Corporate and Commercial Partner at Howes Percival, Matthew Thompson discusses how the manufacturing and engineering businesses which are central to our region’s economy can deal with ever-changing legal pressures and future-proof their business:
According to recent research by The Manufacturer, the worldwide manufacturing industry contributes almost £7 trillion to the global economy. Despite scaremongering in the media over the last couple of years, it is fair to say that the manufacturing industry is still flourishing in the UK and contributes 45% towards UK exports.
Therefore, whatever the long-term effects of Brexit are for the UK, Howes Percival are firmly of the belief that our country’s capacity to ‘make things’ remains at the core of our economy.
Through our diverse client base in the manufacturing and engineering sector (particularly relating to the high-performance and technology companies existing around Silverstone) we know very well how much employment and wealth is generated from suppliers to major manufacturers including the likes of household names such as Jaguar Land Rover.
It also drives innovation in technology: the existence of the technology cluster at Silverstone has sucked in an incredible amount of expertise within the high-performance engineering sector in a wide range of materials, industries and technologies. It has rightly made Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire the world centre for high-performance engineering; something we should all be proud of.
Although I absolutely recognise that we are firmly from the professional services sector, nothing excites me more than visiting a new manufacturing client and walking around the factory floor to see things being made. Recently, I was lucky enough to get a tour of the factory of a client who have just extended its Moulton Park premises to cope with increasing demand from its customer base.
Not only is it a joy to be able witness first-hand the intricate balance of automated, high-powered machinery, alongside detailed hand-finished products, but it also helps us understand how the manufacturing process works so that we can ensure our client’s legal documents are tailored to their exact requirements.
The increase in automation and technology means getting the legal requirements right is even more important.
As lawyers advising Northamptonshire’s and Buckinghamshire’s manufacturers every day, we know what the stress points are for manufacturers, and we can hopefully help find solutions (certainly to their legal problems!). Very often, the solution lies in ensuring the client has robust contract terms that are properly incorporated into its contracts.
This requires a mix of careful drafting derived from a thorough understanding of the business (that’s why a site visit is so helpful) together with staff who have been properly trained on how to implement those trading terms and ensure that what happens in practice is reflected in the terms. A broad understanding of the sorts of technology being used and how this applies to the manufacturing process is vital.
The export market is only going to become more important to our economy, irrespective of the long-term implications of Brexit. Here, the use of well drafted and appropriate terms is even more important. For example, do your terms cover both the law that governs the contract (hopefully English Law) and the venue for determining any disputes (hopefully the English courts)?
If not, (and we have seen this in practice where only the choice of law is covered, and not the choice of venue) you could end up litigating your dispute under English Law but in the South Korean court! Not an ideal, cost-effective outcome for clients based in the middle of the UK.
For a firm foundation from which to develop a successful manufacturing and engineering business, there is no substitute for robust and relevant trading terms. Our expertise also extends to other types of contract, such as outsourcing, distribution, exclusive supply and agency arrangements. We also have a wide depth of knowledge in the intricacies of employment contracts within the manufacturing and engineering sector, including relating to collective agreements negotiated by trade unions.
We also have a dedicated, specialist intellectual property team who are able to assist with the protection and exploitation of IP rights (such as trademarks, patents and design rights) as well as enforcement activity if a third party infringes the rights of a manufacturer.
Our team of specialist regulatory lawyers can also ensure that manufacturers are protected from a health and safety perspective and if anything goes wrong, we can be there to guide manufacturers through the process to ensure they are covered from a legal perspective.
Very much like the manufacturing process, we can provide you a complete end-to-end legal solution to assist you with any
legal issues you may face as part of the manufacturing and engineering process.
For further help contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01908 672682.