UK: Enterprise – Autumn 2009 - This Time It’s Different

Last Updated: 19 November 2009
Article by Guy Rigby

ENTREPRENEURSHIP ALIVE AND KICKING IN THE UK

Editor's comment

'This time it's different' is a phrase we normally associate with asset bubbles and impending financial turmoil. With green shoots sprouting all around us and mega-bonuses back in favour, one might be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. Is it really possible that the worst recession since the 1930s has been beaten and that we have entered a new and sustainable growth phase? Let's be cautiously optimistic, with the world's major developed economies saddled with unprecedented debt; tax rises, spending cuts and rising unemployment may yet deliver an unwelcome sting in the tail.

Sound advice

But this autumn edition of Enterprise really is different. It's full of valuable insight and information and, with news and views from many of our strategic alliance partners and guest contributors, there is something for everyone. David Molian from Cranfield School of Management looks to the future, Penny Power of Ecademy gives her top ten tips on social networking for business, and Octopus Investments provides some invaluable advice for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking funding. And in our client profile, Aardman Animations explains how its diversified income streams have helped it weather the recession.

It's impossible to mention everyone but my thanks go to all our contributors. We hope you enjoy the result.

Survey results confirm public support for entrepreneurs

There's welcome news for those of us who champion the cause of the entrepreneur in the results of a recent survey conducted by one of our strategic partners, The Entrepreneurs Board.

According to the experiential business learning organisation's new survey of 2,000 members of the public, people in the UK not only understand and back entrepreneurship, but many are itching to get more involved, with 38% saying that they do or plan to run their own business at some stage in their career. They gave a variety of reasons, including: flexible working (45%); challenge (44%); making more money (38%); having a great idea that could work (25%) or because they could be better than the companies already doing it (20%).

Of those surveyed (remember, this is the general public), 45% feel that more funding should be given to start-up companies. Private sector businesses that fail should not be bailed out according to 47%, and 48% say remuneration should be capped for all public sector workers.

More than a quarter (28%) think entrepreneurs are likely to have the most positive effect on bringing Britain out of recession over the next year, compared to 24% opting for the Government.

Learn from your peers

Many people responding to the survey supported the idea of confidential peer groups where people can learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs – such as The Entrepreneurs Board – as the best type of leadership or personal development to equip them to manage a company. Run by the Academy for Chief Executives, a board is a 'peer group experiential learning forum', where up to around a dozen entrepreneurs from different sectors meet locally once a month for a half-day facilitated session.

The aim is to help business owners grow their company by learning from one another, testing ideas, investigating opportunities and giving each other new contacts. It's like having a 'board you could never afford'.

The enthusiasm for entrepreneurship in the UK can only bode well for our economy. And we hope that the leadership experience and support available through The Entrepreneurs Board continues to help champion their cause.

FORWARD THINKING

David Molian of Cranfield School of Management looks at the future for entrepreneurial businesses.

From time to time, business magazines run features looking back at predictions of the technologies of the future made 20 years ago and compare them with the realities of today. It's easy to laugh at the naivety of illustrations of people in undersea communities or a house full of talking robots, until, that is, you try predicting for yourself.

Forecasting is not too difficult at a general level. For instance, in the UK it is inevitable that expenditure on public services will come under the knife in the next few years, regardless of which political party is in power. And you can make an educated guess at where the knife will fall first – the soft and obvious targets, if you like. The devil, however, is in the detail; and the details are subject to unknowable deals done by yet to be elected politicians at the mercy of unpredicted events.

That said, the temptation to stick one's neck out is irresistible, especially for an academic. My thoughts are informed by conversations I have on an almost daily basis with the many entrepreneurs who pass through Cranfield School of Management.

Future for start-ups Forget about the banks

I hope by now that the lesson is well and truly hammered home that banks don't put money into start-ups. They used to lend money against security – houses, shares and so on – owned by people who started businesses. Today, even businesses that trade profitably can't get banks to lend, and mortgages are scarce. That situation will persist for some time to come. So start-up ventures must either bootstrap themselves with their own money or find other sources of cash, which won't be easy.

