Business and Other Briefings

BERR: More than 20,000 high-street accountants and solicitors are set to receive leaflets explaining important changes to company law, which will have a big impact on their professions. The Companies Act 2006 makes sweeping changes intended to improve & simplify company law.  To ensure a smooth transition, it is being phased in over a three-year period, with the next set of measures coming into force on 6 April 2008.
Further changes are set to come in on the 1 October 2008 and the 1 October 2009.
Press release ~ Companies Act 2006 - BERR
UK-IPO: On the 31 March, UK-IPO enhanced its patent electronic filing services under the epoline(r) and web filing routes. Customers are now be able to file electronically letters, amended or replacement pages of patent specifications, abstracts, claims, translations of priority documents, sequence listings and other search reports.  They will also be able to e-file a wider range of statutory forms (AF1, F7, F9A, F10 and F52) following the filing of their patent applications.
This release also marks the end of a key programme of work which over the last two years has introduced both electronic case working to the Patents Directorate and a variety of electronic services for customers. These include the ability to file a patent application via the UK-IPO website, and requesting & receiving uncertified office copies of GB patent case files electronically.
Press release ~ UK-IPO web filing system ~ Patents - Applying for patents on-line ~ Joining - epoline® ~ New software for epoline® registrants ~ European Patent Office (EPO) ~ World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO - PCT)
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published feedback to its Discussion Paper on platforms, published in June 2007, which confirms its commitment to the current, principles-based approach to platforms.  
The FSA remains concerned about a number of potential risks it highlighted in the Discussion Paper: that platform adoption may lead to increased complexity & costs for consumers (without new – or valued – services being received in return), and create conflicts of interest for advisers, and the risk that advisers may not always have the appropriate competence to provide the level of investment advice they are offering through a platform.
As a result, the FSA will be looking at platform providers and intermediaries that use platforms to ensure that customers are being treated fairly through the existing regulatory approach.
Press release ~ Feedback Statement 08/1: 'Platforms and more principles-based regulation: Feedback on DP07/2' ~ Discussion Paper DP07/2: 'Platforms: the role of wraps and fund supermarkets' was published in June 2007 ~ Platforms factsheet
FSA: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the findings of the second stage of its Mortgage Effectiveness Review, which focused on consumer experiences in the sub-prime and lifetime mortgage sectors of the market.
This second stage focused on the more specialised sectors of sub-prime and lifetime mortgages.  While these sectors are modest in size, together accounting for less than 10% of the regulated mortgage market, they were looked at in detail because the risk of consumer detriment may be greater.
Press release ~ Report of Stage 2 ~ Qualitative consumer research.
UK-IPO: The UK Intellectual Property Office has launched a new patents journal service on its website. The new service has been developed following an internal review and external consultation exercise.  It offers users the ability to search, view or download individual or multiple sections of patents data across a range of publication weeks.  It also offers the user automatic links to the patents register and published documents.
Press release ~ Patents Journal: UK applications filed ~ Pre-April 2008 Patents and Designs Journals ~ Patent Journal Notices ~ Electronic Designs Journal
MoJ: New proposals - 'Rome I - Should the UK Opt in?' - intended to protect the interests of UK businesses operating in Europe have been published for consultation (closes 25 June 2008) by the Government. It is intended to provide clarity over which law applies if a dispute arises over a contract made between people or businesses from different countries, allowing cross border trade to continue with confidence – See ‘EU legislation, initiatives’ section for more details.
ScotGov: The reduction & removal of business rates for 150,000 small businesses in Scotland (the Small Business Bonus Scheme) came into force on 1 April 2008.  In the first year it is expected to result in savings of up to £75m - rising to the £165m when the full discounts come into force in future years.

A business with a rateable value of some £5,150, stands to save around £1,200 in 2008-09 and £1,650 in 2009-10 compared with the former Small Business Rate Relief Scheme.
Press release ~ Small Business Bonus Scheme
HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 20/08
This brief gives details of an article: Extension of non-statutory clearances service for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) business customers.
HMRCRevenue & Customs Brief 19/08
This brief gives details of an article: New penalties for errors in returns and documents.
Keeping benefit and business grant payments flowing