Below are some questions that our clients frequently ask. If you can’t find an answer to your question then please contact us.
How can we help you find what you’re looking for?
Am I likely to succeed in bringing or defending my claim?
Civil or private claims brought in a Court or Tribunal are determined by a judge on the balance of probabilities. This means that a judge will need to prefer your evidence over your opponent’s. In percentage terms, to tip the balance in your favour you need to reach 51%.
At the outset of the matter we will always review the evidence or information you have provided to us to give you an initial opinion on whether your case meets the threshold. If we are unable to provide an accurate assessment we will explain what further information is needed before we can give you an opinion. The merits will be regularly reviewed as it often changes throughout a case as evidence or information comes to light.
Generally speaking, you should avoid bringing or defending a claim where the prospects of success fall below 51%.
But the merits should not be the only factor taken into account when considering a claim. That is why we will also give you important information about costs and recovery of costs so that you can make an informed decision about whether it is economically viable to proceed with a claim. Likewise, we will discuss and explore the finances and solvency of the opposing party so that you can consider the prospects of recovery and their ability to pay any compensation you might recover.
Do I have to go to court?
The short answer is no. It is often better to avoid Court proceedings and in fact, the majority of disputes never end up at trial.
Even the Courts themselves promote traditional litigation as a last resort. If a judge feels that you have been premature in bringing a matter to Court you may be punished with a costs order where you have to make a contribution towards your opponent’s legal costs. It is therefore important to look at other options available to you.
Whenever you have a potential legal problem, we will help you find the most appropriate and cost effective way of resolving the issue. Often just speaking directly with your opponent about the problem can help narrow issues in dispute and achieve a resolution. Other times, mediation or arbitration may be more effective.
Occasionally, when all else fails, or where the matter is particularly urgent or important, Court proceedings can be the most appropriate forum for getting the outcome you are looking for.
How to handle a nuisance employee.
If you have a nuisance employee, the first port of call should be following through your practices and procedures. You should be aiming to help and support them, to get them where you need them to be. If that fails, then dismissal may be an option, but it's really important that you follow the correct procedure to make sure that no employment tribunal claim follows.
What will the likely costs be?
Costs are an important consideration in any Court proceedings as it will help you conduct a cost-benefit analysis on whether it is likely to be worthwhile to either issue or defend a claim.
At the outset of the matter we will conduct a cost-benefit analysis with you and discuss the funding options available. This might include us acting under an existing legal expenses insurance policy where the insurers meet all of your legal fees, or perhaps agreeing a fixed-fee structure.
In every case you will be provided with a fee estimate based upon our experience in dealing with similar matters in the past. If we cannot give an estimate for the whole case, we will tell you the likely cost for the next stage.
If something unexpected happens and it appears that fees are going to increase we will contact you and inform you of any increase prior to carrying out further work. Likewise, if we spend less time on the matter than expected, the fees will be reduced accordingly.
When can an employer rightfully terminate an employee's contract?
As an employer, there are a number of times in which you can rightfully terminate an employees contract. It might be for reasons of capability, disciplinary reasons, or for redundancy reasons. But it's really important that a proper procedure is followed, so that you don't end up on the receiving end of an employment tribunal claim.
Will my opponent pay my costs if I win?
The majority of cases do not lead to a final trial. The most common outcome is where a negotiated settlement is reached between the parties. In such circumstances, whether you recover your costs depends on the terms that you agree as part of any settlement deal.
If you have to take your case to Court and you win at trial, you are entitled to ask the Judge to make a ‘Costs Order’. The Judge will then decide whether one party should be ordered to make a contribution to another’s costs by way of a reimbursement.
The general rule in Court proceedings is that the winning party is entitled to ask for a Losts Order. However, this rule may not apply in certain circumstances, for example where value of the claim is low (cost orders are not routinely made for claims worth under £10,000) or there has been unreasonable conduct by the parties.
A costs order does not provide a full indemnity, but rather a contribution which is typically around 65% of the winning party’s actual outlay. Thereafter, the matter of recovering payment is separate and there is no certainty an opponent will have the ability to pay the amount it has been ordered to.
In any case, it pays to do investigations into the opposing party’s finances early on to gauge their ability to pay any compensation recovered and costs order made against them.
I am getting divorced, will I lose my home?
The family home is often the main asset in most relationships to be divided up in a divorce, and the court will look at the needs of both parties, but especially in the needs of any minor children, which are the paramount concern of the court in these cases. Therefore, it is quite likely that in most cases a family home will be sold to provide for the needs of all parties, but not necessarily. Therefore, we suggest you seek legal advice from us and we can help you with your particular case as to whether or not your home would be sold.
