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Milton Keynes corporate briefing: ‘reasonable’ notice periods; transparency and trust in UK business; and more

What is a ‘reasonable’ notice period when the contract is silent? This was the question that came before Mr Justice Norris towards the end of 2013 in the case of Hamsard 3147 Ltd trading as ‘Mini Mode Childrenswear’, JS Childrenswear Ltd (in liquidation) v Boots UK Ltd.

This case arose following the insolvency of the supplier of the ‘Mini Mode’ clothing brand to Boots stores throughout the UK. However, the principles laid down are of universal application to a question that arises on many occasions — what is a ‘reasonable’ notice period if the contract is silent on this point? The reasons for this silence can range from the parties failing to address the issue upfront to, as was the case here, circumstances having intervened between the parties leading to a renegotiation of the original agreement, leaving the notice period position somewhat unclear.

In his judgment, Norris J set out the following principles to be applied when deciding whether a notice period given is ‘reasonable’…

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