The technology sector will continue to be attractive

Software and web-based businesses are great places to be if you've got a winning proposition. You can get a long way to commercialisation on a modest outlay, and the speed and size of scalability are awesome. There's still plenty of interest from investment professionals as well.

Future for established businesses Winner takes more

Recessions shake out whole industries, and many weaker businesses have gone to the wall. I recently did a straw poll of 25 ownermanagers I was working with. Half are struggling to manage their growth, largely because capacity has gone out of their markets. Strong businesses will see their natural rate of growth accelerate. But that brings its own problems, so be prepared.

Niche is nice

The most successful independent businesses have found a niche in which they excel and exploit it mercilessly. Only when they are securely established with a great reputation do they diversify. Buying behaviour always becomes more cautious in a downturn, as people value every pound they spend. That won't change for some time. Focus on the core and do not be seduced into premature departure from your real strength.

The colour of money

A strong balance sheet is the best security for the future, so seize every opportunity to shore it up. While traditional banks remain hamstrung, I predict that innovative financing approaches will make an appearance. Make sure your finance director or adviser is scanning the horizon.

OPENING THE DOOR TO FUNDING

Rupert Bell of Octopus Investments' offers advice to SMEs.

For companies today, finding funding is vital, but is often a major challenge. The worst of the recession may be over but banks continue to be wary of lending or impose high lending terms. Therefore, as an Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trust provider specialising in smaller companies, we're seeing many SMEs approach us for funding. But funding is only part of the picture when building successful companies. Working with advisers like Smith & Williamson, we provide companies with comprehensive support at every stage in their development. However, what we often find is that companies also need support in applying for and obtaining funding.

The advice that we give, as follows, is underpinned by a desire for clear communication and honesty on both sides. This is integral to how we work at Octopus and crucial to the element of trust in any company-funder relationship.

Research your investors

Read the investor's criteria properly and identify investment stages and areas. Remember, these criteria define where the firm invests and are rigidly observed.

Network

Use advisers well – find someone you trust with a solid track record of achieving the results you desire and use their network to enhance your reputation.

Be credible

At presentation stage, be on and run to time, know your markets and your audience, and present information professionally, including accurate numbers, typo-free text and appropriate language.

Hone your pitch

Be able to explain what you do clearly in layman's terms. Be brief, to the point and avoid jargon.

State clear goals

Be very specific about what you are trying to achieve, e.g. raising £X amount of growth capital to win contracts/pay off expensive senior debt/open a new site/ make an acquisition.

Be grounded

Maintain perspective on your business. Be enthusiastic, passionate even, but temper this with realism and be prepared to learn from outside investors with broad experience.

Negotiate

At the funding stage, you may be in a position to choose between rival investors. Ask each to articulate what they can offer in terms of contacts, sector knowledge and ideas. Put a value on this knowledge – your ideal investor will bring experience as well as capital.

Octopus funds available include those in their private equity and venture capital division, Octopus Ventures, which earlier this year became home to the £30m Octopus Capital for Enterprise Fund (OCfE).

The OCfE Fund is mandated by the UK Government to address the cash flow, credit and capital needs of UK SMEs, offering between £200,000 and £2m in funding to companies with existing cash flows and genuine growth potential.

AARDMAN ANIMATIONS

Enterprise talks to Kerry Lock, finance director of Oscarwinning Aardman Animations, about its unique challenges and coping through the recession.

Aardman Animations, best known for Wallace & Gromit, Morph and Creature Comforts, remains busy despite a number of setbacks during the recession. It recently sold the rights to Shaun the Sheep to more than 170 countries and is currently in production of two feature films, Arthur Christmas and Pirates, as well as two new series of Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time.

Finance director Kerry Lock explains that Aardman may have fared a little better than some of its competitors because of its diversified income streams. In addition to feature films and television programmes, the company makes commercials and has its own sales, licensing and merchandising arm. They have also branched out into website and online games design.

"Animation is expensive and production schedules are lengthy," says Kerry. "Cash is tied up for a long time and it takes a long time to recoup. It's a very challenging business model which we are having to adapt to."

The studio has been affected by slashed advertising budgets, the knock-on effect that has had on TV funding and the collapse of Woolworths last year.