How long will it take?
The amount of time it takes to conclude a matter will differ from case to case and can depend on how busy the Court is, the number of witnesses needed and the level of co-operation received from your opponent. Typically, a final trial is unlikely to be listed within 9 months from the date a claim is issued. It is not unusual to wait more than 12 months. Litigation is known to be slow and expensive so it is important to keep resolution options open at all times. For example, mediation could be held whilst parties await a trial date.
In all cases, we will work with you to achieve the best result for you in the circumstances. For our part, we will do what we can to finalise the matter as quickly as possible, although sometimes a delay might be in your interests for tactical reasons. We will also ensure that we respond to your telephone calls and correspondence promptly.
Will I need a barrister?
Here at Mullis & Peake LLP Solicitors, we are experts. What we do, we do well. However, we can also recognise where someone else will be better for you. We often use barristers to assist in cases where it can achieve a better result or save money for our clients. For example, if you have an upcoming final trial at Court, it may be better to use a barrister who will be a specially trained, experienced Court advocate.
When will I be able to remarry?
To be able to remarry, your divorce needs to be finalised. You need a document called a Decree Absolute. This document is different to your Decree Nisi, which entitles you to a divorce but does not end your marriage. Once your Decree Nisi is pronounced, you need to leave siz weeks and one day before you can apply for your Decree Absolute, which will dissolve your marriage. The most important thing to remember is do not make any plans to remarry until you have your Decree Absolute.
How can family mediation help you?
Family mediation can help in lots of different ways. It's a really flexible process which means that the people involve can decide the kind of matters that you want to discuss regarding your family. For example, in children matters, we are looking at what's best for your children. So the best people to decide that are going to be the people involved, rather than the court. In financial matters, we have to follow the court process to some degree because there are practicalities that need to be taken into account, such as financial disclosure. So we're still following those rules and making sure that you reach a fair agreement, but ultimately, what we're trying to do is save you time and money in avoiding court proceedings and keeping the decisions made from the people involved.
Will I be liable for legal costs?
It is generally the case that each party will be responsible for his/her own costs during the course of any litigation. At the end of the case a Judge will decide which party should pay the cost of the litigation. The usual rule is that the losing party will pay the costs of both parties (subject to some exceptions) although on many occasions costs will be paid from the estate.
The potential liability for costs and various funding options is something that is discussed with Claimants or personal representative at the outset so that they can decide how they wish to proceed in pursuing or defending a claim.
I'm being made redundant, what do I do?
If you're being made redundant and you're not happy with your settlement package, tell you solicitor what's happened. If they agree that there are grounds to increase your settlement, they will be able to negotiate on your behalf. Your solicitor will be able to tell you what's realistic and appropriate in your case.
What are the benefits of a settlement agreement?
A settlement agreement ties up all of the issues between an employer and an employee around their employment and the termination of their employment. For an employer, it gives confidence that there will be no further claims. And, for an employee, the benefit will usually be some form of compensation for the termination of their employment.
What are the key clauses in settlement agreements?
For an employee, the key clause in a settlement agreement will usually be the one around compensation for loss of employment. For an employer, the key clauses will be that which prevents any future employment tribunal claims. And perhaps, if appropriate, some clauses restricting the employee from going to work for a competitor in the future.
What do I do when an employee leaves without notice?
If an employee leaves without notice, this is technically a breach of contract. If you have suffered a loss as a result of them leaving without notice then you may have a claim for damages. You should speak to a solicitor to find out if you do have a claim and, if so, what the next steps are.
Why do I need an employment solicitor?
For an employer, using an employment law solicitor could prevent any employment tribunal claims from being brought against you. For an employee, although you can represent yourself in the tribunal, it can be quite complicated and really daunting. If you use a solicitor, you give your claim the best chance of success.
As a parent, do I have the right to time off if my child's school is closed?
Parents don't have any legal right to paid time off if their child's school is closed, for instance, for an election. However, all parents have the right to various types of unpaid leave. And it may be that you could explore with the parent whether they ant to use unpaid leave in these circumstances.
What happens if I have an accident on holiday?
If you have an accident on holiday, you may still be able to bring a claim. It will very much depend on where you had the accident and how your holiday was booked. If you booked your holiday as a package holiday, there is a very good chance that you will be able to bring your claim in the English Courts.
I'm in dispute with my landlord but do not want to go to Court or Tribunal. Is there an alternative?
If you're in dispute with your landlord and you do not wish to go to court or tribunal, there is always an alternative in negotiations. This is often the first port of call between parties in any dispute and can often be the simplest and most straightforward way of dealing with the dispute. However, it will require both parties' co-operation.
