10 Replies Latest reply on Mar 22, 2010 12:14 PM by pfmarconi

    Legal advice for UK

    PF Marconi

      Advice please.

       

      Five years ago I designed a site for a small business, and since then have managed. I have done it out of enjoyment rather than financial gain, which has been very little.

      The business is a partnership between my wife and another woman, based on a 60/40 split (my wife has the lower %).

      The business has paid for the domain name ("JaneSmith.com") and hosting.

       

      Following a life threatening illness for my wife, the relationship between the two of them has turned very sour, with my wife now planning on leaving.

      Because of the way things have happened, I know longer wish to run the site. The images are mine, the design etc. is.

      Where do I stand re. pulling the site offline.

       

      Obviously I would inform Jane Smith of my intentions. Not especially gallant maybe but this has been a bad time.

       

      Many thanks

       

      Paul Marconi

        • 1. Re: Legal advice for UK
          Zabeth69 Level 5

          No legal advice here; we are all just users of software.

           

          I would expect that property laws differ sufficiently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction  that you would be well-advised to find counsel in your own neighborhood (or at least legal neighborhood).

           

          I do sympathize, however. When an affair of the heart (friendship, etc.) turns bad, it is tempting to "take the toys home that we came with." I would be very very careful about that, though, especially if there are bad feelings between former business partners, and if the site was part of the business (no matter who put in the sweat 'equity' to get it going).

           

          So, no legal advice here, but lots of good thoughts for you, your wife, and for her soon to be former business partner.

           

          Beth

          • 2. Re: Legal advice for UK
            pfmarconi

            Many thanks Beth.

             

            I'm very grateful for your response. In truth I never knew if DW would be the correct forum and I know that I'm on rather dodgy ground.

            I don't consider it a particularly good website but it has has been responsible for generating alot of business - and that's the name of the game.

             

            I better go on another long walk, take a deep breath and reconsider my options.

             

            Thanks again,

             

            Paul

            • 3. Re: Legal advice for UK
              John Waller Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              DW forums cannot offer legal advice.

               

              We're users of DW like yourself asking and answering software questions. Some here are web professionals, others hobbyists and everything in between.

               

              Random thoughts which cross my mind:

               

              • If you don't have a written contract and the relationship is broken, just hand the files over and call it a day
              • If you do have a written contract and the business is over for you and your wife, just hand the files over and call it a day.

              But, as Beth says, if you intend on taking things further and holding onto your files, then seek legal advice in your local area.

               

              From the perspective of "doing the right thing", I would leave the site as it is, hand over the files, make clear that you're not involved any more (or available as a Help desk) and wish her best of luck.

              • 4. Re: Legal advice for UK
                Nancy OShea Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                You may not have a choice in this.  If your wife intends to buy her partner out and take over the business, then she would have legal rights to the business name, accounts, contracts and web site if she wants it.   Similarly, if your wife and partner sell the business to a new owner, the new owner would have rights to the web site if they want it.

                 

                Don't let emotions be your guide here.  Strongly suggest you get some legal advice before you guys do anything.

                 

                 

                Nancy O.
                Alt-Web Design & Publishing
                Web | Graphics | Print | Media  Specialists
                http://alt-web.com/
                http://twitter.com/altweb
                http://alt-web.blogspot.com

                • 5. Re: Legal advice for UK
                  Zabeth69 Level 5

                  I think also, as a web professional, you might analyze what it is about the website that makes it successful. That would be repeatable in a new site, were you to create one in the future.

                   

                  But do take a long walk and a deep breath. And when you go looking for legal opinions, consider what they would be opinions on, and don't just hook up with someone who does the legal papers for real estate or registering horses, if those are not your field of business. Find advice that is pertinent to the business and to the intellectual property scene.

                   

                  Beth

                  • 6. Re: Legal advice for UK
                    pfmarconi Level 1

                    Many thanks again to you all.

                     

                    I think I may well take your advice and let things go, passing over the files.

                     

                    My anger stems from how very hard my wife has worked as the lesser partner, the s**t she's had to put up wiith and the fact that the day after she nearly died in front of me from a blood clot aged 45, the other person emails me requesting some books to be returned. She knew what had happened but never asked after her.

                     

                    Given this brief information, you may understand why I am so very angry. But that's my problem.

                     

                    Thanks again to you all for your advice. I'll close this post.

                     

                    Paul

                    • 7. Re: Legal advice for UK
                      osgood_ Level 8

                      I would try and sort this out amicably if possible. I know its not always possible.

                       

                      Does the site make ongoing money?

                       

                      If so you could still take 40% of the profits if your wife still has a percentage share in the business, even though she does nothing.

                       

                      If this is not acceptable to your wifes partner then she should make an offer to buy your wifes 40% share out. A price needs to be negotiated.

                       

                      Depending on how you feel your other option is to threaten to pull the site until such time as an agreement has been reached between the two parties. As far as I can see you hold all of the cards really.

                      • 8. Re: Legal advice for UK
                        osgood_ Level 8

                        pfmarconi wrote:

                         

                         

                        I think I may well take your advice and let things go, passing over the files.

                         

                         

                        That's the last thing you should do, especailly if the site generates some financial renumeration.

                        • 9. Re: Legal advice for UK
                          pziecina Level 6

                          Hi Paul

                           

                          In the U/K providing you did not get paid for the site in any way, then the site is yours as you have the intellectual property rights on the web site, (not the name, this belongs to the owner). But, as the site 'generated income' for the business then you should offer the business partner the opportunity to purchase the site from you, otherwise they could rightly argue that the business is effectively dissolved, and not pay your wife anything in the way of 'buying-her-out', then register the 'new' business in their own name.

                           

                          This is a very basic explanation based on the little information you have provided, and the answer is only from personal experience's I know about, so do not take this as a definitive answer or legal advice.

                           

                          Personally, ask for a reasonable payment for the site and go your separate ways.

                           

                          Paula

                          www.pziecina.com

                          • 10. Re: Legal advice for UK
                            pfmarconi Level 1

                            To put things in a nutshell, I've been paid about £100.00 for the work undertaken over the past five years. This includes the design and the constant adding of new pages as the business has expanded.

                            The domain has been paid by the business as has the hosting.

                             

                            I may well take the advice of pziecina and Osgood and allow the major partner to purchase the site at an agreeable price......whatever that may be.

                             

                            Thanks to everyone for all their time and advice. I'm very grateful.

                             

                            Paul