Sydney Mitchell is recognised in the Top Tier of the Legal 500 and ‘punches above its weight’ for contentious and non-contentious matters. The firm is recognised for thoroughness and good commercial approach to cases.

Sydney Mitchell has again been recognised as a Tier 1 firm for its Contentious Wills and Probate work; handling a variety of high-value complex cases.

In total the firm has obtained recommendations in 13 areas of legal practice; Contentious Probate, Commercial Litigation, Debt Recovery, Insolvency and Corporate Recovery, Employment, Clinical Negligence, Personal Injury, Professional Negligence, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate, Health, Commercial Property and Property Litigation.

The firm’s clients have made some excellent comments on the work undertaken by the legal teams.

Div Singh, Senior Partner, Sydney Mitchell commented:

We have an excellent result again this year with the firm maintaining its ranking in Tier 1 for our Contentious Probate work.

We were especially pleased for some of our young solicitors Hayley–Jo Lockley and Preena Lal who have been recognised for their hard work and dedication. Our clients and referrers have made fantastic comments on the work we have undertaken including…

‘One of the strongest of the smaller city centre firms in commercial litigation’;  ‘experienced and sensible with sound judgement and a particular skill at negotiating very good deals…; ‘superstar and a joy to work with’; ‘very tenacious …’ ‘attention to detail and thorough approach’.

What more can you ask for than recommendations from your clients for the excellent service received for work undertaken by our legal teams.

The joint heads of the Dispute Resolution team, Dean Parnell and Kamal Majevadia were recognised for their high-value and complex claims undertaken with Dean recognised for his “technical knowledge that is second to none and is a solicitor you would want on your side’ and Kamal ‘… is very thorough and applies a good commercial approach to his cases’.

Leading Midlands Law firm Sydney Mitchell is ranked in 13 Legal 500 categories and has won Birmingham Law Firm of the Year 4 times in the last 9 years.

A full breakdown of the Sydney Mitchell recommendations and comments on Legal 500 are shown below.

West Midlands: Dispute resolution

Commercial litigation: Birmingham

Commercial litigation: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘one of the strongest of the smaller city centre firms in commercial litigation’, and thrives under the leadership of Dean Parnell, who is ‘very experienced and sensible, with sound judgement and a particular skill at negotiating very good deals for his clients’. Parnell is an experienced mediator and is also qualified to act as a supervising solicitor for search orders. The practice represented clients in a number of multimillion-pound claims and noted an increase in injunctive relief, SWAP claims, shareholder disputes and civil fraud. Kamal Majevadia, who co-heads the team with Parnell, has ‘good technical knowledge and is particularly good at insolvency, restructuring and financial professional negligence cases’.

Debt recovery

Debt recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s ‘very efficient’ team has a ‘light touch’ and is led by Kamal Majevadia, who is ‘adept at spotting the wood for the trees and combines this with a user-friendly sense of humour for very experienced officeholders such as liquidators, who are his staple clients’. Majevadia’s recent caseload includes acting on behalf of the administrators of Blakemores in relation to the collection of several large debts from former clients. Another name to note is insolvency specialist Leanne Schneider-Rose, who leads on debt recovery matters for business lenders such as AIB Group (UK) and West Bromwich Commercial. The practice also acts for secondary lenders on mortgage repossessions.

West Midlands: Finance

Insolvency and corporate recovery

Insolvency and corporate recovery - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s practice offers ‘exceptional value for money’ and is also noted for its ability to ‘quickly grasp the instruction and work with the officeholder to implement (and refine as necessary) the strategy’. Practice head Leanne Schneider-Rose has a loyal following of lenders and insolvency practitioners, such as AIB Group and Smith & Williamson, and wins praise for her ‘attention to detail and thorough approach’. In one example, Schneider-Rose acted for a bankrupt in the Court of Appeal in a claim against receivers for breach of duty regarding a property owned by the bankrupt.