Can I claim rent arrears from my tenant?
You can claim rent arrears from your tenant. You can't do this under the section 21 accelerator procedure, but you can do this under section 8. We need to determine the level of the rent arrears and then we can advise you how to take it forward from there.
What if my paperwork isn't in order?
If your paperwork isn't in order, you can still bring a claim against your tenant and attempt to evict them. You're unable to use the section 21 accelerated procedure, but we still potentially can bring a claim against your tenant under section 8.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)?
An AST is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is the general form of tenancy that most residential tenants will have. If you do not have a written tenancy with your landlord then an AST will be implied by the law.
How do I Contest a will?
Most commonly claims begin with correspondence between competing parties and their lawyers. This first stage is often key to success. Setting out a claim carefully and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the other party’s claim and early disclosure can often help resolve disputes.
In all cases we would advocate early mediation as an alternative to going to Court. If the dispute can be resolved by agreement the claim will be settled more quickly, more cheaply and often in circumstances that enable the parties to obtain closure and possibly reconciliation. The vast majority of the cases are settled before trial, usually within 12-18 months.
Can I make a claim against an estate?
Only certain categories of person are eligible to make a claim for financial provision against an estate and this is a matter that is discussed at the outset of the first enquiry. Any claim is subject to strict time limits and must be made within six months of the issue of the Grant of Probate.
What family law services do you provide?
We provide advice and representation across the spectrum of family law.
The services which we cover in our family department are:
- Property and financial disputes including businesses, pensions and maintenance
- Children Law; Parental Responsibility, Child Arrangements Orders (which parent the children live with and when they will see the other parent), Change of Name
- Domestic Abuse cases
- Property disputes between unmarried couples or cohabitees
- Cohabitation Agreements
- Separation Agreements
- Pre-nuptial Agreements
How much will the initial consultation cost?
The initial family matter consultation is completely free of charge for 40 minutes. Additionally, we can facilitate evening appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5.00pm and 6.00pm. At the initial family consultation, you will be given costs and these vary depending on the seniority of the solicitor and complexity of your case.
Will I see a qualified solicitor who specialises in this area of law?
Yes. Our family department is headed by Roisin McCorry, who has over 30 years’ experience; Angela Sharma has over 20 years’ experience in all areas of family law and Jessica Thrower has 11 years’ experience as a specialised family solicitor with a breadth of knowledge in all aspects of family law.
What do I need to bring with me to my initial meeting?
You will need to bring two forms of ID. One photographic ID (either your driving licence or your passport) and proof of address (either a utility bill or a bank statement).
What is the process for mediation?
Step 1 - New Referral
It helps us to deal with new referrals more efficiently if one of our Mediation Referral Forms has been completed either by the client or their solicitor. The form is available on our website. Alternatively, we are able to e-mail a copy to you upon request.
Step 2 - Mediation Packs
As soon as we receive a completed Mediation Referral Form we send a mediation pack by post to both partners. (The pack can be sent by e-mail in cases of an urgent referral). The initial pack contains Resolution’s “Separating together” and “Mediation” leaflets, our Family Mediation leaflet, a Mediation Information Form for completion by the client and a covering letter.
Step 3 - Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings
As soon as we receive a completed Mediation Information Form from each of the partners, we contact them to arrange an appointment for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. We always see clients separately for this meeting. One of the main purposes of this meeting is to screen for domestic violence and child protection issues and it is not possible to do this effectively if both parties are present.
It is very often the case that one person is keener to try mediation than the other. If the second partner hasn’t contacted us after we have had a MIAM with the first partner, we then renew our efforts to contact the second partner and usually make a more direct approach this time either by telephone call, e-mail or text. Jessica is often able to engage the second party in the process once she has assured them of her impartiality and allayed any fears they may have regarding the process.
Following the first partner’s MIAM, we will usually wait a maximum of 14 days for the second partner to contact us before providing a C100 or Form A MIAM Certificate to the first partner. We are usually able to resolve issues concerning how the fees for the mediation sessions are to be shared between the partners, at the MIAMs. We also establish whether it will be necessary to use separate waiting areas or shuttle mediation.
Step 4 - Commencement of Mediation
If both parties confirm that they wish to give mediation a try and Jessica has assessed the case to be suitable for mediation, we will then fix a time for the first joint session.
What is the cost?
We charge £125 plus VAT (total £150) for each Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. The cost of each joint session of up to 1 and ½ hours is £300 plus VAT (total £360). This charge is per couple rather than per person. Most couples choose to pay half each but there are some cases in which one person will pay the whole amount (e.g. if one person is working and the other is not) or the couple may share the cost between them in any proportion they agree.
