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Important announcements from the Chamber, our members, local Councils and other relevant business news will be posted regularly here.

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  • 20 April 2020 12:37 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your business – does your commercial contract contain a Force Majeure clause?

    The unprecedented events currently taking place worldwide as a result of the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) have led contracting parties to consider their position, their obligations and particularly if they can rely on a Force Majeure clause. Parties will also need to know how to respond if a contracting party seeks to assert a Force Majeure clause, and indeed whether they can dispute it.

    What is a Force Majeure clause?

    Force Majeure is French for superior force.  A “force majeure” clause will be drafted in such a way that it will typically suspend or extinguish a party’s obligation to perform the contract in specific, and generally in so-called emergency, circumstances. An emergency circumstance will apply in cases of natural disaster, epidemic, changes in the law, and similar designated circumstances. The COVID-19 crisis has been officially defined as a pandemic and therefore is a Force Majeure event.

    A Force Majeure clause needs to have been specifically included within your commercial contract for you to rely on it. It cannot be implied or assumed to take effect but must be expressly worded within the contractual terms. Most English contracts, particularly within the construction industry, will have them included. We can advise you if you are unsure if your contract contains a Force Majeure clause.

    Can I rely on the Force Majeure clause?

    Assuming your contract has a Force Majeure clause, which either specifically references an epidemic or an emergency circumstance, you will need to assess if you can rely on it. Clearly there will be a multitude of factors that will affect your decision as to why you may wish to rely on the clause but specifically COVID-19 will have to be the sole cause of a party’s inability to perform its obligations; if not, and there are other causes, case law suggests that the clause cannot be relied upon.

    You will need to carefully analyse the construction of the clause, consider it in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and assess its direct impact on you or your contracting party’s failure to perform the contractual terms of the contract. You will need to consider if it prevents performance or makes it more difficult. If you are unsure as to the enforceability of your Force Majeure clause we can advise you.

    What does a Force Majeure clause do?

    The effect of the clause will depend on its specific wording, however, generally it will entitle a party to suspend performance of its obligations without being penalised. The contract should determine whether this is for a particular period of time or indefinitely, and what the options are for the parties; this can include the right for one or both parties to terminate the contract if the Force Majeure event has continued for a specified period of time. If the clause does not specify what action should be undertaken the parties should consider how to mitigate their losses and notify the other party of its intention to rely on it. We can advise you as to how you should do this.

    How do I assert a Force Majeure?

    Again this will largely depend on the wording of the Force Majeure clause, for example there may, for instance, be a requirement under the contract’s Force Majeure clause to give notice as soon as a Force Majeure event occurs. Alternatively, the clause may make reference to an immediate termination of the contract or its suspension. If there is no specific wording it would be sensible to notify your contracting party of your intention to rely on the clause to see if an agreement can be made. Please get in touch so that you can take legal advice as to the terms of the notice.

    What if my contract does not have a Force Majeure clause? The Law of Frustration. 

    If your contract does not include a Force Majeure clause you may consider if the doctrine of Frustration applies. This can apply without specific reference to it in a contract and allows a contract to be set aside where a completely unforeseeable event makes the clear overriding intention of the contract absolutely impossible to perform. This will need to strike to the core of the contract making its performance impossible rather than being commercially undesirable. Legal advice will need to be obtained to assess its application, however, such an example could be the closure of a venue by the government as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak which causes the Frustration of a time imperative contract.

    Written by, Jerome Soucek, Associate Solicitor at Bennett Griffin LLP

    https://www.bennettgriffin.co.uk/covid-19-commercial-contract-force-majeure/


  • 20 April 2020 9:34 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme up and running

    The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live today, with businesses able to claim up to £2,500 a month towards staff wages.

    The link to the online portal can be found here

    ·  Government’s furlough scheme opens for applications today - 10 days ahead of schedule

    • Employers can now go online to claim cash grants worth up to 80% of wages, capped at £2,500 a month per worker 
    • 5000 HMRC staff will operate the scheme – which is expected to help thousands of firms across the UK

    The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live today, with businesses able to claim up to £2,500 a month towards staff wages.