Cutting their cloth

"At the beginning of the year, we set our commercials budgets 20% lower than the previous year. We took a very prudent view on what we thought we would take in advertising revenue.

"We were caught out by putting too much of our own capital into our own intellectual property. That's what we have learnt in this recession. The money has been out twice as long as we expected it to be. Production costs per minute have to come down, which is a difficult balancing act without putting more of our own money in."

Sadly, a hefty cost-cutting process necessitated some redundancies – all the more upsetting for those involved because it coincided with a move to new offices – part of a three-year building project.

Over the past nine months, the silver lining of the financial crisis for Aardman has been the strength of the dollar against the pound. "It really helped us with securing green lights on our two feature films in terms of how much our US partners had to commit to in dollars."

Future growth

Kerry says Aardman continues to build on the strength of its brand. "We have exhibitions in Bristol and in the Science Museum, and plans to increase promotional activities – all increasing public awareness of Aardman.

"Absolutely paramount to our future is the development of our own ideas. We are very project driven and cannot stop investing in our own intellectual property, albeit at an acceptable level of risk; multiple series of Timmy Time and Shaun the Sheep are good examples of this. After our two features which are due to complete in 2011, we need to have another project ready to go into production from 2012."

Smith & Williamson's Bristol office (formerly Solomon Hare) has been working as audit, tax and business advisers to Aardman for more than 15 years. Partners Steve Coombe and Phillip Moody advise the board and management team, with regular attendance at board meetings.

"It's very easy for us working in the business to be immersed in running it," says Kerry. "Smith & Williamson can step back and give us an objective overview with good, constructive advice and ideas that we would not necessarily have thought about. They bring relevant experience from other industries and put us in touch with people. They've been a great help and support during the recession."

A TAXING FUTURE

Richard Mannion considers the tax environment of the future.

I am reminded of the Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times' as things will certainly be interesting for a while yet. Whoever wins the election, we all know that action will be needed to close the gap between the country's tax receipts and spending, either by increasing the former or reducing the latter (or both).

The top rate of income tax will be 50% from 6 April 2010, but that change alone will barely impact the 'tax gap'. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will undoubtedly be seeking to increase tax revenues and is likely to focus on the largest organisations, bearing in mind that some 20% of companies contribute about 80% of total tax receipts.

Clamp down on tax planning

HMRC is starting to tighten the screw on banks by asking them to sign up to a Code of Practice which calls on them to "comply with the spirit, as well as the letter, of tax law, discerning and following the intentions of Parliament". This would involve the banks agreeing not to undertake tax planning that aims to produce a tax result that is contrary to the intentions of Parliament. Judging by the quality of parliamentary debate on the annual Finance Bills, this takes us into Mystic Meg territory of trying to discern the indiscernible.

Even greater scrutiny

The banks' Code of Practice is just part of a larger pincer movement which has affected all taxpayers over the past five years. HMRC already has a vastly increased armoury, including stronger powers to inspect taxpayers' records and premises to obtain information from third parties. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms, recently indicated that there will be even more informationgathering powers conferred on HMRC in the forthcoming Pre-Budget Report along with increased penalties for noncompliance.

HMRC recently obtained permission from the Tax Tribunal to secure information from more than 300 banks about individuals who have had offshore bank accounts. This initiative has been coupled with yet another 'tax amnesty' for people who have failed to pay the correct tax in previous years, providing a further indication that HMRC is raising its game.

Get your tax right

So where does the pincer movement leave the entrepreneur trying to build a business in the toughest climate within living memory? Tax compliance is important and you need to keep the taxman onside; so keeping good records and meeting all deadlines is essential. This particularly applies to taxes such as PAYE and VAT. With national insurance contributions (NIC) of 11% for employees and 12.8% for employers, PAYE is a big money spinner for the Government and finding extra income tax and NIC arising from expenses and benefits-in-kind make easy pickings for HMRC's specialist PAYE auditors. End of year returns and claims for dispensations must therefore be handled with great care. Get them wrong and you will waste valuable time and money that could otherwise be invested in your business.