What if my ex-partner does not respond?
Your ex-partner will receive exactly the same information pack as you. If they do not respond immediately, we will try to contact them again by telephone or text or e-mail following the MIAM with you. It is often possible for us to engage people in mediation once we have had an opportunity to speak to them and can explain how mediation may assist in your particular circumstances.
Do I have a good claim?
We are unable to answer this until we know more about the claim. In all cases we are willing to speak to a client free of charge to assess their claim on a Conditional Fee Agreement basis. These initial enquiries are undertaken by experienced case workers who have day to day dealings with the victims of accidents. They are experienced legal practitioners and not merely administrators.
We would generally expect to spend anything between half an hour and an hour with the client which is unlike many firms who proceed on the basis of a questionnaire. This personal engagement provides a mechanism to address the client’s concern whilst at the same time giving us all the information to move the claim forward as swiftly as possible.
Who will deal with my claim?
Each client is given a designated case worker who will be involved at all stages in a case from start to finish. This level of personal engagement generally provides a better outcome and better experience for you, our client. We do not adopt a factory approach with multiple people working on matters.
What is the Court of Protection?
The Court of Protection appoints a Deputy or Deputies to act for someone who cannot manage their affairs due to mental incapacity and who has not previously made an Enduring Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney. The Court of Protection also resolves disputes about whether a person should act as an Attorney or Deputy. The Court has the power to remove Attorneys and Deputies and appoint a new Deputy as a replacement. The Court can also authorise gifts and the creation of a will if the person does not have a will, or if an existing will needs to be altered. There are also powers of the Court to make orders about an incapacitated person’s health & welfare.
I'm employing my first member of staff. Can you help me write an employment contract?
If you're a small or new business looking to expand and take on staff, it's very important that you get advice. It's not jut as simple as having an employment contract template and hiring a new member of staff. It's important that you're aware of all of your legal obligations as an employer. Now they might include your duty to look after the health and well-being of your staff, laws around pensions which are now compulsory to have a scheme available for all employees in your business. Also, the general framework around employment contracts, staff handbook, there's equality laws. So, my best advice would be, if you're looking to take on staff for the first time or grow your business, get expert advice at the beginning to help establish good foundations. Now, often a lawyer can draft policies for you and give you good advice at the start, which you can then adopt going forward without the need to come back for regular visit or advice. So, if they get it right for you at the beginning, you can use that going forward to help grow your business.
What are the likely costs and timescales involved?
In order to obtain a Deputyship Order, there are fixed legal fees of £1,140 (£950 + VAT) to prepare the application. These fees can increase where there is complexity, for example:
- Additional orders (e.g. appointment of trustee for sale of co-owned property)
- Additional deputies
- Need to investigate and report on assets where unknown at time of application
- Objections raised by others (where there is an objection there will be delays to the appointment, statements to be drafted and preparation for hearings, so costs can quickly escalate in these circumstances)
- Court application fee of £365
N.B. If capital is less than £16,000 for over 60s, or £3,000 for under 60s - there may be an exemption (means-tested benefits) or remission (100% for income under £12k, then sliding scale to where no remission) available for those on low incomes.
- There may be further expenses such as for a doctor’s report (normally £150 - £250).
The time scale is 4 - 6 months for a simple application.
The Court of Protection team has considerable experience with this kind of work and we currently look after the affairs of more than 150 clients on a continuing basis.
How long will my claim take to settle?
An undisputed straight forward injury claim may be resolved in as little as a few months. More complicated claims may take longer as time has to pass for the injuries to stabilise. The factors which can affect the timescale are:
- A dispute as to what has happened. The question of blame or whether the amount of your claim is reasonable may be argued by the other party.
- Insurance Companies may be slow in dealing with claims and particularly with answering correspondence.
- Medical evidence is generally required before an assessment of compensation can be made. Medical experts are very busy and from time to time there may be delays in receiving appointments or written reports.
- A small majority of cases go to Court and the Court process can be slow.
Whilst speed is good, it is better to ensure the right outcome. A thorough consideration of your claim may result in higher compensation. It is important to ensure that you receive the appropriate level of damages.
How much will I have to pay?
In all cases we are happy to offer a free consultation about claiming accident compensation. During this process we assess the claim on a Conditional Fee Agreement basis so that we can tell you how successful your claim is likely to be. This service is free and confidential.
A Conditional Fee Agreement is an arrangement between the client and their solicitors which means that if the compensation claim is not successful the solicitor is not paid for the work they have done. If the client wins their claim then the solicitor is paid part of the fees by the other party, typically an insurance company. If the claim loses, provided the client has not misled us, they should not pay anything.
