Positive news for the UK food industry

I have just read the recent Food Sector report prepared by Lloyds Bank which, as a member of Freeths food sector group makes for positive reading.  Whilst not without challenges, the sector (being one of the largest of the UK manufacturing industries) is growing and will make a significant contribution to improving the UK manufacturing industry and the economy as a whole.

Food 2 apples, conveyor belt

The majority of food businesses who participated predict job creation and growth in the coming years.  Largely, it seems, through overseas trade but also through product innovation.

There are challenges such as the sustainability and cost of supply and also regulatory issues.  However, those appear to be being met head on by the likes of the Efra (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) committee report on food security which proposes diversity in produce and policy reform and also the UK Food and Drink International Action Plan produced jointly by UKTI and Defra which sets out proposals to lift trade barriers and unlock new markets.

The UK government is also promoting the EU Protected Food Name Scheme in order to protect the authenticity and origin (and therefore the value) in foods which are in demand overseas.  Examples of in the North West are Traditional Cumberland Sausage, Beacon Fell Lancashire Cheese and Lakeland Herdwick Sheep.

A link to the Lloyds report can be found here


Look out for more articles and blog posts from our food sector group in the coming months and please get in touch if you have any queries.




A Purist’s View of the AstraZeneca Board

Some people, including the AstraZeneca shareholders, may be wondering why the Board effectively prevented the shareholders from taking Pfizer’s offer that would produce £55 a share. I bet a number of the shareholders are thinking that the gain they would have made on the sale of their shares is something that they should have had an opportunity to decide for themselves. This segues rather sweetly into one of my specialist subjects; ‘directors’ duties. The one we are looking at here is the duty to act in the best interests of the company as a whole. This is a concept that has troubled directors and lawyers over the years. Why is it not in the best interests of shareholders as a whole to accept an offer to purchase their shares at what may well be a significant profit?

There has been quite a lot of discussion in the press about the pressure on the AstraZeneca Board to enhance shareholder value over the next couple of years and whether they would be able to achieve a value in excess of the £55 per share that was back heeled. That is the point. If the directors believe that by continuing to trade without being taken over the long-term business results of the company will leave the shareholders better off then it is their obligation to reject the offer. So the message is long-term enhancement knocks short-term gain into the long grass. There have been a couple of cases that make first that point.

I suppose the other side of that coin is, if the directors had allowed the offer to go forward, some of the shareholders may have complained that the deal was not good enough and brought an action for breach of duty. That would have been a fun action to avoid.

Anyone with any queries about obligations as a director, either their own or their board’s, is very welcome to contact me at:


0845 634 1739

Christine Oxenburgh H&S small

From Dragons Den to Parking Entrepreneur

Harrison Woods is a Director and investor in http://www.yourparkingspace.co.uk/. He was previously a Director and owner of Primal Parking Limited which he sold on the day he graduated from Manchester University with a degree in geography. He established Primal Parking after an offer of investment on the BBC’s “Dragon’s Den” programme by Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis.

your parking 2

Here, Harrison talks with Alan Lewis, Partner in our Manchester office employment team.

Alan: “ What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?”  

Harrison: “I never thought that I was an entrepreneur in my early days. I just found business exciting and I engaged in it. The term ‘entrepreneur ‘ was something I learned when I was already entrenched in business.”

Alan: “Do you have a favourite success quote and can you give an example of how you have been inspired by that mantra?”

Harrison: “ My favourite quote is by Arnold Schwarzenegger: ‘Break the rules, not the law. It is impossible to be a true maverick or a true original if you are too well behaved and not wanting to break the rules.’ An example of how that has inspired me is the way I persist in getting through to CEOs when their PA simply won’t put me through. I know it may sound a bit odd, but I have even gone so far as stalking CEOs to coffee shops to meet them. I am now good friends with many of them.”

Alan: “Describe a failure you have had and what you learned from it.”

Harrison: “I believe that failures are our greatest success. I had a failure when I applied for a number of corporate positions at top four accountancy practices. I was rejected by all of them. It is probably the best decision that was made for me, because it has driven me to make myself a success. We even work with some of those practices now.

Alan: “ Do you have a favourite internet resource, like an Evernote?

Harrison: “Yes, I like Podio a lot. It is a CRM management software and you can create your own apps on it.”

Alan:”Describe a time when you had a light bulb or ‘aha’ moment.”

