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Surveyors must pay £18m after giving negligent advice

Surveyors must pay £18m after giving negligent advice

The surveyors were hired by a consortium of developers to assess the commercial prospects of a factory outlet shopping centre. The centre was in a listed building on two floors. The developers acquired the lease on the centre for £62.85m based on the valuation produced by the surveyors. However, the centre was not a commercial…

Overall employment tribunal figures fall but age claims increase

Overall employment tribunal figures fall but age claims increase

The latest figures from the Tribunals Service cover the period from 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011. There were a total of 218,100 claims during that period, a fall of 8% on the previous year. However, while it may be good to see the number of claims fall, it should be remembered that the…

Supermarkets and dairy processors fined for co-ordinating prices

Supermarkets and dairy processors fined for co-ordinating prices

The action follows an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). It found that Arla, Asda, Dairy Crest, McLelland, Safeway, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, The Cheese Company and Wiseman infringed the Competition Act 1998 by co-ordinating increases in the prices consumers paid for certain dairy products in 2002 and/or 2003. The co-ordination was made possible by…

When shareholders fall out and refuse to meet …

When shareholders fall out and refuse to meet …

The issue arose in a case involving a taxi firm that had two shareholders who were also both directors. The minority shareholder played no active part in the business but her husband worked as the accounts manager. The majority shareholder discovered that the accounts manager was withdrawing money on a monthly basis without authorisation. He…

Woman injured in hair salon receives £21,250 compensation

Woman injured in hair salon receives £21,250 compensation

She needed to undergo a skin graft procedure and the hair in the affected area of her scalp will never grow back. The incident happened when she went to a salon to have highlights put in her hair. It wasn’t the first time she had had highlights but it was the first time she had…

When divorcing couples try to ‘hide’ property

When divorcing couples try to ‘hide’ property

The courts, however, are prepared to set aside dubious transfers if it’s shown that they are simply an attempt to prevent a fair divorce settlement being reached. Such a case arose recently in which a husband used a company he owned to buy one of his properties worth up to £800,000. He then transferred the…

Salesman wins constructive dismissal claim

Salesman wins constructive dismissal claim

The salesman worked for a firm that supplied office equipment and electrical goods. He found that his customers were sometimes supplied with faulty goods, had orders diverted or were inconvenienced by late deliveries. These errors led to the salesman earning less commission. His earnings were further reduced when the company removed one of his major…

Could friends provide the key to buying a new home?

Could friends provide the key to buying a new home?

It can be a good way of taking the first step on the property ladder as long as everyone understands what is involved and there is a legally binding agreement that is fair to everyone. It can be tempting for friends to be informal about their relationship, but circumstances change and so it is wise…

Accountant must pay for enticing away former clients

Accountant must pay for enticing away former clients

For this reason, most firms will insist on a covenant preventing the seller from setting up a rival business or soliciting his former customers for a specified period. The value of this approach was illustrated in a recent case before the High Court. It involved an accountant who decided to sell his business. The buyer…

Sharp rise in civil partnership ‘divorces’

Sharp rise in civil partnership ‘divorces’

In 2010, 509 gay couples separated and dissolved their civil partnership. That was a 44% increase on 2009. Civil partnerships came into effect in December 2005. Since then, nearly 50,000 same sex couples have used them to formalise their relationships. More than 6,000 civil partnerships were registered in the UK last year, a slight increase…

Businesses failing to protect themselves against late payers

Businesses failing to protect themselves against late payers

A survey of ICM members found that a quarter of them don’t use the payment performance data provided by B2B credit reference reports. Researchers also found that two thirds of businesses don’t share payment performance data about their customers with credit reference agencies. This is in spite of the fact that three quarters of them…

Director held personally liable for discriminatory dismissal

Director held personally liable for discriminatory dismissal

The director owned and ran an estate agency. He was the sole shareholder.  One of his employees gave him a letter confirming that she was pregnant. Within minutes of reading the letter, he told her that she was being made redundant. This came as a complete shock to the employee who had not been previously…

Complaints mount up about unregulated legal services

Complaints mount up about unregulated legal services

All solicitors are strictly regulated and have to be insured in order to practice. It means that if something goes wrong, clients are fully protected. However, in recent years, several unregulated companies have started offering legal services. In his first annual report, the Chief Ombudsman Adam Sampson, said this had led to thousands of complaints…

Contract terms means English company must apply Indian law

Contract terms means English company must apply Indian law

Failure to do so could prove costly, as one UK company recently discovered. The company entered into an agreement with an Indian supplier to provide it with condoms to be sold in the UK. It was part of the company’s standard terms and conditions that disputes with foreign partners should be settled under English law….