MID-MARKET OUTLOOK - PATIENT STABLE, VITAL SIGNS IMPROVING

The recession, from which we now appear to be emerging, has been unlike anything we've seen before. The drivers of the classic entrepreneurial business – easily available bank lending, steadily increasing sales, burgeoning M&A activity, a buoyant stock exchange and low tax on exit – have all been severely undermined.

Are shell-shocked business owners now ready for action? The ravages of time and inevitability of major milestones like death, divorce or retirement suggest that as they return to profitability there will be a sizeable backlog of equity backed businesses waiting to do what they were either unwilling or unable to do in the last 18 months – raise capital to achieve growth ambitions, buy other companies or groom their business for exit. It seems the patient is out of intensive care, in a stable condition and ready for a slow convalescence.

It's hard, though, to see a return to the debt-fuelled hysteria of the unique boom that preceded this abnormally bad recession – pre-2008 metrics have gone out the window. More probable is a return to normality, where businesses once again have access to finance for growth or can get cash on exit but at more realistic valuations from funders and buyers.

The collective sigh of relief by the recession's survivors is tinged with a strong aversion to a repeat of the last year. The time of financial engineering as the primary method of creating returns, if not dead, is severely wounded. Instead, we expect more emphasis on the fundamentals of growing value in a business.

So what's changed? For individual businesses, some competitors may have vanished, as may suppliers. Some business relationships have been put under severe pressure and will be hard to mend. Battle-scarred businesses are likely to be more debt averse and the margin for debt capital will remain higher as banks seek greater returns.

And some of those foundations of UK entrepreneurialism which have driven business behaviour in the past – the familiar mismatch of capital gains tax rates (now 18%) versus income taxes (soon to be 50% at the higher rate) to take just one example – have changed further, raising the possibility of more change and uncertainty in the future.

These are the new market realities and businesses need to continue to monitor their health regularly or they could once again find themselves flat on their backs.

ARE YOU WAKING UP TO SOCIAL NETWORKING?

Ecademy.com founder Penny Power explains why entrepreneurs are the best placed and most willing to engage and build their brand online.

Since 1998, I have been helping individuals see the opportunities that lie within the mysterious online world for expanding their business globally while also finding new ideas, business partners and opportunities. In my opinion, entrepreneurs make the most active and highest quality users and contributors. Here are my top ten tips to make the most of social networks for your business.

1. The world is now social – join these networks with the right attitude.

2. Be a friend, not a supplier. Friendships create advocates and create customers. Suppliers create noise.

3. Have conversations, do not broadcast. Broadcasting is dull and meaningless, conversation is not.

4. Understand what contribution you are personally making to others and share that. Don't sell.

5. Learn to be a writer and write blogs. This is the way to be seen and to share your knowledge.

6. Take part in conversations online. The internet is just a big room with speech bubbles above everyone's heads – join in, start conversations, engage.

7. Learn the technology so you can master it. Don't be a slave to the tools. Use them, but don't let them use you.

8. Spend time with your team and help them see the part they play in building your company's profile online.

9. Don't ban social networks from your workplace. This is 20th century thinking and reduces the 'social capital' in your business.

10. Lead a 'movement' online, don't lead a company. Share your values and your business through contribution to others.

GOING GLOBAL

Neal Gandhi of Quickstart Global discusses the inexorable globalisation of business.

While western economies are dragging themselves out of recession, now is the time for companies of all sizes to look, think and act globally in order to grow, or even to survive. The number of countries which present business opportunities is growing daily – only helped by the technology available.

The Economist Intelligence Unit predicts that in 2010 Chinese economic growth will reach 8.5%, India 6.1%, Brazil 3.3% and Russia 2.5%. This is in contrast to the UK figure of 1.1%.

Identifying the most appropriate location is often a difficult decision and can be complicated by fast changing conditions. It is worth taking a look at a recent World Bank report on the relative ease of doing business in different countries www.doingbusiness.org/EconomyRankings

Company leaders will need to consider factors such as the ease of setting up (and dismantling) a corporate entity in a different country, taxation, the costs of labour, telecommunications, ease of employing (and dismissing) staff, communications, infrastructure, cultural affinity, and ease of transportation.

