We’re almost at the one-year countdown to the day when the UK leaves the EU. With March 29th 2017 the day when Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK now has a schedule to exit from the economic and political partnership come March 29th 2019.
There’s still so much to be arranged between now and Brexit officially occurring, not least the numerous EU Directives and Regulations which currently relate to personal injury claims. These are directives and regulations which lawyers throughout the UK seek out when they assist clients, but could all be subject to change in the months ahead — as the Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm, a medical negligence claims specialist, explores in this guide:
What are EU Directives & EU Regulations?
Let’s begin this guide by setting out what is clearly meant by EU Directives and EU Regulations.
EU Directives stand for any legal acts which are provided for within the EU Treaty. Once in place, all Member States of the EU are obliged to transpose them into national law, and are provided with a set deadline to do so. When it comes to the UK, EU directives have been turned into laws using Statutory Instruments — a process which means the government isn’t required to create a new piece of law and get it passed through parliament every time a new legal act is created.
The more specific aspects of EU Directives are known as EU Regulations. These are filled with the minimum requirements and fundamental principles that EU Member States must abide to once the legal acts are in place.
3 examples where EU Directives & EU Regulations apply to personal injury claims
When personal injury claims are made throughout the UK, these are three key instances of where EU Directives and EU Regulations may come into play at the moment:
The Consumer Protection Act 1987
Product safety is covered within the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and its associated regulations. It therefore provides consumers with protection whenever they buy goods and services in the UK. However, this act was passed as a result of an EU Directive from 1985, which saw strict liability being put against any producers of defective products.
The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act
The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act came about from the actions set out in the European Framework Directive on Safety and Health at Work. This is because this specific EU Directive has long guaranteed the minimum safety and health requirements which businesses across Europe must have in place to protect both workers and visitors on a site or workplace.
Helping those who have accidents abroad
When someone from the UK suffers an accident while they are abroad, there are also EU Directives and EU Regulations to assist them when making a claim. For instance, there is law in place through the European “Sixth Directive” 2009 which assists those who have had an accident in a EU Member State which was caused by an uninsured driver. In such a scenario, the party from the UK can bring a claim and request for compensation through the UK’s Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). This then sets in motion a process where the MIB will seek for reimbursement from the equivalent bureau that is set up in the EU Member State where the accident happened.
It’s important to mention the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) scheme here as well. This initiative currently gives those from the UK the right to access state-provided healthcare whenever they are temporarily situated in another European Economic Area. Some 27 million Ehic cards have been issued across Britain to date and proves helpful in times when someone in the UK has an accident in a EU Member State, regardless of the extent of their travel insurance cover.
Will Brexit alter the personal injury claims landscape drastically?
What must first be noted when answering this question is that ahead of Brexit, the UK government has to pass new laws before any old European laws which have worked to form part of the country’s own law can be revoked. Until any such motion is made, nothing will change as old European laws will not instantly cease to be relevant just because the UK is no longer a part of the EU.
A deal in principle has already been agreed by negotiators assembled in Brussels in August 2017 and involving Brexit Secretary David Davis regarding the Ehic scheme, for instance. The agreement outlines that British pensioners who have retired in another EU Member State and then travels to other Member States for holidays can still use their Ehic card whenever they require medical attention. This move is surely a positive sign for the future of the Ehic scheme.
Unfortunately, it’s a matter of waiting to see in regards to what the results of other discussions into how Brits will be able to make personal injury claims post-Brexit will be. Likewise, lawyers will surely be keeping a keen eye on these discussions to see what they will be able to do to assist their clients when they make personal injury claims after the UK has left the EU.
Brexit Unknown Makes UK Businesses Nervous
Brexit is certainly making businesses nervous right now, and there are many reasons for that. Despite almost three years having passed since the original vote, things are no clearer as to what the impact will be on business or what kind of trading relationships the UK will have with the EU going forward. Therefore, some nervousness is to be expected.
UK Businesses Rely on EU Workers
UK businesses of all kinds and in all industries employ EU workers. The question that remains unanswered is how those working relationships will function after Brexit has properly occurred.
