was pioneered by Shell in the 1960s but since then – a time of rapid change, increasing complexity and rising levels of uncertainty – the technique has been widely adopted.

Offering a number of benefits, it now underpins the plans and decisions of many businesses. Benefits include the following.

  • Decisions based on scenario planning are more resilient because cause and effect have been rehearsed.
  • The process builds effective teams. It is creative and enjoyable, it exposes and feeds on differences of opinion, it challenges assumptions, it shares learning and it shows where new opportunities lie.
  • Scenario planning helps a business become more sensitive to external developments; it becomes more observant and nimble. Scenarios are easy to communicate so that staff become more aware of the drivers of success and potential dangers. You are less likely to be ambushed by unexpected events (and better able to respond).

Set the scene

Scenario planning is more useful if it is structured around an important and far-reaching decision, or possibly a 'what if' event. For example, you may wish to consider the impact of the Legal Services Act or test an existing strategy against the emerging realities of the economic downturn and volatile energy costs.

With a specific question in mind, you can identify forces that will dictate the success or failure of your strategy. The most important and uncertain forces then become the foundations of different scenarios.

Develop the plot

Building detail into these scenarios allows you to consider how the future might unfold and how your strategy would stand up. This is a creative process: scenarios take the form of a narrative with characters – stories that link together complex interactions and possibilities.

The idea is not to make forecasts of what is most probable but to identify what is plausible. Scenarios are not an end in themselves but are a tool to improve strategic thinking and decision making.

This simple-sounding, linear process can, of course, become more complicated. With additional time, hard data and the views of people outside of the core group, you can add greatly to the insights and the value of the exercise.

Finally, a critical ingredient in the success of the exercise is the skill and experience of the facilitator.

BEWARE THE DEADLINE OF 5 APRIL 2009. SAFEGUARD YOUR PENSION ASSETS

Should savers with large pension funds elect to protect their assets? Paul Garwood discusses.

On 6 April 2006, the Government replaced eight separate tax regimes governing UK pensions with one. As a result, the majority of savers enjoyed greater flexibility. However, a small number were disadvantaged by the new rules and, in particular, by the statutory lifetime allowance (SLA).

The SLA is the limit an individual can accumulate in a pension fund without incurring a recovery charge. If this limit is exceeded, a tax charge of 55% of the excess is payable when taken as a lump sum; a charge of 25% of the excess is payable if it is used to provide additional taxable income. The SLA currently stands at £1.65m. It will increase to £1.75m in 2009/10 and £1.8m in 2010/11.

Fund protection

To make sure individuals with large pension funds accrued before 6 April 2006 were not penalised by the new regime, the Government devised two methods of protecting funds from the recovery charge – primary and enhanced protection.

Primary protection is available to individuals whose total funds were valued in excess of £1.5m on 5 April 2006. The individual is given a lifetime allowance enhancement factor (LAEF) according to the extent that his/her fund exceeded £1.5m. The LAEF is then used to calculate his/her personal lifetime allowance (PLA) on retirement. Funds in excess of the PLA are liable to a recovery charge. While primary protection does not provide complete protection from the recovery charge, the individual can continue to make pension contributions without losing this cover.

Enhanced protection provides full protection and is available irrespective of the value of the investor's funds on 5 April 2006. However, if pension contributions are made, or defined benefits accrue, after 5 April 2006, the protection cover is forfeited.

Those individuals whose funds will exceed the SLA should take advice on which form of protection, if any, would be best for them. Transitional protection elections must be made before the Government's deadline of 5 April 2009.

Taking stock

When assessing whether a pension is likely to exceed the SLA on retirement, it is essential to note the different valuation methods.

For instance, a pension already in payment on 5 April 2006 is multiplied by a factor of 25. An unvested defined benefit pension is given a notional fund value by multiplying it by 20 and then adding any tax-free cash at face value.

Income drawdown plans established before 6 April 2006 use the same factor of 25. However, this formula is applied to the maximum income available, rather than the income being drawn, so it can produce some unwelcome anomalies against the plan's actual fund value. For money purchase funds that were unvested on 5 April 2006, the fund value itself is tested against the SLA on a 1:1 basis.

The decision whether to elect for protection – or to retain no protection at all – is far from clear cut, particularly in light of the complicated valuation factors outlined above.

HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR PROCEDURES? DETAILS OF THE AMENDED SAR

Pambos Patsalides provides an update on the amended Solicitors' Accounts Rules.