Stroke victim awarded nearly £400,000 in discrimination case

Stroke victim awarded nearly £400,000 in discrimination case

A tribunal found that he had been discriminated against on the grounds of disability. Jonathan Jones worked as a branch manager in Cardigan for a major national company. There was an understanding at the company that managers were expected to work beyond their nominal contracted hours, and Mr Jones had signed an agreement opting out…

Mortgage lenders urged to back self-build home revolution

Mortgage lenders urged to back self-build home revolution

Housing Minister Grant Shapps says he wants self-build projects to become more widespread as a way of creating a much needed supply of affordable homes. Mr Shapps has written a letter to banks and building societies calling on them to provide more mortgages and other specialist finance products for self-builders. He says lenders should be…

Land to be made available for new homes

Land to be made available for new homes

Housing Minister Grant Shapps is urging developers to come forward to take advantage of this new opportunity which could help create 25,000 jobs by 2015. Mr Shapps has told Government departments with significant land banks that by this Autumn, they must publish plans to release thousands of acres of previously developed land to house builders….

Breaking point – when are vacant premises really vacant?

Breaking point – when are vacant premises really vacant?

The case involved a company that had two break options on a warehouse that it leased. The first date was for April 2009 and the second was for December 2009. The tenant decided to exercise the break clause on the April date. The landlord drew up a schedule of dilapidation repairs that needed to be…

Court orders that girl should live with grandmother

Court orders that girl should live with grandmother

The parents had what was described in court as a “tumultuous relationship”. They had left their daughter with her maternal grandmother when she was one and a half years old. They later took her back but the authorities became concerned that they weren’t providing her with adequate care. Proceedings began and during a fact-finding hearing…

Surge in number of firms facing critical difficulties

Surge in number of firms facing critical difficulties

The Red Flag Report produced by Begbies Traynor shows that 186,554 UK businesses were experiencing significant or critical financial problems in the first quarter of this year. That was a 15% increase on the same period in 2010. Sectors that are dependent on discretionary spending were the worst affected. Taken year on year, the number…

Judge wants to reform laws on divorce and cohabitation

Judge wants to reform laws on divorce and cohabitation

Sir Paul Coleridge says an independent commission should be set up to look at ways of reforming the law relating to divorce and cohabitation because family relationships are now “unrecognisable” from 60 years ago when the last review was carried out. Sir Paul, who sits as Mr Justice Coleridge in the High Court, said that…

Be careful about who you allow to sign your contracts

Be careful about who you allow to sign your contracts

It involved a recycling firm which found itself tied into a hire contract for three years when it thought the arrangement was only on a month by month basis. The confusion arose when a landfill manager signed a contract on the firm’s behalf to hire a high-speed shredder. The contract contained a clause saying any…

Ison Harrison opens 6th office in Guiseley

Ison Harrison opens 6th office in Guiseley

Jonathan Wearing, Managing Partner, Ison Harrison, said: “We strongly believe that our 150 strong team delivers just what families, individuals and businesses are looking for. We act for a broader base of clients than any other firm in Leeds, including criminal and family clients eligible for legal aid, commercial clients who need corporate advice and support, and private individuals who are moving…

Consumers should ‘be wary’ when buying legal services

Consumers should ‘be wary’ when buying legal services

Chief ombudsman Adam Sampson revealed that he has received 40,000 complaints about law practitioners since his office was set up six months ago. His team has not been able to deal with many of the complaints because they are against people who are not qualified solicitors. He said: “We’ve seen lots of cases where people…

Penalties imposed on construction firms ‘were too harsh’

Penalties imposed on construction firms ‘were too harsh’