West Midlands: Human resources

Employment

Employment - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s diverse practice ‘punches above its weight’. The practice acts for employers and individuals in contentious and non-contentious matters, and Birmingham-based team head Dean Parnell attracts praise for his ability to ‘focus on solutions rather than conflict for the sake of it’. He represented an individual in a complex disability discrimination and victimisation claim against their employer, as well as a shareholder who was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct following a health and safety audit. Jade Linton is ‘a superstar and a joy to work with’; she acted for an individual in sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims under the Equality Act 2010, which was complicated by the fact the claimant and respondent had previously been in a relationship. She also handled a whistleblowing claim brought by a high-ranked executive whose employment was terminated due to suspicions of fraudulent activity. Associate Tina Chander left the firm to join Wright Hassall LLP.

West Midlands: Insurance

Clinical negligence: claimant

Clinical negligence: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP is ‘a small firm that really punches above its weight’, and clients rate it for ‘having the skills and knowledge to handle a vast array of negligence and personal injury matters’. Mike Sutton leads the clinical negligence practice; he ‘has an excellent manner with clients’ and his experience ‘allows him to focus on the key issues in the early stages of a case’. Sutton is representing the wife of a man who died of a pulmonary embolism following the hospital’s alleged failure to appropriately treat him during the post-operative recovery period. Stephen Jesson acted for a claimant seeking compensation in light of the alleged delay in diagnosis of cancer, and is acting in a group claim filed against a consultant urological surgeon for alleged improper treatment of prostate cancer.

Next generation lawyers

Stephen Jesson - Sydney Mitchell LLP

Personal injury: claimant

Personal injury: claimant - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP acts for local clients on a wide range of personal injury work – much of which consists of multi-track claims – and ‘has a strong reputation in the West Midlands’. Team leader and ‘very tenacious lawyer’ Mike Sutton ‘does not shy away from difficult, complicated or messy cases’; he recently represented a man who suffered career-ending injuries following an accident at work, and acted on behalf of the family and financial dependents of a man killed by careless driving. Other key names include Stephen Jesson, who assisted an elderly client in her claim against a restaurant which allegedly failed to provide the duty owed by the manager to a disabled customer.

Professional negligence

Professional negligence - ranked: tier 4

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP handles high-value and complex claims regarding property and banking issues for clients such as Hertford Solutions and West Bromwich Building Society. The ‘commercially astuteDean Parnell has ‘technical knowledge that is second to none and is a solicitor you would want on your side’. He leads the practice with Kamal Majevadia, who is singled out for insolvency, restructuring and financial cases. Assistant solicitor Sundeep Bilkhu supports the partners with regards to negligence claims against solicitors and construction professionals, and recently represented a professional client in a case against his governing body for allegedly failing to adequately represent him in court resulting in significant liability costs. The ‘hardworking and responsive’ Preena Lal is also recommended.

West Midlands: Private client

Contentious trusts and probate

Contentious trusts and probate - ranked: tier 1

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s contentious trusts and probate team is based in Shirley and demonstrates ‘sound knowledge of the law, which it applies for the practical benefit of the client’. The team, led by Kamal Majevadia (who ‘is very thorough and applies a good commercial approach to his cases’) handled an Inheritance Act dispute in which a significant portion of the assets was held overseas. Solicitor Hayley-Jo Lockley supported the team in obtaining a grant of probate, forcing the removal of caveat and removing an individual from the deceased’s property, and led on the advice on the recovery of monies due to a client as per the deceased’s will. Tracy Creed is also a key contact.

Family: Birmingham
Family: Birmingham - ranked: tier 3

 

Sydney Mitchell LLP

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, Karen Moores leads the firm’s family team alongside Mauro Vinti, who works out of the Shirley office. The partners are supported by legal executive Jayne Gregg, who is ‘very positive and firm with her advice’. Recently, the team represented clients in the Birmingham family court in connection with financial remedy and child arrangement proceedings. Solicitor Teresa Mannion joined the firm in Shirley from Alsters Kelley LLP...