There are guarantees in place that workers currently residing in the UK will be able to carry on living here, but it’s not at all clear whether more EU workers will be able to move here with ease after Brexit, and most indications suggest that won’t be the case. This will certainly have a big impact on businesses in many sectors. See this article on: Solicitors talk Brexit.
All Types of Workers Are Required for the UK Economy to Function
One idea that has been floated by the UK government is the idea of an income threshold, meaning only those earning more than a certain amount of money will be allowed to live and work in the UK. This would mean that highly skilled workers would find it much easier to work in the UK than low skilled workers would.
However, the UK economy relies on both skilled and low skill labour in order to function properly. If that supply of low income workers was cut off after Brexit, more businesses would struggle.
Contingency Planning Might Not be Enough for Small Businesses
For big businesses, contingency plans are already being put in place. This is expensive and time-consuming for large companies, but it will mean that they’re able to protect themselves against the upheaval brought about by Brexit. On the other hand, small businesses don’t always have that option because they don’t have the resources to put adequate contingency plans in place. It’s those small businesses, therefore, that are likely to be hit hardest.
It’s clear that small businesses are not opening at the rate they previously were because of Brexit uncertainty too. This denies the UK economy future growth prospects as well as depriving society of potentially successful ideas and businesses.
What Can Business Do to Prepare?
In terms of what businesses should be doing now, it’s best to seek professional legal advice about the situation, what you can expect and where your business and its staff stand. You should also analyse your supply chain and think about how that could change in the future under various Brexit scenarios. It might also be a good idea to look at existing contracts with EU companies and seek clarifications regarding those.
The Brexit situation is constantly in a state of flux, so things can change very quickly in one direction or the other. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to be watching and listening so that they can work out what their next move should be in order to prepare properly and minimise risk.
If You Own A Business, You Need An Estate Plan
It’s an unfortunate fact that arguments over material possessions break out between family members when somebody dies. It’s rough when one beneficiary thinks they’re entitled to that person’s possessions and financial resources more than the others. The complexity of the situation is amplified when the deceased person owned a business.
If you’ve got a family, you have every reason to care about what will happen to your business when you die. Your business has the potential to be an investment for your children or a nest egg for your spouse. If you haven’t created an estate plan that includes your business, it’s time to create one.
Start with a will
Your will is the most basic estate planning document. It allows you to declare who will be named the executor of your business. Your business executor will be responsible for continuing the business.
Dying without a will places a huge burden on your employees, business partners, and the success of your company.
Although a will is important, it’s not everything.
Your will isn’t the principle governing document of your estate
Our USA based readers may be interested in what’s in this article titled: What Might Surprise You About Your Will, CG Trust explains that many assets don’t fall under a will or probate like real estate, life insurance, and mutual funds. When you purchase these assets, you’re asked to assign a beneficiary and sometimes a contingent beneficiary.
When you specify a beneficiary for an asset, that overrides anything stated in general terms in your will. For example, say you leave everythin’ to your aunt Suzie in your will and your children are listed as beneficiaries on your life insurance policy. Your aunt Suzie can’t touch your life insurance policy – only your listed beneficiaries can.
Identify your designated beneficiaries for all business assets. If it’s not somebody you want to inherit that asset, change your beneficiary immediately. Remember, a beneficiary on a specific asset overrides what’s in your will.
Focus on minimizing your taxes
Most people don’t realize that when a business owner passes away, the estate taxes can tank the business. Estate taxes can be more than 50% of the value of your business and must be paid within nine months of your death. Most businesses need to liquidate to pay these taxes.
Thankfully, the IRS has tax breaks in Section 303 and Section 6166 that can protect your business. Section 303 deals with using stock to pay death and funeral taxes; Section 6166 deals with Federal estate taxes.
Both sections make it easier to pay necessary taxes without breaking up your business.
Avoid probate as much as possible
Although the process is mostly clerical, probate ties up assets for months (sometimes years) and can be expensive. It’s best to plan ahead to avoid probate as much as you can.
