HR FORUM

Come along to our HR forum and discuss topical employment issues

In a round table discussion, join with your fellow HR professionals from across the region.

Dispute Resolution

This month’s forum will consider the issues which may arise in connection with settling actual or potential employment disputes using settlement agreements or ACAS conciliation.

Let Jade Linton, Sydney Mitchell Employment Law Specialist, give you the opportunity to review
some recent case studies and host an active discussion. 

You will also receive a copy of the latest Sydney Mitchell Employment Law Update.

We are sure you will find this forum of interest. Book now to attend this FREE forum!

Please confirm your attendance by emailing Jade.

We do hope you can join us.

When: 29 June 2017

Time: 1.00 pm

Where:
Sydney Mitchell LLP
336 Stratford Road,
Shirley,
Solihull, B90 3DN

RSVP: JADE LINTON
j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk

HR Forum - Sydney Mitchell

Midlands Top Tier Award Winning law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP is delighted to announce that Jade Linton has been promoted to Associate in the Employment Law Team. Jade joined the firm in 2014 and has gone from strength to strength within the firm.

“Jade is a specialist in employment law and is committed to providing both individuals and companies with an exceptional level of service. Jade is very much results focused and she has obtained some fantastic results for her clients.  When a client is being represented by Jade they will be getting the best client care and will be very much in safe hands.  It is clear that Jade loves her work and this is recognised by both her clients and colleagues; she is very deserving of this promotion” said Dean Parnell, Partner.

Dean Parnell and Jade Linton Associate Sydney Mitchell Promotion

Jade is a qualified employment solicitor, has extensive experience in employment matters for both individuals and businesses. Jade has acted on a number of high profile cases including breach of duty cases against Local Authorities and specialises in all areas of Employment Law. 

Jade Linton commented: “I am delighted Sydney Mitchell has recognised my commitment and dedication in making the employment department a beacon of legal excellence and client care in the West Midlands, but it would be remiss of me to take all of the credit for myself. I am part of a firm of first class lawyers, staff and an inspiring Head of Department, each of whom help me to achieve great results on a daily basis and whom I am sure will support me in continuing this good work.”

Jade advises on all aspects of employment law including settlement agreements, redundancies, unfair dismissal and discrimination cases.  Jade has advised a number of organisations on HR matters and has delivered HR training courses to managers and directors including the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals at its National Conference. Jade is based in the firm’s Shirley office but has clients throughout the Midlands.

Law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP has offices in Birmingham, Shirley, Sheldon and facilities in Sutton Coldfield.  The firm provides an extensive portfolio of legal services is listed in the Top Tier of the Legal 500, Lexcel accredited and won the Birmingham Law Society award for Law Firm of the Year (5- 15 partners) in 2015.  Sydney Mitchell employs over 100 people and has 10 partners.

Picture –Jade Linton, Associate Solicitor, Sydney Mitchell LLP and Dean Parnell Partner Sydney Mitchell LLP

Loving couples often contribute together to the cost of buying a home. However, if legal advice is unwisely dispensed with, such arrangements are often not recorded on title deeds and, as one tribunal case showed, that can store up serious trouble for the future.

The case concerned a couple who, despite having been through an Islamic wedding ceremony, were not legally married because the necessary formalities had not been complied with. They had children together and moved into a flat which was later compulsorily purchased by a local authority. The proceeds of the forced sale were put into buying a new home which they occupied until the end of the relationship.

Both the flat and the new home had been registered in the woman’s sole name. However, the man claimed that £10,000 of the flat’s £11,500 purchase price had been provided by his family and that he had paid for renovation works. On that basis, he argued that he was entitled to a beneficial interest in the new home. In resisting his claim, however, the woman insisted that the money used to buy the flat came from her own resources, a dowry provided by her mother and loans received from her family.

In ruling on the dispute, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) noted that it largely came down to one person’s word against another’s in the absence of any documentary evidence to support either of their accounts. After the man’s uncle testified that he had given him £10,000 in cash towards the purchase of the property, the FTT found that the man had an interest in the new home to the extent of his contribution.

Please contact Adam Oleskow on 0121 746 3300, email a.oleskow@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

Midlands award winning law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP is delighted to announce that Suzanna Patalong and Robert Haggis have joined its Corporate and Commercial Team.

Suzanna specialises in commercial law and Robert is a Barrister with extensive experience in both corporate and commercial law including supply and distribution agreements, business acquisitions and software licensing.

Sydney Mitchell LLP Solicitors Corporate Team Expansion Birmingham and West Midlands

IMAGE: Corporate Team (from left to right) - Pictured - Adam Ivory (Apprentice), Robert Haggis (Barrister), Shilpa Unarkat (Associate), Div Singh (Senior Partner), Fahmida Ismail (Partner), Roy Colaba (Associate) Suzanna Patalong (Solicitor) (Stewart Coles – Associate (not pictured))

Suzanna has worked previously at some of the large law firms in Birmingham, and joined Sydney Mitchell LLP from Else Solicitors LLP.  Robert joins the team from LGP Solicitors.