Personal tax, trusts and probate

Personal tax, trusts and probate - ranked: tier 2

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s clients find the wills, trusts and probate team, led by Tracy Creed, to be ‘extremely professional and efficient in all engagements and dealings’. The practice has substantial experience acting on behalf of vulnerable elderly clients in connection with care work and funding. Solicitor Ravinder Sandhu (whose ‘knowledge in this field is wide and deep’) recently assisted a client with the removal of an executor from an estate, and handled the administration of an estate according to a will, which was complicated by unclear paternity links and genealogical evidence. Clients also recommend ‘very good and helpful’ solicitor Nicholas Bennett, who is based in Shirley and acted for clients with regards to locating missing wills and applications for grants of probate.

West Midlands: Public sector

Health

Health - ranked: tier 3

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmigham)

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s public-sector healthcare practice is headed by Fahmida Ismail in Birmingham, closely supported by consultant Tony Harris, who splits his time between Birmingham and Shirley and acted for a retiring senior partner with regards to the cancellation of his GMS contract and the negotiation of his retirement agreement. Areas of expertise include advising on sales, acquisition and mergers of GP practices, partnership disputes, and LIFT and non-LIFT projects. Harris and Ismail recently advised on the changes to partnership agreements in the context of retiring and incoming partners and the re-mortgaging of freehold surgery premises through a complex borrowing scheme requiring safeguarding and indemnity clauses to protect each individual partner. In another mandate, Ismail oversaw the retirement of a GP partner who wished to remain an owner of the leasehold premises. Associates Stewart Coles and Roy Colaba recently represented a GP partnership in connection with the lease of its surgery premises, while Dean Parnell handled a commercial dispute between dentists working in the same practice where the relationship had completely broken down but a fee-sharing agreement remained.

West Midlands: Real estate

Commercial property: Birmingham

Commercial property: Birmingham - ranked: tier 5

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Sydney Mitchell LLP’s team includes the ‘knowledgeable, prompt and efficientStewart Coles, who has particular expertise in dealing with property transactions involving pension schemes, and regularly acts on behalf of SIPPs and SSASs on the purchase, sale and leasing of commercial premises. Coles also represents clients in the retail and hospitality sectors and in 2016 he advised investors on a number of hotel acquisitions. Head of practice Div Singh and finance specialist Fahmida Ismail are the other main contacts.

Property litigation

Property litigation - ranked: tier 6

Sydney Mitchell LLP (Birmingham)

At Sydney Mitchell LLP, senior solicitor Sundeep Bilkhu is a ‘good driving force’ for cases and continued to be particularly active in landlord and tenant issues for lenders and receivers: Bilkhu represented Hertford Solutions in enforcing a possession order against a tenant in occupation, and also acted for a receiver in obtaining vacant possession of a property following the borrower’s default of a legal charge. In other highlights, the team is defending Property Link Midlands in a claim alleging breach of a landlord repair covenant in a lease. Kamal Majevadia heads the practice.


 

21 lawyers are recommended in The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017 editorial (listed below)

WEST MIDLANDS

Dispute resolution - Commercial litigation - Birmingham
- Dean Parnell
- Kamal Majevadia

Dispute resolution - Debt recovery
- Kamal Majevadia
- Leanne Schneider-Rose

Finance - Insolvency and corporate recovery
- Leanne Schneider-Rose

Human resources - Employment
- Dean Parnell
- Jade Linton

Insurance - Clinical negligence - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- Stephen Jesson

Insurance - Personal injury - claimant
- Mike Sutton
- Stephen Jesson

Insurance - Professional negligence
- Dean Parnell
- Kamal Majevadia
- Preena Lal
- Sundeep Bilkhu

Private client - Contentious trusts and probate
- Hayley-Jo Lockley
- Kamal Majevadia
- Tracy Creed

Private client - Family - Elsewhere in the West Midlands
- Jayne Gregg
- Karen Moores
- Mauro Vinti
- Teresa Mannion

