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Corporate disputes fuelled by Covid-19 decisions ‘set to rise’

Company directors should be braced for decisions they made in the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic to be brought into question, according to a litigation lawyer.

John Bett, head of dispute resolution and litigation at Lindsays, believes these challenges could trigger a rise in the number of corporate legal disputes.

He warned that directors of businesses of all sizes need to be more aware of their legal responsibilities in case they run into issues, whether financially, about the actions they have taken – or both.

The pace of the pandemic – particularly in its early phases – left many directors making business critical decisions with little or no time to consult or fully consider the implications.

These include taking emergency loans later deemed as unnecessary, that the high interest rates of any borrowing may not have been appreciated or monies paid to directors in anticipation of a future dividend

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Ferguson Marine ferries contract “a catastrophic failure”, Scottish Parliament review finds

The procurement of two ferries from Ferguson Marine was “a catastrophic failure”, a Scottish Parliament committee has said.

The yard was due to deliver two ferries to be used on the west coast by 2018 at a cost of £97m.

MSPs were told last year by then-finance secretary Derek Mackay that “mismanagement” by the Port Glasgow shipyard led to delays and overspends.

The vessels are expected to be delivered by 2022 and 2023 at almost double the original cost.

An extensive inquiry by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee at Holyrood said the procurement process was “not fit for purpose” and called for an “independent external review” to take place.

Throughout the inquiry, witnesses spoke of a project fraught with problems, including a breakdown in the relationship between Ferguson and Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), the Scottish Government-backed procurement body.

In a 129-page report released on Wednesday, the committee said

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Government announces £49m package for new Stornoway Deep Water Terminal

More than 200 jobs will be created through the development of a new deep water terminal in the Outer Hebrides.

Initial work will begin on the Stornoway Deep Water Terminal next summer, with a planned opening in May 2023.

The £49m investment comes from a number of partners, aiming to strengthen transport links and support a range of industries in the Western Isles.

The project includes a facility for berthing for cruise ships up to 360 metres long, a new deep water berth to cater for larger cargo vessels, and a freight ferry berth; berthing and unloading facilities for renewable energy components and development land for a range of uses such as industrial processes and decommissioning.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said: “This transformational project, which will put Stornoway in pole position to take advantage of emerging technologies such as hydrogen, is the culmination of dedicated partnership working between

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Scottish Government pledges £570m support for business and economy

More than £1.8bn of extra funding has been allocated to tackling the impact of coronavirus in Scotland.

Support for business and the wider economy of £570m will include grants via the Strategic Framework, funding for local support packages, the newly self-employed hardship fund, digital support, Local Authority Discretionary Business Funding and remaining allocations from the £97m support for culture and heritage.

The funding was detailed in a letter from finance secretary Kate Forbes to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee.

“The UK Treasury has indicated that this funding covers the period up to March 2021, so I have allocated £330m as a contingency to ensure we are in a position to provide further support to health and businesses, including for issues arising from Brexit, as it is required over the coming months,” she wrote.

“Our limited borrowing powers mean we do not have flexibility to increase spending to meet

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Rise in manufacturers selling direct to consumers will boost the economy, new research shows

A significant rise in manufacturers selling direct to consumers (D2C) will provide a £2.5bn boost to Scottish industry’s coffers by 2023, according to research by Barclays Corporate Banking.

The new report ‘A direct approach’ combines polling of manufacturers, logistics firms and consumers with detailed economic modelling to assess the impact of D2C sales, where traditional channels of distribution such as retailers and wholesalers are bypassed.

The results show that a surge in Scottish shoppers going direct will mean sales through this channel total £9.7bn in 2023 – an increase from £7.2bn this year.

The growth is being driven by consumer choices exacerbated by the pandemic, the research shows.

Three fifths (60%) of Scots surveyed said they now frequently go direct to manufacturers because they believe they will get a better price (32%) and better service (25%).

In addition, two fifths (40%) of consumers are buying direct as a conscious decision

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January 2021

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