    Employers can apply for direct cash grants through HMRC’s new online portal - with the money expected to land in their bank accounts within six working days.

    The job retention scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of a package of support to protect jobs and businesses, allows employers to claim for a cash grant of up to 80% of a furloughed employees wages, capped at £2,500 a month.

    Millions of people across the UK are expected to benefit from the scheme, with businesses including Pret a Manger, Brewdog and Timpsons using it to ensure staff keep their jobs and are paid whilst many high street businesses are closed.

    HMRC’s easy to use portal has a step by step application process and up to 5,000 staff will be manning phone lines and webchat services to ensure any questions can be answered.

    Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: Our unprecedented job retention scheme will protect millions of jobs across the country and is now up and running.It’s vital that our economy gets up and running again as soon as it’s safe – and this scheme will allow that to happen.

    Last week the Chancellor announced the scheme will be extended for a further month until the end of June, to reflect continuing Covid-19 lockdown measures.

    Commenting on news that applications are now open for the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said: The opening of the Job Retention scheme is an important milestone for businesses, who can now begin to access the cash they need to pay their staff and protect livelihoods. The government deserves credit for the speed, scale and flexibility of its response to the challenges facing our business communities. The focus should now be on delivering this support to firms on the ground. Our research indicates that two-thirds of firms have furloughed some portion of their workforce. With April’s payday approaching, it is essential that the application process is smooth and that payments are made as soon as possible. Any delay would exacerbate the cash crisis many companies are facing and could threaten jobs and businesses.

    Jonathan Geldart, IoD Director General, said:These are immensely challenging times for the economy, and the Government is rightly responding with exceptional measures. This scheme is crucial to protecting jobs and ensuring the recovery, when it comes, can take off as quickly as possible. We applaud the efforts of the scheme’s staff who will be working with businesses in desperate need of support, and we will continue to work with ministers to ensure that support reaches all who need it.

    Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said:The Chancellor has already shown a willingness to do whatever it takes and act at speed during unprecedented times. Rolling out the job retention scheme will make a huge difference to tens of thousands of firms and millions of people, protecting jobs and living standards throughout the UK. Ensuring support gets to where it’s needed most – fast – is of the utmost importance. We’ll continue working closely across government departments as thoughts turn to restarting and reviving our economy.

    Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:As a sector employing one million people, we greatly welcome the extension of the Job Retention Scheme into the summer. It will help pubs that are struggling through this crisis who are key employers in regions and communities across the whole of the UK. Rest assured the action taken by Government has prevented job losses.To hear that the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme portal is now live for employers to use is a welcome step too for our sector.

    The Job Retention Scheme is part of an package of measures announced by the Chancellor to support the country through the coronavirus pandemic. He has already supported employers with a £30bn injection of cash by deferring VAT payments for the next quarter, has launched a scheme for the self-employed, loans for businesses and a rise in Universal Credit.

    The link to the online portal can be found here

    Further information:

    · Employers can furlough anyone they employ, provided that on or before March 19 they were on PAYE payroll and HMRC has been notified of payment via the RTI system.

    ·   More information about government support for businesses can be found here

    · The link to the online portal can be found here

  • 17 April 2020 10:57 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Worthing Community Chest Covid-19 Crisis Funding

    Worthing Community Chest are offering an emergency funding opportunity to anyone who is setting up small, ad hoc, neighbourhood projects in response to the coronavirus. In particular, any group considering schemes to reach isolated people, deliver food or medicines, run additional food banks or supplies, provide meals for school children etc. We are offering grants of up to £250 that are designed to be as flexible, quick and easy as possible.

    They are currently accepting initial email applications. Please include your name, and some of the names of the people you are working with, a contact number, a brief description of what you are doing (or hoping to do), and what your estimated costs are. Please note that we understand neighbourhood support groups, (also called mutual aid groups), are more likely to be supplying food, toiletries and medicines as and when requested. 

    The grants will be given in advance which means you will have them at your disposal as soon as possible. You are responsible for sending us all of your receipts or proof of payments.