By adopting a global mindset, companies can seize wider opportunities in terms of markets and skills. The UK is uniquely placed to benefit from the opportunities available; with excellent direct international transport links, the GMT time zone, the English language and an entrepreneurial approach to business.

Pandora's Box has been opened; globalisation is here to stay. It is imperative that UK business leaders look overseas to achieve growth and success.

Quickstart Global's In-House Anywhere" service helps companies to establish direct offices and employees around the world. It provides organisations with access to recruitment facilities, office space, infrastructure and HR services. The idea is to help businesses expand their in-house capabilities without the risk, complexity and investment conventionally involved with operations overseas.

USING TECHNOLOGY TO TACKLE SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Stephen Clarke, managing director of award-winning telecommunications firm Truancy Call, reveals his secrets for business growth and innovation.

Inspired by an article about two children who went missing on their way to school, I spotted a market niche for technology to safeguard children by contacting parents of truants on their first-day of absence. My business was founded in 2000, although the core technology has since been adapted to address additional issues such as bullying and term-time absence.

It works by allowing two-way communication between public sector organisations and parents or guardians through automated calls, texts and emails. These are social problems that affect people around the world and we are also investing in new market ventures overseas.

Here are some of my top tips for growth and innovation.

  • Minimise costs by selling and installing your product over the phone. Pass those savings on to your customers.
  • Structure your team to ensure optimum productivity. For example, employ technical staff to implement remote customer training and installation so that sales staff can focus on new business.
  • Streamline your business to make it more robust. One way would be to outsource telesales so that you can vary the use of these services, as demand requires.
  • Offer and deliver excellent after-sales support. Ask existing customers for feedback and make courtesy calls every few months.
  • Focus on your strengths and most profitable products.

GETTING PROFITS OUT OF YOUR BUSINESS

Business owners will be looking closely at tax-efficient ways of extracting cash in the light of the new 50% tax rate from next year. Martin Courtney examines the options.

Let's take a look at the four main ways of extracting cash from owner-managed companies – salaries/bonuses; dividends; pension contributions; and EFRBS – although there are others such as company payments for use of assets and other benefits in kind.

In all cases it is important to make careful calculations as the position will vary depending on shareholding arrangements and the company's marginal tax rates.

Salaries/bonuses

The net amount received by an individual from extracting £100 of profit by way of salary or bonus taxed at 40% is £52 and, post-April 2010, at 50% this will be £43. The key planning point is that it is clearly beneficial to pay bonuses before 5 April 2010.

Dividends

Similarly (assuming a corporation tax rate of 28%), the net amount received by a top rate taxpayer extracting £100 of profit by way of dividend, currently taxed at 32.5%, is £54. Post-April 2010 this dividend will be taxed at 42.5%, and the amount received by the individual will be £46. In both cases this is marginally better than a bonus. Again, it is clearly beneficial to pay dividends before 5 April 2010.

For smaller companies paying tax at 21%, the net cash from a dividend per £100 of profit rises to £59 and will be £50 post- 5 April 2010. So dividends become much more attractive than salaries and bonuses, and pre-5 April 2010 dividends look particularly beneficial.

Pension contributions

Pensions continue to be a tax-efficient form of cash extraction. However, the Chancellor announced in the 2009 Budget that with effect from 6 April 2011, tax relief will be restricted for individuals whose taxable income exceeds £150,000 and he immediately introduced antiforestalling rules that could impose a tax charge on pension contributions paid by such individuals in the current tax year 2009/10 and in 2010/11. Consequently this whole area has once again become very complicated and expert advice should be sought on how the tax changes impact on existing and proposed arrangements. Pension contributions will continue to be tax deductible for the company and the pension funds themselves will accumulate tax-free until they are paid out, either in the form of a tax-free lump sum (capped at 25%) or as a pension subject to income tax rules.

EFRBS

An Employer-Financed Retirement Benefits Scheme (EFRBS) is essentially an unregistered pension scheme. Although its purpose is to provide retirement benefits to employees, it will also help in respect of the new 50% tax rate and new pension capping rules. Short-term access to cash by way of loans is also a possibility. EFRBS can be particularly attractive to non-UK domiciled individuals and those seeking to mitigate the impact of the £30,000 remittance basis charge. A corporation tax deduction is deferred until pension or earnings are drawn down.

