Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP, As featured in Worcester News 10th March 2015.

Q. I was on a probationary contract, but they didn’t take me on when it came to an end, saying they were not satisfied with my performance. I have been looking for another job, but I’m always asked to give the name of my previous employers on application forms, and they always give me a bad reference. What can I do?

A. You could ask to see the personnel records held by your previous employers. Whilst generally employers are under no legal obligation to provide a reference, if they do it must not be misleading or provide inaccurate information. If your records don’t support the poor reference they are supplying they will probably stop supplying a reference at all. But if they do (and from what you say, this is likely) you will be back to square one.


Q. My husband and I were separated but not divorced, and he has now died leaving a will in which he gives his share of the house to our three daughters. Our ownership of the house was split 50/50 by a Notice of Severance. Will I have to go to court to have this overturned?

A. When couples separate it is standard practice to issue a Notice of Severance. By signing such a notice, the property is held as tenants in common so that each party is able to dispose of their half share under a will. The children may have to go to court if you refuse to sell or buy out their half share in the property. However, as you were not divorced at the date of his death you may be able to claim a share of your husband’s estate. See a solicitor.


Q. Last year I had a contract with a UK-based travel company which guaranteed a sum for the hire of my small villa abroad. The company failed to make the final instalment of just under £1,000, saying the number of lettings was below what had been expected. How do you initiate a claim in the small claims court?

A. The “small claims court” is simply a procedure for dealing with claims under £10,000 in the County Court. You can pick up claim forms from your local County Court, although it is possible these days to file a claim via the internet. Check your contract with the travel firm. If you’re sure of your ground I suggest you write to the travel company telling them you’re intending to sue and give them, say, a fortnight to pay up. If they know you mean business they may send you a cheque.


For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.


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