The Tribunal said it was important to make a distinction between simple cover pricing and bid rigging, which is much more serious. Bid rigging involved firms joining forces as a cartel in order to enable one of them to win a contract at a lucrative rate. Cover pricing was less damaging. It usually happened when…

Energy performance certificates needed for holiday lets

Energy performance certificates needed for holiday lets

Until now, the certificates have not been necessary for short holiday lets where there is no intention to create a tenancy. That will change on 30th June when certificates will be needed for holiday homes which are let for four months or more in any 12-month period. This total can be made up of several…

New measures to reduce burden of red tape for businesses

New measures to reduce burden of red tape for businesses

There will be a moratorium to exempt start-up businesses and firms with fewer than 10 employees from new domestic regulations for three years. There will also be a public audit of nearly 22,000 statutory instruments currently in existence to see if they are still useful or necessary. Businesses will be invited to voice their opinions…

Law Society campaigns for will writers to be regulated

Law Society campaigns for will writers to be regulated

It says that wills contain some of the most important financial and personal decisions that people ever have to make. In spite of this, will writers who are called upon to help people make those decisions don’t need to have any qualifications and are not subject to any regulatory control. The Law Society president, Linda…

Additional paternity leave rights for fathers comes into effect

Additional paternity leave rights for fathers comes into effect

The new rights apply to fathers whose partners gave birth on or after 3rd April this year. They allow fathers to take up to 26 weeks leave to care for their child providing they fulfil certain conditions. The additional paternity leave can only begin 20 or more weeks after the birth of the child and…

Director banned from revealing information about his former company

Director banned from revealing information about his former company

The issue arose after the director became embroiled in a dispute with his company that involved court action. The judge found in favour of the company and referred the director as having an “attitude of blatant disregard for the truth, for the accuracy of public records, for the validity of company resolutions and for the…

Budget provides a boost for first time buyers

Budget provides a boost for first time buyers

The move was announced by Chancellor George Osborne as part of his budget speech. The new FirstBuy scheme applies to new build homes and is designed to help people who have been unable to buy a property because of the need to provide a large deposit. The Government and the house builders will provide loans…

Volunteers are not protected by anti-discrimination law

Volunteers are not protected by anti-discrimination law

That was the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the case of a volunteer who worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).  When the CAB told her it no longer wanted her services, she claimed it was discriminating against her because of her disability. However, the Court of Appeal held that an unpaid volunteer…

Divorcing couples must consider mediation before court action

Divorcing couples must consider mediation before court action

This rule already exists for couples using legal aid. Now it will be extended to all couples. From 6th April onwards, the person disputing the divorce terms will have to go to a professional mediator who will then contact the other spouse and arrange a mediation awareness session. The divorcing couple can attend individually or…

Recession sparks rise in landlord and tenant disputes

Recession sparks rise in landlord and tenant disputes

Figures compiled by the legal publishers Sweet & Maxwell show a 43% increase in disputes in the High Court in London involving landlords and tenants of commercial property. The numbers rose from 28 in 2008 to 40 in 2009, the latest year for which data is available. However, these figures only cover cases involving sums…

Dismissal of nurse for lewd remark was unfair

Dismissal of nurse for lewd remark was unfair

The court heard that the nurse made a sexual comment while helping to restrain a patient. A complaint was made six weeks later and she was summarily dismissed by her NHS Trust. An employment tribunal held that although the comment could be described as lewd, most people would consider it merely humorous. It held that…

How disputes can arise when there is no written will

How disputes can arise when there is no written will

The case involved a couple who each had sons through previous relationships. The couple had made an oral agreement for mutual wills. The agreement was that on the first death, the estate would pass to the surviving partner. The surviving partner would then be bound by an irrevocable trust to leave the estate when they…

Company closed down because of misleading claims

Company closed down because of misleading claims

The winding up petition was granted even though there had been no complaints from the public and even though an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office had not led to any proceedings. The company was set up on December 9th 2009 and began trading in February 2010. Its business was to find buyers for hard…

Government confirms scrapping of Default Retirement Age

Government confirms scrapping of Default Retirement Age

Under the current system, employers can oblige staff to retire at 65 regardless of their circumstances. Ministers have decided the rules must change because people are living longer, more active lives and should have more choice over when they stop working. The DRA will be phased out between 6th April and 1st October this year….