    In order to tell the story of how Worthing’s communities and neighbourhoods stepped up to cope in crisis, they will also be asking you to feed back to us a loose idea of how many people you were able to support. Where appropriate, compelling anecdotes, photos and videos are great, it’s so much better to hear individual experiences.

    Email grants@worthingcommunitychest.org for more information and to apply.


  • 17 April 2020 10:26 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Message from the AWBP Chair, Andrew Swayne

    In the last week we seem to have stability in terms of lockdowns around most of Europe and the US with very limited international travel. We are seeing a few early signs of restrictions being eased in parts of Europe but they are patchy. Close to home I’m pleased that the grants being issued locally have had a good first week with 350 registrations being processed and £4.6m being released. It’s worth noting that registrations are being processed in date order.

    As some of the government focus moves to care homes we should remember this is an important part of our business community and I hope the supply chain is getting them the PPE they need. 

     We must continue to support our families and employees as it is inevitable that some would have been affected by COVID-19. As the crisis continues, resilience is something we will all need to work on as individuals and in looking after our businesses. 

     I wish you a safe week and let’s see what comes from the lockdown review.
  • 17 April 2020 10:12 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Urgent Appeal To Sussex Businesses For Personal Protective Equipment

    Does your business have stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which could help in the fight against COVID-19?

    Sussex Resilience Forum (SRF), which brings together public service agencies in responding to COVID-19, is appealing to businesses for vital personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to help protect frontline workers delivering essential services to Sussex residents during COVID-19.

    As the nation faces unprecedented demand for PPE, there is a very limited supply coming into the county for social workers, care home staff, firefighters and volunteers, with the NHS understandably being prioritised.

    Dave Miller, Assistant Chief Constable, Sussex Police, and Chair of the Sussex Resilience Forum said: "If your business or organisation has these vital supplies to protect frontline workers, we urge you to contact us. We are short of items such as masks, hand sanitiser and gloves which are fundamental for the good care of individuals with suspected symptoms of COVID-19.

    "We are hoping that all types of businesses and organisations from high street beauty salons through to academic institutions that use these products daily can help us by offering stocks whilst they are closed. If you have any items from the specific list below, we would be very grateful for donations as soon as possible. We also ask that any suppliers that can manufacture PPE contact us urgently.

    "In addition, we've had a fantastic response to our appeals for volunteers to support the SRF's response to COVID-19, and will be contacting them in due course to support this and other pieces of work to help Sussex communities."

    • Eye protection EN166:2001 Frame Marking: 3
    • Hand sanitiser gel (greater than 60% alcohol)
    • Disposable overshoes CE marked
    • Disposable overalls CE marked
    • Disposable plastic apron (single use)
    • Disposable gloves (single use) EN:374/5 (Viral protection)/nitrile purple/ nitrile blue
    • Fluid repellent surgical mask (single use) Type 11R medical use
    • Drager dust masks
    • Hand soap
    • Surface cleanser spray
    • Universal cleaner
    • Cleaning cloths
    • Disinfectant
    • Blue wiper roll
    • Industrial cleaning wipes (excess of 60% alcohol or a disinfectant contained within it)
    • Jumbo toilet roll
    • Paper hand towel.

    Donations can be made by contacting SussexResilienceForum@sussex.pnn.police.uk. Delivery and collection can be arranged. All items need to conform to the safety standards highlighted above.

    Additional information is available from the SRF website https://www.sussex.police.uk/srf.

    Neighbourhood Watch is pleased to support the SRF and to be one of it's Voluntary Sector partners. If you're interested in joining Neighbourhood Watch, or want to find out more, visit www.sussexnwfed.org.uk or send an email to enquiries@sussexnwfed.org.uk.

  • 16 April 2020 12:32 PM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Hundreds of Adur and Worthing businesses receive vital COVID-19 cash 

    Hundreds of local businesses and community groups have received vital government grant support worth nearly £7 million in super quick time thanks to Adur & Worthing Councils.

    Just a few days after the government outlined details of one-off funding of £10,000 for small firms and up to £25,000 for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, the Councils had established a new easy-to-use system to distribute cash to those affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.

