Thursday, 22 May 2014

All Change in Conveyancing

Important changes to conveyancing law and practice have recently been introduced in Scotland. The Electronic Documents (Scotland) Regulations 2014 came in to force on 11 May 2014. These regulations were introduced under The Land Registration Etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 which comes fully into force on 8 December 2014. The regulations prescribe the requirements for electronic signatures that will allow documents covered by the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995, with the exception of Wills and other testamentary writings meantime, to be signed by applying a suitable electronic signature and thus be legally valid and self-proving. This means that contracts for the sale and purchase of land and property, including leases, can be completed electronically instead of in writing with a "wet" signature being applied.

This represents a major step towards conveyancing transactions being completed electronically without paper so long as the electronic signature used meets the prescribed requirements.  The Law Society of Scotland is currently working on the introduction of an electronic practising certificate which will contain an electronic signature that will meet the requirements. It is anticipated that suitable electronic signature solutions will also be available commercially. For an example, see: 

Yooseful Technology™ has developed software which can be utilised to enable agents and solicitors to collaborate, share property information and digitally sign and exchange property contracts. The first release of the software is already in use.

The 2012 Act will also further enable electronic registration of title in the registers under the management and control of the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland. Additional regulations under the 2012 Act will follow once the Act is in full force and effect.

These are exciting times. Electronic signatures having full legal effect should stimulate the house buying/selling process and hopefully lead to efficiencies in cost and time which can be passed on to the consumer.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Generic Medicines

New drugs are generally protected by world wide patents. This is perfectly understandable given the significant cost and length of time taken to bring a drug through development, clinical trials and eventually to the market.  See the recent press coverage surrounding the cost of the breast cancer drug Kadcyla® produced by Roche –  Kadcyla® has been found to extend the life of a terminally ill patient suffering from breast cancer by up to six months. Once a patented drug is out of patent protection however, generic drugs become widely available at a lower price. A relatively recent example was when the heartburn and acid indigestion drug, Zantac™, came out of patent. There are now a number of generic versions of the drug on the market.

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in London has found two patents related to the breast-cancer treatment drug Herceptin® invalid, paving the way for generic versions of the drug to be marketed in the UK later this year. 

The case before the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in London involved Hospira UK Limited and Genentech Inc. Hospira sells generic medicines particularly in the cancer field, and wishes to sell a generic form of Herceptin® in the UK. This could only happen after the expiry of a Supplementary Protection Certificate obtained by Genentech in respect of Herceptin®.

Genentech (a Roche company) developed and sold their drug under the Herceptin® trade mark. Herceptin® was a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment due to the way it targets the HER2 receptor, which is overproduced by cancer cells in about 20% of breast cancer patients. Hormones or other proteins can attach to the receptor, stimulating growth of the cancer cells and worsening the patient’s prognosis. 

The last remaining enforceable patent on Herceptin® expires in July this year. Pending any appeal by Genentech, the generic medicines marketed by Hospira should be available later this year.

Monday, 12 May 2014

What is the Law in your Life?

5 things you need to know about Tacit Relocation under a Lease:

1.   Tacit relocation or silent renewal is a renewal of the term of a lease for a period of 12 months.

2.   It only applies where neither the landlord or the tenant has served a notice to quit in terms of the lease.

3.   It can be a trap for the unwary and care must be taken as the expiry date comes closer.

4.   The rent payable by the tenant will be the then passing rent prior to the expiry date.

5.   Further periods of 12 months may apply if a subsequent notice is not served.