Each claim is assessed on its merits to determine its likely success rate. This success rate informs us whether we can take on an individual case on a Conditional Fee Agreement basis. Sometimes our clients have legal expenses insurance but may not know it, that is an insurance policy that provides cover for the cost of legal advice should they need it.
My mum/dad needs a Power of Attorney as they have severe dementia. What do I need to do?
A Lasting Power of Attorney can only be made if a person has capacity. The mother or father’s capacity will need to be assessed. If they lack the capacity to make a Lasting Power of Attorney an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to be appointed.
How much will it cost?
Costs vary depending on where the property is, how much it is being brought or sold for and whether it is a flat or a house. We will provide an estimate in writing which will include all of the third party payments. We believe in transparency and do not believe in hidden extras.
We regularly check that our prices are competitive, locally and further afield and we are proud of our prices and the services which we have to offer.
Can I contest a Will?
A will can be contested on the basis that it is invalid for one of a number of formal reasons or where an individual may feel they have not been sufficiently provided for (if at all) and are therefore thinking about making a claim for financial provision.
Do we offer ‘no sale no fee’?
We are not able to offer this to our clients and our charges reflect this; we do not charge on a percentage basis and therefore must a charge a fee if the case does not proceed.
How long does it take?
As a general rule, the more parties involved and the larger the chain, the more time it will take. Generally, an average case takes around 6-8 weeks from the contract papers being sent out or received to exchange of contracts. The case will normally complete 2 – 4 weeks later. This means that the norm is around three months. Some cases proceed much more quickly although there are others which take much longer too. We try to adhere to the timescales our clients want, though we can only proceed as quickly as the slowest party in the chain.
What are the likely timescales and costs involved?
Most wills can be drafted for you at a fixed cost, which can be confirmed when we know more about your personal situation. The cost of a will would be higher if you wanted to incorporate a trust to provide for a vulnerable beneficiary or where there are other complexities to be addressed.
We will see you initially to take instructions, before drafting the will and sending it to you for approval. You will then be seen at a second meeting when you will sign the will in the presence of two witnesses from Mullis & Peake LLP. This ensures that the legal requirements for the signing of wills are met and that the will is validly completed. The will can usually be completed within two weeks, depending on your availability.
Do I have to go to court in litigation matters?
The likelihood is you would not end up having to go to court. The vast majority of litigation matters to not end up in a trial. We may have to issue call proceedings to initiate the court process, but you're still unlikely to attend a trial at the end.
What are Mirror Wills?
A couple may make wills that reflect the other. These are referred to as “Mirror Wills”. For example, a couple may leave the estate to whichever survives and then the estate passes to their children on the second death. A couple will have one will each, so although the wills are very similar, they are not a ‘joint will’.
How do I make a personal injury claim?
In order to make a personal injury claim, you need to contact a member of our team to discuss the accident and the circumstances under which you suffered your injury. From that conversation, we would be able to determine whether you had a claim and the terms under which we would be bale to take that claim forward for you.
Is there such a thing as a common law wife or husband?
It's a bit of a myth when people say she or he is my common law wife or husband, there is no such thing. Unfortunately, the laws in this country don't protect unmarried couples as they do married couples. For example, if you own a property together, and one of you have made a huge contribution to that but you own it jointly, the court is likely to follow the legal title of the property. Additionally, if you have been living together for a very long time, you won't be entitled to any maintenance. You won't be entitled to any pension rights. So, you're quite unprotected in a way and people often sadly think that they have the same rights. You'd have to rely on trust law which can be very complicated and costly unfortunately.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document that allows you to appoint an Attorney to assist you either with Financial and Property matters or Health and Welfare issues. This can be important if you are unable to manage these matters when you get older, become ill, or even if you are abroad for an extended period of time.
Does it make a difference who starts divorce proceedings?
In reality, it won't matter who starts the divorce. Usually, the person starting the divorce will pay the costs unless we can agree that those costs are going to be shared. In terms of whose fault it is, this is a difficult area and indeed the law is going to change soon so that we have a no-fault system in this country. It's hoped that parties then can be more amicable, avoid going to court and avoid some bitterness which inevitably happens when you're getting divorced. With regards to fault, again, it's very rare that it will matter whose fault the marriage has broken down with. Conduct has to be very serious for it to be taken into account in a divorce and it has to be very serious if the court is going to make a different decision in respect to the children or your finances. In my 20 years or so of practice, I have rarely used conduct as an argument and, when I have, it has been very extreme and really made little difference to the outcome.
Do you store Wills and Deeds?