Harrison: “When I was 12 years old I was selling golf products. I was undercutting the golf pro shop on every golf product they sold. I did this just by buying from an online site that everyone could use. The golf pro asked me to stop. He ended up paying me for information about where I was getting my supplies. I learned a lot from that. I realised that nothing has to be unique to be successful. You just need to find a different and better way to supply it.”

Alan: “What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?”

Harrison: “Don’t follow the crowds. The CEO of Cammell Laird, John Syvret told me that when I was in a difficult patch after following the wrong people and acquiring bad habits. He told me to stick with what I believe in and be relentless.your parking

Alan: “What is the next big thing for you?”

Harrison: “Delivering on all the hard work I have done for several years to produce a value added service for the UK. I just happen to have found myself in the parking industry. I want to create a win-win situation.”

 Alan Lewis

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If you have any queries regarding this post please do not hesitate to contact me at alan.lewis@freethcartwright.co.uk

Fairness, justice and how to pay for it

On 26 March I went to a debate organised by Michael Taylor of Downtown in Business, Discuss and Think More that was designed to make us… well…think more about “The Press has Broken our Trust and No Longer Deserves to Go Unchecked”. For the motion were Chris Elliott, Readers editor, The Guardian and Tom Rowland, Hacked Off campaigner and former Telegraph journalist. Defending the freedom of the press were Bob Satchwell of the Society of Editors and Nick McAleenan a Manchester solicitor.

Debate Press

Not being one for great suspense, I’ll tell you how it went now. The “No” vote was carried by 2 votes so pretty close then.

What troubled me about the arguments against was that Nick turned up with a 500 page text book on media law that shows that we have a lot of checking of the press right now. Bob said he would like to bin a lot of it but no one seriously argued that we should have a complete free for all. So how can anyone argue that the press should be completely unchecked when it already is checked?

While we were discussing how the press can be restrained now by criminal prosecution and civil claims through the courts, inevitably the Millie Dowler case came up in the context of existing press restraint. Her family have often said that if it were not for a conditional fee agreement (“no win no fee arrangement”) with their lawyers they could not have fought their case. Tom threw in the remark that those fee agreements were gone now.

They are not. This firm still offers conditional fee agreements to both corporate and individual clients (no fee or low fee if you do not win, depending on the chance of success, convenience to both us and our clients and the mathematics). The difference now is that the client pays the success fee. Obviously, the value of the claim has a bearing on whether we or our client want to do it. It is pretty pointless if all the damages go in success fees. That is not what we are here for. At Freeth Cartwright we want our clients to come out of any dispute in a much better position than they were when they came to us.

When the rules changed and success fees and insurance premiums for after the event cover could not longer be claimed from a losing opponent, insurers became more creative too. We can get funding for cases with relatively low values. This means that in exchange of footing our client’s bill as the case goes on and paying the other side’s costs in the event we lose (not likely if we have advised that a client goes ahead) the insurer takes a percentage of the damages. Again, we have to do the maths to see if it is worthwhile for our client.

The debate was well attended and loads of people were clamouring for their say so rather uncharacteristically I kept my trap shut then about the fee arrangements we can offer. So I am putting the score straight now.

And thanks Michael, it was a great debate. I am looking forward to the next one.

Finally, which way did I vote, did I hear you ask? Secret ballot but I may tell you if you call me.

Best Legal Firm

Our Manchester office was thrilled to win the City of Manchester Business Awards Best Law firm 2014. We picked up our trophy at the Downtown Manchester in Business dinner at Manchester Cathedral on 20 March. First of all, thank you to everyone who voted for us. We would not have won without you.

Ian getting award

This is what we said to convince the Judges, to whom we also offer our thanks.

Why Freeth Cartwright should win

Freethinking. Our brand and what we do.

We are lawyers who do not behave like lawyers. We get to know our clients put ourselves in their shoes and work out what they would want. Then we agree a goal, a price and a strategy and give it to them. We give quick and decisive advice not a range of options.

Big picture

We are 66 in the top 100; a National firm with a commitment to Manchester and the business community.

Taking part in discussions and debates to promote and improve the City

  • Supporting and working in Manchester charities
  • Banging the Manchester drum
  • Looking after Manchester businesses
  • Recruiting local staff.
  • Looking after the local business community from our Manchester base
  • From this office we also serve nationally known organisations
  • Not using legalese
  • Putting money into Manchester by having great team outings.