When you create a properly structured ILIT living trust, the benefits paid from the insurance policy won’t pass through probate. The funds will be available immediately to cover estate taxes and other financial obligations.
You can also establish a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT). With this trust in place, if your assets grow over the terms of that trust, the appreciation won’t be subject to estate taxes. This allows you to pass your business assets to your kids or your spouse.
Declare power of attorney
You need to declare power of attorney to someone trustworthy to handle legal matters on behalf of the business when you pass away. This individual will be in charge of things like payroll, managing vendor payments, and financial assets.
If you don’t declare power of attorney to someone before you die, the court will appoint a guardian who may not have your company’s best interests in mind.
You also need a succession plan
A succession plan is designed to ensure your business runs as smoothly as possible; it’s a plan that chooses decision makers and creates a strategy for transferring company information to the right people. Although the details for every business will be different, Fidelity.com describes what might be included in this plan.
For example, a management succession plan might include training your successors, delegating responsibilities, and bringing in an outside advisor for their objectivity. An ownership succession plan might include defining who will own vs. manage the business, creating terms that consider your family’s best interests and timing the transfer of your business to avoid a discounted sale of your business.
Get professional guidance
Making sure your business survives and stays in good hands when you die is important. If you’re not sure where to start, contact an estate planning professional for help.
4 Things to Consider When Creating a Business Continuity Plan
One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is abiding by the “it will never happen to me” rule in regards to disasters. Each year, thousands of natural disasters occur all over the country.
Acts of nature like wildfires or floods can lead to a business closing for long periods of time. The only way to prevent problems when dealing with disastrous situations is by creating a business continuity plan.
Studies show that nearly 82 percent of the businesses in the United States do not have the IT infrastructure in place to deal with a disastrous act of nature or network outage. Instead of leaving the functionality of your business to chance, now is the time to take continuity planning seriously.
The following are some of the things you should consider when creating a business continuity plan.
1. Work on Identifying the Potential Threats You Face
Before you can create a comprehensive business continuity plan, you need to adequately identify the potential threats your business faces. Having a plan for a variety of possible disasters can help you rebound in a hurry following one of these events. Some business owners only make continuity plans to deal with things like natural disasters, but there are many more disastrous situations to consider.
For instance, figuring out what you would do to keep your business functional in the event of an employee strike or cyber-attack is essential. Once you have a list of possible disaster situations, you need to map out all of their outcomes.
If you are unsure about how to map out these outcomes, working with professionals who are experienced in continuity planning is a must. Often times, these professionals will be able to look at these situations objectively and help you figure out how to create adequate plans for each one.
2. Constructing a Recovery Team is a Must
One of the most vital parts of a successful business continuity plan is creating a recovery team. If you want to keep your own staff freed up during a disaster, hiring a third-party to perform this job is easy. Before hiring a company to fill this role, you need to assess the amount of experience they have.
Not only can a third-party act as your recovery team, they can also help you hone and refine your existing continuity plan. Allowing professionals to get a look at this plan can help you out greatly. They will be able to look at your continuity plan objectively and provide you with guidance on how to improve and strengthen it.
3. Know What is At Stake Without a Continuity Plan
Driving home the importance of a continuity plan is easy if you actually assess what you stand to lose without one. Often times, businesses without a comprehensive continuity plan will lose a lot of money in the event of a disaster.
While some of this money can be recouped via a class action lawsuit, a business may still lose lots of customers in the process. You can learn more about disaster-related lawsuits with a bit of online research.
4. Prioritizing is Vital When Creating One of These Plans
When disaster strikes, you will have to limit the number of resources your team uses. When creating a business continuity plan, it is important to figure out what technology or systems you need up and going first. Having this list of priorities in hand in the event of a disaster can help you limit the amount of downtime your team experiences.
Instead of trying to take on this complicated process alone, you need to reach out to disaster recovery professionals. With their help, you can get a plan in place in a hurry.
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