Private client - Personal tax, trusts and probate
- Nicholas Bennett
- Ravinder Sandhu
- Tracy Creed

Public sector - Health
- Dean Parnell
- Fahmida Ismail
- Roy Colaba
- Stewart Coles
- Tony Harris

Real estate - Commercial property - Birmingham
- Div Singh
- Fahmida Ismail
- Stewart Coles

Real estate - Property litigation
- Kamal Majevadia
- Sundeep Bilkhu

When assigning a commercial lease or exercising a break clause, sensible tenants know that taking legal advice is mandatory. In one case that underlined the point, a series of errors resulted in a company being burdened by a costly and lengthy lease that it did not want.

The case concerned a lease of office premises at an annual rent of almost £220,000 which was due to continue until 2023. The original tenant had, with the landlord’s permission, taken steps to assign the lease to another company. There was, however, a delay in registering the assignment and that was not done by the time the second company served a notice on the landlord purporting to exercise a break clause in the lease.

The landlord refused to treat the lease as having been brought to an end on the basis that the first company, not the second, was the tenant on the date that notice was given. The landlord applied to the High Court for summary judgment in the form of a declaration that the lease had not been validly terminated.

In ruling on the matter, the Court acknowledged that the second company was the beneficial owner of the lease prior to its registration and on the date when notice was given. However, in granting the landlord’s application, the Court noted that the lease remained vested in the first company on the relevant date. On a true interpretation of the lease, it was the first company that should have issued the notice.

The Court rejected arguments that a reasonable recipient of the notice would have realised that a mistake had been made and that the notice had been served on behalf of the first company. The decision meant that the second company would continue to be bound by the terms of the lease until its expiry.

For help and advice on lease matters contact Shilpa Unarkat s.unarkat@sydneymitchell.co.uk on 0121 746 3300 or complete on our online enquiry form.

Winning compensation is one thing, but enforcing its payment is another. That point could hardly have been more powerfully made than by a case in which a domestic servant who was awarded almost £270,000 by an Employment Tribunal (ET) ended up without a penny.

In what was believed to be the first successful ‘caste discrimination’ case brought before an ET, the Indian woman successfully complained that the couple for whom she worked had paid her far below the National Minimum Wage. The ET also found that she had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on grounds of her religion and race. She was awarded total compensation of £266,536.

A firm of solicitors commendably agreed to act free of charge in pursuing the couple for payment of the award. However, they ultimately only succeeded in recovering £35,702, roughly 13 per cent of the amount due. The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) had funded the woman’s case and elected to exercise its statutory charge over the sum recovered. The end result was that the woman received nothing.

In ruling on the woman’s judicial review challenge to the LAA’s decision, the High Court acknowledged that her position was extremely unfortunate. The findings of the ET were wholly consistent with her claim that she was a victim of trafficking and had been held in servitude by the couple. In dismissing her case, however, the Court rejected arguments that the application of the statutory charge breached her human rights or European rules designed to combat human trafficking.

For help and advice on employment law matters, contact Samantha Glynn on 0121 698 2200 s.glynn@sydneymitchell.co.uk

Another great professional networking event with over 50 attending the Sydney Mitchell LLP ‘Movers & Shakers’ Midlands event at Ginger’s Bar, Purnell’s Bistro in Newhall Street, Birmingham.

A fantastic three course meal went down a treat with all – wonderful flavour and excellent service.  The relaxed relationship building event always receives superb comments from those attending and the delights delivered by Glyn Purnell and his team.

Samantha Glynn, Sarah Rowe Birmingham Chamber, Sarah Archer Sydney MItchelll LLP
Sydney Mitchell specialist teams include employment, commercial property, company and commercial services, litigation, insolvency, licensing and gambling law. Private client teams include family law, residential property, dispute resolution and wills and probate, tax and trusts and personal injury.
Law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP has offices in Birmingham, Shirley and Sheldon.

