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We aim to provide practical guidance on useful areas of busness law.  

By sfb solicitors, Jun 22 2018 10:09AM

If you are a tenant and you are issued with a notice pursuant to S21 of The Housing Act 1988 then you have effectively been issued with notice that your landlord intends to seek possession of the property. A s21 Notice can be issued by the landlord in relation to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (“AST”) or during a periodic tenancy.


Under an AST the s21 Notice should provide at least 2 months’ notice to the tenant. If the s21 Notice has been issued in relation to a periodic tenancy, then the notice period applicable will be dependent on the terms of which the rent is paid.


In relation to AST’s a s21 Notice cannot be issued to the tenant until the fixed term of the tenancy has ended, unless there’s a clause in the contract which allows this. It should be noted that for a section 21 notice to be validly served the tenant must have, at some prior stage, received a valid Energy Performance Certificate, a copy of the landlord's current Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide.


A s21 Notice can be used for an AST which was commenced prior to 1st October 2015 but cannot be used for an AST that was commenced on or after 1st October 2015. For all tenancies commenced after the 1st October 2015 the landlord must serve a completed form 6A upon the tenant, except for statutory periodic tenancies which would come into force on or after 1 October 2015 (at the expiry of the fixed term ASTs created before 1 October 2015). From the 1st October 2018, a s21 Notice must not be used for any AST regardless of when it commenced, as prescribed form 6A section 21 Notice’s must be used for all AST’s in England. The prescribed form 6A will provide the tenants with at least 2 month’s notice that the landlord intends to seek possession of the property.


The Landlord cannot serve a s21 Notice if:


• The tenancy is less than 6 months old.

• The fixed term has not ended (unless there’s a clause in the contract which allows for such action).

• The property is categorised as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and does not have an HMO licence from the council.

• The council has served an improvement notice on the property in the last 6 months.

• The council has served a notice in the last 6 months that says it will do emergency works on the property.

• The tenancy commenced after April 2007 and the tenants’ deposit has not been placed in a deposit protection scheme.


If the property is located in Wales, then the Landlord must hold a landlord licence to be able to issue a s21 Notice.


If you are a Landlord wishing to serve a s21 Notice or a tenant that has received a s21 Notice, then call our team of specialist solicitors who will be able to assist you with your matter. We have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Market Harborough and Leicester.




By sfb solicitors, Jun 18 2018 09:18AM

With the first England game of the World Cup on Monday 18th June employers may be thankful that the England group games fall outside of normal working hours! There are however many jobs that do not involve the traditional 9 – 5 and ACAS (the organisation that assists with disputes between employees and employers) has produced guidance on how employers can ensure that their employees are clear as to what is expected of them during the World Cup. After all many employees that work shifts will be facing a conflict of whether they will be at work or watching the World Cup!


The guidance from ACAS is helpful and covers the following areas:


1. Planning ahead

2. Taking a flexible approach

3. Time off

4. Sickness absence

5. Websites/social networking

6. Drinking/being under the influence at work


This article is a reflection of the guidance published by ACAS and further information is on the ACAS website.


Ideally employers should already have in place a policy that tells employees how much notice they have to give if they require time off. A last-minute request to watch an England game will probably be met with short thrift considering many other members of staff may have planned ahead and already booked the time off! If in doubt, check the ‘time off’ policy in your staff handbook.


ACAS have advised that employers may wish to consider being a bit more flexible on the day of a World Cup game and allow, for example, employees to arrive early and leave early to watch the game.

A consideration for employers will also be the ‘day after the night before’. Will you allow staff the chance to come to work a bit later and make the time up at the end of the day? This could be a useful way to avoid a member of staff calling in sick the day after a big England win!


For fans with real commitment that are flying to watch a game they will want to book off annual leave. ACAS have also advised employers to remind employees not to book flights before holiday is authorised.


Employers may have already issued guidance on social media use and the pre-match excitement may be too much for some members of staff. In these circumstances employers should be consistent with existing policies on what social media use (if any!) is acceptable.


ACAS have also highlighted the fact that many football fans may enjoy a beverage or two when there is a game on and that staff may face disciplinary procedures should they arrive at work ‘under the influence’. A staff handbook or policy on alcohol is useful here too.


Conclusion


With the World Cup now upon us now may be the time to review your contracts of employment and staff handbook in relation to staff behaviour. The World Cup is a time to be enjoyed and employers would do well to prepare for the inevitable excitement (and later disappointment!) over the next month or so!



By sfb solicitors, Jun 15 2018 03:36PM

In the modern era the business mode operated by many companies has vastly developed since the Employment Rights Act 1996 was introduced. It is now common for workers to work on zero hours contracts or services to be engaged on a self-employed basis; otherwise referred to as ‘gig economy workers’. Companies often have worldwide franchises without ‘employing’ any staff, most modern companies engage the services of staff on a self – employed basis. It appears that the legislation is outdated and does not offer protection to a huge proportion of the workforce.


The Judgment handed down by United Kingdom’s highest court; The Supreme Court, in the landmark case of Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith [2018] UKSC 29, on appeal from: [2017] EWCA Civ 51, could potentially have widespread implications for many who fall within the category of ‘gig economy workers’ or ‘self-employed workers’ and afford them the same worker’s rights and protections as a person who is classed as an employee.


The brief facts of the case are that Mr Gary Smith had undertaken plumbing work for Pimlico Plumbers Ltd between 2005 – 2011. Mr Smith had signed an agreement with Pimlico Plumbers and was also subject to numerous conditions imposed upon him via a manual that was issued by Pimlico Plumbers.