Suzanna commented on her appointment: “Sydney Mitchell is a well-respected law firm with over 250 years delivering legal services in the West Midlands. I am really enjoying working with the team in Birmingham.”

Robert added: “Having worked with international oil companies, major chemical and industrial gas supply companies and small medium sized businesses, I hope to bring a wealth of experience of benefit to Sydney Mitchell clients.”

The Corporate and Commercial team at Sydney Mitchell is led by Fahmida Ismail.

Fahmida Ismail, Partner, commented: “We are pleased to have such highly skilled talent join our established team in the West Midlands and look forward to developing and expanding our offering to our clients, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Suzanna is based in the Birmingham office and Robert in the Shirley office.  All have a wealth of experience in dealing with individuals and corporate and commercial clients.

Sydney Mitchell LLP has offices in Birmingham City Centre, Sheldon, Shirley and facilities in Sutton Coldfield.

A triple for Sydney Mitchell

Midlands award winning law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP is delighted to announce that they have made a number of senior appointments and promotions.  Suzanna Patalong and Robert Haggis have joined their expanding Corporate and Commercial Team and Jade Linton has been promoted to Associate in the Employment Law team.

Suzanna specialises in commercial law and Robert is a Barrister with extensive experience in both corporate and commercial law including supply and distribution agreements, business acquisitions and software licensing.

Suzanna has worked previously at some of the large law firms in Birmingham, and joined Sydney Mitchell LLP from Else Solicitors LLP.  Robert previously headed the Commercial Property team at LGP Solicitors.

Suzanna commented on her appointment: “Sydney Mitchell is a well-respected law firm with over 250 years delivering legal services in the West Midlands. I am really enjoying working with the team in Birmingham.”

Robert added: “Having worked with international oil companies, major chemical and industrial gas supply companies and small medium sized businesses, I hope to bring a wealth of experience of benefit to Sydney Mitchell clients.”

Jade commented: “The Sydney Mitchell Employment Department is a beacon of legal excellence and client care in the West Midlands and I am delighted to be part of the team.”

The Corporate and Commercial team at Sydney Mitchell is led by Fahmida Ismail.

Fahmida Ismail, Partner, commented: “We are pleased to have such highly skilled talent join our established team in the West Midlands and look forward to developing and expanding our offering to our clients, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Suzanna is based in the Birmingham office and Robert and Jade in the Shirley office.  All have a wealth of experience in dealing with individuals and corporate and commercial clients.

Sydney Mitchell LLP has offices in Birmingham City Centre, Sheldon, Shirley and facilities in Sutton Coldfield.

 

A recent case has highlighted that it is of little use to have some fantastic Terms & Conditions prepared for your business, if your sales team are not trained to ensure that your contracts with your customers and suppliers, are governed by your Terms & Conditions. 

If your customers and suppliers have their own Terms & Conditions, they will do their best to ensure that theirs apply to the contracts between you.  A 2015 case (Transformers and Rectifiers Ltd v Needs Ltd [2015] EWHC 269 (TCC)) showed that, if neither company has proper procedures in place, then it may be that neither company’s Terms & Conditions will apply.  If no Terms & Conditions apply to the contract for the sale of goods, the contract will be governed by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SGA), which imposes some implied terms on such contracts.  A supplier’s Terms & Conditions will usually seek to vary the effect of these implied terms, and limit or exclude the supplier’s liability that could arise otherwise.

Standard Terms & Conditions should, of course, deal with a company’s liabilities, as well as setting out the terms that would apply to ordering, delivery, payment etc.  However, the company’s internal processes should also make sure that the Terms & Conditions are incorporated into its contracts.  This is a matter that will depend exclusively on how the company’s office employees work.  Where do the Terms & Conditions appear?  Do customers and suppliers actually see a copy of the Terms & Conditions?  How do employees reply to orders placed?  How do they respond to queries from customers and suppliers?  The answer to the problem of incorporation of your Terms & Conditions into your contracts could even be as simple as amending everyone’s signature block, so that all emails sent out refer to the company’s Terms & Conditions.

For a review of your current Terms & Conditions and order processes, or for further information, please contact Suzanna Patalong at Sydney Mitchell on 0121 698 2200 or s.patalong@sydneymitchell.co.uk or complete our online enquiry form.

In a decision that will be required reading for all professionals, the Court of Appeal has ruled that liability in respect of substandard services does not depend upon the existence of a contract, or even remuneration. The point was made in the case of an architect who helped friends to landscape their garden free of charge.

A couple wished to iron out steep slopes in the garden of their £5 million home and to install restful terraces, paths, lawns and flower beds. They were unhappy with a £150,000 quote from an established landscape gardener and the architect offered her services and employed builders to carry out the work at a lower price.