The Solicitors' Accounts (Residual Client Account Balances) Amendment Rules 2008 revise the Solicitors' Accounts Rules (SAR) 1998 with effect from 14 July 2008.

The amended rules introduce a number of obligations, including returning surplus funds and reporting on retained funds. However, they also allow solicitors to be more lenient when dealing with small leftover balances.

Revised rules

Under new rule 15(3), solicitors are obliged to return client money promptly as soon as there is no longer reason to retain the funds.

New rule 15(4) requires solicitors to inform a client promptly of the amount of any funds retained at the end of a matter and explain why they have been retained.

If funds continue to be retained, the client must be informed in writing, on at least an annual basis, of the reason for the ongoing retention.

Under the old rules, tracing the rightful owners of numerous very small balances was inefficient. The amended rule 22 allows solicitors to withdraw leftover balances of £50 or less from client accounts without prior authorisation from the Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA). This is subject to them paying the balances to a charity and complying with the safeguards set out in a new rule 22(2A).

However, SRA authorisation is still required for amounts exceeding £50 or for those not to be paid to a charity.

New processes

The Guidelines for Accounting Procedures and Systems state that policies and systems should be established to ensure that firms comply fully with the rules. Solicitors wishing to deal with leftover balances of £50 or less, without prior SRA authorisation, will need to set up appropriate internal procedures and systems to ensure compliance with the new provisions of rule 22.

New paragraphs 4.6 and 4.7 of the guidelines state that policies and systems should be established for the timely closure of files, the prompt accounting for surplus balances and the reporting to clients when funds are retained.

The reporting accountant will be required to check the procedural side of the rule 22(2A) requirements for any accounting periods ending after 14 July 2008. Under rule 29, the reporting accountant is also required to report on any substantial departures from the guidelines.

Fee earners should become familiar with the rule changes as they will be best placed to ensure client monies are returned promptly and to inform the client of any monies retained and the reason for that retention. The obligation to write to all clients, on at least an annual basis, may be better dealt with on a firm-wide basis by the practice. Firms should ensure that client accounting systems and staff are kept up to date with the new rules and procedures.

A PROFITABLE YEAR-END?

Pam Sayers explains why you may wish to change your accounting date.

The majority of professional practices choose an accounting date early in the tax year, e.g. 30 April, in order to maximise the cash flow benefit of deferring, as long as possible, partners' tax payments on their share of the firm's taxable profits.

Thus, if a firm has a year-end of 30 April 2008, partners' tax payments (on this income) fall due on 31 January 2009, 31 July 2009 and 31 January 2010. The first payment is due 9 months after the end of the financial year; the second payment is due 15 months after the end of the financial year with any balance of tax payable 21 months after the end of the financial year. This means that partners will have overlap profits equating to approximately 11 months.

What if there is a decrease in profits?

An April year-end is beneficial when profits are increasing since the balance of tax does not become payable until 21 months after the end of the financial year. However, given that your firm may now be facing a decrease in profits, you should consider whether it is still beneficial to have an April accounting date. Generally, when profits are decreasing it can be advantageous to have an accounting date towards the end of a tax year, e.g. 31 March.

By changing an accounting date from April to, say, March, you will crystallise partners' overlap relief. Firms facing a decline in profits may, therefore, wish to review their anticipated profit for the current financial year and compare this with the overlap profits to identify if there is any merit in changing the firm's accounting date.

You should note that HMRC restricts the number of occasions that a firm can change its year-end.

PRE-YEAR-END TAX TIPS

Sharon Templeman offers top tips for your pre-year-end tax planning.

Make use of CGT

Taper relief and indexation allowance were abolished on 6 April 2008 and a flat rate of 18% Capital Gains Tax (CGT) now applies on all gains above the £9,600 annual exemption. You may wish to consider investing in assets which give rise to a CGT liability at 18% rather than income tax liability at 40%.

In the current year, capital losses are offset against capital gains and any excess capital losses can be carried forward indefinitely. So, in a case where one spouse is planning to sell an asset standing at a gain and the other is planning to sell an asset standing at a loss, think about transferring shares between spouses prior to disposal to make use of unused capital losses or annual exemptions. Note that anti-avoidance provisions apply in relation to 'bed and spousing' and 'bed and ISAing'; there is also a targeted anti-avoidance provision that applies to capital losses.

Protect your pension

The current statutory lifetime allowance (SLA) for pension funds is £1.65m. If your pension funds exceed the SLA, you have until 5 April 2009 to apply for protection against a penal tax charge of 55% (see Paul Garwood's article).

