Posts

Contract renegotiation methods during COVID-19 pandemic

Since the coronavirus outbreak turned into a pandemic with global impacts, many companies turned their attention to the economic changes caused by several measures to contain the virus spread. In this regard, travel bans and orders for citizens to be quarantined, e.g., could affect great part of the obligations assumed in the contracts those companies are party to.

Several disruptions may still impair and cause breach of contract if the party (or parties) affected by the pandemic does not have a legal reason to refuse to perform its obligations, such as pay the price or deliver the goods in the date fixed by the contract. It can occur in many types of contracts, although it is commonly related to the ones whose subject is the sale of goods.

The internationally known principle of “pacta sunt servanda” admits some exceptionalities that allows a party to release itself from perform its obligation without being carried in liability. The force majeure clause is a great example of legal reason settled in a contract when it becomes difficult, onerous or even impossible to be performed by a party. Many discussions about considering COVID-19 pandemic as a force majeure event arises in both common law and civil law countries according to the examination of each contract’s content.

Pursuant to article 79 of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention), a party may not be liable if its failure was due to an event out of its control. The same convention enforces in article 59 that the buyer “must pay the price on the date fixed by or determinable from the contract”. Regardless whether the contract may contain possibilities for finding a solution when the payment (or the obligation discharge) cannot occur in the fixed date, serious disagreements can be triggered.

Nevertheless, this scenario can be even worst if the business negotiation becomes a litigation, or even arbitration, issue. Besides expending money and time, the parties may miss the chance to set the best alternatives for their interests due to an event, again, out of their control. That is why recalling mediation as dispute resolution method in such case of unpredictable circumstances is important. By preserving either relationship or business from unnecessary discussion, the parties are free to set their strategic choice for preserving contract as well.

Thus, the Singapore Convention on Mediation enhances the paramount benefits of mediation to resolve commercial disputes. Such convention itself describes mediation as way to “reach an amicable settlement of their dispute with the assistance of a third person or persons (“the mediator”) lacking the authority to impose a solution […]”. And maybe that is the great advantage of using business mediation: the parties can solve the issue together, by setting an amicable deal. The imposition of a solution without the participation of the parties could affect not just the current negotiation, but the future ones too.

The focus needs to be in solutions based on the preservation of both negotiation and relationship behind this while situations such as COVID-19 pandemic occurs. Hence, it is time to mediate, not to disagree.

How to write a press release for your small business

The press release has been a mainstay of public relations since its inception decades ago.

And while it may seem a bit old-school to some, there’s a reason press releases have stood the test of time — they’re effective and produce results.

From generating media coverage to positioning yourself as a thought leaders in your industry, and ultimately help your business succeed and grow — there are a number of reasons why business owners need to learn how to write and distribute a press release.

Today, I’ll focus on part one of that process: how to write a press release.

If you’re trying to decide whether or not something warrants a press release, all you need to do is answer one question: Is it newsworthy?

For something to be newsworthy, it must be something that audiences outside of your internal organisation will care about; something that has significance to a reporter and their readers, viewers, or listeners, or to other external stakeholders (potential investors, etc).

Here are a few factors to consider when determining if something is newsworthy:

Impact: Who will this information affect? The broader and larger the impact, the more people will be interested.

Timeliness: Why does this information matter now? Does your news relate to or tie back to a significant “moment in time” or event of some sort?

Proximity: As a small business, this one should be easy to understand — proximity matters. For many small businesses or nonprofits, your news will likely matter more to local publications than to national ones, or publications that focus on other regions.

Name recognition: Clout that comes with big recognisable names (well know people, organisations, companies, etc) will likely increase the interest in your news. If you’re partnering with, or involved with a big name that might generate this type of attention, consider issuing a press release.

Now that you know when to write a press release, let’s take a look at how you actually do it.

Here, I’ve outline the four major components of an effective press release:

1. The headline

The headline should be attention grabbing and encourage the reader to want to know more, while also being explanatory. This isn’t the time to use vague language.

Formatting tip: Make sure the headline is written in bold and the subhead is italicised.

