What security will be required for CBILS?
At the discretion of the lender, the Scheme may be used for unsecured lending for facilities of £250,000 and under.
Lenders were required to demonstrate lending additionality (i.e. lending that without the Scheme, wouldn’t have otherwise taken place). The Scheme has been extended to those businesses who would have previously met requirements for a commercial facility and would not have been eligible for CBILS. As a result it is suggested that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating.
Primary Residential Property cannot be taken as Security under the Scheme. If the lender can offer finance on normal commercial terms without the need to make use of the Scheme, they will do so.
Failure to comply with the collective inform and consult obligations could impact on the fairness of any dismissals – see next question. In addition, a Tribunal can award a protective award of up to 90 days gross pay for each affected employee. The purpose is intended punish the employer for not complying with the obligations, not to compensate the employee for their individual financial loss.
Some of these can be implemented by you, some need agreement or consultation and some depend on the wording of contracts. We’ll explain more in relation to each option.
If a contract contains a force majeure clause this may become operative due to the coronavirus pandemic and related emergency legislation. Such clauses exist to ensure that if some unforeseen event prevents a party from being able to perform their obligations under a contract, either on time or at all, they will be excused from their obligations and not be held liable for non-performance.
The clause must actually be written into the contract to have effect – a force majeure clause cannot be implied into a contract. Whether it can be relied on by a party will depend on the wording of the clause itself as it may only be applicable in certain limited circumstances.
You should seek legal advice at an early stage if you think that force majeure is relevant, because a number of potentially complex issues must be addressed, many of which will turn upon the exact wording of the force majeure clause in the contract in question:
- Has a force majeure event actually arisen?
- What notification process do you have to follow to rely on the provision?
- What mitigation steps do you have to take?
- What is the effect of the force majeure event – is the contract suspended, or can it be terminated (which might not be what you want)?
A claim for indirect discrimination is the most likely risk here. The first point to make is that the decision to review duties is being made based on the growing amount of medical evidence that the BAME community is being disproportionately adversely affected by the COVID 19 pandemic compared to other ethnic groups. The key is to ensure that blanket policy decisions are not taken, nor should assumptions be made about the risk to each individual concerned. Decisions should only be made on an individual basis with an open dialogue with the individual concerned. You as their employer, need to ensure that the individual feels listened to and heard; that this is not just a tick box exercise.
Consider having a working group which has an overview of the policy decisions being made. That working group should contain representatives from across the staff groups including staff side, but importantly, representatives from different ethnic backgrounds to ensure the important voices are heard. Accountability should be built into that group. This group should also be a safe environment for staff to raise concerns about their health and safety and safe systems at work.
Overall it is our experience that the Courts are quickly adapting in the context of the Coronavirus epidemic and making pragmatic decisions. The Judges seem live to the difficulties currently been faced by practitioners dealing with litigation and they are applying the new guidance.
The Courts are also mindful of pressures on NHS frontline staff and are taking steps not to put additional pressures on them at this time, including in our experience vacating an imminent Trial.