News and Event pictures can be seen by clicking on the Google+ links below

goo.gl/M8bLCS

Rational and fair bequests are almost never overturned by the courts and that is one good reason why you should seek legal advice before making a will. In one case, a farmer’s decision to leave none of his £3 million estate to his son survived intense High Court scrutiny.

The farmer, who died aged 81, left the entirety of his estate to his widow and two daughters. In challenging the validity of his will, his son argued that he lacked the mental capacity to make it. The son also claimed that he had worked hard in the family business for 35 years in reliance on his father’s promise that he would inherit the whole of the farm in due course.

In rejecting the challenge, however, the Court noted that, during his father’s lifetime, the son had received £200,000 in cash, his father’s share of a haulage business and some valuable land. In those circumstances, the farmer had appreciated that the balance needed to be redressed as between his three children and had rationally achieved that objective by the terms of his will. Although he suffered from memory loss and occasional confusion towards the end of his life, the Court found that he was capable of making a valid will.

The son, who had been paid for his work at the going rate, genuinely believed that he had been promised the farm on his father’s death. However, he had failed to establish on the evidence that the frugal and self-made farmer had given him any binding assurance to that effect.

If you are in need of advice on will matters, please contact Ravinder Sandhu r.sandhu@sydneymitchell.co.uk on 0121 698 2200 or Kam Majevadia on contentious matters or complete our online enquiry form.

In October 2016, the Prime Minister commissioned Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA and former policy chief to Tony Blair, to look at how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business needs.

The Review entitled 'Good Work', considered a range of issues, including the implications of new forms of work, the rise of digital platforms and the impact of new working models on employee and worker rights, responsibilities, freedoms and obligations.  The report made 53 recommendations.

Among these recommendations were that the status of 'worker' – i.e. those people who are eligible for worker rights but who are not employees should be retained but renamed 'dependent contractor', with a clearer distinction drawn between the rights of employees, dependent contractors and those who are legitimately self-employed and that those on zero-hours contracts should be given the right to request guaranteed hours after one year.

The Government has now published its response to the Review, setting out a plan of action for taking forward the recommendations, and launched four consultations on key areas covered including: Employment status, increasing transparency in the labour market, agency workers and the enforcement of employment rights.

For further information see:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/employment-status
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/increasing-transparency-in-the-labour-market
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-the-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices.
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/626772/good-work-taylor-review-modern-working-practices.pdf.

 

Sydney Mitchell LLP, Top Tier Legal 500 Law Firm, has been short-listed for 2018 Birmingham Law Society Firm of the Year (5-15 partners).

Birmingham Law Society Finalist 2018 Sydney Mitchell LLPTHE BIRMINGHAM LAW SOCIETY AWARDS 2018 SHORTLIST

Law Firm of the Year (5-15 partners)

  •     Enoch Evans LLP
  •     Glover Priest Solicitors
  •     Sydney Mitchell LLP
  •     Thomas Flavell & Sons

Senior Partner, Div Singh commented:

We have seen great investment in the firm over the past 2 years and are proud to see the firm shortlisted for the 2018 Birmingham Law Society Firm of the Year Award.

It is fantastic that the firm, partners and staff have been recognised for the quality of work both individuals and teams provide for clients.  It truly reflects the high calibre and dedication staff give to the firm and its clients.

Sydney Mitchell specialist teams include employment, commercial property, company and commercial services, litigation, insolvency, licensing and gambling law. Private client teams include family law, residential property, dispute resolution and wills and probate, tax and trusts and personal injury.


For more details about short list below or click on the link attached - http://www.birminghamlawsociety.co.uk/the-shortlist-2018


If you would like help on any legal matters, please call 0121 698 2200 or email enquiries@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.