2. The body

The body of your press release should stay as concise as possible, while making sure to get all of the important information across in an engaging manner. Reporters that read your release aren’t likely going to have the time to read page after page trying to understand the news.

There aren’t really a prescriptive number of pages or word count. It can vary depending upon the information the release is covering. The key is to keep it concise and not overly verbose, but at the same time make sure that you have all the relevant info included. So, the length can really vary depending upon the announcement.

Here are other things to keep in mind when pulling together the body of any press release:

The dateline: Begin with a dateline of the city in which the press release originated and the date it was issued. This is especially important for small businesses that are distributing their press release to the local media.

Keep it factual: Your press release should focus on answering the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why.

Factual doesn’t have to mean dry: While your press release should be as concise as possible and stick to the facts, it doesn’t have to be as dry as say, a research paper. Keep the language engaging.

Avoid lazy mistakes: Typos and poor grammar in press releases make your business look unprofessional, and will likely turn off reporters.

The quote: Most press release include a quote by the most relevant spokesperson for the topic of the release. The quote provides space to add some color commentary (going a bit beyond the factual basis of the rest of the release) and can also be pulled directly from the release by journalists to use in articles.

3. The boilerplate

This is the about us section where you provide background on your organisation. It should be included following the body of every press release. The language used here can be the same in every release. Don’t forget to link to your company homepage to drive readers back and provide more information.

4. Contact Info

A reporter reads your press release and is interested in getting more information — great! But how will they know where to go?

Be sure to include relevant contact info for any inquiries that may arise from your press release.

This information should be listed at the very end of the release.

It doesn’t begin and end with creating the press release.

Keep in mind that while a well crafted press release is the foundation of a great public relations campaign, your efforts should not begin and end with the creation of the release.

Press releases work when you get their information in the right hands (reporters, other stakeholders) that will further extend the reach of your news, ultimately resulting in measurable business success.

Stay tuned for part two, where I’ll explain how to distribute and get results from your press release.

Why haven’t more firms embraced advisory services?

The revenue opportunity in advisory work is huge, and it’s more sustainable as a business. But the number of firms that have successfully achieved this holy grail is still very small: Arguably, only 5 to 15 percent have even come close).

One of the major problems is that ‘advisory’ is an extremely poorly defined concept. What it actually means in practice varies hugely depending on who is offering it and who is receiving it. And if you don’t know what it’s going to look like in the end, how do you even start trying to deliver it?

The good news is that it’s actually pretty simple, and most accountants already have the necessary skills and knowledge. It is, however, a question of mindset. This interview between Andy North and Peter Hickey, Founder and President of MAUS, offers some brilliantly simple words of advice.

Being an “advisor” is more about the questions you ask than the answers you provide. “Think of yourself as a sports coach,” says Peter. The goals you’re trying to achieve should be set by your client – and your objective is to help them break them down and hold them accountable.

And what tips does Peter have for the accountant struggling to make sense of all this? “Start with succession planning.” The conversations you can have with a client as they start to consider their exit from their business can create clear opportunities for you to help.

Ten Clifford Law Offices Lawyers Named to 2020 Best Lawyers® list

Ten Clifford Law Offices lawyers have been included in the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.

Lawyers on The Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise.

Several of the recognised attorneys at Clifford Law Offices have been listed in Best Lawyers for years. Robert A. Clifford has been listed as a Best Lawyer for over 25 years.

The following lawyers were named to the 2020 The Best Lawyers in America list:

  1. Richard F. Burke, Jr. (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2015)
  2. Robert A. Clifford (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 1993)
  3. Bradley M. Cosgrove (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2019)
  4. Sean P. Driscoll (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2018)
  5. Kevin P. Durkin (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2011)
  6. Keith A. Hebeisen (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2011)
  7. Shannon M. McNulty (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2015)
  8. James C. Pullos (First year recognised in Best Lawyers)
  9. Henry Simmons (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2019)
  10. Robert P. Walsh (Recognised in Best Lawyers since 2018)

“Best Lawyers was founded in 1981 with the purpose of highlighting the extraordinary accomplishments of those in the legal profession. After three decades, we are proud to continue to serve as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals worldwide,” says CEO Phillip Greer.