The maximum contribution on which tax relief is available is £225,000.

Don't forget you can use stakeholder pensions for non-earning spouses/ children.

Open tax-efficient savings accounts

You may wish to consider tax-free investments through National Savings products and Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs). The annual £7,200 ISA subscription can either be 100% stocks and shares, or split with up to 50% in cash. A cash ISA can also be opened for children aged between 16 and 18 years.

Enterprise Investment Schemes offer 20% income tax relief on up to £500,000 of investment, inheritance tax (IHT) protection after two years and unlimited CGT deferral.

Venture Capital Trusts (VCT) provide 30% income tax relief and no CGT on sale. Note there is a five-year time limit i.e. a minimum holding period for a VCT to be exempt from CGT.

Remember that government bonds are free from CGT.

Shelter your wealth

The nil-rate band for IHT is currently £312,000. Make sure that your will is up to date and tax efficient and that your life assurance policy is written in trust to mitigate IHT.

Consider making gifts to use the annual exemption of £3,000 which can be carried forward one year. Small gifts of up to £250 and gifts on marriage are also exempt from IHT. Gifts which are normal expenditure out of income are also IHT-exempt provided they are regular, out of income (not capital) and do not affect the donor's standard of living, e.g. payment of school fees by grandparents.

Consider investing in IHT-free assets such as those which qualify for business or agricultural property relief after two years.

Consider your tax situation, if non-UK domiciled

2008/09 is the first year non-UK domiciled individuals need to decide whether to claim the remittance basis – i.e. continue to be taxed on their overseas income only to the extent that it is remitted to the UK – and pay the £30,000 charge on 31 January 2010. When making your decision, consider:

  • the maths
  • interaction with double tax treaties
  • pre-5 April 2009 planning
  • existing offshore structures.

Couples could review the ownership of their assets to prevent them both being subject to the charge.

Other tax tips

  • Claim higher-rate tax relief on charitable donations; remember that CGT relief is available and non-cash gifts can also qualify.
  • Decide whether an election is necessary as spouses can have only one main residence for CGT relief (noting a twoyear time limit).
  • Don't forget to claim the £250 child trust fund.
  • Gift assets that have fallen in value in order to mitigate the CGT and IHT liability.
  • Assess whether elections in respect of pension funds are still valid.
  • Offset any trading losses arising as a result of reduction in profits against other or prior year income.
  • Decide whether it is appropriate to reduce tax payments on account.

SPREADING TAX PAYMENTS

Some professional firms may struggle to meet the entire partners' tax payment in January 2009, warns Pam Sayers.

Many firms retain tax from partners' drawings and prepare tax provisions on a prudent basis. However, particularly in the current economic climate, some firms may need to use these funds to meet working capital requirements; thus, there may be insufficient funds to meet part or all of the partners' tax payments falling due on 31 January 2009.

Firms in this situation will need to consider whether they (a) extend their overdraft facility to meet the January tax payments or (b) enter into negotiations with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to agree to a payment plan by spreading the tax payments due over a number of months.

If you decide on the second option, note that it is unlikely that HMRC will accept a spreading period of more than six months since the next tax payment will be due on 31 July 2009.

Professional practices should identify as soon as possible, on both a best and worst case scenario, the total estimated tax payment falling due. The exact tax payment may not be known for certain until late January 2009 when all the partners' 2008 tax returns have been finalised and the tax liabilities computed.

As soon as you have made the estimate, notify the Inspector of Taxes handling the partnership's tax affairs that you wish to seek an agreement to spread the January 2009 tax payment. In our experience, HMRC is more likely to agree to a spreading if you notify as early as possible, especially as there are specific procedures to follow with both the firm's Inspector of Taxes and the HMRC Debt Management team.

While there will be an interest charge on any late payment of tax, the surcharge of 5% on the balance of 2007/08 can be waived if firms enter into a formal agreement with HMRC to spread the January 2009 tax payment.

According to the Pre-Budget Report, the gateway into 'Time To Pay' for selfemployed individuals (including partners) is the 'Business Payments Support Service', complete with Helpline. A partnership will be regarded as transparent for this purpose. It has been advised that, even if HMRC agrees to have a conversation about a partnership's trading difficulties with the internal or external accountant, it will still be necessary to put in place individual direct debits for the partners themselves. HMRC has also outlined that if, for example, the senior partner has personal cash available, then he/she will not qualify for the scheme, even if the firm itself is struggling.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.