Yes, we can store wills, powers of attorney and deeds free of charge.
Will I have to go to court if I'm getting divorced?
Generally speaking, when you get divorced, you don't have to go to court. Usually, it's a good idea to try and agree which fact you're going to rely upon in the divorce. There are five facts, usually unreasonable behaviour or adultery are very common. The only time you're going to have to go to court if you're getting divorced is if your partner defends the divorce. That means he or she doesn't agree with what you're saying and then the court has to decide how the divorce is going to proceed. The only other times you'll have to go to court are if you can't agree matters relating to your children or matters relating to your finances and properties.
What is the likely cost and timescale involved?
We can offer two options. The first is to assist you with obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration only, which means that you will collect the information about the value of assets, confirm debts and provide the information to us. Once the Grant is received you will then collect in the assets of the estate, pay the liabilities and distribute the funds to the beneficiaries. The second option is for us to assist with the full estate administration from start to finish. This option may appeal to you if you do not have the time to deal with it personally, or because you do not want to deal with the paperwork when you are recently bereaved.
We can usually offer fixed costs or a cost limit so that the fees can be ascertained at the outset.
Am I liable for my staff's behaviour at the Christmas party?
It's important to remember for businesses that you can still be held responsible for the acts of your staff which take place in a social context. For example, the impending office Christmas party. If, for example, there was a member of staff who made an advance towards another colleague during the office party, and that subsequently led to a refusal in an animosity, either between the staff members or difficulties in place of work, that is a problem which is rests with the employer. So, it's important to be proactive, in ensuring these problems do not occur. Firstly, I would suggest have a clear policy in place. Make sure you have defined start and end times of your event. So, if the office party is due to end at 11:00 make sure it does it and end at 11:00, and maybe even organise transportation home for the staff, so that they can all be sent on their way. What you don't want is for any acts to take place during the work organised event, which would then become the responsibility of you as the employer.
What next steps do I take if I have been unfairly dismissed?
If you have been dismissed in circumstances you feel are unfair, it's important to act promptly. Firstly, I would suggest speaking to ACAS. They're a government funded organisation, which is designed to be impartial and independent to help resolve and mediate disputes between an employer and an employee. In fact, using ACAS is compulsory it must be down before an employee can even consider employment tribunal proceedings. The idea being that it can be resolved without the need to take that further step. However, if it isn't resolved, it's important to be aware that there is usually a very strict time limit, often just three months from the date of dismissal within which to bring your claim. So, you must act promptly, and I would suggest to get expert advice to ensure that you don't miss any deadlines and that you can plead your case as fully as possible.
What is a Trust?
A Trust is a legal concept where Trustees hold assets for Beneficiaries. This may be because the Beneficiary is vulnerable and the funds need to be protected from financial abuse, or the Beneficiary is unable to manage the funds personally. Other uses include ensuring that funds remain in the family in the event that a widow or widower remarries, or to hold funds from life insurance policies.
Can you be made redundant if you're pregnant or on maternity leave?
An employee can still be made redundant whilst they are on maternity leave. However, this is only on the condition that the redundancy is dealt with entirely independently and that their pregnancy has absolutely nothing to do with the decision to make them redundant. So if, for example, a business is closing a particular office and relocating to an area which is perhaps, lets say, 300 miles away, then that would normally be a genuine redundancy because that particular office is closing. However, if there was a situation where numbers simply needed to be reduced in a department, an employer should make sure they consider which employees are at risk of redundancy and are subsequently made redundant on impartial, fair and balanced basis. If the absence of the particular employee on maternity or pregnancy leave is in any way forms part of their consideration, then it would potential be discriminatory and unlawful.
How much is it going to cost?
At the outset of the matter you will be provided with a fee estimate based upon our experience in dealing with similar matters in the past. If something unexpected happens and it appears that fees are going to increase we will contact you and agree a new estimate prior to carrying out further work. Likewise, if we spend less time on the matter than expected we will not charge you the original fee estimate.
Where and how do I report abuse and discrimination in the workplace?
If you're experiencing discrimination or less favourable treatment at work, the first thing you should do is report it to somebody of authority, usually your line manager or HR department. Make sure you tell them about the problem and work will try to work with them to resolve it as quickly and effectively as possible before the problem escalates.
After you've reported your problem to your line manager or HR department, if things haven't improved, make sure that you keep an accurate record of whatever is happening to you. I would suggest keeping a diary, making detailed notes so that you can refer to them later if the problem isn't resolved.
As part of your conversations with your line manager or employer about the problems or discrimination you're experiencing why not consider mediation? It's a good way to get somebody who is third-party and impartial to mediate between the two parties or the two groups concerned to see if we can find common ground and resolve the animosity and ill-feeling to try and overcome the differences and problems that are happening in the workplace.