About Clifford Law Offices

Clifford Law Offices is ranked as one of the top law firms in Illinois and the country. They are recognised leaders in aviation litigation, complex personal injury, wrongful death cases, medical malpractice, products liability, premises liability and transportation litigation. Clifford Law Offices also has a reputation in class action litigation, whistleblower cases and commercial litigation cases.

IT PHOTO

Winners from prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise announced

Her Majesty The Queen has named 201 businesses as among the best in the country in the prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise to celebrate Her Majesty’s 93rd birthday.

The winners include businesses leading the way in a huge range of industries – from construction, agriculture, motoring and software development. This year, three quarters of the total are SMEs, 30 of which have fewer than 10 employees. They will join more than 6,000 British businesses in receiving the prestigious honour and will have the privilege of displaying the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise emblem for 5 years.

The Awards, now in its 53rd year, are the most prestigious awards for UK businesses, with companies from across the UK recognised for their contribution in the 4 categories.

There are:

  • 129 International Trade winners
  • 61 Innovation winners
  • 6 Sustainable Development winners
  • 5 Promoting Opportunity winners

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

These prestigious awards help shine a light on all that is great about UK business today. I am extremely impressed to see such a wealth of talent and innovation from across the UK being recognised today by Her Majesty The Queen.

These awards recognise the innovative products and services being provided by British businesses that are in demand across the world, as well as the sheer determination and hard work that comes with starting and running a business.

Many of these winners are small businesses – the backbone of our economy – and we are backing them to grow, increase their productivity and create more jobs and opportunity across the UK through our modern Industrial Strategy.

Antonia Romeo, Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Trade, said:

The winners of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are brilliant examples of what can be achieved by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by exporting and the full range of support available. It was very good to chair the very competitive international trade panel, and select highly successful trading firms to benefit from the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in international trade.

I strongly encourage UK companies to take advantage of the Department for International Trade’s full range of services and support for exporting.

Among the double-award wining businesses recognised for outstanding achievements in both International Trade and Innovation categories are:

  • DriveWorks Ltd, a software developer
  • Ideal Boilers Ltd, a leading boiler manufacturer
  • Niftylift Ltd, one of the largest manufacturers of ‘cherry pickers’
  • driving simulation software company rFpro
  • tool manufacturer Snap-on UK Holdings
  • innovative technology company Markes International Limited
  • Niftylift Ltd is the only company to get the double award twice, having won awards for International trade and Innovation in 2013.

Roger Bowden, Niftylift’s chairman and founder said:

We are honoured to be recognised for not one, but two prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in 2019. These awards help to illustrate how our dedication to design and innovation, together with our attention to detail and strong customer focus, have allowed us to compete so successfully in this global marketplace.

I am very proud of the strong and close-knit team we have here at Niftylift and I’d like to thank them all for their professionalism and commitment to ensuring our worldwide reputation and success over the years.

Shaun Edwards, CEO of Ideal Boilers, which won awards for International Trade and Innovation said:

It is an honour and a privilege to receive these awards, which reflect our continued commitment to innovation and international relations. This high recognition emphasises and reflects the hard work and determination of all our employees whose core values of excellence, integrity and an entrepreneurial spirit will continue to drive our business further towards greater achievements.

Tim Hawkins, managing director of Markes International Ltd, which won in International Trade and Innovation said:

It is a great honour to be recognised by Her Majesty The Queen for our excellence in Innovation and, for the second time, International Trade. We take great pride in introducing new technologies to our field of analytical chemistry, and alongside our valued trading partners, have been successful in supporting customers around the world and enhancing scientific progress.

Chris Hoyle, technical director at rFpro, which also won in International Trade and Innovation said:

We are delighted that the hard work of everybody at rFpro has been acknowledged by the Queen’s Awards judging panel and we are so proud to be one of just a few companies to achieve a double award. Our contribution to making the world’s road networks safer is reward enough, but it is fantastic to receive such prestigious recognition.

Applications for the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise 2020 open on 1 May 2019 and close on 10 September 2019. They are free to enter, and it is a self-nominating process. Applicants may apply for more than one award and entries are welcomed from all sectors. For more information and to apply, visit https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise