Law firm warns of Post Brexit GDPR impact

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, is urging companies to prepare for the strong possibility that the EU will fail to agree that the UK has an “adequate data protection regime” after the transition period at the end of the year. This will mean that businesses will face barriers transferring personal data to and from the UK to EU countries under GDPR. The warning comes on the back of the ruling by the European Court of Justice at the beginning of July that reversed the prior adequacy decision of the EU for the USA – rendering its Privacy Shield ineffective.

Ed Cooke, Founder at Conexus Law said: “The UK’s use of mass surveillance techniques, our Investigatory Powers Act, and our membership of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing community has raised particular concerns with the EU – especially in relation to the sharing of data with the US, and even more so given the recent Schrems II decision on the Privacy Shield scheme. What is clear is that once a decision has been made then companies will need to move quickly to ensure they are not severely impacted.”

Failure to reach an agreement would mean that companies will need to look at alternatives such as Standard Contractual Clauses and binding corporate rules. Ed reiterates that merely relying on consent is not really an option for most businesses.

“Each of these options has its challenges with consent generally viewed to be unworkable as it can be revoked at any time. Standard Contractual Clauses were upheld in the ECJ in its judgment on Privacy Shield, but the judges did cast some doubt on whether or not these offer suitable protection in all cases without businesses adopting further practical measures such as encryption, to ensure the protection of personal data,” explains Ed.

Conexus Law is advising companies to start preparing now. Companies should already have a full audit of what personal data they collect and where it is stored and transferred to, including back-ups that may be held by cloud-based providers with datacentres all over the world. This audit needs to include all suppliers and partners that data is shared with. The next stage is to look at standard contractual clauses and decide whether further measures are required based on the specific data being transferred. If not, consideration should be given additional methods such as encryption.

“It seems that an adequacy ruling under GDPR is being used as a BREXIT bargaining chip in relation to other unrelated diplomatic negotiations taking place. Unfortunately, businesses may end up bearing the brunt of this and I would highly recommend that they start to prepare now,” concludes Ed.

Another specialist lawyer joins the fast-growing team at Conexus Law

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 been joined by Gavin Johnson, a built environment technology, construction and engineering lawyer.

Gavin advises Built Environment Technology start-ups on business growth, regulatory, finance and investment, and technology issues. He is a member of the Policy Advisory Committee for the Construction Blockchain Consortium at University College London, advising on policy development for blockchain technologies.

Gavin has over 14 years’ experience of advising clients across several sectors of the built environment, including healthcare, education, real estate, energy, utilities and infrastructure. He also focuses on contentious matters, in-project dispute avoidance and resolution, as well as project completion and legacy. He has further experience in a range of legal disciplines including corporate, finance, regulatory and competition.

Gavin said: “Conexus Law is unique in its focus on this fast moving and challenging sector and I am excited to be part of it. My passion for technology runs throughout my work within the built environment and I have experience across the board, working with start-ups and R&D departments to help support their innovations and with large construction companies to help them to better utilise the latest technology that is available.”

Ed Cooke, Founder at Conexus Law, said; “My decision to start this firm was born from a desire to create a culture that values respectful, meaningful human interactions and connections that will benefit the company and our clients by ensuring individual, team and client satisfaction. Key to this is getting the right people in place and Gavin is a great fit for us.”

Digitalisation World talks to Conexus Law – Adjusting to life after lockdown

Digitalisation World talks to Marilyn Heward-Mills, an employment lawyer at Conexus Law – covering workplace advice for the data centre sector, as both employers and employees adjust to life after lockdown.

Black Lives Matter: How employers can engage with the conversation, AMBA

Racism is an issue that lives within many organisations and employers should consider committing to making real and substantial change now, starting by engaging in the conversation with all employees, says legal expert Marilyn Heward-Mills

The shocking killing of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers in the US, which has resulted in mass protests across the US and in the UK, has once again highlighted the disturbing reality of deep-rooted race discrimination within our society.

Although it might be tempting to confidently profess that racism does not exist within your workforce or business, that might not be the best conclusion to reach without further examination.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct and indirect discrimination and harassment in the workplace in respect of race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin).

Nevertheless, racism is an issue that lives within many organisations, and employers should consider committing to making real and substantial change now, starting by engaging in the conversation with all employees, regardless of race or background.