THE BIRMINGHAM LAW SOCIETY AWARDS 2018 SHORTLIST
Law Firm of the Year (5-15 partners)

  • Enoch Evans LLP

  • Glover Priest Solicitors

  • Sydney Mitchell LLP

  • Thomas Flavell & Sons

Trainee Solicitor of the Year

  • Martin Brown Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 
  • Greg Fearn Mills & Reeve LLP 
  • Alice Kinder Pinsent Masons LLP 
  • Sian Marks Higgs & Sons 
  • Hannah Short Shoosmiths LLP 

   
Paralegal of the Year

  • Letitia Ait-Tales Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 
  • Hannah Hogarth Gateley Plc 
  • Kayleigh Kennedy VWV 
  • Rebecca Kennedy Pinsent Masons LLP 
  • Sara Wright Gateley Plc 

   
Barrister of the Year

  • Gemma Bowes St Ives Chambers 
  • Jason Hadden St Ives Chambers 
  • Nageena Khalique QC No5 Chambers 
  • Elizabeth McGrath QC 3PB Barristers 
  • Henry Pitchers No5 Chambers 
  • Jeremy Weston QC St Ives Chambers 

   
Partner of the Year

  • Ahmed Aydeed Duncan Lewis Solicitors Ltd 
  • Yetunde Dania Trowers & Hamlins LLP 
  • Trevor Ivory DLA Piper UK LLP 
  • Dee Kundi VWV 
  • Kashmir Uppal Access Legal, trading name of Shoosmiths 

   
Birmingham Law Society Innovation Award

  •   Mills & Reeve LLP 
  • Kid Harwood Wildings 
  • Amanda Mobbs My Business Counsel 
  • Toby Harper  Harper James Solicitors 
  • Christina Wolfe Irwin Mitchell LLP 

   
Birmingham Law Society Pro Bono Award

  • Rosie Banks Irwin Mitchell LLP 
  • Nina Pindham No5 Chambers 
  • Victoria Steele DLA Piper UK LLP 
  • Employment Tribunal Streetlaw The University of Birmingham 

   
Birmingham Law Society Leadership Award

  • Gary Carney St Philips Chambers 
  • Amardeep Singh Gill Trowers & Hamlins LLP 
  • James Turner Tuckers Solicitors LLP 
  • Sandra Wallace DLA Piper UK LLP 

   
Business Team of the Year

  • Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP
  • DLA Piper UK LLP
  • Enoch Evans LLP
  • St Philips Employment Group

   
Private Client Team of the Year

  • Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP
  • Enoch Evans LLP
  • Irwin Mitchell LLP
  • Mills & Reeve LLP
  • VWV

   
Law Firm of the Year (sole practitioners up to 4 partners)

  • Addison Aaron Solicitors
  • Fountain Solicitors
  • Gordon Jones & Co
  • JM Wilson Solicitors Ltd
  • Neil Davies & Partners

   

Law Firm of the Year (16+ partners)

  • Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP
  • Gateley Plc
  • Irwin Mitchell LLP
  • Mills & Reeve LLP
  • Shoosmiths LLP
  • VWV

Midlands Top Tier Award Winning law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP is delighted to announce that Samantha Glynn has joined the Dispute Resolution Team. Sam is a specialist Employment Law Solicitor who has considerable experience of contentious employment matters as well as supporting employer clients with HR related advice and assistance.

Dean Parnell Partner Sydney Mitchell and Samantha Glynn Sydney Mitchell LLP Employment Law advisersDean Parnell, Partner, said:

We are delighted to be welcoming Sam into our team and in addition to taking on a good mix of employment tribunal claims she will also be providing support to our Employment Armour retainer clients.


Samantha Glynn commented:

I am looking forward to working with Dean and the rest of the team at Sydney Mitchell. The firm has an excellent reputation and their Legal 500 status is well deserved; I really enjoy being part of a highly motivated team who are focused on getting the very best results for their clients.


Dean added

We are also delighted to have been shortlisted for the Law Firm of the Year – 5-15 partners in the Birmingham Law Society Awards 2018 and regardless of the outcome we intend to really enjoy the night.


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 and has been shortlisted in the 2018 awards.  Sydney Mitchell employs over 100 people and has 10 partners.

Normally, employers consider suspension of employees where misconduct has occurred. However the recent case of Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth warns employers and advisers about the risks of suspending employees as a knee-jerk reaction to potential misconduct.