Contraceptive Implants hit by bad press

Contraceptive Implants hit by bad press

It has recently been revealed that more than 500 women in the UK using the Implanon contraceptive implant became pregnant which is understood to be  99% safe. A number of those women subsequently miscarried. Others elected to terminate the pregnancy and many have experienced relationship breakdown and psychological problems.  It is estimated that over 1…

Television presenter wins ageism case against BBC

Television presenter wins ageism case against BBC

Miriam O’Reilly, one of the former hosts of the TV show Countryfile, has won her claim of age discrimination against the BBC. Ms O’Reilly lost her job in 2008 when Countryfile was moved to a primetime slot. The BBC replaced her with younger presenters. Ms O’Reilly took the case to an employment tribunal. She won…

New Year’s resolutions to protect yourself and your family

New Year’s resolutions to protect yourself and your family

Make a will or bring your existing will up to date Making a will is one the easiest and best things you can do to protect the interests of the people you care about, it’s also the only way of ensuring that your wealth is passed on in the way you want. Unfortunately, many people…

It’s Snow Joke!

It’s Snow Joke!

We are currently in the midst of one of the harshest winters on record with more snow forecast.  This will inevitably raise a variety of issues in the workplace for employers to deal with.  It is important for employers to maintain consistency and fairness in their dealings with staff.  Failure to do so may expose…

A BIG ‘NO’ FROM SIMON COWELL AND THE EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL

A BIG ‘NO’ FROM SIMON COWELL AND THE EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL

Miss Czikai, who suffers from fibromyalgia (a condition which causes widespread pain and fatigue), appeared on the ITV show in 2009 in a bid to win the £100,000 prize money and a place on the Royal Variety Performance. However, following her failed audition she declared that the reason for her poor rendition of Westlife’s ‘You…

Boy left scarred after road accident awarded £30,000

Boy left scarred after road accident awarded £30,000

A 14-year-old boy has been awarded £30,000 compensation for injuries he sustained in a road accident. The boy was only two years old when the accident happened in 1998. He was travelling unrestrained on the back seat of a car when the driver lost control and swerved off the road. The boy was thrown through…

Rogue employers to be named and shamed

Rogue employers to be named and shamed

Employers are to be named and shamed if they deliberately flout minimum wage laws. Starting from 1st January next year, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will publicise cases involving employers who break the rules. The rogue firms will then be given three months to “put their house in order” before further action…

What can you do if you are left out of a will?

What can you do if you are left out of a will?

It can be devastating to be left out of a will. It’s not just the loss of an inheritance but also the thought that a loved one such as a parent actually decided to cut you off or leave you far less than you were expecting. There are several reasons why this might happen. The…

Children ‘not too young’ to choose mother instead of father

Children ‘not too young’ to choose mother instead of father

A woman has won the right to keep her children with her in England after a court ruled that an eight-year-old and a six-year-old were not too young to have their views taken into account during a parental dispute. The case involved a couple who had three children during their marriage. The family had lived…

Man used ‘undue influence’ to gain interest in partner’s property

Man used ‘undue influence’ to gain interest in partner’s property

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a man had used undue influence over his partner when he persuaded her to give him a joint share in her bungalow. The woman already owned the bungalow when the couple began their relationship. She transferred the property into joint names and the couple then bought an adjacent…

New tax regime could ‘impact on trusts and wills’

New tax regime could ‘impact on trusts and wills’

Recent changes in the tax regime could have an adverse effect on many trusts and wills. The new Government’s first budget increased Capital Gains Tax (CGT) to 28% for higher rate taxpayers. The Law Society has warned that this new rate “will charge any gains made while an estate is being administered and also gains…

Government confirms October start date for Equality Act

Government confirms October start date for Equality Act

The Government has confirmed that the Equality Act will start to come into effect in October. The Act, which brings together nine separate pieces of legislation under one umbrella, was introduced by the previous Labour administration. There was some speculation that the new coalition was not committed to the Act but the Government Equalities Office…