Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in the Worcester News on 24th March 2015.

Q. A friend has worked for a small firm for three years. She has no employment contract and earns £250 a week, although she gets nothing when it’s quiet and has to work evenings and weekends (for no extra pay) when they’re busy. She has to pay her own tax, and the boss says when he closes the business next year she will get no severance pay because she is self-employed. What can she do?

A. It sounds as though your friend is employed, not self-employed. She should contact her local Inland Revenue office to determine her tax position. If she is regarded as an employee for tax purposes she is likely to be regarded as having the same status for employment rights and benefits purposes. However if her boss doesn’t accept that she is an employee she may have to apply to an employment tribunal for a further determination.


Q. I have just received a visit from a firm of private bailiffs, saying I owed £2,300. Were they entitled to come on to private property and just look around? They told me they were going to take my vehicle, and under duress I paid them, but I have written to the court complaining that I had no paperwork or prior notice of the warrant.

A. The most usual authority for a bailiff to come on to your property is under a county court judgment. If you never received any paperwork from the court you may have been able to persuade the bailiffs to take “walking possession” of your vehicle (ie leave it for the time being) while you sorted it out. But if you owed the money you probably saved yourself a lot of trouble and further expense by paying up.


Q. People place advertisements in the public notices section of the paper under the heading “In the Estate Of”. Why is this done?  Is it a legal requirement for a public announcement to be made? Is it compulsory for everyone who dies? What purpose does it serve?

A. The notices are placed under s27 of the Trustee Act 1925 and ask for anyone with a claim on the estate, either as a creditor or a potential beneficiary, to contact the personal representatives within two months of the date of the notice. The notices are not a legal requirement, but if a claimant comes forward after the estate has been distributed, and the personal representatives did not place the notices, then they may be personally liable. The notices are placed in the London Gazette, and, if the deceased owned a property, in the local paper as well.


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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