Research shows that people from ethnic minority groups are often at a disadvantage in the labour market and are more likely to be unemployed and over-represented in poorly paid and unstable jobs. There is also a significant under-representation of ethnic diversity at the top of UK boards, as shown by the Government’s recent Parker Review.

Particularly, at this time, doing nothing might be damaging to your workforce morale and your reputation, and might not be the responsible business response.

Set out below are some practical steps that you, as a business leader, might consider:

  • Acknowledge that the death of George Floyd and the ensuing mass protests has an impact on your BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) employees.
  • Express your sadness and sympathy about the situation.
  • Clarify and communicate your organisation’s stance and values on the subject of racism.
  • Declare a commitment to begin or continue the process of open dialogue with your staff about how racism impacts them and your business.
  • Consider ways to engage meaningfully in the conversation around racism by creating a safe environment in which individuals can share their personal experiences and learn from each other.
  • Commit to listen to the concerns and needs of all of your workforce.
  • Commit to educate yourselves and your staff about the realities faced by BAME individuals in the work and social space, including those that you employ or transact with.
  • Ensure diversity and inclusion remain top of your agenda and commit to action that will ensure you achieve your goals.
  • Determine what other steps you must take to ensure racism is stamped out in your organisation and how you will build a diverse, supportive culture that is respectful and fair for all.
  • Commit to leadership and action and set targets for required change.

Marilyn Heward-Mills is an Employment Solicitor at Conexus Law.

Source: www.associationofmbas.com/black-lives-matter-how-employers-can-engage-with-the-conversation

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

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

The effect of Covid-19 on contractual obligations, Datacentre Solutions

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, is launching a range of fact sheets on the legal implications of the Covid-19.

The first one provides legal analysis alongside some valuable, practical steps that may be taken by parties who find the impact of Covid-19 affects their ability to meet contractual obligations owed to others (upstream), or who find that their trading partners can no longer meet the obligations owed to them (downstream).

Ed Cooke, Founder at Conexus Law, said: “In the modern commercial world, businesses are often heavily reliant on trading partners and long “just in time” supply chains in order to fulfil their contractual obligations. The impact of Covid-19 could significantly upset those finely balanced arrangements and the relationships between parties may be tested in ways they had not previously contemplated.

“As trading relationships are now often global, a complex interplay of laws from different jurisdictions may also be in play, some of which are potentially in conflict. For example, English law may govern your contract with your customer, but Chinese law may govern the law of your contract with a critical supplier enabling you to perform your customer contract.”

The Conexus Law fact sheet advises that organisations identify whether there are any express provisions written into the contract which might be relevant to the Covid-19 situation. For example, there is a large section on force majeure and whether it is applicable. Other areas include certain insurances and the importance of following all relevant procedures in the policy related to claims notification and submission of claims.

“The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak is already having a significant impact on many individuals and businesses and it is becoming clearer that the impact will likely be more significant and longer lasting than we may have imagined at first. We hope these fact sheets provide helpful guidance during these challenging times,” concludes Ed.

Source: datacentre.solutions/news/58777/the-effect-of-covid-19-on-contractual-obligations

Law firm specialises in physical and digital infrastructure, Datacentre Solutions

A law firm that focuses solely on supporting companies at the intersection where the built environment, technology and people converge, has launched today. Conexus Law will work closely with clients in the connected world in both IT, telecommunications, infrastructure and datacentre construction and with engineering businesses delivering major infrastructure projects.

The company has been founded by Ed Cooke, a recognised expert in critical IT infrastructure, engineering, procurement and construction. He has previously been a partner in international law firms DLA Piper and Bird & Bird. Conexus Law is founded on the belief that its people can only deliver the best counsel if they have a strong understanding of the industry challenges and the underlying technology and processes, so every member of the team has specific industry expertise.

It will take a fresh and different approach to legal practice, in many ways mirroring the way its clients operate, using similar language and processes to enable seamless interaction, identifying key risks and creating flexible legal frameworks.

Ed Cooke, Founder at Conexus Law, said: “With growth continually outstripping predictions, the digital sector is facing major challenges around the unprecedented pace of change, lack of resources and an inability to predict what the future technology landscape will look like or demand. In addition, innovative technologists are pioneering emerging technology where there is often no legal precedent and the regulatory environment frustrates innovation. Conexus Law will deliver robust, creative and commercially pragmatic global solutions in this fast moving and unpredictable sector.”

Source: datacentre.solutions/news/58394/law-firm-specialises-in-physical-and-digital-infrastructure