The agreement and manual imposed upon Mr Smith certain conditions that he had to uphold, such as wearing the branded company uniform and carrying a valid company ID card, to name but a few. Mr Smith agreed that was liable for his own tax and VAT payments and had to ensure that he held public liability insurance.


In January 2011 Mr Smith suffered a heart attack. Due to his health condition Mr Smith submitted a request to Pimlico Plumbers requesting that his working week be reduced from 5 days to 3. Pimlico Plumbers refused to grant Mr Smith’s request. The branded company van that Mr Smith had leased from Pimlico Plumbers was removed from him.


Mr Smith lodged a claim for unfair dismissal with an Employment Tribunal in 2012. Pimlico Plumbers maintained that Mr Smith was employed on a self-employed basis and defended the claim on the basis that self–employed individuals do not have the rights or benefits of employees.


The original Employment Tribunal held that Mr Smith was not an ‘employee’ of Pimlico Plumbers but he was a ‘worker’ and that he had been in the ‘employment’ of Pimlico Plumbers.


Pimlico Plumbers appealed the matter through the Employment Tribunal Appeal process, The Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court, on the basis that Mr Smith was not entitled to the same benefits, protections and rights as an employee, as the dominant feature of Mr Smith’s agreement with Pimlico Plumbers was for his personal performance and he could appoint a substitute to perform any job that had been given to him by Pimlico Plumbers.


Mr Smith argued that whilst he agreed that he was entitled to appoint a ‘substitute’ in relation to any jobs that were allocated to him by Pimlico Plumbers, the substitute had to be appointed from Pimlico Plumbers bank of plumbers.


Due to the agreement and manual Mr Smith was also subject to extensive covenants that would restrict his future employment options following the termination of his agreement with Pimlico Plumbers.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower courts, in so far that, they dismissed the appeal of Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and upheld the finding of the original Employment Tribunal. Mr Smith’s matter will now revert to The Employment Tribunal to be heard.


Based on the Judgment of the Supreme Court the floodgates could now be open for claims in relation to employee rights, benefits and protections by workers who were previously denied such benefits.


Whilst the Judgment of The Supreme Court did not go as far as to redefine what legally constitutes a worker, the way could now be paved for similar actions to be taken by workers who have previously been denied the same protections and rights as employees.


If you require legal advice in relation to Employment Rights, then contact our team of specialist solicitors who will be able to fully assess your matter and provide you with legal advice. Each case will of course be assessed on a case by case basis and will be subject to its own merits.


We have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Market Harborough and Leicester.



By sfb solicitors, Jun 13 2018 09:41AM

What is CCJ?


A County Court Judgment (also known as a CCJ) is a judgment that can be issued by the court when someone has failed to respond to proceedings. The creditor will have to apply to the county court for a judgment if the other side fails to respond. Once the creditor obtains the CCJ they can apply to enforce the judgement through various means including instructing bailiffs to attend your home or business premises.


How a CCJ affects your credit record


Unless you pay off a CCJ in full within a month of the judgment, it will be entered on your credit record at the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. It will remain there for six years.

This record can seriously affect your ability to get a mortgage, a credit card or even a bank account in the future. This is another reason it is important you do not ignore a County Court Judgment.


Your options


1. Pay in full – If you do not dispute the debt you can pay the full amount of the debt. If this is done after a month the CCJ will remain on your credit report however it will appear as “satisfied”. This may still affect your credit rating.


2. Apply to set aside the CCJ – in certain situations you can make an application to the county court to set the CCJ aside. The application to set aside can be made where you think there is an error or the claim was served at the wrong address and you did not have opportunity to defend the claim. The current application fee for setting aside a CCJ is £255.00.


Our services:


We have recently been instructed by several new clients in relation to setting aside CCJs. We can assist you with the application process and negotiate with the creditor on your behalf.


Contact our team to discuss your options. We have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Market Harborough and Leicester.


Call us on 0800 567 7595



By sfb solicitors, May 2 2018 09:15AM

We have recently been instructed by a number of new clients in relation to Settlement Agreements and it is worthwhile re-visiting exactly what these agreements are and how they can benefit an employee looking to leave their job.


Leaving a job can often be stressful in itself and can lead to a number of questions such as:

1. Do I need to work my notice period?

2. When will I get paid?

3. Can I receive a tax-free payment from my employer?


If the employee finds the whole process stressful employers can also be worried that an employee is thinking about bringing a claim against them, for example, for failing to follow a redundancy procedure or for not taking an employee’s grievance seriously.


Often when the parties are in agreement that the employment should come to an end a negotiation will take place and the employee will be offered what is known as a Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement). These agreements will usually cover off things like:

1. The termination date of a contract of employment;

2. Provide certainty for an employee as to when they will be paid;

3. Provide for a tax-free lump sum payment in exchange for promises that the employee will not seek to bring a claim in an employment tribunal;

4. Confidentiality – that the employee will keep the terms of the Agreement (especially any pay-out being made) confidential; and

5. That the employee has received independent legal advice as to the terms of the agreement and has been advised on how signing the Settlement Agreement means that they cannot bring a claim against their employer.


We advise clients both face-to-face and over the telephone on the terms of a settlement agreement. The legal advice is usually paid for by your employer. The telephone advice typically takes between 45 minutes and an hour and we can arrange these appointments quickly and at the convenience of the client.



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