Fact Sheet: Covid-19 – Should commercial tenants still pay the rent?

Yes they should, where possible, but less than 30% of commercial property rent was received by landlords for the March 2020 quarter.

There is an urban myth in circulation that tenants no longer need to pay their rent to landlords; that the government has instructed them not to; that they can shut up shop, cancel the rent payment, and with any luck, pick up where they left off when things are back to “normal”.

Landlords urged to be aware of ‘Faster Broadband’ legislation, FM Briefing

Landlords are being advised to be aware of forthcoming legislation designed to assist in the Government’s commitment to the roll out of faster more resilient broadband across the UK by 2025.

The call comes from specialist advisory firm Conexus Law as a reminder about the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill 2019-21, which is set to amend the 2017 Electronic Communications Code to streamline the process by which network operators may gain access to multi-let residential properties.

It is hoped this will help to deal with the particular problem of the landlord who is unresponsive to requests to allow access, something that is recognised as a major obstacle to meeting the Government’s target.

Emma Cordiner at Conexus Law said: “Though it is difficult to argue against the motivation for the bill, some private landlords may see it as bordering on the draconian. However, timely responsiveness and collaboration by landlords should avoid forceful operator action, so now (as ever) would be the time for all landlords to adopt good habits and pay closer attention to any operator requests for access to install infrastructure.

“At this stage, landlords need to have the bill on their radars, and in spite of the bill, might do well to plan the implementation of broadband infrastructure policies for their buildings, with one eye on a forthcoming need to be more responsive to operator requests. Ultimately a well-managed property with the best of broadband capability will only ever be an attractive prospect to tenants.”

Source: facilitiesmanagementforum.co.uk/landlords-urged-to-be-aware-of-faster-broadband-legislation

Contract concerns? Digitalisation World

Conexus Law offers the latest guidance for companies.

“Life and business has got a lot more difficult and complicated since the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic. As a result, all businesses are or will be looking at their financial and logistical obligations to third parties.”

This is according to Ian Timlin from Conexus Law, the specialist advisory firm that provides legal and commercial advice to clients who work in sectors where the built environment, technology, engineering and people converge.

In the latest free guidance sheet that can be found on the company’s website, he is advising companies that as a first step they should check their written contracts to see if they contain any terms can help clarify things. These may include force majeure, material adverse change clauses and general break clauses.

“Companies may also want to look to see if the counterparty to the contract is going to find it difficult or impossible to perform its own obligations now or in the future (particularly in the short term). That may give them scope to negotiate sensible variations all round,” suggests Ian.

Source: digitalisationworld.com/news/58929/contract-concerns

Fact Sheet: Managing a dispersed workforce

During this prolonged period of lock down you may be managing a dispersed workforce for the first time, including many individuals who have never worked from home.

More than ever, you might need to consider being flexible with your employees, particularly those who are not used to working from home, and who may have conflicted obligations on their time and space.

Meaningful, open and regular communication will help to keep your workforce feeling supported and will help them remain engaged and motivated.

Fact Sheet: Managing your workforce during the current pandemic and economic downturn

During this health and economic crisis, it is likely most employers will need to consider ways to reduce their workforce and commensurate costs.

In addition to redundancy, some employers may have the contractual right to lay-off staff or to implement short-time working.

Employers could also consider amending terms and conditions of employment to reduce hours and pay, thereby reducing overall costs but preserving the workforce.

The government’s job retention furlough scheme is available to protect qualifying employees, which in many cases, might provide a suitable alternative to redundancy.

Although there is guidance on how the scheme will operate, the government has announced it will not be up and running until the end of April. (This topic is covered in a separate Factsheet).

If you decide to reduce your workforce or wish to make changes to their terms of employment, it is advisable to communicate clearly with all affected individuals as soon as possible.

Involving them as far as possible in any discussions will greatly benefit employee relations and increase the likelihood of obtaining their agreement to the changes you deem best for the long term future of the business.

It is important that you do not take any action in response to the pandemic that amounts to discrimination, whether inadvertently or otherwise.

Fact Sheet: Health and safety obligations for employers related to Covid-19

As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees and should continue to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. This applies whether they are working from your premises or elsewhere.

At a time of global distress and uncertainty, demonstrating concern for the physical, emotional and psychological health of your staff is not just about complying with your legal requirements – it makes good business sense too.

Showing that you care for your employees will build trust, reinforce your commitment to them, and maintain engagement, morale and productivity. It will also help ensure you have a committed workforce once the current economic challenges and constraints of the pandemic are over.

COVID-19 to push growth trajectory of data centre industry, Data Economy

COVID-19 has changed the business landscape in all industries across the globe, and the data centre sector is no exception.

The data centre has emerged into the spotlight as the pandemic forces the increase of remote working and information from governments, causing the growth trajectory of the industry to scale up.

With data centre operators being established as key/ essential workers, data centre operators are facing a number of COVID-19 related challenges, including limiting routes for infection whilst providing continuity of service.

Taking a little trip down memory lane – pre-COVID-19 – the growth of cloud technology played a major part in the data centre sector’s success.

In 2018, global revenue from the wholesale and retail data centre colocation market amounted to around $38 billion, according to Statista; with industry revenues expected to increase to over $50 billion per year by 2023 – as an increasing share of global businesses adopts data collection and analysis into their strategy.