    A week after going live, more than 2,000 of the 2,500 eligible ratepayers across Adur and Worthing have now applied for the funding. More than 700 have been approved and nearly £7 million distributed, providing a vital lifeline to local firms and organisations.

    Town hall teams are continuing to work round the clock to process scores of claims a day. While understanding the pressing need for the funds, the Councils continue to ask for patience and reassure eligible ratepayers who have already come forward that they will receive the grant in the coming days.

    Councils’ representatives are also reminding community groups, sports clubs and charities that have a business rates account to check their eligibility so that all the allocated funds are distributed to those in need.

    One of those organisations to receive the funding is Chris Dixon of Goring-based Landmore Property Services.

    Mr Dixon said: “I was very impressed with the simplicity and efficiency of the service and would strongly recommend any Adur or Worthing business with a Non Domestic Business Rates account, whether they physically pay rates or not, to apply for the Government non-refundable tax free grant.”

    Adur and Worthing were among the first authorities in Sussex to start distributing government COVID-19 support scheme funds.

    Qualifying small organisations (such as those receiving Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate) will receive a grant of £10,000 while operators in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive grants of up to £25,000 providing their rateable value does not exceed £51,000.

    In total, £26.1 million has been made available for organisations in Worthing and £17.6 million in Adur.

    Letters to about 2,500 eligible firms across Adur and Worthing were distributed last week, directing company owners to complete an easy-to-use online form on the Councils website.

    The Councils scheme involves a three stage process. 

    First businesses are asked to check their eligibility and then gather all relevant information before completing an online form on the Councils website.

    A confirmation email will then be received. After a short vetting process, those eligible will receive notification a payment will be made.

    Payments can only be made to the registered ratepayer for the eligible organisation.

    Cllr Angus Dunn, Adur District Council’s Executive Member for Finance and Resources, said: “Small businesses and community groups are the lifeblood of our area which is why we worked so hard to get a quick and easy-to-use system up and running as soon as practically possible.

    “In the space of five days we created a new online tool for eligible firms and began making the first payments just after that.

    “It’s testament to the work of Council teams, along with the support of local firms, that we were one of the first authorities in the Sussex to go live with this grant support scheme.”

    Cllr Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “In a vibrant coastal town which has developed a fantastic retail, hospitality and leisure offer, these government funds are vital to our local businesses.

    “While I completely understand the pressing need from local firms and groups for support, it’s vital that we complete all the relevant checks to ensure only those eligible receive this funding.

    “I want to reassure organisations that we are working as quickly as we can but ask for patience as we work through all of the applications. 

    “I also encourage all those who do pay business rates such as scout groups and sports clubs to check if they qualify for vital support during these unprecedented times.”

    For more details visit: www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support.

  • 16 April 2020 11:49 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Furlough scheme cut-off date extended to 19 March 

    Thousands more employees will be able to receive support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) after the eligibility date was extended to 19 March 2020. 

    Under the scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month, employers can claim a grant covering 80% of the wages for a furloughed employee, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month.

    Click here more more information


  • 16 April 2020 9:43 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    West Sussex Charity Turning Tides Launch Emergency Appeal to Support Increasing numbers of Homeless People through Covid-19 Crisis.

    On Thursday 16th April local charity Turning Tides is launching its first ever emergency appeal in response to the escalating Covid-19 crisis. The charity has supported homeless people across West Sussex for the last 28 years but Chief Executive John Holmstrom says: ‘We have never seen anything like the situation we are facing now and urgently need to ask for help. The picture we are facing as an organisation is deeply troubling.’

    The public are being asked to join a ‘campaign to keep homeless people in our community alive’ and vital emergency donations are requested via the Turning Tides website www.turning-tides.org.uk. The charity has seen an unprecedented need for its services in the last few weeks and this rise is set to continue.

