• At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
  • Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
  • Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
  • Our team provides practical and commercial advice founded on years of experience and technical know-how to technology and digital media companies that need to be alert to the rules and regulations of competition law.
  • Our Corporate Practice has a reputation for delivering sound legal advice, backed up with extensive industry experience and credentials, to get the best results from technology and digital media transactions.
  • In the fast-changing world of employment law our clients need practical, commercial and cost-effective advice. They get this from our team of employment law professionals.
  • Our team of leading IP advisors deliver cost-effective, strategic and commercial advice to ensure that your IP assets are protected and leveraged to add real value to your business.
  • Our litigation practice advises on all aspects of dispute resolution, with a particular focus on ownership, exploitation and infringement of intellectual property rights and commercial disputes in the technology sector.
  • We have an industry-leading reputation for our outsourcing expertise. Our professionals deliver credible legal advice to providers and acquirers of IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
  • We work alongside companies, many with disruptive technologies, that seek funding, as well as with the venture capital firms, institutional investors and corporate ventures that want to invest in exciting business opportunities.
  • Our regulatory specialists work alongside Kemp Little’s corporate and commercial professionals to help meet their compliance obligations.
  • With a service that is commercial and responsive to our clients’ needs, you will find our tax advice easy to understand, cost-effective and geared towards maximising your tax benefits.
  • At Kemp Little, we advise clients in diverse sectors where technology is fundamental to the ongoing success of their businesses.They include companies that provide technology as a service and businesses where the use of technology is key to their business model, enabling them to bring their product or service to market.
  • We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
  • Acting for market leaders and market changers within the media industry, we combine in-depth knowledge of the structural technology that underpins content delivery and the impact of digitisation on the rights of producers and consumers.
  • We understand the risks facing this sector and work with our clients to conquer those challenges. Testimony to our success is the continued growth in our team of professionals and the clients we serve.
  • We advise at the forefront of the technological intersection between life sciences and healthcare. We advise leading technology and data analytics providers, healthcare institutions as well as manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnological products.
  • For clients operating in the online sector, our teams are structured to meet their commercial, financing, M&A, competition and regulatory, employment and intellectual property legal needs.
  • Our focus on technology makes us especially well positioned to give advice on the legal aspects of digital marketing. We advise on high-profile, multi-channel, cross-border cases and on highly complex campaigns.
  • The mobile and telecoms sector is fast changing and hugely dependent on technology advances. We help mobile and wireless and fixed telecoms clients to tackle the legal challenges that this evolving sector presents.
  • Whether ERP, Linux or Windows; software or infrastructure as a service in the cloud, in a virtualised environment, or as a mobile or service-oriented architecture, we have the experience to resolve legal issues across the spectrum of commercial computer platforms.
  • Our clients trust us to apply our solutions and know-how to help them make the best use of technology in structuring deals, mitigating key risks to their businesses and in achieving their commercial objectives.
  • We have extensive experience of advising customers and suppliers in the retail sector on technology development, licensing and supply projects, and in advising on all aspects of procurement and online operations.
  • Our legal professionals work alongside social media providers and users in relation to the commercial, privacy, data, advertising, intellectual property, employment and corporate issues that arise in this dynamic sector.
  • Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
  • Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
  • Your life as an entrepreneur is full of daily challenges as you seek to grow your business. One of the key strengths of our firm is that we understand these challenges.
  • Kemp Little is trusted by some of the world’s leading luxury brands and some of the most innovative e-commerce retailers changing the face of the industry.
  • HR Bytes is an exclusive, comprehensive, online service that will provide you with a wide range of practical, insightful and current employment law information. HR Bytes members get priority booking for events, key insight and a range of employment materials for free.
  • FlightDeck is our portal designed especially with start-up and emerging technology businesses in mind to help you get your business up and running in the right way. We provide a free pack of all the things no-one tells you and things they don’t give away to get you started.

Women on Boards: can there be true equality without positive discrimination?

Recent guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission clarifies that the use of female-only shortlists or quotas to encourage more women on corporate boards is unlawful.  Although the use of all-female shortlists is permitted by political parties when selecting candidates, their use in the selection of candidates for appointment to company boards would fall foul of the Equality Act 2010.

In February 2011, Lord Davies of Abersoch published his report “Women on Boards” which set out a four-year strategy for increasing the number of women appointed to boardroom positions, recommending a minimum of 25% female representation by 2015.

As part of the third annual progress report into “Women on Boards” earlier in the year, which showed that women now account for 20.7% of board positions in the FTSE 100, Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller said:

“The workplace was designed by men for men.  Women don’t need special treatment they just need a modernised workplace that gives them a level playing field”.

An agreeable sentiment, but, given the years of inequality in the workplace, is there truly now a “level playing field”?  The Equality Act provides that in circumstances where a company has to choose between two or more candidates of equal merit for recruitment or promotion, it may take into consideration whether one gender is disproportionately under-represented or disadvantaged and restore a balance accordingly.  This is known as the “tie-break provision”.  However, when it comes to assessing equal merit, objective and consistently applied criteria around abilities, skills, qualifications and experience need to be assessed.  It is the latter of these criteria which is the most troublesome: given the reasons which prompted the “Women on Boards” recommendations in the first place, candidates with previous experience representing companies in the boardroom are, clearly, more likely to be men than women.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s guidance is clear: attempting to counter for this by way of general policy is not lawful.  Neither would it be lawful to adopt artificially low thresholds to allow more female candidates into the tie-break position.

Companies may, however, use the general form of positive action in the Equality Act to attempt to offset the inherent experience bias.  In circumstances where a company reasonably thinks than women are under-represented or face disadvantage, it may take action to encourage female board appointments.  Generally, organisations adopt a blend of the following measures to increase the supply of female talent:

  • making diversity an explicit focus for the business;
  • holding senior leaders of each gender individually accountable for supporting women’s career progression within the company;
  • developing a method of translating unconscious bias training into day-to-day management practice; and/or
  • encouraging female talent through professional training, sponsorship and mentoring programmes.

A number of European countries have taken a slightly different approach when adopting national equality legislation.  Norway and France have legislated setting mandatory targets for certain companies to appoint a minimum proportion of men and women to their boards within a defined timescale, and Germany proposes to do so.  A proposed EU draft directive is also framed in similar terms, but – for now – the guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission provides that any quota enforced by a sanction or penalty would run the risk of promoting discriminatory treatment and be considered to be a breach of the Equality Act.

For further information please contact Charles Claisse