Ed Cooke, Founder of Conexus Law told Data Economy that the virus will not have too much of a negative impact on the data centre sector as its need becomes more prevalent.

“It is no secret that the use of social media, online videos, gaming and all other underling fundamentals to do with the Internet of Things (IoT) is all on track to boost the requirements for data, data processing and IT infrastructure,” he says when giving a general overview of the industry before the pandemic began.

“There were still great amounts of construction taking place in the tier one cities; France, London, Amsterdam and Paris and Dublin, and there has been growth occurring in other markets too – particularly in South America, the Nordics and in Africa, and quite a lot of expansion is happening in Asia.

He was right. In the last seven days, companies in the sector have still been announcing mergers and acquisitions as well as the beginning of a new data centre build in London by Netwise.

Despite all of this, Cooke says that there are some cracks that appear as there has been some constrain in the supply chain.

“There are very few main contractors out there who have expertise in building data centres securely, and they were over-reliant on an even smaller group of suppliers who would supply the equipment,” he explains.

“However, what is interesting about COVID-19 is that in many ways it will push the growth trajectory of the industry.

“People have had it demonstrated to them now that they can work remotely, and many companies have already had it demonstrated to them now that their business continuity plans are not what they thought they were.

“I suspect we will see an increase in the purchase of cloud technology and the purchase of IT infrastructure and backup systems.”

Cooke explains that he fears the supply chain may get even more constraint, as he predicts that businesses may be lost as a result of the virus.

“Many clients are now starting to think about what happens when construction starts again, there will be a real fight for resources both in terms of labour and spaces on the manufacturing lines of these equipment providers, the generator providers, the transformer providers.

“People will want to make sure that their project starts up again first. In the short term after COVID-19, it will be a bit of a battle.”

Cooke went on to explain that one of the other things that the industry is witnessing is the likes of big internet companies like the Microsofts of this world starting to take up the spaces that they had reserved in data centres.

COVID-19 effects on finances

Recently, US data centre power biz Vertiv cut its financial forecasts for the next quarter in response to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its supply lines.

HPE, Microsoft and Samsung have all warned that the virus is likely to affect their supply chains this year.

Facebook pressed the pause button on the construction of its Huntsville, Alabama data centre campus due to safety concerns over staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cooke previously told Data Economy that the pipeline of new data centres is under threat as the supply of labour and parts have been paused by the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All hope is not lost as companies like Tencent and CyrusOne amongst others have all pledged to donate money to combat the virus as well as offer support where it is needed.

Data centre businesses rally on markets fightback after governments around the world pour more than $1.5tr into economies.

Source: data-economy.com/light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-covid-19-to-push-growth-trajectory-of-data-centre-industry

Fact Sheet: Struggling to meet your contractual obligations? What are the issues and options?

Life and business has got a lot more difficult and complicated since the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic.

As a result, all businesses have or will be looking at their financial and logistical obligations to third parties.

If you are struggling to meet any of those obligations, please consider this guidance to see if you can implement any of our suggestions.

Fact Sheet: Employment matters to consider during the current economic and health crisis

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak will be more significant and longer lasting than was first imagined.

With that in mind businesses should focus primarily upon the health and wellbeing of their teams, and what they can do operationally to minimise the spread of the virus.

Governments across the world continue to issue guidance, and mandate actions that businesses and individuals must take to support this effort.

This is a fast-moving landscape, with new legislation being introduced at record speed.

We are working hard to keep our clients up to date.

This note provides some practical steps that may be taken by businesses in relation to their employees and working practices.

Conexus Law appoints dispute resolution specialist to support companies during the COVID-19 pandemic

Conexus Law, the specialist advisory firm that provides legal and commercial advice to clients who work in sectors where the built environment, technology, engineering and people converge, has appointed a specialist dispute resolution and commercial litigation lawyer.

Ian Timlin brings with him nearly 30 years’ experience including acting for long standing technology clients in the following sectors: data centres, document management, telephony, car parking and young driver insurance. Career highlights include: leading and completing the successful settlement of complex multi-party multi-insurer construction claims including recovering £21m from a FTSE 100 construction company, architect and their insurers following mediation.

Ian Timlin said: “I have been a CEDR Accredited Mediator since 2000 and feel strongly that discussion and negotiation are often the primary tool in resolving disputes and Court proceedings. This is particularly important during this pandemic where companies, businesses and individuals need to work together to get the best possible outcome and maintain good working relationships for when this is all over.”

Ed Cooke, founder at Conexus Law, said: “Ian’s clients comment that he is straight talking, tough (when necessary), practical, tenacious and ultimately very commercial in getting disputes resolved. He is a great asset to our growing team and will be invaluable in helping our clients both through these unprecedented times and after as we start the process of rebuilding.”

Ian was previously an equity partner at Maxwell Batley on Chancery Lane and at City law firm, Speechly Bircham, and the Group Legal Director for a large offshore property development, investment and construction group based in the Channel Islands.

He is also an accomplished sports lawyer, with particular and significant experience in the world of motorsport, advising in respect of disputes and putting in place a myriad of commercial contracts in that sector.