     John Holmstrom continues;

    ‘We have 21 properties across the county supporting some 200 homeless people. Additionally, we are providing vital practical and emotional support to growing numbers of rough sleepers being housed in temporary accommodation to limit the spread of the virus. There is an unprecedented demand on our services and this will only increase in the weeks and months to come. Many of our courageous frontline staff are designated keyworkers and, like our colleagues in the NHS, they are under huge pressure and putting their own health on the line as they support some of the most vulnerable people in our community.’ 

    Homeless people are extremely vulnerable in the face of Covid-19 and have been named as high risk by the government. They include men and women whose health has already been damaged by trauma, rough sleeping and poverty. As many as 80% of the people supported by Turning Tides have mental health issues and about half of their service users are aged over 50. Even without the threat of a deadly virus, homeless people die on average 30 years sooner than the general population.

    Three weeks ago the government set in motion an ‘Everyone In’ initiative to slow the spread of the virus through this particularly vulnerable group – it aims to offer every homeless person temporary accommodation during the crisis. Turning Tides have worked around the clock, with colleagues across sectors, scouring the streets and countryside, to find homeless people and bring them in to empty hotels and other temporary accommodation. This unprecedented development brings with it a need for increased support.

    Ruth Poyner, Head of Fundraising and PR, explains:

    ‘On the streets, homeless men and women often survive on the generosity of the public who give to them directly. Now they are temporarily housed in local hotels and B&Bs and they are very much alone, frightened, in poor health and more unsure than ever as to what the future holds. They are often staying in one room with no support networks or family to lean on. These men and women are reliant on our frontline staff who are stretched to the limit providing emergency support, ranging from food and toiletries to mental health support and health education, including the basics of handwashing, social distancing and self-care.’

    'Moreover, the number of homeless people is growing. For every rough sleeper approximately 20 others are sleeping on sofas, in vehicles, or insecurely housed. Now, as the virus spreads, these arrangements are breaking down. Covid-19 is accelerating financial hardship, relationship breakdown and mental health issues, all of which contribute to homelessness.'

    Turning Tides is facing the dual challenge of significantly increased need for its services alongside the cancellation or postponement of all its community and fundraising events - a change that could result in as much as a 50% reduction in fundraising income.

    The challenges faced by charities were acknowledged by the Government last week (08/04/2020) when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £750 million fund to support charities through the Covid-19 crisis.

    Turning Tides CEO John Holmstrom comments:

    The fund is of course a welcome announcement but we also know it won’t go far enough and won’t reach everyone in need. As a whole, the charity sector is set to lose a staggering £4 billion in 12 weeks (National Council for Voluntary Organisations). More people than ever need our help and therefore we have to do everything we can to support them.’

    The Turning Tides Emergency Covid-19 Appeal also asks for people to provide their email addresses via the website www.turning-tides.org.uk so the charity can keep the community informed during the weeks and months ahead.

  • 15 April 2020 10:13 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Adur & Worthing Council Scam Warning

    We have been made aware of a scam which contacts its victims with a message that reads "Action Required: Problem with rate account details"

    It requests that you reply to a rating @lpsni.gov.uk email address and asks you to use an online registration form they provide to resubmit your details with the correct Ratepayer ID and Occupancy ID. 

    Please do not respond to their email. 

    Please only respond to correspondence relating to an @adur-worthing.gov.uk account.

    If you are in any doubt please contact us on business.covidsupport@adur-worthing.gov.uk


  • 15 April 2020 10:08 AM | Lauren Martin-Grieveson (Administrator)

    Furlough leave - The HMRC Job Retention Scheme Acas Webinar

    Date: Thursday 23rd April 
    Time: 11:00am - 12:00pm

    This webinar explains the temporary HMRC Job Retention Scheme being made available to businesses across the UK. The webinar is designed for employers who have furloughed workers, or are planning to furlough workers within their organisation. 

    Click here to register


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Worthing & Adur Chamber of Commerce is the trading name of Worthing & Adur Chamber of Commerce & Industry Ltd.
Company registered in England & Wales. Company number: 00345261.  
VAT No: 275 6477 60
Registered Office: Sphere Business Centre, Broadwater Road, Worthing,
West Sussex BN14 8HJ
© 2018 Worthing & Adur Chamber


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