This was brought by a teacher Ms Agoreyo who used force to get the pupils to behave. In the suspension letter that she received from the school, the school described the suspension as a neutral act. The court determined that Ms Agoreyo’s suspension had repudiated the employment contract by breaching the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence. Before suspending Ms Agoreyo, the school should have spoken to her about what had occurred and asked her for her response to the allegation; given sufficient time for various teaching supports to be put in place, as had been discussed with her previously; and considered whether there were any appropriate alternatives to suspension.

This does not mean that suspension will not be considered reasonable, however it is for the employer to show that it has properly considered suspension and whether or not it can be justified. The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures states that where suspension is considered necessary, the period of suspension should be as short as possible and be kept under review. In addition, the employer should make it clear that the suspension is not considered a disciplinary sanction. The employer should demonstrate that it turned its mind properly to whether suspension was justified in the particular case at hand.

Helpful tips for employers to consider before suspending an employee:

Consider alternative options to suspension including:

  1. Permitting employees to continue in their normal roles where this is compatible with the investigation.
  2. Assigning employees to a special project that will keep them away from the area under investigation.
  3. Having employees report into a different person, or having their direct reports assigned to someone else for a short period.
  4. Temporarily transferring employees to a different area of the business.

Alternatives that have been considered should be documented and employers should ensure that all employees are treated consistently when applying the disciplinary and grievance policies.

Investigate/make preliminary enquiries. Employers should try to establish some key facts without suspending employees. The employer should as the employees in question to put forward their side of the story. Conducting a limited investigation will not always be appropriate; for example, asking employees for their accounts of events may tip them off that their misconduct has been discovered and they may seek to destroy evidence.

Inform/discuss with the employee. The employer should notify the employee in writing and explain the decision to suspend along with confirmation as to the details of suspension (full pay, length etc), state that the suspension is not a disciplinary action in itself. Ensure that the employee remains informed by receiving regular updates.

Make the period of suspension as brief as possible, including by lining up the investigation team and arranging any witness interviews promptly.

Keep the suspension under review, asking itself at regular points during the investigation whether the original reasons for suspension still apply; for example, if the employer suspended the employee to ensure that documents were not tampered with, but is now confident that it has gathered all relevant documentary evidence, the employee may be able to return to work.

Employers should consider each of the points above carefully before taking action against an employee. This will ensure that employers are not faced with difficulties like in Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth whereby the employer was found to have breached the employees contract of employment, regardless of the employees actions.

For Help and Advice on Employment Law matters, please complete our online enquiry form or contact Samantha Glynn direct on 0121 698 2200 or 021 746 3300 s.glynn@sydneymitchell.co.uk

On the 1st February 2018 the Government launched a scheme to enable people in England and Wales to claim back excess fees they paid to the Office of the Public Guardian for applications to register lasting powers of attorney and enduring powers of attorney. The refund scheme is for fee payments made to the Office of the Public Guardian between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, and includes repeat applications and remissions, whether the power of attorney was registered or not.

You can read the full Ministry of Justice press release here

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/power-of-attorney-fee-refund-scheme-launched

All those eligible for a partial refund on their power of attorney fees can apply from 1st February 2018.

Further details on the scheme are available on the Governments own website here

https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund

All those eligible for a partial refund on their power of attorney fees can apply from today.

The Governments website includes further details on the scheme including:

• Who can claim a refund
• How much the refund will be (typically £45 to £54)
• How to claim

The refund scheme is by way of online application and will take approximately 10 minutes. Claims can be submitted by the person who made the power of attorney or an appointed attorney.

You can also claim by phone if you don’t have a computer or can’t use one easily (Telephone: 0300 456 0300 - choose option 6)

https://claim-power-of-attorney-refund.service.gov.uk/when-were-fees-paid

Again, more information is available here

https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund

Alternatively you can contact the Refunds Helpline:
Email: poarefunds@justice.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 456 0300 (choose option 6)

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