Businesses within the Manufacturing and Industrials sectors are well primed for growth and evolution due to the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
Industry 4.0 has placed an ever increasing need to embrace technology in areas such as smart factories; 3D printing and the Internet-of-Things. However, despite its technological advantages, Industry 4.0 does present a series of new legal challenges that need to be addressed in order to enable the sector to remain competitive in international markets.
Many of our legal specialists have undergone manufacturing specific training at one of the world's leading research and education groups (Warwick Manufacturing Group) and have in-house experience through acting as in-house counsel or on secondments within clients' businesses.
We use our legal and commercial expertise to provide guidance that helps clients achieve competitive success, maximise their assets and minimise complexity and risk within product lines, customer relationships, manufacturing operations and supply chains.
Sectors in which we have particular expertise are Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, Automotive, Food and Drink, Aerospace and Defence, Chemicals and Life Sciences. Our team advises on all aspects of the business, contract and product life cycles across a range of disciplines including:
Supply chain risk and resilience
The move to more collaborative and flexible supply chains and a circular economy to meet global demand highlights the importance of supply chain management. We have particular expertise in this area and play an integral role in supporting the protection of supply chains for a large number of international businesses, including within the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250. In the last two years we have advised on five supply contracts worth more than £5 billion each.
With an ever increasing reliance on technology and connectivity, our leading TMT and Intellectual Property practices across Europe and Asia are at the forefront of helping our clients navigate through challenges in areas such as smart manufacturing, connectivity, M2M communications and 3D printing. The Legal 500 and Chambers legal directories rate us as one of the top technology law firms in the jurisdictions in which we advise. Our expertise in tackling changes to legislation on data protection, information security, intellectual property, contractual and regulatory obligations enable our clients to gain a competitive edge in implementing game-changing developments.
Continual globalisation and consolidation drives the need for companies to undertake acquisitions, disposals or joint ventures in order to improve financial strength, negotiating power with customers and suppliers and boost capacity utilisation. Our market leading corporate team ensures that the M&A strategy is implemented and executed in the most effective way to maximise the value of the transaction whilst minimising associated risks. We have a track record in opening up new markets and revenue streams for our clients and are ranked No. 1 for number of Industrials clients in 2015 (AIM Adviser Rankings, 2015). Our dedicated commercial team explore alternative routes to market entry in order to help our clients manage risks associated with rapid growth and expansion.
Protecting and exploiting intellectual property assets
Intellectual property is increasingly at the heart of manufacturing and diversified industrials businesses because it enables companies to gain and maintain a competitive advantage with disruptive technologies such as 3D printing driving revolutionary changes to many business models. We work closely with clients to proactively protect, defend and maximise their IP portfolios. Read more about our IP experience.
Dealing with all legal aspects of your own and your supply chain's workforces is fundamental to creating a successful manufacturing business.
View more information about our Employment services
Health & safety
An ever escalating area on the corporate agenda, in part due to increasing financial penalties and heightened media attention. Our top ranked team has considerable experience in advising organisations in high hazard industries such as manufacturing and have developed a "toolkit" of preventative measures which support our clients in managing their risks effectively. We are also available 24/7 to provide immediate crisis management advice in the aftermath of an incident.
Managing the environment
Shareholders are increasingly asking questions about the standards of environmental management employed by manufacturers and interested in driving cost savings through effective energy and resource management. In addition to the heightened focus by environmental regulators on compliance with waste legislation, these factors are leading to more attention being paid by Boards to environmental issues that could impact on the public reputation of their companies and affect their bottom line. Our environment lawyers are stellar in their commerciality, innovation and specialist knowledge across the manufacturing sector.
Read more information about our environment experience
Our lawyers have expertise across the full risk matrix including product liability, bribery and corruption, competition, data protection and dispute resolution.
Our experience in the sector
Some of our recent work includes advising:
- IMI plc, a FTSE 100 global manufacturing and engineering business on the centralisation of its logistics contracts. We supported IMI through the life of the project from assessing its current supplier base, issuing tender documents, assessing bidder responses, negotiating contract terms with shortlisted bidders and final contract award
- A leading German car manufacturer on the development and operation of the company's newest high-profile user connectivity product line, including international data protection and telecoms regulations
- A Japanese Tier 1 automotive supplier on the reorganisation of substantial parts of its European manufacturing capabilities
- Rexam plc, a FTSE 100 leading beverage can manufacturer, in negotiating its long term high value, business critical aluminium supply contracts
- A luxury car manufacturer on retail car dealerships throughout China
- Kraft on employment integration issues arising after the acquisition of Cadbury
- BAE Systems on the re-procurement of its IT services, to include managed networks across multiple business groups in the UK and North America
- An Indian stock market listed company, the 2nd largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in India, on its investment in, and development contract with, a UK AIM listed bus manufacturer and its subsequent acquisition of a majority shareholding and debt facility
- Advising a building materials manufacturer on various aspects of environmental regulation, including end of waste issues relating to the use of waste products as fertiliser and surrender of carbon credits following mothballing of a plant
- Advising a polymer manufacturer on potential breach of environmental permit for activities at a manufacturing facility and interaction with regulators in relation to the same, to minimise the chances of prosecution
- Manufacturers and importers of construction and machinery products on their obligations in relation to placing on the market and CE Marking
- A leading drinks manufacturer in contentious and non-contentious matters including an HSE investigation and subsequent enforcement action arising from the management of agency staff; assisting with re-drafting of H&S policies and procedures and supporting internal investigations following complaints by employees
- Advising and representing Nanjing Automobile Corporation in the highly successful High Court and Court of Appeal action in relation to the infringement of the world renowned "MG" mark and logo