CVAs – A REAL ALTERNATIVE?

James Money discusses CVAs as an alternative to formal insolvency.

A company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is a formal process which allows a company to agree a compromise with its creditors without having to go through a formal insolvency procedure. For businesses that rely heavily on brand name, avoiding processes such as administration can be of huge benefit.

Under a CVA, a suggested compromise is put to creditors and usually includes proposals for new funding and changes to the business model, but could also include a requirement to reduce debts to a fraction of the total. If at least 75% of creditors (by value) vote in favour, then the compromise will be binding on all creditors.

This can often lead to a better outcome than might be achieved through insolvency and then sale by an administrator or receiver. It means that a company can be saved from collapse and jobs preserved, and may allow it to retrench, shed unprofitable areas and focus on its core business for the benefit of all stakeholders. Lenders may also feel encouraged to support the 'new' company.

Make it fair

Compromise proposals do not have to treat creditors equally. In the retail sector, CVAs have been criticised by landlords who feel they are the main victim in restructurings. For example, a retailer may propose paying suppliers 80% of the amounts owed, but ask landlords to write off a much higher proportion of sums due.

The key to a successful CVA will always be the presentation of reasonable and realistic proposals by the debtor company. Management needs to demonstrate that a viable business will emerge after the restructuring and that it offers a better alternative than insolvency. Honesty and openness from the outset are fundamental requirements for a successful outcome.

A difficulty with CVAs is maintaining a 'standstill' while the proposals are being considered. The law currently requires a 28-day moratorium for small companies (turnover less than £6.5m, net assets less than £3.26m and 50 employees or less) while the proposals are being considered by creditors. Such a moratorium is currently unavailable to larger companies unless they place themselves into administration first. This is both expensive and is often terminal due to the perception of the term 'administration' by most stakeholders.

The Government has proposed that all UK companies should be granted a moratorium while proposals are being considered. Steps would need to be taken to ensure that the position of creditors is not abused by inappropriate use of the moratorium period, but hopefully opportunities to restructure will become available to more companies outside of formal insolvency proceedings.

US model under consideration

The UK Government is also considering introducing an equivalent to US debtorin- possession funding, commonly used in their Chapter 11 proceedings. This allows lenders a 'super priority' security if they lend to the company while it restructures, allowing access to funds which UK lenders are often unwilling or unable to provide because of the claims of existing creditors over assets.

These proposals, which mean that the debtor retains control, will face significant challenges. There is very limited evidence suggesting that the debtor-led restructurings in the US are more beneficial for stakeholders than our creditor-led processes. However, anything which encourages and facilitates consensual restructurings outside insolvency must be encouraged.

AIM – BIGGER, BETTER...?

John Cowie looks at what the future may hold for Aim.

Lots of people have been talking about the green shoots starting to emerge in the economy. Some are even saying – boldly, let's hope not rashly – that the worst is behind us. If the Aim index and the value of Aim secondary fundraisings are anything to go by, however, there may be some merit in what we are being told.

What is clear is that the Aim of the future is going to be fundamentally different from the Aim of the past. Gone are the days of small start-ups seeking a quick admission to Aim raising a few hundred thousand pounds. This is just not the sort of investment the institutions are looking for these days. In the last nine months, we have seen the Aim index up by a staggering 64% (that means it has risen a third faster than the FTSE over this period) and the average company on Aim is now worth £38m.

Many of the smaller companies on Aim (those worth less than £5m) have delisted in the last 12 months and the majority of those have been UK-based. While this is clearly a factor in pushing up average company values, it has also improved Aim's worldwide footprint. Aim now boasts, by number of companies, a 40% overseas membership.

So, while average values continue to grow, geographical spread widens and sentiment improves, we may, indeed, be seeing some green shoots.

One thing should be beyond doubt: with Xavier Rolet, the London Stock Exchange's new chief executive, standing firmly behind it, Aim's future is assured.

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.

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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.