If all else fails, you've reported matters to your line manager you've tried mediation, you've tried working with the person who is causing the problems then don't despair. Get expert advice and an employment lawyer can help you through the problems, explain to you all your options, and importantly, if it can't be resolved at work, you've always got the option of bringing an employment tribunal claim.
Now, it is important to note there are very strict time limits, which is usually three months from the date of the acts that you're complaining of. So, if an event happened on the 1st of January which was discriminatory, you would have until the end of March to bring a claim. So, if you haven't been able to resolve the dispute and you do have to issue an employment tribunal claim remember to do it within the three-month time limit.
But speak to an expert employment lawyer who can guide you through the process. Discrimination is probably one of the most complicated areas of employment law, so it is usually pays dividends to get expert advice and assistance in drafting that claim to ensure that it is compliant and to improve your prospects of success.
Now court and tribunal proceedings can be expensive so do speak to your lawyer about the different funding options available. One of the most popular at the moment is before the event, legal expenses insurance. This is where you might have an already paid for legal expenses insurance policy. For example, added on to your home insurance. You might not even know about it, but if your home insurance includes legal expenses cover, it means that it will cover your legal expenses up to whatever the indemnity limit, is usually £50,000 or £100,000. Which is normally more than sufficient to cover you all the way through to an employment tribunal hearing to see the matter to throw you to a successful conclusion.
How long is it going to take?
The amount of time it takes to conclude a matter will differ from case to case, however we will use our best endeavours to finalise the matter as quickly as possible. We will ensure that we respond to your telephone calls and correspondence promptly in order that we can progress your matter further.
I don't agree with the terms of my new employment contract - can you help?
If you've been presented with an employment contract and there are some terms you don't understand or don't agree with, it's important to speak to your employer about them before you start work. That's the best and easiest time to negotiate any terms before it begins. If you start working and you haven't signed your contract, there is a risk that you are deemed to have accepted those terms through your act of already taking the job and beginning. It's best to have the conversation as early as possible with your employer. Remember, if the jobs on offer to you on those terms, it's up for negotiation. So, don't be frightened to speak to the future or prospective employer about that and try to renegotiate on terms that you are happy with.
Do we need to have a meeting?
It is not always necessary to attend our offices and have a meeting. We understand that time constraints affect businesses and that a telephone conversation is sometimes more convenient for clients. Alternatively, we are happy to meet with clients even if they only have a few queries. We will always be flexible in order to meet your business needs.
Are Pre-Nuptial Agreements Legally Binding in the UK?
The question of whether or not a pre-nuptial agreement is binding in the UK is an interesting one. As a position of common law is that pre-nuptial agreements would be an important indicator to the court of the intention of the parties at the time they entered into their relationship. In particular, in relation to assets which were pre-acquired before the marriage. They do not however oust the jurisdiction of the court, and the court still has the ability to meet the needs of the parties. If the pre-nuptial agreement is carefully drafted, and makes prevision for review of change of circumstances. The most obvious one being if the parties have a child. Then there is every likelihood that in fact, the court will hold both parties to the agreement. Providing they've both had legal advice at the time the agreement was entered into, and given proper disclosure of their financial position at that time.
My employment contract has a non-compete clause in it - can you help me overturn it?
If you've got a contract of employment which has a non-compete clause which prevents you from working for a competitor within a certain radius, generally speaking, those types of clauses are perfectly legal and enforceable. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to try to renegotiate a contract after the event. The non-compete clause would have been agreed with your employer at the start, or whenever that clause was discussed and agreed, so you cannot change your mind on your own without the consent of the other party to that agreement. It is possible in certain, very limited, circumstances, to challenge the validity of a non-compete clause. However, that is very rare because the starting position is that, if you have agreed to a term, then it is binding. Generally speaking, I would say, respect and know whatever restrictive or non-compete clauses are in your contract and abide by them to avoid being in breach.
What makes your business employment service different from other firms?
Mullis & Peake offer an insurance backed Employment Protection Scheme for business clients. This means you pay a fixed fee for a years’ worth of ad hoc advice alongside an insurance policy premium. If you are ever faced with an Employment Tribunal claim the insurance policy would pay your legal fees and any sum awarded by the Tribunal.*
Another aspect which makes us stand out is that, unlike a lot of other firms, we have a dedicated Employment Law function which sits in our commercial department solely for businesses. Our lawyers are both commercial and employment experts so we know how businesses work and are able to appreciate the time and cost restraints involve. This enables us to provide a better service to our commercial clients.