However, the project was alleged to have gone badly wrong and, after an exchange of acrimonious emails, the builders were ordered off the job. The work was eventually completed by the gardener whose quote had earlier been rejected and the couple blamed the architect for cost overruns and numerous alleged defects. They estimated the value of their claim at £265,000.

A judge found that the architect, despite having provided her services for free, had assumed responsibility for the work and had ultimately hoped to benefit from her involvement in such a prestigious project. Despite the absence of a contract, it was fair, just and reasonable to find that she owed the couple a duty of care.

In rejecting the architect’s challenge to that ruling, the Court of Appeal noted that her relationship with the couple was not merely informal or social and that the context was a professional one. She had voluntarily tendered skilled professional services in circumstances where she knew that the couple would rely upon her and it was foreseeable that any failure on her part would cause them economic loss. Her duty to employ reasonable care and skill extended to designing and project managing the garden transformation and controlling its cost.

For any further advice, please contact Kamal Majevadia 0121 746 3300 email, k.majevadia@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

Planning decisions often involve a delicate balancing exercise between the benefit that a development will bring and the harm that it will cause. That was certainly so in one case in which the High Court gave its blessing to a football club’s plans for a state-of-the art training facility and academy.

Construction of the two-storey facility would involve major land-levelling works and the import of 180 cubic metres of infill. The 60-acre site chosen was classified as Metropolitan Open Land and the club’s proposals had encountered stiff opposition from local people who were concerned at the loss of public recreational space. The local authority granted planning consent on the basis of an officer’s report that cited the compelling need for the facility and a lack of alternative brownfield sites.

In dismissing a campaigner’s judicial review challenge to that decision, the Court rejected claims that the council’s planning committee had been materially misled by the officer’s report. The impact of floodlighting, noise and the reduction in public access to the land had all been properly taken into account.

For advice please contact Sundeep Bilkhu on 0121 698 2200, email sundeep.bilkhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

Long-term sick leave can be a headache for employers, but it is absolutely vital that workers are given every opportunity to get better and return to work. In one case that proved the point, a teacher who was off work for over a year after she was assaulted by a pupil has won the right to compensation following her dismissal.

Although her physical injuries were not serious, the woman – who was head of IT at a large state school – was left badly shaken by the attack. She felt unsafe in parts of the school and believed that her employer was not taking aggressive behaviour by students seriously enough. She was particularly unhappy about a refusal to reinstate an earlier policy to automatically exclude pupils who assaulted staff.

Following further incidents, she went on sick leave and was later diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She was off work for more than a year before she was dismissed on the basis that she was incapable of returning to work. That decision was later upheld by an internal appeal panel.

The school accepted that she was disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. An Employment Tribunal upheld her claim that she had been treated unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of her disability and also ruled that her dismissal was unfair on the ground that it was discriminatory.

The woman had presented the appeal panel with a doctor’s note stating that she was now fit to return to work. She said that she had recently completed a course of therapeutic treatment and felt that she would now be able to cope with any future incidents. In those circumstances, the ET found that the school should have waited a little longer in order to seek clarification of her medical condition before deciding whether or not to dismiss her.

That decision was later overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) and a re-hearing of the case directed. The EAT noted that the woman had a leadership role within the school and that arranging cover during her long absence had serious resource and managerial implications for the school during a period of austerity. The appeal panel had been sympathetic towards her but had justifiably concluded that enough was enough.

In upholding the woman's appeal against the EAT's findings, the Court of Appeal found, by a majority, that the ET had made no error of law and reinstated its findings. The case was finely balanced but the ET was entitled to conclude on the evidence that the dismissal was premature. The amount of the woman’s compensation remains to be assessed and the Court expressed the hope that a settlement might be reached, obviating the need for further proceedings.

Employers who find themselves in this situation are advised to keep a full record of the impact of the employee's continued absence for use as evidence in support of any future decision to end the employment relationship.

For further advice please contact Jade Linton on 0121 746 3300, email j.linton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form

A recent change to the way in which compensation for seriously injured negligence victims is calculated has led to a dramatic increase in the size of awards – but they are still no more than is needed to ensure that their care needs are met for life.

One case concerned a young cerebral palsy sufferer who will never be able to live independently after he was starved of oxygen during his birth. The NHS trust that managed the hospital where he was delivered admitted full liability for his injuries and issued an apology to him and his family at the High Court.

Following negotiations with the boy’s legal team, the trust agreed to pay a lump sum of £6,874,283, plus index-linked and tax-free annual sums to cover the costs of his lifelong care. Those payments will start at £155,000, rising in steps to £215,000 when he reaches the age of 60. If he attains the age of 70, the total compensation package will be worth around £18 million.

The settlement was negotiated in the light of a change in the discount rate that is applied to compensation awards to take account of the claimant's returns when the lump sum is invested. The discount rate has recently been reduced to minus 0.75 per cent, having previously been unchanged at 2.5 per cent since 2001, to take account of historically low returns on investments.

For further information on this article, please contact Mike Sutton on 0121 698 2200, email m.sutton@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

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