Ian Alan Paul and Christine

Clients not us

We are all about our clients, their needs and wants. We do not waste time or money. We give clear and decisive advice for a good clean result. The client’s bottom line is the driver.

Clients are particularly impressed by the Firm’s value for money.  One told us how “they are working with us to reduce our legal spend, which I find pretty unique for a law firm”” Chambers UK

Helen and Emma

Being passionate

We care about the result. We are in to win in a deal or a dispute. Our entrepreneurial and commercial approach means that it is the client not the lawyer who is the story.

We fight for the right result for our clients with pragmatism and passion which gets the job done better and earns respect from all sides.

Seriously modern

Our IT is award winning, bespoke, seriously 21st Century and designed to reduce the cost to clients and maximise efficiency and service levels.

Having fun

Law is about more than the job. It is for human beings. People like the people here; as their lawyer, their opponent and their customer. Our job it to support our client to the end of the project while making the passage as easy as possible so they can get on with their day jobs.

And we muck in.

Good place to work

Our attrition is low but our retention is high. People who leave us come back. We have great camaraderie that flows through to our dealings with people outside the firm.

Summat for nowt

Not everything we do is for money. Making introductions and leads for others create opportunities for them to get a platform for what they want to do is second nature. There is nothing it in for us but a great satisfaction if it works.

And it has worked

10 years of growth from a mere 3 to a staff of 40. Every time we take a new lease, we trade up.



To double our team and turnover in the next 2 years by adding new departments such as IP/IT and increasing existing ones.


10 of the Best Internet Resources to Help You Work More Efficiently

Computer, tablet, mobile, it, technologyI am a keen follower of the daily podcast Entrepreneur On Fire, where John Lee Dumas interviews a different entrepreneur every day.

It is a minefield of business gems.  The entrepreneurs share their success quotes, failures, how they bounced back from failures, their light bulb or “Ah ha” moments, favourite internet resource and favourite book.

The fact that this podcast even exists is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit.  Dumas was told by many so-called experts that there was no way he would succeed in producing a 30 minute interview with a different entrepreneur each and every day.  He simply wouldn’t keep up the pace to make it a worthy enterprise.  Or so they said.

Wind forward 507 days.  Yes, at the time of writing this post, Dumas has published episode #507 of his daily series. His income is growing month on month. In February 2014 it was more than $166,000.  How do I know that?

Each month Dumas publishes a special podcast where he shares his income and expenditure with the world.  Entrepreneur on Fire now has more than 450,000 daily downloads and is growing.  Dumas regularly speaks at major business conferences for huge fees as a result of his success.

I thought I’d share with you just 10 of what I feel are the best internet resources recommended by Dumas’ guests.  Here they are:

  1. Workflowy – an organisational tool to help to take notes, make lists, collaborate, brainstorm, and plan.
  2. Asana – teamwork without email.
  3. Prismatic – find relevant content on items that interest you.
  4. TeamworkPM – organise your team to reduce unnecessary meetings and get things done.
  5. Haiku Deck – for presentations that inspire.
  6. Skitch – get your point across using annotation, shapes and sketches.
  7. FancyHands – to do all those things you don’t have time to do.
  8. Evernote – remember everything.
  9. TimeDoctor –time tracking software to simplify management.
  10. Readability – turns any web page into a clean view for reading now or later on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.

 Alan Lewis, Employment Partner

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If you have any queries regarding this post please do not hesitate to contact me at alan.lewis@freethcartwright.co.uk

Freeths new partnership with the ICM

ICM_CP_RGBI am pleased to announce that Freeth Cartwright has been appointed as the corporate legal partner to the Institute of Credit Management after working with the ICM for the last two years providing legal training to its members.

As part of the partnership we will be running a free legal helpline to all members which provides 30 minutes free telephone advice on any legal issues faced in the course of their business.  This covers not just advice on debt and asset recovery but on anything from property matters, contracts, intellectual property and employment issues.

Members can access the helpline by calling 0845 077 9698 or completing the contact form on the ICM website.

In addition we will be taking part in the ICM masterclasses across the country, hosting the annual legal conference in November and will have a regular column “Legal Matters” in the monthly CM magazine.

For further information please contact me

Emma Emery H&S small - use this versionEmma Emery

Senior Associate