*subject to you not breaching the terms and conditions of the insurance policy
As a landlord, what are my rights?
As a landlord, your rights are quite restricted by the law. A particular point that you need to look out for are unlawful evictions, and also charging your tenant unlawful fees. The best way to go about it is to seek advice from a solicitor or a reputable letting agent at the outset, so you know what your rights are.
Can you advise on disciplinary and grievance procedures?
Yes, we can. It is always important to adopt a sensible procedure for resolving any grievance or disciplinary matters. Early direct communications between an employer and employee can help resolve a problem before it goes too far. We can advise you on the procedures you might need to follow.
The ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) website is also a good portal for obtaining information on disciplinary and grievance procedures. ACAS provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.
As an employer, what are my rights?
As an employer, you have the right to expect you employees to comply with the terms of their contract of employment. Outside of that, employees have quite a lot of protection under the law, and you'd be well advised to make sure you're aware of what their rights are before taking any action against an employee.
What are the time limits for bringing a claim?
There are different time limits depending on the type of claim that is being pursued, but as a very general rule, the majority of claims need to be brought within 3 months of the date of the act complained of. For example, if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, the time limit would normally be 3 calendar months from the date of dismissal. If in doubt, always start from the earliest incident or trigger for a claim.
You should also be aware that an Employment Tribunal claim cannot be brought until you have attempted early conciliation through ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). ACAS act as an impartial intermediary to help resolve a dispute. If conciliation is not successful and you still need to bring an Employment Tribunal claim, where both parties have actively engaged in the process, you can usually obtain a lawful extension of time for lodging the claim by the same period of time spent engaged in conciliation.
Can I get my costs paid by the other side?
As a general rule of thumb, costs are not usually awarded in family proceedings. This is because family proceedings are not of the litigious norm, where the loser pays the winners costs. In divorce proceedings, you can ask for the other side to pay your costs, and for the cost to be shared equally, and the petition fee is £550. In financial remedy proceedings, the court can make an order for costs but this is very rare and only in certain circumstances. In child proceedings, it is at the court's discretion as to whether they make an order for the other party to pay your costs. As I've just explained, it is not usually the norm in family proceedings for the other party to pay your costs, however, we'll be able to advise you when it may be necessary to make that application for the other side to pay your costs.
How much is my claim worth?
We always work with you to calculate a range of awards a Tribunal might make as early as possible in a case as we understand it influences your decision whether to pursue a claim.
Generally speaking, for successful unfair dismissal claims you may be able to recover a basic award equivalent to your statutory redundancy entitlement (which is based on your age, salary and length of service). The employee may also be entitled to a compensatory award for reimbursement of actual financial losses (e.g. loss of salary and benefits), subject to a cap.
From a statistical point of view, the median unfair dismissal award made by an Employment Tribunal (as published by the Ministry of Justice) for the financial year 2017/18, was £8,015, with the average award £15,007. For successful claims of discrimination, the compensation will be determined by a Tribunal based on the severity of the individual case. The average award made Employment Tribunals for the financial year 2017/18 ranged from £5,074 for religious discrimination, up to £30,698 for disability discrimination.
Do I need a solicitor to get divorced?
A solicitor will help guide you through the process to ensure that you don't miss anything important along the way, such as making your claims for financial relief. You can deal with your divorce online yourself, but we do find that people come into difficulties and then it does cost more to rectify. If you come in and see us, then we will be able to help you.
How much is it going to cost me?
Costs are an important consideration in Employment Tribunal proceedings as it can still be difficult to obtain a significant contribution towards costs from your opponent, even if you are successful with the claim at a final hearing.
At the outset of the matter you will be provided with a fee estimate based upon our experience in dealing with similar matters in the past. If we cannot give an estimate for the whole case, we will tell you the likely cost for the next stage.
We can also act under a legal expenses insurance policy (often included in many home insurance policies) where the insurer meets our fees. This means there is usually nothing for you to pay, subject to any excess or particular terms under the policy.
We always look to tailor costs to suit a client’s particular needs and will explore the funding options available, whether that means acting for free under an insurance policy, agreeing fixed-fees or a setting cap on costs so that they remain within your budget.
Do I need to get divorced in the country I was married?
The short answer to the question is no. You can get divorced in a jurisdiction of England and Wales if your marriage in a foreign country was properly registered and noted at the time, and either you or your spouse are now, what we call, habitually resident in the United Kingdom. In fact, the jurisdiction of England and Wales is a favourite forum for divorce from people from all around the world. So it's actually quite common to get divorced in England and Wales even though you were married abroad.
How can we assist you?
Contact us to arrange an initial consultation